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India Hosts G20 Summit as World Leaders Assemble; Ukraine to Deal with Turkey on New Grain Deal; Black Rainstorm Warning in Hong Kong; French Court Upholds Abaya Ban Decision; Dozens Dead Following Cyclone In Southern Brazil; Hurricane Lee Now A Category Five, And Gaining Strength; Report: Carbon Pollution Made Summer Heat Rise For Billions; Activists Smash Pies In Airline CEO's Face Over Pollution; Musk Biography Offers New Details On His Ukraine Dilemma; Microsoft: Suspected Chinese Operatives Using A.I.-Generated Images To Spread Disinformation Among U.S. Voters; U.S. Lawmakers Call For More Technical Restrictions On China. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired September 08, 2023 - 02:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN HOST: Welcome to everyone watching us around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. Ahead on "CNN Newsroom," world leaders are preparing for this weekend's G20 Summit in India with two notable no shows. How the absence of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping will play out in New Delhi.


: As you can see, I'm up, I'm alert, I'm talking, but I'm not healed on the inside yet.


BRUNHUBER: We're hearing for the first time from an American trapped deep inside a Turkish cave after becoming ill. How rescuers plan to get him to the surface. And --


BRUNHUBER: Climate activists used pies to deliver a message to the CEO of Ryanair.

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 Thursday for the long flight. Soon after he arrives in Delhi. He's scheduled to sit down with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for one-on-one talks.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be the first British Premier of Indian descent to visit India when he touches down. Downing Street called his trip historic. But Vladimir Putin is a no-show, just as he was at the Bali summit last year 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, a last-minute decision by China's Xi Jinping not to come was unexpected. It's the first time Xi has missed a G20. No official explanation was given. CNN's Kevin Liptak joins us live this hour from New Delhi. So, Kevin, walk us through what we're expecting here.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah, President Biden is really coming here trying to convince members of the developing world that the United States is a better bet to invest with than China. And he does have an opening with the absence of the Chinese president from these talks. And in a way, it's a lost opportunity for President Biden. You'll remember at last year's G20, President Biden and President Xi were able to sit down for several hours for a summit. That's clearly not going to happen here.

But in the view of White House officials, President Biden really does have an opportunity to talk to other world leaders with Xi not on the stage, really talk about these investments that the U.S. is hoping to make in the developing world. And he is coming armed with certain proposals to reform institutions like the World Bank. He is coming armed with ideas to promote American infrastructure projects in places around the world.

The White House says that this isn't necessarily an effort to counter China, but they do say it will provide an alternative to nations who may be experiencing coercive lending practices by Beijing. And certainly, one of the big questions that's looming over this summit, this economic summit, is the state of the Chinese economy, and certainly President Biden will want to contrast that with the relative strength of the American economy.

Now, the other big question that is looming over these talks, of course, is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. President Biden has had a lot of success in rallying the West around support for Ukraine, but he hasn't necessarily been as persuasive with some of the countries in the so-called global south, countries like India, but also South Africa, Brazil. And certainly, President Biden will want to talk to them about punishing Russia for its invasion.

One of the efforts that's underway now behind the scenes is work on a communique or a joint statement that might come out of this summit. Those talks we're told have been quite difficult, so it will remain to be seen whether the leaders can agree to any communique that would have language that condemns Russia's invasion. Russia, you know, is, remember, is a member of the G20, so any kind of language sort of remains uncertain on that front.

But really the centerpiece of this is Prime Minister Modi. You see his face everywhere you go here in New Delhi. He is really trying to build himself up as a global statesman. And as you said, President Biden's first order of business when he arrives here will be meeting with Modi at his residence, Ken.

[02:05:01] BRUNHUBER: All right, we'll be following throughout the weekend. Kevin Liptak in New Delhi. Thank you so much.

So, for more on this, I'm joined now from Singapore by James Crabtree, Executive Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Thank you so much for being here with us. So, why do you think President Xi won't be there?

JAMES CRABTREE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES: I think there's a couple of reasons. We don't really know. Part of it might be tied up with the relationship with United States as in were he to be there would be an expectation that he and President Biden would meet. China might think that it's better to wait until on second summit in San Francisco, the APEX Summit.

He may also simply decided that by not turning up he will draw some air out of the summit and make it less easy for India to see the summit as a success.

BRUNHUBER: Interesting. So, that's tied with the, you know, competition with India as sort of this would-be champion of the global south, right?

