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Protesters Undeterred by Taliban Threats; U.S. All Eyes to Taliban Behavior; Americans Still Stuck in Kabul; Change of Core Principles Not in Taliban's Vocabulary; France's Biggest Trial Starts; New Study Found to Slowdown Fossil Fuel Consumption; WHO Want Action, Not Promises. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired September 09, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead on CNN Newsroom, the new Taliban leadership cracking down on Afghans who dare to protest against their government. But still, some remain defiant.

There is tight security in Paris for the terror trial attended by suspects and survivors of the 2015 Bataclan terror attack.

And we'll hear from the lead author of a new study on what needs to be done to the earth's fossil fuels to fight off further climate change.

Good to have you with us.

Well, a new ban on unauthorize protests in Afghanistan may be falling on deaf ears in the capital city. CNN is getting reports that hundreds of demonstrators planned to gather later today in Kabul. Women have been leading these protests over the past two weeks since the Taliban took over. They are demanding a role in government, jobs, education, and freedom to go 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 demonstration say they were detained and severely beaten. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Taliban's legitimacy is at stake.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are assessing the announcement, but despite professing that a new government would be inclusive, they announce list of names consist exclusively of individuals were members of the Taliban and their close associates and no women. We're also concerned by the affiliations and track records of some of those individuals.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH (on camera): CNN's Anna Coren has covered Afghanistan

extensively and was in Kabul recently. She joins me now live. Good to see you, Anna.

So this new Taliban government made its first priority, the banning of protest rather than tackling food shortages and of course the collapsing economy. But that has not deterred protesters. What is the latest on this?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, we know that there are protesters gathering in parts of Kabul. There are planned demonstrations for today in the Afghan national calendar. It is Massoud Day. This marks the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud who was the leader of the Northern Alliance. He fought the Taliban during their reign in the 90s and he was assassinated on this day 20 years ago by members of Al-Qaeda who disguised themselves as journalist and blew themselves up with a bomb and a camera.

So, this is a day that people marked. These protesters are wanting to take to the streets in defiance of the Taliban. They don't see this government, and notice the word, quite frankly, as an inclusive one representational of all of Afghanistan. You have 33 men, 32 of whom are Pashtun. No women, certainly no ethnic minorities, it is basically the old Taliban. That is what we are seeing of this leadership.

So, women are taking to the streets as they have over the coming days. But what we are hearing from organizers is that they will turn out in much larger numbers today on Massoud Day, to mark this national day. The Taliban in retaliation, we understand are shutting down internet and phone providers in certain parts of Kabul.

We are getting reports from people on the ground and we have this confirmed from many employers (Ph) the telecommunication, one of the companies. So, this is a way that the Taliban will certainly block these powerful images from getting out to the world showing that this uprising is occurring at a grassroots level.

I saw footage just a short time ago before we came on air, of convoys of Humvees, Rosemary in the city of Herat in the west close to the Iranian border. So, we've seen protests in Herat. We've seen protests also in Mazar-i-Sharif. So, I mean, this could be something that does go across the country, you know, these protests, I should say, we just have to monitor the situation, Rosemary.


COREN: But from what we understand certainly on the streets of Herat and Kabul, an increase in Taliban fighters.


CHURCH: And we'll be watching how the Taliban respond. The world is watching right now. Anna Coren, many thanks for bringing us up to date on that. U.S. says some 60,000 people evacuated from Kabul are now in the

United States. Most of them about 50,000 are 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 REPORTER (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 played suddenly grounded, a rift has developed between the Biden administration, lawmakers, and private groups working on the flight. 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 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 of 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 quote, "goes above and beyond what was required for travel out of Hamid Karzai International Airport just one day earlier."

Today, Blinken acknowledge 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): Well, if they say they have facilitated it, that's absolutely a lie. We had to go through over 20 checkpoints, which each one of those checkpoints you actually had to pay 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 -- Secretary Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security, said that this is been a massive logistical effort on the behalf of DHS. They have surge resources both here at home in the United States and abroad to help with the processing of all these Afghans.

Kylie Atwood, CNN, the State Department.

CHURCH: 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 the work that was being done in Doha on the transfer of power and in the absence of that succeeding. What he told me on 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, now I certainly didn't know about it, and we certainly did nothing to facilitate it.


