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Growing Calls to Cancel Tokyo Olympics; COVID-19 Hot Spots Flare While Global Cases Drop; Mexico's Deadly Election Season; Palestinian Human Rights Campaigner's View; Belarusian Terror Tactics against Journalists and Activists; Amazon Buys MGM. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired May 27, 2021 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, Japan is weighing another extension of its COVID state of emergency as more doctors join the chorus of those calling to cancel the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

And Australia's state of Victoria announces a 7-day lockdown as authorities try to contain a new cluster of coronavirus cases in greater Melbourne.

And the U.S. is calling for answers over how the pandemic originated, asking the intelligence community to return with a conclusion in 90 days.


CHURCH: We are just 8 weeks away from the start of the Tokyo Olympics but each passing day brings another warning about safety and calls to cancel the games altogether.

COVID cases are rising in many parts of the country and a team of U.S. doctors says holding the games could put athletes and the public at risk. They are calling for stricter testing requirements and precautions that go far beyond just temperature checks and face coverings.

Olympic organizers say they will update their plans next month. Japan will decide, by Friday, whether to extend a state of emergency for 9 regions, struggling to keep COVID cases in check. More now from Blake Essig in Tokyo.


BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Japan's doctors' union held a news conference, once again asking for the games to be canceled. And while the union only represents a small number of doctors, 130, the fact they are speaking out in a country where that rarely happens is significant.

The reason is a serious concern for the health and safety of the Japanese public, warning of the danger of virus variants that could be brought into Japan; specifically the variant in India, in South Africa and potentially new variants that we aren't familiar with at this point.

They are saying, if that does happen, these games will be remembered for the next hundred years and not for the right reasons.

At this point, the fourth wave of infection shows no sign of slowing down as COVID-19 cases across the country remain high, fueled by the U.K. variant. The fact that the number of severe cases has once again hit a record high on Wednesday, that number has continued to set new records, pretty much on a daily basis for weeks now.


CHURCH: Blake Essig reporting from Tokyo.

Doctors in the U.S. want the World Health Organization to meet with Olympic organizers and figure out how to best manage the games. Brian Todd has our report.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Olympic torch still making its way to Tokyo for the Summer Games, but with less than two months until the opening ceremonies, there is growing pressure tonight for the Olympic flame not to be lit.

On Wednesday, Japanese national newspaper "Asahi Shimbun," an official partner of the Tokyo Olympics, published an editorial calling for the games to be canceled.

A top doctors association in Tokyo has made a similar call. A petition for calling for cancellation that got over 350,000 signatures in nine days was sent to organizers. And top American medical experts have just written a piece in the New England Journal of Medicine, essentially saying Olympic organizers are going about their safety preps all wrong.

PROF. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH & POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: I think that the approach they are taking right now is virtually a dangerous one.

TODD: Top infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm is among the authors of the article who point out their concerns. Organizers, they say, have an uneven testing plan in place. Vaccines aren't available for many participants. Vaccinations for athletes are only encouraged, not required. Their contact tracing is based on apps, which may not work. Athletes have to bring their own masks and they'll share rooms.

OSTERHOLM: And there's virtually been no planning for how are we going to move people in buses or putting three people to a hotel room, or where do the eat and what kind of respiratory protection that they have?

TODD: Just this week, the State Department advised Americans not to travel to Japan because of the recent sharp increase in COVID cases.

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: What's happening in Japan is that there are hospitals that are on the brink of becoming overwhelmed.


WEN: Also, the very small percentage of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated at this point.

TODD: Now, with the prospect of more than 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries coming in to compete and congregate.

PROF. MICHAEL BAKER, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, NEW ZEALAND: It's going to cost lives having the Olympics at the moment.

TODD: But top Japanese officials, including the prime minister as well as leaders of the International Olympic Committee, insist Japan is well-prepared, can pull off the games safely and --

DICK POUND, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE MEMBER: None of the folks involved in the planning and the execution of the games is considering cancellation. That's essentially off the table.

TODD: These Summer Games have already been postponed once and the IOC has said it would not reschedule the Tokyo Games again.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: No Olympics, Tokyo Games would not exist. And what you would have is going from Rio in 2016 to Paris in 2024 in terms of the Summer Olympics. And you'd have a lost generation of Olympian. Athletes who should have won gold medals and grabbed headlines, we will never know their names.

