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India's COVID-19 Crisis; Brazil Investigates Bolsonaro's COVID-19 Management; Dozens Killed in Mexico City Metro Disaster; Netanyahu Misses Deadline to Form New Government; Myanmar Protesters Training to Fight the Military; Scotland Election Thursday. Aired 2- 2:45a ET

Aired May 5, 2021 - 02:00   ET

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


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ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, India's government faces increasing calls for a nationwide COVID lockdown. As one health minister tells CNN, the country could face a third wave, after this one.

Israel's prime minister falls short of his deadline to create a new governing coalition. HAs Benjamin Netanyahu reached the end of the road?

We are live in Jerusalem.

And protesters in Myanmar seek out training from armed rebel groups, to take on the country 's new military leadership. A CNN exclusive report is just ahead.

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CHURCH: Thanks for being with us.

The coronavirus surge that is devastating India is showing no sign of easing. The health ministry reports more than 382,000 new infections and nearly 3,800 deaths on Wednesday. And the country's COVID-19 modeling committee says the peak of this outbreak could still be 2 weeks away.

Doctors are urging a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the virus. The state of Delhi wants the military to help distribute oxygen and other medical supplies.

Meanwhile some are taking matters into their own hands. This man sold his wife's jewelry to turn his rickshaw into a makeshift ambulance, complete with an oxygen tank and other supplies.

India's financial capital, has started the country's first drive-in vaccination site. And Rajasthan's health minister is taking aim at the prime minister. He says the government has kept states in the dark about where it is going. CNN's Clarissa Ward has the report.

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CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a raging pandemic tore across the country, thousands flocked to the streets for political rallies with hardly a mask in sight. At one gathering, India's prime Minister, Narendra Modi, praised the turnout.

"I've never seen such a huge crowd at a rally." On that same day more than 260,000 cases of COVID were recorded in India. Shortly after, millions of worshippers were allowed to congregate for the end of the weeks long Hindu Kumbh Mela pilgrimage. After all, Modi had already declared victory against COVID.

NARENDRA MODI, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA (through translator): In a country where 18 percent of the world population lives, we averted a major tragedy by effectively controlling the coronavirus. We saved mankind from a big disaster by saving our citizens from the pandemic.

WARD: As a second wave of coronavirus ravages this country, those words have come back to haunt Modi. Critics accuse him of putting his political interests ahead of the health of the nation.

YAMINI AIYAR, PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CENTRE FOR POLICY RESEARCH: We didn't even ask the question of what we needed to do, based on learning from this last year in the event that we have a second wave, a second wave was never off the table. You just have to look around the world. You don't have to be scientist to say that.

We did nothing. Instead, we celebrated a bit to prematurely Indian exceptionalism.

WARD: Now India's healthcare system is on the brink of collapse. Shortages of everything from doctors and drugs to beds and oxygen after years of neglect.

It was always going to be difficult to contain the spread of COVID here in India. This is a densely populated country of nearly 1. 4 billion people. The Indian government is blaming the rapid spread on this new double mutant variant and it says that it warned states to remain vigilant.

Still, many doctors agree that the devastating toll of this second wave could have been mitigated, with better preparations and a coordinated response. Assured of victory against the virus, India began exporting in the vaccines it was producing instead of inoculating its own population.

How much responsibility does Prime Minister Modi bare for this?

AIYAR: He is the prime minister of the country.

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AIYAR: He takes full responsibility for all that we do good and all that goes wrong. WARD: Do you think this will have an impact on his popularity?

AIYAR: I think as of now what we have seen especially over the last three weeks, is complete policy abdication and certainly, I hope, that we hold our government accountable for what we are seeing today.

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WARD (on camera): The government has announced a raft of measures to try to combat this crisis including drafting medical students to help doctors getting the navy involved, getting the air force involved.

But some are saying simply that it's too little too late. And while it's not clear what the political fallout might be for Prime Minister Modi, people are saying here that this problem is not going away. One state health minister warning that there could be a third wave on the horizon -- Clarissa Ward, CNN, New Delhi.

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CHURCH: India's outbreak and virus variant have its neighbors on high alert and some are already experiencing the spillover. Nepal, which is a long border with India, has seen a significant surge in cases and deaths and reported new records on Tuesday. Infections also arising in nearby island nations such as Sri Lanka.

Kristie Lu Stout is tracking developments, she joins us now live.

Good to see you.

