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China's View On Deeper Russian-North Korean Alliance; Artillery Duels Rage As Counteroffensive Grinds On; E.U., U.S. Firms Scramble To Fill Ukraine's Combat Needs; UNICEF: 300,000 Children Facing Disease, Displacement; United Auto Workers On Strike At Three U.S. Plants; Hollywood Star Taika Waititi's Love Of Rugby. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 15, 2023 - 00:00   ET



ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead on CNN Newsroom, Kim Jong-un touring military factories in Russia's Far East. This amid concern that North Korea will supply weapons for Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine.

Federal charges have been filed against President Biden's son, Hunter. His attorney defiant blaming Republicans and vowing to defeat the charges.


SHAWN FAIN, UAW PRESIDENT: The UAW is ready to stand up. This is our defining moment.


COREN: One of America's largest labor unions announces an historic strike after failing to reach a deal with automakers.

North Korea's reclusive leader is on the move in Russia's Far East. Russian state media released footage of Kim Jong-un's private armored train rolling up to the railway station in the city of come some loss on Komsomolsk-on-Amur, where he's reportedly touring an aircraft plant. Kim is expected to visit several military related sites following his high stakes summit with the Russian president amid Midwestern concerns about a possible arms agreement.

The Kremlin has confirmed the two leaders will meet again in Pyongyang but did not reveal when. We're also hearing some of the gifts they exchanged during their talks on Wednesday were locally made firearms. Well looming large over this closely watch summit is China. CNN's Paula Hancocks explains.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is Kim Jong-un's first known trip outside of North Korea in more than four years. Not to China, the country that's propped his country up for decades, but Russia, historically North Korea's second-closest ally. ANDREI LANKOV, PROFESSOR, KOOKMIN UNIVERSITY: He is basically hedging against possible change in Chinese position. China might make a deal behind his back with the Americans. China might get in serious economic trouble.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Beijing has said the Putin-Kim meeting is a matter for those two countries, but in recent years has made a clear move towards Russia as relations with the United States worsen. Xi Jinping has met Vladimir Putin 40 times in 10 years. That's according to U.S. think tank CSIS, in bilateral and multilateral settings. The Kremlin says another meeting is upcoming.

While China is not believed to have provided arms to Russia, an unclassified report by U.S. intelligence says it has given technology that is helping Moscow in its war on Ukraine. Xi's no-show at the recent G20 in India also points to his diplomatic priorities.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's actually gone beyond just this meeting. The meeting that China held of the BRICS nations bringing in Iran and other countries was an effort to show that China could organize an alternative bloc to the West. And, of course, Russia is a part of that.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): South Korean intelligence assesses the idea of bilateral military drills between Russia and North Korea was pitched by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu when he was in Pyongyang in July. Interaction Pyongyang is not generally party to, but could learn a lot from. Military cooperation, which experts believe could then include China.

LANKOV: I think it's possible and indeed highly likely, because it will be seen as a kind of symmetric answer to the recent joint military exercises near the Korean Peninsula by the Americans, Japanese and South Koreans.

HANCOCKS: Nothing unites more than a common enemy. And Russia, China and North Korea would all like to see an alternative world order. A world where the U.S. is less powerful and where United Nations sanctions have little, if any, bite.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


COREN: We now go to CNN Steven Jiang, who is covering the storyline from Beijing. Steven what has been China's reaction to this supposed deal between North Korea and Russia?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Yes. You know, Anna, so far Beijing has said very little publicly about the meeting between Putin and Kim other than reiterating their long standing talking points about both countries are China's friendly neighbors and Beijing maintains a strong ties with both governments.

Now, when you think about it, though all three countries ideologically are natural allies because of their shared grievances against this current world order, dominated by the U.S. and its allies, and they have not been shy about trying to reshape it. And even though Beijing officials are definitely keeping very close tabs on what's happening in Russia's Far East, I think they are not concerned about Moscow and Pyongyang doing or seeing anything and it's publicly to cross China because as those regimes become more and more isolated from the West, they are in need of more support from China on the international stage both politically and economically.


But it is quite remarkable to see this role reversal between Russia and North Korea though when you think about it the last time North Koreans fought a war was during the 1950's Korean War and that, of course, was when the Russians, the Soviets were providing them with weaponry.

But now of course, Putin is top priority. His organizing principle for his foreign policy is all about winning or at least grinding out in this war in Ukraine. That's why what he needs most desperately are ammunitions and that something small and impoverished North Korea does have tens of billions of artillery shells and rockets designed for Soviet era weapons. That's how the tables have been turned.

