Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Taliban Outlaw Unauthorized Demonstrations; Taliban Beat Women Protesters With Whips And Sticks; China Willing To Communicate With Taliban's Govt.; Biden To Unveil New Six-Prong Plan To Fight COVID-19; Kentucky Governor: Hospitals Being "Pushed To The Brink"; New Cases 300 Percent Higher This Labor Day Than Last Year. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 09, 2021 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, I'm John Vause. Coming up here on CNN Newsroom, day one for the new caretaker government in Afghanistan for a nationwide ban on protests. Those who did take to the streets were whipped and beaten by Taliban fighters.

It's worse than we thought. The global supplies for COVID vaccines revised down by 25 percent, according to the WHO. And meet the teenager making tennis history at the U.S. Open.

VAUSE: The first full day on the job for Afghanistan's new government passed with no mentioned publicly about an economy in a death spiral. They talk about a pandemic raging out of control. There was only deafening silence about an imminent food shortage and humanitarian crisis. But the new minister for the interior, the one who's on the FBI's most wanted list for his role as a terrorist leader did issue a ban on protests unless they receive prior approval, which would seem unlikely for recent demonstrations, which I've seen women demanding a role in government, as well as the rights they gained over the past two decades. That includes equal access to education, a job, freedom to be in public without a male escort.

And in Kabul on Wednesday, the Taliban responded to one protest with brute force. Protesters were whipped and beaten with sticks. Journalists there to cover that story say they were detained and severely beaten.

Live now to CNN's Anna Coren who has covered Afghanistan extensively for many years, and has recently returned from Kabul. There are so many challenges facing this country, and it is incredible to think that the number one priority for this caretaker government was to put an end to any kind of public dissent.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Crushing dissent is their number one priority, John, and we have seen that over the last couple of days. We are now getting word that the internet has stopped functioning in certain parts of Kabul, that has just come to me in the last few moments. One of the areas where the internet is not working is one of the places where they are planning to, you know, be a staging ground for today's protests.

We are expecting hundreds of people to take to the streets if not more. There are at least a dozen staging grounds around the capital city where people will gather and and take to the streets and speak out despite what the Taliban has been doing, which is crushing this dissent with brute force using their guns, using truncheons, using cables to whip people and. And you mentioned that protests have been deemed illegal, also have photographing these protests.

We know that at least 14 journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists have been detained and that at least six of them were severely beaten in custody. We know that two of them have been hospitalized. We've seen the images of the bruises and injuries that have been sustained.

You know, this is a Taliban that just weeks ago said that they would allow an independent media. Clearly, that is not the case. Following the brutality that we have seen against journalists, let alone against the women and the men who are continuing to come out.

Now, the significance of today is that it is Massoud day. Now, Ahmad Shah Massoud was the resistance leader of the Northern Alliance when the Taliban was lost (ph) in power. He was assassinated on this day 20 years ago by members of al-Qaeda. So this is, you know, certainly a very important day in the Afghan calendar and gives even more significance to these protests, John.

VAUSE: Anna, thank you. Anna Coren live for us today in Hong Kong.

Also, the world reaction to the new Taliban government has been mostly critical. The European Union said the Taliban failed to honor their commitment to diversity.


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said if the Taliban wants legitimacy, they'll have to earn it.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Yesterday, the Taliban named a new interim government. We're assessing the announcement but despite professing that a new government would be inclusive, the announced list of names consists exclusively of individuals or members of the Taliban or their close associates and know when. The Taliban seek international legitimacy and support, any legitimacy, any support will have to be earned.


VAUSE: China is among the few notable exceptions willing to do business with the Taliban's new government calling it a necessary step in Afghanistan's reconstruction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WANG WENBIN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translation): The Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan is performing its duties as normal. We are willing to maintain communication with the new Afghan government and its leaders. We hope that the new Afghan regime during the period of interim government will listen to the opinions of all ethnic groups and parties and respond to the expectations from the Afghan people and the international community.


VAUSE: Christine Fair is a Professor of Security Studies at Georgetown University. She is with us this hour from Washington. Professor Fair, thank you for taking the time.


VAUSE: OK. So, I guess the question now is, if we look at what's playing out in terms of diplomatic relations with regards to Afghanistan, that almost 3,000 American troops die and the U.S. spent trillions of dollars fighting its longest ever war. So 20 years after 9/11, it could open the door for Beijing to walk into Kabul, start making trade deals, security agreements, and become the best friends with the Taliban.

FAIR: That's a really good summary. I don't know maybe 17 years ago, I once quipped that the U.S. is fighting to the last marine to make Afghanistan safe for Chinese exploitation. And yes, it's not really funny now that it's happening.

