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Miami Beach Under State of Emergency; Crisis at the Southern Border with Thousands of Child Immigrants; Secretary of State Blinken Meets with NATO in Brussels; Rallies Held Denouncing Anti-Asian Hate Crimes; Rally in Bristol Turns Violent; Voters Polarized For or Against Netanyahu; Natural Disaster Declared in Parts of Australia Amid Flooding; Rise in Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans After Pandemic. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 22, 2021 - 02:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST (on camera): Hi, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Thank you so much for joining me. I am Robyn Curnow. So just ahead on CNN -


Out of control. People on spring break, pack Miami Beach, Florida, forcing the city into a state of emergency.

A historic surge in America's border with Mexico, thousands of children are in U.S. custody, alone, without their parents.

Also, a show of solidarity. New Yorkers come out in force supporting the Asian-American community after the horrific mass shooting in Atlanta.

Here in the U.S., progress in the fight against coronavirus is being threatened by people disregarding guidance from medical experts. Millions of people passed through airports in recent days, setting pandemic era records. That is despite a CDC recommendation that Americans avoid travel.

And the fear of catching coronavirus seems to be lost on massive crowds packing Miami Beach, Florida. Take a look at these images. Officials there are now extending the curfew that went into effect over the weekend after police say that they were overwhelmed by spring break crowds.

And travel is certainly being a big problem in the U.S. throughout this pandemic mainly around the holidays. Health experts begging people to avoid it. Meanwhile, some Americans pay no mind as Paul Vercammen now reports from Los Angeles. Paul?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At American airports, the motto seems to be, pandemic? What pandemic? One million passengers passed through TSA in the USA for the 10th straight day. This pair travelled to warm gulf coast beaches from the chilly Land of 10,000 Lakes.

MARTHA ROBERTS, MINNESOTA RESIDENT: We were pretty cautious when we were flying, and we are staying in a cute little Airbnb by ourselves. We've been really careful like on the beaches and stuff.

HALLE RITTGERS, MINNESOTA RESIDENT: Yes. We ended up double masking on the plane and stuff and try not to like touch too much. We brought our hands sanitizer and everything.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Health officials worry about Americans getting complacent in the fight against COVID-19. The city of Miami Beach has declared a state of emergency as police try to control large spring break crowds.

RICHARD CLEMENTS, MIAMI BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT: Quite frankly, I'm concerned that the behavior is getting -- it's getting a little bit more for us to be able to handle.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): The city imposed a curfew, but it seems no rest for the sleepless and clueless.

UNKNOWN: Forget that curfew. We're all here. We're out here, no sleep.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Crowds have played a part in the spread of COVID-19 and the subsequent deaths. And so did politics. That's from the former head of Operation Warp Speed.

MONCEF SLAOUI, FORMER CHIEF SCIENTIFIC ADVISER, OPERATION WARP SPEED: Many people probably have died or suffered because the whole situation became so political that, you know, emotions overtook rationality. I do believe that it's a mistake to politicize a health issue. It's a big mistake.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Throughout the country, campaigns continue to get shots into the arms of people in underserved communities of color.

FAISAL KHAN, DIRECTOR, ST. LOUIS COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: That poses a special risk for the vulnerable groups, which is why it is absolutely vital that we get more vaccine, so that we can take care of those groups.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Los Angeles ramped up awareness and the number of doses given in poor, black and Latino neighborhoods and the COVID-19 transmission numbers are looking better.

ERIC GARCETTI, MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: COVID makes you never confident, but hope really hangs on the horizon. I haven't felt this optimism in 12 months, Margaret. Here in Los Angeles, we have a positivity rate of 1.9 percent and we estimate that anywhere between half and two-thirds of our population has antibodies in it now. Either because of exposure to COVID-19 and vaccinations.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): The former commissioner of the FDA echoes that sentiment saying it's unlikely that the U.S. will suffer through a fourth wave of the pandemic.

SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER COMMISSIONER OF FDA: So there's enough of a backstop here that I don't think you're going to see a fourth surge.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Paul Vercammen, CNN, Los Angeles.


CURNOW (on camera): And in an effort to prevent another surge, the Biden administration is working to get Americans vaccinated as quickly as possible. A senior White House adviser for COVID response says he is encouraged with the progress.