But both sides do have reasons to keep any arms deal secretive though, because especially for Russia as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, they have signed up to all those sweeping sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program, even though Putin has left the door open, at least publicly. They're sticking to their commitment to those measures.

But what we haven't heard or seen in the past few days from Putin and his officials is their past expression of reservation and awareness over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. That kind of posturing is definitely gone. Anna?

COREN: Steven Jiang joining us from Beijing, many thanks to you.

Well, Ukraine's counter offensive against Russia may be slow going on land but its naval operations in the Black Sea have stepped up considerably in recent weeks. Ukraine's claims it hit two Russian patrol boats with sea drones early Thursday claim partially confirmed by Russia. All new video appears to show a damaged Russian ship that was hit by a Ukrainian striker early Wednesday in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, home of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. And Ukrainian officials said the ship identified as Minsk was destroyed, along with a Russian sub. CNN cannot independently verify the claim.

And then one of its boldest strikes yet on the peninsula, Ukraine said it took out a Russian air defense system in western Crimea early Thursday. In his nightly address, Ukraine's President congratulated those who carried out the attack.


VOLODOMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): A special mention should be made to the entire personnel of the Security Service of Ukraine as well as our naval forces. I thank you for today's triumph. The invaders air defense system on the Crimean land was destroyed. Very significant well done.


COREN: As we've been reporting since the war began, Russian forces often greatly outnumber Ukrainians on the battlefield. And it shows in the artillery duels now playing out in southern Ukraine. CNN Melissa Bell spent time with one unit on the frontline and has this report.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Aiming for a specific target, the fury of Ukrainian artillery. Nothing in this war goes unseen. Not even the Russians walking into this house eight kilometers away. The target spared by a Ukrainian miss.

As they try to move the Zaporizhzhia frontline forward, these gunners must now wait for better coordinates from the surveillance drone, even though they too are constantly watched and more often than not outgunned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translated text): The Russians are learning. They copy our tactics. As soon as our guys strike, they strike back. They can respond to one of our howitzer with two or three of theirs.

BELL (voice-over): And 20th century artillery is slow to move and far too easy to see with 21st century technology.

MARIAN, GUNNER, 128TH MOUNTAIN ASSAULT BRIGADE (through translated text): There are a lot of enemy drones flying here. That's why we constantly hide our positions because when the enemy sees us, they start shooting.

BELL (voice-over): Russian surveillance and attack drones are never far. But neither are Ukrainian ones, says Odesa, the battery's commander.

"ODESA", BATTERY COMMANDER, 128TH MOUNTAIN ASSAULT BRIGADE (through translated text): We use aerial reconnaissance. We watch the flight of the shell and adjust (the gun) to hit target so we waste less ammunition.

BELL (voice-over): Odesa tells his men to lower the gun one notch. Between drones and artillery, nothing is left to chance.

(on camera): What they've been targeting is a building just on the other side that has Russian infantry and Russian artillery inside. The drone's been guiding them. They're about to fire for a third time and what they say is that we should then expect incoming Russian artillery in response.

(voice-over): This time it's a hit, not just the building but Russian ammunition and artillery too, which means that the retaliation should be swift and it's time to go as fast as we can. The reply doesn't take long.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translated text): Now we are targeting their -- Lay Down! Incoming over there!

BELL (on camera): They're hitting over there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. So let's go.

BELL: Let's go. Because as expected, that incoming artillery followed. We're now having to drive away as quickly as we can. Although what they explain is that it isn't just the incoming artillery. One of the most dangerous things about driving around these parts are the drones.

(voice-over): From his position at the back of the pickup truck, Odesa can hear and see the incoming fire.

BELL: Go, go, go, go, go.

He's telling us to drive fast because of the incoming artillery.

(voice-over): In all, nine artillery rounds were fired back, a measure of Russian anger and today for these soldiers of Ukrainian success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translated text): After you have experienced this, you begin to understand the value of life.

BELL (voice-over): The rush of survival for today at least.

Melissa Bell, CNN, in Southern Ukraine.


COREN: Well, as you just heard in Melissa's report, the Ukrainian commander said Russians fired two or three shells for everyone fired by the Ukrainians that's why Kyiv is constantly asking for more. Well, CNN's Clare Sebastian visited and ammunition trade show in London to find out how weapons suppliers are scrambling to meet Ukraine's demand.