VAUSE: Yes, it is playing out and it's playing out much faster, I guess, in some ways than many expected, but there does seem to be still some kind of hesitancy or caution when Chinese officials speak about the future relationship with the Taliban government. I want you to listen to the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Here he is.


WANG YI, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER (through translation): We welcome the Taliban's positive attitude towards political construction, anti- terrorism and relations with neighboring countries after entering Kabul. But the key is to put them into practice. There are two key points. First, is to be inclusive, and second is to resolutely fight terrorism.


VAUSE: And by terrorism, is China talking about the Northwest Xinjiang region, home from Muslim Uighurs is the concern by Beijing that the Taliban may start carrying out terror attacks or inspired terror attacks, or that they may not be able to provide the security to prevent that from happening?

FAIR: Yes. So, a couple of things. This is -- this wasn't a big surprise to many of us who have been watching this Chinese-Taliban relationship. This actually has significant echoes going back to their relationship in the very late 1990s really running up to the eve of 9/11. What -- and the idea that China cares about an inclusive government is obviously visible.

What China wants is stability in Afghanistan. Long before this week's announcement, you know, China has been the largest single investor in Afghanistan. But it's been really constrained in being able to derive profits from those investments because it hasn't been able to get product out of the ground and into the market. So what China really wants the Taliban to do is to provide adequate safety for its projects, it doesn't really care about Afghan displeasure with being ruled by the Taliban.

But going to the issue about Uighur violence, what the Chinese agreed with the Taliban on the eve of 9/11 was that China would continue providing economic assistance, infrastructure development with the guarantee that the Taliban would not let Afghanistan be used to develop end-stage attacks that would happen in China itself. And that's actually what China is expecting from the Taliban, in this case as well.

VAUSE: Well, the U.S. President Joe Biden, he seemed almost relieved, now that China is taking on this role with the Taliban. Here he is.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: China has a real problem with the Taliban, so they're going to try to work out some arrangement with the Taliban I'm sure, as does Pakistan, as does Russia, as does Iran. We're all trying to figure out what do they do now. So it'll be interesting to see what happens.


VAUSE: I'm wondering for the bigger picture here and it has a lot more to do with the U.S. exit from Afghanistan than anything else, is how that has redrawn the math in terms of global power and influence.


FAIR: So, you know -- I mean, just straightforward, honestly, you know, I voted for Biden and Biden has been -- I don't -- there's just no words for it -- a massive disappointment in his understanding of regional affairs. So, on different occasions, he's justified this withdrawal from Afghanistan so that the United States can focus on China. But he doesn't seem to understand that this is all about China, right?

So, if you look at what China has been doing, whether it is building islands and then weaponizing them essentially in the South China Sea, whether it is pushing back on the territorial status quo with India, whether it's China taking privileges with India's neighbors to antagonize India, I mean, we just see a very aggressive China trying to reconfigure the global order. And I -- so I don't think Biden really understands how deleterious this set of decisions has been for U.S. interest. I suspect that this is going to empower that kind of revisionist China that we are witnessing in different parts of the globe.

VAUSE: Christine Fair, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate your time. It's a very good point there. Thank you.

FAIR: Thank you. Have a great night.

VAUSE: Thank you.

In a purpose built courtroom in Paris, the trial is now underway of those accused of taking part in Francis' (ph) worst peacetime atrocity. And after years of remaining silent, the main suspect in the coordinated jihadi attacks which led to 130 people dead, has now spoken publicly, complaining about his treatment in prison.

CNN Cyril Vanier has details.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Francis (ph) mega trials so hundreds of victims of the Paris terror attacks file into the courtroom behind me on day one, survivors and relatives of the deceased. More will come in the next few days with 1,800 victims total involved in the trial. We expect to hear their testimonies over the course of several weeks what they saw, what they heard during those three hours of carnage that left 130 people dead. Victims being executed at point-blank range in the streets of Paris.

Facing them today in courts were 14 alleged terrorists accused of planning, assisting or executing the attacks. The most high profile name in this case, French national Salah Abdeslam. He is the lone surviving member of the commandos. Once Europe's most wanted fugitive, he appeared unrepentant.

Dressed in black from head to toe, the colors of the Islamic State group and defiance from the very beginning. Asked what his job was before the attacks, he answered, quote, I gave up my profession to become a fighter for the Islamic State. Also complaining of mistreatment. We're all dogs here, he said. I've been treated like a dog for six years.

Abdeslam apparently signaling that he will attempt to engage with the court on his own terms. He and multiple other defendants risk a life sentence in jail. The verdict expected eight to nine months from now.

