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Pelosi Visits Taiwan, Defying Threats From China; Images Show Al-Zawihiri House Struck By U.S. Drone; Wartime Shipment Of Ukrainian Grain Arrives In Turkey; Brittney Griner's Trial in Russia; Pelosi Visits Taiwan; China Conducts Military Exercises as Pelosi Travels to Taiwan; Biden Administration Approved Multi-Billion Dollar Sales of Weapons; Abortion Rights in Kansas; New James Webb Space Telescope New Images; Rescue Efforts in Kentucky Floods; Post-Roe America. Aired 2- 3a ET
Aired August 03, 2022 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. And I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead. The U.S. Speaker of the House meets with Taiwan's president receives the country's highest honor and draws the ire of China. Beijing reacting in real time with military drills and war planes.
Also inside the operation that took down the most wanted terrorist. How a U.S. missile killed al Qaeda as leader but not his family.
Plus, precious cargo after a month's long blockade. Tons of Ukraine grain on its way to market. Why this export is critical right now.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center. This is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church.
CHURCH: Good to have you with us. Well, it is just after 2:00 in the afternoon in Taiwan, where U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is visit and show of solidarity ascending tensions soaring between the U.S. and China and sparking a swift response from Beijing. Just hours ago, Pelosi met with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen during a trip that's defied China's threats of retaliation. Pelosi is now the highest ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
And earlier she made it clear China will not stand in the way of people coming to Taiwan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Our delegation came here to send an unequivocal message. America stands with Taiwan.
TSAI ING-WEN, PRESIDENT OF TAIWAN: We're grateful for the delegation's visit under such challenging circumstances, as a demonstration of unwavering support to the people of Taiwan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Pelosi's visit though is ratcheting up tensions. China has pleased its military on high alert and large military exercises around Taiwan, a move that drew strong condemnation from the self governing island's defense ministry. And CNN correspondents are tracking all the developments. Steven Jiang is standing by in Beijing. And Blake Essig is live for us in Tokyo. Good to see you both.
So Blake, let's start with you. How did these high stakes visit to Taiwan by Speaker Pelosi play out? And did the achievements outweigh the threat of dire consequences from China?
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, that's -- a that's a tough question to answer, Rosemary. I think that the answer really varies depending on who you ask. And while I know it's a bit cliche, only time is going to tell to see what was gained or lost by her visit. The reality here is that while Pelosi and her delegation are expected to leave Taiwan later this evening, and continue their tour of Asia and South Korea and Japan.
The tensions on both sides of the Taiwan Strait only seem to be intensifying as a result of the speaker's visit. Now, despite warnings from the White House and in defiance of China's Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi did arrive in Taiwan late last night and this morning her visit was all over the front pages in the local papers, highlighting the speaker's late night landing and increased tensions on the Taiwan Strait.
After staying the night in Taiwan, Pelosi met with senior government officials in the Democratic self-governing island. President Tsai Ing- wen who thanked the speaker for being one of Taiwan's most devoted supporters, while the U.S. speaker of the house had a message for Beijing. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: I just hope that it's really clear that while China has stood in the way of Taiwan participating and going to certain meetings, that they understand that they will not stand in the way of people coming to Taiwan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ESSIG: Pelosi also visited Parliament although she didn't deliver a formal speech. She did give remarks alongside the deputy speaker of Taiwan's legislature praising Taiwan is one of the freest societies in the world. Now here's what the deputy speaker had to say during their meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TSAI CHI-CHANG, DEPUTY SPEAKER OF TAIWAN LEGISLATURE (through translator): Taiwan has become the beacon of democracy in the world. And we hope that the global alliance of democracy will stand with Taiwan. Pelosi's fearless visit to Taiwan is the strongest defense and consolidation of the value of democracy and freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ESSIG: The speaker's surprise visit to Taiwan wasn't listed on the itinerary outlining her tour of Asia which experts say is consistent with the U.S.'s one China policy that acknowledges Beijing's position that Taiwan is part of China.
Now as for China's live fire military exercises surrounding Taiwan which were announced within about 30 minutes of the speaker landing on the island, Taiwan's defense ministry has condemned the drills, saying they amount to a maritime and aerial blockade that threatens regional peace and stability. The ministry spokesperson went on to say that Taiwan doesn't seek war, Rosemary, but that they will always be prepared for it.