TODD: Christine Brennan says it will also mean billions of dollars in lost revenue and some countries' Olympic Committees may declare bankruptcy. Already, Tokyo organizers are banning fans from abroad from attending Olympic events. They will decide whether to let local fans in within a few weeks -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: The U.S. President is ordering intelligence agencies to redouble efforts to figure out where the coronavirus came from and he is expecting a report in 90 days. His administration is under pressure to address the issue after new reporting from CNN and other news outlets, indicating it's possible the virus escaped from a Chinese laboratory.

A U.S. intelligence report also found several researchers at China's Institute of Virology fell ill and were hospitalized in November 2019, a new detail adding to the mystery. The head of the National Institutes of Health now admits the lab leak theory can't be ruled out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NIH: I think the most likely reason -- mechanism by which SARS-CoV-2 arose was a natural process a transfer from an animal to humans. But it's certainly possible other options might have occurred, including a possible lab leak. We just don't have evidence to be able to say what that likelihood is.


CHURCH: And we are getting new reaction to all of this from China. Steven Jiang joins us live from Beijing.

Good to see you, Steven.

What is China saying?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: Rosemary, China has been pushing back strongly in recent days against these latest allegations from Washington. Not only from Beijing but also in Washington as well.

The Chinese embassy in BC issued a strongly worded statement that in part says, I'll read, "Some political forces have been fixated on political manipulation and blame game while ignoring their own people's urgent need to fight the pandemic."

It goes on to say, "While the pandemic is still causing great damage in today's world and the international community is expecting greater coordination among countries, some people are turning to their old playbook."

So nothing really new there. Sounds like a broken record. But the tone is angry because part of the reason being that line of argument from the Chinese government, that they have done all they can to help in the World Health Organization's origin tracing effort and now it's time to investigate other countries, especially pointing a finger at the U.S. without any concrete evidence.

That line of argument has not been resonating with the rest of the world. That's why they are lashing out at anyone who demands or suggests further investigations into Wuhan and China.

The fact, is a growing number of scientists, as you have heard, are saying, based on the evidence they've seen so far, they cannot rule out this lab leak theory. They're also not dismissing other possibilities. They were saying it's not an either/or question and it's not necessarily -- these things are not incompatible.

All they want is more access, direct access to raw data, complete Chinese data samples because that something a WHO team did not get when they went to the lab early this year.

And that's why there were conclusions it was extremely unlikely the virus was leaked from a lab. That has not been very convincing too many people. These people are calling for untethered access by independent experts.

But given how politicized it's become, it's increasingly unlikely, if not outright impossible, for the Chinese government to agree to do so -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: The only way to bring this to an end is to allow an investigation to take place. Steven Jiang joining us from Beijing, many thanks.

The coronavirus has claimed nearly 3.5 million lives around the world. That's according to Johns Hopkins University. While the World Health Organization says there is been a drop in global cases, infection rates remain high in some countries.


CHURCH: Including India, which is facing the world's worst outbreak. Taiwan is also battling its own surge, reporting 11 COVID deaths on Wednesday.

While that is a small number relatively speaking, it is a daily record for the self ruling island.

In the coming hours, Australia's second most populous state will be back under lockdown. Victorian state officials are scrambling to take precautionary measures after a new cluster of infection was detected in Melbourne earlier this week. CNN's Angus Watson joins me now live from Sydney to talk more about this.

Good to see you, Angus.

How many cases are we talking here?

And have authorities figured out the original source of this infection?

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: Rosemary, exactly what the people of Melbourne in Australia were fearing, a new outbreak of coronavirus, with winter set to begin next week. We are talking about 26 cases of the virus.

The good news is they are all clustered together. The bad news is contact tracers in the state of Victoria have pointed to over 10,000 people, who could be primary or secondary contacts of the infected person.

And to make things worse it's the Indian variant of coronavirus. It was first identified in India, B.1.617, spreading through the community in Melbourne, which has people very concerned. Here is what the acting premier of Victoria had to say about that on Thursday.


JAMES MERLINO, VICTORIA ACTING PRIME MINISTER: Sadly, we have one of those people in an ICU on a ventilator in not a very good way. In the last day, we've seen more evidence we're dealing with a highly infectious strain of the virus, a variant of concern, which is running faster than we have ever recorded.