ANDY SLAVITT, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: When we took office on January 20th, about half the people or so said that they were sure they wanted to get vaccinated.


Two months later, not quite two months later, we've got close to 70 percent of the public now saying that they want to get vaccinated. In large part, that's because people are just looking around them. They are looking around at the public, they're looking around at people they know who've been vaccinated, they are seeing that nobody they know has had a safety issue.

That across over 100 million shots, there only been a handful of even temporary side effects. And then, of course, it's highly, highly effective.


CURNOW (on camera): Well, Slavitt also reiterated that by May there will be enough vaccines for every American. And then in the days ahead, Brazil is expected to reach two staggering COVID milestones. The first, more than 12 million cases confirmed, the second, at least 300,000 people dead.

The growing outbreak is putting further strain on health care systems with intensive care units maxing out, with hospitals running out of supplies. Despite all of that, the president remains defiant.


CURNOW (on camera): On Sunday, he celebrated his birthday with supporters and continue to speak out against restrictions. But, there is some good news. On Sunday, the country received its first million vaccine doses from the COVAX program.

Meantime, in the U.K., the government has reported a record number of COVID vaccinations in a single day there and officials say more than half the adult population has now received at least one dose. Still, they warned against easing restrictions too soon.

And President Joe Biden is facing growing pressure to deal with the migrant surge at the southern border in the U.S. Authorities say thousands have attempted cross in recent weeks and thousands of unaccompanied migrant children are currently in the custody of border agents. President Biden says he does plan to eventually visit the area.


UNKNOWN: Are you thinking of going to the border?


UNKNOWN: Do you want to see firsthand what's going on in those facilities?

BIDEN: I know what's going on in those facilities.

UNKNOWN: Why do you think the message to the migrants telling them to stay home, to don't come now? Why do you think that hasn't resonated yet? What more can be done, sir?

BIDEN: A lot more. We are in the process of doing it now including making sure that we re-establish what existed before, which is they can stay in place and make their case from their own home country. Thank you.

UNKNOWN: And when will you allow the media into those facilities?


CURNOW (on camera): The U.S. Homeland Security secretary insist the border is currently close to migrants, but says the U.S. still would help children in need.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We will not abandon our values and our principles. We will not abandon the needs of vulnerable children. That is what this is all about. One reason why it is as difficult and challenging as it is not just because the Trump administration tore down our systems and we have to rebuild them from scratch, but also because of the fact that we're in the midst of a pandemic. And that makes the operations that much more difficult.


CURNOW (on camera): Well, U.S. officials say that more than 10,000 children are now in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. About 1,500 of those unaccompanied minors are being housed at a convention center in Texas. Here is Priscilla Alvarez with that. PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: The Biden administration is racing

to accommodate the number of children crossing the U.S./Mexico border alone. The convention center behind me has now been turned into an emergency intake site where the administration is trying to transfer children from the border patrol facilities to this site.

Here they will be processed as well as receive medical services and care. We learned from an immigration attorney that the convention center has been outfitted with cots as well as the food hall and a phone bank where children can call family both in the United States and internationally.

All of this, part of an effort by the administration to start to alleviate overcrowding in border patrol facilities and catch up with the soaring (ph) number of children crossing the U.S./Mexico border. In Dallas, Priscilla Alvarez, CNN.

CURNOW: Well, Natasha Lindstaedt is a professor of government at the University of Essex. She joins me now from Colchester, England. Hi, good to see you. So, the Biden administration is reluctant to call the situation at the border a crisis, but does it have the makings of a political crisis especially as Republicans are seeing immigration as a hot button issue and a vulnerability, potentially, for this administration?

NATASHA LINSTAEDT, PROFESSOR OF GOVERNMENT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: Well, it definitely is something of a political crisis for Biden and the Democrats. I mean, the issue of a migrant crisis is something that the right wing media and Republicans have used as a way to gain more supporters.

And with so many thousands of people at the border sort of in limbo, this goes against the Democratic ethos that their party that is focused on being humanitarian. So, Biden isn't someone of a bind here. He is trying to convey the message to these migrants, do not make the trip, do not come.


And, in fact, I think they are trying to push to allow child migrants to seek asylum in their home countries. But, at the same time, there is this perception that the Biden administration is going to be much more lenient and kind to migrants trying to make the journey.

