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Hala Gorani Tonight

Australia to Open Borders to COVID-19 Vaccinated Citizens; At Least 118 Killed in Clashes Between Rival Gangs in Possible Proxy Battle in Ecuador's Guayaquil Prison; Japan's Princess Mako to Marry a Commoner on October 26th; Merck: New Pill Halves COVID Deaths, Hospitalizations; France Legalizes IVF For Single Women, Lesbian Couples; Afghanistan's Ambassador To Rome In A State Of Limbo; Dubai Opens World Expo One Year After Pandemic Delay. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired October 01, 2021 - 14:00   ET



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN in Atlanta, I'm Lynda Kinkade in for Hala Gorani, good to have you with us. Tonight, a

world exclusive, CNN speaks to Europe's last dictator, the president of Belarus. We'll bring you his defiant response to allegations of human

rights abuses in the country. And then, welcome news for Australians as the country finally announces that they'll reopen borders. We'll have all the

latest from Sydney.

And later, a potential game-changer in the fight against COVID-19. A drug maker says one pill can cut the risk of hospitalization and death in half.

Well, he is best known as Europe's last remaining dictator, and tonight, Alexander Lukashenko; the president of Belarus for 26 years, speaks

defiantly with CNN in a world exclusive, and he has a lot to answer for. Just last year, tens of thousands of Belarusians took to the streets to

protest against an election they say Mr. Lukashenko rigged. An onslaught of allegations of human rights abuses followed.

Well, now, he's been accused of stirring another migrant and refugee crisis for the European Union at its border in Poland. Our Matthew Chance spoke

with him. Take a listen.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, it's not every day, of course, that you get the chance to grill Alexander

Lukashenko in this way, and so, when we were offered the interview, we used it as an opportunity to confront him on a whole range of issues that have

been, you know, affecting Belarus and have thrust it for all the wrong reasons to the center of global attention. First and foremost, the wide

scale allegations of horrific human rights abuses across the country since the disputed election which kept him in power a year ago. Take a listen to

what he had to say.

Would you take this opportunity now to apologize to the people of Belarus for the human rights abuses that they've suffered at your hands?

ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, PRESIDENT, BELARUS (through translator): No, I would not like to take this opportunity. If ever I would, I would do that through

the Belarusian media. What would be the point of doing it on CNN? I don't think this is a relevant question, and, in principle, I have nothing to

apologize for.

CHANCE: Well, you say you've got nothing to apologize for, but Human Rights Watch says multiple detainees have reported broken bones, broken

teeth, brain injuries, skin wounds, electrical burns. Amnesty International speaks of detention centers being -- becoming torture chambers where

protesters were forced to lie in the dirt, stripped naked while police kicked and beat them with truncheons. You don't think that is worth

apologizing for?

LUKASHENKO: You know, we don't have a single detention center, as you say, like Guantanamo or those bases that the United States and your country

created in eastern Europe. As regards our own detention centers where we keep those accused or those under investigation, they are no worse than in

Britain or the United States. I can guarantee you that.

CHANCE: That is less, the violence over that period has left you in the eyes of much of the international community as an international pariah.

Your -- or the main opposition figure in this country, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is regarded as the -- in many international circles as the

true winner of the election last year and the elected leader properly of Belarus. Even President Biden has met her in the White House. You haven't

been invited to the White House, have you?

LUKASHENKO: The female persona, I'm not going to discuss her. I don't fight with women and I don't want to characterize her in any way. As

regards opposition leadership, the leader of the opposition is someone who lives in this country and has a different point of view. They campaign to

bring this alternative view to fruition. There are no such people in Belarus. They are somewhere over there on your side, paid by you.

CHANCE: No, they fled the country because they're frightened of staying here. The people that have stayed have been imprisoned, put in jail for

like 10 and 11 years because of their opposition activities, and you know that's the case.

LUKASHENKO: Look, if one is a revolutionary and they got themselves involved in a revolution, more over tried to win a blitzkrieg here with

foreign money, they need to be prepared for anything.


CHANCE: What about the threat that you're accused of posing now to the borders of the European Union? The Polish government, the Lithuanian

government, others saying that you are encouraging migrants from various parts of the world to travel to Belarus, and then pushing them towards the

borders of those countries, putting massive pressure on the border authorities in European Union states. Do you take full responsibility for

the refugee crisis that is underway on the Belarusian-European borders at the moment?

LUKASHENKO: Do you have any actual proof that I am pushing these people to the Polish border? No, you have none and cannot have it.

