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Brazilians Desperate For Vaccines, Hospitals Running Out Of ICU Beds And Supplies; Cuba And China To Join Up To Develop New Vaccine; U.K. Has Vaccinated Half Its Adult Population, E.U. Faces Supply Shortage; NSW In Australia: Disastrous 100-Year Flooding Event; Marches, Rallies And Vigils In Support Of Asian Americans; Perspective From An Asian American: Sometimes We Feel Like Perpetual Foreigners; Voters Polarized For or Against Netanyahu; E.U. Set to Sanction Myanmar Military Officials for Coup; Erdogan Fires Central Bank Chief, Lira Plunges. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 22, 2021 - 01:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes, live from the CNN Center in Atlanta. Appreciate your company.

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM.

A health system on the verge of collapse. Brazilians grow desperate for medical care and vaccinations as the surge of COVID-19 cases and deaths now becomes a norm.

Americans mourn the victims of the Atlanta spa shootings. I'll speak to a local K-Pop star who tells me many in the Asian American community are living in fear.

And Myanmar set to face a fresh round of sanctions. It is the latest international backlash following the deadly military takeover.

And we begin in Brazil where a growing COVID outbreak is putting further strain on health care systems to the point of near collapse. Intensive care units are maxing out and hospitals are running out of critical supplies.

And soon the country is expected to reach two massive milestones; more than 12 million cases confirmed and at least 300,000 people dead.

Over the past week, Brazil has set daily infection records at least twice, topping 90,000 cases on Wednesday alone.

Intensive care units in nearly every state were at least 80 percent capacity on Sunday, some already over capacity.

The crisis so severe local officials and economists are demanding more action from the federal government. But the president continues to remain defiant as he has throughout this pandemic. On Sunday, celebrating his birthday with supporters and continuing to speak out against restrictions.

A shortage of medical supplies and a slow vaccine rollout has made the crisis even worse in Brazil.

As Matt Rivers shows us, many people have simply nowhere to turn for help.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER (Speaking in Foreign Language):

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's a sense of desperation outside this Rio de Janeiro clinic.

UNKNOWN: (Speaking in Foreign Language)

RIVERS: She didn't get one, says Sylvia Silva Santos (ph), walking out. My 77-year old mom can't get a vaccine.

One of many that showed up that day waiting for vaccines that don't exist.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER (Speaking in Foreign Language):

RIVERS: This woman says this is a disgrace. People waiting all day and night. Who knows if there will be a vaccine tomorrow?

And Brazil's COVID-19 situation has ever been worse. Daily case and death records are the norm. ICUs nationwide are full and health systems are failing.

And despite health officials saying the program has been a success, vaccine deliveries are well behind schedule, months away from making a big impact, experts say.

No supply means no shots today back at the clinic.

So all these 70 plus-year-olds have been told there are no vaccines left in this clinic. The weather app says it feels like it's about 100 degrees outside and yet they're not willing to lead because they are scared that if they do leave and some vaccines show up, they won't be here to get them.

They wait because they're scared of the disease that preys on the elderly.

But in Brazil lately, it's not just the old who are dying.

Maria de Pena da Silva Siqueira (ph) says she wasn't just a daughter, she was a friend. She was everything to me.

Her daughter, Graciani (phonetic) was only 28 when she died last year of COVID. Her four-year son lives with grandma now, her family forever missing a member.

She says they called me that morning and said she was dead then I went into shock. The virus didn't let us say goodbye.

For the last two months, multiple doctors across Brazil have told us they've seen more young people dying of COVID than before.

In Brazil's largest state of Sao Paulo, officials say 60 percent of ICU patients are now between 30 and 50, something Rio de Janeiro doctor, Pedro Arche (ph) is seeing too.

PEDRO ARCHE (PH), DOCTOR (Speaking in Foreign Language)

RIVERS: He says we have patients now in their thirties and their twenties, severe intubated patients. I think maybe the virus has mutated, become a new strain.


There are new COVID variants here but experts say there's no proof yet they're more lethal for the young.

To explain it, epidemiologist point more to scenes like this.

Social gatherings. This one a party from this month ramped up during the new year and carnival holidays, younger people simply exposed more.