How is Nepal responding for this threat coming from India, with surging infections, hospitalizations and deaths?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: The surge in Nepal right now is really alarming. It is seeing a 1,200 percent rise in cases since mid April. On Tuesday Nepal reported 55 daily deaths, as a result of coronavirus. Its highly daily death toll yet and on average it is reporting 200 new coronavirus cases per day, per every 1 million people, which puts Nepal on par with India.

India reporting a very similar infection rate at the end of last month. Nepal is taking action. It imposed local impartial or full lockdowns in about 46 provinces across the country. Last Thursday it announced a 2-week full lockdown on its capital.

Starting tonight, midnight, Nepal is banning all international flights from India and 2 other countries. Brazil and South Africa. Starting midnight tomorrow, it will ban all international flights.

But that long porous border between India and Nepal remains open for Nepali citizens. Yes, it is sealed off to foreigners but citizens can still be able to cross into India using over a dozen different checkpoints.

There is a lot of fear that the crisis in Nepal could turn into a catastrophe, mimicking the one that we are seeing play out, on the ground inside India. I want to bring up a very alarming statement from Red Cross.

His chairperson writing this quote. "What is happening in India right now is a horrifying preview of Nepal's future, if we cannot contain this latest COVID surge. It is claiming more lives by the minutes." Unquote.

Now the Red Cross says every effort is being made to provide vaccinations and COVID testing kits to isolate infected people. We also learned earlier in this day, the military in Nepal is building a makeshift hospital but Nepal is desperate, that desperation underscored by an urgent plea, delivered by the prime minister of Nepal earlier this week, begging the world for aid. Rosemary.

CHURCH: And Kristie, all of that fear is totally understandable. What about other parts of Asia?

What is the situation across the region in terms of infections, restrictions and vaccinations?

STOUT: Let's zero in on the situation in near neighboring Pakistan, where some pretty shocking video has come to light. We will bring it up for you now.

Thousands of people on the streets gathering for a religious ceremony and not wearing masks. Pakistan, quite a while now, has been aware of the threat posed by the surge of cases in neighboring India. Pakistan had been taking action. It cut 80 percent of all international flights coming into the country, banned domestic travel, there is no interprovincial travel.

Pakistan, during this time of the holiday, police have been seen patrolling the streets of cities across Pakistan, including Lahore, to enforce pandemic protocols. But there you see a very different picture.

On the streets of Lahore, people gathering for religious ceremony, thousands, and not wearing masks. It's definitely raising fears of more contagion, more infection taking hold of that Indian neighbor -- back to you.

CHURCH: That is such a worry. Kristie joining us from Hong Kong with a wrap of what's going on across the region, we appreciate it.

Poland will require people traveling from Brazil, India and South Africa to quarantine. That comes after 16 cases of the variant first detected in India were found in Poland. France continued a three-week trend of slowing new COVID infections on Tuesday.

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CHURCH: The number of people in hospitals also fell after two days of increases. And Germany is considering lifting some restrictions for people who are fully vaccinated. They won't need a negative test to go shopping and they will be exempt from the nighttime curfew. But they would still have to wear masks and social distance. The coronavirus is responsible for one-third of all deaths in Brazil

so far this year. That is according to Brazil's health ministry. You can see here, Brazil is third in the world, in the number of COVID-19 cases and second in deaths.

Critics blame the president for letting it get that severe. Now Brazil's parliament has opened an investigation into his response. Stefano Pozzebon has the blunt testimony from day one.

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STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Tuesday Brazil's Congress formally launched an investigation into the handling of the pandemic by president Jair Bolsonaro, who has seen calls for impeachment. Tuesday's proceedings began with 7 hours of testimony.

A former health minister who served under Bolsonaro until being fired in April, he testified, that at the early days of the pandemic. Bolsonaro could not believe an estimate of up to 180,000 Brazilians could die if the virus be left unrestrained.

Bolsonaro has long downplayed the risk of COVID-19and countries economic health over lockdown or social restraining orders. Now over 111,000 Brazilians have died of the virus. And Brazil has reported the second highest death toll in the world.

The current health minister and other top health officials are also due to testify in the investigation, which could last several months. The investigation is led by a specific parliamentary committee, it is not a trial of Bolsonaro himself but it could matter enough for the senate to proceed towards impeaching the president before next year's presidential elections.

Bolsonaro has so far dismissed the investigation, calling it an off- season carnival. But with Brazil reporting more than 77,000 new COVID cases on Tuesday alone, he's likely to face further and further scrutiny --

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CHURCH: -- of the deadly metro disaster in the capital city. Flags will be flown at half staff. Part of an overpass collapsed on Monday, killing 24 people, injuring almost 80. Engineers are inspecting the train line and early investigation results could come on Friday. Matt Rivers picks up the story.

