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Verdict Expected in Trial of Investigative Journalist; Reports of Violence, Human Rights Abuses in Ethiopia; Chad's Slain President's Son Takes over as President, Army Commander; Most Founding Clubs Pull Out of Denounced Competition; France's Vineyards Hit by Destructive Cold Snap; COVID Crisis Raging in India; Defiant Protesters Call for Navalny's Release; Speculation of U.S.-Brazil Deal to End Amazon Deforestation. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired April 22, 2021 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello I'm John Vause with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM.

Coming up:

What happened in India between March and April? From a mission accomplished move into the COVID crisis from hell, and getting worse.

Thousands ignore Kremlin warnings, holding demonstrations in dozens of city across Russia, a defiant show of support for Alexei Navalny, the jailed opposition leader in failing health.

From super league to super fail. After three days of widespread outrage, the so-called elite teams of European football cave and beg fans for forgiveness.


VAUSE: India is now facing a COVID crisis like no other, as a second coronavirus wave spread at an unprecedented rate. A short time ago, India reported nearly 315,000 new COVID cases in a 24-hour period. That's a highest daily increase anywhere in the world since the pandemic began.

During that same period, more than 2,100 people have died from COVID- 19, India's highest daily death toll so far. Overwhelmed hospitals are in desperate need of medical oxygen, nationwide supplies are critically low. Crematoriums have been unable to cope with the increasing number of dead bodies.


DR. RAJSEH M, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, SHIRDI SAI HOSPITAL: Medicines like remdesivir, and a few of the drugs are not available, and oxygen has been the main shortage. And we find it difficult to admit serious patients (INAUDIBLE) ventilator, so most of the patients have been sent back because we don't have enough of this oxygen and remdesivir drug to treat the patients.


VAUSE: Live now to New Delhi, we're joined by Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy.

So, thank you for being with us. Just last month, the health minister in India made this declaration. We are in the end of the game of the COVID-19 pandemic in India.

Clearly, that was premature. He was not the only want to make such statements. But the consequences of that kind of thing of those statements have been devastating.

RAMANAN LAXMINARAYAN, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR DISEASE DYNAMICS, ECONOMICS & POLICY: Absolutely. So there was a sense that the lockdown, the severe lockdown last year which still resulted in a lot of cases, had seen a peak around September and then India saw a steady decline in cases. But by February and March, everything was opening up. The arrival of the vaccine also probably lulled (ph) people into a false sense of complacency.

But the big message really stopping preparations. All the preparations for oxygen, for beds, all of this which was done last year, you know, just seemed to fade into the background, because, you know, people thought this was done and dusted, that was clearly not the case. We are now seeing the consequences of that complacency.

VAUSE: An article in Scientific America on Wednesday also raises another possibility for this resurgence, studies have tested for SARS- CoV-2 antibodies, an indicator past infection in December and January, estimated one 50 percent of the population in some areas immediate large cities have already been exposed to the virus. Which should have compose some immunity.

And that's leading a lot of experts to the conclusion, or at least a speculation it's the new variant, in particular, be B1617, which is actually driving this. If that's the case, what are the consequences not just for India, but beyond India's borders.

LAXMINARAYAN: So, two things, first, it is possible that the antibody test in the service may not have taken a uniform sample around the country. They may have overestimated the zero prevalence. I don't think any serious epidemiologist really thought if exposure was 50 percent, which would've meant 700 million infections last. That's almost certainly not the case.

You know, I think it is more of the range to 300, to 400, which still means that about around a billion Indians were uninfected. That alone with this level of mixing to try a significant second wave, without the need for an explanation of a variant. It is possible that a variant is more transmissible or more lethal, but even if it were not, one should expect a rise that we're seeing right now. And certainly, a new variant would add concern, but we don't have any evidence for that quite yet.

VAUSE: OK. Well, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Tuesday. He not only spoke out against a nationwide lockdown, he did so without wearing a face mask.


Here is.


NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Friends, in today's situation, we have to save the country from lockdown. I appeal to states to avoid lockdowns and use them as a last resort. We have to make the utmost efforts to avoid lockdowns, and only focus on making micro containment zones.


VAUSE: You know, the government says the economy cannot afford another nationwide lockdown. On the other side of the equation how many people will die if there isn't one?

LAXMINARAYAN: It is certainly true that the nation cannot afford another lockdown. Any restrictions will have to be localized, I think it's possible to contain this epidemic, even as bad as it seems right now. If mass gathering were to stop right now, and if mask wearing -- the messaging were consistent, and also the vaccination rate would go up, only 1.3 percent of Indians have been vaccinated, fully against COVID. That's simply inadequate.

And with respect to the messaging, you can't simultaneously message that this is not a serious virus and case fatality rates are low. All of which is not really true in these are carefully, and also expect people to comply with mask wearing.

