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SpaceX Sends First All-Civilian Crew Into Orbit; Indo-Pacific Pact; Afghanistan's Future; Pakistan PM Talks To CNN About Taliban, Afghanistan's Future; Haiti In Crisis. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 16, 2021 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, welcome to our viewers joining us from around the world. I'm John Vause is coming up on CNN Newsroom.

The birth of AUKUS, a new Australia, United Kingdom and United States defense alliance, delivering a fleet of nuclear powered subs to Australia or sending a clear message to China.

Calling out a colossal FBI fail. In powerful testimony before Congress, elite U.S. gymnast accused the FBI of turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse of hundreds of girls and young women by Team Dr. Larry Nassar.

And this one's for the geeks and the nerds who never had the right stuff and never will or never had the plein air bank balance as well but always dreamed of one day, traveling into space.

Well, for the first time ever, a manned spaceflight is in high Earth orbit right now without a trained astronauts on board. The world's first also the young crew blasted off just a few hours ago.

The launch of the SpaceX rocket was one giant leap forward for space tourism as well. The crew of Inspiration4 is led by billionaire Jared Isaacman, who funded the flight. And CNN's Kristin Fisher has details now from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a spectacular and successful nighttime launch from the Kennedy Space Center. And what makes this inspiration for mission so extraordinary. It's just how ordinary the crew is. None of them are professional astronauts and yet they're going to be orbiting the Earth for the next three days before splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean.

Onboard, a 29-year-old pediatric cancer survivor and physician's assistant at St. Jude's Children's Hospital. There's also Dr. Sian Proctor who applied to be an astronaut back in 2009 came this close didn't quite make the cut. She was devastated. Now she gets to achieve her lifelong dream. There's also Chris Sembroski, who was watching a Super Bowl commercial for this mission. He entered a sweepstakes. His friend got the golden ticket, but gave it to him. That's how he ended up on board. And finally the commander Jared Isaacman, a billionaire businessman and entrepreneur, a pilot, and he's really the brainchild for this mission.

He went to SpaceX back in October about something totally different mentioned in a passing comment, hey, if you ever want to send me into space, I'd be game. And now here he is in orbit, less than a year later.

JARED ISAACMAN, PERSONALLY FINANCED THE TRIP: I wouldn't say pressure. Because pressure would mean like I'm nervous about the outcome here. I think that responsibility is really the word right and that this is a big responsibility. And we have to execute really well and get this right so that the door can stay open for all the other missions to follow.

Jared Isaacman talks a lot about opening up space travel to everyone and democratizing space. And that's really central to SpaceX his founding mission, which is to make humanity a multiplanetary to colonize Mars. And so in order to do that, you have to prove that your everyday person is capable of dealing with the rigors of orbital spaceflight and that is exactly what the inspiration for crew is going to spend the next several days doing. At the Kennedy Space Center, Kristin Fisher, CNN.


VAUSE: CNN's aerospace analyst Miles O'Brien is with us now from Charlotte, North Carolina. Welcome back. Good to see you, Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AEROSPACE ANALYST: Good to see you, Jonathan.

VAUSE: OK, so for the first time ever, it's hard to overstate this because we have private citizens on a privately owned rocket built by a private company, not a trained astronauts insight, virtually no NASA involvement and right now they're orbiting the planet. So is this the moment? Will this mission be looked upon as the real beginning, when access to space was democratized for everyone?

O'BRIEN: Yes, I spent quite an amazing summer has it, John. We've watched Virgin Galactic and then we watched Blue Origin with their brief suborbital five or six minute tastes of the edge of space. And now here we see Elon Musk and SpaceX see them and raise them by 16fold by putting a spacecraft in orbit with all civilians, nobody there is trained in any particularly special way and it lays bare the secret that, you know, these are fully autonomous vehicles that do not require the best and brightest white scarf pilots in the world. A lot of astronauts don't like that story getting out, but there it is. We can all go now, John. So let's sign up.


VAUSE: Yes, take me with you. But yes, right now they've -- they're in this fully automated capsule, right? It's called resilience. It's about as big as sort of an oversized SUV. You know, there is no astronaut. I keep saying this. There's no one who's actually specifically trained onboard. So God forbid, what happens if something goes wrong? Or they need to stay in orbit longer than the three days? What do they do? What's the backup contingencies here?

O'BRIEN: Yes, I mean, you definitely want to have somebody on board who knows a little bit about medical procedures. And we do have that. One of them is a physician's assistant that helps to have her on board. But basically, if something bad happens, they'll in an automated way return to Earth as quickly as possible. All they have to do is get themselves in the right spacesuit and strap themselves in.

