Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

World Leaders To Convene In New Delhi For Annual Meeting; American Trapped In Cave Thanks Turkish Government For Medical Supplies; Hong Kong Issues Highest-Level Black Rainstorm Warning; Ukranian Drones Turn Up Pressure To Russia; Blinken Pledges More Military Aid to Ukraine; Musk's Ukraine Dilemma; Microsoft: Chinese Operatives Use A.I. to Target U.S. Voters; Growing Concerns as China Buys Up U.S. Farmland; Actor Faces Life in Prison for Two Rapes. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 08, 2023 - 01:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company. Coming up here on CNN Newsroom, Getting ready for the G20. World leaders prepare to gather in India with a couple of notable absences. Plus, a rescue operation 1,000 meters below the earth's surface we're hearing from the man trapped and extremely ill deep inside a cave in Turkey and a warning that suspected Chinese operatives are using artificial intelligence to spread disinformation in the U.S. just in time for next year's elections.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Center. This is CNN Newsroom with Michael Holmes.

HOLMES: And leaders of the world's largest economies will begin arriving in New Delhi in the coming hours for the annual G20 Summit. U.S. President Joe Biden left Washington late on Thursday for the long flight. Soon after he arrives in Delhi, he scheduled to sit down with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for one on one talks.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be the first Premier of Indian heritage to visit India when he touches down. Downing Street calling his trip historic. But Vladimir Putin he's a no show just as he was at the Bali summit last year.

And with an international arrest warrant hanging over him, the Russian leader also skipped last month's BRICS summit in South Africa. And while Putin's absence isn't a surprise or last minute decision by China's Xi Jinping not to come was unexpected.

It's the first time Mr. Xi has missed the G20. No official explanation was given. CNN's Vedika Sud joins me now this hour from New Delhi where it is just after 10:30 on Friday morning. Good to see you, Vedika.

Obviously a major event for Narendra Modi as host leader, tell us how he's prepared for the summit and how the government there is reacting to know xi and know Putin.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Michael, perhaps the biggest global event hosted by India in the last few years, I would say and Delhi is pulling out all stops to make sure they welcome the delegations of global leaders in the next 24 hours. We're going to see them standing by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Pragathi Macedon. That's the venue for this big summit.

But like I said, if you see the delegations, you know, driving from the airport, and the global leaders driving from the airport to their hotels, where they will be staying ahead of this G20 Summit, what you'll essentially see a big billboards welcoming them with Indian Prime Minister's image on them every 10 to 20 feet on that route that they take.

So everywhere you see, you're going to see a lot of these posters, a lot of statues and a lot of water fountains. We believe according to reports that about $100 million have been spent by the Indian government ahead of the G20 Summit as part of their plan to make this as grand as possible.

But along with that, there is a message that the Indian government is sending out Michael to the world, which is we're here as a global power. And we're here to stay. And here's what Michael Kugelman, a foreign expert affairs expert had to say about India's importance and the symbolism of what they're about to do over the next 48 hours. Listen to this.


MICHAEL KUGELMAN, DIRECTOR, SOUTH ASIA INSTITUTE, THE WILSON CENTER: Here is so many of the world's top powers and top leaders coming to New Delhi for this very prestigious forum and India has an opportunity to try to do something that will be very difficult to do, and that is to bring countries together that really don't get along well and come to some type of consensus. So it's a huge opportunity for India.


SUD: So the Chinese leader, the Russian leader, will be notable by the absence as we all know, but this could be an advantage for the Indian Prime Minister to get across his message of being the leader of the Global South. That's how he's been pivoting this for his government.

But along with that there's a lot on the table to discuss, and if there is no joint statement, which we're hoping for, but there's a likelihood that will not come through over the next 48 hours with the G20 leaders on the table, it could be seen as a setback for the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has made the G20 a primary focus around which he's been talking to the media and promising so much that he can deliver as the rotating presidency of the G20 summit.


But what's to be seen is will there be any clarity or consensus on the joint statement, which could be a huge challenge for all those global leaders who will be sitting across the table, Michael, and notably absent will be Putin and Xi Jinping. And if they're absent, can their deputies really on their behalf commit is the question which is highly unlikely at this point, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly. Vedika, thanks so much. Vedika Sud there in New Delhi for us.

Joining us now is Bobby Ghosh. He's a columnist and editorial board member at Bloomberg. Always good to see you, Bobby. There is a sense of political polarization in global politics. Can this meeting soften some of that what would a successful summit look like?

BOBBY GHOSH, COLUMNIST AND EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, BLOOMBERG: Well, I think it's unlikely that this meeting will go any distance towards solving the polarization that you refer to, mainly because some of the main actors in that polarization won't be there.

