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First Russian Civilian Casualty; Wildfire Burns Multiple Homes in Southern California; Finland Expected to Announce Intention to Join NATO; Abortion Rights in Focus as Roe v. Wade Hangs in Balance; Journalist's Funeral Procession to be Held in West Bank; North Korea Identifies First COVID Case; Kharkiv Attack Survivor Recounts Harrowing Ordeal; U.S. Inflation Slowed Last Month, Still Near 40-year High; Babysitting New Zealand's Endangered Sea Lions; Cardinal Joseph Zen Arrested for Violating HK Security Law. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 12, 2022 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, welcome to viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause.

Coming up this hour, first blood on Russian soil, as Ukrainian forces inch closer to the northern border, A Russian civilian has been killed by Ukrainian artillery fire. When down is up and up is down, the latest inflation report from the U.S. as a smattering of good news and a ton of bad. Multi-million dollar mansions engulfed in flames, the latest on the fast moving wildfire, one of America's wealthiest neighborhoods.


Live from CNN Center, this is CNN Newsroom with John Vause.

VAUSE: 11 weeks on since Russia invaded Ukraine killing 1000s of civilians and now for the first time a Russian civilian has been killed on Russian soil by Ukrainian shelling. The report comes from the governor of Belgorod just across the border from Ukraine to second largest city, Kharkiv. The region has come under a series of recent attacks but Kyiv will neither confirm nor deny responsibility.

Meantime, Ukrainian forces are doing what they can to stop Russia's offensive in the Donbass Region, satellite images and drone video, two pontoon bridges built by the Russians in the Luhansk Region are now be destroyed. More now on the latest developments from CNN's Scott McLean.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the first time since this conflict began, the governor of the Belgorod region says that one civilian has been killed by Ukrainian shelling on Russian soil. This happened in a village about six miles or so inside of the Russian border due north of the city of Kharkiv. Other villages on the Russian side of the border had previously been evacuated because the Russians say that some homes were destroyed or damaged in previous rounds of shelling. There have also been plenty of explosions on Russian soil though the Ukrainians with one notable exception have not been jumping up and down to claim responsibility for them. About two weeks ago, little over two weeks ago, presidential adviser said after a series of explosions on Russian territory that karma is a cruel thing, though, he didn't explicitly take responsibility for those strikes.

Meanwhile, inside the Azovstal Steel Plant they are, we're told hundreds of wounded soldiers still there, desperate to get out, calling on the international community and their own government to try to broke or some kind of a deal to get them out. Well, now the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister says she is going through her options. She says simply there is no military option to get those troops out. They will not surrender to the Russians, which she respects and so she tried to find some other kind of option. She says nothing is perfect, but she doesn't need a perfect plan. She only needs something that's workable. So she says that the Ukrainians have proposed exchanging Russian soldiers for just the wounded soldiers who are inside of that steel plant.

The Russians haven't agreed to anything just yet, but negotiations are ongoing. Now, those soldiers had been there for the better part of two months or even more, they are perhaps not as ill-supplied as was first thought. And that is because a higher ranking general within the Ukrainian Armed Forces says that there have been deliveries of aid and ammunition to that plant. They only stopped once the Russians caught wind of them and carried out airstrikes to put an end to that. Now, we don't know what the delivery method was or how many deliveries were made or when exactly they were stopped, but at last word, the Ukrainians say that they do have enough ammunition to fight off the Russians. That is for now. Scott McLean, CNN, Lviv, Ukraine.


VAUSE: About two hours from now, Finland is expected to make it official, announcing plans to apply for NATO membership. Finland shares an 800 mile border with Russia and has traditionally tried to stay neutral. But the war in Ukraine has dramatically changed Finland's views of the Kremlin. And Finland's President says Vladimir Putin only has himself to blame.


SAULI NIINISTO, FINNISH PRESIDENT: Well, if that would be the case that we joined what my response would be that you cause this. Look at the mirror.



VAUSE: The Kremlin has made repeated threats to try and bully Finland and not join NATO. CNN's Nic Robertson is in Helsinki with the very latest. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Warm handshakes, smiles, and then a signature promising military support as Finland speeds towards requesting NATO membership.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: In the event of an attack on either of us, then yes, we will come to each other's assistance, including with military assistance.