In another video given to CNN this weekend, dozens can be seen streaming out of a party broken up by police. And that's just the illegal stuff.

In Rio, bars and restaurants can be open till nine, many taking full advantage.

It is crowded out here and it just doesn't feel like you might expect given that Brazil keeps setting new records for cases and deaths.

(Musician plays)

Where it does feel like that is this cemetery in Rio de Janeiro. Both young and old end up here.

Today it's a funeral for a 52-year-old COVID victim. There's a lot of services lined up this afternoon so the family only gets 15 minutes to mourn.

RIVERS (Voice Over): Matt Rivers, CNN, Rio de Janeiro.


HOLMES: Now here in the United States, Miami Beach is under a state of emergency because of an influx of tourists flouting COVID-19 rules.

I want to show you the scene now just hours ago with officials clearing the streets after an eight o'clock curfew. This is after the curfew.

Authorities are pushing back after massive throngs of spring breakers, many of them without masks, overwhelmed the city.

The situation got so bad Saturday night, police fired pepper balls into what they called out of control crowds. More than 1,000 people have been arrested since early February.

Cuba and China are joining forces to develop a new COVID vaccine. The goal is to combat emerging strains of the coronavirus.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann is in Havana with the details.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Cuban and Chinese governments will collaborate on a new vaccine designed to combat emerging stains of the coronavirus, Cuban scientists announced on Sunday.

This is the first time that we are aware of that these two communist governments have collaborated on a vaccine. t

Cuba currently has five other vaccine candidates in the works. It is the only Latin American country to have vaccine candidates advance to the final stage three trials.

Cuba has not vaccinated widely among its population as of now. But they say that they will produce enough of this island by August and should have the entire population of Cuba vaccinated by the end of the year.

One of those vaccine candidates, Soberana 2, was developed working with the government of Iran and Cuban scientists said over the weekend that starting on Monday, they expect to expand trials of that vaccine, Soberana 2, to 150,000 people in the capital city of Havana.

OPPMANN (On Camera): Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


HOLMES: The U.K. has reported a record number of COVID vaccinations in a single day, at least 840,000 on Saturday alone. Officials say more than half the adult population has now received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Still, they're warning against easing restrictions too soon noting that cases are still rising in other European nations.

In France, parts of the country have imposed new restrictions after a spike in infections. The government says that measures are necessary to ease pressure on intensive care units, some of which are close to capacity.

CNN's Phil Black with more on the outbreaks across Europe.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are two very different pandemic scenarios playing out in Europe at the moment. Here in the U.K., the mass vaccination program continues to roll out at pace with the government announcing it has hit a key milestone. Half the adult population has now received at least one dose, almost 27 million people.

And the government believes that the breadth of that rollout is now being reflected in steadily falling hospital admissions and deaths.

And it says its plan to largely reopen society within a few months remains on track.

So Brits are starting to hope and plan for open pubs and maybe even summer holidays too.

Meanwhile, within the European Union the mood is very different. As a new wave of the virus builds momentum, governments are left to wield the same blunt weapons. Shutting down regions, telling people to stay at home.

France, Italy, Poland have all implemented tougher restrictions, Germany may do so as well.

But for the people living through this, there is the frustration of knowing it didn't necessarily have to be this way because the vaccines are out there.

The E.U. member states have not yet secured enough supply to effectively, quickly beat back the virus.


The frustrations are so great E.U. officials are talking about implementing a ban on vaccine exports to the United Kingdom.

BLACK (On Camera): Phil Black, CNN, Essex, England.


HOLMES: Now Australia's government has declared a natural disaster in parts of New South Wales. Heavy rains continue to batter the region causing what's been described as once in 100-year flooding event in some areas.

Now this is the scene as thousands people were forced to evacuate. Several dams have either reached capacity or are close to it.

Now rescue crews are searching for people who are stranded -- there's one of them. Officials are warning that flash flooding remains a danger.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us with more. And Pedram, we spoke last hour and I'm still getting my head around the rain totals you were telling us about comparatively.

Fill us in on just how extraordinary this is. PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, I've been following Australian weather almost every single day of the year for the last 11 years and I've ever seen anything come close to seeing the persistence, the amount of rainfall and of course, what has played out since Thursday alone.