WATSON: This raises serious questions, Rosemary, as to how the virus got back into Australia after the country had done so well over the summer in keeping it out. The virus crept back in through Australia's hotel quarantine system.

Somebody caught it while doing their 14 days in mandatory state-run isolation in a hotel and brought it back into the community. That raises questions, Rosemary, as to why there aren't more purpose built quarantine facilities here in Australia.

The government only has one at Howard Springs in the northern territory, where there hasn't been a single case of coronavirus escape. There have been about 20 outbreaks from these hotel quarantine settings around the country because they just aren't purpose built for the job, scientists say.

The concern, Rosemary, is, of course, Australia has been accused of being slow in its vaccination rollout. Just 3.9 million Australians have received a jab and the government says it's trying to do more. But it's been slow, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Absolutely. Angus Watson, bringing us the latest on the situation in the state of Victoria in Australia, appreciate it.

A shocking number of Mexican politicians have been killed ahead of next month's elections. Even in a country where political violence is common, this year is among the worst yet.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Political assassinations have been a problem for decades but this year is particularly bad.

CHURCH (voice-over): Our report from Mexico City is just ahead.






CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

Mexican voters head to the polls next month for the country's midterm elections. But this election season has been deadly for candidates who take a stand against crime. We get more now from CNN's Matt Rivers in Mexico City.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

RIVERS (voice-over): Here is Abel Murrieta (ph), a candidate for local office in the Mexican municipality of Cajeme. Crime was his number one issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

RIVERS (voice-over): But just one day after filming this ad, he was dead, shot and killed May 13th in broad daylight on a busy street while handing out campaign flyers.

State authorities say he was deliberately targeted but don't know by whom. Suspects or not, though, it's just further proof that, in Mexico, politics can be deadly. From September of last year through May 25th, at least 88 politicians or candidates have been killed, according to a Mexican consulting firm.

They're a part of the more than 565 politicians or candidates overall that have been targeted by some sort of crime, ranging from murder to assault to threats, the firm says. The government says it believes both numbers are actually far lower, though they don't say how they tallied their numbers. But still, it admits there's a problem.

"It's a difficult time for these campaigns," says Mexico's president. "We're going to keep protecting them."

Though Mexico has consistently failed to protect its candidates, political assassinations have been a problem for decades. But this year is particularly bad.

ANA MARIA SALAZAR, PUBLIC SECURITY EXPERT: I do think that this is going to be considered one of the most violent elections in Mexican history.

RIVERS (voice-over): Security experts like Ana Maria Salazar say politicians are killed for a number of reasons but it most often involves organized crime. In many cases, criminal groups want their preferred candidate in office, so they might target others they don't like, especially candidates who make crime a centerpiece of their campaign.

SALAZAR: Candidates that talk the way Abel Murrieta speak clearly are going to run bigger risks.

RIVERS (voice-over): Murrieta was known for challenging criminal groups and drug cartels. As a private lawyer, he was also representing an outspoken family with duel U.S.-Mexico citizenship that lost nine of its members when they were murdered by suspected cartel members in Mexico in late 2019.

Adrian LeBaron tweeted shortly after Murrieta was killed, saying, in part, quote, "They have killed my defender.

"What do we call this? "The rule of law?"

RIVERS: Do you believe he was killed because of his opposition to the cartels?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He was always exposing them. To me, he died a martyr.

RIVERS (voice-over): Authorities have not identified any suspects or motive in Murrieta's murder but the victims seem to know he was at risk, saying this a few days before he died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

RIVERS (voice-over): He went on to say, the streets belong to the people, not to criminals. And some of those people turned up here to his funeral. They gave him a standing ovation as his coffin was led out -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


CHURCH: Ann Ravel is a former chairwoman of the U.S. Federal Election Commission and a former U.S. deputy assistant attorney general and she joins me now from northern California.

Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: What needs to be done about these brazen targeted killings of nearly 90 anti crime politicians.

Why is there not more outreach?

RAVEL: I think there is outrage in Mexico but the president of Mexico doesn't seem to be outraged by it.


RAVEL: While he ran on a platform of dealing with crime, really what he has done is to have a program that is going to help youth to get out of poverty and things like that. But he has not done anything to deal with this huge increase in murders against candidates and intimidation, a lot of intimidation.

So he should be sending out the police or the military to protect people in the country and that is not happening.

CHURCH: Why hasn't he done that?

Is he fearful for his life as well?