So this really does, you know, we've talked a lot about the price of getting to space, a lot of it also is how difficult it is to train people to get there. And this proves it doesn't require years and years of training, in order to be there. So that's, that's an important piece in this whole big picture about allowing many more hundreds of people, thousands of people to have this experience, as opposed to the 500, who've been to space in the 60 years since we've been flying there.

VAUSE: And just talk to me about what happens on reentry because it's not like they just land at the Kennedy Space Center, like the old shuttle used to, right?

O'BRIEN: No, this is kind of retro, it's Back to the Future kind of thing. They -- it's a splashdown, it'll probably be in the Atlantic Ocean. And if all goes well, and they'll be fished out of the water by SpaceX vessel. And, you know, that's not like landing with the wings in wheels, like we did with the shuttle for so many years.

But there's a huge penalty in carrying those wings and wheels to space where you don't need them. It's a lot of weight. It's a lot of complexity. And as fun as it is to land on the runway, it comes to the big penalty. So the idea that SpaceX has approach takes you back to the original capsule days, where you didn't attempt to make it aerodynamically capable, but rather just a spacecraft. And in many respects, it's safer, believe it or not.

VAUSE: Well, this day should not pass, I guess without mentioning Christa McAuliffe, the school teacher, who would have been the first civilian in space that she died in the space shuttle Challenger explosion. Hard to believe that was almost 40 years ago. And it was sort of at that moment when civilians in space, which was a NASA program was put on hold and it taken this long to get back to that point.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it was a huge setback. And at that time, there was a lot of misunderstandings and a lot of statements about the safety of the shuttle, which weren't entirely accurate. Now, NASA was not being fully honest about the shuttle. And it's the riskiness of the shuttle, and it was ignoring problems with the system itself. And there was tremendous pressure to put Christa McAuliffe on the shuttle. She was, you know, they were launching on the morning of the State of the Union speech. And Ronald Reagan, of course, was going to make a big deal out of all of that.

So there was all kinds of pressures that were involved in it, it became a -- as much as anything a bureaucratic and political event. The fact that SpaceX is doing this purely as a civilian enterprise outside of that realm is good, because there's less of that kind of overarching political pressure to launch when maybe it's not such a good idea.

VAUSE: Yes, well, great to have you with us. Really appreciate. Miles O'Brien there, giving some insight and some history, we appreciate it.

O'BRIEN: Welcome, John.

VAUSE: The United States, United Kingdom and Australia have announced a new trilateral security agreement, which will put Australia on a path to building a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines with American and British technology.

The U.S. has shared nuclear propulsion technology only once before, that was with Britain in 1958. And well, there's been no specific mention of China, this agreement is clearly aimed at trying to counter Beijing's rising military strength and technological advantage.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: This is about investing in our greatest source of strength, our alliances and updating them to better meet the threats of today and tomorrow. It's about connecting America's existing allies and partners in new ways and amplifying our ability to collaborate, recognizing there is no reasonable divide, separating the interests of our Atlantic and Pacific partners.


VAUSE: CNN's Kristie Lu Stout standing by live in Hong Kong, but first we'll go live to CNN's Angus Watson in Sydney.


And Angus, this deal will have a huge impact on Australia in terms of its defense posture, its military capability, the overall defense policy. So what are the details?

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: Absolutely, John. As you know, Australia has been a close ally of the United States and over the UK for quite some time. And in recent times, as the U.S.-China relationship has soured, Australia has been there to back the United States up particularly rhetorically. You'll know -- you'll remember that Australia was the one that called for an independent investigation against the origins of COVID-19.

Now we have the U.S. and the UK, supporting Australia to become a more powerful military ally, as well as a diplomatic one, a new treaty, a new programs set up between the three nations to be called AUKUS, the tangible benefits of that, in the short term for Australia will be this development of nuclear propelled submarines. The Americans and the British are going to lend their closely guarded technology to Australia to make that happen.

Of course, what the possession of nuclear submarines does is turn a smaller Navy into a particularly dangerous one for its competitors. These nuclear submarines dive deeper. They can stay at sea for longer avoiding detection. They can move more quickly, and they can carry increased payloads.

However, all three leaders President Biden, Prime Ministers, Johnson and Morrison at pains (ph) today to say that they will not be carrying nuclear weapons, the non-proliferation agreements that all those countries have signed into will be upheld. Here's what Scott Morrison had to say about that this morning.


SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Stress again, this is about propulsion. This is not about acquiring nuclear weapons. Australia has no interest in that. No plans for it, no policy for it, no contemplation of it. It's not on our agenda.


