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U.N. Envoy: Military Violence is Likely Crimes Against Humanity; WFP Chief: One Yemen Child Dies Every 75 Seconds; Several E.U. Countries Suspend Use of AstraZeneca Vaccine; Brazil's Hospitals Near Capacity as Cases Surge; Russia Turns to Hockey to Save Freshwater Lake; Black Britons React to U.K. Media Schism on Race Issues; How Broadway Looks to Stage a Comeback after COVID-19; Biden: If We Don't Stay Vigilant We May Have to Reinstate Restrictions; CDC Director is Interviewed about Biden's Address. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired March 12, 2021 - 00:00   ET


JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Security Council urged Myanmar's military to exercise utmost restraint. At least 12 pro-democracy protestors were shot dead, a deliberate and deadly offensive on unarmed civilians by security forces, believed to be acting on the direct orders of the generals who seized power in last month's coup.


In response to international condemnation, the military announced new corruption charges against Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's now deposed civilian leader.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Former Yangon regional minister Phyo Min Thein said he gave Aung San Suu Kyi himself $600,000 in cash, and 7 kilograms of gold between December of 2017 to March of 2018.


VAUSE: The military presented no evidence to support their allegations, but nonetheless, they raised the stakes for Aung San Suu Kyi, who until now was facing four relatively minor charges.

During that same news conference, the military insisted their security forces were exercising the utmost restraint when confronting violent protesters. The U.N. special rapporteur to Myanmar says there is clear evidence that crimes against humanity have likely been committed by the military and is urging international cooperation to directly cut off all business ties with the military, impose an international arms embargo, give aid directly to the people, and deny the generals recognition as legitimate leaders of Myanmar.


VAUSE: Tom Andrews is the U.N. special rapporteur on Myanmar. He is with us this hour from Washington. Mr. Andrews, thank you for being with us. TOM ANDREWS, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON MYANMAR: John, thank you.

VAUSE: On Thursday, you briefed the U.N. Human Rights Council, laid out an argument that, in your words, "The junta's brutal response to peaceful protests likely meets the legal threshold for crimes against humanity."

Very briefly, what is that legal threshold and why likely? Why the hesitation?

ANDREWS: Well, it's a legal definition so, of course, it has to be adjudicated by a court for it to be formally declared as crimes against humanity, but I just basically laid out the case.

I mean, this is a brutal military regime. They are attacking people, not at random, but on a very systematic basis.

These are not combatants that are engaged here. These are -- these are innocent people. And it is spread out over a wide geographic area. We've had now over 70 people have been killed in 28 different districts around the country. There are over 2,000 that have been arbitrarily detained.

So, when you look through the basic criteria for crimes against humanity, and you look at the reality of what's going on in Myanmar right today, it's a very close finish.

Again, it has to be adjudicated in a court of law, but I encourage the members of the Human Rights Council to look at what's going on, look at that definition, and make up their own mind.

VAUSE: Amnesty International has made some serious claims, as well about the military response to the pro-democracy protest. Backs up those claims of the video evidence, and what we're about to see will be disturbing for some people. If there are kids maybe watching, maybe get them out of the room.

Because in this next clip, Amnesty claims the video shows an extrajudicial killing. It's an execution. So what you need to focus on, our viewers, focus the middle of the screen, on the outer upper edge of the crowd. Roll it.





VAUSE: OK. There's also other clips which Amnesty uses which backs up the claims that battlefield weapons are being used as part of the military response, and there's a lot more out there from Amnesty. There's more than 50 video clips all up. What's your take on this case, which is presented by Amnesty? ANDREWS: Well, it just fits just a horrific pattern of massive,

massive abuse. I mean, people are being literally shot at at point- blank range. We've now seen clips of soldiers, police officers, walking through neighborhoods destroying property, and then taking their rifles and shooting at random up in people's homes.

So, people are not safe anywhere in this country -- in the country. And it's this reign of terror and intimidation and fear that they are trying to force with throughout of the country.

And on top of that, we've seen these originally (ph) brutal murders of people in -- in cold blood. What makes it all the more preposterous and outrageous, really is the fact that the thought that the -- the false thought (ph) is that they're acting with the utmost restraint and that they are confronting people who are violent. That is the protesters are violent.