ARMIN PAPPERGER, RHEINMETALL CEO: Yes, this is ammunition, but without power, you cannot fire this ammunition.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amid the high tech displays of this sprawling International Defense Expo, the head of Germany's top weapons producer has a much less futuristic battle on his hands, to keep up supplies of this NATO standard 155 millimeter artillery rounds, the lifeblood of Ukraine's defense, and now its counteroffensive.

PAPPERGER: We doubled or tripled our resources, our capacities. We are able now to produce next year 600,000 artillery rounds.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): He says that's more than six times their prewar output. Not yet enough though to clear a multi order backlog.

PAPPERGER: Three years ago, we thought we could do everything with air force. It's not possible. Yes, we need strong land forces, and this is exactly what we produce.

SEBASTIAN (on camera): Are governments, and is the E.U. doing enough? Do you think they woke up quick enough to this production crisis, you could call it?

PAPPERGER: The E.U. made decisions. And we said, ok, we want to invest. There are -- we are still waiting at the moment for the final decision.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Ukraine can't afford to wait. The government tells us they're firing 5,000 to 6,000 of these rounds a day, but would like to be firing more than 10,000 -- much more than is currently being produced by its NATO allies. Russia meanwhile, is firing 40,000 rounds a day, Ukraine says.

Manufacturers in the U.S., Ukraine's biggest backer, have also rapidly scaled up, not fast enough though to avoid having to sub in controversial cluster munitions this summer.

JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We would provide cluster munitions, because the alternative to providing cluster munitions was them not having enough bullets.

BRIG. GEN. JOHN T. REIM, U.S. ARMY: We were at 14,000. You know, we were at 24,000 today. Next month we'll be at 28,000. So we've doubled our monthly output. You know, that's quite significant. Some of these more longer terms investments, you know, beginning next year, will start realizing additional capacity.

MORTEN BRANDTZAEG, NAMMO CEO: I think we are in a phase right now of industrial war where capacity is the big issue.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Norwegian co-owned Nammo and other major ammunition producer in Europe says has gone from making just a few thousand rounds a year to a rate of 80,000 a year.

BRANDTZAEG: This is totally changing our company. We are investing at some sites 15 to 20 times more than we normally do in order to be at capacity.

SEBASTIAN (on camera): When you look at what's happening now with the counteroffensive moving relatively slowly, the fact that it had started later than planned, President Zelenskyy says it's because weapons deliveries were delayed. Did that concern you?

BRANDTZAEG: To me, it's a major concern, of course. We see the consequence in the battlefield. So I think we all in the Western society have a common responsibility to step up these capacities.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Clare Sebastian, CNN, London.

[00:15:00] COREN: Both U.S. President Joe Biden and President Zelenskyy are planning to speak at next week's U.N. General Assembly in New York. Sources tell CNN the two leaders will meet one on one at that time, although it's not clear if it will take place in New York or Washington.

The last time they spoke in person was on the sidelines of last July, NATO Summit in Lithuania. Mr. Zelenskyy is also expected to meet with other world leaders during his trip including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Breaking news this hour, members of the United Auto Workers Union are officially on strike at three U.S. plants. This is not a full blown walkout but a targeted one. They failed to agree on a new contract with the Big Three automakers, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis by the midnight Eastern Time deadline.


LOWELL: Tonight, for the first time in our history, we will strike all three of the big three at once. This is our generations defining moment. The money is there. The cause is righteous. The world is watching. And the UAW is ready to stand up.


FAIN: Well, the strike could have a major impact on the U.S. economy if it's not resolved quickly. We'll take you live to Michigan a bit later this hour to talk about the union's demands.

An attorney for Hunter Biden is vowing to find new gun charges and his blasting Thursday's indictment as politically motivated. The son of U.S. President Joe Biden was indicted by a special counsel with the Department of Justice on three felony gun charges for allegedly lying on a forum while purchasing a gun in 2018 and for possessing the gun while he was addicted to crack cocaine. His attorney blames far right Republicans for improper and partisan interference in the process.


ABBE LOWELL, HUNTER BIDEN'S ATTORNEY: This charge brought today violates the agreement the government made with Hunter Biden. That was a standalone agreement different than this plea. Second, the constitutionality of these charges are very much in doubt and Hunter owned an unloaded gun for 11 days. There will never have been a charge like this brought in the United States.


COREN: This is the first time in U.S. history the Justice Department has charged the son of a sitting president. If convicted on all counts, Hunter Biden could face up to 25 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines.

