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CNN NEWSROOM

Birx: Most COVID-19 Deaths Were Preventable; Contrasting Rollouts Along The Irish Border; E.U. Missteps In Vaccine Plan; Third Wave Hits Europe; Myanmar Security Forces Kill At Least 114 Civilians Saturday; Growing Anger Over Georgia's New Election Law; Biden Administration Braces For Surge Of Young Migrants; Officer-Involved Shooting Of Black Man In Virginia; Demonstrators Speaking Out At "Stop Asian Hate" Rallies; Shocking Police Torture In Belarus. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired March 28, 2021 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): With 50 million people vaccinated in the U.S., one White House doctor said the majority of deaths we've seen so far were preventable.

The world is condemning Myanmar's violent crackdown. One U.N. representative said it's time for action.

And Tennessee facing a flash flood emergency. Parts of the U.S. already battered by storms.

Welcome to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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BRUNHUBER: We begin here in the U.S. where the coronavirus is still a threat, of course, but vaccinations are spiking. The Centers for Disease Control said about 15 percent of the population are vaccinated.

America's top doctor for infectious diseases, Anthony Fauci, recently sat down with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He recalled a key moment in the U.S. fight against the pandemic.

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DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Was there a moment, Dr. Fauci, when you said, OK, this is the big one?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: Yes.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A 40 percent increase in New York hospitals in just 24 hours. That's a big one.

FAUCI: When I saw what happened in New York City... ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Refrigerated trucks are now being mobilized at makeshift morgues.

FAUCI: -- almost overrunning of our health care system, it was like, oh, my goodness. And that's when it became very clear that the decision we made on January 10th to go all out and develop a vaccine --

We have a number of vaccine candidates --

-- may have been the best decision that I've ever made with regard to an intervention as the director of the institute.

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BRUNHUBER: Another Trump COVID-19 doctor made a sobering admission to CNN. We have more on the revelation by Dr. Deborah Birx.

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EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than a year into the pandemic, a former Trump administration official revealed in a blockbuster interview with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, airing Sunday night, that she believes many of the deaths in the United States could've been prevented through different policy decisions.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, FORMER WHITE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: I look at it this way, the first time, we have an excuse. There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge. All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): To look back at the past year comes on the heels of some relatively good news. The total number of vaccine doses in the U.S., on Friday, reaching a new daily record, according to the White House. More vaccine doses are coming.

Next week, Johnson & Johnson expected to deliver at least 11 million doses of its single shot vaccine across the country. More supply means more Americans will have access. And analysis by CNN shows only two states have yet to say when they will make doses available to everyone eligible under FDA guidance.

The other 48 have already made or are planning to make the vaccine available to everyone older than the age of 16 in a matter of weeks.

But experts say this is not the time for Americans to let their guards down, especially as warmer weather and spring holidays may lead to larger gatherings. And more contagious virus variants are still spreading. Over 100 cases of COVID 19 in Nebraska were traced to a child care facility, many with the variant first identified in the U.K.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We have 2.5 million vaccinations per day. That is fantastic but I also think restrictions are being lifted so quickly, including mask mandates. People are getting very tired and, at the same time, we also have these more contagious variants that are circulating.

But we can help people manage their risk and then try to reduce that risk as much as possible. That means encouraging vaccination, continuing to wear masks and, ideally, messaging that, masks and vaccinations are our way out of this pandemic.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): It's a very different story outside of the U.S. Brazil is struggling to get doses of the vaccine and reported its highest single day death toll from COVID-19 on Friday.

The president of France, admitting the European Union reacted less quickly than the U.S. when it came to the initial vaccine rollout.

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MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): While it sorts out its vaccine problems, the E.U. is struggling to reopen. In France, increasing cases in schools, leading to new classroom closures. In Germany, imposing new quarantine and testing rules on visitors from France, a country it now labels a high risk COVID-19 area -- Evan McMorris- Santoro, CNN, New York.

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BRUNHUBER: And you can see Dr. Sanjay Gupta's interviews on CNN on the special "COVID War: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out" airs Sunday at 9:00 pm Eastern.

