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Harry and Meghan Make Stunning Claims on Oprah Interview; New York Majority Leader Calls for Cuomo's Resignation; Trial to Begin for Ex-Officer Charged in George Floyd's Death; Pope Returning Home After Farewell Ceremony in Iraq; Myanmar Protests Strike as Unions Call for Economic Shutdown; Women's Street Air Aims to Raise Awareness in France; NBA Honors Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired March 8, 2021 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Harry and Meghan's overarching message that they step back from their senior roles because they didn't feel supported by the royals. The Prince also said his father, Prince Charles and brother, Prince William, were trapped in their roles and he felt sorry for them. Harry also told Orpah that his father stopped taking his calls for a while.


PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: When we were in Canada, I had three conversations with my grandmother and two conversations with my father, before he stopped taking my calls. And then said can you put this all in writing what your plan is?

I feel really let down because he's been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like and this is -- and Archie's his grandson.


Well Meghan and Harry kept some information to themselves and say their exit was done carefully and out of respect for the royal family. But journalist and former royal correspondent Sandro Monetti said if there were hopes of reconciliation, it may not be possible anymore.


SANDRO MONETTI, FILM AND ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: To me this was almost an act of war on the royal family. The relationship is fractured. This was blowing it much further apart. There's clearly a lot of bitterness and resentment. But it was their pain was so real and conveyed so well. This is a turning point in history for the royal family. They may need to change their entire policy of answering these things because they have so many questions to answer.


CHURCH: The New York state Senate majority leader is calling for Andrew Cuomo to resign as more women accuse the governor of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior. She is the latest New York lawmaker to do so saying the allegations are a distraction. But the governor is remaining defiant. CNN's Alexandra Field has the latest.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are mounting calls for New York's embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign. The latest coming from state's senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who says Cuomo must go for the good of the state. From a newspaper that has endorsed the three-time governor, the "Albany Times Union" now saying that Cuomo has squandered the public trust. This as more women come forward with allegations of inappropriate conduct. Governor Andrew Cuomo is maintaining he will not resign.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I was elected by the people of the state, I wasn't elected by politicians. I'm not going to resign because of allegations. The premise of resigning because of allegations is actually anti-democratic. The system is based on due process and the credibility of the allegation. Anybody has the ability to make an allegation in democracy, and that's great, but it's in the credibility of the allegation.

FIELD: Four women have alleged inappropriate conduct from the governor, three are former Cuomo staffers. The governor earlier this week, publicly apologized. Saying he was sorry he made anyone feel uncomfortable. He said it was unintentional. And he maintains he's never inappropriately touched anyone. To those calling on him to resign, the governor says the state's Attorney General Leticia James must be given the opportunity to conduct her investigation in the sexual harassment allegations.

In New York, Alexandra Field, CNN.


CHURCH: Jury selection begins just hours from now in the trial of the ex-police officer accused of murdering George Floyd. Officials in Minneapolis expect to see more protests during the trial. CNN's Omar Jimenez looks at how they're preparing inside and outside the courtroom.


CROWD CHANTING: No justice, no peace!

CROWD CHANTING: No justice, no peace!

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some calling for justice, to letting the justice system play out.

Derek Chauvin, the former officer seen on that now-infamous cell phone video, kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for nearly eight excruciating minutes. He's standing trial for second degree unintentional murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Both of which, he's pleaded not guilty to, but the first, carrying a weight of up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

The case is likely to bring protesters and renewed attention to George Floyd's death. His family remains at the center of it all. Balancing grief with the weight of a racial justice movement.

Now, with the trial on the horizon, preparations are underway on a number of fronts, including closing the intersection where some of Floyd's final moments played out, leaving it as a central grieving point, as it was in the immediate aftermath of his death.


MAYOR JACOB FREY (D), MINNEAPOLIS: We fully expect our Minneapolis residents to engage in the time-honored tradition of their First Amendment rights and speech, and we want to make sure that their right to protest is protected in every way, shape, and form.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): But what some protests over the summer devolved into is still fresh in the minds of city officials. It's why they say to expect an increased law enforcement presence over the next weeks, even months. But up to 2,000 National Guard prepared to respond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot allow for any sorts of unlawful activity.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Not to mention the physical barriers, growing up around the government center where the trial will be taking place.

Then there's COVID-19 protocol. Chauvin will be the only of the four former officers on trial this spring, with Judge Peter Cahill citing physical limitations of the courtroom.

Make it impossible to comply with COVID-19 physical restrictions in a joint trial involving all four defendants, beginning March 8, 2021. Given the number of lawyers and support personnel the parties have now advised the court, are expected to be present during trial.

