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Taliban Outlaw Unauthorized Demonstrations; Paris Terror Trial Gets Underway; North Korea Holds Night Time Military Parade. Aired 2- 3p ET

Aired September 09, 2021 - 02:00:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to have you is joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. And I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead, the new Taliban leadership cracking down on Afghans who dare to protest against their new government.

High security in Paris, a terror trial attended by suspects and survivors of the 2015 Bataclan terror attack.

And later, marching by moonlight. North Korea's nighttime military parade and a midnight appearance by Kim Jong-un.

Thanks for joining us. Well, the new Taliban government is getting down to business in Afghanistan but their first full day on the job didn't seem to include any public mentions of acute food shortages or the collapsing economy. They did, however, announce a ban on unauthorized protests, warning violators would face severe consequences. Women have been leading the charge for a role in government and the freedoms they fought for over the past 20 years, including education jobs, and going out in public without a male escort.

In Kabul on Wednesday, the Taliban responded with brute force hitting protesters with whips and sticks. Journalists covering the protests say they were detained and severely beaten. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern about the inclusion of wanted terrorists in the cabinet. But no women.


ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: 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. We're also concerned by the affiliations and track records of some of those individuals. We understand the Taliban has presented this as a caretaker cabinet.

We will judge it in them by its actions. The international community's made clear its expectation that the Afghan people deserve an inclusive government.


CHURCH: CNN's Anna Coren has covered Afghanistan extensively and was in Kabul recently. She joins me now live. Good to see you, Anna. So, the new Taliban government's first priority, not the economy, not the humanitarian crisis, but banning protests. What does that reveal about this new government?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are so many issues, pressing issues facing this caretaker government, and yet their focus is on governing with brutality, and crushing any form of dissent. We've seen these peaceful protests, you know, day after day on the streets of Kabul, on the streets of Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, and the way that the Taliban is handling this situation is by attacking these protesters.,

Not just firing their weapons, you know, into the air scaring people, but they are beating protesters. As you say, with six -- with truncheons. We are also learning that of the at least 14 journalists who were arrested during yesterday's protests, that at least six were beaten during custody. Two of them, Rosemary had to be hospitalized. So, this is what is taking place. The Taliban has come out and said that protests are now illegal, you have to get permission to protest on the streets.

And that photographing, filming these protests, covering them, is also deemed illegal. The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling on the Taliban to do stop detaining journalists, to stop brutalizing journalists, to live up to their word. You know, remember three weeks ago, they said that it could be an independent media. Clearly, that is not the case. By crushing dissent, crushing the people covering these protests, just goes to show the authoritarian regime that the Taliban are.

Now as for the protests, Rosemary, we are getting word that hundreds of people are expected together on the streets of Kabul. We're already hearing word that in certain neighborhoods people are gathering. We're also getting word, Rosemary, that the internet has been shut down in certain parts of the capital city.


COREN: Now the reason for this obviously is to control those images, those powerful images that are going out to the world to stop them from getting out. So we are going to have to see how this plays out during the course of the day. We are learning that the protests will happen later in the day. But we're also hearing from our people on the ground, Rosemary, but there -- there is an increased presence of Taliban fighters on the streets of Kabul as well as in Herat.

CHURCH: All right. Anna Coren, many thanks for bringing us up to date on that situation. Appreciate it. Well, the U.S. says some 60,000 people evacuated from Kabul and now in the United States. Most of them about 50,000 Afghan nationals, who either assisted the U.S. or otherwise considered at risk. About 100 Americans are still believed to be somewhere in Afghanistan.

But the U.S. says the Taliban are currently holding up several charter flights of evacuees from the north of the country. We get more from CNN's Kylie Atwood at the State Department.

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


BLINKEN: As of now. The Taliban are not permitting the charter flights to depart. They claim that some of the passengers do not have the required documentation.


ATWOOD: With plane suddenly grounded or 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. "I have been deeply frustrated, even furious at our government's 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 100 Americans still left behind. On Tuesday Blinken said this.


BLINKEN: We don't have the means to verify the accuracy, 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 push back, saying that they had submitted information for the passengers that "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 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): The NSA, they facilitated it is absolutely a lie. We had to go through over 20 checkpoints, which each one of those checkpoints you actually paid money to get through.


ATWOOD: 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. Six 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 the -- 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.