And so we see that migration is hitting a 20-year high. Politically speaking, this is going to make it really difficult for the Democrats to seek any kind of bipartisan support for immigration reform. So, this is an incredibly tricky issue for the Democrats.

CURNOW: You touched on it and we also know that one of the reporters asked President Biden that as he was speaking to them in that clip a little bit earlier, but we're also seeing Democrats in Texas criticizing the administration, particularly on this issue of messaging. The perception that the administration will let in migrants, which really is creating more of a problem. He suggested they're going to do more, they can do more. What can they

do to change the perception and then, of course also, to try and stop this flow?

LINDSTAEDT: I mean, I think this is going to be very, very difficult. I think it's not really a great situation at all for the Democrats because of the way it plays on right-wing media, the way that Republicans will be able to use this topic to really divide up Democrats, and particularly in Texas where there is already some divisions over the issues of defunding the police.

You see, the issue of immigration is a very hot button issue particularly in Texas and some of these states that are affected by migration. I mean, it's very, very difficult to pursue a policy that is going to make everybody happy.

So, I think that what they're trying to do and I think this is why we're getting a lot of criticism, is they are not being particularly transparent about everything that is going on here. And that's because the situation has really blown over to quite a crisis.

CURNOW: Let's also talk though about something else. In the midst of all of this, there is the sheer scale and efficiency of the vaccine rollout. It's stunning in many ways. All adults on track to be vaccinated by early May. How much political credit can this president continue to claim for getting shots into arms and possibly avoiding another wave?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, according to the Biden administration, they are claiming that they deserve almost all of the credit because they claim that when they arrived, there was absolutely no plan in place for the vaccine rollout and that they had to start from scratch.

Now, we hear Trump trying to take credit, in fact, he had recently stated that he deserves 90 percent of the credit because of Operation Warp Speed. But, the Democrats are pushing back and saying that now they are one of the fastest vaccinating countries in the world because of the Biden administration. They are about 33 out of 100 is the pace, and that is in the top 5 in terms of all countries in the world.

And Biden was also able to use FEMA to roll out vaccines -- the FEMA Act to rollout vaccines and he's been using arenas as mass vaccination sites. So, this is an area of success for Biden that I think he's going to attempt to take full credit for. But of course, you're going to hear pushback from Trump.

CURNOW: Is the honeymoon period for this president over especially because all legislation or attempts to legislate going forward will be facing uphill filibuster battles in Congress or does he have a once in a generation opportunity?

I think that's where one expert described it, to bolster the middle class, to lift up folks in ways that previous presidents have not been able to do. Where do you fall on his prospects particularly now that these first two months are over? LINDSTAEDT: I mean, I think there's a real opportunity for Biden

because of this $1.9 trillion COVID bill that is incredibly popular. I mean, according to a recent morning consult of political polls, 75 percent of Americans are actually really pleased with this bill. And once they start to see the effects of it, they're going to give Biden a lot of credit for it.

But in terms of whether or not there is a honeymoon period, what we are seeing is because the U.S. is so incredibly polarized, you have presidents coming in like Biden that don't earn that same level of popularity as presidents had in the past. Like even Jimmy Carter or Lyndon Johnson.

And so he's coming in with a high level of support, much higher compared to Trump, but in nowhere near as high as past presidents, and that's because we are so, so polarized at the moment, that it's difficult to win over some of these Trump supporters.

But that he's trying to do, at least, is win over people who voted for Obama and then voted for Trump. And then trying to help make this vaccine roll, help make the trillion dollar plan, actually build up the middle class more, bring people out of poverty, help ease unemployment rates, and just overall improve the economic situation in the U.S.

CURNOW: Natasha Lindstaedt, great to speak to you. Thanks so much for your opinion and your expertise. Thanks for sharing.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.


CURNOW: So, the Biden administration is certainly making good on its promise to return to being a prominent player on the world stage. The U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is in Brussels right now for a NATO meeting of foreign ministers.

It's a sign that this U.S. administration is determined to rebuild global alliances damaged by former President Trump. Well, our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, joins me now from London with more on this. Nic, hi. Lovely to see you again.

This in many ways should be the easy part, shouldn't it? Meeting with transatlantic partners. But patching things up with allies is not going to be so easy. Is it?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: There are outstanding issues and differences, absolutely. The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany is going to be one issue that would be on the mind of certainly the German foreign minister and Secretary of State Blinken.

