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New Guidelines Coming for Fully Vaccinated Americans; Turkey Announces Strictest Lockdown Yet; Myanmar's Military Accused of Beatings, Torture in Crackdown; Report: Israeli Treatment of Palestinians is Apartheid; Russia Suspends Political Movement of Kremlin Critic Navalny; Far-Right Conspiracies Cause for Republican Concern. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired April 27, 2021 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: CHURCH: Well President Joe Biden is expected to lay out new guidelines later today for anyone in the U.S. who is fully vaccinated against COVID. A federal official tells CNN that will include a plan for unmasking outdoors. CNN's Nick Watt has the latest.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president expected to announce major tweaks to the COVID-19 guidance on who can do what and where.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Certainly, what one can do outdoors vis-a-vis, masks is going to be one of those recommendations.

WATT (voice-over): Allowing the vaccinated to go maskless outside might be an incentive to get the vaccine.


WATT (voice-over): Closing in one-third of the U.S. population is now fully vaccinated. Still, far from herd immunity. But apparently, normality is nearer than that.

FAUCI: You will reach a point even before then where you'll start to see the number of cases going down dramatically. It's going to be a gradual getting with regard to what you can do outdoors, what you can do travel, outdoor sports, stadiums, theaters, restaurants.

WATT (voice-over): Even European vacations could be OK this summer for the vaccinated.

ANDY SLAVITT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: They're saying those Americans are safe to come to our country without risk of spreading COVID-19. Think about that. That's incredible. WATT (voice-over): But the pace of vaccination here is now slowing.

SLAVITT: It might not be as fast as the first 50 percent.


SLAVITT: I think that it's going to be slower. But I think we're going to continue to get there.

WATT (voice-over): Average daily new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. just dropped below 60,000 for the first time in about a month.

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Right now, the declines that we are seeing, we can take to the bank. I think we can feel more assured because they are being driven by vaccinations and greater levels of population-wide immunity.

WATT (voice-over): But in India, crisis mode. The U.S. now sending equipment, drugs, advisers, and pending safety review, will release doses from its stockpile of AstraZeneca vaccine, unauthorized in this country and apparently not needed, still unknown which countries they would go to.

DR. KRUTIKA KUPPALLI, VICE CHAIRMAN, INFECTIOUS DISEASES SOCIETY OF AMERICA, GLOBAL HEALTH COMMITTEE: We really do have a responsibility to try and help vaccinate the rest of the world. And that includes India and other places that need it right now.

WATT: And here in the U.S. the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is rolling out once more after that brief hold while experts into those very rare possible blood clot issues. Now where was some polling done during that pause. It wasn't great -- 73 percent of the people saying that they would not be willing to take that vaccine. Let's see how that all plays out over the coming few weeks.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


CHURCH: On Thursday Turkey will enter its strictest lockdown since the pandemic began. After nightly curfews and full weekend lock downs failed to stop a slew of new infections. While daily cases have been falling Turkey is sixth in the world at total infections at more than 4.5 million. And CNN's Jomana Karadsheh joins me now from Istanbul with more on this. Good to see you Jomana. So how tough will Turkey strictest lockdown be, and how will it impact citizens across the country?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, since the start of the pandemic, the government really has been trying to avoid this sort of full lockdown, but it seems right now they have been left with no choice but to shut down the country for nearly three weeks. The strictest lockdown since the start of the pandemic.

Just to give you an idea of what's been going on here. Back in March a lot of the restrictions were loosened up in what was described as this normalization phase and that is when we started seeing the number of cases beginning to rise. This month Turkey registering unprecedented numbers, more than 60,000 cases a day on some days of April, more than 300 deaths.

So two weeks ago a partial lockdown was introduced. This seems to have helped bring the numbers down, but not as fast as the government wants to see them moving downward. So last night we heard from President Erdogan announcing to the nation that this three-week lockdown is going to start on Thursday evening. Explaining that when he's saying that much of Europe right now is in this phase of reopening, that Turkey cannot be left behind, that they must work to try to bring the cases down to below 5,000 a day or sectors in the country like tourism and trade will pay a heavy price as he puts it.

So as of Thursday 7:00 p.m. local time most of the country is going to be shut down, people will not be allowed to leave their homes except for certain hours during the day when they are allowed to go out on foot for essential shopping.


And travel within the country is going to be restricted only with a government-issued permit in emergencies will people be allowed to do intercity travel.

So we will have to wait and see, Rosemary, in the coming weeks if they will manage to bring down the numbers to where President Erdogan says he wants to see them, at below 5,000, this at the same time as the vaccination campaign continues in the country.

Let's hope it works. Jomana Karadsheh joining us live for Istanbul. Many thanks.

Well, the stakes cannot be higher in Myanmar, democracy activists describe repeated beatings and torture by the military. We have their stories next.