As Evan reported, Germany is imposing new rules on visitors from France. Spain is also rolling out new measures as France struggles to keep the outbreak under control. Starting Wednesday in Spain, all travelers over the ages of 6 from France have to show a negative PCR text, the gold standard of tests.

It was already in place by those traveling by plane or boat and will now apply to people driving over the border with some exceptions. Senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann is joining us now from outside Paris.

France the target of more and more restrictions. Take us through what led to this and how the French are reacting.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: I think, basically, the numbers just continue to go up here. There's talk now that the government may be forced to act. The president said this morning, nothing has been decided in terms of further restrictions but clearly it's on the minds of a lot of people. The numbers are growing astronomically.

They've had to move COVID-19 patients outside the Paris region and the ICU numbers in other parts of France are closing in on the kind of numbers we saw back in November during the second wave. This is now the third wave. It's a question people are pondering this morning, why France is in

this condition exactly because, back in January, when the holidays were over, France looked pretty good. In fact, they were in better shape than most of the European neighbors.

Right now it's not the case. So the French, are talking about, perhaps, more restrictions as Evan indicated there, in terms of school systems and trying to keep the schools open. But now they know what the costs are. Students are becoming infected.

In one week alone, 21,000 French school-aged children were infected by coronavirus. It now changed the rule on closing down classrooms. If there is so much as one coronavirus cases in a class, they close down the class. There's 3,000 classes that have been closed down so far.

So they're taking steps but in some ways they're small steps. They don't seem to be having much of an effect. They'll rely a lot on vaccines.

But in the coming weeks, they'll be rolling out more vaccines, they hope, in terms of supply and opening up new vaccine centers as well. So the program is expanding here but not so far having much of an effect.

BRUNHUBER: Jim Bittermann, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

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BRUNHUBER: For more on the vaccine rollout and COVID-19, let's bring in Peter Drobac, an infectious disease and global health expert at the University of Oxford.

Thanks for being with us again.

This third wave we're seeing in France and Germany, it ties in with what we heard earlier from Dr. Birx, speaking to our Dr. Sanjay Gupta, that many fewer people might still be alive if cities and states had learned from the first wave and the fact that here in the U.S., so many cities and states are now reopening so quickly, infections rising in many of them.

Does that suggest we still haven't learned those lessons and many more people might die because of it?

DR. PETER DROBAC, INFECTIOUS DISEASE AND GLOBAL HEALTH EXPERT, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: Yes, thank you for having me, Kim.

It sometimes feels like Groundhog Day. Just a few weeks ago when we heard a lot of states in the U.S. were starting to roll back restrictions and mask mandates, we warned that, if we pulled back before the rates of vaccination had increased sufficiently, we risked another surge.

In just over the last week, of course, we saw first a plateauing at a very high level of transmission and now we've seen the 7 percent increase over the last week. And the U.S. curve is just a couple of weeks behind Europe, which is now, you know, reimposing lockdowns and facing a terrifying surge.

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DROBAC: So it feels like we're making the same mistakes over and over again. There's reason for optimism with vaccines but not a reason to let our guard down.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, let's turn to that optimism. The vaccine rollout here is going quickly. About a quarter of Americans have got at least one dose. It seems that we've been really good at getting older people vaccinated.

But what's the risk if too many young people essentially say, you know, no, I'm good; why bother, which is something I've heard a lot from young people I've talked to?

DROBAC: Yes. Now most countries have taken the same approach, which is to prioritize those who are older and have medical conditions or frontline workers with vaccinations first because we know these vaccines are amazing at saving lives.

Now as there's increasing evidence they do, indeed, probably slow transmission somewhat, we're moving across populations. What we saw in places like Israel that were way ahead of the curve in vaccinating, as they started to vaccinate the majority of the older population, you started to really see a rise in cases and even hospitalizations in younger people as well.

And we're beginning to see that in the U.K. and some other places. Here in the U.K., older children are amongst the most highly affected group in terms of new infections.

That's something that we really need to be aware of, particularly with some of the variants, which appear to be not only a little more infectious but a little more virulent, that people can tend to have more problems, that we could see a rise actually in younger people in hospital.