You know, when it comes to NATO, the underlying message that Blinken will bring is that the alliance was built on shared values so when they assess the threats of China, of Russia, of cyber threats, of global terrorism, of recovering from the pandemic, it will be sort of talking about commonalities there.

And that's important when it comes to building a position about China because it will be talking about the importance of rule of law. The respect of democracy, and we know that Secretary Blinken comes just 0last week from a testy meeting with Chinese officials where he pointed out China's shortcomings on all those issues.

So, we can see this sort of meeting with NATO foreign ministers in that context, that Blinken will be talking about those shared values and therefore how to deal with countries that transgress from those values, but I think perhaps one of the biggest issues that's going to face them or the most pressing issue is on Afghanistan.

You had U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, in Kabul just yesterday saying that President Biden hasn't yet quite made his final decision on when NATO troops, when U.S. troops and NATO troops would pull out of Afghanistan and the conditions precisely for that.

So, the narrative at the last NATO meeting which was the defense ministers meeting was about we went in together, we'll decide together, we'll leave together. So, I think there will be on the Afghan issue, certainly, a central topic because it's pressing.

Troops were supposed to leave by the 1st of May. That deadline is getting awfully close. What do the NATO allies want to do? What does the U.S. want them to do? So, yes, absolutely, Robyn, lots to talk about and some of it as you say, not easy.

CURNOW: Now, and I think -- how much does China in many ways dominate? As you mention, these tensions with China loudly telegraphed last week by both China and the U.S. of these meetings in Alaska. How much do allies plan to have a role in this containment of China's ambitions while America's strategic plan to try and contain China? How critical are allies on this?

ROBERTSON: They certainly will form a critical part of the United States effort to thwart China or in the areas that it feels that China transgresses the sort of global rules based system. But let's look at what the European Union did. Of course, many NATO members are also members of the European Union.

Right before President Biden came into office they agreed a trade deal with China, and for President Biden, he would have liked to have used European nations as part of his leverage against China and against China's practices in the South China Seas, in Taiwan, in Hong Kong, in Xinjiang.

All of these issues where President Biden sees having allies with a common standing on democracy, on human rights as part of his leverage against China, this will be part of that conversation. But not all NATO allies are going to see it in the same context.

But this is Secretary Blinken's first trip as Secretary of State to Europe and the face to face conversations are important. But it's important also to note that he went to Asia first, that he met with key allies in those tensions with China -- South Korea and Japan first. So that's going to be a lot of the context at NATO as well.

CURNOW: Nic Robertson, thanks so much, live there in London. Thank you, Nic.

So Americans across the U.S. march to protest against anti-Asian hate crime, showing their solidarity as communities mourn those killed in last week's shooting spree here in Georgia. We have that next.



CURNOW (on camera): Several Korean church congregations gather to mourn the victims of the spa shootings in Atlanta last week. A gunman targeted three spas killing eight people, six of whom were Asian women. Those attending the vigil held a Korean language service in honor of the victims. One of the pastor said the shooting rampage was clearly a hate crime.


BYEONG CHEOL HAN, PASTOR, KOREAN CENTRAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: It's awakening moment for Asian-Americans to stand strong, stand up, and raise our voice and participate in social justice movements.


CURNOW (on camera): Meanwhile, Americans are taking part in solidarity marches and rallies across the country, showing their support for the Asian community. Here is Jason Carroll with the details on that. Jason?

JASON CARROLL, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, today, people crowded into a park in downtown Manhattan to draw attention to the issue of violence against Asian-Americans here in New York City.


The NYPD has reported a steep increase in the number of hate crimes against Asian-Americans, and oftentimes they say the true scope of the problem is not quantified simply because they say oftentimes it goes underreported. But today, people are speaking out.


ANGELA EUNSUNG KIM, RALLYIST: I'm Asian and I'm a woman and if I don't stand up for myself, then no one else will. So that's why I'm here. And I want people to finally hear us, for us, not only when we're trending.

TIFFANY WETHERELL, RALLYIST: Yes, I'm feeling the momentum. I'm feel the energy. I want to come out today to support the cause. I want to raise awareness. 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. CARROLL: The consensus from the people that we spoke to is that there

needs to be more of a police presence in the neighborhoods where Asian-Americans live. They say more education and also the hope that more lawmakers will sign on to legislation that addresses hate crimes. Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

CURNOW: Thanks Jason for that. So, protest against a U.K. policing bill turned violent on Sunday. Take a look at this.