CHURCH: To -- and Steven as Blake just reported, China responded to Speaker Pelosi's Taiwan visit with the live fire military exercises and war planes. What more are you learning about that response and how long Beijing intends to continue with these drills?
STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Rosemary, it's interesting as Blake mentioned, as soon as Pelosi's plane landed in Taiwan, the Chinese announced that that series of military drills but they were supposed to start on Thursday after Pelosi is expected to departure from Taiwan. But amid this growing backlash online against the government's perceived a lackluster response especially after a nationalistic sentiment being stoked for days by state media before this visit.
The Chinese military seemed to have pushed forward the starting date of their droves by having a second announcement to say the drills will start almost immediately involving not only firing off conventional missiles, but also was shooting down a hypothetical air and land targets as well as practicing a blockade. That's why the state media here and officials have been describing these drills as unprecedented in terms of their proximity to Taiwan but also in terms of their scale and intense -- intensity.
But so far, we have not seen much in terms of verifiable visuals of these drills. But of course, the Chinese have also announced political and probably more important economic sanctions against Taiwan, halting the export of natural sand, for example, to the island. That, of course, is a very important component to the semiconductor industry, which is of course, critically important to Taiwan.
The Chinese government has also banned the import of more than 100 types of Taiwanese seafood and the fruits. All of this, of course, is not surprising. But it's also interesting that we're starting to see the state media here seemingly trying to temper down public response of the Chinese responds by saying things like a complex and historical issue like Taiwan cannot be resolved overnight and how they were exercising, "restraints" to give peaceful reunification one last chance. But one thing for sure, Rosemary, that is, all of sudden nobody here seems to be talking about the impact of zero COVID and the slowing economy with a really patriotic sentiment reaching a fever pitch with everyone seemingly rallying around their strong man leader Xi Jinping who could certainly use this as we are only some three months away from his supposed coronation for third term, as he faces a lot of domestic challenges. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Our thanks to Blake Essig in Tokyo, Steven Jiang in Beijing for those live reports.
And joining us now from Taipei is Kolas Yotaka. A county government candidate and a former Taiwan presidential office spokesperson. Thank you so much for being with us.
KOLAS YOTAKA, HUALIEN GOVERNMENT CANDIDATE: Thank you, Rosemary. My pleasure.
CHURCH: Well, given those positions that you hold, I do want to add that to you support U.S. Speaker Pelosi's visits to Taiwan despite the heightened tensions it's causing with China. Why do you think her visit is so important?
YOTAKA: You know, actually, the visit means a lot to us. Now Speaker Pelosi's visit made Taiwanese people feel that we are not alone, more and more countries to see our efforts and we will continue to uphold our beliefs. This message is very strong, and that's why Taiwanese people are so excited and happy to see her stand here in Taipei.
CHURCH: Now in a tweet, Speaker Pelosi said this. Our visit reiterates that America stands with Taiwan, a robust vibrant democracy and our important partner in the Indo-Pacific. And a while you support her presence there not everyone in Taiwan feels the same way. Do they? Some officials particularly telling our sources that they would have preferred she not visited this very sensitive time. What do you say to those officials?
YOTAKA: Yes. Actually, I have to say in general, no matter they are officials or just regular people. (INAUDIBLE) people this time are very happy but we are calm and cool. Because China's reaction is not new to us. They have been very rude and brutal. But of course we are cautious.
Because this time they are more aggressive than they were in 1996, when we had our first Democratic presidential election. Our military has been careful to deal with it. At the military airports desk a couple of days across the country. Starting from yesterday afternoon, fighters plans to have been -- have taken off and landed one after another. And we have conducted drills, we do not seek war, but we prepare for the wars.
But we don't want to see that at all. But we all do want the people to know that the ROC Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country. It has never been ruled by the CCP, and is not part of China. So China must recognize this, so as not to live in its own fantasy. Taiwan is not part of a Mr. Xi's Chinese dream. They have to wake up. So you know this message and you know this visit means a lot to us.
CHURCH: Well, China refuses to accept that and as a consequence launched targeted military operations around Taiwan in response to Speaker Pelosi's visit and cyberattacks. So what exactly will Speaker Pelosi his trip to Taiwan achieve do you think? And is it worth the dire consequences that could come as a result of this?
