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Bad Weather Heading into Northeastern U.S.; Pyongyang Test Fired Two Ballistic Missiles; Ukrainian Web Sites Hacked by Suspected Russian Operators; Hostage Taker Killed in Texas; French Parliament Passed New Health Bill; Novak Djokovic Back to Serbia. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 17, 2022 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom, and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, treacherous road conditions are a major concern for tens of millions of Americans as a vicious winter storm pummels much of the east Coast.

Djokovic, deported. The Australian Open is now underway without the world's top tennis player.

Plus, North Korea test fires more suspected missiles, the 4th time in just a month. We are live in Tokyo with the details.

UNKNOWN: Live from CNN center, this is CNN Newsroom, with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Good to have you with us. Well, a brutal winter storm has been battering mauve of the southeastern U.S. with freezing rain and snow. And the northeast is next. As many as 80 million Americans were under winter weather alerts on Sunday, stretching from Georgia to Maine. The effects of this system could cause problems for days to come.

States in the Appalachian region are saying heavy snowfall and high winds, parts of North Carolina got as much as a foot of snow or about 30 centimeters. And at least 25 counties declared a state of emergency. Down in Florida, this system spawned tornadoes on the West Coast which destroyed at least 28 homes and damaged dozens more.

Downed trees and power lines knocked out power to nearly 300,000 customers across the southeast on Sunday. More than 150,000 along the East Coast are still in the dark, and more than 3,000 flights were canceled Sunday. According to flight aware, largely due to the weather. Twelve hundred more already canceled for Monday.

Well, with this weather system now moving through the northeast, parts of Pennsylvania are expecting heavy snow. And winter weather advisories are in effect for the next several hours. CNN's Polo Sandoval has more.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Before the first snowflakes fell in Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf was urging residents to simply stay home as that storm begin to move in that we really begin to feel on Sunday afternoon and through the overnight hours.

Now in terms of Pittsburgh, city officials here recognizing that their response to the last major they realized their last snow event came up short. They did not expect or anticipate a refreezing event that took place after that -- after that snowfall and making many of those side roads basically impassable and just a frozen mess.

So, what they've done, according to the mayor in an announcement that he made on Friday, they've certainly tried to improve their response, and we did see it on Sunday with plow trucks and snow removal equipment out and about on some of the streets also put on the sidewalks. As forecasters here expecting for up to a foot of snow in and around Pittsburgh.

So now the main concern obviously will be is Monday morning, though it is a holiday. School was not scheduled for today. There are still those folks who may have to get to work, so authorities certainly are concentrating on those roads and highways as we continue to get through Monday.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, Pittsburgh.

CHURCH: All right. Let's go to meteorologist Tyler Mauldin, he joins me on the latest with the winter weather conditions. So, what are you seeing?

TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: So, Rosemary, first of all, any snow and any snow that melted across the southeast, any rain that fell that is still lingering on the roadways, it's going to freeze over overnight. So, we have to see, watch the potential for black ice down here across the southeast.

Meanwhile, from northeast Georgia all the way up to Maine, we have winter weather alerts because the system is ejecting up in that direction. Notice the swirl here. It's pushing out of the Carolinas moving on into the northeast. What we did see earlier was right through Maryland, we saw snowfall followed by severe weather just within a matter of about four hours or so.

That heavy snowfall is now pushing across Pennsylvania, on into New York, on the backside on into Ohio, too. We're seeing snowfall rates that are really significant. So, what is going to happen, as this pushes to the north, it's going to leave a decent swath of snowfall behind.

The orange -- the pink areas here, those are amounts of about 12 to 18 inches of additional snowfall. The consensus will be about four to five, maybe six inches across the mid-Atlantic and the northeast.

[03:05:05] But right up along the coastline just some rainfall. Notice that we do have wind alerts up as well. There are areas that we'll see gust get up to 50 maybe 60 miles per hour at times, so almost hurricane force winds over the next 24 hours as the system pushes up to the north.

You want to watch for the reds here on the map, going up the Appalachian, across the mid-Atlantic all in it here into the northeast. That's going to be problematic because any ground that is saturated, well that wind could cause a tree toe to topple over if that tree is in saturated ground.