So basically, what they're saying is that we shouldn't be believing our own eyes, that we should be looking at them as being restrained and looking at these very, very peaceful protests all over the country as being inherently violent. It's just -- it's just outrageous.


VAUSE: Yes. There is an element to this, though, because in recent years, of sort of irony, I guess, but maybe it's a cautionary tale. Because in recent years, the majority of people in Myanmar sat back, either did nothing, or supported the military as it committed crimes against humanity on the Rohingya Muslims.

I mean, is there a lesson here for any country where the military, or the government, is actively persecuting one part of the population, there's every chance that you will be next.

ANDREWS: Well, the reality is, is that the man who was responsible for those atrocities in 2017, these mass atrocity crimes, Min Aung Hlaing, the commander in chief, is now in control of the entire country.

So -- and listen, they have now not let up on persecution of ethnic minorities, ethnic nationalities, and indeed, the Rohingya. I reported to the Human Rights Council that 33 Rohingya people were killed in just the past year, and the persecution of them continues, unabated.

So this is a regime, this is a brutal military regime that has shown their capability, their brutality, and they're showing it right now all over the country, and even -- even as we speak.

VAUSE: Tom Andrews, the special -- U.N. special rapporteur for Myanmar. Thank you very much for being with us. Thank you, sir.

ANDREWS: Thank you.

VAUSE: When it comes to human rights abuses, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity, Myanmar's military has a decades-long rap sheet. Before they turned their automatic weapons on unarmed protesters, the

Army targeted Rohingya Muslims. The years-long military operation the U.N. described as genocide.

Now, the generals are back in power. It seems they picked up where they left off. Live now to CNN's Paula Hancocks for more.

And Paula, perhaps it could be the law of unintended consequences they're working, but for the first time in Myanmar's history, there is unity among all of the ethnic groups finding common ground in opposition to military rule.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So I mean, they have a common enemy now, John, that they have to focus on. It's an enemy that -- that ethnic groups and the ethnic armed organizations protecting those groups have been battling against for decades.

And they know exactly what the military is capable of. Of course, certain troops that are infamous for having fought against those ethnic groups are now in the cities. They're in Yangon, and they're in Mandalay, and they're now acting against the protesters. So, what the military would not have intended, as you say, is to -- to create this unity against them.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): Villagers flee their homes in the mountain of Kayin (ph) state, saying Myanmar's military is attacking. Violence and oppression from the army that many ethnic groups across Myanmar have faced for decades.

Sheltering in the jungle, the displaced rely on humanitarian groups for food and medicine. Children continue their schooling wherever they can.

Aid group Free Burma Rangers believes some 6,000 people are currently unable to return home in this one state alone.

DAVE EUBANKS, FREE BURMA RANGERS: The coup, evidently, was well planned beforehand, and we saw the pressure begin to build in the ethnic areas here in December of last year. And then in January, and then after the coup, even more.

HANCOCKS: Ethnic groups want self-determination. The military has been accused of carrying out atrocities against them, most recently against the Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine state in 2017.

The military generals stand accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, an accusation they and the now-deposed civilian government deny.

The one thing the coup has achieved, which even a nationwide cease- fire, signed in 2015, could not entirely. Ethnic unity. With 135 different official groups and a 70-year-long civil war, solidarity between ethnic groups and with those in the cities has until now been scarce. Groups say the cease-fire with the military is off, and they stand firmly behind the anti-coup protesters.

DR. LIAN HMUNG SAKHONG, CHAIRMAN, ETHNIC NATIONAL COUNCIL: So I think this is the thing that unites all of these ethnic groups and the people -- the whole country, the whole nation united. For democracy, for equality, for federal peace. And the people of Myanmar are aware that, you know, they don't want to go back to military rule. They have suffered long enough.

HANCOCKS: Two thousand teachers and students in Karen (ph) state, protested earlier this week, escorted and protected by the ethnic armed forces, the KNU.

Last month, before security forces increase the level of force used against protesters, a number of ethnic groups gathered in Yangon, showing solidarity with the civil disobedience movement.

This protester says, "We've been protesting against the military dictatorship for well over 70 years. We're not just starting now. It is important to be here, as we don't know how long it will last."

The protests in the cities may seem a world away from the displaced in the jungles, but the desire for democracy, and hatred of the military, runs throughout.