CHURCH: Joining me now is Hussain Haqqani. He is the former Pakistani ambassador to the United States. Thank you, Ambassador for being with us.


CHURCH: So the Biden administration is still relying on the Taliban to get stranded Americans out of Afghanistan. But now the Taliban have announced this new, hardline government with links to terror. Is this the Taliban essentially thumbing their noses at the U.S. and the rest of the world? And what do you make of these selections?

HAQQANI: It probably is. The Taliban have made it very clear that their understanding of the Doha agreement is that it was only about a safe exit for American troops from Afghanistan. It did not bind the Taliban to anything else. And they feel that they have already provided that. Appointing 17 people out of 33 who are on U.N. sanctions list for terrorism basically indicates that the Taliban are unreconstructed and reformed and unchanged.


CHURCH: So, how big a terror threat do you think this new hardline Taliban government will be to the U.S. and other parts of the world? And could Afghanistan become a safe haven for terrorism, despite the recent pledges from the Taliban, claiming they would make sure that doesn't happen?

HAQQANI: Well, the Taliban have not technically pledged that there will be no terrorists in Afghanistan. All they have said, and they always stick to the literal interpretation of what they say is that Afghanistan will not become a place from where attacks will be launched on other countries, which means that they are still -- within their rights, as they see it, to allow various jihadi groups to organize inside Afghanistan because they are fellow Muslim Islamist.

And I think that they will definitely be a reconstitution and a resurgence of terrorism all over the world. Everybody who wants to engage in jihad against anybody in the world will probably find safe haven in Taliban in Afghanistan.

CHURCH: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the U.S. relationship with the Taliban would depend on their actions and America would watch to see if the Taliban corrects course. But we've already seen the Taliban beat women, protesting on the streets and stop planes from leaving Kabul's airport with Americans on board. Those are their actions. So why isn't the U.S. using its considerable diplomatic and financial leverage to get the Taliban to fulfill their promises?

HAQQANI: I think that is a question that is best asked of the Americans. But I feel that there are people in the U.S. State Department who live in eternal hope. And you -- we've seen that before. People want that the Taliban's own statements were that they were defeating the Americans and they were only negotiating America surrender terms. But the American diplomat continued to believe that they were having a bigger deal with the Taliban about peace in Afghanistan.

So, I think that the Americans will get a wake-up call very soon, they have been living under delusions of having moderated the Taliban. And they are mistaken if they believe that the Taliban want international recognition and respect and financial assistance so badly that they will change their core beliefs.

CHURCH: And Ambassador it is worth pointing out that some of those protests erupted on the streets of Kabul were critical of Pakistan's role accusing the country of interfering in Afghanistan's domestic affairs and chanting anti-Pakistan slogans. What is your reaction to that and how might relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan change with his new Taliban government?

HAQQANI: But as you know that even though I served as Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S., I'm considered a critic of Pakistan's policy in relation to jihadi groups and Afghanistan. I think that Pakistan will definitely have to weigh its desire for a government in Afghanistan that it can control, which is a government that they see in the form of the Taliban, a government that denies India, any whom or any space in Afghanistan.

But at the same time, they will have to decide, do they want to be part of the international community which will not be that keen to the Taliban unless and until they change some of their major policies. Also, I think Pakistan will feel very threatened by the Pakistani Taliban who have already launched some terrorist attacks in Pakistan and who will operate out of Afghanistan and we have gone Taliban -- them they're brethren in faith and ideology.

CHURCH: Hussein Haqqani, thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani vowed to fight to the death against the Taliban, but then fled the country the next day. Blinken says the U.S. knew nothing of Ghani's plans and did not help his helicopter escape.


BLINKEN: In our conversation, we were talking about work that was being done in Doha on a transfer of power. And in the absence of that succeeding, what he told me in that conversation the night before he fled is that as he put it, he was prepared to fight to the death and less than 24 hours he left Afghanistan. So no, I certainly didn't know about it. And we certainly did nothing to facilitate it.


CHURCH: Ghani now living in exile in the UAE issued a lengthy statement on Wednesday about his hasty exit.


CHURCH: Claiming leaving was the most difficult decision of his life. But after the Taliban entered Kabul he believed it was the only way to "Keep the guns silent." And once again, Ghani denied he stole millions of dollars in government money.