RAVEL: I don't think is fearful for his life but he may not want to take on the cartels.

CHURCH: And why would that be?

RAVEL: Well, the cartels have expanded out their work. It used to be that they were just selling drugs to the United States or bringing drugs to the United States illegally. But now there are also bringing migrants, illegal migrants.

And they're taking over local communities, politically. That is the cause of a number of these murders. It is because they then have total power to continue to conduct their corrupt activities and they also get a percentage of tax.

And so it is a benefit to the gangs and the cartels to be spreading out into all of these communities throughout Mexico. And that provides them with political power, which may be difficult for the president to want to deal with.

CHURCH: So given so many anti crime candidates have been killed, how valid will the result be at this June 6 election?

RAVEL: Not only have anti crime candidates been killed but a number of candidates, who were not necessarily anti crime but they did want to clean up their local communities, have been intimidated so much, threatened.

For example, a few days ago, a woman was abducted, a candidate was abducted from the street, kind of like they what were saying about Mr. Murrieta being killed in plain daylight, passing out leaflets.

She was also there, not in the same town. And she was kidnapped for a number of days and they told her that they were going to murder her and her family unless she did not run for office.

And she has not run as a consequence. So there has been a lot of people who have been fearful, with obviously good reason, and, therefore, been intimated not to run. So absolutely, it is undemocratic. It is definitely problematic for Mexico because people will not be representing the populace.

CHURCH: Just very quickly, why are these targeted killings of politicians particularly bad this year?

RAVEL: Well, it's hard to know why that is but it could well be that, because the cartels and the local gangs are diversifying their ways of corruption, they are now seeing that their political power in various areas of Mexico is a benefit to them.

And that's one of the reasons -- this year, by the way, there are more people running, more open seats -- 500 in the lower house of Congress -- which would then decide who controls Congress, as well as 15 governors and hundreds of local officials throughout the state throughout the country. It is the biggest election they have had. That may be the reason.

CHURCH: Such a worrying situation for Mexico and people living there. Ann Ravel, thank you so much for talking with us, we appreciate it.

RAVEL: Thank you.

CHURCH: The U.S. secretary of state ends his Middle East tour but leaves behind a bit of hope. Coming up, a Palestinian activist's view of what was accomplished.

Plus, an activist dies in custody in Belarus, suggesting abuse. That's raising concerns about another taken just days ago in a daring move. We're back in just a moment.





CHURCH: U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken has left Jordan in the past hour, wrapping up his Middle East tour. The trip aimed to shore up the cease-fire that ended 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants. In Jordan, Blinken met with King Abdullah, who welcomed the U.S. plan to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem to help America's outreach to the Palestinians.

Next hour, the U.N. Human Rights Council will hold a special session at Pakistan's request. Muslim countries are calling for an investigation into possible war crimes and human rights violations before and during the recent conflict.

The major focus of Blinken's trip was to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders but he also met with people who were described as representatives of Palestinian civil society. Among them was a human rights campaigner in the West Bank. Nic Robertson went with him for an eye-opening walk.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: While in the Middle East, Antony Blinken reached round politicians for an unvarnished view. Meetings, State Department selected Palestinian activists.

ISSA AMRO, PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: See, listen, to me. And I felt from his body language that he knows enough about here, so, I moved to tell him what can we expect from the American administration.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): One of those he met was Isso Amro, whose constant criticism of Israel is strongly disputed by Israel. Officials

AMRO: We want to get rid of the Israeli apartheid. So the siege on Gaza, has to be ended. And we need support for our political and human rights.

ROBERTSON: Did Blinken tell you anything that makes you think that he understands that or is going to change that situation? AMRO: He said that we are working to reverse Trump administration decisions. And we want to start communication with the Palestinian people and it is not a switch button.

Everyone walks in the field.

ROBERTSON: Through your neighbor's garden?

And this is the only way you can move around here now?

AMRO: This is the only way that you move around here.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Amro lives next to an Israeli settlement, he says that America's timely help is vital for Palestinians.

AMRO: This used to be the main entrance.

ROBERTSON: The reason this is blocked now?

AMRO: Because of the settlement (ph).

ROBERTSON (voice-over): He says that in recent years, roads to his and his neighbors' houses have been cut.


ROBERTSON: It's a, maze, an absolute warren of gardens.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): And worries, without U.S. involvement, this settlement will grow more.