HANCOCKS: And it was, once again, John, a deadly day on Thursday. According to the NGO AAPP, they have at least a dozen protesters who were killed. The majority, they say, in one of the central regions.

And more than 2,000 now have been arrested, charged, or sentenced. So those numbers really starting to mount up. The U.N. saying they believe at least 80 have been killed. But it's what we have been hearing from activists on the ground, both in the cities and also in the ethnic areas, is that the estimation of those who have been killed is likely very low. Because those are just the ones that can be proved. And -- and they really fear that the actual death toll is far higher.

VAUSE: Yes, Paula, thank you. Paula Hancocks, live for us in Seoul with the very latest.

Well, Yemen is staring at the biggest famine in modern history, and the head of the World Food Programme says the Saudi-led coalition must lift its maritime blockade.

CNN's Nima Elbagir and her crew traveled to Yemen. They found children starving and dying in a hospital in the port city of Hodeidah. Famine has gripped many parts of the country, not just because of the shortage of food but also fuel.

What supplies there are could not be transported to those in need. The U.N. says more than 20 million people are in need, more than half acutely. Millions of others have been forced from their homes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID BEASLEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: Around 400,000 children may die at the end of this year without urgent intervention. That is roughly one child every 75 seconds. So while we're sitting here, every minute of four (ph), a child is dying.

And then to add to -- to add to all of to their misery, the innocent people of Yemen have to deal with a fuel blockage. A fuel blockade. For example, most hospitals only have electricity in their secure units because fuel reserves were so low. I know this firsthand, because I've seen the hospitals.

The lights are off, the electricity was off. The people of Yemen deserve our help. That blockade must be lifted, as a humanitarian aid. Otherwise, millions more will spiral into crisis.


VAUSE: The Saudi ambassador to the U.N. tells CNN the kingdom is looking for a political solution to this conflict in Yemen, but as the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels continue with their attacks.


PRINCE ABDULLAH BIN KHALED BIN SULTAN AL SAUD, SAUDI AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Saudi Arabia has always looked for a political solution in Yemen. Saudi Arabia committed to the cease-fire of the past year. Unfortunately, the Houthis are not. They have launched dozens of ballistic missiles in the past month. This is not the act of any party that wants a cease-fire, or that wants peace.


VAUSE: Houthi leaders blame the Saudi-led coalition for the suffering and the starvation.

Well, there are more problems for Europe's vaccine rollout. Regulators in a number of countries have hit pause on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Details on that when we come back.

But also, with Brazil's public health system facing imminent collapse, overwhelmed by patients affected with a deadlier, more contagious variant. A warning from many health experts why the rest of the world should be worried.



VAUSE: The one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been approved for use by the E.U., with 200 million doses expected to arrive in April. Four vaccines are now being used across Europe, bringing hope the much troubled and delayed vaccination rollout might reach its goal of inoculating 70 percent of the adult population by the end of the northern summer.

Thailand (ph), though, has joined a number of European countries and suspended distribution of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine over concerns of an increased risk of blood clots. Denmark, Iceland, Norway among the countries in yellow which have hit pause, while those in blue are still using the vaccine.

We get more now from CNN's Melissa Bell.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Europe, several countries announcing the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout, or at least the suspension of the rollout of some of its batches.

This after concerns were raised in a number of European countries about possible blood clots that have been found in patients who had been inoculated.

The European Medicines Agency has reacted, saying that it does not agree with the suspension. France's foreign minister, as well, say that France will continue. This is what he had to say Thursday evening.

OLIVIER VERAN, FRENCH MINISTER OF SOLIDARITY AND HEALTH: Investigations are carried out systematically each time serious adverse effects are declared. But what are we talking about? About 30 people out of more than 5 million Europeans having received an injection.

BELL: The news of those suspensions, though, in European countries another blow to the rollout of the European Union's vaccination program that has been beset by supply issues for the last few weeks.

One bit of good news on that front, though, the European Medicines Agency announcing that it had approved for marketing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That decision, though, now needs to go to the national health agencies before deliveries can begin of the 200 million doses that have been promised to the European Union this year. Something that could help improve the roll-out that we've seen so far,

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


VAUSE: The governor of Brazil's most populous state, Sao Paulo, has warned the entire country is collapsing. He's announced new COVID restrictions, which start Monday, impacting offices, schools, churches, as well as sporting events. Beaches and parks will also be closed.