In addition, you've ice that could form on those already sat -- on those trees that are in saturated grounds and then you have that wind come through and it could topple down the tree. That could lead to power outages. And of course, it is going to lead to some treacherous driving conditions, too. So be aware of that.

And then as we got into mid to late week, there is a clipper system moving across the Great Lakes and Ohio River Valley that will be pushing on into the northeast. So, we're going to add to the winter weather woes here across this portion of the country in the days to come. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Tyler Mauldin, thank you so much for keeping a very close eye on all of that. I appreciate it.

Well South Korea says the latest missile test from North Korea are, quote, "very regrettable actions." Seoul held an emergency security meeting just a short time ago after Pyongyang tested two more suspected ballistic missiles. South Korea's military said the projectiles were launched from somewhere near Pyongyang's International Airport early Monday, local time into the sea to the east.

And CNN's Blake Essig joins us now live from Tokyo with more on that. Good to see you, Blake. So, the fourth time in a month that North Korea has apparently tested ballistic missiles. Everyone is asking what is going on?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Rosemary, since the start of the year, North Korea has sent a strong message to the world by conducting several missile tests while South Korea, the United States and Japan are currently analyzing details of this most recent launch that took place early this morning local time.

Based on the estimated maximum altitude and distance the missiles traveled, Japanese and South Korean officials both believe North Korea has test fired two short-range missiles that landed in the waters off the East Coast of the Korean peninsula just outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone.

Now as you mentioned, Rosemary, this is the fourth missile test by North Korea in January alone, that's compared to two tests in all of last year. But the increased number of missile tests really shouldn't exactly come as a surprise, and that's because just a few weeks ago North Korean leader Kim Jong-un promised to further strengthen his country's military capability during a speech closing out its five-day party meeting.

Now before today's test, the last missile launch was carried out less than a week ago and took place just a few hours after North Korea's foreign ministry released a statement expressing frustration over new sanctions imposed by the United States.

The statement said that if the U.S. adopts such a confrontational stance, North Korea will be forced to take stronger and certain reactions to it, essentially suggesting that this missile test carried out last week was as a result a protest to those sanctions.

Now to this point, the Biden administration has taken a more muted approach to dealing with North Korea compared to the previous administration. And while it's unknown if these frequent missile tests will be a pattern this year, the two countries appear seem to be at a deadlock.

The Biden administration has made it known that they are all in for dialogue and engagement but will not drop sanctions as a price to sit down with North Korea. Now North Korea wants the dialogue to take place as well, Rosemary, but they're adamant that the Biden administration must first display goodwill by dropping those sanctions.

CHURCH: All right. Blake Essig joining us live from Tokyo, many thanks.

Well, the U.S. role in the standoff between Ukraine and Russia has some people asking if we're entering a new Cold War. The top Republican on the U.S. House foreign affairs committee was asked about that by CNN's Jake Tapper. Take a listen.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Do you think we are in a new Cold War with Russia?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): I do. I do, because I think Putin again smells weakness here. He knows that if he's ever going to invade Ukraine, now is the time. I hope he doesn't make that miscalculation, but the fact is, if he does invade Ukraine, what is the United States, what is our commander in chief prepared to do to stop it?

I'm not seeing a lot of details or action that could deter him from that critical step. This would be the largest invasion in Europe since World War II. That's how big of a deal this is.



CHURCH (on camera): This past week with Russian troops amassed near the Ukrainian border, several Ukrainian government web sites were targeted in a cyberattack. The U.S. has blamed Russia for crippling hacks against Ukraine in the past. But it has not directly accused Russia in the latest incident. Still national security adviser Jake Sullivan did issue a warning to Moscow.


JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: There will be severe economic consequences and a price to pay. And yes, of course, if it turned out that Russia is pummeling Ukraine with cyberattacks, and if that continues over the period ahead, we will work with our allies on the appropriate response.


CHURCH (on camera): And as this goes on, the Pentagon now says they have information that Russia has operatives in place to make people believe Ukraine is starting trouble to justify an invasion.

