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Texas Democrats Blocks Passage of Voting Bill; Netanyahu Could Lose as Rival Join Forces; U.S. Celebrates Memorial Day Weekend with Normalcy; WHO Investigates New Variant in Vietnam; Demonstrators in Brazil Wants Bolsonaro Impeached; Volcano Still Active in Democratic Republic of Congo a Week After Erupting; Australian Softballers Head To Japan For Olympics Games; North Korea: Orphans "Volunteer" to Work At Mines & Farms; Al-Qaeda Thrives In Afghanistan ahead of U.S. Pullout; President Biden Honors Fallen Service Members. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 31, 2021 - 02:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company. Coming up here on "CNN Newsroom."


UNKNOWN: A quorum is apparently not present. The point of order is well taken and (inaudible).


HOLMES: A dramatic turn of events in Texas. Lawmakers failing to pass a bill that would restrict voting options. What happened and why the controversial measure is not dead yet.

Israel might be on the verge of a power shift. We are live in Jerusalem with what that could mean for Benjamin Netanyahu's political future.

And right, now the first overseas Olympic athletes are heading to Japan, a country under an extended state of emergency due to COVID-19. We'll look at what's in store for them once they get there.

The latest flash point over voting rights in the U.S. state of Texas and we have seen some dramatic developments unfold there in just the past few hours. Just a short time ago, the Texas legislature failed to pass a sweeping measure of voting restrictions, a bill President Joe Biden has called wrong and un-American.

The measure would ban unsolicited mail-in ballot applications overnight and Sunday morning voting. It requires I.D. and signature matching for mail-in ballots. It also bans drive-through voting and expands access for partisan poll watchers. Republicans in the Texas House who were racing against the midnight

deadline to win approval. But Democrats walked off the floor late on Sunday, leaving the Republicans without a minimum number of members to voter. The governor has indicated it will call a special session to restart the process.

Earlier, Republican Congressman Michael McCaul of Texas said the legislature was trying to restore confidence in the election process.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): Now, we can debate how much fraud occurred in the last election and Democrats have claimed fraud have happened in the prior -- previous elections, but one thing is pretty clear to me, Jake. Is that a lot of the American people seem to have lost faith in our government. They've lost faith in our elections that we need to restore it.


HOLMES: But Texas Democrat, Sheila Jackson Lee, doesn't see it that way.


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): This is ludicrous and let me tell you why. I think you've heard (inaudible) facts, but it was the Department of Homeland Security that gave the crowning final statement about the 2020 election. And they have consistently said they found absolutely no fraud, of fraud of such (inaudible) that it had no relevancy whatsoever.

So the big lie is crushing truth and the vote to the very earth. And my friends in the state legislature right now are fighting as hard as they can in the House to stop this ridiculous legislative, depriving people of their right to vote. So, yes, it is an assault on democracy just like January 6th.


HOLMES: Now, Texas of course is far from alone in attempting to change voting laws. A new report finds at least 389 bills with provisions to restrict voting have been introduced this year in 48 states. Now, the Brennan Center for Justice, an independent law and policy organization, says 14 states have already enacted 22 new laws making it harder to vote.

Now, Israel appears to be on the brink of a new coalition that could force the country's longest serving prime minister out of office. Benjamin Netanyahu's rivals are working together to form a unity government.

Right-wing leader, Naftali Bennett announcing the plan Sunday night saying it is the only way forward, but Mr. Netanyahu quick to go on the attack in response.


NAFTALI BENNETT, YAMINA PARTY LEADER (through translation): There is no right-wing government. Four rounds of elections in the past two months prove to us all that there is simply is not a right-wing government to be led by Netanyahu. It's either a fifth election or unity government.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translation): I heard Naftali Bennett. Unfortunately, he's again misleading the public. Same lies, same empty slogans on hate and division from someone who gets a hand to hatred and division. And also, someone who is perpetrating, I must say, the fraud of the century.