WATSON: Now, this is not a short term program, John, it'll take at least 18 months for experts from the US and the UK to discuss with Australia, just how it's going to be made possible. And authorities here in Australia say the first subs into the water might not be there until 2040. But what this is John is a line in the sand. Now, Australia's allies are saying that they stand with Australia as the indo-Pacific becomes a more dangerous place no longer benign in the words of Scott Morrison today, John.

VAUSE: Well, of course, yes, it's all about China right now. China has been the elephant in the room during this announcement over the last couple of hours. And the China -- and the elephant I should say is not happy. So with that, we head over to Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. So Kristie, what are we hearing now from, I guess, not officials in Beijing, but the embassy in the US?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, as expected an angry reaction from the embassy, the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC, in response to this new security pact between the U.S., UK and Australia, saying that these three countries should quote shake off their Cold War mentality.

Of course, it was on Wednesday, when the security pact was announced it would involve allowing these nations to work closely together on advanced technology like artificial intelligence on cyber. And of course, this has been the headline all day, allowing Australia to gain access to a nuclear power submarine, all the leaders, as Angus pointed out, just then, in his head, have been going out of their way to just point out this is not a nuclear armed submarine. This is a nuclear powered submarine, but it will have conventional weapons on board.

And China sees this as being provocative. In fact, let's bring up the statement from the spokesperson of China's Washington embassy. This is Liu Pengyu, he said this that countries, quote, should not build exclusionary blocks targeting or harming the interests of third parties in particular, they should shake off their Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice, unquote.

And this is, of course, the latest step by the United States and its allies to counter the ongoing rise both militarily and technologically of China. Just recently had the U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visit the region and engage allies in the region like Singapore as well as Vietnam. And next week, the United States will be hosting in, in place, that virtual summit of the quad, which is of course, the Security Alliance involving the U.S, Japan, Australian, India widely seen as a counterpoint to China's rising power in the region.

Analysts who I've been talking to say that China's where what's going on and is very concerned of what it sees is under the Biden administration not only continuing a so called containment policy in regards to China that was championed by predecessor Donald Trump, but under Biden engaging or carrying it out even more effectively, thanks to Biden's ability to engage America's allies. And this shouldn't be a surprise early on in the Biden administration. We did hear that it was declared by Secretary Blinken that the rivalry between the U.S. and China is quote the greatest geopolitical test of this century. John.


VAUSE: Kristie, thank you. Kristie Lu Stout live for us there in Hong Kong, also Angus Watson in Sydney, thanks to you as well.

Well, Japan's response to North Korea's recent missile launches isn't quite as expected, which is defense minister telling CNN, Japan is facing bigger threats than Pyongyang, a CNN exclusive in a moment.

First, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan sits down for an exclusive interview with CNN's Becky Anderson. He talks about what the Taliban can do to secure a stable Afghanistan.


IMRAN KHAN, PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: If they can sort of now worked with an inclusive government get all the factions together, Afghanistan could have peace after 40 years.



VAUSE: The Taliban are calling for the United Nations to recognize their Islamic Emirate remove their leaders from a blacklist and all sanctions. The militants have promise UN humanitarian aid efforts will quote, proceed normally and without delay. This comes as the Taliban tries to squash rumors on internal divisions.

The Acting Deputy Prime Minister appeared on television Wednesday, denying rumors he'd been injured in a dispute at the presidential palace last week. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar also denied there are divisions between the Taliban diplomatic and military factions.


MULLAH ABDUL GHANI BARADAR, AFGHAN ACTING DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Praise be to God, I'm fitting well, and with regards to media claiming that we have internal disagreements, that is not true at all. Praise be to God, we have a lot of kindness and mercy amongst us, such that might not even exist in a family.


VAUSE: CNN's Anna Coren following developments from Hong Kong. How do they thread this needle? You know, there's this problem, the Taliban cannot be trusted. Giving them recognition, gives them legitimacy. If they don't do that, then this just holds up humanitarian aid and 38 million people will suffer.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, I don't think it's in the Taliban's interest to stop aid from coming into the country. I mean, as we know, Afghanistan is on the verge of collapsing, certainly economically it is. And then you have this humanitarian disaster that is unfolding in front of our eyes. You've got the head of the UN. You've got the World Food Program, saying that 14 million people in this country of 38 million are facing starvation that the country will run out of food by the end of the month.

And you know, from what I'm hearing on the ground, homelessness has just risen. It skyrocketed. Not only do you have all these internally displaced people within Afghanistan who've come to Kabul, but you've got people who haven't been paid cannot afford rent and now living on the streets. This just exacerbates the problem.