Still ahead, the U.N. says thousands of deaths from the flooding in Libya could have been avoided what would have made a difference. And three European nations so they won't leave soon to expire sanctions on Iran, details on that story and much more after the break.



COREN: The U.N. says most of the deaths from the catastrophic flooding in Libya could have been avoided with early warnings and evacuations. Libyan authorities are demanding an investigation of who's to blame for the tragedy. Well, Doctors Without Borders puts the death toll at 5,000. But the mayor of the hardest hit city, Derna, says it could be four times that number.

The U.N. is requesting more than $71 million for the most urgent needs. It says 300,000 children are at risk for disease and displacement. The Marine ports into Derna is now accessible to ships delivering supplies. More now from CNN Jomana Karadshesh, who's just arrived in Ghana.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It took us more than seven hours to get from Benghazi to the city of Derna. And that is a drive that typically takes about three hours. And that is because so many roads, so many bridges around Derna have been destroyed. And you can imagine what that means for the aid for the relief for the support that would be coming into the city and how difficult it is at this time.

And driving in at night, this felt like a ghost town. It is eerily quiet and everywhere you look, you see damage and destruction. It's dark, it's nighttime, but we can still see so much destruction around here. It is just -- it feels like a war zone. It feels like a bomb had gone off here, a big bomb had gone off here.

And it's very hard to stand here and not imagine what people in this city went through. Thousands of people lost their lives. More than 10,000 right now unaccounted for. And everyone you speak to here fears that that death toll is only going to rise in the coming days. And all this destruction the loss of life, officials are telling us this all happened in less than two hours, perhaps an hour and a half they believe after those dams burst and the water came sweeping through the city wiping out entire neighborhoods, they say sweeping buildings, infrastructure, cities, homes, families into the sea, it is just unimaginable what has taken place in the city.

And it has left so many people here in shock. Libyans tell us they're used to war, they're used to death, they're used to loss, but nothing could have prepared them for this. On our drive into Derna, we saw so many cars coming in from different parts of the country from the far west from the south. Libyans coming together coming here to deliver aid, to volunteer, to support the people in this part of the country and the people of Derna. And it seems that this divided country has come together, that this tragedy, this loss has brought them together, at least for now.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Derna, Libya. COREN: One week after a devastating earthquake ravaged parts of Morocco, international search and rescue teams are staying hopeful as they search for survivors in the rubble. They admit things are not looking good, but say they aren't ready to give up.


JIM CHASTEN, OPERATION COMMANDER (through translator): We haven't had the success of actually rescuing any people. We have done some first aid and some medical evacuations from some of the other villages. So that's really played our part. Moving forward, yes, we're going to continue as long as the Moroccan people want us here.


COREN: Roads in many villages in the high Atlas Mountains remain blocked by landslides following the 6.8 quake that killed nearly 3,000 people. The government says it's doing everything it can to help quake victims, but some people are taking steps to get what they need on their own.


MOUHAMED ZIDAN, AWFOUR VILLAGE RESIDENT (through translator): We use donkeys to transport aid and goods because the roads do not exist. And we live in the mountains. People were greatly affected by this earthquake, and they have nothing. We live in the open and we have nothing.


COREN: The September 8th earthquake was the deadliest to strike Morocco since 1960 and the most powerful in more than a century.

The mayor of Lampedusa says the migrant crisis has reached a point of no return, tensions flared on the tiny Italian island as it struggles to cope with a surge of arrivals in the past two days. There are unconfirmed reports of 7,000 people landing on its shores. Lampedusa's population is about 6,000. The island in the Mediterranean has long been a hotspot for migrants crossing from North Africa into Europe.

The U.K., France and Germany say they will not lift sanctions on Iran that are set to expire next month. They say Tehran is not meeting its obligations under the 2015 landmark nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Josep Borrell, the European Union's top diplomat and coordinator of the plan, said in a statement, quote, the foreign minister of state that Iran is non -- is in non-compliance since 2019. And consider that this has not been resolved through the JCPOA's dispute resolution mechanism. The U.S. withdrew from the agreements during the Trump presidency, but the E.U. is still party to the deal.


You are watching CNN Newsroom. Breaking news just ahead, U.S. auto workers go on strike we go live to Detroit, Michigan with the latest information.

Plus, a major day for British based chipmaker, Arm. We'll take a look at its stunning Wall Street debut.


COREN: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. You're watching CNN Newsroom.