CHURCH (on camera): Ghani now living in exile in the UAE issued a lengthy statement on Wednesday about his hasty exit claiming leaving was the most difficult decision of his life, but after the Taliban entered Kabul, he believed it was the only way to quote, "keep the guns silent." And once again, Ghani denied he stole millions of dollars in government money.

Joining me now is Husain 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 elections? HAQQANI: It probably is. The Taliban have been 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 under constructed, under formed 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 that doesn't happen?

HAQQANI: Well, the Taliban have not technically pledged that there will be no terrorist in Afghanistan. All they have said and they all will 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 right as they see it, to allow various Jihadi groups to organize inside Afghanistan because they are fellow Muslim Islamist.

And I think that there will definitely be a reconstitution and a resurgence of and by Jihadi terrorism all over the world. Everybody who wants to engage in Jihad against anybody in the world will probably find safe haven in Taliban's 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 we have seen that before, people warned that the Taliban's own statements were that they were defeating the Americans and they were only negotiating America surrender terms. But American diplomats continue 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 wakeup 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 erupting on the street 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 this new Taliban government?

HAQQANI: And 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 in Afghanistan.

I think that Pakistan will definitely have to weigh its desire for a government in Afghanistan that they can control, which is a government that they see in the form of the Taliban, a government that denies India any room 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 criticize the Taliban unless and until they change some of their major policies. Also, I feel 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 the Afghan Taliban (Inaudible) their brethren in faith and ideology.

CHURCH: Husain Haqqani, thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it.

Security was tight as the trial of suspects in the 2015 terror attacks in Paris got underway.


The main suspect, Salah Abdeslam set a defiant tone from the start. He's been silent for years but when the judge asked what his profession was Wednesday, his answer was unrepentant.

Cyril Vanier reports.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: France's mega trial saw 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 court 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 commandoes. Once Europe's most wanted fugitive, he appeared unrepentant, dressed in black from head to toe, the colors of the Islamic state group and defiant 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 is expected eight to nine months from now. Cyril Vanier, CNN, Paris.

CHURCH: With women's rights facing an uncertain future in Afghanistan, many chose to flee the Taliban and the country in hopes of finding the freedoms they've lost. The stories of three young women coming up.

Plus, the case for leaving fossil fuels in the ground. The author of a new study joins me live to explain why he thinks it may be the only way to prevent massive climate change.


CHURCH (on camera): Welcome back, everyone. Well, latest from North, South, and Central America are warning that the world has a small window to solve the climate crisis. They met virtually Wednesday ahead of next month's U.N. climate conference, COP26. The group hopes to get more countries to work toward net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and to keep the global temperature increased well below two degrees.

U.S. delegate John Kerry told the group that more frequent extreme weather events should not be ignored.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE: Mother Nature speaking back to us, screaming at us. It's sending messages every month, every week, almost every day. That we're not doing enough, that we're not ahead of the curb.


And I'm pleased to say that President Biden is committed to double our adaptation funding on a global basis and also to triple our finding for resilience. So, we will obviously contribute in a significant way.


CHURCH (on camera): The Biden administration has new plans to lower carbon emissions. The U.S. Department of Energy said that by 2035 solar power could provide 40 percent of U.S. electricity. And employ more than one million people.

The agency says it could all be done without raising energy cost for consumers. But reaching those goals may depend on Congress passing Mr. Biden's $3.5 trillion spending bill. Congressional Democrats are negotiating that bill right now.

Well, British scientists say most of the world's remaining fossil fuels should be left where they are. In a new study, they say 60 percent of the world's remaining oil and gas should stay locked underground by 2050. The same applies to 90 percent of the world's coal.

Scientists say such measures are needed to keep the increasing global temperatures within one and a half degrees Celsius above pre- industrial levels. Experts consider that necessary to prevent the worst consequences of global warning -- warming.

And I am now joined by the lead author of that study, Daniel Welsby is a researcher at the University College London. His study has been published in the Journal Nature.

Thank you so much for talking with us.


CHURCH: So, your study says most fossil fuels should remain in the ground, and you are calling for strict limits on oil, natural gas reserves, and coal to curb global warming. How likely is it that that will ever happen given these fossil fuels they represent a lot of money for leaders around the world, and businesses too?

WELSBY: Yes, absolutely. I mean, so essentially, you know, we used a techno economic model. So, we, you know, we said that given the indicated carbon budget it would be consistent with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. You know, how much of the global fossil reserve base needs to remain in the ground?