YOTAKA: You know, China's attack on us has already begun. Like what as I've been telling everyone is it's there. It has been there all the time. Military threats, economic sanctions, the cyberattacks are all happening. This is just making clear for Taiwanese that we must continue to diversify, economically and politically and keep a distance from China. And the war, there has to be our allies. We don't want to feel lonely facing authoritarian power at the front line.
So the visit from different Congress, people, even officials from different countries means a lot to us.
CHURCH: So, how likely do you think it is that China will eventually attack Taiwan? And if they do that, do you think the U.S. will get involved militarily?
YOTAKA: Like what I said, we don't -- we cannot expect what is happening, but we do not seek war. But we will prepare for the worse. I think that's how Taiwanese people think and feel.
CHURCH: And you think the U.S. will get involved militarily?
YOTAKA: I believe that we have allies. And China is not our -- only Taiwan's problem. It's not just U.S. problem. It's your whole world's problem. People have to pay attention to this.
CHURCH: Kolas Yotaka, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.
YOTAKA: Thank you.
CHURCH: Well, the U.S. is cautioning Americans around the world after the killing of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The State Department says there's a higher potential for violence and terrorist attacks in retaliation. Meanwhile, CNN has identified the house in Kabul, Afghanistan, where al-Zawahiri was killed. CNN's Nick Payton Walsh has that report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice over): The target was the same as it was at the start of the war on terror. 9/11 mastermind turned al Qaeda 71-year-old leader, but the method startlingly precise. Two missiles hitting Kabul's fanciest streets. The al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri stepping onto a balcony that had likely for years house rich Westerners working for NATO. But stepping out onto it, dawn Sunday, for the last time.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I authorized a precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield, once and for all.
WALSH: The Biden administration so confident they got the right guy, they built a model of the house, they said they didn't need boots on the ground before the strike, or after.
JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COORDINATOR, STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: We did not have DNA confirmation. We're not going to get that confirmation. And quite frankly, based on the multiple sources and methods that we have gathered the information from, we don't need it.
WALSH: It was a staggering counterterrorism success. Born of a failure the U.S. had tried to gloss over as the U.S. rush to leave Afghanistan at the end losing control at the close of its longest war, it had tried to suggest al Qaeda were degraded, no longer a threat there.
But in truth, the group were finding a safe haven there again with concerns last year they might have been able to strike the West again as early as next year. They weren't the threat they were when Zawahiri masterminded savagery at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi or on the USS Cole. And their brutal star had been eclipsed by the mayhem of ISIS. But their franchises had spread across the world, often encouraging locals to target other locals and Zawahiri remained their figurehead with his hands on some buttons.
Analyst felt his recent messages suggested a man more at ease even complacent. U.S. officials saying they had followed family members to get him. His most likely successor Saif al-Adel recently in Iran, according to the U.N. One former Afghan official telling me he may have recently left for Afghanistan. But terror leaders last less long these days. Still the enduring harder questions before the Taliban, few believed they had truly renounced terror like they promised the U.S.
But after 20 years of war, they still brought exactly the same al Qaeda figures back into the safest of their havens central Kabul. Yet found the United States also had a long memory, and now didn't even need to be there to kill their most wanted.
Fundamentally, the question really is not now whether this terror group with its most impactful awful years far behind it manages to reconstitute itself into the threat that it once was all good itself. Yet, another leader is whether this strike permanently damages the possibility of ordinary Afghans getting aid into their country soon. Yes, it shows that the Taliban whilst not governing in the way that they hoped they could because of sanctions are also possibly slipping back into the worst aspects of providing safe haven for terrorists.
That may make it extremely hard for the international community or certainly the western parts of it, to think about putting aid into that country exacerbate the tensions that are already there in those international relationships. And for ordinary Afghans struggling through this summer and the winter ahead that could indeed prove deadly.
Nick Payton Walsh, CNN, New York.
CHURCH: Still to come. A war within a war. How drones are changing the battlefield in Ukraine, and why they could be critical to winning the fight.
Plus, a sign of hope for easing the global food crisis as a ship carrying Ukrainian grain makes its way toward its final destination.