And we talked about just how much rainfall has come down here -- and we'll touch on that momentarily. But generally speaking, 300 millimeters to about half a meter of rainfall in a widespread area from the north all the way toward the south.

And I tell you what, it is still raining at this hour. The onset pushed it some time Thursday, we think it'll wrap up sometime Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. So very long duration event.

And the meteorological conditions have been prime for an event like this to take place. We've got high pressure offshore, storm system dropping in from the north. Wind will always want to flow from high pressure towards low pressure so we're getting more of a onshore component or a marine influence.

So moisture is plentiful, the storm system itself's got moisture wrapped up in it. So you put it together and there you go.

You have storms that are training and essentially talk about box cars on a train one after another moving over an identical spot. That's what these storms are doing right along the eastern coast there of Australia.

And unfortunately, the amounts have tallied up to exceed 800 millimeters in a few spots.

Look at Sydney. 241 millimeters has come down here in the last 96 hours. This is the wettest time of year but this is several months worth of rainfall for some areas.

For other areas, you take, say, the city of London and compare it to portions of New South Wales where those observations are coming in. 800 plus millimeters compared to London's annual average of just shy of 600 millimeters in a entire year.

So again, speaks to how impressive what is happening here has been.

You'll notice -- here comes the brunt of it.

I wish I could tell you that it was going to improve here in the next 24 hours but models suggest the wettest bands potentially, some of the strongest winds here in store are going to take place across portions of southern New South Wales, around Sydney certainly included. That would be Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night.

And notice the maps light up here with as much as 100 to almost 250 millimeters of additional rainfall. So we could see some observations exceed 1,000 millimeters here over the next several days.

And, again, Michael, here's your forecast into Tuesday. As unsettled as it gets when it comes to just how much rainfall is in store.

The good news is I look beyond Tuesday, Michael, and it looks like from Wednesday through the next seven days all look to bring dry weather a large area of this region.

HOLMES: All right. OK. Yes, right, thank you, Pedram. Just amazing numbers. Pedram Javaheri there.

Now we're going to take a quick break.

When we come back, an outpouring of solidarity across the U.S. as Americans march to protest against anti-Asian hate crimes.

And a community mourns those killed in last week's shooting spree in Georgia.

(Musician plays)



(100 CLUB)

NARRATOR: This is the 100 Club. Our look at companies that are 100 years old or older.

The Scottish Highlands, known for scenic rolling hills and single-malt Scotch whisky.

One the best known is the Mcallan, founded in 1824 by barley farmer and school teacher, Alexander Reid.

The company attributes much of its success to its focus on wood using high-quality, sherry seasoned oak casks.

But for its first 150 years, the Macallan was barely known outside Scotland. In 1980 that all changed when the company started marketing the brand.

The first ads began appearing in the U.K. alongside the crossword in "The Times." The Macallan is now available in nearly 100 countries and in 2018 open a new distillery inspired by its deep roots in the Scottish hills. And dedicated to promoting sustainability into the next hundred years.



ANGELA EUNSUNG KIM, ATTENDED NEW YORK RALLY: And I want people to finally hear us, for us, not only when we're trending.

TIFFANY WETHERELL, ATTENDED NEW YORK RALLY: I want everyone to know we're not your token Asian, we're not your Asian friends, we're everywhere. And it's our turn to be heard. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Americans taking part in solidarity. Marches, rallies and vigils across the country showing their support for the Asian community after the deadly spa shootings in the state of Georgia.

Demonstrators chanting "Stop Asian Hate" marching in New York. And hundreds gathered here in Atlanta to honor the victims and condemn violence against Asian Americans.

A gunman, of course, targeted three Atlanta area spas last week killing eight people, six of whom are Asian women.

Now members of the suspected killer's church prayed for the victims of the shooting spree.


VOICE OF LUKE FOLSOM, ASSOCIATE PASTOR, CRABAPPLE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH: We're going to grieve, we're going to lament, we are going to be with all those affected by the heinous crime as they deal with unimaginable pain and sorrow.

These were eight individuals credit in the image of God whose lives were taken by a inexcusable act of murder.