And finally, the mass gatherings, whether it's religious, social, election-related, everything needs to stop right now. I think to some extent, the damage done is indulgence. It really depends on the response from the government and the people right now. It doesn't have to be worse in this if those measures are put in place.

VAUSE: Very quickly, Rahul Gandhi, a former leader and a member of the main opposition party, he tested positive for COVID-19 this week. He tweeted: India still has no COVID strategy. Exporting oxygen and vaccine when our own people are dying is nothing short of a crime.

India is a big vaccine producer. It seems that those exports re now on hold, at least, a partial hold.

What will be the impact globally of that decision and can India vaccinate its way out of this crisis?

LAXMINARAYAN: India with the current production capacity does not have enough vaccines for itself, let alone to export to other countries. That production capacity, I think you should go up something like six-fold in the next few months. If that were not to happen, India would be in serious problems.

But I think that there is now an effort to try and expand the capacity and the world should watch very carefully to make sure that India's production increases not just India's sake, but for the world sake as well.

VAUSE: Ramanan Laxminarayan, thank you so much for being with us, we appreciate your insights. Thank you for being with us.

Germany's federal government set to assume greater authority to impose COVID restrictions. If the bill passes the upper house, the federal government will be able to impose nationwide COVID measures for the first time. That includes adding curfews and limits on private gatherings in areas with high infection rates.


JENS SPAHN, GERMAN HEALTH MINISTER: Vaccinating and testing aren't enough to break the third wave. You can't get rid of the virus by testing, nor can you vaccinate a wave. No country has succeeded in doing this, not even Israel or the U.K. So, we have to break that third wave first.


VAUSE: But in Berlin, thousands protested on Wednesday, opposed to any lockdowns. There were clashes with police and dozens were detained.

And a CNN tally ranks Brazil as having the highest COVID-19 death rate in the southern hemisphere, more than 380,000 deaths so far. Brazil has surpassed Mexico, Peru, even the U.S. in deaths per 100,000 people.

In the U.S., President Joe Biden is touting 20 million vaccinations since taking office in January. Addressing the nation on Wednesday, Mr. Biden reported more than a quarter of Americans are now fully vaccinated. And one in four U.S. adults have received at least one dose.

Well, Russian security forces have arrested nearly 1,500 supporters of the jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny. They were among the thousands of protesters who ignored official warnings not to take part in so-called illegal gatherings. Nonetheless, those gatherings were held across Russia from St. Petersburg, to Moscow, to Vladivostok, in the far east.

Many would-be demonstrators were rounded up and detained during an early morning raids. And that meant the overall turnout fell short of the half 1 million mark Navalny's team had hope for.

But still, this was a notable act of defiance time to begin as President Vladimir Putin was ending his annual address to the nation. Putin made no mention of Navalny, but did warn other countries not to interfere in Russia's domestic affairs.

We have more details now from CNN's Fred Pleitgen reporting in from Moscow.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Scores of people took to the streets here in the Russian capital Moscow, but also in cities across this vast country, to protest what they say is the unfair and inhumane treatment of jailed opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.

But many of them told us that they're generally also dissatisfied with the way this country is being run by Vladimir Putin.

ALEXANDER SKRIPNIKOV, MOSCOW PROTESTER: You know, I feel like Putin is just abusing his power to unacceptable degree. He extended his term a longer and longer and he's just stagnating Russia more and more.


He tries to escalate relationship with foreign countries.

PLEITGEN: Riot police recently out in full force the authorities had warn people before, not to take part in what they called, unsanctioned protest.

And indeed, hundreds of people were detained although not as many as we've seen at protest in the past.

Nevertheless, opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza, he told me in an interview he believes that all this shows that the Kremlin is nervous.

VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: The biggest thing Putin is terrified of is the sight of people on the streets. The biggest fear for any dictator are citizens of their own countries. The biggest fear for any dictator are their own people.

PLEITGEN: The opposition certainly didn't pick this date at random. In fact this is also the day that Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual state of the nation address. There, he showed himself to be defiant. He warned other countries not to cross the red line as Russian defines them.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Whoever organizes any provocations that threaten our core security will regret this like they've never regretted anything before.

PLEITGEN: The Russian leader there certainly very defiant, but the opposition also defiant, and they vowed to carry on with their protest until Alexey Navalny gets the treatment by the doctors he wants to see him.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.


VAUSE: Jill Dougherty is a professor at Georgetown University. She was also CNN's longtime Moscow bureau chief, before that, White House correspondent. And she is with us this hour from Washington D.C.

Jill, thanks are coming back. Good to see you.


VAUSE: Okay. Well, Putin, he saved the threats and the bluster for the end of the speech, as well as this unique world view he has that Russia is not the military aggressor here but rather the victim of a Western plot of containment, then he added this for good measure.


PUTIN: Russia is poked all the time, without any reason. Of course, instantly around them, you can see all these smaller hyenas like around a large tiger, just like in the Kipling story.


