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CNN International: Rise of Far-Right Causes Concern Ahead of Key German Elections; Pakistan on Edge as It Gears Up for General Election; Tokyo Experiences the Taylor Swift Effect. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired February 07, 2024 - 04:30   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Bianca Nobilo. And here are some of today's top stories for you.

U.S. investigators believe Alaska Air Flight 1282 was missing four bolts that secure the door plug when it took off from Portland last month. This is a photo that Boeing 737 Max 9 door plug more than a month before the plane was delivered to Alaska Air.

The National Transportation Safety Board says it shows that the bolts were missing during work on the aircraft where those circles are.

Argentina's president Javier Milei is in Israel on his first overseas trip as president. He scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu later on today. Milei visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

And Chile is mourning the loss of former president Sebastian Pinera who was killed in a helicopter crash today at the age of 74. A state Funeral will be held for the late leader and three days of National Mourning have been declared.

Germany is grappling with the sudden rise of the country's major far- right party ahead of key elections later on this year. Opinion polls show the alternative for Germany or AFD party is polling in second place nationwide. And now the mainstream parties fear that AFD could sweep the polls in the coming months as CNN's Sebastian Shukla reports.


SEBASTIAN SHUKLA, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): It's boots on the ground in Freienthal for the Alternative for Deutschland, the AFD.

In this tiny Brandenburg village, Germany's far-right party are doing what many say their government aren't, talking to them.

But as night falls, protesters spring with a message: Germany has been down this path before.


"Never Again" means now. ADAM SEVENS, PROTEST ORGANIZER (through translator): The AFD's plans only reveals the xenophobia, hatred, and bigotry that exists in this country.

SHUKLA (voice-over): Views that are not hard to find across the road in the village hall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm glad that someone is taking care of all this scum that has spread in our country, in our beautiful Germany.

SHUKLA (voice-over): Pro and AFD curious supporters have gathered to hear from party officials. The message even has Trumpian undertones. Our country first, posters say.

SHUKLA: Part of the AFD call for voters is about luring people away from some of Germany's largest political parties through transparency, they say. But some of what's being discussed in this room is warped. Questioning things like the COVID pandemic and whether climate change is even real.

SHUKLA (voice-over): As the meeting concludes, many leave content with what they've heard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The AFD is finally standing up for the citizens and is slowly doing what we want. And what we want is to be part of the government.

SHUKLA (voice-over): Omid Nouripour is part of that government. And he acknowledges that public image is partly to blame for their ailing poll numbers.

OMID NOURIPOUR, HEAD OF GERMANY'S GREEN PARTY: No doubt that we have to improve a lot of things, especially the performance of our coalition, or giving the impression that we just shout at each other. We are not. But the feeling is there, and we have to improve that.

SHUKLA (voice-over): Following an explosive investigation from the news outlet Correctiv, AFD lawmaker, Dr. Hans-Christoph Berndt hailed the so-called remigration plan discussed as a promise.

At this hotel, far-right leaders suggested mass deportations, including for German citizens of foreign origin.

HANS-CHRISTOPH BERNDT, HEAD OF ALTERNATIVE FOR GERMANY, BRANDENBERG (through translator): It is not only legitimate, it is necessary to think about remigration. Since 2015, more than 10 million foreigners have entered the country, and a large proportion of them are not willing to integrate and live in German society but are instead building parallel worlds. The federal government is not putting the interests of the indigenous population first.

SHUKLA (voice-over): In the real world, the report sparked waves of anti-AFD protests. Berndt's response is to shout conspiracy.

BERNDT (through translator): Yes, without the government campaign, people wouldn't be out in the street. I am very positive.

SHUKLA (voice-over): Sebastian Shukla, CNN, Brandenburg, Germany.


NOBILO: The AFD has since distance itself from the reported secret meeting saying it was not an official party event.

Ukraine's interior minister says at least six parts of the country were targeted in a quote massive Russian missile attack. Officials are reporting strikes in the capital Kyiv and areas as far apart as Lviv in the West and Kharkiv of in the Northeast. One person was reportedly killed in the Mykolaiv region and several have been injured across the country.

Meantime, the European Union foreign policy chief is visiting Kyiv to discuss the blocs military and financial aid for Ukraine. Joseh Borrell says the sudden strikes highlight the daily reality of the brave Ukrainian people who have been enduring nearly two full years this war.

Just into CNN, nearly two dozen people have been killed and several others injured in two separate blasts in Pakistan's Balochistan District. Officials say the first explosion took place at an independent candidate's office killing at least 12 people. They say the second explosion occurred at an election office.

Violence has escalated across Pakistan ahead of Thursday's general election and many local candidates have been shot or killed so far. But people in Pakistan are not just facing frequent terror attacks and economic uncertainty as they head to the polls. With the country's former prime minister and popular leader Imran Khan still in prison and barred from contesting, they're left with a difficult choice on who to vote for.

CNN's Anna Coren has more details.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The aftermath of an explosion in southern Pakistan. Just one of a string of attacks targeting political candidates across the country.

So, as the nation of more than 230 million people prepares to go to the polls, there's an air of unease.

Pakistan's widely popular former prime minister Imran Khan is behind bars, charged with corruption and revealing state secrets, and is banned from running in the election. He denies any wrongdoing.

After Khan was arrested by paramilitary police in May last year, his supporters took to the streets, some of them armed. What followed was an extensive crackdown by what many say was led by the country's powerful military, a claim it denied.

Protesters were detained, journalists censored. [04:40:00]

Among those jailed social media activists Sanam Javed, a supporter of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or PTI Party. The 36-year-old mother of two is facing terrorism charges, accused of inciting her thousands of followers to commit arson on the day Khan was arrested. She denies the charges. Her father says her incarceration is an example of authorities silencing dissenting voices.

IQBAL JAVED, FATHER OF SANAM JAVED (through translator): I know that all of this is fake and created and being done to victimize the political party of Imran Khan. This is a political case.

COREN (voice-over): Pakistan's information minister denied those claims, saying law enforcers and prosecutors had evidence against Javed.

With the fall of Imran Khan has come the return and rise in popularity of his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif. Sharif is back in Pakistan after corruption charges led to years of self-imposed exile. He's now widely expected to win a historic fourth term.

TIM WILLASEY-WILSEY, POLITICAL ANALYST: The good prognosis is that if Sharif is elected, he builds a coalition which includes Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and starts to run the country pragmatically. He's a pragmatist. And starts to, you know, balance relations between U.S. and China, get the economy back on track.

COREN (voice-over): Standing between Sharif and the top job is Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the 35-year-old is descended from one of Pakistan's political dynasties.

Yet even with Zardari's youthful appeal, many young voters have been left disillusion by Pakistan's recent political disorder.

RAJA IKRAM, ISLAMABAD RESIDENT (through translator): The whole country knows that the decision has already been made.

RABIYA AROOJ, LAHORE RESIDENT (through translator): I don't think stability will come because I think after the elections, a lot of problems will be created.

HASSAN, LAHORE RESIDENT: We as the voters, feel disenfranchised, because even if a certain government comes into play, all governments have, we feel disappointed us at most levels.

COREN (voice-over): Pakistan faces mounting challenges from economic issues to climate catastrophes and militant attacks. Just last month, Pakistan and Iran carried out strikes against alleged militant targets in each other's territory citing the threat of terrorist attacks.

For Pakistan and its people, unified government after years of uncertainty, will be a must to avoid tensions spilling beyond the country's borders.

Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong. (END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBILO: A seismic change is coming to sports coverage in the United States. Three of the biggest names in broadcasting are teaming up to create a super streaming service. ESPN, Fox, and CNN's parent company Warner Brothers Discovery are taking part. The service will include NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, HNL, and FIFA World Cup games. No word yet on price, but it's the latest move away from linear television to streaming services.

Meta says it's working to identify and label images made using AI and shared on its platforms. That would include images created by tools from Google, Microsoft, Open AI, Adobe, Midjourney and Shutterstock. Meta hopes to implement new technical standards like adding invisible metadata or watermarks to images made by AI so they can be easily identified.

Taylor Swift's legal team is threatening action against a college student who tracks the private jets of celebrities and public figures. Jack Sweeney's program uses publicly available real-time flight data to track some of the world's elite including billionaire Elon Musk who famously tried to pay Sweeney off in 2022 to get him to stop. Then shut down Sweeney's Elon Jett Twitter account calling it a security risk.

But now it's Taylor Swift fighting back against Sweeney with her lawyers issuing a cease-and-desist letter to stop what they call his stalking and harassing behavior.

But right now, Taylor Swift does have other things on her mind. We'll be live in Tokyo where Taylor Swift is set to play four concerts giving a boost to Japan's economy. More details when we come back.




TAYLOR SWIFT, SINGER, SONGWRITER: Best believe I'm still bejeweled When I walk in the room I can still make the whole place shimmer And when I meet the band They ask, "Do you have a man?" I can still say, "I don't remember" Familiarity breeds contempt ...


NOBILO: Taylor Swift fans in Japan are likely to hear that hit when she's on stage. There are Hanako Montgomery is near the Tokyo Dome where the Eras Tour has finally arrived. Hanako tell us about the excitement and also the impact that this is happening. Not just on the people but the local economy there.

HANAKO MONTGOMERY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, of course, Bianca, there is so much excitement right now in Tokyo because Taylor Swift is finally here for her Eras Tour. We've been here since 2 p.m. Local time, four hours before her concert began and thousands of people were coming through and their different colorful themed costumes representing each different era in Taylor Swift's discography.

Of course, also there's the friendship bracelets that Swifties exchange. I actually got a few myself. Very kind for Swifties to do. And of course, there's the dancing, the singing, the cheering. I don't know if you can hear a little bit, but Taylor Swift concert is happening right now and some singing can be maybe heard a little bit.

So again, just so much excitement, you know, she is a very famous person in the United States, but her fame transcends international borders. All the way on the other side of the world, people are so excited to see Taylor Swift. Her concert is completely sold out all four nights. Organizers have said those tickets sold out within the first 30 minutes that they went on sale.

And now she's also the first foreign female artist in Tokyo Dome to play for four consecutive nights. I mean that is just how in demand she is. That's how much people want to see her.

Now, we have to remember adding to this hype is the fact that the last time Taylor Swift performed in Tokyo was back in 2018 for her Reputation Tour. So, fans are Swift deprived. They want to see Taylor Swift. They are eager to see this international superstar on that stage.

We actually spoke to a super fan just earlier who's taken fandom to the next level.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm taking a two-year break for going to her concert. Yeah, so I quit my job when she announced this Eras Tour.

MONTGOMERY: You quit your job when she announced the Eras Tour.


MONTGOMERY: Can I ask why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because last time I went to six shows on the Reputation Tour and but yeah, it wasn't enough.



MONTGOMERY (on camera): Now, of course Taylor Swift is bringing the fans and the big bucks as well. Experts tell CNN that her concert for four days is expected to generate about over 300 -- 230 million U.S. dollars making this the biggest musical event for Japan. The next biggest event is Fuji Rock which is held every year and generates 200 million U.S. dollars. So again, Taylor Swift is a super superstar. She is bringing so many

fans excitement and joy as she sings the soundtrack for many of these fans lives.

NOBILO: Hanako Montgomery in Tokyo. Enjoy all the excitement. We'll check in with you soon. Thank you.

Taylor Swift isn't the only megastar in Japan right now either. Lionel Messi is there too, but will he play or once again disappoint his legion of fans?



NOBILO: Minutes from now, we could know where the football legend Lionel Messi will take to the pitch in Tokyo and actually play after breaking the hearts of tens of thousands of fans in Hong Kong over the weekend. He stayed on the bench for the preseason friendly there citing an injury but said he really wanted to participate. Messi and his club Inter-Miami are set to face Vissel Kobe at the Japan at National Stadium at the top of the hour.

And this next story will surely bug some of you. But insect lovers are chirping in excitement. Scientists expect a rare double brood of cicadas in parts of the U.S. this spring. And by some estimates were talking more than a trillion of them. Two different broods will align for the first time since 1803. That appears every 17 years and another which appears every 13 years. As an added bonus, experts say these bugs give off an unforgettable smell as they decay similar to rotting nuts. So much look forward to.

It's anyone's guess who will win at the Super Bowl this Sunday, but to Otters at the state Texas Aquarium have already made their picks. Arthur swam right to the Kansas City ice cake made with Jello. While Fisher checked out the 49ers cake. Got the better of it, then also pick the Chiefs. Both Otters are four-year-old rescues and apparently are big football fans and psychics.

Well, that does it here on CNN NEWSROOM. Don't say we don't give you a spectrum of stories. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London, "EARLY START" is next and I will see you tomorrow.