I think what the hosts, what India would be satisfied with if there was not more rancor added to international affairs, if everybody came to Delhi got a good look around, acknowledged India's role in the world, India's new assertive role in world affairs, and then left with generally good feelings towards Narendra Modi and towards India, that's about all you can realistically expect from the summit.

HOLMES: Yes, I guess one of the aims -- stated aims is to get a, you know, better -- to better coordinate global economic policy and so on. What are the chances of success? Because let's face it so often, the meeting falls short of what our initial sometimes lofty goals?

GHOSH: Yes, I again, with there's an 800 pound gorilla that's not in the room, which is China. It's the second largest economy in the world, arguably, the economy that matters the most to the world at the moment as it is recovering from still sort of the after effects of the COVID economy is China and China's not well. China is represented by its prime minister, but the President, and as we know, the man who really counts in Chinese affairs, is not there.

And that sends a signal, they think of how seriously or, you know, the absence of seriousness with which Beijing regards this event. And that also means that there's not a whole lot that you can expect, on the economic front.

HOLMES: Climate policy is on the agenda. How important will it be given pretty much all the members are suffering the impacts of climate change right now? I mean, there -- and you made this point, too, there have been many prior commitments on that issue alone, that money would be sent to poor countries and so on for mitigation. And by and large that money was never sent. Could the impetus for real action be greater this time? Because you just have to look out the window?

GHOSH: Well, yes, and it is going to be a very, very hot couple of days in New Delhi. Hottest weather recorded in in years as we know, this is the hottest summer in recorded history for the whole planet.

And surely, if you're a delegate, at that conference, frankly, if you live anywhere on the planet, it's hard to miss the obvious impact of climate change. You would hope that the great and the good who are gathered in Delhi will take cognizance of this and will actually put some real rubber on the road where their torque has previously been leading us.

But we haven't seen that yet. It's something to be wished for. But again, I'm sorry to be so pessimistic. But there's very little room for expectations, judging by what's gone in the past at the G20 summits, but especially with this one, with the sort of prominent absence of Xi Jinping is not there. Putin is not there. It's a little hard to imagine that anything concrete will emerge.

HOLMES: Yes. Well, yes, just on past performance alone. But you know, when we're talking about Putin, and Xi, BRICS is undergoing expansion that of course, includes Russia and China as well as India. How much of a threat economically geopolitically is BRICS to groups like the G20?

GHOSH: I don't think it's very much of a threat at all. It's yet another talking shop for people, world leaders to gather at least a subset of world leaders together. But, you know, BRICS does not have a bank. BRICS does not have a military force or peacekeeping force. It does not have the ability to address the major problems of the world.

It is a forum through which some grievances can be aired the global South, as we now call it, has often said that it doesn't take get taken seriously by the West and BRICS represents an opportunity for them to sort of come out and air those grievances.


But when it comes to actually getting anything done, it's a little hard to imagine.

HOLMES: Low expectations. Let's see if we're surprised. Bobby Ghosh, always a pleasure. Good to see you.

GHOSH: Anytime, Michael.

HOLMES: Now for the first time we're hearing from the American who's been trapped for days inside one of Turkey's deepest caves. Instructor Mark Dickey was taking part in a research mission when he suffered gastrointestinal bleeding. He's been under observation at base camp where he received some units of blood aunties now, upright alert and talking.


MARK DICKEY, RESEARCHER TRAPPED IN TURKISH CAVE: Mark Dickey from nearly 1,000 meters. I want to thank everyone that's down here and think the response to the caving community. The caving world is a really tight knit group and it is amazing to see how many people have responded on the surface.


HOLMES: Dickey went on to say that he's not healed yet on the inside, and we'll need a lot of help to get out of the cave. He added that he's grateful that the Turkish government acted quickly to get medical supplies to him that likely saved his life. CNN's Sam Kiley, now with a closer look at conditions in the extreme depths of this cave.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Painstaking and dangerous the start of a desperate rescue of an American caver stuck at least 15 hours crawl into the underground bowels of southern Turkey.

Take an ill with intestinal bleeding, Mark Dickey already had six units of blood sent to him nearly three and a half thousand feet down. Turkish officials say that saving him could take days. A rescue caver himself, Dickey must know the challenges of getting to the surface.

GRETCHEN BAKER, NATIONAL COORDINATOR, NATIONAL CAVE RESCUE COMMISION: It is complete dark in the cave except for whatever lights that people bring in. It's also a very cold cave, it's four to six degrees Celsius. So that means that you have to work hard to stay warm.

KILEY: He's at base camp Hope, although able to walk for now. He'll need to be helped or stretchered through waypoints that speak for themselves through Desperado and burrowing through to Mole tested beyond the limits and into the light.