VAUSE: The Kipling story being "The Jungle Book", and he compared the U.S. to the villainous tiger. But before he got to this point of quoting Kipling, Putin spent, what, a good deal of time outlining plans for modernized nuclear arsenal, a hypersonic cruise missile, a nuclear torpedo designed to set a radioactive tsunami, you know, not to mention more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine's order. Playing the victim card seems a hard sell here. So, explain how to these two ideas actually exist side by side in Putin's brain, or his thinking here?

DOUGHERTY: You, know that's always very dangerous and far be it from me to psycho analyze the president. But I do think, you know, watching that speech and watching the body language, I listen to the whole thing in Russian, there was a certain cockiness at the end.

As you mentioned, the short part that he had international issues. I think what he thinks, is that the West debouched, depraved as it is, not on the moral level of Russia, is really trying to as he said, he used that word "poke", you know, just nudging, nudging, nudging Russia, and Russia's very patient he would argue, but eventually, downplays for fools.

You know, he said, we want good relations but I was really struck by that, those planning provocations will regret their deeds in a way they have not regretted anything else for a long time. That's a pretty strong.

So, I think he really -- he's looking at a lot of problems. He's got the U.S. sanctions. He has what's going on Ukraine. He's got Navalny and the people on the streets in Moscow, the very day that he's delivering a speech. And I think he's showing that he's ready for anything.

VAUSE: And you mentioned the protesters, there were thousands on the streets. Not as many as we've seen, you know, a few months ago, but still there are a lot on the streets that are demanding the release of Alexey Navalny. And that's despite the fact that many of Navalny's supporters who were actually rounded up in advance and had been detained, that's the move the E.U. described as deplorable.

But, still they managed to create a split screen moment, with Putin trying to sound strong and appears strong on one side of the screen, thousands of protesters on the other side of the screen. If any political leader, that's usually a sign of weakness, right? Not strength, is that true for Putin as well?

DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, I think he's taking a harder and harder line. You have Navalny apparently in very serious physical condition. You have the move right now, the legal move to declare his organization and a couple of other organizations that are allied with it extremist organizations.

That would be very serious. You know, you can't begin to lock up people for a very, very long time. So, you know, he -- I'm sure that he was not pleased if there were all of those people on the streets.


But they -- in Moscow, they were pretty reserved and did not take the physical action that they did in St. Petersburg. But they can turn it on at any time if they want to.

VAUSE: I want you to listen to the U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Wednesday, on how the White House now plans to deal with Russia and Putin moving forward, here he is.


JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Unlike the previous administration, we will be taking steps to hold Russia accountable. Now, is going to stop Vladimir Putin from doing everything we don't like? Of course not, but do we believe that we will be able to take a firmer, more effective line when it comes to Russian aggression and Russian bad behavior? Yes we do.

At the same time, I would just like to reiterate that that doesn't rule out being able to work with Russia, where it's in our interest to do. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.


VAUSE: Yeah, this is the fine line here for the Biden administration. They take this tough line on Russia for the cyber warfare stuff but trying to lower tensions with Moscow as well, to prevent this relationship from boiling over.

The worst-case scenario is that Alexey Navalny should die here. And that massively complicates everything and would be a huge distraction for President Biden.

DOUGHERTY: Yes, and you can bet right now the Biden administration is figuring out what it would do if Navalny does die. So, that's a very serious issue. But I think, you know, Putin is kind of doing this walk and chew gum thing too, although the messaging was pretty hard. But he is saying, I want arms control but I have nuclear weapons. So,

there was a lot of posturing. But I do think that he wants some type of communication with the Biden administration. It's just at this point, he -- I think he feels vulnerable.

And so, he is trying to show to be a strong as he can be, to go into what maybe behind the scenes, even in front of the scenes. Some type of meetings, negotiations, communication with the Biden administration.

VAUSE: So just very quickly, you can see a pathway here where the U.S. and Russia can find a common cause, a common pathway so there could be some positive out of this. Like climate change for, instance arms control.

DOUGHERTY: Yeah, climate change, speaking of which, President Putin has agreed to take part in the climate summit, virtual, that president has announced in the coming days. And that's a good sign. Arms control obviously, they agreed on an extension of a new START.

So there are these possibilities, but you still have to look at the tone of what is going on. And beyond those two things, you begin to wonder what can they make any progress on. It's not helpful at all at this point.

VAUSE: Jill, thank you. Thank you. Appreciate you being with us.

Well, still to come, the search for a missing submarine with Indonesia's navy, fearing it's located at a depth far greater than the sub was designed for.

Also ahead, President Biden's virtual summit on climate change, set to start on the coming hours. One big key issue, the Amazon rainforest and whether the Brazilian president is willing to commit to ending its destruction.



VAUSE: Indonesia's navy believes it may have located one of the submarines which went missing during torpedo training off the coast of Bali. The sub with 53 crew members could be 600 to 700 meters below the surface, an oil slick on the ocean service has said to come from the sub. Of the 44-year-old submarine is believed to be deeper than its maximum dive depth. The navy remains optimistic the crew is still alive and safe.