In just a moment we are going to say the names of the victims and have a moment of silence to honor them, to mourn for them and to pray for their families and loved ones.


HOLMES: And several Korean Church congregations gathered outside one of those spas in Atlanta on Sunday, holding a Korean language service in honor of those killed.

CNN's Natasha Chen spoke to the family of one of the victims.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Xiaojie Tan's family says she was living the American dream.

After moving to the U.S., Xiaojie, whom friends and clients called Emily started as a nail technician before working her way up to buy two spas outside of Atlanta.

Beloved by her family, customers and neighboring business owners, Tan was killed just two days before her 50th birthday.


JAMI WEBB, XIAOJIE TAN'S DAUGHTER: I was just planning to get a cake and have a big dinner after work.

CHEN: Her only child, Jami Webb, had plans to meet up with her mom last Sunday but she overslept. She would never have the opportunity to see her mother again.

JAMI WEBB: When I thought that I had all of this time with her -- I mean, just because I missed that Sunday meeting with my mom, I thought we can always meet like any Sunday, any other day, just like before.

CHEN: Instead, two days later, Webb spent six hours in a hospital room as news of a shooting at Youngs Asian Massage, her mother's business, dominated the headlines.

JAMI WEBB: I was just hoping that it was not my mom, it was not my mom.

CHEN: But by the end of the night, her mother was one of eight people killed at three different spas in the Metro Atlanta area.

Webb says the extended family is still in China and no one has had the heart to tell Webb's grandmother.

WEBB: They were celebrating the birthday and my grandmother was the only one who doesn't know my mom, that she passed away.

MICHAEL WEBB, XIAOJIE TAN'S EX-HUSBAND: Our lives are changed forever.


MICHAEL WEBB: And it's not fair.

CHEN: Tan's ex-husband, Michael Webb, said Tan was perpetually determined, saving money so carefully, with the exception of searching occasionally on an expensive handbag.

A woman who rode on the back of a bicycle after her water broke to get to a hospital in the middle of the night to have her baby girl.

Webb said Tan often worked seven days a week and talked about retiring and traveling the world.

MICHAEL WEBB: And she'll never get to enjoy that. She just worked to die.

CHEN: He says Tan was always vigilant about protecting her business and employees from certain kinds of customers.

MICHAEL WEBB: She used to tell me a lot of times she would throw customers out because they would come in and think that they could have sex. And she would - she said get out of my business and she'd throw them out.

She was a strong mother hen over that business and the people that worked there. She protected it.

CHEN: And now the community, especially Asian Americans, are holding vigil at its front door.

The fact that six of the eight victims were Asian women, the fact that these businesses were owned by Asian people is hard to ignore.

Jami Webb says she understands the Asian American community's overall anxiety over the rise of anti-Asian assault but this family is not ready to connect that with Tuesday's killing right now.

MICHAEL WEBB: I don't think we're trying to say that there's not racial bias in this country, there certainly is. And it doesn't seem to be getting a lot better. That's not our issue right now.

We don't know what motivated this at this point. Time will tell. We just know how we feel. And we know what we lost.

CHEN (Voice Over): Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.


HOLMES: Eric Nam, a Korean American singer-songwriter and K-Pop star from Atlanta wrote an opinion piece for

I just want to read part of it. He said:

"Let's be very clear. We have always been pleading for your help, perhaps more than ever over the past year. You did not listen, you did not hear us. Please hear us now because being silent now is being complicit."

And Eric Nam joins me now from Los Angeles. And thanks for doing so.

So now there's this big conversation in the U.S. about violence and racism directed at Asians. But as you said, it's been a long time coming, hasn't it? There had been plenty of warning signs.

ERIC NAM, KOREAN-AMERICAN SINGER-SONGWRITER, K-POP STAR & ENTREPRENEUR, ATLANTA: Yes, absolutely. I think, if anything, over the past year we have been the loudest we have ever been. We have been asking for allies to stand with us and to fight with us.

And unfortunately, all the warning signs they kind of went unnoticed, they kind of landed on deaf ears. And it's taken such an incredibly tragic and horrific event for this to really hit international and national news in a really targeted way.

And so it's really heartbreaking, and I wish this could have been done in better situations. But this is where we are right now.