CHURCH: Powerful explosions have been reported in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv. The mayor says the strikes destroyed a supermarket and caused a fire in another part of the city. He says rescue operations are now underway. To the south, Ukrainian forces are stepping up attacks on Russian positions in the Kherson region.
Military officials say a Russian weapons and equipment depot was hit as well as a military base near the city of Kherson which is under Russian occupation. It comes amid reports Russia has been building up its troops in the region. Russia's war machine is crawling forward in eastern Ukraine, saying Tuesday that its troops have taken over six settlements in the Donetsk region. Ukraine also acknowledged some Russian gains but says its troops have managed to fight off Russian advances in the key city of Bakhmut.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has also started the mandatory evacuation of civilians in Donetsk. While fighting continues on the ground there's another battle taking place in the skies. CNN's Nic Robertson reports on the critical role drones are playing in this war.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: At Ukraine southern front, a reconnaissance team leads us towards Russian lines.
ROBERTSON (on camera): We're walking through the trees because they're afraid we might be spotted from above by Russian drones. That's the way they do their work out here. Hidden by the trees.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Our destination, a drone team shrouded from the skies. Their mission find Russian forces and call in artillery strikes. A problem though, on their first flight of the day, Russian countermeasures mess with their drone. They need to switch out parts before the next launch.
It's nearly impossible to fight off the Russian jamming signal, the commander says. But we have special devices to combat it. But as the drone launches, it lurches the wrong way, hits the trees, not clear what causes the malfunction.
ROBERTSON (on camera): There's a war within the war here, a high-tech war a software dogfight in the skies above the battlefield. And a mistake by these drone operators can cost them their lives.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Back at base on a big screen. They scoured the first flights video.
ROBERTSON (on camera): The detail is incredible. I mean, you can see exactly where the vehicles are in the trees.
ROBERTSON (voice over): The operator, a 24-year-old former news cameraman.
ROBERTSON (on camera): So you're looking at the Russians, but they can be looking at you when you're in the field?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ROBERTSON: How does that feel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scary.
ROBERTSON: How scary?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very scary.
ROBERTSON: Very scary, but you keep doing it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we must do it.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Life or death decisions, which targets to hit to save his fellow countrymen.
ROBERTSON (on camera): His driving along, he has no idea your drone is following him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ROBERTSON: No idea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No idea.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Previous days when they've avoided Russian countermeasures. They've had better luck. A Russian tank position hit in the past week, when they called in an artillery strike as they watched. Who wins these drone wars will help determine who dominates the battle space. And that depends on who has the smartest technology and who has the best traditional frontline skills to hide from it.
Nic Robertson, CNN at Ukraine's southern front.
CHURCH: The first wartime shipment of Ukrainian grain from the port of Odessa has now reached Turkey. Right now the ship is anchored near Istanbul, with inspections expected within the next hour. After that it will head to its final destination in Lebanon. In his nightly address Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was hopeful this will be the first of many shipments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Our goal now is to have regularity, so that when one ship leaves the port, there are other ships as well. Both those loading and those approaching the port continuity and regularity. It was the necessary principle. All consumers of our agricultural products need it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Joining me now from Kyiv, Tymofiy Mylovanov is the president of the Kyiv School of Economics. He's also an adviser to the head of President Zelenskyy's office. Thank you so much for joining us.
TYMOFIY MYLOVANOV, PRESIDENT, KYIV SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Thank you.
CHURCH: So the first ship filled with grain to leave Ukraine's port city of Odesa since the start of Russia's invasion has now arrived in Istanbul. It will continue on soon to Lebanon. How critical is this shipment and the many that will follow when it comes to easing the global food crisis?
MYLOVANOV: It is extremely critical. If this ship goes through inspection and sales to the final destination in Lebanon, the other chips which are currently strangled in Odesa ports will follow.
And then we're hoping that other companies will send chips which are not currently in Odesa. Before the war, Ukraine was able to export through Odesa ports about two-thirds of total export. In terms of grain, it was about five million tons a month. Currently, our capacity to export is between two and 2.5 million tons in months and we have a backlog of about 20 million tons.
CHURCH: And as President Zelenskyy points out in his speech, it is important to restore Ukrainian agricultural exports because exports this year is needed to ensure that Ukrainian farmers and agricultural companies have sufficient resources for next year's sowing. So where do things stand right now for next year's crop?
