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Duke of Edinburgh's Funeral Today; Biden Holds News Conference with Japanese PM; Russia Sanctions American Officials; Protests over Police Shootings; WHO: Situation in Europe "Serious" despite Vaccinations; Matthew McConaughey Talks Politics in Sports. Aired 3- 3:30a ET

Aired April 17, 2021 - 03:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone, and welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I am Michael Holmes.

And a deeply poignant day is beginning for Britain's royal family as it prepares for the funeral of Prince Philip. In just a few hours, the queen will sit alone to honor the man, who was by her side for more than 70 years.

The Duke of Edinburgh will be laid to rest at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle after a procession from the state entrance. Anna Stewart is in Windsor for us.

Anna, talk a little bit about what today means for us and what can we expect?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's an incredibly sad day for the royal family. And Her Majesty the Queen. We do know they've been really touched about all the tributes that have really poured in from all around the world. Celebrating Prince Philip's life and legacy.

I think the final farewell today was always going to be difficult. I think it will be a hard one to swallow. I think it will be tough for the public to see Her Majesty the Queen in the chapel by herself.

Due to the pandemic, there will be social distancing. Perhaps some know that Prince Philip had such a big hand in planning for this day. Lots of beautiful personal touches, seen throughout. We can look at some timings here. At 2:45 pm, 15 minutes before the service, the procession sets off from the state departments of Windsor Castle, moving through the grounds, to St. George's Chapel.

Following, that, members of the royal family, children and grandchildren, to be included there. Prince William and Prince Harry. It will only be 8 minutes long, but it will be pretty spectacular. Over 700 members of the armed forces, taking part. Lots of military music.

And before the service begins at 3 pm there will be a minute of silence. This will be started and ended with the firing of a gun, by the Kings Troop Royal Force Artillery. Then the Royal Marine bearers will carry the coffin up the stairs and into the chapel, where the service will begin.

Now there will be lots of naval references throughout the service, really reflects Prince Philip's career and his love of the sea. Once the coffin is lowered into the state vault at the end of the service but also, action stations, sounded out by a Royal Marines bugler.

This is a traditional battle cry for warships, something that Prince Philip asked for. We can imagine how that will sound echoing through St. George's Chapel to mark the end of the funeral. Michael?

HOLMES: People have talked about William and Harry and the very public division that is going on, they will be watching them throughout the day. Even though they will be physically divided, in the procession. Not sure if the reasons given for that.

Hopes for healing during this somber time.

STEWART: Certainly hopes; of course, a death in the family is something that, often, unites people together and is a moment for the family to really be together. That procession will be interesting.

And of course, many people remember Prince William and Prince Harry, walking behind their mother's coffin, many years ago. Peter Phillips, their cousin, will be in the middle as you can see, from the procession. They haven't actually seen each other now for well over a year, largely, of course, due to the pandemic.

But that rift that was so publicly exposed, recently, by the Oprah Winfrey interview, will be a bit of a distraction, particularly, in the tabloid press. Plenty of people will be reading in. Body language experts, what does it all mean, we won't know what the conversation is.

But I think that there are hopes this will be a beginning of a healing of that relationship. Today is about Prince Philip, mourning his loss, comforting Her Majority the Queen, who has lost her husband of 73 years, and also celebrating his incredible life and legacy. Michael?

HOLMES: It's an emotional day. Anna Stewart, in Windsor for, us thank you.

Christiane Amanpour and Anderson Cooper will anchor live coverage of Prince Philip's funeral, later today. It begins 1 pm London, time 8 am in New York.

The Japanese prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, says he had serious talks on China's influence with the U.S. president, Joe Biden. China is reacting after the two leaders met in the White House and agreed to work together to meet the challenges posed by Beijing's claims in the region.

[03:05:00] HOLMES: A statement from the spokesman for, the Chinese embassy in Washington said, in part, quote, "The scheme of the U.S. and Japan will only end up hurting themselves."

CNN's Blake Essig, joining me now from Tokyo.

There was a long agenda, but China seems to have been the emphasis.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Michael, as expected. The issues involving China were front and center as this first face-to-face meeting between President Biden and Prime Minister Suga. On Friday, the two leaders took the time to remind the world of the U.S.-Japan alliance and the alliance focused on peace and stability. Here is President Biden.