BAKER: There's a lot of water in this cave. A lot of it's dripping, but some of it is in pools that they have to go through. Some of it is just spraying off rock walls, and so the rescuers are getting fairly wet and Mark will get pretty wet also.

KILEY: 150 people from around the world are working to get Dickey out of the cave to where his internal bleeding can be treated. Until then, his life hangs in the balance. Sam Kiley, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Hong Kong is under a black rainstorm warning as torrential rain and flooding hit the city. The advisory means heavy rain exceeding 70 millimeters an hour can be expected. Officials are warning people to shelter in place until the designation is lifted. Kristie Lu Stout joins me now live from Hong Kong.

Yes, and a week ago, Kristie, the city was being battered by a typhoon now this extreme rainfall. What impact is it having?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael, it is a day of severe disruption here in Hong Kong as the heaviest rain since records began in 1884 have effectively shut down the city, the highest level black rainstorm warning went into effect Thursday evening at around 11:05 pm. .local time. That is a reason why I'm once again reporting from home. All residents have been advised to shelter in place schools are closed, many the roads bus routes are closed. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is closed.

Earlier we heard from the Hong Kong Observatory, and they issued this advisory, let's bring it up to our audience is saying this, quote, people should stay away from watercourses. Residents living in close proximity to rivers should stay alert to weather conditions and should consider evacuation if their homes may become flooded.

Now we have been monitoring and vetting some very dramatic video that's been circulating online and on social media showing both the deluge and the damage. And in this video, the first one, I want to show you right now. It's just one of many examples out there of how a Hong Kong street has been transformed into a river and in this video, you see cars including Hong Kong's iconic red taxi, all submerged in floodwater.

Now in the next video, I want to share with you, this shows you the impact of the black rain from the perspective of a resident here in Hong Kong. You see the rainwater seeping into the stairway of an apartment building after the street outside is absolutely flooded.

And in this final clip, I want to show you. It's a clip depicting a dramatic rescue a person and had to be very carefully taken out of a partially submerged vehicle by Hong Kong firefighters.


Michael, heavy rain and record breaking rain also being reported in southern China, including in the mega city of Shenzhen. We've learned that authorities there are discharging excess water from the reservoir in Shenzhen. And that could worsen the flooding situation in northern Hong Kong, including the New Territories. And this is just the latest extreme weather event to hit Hong Kong just over a week ago that typhoon Saola swept through and better the territory here that was the most powerful storm to hit Hong Kong in five years. Back to you.

HOLMES: All right, Kristie Lu Stout there in Hong Kong. Appreciate it. Stay dry.

All right, officials in southern Brazil say nearly 40 people are dead in the aftermath of a cyclone there. It tore through communities in Rio Grande do Sul, that's a state this week, causing severe flooding. Several people are missing and more than 3,500 have been forced to leave their homes. CNN's Stefano Pozzebon picks up the story.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): From the air images simply show thousands of buildings destroyed by the force of the elements. But on the ground, behind every house, there is a story. Dominguez Fontana can only recover old wedding photos that survived in what used to be his home, wiped out by the worst natural disaster heat in this region in four decades.

The water was higher than this, says Fontana, where to run for his life when the flood rushed over his village one night earlier this week. Others were not as lucky. Brazilian authorities saying more than 3,000 people have died thousands displaced the local government has declared a state of emergency for 180 days. In some cases, firefighters used boats to rescue people from their

homes, with corridors turned rivers by the rising water. According to local meteorologists, the state received in a week the amount of rain it normally gets in a month. But these weeks cyclone follows a pattern of extreme weather events throughout this year.

EDUARDO LEITE, GOVERNOR OF RIO GRANDE DO SUL, BRAZIL (through translator): It's been such a tough year for us at the beginning of the year, we lost 40 percent of our harvests because of droughts, because of lack of water. And now we have the opposite problem.

POZZEBON: The Brazilian National Institute for meteorology forecasts and more rain for the rest of the week. Temperatures worldwide have been hitting record highs in 2023 and climatologists are blaming a warmer climate in the southern Atlantic Ocean for this type of natural disaster. The very concrete consequence of a hotter planet. Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, Bogota.


HOLMES: Now just days after Greece endured deadly wildfires, torrential rain is turning streets into dangerous rivers. At least six people have been killed more than 800 rescued this week from the extreme flooding. The rain storms ripped apart buildings and bridges and left some villages completely submerged.

Floodwaters in some parts of the country have been more than two meters deep. Government spokesperson says the region where Athens is located got nearly three times the average annual rainfall in about 12 hours.