CHANCE: What European governments are saying and European officials, is that you are weaponizing migrants, and you're doing that -- that's their

phrase, and you're doing that as an act of revenge, in revenge for European sanctions and in revenge for the fact that European countries are

sheltering your dissidents. How do you answer that criticism?

LUKASHENKO: Are you taking me for a mad man? My country is in central Europe and it is a small one. Can 10 million people dictate terms to half a

billion? So I'm not going to take revenge on anyone.

CHANCE: Well, we also spoke about other issues including Russia. There's a lot of concern in the region as Belarusian relationships with the rest of

the world deteriorate, Lukashenko is getting closer and closer to Moscow. In fact, here, the Kremlin has been offering and giving Belarus hundreds of

millions of dollars worth of financial aid, but that's the kind of Kremlin support that usually comes with strings attached. What has Lukashenko

offered Moscow in return? That's the big concern in the region.

Already, there are worries that Russia may be expanding its military footprint in this country. It's something Lukashenko denied during our

interview, but, again, it's a real concern that Belarus will gradually, slowly, but surely, be sucked more and more into the Russian orbit. Matthew

Chance, CNN, Minsk.


KINKADE: Well, more than 18 months after closing its borders to the world, Australia says they will reopen to citizens and permanent residents who are

fully vaccinated against COVID-19 starting in November. The move will enable tens of thousands of Australians stranded overseas to finally return

home. CNN's Angus Watson reports from Sydney.


ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: An announcement that tens of thousands of Australians around the world have been waiting some 18 months for as the

coronavirus pandemic has raged. Those Australians growing increasingly desperate to get back home as Australia has persisted with a system of caps

on the numbers of Australians and residents allowed into the country each week. On Friday, Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, said those

caps would be scrapped, the borders of the country would be thrown over -- open, inviting Australians from overseas back into the country as well as

residents, but only if they've been double vaccinated. Those people will be allowed to quarantine for seven days at home.

Unvaccinated Australians and residents can still come in, but there will be a cap on that number and they'll have to quarantine in state-managed

isolation as people do now. Now, this shift from the government is a reflection of the Australian government's desire to live with the virus

instead of pursuing this COVID zero policy which has seen the borders closed. The Australian government says that, that saved many lives and

isolated Australia from the pandemic as best it could, but it's hit the economy and it's kept people away from their homes and from their loved


So, some weeks to go perhaps until we find out whether tourists will be invited back to Australia in the coming months. For now, November is the

time that so many Australians around the world will set to be able to return home for the first time perhaps in the pandemic. Angus Watson, CNN,



KINKADE: A ruthless battle between Mexican drug cartels may have ignited Ecuador's worst prison riot in history. Almost 120 prisoners were killed in

a massacre Tuesday, some of them decapitated and dismembered. Police are soldiers are now trying to secure the compound. Authorities have seized

guns, knives and grenades. Investigators say they believe rival cartels vying for control of drug trafficking routes are behind the violence. CNN's

Matt Rivers joins me now from Mexico City for more on this story. Matt, these are the worst prison riots ever seen in Ecuador. Is the death toll

likely to rise further?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's certainly a possibility at this point, Lynda, if only because we know that dozens of people remain in the

hospital after having been involved in the prison -- but in the prison riot. But in terms of the Mexico connection, you know, one of the reasons

why investigators are saying that this, you know, mirrors turf battles that are happening here in Mexico is just because of the brutality of what we

saw inside the prison.



RIVERS (voice-over): Anxious families cry out for answers, praying their loved ones aren't among the more than 100 dead in the largest prison

massacre in Ecuador's history. Detailing harrowing accounts from those inside the Guayaquil prison complex after deadly attacks that authorities

believe are essentially proxy battles with people inside the prisons belonging to gangs with potential links to two Mexican organized crime

groups, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The inmates call us, sister, they are killing me, call the police.

RIVERS: Ecuador has increasingly become an important transit hub for Colombian cocaine and other drugs bound for the U.S. and Europe, according

to the U.S. government and a former Ecuadorian military official that spoke to CNN. These are routes that the Sinaloa Cartel has largely controlled,

but now authorities say the Jalisco New Generation Cartel is making a play for dominance, leading to a proxy war inside Ecuador's prison system. With

five major prison battles in 2021 alone, resulting in more than 200 dead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Because of the more dangerous inmates, there are deaths. You need to grab and remove the rotten ones.

Those are the ones you need to take out.

RIVERS: The mood outside the prison complex in Guayaquil, one of anger and despair, loved ones unhappy with what they see as a slow response by police

to the attack that began Tuesday in one of the country's most overcrowded and understaffed prisons.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Look at where the police are. They are out here. It's my brother, not a dog.