BIDEN: Japan and the United States are two strong democracies in the region. And we are committed, we're committed to defending and advancing our shared values, including human rights and the rule of law. We are going to work together to prove that democracies can still compete and win in the 21st century.


ESSIG: Throughout the afternoon, the leaders addressed a number of topics, including North Korea, a free and open Indo-Pacific, COVID 19, climate change, the Olympics and, of course, China. Here is Prime Minister Suga.


YOSHIHIDE SUGA, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We also had serious talks on China's influence of the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific and the world at large. We agreed to oppose any attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion in the East and South China seas and intimidation of others in the region.


ESSIG: Along with addressing issues in the East and South China Seas, Suga said the U.S. reaffirmed its commitment to defend Japan and, in particular, the Senkaku Islands under Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan defense treaty.

Of course, China also claims the islands, calling them Diaoyu. The two countries shared serious concerns regarding human rights issues in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. They also touched on the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encouraged a peaceful resolution.

As you mentioned earlier, China has since responded to the summit and they have said that Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang belong to China's internal affairs and the issues in the East and South China Seas concern China's territorial integrity with no room for interference. Michael? HOLMES: Blake, thank you so much. Blake Essig, in Tokyo.

A tit-for-tat of sanctions playing out between the United States and Russia. Moscow, announcing on Friday, it is banning a list of top U.S. officials. This is a day after the Biden administration sanctioned Russia for election interference and a massive cyberattack.

U.S. State Department, issuing a statement saying, quote, ""Our recent actions were proportionate and appropriate to Russia's harmful activities. Today's announcement by the Russian government was escalatory and regrettable."

Let's get the latest from CNN's Sam Kiley, live, in Moscow.

A quick and extensive and perhaps, predictable response, to the Biden administration.

I guess, the question is, what's next?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first thing, Michael, it's almost an echo of the old days of tit-for-tat expulsions we used to see during the Cold War with the former Soviet Union and the United States.

As you say, this was predictable, there is the Russian authorities who have announced that they are asking 10 U.S. diplomats to leave the country, threatening further unspecified economic sanctions against the United States, admitting, in the same breath, really, that they don't have many economic levers to pull with regard to the United States.

In retaliation for earlier pressure coming from the Biden administration last week, announcing a list of six current, very senior U.S. officials and two former U.S. officials, who will be banned from entering Russia. None of that makes much difference to the United States, the possible exception of Susan Rice, who is, of, course, is a senior adviser to President Biden who, down the road, may well be part of some kind of diplomatic initiative.

I think that is what is key here, Michael, that both sides are trying to seem to react with some kind of proportionality to each other and, at the same time, the United States, signaling a very different attitude and posture with regard to Russia, that the Trump administration had, particularly singling out interference, as you say, in the election processes and that massive cyberattack, which they blamed on Russia.

The Russians, hitting back but they would see it as proportional. A much more worrying potential is the military muscle moves going on across the region, particularly with regard to Russian pressure on Ukraine. Michael?


HOLMES: Indeed. Again, good to see you, Sam, Sam Kiley in Moscow. Russia's retaliation comes after the U.S. president called for de-

escalation between the two nations. Earlier, I asked CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser, if we can expect more acts from Moscow like this.


SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think one of the complicating factor here is that sanctions were imposed by the Biden administration, for a series of events, including not only their election interference but the massive SolarWinds hack that happened last year that was never responded to by the previous Trump administration.

So this was long in the works and now complicating this is this massive Russian military buildup, right on the border with Ukraine.

So I think, in a way, Russia is familiar with this round of sanctioning, retaliatory actions. But the big question mark, for me, is where does this buildup with the Ukraine figuring, its military action passable, is that the reason for Biden's, somewhat surprising, offer of an early summit with Vladimir Putin?

HOLMES: I want to expand more on that, too. This troop buildup around Eastern Ukraine and occupied Crimea. Plus, this restriction on ship movements in the Black Sea which, also, seems aimed at Ukraine.

How dicey is that sort of situation as we've often discussed in these situations?

A miscalculation is a pretty easy thing to happen.

How precarious is that?

GLASSER: I think that's right. First of all, the scale of this Russian buildup is significant, with tens of thousands of troops and it is the largest military buildup since the actual Russian takeover, the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula seven years ago almost exactly.

Obviously, is an actual military force, it definitely, it is sufficient in number for some kind of military action to take place.