We are following a breaking news that could have a major impact on the U.S. economy. Members of the United Auto Workers Union are on strike at three plants after they failed to agree on a new contract with the Big Three automakers. It's the first ever simultaneous strike at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. Union's main demand is an immediate 20 percent pay rise, followed by 5 percent raises each of the next four years. CNN spoke earlier with Ford CEO Jim Farley.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: The Union is saying that CEOs like yourself of the Big Three have received 40 percent pay increases yourself. So why is it so egregious for the union workers to be asking for the same thing?

JIM FARLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: Actually, we're really open to huge increases.

YURKEVICH: Forty percent?

FARLEY: Well, you know, it depends how you count that. We have put on the table increases, double digit increases we'd never seen before, 20 plus percent, if you include COLAs even larger than that.

YURKEVICH: But that's 40, what they asked for.

FARLEY: Right. And I'm saying 40 percent will put us out of business. We would lose $15 billion,


COREN: Let's head now to Los Angeles and Ryan Patel, senior fellow at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. Ryan, great to have you with us. I mean, this is about sharing the wealth. The Big Three automakers have made something like $20 billion in profits over the first six months this year and roughly a quarter of a trillion dollars in North America over the last decade.


The UAW obviously has these very aggressive demands but as the union boss Shawn Fain said this is about going after the billionaire class. What is your read of what is taking place right now?

RYAN PATEL, SR. FELLOW, DRUCKER SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT: I mean, the leverage has changed, right? I mean, this is more than just going after the CEO pay, in my opinion, right? They're trying to, you know, find ways to make a better case for the employees and for the Union. And I think that they know the union, the strike, they know that this is going to cost these three companies an estimated, you know, billion dollar loss in sales, if they hold on to a strike for you know, more than 10 days, 11 days, and it's just starting slowly.

We are starting to see you as, you know, three plants and what they're focusing on, but there's kind of sending a message that they're not putting their foot on the pedal yet, I'm talking about the strike and the union, to these three companies to see if they can budge to get what they want. But right now, we're at a standstill, and each other side is trying to figure out who's going to come to and compromise.

COREN: And this, of course, is the first time the union has gone up against the three major car companies at the same time. The UAW represents nearly 150,000 workers. And as we heard from Fain, and I'm going to quote him, he says, this is a well-organized and pissed off workforce. What does this united front signal?

PATEL: It's emotional. I mean, we just came through the pandemic, I think, part of this too, one of the variables inflation, costs are rising, you know, from the, you know, average, you know, worker at the product line is around 30, $34, they're asking for 45. I mean, I think that's one piece of it, the life balance. But I also think that the -- coming together, they also understand the value of disruption, right, there's going to be a product disruption, there's going to be supply disruption.

And don't get me wrong on the Ford side. And from the Big Three, an increase of that kind of GNA or cost to the bottom line will cause a loss in many of these product lines. And I think that is where the balance is, this is where the negotiations are starting to come is like, what is going to be a long term, you know, value proposition for both sides.

And so I don't see either blinking right now, but we're playing with a lot of fire on both sides. And it is kind of dangerous, because for the overall economy, this could lead to a disastrous fallout for especially regional maybe national.

COREN: Yes, well, let's talk a little bit more about that because a short strike shouldn't cause too much disruption but a prolonged strike and stop workages certainly could produce real economic pain. Could this hobble the economy or worsen inflation?

PATEL: So I don't want to make this sound bad. But you asked me the question about, what would it look like long term right? When we think about employment and income loss, we're going to see consumer spending go less. We're going to see, even if you think about the government, you know, revenue impact is going to happen because they're making less sales, that's going to add to that. Supply chain disruption, absolutely, prices are going to go higher. Who do you think is going to pay for it?

Consumers will be when cars that degree, I think the flip side of this too is you see Tesla, Rivian, electric cars, they're the ones who may be winning in this conversation, because the prices for the average car out of those Big Three will go higher and maybe lose consumer brand confidence to kind of goes to those electric cars. And so that puts the economy in a very hard place. The U.S. is very heavily driven to in the auto industry, and will displace many of these workers.

And you know, just regionally too, I think about the small businesses and people really trying to supporting and many of these plants around there, they will go out and under as well should this go into long term aspect. But as you can see, it's a domino effect because there's a lot of people, a lot of sales, a lot of money to be involved in all hands in this strike.

COREN: You talk about the damage to those three big brands, but the strike could further open the door to China, Japan, Korea, even Vietnam, who are really making headways in the U.S. market and the auto industry, you know, they are becoming more and more competitive.

