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Kyle Rittenhouse Not Guilty On All Charges; Rioting In Rotterdam Over COVID-19 Rules; FDA, CDC Sign Off On Moderna, Pfizer Boosters For Adults; China Under Pressure Over Tennis Star Peng Shuai; China's Influence In Africa Grows; CNN's "White Lies" Series; Partial Lunar Eclipse Creates "Blood Moon". Aired 4-5a ET

Aired November 20, 2021 - 04:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello and welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and all around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, an emotional end to a divisive trial. Kyle Rittenhouse is now free after being acquitted of all charges stemming from a deadly shooting at a protest. Hear the response from the courthouse steps to the White House.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Plus, violent protests in Europe over new restrictions aimed at combating surging COVID infections. We're live in Rome with the latest.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): And a new twist in the disappearance of a Chinese tennis star. China's state media releases new pictures claiming to show her relaxing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: So far, in the midwestern city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, appeals for calm following a closely watched and divisive trial are being heeded. This follows a jury acquitting 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of all felony charges, connected to the shooting deaths of two people and the injury of a third during racial justice protests last year.

Sara Sidner has more on Friday's decision and the reaction.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: An emotional day in court, as a jury finds Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all five counts.


SIDNER (voice-over): Kyle Rittenhouse now a free man.


SIDNER (voice-over): Overcome as the jury acquitted him on all five counts in his homicide trial.

JUDGE BRUCE SCHROEDER, KENOSHA TRIAL COURT: Is there anyone who does not agree with the verdicts as read?

SIDNER (voice-over): The defense attorney Mark Richards saying the wait for a verdict has been torture but his client is relieved.

MARK RICHARDS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR KYLE RITTENHOUSE: He wants to get on with his life. He has a huge sense of relief for what the jury did to him today. He wishes none of this would have ever happened. But as he said when he testified, he did not start this.

SIDNER (voice-over): The prosecutor responding, "While we are disappointed with the verdict, it must be respected."

The family of one of the victims, Anthony Huber, saying, "We are heartbroken and angry."

JUSTIN BLAKE, JACOB BLAKE'S UNCLE: They all have blood on their hands for the mishandling of that whole entire night.

SIDNER (voice-over): The governor has called for calm, as a small crowd in Kenosha continues to react to the news. The unanimous decision did not come swiftly.

Weighing a life sentence for 18-year-old Rittenhouse, the jury deliberated for almost four full days before delivering the verdict.

SCHROEDER: All right, members of the jury, it is for you to determine whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of each of the offenses.

SIDNER (voice-over): The jury ultimately had to answer one question.

Did Rittenhouse kill two men and maim another as a form of vigilante justice or self-defense?

The defense seized on the testimony of Gaige Grosskreutz. Video shows Rittenhouse shot and destroyed Grosskreutz's right bicep in the melee. Still the survivor gave perhaps the most compelling argument that Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you were standing three to five feet from him, with your arms up in the air, he never fired, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him, with your gun -- now your hand is down, pointed at him -- and he fired, right?


SIDNER: We have now briefly heard from Kyle Rittenhouse after this verdict. He has been interviewed throughout this process by FOX News. And what he has said in this short clip that has been put out to the media is that the jury, in his opinion, reached the correct verdict. Self-defense is not illegal.

It's been a bumpy road, he said, but the worst is over. Back to you guys.



BRUNHUBER: Harry Litman is a former U.S. attorney and former deputy assistant attorney general and joins me now from La Jolla, California. He is also a legal affairs columnist for the "L.A. Times" and host of the podcast "Talking Feds."

Thanks so much for being here with us.

Based on the arguments and the testimony, are you surprised by the verdict?

What do you make of it?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: I wasn't surprised by the verdict, especially the way it was going in the last week or so. A very important thing to remember is that, while Rittenhouse was pleading self-defense, it was, nevertheless, the prosecution's burden.