ROBERTSON: Johnson's assurance precisely what the Nordic nations president wants, as they consider joining the Transatlantic Alliance.

NIINISTO: This is very, very good way to go forward. And we do appreciate lot this big step.

ROBERTSON: In parliament where the historic vote will happen, routine business continues, politicians cautious of stating their positions publicly, less Russia escalate tensions.

JOHANNES KOSKINEN, FINNISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: There's this idea that that time from the final decision making towards the application and then to the joining to NATO should be as short as possible.

ROBERTSON: When the moment comes in a plenary session of parliament likely next week Koskinen, a Member of the PMs party is sure the vote will carry easily.

KOSKINEN: In the plenary, the results maybe around 180 out of 200 in favor of membership.

ROBERTSON: Politicians and public for the most part in lockstep wanting to join NATO.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People, of course, support especially when Russia have attacked the Ukraine.

ROBERTSON: Not just the invasion of Ukraine, but a history of rocky relations with Russia spring, many here to reassess decades of neutrality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a very old father, he's 96. So he was here when we had our wars in Finland with Russia. And he's been talking about, you know, the Russians could come anytime. And as, you know, that you were back in the 40s and take it easy, and they're not, yeah, you'd never know when the Russia, they always come. I said, take it easy. And now, I just had to say to him, well, you were right.

ROBERTSON (on camera): In a way Finland has been preparing for this moment for more than a generation, they've been involved in plenty of NATO and other international military operations, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Kosovo, Bosnia, Lebanon.

(Voice-over): Just last week, British troops were training here with Finnish, American and other NATO soldiers. Johnson's visit, promising more of this, NATO accession should fill and ask for it is expected to be fast tracked, but could still take months. Nic Robertson, CNN Helsinki, Finland.


VAUSE: Turning now to Washington where U.S. Senate Democrats have failed to pass a bill that would protect access to abortion nationwide. There are growing concerns the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling which legalized abortion nationwide.

The Women's Health Protection Act failed with a 49 to 51 vote, or Republicans were strongly opposed, but it was Democrats Senator Joe Manchin, whose vote shut down the bill. Later, Vice President Kamala Harris slammed Republicans.


KAMALA HARRIS, (D) U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: This vote clearly suggests that the Senate is not where the majority of Americans are on this issue. What we are seeing around this country are extremist Republican leaders who are seeking to criminalize and punish women for making decisions about their own body.


VAUSE: But in some states, mostly Democrat states, governors are taking matters into their own hands to try and protect abortion rights. CNN's Ed Lavandera takes a closer look at what a reversal of Roe would actually look like.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, it will cement America's political fault lines in a way not seen in more than 50 years.

Colorado State Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet says she's bracing for a post Roe v. Wade world. Her own experience makes her fear what will happen.

DAFNA MICHAELSON JENET, COLORADO STATE HOUSE DEMOCRAT: Taking away abortion rights and abortion services and abortion care puts women's lives at risk, period.

LAVANDERA: The Democratic lawmaker says she was 20 weeks pregnant when her baby's heartbeat stopped. She says she was sent to an abortion clinic.

MICHAELSON JENET: I was already bleeding and my doctor was afraid that I could hemorrhage and die.


What I think is important about my story and that people don't understand is that abortion care is a part of pregnancy care.

LAVANDERA: The league Supreme Court draft opinions suggest abortion rights will be left to individual states. This is what the country would look like. According to analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, a group supporting abortion rights 16 states and the District of Columbia have laws protecting abortion rights, but at least 26 states are ready or will likely move to outlaw abortion access. 13 of those states have so called trigger laws designed to immediately ban abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

(On camera): We're going to have this patchwork of different states, different laws, different standards. Are you comfortable with that?

THREESA SADLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RAFA CLINIC: I would love for there to be all states where abortion didn't exist in our country. I realized that's not where we're headed.

LAVANDERA: Threesa Sadler is the Director of an East Texas clinic offering counseling and medical services to pregnant women, offering alternatives to abortion. She says she was inspired to do this work because when she was 19, she had an abortion, a choice she regrets. Last year Texas lawmakers passed a law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

SADLER: The women that we're seeing, they seem more panicked and angry because there is a shorter timeframe.

LAVANDERA (on camera): How much more panicked and scared are these women going to be when it's illegal?