However, this time, the Russians aren't being subtle about it. This is a force that seems to want to be noticed. Vladimir Putin, certainly, is an expert at this point, after 20 years in power and getting the attention of the West. Russia had not been front and center on the agenda in Washington in the new Biden administration.

They have now sat up and taken notice for sure.


HOLMES: There was CNN global affairs analyst, Susan Glasser, speaking with me earlier. We'll take a quick break, when we come back, hospitals in India are

overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. Some are even putting two patients in each bed. The state of the pandemic in India and other parts of the world, coming up.




HOLMES: Demonstrators vented their anger, Friday night, at police shootings in two American cities.


HOLMES: In Chicago, huge crowds condemned the shooting death of 13- year-old Adam Toledo last month. And, there were 10 scenes in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, too. People gathered for a sixth straight night to demand justice for Daunte Wright, the 20-year old fatally shot on Sunday during a traffic stop.

And several standoffs between police and protesters there, as a previously lifted overnight curfew was reinstated.

Americans mourning the eight lives lost in yet another mass shooting. This one, in Indiana 24 hours ago. It is a horrific scene many Americans know all too well. There have been 147 mass shootings in the U.S. just this year. And get this, 45 in the last month alone. That is more than one per day.

They are happening everywhere, anywhere, from officers, to supermarkets, to massage parlors. By the way, CNN defines a mass shooting as four or more people being shot or hurt, including -- excluding the shooter.

U.S. President Joe Biden says that gun violence is an epidemic in the U.S. He addressed the latest mass shooting during the press conference with the Japanese prime minister. Mr. Biden ordering flags at the White House and other federal facilities lowered to half staff not for the first time in the past month. He also demanded an end to gun violence and urged Congress to act.


BIDEN: Every single day, every single day there is a mass shooting in the United States, if you count all those who were killed out on the streets of our cities and our rural areas. It's a national embarrassment and must come to an end.


HOLMES: COVID-19 cases spiraling out of control in India, and it is now reporting more cases each day than anywhere else in the world. More than 217,000 on Friday alone. And now hospitals are literally running out of beds.

in Delhi, some COVID-19 patients having to share beds with people who aren't even related to them. Canada is also dealing with some worrying case numbers. Prime minister Justin Trudeau asking Canadians to not let up during this third wave of infections.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: It is serious, very serious, in Ontario and some of the parts of the country. It could get more serious in other parts of the country.

This wave is different from previous waves, in part, because the variants of concern are more communicable and more serious. That means the things we did before may not protect us the same ways.


HOLMES: He says the situation in Ontario, especially Toronto, is most concerning right now. The province broke records for daily cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions on Friday.

Now the Italian prime minister, meanwhile, says restrictions will be relaxed, starting April 26th. In some areas, students will be able to go to school in person and outdoor restaurants will be allowed to open.

In other parts of Europe, the situation remains concerning. Let's get straight to CNN's Melissa Bell, live for us, in Paris.

It starts, parts of Europe, slowly reopening to tourism, despite still worrying numbers in some places.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, in a sense, what we saw erupt last few months, we have seen the second wave restrictions lead into the third wave restrictions. Essentially, in much of Europe, we are partially locked down and mostly locked down, really, since the end of last autumn.

That is how long it's been and how desperate some industries -- and I'm thinking are particularly of the tourist industry -- are trying to get some return to normality, which is where you see countries particularly dependent on what is many hundreds of billions of dollar industry, trying to get it up and going.

Greece, Portugal, Austria, all dependent and trying to get in measures that will allow Europeans to cross the borders that have been put in place as a result of different restrictions and ad hoc measures, to try and get the crucial industry up and going by the summer.

One very important part would be the passports, allowing people to show they've been vaccinated or are negative, therefore, to get across these borders. Michael?

HOLMES: What about the latest on the vaccine rollout?

And the concerns about these blood plots?

BELL: We have been hearing from the French national health agency these last few hours, Michael. And what they are saying is that there have been new cases, linked, potentially, to the AstraZeneca vaccine. The total number of people who had adverse effects, 23 in France, with eight deaths.

There is more than the last we heard about this. These findings are passed on to the European Medicines Agency.


BELL: And remember, the moment we are still waiting for the Europeans Medicines Agency on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has been extended a blow on the vaccine rollout.

That point of being able to reopen Europe once again and start getting around some of the restrictions, to look at reopening is dependent, of course, on vaccination programs going ahead.