Hurricane Lee has now been upgraded to a Category five storm as it turns in the record warm waters of the Atlantic. Winds are now at 260 kilometers an hour and forecast to get even stronger. The National Hurricane Center says dangerous life threatening surf and rip current conditions are expected in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and other islands this weekend. And it could begin to affect the US east coast by Sunday. CNN's Chad Myers with more on where the storm might be heading.


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Hurricane Lee a very impressive major hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean right now and getting stronger. It's in very warm water. The eye is very clear there on the last couple of frames, which means that the storm is likely even getting stronger at this hour.

Hurricane hunters have been flying back and forth to see how strong the storm is and still moving toward the Northwest. But the models are really turning this hard to the right at the very, very end of that five-day period.

Turning it hard. This is the American model. All the ensembles of the American model, turning it hard to the right. Now when does the turn happen? That's always a question. Does it happen 12 hours early and turn here with this line? Or does it turn 12 hours later and turn over here? It's a big, big story for the northeastern part of the United States and even into Atlantic Canada.

Where the storm is right now is three to five degrees Fahrenheit two to three degrees Celsius above normal.


But look at this blue area here. There was a hurricane here last week, Hurricane Franklin also a major hurricane. And it mixed the water up, it took that warm water from the surface and use it to make the hurricane and then mixed water from down below the colder water up to the surface. So Lee has to run through and into this colder water that may slow it down just to touch. At least that's what everyone is hoping for.


HOLMES: Now, thanks to Chad Myers there. Now, artificial intelligence has become the latest tool of foreign operatives seeking to influence American voters. Coming up, a new warning ahead of next year's election.


A new reality for many people in Russia drone attacks coming from Ukraine and they're happening more and more often. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: South Korea says a newly launched submarine by North Korea appears quote not capable of normal operation. Pyongyang claims if launched a tactical nuclear attack submarine just days before the country marks its 75th anniversary.

North Korean state media says Kim Jong Un attended the launch ceremony on Wednesday. It quotes him as saying that the country's shipbuilding industry is a quote top priority task. The announcement coming after Pyongyang said it simulated a nuclear missile attack over the weekend to warn the U.S. of quote nuclear war danger. The simulation came in response to the U.S. and South Korea holding joint live fire exercises in recent weeks.

Ukraine says it continues to make incremental gains in its counter- offensive in the South that Ukrainian brigade said on Thursday, it captured multiple Russian positions northeast of Tokmak, a logistical hub the Kyiv appears to have its eyes on.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the school north of Kyiv. On Thursday, were occupying Russian soldiers imprisoned and tortured civilians in the early days of the war. He heard from survivors who say they were forced to carry out the bodies of those who died.

Blinken went there a day after a deadly Russia and missile strike on an open market in eastern Ukraine. He says attacks on civilians have become far too common.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Now what happened here happened at the beginning of the Russian aggression. But the atrocities and the impact it's having on Ukrainians of all ages continue to this very day. Just yesterday, we saw the bombing of a market. 17 people or more killed many others injured.


A market. For what? This is what Ukrainians are living with every day.


HOLMES: Russia says it intercepted two more Ukrainian drones over at Southwestern Briansk region on Thursday. It happened hours after multiple drone attacks into other parts of Russia. As Melissa Bell now reports for us such attacks are becoming more frequent.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): The sound of war only not in Ukraine. This time it's increasingly common in Russia now too. Emergency workers arrived quickly on the scene less than a kilometer from Russia's southern military headquarters. This war is now being brought most days to the civilians of the country that started it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): A window frame fell out the glass shattered. I stood up and started cleaning up what else could I do?

BELL: And beyond the two drones that targeted Rostov-on-Don in the early hours of Thursday, a third was intercepted on its way to Moscow, according to the city's mayor.

The people are suffering because of Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, says one resident, let Putin come here and see what is going on, she urges.

For civilians in Ukraine, meanwhile, the war is all too familiar. A Russian drone attack in the Odesa region killed one on Wednesday, as Russians targeted agriculture infrastructure and port facilities for the fourth day in a row.

The attacks now pushing the war, dangerously westwards with what may be Russian drone debris found this week on the soil of NATO member Romania, just across the border from the Odesa region.

GABI POPESCU, ROMANIAN RESIDENT (through translator): I don't feel safe here. I'm on the Romanian shore, and I do not feel safe.

DANIELA TANASE, ROMANIAN RESIDENT (through translator): We got used to the sirens during the day we ignore them. But our souls tense up when they ring at night.

BELL: The sound of sirens and the fallout of this war spreading evermore widely, even as they become routine. Melissa Bell, CNN, Kyiv.


HOLMES: And I'm joined now by Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. He's joining us from Canberra. Good to see you. Malcolm, as always up.

Yes, Secretary of State Blinken there in Ukraine announcing more assistance as well, while he was there. How important was the visit both, I guess, tangibly but also in terms of optics?