AMRO: (INAUDIBLE) the post on the house.

ROBERTSON: Right on the house.

AMRO: Yes.

ROBERTSON: So families still live here?

AMRO: Yes, they still live here.

ROBERTSON: Out on the road again, from here. A soldier at the checkpoint here just came to check which channel we are filming for. We told him CNN and I think he's OK with it.

AMRO: So the main road used to be from here too --


AMRO: And me to my, house used to be to the left. Left to right, I had to move out to visit them.

ROBERTSON: Because they're within the settlement area?

AMRO: Yes.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Further down the street, another control on his life.

AMRO: This is one of the main checkpoints here. You get into your house, to your neighborhood, you should pass --

ROBERTSON: This is where you come into the outside?

AMRO: Yes. When I come in from the shopping area, I walk out from. Here

ROBERTSON: And if you want to bring any friends to your house?

AMRO: I need a special coordination.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): We walk on past a row of Palestinian shops, shuttered for almost 2 decades.

AMRO: This is a Palestinian entrance.

ROBERTSON: This one. Their families left?

AMRO: Yes.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Then we reached the limit, half a mile from his house.

AMRO: From here, to here.

ROBERTSON: And why there?

Why this, line why only to here?

AMRO: Because they don't want us to continue.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): President Biden's help, he says, cannot come soon enough.

AMRO: Biden's administration should start from where Obama's administration ended, to make the Israeli settlements illegal. Then make the aid to Israel conditional.

If Israel does not respect the principle of freedom, equality and justice for all, they should not get any dollar (ph) from the American people.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): His most radical suggestion to Blinken, encourage Hamas, which the U.S. designates a terrorist organization, and whose rockets he does not support, to become part of the political landscape.

AMRO: This is why I talk to Mr. Blinken, to do a presidential waiver, to include Hamas in the political --


ROBERTSON: To include Hamas?

AMRO: Yes, exactly. We want to bring Hamas and old Palestinian parties, to the PLO, according to international law.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): He says he spoke with Blinken for about 20 minutes. The clock now ticking on his and Palestinians' expectations.

ROBERTSON: How long do you give them?

AMRO: I think we will wait another let me say, 6 months. Or -- you know, another year.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Nic Robertson, CNN, Hebron, the West Bank.


CHURCH: At this hour, E.U. foreign ministers are set to gather in Lisbon, where the response to that forced landing of a Ryanair plane in Belarus will be high on the agenda. E.U. leaders have moved swiftly to criticize the flight diversion that led to the arrest of passenger and dissident journalist Roman Protasevich.

Also in the coming, hours the international Civil Aviation Organization will hold an urgent meeting on the matter. It says what happened goes against the agreements that govern the airline industry.

There is now growing concern for Roman Protasevich's safety after the death of another activist, a death that suggests abuse. Nick Paton Walsh has our exclusive report but, first, we need to warn you, viewers may find some of the images in this report disturbing.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): The plane hijacking may rage above but daily abuse in Belarus look like this. This day's doddering figure is opposition activist Witold Ashurok.

He falls into the toilet, it seems, without anyone touching him in this edited surveillance footage from last week. Supplied by the Belarusian authorities who are eager to show they helped a 50-year-old prisoner.

But here again, they show him bandaged and he, again, seems too weak to stand. His relative say they met Witold healthy just weeks earlier, but they were initially told he died of a cardiac arrest.

But here is his body at his funeral Wednesday, his head bandaged. It doesn't look just like natural causes.

Outside they gather, the family burying him without being able to get an independent examination. The truth stolen from them even in death.

ANTON ASHUROK, BROTHER OF WITOLD ASHUROK (via translator): As a human being I don't believe that a man's heart just stopped that he fell and killed himself. I really want to get to the bottom of it. In these conditions, it seems impossible to have an independent examination. WALSH: He was arrested in August protest against the fraudulent electoral victory declared by President Alexander Lukashenko. In January, he was sentenced to five years for allegedly organizing protests and attacking the police officer.

Jubilant here in court, the crowd chanting shame.


SVETLANA TIKHANOVSKAYA, BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN: The reaction of the international community --

WALSH: The opposition's leader in exile called for a new stage in the protest movement today meeting European officials. And earlier expressed her admiration for Ashurok.

TIKHANOVSKAYA (via translator): I say admire his strength of spirit and faith in the correctness of his choice. But I am very hurt by the fact that he paid with his life. Now that we have woken up, it has become our duty to bring the matter to an end.