Cyril Vanier, CNN, Paris.

VAUSE: Still to come here on CNN Newsroom, more (ph) vaccines noble, empty promises. The message from the World Health Organization as lower income countries face an even greater shortfall in available vaccine supplies than first thought.

Plus, with hospitals pushed to the brink with new COVID infections, doctors in Kentucky may soon have to decide which patients receive medical care and which ones do not.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, based upon our number of staff beds, we're running about 130 percent above capacity.




VAUSE: The World Health Organization is calling on a vaccine rich nations to increase the availability of vaccines to the developing world. This comes as COVAX, the global vaccine sharing program is on course to fall 25 percent short of its goal of 2 billion doses this year. Just a little over 1 billion COVID vaccine shots are expected to be made available globally between now and the end of 2021. As you can see on the map, some parts of the world are way behind when it comes to vaccinations.

The WHO Chief is also urging wealthy nations to refrain or hold off entirely on booster shots until the end of the year, and wait until more doses are available to low income countries.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We have been calling for vaccine equity from the beginning, not after the richest countries have been taken care of. Low and lower middle income countries are not the second or third priority. There are health workers, older people and other at risk groups have the same right to be protected.

I will not stay silent when the companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world's poor should be satisfied with left overs.


VAUSE: The WHO is hoping to enable every country to vaccinate at least 40 percent of their population in the coming months. U.S. President Joe Biden is set to unveil a six-prong plan in the next few hours to combat the highly contagious Delta variant. Officials say he'll push for new vaccine mandates, enhanced COVID testing and protecting students in classrooms. This comes as his approval ratings begin to fall.

Officials say, President Biden also looking to the private sector to encourage more people to get their shots. White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the plan builds on establish policy.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We know that increasing vaccinations will stop the spread of the pandemic. We'll get the pandemic under control. We'll return people to normal life. That's what our objective is. So we want to be specific about what we're trying to achieve. But I would just note that what you're going to hear from the President tomorrow is going to build on some of the steps that the President announced over the course of last few months. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: New cases continue to surge across the United States. John Hopkins University reports more than 40 million COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic just in the United States.

And many states are now feeling that relentless pressure on their healthcare systems as these numbers skyrocket. Some states military personnel have been deployed. Idaho has approved rationing health care in the north. It's a decision the state of Kentucky may also have to make soon as the Governor says more people are testing positive than ever before. It's already pushing hospitals to the brink.

CNN's Miguel Marquez has our report.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vera Middleton was so sick. Doctors considered putting her on a ventilator. She refused, opting instead to pray.

VERA MIDDLETON, COVID-19 PATIENT: God has brought me where I am right now. And I praise him from now on.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): She's getting everything but the ventilator and improving. The 66-year-old great grandmother from the small town of Olive Hill, Kentucky says she and her husband talked about getting vaccinated but decided against it.

(on-camera): Do you have any idea where you got COVID?

MIDDLETON: Yes. My granddaughter had gotten sick and it just went through one and, you know, everybody seem like at the house.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Kentucky's seeing its biggest COVID-19 surge, yet cases in hospitalizations spiking sharply to levels never seen before. Deaths too on the rise. Hospitals everywhere just trying to keep up.

JOELLE CRAFT, COVID ICU NURSE, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: It's defeating to put another person on the ventilator. It's defeating to watch a health care provider that I care about for myself, stand at the bedside when someone dies alone. It's also defeating to watch somebody else get put in a body bag.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): More heads St. Clair Regional Medical Center is the biggest facility providing health care to 11 counties in rural Northeastern Kentucky. It can't expand capacity fast enough.

COURTNEY HOLLINGSWORTH, COVID ICU RN, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: It's like we're at a war with this virus. And I think what we have to understand is we're not at war with each other, whether, you know, your beliefs and those things. It's truly a war with this virus. MARQUEZ (voice-over): The National Guard is helping here. A federal disaster medical assistance team is also on hand and still, they need more.

DONALD LLOYD, CEO, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: We, right now, based upon our number of staff beds, we're running about 130 percent above capacity.

MARQUEZ (on-camera): 130 percent above capacity. That -- and that's ICU beds, regular COVID units, regular patients, emergency department, everything across the board?

LLOYD: That's correct.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The hospital has created yet another COVID ICU but doesn't have the staff to open it.

(on-camera): So if this opened today, how quickly would these beds be filled?

LLOYD: Within the hour. We could fill it within the hour.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): St. Clair is trying to keep those with COVID out of the hospital by providing monoclonal antibody treatments at home.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Madison Owens was fully vaccinated and still picked up the virus.