And essentially, this indicated that globally, oil and gas production needs to decline around on average three percent per year. But one of the main kind of implications of our study and that we try to draw out, is that that's heavily dependent on a manage decline of production, and equitable distribution amongst regions.

CHURCH: And, I mean, how do you convince global leaders, though, that solar and wind energy make more sense when you have nations like Australia saying they're sticking with coal, regardless. Because again, it gets back to resources that individual countries have, they want to make money, and they don't see that they can make money out of solar energy or wind.

WELSBY: Yes. I mean, it's, you know, there's been unprecedented cost reductions and things like solar and wind technology, and in battery electric vehicles. And there's, you know, an incredible opportunity there for significant employment in those technologies.

You know, as you said in the introduction from the energy, from the EIA today around, you know, the potential for solar PV jobs in the U.S. But, you know, governments have suggested or indicated that they are going to push for net zero target, and the current production plans from significant number of those countries are at odds with that target.

You know, and there's increased movement away from fossil fuels even in energy intensive sectors like iron and steel, for example, in India their significant interest in inclusion of green hydrogen in a steel production mix there.

So, what will, you know, what needs to happen is essentially that there will be significant demand reductions, and therefore, exports of coal from places like Australia, you know, will decrease in the future. So, relying on those revenues is increasingly uncertain and increasingly risky.

CHURCH: So, those changes happening fast enough?

WELSBY: No. I mean, there's certainly not happening fast enough. You know, there is momentum there, particularly with solar and wind, as I said, you know, given the cost reductions. And now, you know, in many countries they are actually cost competitive with fossil fuels in terms of generation.

But what we see is that, you know, what we saw from the modeling is that what, you know, ideally what would happen is that developed economies, you know, which don't rely heavily on fossil fuel revenues really to push this decarbonization.


CHURCH: Right. And of course, the snapshot right now though is still most of these global leaders and business owners don't care about keeping the global temperatures down. They are only worried about the here and now, and that is your biggest challenge, isn't it? For all climate scientists.

So, how hopeful are you that anything would be done? And what is our future, if it doesn't get done and doesn't get done in time?

WELSBY: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I think that, you know, like I said, there's been net zero commitments, you know, in the U.S. by 2050, and in China by 2060. You know, in and there has been call of net zero commitments around the world although, you know, a lot of them are legislated, so they're not in law.

So, I think where this will take is significant momentum. And there is the movement there. For example, there is the, you know, there is a fossil fuel on proliferation treaty, and there's the beyond oil and gas alliance where Denmark in particular is leading, you know, no new exploration in oil fields.

So, this is about momentum, and it's also about political will. But you know, essentially, the path or direction is, you know, is being aimed at low carbon technology simply because the cost has come down so quickly.

CHURCH: Daniel Welsby, great to talk with you. Many thanks.

WELSBY: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, 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. 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 GHEBREYESUS, 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 doses, but less than 15 percent of those doses have been materialized.

Manufacturers have promised to prioritize COVX in low income countries. We don't want any more promises. We just want the vaccines.


CHURCH (on camera): 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'll 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, three young women made a difficult choice to flee Afghanistan after realizing they have no future under Taliban rule. Hear their stories. That's coming up next.

Plus, kids are at the center of China's new crackdown. See how officials are targeting video games, textbooks, and cheaters.



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): For the past two decades the future was looking increasingly hopeful for Afghan women. But the Taliban's return has many fearing Afghanistan is returning to its repressive past. Three young women decided that's not the future they want and, like so many others decided to flee. CNN's Becky Anderson has their stories.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): 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 waits before starting a new life in Canada.

SHEKIBA TEIMORI, AFGHAN SINGER: We felt that we had to come out of the country, because of our actions. Because we knew Taliban. They have problem with music and especially with woman are singing. We just knew that we have to hide ourselves to be safe. ANDERSON: 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 love ones left behind.

ZAHRA, AFGHAN REFUGEE: As a girl cyclist, as an athlete, as I could not stay in my country. We used to practice, we used to have competitions. And we were happy, we were doing our sport. But nowadays it's really disappointing. It hurts us, actually.

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

ZAHRA: My country were my family and my relatives, my people, they are all there. This is very difficult.

ANDERSON: Rodabe is a member of Afghanistan's prize-winning girl's robotics team, and an aspiring doctor. For her, leaving home is an opportunity. The 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 Afghanistan.