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BRUNHUBER: Our thanks to Peter Drobac, an infectious disease and global health expert at the University of Oxford.

The U.N. envoy for Myanmar is calling for the Security Council and the International Criminal Court to take action against the country.

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BRUNHUBER (voice-over): On Saturday Myanmar's civilian population suffered the deadliest day yet at the hands of their own military. At least 114 people were reported killed.

New video shows security forces firing weapons in a town in the far north. Three people were killed by a military airstrike on an ethnic village. We also have disturbing video of the military's indiscriminate use of lethal force. I have to warn you, it's graphic. (END VIDEO CLIP)

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BRUNHUBER (voice-over): There you see security forces suddenly opening fire on a passing motorcycle. Two people were able to run away but the third person's condition is unknown.

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BRUNHUBER: My colleague Michael Holmes spoke to Tom Andrews, the U.N. special rapporteur on Myanmar, about what specifically should be done.

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TOM ANDREWS, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR: Accountability mechanisms could be put into place. The International Criminal Court could begin investigations and quickly begin pursuing charges against those responsible. So there are a number of things that can be done that should be done, that are not being done.

HOLMES: The U.S. embassy in Myanmar joined the European Union and the United Kingdom in condemning the killings as murders as well. But it is clear that such declarations and even the sanctions that have been levied so far are just not having a impact. You mentioned the U.N. Security Council, as toothless as ever, if Russia and China continue to stand by the generals, right?

ANDREWS: That's right. The fact is that we don't know where China and Russia would come down, if an actual vote was put before the Security Council. Everyone is assuming that they would veto it. They'd be against it.

But I think it is important that the Security Council have the opportunity to put back in front of itself, to have a full, open, honest debate and let countries decide where they stand when it comes to this brutality and vote up or down.

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BRUNHUBER: Let's bring in CNN's Kristie Lu Stout, who is covering this for us in Hong Kong.

What we're seeing now in Myanmar, does it suggest the military is increasingly willing to kill?

They're ramping up violence?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: We're seeing a dramatic escalation in violence this weekend. Today more protests and violence, with local media inside Myanmar reporting a woman was shot dead by security forces in the central part of the country.

International condemnation is growing, especially after what we witnessed on Saturday, the bloodiest day since the protest began, the bloodiest day since the coup on February 1st. According to Myanmar now, an Independent media organization inside the country, at least 114 people have been killed across the country, including children.

A 5-year-old boy in Mandalay was killed on Saturday. A 13-year-old girl was killed inside her home in Mandalay. We have seen footage of a 1-year old, a baby, who was hit in the eye with a rubber bullet. Now the international condemnation has been swift.

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STOUT: We've heard from the U.S. secretary of state, who said the United States was horrified by the violence. We heard from the U.N. secretary-general who said that the violence was deeply shocking. We heard from the British foreign secretary, who said that the crackdown on Saturday represented, quote, "a new low."

But a rare move, this is a significant move, the defense chiefs of the United States and 11 other countries issued a joint statement condemning military-sponsored violence in Myanmar. We have the statement.

"As chiefs of defense, we condemn the use of lethal force against unarmed people by the Myanmar armed forces and associated security services. A professional military follows international standards for conduct and is responsible for protecting, not harming the people it serves.

"We urge the Myanmar armed forces to seize violence and work to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar that it has lost through its actions."

But the U.S. and Europe have sanctions against military leadership and military conglomerates but the Myanmar military has its friends, including Russia. On Saturday, armed services day, the Russian deputy defense secretary attended a military parade. The military chief in Myanmar calls Russia, quote, "a true friend."

BRUNHUBER: Kristie Lu Stout, thank you so much.

And last hour I spoke to Phil Robertson, the deputy director of the Asian division of Human Rights Watch. He's also looking for global solutions. He suggested the world impose an arms embargo and cut off the main source of funding to Myanmar's military.

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PHIL ROBERTSON, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, ASIAN DIVISION, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: The issue of cutting off the gas proceeds, which, you know, provides billions of dollars to Myanmar's military and government, is quite clearly something that needs to happen. And we're working on that.