PATEL: That's a great point. And sometimes, there's a push, or disruption that happens in certain industries. We saw that with the pandemic, when it came to supply chain specifically, of moving quicker. I mean, you think about the impact of dealerships and auto service centers here in the U.S. It hasn't always been the greatest experience and it's been a way to technology was continue to disrupt it.

And you see what Tesla Rivian has done in disrupting that market, electric market. And then you talk about global international markets where they're getting the cost further down, they're not having as much supply chain issues, and that can make them a lot more competitive coming into the U.S. now because things have gotten more expensive for the Big Three and that is where the revenue loss kind of come plays in hand and they need to stay competitive these companies want to stay long term here in the U.S.


COREN: Ryan finally, how long do you think this will go on for and who will blink first?

PATEL: Oh, I hope, I hope this goes really short because I don't think we as an economy, even global economy can have more of this because I think it does make an impact in that recovery here in the U.S. Who will blink first? I will think if I had to get my crystal ball, I would hope both come to the table because I think maybe they don't get the wages that they want, but they strike a deal to put everyone back to work and the Big Three actually pay a lot more than they currently have.

That is my hope. But as of right now after the strike, you know, I think we're going to see the three plants see that stages to see how that affects the Big Three and then see the union tried to potentially put more of a wrinkle in some of these plants that have certain parts in a supply chain that could cause more damage. That will be interesting to see what the second move will be by the Union.

COREN: Yes. I think it's very hard for these workers to look at the profits and the multi, multimillion dollars that the CEOs earn and they look at their paycheck at the end of the week. Ryan Patel, great to get your insights. Thank you so much for joining us. We know that you'll be following this strike very closely.

Stay with CNN, much more after the break.


COREN: Welcome back, well Hollywood star Taika Waititi is apparently more comfortable holding an Academy Award than the Rugby World Cup. The New Zealand actor and director won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Jojo Rabbit in 2020. Ahead of the '23 Rugby World Cup, Taika got the chance to live the famed William Webb Ellis trophy as part of his new documentary series Tour de Rugby. Here's his conversation with CNN, Amanda Davis.


AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What are your favorite World Cup memories? Have you been to other World Cups?

TAIKA WAITITI, FILMMAKER AND ACTOR: The only World Cup I've been to is the very first one in 1987 with my father and it was a very special moment and also managed to see John Kirwan, the great John Kirwan run the entire length of the field against Italy to score a try.

DAVIES: And you have as part of your series been able to get your hands, I know, on the William Webb Ellis trophy. What were you picturing in that moment?

WAITITI: I was picturing dropping it because I'm notoriously clumsy and I mean I break everything. So yes, I was very nervous about holding that thing. I think I held it for about seven seconds and gave it back.

DAVIES: Who's your money on for actually lifting that trophy at the end of October?

WAITITI: I have to say New Zealand because I'm sure there's all these New Zealanders around me watching me. So yes, I think we have to win. We're going to win.


DAVIES: How much of the -- has the women's -- I love it, it's a bomb. I'm not sure are you going to --

WAITITI: That's a very complement didn't it?

DAVIES: I was going to say --

WAITITI: I don't care who wins.

DAVIES: Are you entirely convinced by what you just said, it doesn't seem like it.

WAITITI: Listen I'm just trying to give people this false sense of security. I think we might win.

DAVIES: But the women did win last year. I mean how much is their success cranked up the pressure on this all black side, do you think?

WAITITI: I think that the women winning the Women's World Cup last year is just great for New Zealand and great for Women's Rugby. And I, for one, as the father of two daughters, am really stoked and really just happy that we actually had a really successful World Cup with a great turnout, a lot of crowds coming to see it. And yes, it was just, that was beautiful. And I think it helps the game, no matter what your gender.

DAVIES: We've just seen the football women's World Cup though take place as well. I mean, what chance do you think your girls might now be swayed in the football direction rather than rugby?

WAITITI: Yes, if I could get them off the couch, I wouldn't mind what sport they played.

DAVIES: And I know you have been involved in All or Nothing. You've also released a football movie. What are your thoughts on directing a rugby movie?

WAITITI: I think it's quite a difficult sport. I think most sports are quite difficult to capture and in a really like exciting way in film. I think the last rugby movie would have been what, "Invictus" maybe?

And I think you, yes, you have to have played rugby to really understand how to capture it and then how to like to film it. So I don't know. I never really played soccer, football, a lot about this film, "Next Skull Winds," which is coming out in a couple of months, which is about, you know, one of the biggest losing football teams in the world, true story of American Samoa and how they rose to success. That was my first foray into shooting that game. And I was really nervous about it because I've seen a few football films in the past and it's just a hard game to really make look exciting on film, but I think we did a good job.