Well, for more on this growing standoff, CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us now from Moscow. Good to see you, Fred. So, what is the latest on the rising tensions and what's Moscow's likely next move?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Rosemary. It is certainly complicated on so many different, sort of fronts, if you will, that people are talking about and where these tensions are going on. There was a great interview that our own Fareed Zakaria did with the Kremlin spokesman with Dmitry Peskov this weekend. It was aired yesterday.

And in that, he really talked about a lot of these issues. First of all, the Russians deny that they are behind any cyberattacks. That's the sort of stance that we've seen from the Kremlin before where they continuously deny being behind any of those things. Of course, there has been a flurry of cyberattacks in the past that the U.S. and other countries have blamed on Russia and the Russians continuously say that it was not them.

But certainly, the bigger issue in all this is that standoff around Ukraine. And there the Kremlin spokesman said that Russia does not intend to invade Ukraine. In fact, they are the ones, they say, who believe that their security is being infringed upon.

They continuously say that's not Ukraine itself that they are necessarily concerned about but it's the fact that NATO might place weapons inside Ukraine. That Ukraine might move closer into NATO's orbit and of course in the not-too-distant future or that sometime in the future maybe become a member of NATO. And that of course Moscow says is an absolutely red line to it and its security.

So, the Russians are saying that they want those guarantees from the United States and its NATO allies that Ukraine is not going to become a member. There's other things of course that the Russians put forward as well. Like, in general, no NATO expansion into the east and also no U.S. troops rotating through some of those newer NTAO countries.

All of this, the U.S. continues to say, is a nonstarter in those negotiations that are continuing. I think one of the things that we heard also in that interview on CNN, that the spokesman for the Kremlin gave, he said that it's still very much open whether or not these talks between Russia, the U.S. and the U.S.' allies are going to lead to some sort of new agreement or some sort of new status quo.

But he does say that right now the U.S. and Russia are at completely different tracks. And he said he believes that that is very disturbing. And of course, the Russians have said that if there is not some sort of agreement, they could use what they call military technical measures and that certainly does sound a lot like a possible new Cold War, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, that is a concern. Fred Pleitgen joining us live from Moscow, many thanks.

And coming up, a rabbi says his congregation was ready to survive a hostage crisis that unfolded in Texas this weekend. His advice to others, that's next.

Plus, a controversial new COVID measure has passed the French parliament. We will find out what happens next in a live report from Paris.



CHURCH (on camera): We are tracking new developments out of England after Saturday's hostage crisis at a synagogue in Texas. Hostage taker, Malik Faisal Akram was British. And counterterrorism police in England say two teens have been detained in connection to the case. Akram was shot dead by an FBI rescue team and all hostages were saved. But investigators on both sides of the Atlantic are trying to figure out what led to the attack.

CNN's Natasha Chen has more from Colleyville, Texas.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All day Sunday police continued to work at the Beth Israel synagogue behind us with investigators loading that truck behind us with items perhaps still processing evidence. And meanwhile, we've seen more from the Facebook livestream of the services from Saturday. A lot of people likely tuning in from home hearing those terrifying moments.

We'll play you a clip here. There's only audio, no video. And it's not exactly clear whom the suspect is speaking to, but it is clear that he did not want to leave that building alive.


UNKNOWN: I've got these four guys with me, yes? So, I don't want to hurt them, yes? OK, are you listening? I don't want you to cry. Listen! I'm going to release these four guys (Inaudible). But then I'm going to go in the yard, yes? And they're going to take me, all right? I'm going to die at the end of this, all right? Are you listening? I am going to die! OK? So don't cry over me. OK? Don't cry, we cannot (Inaudible) and stream goes out.

(END VOICE CLIP) CHEN (on camera): One of the hostages, the rabbi, Charlie Cytron-

Walker released a statement talking about going how the congregation had actually gone through active shooter trainings, security training in the past that proved so crucial in this situation and the 11 terrifying hours they spent in there with the suspect.

I'll read part of that statement here where he says, in the last hour of our hostage crisis, the gunman became increasingly belligerent and threatening. Without the instruction we received we would not have been prepared to act and flee when the situation presented itself. There's no question that this was a traumatic experience.