It's a country that's been going through drought, it's a country that will be facing a very harsh winter very soon. The Taliban cannot afford to isolate the international community any more than what they are doing. They have written assurances to the United Nations saying that we want your people to work and operate freely here in Afghanistan, that if there are female staff, they can also work but their track record to date, John, that we are following we've been following for the past month. I mean, that is how long, the Taliban have now been in control, certainly, of Kabul, the whole of the country, is an appalling track record when it comes to women, when it comes to the media. There is no, you know, human rights now in Afghanistan,.

This is despite the Taliban telling us that they would form an inclusive government, that they would respect women, that women would be allowed to go to school, and it would be inclusive. That is not what we have seen today. So this is what the international community is grappling with.

The United Nations, as we know, have raised $1.1 billion through donor countries, that aid is going to have to be distributed, not through money, but through food, medical supplies, you know, tents, shelter, the sort of things that are needed. What must be guaranteed is the safety of the staff on the ground. VAUSE: Anna, thank you. Anna Coren live for us there in Hong Kong. Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan is urging engagement with the Taliban. In his first interview with an international news organization since the Taliban took control in Kabul. Imran Khan talked about Afghanistan's future, and the best way to stabilize the country.


BECK ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: We speak a month after the collapse of the Afghan government and the takeover of the Taliban. How would you describe the situation in Afghanistan today?

KHAN: I think it's worrying. Afghanistan is on a historic crossroads. One, if it goes well, and we pray that this works in the direction of peace after 40 years in Afghanistan, if this Taliban hold all of Afghanistan. And if they can sort of now work towards an inclusive government, get all the factions together, Afghanistan what is not good at peace after 40 years, but if it goes wrong, and which is what we are really worried about, it could go to chaos, the biggest humanitarian crisis, a huge refugee problem, unstable of Afghanistan. And the reason why the US came in was to fight terrorism or international terrorist, so unstable of Afghanistan, refugee crisis, and the possibility of, again, terrorism from Afghanistan soil.

ANDERSON: This interim government is not an inclusive government. The concerns of so many around the world are for the future of Afghanistan, and its people under a Taliban government, which is notorious for its misogyny, and its violence against women. There is no evidence to date have any interest in providing basic human rights, particularly for women and children. How concerned are you about that?

KHAN: Well, Afghanistan goes from here, I'm afraid none of us can predict. We can hope and pray that the peace after 40 years, that the Taliban what they have said that they want an inclusive government, they want women rights in their own context. They want human rights. They've given amnesty.

So, so far what they have said, clearly they want international acceptability. But there's another fallacy, Afghanistan cannot be controlled by outside. They have a history. No puppet government in Afghanistan is supported by the people. It gets discredited amongst the people.

So, rather than sitting here and thinking that we can sort of control them, we should incentivize them, because Afghanistan, this current government clearly feels that without international aid and help, they will not be able to stop this crisis. So, we should incentivize them. Push them on the right direction.

ANDERSON: If it seeks legitimacy, it will need to show evidence that it shares the values of those that it is seeking legitimacy for that being the West, for example.

[01:25:13] I grew up watching you, as a star of Pakistan's cricket team, the Taliban have said that women shouldn't play cricket. In fact, they've said women shouldn't be involved in sport at all. This is the sort of Taliban that we are seeing today. Do you support that? I mean, women have been protesting about more inclusivity about their rights. We know women, firsthand experience women are too frightened to come out their homes. They're too frightened to go to the workplace if they're allowed at all. Do you support their calls?

KHAN: I feel very strongly that it's a mistake to think that someone from outside will give a foreign women rights. Afghan women are strong. Give them time, they will get their rights.

ANDERSON: Should women have access to the same roles in public and in private life?

KHAN: Of course, women should have the ability in a society to fulfill their potential in life. The society --

ANDERSON: So you won't be able to support a Taliban government that doesn't allow that. Is that what you're telling me?

KHAN: No, no, what I'm saying is that you cannot impose women's rights from abroad.


VAUSE: Imran Khan also he spoke about his hopes of improving strained relations between Pakistan and the United States. But he's yet to hear directly from President Joe Biden. That interview can be seen exclusively on

Well, in Haiti, the investigation into the presidential assassination is now in limbo, with a standoff between the Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the senior prosecutor.

Henry ordered the firing of the prosecutor after he pushed the charges against the Prime Minister for alleged involvement in the assassination. CNN's Matt Rivers has details.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 71 days after its president was assassinated. 33 since it was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Haiti, in many ways remains a country in crisis. Its de facto leader Prime Minister Ariel Henry now facing possible unspecified charges and the assassination of former President Jovenel Moise, Henri has denied involvement.

The man who wants to bring those charges top prosecutor Bedford Claude now potentially out of a job after Henry ordered his removal on Tuesday. It's unclear if anyone but the Justice Minister can do that, though, and the President of the Senate Joseph Lambert could be appointed interim president soon, though that to not official.