MADISON OWENS, COVID-19 PATIENT: It spreads like wildfire. Pretty, it's easy to get and it doesn't matter who vaccinated or not. Everybody's getting it.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): A nursing student, a 21-year-old believes she picked it up at a funeral.

OWENS: My great grandmother passed away and we all went to a funeral and then one by one we also couldn't going down.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The in-home treatment takes about two hours.

(on-camera): In a perfect world, how many could you do in a day?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We could probably start in the morning and keep going continuously to be honest.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): 24 hours?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we have that many orders.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): To try and keep up with demand, St. Clair plans to turn a tent in its parking lot into a monoclonal antibody treatment unit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just worried that we're not going to have the staffing capacity to meet the demand.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Hospitals across the Bluegrass State so full with COVID-19 patients, almost the entire system stretched to the limit.

DR. CORY YODER, FAMILY MEDICINE, ST. CLAIRE HEALTHCARE: So I get really fearful when we need beds for folks who their diabetes is out of control. And they need an insulin drip or, you know, they have regular community-acquire pneumonia. We might not have a bed for them. If you come in and have a heart attack and you need ICU bed, we probably won't have a bed for you.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): So St. Claire Healthcare crunches its own numbers and they believe they have about three more weeks of rising cases and hospitalizations before they start to see those numbers decline. And the woman you met at the beginning of the story, Vera Middleton, she is getting better. She is expected to go home soon. And she says as soon as it's possible, she will get vaccinated. She'll encourage her family to do the same and maybe a few friends in all of hill (ph). Back to you.

VAUSE: Live now to Seattle, Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, the Chief Clinical Officer at Providence Health System. Dr. Phillips, it's been a while. Thank you for coming back.


VAUSE: OK, in northern Idaho, COVID outbreak has been especially severe. Hospitals have now moved to what's called a crisis standards of care. Let's shift the focus away from an individual patient in a doctor's care. According to the AMA, "during public health emergencies like pandemics, this commitment of fidelity of the individual patient is counterbalanced by the need to protect the welfare of a population of patients and to be prudent stewards of limited societal resources".

In other words, doctors and administrators now rush to healthcare. Some cases deciding who gets a ventilator and who does not. With almost every patient there in the ICU not vaccinated, is it too simplistic to say this could have all been avoided by two doses of a free vaccine?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: It could definitely be ameliorated. It could be made better if everybody got their vaccines. That's absolutely true. And it's not what's happening, right? And so, we would love everybody to have already been vaccinated. But the problem we have today is we have to take care of people who come to us no matter what happened, no matter what the issue, right? They could have been drinking and driving and had a car accident, we take care of them. They could have gotten COVID, they didn't have a vaccine, we take care of them.

So it's not about judging the person that comes in, it's about caring for everybody that needs help. And right now, unfortunately, we have way too many people who need help than we can actually manage in some parts of the country.

VAUSE: How do doctors explain it to somebody who comes in with a condition like a heart condition? They denied treatment because their need is not as urgent as someone who's unvaccinated but needs a ventilator and has a better chance of survival, I guess. What happens when that person with a heart condition dies?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: Yes. People aren't denied treatment but they are put into a typical areas. What we talked about when with crisis standards of care is about spaces, staff and stuff or supplies.


So spaces, we might put people in places we don't normally use in the hospital for patient care. So we'll put them in a classroom or conference room. People, we might not have an ICU nurse taking care of you, but might have one ICU nurse and two nurses who normally work in a doctor's office taking care of you, right? So, we would spread people out with skills.

And then supplies, we might only have enough ventilators for a certain number of people. And so other people get high flow oxygen instead of a ventilator or other kinds of sparing procedures. And so they don't denied care. But you don't get the same standard of care that would in normal situations.

VAUSE: But the reality is right now is that Labor Day, this year, the United States has more than three times the number of COVID cases compared to Labor Day last year, twice as many deaths. And that's after three highly effective vaccines were given authorization, kids are now heading back to classrooms. That does seem to be this perception out there, though, that despite all of that, the pandemic somehow is magically coming to an end, when the reality is, it's worse than ever. How can you explain this sort of total disconnect?

COMPTON-PHILLIPS: The entire pandemic, you know, the dark corners of the internet whether it's, you know, chat bots that are spreading misinformation, or it's people who really have valid belief somehow from somewhere, but it is misinformation that it has caused way more misunderstandings about the science and about the actual basis of how we fight this thing. So, I think that the pandemic is much worse than it needs to be right now because of that disinformation, because of that swirl, because of the anger across the entire country.