He goes on to encourage other organizations, congregations to go through similar training and thanked everyone for their prayers and support. We're also learning a little bit more about the suspect and how he came into the United States.

A law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation told our colleague Josh Campbell that the suspect arrived in the U.S. at JFK about five weeks ago and that he was not on a watch list. So, there is still more investigation to be done here about how he went from New York to Texas and why and how this happened in the first place. Back to you.

CHURCH: The U.S. surgeon general is warning a national peak in the Omicron COVID surge likely won't happen in the coming days and says the next few weeks will be tough. He spoke to CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday and said testing is still a top priority.


VIVEK MURTHY, U.S SURGEON GENERAL: As the president said, we certainly have more we need to do on testing. And that's a message that's very clear from him to the public, to his team, that we need to pull every lever possible. It's why you've seen so many additional spigots opened, if you will, when it comes to testing, and why that supply will continue to increase in the months ahead.


CHURCH (on camera): Across the Atlantic, England is taking another step in easing some of its COVID rules. Starting Monday, people can end their self-isolation after five full days if they test negative on days five and six and have no fever.

Meanwhile, after weeks of debate and amendments, the French parliament has approved a controversial vaccine pass bill. The new law requires proof of full vaccination for many every-day activities like visiting bars and restaurants, as well as long-distance public transport. A negative PCR test is no longer enough. The law still needs to go to the constitutional court next week for final approval.

Well for more on all of this, I'm joined by CNN's Jim Bittermann from Paris. Good to see you, Jim. So, what more can you tell us about this controversial vaccine pass and when will it likely go into effect?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, it's going to go into effect very shortly, probably within the next few days. It depends on the constitutional court, of course, which could rule that it's unconstitutional, but that seems unlikely at this point. It's not even likely that the opponents to this piece of legislation will get it to the constitutional court.

But in any case, this new piece of legislation requires, as you said, the display of this health pass, this vaccination pass for any kind of activities, outside activities including bars, restaurants, cafes, and it's meant to encourage the 5.5 million French who have not gotten their vaccinations to get their vaccinations because they will find their activity will be really restricted if they don't.

One thing about this new law, by the way, is it toughens penalties for the fraudulent use of the pass. There has been a number of in the past -- there's been a number of cases of fraud involving the health pass and in fact, now the -- the penalties include jail time for the vaccination pass if you are convicted of counterfeiting or fraud with that. Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Jim Bittermann joining us live from Paris, many thanks for those details.

Well still to come, a dramatic departure, tennis star Novak Djokovic is deported just hours before the Australian Open gets underway. So, what comes next?

Plus, the Djokovic saga highlights a bigger issue in the sports world, confronting anti-vaccine beliefs among some star athletes. We'll take a look at that on the other side of the break. Stay with us.



CHURCH (on camera): The Australian Open tennis tournament is now underway without world number one Novak Djokovic. The tennis star arrived in Dubai early Monday after losing his bid to stay in Australia despite being unvaccinated. And it appears unlikely he will be welcomed back any time soon according to the Australian minister of home affairs. Take a listen.


KAREN ANDREWS, AUSTRALIAN HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER: That cancellation was upheld by the federal courts. As a result of that, he will be banned from entry for three years into the country. Now, there are some compelling reasons that may be able to be looked at, but that's all hypothetical at this point. Any application will be reviewed on its merits.


CHURCH (on camera): Djokovic was deported Sunday hours after an Australian federal court upheld a decision to revoke his visa for a second time. The judges saying Australia's immigration minister acted lawfully when he canceled Djokovic's visa citing concerns the unvaccinated star could stir up anti-vaccine sentiment.

But Djokovic is getting plenty of support back home. Belgrade lit up its tallest building in his honor calling him the pride of Serbia. The country's prime minister has called the Australian court's decision scandalous.

Well, CNN world sports Patrick Snell is standing by here in Atlanta with a look at what this means for the tournament, but first let's go to CNN's Anna Coren who joins us live from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Anna.