CRABTREE: Yeah. You have two competitions going on here. You have the US-China competition that all of your viewers will know about. But you also have an implicit competition between Beijing and New Delhi as which of the two emerging giants of Asia represents the emerging countries of Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa.

And so, in addition to Mr. Modi wanting to be G20 chair because it helps his re-election chances, really, he wants to position India, not China, as the champion of global emerging economies.

BRUNHUBER: We heard there from our reporter Kevin Liptak about the American perspective here. Do you think President Biden will capitalize on Xi's absence here?

CRABTREE: Yes and no. I think it will be better for the United States to go and be the main attraction, but it makes it less likely that anything substantial will be done at the G20. So, if you look at the big agenda items, climate finance, debt restructuring, things like that, without China at the table, the Chinese leader at the table, it just makes it that much more less likely that the G20 will achieve anything.

And ultimately, that's not good for the United States because the United States would like the G20 to be a functional multilateral body as opposed to a dysfunctional, multinational body.

BRUNHUBER: Yeah, absolutely. So, for India then, what is at stake here?

CRABTREE: I mean, I think India wins just by everybody turning up. I don't think Modi would be that bothered that Xi doesn't turn up. As your correspondent said, for Modi, there's an enormous benefit in having this event anyway because it positions Modi as the leader on the global stage running into the Indian election, which is due to happen after kickoff in the early part of next year or so.

I think India would want to have a communique, one of these written documents. There have been occasions recently in which disagreements over Ukraine has meant that a communique isn't possible. So that will be the basic hurdle to clear. And then I think they will look for some modest achievements in areas like climate finance, food prices, maybe areas like the regulation of cryptocurrencies. But I think realistically the G20 is so divided that it's not realistic to think that it can achieve very much.

BRUNHUBER: So, on Ukraine, it sounds like, you know, we're not expecting any consensus here. Do you think President Biden will make any headway on that?

CRABTREE: No, I'd be surprised. Last year, Indonesia, as chair, managed to sort of cajole and shame all parties to signing a very weak debt declaration at the end. They just about managed to get the Russians to sign up to. So, there'll be a lot of wrangling about that and I think the best India can hope for is something that's a little bit like what Indonesia managed last year. It's perfectly possible they won't even manage that if Russia won't play ball.

BRUNHUBER: It seems to be a recurring theme in your answers here, as sort of a skepticism about the G20, I mean, given that the U.S. and you can't agree on much with Russia and China. It really does raise questions about its relevance here.

CRABTREE: Yeah, I'm afraid I think it does. It's not that the G20 can do nothing. There were some meaningful things that came out of recent years G20. So, for instance, the most important was something called the Just Energy Transition Partnership in which rich countries paid smaller countries to kind of run down their use of coal in energy. So, there are some technocratic things which come out of the G20, but the problem is the scale of the challenges that the world faces in areas like the green transition and debt reduction and a whole host of other things, the regulation of artificial intelligence.

Whatever you might think, the scale of the challenges is huge and it's very, very difficult for a multilateral body like the G20 to do anything much about it. Contrast it with the G7, the group of rich industrialized nations like the United States and Canada and Britain, they get quite a lot done because they all agree with one another. The problem with the G20 is that one half doesn't agree with the other half and it's just really hard, unfortunately, to get things done when that's the case.

BRUNHUBER: Yeah, absolutely. All right, listen, I appreciate your analysis, James Crabtree in Singapore. Thanks so much for speaking with us.


CRABTREE: Thank you.

BRUNHUBER: Britain will make the case for Ukrainian grain exports at the G20 summit. Downing Street says Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will talk to other leaders about how to get around Russia's Black Sea blockade. He spoke with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky before heading to the summit, but Ukraine is also pushing a new grain deal that would leave Russia out.

On Thursday it proposed an agreement to Turkey that would open a grain corridor in the Black Sea without Moscow on board. Now, Kyiv also announced it started exporting grain through Croatian ports as it explores alternative shipping routes.

And U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is also on his way to the G20 summit following a visit to Ukraine. On Thursday, he heard horror stories about the abuse of Ukrainian civilians at the hands of Russian forces. Blinken visited a town north of Kyiv where survivors told him about their imprisonment in a school while the town was occupied in the early days of the war. Here he is.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It's so easy to sometimes get lost in abstractions, numbers, how many people lost their lives or were wounded, but the larger effects are. But it all comes down to the human dimension, to the lives, the stories of men, of women and children, like the men, women and children who are imprisoned in the basement of this building next to us, which normally was a school, and are held there for a month -- 127 people in a room not even fit for one person, for human habitation.