So somehow getting back to exactly what the nurse said in your last segment, that how do we actually focus on fighting the SARS, COVID to virus, we consider that the enemy and not each other the enemy so that we're not seeing protesters outside of our emergency rooms, saying masks infringe on our rights. Actually masks keep you and your family and your community safe. Let's focus on fighting the virus and not fighting each other.

VAUSE: It's coming out to two years and they said we're having the same conversations that we're having, you know, at the beginning of this pandemic, which is, is beyond belief.

Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, thank you so much.


VAUSE: Well, children are the center of China's latest crackdown. Coming up, how the government is targeting video games, textbooks, and tutors.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. says a total of around 60,000 people airlifted from Kabul have arrived in the United States. Most are Afghan nationals, who either assisted the U.S. or otherwise are considered at risk.

Another hundred Americans are still believed to be somewhere in Afghanistan. But the Taliban, according to U.S. officials, are currently holding up several charter flights of evacuees from the north of the country.

More details now from CNN's Kylie Atwood reporting in from the State Department.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Secretary of State Tony Blinken now directly blaming the Taliban over confusion of charter flights stuck in Afghanistan.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: As of now, the Taliban are not permitting the charter flights to depart. They claim that some of the passengers do not have the proper documentation.

ATWOOD: With planes suddenly grounded, a rift has developed between the Biden administration, lawmakers and private groups working on the flights. Critics have accused the administration of making it even harder to get flights in the air.

Quote, "I have been deeply frustrated, even furious, at our governments delay and inaction," tweeted Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal on Monday. His office has been trying to help clear the hurdles.

Passengers stuck because of the grounded flights include Americans, Afghans and green card holders, sources tell CNN. The State Department says there are about a hundred Americans still left behind.

On Tuesday, Blinken said this.

BLINKEN :We don't have the means to verify the accuracy of the manifest, the identity of passengers on board these planes, aviation security protocols or where they plan to land, among other issues.

ATWOOD: But Blumenthal's office pushed back, saying that they had submitted information for the passengers that quote, "goes above and beyond" what was required for travel out of Hamid Karzai International airport, just one day earlier. Today Blinken acknowledged the complexity of the situation. But said that every effort is going into getting the flights off the ground.

BLINKEN: While there are limits to what we can do without personnel on the ground, without an airport with normal security procedures in place, we are working to do everything in our power to support those flights and to get them off the ground.

ATWOOD: Still, there remain members of Congress and private individuals who think the department is not doing enough. In recent days, Congressman Mullin helped get a Texas mother and her three children out of the country using an overland route. He accused the State Department of trying to take credit for the effort.

REP. MARKWAYNE MULLIN (R-OK): For them to say they facilitated it, that's a lie. We had to go through over 20 checkpoints which each one of those checkpoint you had to pay money to get through.

ATWOOD (on camera): The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday said that 60,000 people have come to the United States as part of this evacuation effort from Afghanistan. 6 percent of those are legal permanent residents of the U.S.; 11 percent are American citizens and the vast majority, 83 percent of those are Afghans.

Now, Secretary Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security said that this has been a massive logistical effort on behalf of DHS. They have surged resources both here at home in the United States and abroad to help with the processing of all of these Afghans.

Kylie Atwood, CNN -- the State Department.


VAUSE: Zakira Rasooli fled Afghanistan as the Taliban took control. She's a human rights advocate, co-founder of Afghanistan Unite. And Zakira thank you so much for being with us.


VAUSE: Ok. Well from Kabul to Herat and across the country, the message and the demand from women is the same. I want you to listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are protesting for our human rights. We want to stop the killing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We demand the international community respond to the demands of women and that the voice of each and every Afghan woman and young person is heard all over the world.


VAUSE: This is an act of defiance which comes with incredible risk. I wonder, what have your thoughts been in recent days as you have seen women and men protesting across Afghanistan in defiance of the Taliban?

RASOOLI: These protests led by women -- Afghan women actually leading this civilian resistance, leading the way toward freedom, demanding the rights, freedom for the country, exposing war crimes and the sponsors of these human rights violations in Afghanistan -- firstly, it's mind-blowing for me.

I mean women, despite knowing that they will not return alive back from these protests, that they will be beaten, shot or kidnapped by the Taliban, they still go out. They still speak. they are not scared of the Taliban.


RASOOLI: This shows that women, the gains that they have had in the past 20 years, this is so hard gains. And they are empowered today and this show strength in women's leadership, in that you cannot abandon and exclude them.

And I salute to all these men who joined the women and joined the protests to support, to raise women's voices. To protest for women's rights and demand freedom. This shows peoples stance that Afghans were not pro Taliban. That this is not the reason that Afghanistan fell into Taliban control.