So, after days of much embarrassment on all sides in fact, Djokovic is now out of the Australian Open, out of the country. What is the latest on all of this and of course, the fallout?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rosemary, I think it's fair to say that nobody comes out of this looking good. Certainly not Novak Djokovic, the 34-year-old Serbian world number one who, as you say, has been deported from Australia, is now in Dubai and where he goes from there we don't know. He might return to Serbia to a hero's welcome. He might return to Spain where he spent some of the pandemic or he may return to Monaco, where we know he has residencies.

But he doesn't come out of this looking good, nor does the Australian federal government that is really dragged this out over 10 days and nor does tennis Australia, the organizers of this Grand Slam event.

But as you say, this court upheld the government's decision to cancel Djokovic's visa for a second time. He did leave the country. He said as he left, I am extremely disappointed. Disappointed. This was in a statement that he issued. He went on to say we are taking some time to rest, recuperate before making further comments.


The Serbian prime minister was much more colorful in his language. As you said, he describes the deportation as scandalous. The president of Serbia went on to accuse the Australian government of torturing and tormenting Djokovic and treating him like a mass murderer.

And it's interesting, you ran that soundbite from Karen Andrews, the Home of Affairs minister, earlier this morning. On another radio show this morning, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, he said that the federal government had never given him an exemption, that rules are rules. However, he would consider allowing Djokovic back into the country down the track under the right circumstances. So, obviously, a difference set of the opinion between the prime minister and Home of Affairs minister.

But, Rosemary, you know, the majority of Australians feel that whilst the process to get here was clumsy, was really a national embarrassment, brought a little shame to Australia, that it was the right decision, the right outcome. The reason they feel so strongly about this is because what they have been through over the last two years with this pandemic. They are going through some of the toughest restrictions and lockdowns. The city of Melbourne that is hosting the Australian Open was locked down for 256 days. To attend, to watch the Australian Open, you need to be vaccinated to get into Melbourne Park. More than 90 percent of the population is vaccinated.

So, this is why it was such strong reaction towards Djokovic and his attempt to stay in Australian play.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, a lot of sacrifices made by Australians there. Appreciate that, Anna. And Patrick, to you, now that Djokovic is out of the Australian Open, what has been going on at the tournament and what will this mean moving forward given Djokovic is banned from the country for three years as things stand right now? It sounds like there may be a little bit of wiggle room there going forward.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we will see, and that's going to be one to watch, I tell you, Rosemary, because look, if that is -- if that is the case, three years, then it potentially means the next time he gets to play the Australian Open, he'll be 37 years of age. But as you say, it seems plenty of wiggle room regarding that.

But plenty going on, day one, Monday, at the Australian Open. So much else is happening. Look, Rosemary, actually, as what has been happening to the guy who actually replaced Novak Djokovic in the draw, the 150th world rank Italian, Salvatore Caruso, taking on another Serbian player, Miomir Kecmanovic, and it will be Kecmanovic very much in control of that match and, in fact, getting the job done to seal the victory there, I can tell you.

What about the subplot developing, Rosemary, also on the men side of things, because so much of the toll going into the tournament, of course, would be Djokovic? If he gets to play, he is going for 21st career grand slam that would make him the most decorated men's player of all-time.

Well, Rafael Nadal is another player who is also going for a record 21st grand slam title. And a short while ago, on Monday, he won his opener against the American player, Marcos Giron, in three sets there. So, beating Giron on three gets the job done. So, Nadal is going to be certainly one to watch there moving forward.

Just a reminder to our viewers, Rosemary, worldwide, Roger Federer, the iconic Swiss who is also the third icon of the sport going with that 21st slam, he is not playing this year at Melbourne Park due to injury.

Now, the women side of things, Naomi Osaka, the defending women's champion, the Japanese superstar, she threw the round two earlier, beating the young Columbian, Camila Osorio, in straight sets, in two sets there. And all oh, eyes on the homegrown talents of Ash Barty in the night session there. She is going to be opening up the night session. She is taking on the Ukrainian player, Lisa Tsurenko.

So, much to look forward to and it is only day one of the tournament, Rosemary. At least now, we can hopefully focus on the sport itself, right, and the actual matches.