CURNOW: Police vehicles were set on fire. Two officers were seriously injured. Demonstrators have gathered outside the police station in Bristol. They were protesting a measure that would give police new powers to limit the noise and duration of street protests. Well, let's go straight to London. Scott McLean is standing by with the latest on that. Hi, Scott. What can you tell us?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Robyn, good morning. These are some pretty scary pictures coming out of Bristol. That's a city in southwest England. This was a protest which police say began in the daylight hours of the afternoon where several hundred people gathered outside of a police station in the downtown of Bristol.

And then at some point, a small minority of this crowd turned a protest into what we saw there, which was rioting. The video that we have is also pretty scary, at least parts of it. You can see people smashing windows of the police station itself. At least two police vehicles were set on fire and at one point in the video that we have, you can see one of those police vans is burning.

Officers are trying to move to others while protesters, some of them actually sit on top of those vehicles, on the windshield. Then one person even looks to be trying to set one of those vehicles on fire while police are trying to move it.

Police say that people threw things at them, even fireworks were thrown at them at one point. Police from neighboring forces even had to be brought in to try to restore order to this area.

Now, as you mention, all of this was seemingly about this bill which right now is being debated in the British Parliament, which critics say would curb the right to protest in the U.K. And so at least during the peaceful protesting part of this, some people held signs that read "Kill the Bill." Others read, "Say No to U.K. Police State."

The condemnation of this was also pretty swift, Robyn. The chairman of the local police force condemned what he called the mob of animals. The Home Secretary responsible for policing in this country, called it unacceptable thuggery and disorder.

CURNOW: Okay. Thanks for that live report there, Scott McLean. Appreciate it.

So coming up on CNN, Israelis prepare to vote again on Tuesday, the fourth time in two years. Its clear deep divisions remain over the political future of Benjamin Netanyahu.



BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ben Wedeman in Rome, and this is CNN.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow. It's 31 minutes past the hour. So Israelis are a day away from voting in the country's fourth election in two years, and it's largely viewed as a referendum on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He is facing opposition from centrists and the right wing. So I want to go straight to Jerusalem. Hadas Gold joins us now with more on all of this. Hi Hadas. It's good to see you. What can you tell us?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Robyn, the world is of course a much different place today than it was a year ago, the last time the Israelis headed to the polls. And while Prime Minister Netanyahu has been criticized for parts of how he has handled the Coronavirus Pandemic, one of the bright spots, of course, is the robust vaccine rollout here in Israel, which has returned to almost a sense of normalcy to the population here.

The question is, of course, whether the voters will see that that is enough to keep Netanyahu in as the longest ever serving Prime Minister.


GOLD (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 startup 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 BB block.

His centrist Yesh Atid Party looks set for a strong showing. The approach is lowkey refusing to rise to Netanyahu provocations until finally issuing a challenge to a TV duel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language)

GOLD (voice over): Out on the streets, it's hard to miss those who want the leader gone. 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 of opposition that could unseat Netanyahu. The big challenge for the opposition is stitching together left and right. One of Netanyahu's former cabinet ministers Gideon Sa'ar broke off to form a party called New Hope, claiming he's the true bastion of the Israeli right.

But Sa'ar's support has ebbed after a strong start. Then there's Naftali Bennett, another former Netanyahu Lieutenant who's 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, protest, a corruption case in which he has pled not guilty, not to mention his fourth 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 have to learn from your own mistakes in order to get better and feeling, the inner feeling that you are there because God sent you to save the people of Israel and lead them in troubled times. I think this gives him the power and the support of the people.



GOLD (on camera): And one of the interesting quirks of course of the Israeli system is tomorrow night after the polls close, Netanyahu may come out with the most number of seats, but it's probably not going to be enough for him to have the majority. So we may find that one of the smaller parties will end up being the kingmaker. Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, we'll watch out for that. Hadas Gold, good to see you there? So just ahead weeks after that explosive interview from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, hear how Buckingham Palace may address the issue of diversity. That's next.