HOLMES: You were born and raised here in Atlanta where those brutal murders happened so that literally hits close to home for you.

Have you personally encountered the sorts of things that are now being discussed?

NAM: Yes.


NAM: I was born and raised in Atlanta and I think that myself and a lot of Asian American AAPI, members of the community across the nation have probably witnessed and experienced a lot of the hate that we are seeing, that is being brought to the forefront of the conversation right now.

I think it comes from a place of ignorance and it comes from a lack of education and a lack of discourse.

But, absolutely, myself as I alluded to in my op-ed piece, there are so many moments where I felt targeted or discriminated against or things that can also very casually racist words.

Is this racist, I think it is but I'm not quite sure how to identify it. We've never really had that conversation.

HOLMES: The article -- I've urged people to read it on You wrote very forcefully -- I'll just read one line. You said, "As AAPIs we have been excluded, interned, vilified, emasculated, fetishized, and murdered."

And then you spoke about Asian Americans feeling like perpetual foreigners. I found that sad. But interesting to explain that, and how it manifests in day to day life.

NAM: Yes. I think the American -- the United States has a very incredible history but also a very dark history.

And a large part of the Asian American experience has had a lot of points and moments of that darkness that we've kind of swept under the rug, that we haven't properly addressed.

I think from the Chinese Exclusion Act to the Japanese American Internment, there are so just many moments of history that we can point to and discuss.

But in the sense of the perpetual foreigner, I think it can be as casual as like where are you from, where are you really from? For me, it's always Atlanta. But it's as if I'm not from there.

And I've also had -- this is still a very common question. Why is your English so good, where did you learn English? These types of things are -- English is my first language. But in many ways, it makes me feel as if -- do I not belong here, why am I here? And how do I identify?

And I think this is something that so many of us in the community have dealt with our entire lives.

And I think that's why so much of this racism can also be very casual and it can kind of sneak up on us in so many ways.

HOLMES: Yes. My former co-anchor Amara Walker is a Korean American and she has spoke of exactly those sorts of things that you've just spoken about.

You work in Korea as well -- around the world, you're pretty big in the K-pop world. What's been the reaction in Asia to what's been happening to Asians in America?

NAM: Yes. Honestly, I'm not there at the moment so it's hard for me to really get a pulse of what people are feeling, what the sentiment is.

What I do think is the general kind of consensus, what a lot of people are feeling, is fear. And a hesitancy to think of America in the most positive way, for obvious reasons.

I think when people say I'm going to go study in the States or I'm going to go visit the States, for years, it's kind of been this thing of are you sure? It's a little unsafe, I hope you have a safe trip or do you have to go?

And I think this kind of -- these incidents are really rekindling and adding fuel to the fire in terms of that sentiment. Which is I think is very, very unfortunate.

Considering that I believe and I truly love this country, United States of America, and so much of what it has offered to the world and the beauty of what the United States of America is. And to see it shown in that light has been really, really disheartening.

HOLMES: It's a powerful message. It is sad that you have to deliver it. But a powerful one and well made in that op-ed.

Eric Nam, a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you so much.

NAM: Thank you for having me.

HOLMES: Now on Monday, CNN brings you a one-hour special, Amara Walker, Victor Blackwell and Ana Cabrera Anderson Cooper will be looking at what is a disturbing trend. Violent acts against people of color.

"Afraid: Fears in America's Communities of Color" airs Monday 9:00 p.m. Eastern, that's 9:00 a.m. Tuesday in Hong Kong.

Still to come here on the program. Facing a fourth election in just two years, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu doing whatever he can to win support in yet another tight race where every vote will be crucial.

And as protesters return to the streets in Myanmar, the European Union ready to take action against those responsible for the military coup.

We'll be right back.



HOLMES: Welcome back.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looking to appeal to Israel's Arab minority in the country's next election on Tuesday. Yes, another one. He told an interviewer on Sunday that he will bring direct flights for Israel's Muslim pilgrims to Tel Aviv from Mecca. It is a strategic shift for the latest tight race that he is facing.

Hadas Gold reports.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Benjamin Netanyahu has been crisscrossing the country ahead of Israel's fourth election in just under two years, hammering the message that he's the one that turned the start-up nation into the vaccination nation, and brought historic peace agreements with Arab countries.