CHURCH: Yeah. Of course, I can't resist putting you on the spot. Who do you think will likely win the Australian Open now that Djokovic is out?

SNELL: You know, couple of weeks ago when I said Nadal, but I'm not going to say Nadal because, you know, he has got much to prove. He is coming back from injury. He recently had a bout with COVID as well.

I like the young Russian player, Daniil Medvedev. All eyes on Daniil Medvedev. Mark my words, Rosemary, Daniil Medvedev to win it, maybe, maybe., Listen, he is the reigning U.S. Open champion as well. He beat Djokovic in the U.S. Open final in New York last year. He lost in the final, the Aussie Open to Djokovic. So, he has unfinished business here. That is part of my thinking, anyway. Back to you.

CHURCH: We will see if you're right. Patrick Snell, we will keep an eye out. Thanks so much.


CHURCH: Joining me now is ESPN senior writer Howard Bryant. He is also with Meadowlark Media. Great to have you with us.


CHURCH: In the (INAUDIBLE) article, you wrote just a few days ago that Djokovic has -- and I am quoting here -- "cemented his membership within the pandemic's most infamous group -- the anti-vax multimillionaire athlete who behaves as if his fame, wealth and enormous platform to disseminate misinformation place him above the rest of us."

Now, since then, Australia has thrown him out of the country for doing exactly that. What is your reaction and what message does it send other antivaccine athletes and, of course, the entire sports community?

BRYANT: Well, it is a devastating blow for him. Tennis is an individual sport. Novak Djokovic is the greatest tennis player -- male tennis player in the world right now. And so, he is chasing greatness, and for him to not only be thrown out of the country and unable to compete in this Australian Open, but he faces a three-year ban from the country, so his greatest -- the place (ph) of his greatest success is he is not able to attend for the next three years unless there is some -- unless there is some change.


BRYANT: I think that -- I think the biggest message that it sends to me is it is not just to Novak. I don't think the goal is to force him to be vaccinated. I think the goal here -- the message to me goes close to Tennis Australia and to the other sports leagues and to the French Open and the U.S. Open in Wimbledon to have some uniform standards. You can't create these loopholes that players are allowed to travel the world and not be vaccinated.

CHURCH: Yeah, that's a very important point. And you also wrote in that same article that -- I am quoting again "Athletes lauded for using their voices to benefit the conditions of others have been replaced by the pandemic-era player beholden completely unto himself -- unburdened by community or responsibility to others, using vaunted platforms to disseminate pseudoscience, to elevate and separate themselves."

Why do you think some of these sports heroes have turned out to be so self-serving during this pandemic? Some are even lying about their vaccination status at a time when their voice is needed to spread the advice of public health professionals to keep everyone around them safe.

BRYANT: I think the biggest reason is because they don't believe that they are part of this anymore. I think one of the biggest things that has happened over the past few years is that the -- this decade, whether we are talking about Trayvon Martin or whether we're talking about George Floyd or Colin Kaepernick, this decade is going to be remembered for the revival of the athletes' political voice, that they became involved in social movements and they have completely undermined all of that goodwill during the pandemic.

They have been one of the more obstructionist voices and perhaps the most vocal obstructionist voices. And I think part of the reason is because they don't believe that these rules should apply to them, that they aren't part of it, that sports had always been part of being --- part of the solution and they no longer seem to see it that way.

I think that they do view themselves, because their platforms are so enormous and also because their leagues didn't create any vaccine mandates, that they were allowed to essentially make everything a personal choice and it goes in line as well with really what is happening in this country as well, that there is no community and the players have really begun to reflect that.

CHURCH: Yeah. Your words are so powerful. I do want to quote you again in that same article. You say that while Australians and citizens around the world sacrifice to resume their lifestyles by suffering through the difficult steps of vaccine mandates ostensibly for the long-term greater good, several high-profile athletes have decided the only name that matters is the one on the back of their jerseys.

Powerful words again. So, what enables this behavior and why do some top athletes comfortably put themselves first while most others step up and do the right thing? Because we really only talking about a few selfish players in the whole industry of sports, aren't we?