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MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It took only a matter of seconds for a horrific disaster to unfold as this rail overpass in Mexico City collapsed, plunging rail cars and passengers on board into a heap of concrete, dust and rubble, killing at least 24 and injuring dozens more. First responders initially worked furiously to try and save anyone

trapped in the rubble but rescue efforts were temporarily suspended due to concerns about the stability of the subway cars.

As the sun rose, they attempted to stabilize the scene and safely lower two of the cars that dangled precariously over what was left of the overpass.

The chaos and aftermath giving way to anger, as officials struggled to provide answers for how such a catastrophic structural failure could have happened. Reporters openly questioned the government about long- standing safety concerns and the president vowed a swift, thorough and transparent investigation.

"The people of Mexico will all know the truth. Nothing will be hidden but there is no impunity for anyone."

Construction of line 12 of the so-called Golden Line was a widely touted construction project from 2006 to 2012, during the Mexico City mayoral tournament. The project was later called corrupt with shoddy workmanship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The metro was badly done. The whole construction was already poorly done.

RIVERS (voice-over): In 2014, 2 years after concerns had concluded, 11 of the 20 stations had to be briefly suspended to fix what the then director of the metro system Joel Ortega (ph) called engineering failures.

Mexico's supreme audit institute found that the government "failed to comply with legal and administrative provisions to verify the work on the Golden Line had been carried out correctly."

But the federal district attorney ruled there were not enough elements to hold him personally responsible at the time.

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RIVERS (voice-over): On Tuesday, the current metro director pushed back on any allegations of engineering weakness.

"At the end of 2019, a study of structural and geotechnical behavior of line 12 was conducted by a national company. The results didn't reveal any risks in the operation."

For his part on Tuesday, he offered his condolences to victims and vowed to cooperate fully with the investigation.

He said, "This is the most terrible accident we have ever had in the public transportation system. After determining what caused the accident with proof and evidence, we have to establish who is responsible and the authorities will have to act as a result, no matter who that is."

Engineering teams are on site, looking at any needed immediate fixes to the remaining elevated sections of line 12, as well as conducting tests into the source of the structural failure.

They are expected to release their preliminary findings of what caused the collapse on Friday. Families with loved ones lost are likely not going to find comfort but instead perhaps raise more questions about what could have been done to avoid this tragedy in the first place -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.

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CHURCH: Vaccination efforts and climate change will be on the agenda as the G7 meeting wraps up in London. The British foreign secretary declared diplomacy is back as the group gathered Tuesday for the first in-person meeting in two years. The main focus, relations with China and Russia.

The pandemic was also discussed during a meeting between British prime minister Boris Johnson and U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken. A Downing Street spokesman says the two sides agreed the G7 countries can help increase vaccine manufacturing worldwide.

Blinken heads next to Kyiv, where he will meet with his Ukrainian counterpart. Blinken's trip is meant to bolster support for Ukraine and he might get there in time to see a new round of Russian aggression.

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MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have come out here to a very rough sea and, you can see, as Russian forces pull back their troops from the border of Ukraine, they are redeploying many of the forces here into the Sea of Azov (ph), raising concerns in Ukraine and around the world that the military pressure they are applying on Ukraine from the land is now on the sea.

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CHURCH: Troubled waters on the Sea of Azov. We will have Matthew Chance's full report coming up next.

Still to come, the Israeli prime minister's political future hangs in the balance after failing to form a new government coalition.

What is next for Israel?

We will head to Jerusalem to find out.

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CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to meet a

deadline to form a new governing coalition and end Israel's political deadlock. The president will now assign coalition building to another member of parliament.

And if that person succeeds, Mr. Netanyahu's long run as prime minister will likely be over. Many expect one of his top rivals to get the nod. We will know more in the coming days after the president decides his next move.

For more, I want to bring in Hadas Gold from Jerusalem.

Good to see you.

What happens next now that Netanyahu has missed the deadline to build a new governing coalition?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just a few minutes before midnight last night his party informed the government they were unable to form a coalition and returned the mandate to the president. Technically, Netanyahu could have asked for an extension. It goes to show just how hard the situation was for him and his party that they decided not to ask.

What happens now is the president has a few options. He can go to another member of parliament, possibly Yair Lapid, the head of the centrist party, who got the next highest number of votes after Netanyahu's party.