RIVERS: Authorities initially reported only five dead moving into the courtyard attempting to secure the facility, recovering explosives,

grenades, guns and other weapons as they struggled to regain control of the prison. Overnight Wednesday into Thursday, with the attacks still

unfolding, more than 400 police in riot gears swarmed the facility discovering beheaded bodies and carnage on a much more massive scale.

Family members questioning how such a huge security failure could have happened in the first place.

JUANA PINTO, MOTHER OF INMATE (through translator): When we go to visit, they search every single thing. They even make us undress. I don't know how

all the weapons get in, everyone inside is armed. Everyone.

RIVERS: Ecuador's president declaring a state of emergency, trying to quell panic, vowing to get the situation under control.

GUILLERMO LASSO, PRESIDENT, ECUADOR (through translator): It's sad to see the jails become a territory fought over by criminal groups. The state is

going to act, and the first decision we took is to declare a state of emergency over the prison system across the nation.

RIVERS: President Guillermo Lasso also announcing 24 million in state funds to improve Ecuador's prisons, long reported by human rights groups as

unsanitary and overcrowded with inadequate healthcare and weak security, making them an easy target for gang control. For those outside waiting to

hear their family member's fate, that presidential commitment to change may prove too little, too late.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We want justice, Mr. President, for all of the mothers who suffer here for our children.

RIVERS: Authorities say they have begun the process of identifying the dead, but caution the severity of the injuries are making that process

incredibly difficult.


RIVERS: And Lynda, in some attempt to get order or control over this whole situation, the president has issued 60 days of a state of emergency during

which time the Ecuadorian armed forces are allowed to intervene in the country's prison system in case it is needed. Clearly, it was needed during

this last riot, but, you know, too little, too late.

KINKADE: Absolutely. And Matt, we have seen those images of police going through the prison. Take us through what they've uncovered so far.

RIVERS: I mean, it's just a litany of things that shouldn't be inside prisons. I mean, the latest information that we have from authorities say

they have seized guns, ammunition, cellphones, 25 different bladed weapons, three explosive devices, various drugs, multiple guns wrapped in plastic

indicating how they were able to get into the prison by some sort of hidden means. Clearly, the people who were involved in this riot had all of the

weaponry that they needed to carry out some of these horrific scenes that we've seen inside of this Ecuadorian prison, not only the most recent

attack, but also in previous attacks this year, Lynda.

KINKADE: All right, Matt Rivers for us reporting from Mexico City, good to have you on this story. Thank you. Turning to the U.K. and London's

metropolitan police are advising women on what to do if approached by a lone police officer. Now, this comes a day after ex-officer Wayne Couzens

was sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard. CNN's Nina dos Santos reports from London.



NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN REPORTER (on camera): Former Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens may now be behind bars, but the Sarah Everard case is

by no means behind the metropolitan police. They have said that they've issued new guidelines for people who feel unsafe if they're approached by a

lone undercover police officer, they can now ask for help, call 999 if they feel unsafe, ask for identification or draw attention to themselves and

hail down a passing bus. Here on the streets of London, many women saying that, that is wholly impractical and also it wouldn't have saved Sarah

Everard's life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If people took misogyny and stopped crimes against women more seriously, it leaves me feeling very angry. They need to have

training and any signs of, you know, a bad attitude towards women needs to be rooted out straight-away. People need to understand this cannot go on.

DOS SANTOS: Do you think it's public inquiry?


DOS SANTOS: The woman at the helm of the metropolitan police Dame Cressida Dick said that she wants to ensure that all of the lessons that need to be

learned are learned by the institution. But this has rocked a 200-year-old force, a crucial one which is the most important police force in the

country. And for that reason, opposition politicians are saying there needs to be a full cultural review and a public inquiry into how exactly Wayne

Couzens was vetted and how bad behavior is dealt with inside policing in the U.K. On Friday, it emerged that the police conduct watchdog was

investigating five officers and former officers of the Metropolitan Police for being in a WhatsApp group with Wayne Couzens back in 2019 that was

allegedly sharing indecent material.

For now, Dame Cressida says that she won't resign and continues to enjoy the support of both the mayor of London and the home secretary. But

questions about how the Sarah Everard's case undermines trust in policing in the U.K., for now don't appear to be going away soon. Nina dos Santos,

CNN in London.


KINKADE: Still to come tonight, a new push to ease Venezuela's hyper inflation. The country hoping a new currency will help turn things around,

but will it actually work? Plus, an experimental new pill promises to cut coronavirus deaths by half. We're going to discuss the clinical trial

results and why it may be a real breakthrough for some patients.



KINKADE: Well, for the second time in three years, Venezuela is changing its currency to try and ease hyper inflation. The country has introduced

the digital bolivar which has six fewer zeros than the previous notes. The government says this will simplify transactions because banks can no longer

handle high figures. But experts tell CNN this does little to fix a years- long economic crisis. Stefano Pozzebon is following the story from neighboring Colombia, and joins us now live. So this new currency has fewer

zeros. It's hoped that it will ease transactions and make bookkeeping easier. But if there's no real economic solution to hyper inflation, this

will happen again, right?

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, correct, Lynda. Just to give you an idea of the challenges that this new currency will face in the upcoming

weeks and months as a strategy to combat hyper inflation, just in the day of yesterday on Thursday, the bolivar lost 16 percent of its value to the

U.S. dollar because people know that with the launch of a new currency, which is the third time that the Venezuelan government is trying to launch

a new currency in the last 13 years. Every time there's a new currency around, prices actually go up, and they're just chopping off zeros out of

the currency and off the prices without any real macro economic reform for a country that is plagued by a deep economic collapse, year-long economic


It's not going to have too much effect to the point that in fact most Venezuelans will not even use the new digital bolivar. Most of them

actually rely on U.S. dollars, Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes, exactly. And just give us a sense of how tough the situation is right now for people in Venezuela. As far as we've seen the latest

statistics, three in four people in Venezuela are living in extreme poverty. That means they're living on less than $1.90 a day.

POZZEBON: Correct, Lynda. The dramatic state of the Venezuelan economy and the Venezuelan society is -- even if it's far from the news headline is

still in very dire straits. According to new data released just a day before yesterday by an independent university in Caracas, not only 76

percent of Venezuelans live in extreme poverty, but more than 90 percent of them live below the poverty rate. And the government is now, as another

tactic to combat hyper inflation, is trying to push people to stay away from cash, and that's why the new currency is called the bolivar, the

digital bolivar.

But it's a country that is plagued by frequent blackouts, chronic power outings across the nation, and just calling it a bolivar digital and

recommending people to use electronic transfers for their purchases when most of the time during the day, the light is out is not going to work,

Lynda, simple as that. Venezuela needs chronic reform, needs to tackle the real issues at the root of the dramatic economic crisis that has plunged it

since 2014. Lynda.

KINKADE: Exactly, all right, Stefano Pozzebon, good to have you with us. Thank you. Well, young climate activists are urging world leaders to take

their 2015 Paris climate pledges seriously. Thousands gathered in Milan, Italy, to set the agenda for the COP 26 environment summit next month. They

say world leaders haven't done nearly enough to protect the climate from rising temperatures. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg says young people are

sick of being lied to.


GRETA THUNBERG, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST: Right now here in Milan, ministers from all over the world have gathered here to discuss the climate crisis,

and they are pretending that they have solutions to the climate crisis and that they are taking sufficient action. But we see through their lies and

we see through their blah-blah and we are tired of it.


KINKADE: Greta Thunberg there. Well, what would you sacrifice for love? A royal title? A million dollars? Public approval? Well, Japanese Princess

Mako Isk is giving up all of that to follow her heart. She is set to marry her long-time fiancee, a commoner at the end of this month. A move which

forces her to forfeit her royal status and a lot of money. Selina Wang has more in her controversial union from Tokyo.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): After a three-year delay, Japan's princess Mako is finally set to marry her fiancee Kei Komuro later

this month. When their engagement was announced back in 2017, it sounded like a fairy tale love story, a princess marrying her college sweetheart,

giving up her royal title in order to marry a commoner. From there, things got complicated.


The wedding that was planned for 2018 got postponed after reports emerged that Komuro's mother had failed to repay her ex-fiancee about $36,000.

Komuro has disputed that account, saying that the money was a gift. But the controversy spiraled and public opinion turned against Komuro. According to

the imperial household agency, the princess has been diagnosed with complex PTSD because of the intense negative media scrutiny towards the couple.

Now, under tradition, Princess Mako is entitled to a lump sum payment of about $1.35 million in order for her to start this fresh life, but the

princess reportedly is going to forego that money. And Japanese society is split on the marriage. This is what residents told us today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I don't think he is good enough to marry an imperial person. I think that the way of thinking about the

imperial family will change because of her marriage. Japanese people's affection towards the imperial family will be gone. It is sad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): She has been waiting for years, and it must be painful. She hasn't been able to see him for years, but I

think it's amazing to see the two have kept up.

WANG: After their marriage, the couple is reportedly set to move to New York where Komuro works at a law firm. He arrived in Tokyo earlier this

week for wedding preparations, sporting a ponytail hairstyle that caused an absolute media frenzy in Japan with some seeing it as yet another sign of

why he is unfit to marry the princess.

The marriage has also renewed concerns in Japan about the country's imperial law. Women, female royals are barred from the throne, and if they

marry commoners like Princess Mako, they have to leave the royal family and are stripped of their title. Right now, there is only one young potential

successor to the throne. Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.


KINKADE: Well, still to come tonight, drugs giant Merck says its new miracle pill can cut COVID deaths and hospitalizations in half. We'll break

down the science next. Plus, we'll hear from Afghanistan's ambassador to Rome, he's refusing a deal with the Taliban, leaving him in a state of

limbo. We'll take you to the Italian capital to find out how he is coping, just ahead.



KINKADE (on camera): Hello. A potential game-changer in the fight against COVID-19. U.S. drugmaker Merck says that it's developed a new pill, which

if you're already infected with the virus, cuts your risk of hospitalization and death in half.

The company says it's asking for emergency authorization in the U.S. as soon as possible. And if approved, the drug will be the first oral

antiviral medication for the coronavirus.

Our CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has more on this potentially groundbreaking development. As always, good to see you, Elizabeth.


KINKADE: So, anytime you hear about another option on the table that could treat serious cases of COVID, I think everyone breathes a collective sigh

of relief. Just how promising is this drug?

COHEN: Lynda, this drug is so promising that when the external board of monitors that was watching the data come in, as the clinical trial was

happening, they could see that the results were so good that they actually stopped the trial early.

They said ethically we need to stop it early, and let Merck go ahead and apply for emergency use authorization. That does not happen very often.

Let's take a look at the specific numbers that Merck put out today.

COHEN (voice-over): So, these are folks who were in very early stages of COVID. These folks were less than five days away from a positive COVID

test. They'd had a positive test just in the past five days.

700-ish people split into half. Half got the drug and half got just a placebo, a pill that does nothing. Those who got the placebo, at the end of

the month, 45 of them ended up hospitalized and eight died. Those who got the antiviral drug within a month, only 28 were hospitalized and zero had

died. So, those are pretty dramatic results.

COHEN (on camera): Let's take a listen to something that Dr. Anthony Fauci said. And also Jeff Zients who's with the White House COVID Task Force.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The news of the efficacy of this particular antiviral is obviously very good news.

JEFFREY ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: If approved, I think the right way to think about this is -- this is a potential

additional tool in our toolbox to protect people from the worst outcomes of COVID.


COHEN: Now, speaking of tools, I want to be very clear that the most important tool is a vaccine. Vaccines prevent you from getting infected and

very sick with COVID. This is a treatment you have to be sick before you get it.

So, a vaccine is definitely preferable. But of course, unfortunately, some people are not taking the vaccine and they're getting infected. And some

people are taking the vaccine and getting breakthrough cases. So, this pill could be helpful possibly in those situations.

KINKADE: Of course, time and time again, Elizabeth, we've discussed at least here in the U.S. most people ending up with severe cases of COVID in

hospital, are people that are unvaccinated. Some because they don't trust the vaccine. If they don't trust the vaccine, why would they then trust

this drug?

COHEN: So, Lynda, you know what's really odd? In the United States, people who are just they -- there's no way they're going to get the vaccine, they

love the treatments, they think the treatments are great, there is a treatment out there right now called monoclonal antibodies, where you have

to actually get an infusion and I.V. or shots.

I mean, it's really -- it can be -- you know, it's much more of a big deal than taking a pill, and they love it, it doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

It would be so much gathered -- better to get a vaccine, you know, it's much more likely to save your life, it's much more likely to save the lives

of others. So, sort of perversely, they might actually like this drug.

Again, doesn't make any sense. They're only hurting themselves and the people around of them, who presumably they love and want to protect. But

they seem to take -- they seem to be better -- they seem to feel better about treatments that -- about vaccines, which really is just ridiculous.

KINKADE: Absolutely. So, given at least in the U.S., there is an ample amount of COVID vaccines, and now potentially a possible pill for those who

get COVID. Could this be the missing link to return to some sense of normality?

COHEN: You know, I don't think that this is going to be the missing link, as Jeff Zients just said from the White House COVID Task Force, it's

another tool in the toolbox. So, is it great that if this pill gets approved and is put on the market, that you could call your doctor and say,

Doc, I just got a positive COVID test yesterday, you know, is there anything you can do? They can actually call in a prescription.


COHEN: Right now, all that they can do is try to get you these monoclonal antibodies which a: for some reason, a lot of doctors don't even know

about. And b: hospitals are having a hard time sort of getting out there because you have to go to a certain center, and you have to get shots or

you have to get an IV, it's really kind of a pain in the neck. And the whole rollout of these antibodies has not gone so smoothly in the United


So, is it a game-changer if they could just call in a prescription and you could just take a pill? Yes. Will it solve this problem? Will it -- you

know, solve the pandemic? No, it's not going to.

KINKADE: All right. Elizabeth Cohen as always, good to have you on the program. Thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

KINKADE: Well, France has legalized same-sex marriage back in 2013. But the path to parenthood for some gay couples has been much harder, at least

until now. A new law went into effect this week that will give single women and lesbians access to fertility treatments for the first time.

But there are still some major obstacles. CNN's Cyril Vanier explains.


AURORE FOURSY, AWAITING FERTILITY TREATMENT: Being a mother for me is a priority because I always wanted to be a mother. Always.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): After years of waiting, Aurore dream of motherhood suddenly seems within reach, a

milestone for her and for France. On Wednesday, the country extended access to fertility treatments. Once reserved for straight couples, a man and a

woman, said the law, they are now available to all women, single women or lesbians like Aurore.

Finally, giving them an easier legal path to parenthood.

FOURSY: To me, job is done. Everybody has the same rights, every type of women has the same rights. And I can choose to be a mother or not.

VANIER: 27,000 children were born through assisted reproductive technology in France in 2019, the most common method, in vitro fertilization or IVF.

VANIER (on camera): So, this is where babies are being made right now. But until today, not everybody had access to this kind of treatment.

VANIER (voice-over): For unmarried women or lesbian couples in France, a shot at parenthood meant traveling abroad, usually to Belgium or Spain,

where the same treatments have long been legally accessible.

Maggie and her then partners spent five years and 45,000 euros sidestepping French law. Their determination paid off. Louise was born almost six years

ago. But Mahi won't forget the hurt.

It's a horrible feeling, she says. You feel like you're not a citizen. You don't have the same rights as others. You feel like an outlaw. Younger

generations of French women will never have to experience that feeling nor the hefty price tag.

But for those whose fertility window is expiring, the new law may be too late. A chronic shortage of sperm donations in France means the country is

already struggling to meet demand with wait times of up to 12 months.

And that means a lower chance of success, explains this fertility doctor. Waiting six to 12 months when you're 40 years old has a huge impact on

pregnancy chances she says.

Aurore is 38 with no time to lose. She and her partner Julie are already on the waiting list, hoping for an update in the next few weeks.

FOURSY: I know my body is getting older. So, I'm not sure if I wait too much that it will work. And that's for me a real issue. And there is a lot

of lesbians that are exactly in the same situation as me.

VANIER: If France cannot help her become a mother soon, she too will have to seek treatment abroad, unable to reap the benefits of a law that she

campaigned to change.

Cyril Vanier, CNN, Paris.


KINKADE: Well, Afghanistan and Italy have strong historic ties. But Afghanistan's ambassador to Rome is refusing to deal with the Taliban

regime. At this point, it's not clear exactly who or what he represents. And that may be true for other Afghan diplomats around the world.

CNN's Ben Wedeman reports from Rome.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Taliban have seized control of Afghanistan, but 5,000 kilometers away in

Rome, the old Afghan flag flutters over the embassy.


KHALED AHMAD ZEKRIYA, AMBASSADOR, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN: So, what we do is we issue visas and also we extend the duration of our -- the


This is called the Golden Room.

WEDEMAN: Ambassador Khaled Ahmed Zekriya continues to work and live with this elegant villa that has housed his country's embassy for almost a


ZEKRIYA: We, from 1964.

WEDEMAN: Boasting relics from a different era.

ZEKRIYA: Two Electra 225 were bought by former Prime Minister (INAUDIBLE). The king said -- send one to The Embassy of Afghanistan to Italy. We have

11 local employees.


WEDEMAN: Since the Taliban takeover, Ambassador Zekriya says he's had to let some staff go. Others received their last paycheck in September.

The new boss in Kabul gets a cold shoulder here.

ZEKRIYA: They have contacted us twice, once via an official memo, we declined to response because we do not recognize the current caretaker

regime of the Taliban.

This is called the Oriental Corner --

WEDEMAN: Many Afghan embassies are in a similar situation, getting by collecting consular fees, yet refusing to deal with the new regime.