LITMAN: And beyond a reasonable doubt, the biggest burden in the law and the most daunting to show that he wasn't acting in self-defense. And the thing that the defense did successfully and the prosecution was not able to parry is make it be about the nanosecond of the actual encounters with the three people that he shot.

And when you looked at it that way, it was not surprising to me that the jury would conclude that it wasn't clear beyond a reasonable doubt that he wasn't acting in self-defense.

Of course, both legally and even socially, the focus could have been on his initial decision to come into the fray in the first place. That might have led to a so-called duty to retreat, under Wisconsin law. Things would have been different then. But given the case the jury received from the judge, I was not surprised.

BRUNHUBER: That's one of the things that people are taking out of this, right, that some say the laws like Wisconsin's need to change; that the idea of disproving self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt places too high a burden on the prosecution. LITMAN: You know, I hear that. And I used to be a prosecutor but I

don't really think that's the problem. And I have no quarrel with the general imposition of that kind of high burden.

Now what I think what people who are concerned and distraught are saying is, there are certain gun laws, there's a certain, right now, kind of championing of vigilantism that resulted in sort of encouraging a kid, a 17-year-old kid, to show up at a rally with touting an AR-15.

And terrible things could happen in that situation and they did. So I think the broader argument is really more about, say, gun control, vigilantism and the like; why he was there in the first place.

That the prosecution bears this burden, you're right; not all states do it that way but many states do and they do it for defenses across the board. And to me, that's just part of what's entailed in being a prosecutor and standing up and arguing for someone's liberty to be taken away.

BRUNHUBER: On the point of encouraging vigilantism, I mean the implications, I mean California's governor tweeted today, "America today, you can break the law, carry around weapons built for military, shoot and kill people and get away with it, that's the message we've just sent to armed vigilantes across the nation."

I mean hyperbole, maybe, but is that right?

Does it seek to further enshrine the rights of vigilantes, who perceive themselves to be under attack and then shoot and kill possibly unarmed opponents, like we saw?

LITMAN: Yes. I think that case does. It is always fraught to try to take a specific dispute in the confines of a court with fact and law and make it into a broader social issue. But that's happening inevitably here.

And, yes, look, I have no -- I have said that from the standpoint of how it was tried, you can see what the jury did. But if we take a step back and look at what happened and what it might encourage, the notion that a 17-year old should be taking this kind of weapon to what is already a conflagration and, you know, with an eye, at least potentially, to so-called protecting property, that's a bad, bad situation.

And so we should be trying -- we should, for starters, Kim, in no way lionize or make a hero of Kyle Rittenhouse. And yes, we should be having laws in this country that make it harder, not easier, for that situation to occur.

BRUNHUBER: Harry Litman, thank you so much. Appreciate your input.

LITMAN: Thank you, Kim. Good to be here.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BRUNHUBER: Reaction to the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse was quick. In Washington, in a statement, President Joe Biden said the verdict left many including himself feeling, quote, "angry and concerned," but he added that people must acknowledge the jury's decision.

Biden was also asked about the verdict after his visit to Walter Reed National Military Center.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just heard a moment ago.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction?

BIDEN: I didn't watch the trial, so I, you know --

QUESTION: Do you stand by your past comments, equating him to white supremacy?

BIDEN: Well, look, I stand by what the jury has concluded. The jury system works and we have to abide by it.


BRUNHUBER: On a tarmac in Ohio before boarding Air Force Two, Vice President Kamala Harris responded as well. Here she is.




HARRIS: As many of you know, I spent a majority of my career working to make the criminal justice system more equitable and clearly there's a lot more work to do. Thanks.


BRUNHUBER: And former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro tweeted, "You know damn well that if Kyle Rittenhouse were Black, he would have been found guilty in a heartbeat or shot dead by cops on the scene."

Now via contrast, Republicans celebrated the verdict. Here is representative Madison Cawthorn in a video posted on Instagram.


REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): Kyle Rittenhouse is not guilty, my friends. You have a right to defend yourself. Be armed, be dangerous and be moral.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRUNHUBER: Now you may have noticed on the screen there a little graphic, Cawthorn offering Rittenhouse an internship, a proposal suggested by representative Matt Gaetz before the verdict was even read.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Kyle Rittenhouse would probably make a pretty good congressional intern. We may reach out to him and see if he would be interested in helping the country in additional ways.


BRUNHUBER: White House might have doubted this day would ever come but the second pillar of President Biden's domestic agenda finally cleared its first major hurdle in Congress. Listen to this.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: On this vote, the yeas are 220 and the nays are 213, the Build Back Better bill is passed.


BRUNHUBER: The sweeping legislation envisions nearly $2 trillion to prop up the economy, help struggling Americans and take urgent action on climate change. But Republicans were having none of it.

And minority leader Kevin McCarthy managed to stall a planned vote on Thursday night when he spoke well over eight hours, a record on the House floor. The bill as written touches on nearly every aspect of modern life in America, from education to health care to the environment.

But since a victory at the White House may be short-lived, the legislation is almost certain to be modified in the Senate and trimmed, where a few key Democrats are not on board because of the hefty price tag and the president cannot afford to lose a single vote.

Some more good news for the president. According to his doctor, Biden is healthy and remains fit for presidential duty. That's what Biden's personal doctor wrote in a summary of a Friday exam, being praised for its transparency.

Now the doctor noted the president suffered from acid reflux caused by a hiatal hernia. Also the way the president walked was perceptibly stiffer and less fluid than it was a year ago or so.

Biden had been treated for atrial fibrillation that causes no symptoms and he was taking medications to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. And he received a routine colonoscopy Friday while at Walter Reed.

So while he was under anesthesia, Joe Biden temporarily transferred power to Vice President Kamala Harris. That made her, for 85 minutes anyway, the first woman to assume presidential power. Still ahead, the raging pandemic in Western Europe has many

governments taking drastic steps to get everyone vaccinated. We will take you live to Rome for the latest.

And the CDC weighs in on boosters for all adults. We'll explain when those shots could start going into arms just ahead. Stay with us.






BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Angry protests have erupted over new restrictions aimed at stopping a devastating wave of COVID infections. Riot police in Rotterdam used water cannons and said they fired warning shots after protesters torched vehicles and threw rocks.

At least seven people were reported hurt. Western Europe is seeing some of the highest numbers of infections since the pandemic began.

Austria will impose a total lockdown beginning Monday and says every eligible person must be vaccinated by February 1st.

Germany just recorded more than 60,000 new cases for the second time this week. The state of Bavaria has canceled its famed Christmas markets as it did last year. Vendors say their financial losses will be enormous.


BRUNHUBER: For more on the escalating COVID crisis in Europe, let's bring in CNN contributor live from Rome.

We're seeing extreme measures to fight the spike, what's the latest?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think we are going to see more and more of these targeted lockdowns, these sort of measures that restrict those people who have not been vaccinated yet because those are the people who are really causing the greatest risk right now.

And when you see these protests, those people are out on the street, not vaccinated, protesting these measurements, they are actually causing super spreader events even among themselves.

And that is concerning, as you see these numbers rising across Europe. Nobody wants to have the kind of lockdowns we had last year. So anything they can do to avoid that, these governments are trying to do now, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, but the reference to those protests, turning violent sometimes, countries like Austria crack down with things like mandatory vaccinations, so how bad are you expecting the pushback to get?

NADEAU: Well, I think we're seeing some level of protests across all of Europe. Even here in Rome, this afternoon, they're expecting some people to gather, not big protests. But people who want their voices to be heard, that don't believe that required vaccinations are just, that they are against civil liberties of a lot of people.