SADLER: A lot of our women once that is decided to be illegal, it goes off the table for them. Their rule followers for lack of a better word. And so I think, my hope is that some of that panic goes away.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): In the States with trigger laws, abortion access will also look very different. Five states have different versions of laws that would allow abortions in cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger. Eight states will only allow abortions in cases where the life of the mother is in danger. But all of this will likely have one clear effect for states where abortion will remain legal.

MICHAELSON JENET: We're going to have a lot of people traveling to Colorado to be able to get that safe legal abortion from all the states that surround us that do not have safe and legal abortion.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Advocates on both sides of the abortion issue say the potential Supreme Court decision could open the floodgates to new laws. For example, if a woman needs an abortion because her life is in danger, which some lawmakers tried to write laws that would control how that decision is made and health clinics offering post abortion counseling to women with those clinics be required to report women that come in seeking that counseling. These are all the types of decisions that advocates are now bracing for. Ed Lavandera, CNN Dallas.


VAUSE: Live pictures now from Southern California, we can see the Orange County Fire there still burning. This is a fast moving fire in the Laguna Hills area of Southern California. Mandatory evacuation orders are now in effect for some neighborhoods.

What we've been told by our affiliate KABC's at 20 homes, some described as multimillion dollar mansions overlooking the Pacific Ocean had been engulfed in flames. The fire broke out about five hours ago quickly spread fueled by strong gusty winds. Last report about 200 acres was on fire. Zero containment so far. Let's get the very latest now from CNN Meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri. And what's the update, Pedram?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, John, you know, we've talked about how this is really a poor setup across this region. We know how dry it's been. The gusty winds, certainly not helping. And it's a very much a wind driven and a terrain driven fire across this region of southern Orange County kind of lay the land for you, show you the landscape and get the Aliso, Wood Canyon regional park there. This particular park here, kind of where the fire has initiated in the past five or six hours. And the concern here is the residents only being asked to stop irrigation, stop watering, stop even using water because a firefighter efforts are trying to maximize any limited water supplies, they have access. And you notice the broad perspective of course, the entirety of the State of California dealing with drought conditions.

Southern California get into this region, we're talking about severe drought still in place and one of the bigger concerns here is going to spot fires in the embers that are being carried downstream by these gusty winds. At times 30 to 40 miles per hour and of course enough to pick up these embers, carry them downstream, deposit them further downstream, expand this fire very quickly. And that's the concern for a lot of folks across this region.

Now, out of curiosity, of course, they just told you it's been very dry. I looked into the numbers found the most reliable observation site closest to the fire, Long Beach airport there. Only 1.14 inches of rainfall has come down through the first of May.

Now, for this time of year, we should have at least eight inches in the bucket. Notice that's only 14% of normal in the wet season. So we know it's dry but even the wet season is getting about 14% of what is normal. So an incredibly arid landscape set up here with the fuels at extremely high levels, 0% containment. There it is, 183 acres consumed and of course we do expect this to begin to expand and farther but the winds at this point at the airport observations generally come to breezy at times but again into these elevated terrains, John, you've lived across this region, you know, very well how the landscape here could really help exacerbate the situation. And that's the concern with these canyons across this area.


VAUSE: It just comes becomes like a perfect storm all of these factors playing into each other. And that's why they just erupt so quickly. And that's all the damage has caused. Pedram, thank you. I appreciate the update.

Well, Tibet Airlines says all passengers and crew were safely evacuated after one of the passenger plane skidded off the runway and caught fire at Chongqing airport in central China.

According to the flight crew, the trouble began during takeoff with an engine catching fire after scraping the tarmac 122 were on board, more than 40 passengers were taken to hospital, all suffering minor injuries. Investigation is now under -- the accident, rather, is now under investigation.

Still to come, North Korea reporting its very first COVID-19 case. And leader Kim Jong-un orders all cities into lockdown, a live report moment.

Also new details on the Al Jazeera journalist, shot and killed in the West Bank. Palestinians prepare for her funeral procession.



VAUSE: A funeral procession will begin in just a few hours in Ramallah, for Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. She was fatally shot while covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday. Her producer was also shot but remains in a stable condition.

I want to show you some video now and a warning, it is disturbing. Al Jazeera released these images, gunfire can be heard followed by a man shouting Shireen, Shireen. She is then seen lying face down on the ground.