CURNOW: Buckingham Palace admits the royal family needs to do more to address diversity and a royal source tell CNN, a Diversity Chief is a possibility. But of course comes weeks after Prince Harry and Megan's interview with Oprah Winfrey, when they claimed at least one member of the royal family had made racist remarks. While our royal correspondent Max Foster is standing by live in Hampshire, England with more on this Diversity Chief.

What is the source telling CNN? Hi Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting, Hi, Robyn. So we heard Prince William saying, you know saying we are definitely not a racist family. But they have faced these accusations so famously in the interview with Oprah Winfrey, and the racism, certainly that Meghan felt, and it's quite hard to defend as an institution when there isn't, frankly representation across the people within that institution.

I think Buckingham Palace, they said they'd look at this and now this is almost some sort of update. They are accepting that diversity is an issue. They've taken it seriously across all the households. So that includes Prince Charles, Prince William's and the Queens households.

And the source saying we have the policies and procedures and programs in place that, we haven't seen progress would like in terms of representation, and more needs to be done. We can always improve so they say that work was already being done before this interview. They say they did have positions in place and policies in place to try to deal with diversity issues as there clearly is one within the Royal households.


But there just hasn't been the progress there. So as you say, they are looking at potentially having a position that oversees all of this work. I think a lot of people would say, they should have one already. I mean, a lot of organizations, of course, have people in charge of diversity and take it into account in whatever they're doing.

And that isn't the case with Buckingham Palace and the other palaces. So they're saying certainly the idea of someone to spearhead this work and look at diversity and inclusion across the three households is something that has to be considered Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, Max Foster there. Thanks so much for that update. You're watching CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow. For our international viewers, World Sport is next. For everyone else, I'll be right back with more news after the break.



CURNOW: Nearly 18,000 people have been evacuated in Australia because of severe flooding. This was the scene in New South Wales as heavy heavy rains continue to batter the region. Officials have called it a once in a century flooding event. We'll continue to monitor that.

And rescue crews like these are continuing to search for people who are stranded. We know that a state of emergency has been declared in some areas. And U.S. diplomats have been denied access to the trial of a Canadian man charged with espionage in China.

Chinese officials allege that former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig stole sensitive information and intelligence. The trial of a second Canadian man charged in the case began and ended Friday in secrecy. Well, I want to go straight to our Selina Wang. Selina joins us from Tokyo. Hi, what's the latest on this court process? I mean, it's not very transparent, is it?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Robyn, absolutely. China has one of the most opaque legal systems in the world. These two Canadians have been detained for more than two years in China. And Chinese officials have yet to disclose any evidence against these two men. These trials, as you say are happening - happening behind closed doors.

They're happening in secrecy for the trial on Friday of one of the Canadian people being detained that no one was allowed. These diplomats were not allowed into the trial. And no verdict has been issued yet. And this was only a two hour trial, by the way. But important to note here that Chinese courts have a conviction rate of about 99 percent.

And we have video here showing that for this trial happening today for Kovrig, there are diplomats from 26 countries standing outside because they've been denied access. And they are asking for these two Canadians to be freed. Now a Canadian official, Jim Nickel he was standing outside today and he said that by denying access, China is breaching international treaty obligations. Take a listen here.


JIM NICKEL, DEPUTY HEAD OF MISSION, CANADIAN EMBASSY: We've made - we've requested access to Michael Kovrig's hearing repeated - repeatedly, but that access has being denied. As you know, Michael Kovrig has been detained for more than two years now. He's been arbitrarily detained. And now we see that the court process itself is not transparent.

We're very troubled by this.


WANG: Robyn, both the U.S. and Canada have repeatedly called for their release. They've accused China of holding these Canadians as a bargaining chip for Meng Wanzhou to be released where she is currently in Canada. She is fighting extradition to the U.S. where she is wanted for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Now, as we discuss these trials, it is important for us to consider the different situations that these two Michaels and Meng Wanzhou. Now contacts and family members of the two Michaels say that they have been held in detention in poor conditions.

They have been denied outside contacts. CNN had spoken to a former Canadian diplomat in 2019, who said that Spavor was being held in a detention facility sharing a cell with up to 18 other prisoners. Meanwhile, Meng Wanzhou in Canada is living in one of her mansions. Robyn.

CURNOW: Selina Wang there in Tokyo, thanks for that update. And Americans are taking part in rallies across the country, many chanting stop Asian hate after those deadly spa shootings here in Georgia. Hundreds gathered in Atlanta to honor the victims and condemn violence against Asian Americans.