MALCOLM DAVIS, SENIOR ANALYST, AUSTRALIAN STRATEGIC POLICY INSTITUTE: Look, I think it was really important. There's a lot of discussion occurring about the weakening of Western resolve, sort of us perhaps hedging its bets on Ukraine, with a perception of potential political change in the future, that would have an impact in Europe as well.

So I think that Secretary of State Blinken's visit to Kyiv was really critical to send the message to the Zelenskyy regime that the U.S. stands firmly behind him and his government in its determination to win the war. And I think that it was an essential step to do, as well as to provide that a latest arms package.

HOLMES: Yes, it was interesting when it comes to arms. It was only back in March that the U.S. said shipping depleted uranium rounds to Ukraine wasn't on the cards, but it's going to happen now. Why do you think the change of heart and what's the military advantage of these rounds?

DAVIS: Are the Russians have been using depleted uranium munitions since the outset of the war. So really, by the West providing the Ukrainians with depleted uranium, or DU as it's called, it levels the battlespace and at the tactical level in terms of Ukraine's ability to attack and destroy Russian tanks and armored fighting vehicles.

Without that those DU rounds, its Ukrainian forces are less able to penetrate the armor of the Russian forces. So, I think that the d u shipment is really critical to enhance Ukraine's ability to defeat Russian armored fighting vehicles and main battle tanks in the fight air.

HOLMES: Yes, you touched on this, but it was interesting. There was some new polling released on Thursday showing it was 55 percent of Americans opposed the Congress approving more funding to Ukraine. What are the risks of the American public opinion turning against us support at this point?

DAVIS: I think the risks are going up. And as the U.S. goes into its presidential election year, that's going to continue to be the case. Certainly it seems to be the case that the majority of the GOP candidates and GOP members of Congress seem to be increasingly siding with a with additional reducing support for Ukraine.


They have to realize though that if as a result of that step Ukraine were to be unable to win this war, that it does make future Russian aggression against Ukraine but also against NATO directly much more likely.

So you know, by essentially pulling the rug out from under the Ukrainians, they sow the seeds of the next war. And I think that message really needs to be driven home to the American people and to the European people, that you must see this through and Ukraine must win this war.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. It will be discussed for sure at the G20 in India.

I wanted to ask you this too because it was interesting. Ukraine, you know, they're now saying that a potential attack from Belarus which they are worried about a little while is now unlikely because Russia's withdrawn almost all of its units.

What's your take on that? A repositioning or a shortage of troops on the main front?

DAVIS: Well, it could be both in the sense that maybe the Russians felt that there was an opportunity earlier this year to launch an offensive from the north, from Belarus into Ukraine.

The Russians did try to do an offensive against Kyiv, but it failed. And so, those forces in Belarus weren't that necessarily useful. And they would've been more useful to be deployed south to buttress defenses against the Ukrainian counteroffensive that followed.

But I do think, also, that the Russians were sending signals to NATO that, you know, they can deploy forces into Belarus and Belarus adjoins Poland in the Baltic States.

So in a situation where Putin is deciding how to escalate the war, that will be one option whereby Russian forces could deploy close to the Polish border or the border of the Baltic States and threaten NATO directly.

HOLMES: Yes. Good point. Always good to get your analysis, Malcolm. Malcolm Davis there in Canberra. Thanks.

DAVIS: Thank you.

HOLMES: Quick break here on the program.

When we come back claims Elon Musk turned off his Starlink satellites to disrupt the Ukrainian attack on Russian warships. Those striking revelations in a new biography on the billionaire, coming up next.


HOLMES: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes.

A new biography about billionaire Elon Musk reveals fresh details about his discomfort about Ukraine using his Starlink satellite communications network for military purposes and the lengths he went to try to block that use.


HOLMES: CNN's Natasha Bertrand explains.


NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: A new excerpt written by biographer Walter Isaacson, who wrote a book about Elon Musk's life that was obtained by CNN says that Elon Musk actually told his engineers to turn off the Starlink satellite communication systems off the coast of Crimea last year when it became clear to him that the Ukrainians were going to try to launch a sneak attack on Russian naval forces off the coast of Crimea.

He essentially wanted to deter them from being able to launch this kind of offensive operation. Now, this excerpt, which was obtained by CNN, it really underscores just how ambivalent Elon Musk had been about Starlink's role in the war in Ukraine.

He apparently felt as though if the Ukrainians were going to attack Crimea and attack Russian naval forces there, then the Russians would in turn respond with nuclear weapons.

And according to this biography, Elon Musk worried that it would become a, quote, mini Pearl Harbor.