Well, security was tied as the trial of suspects in the 2015 terror attacks in Paris got underway. The main suspects, Salah Abdeslam, said a defiant tone from the start, has been silent for years but when the judge asked what his profession was Wednesday, his answer was unrepentant. Cyril Vanier has our report.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: France's mega trial, 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 1800 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 attack, he answered " 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.


CHURCH: The U.S. President plans a new COVID strategy to lead the country out of the pandemic. We will have the latest on how President Biden hopes of low and new cases. Plus, the criminal case against the former CEO of the Renault's why prosecutors say it's about fraud, lying and cheating.


CHURCH: The World Health Organization is once again calling on wealthy nations to help improve access to vaccines in the developing world. It comes as COVAX, the global vaccine sharing program is slated to fall 25 percent short of its goal of two billion doses this year. Just a little over one billion COVID vaccine shots are expected to be made available globally between now and the end of 2021.


CHURCH: The WHO chief is also urging wealthy nations to refrain from offering booster shots until at least the end of the year. He says it's important to wait until more doses are available to low income countries.


TEDROS ADHANOM, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: There has been a lot of talk about vaccine equity, but too little action. High income countries have promised to donate more than a billion dollars but less than 15 percent of those dose have been materialized. Manufacturers have promised to prioritize callbacks and low income countries. We don't want any more promises. We just want the vaccines.


CHURCH: U.S. President Joe Biden is just hours away from unveiling a new six-point plan to combat the Delta variant. Officials say he will push for new vaccine mandates and enhanced COVID testing. He also focused on protecting students in school and using the private sector to encourage more people to get their shots. The overall goal is to establish a pathway out of the pandemic. Something that would greatly help President Biden as his approval ratings continue to slip.

Well, the Biden administration has a big job trying to loosen COVID grip in the U.S. Cases are on the rise among children and only 53 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated. And CNN's Nick Watt reports a new study has found which group is most at risk for severe breakthrough infections.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Misinformation, fearmongering, swirl around breakthrough infections. The vaccinated who still catch COVID.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: The science shows the vaccine will not necessarily protect you. It's not protecting many people. WATT: So, not true. Here's a box fresh fact. Those very rare breakthrough cases who suffer severe symptoms tend to be older. 73 on average and have multiple other conditions like diabetes or heart disease according to the CDC. And unvaccinated adults are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized than the fully vaccinated.

DR. EDITH BRACHO-SANCHEZ, PRIMARY CARE PEDIATRICIAN: I think we also need to have perspective and realize that the people who are hospitalized, the people who are suffering severe outcomes are the unvaccinated.

WATT: In Miami Dade County, Florida, 13 unvaccinated public school staff have now died since mid-August.

ALBERTO M. CARVALHO, SUPERINTENDENT, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Which represents quite frankly, the danger of disinformation and misinformation which is so common these days.

WATT: More than 60 percent of Americans have now had at least one vaccine shot. The average daily death toll keeps climbing but average new cases dropped four percent since last week. It's regional as always Kentucky just had its worst week ever. More than 30,000 new infections.

GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): But we've called them FEMA strike teams, the National Guard, we've deployed nursing students all over the state. We could have prevented this by simply everybody going in and getting that vaccine.

WATT: And as the new school year ramps up across the country, more than a quarter of all new COVID-19 cases are now in kids. Once again a judge in Florida just ruled in favor of school mask mandates despite the mask phobic, still bullish governor's law that bans the mandates.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I'm confident we'll end up winning on appeal in that case.


WATT: Now Israel's health chief has been asked to address FDA vaccine advisors here in the U.S. at their meeting next week and present more data on those boosters. But Meantime, more than a quarter of eligible Americans still haven't had their first vaccine shot. Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

CHURCH: With the deadline looming, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and says Congress will raise the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sent a letter to Pelosi Wednesday. Emphasizing Congress must act by mid-October or the federal government will run out of cash. Yellen wrote once all available measures and cash on hand are fully exhausted the United States of America will be unable to meet its obligations for the first time in our history.

Republicans in the Senate have said they don't support raising the ceiling. But Pelosi says it won't be done through reconciliation. That's when a measure passes with a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate, instead of the three-fifths majority that would require 10 Republican votes.


NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: And when President Trump was president, we Democrats supported of lifting the debt ceiling, because it's the responsible thing to do. I would hope that the Republicans would act in a similarly responsible way. We won't be putting in reconciliation. No.