RIDABE NOORI, MEMBER OF AFGHAN ROBOTIC TEAM: When we get to Canada, just go to University and study extreme again, so, that's my dream. And I wish that we can better future.

ANDERSON: 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. For now though, they represent what the repressive Taliban regime fear the most, empowered women with a voice. Becky Anderson, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


CHURCH: With a deadline looming, U.S. House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, insists Congress will raise the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, sent a letter to Pelosi on 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 would be unable to meet its obligations for the first time in our history." Republicans in the Senate had said, say 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.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: And when President Trump was president, we Democrats supported 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 it in reconciliation, no.


CHURCH: From education to video games, China has introduced a number of new restrictions aimed at children, a not so subtle effort by the central government to intervene in the private lives of families and potentially shape future generations. CNN's David Culver has our report.


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 Yang in Shanghai. Yeging Yang 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.

YEGING YANG, FATHER IN SHANGHAI (through translator): It's a good policy. We get the 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 am very worried that this generation of children will become the victims of policy oriented actions." But some supporting 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, this training institutions will only become more and more crazy." A rising middle class has struggled in recent years, spending millions buying homes and desired school districts and, paying private tutors to keep their kids academically competitive, with some complaining that wealthier families have 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 labeled this a new cultural revolution, harking back to the sixties and seventies when then leader Mao Zedong led a movement to purify the party, as he put it. An obvious effort to reassert his control. It led to brutal crackdowns on free thought, mass imprisonment and hundreds of thousands of people were killed.

D. YANG: The general secretary 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 is resinous with the culture of (inaudible) in certain respects.

CULVER: They 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.

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

CULVER: 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 thought, reinforced by the many photos of this country's increasingly powerful leader. For the Yang family, they are positives.

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

CULVER: 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 daily pressures, a deeper indoctrination may be underway, aimed at keeping anything the party disapproves of firmly in its place.

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. 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.


CHURCH: North Koreans right now are marking the anniversary of their country's founding, 73 years ago. Earlier, 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, talk to us about the significance of this nighttime parade.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Rosemary, the last three parades that we had seen have been at nighttime. Previously they were during the day. But this one that we saw today was very different in the fact that it was not as military focused as what we have seen from the past 2, in January for example. North Korea unveiled a submarine launch ballistic missile. Although it is something that hadn't been tested, the new weaponry, some of that new weaponry we saw in January.

Back in last October, a nighttime parade, they had what analysts believe to be one of the world's biggest ballistic missiles. So, what we saw overnight Wednesday into Thursday was different in the fact that there was some military arsenal. But it was minimal compared to what we are used to. This, according to state run media was really a focus on the security forces of North Korea.

So, we saw laborers, for example, parading through (inaudible) Square. As you said, we saw a unit in hazmat suits in gas masks. And they were called the Emergency Disease Prevention Unit, so presumably the frontline defense against COVID-19. North Korea having taken the pandemic extremely seriously, knowing that they would not be able to deal with a massive outbreak, given the frailty of the health infrastructure in the country. They have effectively shut their borders since January of last year.

So we did see, at midnight, according to state run media -- we have yet to see the footage itself, only still. Kim Jong-un coming out to wave to his people at midnight. This was the mark of the beginning of the 73rd anniversary of the foundation of the country. We don't believe he spoke to the crowds at least that is the impression we get from state run media. But we certainly saw that he had, again, lost weight. This is something that has been a focus over recent months. The reason unknown at this point. But something that has been noticed by many of those who follow North Korea closely. So it was a parade with a slight difference. The fact that it was not quite so heavily marked by the military and missile prowess that North Korea quite often likes to show off. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Alright. Many thanks to our Paula Hancocks. I appreciate it.

A watershed moment for women's rights in Mexico. Coming up, reaction to a Supreme Court ruling that decriminalizes abortion. We are back with that live in just a moment.



CHURCH: France will make contraception free for all women after age 25. The health minister says high cost have led to a decline in contraception use among young woman. Biological assessments and prescription consultations will be included. The measure will cost taxpayers nearly $25 million, until now, free contraception was only available to those ages 15 to 18.

In Mexico, we are getting the first reaction from the nation's president, about a landmark ruling on abortion. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that having an abortion is not a crime. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador later said, the ruling should stay.


ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (through translator): It is a decision of the judiciary of the Supreme Court, which was practically unanimous, which must be respected. There are conflicting positions, so I should not in this case, renounce myself in favor of anything other than what the justices have already decided.