BRYANT: Well, I think that the reason is because we've enabled them as well, that this is what happens when you -- if you tell them they're gods and you treat them like gods, they believe that they're gods. And I think that is one of the biggest things that you've seen so far during this -- on this issue.

And I when it comes to a player like New Jersey, he has actually done a lot of great things in terms of encouraging vaccinations for others. He is a very curious antivaxxer. He is not -- he is not the Aaron Rodgers antivaxxer who tells you that you should -- that there are other different forms of treatment that you can take and that he is going to sort of play hocus-pocus with the words telling you that he is not vaccinated but immunized the way Aaron Rodgers did.


BRYANT: I think for Novak, this has been very much a personal choice that he is not going to get vaccinated. But at the same time, the end result becomes the same because instead of doing what Kyrie Irving did, which was to say, okay, these are the rules, I choose not to played by them (ph), which is completely his right, he instead went looking for loopholes and was incredibly reckless.

New Jersey is a player who wants to be known as a great -- as a great person. He is not one of these people that isn't aware of criticism. He wants to be loved. He is beloved in his country and a lot of people really do look up to him.

So, that is why some of this is so bizarre in terms of his caginess about his vaccination status and the recklessness in which he has travelled. Let us not forget, 2020, he was the one in the middle of the pandemic before there were vaccines who had organized a mask-less tournament that turned out to be super spreader event. So, it is just very, very reckless and important decision making on his part.

CHURCH: Yeah, some worrying history there. Howard Bryant, a pleasure to talk with you. Thank you so much for joining us.

BRYANT: My pleasure. Thank you.

CHURCH: Parties at 10 Downing Street during the pandemic have sparked public fury and led to scrutiny over Boris Johnson's leadership. Ahead on CNN, a top leader in the U.K. is now lashing out at the prime minister over the scandal. We'll explain.


CHURCH: Well, the head of the U.K.'s opposition Labour Party says Prime Minister Boris Johnson broke the law by attending parties during a COVID lockdown. Revelations of numerous parties at 10 Downing Street during the pandemic while the rest of the country face tough restrictions are prompting questions about how long Mr. Johnson can survive as leader of the Conservative Party.


CHURCH: For more on this, let us bring in CNN's Nina Dos Santos. She joins us live from London. Good to see you, Nina. So, that is the big question, isn't it? How much longer can Boris Johnson hang on?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a big question that many MPs here in Westminster are waking up to having to answers to their own constituents. We've had multiple reports over the course of the weekend that MPs from the Conservative Party, the ruling party, have been having to feel furious amongst from people who say, well, I had to abide by all of this lockdown restrictions even at times of great personal distress during the coronavirus pandemic, why on earth did people inside number 10 Downing Street seemingly not stick to the very own rules that they themselves drafted?

That is the question at the heart of Boris Johnson's premiership. What they're trying to do here is get it back on to even heal (ph). Over the course of the weekend, Rosemary, we saw all sorts of leaks in the Sunday papers saying that you could expect a whole purge of staff here at number 10 Downing Street and also a raft of potentially populous policy, headline-grabbing policy initiatives, that could be announced as soon as this week.

Things like tackling the rise in cost of living, the spiking energy prices, also freezing the national broadcaster's license fee payment, all of that type of stuff that appeals to the red meat, if you'd like, of the Conservative Party base.

The question is, will it be enough? Well, Let's have a look at the procedure for unseating a British prime minister. We went through it many times during Theresa May's time during tortuous negotiations over Brexit. You have to get a no-confidence vote. To do that, there has to be a critical mass of MPs who want somebody like Boris Johnson out of office. They have to table about 53 letters to a special back bench committee for that procedure to get into action, and then there has to be various votes on it.

The moment -- there's a feeling here in Westminster that we are nowhere near that point yet, but the premiership of Boris Johnson certainly after this endless lockdown busting party allegations, including at a time when the country and the Queen was mourning the death of Prince Philip, is certainly testing people's patience and continues to do so. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Indeed, it does. Nina Dos Santos joining us live from London, many thanks.