But Musk also had larger reservations about Starlink's use in a conflict at all. And he told the biographer Walter Isaacson that he believed that Starlink was meant to be used for more benign purposes, like Netflix and just general Internet connectivity for people who wanted to use it for, quote, "good purposes".

Now, of course, this all sparked quite a bit of alarm back in Washington, where U.S. officials actually spoke with Musk, including the national security adviser Jake Sullivan, as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley about Starlink's role on the battlefield.

Ukrainian officials also begged Elon Musk to turn the systems back on because they are so critical for the Ukrainians to be able to continue communicating with each other on the battlefield.

Ultimately, Musk did not relent in that instance to turn back on those systems that he shut-off off the coast of Crimea, but the Ukrainians have been able to continue using Starlink to continue communicating on the battlefield over the last year because many, if not all, of those systems have remained on.

And that is in large part due to the fact that the Pentagon has begun contracting with Starlink to provide those services to the Ukrainians.

So for now, the Ukrainians still have access to the service, but really all of this just underscores just how susceptible and vulnerable will be U.S. Government and the Ukrainian government are to the whims of a very unpredictable billionaire. Natasha Bertrand, CNN -- Washington.


HOLMES: Suspected Chinese operatives are using images made by artificial intelligence to spread disinformation to American voters and fan the flames on divisive issues ahead of the 2024 U.S. election.

That warning coming from Microsoft, which had this example, you see it there. The company says the operatives are affiliated with Chinese Communist Party and they're focused on, quote, "denigrating U.S. political figures and symbols".

Another image from the foreign influence campaign uses the Black Lives Matter Movement. Microsoft says the images are generated by computer, but real people are falling for it and re-posting them on social media.

CNN's Beijing bureau chief Steven Jiang joins me now to tell us more about this. I guess, you know, Steven it sure that leads to mind in this modern world the question, is anyone really surprised?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Well, the answer is no, Michael, especially if they've been paying attention to what we have been saying for months or even longer.

Remember, in February of 2022, we actually reported the story of China-based bot accounts planting fake newscasts on Twitter and Facebook using A.I.-generated avatars reading stories highlighting America's flaws and shortcomings while amplifying narratives in line with Beijing's (INAUDIBLE) goals.

Now back then, experts told us and said those videos didn't gain any tractions. Let's fast forward to this latest finding. It seems the technology has become more sophisticated. And so has the A.I.- generated content, making it even harder for your average user to tell the difference between what's real and what's not. And that's why, this time around, it's generated more engagements from real social media users.

That, of course, has always been the worry and concern from U.S. officials and experts especially in the current very divisive, polarized U.S. political environment, Americans are simply easy prey.

Now, the Chinese government, of course, pushing back on the latest finding with a spokesman with their embassy in D.C. calling this report full of prejudice and a reflection of malicious speculation against China.

But the matter-of-fact is, ever since the Russians adopted this playbook during the 2016 elections, U.S. officials really have seen it coming with the FBI pointing to Russian and Chinese state actors involving some of these campaigns during the 2022 midterm elections and now, of course, this latest finding.

[01:39:54] JIANG: Actually just as recently as last month, Facebook's parent company Meta took down thousands of China-based social media accounts that the company says tied up to the Chinese law enforcement, targeting not just Americans, but also people in Taiwan and elsewhere as part of the quote- unquote, "cross platform covert (ph) influence operation". So this is definitely not the last time we'll be hearing about this kind of thing. But this does reinforce this worry, this concern from U.S. officials and experts that this is going to deepen the threats of cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns not only aimed at interfering with U.S. democracy, but also of course stealing U.S. data and infiltrating into American society, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. Absolutely.

Thank you for the wrap up there, Steven Jiang in Beijing. Appreciate it.

Now, there are further concerns from the U.S. over China. This time with Beijing buying up American farmland. It has some worried about what the Chinese Communist Party plans to do on American soil.

CNN's David Culver with that story.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just a couple of hours into our drive from Seattle, we start to see the markings of American pride. Stars and stripes lining the highways of rural Washington state. This is part of the agricultural backbone that keeps us fed.

But as we look closer here, we find what might be for America is in some cases, not American.

REP. DAN NEWHOUSE, WASHINGTON STATE: This is something we've kind of woken up too and thought we should do something.

Dan Newhouse splits his time between Sunnyside, Washington working as a hops farmer and the other Washington, where he serves on Congress' recently created Select Committee on the CCP.

I think a lot of folks, Congressman, would look at where we are and say, how does that relate to the committee that focuses on the Chinese Communist Party?

NEWHOUSE: I think there's a huge connection. We've seen a tremendous increase in the number of acres, for instance, being purchased by Chinese businesses. The increase in the investment has grown by a factor of ten over the last decade.

CULVER: A sharp rise he worries will continue.