The country's daily coronavirus death toll topped 2,000 again on Thursday, with more than 270,000 dead since the pandemic began. Brazil is second only to the United States.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly downplayed this crisis, says more restrictions will just bring chaos.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT: How long will our economy resist? If it collapses, it will be a disgrace. What will we have soon? Supermarket invasions, buses on fire, strikes, pickets, work stoppages.


VAUSE: The doctors and health experts are warning the crisis in Brazil could have global consequences as variants of the virus spread. More details now from CNN's Isa Soares.



GRAPHIC: I saw them discussing whether I should be intubated or not.

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shaken and still visibly weak, Moises Barboza, a councilor for the city of Porto Alegre in southern Brazil, tells me he's never smoked or been seriously ill.

Still, the 42-year-old ended up spending 10 days inside an intensive care unit after contracting COVID-19. He survived, but the trauma is deep.


GRAPHIC: While I was in the ICU, I lost my father-in-law. He died, and I didn't know. He was admitted, and was still speaking, and four days later, he was buried. And I didn't know.

SOARES: Weeks later, Barboza's voice remains course, and as we speak, it's clear he's still breathless. But even if those lingering effects fade, others are forever etched on his mind.


GRAPHIC: I saw three people, unfortunately die in front of me. There was a girl, 39 years of age, intubated, in front of me.

SOARES: Barboza's case is one among thousands as ICUs across Brazil reached peak capacity and daily deaths hit new records. Warning signs seemingly not severe enough to change the Brazilian presidents' view of the pandemic.


GRAPHIC: We have to face our problems. Enough fussing and whining. How much longer will the crying go on?

SOARES: Under Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil has struggled to implement a unified country-wide strategy to deal with COVID-19. Not least because the president has continuously downplayed the virus at every turn, first insisting it was just the sniffles -- BOLSONARO: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

GRAPHIC: A little flu.

SOARES: -- and now questioning vaccines as they become available.


GRAPHIC: If you turn into a crocodile, it's your problem.

BOLSONARO: Jeopardizing a vaccination program that continues to progress at a very slow pace.

Just a couple of months ago, he was accused of failing to act as the healthcare system in the Amazon state capital of Manaus collapsed. He blamed local health officials. An investigation is underway.

In Manaus, patient after patient literally gasped for air when hospitals run out of oxygen. Now tells me Professor Nicolelis, it's much, much worse.

MIGUEL NICOLELIS, PROFESSOR, DUKE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: People outside Brazil focus on -- in Manaus. Manaus has been a huge tragedy. Well, I have news for you. We have 20 Manaus right now in Brazil. Twenty capitals in Brazil have reached capacity in ICU beds.

SOARES: Nicolelis is a doctor and a neuroscientist at Duke University in the U.S. and who has been tracking the crisis in Brazil tells me it's a matter of when not if the Brazilian healthcare system collapses.

NICOLELIS: This is a perfect storm.

SOARES: Speaking from Sao Paulo, he tells Brazil, he says, is an open- air laboratory for the virus to evolve, creating more deadly mutations, a challenges, he says, not just for Brazil but for the world.

NICOLELIS: If you allow this thing to run amok in Brazil, this pandemic, you are certain to get new variants that are going to spread first in the continent here, Latin America and South America, and likely to the U.S. and Europe a little later. In Asia, too.

SOARES: So now, he says, the world needs to challenge the Brazilian government over its familiar to contain the virus. Back in Porto Alegre, Barboza says that to happen the political sabre rattling must come to an end.


GRAPHIC: It's very sad for me, being a part of the political class, to see that. It's not the moment for that. Myself, for example, I would of course trade away my mandate for my father in law's life.

SOARES: Isa Soares, CNN.


VAUSE: This Fourth of July, Independence Day in the U.S., might also mark independence from the pandemic.

U.S. President Joe Biden said if Americans did their part, the vaccine rollout continued, then small gatherings might be possible, marking a return to some normalcy.

The president signed a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill on Thursday before he made his first primetime national address. Biden says the fight against COVID is far from over. In fact, a key model suggests the U.S. death toll will be close to 600,000 by July 1.