But you have to look at this as a big picture. These governments are really feeling a lot of pressure and they're really losing their patience. While people are not getting vaccinated, they are trying very, very hard to get the booster programs going across Europe so the vaccinated can get their boosters while all the way struggling against those who just refuse to be vaccinated in the first place.

It's very complex and there are no travel restrictions between any of the countries, people moving from a high level country like Germany to a place like Italy, where we haven't seen as many, that is concerning for a lot of governments going forward. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: All right, thank you very much, Barbie Nadeau. Appreciate it.


BRUNHUBER: Now here in the U.S., if you are at least 18 years old and six months past your second dose, you're now eligible for a COVID booster. CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has details on why that is so important.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: With the FDA authorizing boosters and the CDC now formally recommending them, boosters are recommended for all adults in the United States. That is now available to people right away. People can go to their pharmacies or doctors' offices.

First of all, even before these most recommendations, most adults in the country were eligible for boosters. If you had a preexisting condition like diabetes, heart disease, moderate asthma or obesity, you were already eligible for a booster.

What is now different it is a blanket recommendation for all adults across the country. We should point up there was a second vote on boosters, saying people over the age of 50 should get a booster. People under the age, they say, it's recommended for people and for people over the age of 50 they strengthen the language a bit, saying, they should get a booster.

Let me show you a few reasons, a few pieces of data, that drove this. First of all, in the United States, what has happened up to September here. If you got COVID, you ended up in the hospital, it was almost always in someone who is unvaccinated. If you look at the green line at the bottom, it was pretty flat but it

has started to trend up a bit. It you look at some of the data in Israel, going up until November 1st, you saw an interesting picture emerge. The same story in that most of the people who are developing severe COVID were still unvaccinated.

But take a look at the middle graph there. That is close to 10 per 100,000 people, people who, in fact, were vaccinated, they were still getting severely ill. But if they got boosted, you can see how significant the numbers drop. So a lot of protection from the boosters, in terms of severe illness.

Again, most of the unvaccinated but you did see some waning of that overall efficacy of the vaccines. Now one thing to point out, this is a big discussion at this time because as we go into the winter season, one of the big concerns is that if there's more and more people in the hospital, it's not only COVID that would be impacted but other illnesses, as well.

Take a look. If you start to see surges here, say 75 percent capacity for ICUs, that leads to a lot of other patients potentially not being able to take care and, according to the modeling studies, maybe 12,000 excess deaths over the following couple weeks in the country.

If ICUs become completely full, it could lead to 80,000 excess deaths over the next couple of weeks. That is what they're trying to mitigate and what they're trying to avoid.

And I think that is why these boosters are now recommended for all adults. And they get a booster, people over the age of 50 should get a booster. Again, those messages coming from the FDA and the CDC.



BRUNHUBER: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez is a board certified internal medicine specialist in viral research and joins me from Los Angeles. Thanks for joining us, Doctor.

Broadly, concretely here, what difference will this make as we head into the winter?

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST AND VIRAL RESEARCHER: Well, if we're talking about the boosters, I think it will make a huge difference. As we're already seeing, more people are becoming infected who have been fully vaccinated and are ending up in the hospital.

So we've known for a while that the immunity seems to wane in the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines after approximately six months, and even earlier in J&J, so getting the boosters should bring people's immunity back to at least where it was with their first two shots, if not even higher.

BRUNHUBER: What do you make of the differing sort of instructions based on age, that those over 50 should get a booster and those who are 18 and older, you know, may opt for one?

Do you think the language should be stronger, that everyone should get one?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think -- I thought that today, the CDC had clarified that a little bit. In my opinion, eventually, every human who gets vaccinated should get a booster, regardless of age.

They're just, you know, looking at the information as it goes along. I thought it was always a little bit lacking, you know, to say that only a certain group should get it, because immunity will wane in everybody.

And yes, certain groups are at higher risk of getting sicker and, obviously, we have to protect those people that are older and have underlying diseases first because they're at greater risk. But eventually, I think it is going to be about how long it's been since you've had your last vaccine and everybody should get revaccinated.