We're pressing various different banks and we're pressing the governments to make that happen. But it also has to be a global condemnation of Myanmar's military by the other militaries around the world and by the governments.

And part of that is really making sure they will not be able to put on the kind of display they put on Saturday, not only killing so many people but also having this huge display of force and weapons during their armed forces day.

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BRUNHUBER: Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch.

Opposition to Georgia's controversial election law is growing. Why voting rights are at stake.

Plus, what is the Biden administration may want you to see versus the reality on ground at the U.S.-Mexico border. Stay with us.

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BRUNHUBER: There's growing anger in Georgia over a sweeping election law that places the state at the center of a national debate over voting rights. Many see it as an effort to suppress the Black vote after crucial wins for Democrats.

The law imposes new voter ID requirements for absentee ballots and limits the use of ballot drop boxes, among other things. CNN's Natasha Chen has more.

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NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: About 150 people gathered outside of Atlanta city hall here on Saturday to protest this Georgia voter bill and also to stand with Georgia representative Park Cannon. She was arrested when she was knocking on the door of the governor's office to try and witness him signing this bill.

And, of course, he did that behind closed doors. He was depicted signing the bill standing next white men. Also in the room was a painting that seemingly shows a plantation.

I talked to one voter who said that she first didn't think much of it but upon a closer look she found that that was the very plantation where her family had worked. Such an emotional moment for some of these people, minority groups taking a look at this moment and feeling that this directly impacts them.

I also spoke with someone who was at the capital when Park Cannon was arrested. Here is how she described that moment.

She was not disruptive. So to have that incident happen right in front of me and for it to end with her being taken away, it was horrific to watch, as a Black woman, to watch her taken into the elevator and watch as the doors closed, it was triggering. It was frightening. I felt her pain, I felt her terror.

CHEN: I spoke to another voter here who described her experience voting in the Georgia primary in June of 2020. She said that she waited for hours in line, past dinnertime, to the point where a local pizza delivery company had delivered some food soda and pizza so that they could still eat and wait in line to vote.

She said, of course, the way that the law was written and passed now, that would be illegal -- Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.

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BRUNHUBER: President Biden is facing increased pressure to deal with housing conditions in government facilities because of a surge in crossings by migrant children along the southern border. CNN's Rosa Flores takes a look at the long journey desperate migrants are making.

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ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what the Biden administration has not allowed America to see. To tell this story, we were escorted by Texas state troopers.

Lines of migrants on Texas trails along the Rio Grande.

Nancy is pregnant and cried, describing her painful journey from Honduras.

Ronnie says his family fled Honduras due to devastation from two recent hurricanes.

Under this bridge, even more lines of migrants. They're silhouettes, beyond the trees, a sign that America's immigration system is overwhelmed.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Please sit down. Thank you.

FLORES (voice-over): During his first formal press conference, President Biden said --

BIDEN: I will commit to transparency.

FLORES (voice-over): And while pool news camera was allowed inside an HHS facility for unaccompanied migrant children this week, it was a sanitized version of reality. Far removed from the bottleneck of this border processing facility. U.S. Customs and Border Protection releasing their own video this week.

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FLORES (voice-over): CNN's repeated requests for access to immigration processing facilities have been denied. The day we captured this video, Texas state troopers were our guides.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as they make landfall, it is considered the U.S. side for us.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): The cartels will -- FLORES (voice-over): Sent here by governor Greg Abbott earlier this month to thwart smugglers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a way to suffocate and put a lot of pressure on the cartel.

FLORES (voice-over): He is the top cop in charge of what Abbott calls Operation Lone Star.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As border control is tied up with processing migrants that come across, they will leave miles, at times, open on the river.

FLORES (voice-over): That is where Texas steps in. By water. Air and by ground. To fill the gaps of security on the Rio Grande.

According to state troopers, if you look closely in between those trees, you can see a camp. Some sort of staging area, on the Mexican side. I am on the U.S. side and this is one of the hotspots they described an area, a trail that is used by migrants.

Clearly, you can see the path. The landscape, peppered with evidence that it is used by migrants. We see clothes, documents, masks.