And the judge said, it's the largest courtroom they have. Tied to that, only one member of the Chauvin family and one member of the Floyd family will be allowed in the courtroom at a time, a decision that the Floyd family called disappointing.

PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: The video is enough. There's nothing else to talk about. You can make your judgment off of that because Chauvin showed you, he was the judge, the jury, and executioner, all at once. Right then and there when he took my brother's soul from his body.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): And with jury selection beginning March 8, opening statements weeks later, a country watches as a test of police accountability gets underway, which many see as a major step towards justice for George Floyd.


CHURCH: Omar Jimenez with that report. And still ahead, Pope Francis leaves Iraq after a remarkable visit.

What the historic trip accomplished. We'll take a look at that with a live report.



CHURCH: Homeward bound but remaining in his heart. Right now the Pope is flying back to Europe from Iraq after wrapping up the first ever papal visit there just a short time ago. Thousands turned out to greet him at a mass in Erbil last night, where the Pope said the four-day trip would stay with him in spirit. He used the visit to focus on unity and dialogue between faiths. Saying he came to Iraq as a pilgrim of peace.

We turn now to Ben Wedeman. He joined us in Erbil where the Pope ended his tour of course. And Ben, many questioned the wisdom of him going but now the Pope is heading home. But what all did he achieve on this very risky trip to Iraq?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you make a good point, Rosemary. Many people including his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, were clearly not convinced it was a great idea. Pope Benedict called the Pope's trip dangerous. But now he can say, I told you so, it was fine. And indeed it was.

Four days of a packed schedule in which he was met everywhere by very enthusiastic crowds. The trip went off without a hitch as far as we know, and he had two goals during this trip. One was to continue his effort to build bridges with Islam, which he very much did when he met in a private meeting with the Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, and then attended a multi-denominational meeting in the biblical city of Ur.

His other goal was to provide a message of solidarity and support to Iraq's dwindling Christian community, and he was equally successful there. For them it was a huge morale boost. Huge morale boost for many Iraqis who have been living for decades through wars and sanctions and terrorism and unrest and general chaos. This was an opportunity for them to enjoy an event that did not involve any of those things I just mentioned. And to also show a different face to the world that this is a country full of diverse ethnic and religious groups that aren't always killing themselves as sometimes the impression is outside.

So by and large I think Iraqis were very happy with the trip. Perhaps a few exceptions. Some Sunni politicians saying it was unfortunate that he didn't have an equal emphasis on the Sunni side of Islam as he did on Shia Islam to that extent. But by and large I think everybody ended it very happily. Iraq and the Pope as well -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: That is very good news indeed. Many thanks to our Ben Wedeman bringing us the very latest on the papal visit.

Well two people have been reportedly killed in Myanmar. That is according to Reuters News Agency. They quote witnesses who say police opened fire on protesters in a northern town. Several others were injured. Strikes and protests have been taking place across the country in an attempt to pressure the military to step down after last month's coup.

Paula Hancocks has the latest. She joins us now live from Seoul. So, Paula, what is the latest on the situation in Myanmar?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Rosemary, there were hopes that this Monday, today, would be wide nationwide strikes. Eighteen labor unions had called for it to be a full extended shutdown of Myanmar's economy calling for many businesses to shut down and come out onto the streets.

Now we have been seeing significant numbers once again, but as you say, that has turned to fatalities in one northern town. At least two killed we know at this point from Reuters quoting eyewitnesses. So once again we're seeing security forces use a level of force against protestors, tear gas, rubber bullets as we have been seeing over the weekend and also live ammunition firing into crowds.

So what organizers are hoping at this point and certainly labor unions is that there will be a significant number of people showing that they want a return to democracy, a reinstating of the election of the government that was elected last November.

Now one other development to point out as well. We understand that security forces in the military are now occupying a number of hospitals and universities within the country.


The United Nations saying that they have heard of at least five hospitals being occupied saying this is against international law, that a hospital is a location that is protected by international humanitarian law. Now the military on their behalf, they are saying that it is necessary for them to, quote, maintain these hospitals and universities. Saying that doctors have walked out so they need to fill the gap. But that is certainly one issue that is concerning those on the ground and also, as I say, the United Nations -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, many thanks to our Paula Hancocks keeping an eye on the situation in Myanmar.

Well Swiss photos have just approved a ban on full facial coverings, including niqabs and burqas. It applies to nearly all public places, including shops, restaurants, transport, walking on the streets, and in the countryside. The only exceptions are places of worship and other sacred sites and for those with health or safety reasons. The controversial proposal narrowly passed with just over 51 percent support. Many religious, civic and government organization have criticized the proposal, which will now be law, and they're calling it anti-Muslim.