Four Indonesian navy ships have begun certain rescue operations. Singapore and Australia have offered assistance.

CNN's Blake Essig covering the story for us from Tokyo.

This seems to be one of those cases where it really is a race against time to get there. BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John, it is a race

against time, a search and rescue operation is underway for a missing Indonesian submarine, with 53 people on board. Now, the sub went missing in the Bali Strait, about 100 kilometers off the coast of Bali on Wednesday morning, during a military training exercise.

Now, several hours after contact was lost with the sub, the Indonesian ministry of defense said an oil slick was spotted from the air in the same area where contact was lost. The oil is believed to come from the missing vessel.

Now, Indonesian navy officials say that this particular sub has a dive capability about 500 meters, it's believed to currently be at a depth of about 700 meters, which could not only be fatal for the submarine, but all those on board as well.

Now one military official has said quote, let's pray for them so that they can survive.

Now, previously, Navy officials say they detected movement under the water, the speed of about two and a half knots but that signal has since disappeared. Officials can't make a conclusion, as to whether or not that that signal came from the missing sub.

Indonesia has deployed four warships to search for the missing submarine, including one equipped with sonar that can precisely detect the subs' position.

Now, Indonesia is receiving help from several countries, including Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. Singapore who has close military ties with Indonesia, has also deployed a rescue vessel to assist in the search for the missing submarine, John.

VAUSE: Blake, thank you. Blake Essig there live for us in Tokyo.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will bring America back, back into the Paris agreement, and put us back into the business of leading the world on climate change again.


VAUSE: Even before he was sworn into office, Joe Biden promised the climate emergency would be a top priority of his administration. That commitment will be tested Thursday morning when he host the virtual climate summit with about 40 other world leaders.

Biden is expected to announce an aggressive goal of cutting U.S. emissions in half by the end of this decade.

Also, there will be the leaders of China and Russia with a lot of interest in how Biden engages with these two adversaries.

The Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will also attend the summit. Under his watch, Brazil's Amazon rainforest has been ravaged by illegal logging, mining, as well as deforestation.

But there is growing speculation the U.S. and Brazil may have struck a deal to try and end those damaging practices.

We have more now from CNN's Shasta Darlington.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what the United States doesn't want the Amazon to become. The Biden administration has been pushing countries to commit to tackling the climate crisis. Few more so than Brazil, a top 10 economy and notorious offender on the deforestation front.

The Brazilian government has recommitted to ending illegal logging within a decade, but wants financial support to speed up the process.

RICARDO SALLES, BRAZILIAN ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: The commitment of ending deforestation by 2030 is doable, with the resources we have today. If there were even greater resources in the short time span, it is possible to look at a shorter timeline.

DARLINGTON: Salles' remarks to affiliate CNN Brazil come after President Jair Bolsonaro wrote to President Biden, saying massive resources would be needed to end deforestation.

The Amazon forest has been under increased threat since Bolsonaro was elected. Deforestation has soared and illegal fires reached unprecedented levels in the past two years. Bolsonaro pushed to open indigenous lands to mining and agriculture.

JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (translated): The agrobusiness is the locomotive of our economy.

DARLINGTON: And slashed funding for environmental protection and monitoring programs.


But now, he says, he's ready to engage.

PEDRO JACOBI, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE LECTURER, UNIVERSITY OF SAO PAULO: If we don't trust the government, how can others trust the government?

DARLINGTON: Pedro Jacobi is a professor of environmental science at the University of Sao Paulo. He and other activists believe President Biden should be careful with the promises made by Bolsonaro.

JACOBI: The government has dismantled significantly, the national policies of environment that Brazil had proposed for many, many years. Their previous agenda doesn't indicate very clearly that the U.S. can trust the Brazilian government, unfortunately.

DARLINTON: It's why the U.S. climate envoy responded to Bolsonaro's commitment to deforestation, with a pinch of skepticism. We look forward to immediate actions, John Kerry tweeted, calling for

engagement with indigenous populations and NGOs.

Activists say the answer is transparency.

JACOBI: Fundamentally, it's a quantitative agenda, that has to be strengthened by the Brazilian government.

What are you doing? If you're doing this, show me how and when.

DARLINGTON: The hope is that the Brazilian government will finally be keen to show the country in a different light.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paulo.


VAUSE: Keep this in mind, every piece of plastic ever made by planet earth right here, is still with. Us it never ever completely breaks down. But, now, truly biodegradable plastics may be a reality.

Plastic acid or PLA, polylactic I should say, is a plant derived plastic that advertises compostable, but it's not as environmentally friendly as it sounds. PLA can be recycled with other plastics, plastic is never recycled anyway. Unless it's subjected to specific composting conditions, it can linger in the environment for as long as regular plastic.