BRUNHUBER: And Blinken also visited a Ukrainian de-mining center on Thursday. During his two-day visit, he pledged more than a billion dollars in the U.S. aid.

Ukraine says it continues to make incremental gains in its counteroffensive in the south. A local Ukrainian brigade posted this video on social media saying it shows fighting for the village of Robotyne. It was recently captured by Ukraine. Now Ukrainian military sources say their troops overran several Russian positions south of there.

Meanwhile, Ukraine says Russia no longer has enough troops in Belarus to launch an attack from there. According to Kyiv, Moscow has pulled out most of its troops that have been training in Belarus. Some independent analysts believe those units are now deployed in Ukraine.

Russia says it intercepted two more Ukrainian drones over its southwestern Bryansk region on Thursday. It happened hours after multiple drone attacks in two other parts of Russia. As Melissa Bell reports, such attacks are becoming more frequent.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sound of war. Only not in Ukraine this time. It's increasingly common in Russia now too. Emergency workers arrive 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.

UNKNOWN (through translation): A window frame fell out, the glass shattered. I stood up and started cleaning up. What else could I do?

BELL (voice-over): 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 Odessa 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 Odessa region.

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

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

BELL (voice-over): The sound of sirens and the fallout of this war spreading ever more widely even as they become routine. Melissa Bell, CNN, Kyiv.


BRUNHUBER: Twenty-eight Russian diplomats and staff arrived at the country's embassy in North Korea on Thursday. Their arrival comes amid speculation of a possible meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The Russian embassy says the new envoys and staff are part of their first personnel rotation since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kremlin also says it's committed to developing its relationship with Pyongyang regardless of the opinions of other countries. U.S. officials have warned North Korea will, quote, "pay a price" if that makes a weapons deal with Russia.


Meanwhile, South Korea is playing down any threat from North Korea's new so-called nuclear attack submarine. The South Korean military says it believes the new sub is, quote, "not capable of normal operation." CNN's Paula Hancocks joins me now live from Seoul. So, Paula, what more are we learning about this sub?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kim, there are two very separate angles to the story. There is what North Korea is telling us that it has achieved and is unveiling, and then you have the other side, officials in the region and also experts trying to pour over images and footage to find out if it is exactly what North Korea says it is.

So, Pyongyang has said, and Kim Jong-un was there at the unveiling as well, giving a speech, that they have launched a Korean-style tactical nuclear attack submarine. Kim calling it the beginning of a new chapter. And we have seen in recent months that there is some kind of revival when it comes to the Navy in North Korea. There is a lot more focus being put on it. And he also said that he wanted to make sure that all medium-sized submarines will be converted into nuclear- capable versions.

Now, on the other side, what we have heard from the South Koreans, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have said that it appears, quote, "not capable of normal operation." Now, they of course are pouring over these images as well to find out exactly what they can from any possible images showing the capabilities saying that they're paying attention to signs that suggest Pyongyang is attempting to deceive or cover up or exaggerate capabilities.

Now it hasn't been tested although we have seen in recent years some submarine launched ballistic missile tests from North Korea although officials and experts do believe that all, if not the vast majority, were actually launched from an underwater platform as opposed to a submarine which Pyongyang claims.

But it comes one day ahead of the 75th anniversary of the founding of North Korea which is going to be an important day in the calendar. North Korea has already said that they will carry out a parade. There will be extensive celebrations and of course as you mentioned, it also comes as there is speculation that there could be possibly a meeting between the leaders of North Korea and Russia, but certainly a push towards a potential arms deal between the two countries. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: We'll stay on top of that story. Paula Hancocks, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

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. Our Kristie Lu Stout filed this report.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The heaviest rain since records began in 1884 have effectively shut down this city. The highest-level black rainstorm warning went into effect Thursday evening at around 11:00 or 5:00 p.m. local time. That is a reason why once again reporting from home, all residents have been advised to shelter in place.

Schools are closed. Many 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 audiences, saying this, quote, "People should stay away from water courses. 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 had 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, is 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 had to be very carefully taken out of a partially submerged vehicle by Hong Kong firefighters. Heavy rain and record-breaking rain also being reported in southern China including in the megacity 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.