More than two months after the former president's assassination and the subsequent arrest of roughly 40 suspects, authorities still do not know who the mastermind behind the plot is. An investigation with no momentum has devolved into political infighting for who might actually run the Caribbean nation at a time when clear leadership is needed more than ever, because while political elites squabble hundreds of thousands of ordinary Haitians remain in desperate need of help after the worst earthquake to strike Haiti since 2010 hit on August 14. Piles of debris still litter the hardest hit areas many in rural, difficult to access locations. 2200 people were killed, more than 12,000 injured and still so many need aid.

We are victims of the earthquake because our home was destroyed. We went to the municipality they told us there is nothing available to help us. We are paying with our own money to remove the rubble so we can try to rebuild our home.

Nearly 1 million facing acute food insecurity says the UN many of which are children.

The children are crying because they need food and water. We are walking everywhere but without getting anything.

Many still live in makeshift shelters the result of more than 137,000 buildings destroyed or damaged. With potable water a challenge and with jobs scarce and the chance to make money harder than ever, the UN says there could be a mass rural Exodus soon, with desperate people headed towards cities like Port-au-Prince. That's where the ongoing political crisis continues, the leaders in charge of helping steer aid toward Haiti's most vulnerable, currently consumed in the aftermath of post assassination politics.

(on camera): And a crucial step in terms of figuring out who is going to lead Haiti who has the right mandate to lead that country would be to hold presidential elections. They had previously been scheduled for this month already delayed several months. And there are many people in Haiti who don't believe that those elections will actually take place this year. Because of all that damage from the earthquake, because of the ever continuing violence from the gang crisis that is ongoing in places like Port-au-Prince, that there's a lot of people who say they can't actually hold safe and secure elections this year might get pushed into next year. It's all adds up to the fact that when it comes to Haiti's near term future there are so many open questions. Matt Rivers, CNN.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Still to come here, is Facebook just like big tobacco and big oil? Apparently, knowing how much harm its product is causing especially to teenage girls. But according to revelations in "The Wall Street Journal", the social media is doing its best to keep that information away from the public.


VAUSE: Welcome back everyone. I'm John Vause. And you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

We have new details now about North Korea's latest ballistic missile launches. Pyongyang's state-run news agency says the test were for a new railway-borne missile regiment deployed for the first time on Wednesday.

The reports claim the projectiles actively struck their targets, 800 kilometers away in the waters off the Korean Peninsula. Japanese defense officials have told the public broadcaster NHK the missiles fell inside Japan's exclusive economic zone.

Well, for the first time in nearly three decades, Japan's military is holding large-scale nationwide military drills, involving more than 100,000 personnel, 120 aircraft, and will last until late November.

Live now in Tokyo is CNN's Blake Essig. I guess, if you want to know why, the answer might just be China.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, John, there is a lot going on in this region and it has been a busy week for Japan's defense minister Nobuo Kishi as you've mentioned. Japan has started large scale nationwide military drills for the first time in 30 years.

North and South Korea each tested new missiles. Taiwan conducted military drills and a Chinese submarine was spotted near Japan's southern islands.

And while this is all happening, I had the chance to sit down with the minister of defense to talk about the security challenges facing Japan and the Indo-Pacific, arguably, one of the most volatile regions on the planet.


ESSIG (voice over): For years, North Korean missiles have posed a serious threat to Japan's national security.

That threat hasn't gone away. Recently, North Korea has test-fired several missiles, including long range cruise missiles capable of striking almost any potential target in Japan.

And even more concerning, ballistic missiles that on Wednesday fell into the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula.

While Japan's defense minister Nobuo Kishi says the ongoing hostility from North Korea is a big challenge, he says it isn't Japan's biggest security concern.


ESSIG (on camera): As Japan's minister of defense, what threat keeps you up at night?

NOBUO KISHI, JAPANESE DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): China has been regularly challenging Japan's territorial integrity. These actions are making it a fait accompli. In response to such moves, we have to demonstrate our will to protect the lives of Japanese citizens as well as their livelihoods and our territory.

ESSIG (voice over): The inherent part of Japanese territory Minister Kishi is referring to is located here in the East China Sea about 1,900 kilometers from Tokyo. It's this uninhabited island chain known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyu in China that's seemingly a red line for Kishi and one that could serve as Asia's next military flash point.

(on camera): What is Japan doing to contain China and stop them from changing the so-called status quo in the East and South China Seas, specifically in the waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands?

KISHI: The Senkaku Islands are an integral part of Japanese sovereign territory, both according to international law and looking historically. There is no territorial dispute relating to the Senkaku Islands between Japan and other countries.