CHURCH: U.S. federal prosecutors say the founder of Theranos knew the company's blood tests were defective but lied about to investors. They delivered opening statements Wednesday and the criminal case against Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes founded Theranos at the age of 19 with the goal of revolutionizing blood testing. CNN's Clare Sebastian has more on the case against her.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The critical point here is that the prosecution has to prove not just that the fraud took place, but intent. That is at the core of federal wire fraud. So they have been laying out in detail. Some of the elements of the alleged deception. Things like rigging third party machines and using them for tests instead of the Theranos machines and lying about that to partners like Walgreens and Safeway.

Things like lying about their financial projections to investors. Apparently, they told investors that Pfizer had praised their technology, they even have a fake document to prove that and that is, you know, part of the evidence that the prosecution is bringing up here. As you said, the lead prosecutor said this is a case about fraud, about lying and cheating to get money. But we've heard as well, some of what the defense team is going to bring up here.

They have said that this was not about money. She was motivated by the mission rather than the money itself. They said that she never sold a share even after she left the company. As she put all of her effort, all of her money into this. She lost it all and urging jurors (INAUDIBLE) to consider whether Theranos failed because it was a fraud, because she was a young CEO that naively underestimated the obstacles in front of her. They only have to introduce reasonable doubt for the jury to not convict her.

CHURCH: Holmes has pleaded not guilty to the charges if convicted. She faces up to 20 years in prison.

Three young women made the difficult choice to flee Afghanistan after realizing that have no future under Taliban rule. Hear their stories and their struggles. That's next.

Plus, a military parade in Pyongyang unlike anything seen in recent years. A live report from Seoul just ahead.


[02:30:00] CHURCH: Many Afghan women have promising futures before the Taliban's rise to power. Now, these women fear Afghanistan is returning to its repressive past. That has prompted three young women to flee the country. Now, they are in the UAE and will eventually go to Canada where they hope to find old freedoms, even as they face an uncertain future.

CNN's Becky Anderson has their stories.



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voiceover): Shekiba was one of Afghanistan's rising stars. Her warm voice and colorful wardrobe a regular feature on Afghan TV. It was a dream come true for this 23- year-old. For now, that dream has turned into a nightmare. Earlier this month, she fled Afghanistan as life under Taliban rule is no longer safe. Alongside 33 other women, she was evacuated to Abu Dhabi, where she awaits before starting a new life in Canada.

SHEKIBA TEIMORI, AFGHAN SINGER: We felt that we have to come out of the country because of our actions. Because we knew Taliban, they had a problem with music, and especially with women who sing. We just knew that we had to hide ourself to be safe.

ANDERSON (voiceover): And she is not alone. Zahra is a professional cyclist. It's not her real name. She hides her face out of fear for the safety of loved ones left behind.

ZAHRA: As a girl cyclist, as an athlete, I couldn't stay in my country. We used to practice. We used to have competitions. And we were happy, we were doing our sports. But nowadays, it is really difficult and disappointing. It hurts us, actually.

ANDERSON (voiceover): She says she and her teammates were at risk back home. She feels lucky but leaving wasn't easy.

ZAHRA: My country, my family and my relatives, my people they are all there. It is really difficult.

ANDERSON (voiceover): What Rodabe is a member of Afghanistan's prize- winning girl's robotics team and an aspiring doctor. For her, leaving home is an opportunity. Her team was a success story of women's empowerment before the Taliban takeover. Now, they're only hope for success is to make a fresh start outside of Afghanistan.

RODABE NOORI, MEMBER OF AFGHAN GIRL ROBOTICS TEAM: I plan when I get to Canada, just go to university and study. Stream again. So, that's my dream. And I wish that we could have a better future.

ANDERSON (voiceover): In recent days, Afghan women have been bravely and publicly protesting, standing up to Taliban rule. They have been met with violence.

Rodabe, Zahra, and Shekiba all hope to go back to Afghanistan one day. So, know, thought, they represent what the repressive Taliban regime fear the most, empowered women with a voice.

Becky Anderson, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


CHURCH: North Korea's right now are marking the anniversary of their country's founding 73 years ago. A short time ago, an unusual nighttime military parade was held in the capital to celebrate the occasion with hundreds of marchers dressed in hazmat suits.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is following this for us from Seoul. She joins us now live.