MYLOVANOV: That's correct. The farmers basically right now are making a decision whether they should invest in the future in the next year crop. Because if they cannot export, they won't be able to plant. Not because they don't have funds but because it's not pragmatic, it doesn't make sense because they cannot sell what they harvest. I've talked -- I've spoken with some companies this week and they're saying they're selling about five to 10 percent of their plant volume to sell.
And they're essentially going for bankruptcy unless the situation changes. In order for the situation change we need to be shipping not one single ship in two days, but several a day.
CHURCH: And these grain shipments are all about food security for Ukraine, and the world, of course, because Russia triggered a global food crisis by weaponizing the supply of this grain. So how confident are you that the grain deal made with Russia will hold so that supplies continue to get out of Ukrainian ports and sent to Lebanon and elsewhere across the globe?
MYLOVANOV: We can look at the history of deals with Russia, at least in Ukraine. There have been a number of them over the last eight years since 2014. A typical deal goes like that. They try to keep it on the surface, but they kind of harass the participants in all possible ways, trying to discourage parties from participating in the deal scaring parties away, or simply making it more difficult.
We've seen bombardments and shelling and missile attacks on Odesa which serves essential as -- potential deterrent for companies. So we hope it will work. I think it will work. But I am skeptical that Russia will just let it be. And I think we'll have to invest and politically, militarily and economically in order to provide incentives for shipment companies to participate at full capacity.
CHURCH: So what do you see as the biggest challenge with these grain shipments now that they appear to be underway?
MYLOVANOV: The risk that -- while the ships are in the port, Russia will send missiles in the ports and that of course makes owners and staff, simply sailors of the ships very worried that increases the cost and some may simply refuse. So we need a peace, we need stability in the ports, we need to demonstrate that it is safe. So the way it's going to go is that as more ships sail and they are not attacked there will be more appetite of other companies to participate in.
CHURCH: Timothy Mylovanov in Kyiv. Many thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.
Well, the U.S. has slapped the reported girlfriend of Russian President Vladimir Putin with sanctions. Alina Kabaeva currently heads Russia's national media group which the U.S. calls a "pro-Kremlin empire of T.V. print and radio groups. The 39-year-old was sanctioned for being or having been a leader in the Russian government. She has also been sanctioned by the U.K. and the European Union.
Well, Brittney Griner's Russian lawyer tells CNN the basketball star is both focused yet nervous after her seventh hearing on Tuesday. Her legal team brought in an expert who said examination of the substance contained in Griner's vape cartridges did not comply with Russian law. Griner was detained at Moscow airport in February with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. Despite the long drawn out trial grinders lawyer says she remains hopeful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me how Brittney is doing now ahead of this court day because she said she's a bit nervous but also quite focused. MARIA BLAGOVOLINA, BRITTNEY GRINER'S LAWYER: She's still focused and she's still nervous and she still knows that the end is near. And of course she heard the news, so she -- she's hoping that sometimes she could be coming home and we hope too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: A Kremlin spokesperson says America's megaphone diplomacy will not help negotiations for a prisoner exchange involving Griner. Instead, Russia is calling for discreet talks.
All right, time for a short break now. When we return, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi makes it unequivocal clear America will not abandon Taiwan in the face of threats from China.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN.
CHURCH: All right. Recapping our top story this hour, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has met with Taiwan's president and lawmakers, defying threats from China. She is the most senior American official to visit the self-governing island in 25 years. Taiwan's President thanked Pelosi for her rock-solid support and awarded her Taiwan's highest civilian honor. Pelosi praised Taiwan's democracy as one of the freest societies in the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: Today, the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy. America's determination to preserve democracy here in Taiwan, and around the world, remains ironclad. And we are grateful to the partnership of the people of Taiwan in this mission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Mainland China launched live-fire military exercises as Pelosi arrived in Taiwan. Taiwan's defense ministry says the drills are tantamount to a "Maritime and aerial blockade, violating the islands territorial waters and endangering regional security".
And as CNN's Will Ripley reports, Pelosi received a mixed reception when she touched down in Taiwan. Many were grateful for her support, while others accused her of raising tensions with Beijing.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): A resounding show of American support for Taiwan in the face of escalating threats from China. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivering a defiant message to lawmakers in Taipei.