With regards to the Chinese Coast Guard vessels approaching our territory, Japanese coast guard must respond first and show that the government of Japan is determined to defend our territory with a greater number of Japanese coast guard vessels than that of China.

ESSIG: And according to Minister Kishi, that's exactly what Japan is doing in an effort to maintain peace and stability in the region.

To put that into perspective, over the past five years compared to the previous five, a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute shows Japan has increased its major arms import by 124 percent.

And Kishi recently laid out plans to deploy troops and missiles on Ishigaki, as well as others southern islands, as tensions grow between Beijing and Taipei along the Taiwan Strait.

KISHI: Taiwan is located at the nexus of the East and South China Seas and it is geopolitically and strategically important. That's why Taiwan's peace and stability is not just important for this region, but to the international community as a whole.

With regard to Japan's energy lifeline, more than 90 percent of the energy Japan uses is imported through the sea around Taiwan. So it's important to maintain the maritime order, and a free and open Indo- Pacific.

ESSIG (on camera): How committed is Japan to the defense of Taiwan versus China?

KISHI: Japan is not directly committed to the defense of Taiwan. However, we think it is very important to have stability on the Taiwan Strait.

ESSIG: You said that Japan is not directly committed to defending Taiwan, what is the difference between directly and indirectly? KISHI: Because we are close geographically, what could happen in

Taiwan would likely be an issue for Japan, in which case, Japan would need to respond accordingly.

ESSIG (voice over): A military situation Kishi admits has been shifting in favor of Beijing in recent years. One that he plans to keep a close eye on yet still hopeful for a peaceful resolution.


ESSIG: And John, we also talked about the United States' recent withdrawal from Afghanistan. I asked if he felt that America could be trusted to live up to its world and defend allies like Japan? He told me that the U.S. Military withdrew from Afghanistan, with the understanding that the Afghan government had the will to administer the country. He said that Japan on the other hand has been committed to defending itself against various security challenges, and that he has all the confidence in the world that if the United States is called upon by Japan, that they would answer that call.

VAUSE: Blake, thank you. Blake Essig there, live in Tokyo.

We'll take a short break. When we come back powerful testimony from elite American gymnasts, calling out the FBI for turning a blind eye they say to the sex abuse by their former team doctor, accusing the agency of enabling a predator.



VAUSE: America's top gymnasts are demanding justice and calling out the system that badly failed them. In testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday, the star athletes say the FBI's botched investigation into team doctor, Larry Nassar enabled a sexual predator, accusations supported by an internal report by the inspector general which found federal agents not only failed to properly document complaints, but then lied about it.

CNN's Jean Casarez has our report.


MCKAYLA MARONEY, U.S. GYMNAST: They had legal legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing.

ALI RAISMAN, U.S. GYMNAST: I felt pressured by the FBI to consent to Nassar's plea deal.

SIMONE BILES, U.S. GYMNAST: I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system.

MAGGIE NICHOLS, U.S. GYMNAST: Why? Why would the FBI agents lie to OIG investigators?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): McKayla Maroney, Ali Raisman, Simone Biles and Maggie Nichols -- elite gymnasts and members of the Olympics United States Gymnastics Team, giving emotional testimony, ripping the FBI for failing to protect them from their sexual abuser.

MARONEY: I was so shocked at the agents' silence and disregard for my trauma.

NICHOLS: The survivors of Larry Nassar have a right to know why their well-being was placed in jeopardy by these individuals who chose not do their jobs.

RAISMAN: It was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter.

CASAREZ: One by one, the decorated gymnasts told their stories, recounted the years of abuse by Larry Nassar, the former USA gymnastics team doctor.

BILES: I sit before you today to raise my voice so that no little girls must endure what I, the athletes at this table and the countless others who needlessly suffered under Nassar's guise of medical treatment, which we continue to endure today.

MARONEY: That evening, I was naked, completely alone with him on top of me molesting me for hours. I told them I thought it was going to die that night because there was no way that he would let me go.

He turned out to be more of a pedophile than he was a doctor.

CASAREZ: Nassar is currently serving 40 to 175-year state prison sentence after 150 women and girls came forward to expose he abused them over the course of 20 years.

But today's congressional hearing, a result of the scathing report from the Justice Department's inspector generals office, revealing FBI officials investigating the allegations against Nassar, made false statements and failed to properly document complaints by the accusers at the time.

MARONEY: Not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said.

CASAREZ: One FBI agent already fired, Michael Langman, according to "The Washington Post', interviewed Maroney in 2015 about her allegations of sexual abuse by Nassar. And is accused of failing to launch a proper investigation.

SENATOR DICK DURBIN (D-IL): The FBI's handling of the Nassar case is a stain on the bureau.