Large crowds gathered to mourn as her body was bought to Ramallah. And messages have been pouring in from around the world. Elliott Gotkine joins us now live from Jerusalem with the very latest. And of course, there's still this question of who did it but, what has been the reaction there from, you know, I guess when I call zero from the press corps in Jerusalem?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Shock, John, dismay, and really just trying to comprehend what happened. Shireen was a household name in the Arab world. She had been with Al Jazeera for 25 years reporting on the conflict in the West Bank that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She had friends both within this office and throughout the Foreign Press Association, of course, with other journalists working here, I didn't know her personally, but you know, when you are working as a journalist and something like this happens to one of your colleagues, it's incredibly shocking.

And also, of course, it's not like she was, you know, new to this. She'd been doing it for 25 years. She was a veteran correspondent. She was wearing a protective helmet. She was wearing a bulletproof vest as well. And yet still, she -- you know, suffered, you know, she was killed it by gunfire, as you say we still don't have a definitive conclusion as to who fired that shot. We have heard from, of course, from the Palestinian Authority, from Al Jazeera, laying the blame squarely on the shoulders of Israel's armed forces. But even the hospital in Nablus that carried out the initial autopsy said that it is not clear who shot the bullet.

There, of course, been calls for a full and transparent investigation by the White House and Israel's Defense Minister, Benny Gantz last night asking for the Palestinians to at the very least share the bullet that killed Shireen. So they can carry out a forensic analysis to try to reach a definitive conclusion. But I think that we will get to some kind of definitive conclusion, not least because of the added pressure from the U.S. because she was a U.S. citizen, as well. And of course, the U.S. also demands not only that an investigation be carried out to find out who shot Shireen but also that they very much be held to account for what has happened. John?

VAUSE: Yeah, Elliott, thank you. Elliott Gotkine in Jerusalem.

North Korea claims have detected its very first case of COVID-19. State media says the Omicron variant was found in the capital Pyongyang. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un chaired a Politburo meeting where the attendees agreed to implement a maximum emergency anti- epidemic system. CNN's Paula Hancocks, live in Seoul with very latest, what is that they're doing?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it's not clear, quite frankly. I mean, this is what we've heard from state-run media. It's uncertain exactly what they will be doing beyond what they had been doing already. Well, we do know Kim Jong-un says that he's ordered to shut down a lockdown, I should say, of all cities in the country, so everybody has been ordered inside.

So what they've said at this point, and it has to be stressed, this is the first time that North Korea has admitted to a case of COVID-19. It's not necessarily the first case they have had, they've always claimed up until this point that they didn't have any cases, but they've only actually tested 10s of 1000s of people since the beginning of the pandemic. So what they've said is they've had samples collected from a group of people who had a fever on May the eighth, so we don't know exactly how many people have tested positive for Omicron. But it is a highly contagious variant, as we all know, it was already prevalent on all three of North Korea's borders in Russia and China, also here in South Korea. So it appears that it has managed to get through not just across the border, but into the capital Pyongyang itself.

Now, there was criticism from the Politburo meeting that Kim Jong-un shared this morning, this Thursday morning, talking about the "carelessness, laxity, irresponsibility, and incompetence" of allowing the variant into the country but of course we know how difficult it is to counter the Omicron variant.

Now, there are a number of issues, there are a number of great concerns when comes to COVID in North Korea.

[01:25:03] First of all it is an unvaccinated country as far as we know. We've heard from the WHO that it is unvaccinated one of only two in the world alongside Eritrea. There have been efforts to try and get vaccines into the country via COVAX. But it appears that they have been rejected on a number of occasions. For example, AstraZeneca was offered and according to a think tank affiliated to the intelligence agency here in South Korea, that was rejected last year because they were worried about side effects. So it is a an unvaccinated country potentially with little or no immunity if there have not been significant outbreaks before that there are no, for example, if everyone's hands are locked down and suddenly no food deliveries or anything like that in North Korea, how will people be able to survive and the health system, the infrastructure is sadly lacking to be able to cope with any kind of significant outbreak.

Now, at this point, we don't know how significant this outbreak is. We don't even know if it's more than one person that has tested positive but even the very fact that North Korea two and a half years into this is admitting that it has won a case at least. It shows that they are concerned about it now. There was briefly an opening up or at least some trade coming in across the border from China. Earlier this year, the border has been shut since January 2020 that we understand is now completely closed once again, all cities under lockdown, and it's really unknown how much information will come out from North Korea as to how bad this outbreak could be. John.