FLORES (voice-over): All leading to these dirt trails, with arrows pointing migrants to the immigration processing center under the bridge.

Nancy says, "Feeling hungry for two was the worst part of the journey."

While most of the migrants I met said that they made the trek to the U.S. because they were poor, this little girl was rich in faith, ending our conversation by saying, "Thanks and God bless you."

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BRUNHUBER: A chaotic night of violence at a popular resort town. How police are investigating three separate shootings in Virginia Beach and what may have led an officer to take the life of a Black man.

Plus CNN is in Los Angeles where protesters are condemning the recent spike in hate crime against Asian Americans.

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BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching in the United States, Canada and around the world.

Police in Virginia Beach, Virginia, are investigating an officer- involved shooting of a Black man late Friday night. Authorities haven't identified the officer who shot and killed 25-year-old Donovan Lynch. The police chief disputes reports that Lynch may have been unarmed at the time.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have seen some of the community concerns about Mr. Donovan or Mr. Lynch being unarmed. I can tell you that there was a firearm recovered in the vicinity of where this incident occurred.

We would like to be more forthcoming but, unfortunately, we don't have body cam footage of this incident. The officer was wearing a body cam. But for unknown reasons at this point in time it was not activated.

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BRUNHUBER: The officer involved is on administrative assignment during the investigation. Police say the incident was one of three unrelated shootings in Virginia Beach on Friday; a 29-year-old bystander was killed in one of those incidents. In all, eight others were injured.

Prosecutors in Colorado are expected to file more charges against the alleged gunman accused of killing 10 people in a grocery store. Police say the rampage only stopped after Officer Eric Talley engaged the shooter. Tragically, Talley became the 10th victim when stopping the shooting. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz has more on a grieving community struggling to feel safe again.

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SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: The site of Monday's shooting has now becoming a makeshift memorial, where hundreds of community members here in Boulder have been gathering to pray, to offer support, to come together and lay flowers and be together and expression emotion they're feeling after 10 people died here.

We spoke to a couple of those people. They were talking about the emotion they were feeling, the sadness and even the fear that some of them feel after Monday's shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a shared emotion, you know, we're all in pain. Our nation, our world is in pain. Every time this kind of thing happens, it feels especially painful because this is our town.

You know and it was hard when we lost people at the Aurora shooting. My son was at the same movie at a different theater at the exact same time and nothing has changed since then. So I don't know what it'll take for people to safe in this nation. I no longer feel safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been a really rough week. It's a really rough week.

QUESTION: Can I ask you to take off your glasses?

Why are you crying?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is gut wrenching. This is our community.

PROKUPECZ: In the coming days, the funerals will begin. Hero officer Eric Talley, who lea a team of officers into the grocery store to stop the gunman, he will be laid to rest on Tuesday as this community continues to mourn and heal -- Shimon Prokupecz, CNN, Boulder, Colorado.

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BRUNHUBER: People are holding a growing number of rallies across the U.S. to show support for Asian American communities and to denounce violence and racism against them. They're motivated by this month's Atlanta area spa shootings. CNN's Paul Vercammen met with Los Angeles protesters.

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PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Korea Town, several hundred people rallied, stop Asian hate, they chanted on the streets of Korea Town. They sealed off Olympic Boulevard and we heard a lot of raw, pure emotion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had Asian, Vietnamese-owned salons throughout California receive this nasty letter, this is not OK. My mom and dad came here to give my sister and me a better life and right now it doesn't feel that way.

It's a tough time to be Asian. I want to read this.

"To all Asian, hey, you nasty, ugly, smelly, disgusting, pancake face, stir fry cockroach eaters, dog, cat eaters, toenail cleaners, raw monkey brain eaters, go home."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enough is enough. That's why we're here in Korea Town to unite with our Asian brothers and sisters to say, enough is enough. This shall not and will not be tolerated.

VERCAMMEN: My CNN colleague, Lisa Ling, also spoke today. She's a CNN host and author.

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VERCAMMEN: One of the points she drove home is Asian Americans are not told to jump up and down and make a lot of noise but she says now is the time for Asian Americans and others to speak out against this hate.