CASAREZ: FBI Director Christopher Wray, who did not lead the bureau at the time, also being grilled today.

DURBIN: What am I missing here? This man is on the loose molesting children, and it appears that it's being lost in the paperwork of the agency.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: I share your bewilderment. I share your outrage. And I don't have a good explanation for you.

CASAREZ: Wray apologizing to the victims and vowing to do more.


WRAY: It's my commitment to you that I and my entire senior leadership team are going to make damn sure everybody at the FBI remembers what happened here in heartbreaking detail.

CASAREZ (on camera): The Department of Justice was invited to testify at today's hearing. They declined. Senator Richard Blumenthal said by them just not showing up, it appeared as though they don't care about the abuse of little girls.

CNN, though, has now learned that Attorney General Merrick Garland does plan on coming before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October. But at this point, they have still declined any prosecution in this matter.

Jean Casarez, CNN -- Capitol Hill.


VAUSE: Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, is once again under scrutiny by U.S. lawmakers after an in-depth report by the "Wall Street Journal" revealed the social media giant is more than aware that its photo-sharing platform is cause emotional and (INAUDIBLE) harm especially for teenage girls.

Lawmakers are once again calling on Facebook to abandon plans for a child's version of Instagram. In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, they write "The recently uncovered evidence published in the 'Wall Street Journal; underscores Facebook's responsibility to fundamentally change its approach to engaging the children and teens online. That starts with Facebook abandoning its plans to launch a new version of Instagram for kids."

We're joined by Scott Galloway. He's a professor of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business. Welcome to the program. Good to have you here with us.


VAUSE: Ok. When it comes to the question of how Facebook is likely to respond to these congressional demands. Here is a clue from the "Wall Street Journal" which reports the companies documents they reviewed offer an unparalleled picture of how Facebook is acutely aware that the products and systems central to its business success routinely fail. The documents also show that Facebook has made minimal efforts to address these issues, and plays them down in public."

What that seems to say, in other words, self regulation has been a huge success for Facebook, total failure for everyone else?

GALLOWAY: Yes, I think that's right. But I mean I wouldn't -- we can continue to kind of wage and call on the better angels of Facebook to protect our children.

Unfortunately, we're kind of -- I think the public and parents are little bit sick of hearing kind of these chastising finger-waving letters in Congress. Congress needs to actually do something, whether to revise section 230 which provides kind of cloud cover for all content, or whether it's regulation or age-gating or fines.

But we're kind of well past the point of letters and righteous statements from our elected representatives.

VAUSE: Is it just a reluctance to get into some kind of regulation because it is very complicated and very difficult to understand. If you listen to some of those congressional hearings, way beyond, you know, members -- lawmakers in Congress, actually grasp the fundamentals here.

GALLOWAY: Yes. That's part of it. It's sort of a perfect storm of bad things for the commonwealth, less than 8 percent of our elected representatives have a background in technology or engineering. So many of them have a difficulties in understanding where to begin around writing this legislation.

You have government overrun, Facebook's fastest growing expense line is on lobbying. You have individuals that are dependent upon tech money. You have an idolatry of innovators who a lot of people feel that tech should not be subject to any scrutiny. So it all kind of adds up to the mother of all hall passes in an industry that has caused more damage to the commonwealth than almost any sector in history with a minimum of regulation.

It is striking the ratio of damage to lack of regulation. This is a company that is similar to tobacco companies. It's become a lobbying company sitting on top of the business.

VAUSE: Yes. That was actually my next question. How is Facebook's refusal to make this information public any different from big tobacco, which knew as early as 1959 that cigarette smoke contained radioactive particles but consistently distorted, minimized and falsely denied any link to diseases.

And then big oil, in particular Exxon knowing since 1979 that burning fossil fuels quote, "will cause dramatic environmental effects in the coming decades" but decided to bury that study which found, you know, the problem is great and urgent.

And in all this why is Facebook exempt from what's known as a duty to warn?

GALLOWAY: That is the correct question. You never had cigarette companies, as far as I know planning on rolling out cigarettes for people under the age of 13. I mean keep in mind -- keep in mind kind of the mentality this company. In the midst of all of this, Facebook has not said that they are shelving plans. They are planning to move forward with Instagram for kids, to target people under the age of 13.

I wouldn't like my daughter to spend more time on social media platforms who said no parent ever. This is what we're dealing with.

VAUSE: And Instagram is standing by the internal documents saying that the Journal focused on a limited set of findings. In a statement adding this about their research.

"It demonstrates our commitment to understanding complex and difficult issues young people may struggle with. And informs all the work we do to help those experiencing these issues."