A gunman targeted three Atlanta area spas last week killing eight people, six of whom were Asian woman. Well, Natasha Chen spoke to the family of one of the victims.


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 (voice over): 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.

WEBB: When I thought that I have all 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 (voice over): Instead, two days later, Webb spent six hours in a hospital waiting room as news of a shooting at Young's Asian massage, her mother's business dominated the headlines.

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

CHEN (voice over): But by the end of the night, her mother was one of eight people killed at three different spots 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 FORMER HUSBAND: Our lives are changed forever and it's not fair.

CHEN (voice over): Tan's ex-husband Michael Webb says Tan was perpetually determined, saving money so carefully, with the exception of splurging occasionally on an expensive handbag. A woman who wrote 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.

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

CHEN (voice over): He said Tan was always vigilant about protecting her business and employees from certain kinds of customers.

M. 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 say get out my business, you know, and she would throw them out. She was a strong mother hen over that business and the people that work there, she protected it.

CHEN (voice over): 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 communities' overall anxiety over the rise of anti-Asian assaults. But this family is not ready to connect that with Tuesday's killings right now.

M. WEBB: I don't think we're trying to say that, 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.


CURNOW: And although authorities are still not calling the shootings, a hate crime, Senator Raphael, Warnock of Georgia, excuse me had this to say.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): I know that look, law enforcement will go through the work that they need to do, but we all know hate when we see it and it is tragic that we've been visited with this kind of violence yet again, and I'm going to be doing everything in my power as a United States Senator, to make sure that families don't have to endure this kind of violence in the first place.


CURNOW: Well, hate crimes against Asians have certainly spiked in the United States jumping almost 150 percent last year in 16 of America's largest cities. That's from the center of the study of hate and extremism at California State University. Well, Randi Kaye now takes a look at some of the hate crimes against Asian Americans around the U.S. since coronavirus began.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In San Francisco last month on the edge of Chinatown a 67 year old Asian man is suddenly ambushed at a laundromat. Surveillance video shows the terrifying moments as he's dragged to the ground. The attack comes just after police increased patrols in the area following attacks in Oakland Chinatown.

Oakland's Chinatown is where this 91 year old Asian man was shoved to the ground. Watch as his attacker rushes him from behind. Police quickly identified the male suspect who was involved in two other assaults on elderly people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have charged him with three counts of assault. KAYE: In New York, this Filipino American believes he was targeted

because of his race. His attackers slashing him across the face with a box cutter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He slashed me from cheek the cheek.

KAYE: It all happened on the New York City subway during the morning rush. Early in the Pandemic, this Asian man was also harassed on the New York subway, and when he didn't move, the suspect sprayed him in the face with Febreeze. In San Francisco, this 84 year old Thai immigrant died after he was pushed to the ground in January.

He was simply out on his morning walk when an unprovoked attacker charged him from across the street.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He never wake up again. I never see him again.

KAYE: A 19 year old is now charged in his death with murder and elder abuse. In Los Angeles, 27 year old Denny Kim says he was randomly punched in the face by two strangers.

DENNY KIM: Two assailants basically approached me. They're hurling racial slurs. They're calling me ching - ching chong, Chinese virus.


KAYE: While not all of these have been ruled hate crimes as of now, they do contribute to a disturbing wave of violence against Asian Americans. It's spurred on many in the Asian community and beyond to rally in an effort to stop the hate. At a demonstration in New York City last month, some spoke openly of fear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many of my family members are living in fear and anxiety.

KAYE: Others pointed fingers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the rhetoric from our previous administration was definitely the catalyst for all of this.

DONALD J. TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You got all different names. Wuhan - Wuhan was catching on. coronavirus, right? Kung fu. Yes.

KAYE: There have also been attacks on property. Asian owned businesses have been hit and robbed too. And out in the open in restaurants, bold faced racism,.



KAYE: In some communities, it's come down to neighbors protecting neighbors. After some in this California Community threw rocks and hurled insults at an Asian couple's home, neighbors set up camp, standing guard in shifts to keep the couple safe. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They see us and they turn around.

KAYE: Standing strong together in the face of hate. Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.


CURNOW: So thanks for watching. This has been CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow. I'm going to handover to my colleague Rosemary Church.