CHURCH: The numbers from a Myanmar human rights organization are staggering. More than 700 people have been killed in three months and 3,400 are detained. The military crackdown is relentless. When Clarissa Ward visited the country earlier this month she heard firsthand accounts of beatings and torture. A warning, her report contains graphic images.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They gather outside the prison every day mostly parents desperately hoping for a glimpse of their children, proof that they are still alive. They know that behind these walls, Myanmar's military junta is engaging in unspeakable cruelty against those who dare to defend democracy. Now in hiding, this 19-year-old is brave enough to share his story with us. He says he was detained, after being stopped by soldiers who found photos of him at protests on his phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When we got, the commander tied my hands behind my back and used small scissors to cut my ears, tip of nose, my neck, and my throat. Then he let his fellow soldiers beat me up that night.


WARD (voice-over): He shares photos of the abuse, his back lacerated from whippings with a cable wire, his face swollen from endless strikes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I even told them to kill me, instead of torturing me, it was that painful.

WARD (voice-over): Myanmar Junta shows no shame about its cruelty, on state television it proudly displays images of those arrested for so- called terrorist activity. The face of the 31-year-old dance teacher is barely recognizable. Family members say this is what she looked like before the beatings.

From the safety of neighboring India, this 23 year old army cadet says the soldiers were only allowed to watch state TV. We have agreed to not reveal his identity for his protection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They tried to brainwash us, there are soldiers who only believe what the commanders told them. They don't think.

WARD (voice-over): Two years into his military career, he decided to defect, haunted by the military's brutality after the coup. Every night, he says, they would set out on raids. Armed with assault rifles, and the names of protest leaders, given by their informants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): At one point, we went to arrest two leaders. One got arrested, and one was trying to escape, and we shot him on the spot. We were ordered to shoot when they escaped.

WARD (voice-over): That night, he claimed he intentionally broke his rifle so it wouldn't fire. But says it was the cruelty to the families of the protesters that finally broke him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They were crying when we raided their houses and beat them. The neighbor's knew too, but no one dared to come out at night. If someone was looking at us through their windows, we told them to come out, and beat them too. The youngest one I saw was around 10 or 11 years old, a boy.

WARD (voice-over): Despite the ferocity of the military's crackdown, Myanmar's pro-democracy movement is still very much alive. The young protesters ordeal lasted three long days during the endless beating he said he had one focus, staying alive, so that he could protests once again.

Clarissa Ward, CNN.


CHURCH: A new Human Rights Watch report compares Israel's treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories to apartheid. The group says the government is committed to a policy of domination by Jewish Israelis and Palestinians are subject to systematic oppression and inhumane acts. It cites what it calls draconian military rule and growing Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories. The demolition of Palestinian homes and check points and other restrictions on people's movement. The report says many of the abuses have no security justification.

Israel calls the report preposterous and false, and accused Human Rights Watch of having an anti-Israel agenda.

And I spoke last hour to Omar Shakir the Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch and I asked him about the Israeli government's criticism.


OMAR SHAKIR, ISRAEL AND PALESTINE DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: The Israeli government like many repressive governments whose human rights abuses we document around the world, instead of engaging with the substance of our findings has chosen to attack the messenger. It's because they have no response to these findings.

This was a report two years in the making, 213 pages that founded the Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. These are universal legal terms identified in international treaties and Human Rights Watch spent two years undertaking investigation connecting the dots based on 30 years of research and we found the evidence overwhelming.

That Israeli authorities pursue a policy across Israel and Palestine to maintain the domination of Jewish-Israelis over Palestinians and combine with inhumane acts and systematic oppression against Palestinians in the occupied territory amount to crimes against humanity among the most odious crimes in international law. CHURCH: Well what were some of those main abuses, and if Israel saying

to you this is full of lies? Talk to us about the evidence you found?

SHAKIR: Absolutely. We found evidence based on case studies conducted across Israel and Palestine. We have over 850 footnotes in this report. Some of the abuses include the imposition for 54 years of draconian military rule on 2.7 million Palestinians in the West Bank, while the Israeli authorities govern Jewish-Israeli settlers living in the same territory under their rights respecting civil law.


It includes two million Palestinians in the Gaza strip effectively caged into an open-air prison. Fourteen years facing a generalized travel ban. It includes policies and the majority of the West Bank where it is 100 times more likely that your home gets demolished if you're Palestinian then you get a building permit.

And it includes 4.7 million Palestinians in the occupied territory that are deprived of basic civil rights or any say over the government that rules over their lives.

CHURCH: So, what are you hoping to achieve by releasing this Human Rights Watch report on Israel's treatment of Palestinians?

SHAKIR: Prominent voices for years have warned that apartheid lurk just around the corner if the trajectory Israel's rule over Palestinians did not change. Israeli authorities have turned that corner. The threshold has been crossed. Apartheid is the reality today for millions of Palestinians. It is the time for the international community to recognize the reality for what it is and take the steps necessary to solve this grave situation.