LISA LING, CNN HOST: We are part of this incredible tapestry with stories and histories from every corner of the globe. If one thread comes loose, we can all fall apart. So we have to protect each other.

VERCAMMEN: A tremendous crosscut of Asian Americans attended this rally. There was one man, who was wearing his traditional Indonesian garb. He says parts of his attire were taken from different sections of his country. He wanted to honor his roots. And he like so many others here pounding home this point, the hate has got to stop. And now. Reporting from Korea Town in Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen, now back to you.

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BRUNHUBER: As we heard, attacks against Asian Americans are on the rise across the U.S. and around the world. We have a vetted list of ways you can educate and inform and help. Head to cnn.com/impact for more details.

Pro-democracy activists in Belarus risking their lives to escape a brutal crackdown from police. Their harrowing experiences -- next.

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BRUNHUBER: A CNN exclusive investigation has found disturbing evidence of brutality and torture by police in Belarus. Witnesses and victims describe a violent effort to keep the current leader in power, who's been called Europe's last dictator. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has this report.

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NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Somewhere through the icy sludge here is the path to freedom, across the border and out of what's been called Europe's last dictatorship, Belarus. Some walk, if they can. One man, we'll call him Sergei, had no choice but to swim it, nearly three miles.

Here he stands on sheet ice, free but in anguish at having to flee after just crossing out of Belarus into the safety of Ukraine. He films himself in flippers and a wet suit to leave evidence of what he tried in case he doesn't make it.

"I'll try to crawl there," he says, "and hope I won't freeze. I'm navigating by the stars. The feeling is indescribable. I've been going 90 minutes and have a mile left."

Being detained for protesting and on a wanted list, he had to flee imminent arrest. Can't turn back now.

WALSH: It's testament to how bad things have got in Belarus that people feel compelled to make this dark, perilous journey, a run to freedom, the likes of which Europe hasn't really seen since the Soviet Union.

WALSH (voice-over): Belarus, caught between Russia and the European Union, has been ruled for decades by autocratic president Alexander Lukashenko. He declared victory in August elections, the U.S. said, were fraudulent. Huge protests followed. And he moved swiftly to crush them.

He and Russian president Vladimir Putin are two peas in a pod when it comes to shutting down dissent. So Putin swiftly helped his skiing partner with $1.5 billion and other unspecified aid. Months of systematic repression and torture followed, documented by human rights groups.

CNN has obtained from defected police officers videos exposing abuse, leaked from the police's own archives. Here the white SUV is full of activists, fleeing the protest crackdown. Riot police pounce. One fires a gun.

The ferocity is startling. Some kicked where they lie. Another has had his face rubbed into the ground. Most lie incredibly still. They are then detained.

In custody, CNN was told mistreatment ranges from extreme cold and cramped cells to being beaten severely and sexual assault.

Andre endured on another day perhaps the worst abuse in the back of a police van. He refused to unlock his phone so they cut open his pants and raped him with a baton.

"It was hard to move at all because I'd been heavily beaten. He cut my underwear using this knife. He asked me to give the password again. I refused. Then he did what he did. It's not just anger. Police train to do this. We're just seeing it now at a huge scale for the first time. It's touched nearly every family in Belarus."

Custody is often brutal. Detainees from an October protest were filmed by police and forced to face the wall inside a police station, some bleeding, one with seven teeth smashed in. Some ravaged by tear gas. Many here told us they were later beaten in custody. Some have fled Belarus.

But you can also see a teenage boy motionless on the floor. Witnesses told CNN he had likely had an epileptic fit but the police ignored him, occasionally kicking him and saying, are you a boy or a girl?

A minor, he was released later.

In these rooms, police are still tracking down protesters, one we'll call Anya. You can see her here running from riot police. The stun grenade hit her leg badly. In hospital, doctors gave her little help, she said, but tested her blood for alcohol and rang the police to say she was a likely protester. She fled home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "I got a phone call from the police, asking where I had been. I began making up stories. They said they would come and get me, a unit of them. And if they take me, I thought, then I can say goodbye to my limbs because no one will look after me."