Good to see you, Paula.

So, what is the significance of this unprecedented nighttime parade?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, the past few parades we have seen have been nighttime parades. But what is unusual about this one is that it was far less military than what we have seen previously. Back in January, for example, they unveiled what appeared to be a very significant submarine launched ballistic missile. October of last year, they showed what analysts believe to be one of the world's biggest ballistic missiles. And yet, this time around, it was a real focus away from the missile capabilities and more on the public security forces as state run media forces have called them.

So, you saw public parades, as you say, there were also flyovers with flares. There were parachuters, power troopers parachuting and you saw parades of laborers. And as you say those in the hazmat suits. Now, they are believed to be the frontline defense against COVID-19, described as the emergency disease prevention unit.


So, showing really a different side to what we see from these parades in North Korea. Now, there were, obviously, military elements to it. But they were more military assets that you would see on the battlefield as opposed to the missile capabilities that have the region and the world so concerned. Now, in the stroke of midnight, when it did become the 73rd anniversary of the founding of North Korea, we did see the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

As far as we know from state run media, he did not speak to the people, again, that is slightly different to previous parades. But we have not seen the actual footage of those parades yet. We expect that, potentially, later on this thursday. We have been seeing stills of the event itself. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Paula Hancocks, joining us live from Seoul, many thanks.

Kenya's wildlife is facing a growing threat. New data shows poaching across the country is rising at an alarming rate. Coming up, how the pandemic is fueling the surge.


CHURCH: Brazil's chief justice is firing back at President Jair Bolsonaro after he criticize the Supreme Court and cast doubt on the integrity of next year's election at a rally. The top judge warned that encouraging people to disregard court decisions is a crime.


CHIEF JUSTICE LUIZ FUX, BRAZIL'S SUPREME COURT (through translator): The Supreme Court will not tolerate threats to the authority of its decisions. If there is contempt towards judicial decisions from those who hold power, this standing represents an attack on democracy. It constitutes criminal responsibility to be analyzed by the national Congress.


CHURCH: Bolsonaro had called the rallies to protest his perceived enemies in Congress and the Supreme Court.

Well, the coronavirus pandemic has brought Kenya's tourism industry to a halt, and the country's wildlife is paying a hefty price. The economic fallout is so severe, protected wildlife is being killed for food.

CNN's Scott McLean has details.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): The savannah of Southern Kenya is a tough place to survive. It's hot, dry and there is the constant threat of predators planning their next meal. Lions, leopards and lately a lot of humans as well too

DONART MWAKIO, TAITI HILLS WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: Currently the situation is- worse because most people have lost their jobs and now, they're resorting to poaching.

MCLEAN (voiceover): Twice a day, Donart Mwakio and his team of rangers from the sprawling Tita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary go hunting for poachers. On this day, they find a crudely butchered giraffe carcass killed by poachers in the last two weeks.


MWAKIO: It weighs about one ton.

MCLEAN (voiceover): Down the dirt road, the footprints are much fresher. They lead to a homemade snare fashion from the electric fence meant to keep poachers out. They find two more traps, the last one attached to the hoof of an eland, the largest antelope on earth. New figures from the Kenya Wildlife Service shows that seizures of bush meat, mostly antelope, zebras and dik-diks are on pace to hit a record high.

JOHN MIGUI WAWERU, KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE DIRECTOR GENERAL: The problem is not looking very good at the moment. Poverty is something that was -- that came through with COVID, because jobs are lost.

MCLEAN (on camera): People are desperate.

MIGUI: People are desperate, yes.

WILLIE MWADILO: They sit in the village. Morning to evening, then don't have a cent, they don't have food.

Willie Mwadilo (ph) is the general manager of the Tita Hills and the two hotels inside the sanctuary that pre-pandemic were almost always near capacity. But in the past 18 months, he says they scarcely top 20 percent.

MCLEAN (on camera): People asked you for jobs.

MWADILO: Yes. So many people. So many people.

MCLEAN: You don't have jobs to give them?

MWADILO: I don't have jobs to give them.

MCLEAN (voiceover): In the village next to the sanctuary, poverty is the rule, not the exception. Wildlife is the most precious resource but without tourism, the animals are worth a lot more dead.