BRUNHUBER: If we knew that we would get here eventually, by basically allowing everybody to get this, why didn't we just do that right away, as soon as the first boosters were authorized?

I mean there was so much confusion initially over who should get it, based on how old they were, where they lived, what they did for a living. It seemed like a missed opportunity here for clarity.

RODRIGUEZ: Well, I think in retrospect -- which by the way, you know, the retrospectoscope is always 2020, so looking back it seems pretty clear what should have been done.

But in real time, as information comes out, you have to weigh the pros and the cons. You don't know the negatives of having a booster; you only know that it will protect you. So I think that they're walking a very thin line, in making sure that above all else, they do no harm, while they protect people.

You know, so what America, what the world is seeing now, is science as it happens. And it's not as clear as we think. By the time people would get information, it's because it has been tested and retested. And now we are all learning as it happens. And that's why it seems confusing.

BRUNHUBER: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, thank you so much for being here us with. Appreciate it.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you, Kim. And happy Thanksgiving.


BRUNHUBER: Israeli medical experts are keeping a close eye on new cases there, as the COVID transmission rate increases. The R rate, as it's called, has now risen to 1, which means, in simple terms, every 10 people with COVID will infect another 10. New infections are still far lower than in early autumn but officials are taking no chances.

Children ages 5 to 11 can begin to get vaccinated on Tuesday and health officials hope that will keep the transmission rate in check.

Still ahead, the defense prepares for its final pitch to jurors in the trial of three suspects accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery. But one attorney still makes a push for a mistrial with talk about lynching and mob violence.

Plus, Chinese state media claims to have proof missing tennis star Peng Shuai has been at home. They say she will return to the public eye next. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

While scattered protests against the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse have been largely peaceful, authorities in Portland, Oregon, declared a riot after protesters smashed windows and attacked a television news crew.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): But most demonstrations looked like this one in New York, with protesters gathering so their frustrations could be heard. Protests are planned this weekend in cities across the U.S.


BRUNHUBER: Friday afternoon, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of five felony charges and it took four days for the jury to reach its verdict, which can't be appealed.

Closing arguments are expected to get underway Monday in a high- profile trial here in Georgia. It involves the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, who, prosecutors say, was chased down and shot by three white men while he was jogging last year.

The incident was captured on video. But after 10 days of proceedings, one defense attorney raised tension in the courtroom again, making a last-minute push for mistrial while reportedly trying to cut a plea deal behind the scenes. Ryan Young has the story.


QUESTION: The plea deal report --


RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): William Bryan's attorney arrived in the court this morning, denying he attempted to reach a plea deal with the prosecution. Ahmaud Arbery's mom confirming she got the same news last night.

QUESTION: What exactly did they tell you about the possibility of a plea offering?

WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: That Roddie Bryan was trying to get a plea for lesser charges.

GOUGH: Denied, denied, denied, I don't know what y'all are talking about.

QUESTION: No plea agreement?

GOUGH: You go ask whoever your source is. I don't know what you're talking about. You got to -- come on, guys. Come on. Let me through.

YOUNG (voice-over): But Kevin Gough, also irritated by the massive prayer vigil outside the court on Thursday. The defense lawyer voiced his frustrations in front of the judge.

GOUGH: This is not 1950. This is not 1923. There are not thousands of people outside with pitchforks and baseball bats. But I would respectfully submit to the court that this is the 21st century equivalent.

But still, third parties are influencing this case. They have been doing it from the gallery in this courtroom. They have been doing it outside. This is what a public lynching looks like in the 21st century, with all due respect.

They don't have to have 10,000 people outside. Perception is reality.

YOUNG (voice-over): Gough continued to make his inflammatory statements in court.