VAUSE: Being under lockdown is miserable, being on the lookout in North Korea is another case altogether. Paula Hancocks in Seoul, thank you.

Although we're the best of times with record low unemployment, and they were also the worst of times with increasing soaring prices for everything from food to cars, to housing, ahead, the very latest figures on inflation, and whether there's hope on the horizon.

Plus, more from Russia's war in Ukraine, we'll hear from a woman pulled from the rubble of a government building flattened by Russian missiles.



VAUSE: Welcome back everyone. Coming up to 31 minutes past the hour. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

And I'm John Vause.

Ukraine's military claims it's regaining ground from Russian troops in a northern Kharkiv region. A number of villages northwest of the city are now back under Ukrainian control but still in range of Russian artillery fire.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh spoke with one woman who barely escaped with her life after a Russian missile strike on Kharkiv.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: sometimes places that speak only of death throw up a jewel of life. This is the first time Ayuna (ph) has stood in this spot since 72 days ago she was dragged out from the rubble here. Her husband Andrey (ph) had been scouring it looking for her for three hours. She remembers the cupboard.

AYUNA MOROZOVA, KHARKIV BLAST SURVIVOR (through translator): That was where I was standing.

WALSH: The multiple rocket attack on this, Kharkiv Regional Administration, was an early sign of the ferocious, cowardly brutality Russia would unleash on civilian targets.

This is Ayuna then, she had been serving coffee and cookies to soldiers, saw a flash and curled into a ball.

MOROZOVA: I feel a physical manifestation of fear. I don't like cookies anymore. The box fell on me and I remember the smell.

WALSH: She asked to step away, saying she's sick with butterflies like she hasn't felt since before races when she used to swim professionally. Andrey picks up the story.

ANDREY MOROZOVA, AYUNA'S HUSBAND (through translator): When I heard her voice, I was crawling across the rubble and the emergency services were trying to kick me out. I pulled the man out and then heard her. I did not plan to leave her here.

WALSH: The soldiers waiting in the corridor outside from her died, the young woman in the basement below her died. Their bodies not found for three weeks yet somehow, the concrete here fell, shielding Ayuna.

AYUNA MOROZOVA: I knew I was alive, in pain but nothing broken but was worried I would be left and never be heard.

The first time they heard me, they started to get me out, and the second missile came and I was properly trapped.

WALSH: A rescuer eventually heard her.

AYUNA MOROZOVA: Andrey got closer and I said it was me and he cried. They said they shouldn't lift the baton on me, but Andrey did alone. It got easier to breathe.

I was surprised as I thought I was still at ground level. The ambulance guy said it's your second birthday, you're alive.

WALSH: Fragments of Kharkiv now past pepper this shell, cleaning up and trying to sweep away its trauma.

AYUNA MOROZOVA: I sleep with the lights on. And when there's a loud car or God forbid a jet plane, I brace. The nightmares that I'm again lying there in shivering cold and that nobody hears my cries, that also stops me from sleeping. [01:34:50]

WALSH: Ayuna was born in Russia, but can no longer talk to her relatives there. She says they believe Russian state media's absurd claims this is a limited operation against Nazis.

AYUNA MOROZOVA: They say it was my stupidity and that I don't need to be here. I hope when time passes our children can talk. But I can't talk to them now.

Russia has lost its mind and cannot control its president. They're all each responsible, every citizen.

WALSH: The story here not of ruins, loss or burial in dust, but instead of a feverish energy that burns through the building's bones as Kharkiv gets to decide where its pieces fall now.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN -- Kharkiv, Ukraine.


VAUSE: According to President Joe Biden, Russia's war in Ukraine is to blame for much of the bad economic news of late including soaring prices for food and fuel, huge cost of housing as well as shortages in the global food supply.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America fighting on two fronts. At home, it's inflation and rising prices. Abroad, it's helping Ukrainians defend their democracy and feeding those who are left hungry around the world because Russian atrocities exist.


VAUSE: President Biden promised the country is going to beat inflation and it's going to be a big job.

In April, prices rose by 8.3 percent compared to last year. According to the latest consumer price index, that's down a notch from 8.5 percent in March.

And right now let's hope that maybe -- maybe the worst is over even though prices remain painfully high.