But, here's the but, scientists at University of California Berkeley have found a way to break down PLA in just a few days. They do that by inventing a plastic-eating enzyme into the production process. It's going to like a self destruct feature.


TING XU, UC BERKELEY CHEMISTRY PROFESSOR: So what we did is to nanoscopically disperse the enzyme inside the plastic, the (INAUDIBLE) control of the degradation pathway, so that allows us to really not only accelerate degradation, but also modulate the latency. So that it can retain integrity during storage, during manufacturing until you are done with it, you can just put it in the compost where water at home.


VAUSE: It starts breaking down in the presence of water and heat, that makes unlikely the plastic would decompose when you don't really want it to. Scientists say the enzymes used in the process are already mass produced for industry, and because only small amounts are needed, the extra production cost is pretty much negligible.

Join CNN for special town hall on climate change. Senior White House officials have questions on how President Joe Biden plans to remake U.S. climate policy and push back against global warming. Friday, 10:00 p.m. in New York, 10:00 a.m. Saturday in Hong Kong. When we come back, Hong Kong boasts its freedom of the press. How a

verdict expected within hours might signal a crackdown on the public's access to accurate information.

Also, furious European football fans getting letters of apology from club owners after they lost bigly on the super league gamble.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

A verdict is expected next hour in the trial of an investigative journalist in Hong Kong. But this is about more than just one reporter doing her job to uncover possible government wrongdoing in the crackdowns of the 2019 protests. It may set the tone for whatever freedom of the press might be left in Hong Kong.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout live now outside the courthouse. And we're expecting that verdict, what, about an hour -- is that pretty hard or what are we expecting?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are -- it could be anything. We -- she could be found guilty which could face jail time of up to six months. Or she could be found innocent. But still it's been having a chilling effect on press freedom here in the territory.

Look, I'm standing outside the West Kowloon Port where we are still awaiting the verdict of a prize-winning reporter for -- for accessing a public database. Here name is Bao Choy. She is an award winning producer with the public broadcaster RTHK.

It was in November of last year when she was arrested, charged with making a false statement while obtaining vehicle registration data, while she was researching the report, looking into the police response to a mob attack on pro democracy protesters in July of 2019.

She has pleaded not guilty. But again, if guilty she could be facing jail time six months in prison. And this case is just the latest instance here that is stoking fear and concern about the status of press freedom in Hong Kong.


STOUT (voice over): The press literally under attack. A Hong Kong newspaper linked to a spiritual group banned in China shared this security cam footage of masked men smashing its printing presses. The attack, coming at a time of tightening Chinese control, was condemned by the city's Foreign Correspondents Club and the Hong Kong Journalists Association.

CHRIS YEUNG, CHARIMAN, HONG KONG JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATIONS: Journalists are under direct physical threats, and that will cause damaging impact on them for years and feelings of like terror among journalists and in doing their work.

STOUT (on camera): Hong Kong is a major media hub with a vibrant local press and a number of multinational outlets based here. But press freedom has been in steady decline according to the latest Reporters without Borders World Press Freedom Index, Hong Kong has fallen from 18th place in 2002 to 80.

(voice over): Pressure on the media intensified in the wake of the 2019 pro democracy protests, thanks to a new security law that has curbed dissent and paved the way for patriots to run the city.

When Hong Kong's top leader, Carrie Lam, unveiled the law on July 1, she promised that the city would continue to enjoy the freedom of speech, freedom of press, of publication, protest assembly and so on.

But what followed were a number of moves against the press. The police raid of pro-democracy newspaper "Apple Daily", the repeated arrests and imprisonment of the paper's owner, Jimmy Lai, the replacement of the head of public broadcaster RTHK, the cancellation of politically sensitive shows, and the prosecution on a journalist who accessed a public database to investigate police brutality.

The security law has also driven many to self censorship.

GRACE LEUNG, SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM AND COMMUNICATION, CHINESE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: We don't know whether people at the next table had overheard what we are talking about. And then they may ring a phone to the police department because they got a hot line.

STOUT: Despite the pressure reporters continue to report. The "Apple Daily", the city's largest opposition newspaper is still in print and independent online reporters and media organizations like Citizen News serve a growing audience.

YEUNG: The more difficult circumstances are, but the more rewarding and meaningful journalists work is.


STOUT: When journalism is hit hard, there is hard-hitting journalism to do.


STOUT: As we await the verdict of the RTHK freelance producer Bao Choy, the Hong Kong government has responded to that Reporters without Borders Global Press Freedom Index that was released earlier this week. Again, Hong Kong has fallen from 18th place in 2002 to 80th place in 2021.

The report also says that the national security law is quote, "a grave threat" to press freedom. The Hong Kong government calls the report quote, "appalling". It says no profession is above the law. And everyone is treated equally under the national security law, John.