With his corruption trial now underway, Netanyahu is desperate to win enough seats in Tuesday's election to remain in power.

On the ground, this election is almost entirely staked on whether voters are for Netanyahu or against him.

Yair Lapid, a smooth talking former television anchor, sits out in front among the anti-Bibi bloc. His centrist Yesh Atid Party looked set for a strong showing. The approach is low-key, refusing to rise to Netanyahu's provocations until finally issuing a challenge to a TV duel.

YAIR LAPID, OPPOSITION LEADER: You said I was your opponent, so come and face me. You asked, "Where is Lapid?" Here I am.

GOLD: Out on the streets, it's hard to miss those who want the leader gone.

(on camera): The anti Netanyahu camp, up and down the country, is passionate, dedicated, and loud, having weekly protests here in Jerusalem against the prime minister. But it's not clear if the energy will translate into the actual numbers that they need to form a cohesive opposition that could unseat Netanyahu

(voice over): The big challenge for the opposition is stitching together left and right.


GOLD: One of Netanyahu's former cabinet ministers Gideon Sa'ar, broke off to form a party called New Hope, claiming he is the true bastion of the Israeli right. But Sa'ar's support has ebbed after a strong start.

Then there's Neftali Bennett, another former Netanyahu lieutenant whose Yamina Party may end up holding the keys to Netanyahu's future. Their seats could help put Netanyahu over the 61 seat majority he needs to hold on to power. Or, by joining the opposition, they could be the ones to sink him.

Despite the many challengers, protests, a corruption case in which he has pled not guilty, not to mention his 4th election campaign in almost two years, Netanyahu presses on.

One of his most loyal aides, explains it like this.

TZACHI HANEGBI, MEMBER OF KNESSET: The knowledge that you need to learn from your own mistakes in order to get better. And the feeling, the inner feeling, that you are there because God sent you to save the people of Israel and to lead them in troubled times. I think this gives him the power, and the support of the people.

GOLD: Hadas Gold, CNN -- Jerusalem.


HOLMES: The European Union will soon approve sanctions on military officials in Myanmar in response to last month's coup and the ensuing crackdown against protesters.

Demonstrators have remained defiant despite the security forces' ruthless violence. Activists are planning more protests including a call for vehicle convoys through intersections. There were predawn marches, and candlelight protests over the weekend.

Paula Hancocks is in Seoul with the latest on all of this. Let's start with the E.U. actions. What is planned, frankly, whether they're likely to make a difference.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Michael, what we are expecting to hear today is the approval, as you say, of the set of sanctions that the E.U. is working through. The E.U. block agreed, last, month that they would go to target individual generals. They were going to target the business interests of the military.

So what we are expecting today, this Monday, is that that will be approved. It will go through to the foreign ministers. They will then be able to approve, or amend, if they believe that there are other entities, and individuals, that need to be targeted.

This is something that the U.S. has already done. They have targeted individuals, and also there's two in particular, two big conglomerates in Myanmar that are military run. And of course, the profits go straight back to the military.

We have seen the U.K., as well, which has frozen assets, and put travel bans on particular generals, and military personnel.

So this is what the activists from the ground and those dealing with Myanmar have been calling for. They say that international condemnation is all well and good, and they encourage that, but they say actions have to follow as well.

And the sanctions they have been calling for are particularly targeted sanctions. To try and stop funds from getting to the military so they can stop buying weapons, effectively and bringing more arsenal into the country as well. So, this is another step in that process. Whether it has an immediate impact, I think it's very unlikely, we know that this is a military junta that dealt with sanctions for decades when they were in control of the country last and they managed to survive.

But, of course, the hope, is for many, especially within the U.N. as well, is that this will start to restrict the amount of funds, and weapons, that they have, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. The protests do continue, bravely. But, these reports are pretty disturbing ones. The military, actually forcing civilians to dismantle checkpoints, and so on.

HANCOCKS: Yes, this is something we've been hearing about in recent days. It is something that people on the ground have been telling us about that the military, in some cases, has actually been forcing people out of their cars on the roads at gunpoint.