GOUGH: Just because they don't have a gallery up -- a -- we -- they haven't put a podium up outside with a hangman's noose on it doesn't mean that this isn't a trial, despite the best efforts of this court, this isn't a trial that's been infected by mob violence of a woke Left mob.

YOUNG (voice-over): And Gough once again calling for a mistrial, citing prejudice and influence on the jury due to yesterday's demonstration and because several pastors accompanied the Arbery family in the courtroom.

GOUGH: This is an event that is literally, literally at the courthouse door, with more people than I can count. And we've got multiple Black Voters Matter signs outside but we have the Black Pastors Matter sign.

YOUNG (voice-over): Judge Walmsley once again denying the motion.

Lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski calling Gough out for his motion.

LINDA DUNIKOSKI, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Your honor, Mr. Gough is a brilliant lawyer. On November 12th, he stood up in this courtroom, knowing full well he was on television, and made comments about Al Sharpton and then Black pastors and Colonel Sanders, all knowing full well it was being broadcast on television.

That is good lawyering right there because, now, he's motioned for a mistrial based on something that he caused.

YOUNG (voice-over): Ryan Young, CNN, Brunswick, Georgia.


BRUNHUBER: And yet other racially charged trial, this case involves a civil suit against the organizers of the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

One person was killed and dozens injured during the rally, which was held to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee; 14 people and 10 white supremacists and nationalist organizations are being sued by rallygoers, who say they suffered life-altering injuries.

The jury finished their first day of deliberations yesterday without reaching a verdict.


BRUNHUBER: And in Aurora, Colorado, the city's $15 million settlement for the family of Elijah McClain has been finalized. The 23-year old died after a confrontation with police while just walking home two years ago. Protests led to a reexamination of the case.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): An investigation found the police had a pattern of racially based enforcement and that McClain was put in a now banned chokehold that cuts off the blood flow to the brain.

Three officers and two paramedics have already been charged in his death. In a statement, an Aurora official says no amount of money can change what happened or erase the pain and heartbreak for the family.


BRUNHUBER: As calls from the international community grow louder, demanding answers on the whereabouts of missing tennis star Peng Shuai, the editor-in-chief at the state run newspaper "Global Times" says Peng will appear in public and participate in activities soon.

He said she has been at her home freely and claims to have confirmed through sources that recent photos of Peng, shared by a state media journalist, depict her current state. CNN hasn't confirmed when the photos were taken nor if they're from her. CNN's Paula Hancocks is following the story from Seoul. Some enigmatic statements coming out there.

What more do we know?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At this point, Kim, everything that we are learning and hearing is all from Chinese state media. We are hearing nothing from Peng Shuai herself.

And that is why the calls to hear from her are becoming louder across the world. Now what we heard on Friday, was from a Chinese state-run media journalist, CGTN, who had tweeted some photos of Peng, saying that she had posted them on WeChat, the platform and had said, "Happy weekend."

Now we don't know whether or not she had posted those photos and we don't know where they're from. And there's many questions surrounding them but certainly there's nothing directly coming from her.

And as you say, in the "Global Times" op-ed, saying that she would be in public soon. There would be public activity. She had been at home. She had wanted to stay at home.

But again, this is all coming from Chinese state-run media. Now we heard from the head of the WTA, the Women's Tennis Association, earlier last week, saying that he had tried to get in contact with her directly but had not been able to do so.

Now there had been an email purported to be from Peng, sent to Simon, the head of the WTA, saying that she's fine, that she walks back accusations that she had made against the former vice premier in China of sexual abuse.

That post had been taken down within about 30 minutes of it being published on November 2nd and she has not been heard from directly since.

But he said that he has emailed directly back to her and had heard nothing. So he believed that that statement was not from her, was not accurate and said that he has been trying to get in touch with her, also in touch with counterparts at the Chinese Tennis Association but nothing directly.

So this is why we're seeing even more voices come out; tennis associations from around the world are calling for more information about where she is and how she is. And we're also hearing from tennis stars like Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, calling on China to support her and to say exactly where she is.