Well, reporters in Hong Kong are fearing for their future amid a crackdown on the media. We will hear from journalists about what it is like to be targeted by authorities. We'll be back in just a moment.




CHURCH: Some journalists in Hong Kong are starting the year unemployed after a new wave of crackdowns. The city had a high degree of media freedom for decades, but all that's changed in the wake of a national security law backed by mainland China.

CNN's Ivan Watson spoke to journalists, questioning their future in Hong Kong.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what it looks like when the Hong Kong police knocked on the door of a local journalist carrying a search warrant.

(On camera): What time did they show up at your door?


WATSON (voice-over): Police take Ronson Chan in for questioning. That same morning, they raid his workplace, the independent online news portal Stand News, and arrest at least six other people tied to the outlet, accusing them of publishing seditious material.

Within hours, Stand News shuts down for good. And just days later, another independent news site, Citizen News, closes preemptively, citing the deteriorating media environment.

CHAN: Today, getting the foreign correspondent in the field is quite dangerous honestly.

WATSON (on camera): It's dangerous for you to talk to me right now?

CHAN: Yes, yes.

WATSON (on camera): Why?

CHAN: I'm afraid that it will become evidence saying that we've become an agent of other foreign power. But I still think that I have to speak out about what happened in Hong Kong.

WATSON (voice-over): The Hong Kong authorities say they're going after criminals, not silencing journalists.

CARRIE LAM, HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE: So, these actions are law enforcement actions. These actions have nothing to do with so-called suppression of press freedom or suppression of democracy.

WATSON (on camera): The government says it is not targeting journalists.

UNKNOWN: It's a lie. This was a lie.

WATSON (voice-over): Connie (ph), who doesn't want her full name published for safety reasons, worked as a journalist at the tabloid Apple Daily. It shut down last June after police raided its offices, seized its assets, and arrested at least nine executives and staffers on charges of collusion with foreign powers. After a 16-year career as a journalist in Hong Kong, Connie (ph) is now unemployed.

UNKNOWN: I'm thinking of leaving Hong Kong.

WATSON (on camera): Why? UNKNOWN: Because it is not safe anymore.

WATSON (voice-over): Hong Kong used to be the freest corner of modern-day China, a former British colony that was supposed to be spared the strict government censorship in mainland China.

The city was home to a feisty local press corp. In 2000, reporters shouted questions at then Chinese leader Jiang Zemin.

JIANG ZEMIN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF CHINA: But the questions you keep asking, too simple. Sometimes naive. Got it? Chairman Jiang, what do you think --

STEVE VINES, FORMER PRESENTER, RTHK: Hong Kong was also a very big center for international coverage in the Asian region precisely because it was a place where you didn't need to worry about someone knocking on your door in the early hours of the morning.

VINES: Hello, and welcome to the post.

WATSON (voice-over): For 20 years, British journalist Steve Vines hosted a news show on Hong Kong's public television network, but he packed up and left for this rain-soaked corner of England last year after he watched Hong Kong authorities arrest dozens of opposition politicians and activists.

VINES: It was just breathtaking. Every day, somebody was arrested. Some organization was forced to close down. Somebody else had been fired. I mean, it was just relentless.


WATSON (voice-over): The Hong Kong authorities insist journalists can still work here.

(On camera): Is there freedom of the press in Hong Kong today?

TOM GRUNDY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, HONG KONG FREE PRESS: Yes and no. It's difficult in that we feel that there is enough for us to continue, but it certainly put the industry in crisis.

WATSON (voice-over): Tom Brundy is editor-in-chief of the Hong Kong Free Press. He hopes authorities don't muzzle his small, non-profit reader-funded news site.

GRUNDY: We don't know where the red lines are. The goalposts keep moving. For the moment, we're staying put and pressing on.

WATSON (voice-over): The last year has been a bitter lessened for the city's heartbroken, newly unemployed journalists.

CHAN: I trust them for over 27 years.

UNKNOWN: So, I just hope that anyone still have freedom of speech, just, you must hold it tight.

WATSON (voice-over): Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


CHURCH: And thanks so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Have yourselves a wonderful day. "CNN Newsroom" continues now with Isa Soares.