And then making them clear away some of the barricades that protesters have put up in the streets. We've seen a number of disturbing videos of dehumanizing these, these particularly -- not necessarily protesters, just the general public -- civilians, forcing them to work with the military, in order to be able to clear roadblocks or to do other menial tasks for the military themselves.

Now, there have been parallels drawn between this and what the military is known and has been condemned for doing in the ethnic areas which is sometimes using civilians as human shields. Whether they go into a certain area, they have the -- we hear reports of them making the civilians go ahead of them even in minefields.

So this is certainly a -- a worrying trend we are seeing here, Michael.


HOLMES: Horrific. Paula, thank you. Paula Hancocks in Seoul.

The espionage trial of a former Canadian diplomat is playing out right now in China. But, the whole process is under the cover of darkness.

Just ahead, we'll have a live report for you on the case of Michael Kovrig.


HOLMES: U.S. diplomats have been denied access to the trial of a Canadian man charged with espionage in China. Chinese officials allege that starting in 2017, former Canadian diplomat, Michael Kovrig, stole sensitive information and intelligence in China. The trial for the second Canadian involved, Michael Spader, began and ended Friday. All of, it under a shroud of secrecy.

CNN correspondent Selina Wang, joins me now from Tokyo. So, what is the latest on the court process? And let's be frank, it is far from transparent. Quite the opposite. SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael, absolutely.

China has one of the most opaque legal systems in the world. These two Canadians, been detained in China for more than two years. And China has yet to disclose evidence against these two men, or detail, given the information detailing these alleged crimes.

Now, diplomats, for more than 2 dozen countries, have been denied access to these trials. Michael's divorce trial happened on Friday, lasted just two hours, and no verdict has been issued yet.

Though, it is important to note, Chinese courts have a conviction rate of around 99 percent. Now, as we have Kovrig's trial now underway, and you can see in this video there are diplomats from more than 26 countries calling for these two Canadians to be freed.

And Canadian official, Jim Nickel (ph), was standing outside and saying that by denying access, China is breaching international treaty obligations. Take a listen here.



JIM NICKEL, CANADIAN EMBASSY DEPUTY HEAD OF MISSION: We have -- we've requested access to Michael Kovrig's hearing repeatedly, but that access is being denied.

As you know, Michael Kovrig has been detained for more than two years now. He has been arbitrarily detained, and now, we see that the core process itself is not transparent. We are very troubled by this.


WANG: Both U.S. and Canadian officials have, repeatedly, called for these two Canadians to be released, calling it both political and arbitrary, Accusing China of holding these Canadians as a bargaining chip so that Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou will be released.

She had been arrested in Canada at the request of the U.S. for fraud charges related to alleged violations of U.S. sanctions in Iran, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes I guess the question is, you know, in this sort of situation, what can Canada do about? I mean even if these two men are falsely charged, put in trial, sent to jail, what can Canada do about it?

WANG: Well, Michael, this is a massive political nightmare for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Canada is in a very sticky situation and he's being criticized on all sides. There are opposition lawmakers who say that he should be taking a harsher stance on China.

There are other high profile Canadians who say that he should release Meng Wenzhou in hopes that China will then release those two Canadians. But he has pushed back on those to requests. He has said he is not going to consider trading Meng Wanzhou those two Canadians

And many experts say that the solution here really rests on the U.S., and that the fate of these two Canadians really depend on diplomatic discussions between the U.S. and China, as well as the outcome of Meng's case so there is not much Canada can really do at this moment, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. Amazing. Selina, thank you. Selina Wang in Tokyo there for us.

Turkey's president has sacked the central bank chief and that was not good news for the Turkish Lira. How the markets are responding when we come back.



HOLMES: All right. We'll see if Wall Street can shrug off the lingering concerns over inflation and bond yields which have kept the market on edge in recent days. The U.S. futures pretty mixed at the moment. You can see the Dow futures down 0.13 of a percentage point. Nasdaq's up about half a percentage point. And the S&P, let's call that even.

And let's have a look at the Asia region now. Mostly 50/50. Hang Seng about even, Seoul Kospi up a quarter of a percent. And a big dip there for the Nikkei.

All right. The Turkish lira plunged more than 17 percent on Monday after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired the country's Central Bank chief.