So of course, the longer it goes that we don't hear directly from the tennis star herself, the more the concerns are growing. Now at this point, what we've heard from the foreign affairs ministry in China on Thursday, then again on Friday, saying that this is not a diplomatic affair and it's not for them to talk about it -- Kim?

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks for keeping on top of the troubling story, CNN's Paula Hancocks in Seoul. Appreciate it. The U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken is in Africa and sounding

the alarm about the conflict in Tigray. His dire warning for Ethiopia, when we return. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken is warning that the war in Tigray has locked Ethiopia on a path to destruction. He will wrap up his three-nation tour in Africa in the coming hours. He currently in the Senegal capital and he spoke with CNN's Stephanie Busari earlier and called on the Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed to bring the warring sides together.

We have more from Stephanie in Abuja, Nigeria.

What more did he tell you?

STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN.COM SUPERVISING EDITOR, AFRICA: So Kim, Secretary Blinken, at the end of this five-day trip, currently in Senegal, we spoke in a wide-ranging interview and in particular about Ethiopia, the urgent need for peace talks and a cease-fire and the humanitarian crisis there. Take a listen to what he had to say.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This has to happen as soon as possible (INAUDIBLE) with every passing day what we're seeing is an increase in communal tensions.

That's really risk ripping the country apart and spilling over to other countries in the region. So there's tremendous urgency, which is why we are engaged, every single day, in supporting efforts by the African Union, by others, engaging directly ourselves to try to bring people together, to actually start talking. BUSARI: Many people have called for premier -- prime minister Abiy to

be stripped of the Nobel Peace Prize.

What is your view of that?

BLINKEN: Well, those kinds of decisions are up to the Nobel committee. But that is really not the issue. I think the issue now, it is -- and as the duly elected leader of the country, for the prime minister to have played the role that is so vital, which is trying to bring the country together.

And to, again, end the violence and deal with the profound differences that have emerged over the last year and also to make sure that people are getting the help and assistance they need.

That is his responsibility, as the leader of the country. But it is also incumbent upon everyone else involved to do the same thing, to engage in good faith. There is no military solution to the challenges in Ethiopia.

None of the different combative parties can prevail by military means.


BLINKEN: That is a path to destruction for the country and misery for the people of Ethiopia, who deserve a lot better.

So I hope that all of the leaders, starting with, again, the leader of the country, the prime minister, will do that, bring people together and work through these problems politically.


BRUNHUBER: All right, so Stephanie, the Biden administration seems to be taking a very different approach than the Trump administration when it comes to Africa.

So explain how is it different and how is that change being received there?

BUSARI: Yes, you're right, Kim; during this trip, Secretary Blinken announced the U.S.-Africa summit, dates which we don't know yet. But many are saying that it signals an intention to boost cooperation between African countries and U.S., where, for so long, African leaders say it has been an unequal partnership.

They have not been treated as equals and they have looked to China. Everywhere you look on the continent, you can see a sign of China's huge influence, with huge infrastructure projects.

So many are saying, it's about time that the U.S. is signaling a strong intention to bring partnership and cooperation on this continent.

And Nigeria's foreign minister actually said, during a press conference with Secretary Blinken, that they feel like an attractive bride with many suitors, who are bringing many gifts and they are going to take as much as they can from these suitors.

So it is really a powerful position for Africa to be in right now and being recognized as a major geopolitical player.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, I thought that was a colorful quote for sure when I read that. Stephanie, thank you very much.

Still to come --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think people make it seem like dark skinned women are being judged as extinct, when we've been here for years.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRUNHUBER: We'll hear from dozens of women like Sophie (ph) about their experience of colorism as CNN launches a new series. Please do stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: In a new six-month series called "WHITE LIES," CNN's "As Equals" investigates the world of skin whitening. The series seeks to expose the underlying drivers of colorism, the discrimination against dark skinned Black people within the same racial or ethnic group and to hold those involved in the skin whitening industry accountable.