We have got more ahead here on CNN on this International Women's Day. We'll introduce to you some French artists making street creations with a message.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well today is International Women's Day. For more than a century March 8th has been a day to celebrate all the achievements made by women and it's a reminder that the fight from equality is far from over. This year's campaign theme is "Chose to Challenge," asking people to challenge gender, bias and disparity and work toward making their communities more inclusive. Across France a unique kind of street art is appearing. It's made by women and it calls attention to the particular issues women face. Melissa Bell spoke with some of the artists. Here's her report.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Paris it is the streets themselves that women are reclaiming through art celebrating their bodies and their rights with mirrors for women to see themselves, messages of support and images of strength.

Trying to get equal rights. It's important for me to show if you are a strong woman, powerful woman, you can help the raise the other women and to stand as well even the inspiration to fight for our rights.

Vik Oh focuses her art on that which is rarely seen in the media outside of pornography. She uses social media to showcase her art. But it is by placing it in the streets she feels that she can make the biggest difference.

VIC OH, ARTIST: It's complicated for women. We seem to have the same rights as men but in reality, it is different, because we can feel more scared by ourselves at night. We don't hang out as men could. We try to go from point A to point B and it can be quite oppressive regarding street harassment.

BELL: But it isn't just through art that the streets of France have been reclaimed for women. A law introduced here in 2018, the first of its kind in the world has made sexual harassment in the streets. So cat calling, rude gestures, rude comments are a punishable offense.

BELL (voice-over): Since then 2,650 fines have been given out -- according to the ministry of the interior -- and the streets made that a little bit more comfortable for women.

Another campaign in 2019 saw messages like these, spring up around the French capital. Posters remembering the victims of femicide. By the November of that year, 137 women in France had been killed at the hands of their partners according to an advocacy group.

Don't wait for us to be dead to believe us, is Ma Rue par Achbe's message today. But she's delivered many others to the world on the sidewalk just outside of her house in Marais (ph).

MA RUE PAR ACHBE, ARTIST: It's a way to demonstrate, to awaken the conscious. It's a way to spread information, thoughts, opinions with the intention of tempting normality. BELL (voice-over): Because Achbe's messages are written chalk, she

also posts them to Instagram. The poetry itself may disappear with the rain, but she says, it is the fact that it is outdoors that is the point.

ACHBE: It's really a shock in the streets, as a silence out, that you bring in your head, and that makes you think and change, hopefully.

BELL (voice-over): Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


CHURCH: Well, a thrilling NBA all-star game just wrapped up a few hours ago right here in Atlanta. Even though LeBron James and his team came out on top, the real winners of the night were not the players. They were students from historically black colleges and universities. CNN's Andy Scholes explains


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the normal NBA All-Star weekend happening all in one night and there may not have been a packed house for this all-star Game, but it was special, raising more than $3 million for historical black colleges and universities, the league honoring different HBCUs and frontline workers throughout the night during the game.

Now, before the game started, actor Michael B. Jordan chatted with Vice President Kamala Harris. She's a proud HBCU graduate of Howard University, and she encouraged everyone in that chat to get the COVID vaccine when it's their turn.

Now, the game feature team LeBron vs. team Durant the first time ever, LeBron and Steph Curry were teammates for a game. But this game was the Steph, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard show. Steph shooting three shots from half court, even catching an alley-oop and this one. He scored 28 points.


Giannis made all 16 of his shots scoring, a game high 35. He was named the MVP of this one and Lillard winning the game from a way downtown as team LeBron would beat team Durant in this one 170 to 150.

Now, the game was Steph Curry's encore, because earlier in the night he put on a show in the three point contest. The 2015 champ, putting up a record 31 in the first round. Then Steph needed to hit his last two shots in order to beat the Jazz's Mike Conley, and of course, Curry made them both to become the seventh player ever to own multiple three point titles.

Now, at halftime of the game was the dunk contest, and it was the Blazers' Anfernee Simons, outlasting the Knicks' Obi Toppin, skying high, almost kissing the rim, to become the 2021 Slam Dunk champion.

Now LeBron and the NBA are also using All-Star weekend to fight voter suppression. Many states, including Georgia, where the All-Star game was held, have introduced legislation to restrict voting. And in a new ad for "More Than A Vote," LeBron says there's still plenty of work to do.

LEBRON JAMES, AMERICAN BASKETBALL PLAYER: So this isn't the time to put your feet up or to think posting hashtags and Black Squares is enough. Because for us, this was never about one election, it's always been more than a vote.

SCHOLES: And LeBron saying before the All-Star Game that he will continue to highlight and educate people on what's going on in communities around the country.


CHURCH: Thanks for that.

And thank you for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. "EARLY START" is up next. You're watching CNN. Have yourselves a wonderful day.