People show their stance that they are against them. And that they want freedom and dignity and respect and their rights.

VAUSE: Here's how the Taliban responded to one protest. CNN reporting Taliban fighters used whips and sticks against a group of women protesting in Kabul on Wednesday, following the announcement of the hardline male only interim government.

Will whips, sticks, brutality be enough to end these demands coming from women in Afghanistan? Will it break their spirit?

RASOOLI: I think that's very clear that women, Afghans, will not be scared of -- and this actually shows the Taliban lack of governance, lack of capability to govern Afghanistan. How they took over the country using terror, they cannot govern with terror and terrifying people with sticks and gunshots and slashing women and beating people.

Torture, it only has led to people disrespecting them and losing belief and trust in their leadership and that response coming from them is very ridiculous. I mean for a government now -- I mean they are in power. Them responding to protests in such a manner, using sticks to behave and suppress people?

VAUSE: Just very quickly, what is happening behind closed doors. What is not happening in front of the TV cameras. What is the Taliban doing out of sight? Do you have any reports from, you know, people you know there? What are they telling you?

RASOOLI: I am closely in contact with a lot of people in the country. And the situation is very critical from every aspect. What you see on the TV, I think right now, at least by now it is clear to everyone. If this is how they are responding to protests, if this is how -- I mean, the bombing that happened in Panjshir and how they treat civilians, torture and execute the ones who stand against them.

VAUSE: We appreciate your thoughts and everything that you've been doing as well. So thank you so much for taking the time.

RASOOLI: Thank you.

VAUSE: Goose-stepping soldiers are back on the streets of Pyongyang, as North Korea marks the 73rd anniversary of the country's founding with an unusual nighttime military parade includes the bizarre of hundreds of soldiers in bright red hazmat suits and gas masks.

CNN's Paula Hancocks follows all of this live from Seoul. The North Koreans love a good parade but this is one out of the books. This is very unusual.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This was very different to what we've seen recently, John. It is the third in a row that we have seen happen in the middle of the night. But the last one back in January they unveiled a significant new array of weaponry.

In October last year they unveiled what analysts believe to be the largest ballistic missile in the world. But this time -- this is for the 73rd anniversary of the foundation of the country.

And as you say, there was a unit of those gassed masked individuals and hazmat suits and they were the frontline defense unit fighting against COVID-19, it is believed. Those are the individuals who have been trying to control the pandemic. They were described as the emergency disease prevention unit.

So this parade was very different. There were some elements of military arsenal but it was very much what you would see on the battlefield. Nothing to do with the missile capability of the country.

You saw fire trucks, for example. You saw the laborers parading through Kim Il-sung Square. Now on the stroke of midnight, according to Rodong Sinmun state run media, we did see Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader come to wave to the crowds. It does not appear as though he made and comments at this point, at least that's according to state-run media.


HANCOCKS: But it was interesting that you did see this focus on COVID- 19, on the pandemic. And yet there was not a mask to be seen in sight, apart from that unit that was wearing gas masks. There did not appear to be any masks amongst thousands of people who were within the Kim Il-sung square itself.

Now North Korea has said that it doesn't have any cases of COVID-19 within the country. Experts thing that's quite unlikely. But it appears to have not had, publicly at least, any massive outbreak that we can deduce from the limited amount that we can see from state run media. But as you say, John, it was a very different parade from what we are used to seeing from North Korea.

VAUSE: Indeed. Paula, thank you. Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul.

Well, from education to video games, China has introduced sweeping new restrictions aimed at children, a not subtle effort by the central government to intervene in the private lives of families and potentially shape a future generation.

CNN's David Culver reports.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Sweeping changes to China's social order focused on the next generation. The all-powerful central government rolling out drastic measures over several weeks. From a crackdown on private tutoring to heavy restrictions placed on kids and gaming. All portrayed to help the masses.

DALI YANG, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: A lot of those actions are designed to help ease the pressures, whether it is property prices or schooling or gaming and so on.

CULVER: It resonates with some families, like the Yangs in Shanghai. Dad Yeqing capturing picture after picture of his two teenage kids enthralled by their phones, playing hours upon hours of endless games.

The government now restricting the use of online video games to just three hours a week for kids. 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, weekends and holidays.

YEQING YANG, FATHER IN SHANGHAI: It's a good policy that we get a chance to rebalance everything.

CULVER: And it's coinciding with a massive crackdown on pricey after school tutoring. Many venting concerns on Chinese social media. One post reading "I'm very worried that this generation of children will become the victims of policy-oriented actions."

But some support the government's efforts to restructure home life. This person writing, "In the past few years extracurricular training institutions have gone too far. If the country does not regulate them, these training institutions will only become more and more crazy."