CHURCH (on camera): The chief prosecutor in Moscow has suspended the nationwide political movement of jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny. Now this comes ahead of a court ruling to decide whether his organizations will be labeled as extremist groups. CNN's Sam Kiley has the details now from Moscow.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A Russian prosecutor has successfully appealed to a Moscow court to have the whole movement behind Alexey Navalny effectively suspended. This is part of ongoing proceedings to have his movement designated as an extremist organization.

Now the movements headquarters in various offices right across Russia are being ordered to cease their activities, and on social media his supporters have said that they are ending all of their posting in support of Mr. Navalny following this court ruling.

Now this is part of an ongoing campaign effectively to stifle his movement that was very loud across the country last Wednesday with demonstrations in many, many cities in support of Mr. Navalny's then hunger strike demanding access to independent medical authorities to look after him while he languished in prison.

He is now suspended that hunger strike or ended that hunger strike, but now his movement faces a temporary suspension but part of a campaign being orchestrated through the Moscow courts by the prosecutors here to render it a prescribed organization. And if that goes through -- and every indication is that it will -- then it will be impossible for Mr. Navalny's movement to operate at all inside Russia. And particularly impossible for it to be able to prosecute any efforts at all to field candidates in September's elections.

Sam Kiley, CNN, in Moscow.


CHURCH: Some startling comments from the Iranian foreign minister on a leaked audio reporting. Mohammad Javad Zarif is apparently heard criticizing Islam's Islamic Revolutionary Guard and assassinated top general Qasem Soleimani. He says the country's military actions undermine and overshadow diplomacy.

The three-hour interview with Zarif was apparently recorded as part of a research project and aired on Iran media Sunday. The authenticity of the tape has not been officially confirmed. But an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman says the quotes were taken out of context and don't reflect an official stance.

Still ahead, Arizona's largest county is auditing 2020 presidential election ballots again. How far right conspiracy theories may be fueling this audit and posing a major challenge for Republicans. Stay with us for that.



CHURCH: Arizona's Secretary of State says a Republican audit of 2020 election results is a farce. Katie Hobbs who certified the election results showing President Joe Biden won the state says the Maricopa County audit should end. But as CNN's Ryan Nobles reports that's not likely to dim the enthusiasm of those still supporting former President Donald Trump.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly six months after the presidential election, a nationwide pockets of Republicans amping up claims the election was stolen and Donald Trump should be president.

In Arizona, a group of GOP leaders attempting a fourth recount of the ballots in Maricopa County reigniting false claims that Trump won the county by 200,000 votes.

DOUG LOGAN, OWNER CYBER NINJAS: There's a lot of Americans here, myself included, they're really bothered at the way the country is being ripped apart right now.

NOBLES (voice-over): And the owner of the firm leading the recount has pushed the false claim that the election was stolen. The big lie, just one example of wild conspiracy theories being pushed by the far-right.

In Minnesota, a county Republican committee hosting conspiracy theorist Trevor Loudon who claims the coronavirus was created to undermine Trump's re-election, that Democrats are working covertly with Islamic terrorists and that the murder of George Floyd was planned.

TREVOR LOUDEN, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: This was planned since 2016, folks. This was all organized by a group headquartered in Minnesota called the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

NOBLES (voice-over): But these false and often wacky claims are not just being spun in the dark corners of the internet.

LARRY KUDLOW, FOX NEWS HOST: No burgers on July 4th, no steaks on the barbie. I'm sure middle America is just going to love that.

NOBLES (voice-over): Republicans like Representative Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene being echoed on Fox News claiming the Biden administration wants to stop Americans from eating red meat to reduce carbon emissions. But there is no such policy. And a paper being cited from right-wing personalities from the University of Michigan and Tulane has nothing to do with the administration.


For years, many Republicans would laugh off or ignore President Trump when he would re-tweet and amplify these yarns. But to this day some Republican leaders like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy still refuse to challenge the falsehoods. On Sunday, McCarthy trying to recast Trump's role in the January 6th Capitol insurrection as that of a hero.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): When he ended the call he was saying telling me he'll put something out to make sure to stop this. And that's what he did. He put a video out later.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Quite a lot later and it was a pretty weak video.

NOBLES (voice-over): Despite saying this shortly after the riot.

MCCARTHY: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters.

NOBLES: And as an example of how many on the far right fringes are taking the lead of the former president, today he put out a statement attacking the current Republican Governor of Arizona Doug Ducey, someone that's been a long-time supporter of Donald Trump's saying that Ducey is one of the worst governors in America because he is not doing more to protect those who are conducting this fourth audit of the ballots in Maricopa County.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.


CHURCH: Tesla's profits have topped $1 billion for the first time. It wasn't long ago that the automaker was losing money most quarters and in danger of running out of cash. But tesla has now posted record profits for three straight quarters. CEO Elon Musk told investors Monday the company struggled in recent months with a shortage of computer chips that has dogged the industry. Tesla has also been helped by a large investment in bitcoin.

And thank you so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. "EARLY START" is coming up next. You're watching CNN. Have yourselves a great day.