WALSH (voice-over): Police ferocity in Belarus, a riot squad descending on a car here, that slowly and quietly swamped a generation desperate for a new life and calling for new nationwide protests on March the 25th.

The U.S. has imposed commonplace sanctions and the Kremlin its usual writ of fear. It's an early test for President Biden which method will win out -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Ukraine.

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BRUNHUBER: We'll have more news after the short break.

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BRUNHUBER: We're on day six of a costly traffic jam on Egypt's Suez Canal. Every hour that goes by represents the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars to the global economy. Ben Wedeman is following developments from Cairo.

Bring us up to speed on the efforts to free the ship and where they go from here.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. At this point, last night they were hoping that the seasonal high tide would allow the work effort there to get the -- get it to move slightly. It didn't work. Tonight they're expecting two tugboats to join the effort but, at this point, it's still stuck.

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WEDEMAN (voice-over): Efforts continue to dislodge the massive container ship blocking one of the world's most important waterways.

But the ship has only budged slightly. Almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall, the Ever Given got stuck Tuesday, navigating through a sandstorm in 40 knot winds.

[05:50:00]

WEDEMAN: Initially, it was thought that high winds and a sandstorm where the cause for the grounding of the Ever Given. Now we've heard from the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, perhaps, human and technical error are also to blame.

OSAMA RABIE, SUEZ CANAL AUTHORITY (through translator): There may have been a technical or human error. There are many mistakes but we cannot definitely say what the reason is.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Dredging continues, as attempts to free the carrier during high tide were not successful enough to refloat the ship. With around 12 percent of global trade volume, typically passing

through the Suez Canal, countries around the world are pitching in. The Dutch salvage company brought in to help is sending a crane and two tugboats, heavier than these, hoping to free the ship before its precarious position gets worse.

SAL MERCOGLIANO, MARITIME HISTORIAN: You have to start worrying about the vessel rolling. You have to worry about the vessel cracking. The nightmare scenario of all-time is the vessel breaks apart. That would not be weeks or days of salvage but months.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Meanwhile, traffic remains at a standstill in a waterway that, normally handles the equivalent of $10 billion per day, in cargo. More than 320 ships, backed up, in either direction. Their only alternative is to divert around the southern tip of Africa, adding about a week to the journey.

SAL MERCOGLIANO, MARITIME HISTORIAN: This is going to be costing an extra 3,500 miles, 7 days steaming. So we're about to see it in the pocketbook here real soon.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): The backlog will also be costly for vessels, waiting in place. About a dozen are carrying livestock, at risk of dying, if the situation is not resolved within a few days.

Japanese shipping companies who own the Ever Given told CNN that they are bracing for lawsuits but insist their priority right now is refloating the ship a soon as possible. Executives even bowed in apology on Friday. But with costs skyrocketing for the global shipping industry, saying sorry may not be enough.

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WEDEMAN: Already we're seeing there are real world effects of this stoppage in the Suez Canal. Syria today announced it would start rationing fuel because it's no longer getting it through the Suez Canal. Their focus, of course, to maintain power in places like hospitals, bakeries and water pumping stations -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Thank you so much, Ben Wedeman. I appreciate it.

Dozens of people are unaccounted for in Mozambique following an attack by Islamist insurgents, according to multiple sources contacted by CNN. Thousands fled the northern town since Wednesday, when it was stormed by attackers believed to be affiliated with the terrorist group, ISIS.

Heavy fighting continued into Saturday. Security forces have been trying to evacuate civilians and foreign workers in the area. More than 600,000 people in Mozambique have been displaced and more than 1,500 civilians have been killed.

Some residents in parts of the southern U.S. may still be in trouble after tornadoes ripped through their neighborhoods. At least 14 tornadoes ripped through, killing at least six people. Look at these pictures. Twin tornadoes left a trail of destruction on

Saturday in Tennessee. Parts of the state remain under a flood warning, with rescues underway as a powerful storm system rolls through.

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[05:55:00]

BRUNHUBER: And that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. "NEW DAY" is just ahead. For international viewers, "INNOVATE JAPAN" is next.