BRUNHUBER: Just days after Greece endured deadly wildfires, torrential rain is turning streets into dangerous rivers and lakes. At least six people have been killed and more than 800 rescued this week from the extreme flooding.


Rainstorms 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. Here's how one resident describes the deluge.


UNKNOWN: We have never experienced anything like this before in all these years. Even older people who we spoke with told us that they had never experienced this phenomenon before. The water was way too much.


BRUNHUBER: A government spokesperson says the region where Athens, the capital, is located, that nearly three times the average annual rainfall in about 12 hours.

Alright, still to come, we'll hear from the American who's been trapped for days inside one of Turkey's deepest caves.

And have a look here. It's not what one airline CEO is expecting. The message climate activists were delivering with a pie in his face. We'll have more on that coming up. Stay with us.


BRUNHUBER: An American man who's been trapped for days inside a deep cave in southern Turkey is describing his ordeal for the first time. Turkey's government released this video of instructor Mark Dickey who was taking part in a team expedition when he suffered gastrointestinal bleeding. Dickey remains deep below ground, but rescuers managed to get blood units to him and he recorded this message of thanks.

Now, while Dickey is upright, alert, and even smiling, he says he isn't healed on the inside and will need a lot of help getting out of the cave. Here he is.


MARK DICKEY, RESEARCHER TRAPPED IN TURKISH CAVE: Mark Dickey from nearly 1,000 meters, and I want to thank everyone that's down here and thank the response of 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. We're still waiting for communications to actually reach down here.

So right now, it's a day to two days' worth of travel for information to get back and forth. So, I don't quite know what's happened, but I do know that the quick response of the Turkish government to get to the medical supplies that I needed, in my opinion, saved my life. I was very close to the edge when Jessica got back to me. So, many thanks to the Turkish government and the Turkish cavers that are helping to support the international community here.


BRUNHUBER: Around 150 rescuers from multiple countries are rushing to get Dickey out of there, but experts warn it'll take days. The Morca Sinkhole is Turkey's third deepest cave with narrow winding passages. The European Cave Rescue Association says that will make the mission very rare and extremely difficult. One of Dickey's colleagues added that it's very wet, cold, dark down there. Here she is.


GRETCHEN BAKER, NATIONAL COORDINATOR, NATIONAL CAVE RESCUE COMMISSION: The team on the ground is very happy that Mark's condition seems to be improving so that it looks like that he will not have to be in a litter the entire way out, but there may be portions of the cave that he has to be in that litter.


So, the more he can help, the faster the rescue can go. But even with him helping, we're anticipating that it will take days to get him out of the cave.


BRUNHUBER: Dickey, who's 40, is a rescuer himself who has caved in 10 countries and 20 U.S. states.

Cookiecutter sharks, while they're not big, but their teeth can sink boats. And that's what happened to three men on an inflatable catamaran off the Australian coast. Some of the sharks attacked their boat on Monday, then came back to finish the job on Tuesday. The sailors, two Russians and one French national, were desperate, so they made this mayday call.


EVGENCY KOVALEVSKIY, RUSSIAN SAILOR: Yes, we make mayday call. Yes. Yes, shark attacks. They broke our balloons. We have inflatable balloons. And the backside of balloons are broken. That way we will call mayday because we cannot move.


BRUNHUBER: A passing cargo ship heard the distress call and saved the three sailors who will now have quite a fish tale to tell.


KOVALEVSKIY: It was many times attacked by Brazilian shark cookiecutter, Brazilian shark. They hunt the inflatable boats and we just have many holes and started to go down and the last night, the Panama cargo Dugong Ace come to us and saved us.


BRUNHUBER: You can learn more about the cookiecutter sharks at

British police have released a closed-circuit image of the delivery truck used by a terror suspect to escape from a London prison. Officials say 21-year-old Daniel Khalife strapped himself under this vehicle in 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's launching an independent investigation into the incident.


ALEX CHALK, BRITISH JUSTICE MINISTER: I made clear then, and I reiterate now, that no stone must be left unturned in getting to the bottom of what happened. Who was on duty that morning? In what roles? Ranging from the kitchen to the prison gate, what protocols were in place? Were they followed?


BRUNHUBER: London's Metropolitan Police say there are currently 150 officers and staff working to track Khalife down.

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 conspicuous religious symbols in French schools. In a press release published online, 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 that oppose the ban 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."