The president could hand it over to a different member of parliament who has a better chance. The president could send it back to the parliament. But most analysts are placing the money on Yair Lapid, that he will receive the mandate.

The main star of the show has been the head of a small right wing party named Naftali Bennett. He has been offered a rotating prime minister role by both Netanyahu and Yair Lapid. Both sides are courting him hard to get him to join their side.

Now Bennett rejected Netanyahu's offer to be prime minister for a year. Yair Lapid is offering something very similar. All eyes will be on Naftali Bennett to see where he goes because his party only has 7 seats. We are facing the very real possibility that the next prime minister could be head of a party that only has 7 seats.

Whoever gets this mandate in the next few days, we expect the president to meet with the heads of the parties today. Whoever gets the mandate, they will have 28 days to form a government. Until the government is formed, Netanyahu remains prime minister.

GOLD: Hadas Gold joining us live from Jerusalem, many thanks.

Joining me now is Dahlia Scheindlin, a political analyst fellow at The Century Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank.

Thank you for talking with us. DAHLIA SCHEINDLIN, POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you for having me.

What's likely to be taking place right now behind closed doors in the wake of Netanyahu's failure to build a governing coalition?

Who will the president likely select to get this done?

SCHEINDLIN: Well, everybody is trying to think of some unexpected scenario, but the truth is, there aren't that many options. At this point, the president by law would have the option, as your reported pointed out, of tapping the head of the second largest party in the Knesset, the centrist party of Yair Lapid, or going to the Knesset and asking the members of Knesset to recommend any other member of Knesset the parliament with a majority of 61 seats.

That second option is very unlikely. It looks most likely that the president will tap Yair Lapid. And that's simply because there have been feverish discussions over the last couple of days between Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, the other person who was mentioned who had been wavering between the two options, Netanyahu's coalition or what they're calling it change coalition.

And they have communicated that Lapid and Bennett have worked out many of the details of a possible coalition. It would look strange for the president to tap Naftali Bennett because he only has seven seats. That means if Yair Lapid is tapped and we know this fairly soon, theoretically, the president has three days, but he has to ask the party leaders to make recommendations until two o'clock this afternoon.

In that case, Yair Lapid would be leading the formation of the government, but they have also communicated that he is likely to offer Bennett to have the first shot at being prime minister because of the strained situation that we have been going through of the paralysis of the political system.

CHURCH: And if they can't get this done, whoever is tapped in the end, how will Israel's political deadlock get resolved?

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CHURCH: The country can't keep holding elections that will obviously deliver the same result. So how does it find a way out of this madness?

SCHEINDLIN: Well, apparently, nobody has told that to the political leadership, because that's what we have been doing for the last two years. Again, there is this other option of going to the Knesset, the parliament and asking for 61 recommendations for somebody else and that person can be anybody else from the parliament.

But so far, that looks extremely unlikely. And if that fails, Israel will be going into a fifth election. I mean, you know, it is a very extraordinary situation. The country is under a paralysis also not only of the political coalition building but of leadership. There has been no permanent government since the end of 2018 at this point. We have been living under interim governments. We have not had a permanent budget. And the only way out is for the political leadership to make significant compromises or for Mr. Netanyahu to heed the calls for him to step down.

And so far, he has been very unlikely to do that. He is a political fighter. He's been called many things. A fighter, a magician, a wizard, a chess player. So far, none of those names have helped him. And until he realizes that the political system is increasingly against him. We have to remember the reason we are in the current situation is because the right-wing parties themselves have broken over Netanyahu.

They could have 72 seats as a strong majority out of 120 seats in the Knesset. But because two of the parties representing 13 seats will not go into a coalition with him that's why he's unable to form a government.

CHURCH: And why do you think they refused to do that? Why did he fail, Netanyahu and what does it signal for his political future?

SCHEINDLIN: Well, this really depends on which analysis you believe. If you believe what the political -- what the leaders of those two right-wing parties who have broken with Netanyahu are saying and we can increasingly add a third party, that's Naftali Bennett with another seven seats. They are saying he's been in power too long. He is under indictment.

He is currently standing trial. His trial reopened yesterday for -- on three counts of corruption. And that's not an appropriate leadership for the country. And that is their reasoning at least in public.

Of course, the private analysis, people who think that they know what's going on inside politicians heads, believe that this is a matter of personal competition and that they think that Netanyahu has been around too long that it's time to hand over the leadership of the Israeli right wing parties to a young guard of new leaders.