CNN spoke with people of color from around the world about how the industry and perception of beauty has impacted them.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It came to the point where I felt my skin tone was a problem because it was an ongoing joke all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She immediately said, oh, wow, you know, your daughter is much darker compared to the rest of the family members, I mean jokingly said, "Where did you find her?"

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I walked into the living room and she looked at me, she was like, "Why is this one so Black?"

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was (INAUDIBLE) you want, you know, be successful, you want find a partner, you want find someone, you know, you are going to have a life marred with this extreme melanin, so just stay out of the sun and protect your skin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They would say, oh, you look so dark, you look like you've been burned, so please don't go out and play in the sun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People would always say to you, don't be under the sun. You know, you'll get more dark. You're already dark and you are going to get dark.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wasn't a child that was swayed by much, you know. What you thoughts of me, that really bothered me. Or that really bothered me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to go back and give that little dark girl a big hug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm the color I am of Brown, basically, but you want me to be darker so it fits into your narrative of what you think personal color should be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I really think, especially when I was younger, I always have been a few shades, I was like four shades lighter than me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, (INAUDIBLE) Clear and Lovely and like that, because I wanted to present myself to be light.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad is from India, my mother is white and American. I would check my skin tone next to the swatches on the side of a Fair and Lovely package to see where I was. And I think I started to realize really young that I had skin that many women were trying to achieve.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's more whitening, more lightening, more brightening or removing dark spots and -- but the whole emphasis is on the fact that, if you are not light enough, you're not beautiful enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the end of the day, I think people make it seem like dark skinned women are being judged as extinct, when we've been here for years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to challenge what we consider as beautiful. We need to challenge the rules that we allow certain darker skin tone people to play as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is where colorism cleansing and where we've got a long way to go, where women can just be seen equal, equally beautiful, equally bright, equally intelligent, irrespective of their skin tone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One really powerful tool that I've seen among especially young women is the power of social media.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm hopeless basically of when I look at the younger generation, because they get it, they get how people, you know, are equal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And still feel really radical every time I sit out in the sun. You know, it is a big act of rebellion just to sit on the beach. So yes.


BRUNHUBER: Now a few of the people you saw in that report referenced the Unilever product Fair and Lovely, a cream well known for skin lightening and which received widespread criticism. Well, Unilever has renamed it, acknowledging the brand suggests singular ideal of beauty.


BRUNHUBER: Sky watchers just had an out of this world experience that hasn't happened in nearly 600 years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRUNHUBER (voice-over): This was the scene over Tokyo Friday when a partial lunar eclipse turned the moon blood red. This eclipse was unusual, because the sun and Earth and moon were in near perfect alignment with the Earth blocking sunlight from falling on the face of the moon.

And this was the scene in Shanghai; the eclipse lasted more than three hours and was the longest lasting since the 1400s.


BRUNHUBER: All right, so if you've ever wondered, what exactly makes for a good hug?

Well, researchers at the University of London have the answer. Examine the emotional embraces and they found that long hugs, those lasting five to 10 seconds, are more pleasant than one-second hugs.

And they also found that crisscross hugs are more common than neck- waist hugs and crisscross hugs are more common between men or between women and mixed pairs. And researchers hope this and future studies will help them get a grip on what they call an understudied human behavior.

I can't imagine why that is understudied.

Well, we want to leave you with this story of triumph over adversity. A stray Russian dog named Monika now has a fresh shot at mobility after a brutal act. Rescuers think someone cut off her paws just to be cruel.

But a crowd funding operation was organized and she ended up at a clinic, where a veterinarian fitted her with prosthetic paws. Now a doctor says Monica's bones will grow and adapt to the artificial titanium limbs, like antlers on a deer and, once recovered, she's be able to walk and go to a new home.

I'm Kim Brunhuber. I'll be back with more CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks.