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U.K. High Court to Decide if Julian Assange Has the Right to Appeal Against His Extradition; Widow of Assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moise Among Dozens of People Accused in His 2021 Killing; Japanese Government to Limit Truck Driver Overtime Hours; Starbucks Unveils Pork Flavored Latte to Mark Chinese Lunar New Year. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired February 21, 2024 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world and everyone streaming us on CNN Max. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead. A mother's plea to Putin, give me my son.

Five days after Alexei Navalny's death, his family says they still haven't seen his body.

For the third time since the war began, the U.S has wielded its veto power of the U.N. Security Council to block demands for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

And we take you inside one of Ecuador's most dangerous prisons, one overrun by terror groups and gangs. And we're at least one gang leader had his own courtyard fridge and queen size bed.




CHURCH: Good to have you with us.

International sanctions haven't stopped him, neither has dwindling pressure at home.

Now, with waning support in the West for his enemy, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears more emboldened than ever to pursue his war on Ukraine.

The U.S. plans to roll out new sanctions on Friday, a day before the two-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

A senior U.S. official says the sanctions were in the works and are now being supplemented in the wake of Alexei Navalny's death.

Vladimir Putin met with his defense minister on Tuesday, suggesting Russia should expand on its recent battlefield success after the fall of Avdiivka.

And he mocked Ukrainian forces, saying they fled the town in chaos.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): The leadership of the Ukrainian Armed Forces issued an order to withdraw its armed forces when they were already on the move and leaving the settlement.

As I understand, that was done for political reasons in order to cover up the move and give it the appearance of an organized withdrawal. We see and know that was not the case. That it was, in fact, a runaway in the literal sense of the word.


CHURCH (voice over): The global backlash over the death of Putin's fiercest political rival, Navalny, has done little to slow the Russian government's crackdown on dissent.

According to state media, a U.S. Russian citizen has been arrested for treason, accused of collecting funds for Ukraine and openly supporting Kyiv. And on Tuesday, another American detained in Russia, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich appeared in a Moscow courtroom, where the court upheld his detention until the end of March.

In Ukraine, military officials are taking stock of what looks like a deteriorating situation. A Ukrainian commander on the outskirts of Avdiivka, says Russian forces can and will continue their advances in the war-ravaged town.

What's clear is that Ukraine desperately needs weapons, ammunition, and other military support, promised by the United States. And Capitol Hill is dark with the U.S. House and Senate on recess. The White House lays the blame for the loss of Avdiivka on Republican lawmakers.

Saying congressional inaction was the reason that Ukrainian troops were forced to withdraw from the town.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour asked Ukraine's foreign affairs minister what he thinks about that.


DMYTRO KULEBA, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, UKRAINE: We wouldn't lose Avdiivka if we had received all the artillery ammunition that we needed to defend it. That is my answer to your question.


KULEBA: I don't think it requires any additional comments. There is a war, this war will continue. Russia does not intend to pause. Russia does not intend to withdraw. They will undertake other offensive operations and they always act in a very simple -- I will say even salami tactics. They slice one town or one village, and then, they focus all of the resources on another one.


CHURCH: Back in Russia Alexei Navalny's family is demanding answers about his death. His mother is appealing directly to Vladimir Putin to release his body for burial.

Meanwhile, Russian state media report Navalny's younger brother, Oleg, has been added to the interior ministry's wanted list for unspecified charges.

CNN's chief global affairs correspondent Matthew Chance reports from Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Captured on camera, in Russia's freezing north, what could be the prison motorcade, carrying Alexei Navalny's body from the Arctic penal colony where he died.

Independent investigative journalists believe these traffic images show the late Russian opposition leader's remains have been removed.


Although there is still no official confirmation of where they're being held. Even Navalny's elderly mother, who traveled nearly 2,000 miles from Moscow to see her dead son, has been denied. And is now asking the Russian president for mercy.

LYUDMILA NAVALNAYA, ALEXEI NAVALNY'S MOTHER (through translator): They won't give me his body. They don't even tell me where he is. I'm addressing you, Vladimir Putin. The solution to the issue depends only on you. Let me finally see my son. I demand that Alexei's body be immediately handed over so that I can bury him humanely.

CHANCE (voice-over): It is an emotional appeal with Russian public support. It's hard to ignore.

CHANCE: But Navalny here is only the latest in a long line of Kremlin critics to be permanently silenced. At home and abroad, dissidents have been poisoned, killed, even fallen out of windows.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement of political killings, but the message Russians are hearing is as clear as it is dark. Opposing the Kremlin right now is an extremely dangerous path to take.

CHANCE (voice-over): Alexei Navalny knew it firsthand. The Kremlin critic barely survived this poisoning with a Russian nerve agent, Novichok, on a plane from Siberia in 2020. Now, his bereaved widow is accusing the Kremlin of finishing the job and hiding the corpse to prevent the real cause of death from being revealed.

YULIA NAVALNAYA, ALEXEI NAVALNY'S WIDOW (through translator): My husband could not be broken and that's exactly why Putin killed him. And it is just as despicable and cowardly that they are now hiding his body, lying pitifully, and waiting for the traces of another Putin's Novichok to disappear.

CHANCE (voice-over): But the Kremlin has rejected those allegations as absolutely unfounded and boorish saying investigators have yet to determine why this latest prominent critic died. Immune to the criticism, it seems, and the grief so many Russians now feel.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


CHURCH: Now, to the war between Israel and Hamas for a third time, the US has again vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.




CHURCH (voice over): The final vote on the proposal introduced by Algeria was 13 to one, with a U.K. abstaining.

Washington has instead proposed its own resolution that for the first time calls for a temporary ceasefire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One vote, against.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: Proceeding with a vote today was wishful and irresponsible. And so, while we cannot support a resolution that would put sensitive negotiations in jeopardy, we look forward to engaging on a text that we believe will address so many of the concerns we all share. A text that can and should be adopted by the council, so that we can have a temporary ceasefire as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released.


CHURCH: France expressed frustration at the Council for failing to adopt the ceasefire resolution, while the U.K. urged an immediate halt in the fighting to deliver humanitarian aid are for abstaining from the vote.

Hamas also criticized the U.S. veto and held the Biden administration directly responsible for blocking the resolution.

And for more, let's go to journalist Elliott Gotkine, who joins us live from London. Good morning to you, Elliott.

So, what more are you learning about the U.S. veto of the U.N. Security Council resolution for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and its proposal for a temporary ceasefire instead?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN JOURNALIST: Rosemary, we knew that this Algerian proposal was dead on arrival, the U.S. of course, one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and as a result, it holds veto wielding powers, powers, which had wielded on Tuesday.

And I suppose, you know, when one looks at the two texts, you see Algeria proposing an immediate ceasefire and the U.S. proposing a temporary ceasefire, that it's -- it is actually more than semantics because the Algerian proposal didn't actually have any preconditions in the sense that Hamas wouldn't have had to have released the hostages or anything else.

And to that extent, the U.S. felt that it wasn't fair and it would in fact torpedo the negotiations that we heard the U.S. envoy to the U.N. Security Council outlining just now that it would torpedo the ongoing negotiations between Israel and Hamas via Qatari and Egyptian mediators to try to get a hostage deal on the table that would see the more than 100 Israeli hostages that were kidnapped during the Hamas- led massacre of October the seventh in exchange for the freeing of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, and also a surge in humanitarian aid.


So, there is that nuanced the U.S. once the hostages released before there is this temporary ceasefire. The U.S. text, although also been the first time that it is calling for a ceasefire. So, its position has shifted somewhat towards where the rest of the Security Council members seem to be right now.

The U.S. also warning against a ground operation in Rafah, we were discussing this yesterday, particularly, because it's concerned about the potential for displacement of Palestinians from Rafah over the border into Egypt, and concerned that, that could imperil the decades- old peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

So, the U.S. is proposing its own text. Of course, there's no guarantee that, that would get through. But certainly, it seems optimistic that although the rest of the Security Council won't be getting everything that it wanted, some of what it wants in the form of a temporary ceasefire would be on the table. And that would be to the benefit both of the Israelis and of course, the Israeli hostages, and of course, to all of those Palestinians, more than a million and a half of them now inside Rafah, and, of course, all the others who have been suffering as a result of this war since those Hamas attacks of October the 7th.


CHURCH: Journalist Elliott Gotkine, joining us live from London. Many thanks. In the coming hours, the International Court of Justice is set to kick off a third day of historic hearings on the legal consequences of Israel's practices and policies in the Palestinian territories.

The U.S., Russia, and France are expected to make their arguments for the International Court of Justice. This case is separate from the one brought by South Africa against Israel for genocide. More than 50 countries are participating in the six-day hearing.

On Tuesday, South Africa's ambassador to the Netherlands told the court that Israel's policy toward Palestinians are extreme form of apartheid.


VUSIMUZI MADONSELA, SOUTH AFRICAN AMBASSADOR TO THE NETHERLANDS: We, as South Africans sense, see here and filter our core, the inhumane discriminatory policies and practices of the Israel regime as an even more extreme form of the apartheid that was institutionalized against black people in my country.


CHURCH: The White House Middle East coordinator is traveling to the Middle East to continue to push for a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas. Israel believes that 130 hostages remain in Gaza 101 alive and 29 dead.

Despite some progress in those talks, wide gaps remain in securing a final agreement. According to U.S. officials, the ratio of hostages to Palestinian prisoners who will be released is a key sticking point. negotiations continue as Gaza's residents face an increasingly dire humanitarian crisis. Many hospitals have stopped functioning and supplies of food, water, electricity, and life-saving medical care or running perilously low.

Well, meanwhile, Israel says it will expand its ground operations into Rafah, if hostages are not returned by the start of Ramadan.

The holy month starts next month. And there is growing concern that about 1.5 million Palestinians sheltering there will have nowhere else to go.

CHURCH: And joining me now is Daniel Levy, president of the U.S. Middle East project and a former Israeli peace negotiator. Thank you so much for being with us.

So, the United States has again vetoed a U.N. draft resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the U.S. instead proposing its own resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire for the first time.

How significant is this shift in language and perhaps intent?

DANIEL LEVY, PRESIDENT UNITED STATES MIDDLE EAST PROJECT: See, the answer to that is not significant enough. Because what we saw in New York is the Biden administration, in wielding its veto, and in so doing, exacerbating the isolation of the U.N., told that this is dead on arrival.

West did not manage to carry even one country on the council to join it in voting no. OK, and abstaining. So, I think America again looks alone in carrying the can or Israel.


Secondly, I think at the very moment that the administration is apparently trying to send a different signal to Israel that really don't do Rafah, is has to change. The signal that it actually sent in New York was keep doing your worst. And I think that's exactly how it targeted in the Israeli government, especially, because at the very same time as it's doing that, we have had further report that the munitions, the weapons that allow this to continue, are still flowing from the U.S. to Israel.

The Wall Street Journal reported 19 weeks more worth of munitions, of weaponry, that's going to send a very different scene. And the broader question, the administration says that domestically, internally in a presidential re-election year, where this is hurting the president, it sends the signal that we're still going to align with what you just described to us, which is the horrors of what's going on in Gaza.

And it's not going to advance this ceasefire deal, a deal that could lead to the release of the hostages.

CHURCH: And what while this played out at the U.N. efforts to release all the hostages being held in Gaza, they continue, of course. So, where do those negotiations stand right now, with Hamas sending a delegation to Cairo, after the Israeli war Cabinet minister gave it that Ramadan deadline to return the hostages or face a Rafah ground offensive?

LEVY: Right, very important, because if Israel was in a position to issue demands, but then we would be in a very different place, but it isn't. It's engaged in negotiations. And it's engaged in negotiations, because despite the devastation and destruction, that everything has basically crashed in Gaza, 1.5 million now settle into Rafah. 30,000 of (INAUDIBLE). Asked majority civilians 90 percent displaced despite all of that, on the battlefield, the balance of forces has not shifted, so much in favor of his relative can make these demands and it's unlikely to.

So, there's a real debate insight as to how much priority and this has been a fight between ministers even in the last 24 hours, how much of a priority to a chord, to getting the hostages out? Some of the hostage families are furious Netanyahu, that he has not sent his delegation back to the talks. So, those negotiations are rather stop.

What you really see, and this is hugely problematic, Rosemary, is the same U.S. administration tactic being used in New York at the U.N. Security Council, as it's being used in The Hague at the International Court of Justice, where America will appear today in favor of Israel.

And the message is keep international law out of this question when it involves our ally, Israel, whether in The Hague or in New York. And why that's so problematic? Is if you can't fly international law to Israel, then you can't apply international law to Hamas.

And we reap what we sow here. And you create a peace process, not based on international law, you create a peace process based on who is the stronger power, might is right, and that's how you end up in a situation that South Africa and 21 other states and two regional groupings have described in their submissions to the International Court of Justice as apartheid.

CHURCH: Daniel Levy, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate your analysis.

And still to come, Ecuador's military raids a notorious prison, attempting to reinstate order as part of a nationwide crackdown on gangs.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

One of the most notorious gang leaders in Ecuador is said to have lived like a king while behind bars. With a queen size bed and mini fridge, his prison cell looks more like a hotel. And his recent jailbreak is shining a spotlight on the country's prison system that experts say has turned into the headquarters for criminal groups.

CNN's David Culver reports.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's as though they are stepping into a war zone. Ecuador's military and national police trail an armored vehicle in a rate of one of the country's 35 prisons.

Inside, prisoners stripped down, hands tied. Scenes like this have played out across Ecuador over the past few weeks. The Armed Forces making a very public show of force, attempting to reinstate order within their own prisons.

It's part of Ecuador's effort to neutralize terror groups and weed out gangs which have unleashed chaos nationwide from a live T.V. studio armed takeover, to random shootings in the streets.

This most recent surge in violence sparked by the suspected escape of this man Jose Adolfo Macias known as Fito. On January 7, officials reported that while serving a 34-year sentence for murder and drug trafficking, the notorious gang leader vanished from this prison in Guayaquil.

A drone's view allows us to grasp the scale of this complex, it is sprawling.

CULVER: Not really much of a prison uniform. They're all kind of in their own clothes. CULVER (voice-over): Officials tell us it's made up of five different prisons. Through military and prison sources, we get a sense of the layout, we learn the women are kept here. These buildings houses the men and they range from minimum to medium security. And over here, maximum security known as La Roca or The Rock.

With a military escort, we go past the first of three perimeters any farther we're told too dangerous, even with armed soldiers. We're told inmates are separated based on gang affiliation, and are essentially self-ruled.

CULVER: And you can see behind one of these gates, folks kind of moving comfortably and casually, from cell to cell to kind of an indoor outdoor complex.

CULVER (voice-over): CNN obtaining these videos from inside by prison standards, they reveal a life of luxury for Fito, the drug kingpin. The images captured last year by members of Ecuador's military. They appear to show Fito cell; messy but complete with home comforts. On mini fridge, a queen bed, upscale shower fittings, artwork featuring an image of Fito himself with guns and cash.

He lives like a king. You can hear one of the soldiers say in this video obtained by CNN and verified by Ecuador's military.

Outside, his own courtyard and a half dozen fighting roosters believed to be his A military source tells us Fito had fresh fish imported for his meals and somehow even managed to shoot a music video from within the prison walls.

Ecuaviza showing these images of Fito's 42nd birthday in 2022. The prisoners reportedly enjoyed cake, music, and drinks. The night capped off with fireworks. He had more power outlets than a Marriott hotel room, Ecuador's president Daniel Noboa said late last year. So why escape? Ecuadorian security experts believe that Fito was tipped off that he was going to be transferred in the same complex back to The Rock maximum security.

Fito spent a few weeks in The Rock last year moving him they're involved in estimated 4,000 police and soldiers his sudden disappearance suggesting he wasn't ready to leave the comforts of his cell.


The government's focus now is to reassert control within, but it won't be easy. Prison raids have turned up everything from laptops, to guns.

Naboa also announcing the construction of new prisons designed by the same company behind El Salvador's notorious mega prisons where thousands of suspected gang members are locked up.

Back outside of the prison in Guayaquil --

CULVER: You can hear there's church services going on. Some sort of religious ceremony loudspeakers. CULIVER (voice-over): Soldiers and police stand guard on the perimeter knowing that it's often the gangs who still dictate what happens on the inside.

David Culver, CNN, Guayaquil, Ecuador.


CHURCH: Several years after Haiti's president was assassinated, his wife is among dozens of people now under indictment for his murder. Details on that and what a prosecution could mean for Haiti.


CHURCH: The second day of a two-day hearing will take place in London on Wednesday on whether Julian Assange has the right to appeal his extradition to the United States. CNN's Max Foster has details.


MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. has been fighting for years to have Julian Assange extradited from the U.K. to the United States. It's gone from the High Court to the Supreme Court, right up to the British government that signed off on this extradition.

What these two days' worth of hearings are discussing is whether or not the government was right to sign off. Did it breach Julian Assange's human rights?

He argues that he's in an unfit mental state. He could take his own life if he's sent to the United States. He says he's just a journalist and that the move is politically motivated. The British government is politically motivated to sign off on this extradition warrant.

Another extraordinary allegation coming from Julian Assange's lawyer is that they have compelling evidence of a CIA plot to kidnap or assassinate the WikiLeaks founder during his time when he was holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy, which is from 2012 to 2019, where he was effectively hiding from the British judicial process.


These claims haven't been verified. If the judges think there is something in them, then, they could have further hearings. If they don't think there's anything in them, then the extradition process does begin, and Julian Assange could be sent to the U.S. in a matter of days or probably weeks. There is a chance he could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, but we are not sure how that process would work at this point.

At the moment, it is just hearing about those human rights and whether or not they were breached by the British government by allowing Julian Assange to be extradited to the U.S.

Max Foster, CNN, London. CHURCH: The widow of Haiti's former president is among dozens of people indicted in his assassination. Jovenel Moise was killed in the presidential residence in 2021 when more than two dozen armed men swarmed the compound and shot him 12 times. His wife, Martine Moise, was also shot repeatedly but survived. The indictment accuses the former first lady and the former Haitian prime minister of conspiring with 49 other people to replace President Moise. The law firm representing the former first lady (inaudible) is innocent and had no motivation for the attack.

Jacqueline Charles joins me now. She is the Caribbean correspondent for the Miami Herald. Appreciate you being with us.


CHURCH: So, a Haitian judge has completed an inquiry into the assassination of Haiti's President Jovenel Moise and is pointing the finger at his widow, Former First Lady Martine Moise. What are the charges against her and what more are you learning about the details and the alleged motivation?

CHARLES: Former First Lady Martine Moise is basically been accused of being complicit in her husband's assassination. She is charged along with about 49 other individuals (inaudible) but there's a group that are former allies and government officials in Former President Jovenel Moise Administration, who are being charged with this as a result of their behavior.

CHURCH: So how strong is the evidence against the former first lady and the Former Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who was also named in the indictment?

CHARLES: I have to tell you that both the former first lady, Claude Joseph, as well as the foreign police chief have all denied any involvement in this. So when you look at the judge's indictment, what you saw was that a lot of it is (inaudible), for instance, the (inaudible) did not cooperate, so we don't really know how much money (inaudible) of Haiti was spent on this. We don't have a ballistic report, but what the judge is saying is that based on the testimonies of witnesses and some of the suspects, that their behavior is very suspect in this.

For instance, the former first lady two days after the assassination, according to the administrator of the palace, basically said, hey, open the president's office because former prime minister or at the time Prime Minister Claude Joseph wanted to have a meeting, so that he can organize an election and "I can be president in three months." Two days prior to her husband's assassination, according to this administrator, she went in and she cleaned out the office. But he has also brought up some issues concerning this testimony that she has given. In press report, she said that the Colombian suspects that they flashed a light in her eyes to see whether or not she was still alive.

But in the only interview that she gave Haitian authorities, she said that they pulled her toe. I will also have to add is that she has refused two invitations by the investigative judge in Haiti to go before him and to talk about what happened on a night that her husband was assassinated, and she was home and wounded.

CHURCH: So, what is the likely next step in this kidnapping turned assassination case?

CHARLES: So, under Haitian law, all 51 of these individuals, they can appeal their indictment. And then at the same time, (inaudible) judge has now sent this order in after two-and-a-half years (inaudible). The chief justice basically will have to schedule a trial, but it can be many years before we actually see a trial, depending on how long the appeal takes. We have to also consider the current situation in Haiti that is gang-ridden. Everything is basically stopped to a halt, including the justice system.

So, it is unclear how likely we will get to a trial and really see any sort of resolution in this ongoing inquiry into who killed President Jovenel Moise.

CHURCH: And the assassination of the president triggered lawlessness in the capital with gangs seizing much of Port-au-Prince. Is there any chance these indictments will help bring some stability to the capital, and indeed the rest of the country?