ZEKRIYA: And then --

WEDEMAN: Italy and Afghanistan established ties in 1921. King Amanullah visited Rome seven years later. The last king of Afghanistan, Mohammed

Zahir Shah, lived in Rome before returning home after the Taliban were ousted 20 years ago.

With the Taliban back in power, ambassadors' equity has shrugs off the notion the group has changed. Warning the world may have gone full circle

back to 2001.

ZEKRIYA: Has the war ended in Afghanistan against global terrorists? I do not think so. I think this is based on naivety. And I think, ill

calculation. The Biden administration has indicated that the American war has ended. This is my message. I think a World War with transnational

terrorism has begun.

WEDEMAN: Or to put it diplomatically, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


KINKADE: Well, still to come tonight, some of the world's most revolutionary tech was introduced at World Expos. And this year's expo is

opening with a bang. We're going to show you the highlights from Dubai, just ahead.



KINKADE: Welcome back. Well, today is the first full day of Expo 2020 in Dubai. For the next six months, visitors from all across the world can

check out the global showcase of technology, innovation, and culture.

The first theme is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future. Scott McLean shows us what to expect and how we got there.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was almost eight years ago that Dubai won its bid to host Expo 2020, the first for Middle

Eastern city. Seven years of planning and a global pandemic later, the expo is finally open.

Fireworks, a-list performances, and an elaborate show of lights and massive props lifted the curtain on an event that organizers expect will bring

millions of people to the city, and if history is any guide, leave a lasting impact too.

The very first World Expo took place in London 170 years ago. Since then, 34. Other cities have hosted. Expos usually last six months, but their

impact in architecture can last even longer.

The Eiffel Tower was built for the Paris Expo in 1889. Belgium's Atomium, was built for Expo 58 and Seattle's famous Space Needle rose from the expo

grounds in 1962.


ROBERT REIDEL, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, MONTANA STATE UNIVERSITY: On a World Expo, is primarily an effort to educate a large number of people about

where the world might be going.

MCLEAN: The first working telephone was demonstrated at the expo in 1876 in Philadelphia. Then, almost 100 years later, the mobile phone was on show in

Osaka. The first live T.V. broadcast was made at the World's Fair in 1939. And the zipper, the X-ray machine and IMAX movies were also debuted at

world expositions.

REIDEL: You can hardly reach out and touch something that wasn't debuted in some fashion at the World's Fair. The cities we live in, the urban plans

that shaped those cities. Many work that test driven at World's fairs for the first time.

The built environment so important, the underground infrastructure; from sewer lines, to transportation lines.

MCLEAN: In Dubai, they've had to build it all from scratch.

MCLEAN (on camera): If we were to go back in time to 2013, and we were standing in the same place we are today. What was here?

AHMED AL KHATIB, CHIEF DEVELOPMENT AND DELIVERY OFFICER, EXPO 2020: There was nothing, OK? It was just like plain piece of sand with a lot of dunes

and just a couple of threes and a camel farm.

MCLEAN: Maybe a tumbleweed?

AL KHATIB: Yes. Oh, yes.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Dubai has bet big on Expo 2020. Its multibillion- dollar bet is the size of a small city with futuristic-looking architecture like the nearly 5,000 solar panels on the sustainability pavilion or the

wacky designs of the 192 country pavilions.

MCLEAN (on camera): But in the Internet age and the midst of a global pandemic, connecting is easy, travel is the hard part. And so, the value of

an in-person World Expo may be losing its appeal.

MCLEAN (voice-over): In fact, at one point, American participation in this year's event was in serious doubt.

MCLEAN (on camera): Why do we have to be here in person?

AL KHATIB: It's so different, like when you come face to face and meet each other, and actually look at the person, see them talk.

MCLEAN (voice-over): With COVID-19 still a real threat, safety is top of mind. Only the vaccinated will be able to get in without a negative test

and everyone has to wear a mask even outdoors. In the sweltering heat of the desert, it's not pleasant, but organizers say it's necessary.

Plus, just this month, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for sponsors and member states to withdraw from Expo 2020, citing

documented abuses of foreign workers and the imprisonment of political dissidents.

United Arab Emirates rejected the resolution and the allegations made in it, and said it completely ignores all of the UAE's significant

achievements in the human rights field. So far, no E.U. member states have dropped out, perhaps not wanting to miss the chance to court business,

forge connections, and attract tourists over the next six months.

Scott McLean, CNN, Dubai.


KINKADE: Well, still to come tonight. Good news for Marvel fans, a nasty lawsuit between an A-list employee and a media giant has been settled.



KINKADE: Welcome back. The case of Scarlett Johansson versus Disney is over. The Hollywood star featured in the explosive summer blockbuster Black

Widow. But sponsors are flew off screen when the actress sued the media giant.