PELOSI: Today, our delegation, of which I'm very proud, came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear, we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan and we are proud of our enduring friendship.
RIPLEY (voiceover): Pelosi's plane took a three-hour detour on the way to Taiwan, Tuesday. Appearing to avoid the heavily militarized South China Sea. Shortly after Pelosi's arrival, China announced six military drills near the island. Some just miles from the Taiwanese coast, a provocation condemned by the defense ministry in Taipei, calling it an attempt to threaten key ports and urban areas.
As Pelosi's convoy arrived at her Taipei hotel, a heavy police presence. Two groups of protesters gathered outside. Some welcomed Pelosi's support for Taiwan.
JERRY LIU, DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, NEW POWER PARTY: Speaker of House is Nancy Pelosi have been supporting Taiwan for decades. And it's very important for me, as a Taiwanese, to be here tonight to welcome her.
RIPLEY (voiceover): Others accuse her of escalating tensions.
MISS HUANG, DOES NOT SUPPORT PEOLOSI'S TAIWAN VISIT (through translator): Right now, Pelosi and the United States are treating Taiwan as a chess piece. Once she lands in Taiwan, Mainland China will retaliate using their own methods.
RIPLEY (voiceover): China's foreign ministry spokesman calling Pelosi's stop in Taiwan a serious violation of the one-China principle that will have a severe impact on the political foundation of China- U.S. relations. Taiwan says, cyberattacks knocked some government websites offline.
Beijing calls Taiwan a breakaway province of China. They refused to recognize Taiwan's Democratically elected government. Taiwan says, China sent more than 20 warplanes into the island's air defense zone Tuesday, part of what Taiwan calls an ongoing campaign of bullying by Beijing. Near Pelosi's hotel, the island's tallest building lit up with a message of gratitude for a defiant show of support from one of America's most powerful politicians. Will Ripley, CNN, Taiwan.
CHURCH: The Biden administration has just approved what could be multi-billion dollar sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It comes weeks after Mr. Biden met the leaders of both countries during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia. And on the same day that the U.N. announced a two-month extension of the truce in Yemen, where a Saudi- led coalition and Houthis have been engaged in a brutal conflict for years.
Well, still to come here on CNN, Kansas voters sent a dramatic message to the world, opting to keep the right to an abortion in their State's constitution. We are following reaction to that historic vote. And we have the latest intergalactic snapshots taken by the Webb Space Telescope. Stay with us.
CHURCH: First responders have conducted 1,300 rescues within 48 hours to save flood victims, according to Kentucky's governor. Rescue teams have been searching for those missing or trapped by last week's floods. And some cities are desperately trying to find clean drinking water. CNN's Dianne Gallagher has more now from Kentucky.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The death toll stands at 37 from the Kentucky floods, according to the governor. But he expects the number to go up.
The good news here is that the number of missing has gone down, in part because cellphone communications are starting to come back up and the roads are starting to open back up. So, you can get to places like where I am now. This is the City of Fleming-Neon, and basically, it looks like this here. All of this destruction and damage, all through main street, that's the town dentist, completely destroyed. All through the road, it is mud, it is water.
I spoke with the mayor. She tells me, aside from feeling like her town looks like a war zone, people here need water because there is no running water right now. They serve about 4,000 people. They have one portable toilet right now. She says they need more. She's bathing with bottled water in a pot at the moment. They need money because their bank was flooded. This is a town of a bunch of older people. And the banks look like all these dust down the street. So, they don't have access to their money. The internet is down here. They can't do online banking. And they need medicine because of pharmacy flooded out as well.
We have seen people, volunteers from all over the Appalachia Region, coming to help clean up places like Fleming-Neon right now. But what you see on main street here is really a glimpse of what most of this region looks like right now.
Now, coming in today, this was some of the worst that I have seen so far in Southeastern Kentucky. And there are communities that still look like this now. Most of their cars have been flooded out. Their homes have flooded. They don't have a way out. So, they need to rely on people to come in and help them at this point. Diane Gallagher, CNN, Fleming-Neon Kentucky.