CNN's Brian Todd looks at how Americans are coping.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At a grocery store in northeast D.C., shoppers more than a little fed up with food prices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it's hard, you know. It's hard trying to balance, you know, what you need and what you want.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything from soda to meats to vegetables -- everything has just increased.

TODD: According to new government figures, annual inflation did ease off a bit last month but it's still near a 40-year high. Prices rising 8.3 percent for the year ending in April, slightly lower than the 8.5 percent rise through March.

And food was one of the biggest factors along with shelter. In just a month -- meat, poultry fish and eggs went up 1.4 percent with eggs by themselves spiking 10.3 percent.

What have you noticed most has gone up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, it would be the eggs because a while ago they were very cheap.

TODD: And housing costs for renters and owners went up 0.5 percent for the third month in a row. Consumers taking a big hit each month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The typical American household is spending $450 more now than a year ago to buy the same goods and services and that's because of the higher inflation. So this is incredibly painful.

TODD: Gas prices dipped last month but are now back to setting records.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyday you walk by, I mean drive by, it's one price and within a matter of hours it will jump up again.

TODD: Analysts say with inflation this high, millions of American families already struggling to make ends meet due to the pandemic may still have to make tough choices.

MICHELLE SINGLETARY, AUTHOR, "WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR MONEY WHEN CRISIS HITS": It really will mean that some people might actually have to skip a meal, maybe, you know, they can't feed their children the way they want to. They will perhaps not be able to cover their rent or all of their rent.

TODD: But on the bright side, at least one top economist says there could be relief in sight.

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: Inflation is peaking. I think, the high inflation -- the painfully high inflation is due to the pandemic and the Russian invasion. If those things don't go off the rails, then I think we will see inflation lower by the end of the year, certainly by this time next year.

TODD: Analyst Mark Zandi says that doesn't mean the prices for everything are just going to come down. He says we should get used to high prices for things like food. What will come down, he says, the price of gasoline and before the end of the year, he believes the prices of new cars will start to go down as some of the supply chain issues get ironed out.

Brian Todd, CNN -- Washington.


VAUSE: A shortage of baby formula in the United States is getting worse every week as supplies on store shelves dwindle around the country.

A data agency says current supply is less than half of what it should be in at least eight states with the national average not far behind.

Various recalls are being blamed for the shortages along with inflation and supply chain issues.

The White House says officials are working around the clock to fix the problem. Manufacturers say they're producing right now at full capacity.

We'll take a short break. When we come back Hong Kong police arrest another group of pro-democracy activists including a 90-year-old cardinal. The Vatican's reaction to those charges in just a moment.



VAUSE: Endangered sea lions are making a comeback in New Zealand. After an absence of more than a century, they're turning up in all sorts of places including golf courses, swimming pools and the occasional backyard.

On today's "Call to Earth" we show you how their human neighbors are trying to live in harmony with these very playful animals.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a volunteer with New Zealand Sea Lion Trust, Hannah Yeardley (ph) is monitoring the sea lions where she lives near the Otago Peninsula on the country's south island.

HANNAH YEARDLEY, NEW ZEALAND SEA LION TRUST: It's kind of like babysitting, you know, especially when they're pregnant or they have pups. You kind of make sure that someone is at least seeing them or check up on them during the day.

There he is having a wee stretch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These pups are part of a new generation of sea lions that have returned to these coasts after a long absence.

Driven off the mainland over a century ago by hunting, New Zealand sea lions survived on sub Antarctic islands until one day in 1993.

JIM FYFE, NEW ZEALAND DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION: A female from the Auckland islands had a pup here on the mainland and she proceeded to have 11 pups. So essentially this one female was responsible for bringing back a population of sea lions to Otago. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That pivotal sea lion was named Mum. She left

behind a dynasty of sea lions that continue to thrive on this coast today. But they don't just stick to this coastline.

FYFE: They really push inland as far as they can and that usually puts them up against the road. You take care of them as well and so actually one of the biggest threats are some of those modes of transport.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The sea lions have returned to a very different coastline to the one they left over 100 years ago, one with crowded beaches. Keeping them safe is job of biodiversity ranger Jim Fyfe.

FYFE: Humans like go to the beach at summer, sea lions like to breed on the beaches at summer. The young sea lions are really curious, some playful, they know that the surfers are there having fun as well and so they want to join them. They're, you know, social animals.