COREN: Many thanks to Amanda Davies for that interview and thank you for watching CNN Newsroom. I'm Anna Coren. I'll be back at the top of the hour with more news. World Sport is next.



PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Hi there. Welcome to CNN's World Sport. Thank you so much for joining us. We do begin tonight with Rugby World Cup action from France where the host nation taken to the field of play looking to make it back to back wins against South American opponents Uruguay.

The tournament resuming after three rest days and resuming I will say under very somber circumstances indeed, in Lille on Thursday night. These the heavy poignant scenes then ahead of kickoff ahead of the national anthems of both countries. Both teams coming together in a moment of silence here and indeed solidarity for victims of the Libya floods and Morocco earthquake.

Really such a devastating heartbreaking loss of life we have witnessed in both of those countries over the course of the last few days. Tournament organizers as well rugby saying the global rugby family standing in solidarity with the people of Libya and Morocco at this extremely difficult time.

As for the united self, the two countries going head to head at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille on Thursday. Amazing opening here from Uruguay after fantastic buildup, Nicolas Freitas going over in the corner of a South American country with a first try of the match. Now the French really stung into action. And it would be a blur fly half Antoine Hastoy respond in style for the World Cup host, France, 13 points to five ahead at the break.

Uruguay fighting valiantly though. And their wonderful spirit is rewarded when Baltazar Amaya showing terrific skill and composure, powering his way over the line for a superb try and a successful conversion. All of a sudden, it was a one point game France 13 to 12, a slender advantage. What a game we had though. Moments later though, France right back at their opponents Felipe Etcheverry kicking the clearance right into his own teammate, that bounces kind for Peato Mauvaka he goes over for a really important try to give his team some breathing room.

And just for good measure the host ceiling it, I want a special moment here for 20-year-old Louis Bielle-Biarrey, his first ever World Cup try, a moment the youngster will say that for a long time to come. France win it in the end 27 points to 12. Great performance though I will say by the Uruguayans.

All right, Friday action at the Rugby World Cup seeing three time World Champs New Zealand looking to get back to winning ways after losing that superb tournament opener against the French in Paris the. All Blacks facing Namibia into loser on Friday, looking to try and study the ship not just after that loss to the French, but also remember their heaviest ever defeat in test play which came at the hands recently of South Africa in their final warm up game. By the way that defeated France the first time the All Blacks had ever lost the World Cup pool game.


SCOTT MCLEOD, NEW ZEALAND RUGBY ASSISTANT COACH: It has been recognized, the last two results haven't been the way we wanted them to go. So we're giving people an opportunity to put their hand up and like I said, we're going to need the whole squad. So we did a test match. It's first and foremost for us. And we'll be focusing on that and executing the play that we want to play and how we want to play.


SNELL: All right, big game ahead for both countries. On Friday, England getting their World Cup campaign after a really impressive start when they managed to overpower Argentina, despite playing a man down for the majority of that game, a victory that sets up the English who were champions 20 years ago nicely for their next game with 2019 host Japan this coming weekend.

Now to this day, England's class of 2003 remaining the only northern hemisphere side to have ever lifted the coveted William Webb Ellis trophy. Among that group of players Neil Back, the former England skipper speaking with World Sports, Amanda Davies.


NEIL BACK, 2003 RUGBY WORLD CUP WINNER: As an Englishman, a man that wants England to try and replicate what we did 20 years ago, I was so pleased that they won. And now after all the criticism, you know, it was just finding a way to win. And when you win, it's surprising what it does for you mentally. You know next week training is a bit easier in terms of mentally because you're up for it. You're standing tall and you're looking forward to the next game. And thankfully England's next game is against Japan, are quite not what they were four years ago so hopefully we can rack up another win that will give us confidence and more belief and hopefully we can keep that going in.


DAVIES: Earlier this year, you were quite critical talking about a lack of leadership on the pitch. Do you still stand by that?

BACK: Yes. I do. So you want to share with you, I think, too often, we were looking to the sidelines for help and advice. But to me, the best teams in the world, the leadership on the pitch, and they take ownership of their performance. George Ford, you know, down to 14 men took over the ship, and dictated to his teammates who delivered a wonderful defensive performance, which was new to us as well, because, you know, bear in mind in the previous nine games, we could see the third choice, so we weren't in great place. We conceded one try, you know, when they should be the standards going forward.