MCLEAN (on camera): This village was struggling even before the pandemic. Only some of the houses are hooked up to electricity, nobody has indoor plumbing, and the pandemic has made life just that much harder. People here say they don't have enough to eat. And so, it is pretty hard to blame them for poaching.

MCLEAN (voiceover): Ibrahim Thrombo (ph) takes any odd job he can to earn the $7 a day that ensures his wife and two small kids have enough to eat. But since the pandemic took hold, his kids each at once a day. They've become weak because there's nothing to eat. They don't complain. They know that when their parents get money, they will get to eat, he says. Thrombo (ph) says he doesn't poach bush meat, but like many, he buys it. He cannot afford beef, it's at least four times the price.

GABRIEL MRADAI, BUTCHER: Before corona there were so many customers.

MCLEAN (voiceover): The local butcher works on commission. Pre- pandemic, his display case would be filled with 20 or 25 kilograms of beef. Now, there is just one. Almost no one can afford it. Ask around and bushmeat is not hard to find. This man, who agreed to speak with us anonymously says he is the middleman who buys the meat from poachers and takes it to town to resell at a small profit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to take care of my family. So, I have to risk go back to the bush.

MCLEAN (voiceover): He is well aware of the risk. Jail time or a fine he could never afford if he was caught.

MCLEAN (on camera): So, what is the lesson in all this? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need employment.

MCLEA: If you could feed your family some other way, you wouldn't do this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I cannot do that.

WAWERU: That root of the problem is we now must look for alternatives. First, we must educate the people, to tell them the problem of why bushmeat is not the alternative.

MCLEAN (voiceover): But that is perhaps a tough sell, considering tourism has all but dried up.

WAWERU: It has. But recent numbers are beginning to show that it is beginning to pick up.

MCLEAN (voiceover): A glimmer of light that cannot come soon enough.

Scott McLean, CNN, Salvo, Kenya.


CHURCH: And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more news at the top of the hour. World Sport is next.



PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Hi, there. Welcome to World Sport Today. I'm Patrick Snell.

We will be featuring the precocious teenage talents making huge global headlines at this year's U.S. Open. As the women semifinals taking center stage later on this Thursday.

But we do start with Novak Djokovic and his quest for a men's record 21st Grand Slam crown and in a match that would end in the early hours of this Thursday morning. Djokovic facing the Italian player, Matteo Berrettini. This two met, you know, in the final at Wimbledon early this year. On that occasion, Berrettini winning the first set before losing the next three. Well, guess what happened this time around at Flushing Meadow, the Italian again taking the opener only familiarly to predictably hit back and win the next three once again. Djokovic looking for not just the 21st Slam crown but also the calendar year Grand Slam as well.

Well, the top ranked Djokovic next facing Germany's Alexander Zverev in the semis. The man beat him, remember, at the Olympics recently in Tokyo. In the other semi, the number 2 seed, Daniil Medvedev of Russia facing the young Canadian player, Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Now, later on this Thursday, the women's semis taken the center stage. We got the 19-year-old Canadian, Leylah Fernandez booking her spot in the semis. That was on Tuesday. While on Wednesday, we saw another phenomenal performance from the British teen, Emma Raducanu. The 18- year-old becoming the first qualifier to reach the last four at Flushing Meadows, overcoming the Swiss player Olympic champion, Belinda Bencic, in straight sets.

The Olympic champ just had no answer to her stunning display from Raducan who is playing in just her second Grand Slam tournament. Would you believe it? A remarkable two. She has yet to drop a set in eight matches so far in the Big Apple, having also played three qualifying matches before she would even get into the main draw.

Raducanu was born in Canada before moving to the U.K., hit the headlines earlier this year. Just look at that emotion there. It really does say it all. I remember she got two Wimbledon, the last 16 at the (INAUDIBLE) as a wildcard when she was then ranked 338 in the world. Let's take a listen to what she had to say.


EMMA RADUCANU, TENNIS PLAYER: I've just been focusing one day at the time, taking care of each day. When we are playing tournaments, you just get into this sort of autopilot mode of your routine and recovering on the day often between. I didn't expect to be here at all. I mean, I think my flights were booked at the end of qualifying. So, it's a nice problem to have. But, yes, I'm just really enjoying the experience. And out there on that court today, I was saying to myself, this could be the last time you play on ashe. So, you might as well just go for it and enjoy everything.