VAUSE: Kristie, thank you. Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Well, Joe Biden is set to be the first sitting president to declare the massacre of more than a million Armenians a century ago by the Ottoman Empire, genocide. This move is likely to further fray relations with Turkey but would fulfill a promise Biden made during the campaign. Both Presidents Trump and Obama avoided the term out of concern it would anger Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

President Biden has not spoken with Erdogan since taking office. Turkey argues Turkish Muslims and Armenian Christians have died in the violence in World War I and the death toll they say is overestimated.

The Taliban in Pakistan claiming responsibility for a deadly bombing at the Afghanistan border. The target was the (INAUDIBLE) Serena Hotel in the city of Quetta. Police say four people were killed, at least a dozen others were injured.

In an email sent to CNN, militants claimed it was a suicide car bombing and further details will be shared soon. Police say China's ambassador to Pakistan was staying at the hotel but was not there when the bomb exploded.

There are horrifying accounts of violence and human rights abuses emerging from Ethiopia's Tigray Region. Ethiopian government troops backed by Eritrea have been battling forces loyal to the Tigray's former ruling party with civilians caught in the crossfire. Thousands have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes.

UNICEF's James Elder just returned from Tigray. He described the conditions.


JAMES ELDER, UNICEF: One girl out of so many I spoke to, 16 years old, doing really well at school, nice, school, great at physics, liked innovation is what she said. Conflict hit, she loses her brother and her father in a matter of days. She walks for 300 kilometers. 300 kilometers with her little brother on her back in broken flip-flops.

And then when we see her she's got nothing. She's just looking for a chance. She's looking for food. Now UNICEF will get her in a temporary learning space and we'll give her some protection but there are hundreds of thousands of kids like this.

I heard far too many stories from children who've been raped. This kind of really -- conflict is always cruel to women and kids but in this kind of scenario, where there is no frontline, and therefore women and kids are so often in the middle of that conflict. This is being particularly brutal to girls and their moms.

It's heartbreaking. I mean, literally, if I talk about the people I spoke to, they are really brave. And obviously I'm only speaking to those people who -- it's the tip of the iceberg, the cases we've seen because they are the ones who fought through a cultural barrier of shame to report it, or found our health center, or got transport, or got through the conflict. And what it does, I mean some of these are grossly violent. Some of these were groups of soldiers over multiple days in front of a child, or in front of a husband. And what it does is it shatters them, you know.

Anyone who hears the story has sleepless nights. These children or their moms, girls or their moms, you've got years of time it takes to get over it. Now again, UNICEF will be there. We will be there with psychological support. We'll be there with dignity tips and everything we can.

But let's make it perfectly clear, you know, authorities need to denounce these things very publicly and perpetrators need to know that there is an accountability and that sexual violence in conflicts is a war crime. It's an -- breach of an international law.


VAUSE: The E.U. has announced nearly $65 million in humanitarian aid for Ethiopia.

The son of Chad's slain president has taken over as head of state and commander of the armed forces and has promised a return to a civilian government with elections within 18 months.

Still (INAUDIBLE) deployed to patrol the capital a day after President Idris Deby died while visiting troops battling a rebel militia in the north. Those rebels are now threatening to attack the capital.

We have more now from CNN's David McKenzie.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Right after he was announced the winner of a disputed election for a sixth term, the former general and military tactician traveled north to the front line to visit troops battling a rebel push on the capitol.

On state TV, an army spokesman saying he died of his injuries. His son is now in charge.


AZEM BERMENDAO AGOUNA, CHADIAN ARMY SPOKESMAN: The transitional military council reassure the Chadian people that all positions have been taken to assure the peace, the security and the republican order.

Long lived the republic, long live Chad. The president of the transitional military council will be General Mahamat Idris Deby.

MCKENZIE: For years, Deby has been a steady, if controversial ally to Paris and Washington. The U.S. military has trained Chadian special forces and depended on its highly regarded but ruthless military to take the lead in the fight against terror groups in the Sahara and Lake Chad Region. But Deby's closest ally was always France. That's where he got his own military training before seizing power in 1990. France uses Chad as a base for Operation Barkhane. Thousands of troops strong, it's key to fighting al Qaeda and insurgencies in the region.

France's military has twice stepped in to stop attempted rebel takeovers of the capitol during Deby's rule. Even as the president's reputation faltered domestically, accused of corruption and political oppression.

On Tuesday French President said, France had lost a brave friend.

MCKENZIE (on camera): A journalist in N'Djamena told us that the situation in the capital is largely calm, but the power vacuum created by the death of Deby could provide new impetus to rebel groups that are trying to take over.

David McKenzie, CNN -- Johannesburg.


VAUSE: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Some of Europe's wealthiest football clubs give up the money grab, admit they messed up from super league to colossal failure, when we come back.


VAUSE: We're still waiting for the obituary but if there's any life left in European football's so-called super league it's failing faster that the life support may soon be turned off.

Just a few clubs that cling to the breakaway league -- the rest have admitted it was all just a really bad idea.