HOLMES: Now, if a formal agreement is reached on the emerging and very diverse coalition of right-wing, centrist, and leftist parties, it will still have to be approved by Israel's parliament, the Knesset. Elliott Gotkine joins me now from Jerusalem. It's never done until it is done in Israel. What maneuvers does Netanyahu still have? I mean, he certainly won't go quietly, will he?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: He won't go off quietly into the sunset, no Michael. In terms of practical measures, the best that he can really hope for is trying to persuade members, particularly of Naftali Bennett's Yamina Party to try to resign or to object to the formation of this coalition.

So, that will be perhaps the main thing and we've already seen actually protesters gathering outside the home of Ayelet Shaked in Tel Aviv. She's the number two to Naftali Bennett in the Yamina Party. Protesters outside, you know, trying to persuade her no to pull out, to object to this formation of a coalition.

There are also procedural shenanigans that Netanyahu and his allies could kind of lay down in front of this coalition. The speaker of the Knesset, for example, is a Likud and he's from Netanyahu's party and he could slow things down a little bit as well.

Perhaps there could even be some attempt to go the legal route. Perhaps suggesting that because Yair Lapid, the leader of the opposition and the Yesh Atid Party because he received the mandate from President Reuven Rivlin, the former coalition government that Naftali Bennett cannot go first as prime minister.

So those are some of the things that Netanyahu could try and do and he'll be hoping that he will be able to pick off some of those people in the Yamina Party who may be sitting on the fence and be concerned, but perhaps if they go into this coalition government that their right-wing base will never forgive them.

But as you say Michael, we've got a week to go. It's a very long time here in Israeli politics, and at least a week I should say. And, you know, there are still many things that could happen between now and then.

HOLMES: Mr. Netanyahu, of course, has legal troubles. I mean, does that change if he is no longer prime minister in terms of his exposure? Where does all of that stand?

GOTKINE: On the one hand, I guess, as not being prime minister, he'll have more time to spend with his lawyers to plan his defense and he does deny all of the charges against him. But on a more serious note, his charges, his trial, remains in play. It will continue whether he's prime minister or whether he's not.

Now, of course, as prime minister and having influence over other ministers in the government, perhaps the justice minister included, perhaps Netanyahu, were he to continue being prime minister, would be able to try to have more influence on the wheels on justice, but his trial will continue. He will continue to deny charges and those who are against him will look forward to seeing Netanyahu in court.

HOLMES: Yes. Interesting days ahead. Elliott Gotkine in Jerusalem. Appreciate. Thanks so much.

Now let's get some more insight into how this is all playing out. I'm joined now by Yaakov Katz, editor-in-chief of "The Jerusalem Post." Thanks so much for being with us. As we've been discussing, this is no certainty and Bibi Netanyahu won't go quietly. I mean, he really does have an ability to manipulate and maneuver in order to stay at the helm. What to you are the odds of Bennett and Lapid success here?

YAAKOV KATZ, EDITO-IN-CHIEF, THE JERUSALEM POST: I think Michael that the odds are high, right. Bennett made a big decision yesterday with his announcement that he is joining what's known as the change block in this coalition that essentially is going to, if it succeeds in coalescing and coming together in the next few days, in ousting Netanyahu after 12 years consecutively as prime minister.

That itself, that psychological decision to kind of cross over to that side from where he had been very concrete in the right-wing camp to say I'm putting the nation first. We need to bring a unity government to be formed. We need unity to move forward because of the challenges that we face. That itself was the big obstacle.

Look, Netanyahu's going to try. He's going to pull at every card that he has. He's going to pull at every trick that he has, right. He said about a year ago when he formed the government with (inaudible), no tricks, no shticks. Well, we'll see a lot of tricks now and a lot of shticks from Netanyahu over the next few days until this government is sworn in.

HOLMES: Right.

KATZ: Will he succeed in stopping at? I don't know, but I think that that decision yesterday by Bennett was a big step in the right direction.

HOLMES: The interesting thing, I mean, this proposed coalition as we know it is right across the ideological spectrum. I mean, they all agree they don't want Netanyahu. But, you know, is such a melting pot of parties sustainable politically, you know, if they do end up in power when it comes to making decisions on any number of issues? It all sounds very paralyzing.


KATZ: It sounds paralyzing, Michael, on the one hand. I call it a kaleidoscope of a government, but on the other hand it's a beautiful idea. It's bringing the right-wing together with a left-wing, together with the center. Let me just say, Naftali Bennett, who is a high tech entrepreneur has had success in business, came into government, was pragmatic.