A rising middle class has struggled in recent years, spending millions buying homes in desired school districts and paying private tutors to keep their kids academically competitive, with some complaining that wealthier families had an unfair advantage.

As China marks 100 years since the founding of the Communist Party, general secretary and president Xi Jinping, is shifting focus back to its foundational party values, even calling for a redistribution of wealth to counter poverty.

Some have label this as a new cultural revolution, harking back to the 60s and 70s when then leader Mao Zedong led a movement to purify the party, as he put it, an obviously effort to reassert his control. It led to brutal crackdowns on free thought, mass imprisonment and hundreds of thousands of people were killed.

YANG: General Secretary Xi is careful not to mobilize the masses to rise, clearly, against the power structure as Mao did. But at the same time, however, many Chinese do feel like actually this resonates with the culture of (INAUDIBLE) in certain respects.

CULVER: There are striking similarities. Last year, the government banning the use of foreign textbooks in most schools and more recently limiting the role and influence of foreign teachers on some education platforms.

YANG: A lot of this is really about eliminating any potential risks to the system.

CULVER (on camera): And starting this new semester, Chinese students of all ages, from primary to graduate school, will have to start learning from textbooks like these.

The subject: Xi Jinping's thought (ph), reinforced by the many photos of this country's increasingly powerful leader.

For the Yang family, there are positives.

Y. YANG (through translator): I do feel the policy came in abruptly, but it seems like people accept it now.

CULVER (voice over): His kids turning to sports and physical activities again. Less phone time and fewer academic pressures in exchange for more family time.

But beneath the easing of some pressures, a deeper indoctrination may be underway aimed at keeping anything the party disapproves of firmly in its place.

(on camera): Now, many of these policies that we are seeing roll out here in China are rooted in the new three-child policy. And that is a government push to encourage families to have more children.


CULVER: And that's not just about trying to increase the population. It is also heavily rooted in maintaining and increasing prosperity, which in turn translates into social stability here.

David Culver CNN -- shanghai.



VAUSE: Next up here on CNN Newsroom, a potential solution to a spiky problem. Eating urchins save the kelp forest.


VAUSE: Today on "Call to Earth" California's kelp forest under threat from an explosion of purple sea urchins, threatening the incredible marine life and ability to help fight climate change.

But an enterprising, environmentally minded group has found a way to turn these kelp-eating urchins into a premium, sustainable food source. In other words, eat the problem.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For these Santa Barbara urchin divers battling sharks, swells and spikes is all in a days work. But despite the dangers, Stephanie Mutz and Harry Liquornik have found a home in the ocean.

STEPHANIE MUTZ, SANTA BARBARA URCHIN DIVER: I think both of us are more comfortable underwater than on land, you know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That home is (INAUDIBLE) California's kelp forest, some of the world's most diverse and productive marine ecosystems.

Supporting over 700 species, they absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide in the ocean, hoping to combat climate change.

But over the years, these drivers have seen changes due to warming waters.

MUTZ: Kelp ecosystems are always changing. The rate at which things are changing concerns me. Other organisms are going to have to, or starting to have a difficult time to adapt to those changes.

HARRY LIQUORNIK, SANTA BARBARA URCHIN DIVER: Recent years, sharks have suddenly become a problem. The warm water push a lot of them out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an ecosystem they want to protect and also harvest. California gold, is the nickname for the states famous red sea urchins.

MUTZ: It's like avocados and butter, salt and sweetness. And with a creamy texture, a custody texture.

LIQUORNIK: California has some of the most prolific kelp beds in the world with macrocystis. And macrocystis gives the urchin that really sweet taste.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But red sea urchin numbers have declined in recent years, as populations of this smaller purple cousins have exploded.

Its top urgent predator, the sunflower starfish, was decimated by a disease though to have been spread by a marine heat wave in 2013. Leading to an excess of kelp-eating purple urchins, which have ravaged California's kelp forest already under threat from pollution, climate change and urban development. These starved, zombie-like urchins can survive the decades with little food. Sucking the life out of the ecosystem, they are commercially worthless for divers until now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To find a way to feed both the urchins and the insatiable market for the seafood --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Morning guys -- how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mutz and Liquornik have teamed up with local aqua culture farmer Doug Bush.

DOUG BUSH, AQUA CULTURE FARMER: We started bringing in purple sea urchins from the urchin barrens and not growing them, but feeding them with these seaweeds what we're already working with in order to take an urchin product, which essentially had no market value, because an urchin coming from a barren is empty and devoid of row.