Let's talk more about this with John Defterios who is in Abu Dhabi for us. You know, President Erdogan doesn't seem to want to let the central bank have independence and the markets don't like that very much. So what next?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, it's pretty extraordinary Michael because less than a month ago President Erdogan went to the Turkish public and said I have two priorities here.

One is to stabilize the lira and kind of revive it and to crush inflation and I will give central bank independence for that to happen. That did not last very long.

Naci Aqbal, was the Central Bank governor who had raised interest rates twice, and they got up to 19 percent but that was to tackle inflation that spiked up to 14 percent in February.

President Erdogan's rather unconventional when it comes to interest rate policy. He thinks that the interest rates should be low to fight inflation. And this goes against economic logic.

And now he's put a central bank governor that is doing the same. If you take a look at the quote (INAUDIBLE) it's a little bit misleading because we've had up to a 17 percent fall but the currency was trading over the weekend. You can see it's down about 1.13 percent.

There is great concern that this currency will test its all-time low of 8.58 this has been a ongoing story, Michael. Because President Erdogan had his son-in-law as finance minister Barak Albayrak -- they spent $130 billion dollars over two years before he left office or was pushed out by his father in law.

And that was to defend the Turkish leader and it did not work. Some more of the same. And now a huge question mark and wondering if it will goes to capital controls as a result.

HOLMES: Yes, pretty find. So Saudi Aramco -- is of course the world's largest oil company, I was reading. They put out their earnings over the weekend. They were higher than expected, but boy a huge loss. I mean what's the view going forward?

DEFTERIOS: Let's take a look at those numbers that you're talking, Michael. It's not bad when a company makes $39 billion, right but the fall here was about 44 percent over the year before or $87 billion dollars.

It was a perfect storm for the energy market, and this is what Amin Nasser the CEO told us during in a small briefing call yesterday when the earnings were out. You couldn't have a worse year because the pandemic undermined demand by up to 20 percent.

The OPEC+ had to cut production which hurt Saudi Arabia exports in terms of volumes. But he sounded a positive note suggesting that he has seen in Far East Asia in particular, and China that demand is almost back up to pre- pandemic levels.

He even suggested by the end of 2021 with the distribution of the vaccines that we are seeing, although there are fits and starts in Europe that we see. But he thinks that the demand will be back up to 9.9 million barrels per day where we were in the fourth quarter of 2019. And this is despite the fact --- the other big challenge for Aramco. It's been the attack on its by Houthi rebels, we had another one on Friday on a Riyadh refinery so constant attacks in the west and.

And so the center of the country and also in the Eastern province where the oil facilities, large ones. But he says the reliability still has remained at, get this, 99.9 percent. They're getting very good at defending themselves although the pressure is in fact intense.


HOLMES: It certainly is.

John, good to see you. John Defterios there in Abu Dhabi for us.


HOLMES: Now Buckingham Palace admits the royal family needs to do more to address diversity. And a source tells CNN a diversity chief is a possibility. This comes weeks after Harry and Meghan's interview with Oprah Winfrey when they claimed at least one member of the royal family had made racist remarks.

CNN's Anna Stewart reports from London.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Days after Oprah Winfrey's interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, the queen released a statement saying the royal family were concerned by the issues raised, but they wanted to deal with it privately as a family.

Of course though, there's much more to the royal family than just family members. There's a whole institution around it. And while we have not had confirmation that a diversity chief will be appointed we did get this statement from a royal source saying "Diversity is an issue which is being taken very seriously across the Royal Households. We have the policies, the procedures and programs in place, but we haven't seen the progress that we would like in terms of representation and more needs to be done. We can always improve."

A clear acknowledgment there that's going to be welcomed by all those who found the issues raised by that interview concerning.

Also the statement really highlights the complexity of the royal family. Yes, there's the family at the top of it. There is also the institution. The hundreds of employees that work for them. And for people like Prince Harry and Meghan who are working members of the royal family, they really fit into both categories. And yet, they felt unsupported by both.

Anna Stewart, CNN -- outside Buckingham Palace in London.


HOLMES: I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for spending part of your day with me. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @HolmesCNN.

Robyn Curnow takes it over from here. Thanks for being with us.