NEWHOUSE: The one thing that people need to understand is that China is not an ally. They are an adversary.

CULVER: Lawmakers on both sides fear that with control of U.S. farmland, China could manipulate U.S. food supply, surveil sensitive military sites, or even steal valuable intellectual property.

China's foreign ministry says the U.S. is playing off of unwarranted national security fears to discriminate.

We drive about an hour from Sunnyside to see how close the business ties to China are.

You're about to see the sign. It's called Syngenta. This is a seed and pesticides manufacturer. It's one of the largest in the world.

Let me show you something else as you look from the outside here. Nothing about this suggests that it's foreign-owned. In fact, you can even see, look right there, it's an American flag that's flying. Syngenta is headquartered in Switzerland, but owned by Chem China, which is 100 percent Chinese state-controlled, and designated last year by the Defense Department as a military company.

Its CEO, a former government official and a member of the Chinese Communist Party. Syngenta is operating here legally, and neither it nor its parent company have been accused of wrongdoing.

In a statement to CNN, they stress that Syngenta company has approximately 4,400 U.S. employees in 43 states. And all its activities are conducted on fields and farms in the U.S. to benefit American farmers.

Newhouse is sponsoring a House bill that would heavily vet and restrict future investment from Chinese entities, a similar effort passed the Senate in July and more than two dozen states have either passed or proposed their own restrictions on foreign ownership of land.

KEVIN KNIGHT, OWNER, KNIGHT ORCHARDS: They're all family-owned. Now there's no families left.

CULVER: The restrictions on certain foreign investment could mean fewer options for family farms facing increased financial pressures, and needing to sell.

Would you be hesitant in selling to any sort of foreign group that's coming in, even if it was, say, a Chinese-owned company?

KNIGHT: I wouldn't like it. But money is money. If they're the only check you've got, what are you going to do?

CULVER: The legislation could also have wider consequences.

One of the biggest counter arguments is that's going to lead to xenophobia, right? That's going to create a prejudice. To that you say --

NEWHOUSE: I think we can make that distinction between the Chinese people and the Chinese Communist Party. And we're not looking at trying to create an anti Chinese sentiment in our country. We're just trying to be smart about how we respond to the Communist Chinese. CULVER: Amidst an increasingly polarized U.S. population, efforts seen

as tough on China, particularly leading into the 2024 elections, are among the very few areas in which both Democrats and Republicans find agreement, common ground shared over what they consider to be a common adversary.

David Culver, CNN -- New York.



HOLMES: The actor Danny Masterson could end up spending the rest of his life in prison after being sentenced for raping two women decades ago.

We'll have the details on that next on CNN NEWSROOM.


HOLMES: France's highest court has upheld the French government's controversial ban on the abaya. The rule forbids students in public schools from wearing the long robe-like garment often worn by Muslim women. The ban's legal foundation is in a law passed in 2004 that forbids the wearing of quote, "conspicuous religious symbols in French schools".

In a news release, the court said, quote, "The ban on wearing these garments does not constitute a serious and manifestly illegal infringement of a fundamental freedom."

But Muslim rights groups are warning the ruling will lead to more discrimination. They say the court had quote, "not fulfilled its role of protecting the fundamental freedoms of children without any form of discrimination.

A stunning end to what had once been a promising Hollywood career, actor Danny Masterson best known for his role on "That 70s Show" was given the maximum prison sentence on Thursday for raping two women.

CNN's Stephanie Elam has more.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Danny Masterson was sentenced to 50 years for each count of rape that he was found guilty of in May. So that is expected to be served consecutively according to the judge. So 30 years to life for Masterson and really a huge part of this because of the two named victims that came forward and also spoke in court.

In fact, take a listen to the assistant district attorney Reinhold Mueller speak a bit about this.

REINHOLD MUELLER, L.A. COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I'm very happy for the victims because this is a day that they have been looking forward to and they got their justice. It's a long time coming. That's first and foremost.

But also, very thankful for the jury to have seen through everything, and recognized what the evidence is and the defendant needed to be held accountable.

ELAM: Masterson had pled not guilty to raping these women in his home in incidents between 2001 and 2003.

His lawyer Shawn Holley also spoke after sentencing, and this is what she had to say.

SHAWN HOLLEY, LAWYER FOR DANNY MASTERSON: Mr. Masterson did not commit the crimes for which he has been convicted, and we and the appellate lawyers who are the best and the brightest in the country are confident that these convictions will be overturned.

ELAM: Now the assistant district attorney Mueller did say that they have no intention of going back and re-prosecuting that third rape charge against Masterson which the jury was deadlocked on. He says that they are satisfied with these two counts, and are moving forward with that.