CHARLES: I have to tell you, before President Jovenel Moise was assassinated on July 7, 2021, Haiti was already dealing with the gang (inaudible).


He was in the midst of a constitutional political crisis because he had not held elections during his four years of office. Yes, his assassination plunged the country deeper into lawlessness, but I do not think that a result of the closure of this investigation, that things are suddenly going to be peaceful. This is a very high-stake investigation. You know, there's a parallel investigation in the United States where 11 people have been charged. We are waiting to trial after six of them have pleaded guilty. But, we are watching Haiti to see what the fallout from these charges are going to be in the coming days and weeks.

CHURCH: Jacqueline Charles, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

CHARLES: Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: We'll take a short break now. Just ahead, Starbucks is making an unusual addition to the latte it sells in China. Our Marc Stewart is doing a taste test. We'll get the results after the break.


CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. The vast majority of Japan's cargo travels by road, requiring long, arduous journeys for truck drivers. Now, the government is capping overtime hours in hopes of improving conditions on the job. But, it could have a much bigger impact on the country's economy. CNN's Hanako Montgomery explains.


HANAKO MONTGOMERY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 24- hour convenience stores, fresh seafood, same-day deliveries. In the world's fourth largest economy, convenience reigns king. But starting April 1, this way of life many Japanese are used to threatens to be upended because truck drivers in Japan will finally get a cap on overtime.

TAKETO NAKAJIMA, CEO, CHIKUMA TRANSPORT COMPANY (through translator): Truckers have been supporting Japan's economy for a very long time. So when the cap is implemented, it will certainly mean all goods won't be delivered. That's what I am most worried about.

MONTGOMERY (voice-over): Truckers, the lifeline of Japan's economy, deliver 90 percent of Japan's cargo, but the hours long and punishing have at times been fatal with dozens dying from overwork each year. The government cap from April, which limits overtime hours to 80 a month for truckers is a welcomed change. But for the trucking industry, it means fewer drivers and smaller wages.

RYUJI SHIOKAWA, TRUCK DRIVER (through translator): I think the biggest concern is the salary. Even if I get to spend more time with my children, if my salary drops, it will make life difficult for us.

MONTGOMERY (voice-over): Once the cap is implemented, the government fears that some goods won't be delivered on time or ever transported. Without intervention, Japan could see a 14.2 percent decrease in delivery capacity this year or 34.1 percent drop by 2030, leading to economic losses of up to $67 billion that year alone.


MONTGOMERY (voice-over): The 2024 problem compounded by a shrinking population and an aging workforce, as the trucking industry loses over 15,000 drivers annually.

HIRONORI TSUBOI, MINISTRY OF HEALTH, LABOR AND WELFARE (through translator): I think that many people are concerned about the decrease in the supply of services. But if it is a difficult a work environment, fewer and fewer people will want to work. So, I believe that creating a workplace that is easy to work in is the key to attracting people to the industry.

MONTGOMERY (voice-over): Japan's trucking industry poised to change drastically but Japan's reliance on truckers, the heart of the country's supply chain, steadfast.

Hanako Montgomery, CNN, Tokyo.


CHURCH: How about some braised pork in your next latte? Starbucks is betting coffee drinkers in China will like the interesting flavor. They're using it to mark the Lunar New Year because they say eating meat means prosperity in the coming year. Here is CNN's Marc Stewart doing his own taste test in Beijing.


MARC STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So much anticipation, we are here to try this new pork inspired latte, unique to Starbucks Reserve here in China. Let's go.

OK, all right, let's give this a try.

All right, so let's take a closer look. You got coffee, you've got milk, and you've got some barbeque style sauce on top. We don't have the garnish of the piece of pork, which you see in the promotional materials. But let's give this a try.

One more sip. All right. So, it pretty much tastes like a latte with a little bit of like a sweet, savory topping. I can see why people may like it, it is kind of that sweet, savory mix. This costs about $9.50. I think for me personally, I'm going to stick to an almond latte.

Marc Stewart, CNN, Beijing.

CHURCH: We will watch to see how that goes. Thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. "World Sport" is up next. Then, I'll be back in about 15 minutes with more "CNN Newsroom." Do stick around.