She claimed breach of contract when the film was released on Disney's streaming platform on the same day as it was released in cinemas. Well now,

the dispute has been resolved and Johansson said. "I'm incredibly proud of the work we've done together over the years and have greatly enjoyed my

creative relationship with the team."

Well, our business and media writer Frank Pallotta has more on this story. Good to see you, Frank.

So, Scarlett Johansson sued Disney because she wasn't happy that they released her film Black Widow on Disney Plus the same date hit cinemas,

saying that it was going to cost her an estimated $50 million. But now that disputes been settled.

FRANK PALLOTTA, CNN ETERTAINMENT AND MEDIA REPORTER: Yes, and basically what we seen here, I believe, is negotiation via litigation. And what I

mean by that is that back in July, she filed that lawsuit that basically said and allege that by putting it on Disney Plus and in theatres at the

same time, that it basically took away the money that she was going to earn because she said in her contract, that a large part of what she is going to

make from the film was going to be on the back end of the film.

And what I mean by that is that you know, you can get your money upfront, or you can get it off the percentage of what it makes the box office. But

if you're also showing it on Disney Plus, that might not have been in the fine print and might have cost her money.

But in the end, these two have finally come together and ended this big feud that became like a cultural flashpoint for Hollywood, and basically

trying to help us figure out what we're going to watch in the future, how we're going to watch it.

And with this lawsuit, how are the creators that create that content, the directors, the actors, like Scarlett Johansson are going to be properly

compensated when everything is on streaming rather than at your local Cineplex.

KINKADE: Frank, do we know why Disney would have released this film on its streaming platform when it had agreed in her contract that it was going to

be a theatrical release?

PALLOTTA: Now mind you, she's alleging that that's what was in the contract. I haven't seen the contract. I don't know if that's actually what

was in the contract. But that's what she was alleging.

But to answer your question more broadly, it's because Disney plus is the most important aspect of the entire Disney media empire. It's more

important than parks, more important than merchandising, more important than ESPN. And yes, more important than its box office haul.

All those things are really important, obviously to the bottom line of Disney. But nothing's more important to the future growth of both the

company itself and its stock, then, how many people are watching Disney Plus.

And a great way to get people to sign up for Disney Plus, and to compete with rivals like Netflix is to have a Marvel movie, one of the biggest most

anticipated -- starring one of the most popular character Marvel movies on your service for anyone who can watch it, especially at a time when a lot

of people were very iffy about going back to the movies because of the pandemic.


KINKADE: And so, this of course, is the first real major fight we've seen between a studio and star over the way they choose to release a film. Is

this just the start of what we can expect in the future? Or are a lot of major companies watching these pretty closely?

PALLOTTA: I think everyone is really watching this a lot closely. And I think this is going to be the thing that people remember, you know, a

couple years from now when we start seeing in the fine print that, you know, so many subscribers equals so much money. Or so many views on

streaming equals so much money for my client, for my actor, for my director, for whoever when you're an agency person.

And I think we've seen this somewhat even with Disney. Look at something like Cruella, which starred Emma -- not Emma Watson -- Emma Stone, excuse

me. I get my Emmas confused.

And they basically came together and now they're going to do it too. So, it all -- it's -- I think it's the beginning of something big and we'll see

what that big thing is.

KINKADE: I haven't seen either of those films. I've got a lot to catch up on. Frank Pellotta, good to have you with us. Thanks.

Well, Monica Lewinsky is opening up about her mental health struggles during the Clinton impeachment scandal. It's been more than two decades

since her affair with the then-U.S. President Bill Clinton came to light. And in a new interview with CNN's David Axelrod, she says the anguish

experienced during the investigation led her to contemplate taking her own life.


MONICA LEWINSKY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE INTERN: I just couldn't see a way out. And I thought that maybe that was the solution. And had even asked, you

know, which is, this is also an interesting point of just I had to ask the OIC lawyers about what happens if I die? You know, and as --


LEWINSKY: Yes. As more of an adult now, I think back: how is there not a protocol like, that's a point where you're supposed to bring a psychologist

in or, you know something? How is that not a breaking point?


KINKADE (voice-over): Well, Lewinsky says she fought for years to reclaim the narrative and not let the scandal forever to find her. You can hear

more from the Lewinsky on the CNN podcast, "THE AXE FILES".

KINKADE (on camera): I'm Lynda Kinkade. Thanks so much for watching tonight. Have a great weekend. But for now, stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS

BUSINESS" is next.



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (on camera): It is Friday. We have an hours left trading.