ELAM: It is also worth noting that Danny Masterson is a well-known Scientologist, and the Church of Scientology was invoked in this trial and what role they may have played in this case.

However, we reached back out to the church, and they referred us back to the statement that they originally sent out on May 31st of this year, which says test in part, there is not a scintilla of evidence supporting the scandalous allegations that the church harassed the accusers. Every single instance of supposed harassment by the church is false and has been debunked.

Stephanie Elam, CNN -- Los Angeles.


HOLMES: British police have released a closed circuit image of the delivery truck used by a terror suspect who escaped from a London prison. Officials say 21-year-old Daniel Khalife strapped himself under this vehicle during his daring jailbreak on Wednesday.

After his escape, a police alert was issued to ports and borders triggering enhanced security checks. The government says it is launching an independent investigation into the incident.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the manhunt still underway for the convicted murderer who broke out of a prison near Philadelphia more than a week ago. And there is outrage after prison officials confirmed guards did not initially realized the inmate was missing.

CNN's Danny Freeman with those details.


DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pennsylvania authorities believed escaped inmate Danelo Cavalcante is getting more desperate, as police and sweltering heat blanket the search area.

LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: He has already murdered two people, one in Brazil and one here in a very brutal manner. He is a very dangerous individual, and he remain so.

FREEMAN: State police believe the convicted killer is still not far from the Chester County prison he broke out of last week. The enclosed perimeter is southeast, of the prison, 8 to 10 square miles of neighborhoods, major and winding roads, and dense woods.

BIVENS: We have had no citing outside that area. We have maintained a secure perimeter as we possibly could. And as recently as today we have another report of the same.

FREEMAN: That is now at least eight confirmed sightings, the latest coming just before noon near Longwood Gardens where Cavalcante was spotted on camera earlier this week.

BIVENS: We are using people on foot. We have horses out there as well. They're assisting with the search, tactical teams.

FREEMAN: But still, no capture as Cavalcante continues to evade police.

BIVEN: We have chased people for a lot longer than this and ultimately brought them to justice.

FREEMAN: This all comes 24 hours after local law enforcement released dramatic video of Cavalcante crab walking up to the prison's roof before pushing through layers of razor wire and breaking free.


FREEMAN: Chester County Prison acting warden, Howard Holland said Wednesday the tower guard on duty did not see or report the escape when it happened, and it took nearly an hour to determine Cavalcante was missing.

HOLLAND: The actions of the tower officer present at the time of Cavalcante's escape are a key part of our internal investigation and we'll be taking appropriate action against personnel based on the result of that investigation.

FREEMAN: But in a video of the county prison board meeting obtained by CNN, the warden acknowledged staffing challenges at the prison the day before the escape.

HOLLAND: My biggest concern although we have well intentions in our training of these new people coming in because (INAUDIBLE), I think we're not as sharp as we need to be.

FREEMAN: Warden Holland, declined our request for an interview. DEB RYAN, CHESTER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: This is and outrage. This

should have never happen.

FREEMAN: Chester County district attorney said her attention is solely on the manhunt, and the family of the woman Cavalcante killed, Debra Brandall.

RYAN: They do have protection and they're terrified. They haven't left heir home. They're barricaded inside, and very concerned about their safety.

FREEMAN: Danny Freeman, CNN -- Chester County, Pennsylvania.


HOLMES: Still to come on the program, tributes to mark the first anniversary of the death of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. King Charles reflects on the devoted service of his mother.

That is next



HOLMES: Climate activists in Belgium have given Ryanair's CEO an in- your-face message about airline pollution. Michael O'Leary was delivering a petition asking the European Union to protect certain flights during air traffic control strikes. But two activists had other ideas.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop the pollution.


HOLMES: The Ryanair boss told the media he actually loves cream pies. Aviation accounts for 2 percent of global, energy-related carbon print emissions.

Tributes are being paid to the late British Queen Elizabeth II to mark the first anniversary of her death. She passed away at 96 years of age and was Britain's longest reigning monarch, with more than 70 years on the throne.

Her son and heir, King Charles III issued a message reflecting on the devoted service of his mother.


KING CHARLES III, BRITISH MONARCH: In marking the first anniversary of her late majesty's death and my accession, we recall with great affection her long life, devoted service, and all she meant to so many of u. I am deeply grateful too, for the love and support that has been shown to my wife and myself during this year, as we do our utmost service to be of service to all.


HOLMES: The British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also paid tribute, saying quote, "With the perspective of the year, the scale of her late majesty's service only seems greater. Her devotion to the nations of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth only seems deeper. And our gratitude for such an extraordinary life of duty and dedication only continues to grow."

Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes.

Don't go anywhere, the news continues with my friend and colleague Kim Brunhuber right after this.