CHURCH: In Kansas, a major win for abortion rights activists on Tuesday. Voters rejected an amendment that would have allowed the state legislature to pass new restrictions or a ban on abortions. Kansas is the first State in the U.S. to put the question of abortion on the ballot. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade. Here's CNN Legal Analyst Areva Martin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Even if voters are not pro-abortion, I think voters are saying that we are anti-extremism by Republicans. Republican lawmakers that are seeking to deny women the rights to make decisions about their own reproductive health. And I think this is going to be a difficult issue for Republicans moving forward. Voters are galvanized around this issue to support and to protect women's rights issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: In a statement to CNN, Planned Parenthood says, the vote which comes just over a month after the U.S. Supreme Court revoked federal abortion rights, demonstrates once again that voters across the country do not want politicians interfering in their health care decisions.
Well, NASA has now released more images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. You are looking at the cartwheel galaxy located almost 500 million lightyears away. This image shows how the galaxy has changed over billions of years. And also reveals new details about star formation and the black hole at the center of the galaxy.
And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. WORLD SPORT is coming up next. Then I will be back with more news from all around the world in about 15 minutes. Hope you can join us. You're watching CNN.
LEMON: In Kansas, voters maintaining the right to abortion. I want you to take look at our vote on your screen right now. Look at that, 61.8 percent to 38. 1 percent. 78 percent of the votes in. And so, I want to get to John King, Nick Valencia, Abby Philip here to digest this and talk about it.
John, to you first. We were just talking about Kansas at the top of the show -- at the top of the hour. Kansas is the first state to let voters weigh in on abortion post-Roe. What are the results there?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the very first, it's a statewide referendum. Should we change the state constitution, was the question for Kansas voters? Again, this is a red state, a Democratic government but a conservative state in the middle of America. And by a pretty healthy margin, the citizens of Kansans are saying no. No. Our state constitution right now guarantees the right to an abortion, and they don't want to change. They do not want to open it up, if you will, to get -- let the legislature consider a total ban on abortion or more restrictions on abortion. We'll watch how the vote plays out.
But it's significant, number one, this is happening in the conservative part of America. Significant, number two, Don, that it is the first ballot initiative. The first-time voters get to speak directly to the Supreme Court decision, wiping out Roe putting Dobbs in place. Now, where do we go from here? That is a debate you can have with my colleagues. It's also a debate we will watch play out in races for governor, in races for Congress, the House, and the Senate as some Republicans say they would like a national ban. Other Republicans say we should do the State by State.
But again, in a pretty conservative state, let's go back to 2020, Donald Trump 56, Joe Biden 41. Look at this part of the State here, you do have five counties here where Joe Biden did carry the State. So, when you come back to the ballot initiative now and you look, it is the eastern part of the state, largely the suburbs.
Again, I say this too many times, I'm like a broken record, but I say it because it's true. The suburbs in America decide close elections. The suburbs in America Kansas, isn't close. Most of the elections in Kansas are closed. The governor's race might be this time. But this is not all that close as we count the rest of the votes. 62 percent to 38 percent, the citizens of Kansas saying, we do not want to open up our state constitution.
So, it's a defeat for abortion opponents. It's a victory for abortion rights activists. And Democrats believe this is potentially a sign for them that they can motivate, not only Democratic base voters, but suburban Republicans who might be more moderate, might be more opening, like they did when they ran away from Donald Trump and voted for Joe Biden. So, Democrats think the turnout here could be a healthy sign for them heading into November. But just on the basics of this, the first time the voters got to say what they think, that's a pretty loud message from Kansas.
LEMON: We'll get to Nick in a moment. Abby, I want to get your reaction to this. I mean, John, that was a very good question. What does this mean? What does -- what happens now?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, I think it's a pretty seismic moment for this question of where do voters stand on this issue. I mean, think about Kansas. Kansas is a conservative part of the country. And it is surrounded by other conservative States that have virtually banned all abortions. Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, you name it. Virtually banned abortions. And Kansas remains a place where voters are saying we don't want to join them.
And I think that that really says a lot about what happens when you just take the question and put it to the voters and have them give a yes or no. And as I've said repeatedly, the polling is not ambiguous on this question. A majority of Americans, more than 50 percent, more than 60 percent, and some polls 70 percent, do not support outright bans on all abortions in this country.
And so, we've not had many opportunities to see what that looks like when voters get to decide. But this is one of them. And it should be, potentially, a warning sign not just to national Republicans but to statewide Republicans. We're talking about States like Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and others where this very same question should -- could come up for lawmakers, for the governors. And in the case of Michigan, even for voters. And it will be important for them to see what happens when you put it to voters. And when you put it to women who overwhelmingly support some rights to abortion in this country.