WALSH: When Roman Protasevich feared for his life for leaving the plane falls down in Minsk is perhaps Ashurok's fate and these scenes from a police station last year that he had in mind. Brutality in custody is commonplace in the aftermath of protests. Demonstrators forced to face the wall, beaten, they said here, one left motionless on the floor.

For more actual deaths have been rare so far, the death penalty remains in force. And the fate of Witold Ashurok, something Belarus's police perhaps hoped would pass without notice, now held up as a warning to the opposition not to act, but also to the international community that it must -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


CHURCH: The Biden administration is laying out its plans for trade with China. The U.S. trade representative met virtually with China's vice premier just a few hours ago. Chinese state media says both sides agreed, developing bilateral trade is important.

The U.S. called it a candid discussion of its worker centered policy while raising issues of concern.

The U.S. President is calling for a cease-fire in Ethiopia's troubled Tigray region and unimpeded humanitarian access.

Joe Biden released a statement saying this, "I am deeply concerned by the escalating violence and the hardening of regional and ethnic divisions in multiple parts of Ethiopia,. The large-scale human rights abuses taking place in Tigray, including widespread sexual violence, are unacceptable and must end."

This comes days after the U.S. posed financial sanctions and visa restrictions on Ethiopian and Eritrean officials. Witnesses tell CNN soldiers have been rounding up hundreds of young men from displaced people's camps in Tigray, reportedly shouting, "We will see if America will save you now."

Amazon's outgoing CEO Jeff Bezos makes a big move. Coming up, a deal worth billions of dollars for one of Hollywood's classic movie studios.

Plus the "Friends" reunion gets some extra star power with a visit from K-pop's biggest group. The sitcom's role in the story of BTS when we return.





CHURCH: Welcome back.

The latest shot in the media streaming wars has Hollywood buzzing. Amazon has announced it's buying the legendary Hollywood studio MGM to bolster its own streaming platform. Brian Stelter has more on the blockbuster deal.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Instead of Bond, James Bond, this is Bezos, Jeff Bezos. The Amazon CEO, who is stepping aside this summer, is making a big purchase acquiring the movie studio MGM for $8.4 billion.

This deal by Amazon is another landmark moment in the streaming wars, the streaming Olympics. These big media and tech companies are trying to get bigger, bulk up with more content, movies, TV shows to keep all of us watching.

This is one of the biggest acquisitions that Amazon has ever made and if it receives regulatory approval, it means franchises like the James Bond films and television shows like "The Handmaid's Tale" will be under the Amazon roof, even though those films and TV shows are distributed in a variety of ways right now.

Amazon says this deal is an attempt to own more intellectual property or IP, for short. Bezos said in a statement, "The acquisition thesis here is simple. MGM has a vast, deep catalog of much beloved intellectual property. And with the talented people of MGM and the talented people at Amazon Studios, we can reimagine and develop the IP for the 21st century."

Taking old movies and old TV shows, remaking them and finding new ways to stream them, that's what this deal is all about. Time will tell whether Amazon is overpaying more than $8 billion for the studio and time will tell whether Amazon really knows how to run a storied Hollywood studio -- Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: It is the reunion many have been waiting 17 years to see, Ross, Rachel and the gang from "Friends" are back and fans of the sitcom can now relive memorable scenes like this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The test is ready.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rachel wrote Ross a letter and demanded he read it before they got back together.

How many pages was that letter?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eighteen pages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eighteen pages ... ?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Front and back is correct.


CHURCH (voice-over): "Friends: The Reunion" is just minutes away from its debut on HBO Max here in the U.S. The 2 hour special features a lot of celebrity guest appearances. One of them is a wildly popular K- pop group.


CHURCH (voice-over): BTS has a cameo on the "Friends" reunion special just a week after the release of their latest single, "Butter." Band member RM spoke about the influence "Friends" has had on him.


RM, BTS: Ross, Chandler, Monica, they were English teachers, actually. So I'm so excited about this. I feel like I actually became friends with the "Friends."


CHURCH: "Friends" did a great job. He says his mother bought all the seasons of "Friends" when he was a teenager in South Korea, which helped him learn English. The show debuted the same year he was born, 1994.

Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. "WORLD SPORT" is up next and I will be back at the top of the hour. Stay with us.