CHURCH: The court decision has been described as a watershed moment in the world's second largest catholic country. CNN's Rafael Romo reports from Mexico City.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice over): The very same day the Mexican Supreme Court legalized abortion, the ground shook in Mexico. The earthquake was felt for about a minute but the shockwave sent across the nation by the courts ruling will be felt for years to come. A woman should not be deprived of her right to decide for herself, and much less be incarcerated for something she decides about her own body, this Mexico City resident said.

I agree that women should do whatever they want with their body, but not on this issue. We're talking about a human being. Things shouldn't be done that way by having an abortion, said another.

Chief Justice Arturo Zaldivar said, it was a historic day for the rights of all Mexican women. Anna Margarita Rios, one of only three woman on court of 11 justices said, she's against stigmatizing those seek an abortion. Nobody gets voluntary pregnant thinking about getting an abortion later, she said.

The fact that the Mexican Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional, sets the president that will be applied in the country's 32 states. The ruling stems from a law enacted in the northern state of (inaudible), which said that women who get an abortion, they get punished with up to three years in prison and a fine.

MARIA ANTONIETA ALCALDE, DIRECTOR, IPAS: The ruling of the court applies to the states of (inaudible) specifically. But it sends a message to all the states saying that it is important that you change the law.

ROMO: Maria Antonieta Alcalde, the Director of a woman's right group in Mexico and Central America says, the ruling may also have repercussions beyond the Mexican border.

ANTONIETA ALCALDE: Texas is moving on the other direction. So what could happen is that more women may decide to travel to Mexico. That is like kind of the opposite of what's used to happen. Like a lot of women used to travel to the U.S. to have a safe and legal abortion.

ROMO: Even before the ruling, the Mexican Catholic Church issued a statement saying, "We would like to remind you all that human being, conceived by a father and a mother whose life begins at the moment of conception, should be recognized in his or her dignity in all stages of life, and deserves the same protection under the law, in the face of actions that could put this person in jeopardy."

In spite of the ruling, the country remains polarized. Polling conducted before the decision, but published by a national newspaper after the ruling says 53 percent of Mexicans oppose abortions, while 45 percent agreed that the law should allow the procedure. Rafael Romo, CNN, Mexico City.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: U.S. Federal prosecutors say the founder of Theranos knew the

company's blood test were defective, but lied about it to investors. They delivered opening statements Wednesday in a 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 CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The critical point here is that the prosecution has to prove not just the (inaudible) took place, but intent. That is at the core of federal lie. So they have been laying 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 safely thins like lying about their financial projections to investors.


Apparently they told investors that Pfizer had praised their technology. They even had 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 prosecutors said, this is the case about fraud, about lying and cheating to get money. But we 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. She put all of her effort, all of her money into this. She lost it all and urging jury to consider that the Theranos failed, because it was fraud and, because she was a young CEO that naively underestimated to obstacles and (inaudible). They only have to introduce reasonable doubt for the jury to not to convict her.

CHURCH: Holmes has pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison.

Kenya is facing an alarming rise in poaching. Coming up, why the pandemic is driving more people to target protected wildlife.


CHURCH: 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: The Savanah of southern Kenya is a top 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 to.

UNKNOWN: Currently the situation is worse because most people have lost their jobs and now they are poaching.

MCLEAN: Twice a day, Donart Wakio (ph) and his team of rangers from the sprawling Taita Hills wildlife is saying were you go hunting for poachers. On this day they find a crudely butchered giraffe park is killed by poachers in the last two weeks.

UNKNOWN: It weigh about one ton.

MCLEAN: Down the dirt road, the footprints are much fresher. It leads to a homemade snare fashioned from the electric fence meant to keep poachers out. They find two more tramps, the last one attached to the hoof of an (inaudible), the largest antelope on earth. New figures from the Kenya wildlife service showed that seizures of bush meat, mostly antelope, zebras and (inaudible) are on phase 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 came through with the COVID, because jobs are lost.

MCLEAN: People are desperate?

WAWERU: People are desperate. Yes.

UNKNOWN: They sit in the village, all into evening they don't have (inaudible) to go out food.

MCLEAN: Willy Wadilo (ph) is the general manager of Taita Hills and the two hotels inside the sanctuary that pre-pandemic were almost always near capacity. But in the past 18 months, he said they scarcely top 20 percent.

UNKNOWN: People asked me for jobs. Yes. So many people. So many people.