He's an ideologue, but he's pragmatic. He's a known reformer. He's gotten reforms done when he was minister of the economy, minister of education, when he was minister of defense. So he knows how to work with people who are on the other side of the aisle.

I think that the people on the other side of the aisle, from the merits (ph), from the labor party, Yair Lapid, have also shown a maturity, an idea that they can put their egos aside for the better of the country. And that's what this is about.

Now, will it last? Will it have lasting power? Because like you said, there are major challenges, right. What do you do with the Palestinians? What do you when there's going to be another conflict, god forbid, in Gaza? How do you manage those situations? What if there is pressure from the U.S. administration to free settlement construction?

You got people on the right who want to build. You got people on the left who want freeze. How do you manage that? If they can keep their eye on the goal, which is how do we advance Israel out of these nearly 3 years of political instability, mudslinging, no state budgets?

This is what they need to focus on. I think that if they are mature and they understand that, and it seems that they do, they can move forward and potentially succeed.

HOLMES: And as you point out, I mean, Naftali Bennett is more right- wing than Benjamin Netanyahu in many, many ways and particularly when it comes to the Palestinian. He clearly stated no two-state solution for example and he said a lot more than that.

What does it mean for that process which is already sort of stalemated by even the Palestinian leadership as well and perhaps a lack of U.S. engagement distraction?

KATZ: Well, I think you're right. Naftali Bennett is definitely a true right-winger. Benjamin Netanyahu presented himself as a true right-winger but never really took steps in the direction to implement what the right wing vision is at least for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, right, with terms of annexation, of territory, or other larger construction projects in the West Bank settlements.

But I think that what -- if you listen to what Bennett said last night, right, he said we all come from different sides of this map. We all have dreams and aspirations. We're not going to be able to achieve all of that.

What we can achieve is working together to advance the nation and to help stabilize the country right now. That is what they can focus on. They can work on domestic issues. They can get us out of the COVID crisis. They can get us out of the economic stand still. They can pass the state budget.

They can do all these things that Israel has not had because it has not had a functioning government for nearly 3 years because of Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to let go of power while he is facing down his trial for severe corruption charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

So if they focus on the, you know, Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid back when they first came into government in 2013. They were in the same government together and they coined this phrase, Michael, called the 70-30. They agree on 70 percent of the issues, they disagree on 30, but they can focus on the 70. And I think that that's the idea behind this government once again. Agree on the 70, advance the 70, the 30 can wait for another day.

HOLMES: Yaakov Katz there, editor-in-chief of "The Jerusalem Post."

Now, the U.S. is blazing ahead with efforts of getting back to normal. Americans went out in droves to mark Memorial Day weekend with some of the country's biggest crowds since the pandemic began.

Also still to come on the program, a volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo has many on edge. More activity is being recorded more than a week after it erupted. We will have those details after the break.



HOLMES: Welcome back. This time last year, the pandemic had only been around for a few months. Seems like a long time ago. Doesn't it? COVID deaths had just passed 100,000 in the U.S. and we are almost six months away from the first authorized COVID-19 vaccine.

Now on the left there is Jones Beach, New York then. On the right, Jones Beach, New York on Sunday. Two very different pictures of the U.S. Memorial Day weekend. After what the world has been through over the past year, this holiday weekend offering some hope, optimism, and certainly relief. CNN's Paul Vercammen and Coy Wire are out the thick of things.

Paul in Los Angeles where parades and barbecues and pool parties have the go ahead in most places. And Coy is at the famed Indy 500 track. Let's start off with Paul.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Memorial Day weekend, Los Angeles, the return of swan boats to Echo Park Lake. It is reopened after $600,000 worth of renovations. An upbeat mood in Los Angeles, and that's because the COVID-19 numbers extremely good. Very low positivity rate.

The only sort of dark cloud we ran into was people getting gas. It is painful. A little over $4.20 a gallon average in L.A. County. One man and a Chevy Silverado truck telling us it's a big tank. It's costing him about $100 to fill up.