World Sport's Don Riddell has more now on the league's collapse.


DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR (voice over): They wanted to call it a super league, but there was nothing very super about it. The planning was secretive, the rollout was botched. From fantasy to (INAUDIBLE), a spectacular failure.

Fans were celebrating in the streets and the reputation of some of the world's biggest sports brands lay in tatters. One by one, the rebels retracted. The six clubs from England's Premier League where the first to scamper (ph) it, and in recognition of their monumental miscalculation, some even apologized.

JOHN HENRY, LIBERPOOL OWNERS: I want to apologize to all the fans and supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the disruption I caused them in the past 48 hours.

It goes without saying, but it should be said that the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans. RIDDELL: But there was far less contrition from some of the biggest

clubs on the continent. Andrea Agnelli, chairman of the Italian giants Juventus and the mastermind of the league, remained defiant.


ANDREA AGNELLI, CHAIRMAN, JUVENTUS: I remain convinced of the beauty of that project, of the value it would've developed to the pyramid of the creation of the best competition in the world.

RIDDELL: Whilst the small group of powerbrokers wanted the breakaway, they were seemingly alone in their ambition. Fans, players and managers decried it. Broadcasters distanced themselves. Prince William gave it a seal of disapproval. And politicians, including the British Prime Minister welcomed its demise.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Mister Speaker, I welcome the decision taken by the six English football teams not to join the European super league. The announcement was the right result for football fans, the clubs and the communities across the country.

RIDDELL: It now feels like the aftermath of a failed coup. Who were the architects? Who went along with it but didn't mean to cause any harm? Will the plotters be punished?

Already, there is blood in the boardroom. On Tuesday, Manchester United's executive vice chairman Ed Woodward announced his resignation. And executives at the games' elite level will now view each other with even more suspicion than they already did.

European football's governing body, UEFA, has emerged with this competitions including the lucrative champions league intact for now. But can they really claim the moral high ground?

RONALD KOEMAN, BARCELONA MANAGER: Everybody is talking about the super league, or champions league, or a different way of playing in Europe. But, UEFA is talking a lot, but UEFA is not doing, and not listening to the football people. Not listening to the managers, not listening to the players about the number of games. Nay, the most important for them is the money.

RIDDELL: UEFA's conviction to act so decisively in its own self interest only served to highlight the previous occasions that they have been accused of weakness.

In the future, will the governing body try harder to stamp racism out of the game? And will UEFA be tougher with a club that is manipulating the rules of financial fair play?

The European super league went from boom to bust in just a matter of days. But it's wreckage will be picked over for months. Don't expect this to be the end of it either. These clubs have signaled their intentions next time they're unlikely to walk away from them so meekly.


VAUSE: Stefan Szymanski is professor of sports management at the University of Michigan and co-author of "Soccer-nomics". And he is our returning champion joining us from Ann Arbor in Michigan. So thanks for coming back. Good to see you again.


VAUSE: Sure thing. Now, the British Prime Minister never one to let an opportunity go away was quick to jump on the band wagon here, tweeting, "This is the right result for football fans, clubs and communities across the country." Blah-blah-blah.

But keep in mind, amid all this turmoil, UEFA approved plans to expand the number of teams in the Champions League, dramatically increase the number of matches that were to be played, a whole bunch of changes which are being described by fans again as a blatant power grab by the elite clubs.

So when it comes to the demise of the super league, is it a win for the fans or is it a win for the status quo?

SZYMANSKI: Well, it's really a major win for fans because what they were promising was to completely change the face of football by removing promotion relegation, entry on sporting merit to the highest level of competition. And so, that was the real threat.

The promise to expand the size of the Champions League is probably not that welcomed to most fans. After all, probably people do want to see the best teams play against each other more often. They just don't want to see them breakaway and do that on an exclusive basis.

VAUSE: Ok. Well, make no mistake, the super league is completely dead. We don't know, but it was all about the Benjamins, it's about the money.

Here's the president of Real Madrid and the chairman of the failed super league, Florentino Perez.


FLORENTINO PEREZ, PRESIDENT, REAL MADRID (through translator): What we want to do is save football, so that it can live peacefully for at least the next 20 years without stress and without having to say 200 million euros have been lost. The situation, I tell, you is very dramatic.


VAUSE: So in terms of financial peril now are the two breakaway clubs in Italy, AC Milan and Inter Milan, are they the ones facing the biggest financial blow here with the collapse of the super league? Are they the clubs which actually needed the cash the most? SZYMANSKI: Well, I would say all of the clubs need the cash very

badly. This has been a very bad year financially for pretty much everybody. And they are all interconnected because they're all trading players and they all owe transfer fee payments to each other.

So it's like a banking system. They're all dependent on one another. And it's actually really hard to know where the biggest stress points are.