LEMON: Nick Valencia is following this story on the ground in Kansas. Nick, what are you seeing? What are you hearing?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, this is a major upset victory for abortion rights advocates, not just here in Kansas, but beyond. We spoke last week to Kansans for constitutional freedom, that's the main coalition of abortion rights advocates that were pushing out get out the vote. Trying to educate voters here. They felt that they were fighting an uphill battle because the ambiguous wording of this amendment.
A yes vote would have stripped protections for abortion rights. A no vote would have maintained the status quo of what the 2019 Kansas Supreme Court put forward. But also, it was on a primary ballot which is where we know that Republicans, historically, are more likely to vote and lower voter turnout. We saw a high voter turnout in counties across the State. And these Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, they are elated.
We are dipping in on their watch party to see the reaction here. And they think that this is a huge victory for their movement here, and also signals a sign to the rest of the country. The referendum that would have weakened abortion access in the state has failed, handing a devastating loss to the pro-life movement here. Don.
LEMON: All right, we will continue to follow. Thank you, Nick. Thank you, Abby. John King as well. More to cover, we're going to talk about Nancy Pelosi meeting with Taiwan's president just moments ago in the midst of China's threats of retaliation over her visit. We're going to go there live, next.
LEMON: The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking last hour in Taiwan as part of her Asia tour this week. Pelosi's delivering the remarks, despite China's escalating threats of retaliation over her visit. For more, I want to bring in now CNN's Will Ripley. He's live for us from Taipei.
Will, good morning to you there. Thanks for joining. What is the House Speaker's message tonight? Is she responding to the tensions with China?
RIPLEY: Hi, Don. She's really trying to underscore, you know, the difference between what we are seeing out of China and what we are seeing from the United States. Nancy Pelosi said she is here to show solidarity with the people of Taiwan, almost 24 million people who are under an increasing threat from mainland China in terms of military intimidation, economic, and diplomatic intimidation.
And so, she's coming here knowing that China has been, you know, warning against it for weeks. And she spoke to parliament and talked about how the shared values between Taiwan and the United States. Values like democracy, like inclusion, you know, progressive values that she, of course, holds dear to her heart. She is here to underscore the commitment, at least on the part of her and her supporters. And it was really bipartisan support, Don, you know, to stand with Taiwan in the face of this growing threat. And she was -- she just received an award as well, the Order of Propitious Clouds. Do you know that -- what that word means? Propitious.
LEMON: Not Propecia?
RIPLEY: I don't know.
RIPLEY: I -- it means -- yes, right. That's what I thought, too. The hair -- you know, over 40 the hair starts to go. But, yes. No. It means to bring about good fortune.
LEMON: OK. Got it.
RIPLEY: They're talking about good fortune.
LEMON: Got it. So, let's talk about Beijing. Why is Beijing so bitterly unhappy with this visit, Will?
RIPLEY: Well, because they look at Taiwan as just another Chinese province that just happens to have not had the communist rulers running it for the last 70 plus years. They have, you know, what Beijing considers an illegitimate government, a renegade government.
Of course, Taiwan has a Democratic system. The people here elected, now on her, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, a president that Xi Jinping does not acknowledge. He thinks that he, as the ruler of China, is also the ruler of Taiwan. And he has said repeatedly that he will bring this island back into the, as they call, the motherland. I don't know if they used the word reunify. But the communist rulers in Beijing have never once governed this island since the end of China's civil war.
And Taiwan says they have a military, they have their own government, they act as if they were a sovereign nation. But because China basically has, you know, bullied them economically and also diplomatically, most countries around the world don't officially recognize Taiwan as a country. But a lot of democracies do have friendships and economic relations with Taiwan. And that's why they're hoping that Pelosi being here, that she'll be able to take what she learns here about Taiwan's democracy, bring it back to Washington, and that it might help shape policy decisions if Taiwan does need help from the United States and International Community if China does not make a move.
LEMON: Will Ripley, propitious, thank you. I appreciate it.
LEMON: Thanks a lot. We've got more coming up on key primaries tonight, like Arizona, where election deniers are all over the ballot. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)