Here in France, more than 12 million people have been partially vaccinated, the government is looking from May 15th, to a reopening of cafes, terraces, museums. So much of what makes Paris Paris. That comes as something of a relief.

It will very much be dependent on the vaccination campaigns, being able to continue and improve if those crucial targets need to be met.

HOLMES: Melissa Bell, thank you so much, there in Paris for us.

After the break, CNN talks with a very well-known actor about his love of sports and his excitement on a brand new soccer team in Texas. That's next.




HOLMES: Matthew McConaughey may be known as an Oscar winning actor but he is also a big sports fan. So much, that he is now a minority owner of a new major league football -- or soccer -- franchise in the U.S. Austin FC. CNN's Don Riddell talks to the actor, ahead of the club's first kickoff, in just a few hours.


MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, ACTOR AND AUSTIN FC OWNER: Austin FC is going to be the very first team that represents the city of Austin. This is their, Austinites, first time to root for their city. We've had the University of Texas, Longhorns, hook 'em, where I went to school and it's been the only game in town. We've never had a professional team.

As I said, we now have a place to go, to have 20,000, strong on any given night, to root for our team. That snapshot, from above the stadium, on any given night, packed, should look like the best and the truest of Austin, Texas.

DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Matthew, I believe one of the first lines you ever uttered to a movie camera was, "All right, all right, all right."


RIDDELL: I think I've said that before. "Dazed and Confused," nearly 30 years ago. If someone told you then, in three decades' time, you would be the co-owner of a soccer team and fans would be chanting that line, what would you have said?

MCCONAUGHEY: I would have said, cool.

No, I wouldn't have foreseen this. Look at the things that have happened to me along the way?

I married a Brazilian woman; soccer was injected into my blood. My children, as we travel the world, have found and love the game of soccer. It is the one game they can play anywhere, in the city, in the country, from New York to Timbuktu.

It has become a game. And look into the yard, I have two goals and I can see nine soccer balls. There is my son, trying to do reverse kicks into the goal with himself. So my kids are doing it so I'm a part of, it. And it makes a lot of sense now but wouldn't have made sense then.

RIDDELL: You're considering, I have read, running for the governor of Texas, I wonder how you feel about athletes and coaches, really taking a stand for social justice and racial equality?


RIDDELL: Also, Major League Baseball, taking a stand in the case of Georgia.

What do you think?

Is there a place for sports and politics to mix?

MCCONAUGHEY: My opinion is, you are not defined by being an athlete. That would be like if you or someone else and saying, Matthew, you shouldn't consider anything political because you're an actor or a storyteller. It's just a vocation I've taken.

Athletes shouldn't be confined to, oh, we're just in sports, we shouldn't get into that world because politics is an umbrella that has to do with the machinations of all businesses, of all vocations.

And to say that, if you are an athlete, you cannot join in on the license of politics, makes no sense.

RIDDELL: Compare and contrast the scripted form of storytelling you've been involved in, for your whole career, versus the spontaneous forms of narrative we see with sport.

How would you compare the two?

MCCONAUGHEY: The greatest sporting event I've ever seen, in my entire life, was a 2005 national championship. University of Texas versus the USC Trojans.

It was incredible sporting, had the ebbs and the flows and where the loser had no excuse. But any sporting fan can watch the game and say, afterwards, I have never seen a better drama.

If you wrote that story in a Hollywood script, we would say, no, it couldn't happen that way. It could be my son's junior soccer game that turns out to be an epic battle. There was a goal scored, it was 8 to 7 at the end and you say, man, that was incredibly well played.

I just thought I was going to a junior soccer match. You never know when you will see great drama on the pitch. So to see it live and to unfold, is what I love about sport.


HOLMES: Good luck to him.

Now it may have started as a joke but the only ones laughing now are investors on their way to the bank. The cryptocurrency dogecoin, beginning life as a parody of an internet meme, is on track to become a block chain blockbuster, after quadrupling its value, in one week.

Some credit a show support of Elon Musk for the latest spike. He retitled Miro's famous "Dog Barking at the Moon" as "Doge Barking at the Moon." Dogecoin is up 5,000 percent this year, proving this parody pooch can pack quite the punch after all. That's a lot of P's, isn't it?

I'm Michael Holmes, thank you for spending part of our day with, me I appreciate it, follow me on Twitter @HolmesCNN, "AFRICAN VOICES CHANGEMAKERS" is next.