A number of these people who lead these right-wing parties have grown up under Netanyahu's tutelage. They were senior figures in his -- in his cabinet in previous years or the head of his office. So, you know, many of them, he has been the patron for many of them and they've grown up under him and they think that it's time for them to be leader -- to have the leadership now.

That is one other possibility. Netanyahu's future like that of every politician is eventually to leave the political scene.

CHURCH: Right.

SCHEINDLIN: The question is how much longer he can hang on.

CHURCH: We shall see of course. Dahlia Scheindlin, thank you so much for your analysis. I appreciate it.

SCHEINDLIN: Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: Civil disobedience has not stopped Myanmar's military, so protesters are headed to the jungle for weapons training. A CNN exclusive report, just ahead.

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CHURCH: Myanmar's junta is banning satellite television in its latest move to isolate the country from the outside world. Mobile internet access has been largely cut off, as the military tries to suppress anti coup protests.

But the demonstrations persist and the violence is escalating. Myanmar media reported an ousted lawmaker and 3 police officers who joined the protests were killed by a package bomb on Tuesday.

Now protesters are moving beyond civil disobedience. Some are training to defend themselves. CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul with an exclusive report.

And, Paula, as the situation worsens in Myanmar, what more are you learning about these protesters, now training to fight Myanmar's military?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, this is something we've been hearing about for some time. Now the fact that protesters who still want to go out onto the streets, know that the situation is very one-sided in that Myanmar's military continues to shoot at people in the streets and to kill protesters.

At least 766 have died so far, according to one advocacy group and even they admit that the actual number is likely far higher. What some anti coup protesters have decided to do, is find training, to try to make the situation slightly less one-sided.

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HANCOCKS (voice-over): Learning the skill of stealth in the jungles of Myanmar. The sound of cicadas masks the approach of the attackers, but these are not soldiers. Many of them are just students.

MAJ. GEN. NERDAH BO MYA, CHIEF OF STAFF, KNDO: They are quite young, mostly 24, 25. And some are nurses and most some doctors.

HANCOCKS: Young men and women who have left their cities, left their colleges and jobs to train to fight. Ethnic armed groups are teaching them how to defend themselves against a brutal, merciless military that's killed well-over 760 protesters according to one advocacy group, since they seized power three months ago.

BO MYA: How to handle weapons, different kind of weapons and how to be able to defend themselves and the people.

HANCOCKS: Have any of them even held a gun before?

BO MYA: No. Never.

HANCOCKS: More than 200 anti-coup protesters have graduated from this one training camp alone and are heading back to the cities to defend themselves against the military. This is happening on the border lines. The general leading the training says the protesters need weapons, but would not indicate whether he had provided any nor if bomb making was part of the course.

BO MYA: This is responsibility to protect lives. If we don't train them, who's going to help them?

HANCOCKS: The military has not responded to our requests for comment, but it has been carrying out air strikes in these areas since late March. Chanting for the people, the protesters spend three to four weeks in the jungles before returning home.

BO MYA: Well, they are very determined. They are very hardworking people and they want to achieve something. They will never give up, because they say there is nothing to lose anymore.

HANCOCKS: One 18-year-old who was manning a roadblock in the city of (inaudible) last month when dozens of protesters were killed, said many of his comrades had traveled to the ethnic areas for training. We are hiding his identity for his safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have two groups, one to protect the neighborhood and the other one went to get training. When they come back, they will teach us what they have learned.

HANCOCKS: Doctors, nurses, students being trained into an unofficial defense force shows how just quickly the situation has deteriorated in Myanmar and how much more violent the days ahead could become.

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HANCOCKS: The major general tells me that he's aware 3 or 4 weeks training will not be enough to try and fight Myanmar's military. He says that's not the reason he's doing. It he does not want to see these protesters fighting in the streets against the Tatmadaw. He wants to be them more aware, to attack more wisely he said when they go out onto the streets, to act with their heads, not their hearts, so that they can protest and they can fight against the military and still stay alive.

[02:35:00]

HANCOCKS: He said that he knows they are not going to be fighting directly against the military but he just wants to equip them with something more than they have now -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Many thanks to Paula Hancocks in Seoul, for that exclusive report. We appreciate it. As a pivotal election looms in Scotland, some say they are divided on

which way they will vote. The reason?

Independence. We will go there coming up.

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CHURCH: France's national assembly approved a far-reaching environmental bill, the court ruled the country must do more to combat climate change. Among some of the measures, the bill would reduce packaging waste and prevent future airport expansions in one of the world's most visited countries.