Well, the death toll rises after a cyclone strikes southern Brazil. We want to look at the communities hit hardest by the storm and the devastating flooding which followed.



KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: In Southern Brazil, nearly 40 people are dead in the aftermath of a cyclone that tore through communities in the Rio Grande do Sul state this week, causing severe floods. CNN's Stefano Pozzebon reports.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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. Domincus Fontana (ph) can only recover old wedding photos that survived in what used to be his home.

Wiped out by the worst natural disaster hitting this region in four decades. The water was higher than this, says Fontana (ph), who had to run for his life when the flood rushed over his village one night earlier this week. Others were not as lucky. Brazilian authorities say more than three dozen 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 this week's 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 harvest because of droughts, because of lack of water. And now, we have the opposite problem.

POZZEBON (voice-over): The Brazilian National Institute for Meteorology forecasts 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 direct concrete consequence of a hotter planet. Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, (INAUDIBLE).


BRUNHUBER: Hurricane Lee has now been upgraded to a category five storm as it churns in the record warm waters of the Atlantic. Winds are now at 260 kilometers per hour and forecasted to get even stronger.

The National Hurricane Center says that dangerous, life-threatening surf and rip current conditions are expected in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and other islands this weekend. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has more on where the storm may be headed.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hurricane Lee, a very impressive, major hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean right now. And, getting stronger. It is 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 this storm is. And, still moving towards 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 of the ensembles of the American model, turning it hard to the right. Now, when does the turn happen? That is always the question.

Does it happen 12 hours early and turn here with this line, or does it turn 12 hours later and turn over here? Big, big story for the northeastern part of the United States and even into Atlantic Canada. Where the storm is right now is at three to five degrees Fahrenheit, two 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 used 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 a touch. At least that is what everyone is hoping for.

BRUNHUBER: One of the big lessons of the record shattering heat this summer is that there is nowhere on earth to hide from it, that is the conclusion from the group Climate Central which studies the influence of climate change on temperatures in more than 200 countries and territories.


The lead author tells CNN our exposure to heat will only increase unless carbon pollution that warms the planet is cut to zero. Researchers say between June and August, 98 percent of the global population experienced heat likely caused by planet warming pollution. And poorer countries which produced the lowest amounts of pollution bore the brunt of the increased heat.

Climate activists in Belgium have given Ryanair CEO an in-your-face message about airline pollution. Michael O'Leary was delivering a petition asking the European commissions to protect certain flights during air traffic control strikes but two activists smashed cream pies into his face as they sarcastically welcomed him to Belgium and warned him to stop airline pollution. Watch.

The Ryanair chief executive still gave his remarks after telling the media he loves cream pies. As for the protesters' concerns, the International Energy Agency says aviation accounts for 2 percent of global energy related CO2 emissions. Alright, still to come, claims that 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. That is next, stay with us.


BRUNHUBER: A new biography about billionaire Elon Musk reveals his discomfort about Ukraine using his Starlink satellite communications network for military purposes and the lengths he went to try to block that. CNN's Natasha Bertrand reports.


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 communications system off the coast of Crimea last year when it became clear to him that the Ukrainians were going to try and 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 has 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 of 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 the U.S. government and the Ukrainian government are to the whims of a very unpredictable billionaire. Natasha Bertrand, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: Suspected Chinese operatives are using images made by artificial intelligence to spread disinformation to American voters ahead of next year's U.S. elections. A warning comes from Microsoft which shared this example.

The company says the operatives are affiliated with the Chinese communist party and are focused on, quote, "Denigrating U.S. political figures and symbols." Another example uses the Black Lives Matter movement. The Chinese embassy in Washington criticized the A.I. allegations as malicious speculation.

Two U.S. lawmakers are calling for more restrictions on American technology transfers to China after Huawei technologies released this smartphone called the Mate 60 Pro. It's powered by an advanced chip reportedly developed in China.

The release shocked industry experts who wondered how China could develop that chip given the restrictions on foreign chip technology already in place. Analysts are now concerned the tech war between the two countries will escalate.

Some Internet users in China created memes of U.S. commerce secretary Gina Raimondo, dubbing her the unofficial brand ambassador for the new phone. They're suggesting U.S. sanctions helped develop it by pushing China to use domestic technology.

Alright, thanks so much for joining us, I'm Kim Brunhuber. I'll be back at the top of the hour with more NEWSROOM. WORLD SPORT is next.