And turning it into a very, very high value, high quality, seafood product just takes about 12 weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's always a little bit like a surprise. Just absolutely stuffed now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mutz then sells those fattened urchins directly to customers and to local restaurants like Industrial Eats.

JEFF OLSSON, INDUSTRIAL EATS: They're amazing. They're much sweeter than the reds, and it's an amazing benefit to be able to serve a product that's so good and that's having the negative effects on the local marine environment.

MUTZ: We need more of these purple urchins utilized outside of the ocean in people's stomach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: While this local business is unlikely to make a dent in the scale of the problem, it's part of a growing industry looking to capitalize on purple urchins while helping to restore California kelp forests.

BUSH: We have to be the leaders in the space to demonstrate that that trajectory exists. We can conserve and manage the resource with a net benefit of California's economy, and for the net benefit of the coastal ecosystem.


VAUSE: Let us know what you're doing to answer the call with hashtag Call to Earth.

You're watching CNN newsroom. Please stay with us. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: British tennis star Emma Raducanu continues to beat the odds at the U.S. Open. (INAUDIBLE) first qualified to ever the semifinals at the U.S. Open. She's done without dropping a single set in this tournament.

World Sport's Patrick Snell joins us now with more.

So Patrick, just for those who don't know anything about this. I did a quick Google search, explain what a qualifier is because she's had to fight a bunch of matches before the U.S. Open just simply to get where she is.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Quite extraordinary The British teenager born in Canada John, yes playing three qualifying matches before she can even get into the main draw. This is just her second career grand slam, her first was at Wimbledon earlier this year.

We are getting to that in just a few moments. But look, looking ahead to this Thursday night here in the United States, we've got the women's semifinals taking center stage in the Big Apple.

A terrific showing from the teenage players because already this week you have had the 19 year old Canadian Leyla Fernandez booking her spot in the semis, while on Wednesday another stand out performance from Raducanu, the 18 years of age -- that's all she is, 18. Playing with a maturity way beyond her years, through to the last four, (INAUDIBLE) overcoming the Olympic champion no less, John.

The Swiss player Belinda Bencic in straight sets as well. It was all rather straightforward for her on paper at least.

And the Olympic champ just had no answer to this stunning display from Raducanu, playing as I was saying just the second Grand Slam the first time ever in New York City.


SNELL: It is absolutely remarkable, John, because she's yet to drop a set in a match so far, including those three qualifiers I mentioned so that she could get into the main draw.

Her back story is phenomenal as well. Born in Canada, moves to the U.K. when she was just 22 years of age. and you can see this video there the emotion on her face, she can't believe she's actually got this far in the tournament. It's amazing.

She's the headlines earlier this year, I recall, when she reached the last 16 at Wimbledon. She was a wild card back then, ranked 338 in the world. Let's listen to what she has to say.


EMMA RADUCANO, TENNIS PLAYER: I've just been focusing one day at a time, taken care of each day. When you're playing tournaments, you're just getting into this sort of autopilot mode of your routines and recovering on the day often between. I didn't expect to be here at all, I pick my fights so until the end of the qualifying so it's a nice problem to have.

Yes. I'm just really enjoying the experience. And out there on the court today, I was saying to myself this could be the last time you play on Ashe so might as well just go for it and enjoy everything.


SNELL: Yes, why not. What a great attitude. There you go, john. She said it there. She just didn't expect to be at the tournament. This long -- it's terrific, isn't she, currently world number 150. I can't emphasize that enough although that's going to change pretty soon.

Now just the third woman to rank outside the top 100 to reach the semis at the U.S. Open.

By the way, next up, she'll be playing the Greek player -- Maria Sakkari after she beat the check fourth seeded county in a peach dress.

The other semi -- just to confirm that one for Fernandez just 19 this past week taking on 2nd seat of Venus (INAUDIBLE) of Belarus in the other semifinal.

But what I like John, about her talking about Raducanu now, again, it's just her humility the fact that she said after a press conference a few days ago that she's been ghosted by her parents just moments after another huge story, I win. She's a great story and I sense it may well be continuing, John. Back to you.

VAUSE: Yes. Incredibly humble with an incredible talent at the same time.

Thanks Patrick.

Hard to believe it's been 50 years since John Lennon released "Imagine" which many regard as one of the greatest songs of all time. The world is marking the anniversary by projecting a lyric from the song on buildings from Tokyo to New York. "Imagine all the people living live in peace."

Londoners can see it on the houses of parliament and Saint Paul's Cathedral. Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, says the sentiment is just as important now as it was when it was written. John would have loved the displays.

I'm John Vause.

CNN NEWSROOM continues after a short break with my colleague and friend Rosemary Church. Thanks for n watching.