But the president is promising more vaccines at a faster pace.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All adult Americans will be eligible to get a vaccine no later than May 1. That's much earlier than expected.

Let me be clear. That doesn't mean everyone's going to have that shot immediately, but it means you'll be able to get online beginning May 1. Every adult will be eligible to get their shot.

And to do this, we're going to go from a million shots a day that I promised in December, before I was sworn in to maintaining beating our current base of two million shots a day, outpacing the rest of the world.


VAUSE: Still to come, Russia taking aim at climate change with the help of some hockey stars. How hitting the ice might just help save the planet. We are live in Siberia, Russia, when we come back.

Also, Duchess Meghan's bombshell interview has caused a rare divide in the British press, raising questions about institutional racism.



VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. I'm John Vause with an update on our top stories this hour.

A Burmese human rights group says at least 12 protestors were killed by security forces in Myanmar on Thursday. U.N. special rapporteur for Myanmar is urging immediate international action to help protesters, saying the military crackdown likely meets the legal definition for crimes against humanity.

Several European countries are suspending all or part of the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout. This after reports of people developing blood clots after inoculation.

However, European regulators are still defending the use of the vaccine.

And Brazil recorded more than 2,000 coronavirus deaths on Thursday. The country's hospitals are near capacity. The governor of the most populous state of Sao Paulo is imposing new restrictions on offices, schools, churches, even football matches.

A new report has raised the bar for the United States and emissions reduction, saying a reduction of at least 57 percent, from 2005 levels, is now needed by the end of the decade to meet the target of the Paris climate agreement.

That's according to the group Climate Action Tracker. Rejoining the Paris agreement was one of President Biden's first acts in office. John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, has been meeting European leaders to try and find common ground.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. CLIMATE ENVOY: Energy isn't the problem. It's the emissions that come from energy. As long as we're focused on that challenge, maybe we can completely become free of nuclear and other current sources, gas. But we need to do it in a way that is thoughtful and condense it with our needs to keep our societies working and thriving and living a better life.


VAUSE: President Biden HAS promised to try and reach the long-term goal of zero emissions by 2050.

In Greece, trees and plants are replacing piles of garbage. Pocket parks are popping up in the busy streets of Athens. The goal is cut down on pollution, which will in turn help lower temperatures and improve quality of life.

The Greek population exploded after World War II, sudden buildings without proper urban planning. Trees were cut down, traffic increased, leading to more emissions and warmer temperatures.

Meantime, Russia is using ice hockey to bring awareness to its fight against climate change. NHL legends are playing matches in places endangered by global warming, like Lake Baikal in Russia.

Live now to Siberia. Our man there is Fred Pleitgen.

I always thought you'd do well as our Siberian bureau chief.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think I would do very well as the Siberian bureau chief. In fact, I do actually -- I love it out here. It's amazing. It's cold. It's crisp. It's great. And of course, there is a lot of ice.

And as you've noted, John, obviously, ice hockey is the main sport here in Russia. Everybody here loves it. For them, you know, this climate change is really something. Of course, it's not only endangering the natural playing fields of

hockey, but of course, endangering the climate, as well. You can really feel and see that here on Lake Baikal.

A lot of people we've been speaking to, they say the time when you can actually be on Lake Baikal, when it's frozen -- I'm standing on it right now -- is getting shorter and shorter. It used to be several months. They say now sometimes it's only one month that they can actually go on the lake.

So climate change clearly being felt here. And, therefore, of course, for the Russians, it is very important to use hockey is a vehicle to try and raise awareness for climate change with an all-star game, here on Lake Baikal, that I was able to join, as well. Let's have a look.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): A power play to help save our planet. Russian hockey legends playing a match on the majestic Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater reservoir in the world. Organized by all-time NHL great Vyacheslav Fetisov, who's now the U.N.'s patron for polar regions.


VYACHESLAV FETISOV, U.N. PATRON OF THE POLAR REGIONS: We play on ice, and as you, know the ice melts everywhere, not only on North or South Pole. One doesn't need to be a rocket scientist to see what's going on.

PLEITGEN (on camera): I had the privilege of being allowed to play in the match, on a rink made of ice blocks at this stunning venue.