DAVIES: Given that performance from George Ford, there's a lot of debate isn't there in terms of Owen Farrell as Captain? What would you do? I know, we're now skipping ahead to games because Ferrell still suspended for the next one. But what would you do moving forward with the Owen Farrell, George Ford conundrum?

BACK: Well, we know in Owen Farrell, we've got a great leader, great rugby player, arguably a world class player, one of the best in the world. So we've got -- it's great to have in us winning and not being anywhere near that the teams because they are great players. And they can play together or they can start or come off the bench and they'll contribute to the success of this team.

But if ford keeps playing, and he's an injured, it'd be a difficult decision, but it's one that they bought with, no one else could make.

DAVIES: He's somebody that you know, having played with, what are his characteristics, his credentials, what for you stood out when he was a player in terms of him being a coach and leading England at a World Cup?

BACK: Well, I think he's relatively inexperienced compared to the vast number of coaches that are out there particularly with the top teams. But he's certainly got the credentials. And I think ability to go on to be a world class coach. He's on that journey at the moment. He is, and I'm sure that he was honest about where he was before he took the England job and he's got a plan to where he wants to be. And this team will set some goals we set our goals back in 2003 and so far, so good for England on the field.


SNELL: Very interesting indeed. Out thanks to Neil there with Amanda earlier.

Still to come, Spanish footballs women's Liga F strike is off how the key breakthrough was achieved and when matches are now set to resume. We'll outline all our few ahead on CNN World Sport tonight.


SNELL: We're back with news now. Our big breakthrough, this is in the world of women's professional football in Spain. On Thursday, we learned players competing in the top tier Liga F have now call their strike after, this after reaching a minimum pay agreement. Late last week, the football was including many of Spain's World Cup winning squad deciding to go on strike for the first two matches of the new season because of a disagreement in the minimum salary for players in the wage gap, which exists.


Now the players union that's FIFPRO, saying the new agreement consists of a minimum salary of about $22,500 for the upcoming campaign with that amount potentially rising to over $30,000 for the 25, 26 season. That's based on the profits obtained for commercial activities and other commercial sources of income as well.

Now the deal coming against the backdrop of Spain's Women's World Cup success and of course all the fallout from that unwanted kiss from Luis Rubiales is the now former president of the country's Football Federation to La Roja star Jennifer Hermoso. So with a strike now off the new league season getting underway on Friday with Valencia hosting Real Madrid.


KEKA VEGA, WOMEN'S FOOTBALL COORDINATOR, SPANISH FOOTBALLERS' ASSOCIATION UNION (through translator): I think that in Spain and around the world, it has been a watershed in the history of women's football. Regarding Spain as the national team, I think it has opened doors. We have seen growth and visibility, audience, the attendance records in the stadiums, and all of that has to have repercussions for our soccer.

People are hooked on us. The soccer stadiums are going to fill up. And that's where we have to work to look after the product so that it continues to grow. And in the end, we can achieve those objectives and those improvements and conditions that the footballers are asking us for.


Earlier, Amanda join live from Madrid by the strategy director for the Spanish women's pro league. Pedro, my labia Sanchez Petro beginning by telling her that he hopes the deal brings the stability needed to now grow the game.

SNELL: Well, earlier, Amanda joined live from Madrid by the strategy director for the Spanish women's pro league, Pedro Malabia Sanchis. Pedro beginning by telling her that he hopes the deal brings the stability needed to now grow the game.


PEDRO MALABIA SANCHIS, STRATEGY DIRECTOR, LIGA F: We're satisfied and that's been a long journey. It was two tough weeks of negotiations. But I think as long as we reach an agreement, it's always good. It's a good news. And hopefully this brings this new scenario of peace and stability that we believe women's football needs in order to grow.

DAVIES: How long do you think it will take to get to that point where parity is reached?

SANCHIS: It's difficult. So, again, the difference is very high, again, 2 million versus 6 million, but I believe women's football is on the right track. We believe the value of women's football is so high and the fact that having a professional women's football league it's only one year of existence of our league. And of course the big success of our national team, I think hopefully will bring this attention to the fans. So the fans have not been supporting as much for example on the match day so hopefully, we believe that now stadium will be formed, we believe that sponsors will knock at the door and pay attention to women's football.

And we believe all this scenario of stability of the World Cup of being world champions and of the big talent of our players and clubs, hopefully within the next year we will experience a big growth in women's football and everything would grow together with this.



SNELL: And thanks so much for joining us on this Friday. Do take care and stay with CNN. It's bye for now.