France is aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Environmentalists say the legislation does not go far enough to effectively tackle global warming. Climate activist Greta Thunberg says world leaders are dragging their feet.

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GRETA THUNBERG, CLIMATE ACTIVIST (voice-over): As climate activists, we have had, I don't know how many meetings with people in power. It's the same discussion every time. We are living in total denial. The insight of the crisis is absolutely none.

With that, I don't only talk about people in power, all of us are not aware of the largeness of the crisis. We are totally unaware that we are in the middle of an existential crisis.

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CHURCH: Voters in Scotland will head to the polls Thursday for an election that could determine more than just who leads the government, it could also be a make-or-break moment for the country's independence movement. CNN's Nic Robertson explains why many Scots are conflicted about how they will vote.

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MARIE MACKLIN, BUSINESSWOMAN: (INAUDIBLE) We are going to be doing them across the whole of U.K.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Carbon neutral regeneration in Scotland's rust belt.

(on camera): This was a Johnny Walker Whiskey factory here not so many years ago.

MACKLIN: It was. This was a controversial state.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): 700 jobs gone overnight, nearly 10 years and much investment later, CEO Marie Macklin is helping bring high tech jobs to her hometown. (INAUDIBLE) she's getting the keys just days ahead of a huge moment in Scottish politics.

MACKLIN: This (INAUDIBLE) wouldn't have been possible without the 3.5 million pounds from the U.K. government and the Scottish government. And if you'll take me down the road of independence referendum today -- so I'm half the (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTSON: It's the question all Scots are about to answer.

(on camera): This election is about more than who gets to govern Scotland. It could lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom. The Scottish National Party promised a referendum on independence if they get a majority.

[02:40:00]

ROBERTSON: Are you guys going to be voting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ROBERTSON: You know which way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: SNP.

ROBERTSON: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's because --

ROBERTSON: Not because of independence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I am -- absolutely -- I'm all for it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to say --- SNP. I'm not convinced about their arguments for independence, I'm afraid.

ROBERTSON: The independence is a big issue for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To an extent, yes.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Scotland's glory days riding last century's industrial revolution faded here long ago.

Poverty, drugs, crime, unemployment -- all up. Faith in elections to change it? Not so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just can't be bothered. Because just sick and fed up with politics. They're all ranting and raving.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye, I think half of Scotland is the same. Just not interested

ROBERTSON: For business woman Macklin, getting hope into Scotland's former industrial heartland is more important than under which flag.

(on camera): Would you be voting for a pro independence party? MACKLIN: That is an interesting question. And it's not about should the country remain dependent or not. Is the time right for that independence to be.

ROBERTSON: Is it?

MACKLIN: No.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Across the country in (INAUDIBLE), close to the English border, the sea is the town's lifeblood. Here, Brexit buffeted incomes. Turmoil from independence is a price worth paying, according to the town's biggest employer.

(on camera): Could you really handle a border, a hard border, 20 miles down the road from here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. That could be very tricky. I think, you know, (INAUDIBLE) as well -- it has to be resolved and then satisfied. I think we're a very proud country and I think we have the skills to, you know, to make better decisions for us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is part of the bag pipes. It's 14 keys --

ROBERTSON (voice-over): World famous bagpipe maker Stuart McCallum is also wrestling the independence question.

(on camera): How would an independent Scotland affect your business?

STUART MCCALLUM, BAGPIPE MAKER: Part of me thinks it could be different. It's for identity and we're very close to the Scottish.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Bagpipes proving popular during lockdown and businesses doing well. He voted for independence in 2014, but now?

MCCALLUM: I am sitting on the fence for the moment with that, to be honest. (INAUDIBLE)

ROBERTSON: Over the past year, polls have predicted support for independence at a little over 50 percent. In recent weeks, the numbers have softened and right now the undecideds like Stuart McCallum, hold the balance -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Kilmarnock, Scotland.

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CHURCH: Finally, we are tracking tensions along the French Belgium border over a rock. A Belgian farmer has ignited a mild diplomatic standoff by moving his country a few meters into French territory. Here is how it happened.

The farmer thought this stone was a nuisance, so he moved it.

The problem?

The stone was laid down in 1819. It became part of a treaty establishing where the border lies. Luckily, cooler heads are prevailing. Officials from both countries say this can be worked out peacefully and the border will be put back where it belongs.

Thank you so much for joining us. I am Rosemary Church. I will be back for more news at the top of the hour, "WORLD SPORT" is up next.