The initiative is called the last game, which plays hockey in places endangered by global warming around the world, endorsed by the U.N., and even blessed by Pope Francis.

Of course, the reason for this game is very serious. The warmer our earth gets, the less space there is for games like ice hockey and other winter sports, as well.

Lake Baikal is one of those endangered areas. It's gigantic, holding more freshwater than all of America's great lakes combined. A fifth of the world's unfrozen reserves.

But there are a lot of unresolved problems here from unregulated tourism to harmful industries. The Russian government also recently relaxed regulations protecting the lake.

And Russia is one of the countries hardest hit by global warming. Record temperatures for several years have led to a massive melt of its permafrost, leading to giant sinkholes and releasing even more greenhouse gases, as well as massive wildfires that further increase the world's temperature.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the catastrophe which no vaccine could be found for.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): And while hockey won't save the world's climate, at least the organizers hope it will cause some to take action to try and preserve the natural playing fields of the game that so many love so much.

(on camera): So it's not only important, John, for the folks who love hockey, who love playing hockey to show that climate change is very real, and global warming certainly is very real, here, in Siberia.

And it really is one of those hotspots in the battle against global warming. And we saw some of that in the report. You see some of the wildfires that have been going on, which are absolutely gigantic in size.

On top of that, you have massive flooding in a lot of the areas here in Siberia, really especially during the spring and summer months. And one of the things that's being projected for Russia and for the Siberian region. Also for the arctic regions, as well, is that there's going to be more record summers on the way which, of course, means more ice melt and more acceleration of global warming, which is a huge topic, not just down here in Lake Baikal, but of course, around the world -- John.

VAUSE: Fred, thank you so much.

Not often you get a live shot from Siberia. It's good to see you. Thank you.

Well, we're now hearing from Prince William for the first time since his brother, Prince Harry, and sister in law, Meghan, sent shockwaves around the world with their stunning interview with Oprah Winfrey.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, have you spoken to your brother since the interview?

PRINCE WILLIAM, UNITED KINGDOM: No, I haven't spoken to him yet, but I will do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you just let me know, is the royal family a racist family, sir?

PRINCE WILLIAM: We're very much not a racist family.


VAUSE: During the interview, Meghan claimed a senior royal had made a racist comment about her son while she was pregnant. And as the U.K. deals with the fallout from this interview, many black Britons now feeling hurt and isolated. The type of abuse Meghan talked about sending all too familiar.

CNN Salma Abdelaziz takes a closer look.



SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the moment that gave hope to black Britain.

KAREN GIBSON, SINGER: It felt like everything had changed in what was a two-hour service?

ABDELAZIZ: Karen Gibson was one of the stars of the royal wedding. Her choir's moving performance showed Britain's diversity. That day, her heart was full of joy for the couple. But after watching their interview with Oprah, she shares their pain.

GIBSON: I think my reaction was, still, are we here still? In 2021?

ABDELAZIZ: Meghan accused some in the British press of racism in their coverage of her. Karen and others believe this is true.

PIERS MORGAN, FORMER CO-PRESENTER, ITV'S "GOOD MORNING BRITAIN": This is exactly the thing you accuse me of doing. If you have something to say about the interview.

ABDELAZIZ: Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, whose heated exchange with TV host Piers Morgan went viral after he questioned Meghan's truthfulness, says the lack of diversity in the media has created mistrust.

SHOLA MOS-SHOGBAMIMU, AUTHOR, "THIS IS WHY I RESIST": I cannot waste my energy on those who are still on the ABC's, one, two, threes, do re mis, of racism. If the media is going to change your words, change the tone of your words, how are you going to trust them with your most valuable asset, which is your voice?

ABDELAZIZ: Away from the overwhelmingly white institution, the British press, Zeze Millz has carved out her own space.

ZEZE MILLZ, CULTURAL COMMENTATOR: Welcome back to the Zeze Mills show.

ABDELAZIZ: Her weekly Instagram show speaks to an audience of nearly 120,000 on cultural and political issues.


MILLZ: Our voices are going to be heard now, and if it's uncomfortable for you, then tough luck.

ABDELAZIZ: Meghan's comments on her palace experience resonate on Britain's streets.

MILLZ: They always kind of gaslight you and come up with another reason as to why it might not be racism. Or maybe they just don't like her, or maybe it was nothing to do with that.