VAUSE: You know, the other big loser, if you want to name somebody out of this, you know, apart from the three American owners is the Arsenals owner, Stan Kroenke. The sports Web site The Athletic writes this, "He's a man who doesn't attend games, doesn't feel the pulse of the club, doesn't seem to put the structures or people in place to arrest the recent decline. He's not best placed to act in the best interest of this sporting institution."

And right now there's a hashtag "Kroenke out" which has spread like wildfire on social media, there's a protest planned for Friday. What will his future now be with the club? I mean is he the type who will just say and weather the storm? He does own what seven pro sports teams in the U.S. and in the U.K. as well. So is he likely to stick it out?

SZYMANSKI: We have a very long history of unpopular owners in football hanging on forever and a day. After all, the (INAUDIBLE) at Manchester United are bitterly hated by Manchester United fans.

So if Kroenke -- he owns the club. If he wants to stay on and play, keep on running the club, then it's up to him to decide.

Frankly, all of the American owners are pretty unpopular now. And if they want to be loved, they probably would do well to sell up.

VAUSE: There had been this effort though over the last, you know, recently to improve relations between, you know, the American owners or Kroenke in particular and the Arsenal fans. And that seemed to have some success which now I will say it's been basically torched, really. It's all for naught.

SZYMANSKI: Yes. I mean it's the most -- I mean business schools will teach this as a case in catastrophic public relations. It's really hard to imagine a bigger screw up than this. And it will take them years to get over this because bear in mind, these people often have to negotiate with other clubs about business deals.

And now, when they walk into a room, no one will trust them. Everyone will think they are lying, and that's not a good place to be if you are trying to do -- trying to enter into negotiations.

VAUSE: As you say, a good case study for business students and sports professionals moving forward.

Stefan, good to see you. Thanks for being with us. SZYMANSKI: Thanks for having me. Bye.

VAUSE: Still to come, frigid temperatures and vineyards, it's bad combination. And in France the race to save those grapes from dying on the vine.

When we return.



VAUSE: Well a recent cold snap in France has had a devastating impact on at least half of the country's wine producers. Now, desperate and inventive efforts are on the way to try and save those precious grapes.

CNN's Jim Bittermann has our report.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's a sunny afternoon in Marcel, France. In the nearby burgundy vineyards, this would normally be the time of year when wine makers here would be doing some last-minute clipping of their vines and looking forward to a great vintage.

Not this year, and not for Thibault Hubert.

THIBAULT HUBERT, WINE MAKER: The impact is huge.

BITTERMANN: Like so many other one producers here, Hubert expects that only 30 percent of his vines will produce great bunches this year, after a warm week in March brought out the tiny buds but sub-freezing temperatures killed many of them off, right after Easter.

HUBERT: On times like this, you have 10 -- between 8 and 12 8 little bunches. We will probably have only two, three bunches per vine. The buzz just break, just open a little bit and then we have this kind of frost, a little bit of snow and so it's actually a disaster.

BITTERMANN: There is no doubt in Hubert's mind, that the early flowering, followed by days of freezing temperatures are the results of climate change.


HUBERT: We have more periods like frost like this. We have huge periods with very high temperatures and there is a lot of dry periods.

BITTERMANN: In the high value vineyards around here, the nights have been lit up with fire as the vintners tried everything they could think to overcome the freeze.

Smoke pots to even helicopters to increase the airflow around the vines. About the only thing that worked somewhat seemed counterintuitive. If the vines were sprayed with water early enough before the buds flowered, they became encapsulated in ice which ironically can protect them later.

Nonetheless, the losses are expected to be huge, in the billions of euros. The French agricultural minister called it the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the 21st century.

(on camera): What's made the situation so catastrophic for France is that this climate accident as some people are calling it, has affected not just the vineyards of burgundy, but grape growing areas right across the country. What's more, it's also had a devastating effect on fruit production.

(voice over): Not far away from Hubert's vineyards, Alan Duruz looks over his cherry trees in dismay. He estimates the warm spell followed by the freeze took out 98 percent of his harvest this year.

ALAN DURUZ, FRUIT PRODUCER IN BURGUNDY (through translator): Are you counting, there are just two trees and all the orchard that escaped.

BITTERMANN: And when Duruz gives his nearby plum trees a shake, it's the same story. The dead blossoms which were meant to be fruit, fall like snow. The government has promised more than a billion euros in aid to the fruit and wine producers, but like Duruz and Hubert, many here are skeptical that it will be enough. When losses have been estimated as high as 3.5 billion euros.

What's more, there could be more losses to come.

Back in the Burgundy vineyards, Hubert knows there could be freezing temperatures right up until mid May.

(on camera): What happens if you get another freeze?

HUBERT: We don't want to hear this but we know that we could have frost until middle of May, unfortunately.

BITTERMANN (voice over): Jim Bittermann, CNN -- Marcel, France.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. CNN NEWSROOM continue after the break with Rosemary Church.



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. And I'm Rosemary Church.

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