VAUSE: Their own research spells it out very, very clearly, very specifically, what they are actually doing wrong. Quote, "We make body image worse for one in three teen girls. And all the rest of it.

So it's pretty simple here what needs to be done. Stop doing what they're doing, isn't it?

GALLOWAY: Well, it gets worse than. One in eight U.K. girls who are contemplating suicide directly cited Instagram as a motivation for them speculating around suicide.

I mean it's -- I don't know if you have kids, John, but you have your world of work, you have your world of friends, you have your world of sport, and something comes off the track with one of your kids and your whole world shrinks to that kid.

I mean we are failing as a society, as people who elect representatives, much less Facebook failing if we can't protect our children from what has become number one in the menace economy, and that is Facebook showing an absolute total disregard for the well- being of our teens.

My colleague Jonathan Hyde (ph) started doing research on teen depression and found in 2013 there was a dangerous consistent uptick. When was Instagram acquired by Facebook? In late 2012. So do the math.

VAUSE: Yes. There will still be a realization soon that these free apps come with a very high price tag in many other areas. Professor Galloway, thank you. Good to have you with us.

GALLOWAY: Thank you.

VAUSE: Still to come, going zero G.


RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh my goodness. Wow. I'm feeling like an astronaut, that's for sure. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: A firsthand account on the preparation of the crew of the Inspiration4 went through for their journey into space.


VAUSE: A heart-stopping moment in Turkey when a mum stepped away from her baby's stroller, then rolled down the hill through traffic, with baby inside and with mother in hot pursuit.

It is all reminiscent of a classic scene from the 1925 movie, "Battleship Potemkin". The runaway stroller eventually came to a halt after falling from a three-meter high wall to the pavement below. The baby was slightly hurt, but we can now report is ok.

Well, the SpaceX Inspiration4 launch is setting records in more ways than one. Mission pilot Sian Proctor is the first black female spacecraft pilot, one of two licensed pilots on board.

Proctor is a former NASA astronaut candidate who says this flight represents so much more than just her own achievements.


SIAN PROCTOR, SPACEX INSPIRATION4 CREW MEMBER: There have been three black female astronauts that have made it to space and knowing that I'm going to be the 4th means that I have this opportunity to not only accomplish my dream but also inspire -- and inspire the next generation of women of color and girls of color and really get them to think about reaching for the stars and what that means. So I feel very fortunate to have that.


VAUSE: The crew of Inspiration4 spent months training for this three- day orbital mission around the earth. And that included getting used to zero gravity.

CNN's Rachel Crane suited up and tried it out.


CRANE (on camera): Oh my goodness. Wow. I'm feeling like an astronaut, that's for sure.

Where are we and what are we going to be doing today?


MATT GOHD, CEO, ZERO G CORPORATION: Here we are, Newark Airport and we're going to be going up IN zero gravity on G-Force One. You're going to get the same experience as the people on the ISS have.

CRANE: Zero Gravity Corporation uses a modified Boeing 727 flying in parabolic motion to create multiple spurts of weightlessness. Richard Branson acclimated himself to zero Gs on one before he went into space.

As did the crew of Inspiration4, the first all-civilian flight into orbit.

GOHD: You don't want your first experience in zero gravity to be in space. It's a very unique feeling. And this gives them the framework to understand it.

CRANE: I'm a little nervous. We all know that flying on a rocket ship is dangerous. But how dangerous are these flights?

GOHD: There is no risk or danger in what we do. We have flown 17,000 passengers over the last 16 years. Not one injury and not one issue. So we have all the same regulation safety, everything, as that United flight does.

CRANE: This is amazing.

Unlike Jeff Bezos' or Richard Branson's flights, this plane isn't on a rocket aimed at space. And inner space of 10 miles by 100 miles is cleared for a G-Force One flight.

There's a lot of talk about the suborbital flights democratizing space, but is this experience the closest thing that, you know, a normal person will ever experience?

GOHD: Like a normal person -- absolutely.

Absolutely. Yes. The price point I mean -- no one will say $7,500 is cheap. But it is accessible. It's a lot less than $28 million.

What is the value of the weightlessness experience like? Is this just for thrill seekers or is there real research value to these flights?

GOHD: Right now, I would say half of it is research and then the other half is consumer facing. We have done things that are literally on the cutting edge of space. (INAUDIBLE) how to do 3D printing in micro gravity. We have done experiments in how to animate freeze-dried blood.

To go out and test things in zero gravity or micro gravity in space, prohibitively expensive and not realistic.


VAUSE: Looks like fun.

I'm John Vause. Thank you for watching.

Rosemary Church is on point after a short break.

I will see you back here tomorrow.

In the meantime, CNN NEWSROOM continues after a short break.