ABDELAZIZ: But exposing systemic inequality is only step one.

MILLZ: The racism is too deep, you know? It is too deep for one person to come in and almost change all of that. But I think that this interview has -- will spark a lot of change.

ABDELAZIZ: Buckingham Palace said in a statement that "The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning."

But for the U.K.'s black community, Markle's account is yet more confirmation that institutional racism still exists. Now the country needs to find a way forward.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


VAUSE: We have this programming note. Coming up next week, CNN is partnering with young people worldwide for a student-led day of action against modern-day slavery. This year, we're asking young people out there to make a pledge to take specific actions to help and slavery.

Please join CNN on March 16 for My Freedom Day. Sign the pledge, nominate your friends to do the same. Share your pledge on social media, on CNN #MyFreedomDay.

When we come back, Broadway frozen in time. A year since New York theaters have shut down, and it's not clear when they'll reopen. Up next, CNN's quest to find out more.


VAUSE: It could be a while before most people are comfortable sitting in a darkened room next to complete changes for hours at a time. Still, theaters around the world, which have been shut down because the pandemic, are all looking towards that day. And that includes the most famous of all theater districts, Broadway.

Here's CNN's Richard Quest.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When they closed the theaters in March of last year, no one really expected it would be shot for so long. But now, as the anniversary passes, with no date in sight for reopening Broadway and all the theaters around 42nd Street, it's as if time has stood still.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Maybe by Easter, maybe by May, maybe by June. Broadway thinks June. Broadway is a very important part of our economy. I get it. It's a lot of jobs. It's a big economic engine, but how can you say that?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: We're going to work with Broadway. We're going to see if there's a way, but health and safety first.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): The phantom of COVID has hit Broadway, maybe the hardest of all of the live venues in America.

[00:40:03] QUEST (voice-over): Coronavirus hit New York early and hit it hard. It halted the spectacular long run of hit shows like "Wicked." And scuppered new productions such as "Moulin Rouge," which recently made its debut hoping to crawl its way into the great American songbook.

All told, an estimated 97,000 jobs are suddenly gone. Philip Birsh, the CEO of "Playbill," says it's created a lost generation of talent on Broadway.

PHILIP BIRSH, CEO AND PRESIDENT, PLAYBILL INC.: There is no one working in these theaters except the maintenance people to keep maintaining them and keeping them ready to reopen. But Broadway is in complete ice.

QUEST (on camera): And how are they surviving?

BIRSH: Some are not. I think that there's probably a whole swath of people who are now leaving New York. They're back in their parents' basements and patiently waiting for Broadway to reopen.

QUEST (voice-over): The pandemic tapped out a Broadway that was booming. Ticket sales have never been higher. Now these theaters are figuring out how to reopen safely.

(on camera): Economically, can you open these theaters, and can you have productions with 30 percent capacity?

BIRSH: It's not possible. Broadway is a very low margin business on many levels. It is very expensive, very labor-intensive, very talented people that have to be paid well. Broadway will open at 100 percent, or it probably will not be able to open at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (SINGING): The sun will come out tomorrow.

QUEST: Annie sings the sun will come out tomorrow, and Philip Birsh says you can bet your bottom dollar that theaters in New York will thrive once again.

BIRSH: Broadway is the heart of New York City, and when Broadway reopens it will send a national and international signal to the world that the pandemic has been beaten.

QUEST (on camera): As the world's lights switch on one jab at a time, Broadway remains dark for some months to come. But eventually, these lights will be switched on, returning Broadway to its proper place as the Great White Way.

Richard Quest, CNN, Broadway, New York.


VAUSE: I love the hat. Thank you, Richard.

One of music's biggest stars is boycotting the Grammy awards this Sunday.




VAUSE: The Weeknd, as he's known, was not nominated this year for anything, even though his hit, "Blinding Light," spent a year on the Billboard top 10 list.

He told "The New York Times" he will not only boycott the Grammys but will no longer submit his work for award consideration. The issue, he says, is with the voting process, which has been criticized for a lack of transparency, alleged bias towards black artists.

Well, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Back at the top of the hour with another edition of CNN NEWSROOM. But in the meantime, stay with us for WORLD SPORT. That starts after the break.