Our advice is that you just don't interact with them, just ignore them and get on with what you're doing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Despite they're recovery here, New Zealand sea lions are one of the world's rarest sea lion species, facing threats from disease and accidental capture in local fisheries. That makes protecting this burgeoning population even more important.

And that's where local residents come in.

FYFE: Communities usually at one stage start to learn about them, take a real interest and are really protective of the sea lions that are breeding in their communities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Squeeze through there, come on.

FYFE: People are just surprised to find these animals in their backyard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This year 21 sea lion pups were born on the Otago Peninsula (INAUDIBLE). it's the highest number since they returned to these shore, and will keep sea lion babysitters like Yeardley busy for years to come.

YEARDLEY: It's very cool because you're going to get to see their weird faces again. Actually get to know them, sea lions do have personalities. Just seeing them, enjoying them, (INAUDIBLE) stick in his face, of course. That's the thing that I enjoy the most.


VAUSE: Ok. Let us know what you're doing to answer the call with #calltoearth.

We'll be right back.



VAUSE: A vocal critic of China's ruling communist party Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen was arrested Wednesday under Hong Kong's strict national security law. The territory's former bishop was among a group of pro-democracy leaders charged with colluding, with foreign forces.

Amnesty International says this is a shocking escalation, even by Hong Kong standards of repression, showing disregard for basic human rights.

Live now to Hong Kong, Kristie Lu Stout has the very latest on all of this. So I guess, what is the fate of Cardinal Zen and what's the reaction from the Vatican?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And the reaction here in Hong Kong is the sense that the national security crackdown in the city is not over.

You have a number of high profile pro-democracy figures, including a 90-year-old Catholic cardinal being arrested on charges of colluding with foreign forces. This is according to the U.S. State Department.

Among those arrested, you have the former Bishop of Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen, you have Margaret Ng (ph) a former lawmaker and a barrister. You also have Denise Ho, who is a (INAUDIBLE) pop singer and democratic pro-democracy activist, as well as former academic Hui Po-Keung (ph).

All four individuals including Cardinal Zen, they were trustees of an organization known as 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund in reference to June the 12th of 2019, a fund that provided assistance to protesters who were arrested during the pro-democracy anti-extradition bill protest that year.

Look, Cardinal Zen is a towering figure here in Hong Kong. He is an outspoken critic of the Hong Kong government, of Beijing as well. He has been called the conscience of Hong Kong.

And the Vatican has reacted to news of his arrest. In fact, we received the following press statement from the Vatican, let's bring it up to you.

And this is according to Matteo Bruni, the Vatican press office director who says, quote, "The Holy See has learned with concern the news of the arrest of Cardinal Zen and is following the evolution of the situation with extreme attention", unquote.

The arrest have also been condemned by human rights organizations, including Amnesty International which issued a strong statement.

We'll bring it up for you right now in which they express alarm -- what they call a shocking escalation here in Hong Kong.

Amnesty writing this, quote, "Even by Hong Kong's recent standards of worsening repression, these arrests represent a shocking escalation. Some of the city's most respected pro-democracy figures whose activism has always been entirely peaceful and are potentially facing years in jail. There could be a few more poignant examples of the utter disintegration of human rights in Hong Kong." Unquote.

The arrests come days after the appointment of John Lee as the next chief executive of Hong Kong. He is also the former security chief of Hong Kong, during the 2019 pro-democracy protests and during the introduction of the national security law imposed by Beijing on the territory the following year.


STOUT: Supporters of the national security law and the government say that that law ended the chaos of 2019. It helped restore civility in the city. But it has done far more than just that.

It has also decimated the opposition and dismantled civil society in Hong Kong. And with news of these latest arrests there is just more concern, more fear that there can be just more crackdowns to come, John.

VAUSE: Kristie, thank you. Kristie Lu Stout with that live report. We appreciate it.

STOUT: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, we'll finish with this. Take a look. A massive dust storm engulfed parts of the historic Route 66 in Texas. The wall of dust also known haboob turned the sky to orange. One resident saying her neighborhood looked like the surface of Mars.

Local authorities issued dust warnings for five counties and warned drivers that dust storms would limit visibility on the roads. No kidding. Look at that.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

CNN NEWSROOM continues with my friend and colleague, Rosemary Church after a very short break. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.