UNKNOWN: It's costing me about almost $100 dollars. It's hard. Especially right now that there is not many jobs. And, you know, we're in a bad situation economy-wise. So, I feel like it's too overpriced.


VERCAMMEN: So back on this lake, looking forward to the coming weeks when we're going to have a further easing of restrictions in Los Angeles, but for now, the people taking in Echo Park Lake, just enjoying a picture postcard Memorial Day weekend in Los Angeles. I'm Paul Vercammen reporting.


COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 135,000 strong at the Indy 5000, still only 40 percent capacity at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The track sold all available tickets making this the biggest single day sporting event in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. It was loud.

It was very crowded in high traffic areas, but this is a massive venue. Capacity of about 350,000. So still plenty of space if you wanted to have it. Fans were excited to be back at an event of this magnitude. You could feel it. It was emotional at times as well especially before the race with the flyover. They honored 105 health care workers and first responders.

This was the fastest Indy 500 ever and 46-year-old Brazilian, Helio Castroneves takes the checkered flag. Second place finisher, Alex Palou, was just 4-years-old when Helio won his first Indy 500 back in 2001. It's the former "Dancing with the Stars" champ, fourth Indy 500 win, tying him with three other drivers for the most ever.

Spider-man climbing the fence once again after an emotional win in front of returning fans. And of course, he drank the traditional jog of milk as well, 2 percent strawberry was his choice. What a career. A 20-year span between his first and latest Indy 500 wins.


HELIO CASTORNEVES, FOURTH DRIVER TO WIN INDY 500 FOUR TIMES: It means a lot. It means a lot of people wants this to happen. I just want to hug everyone. I just want to like -- I draw this positive attitude from them and I guess it paid off today. So, incredible. I was very touched by it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WIRE: The year of I am still here in sports. Tom Brady won another Super Bowl at 43. Phil Mickelson became the oldest man to win a golf major at 50. Now, Helio Castroneves winning the greatest spectacle in racing at 46. And with 135,000 fans returning to the Indy 500, this felt like a celebration and a special milestone in the quest to return to normalcy. Back to you.

HOLMES: Now, the World Health Organization is investigating a possible new coronavirus variant in Vietnam. The WHO working with the country's health ministry to find out more about it after four people were confirmed infected. The suspected variant looks like it had some characteristics of variants first detected in India and also the U.K. One top WHO official says they expect to see more variants emerge as the virus circulates.

Protesters in Brazil calling for the ouster of President Jair Bolsonaro.


HOLMES: Tens of thousands marching across the country over the weekend, unhappy with the president's handling of the pandemic, and also wanting better access to vaccines. The coronavirus has been raging out of control there, of course.

Brazil reporting more than 43,000 new cases on Sunday alone, and the death toll now about 460,000. CNN's Rafael Romo with more on the protest.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Screaming at the top of their lungs, people on the street say the leader of their country must go. It was just one of the massive multi-city protest held across Brazil this weekend against President Jair Bolsonaro.

It's our duty to fight for democracy, this protester says. This government is no use to us. It doesn't serve the people and its political project is to kill us.

The demonstrations against Bolsonaro in cities like Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Brasilia, are some of the largest since the beginning of the pandemic. Demonstrators have two main demands. Calling for the president's impeachment and getting better access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Impeachment now, Bolsonaro must go, this protester said. Adding that more people will die if he stays in power. Early in the pandemic, the controversial right-wing former military officer downplayed COVID-19 as a gripezinha, a little flu.

The president also questioned the effectiveness of vaccines and was often seen greeting crowds of supporters without a mask before contracting the virus himself.

(On camera): Brazil has been one of the hardest hit countries in the world that is now facing a possible third wave of COVID-19. Vaccination has been slow. Less than 10 percent of its total population of 210 million is fully inoculated and the South American country currently has the third highest number of infections after the United States and India.

(Voice-over): Some protesters say Bolsonaro's lack of action is tantamount to genocide. Cemeteries are full, refrigerators empty, this banner reads. The Brazilian senate has opened an investigation into the president's handling of the pandemic.


The protest happened only a week after a mask-less Bolsonaro led a motorcycle rally where he once again questioned the usefulness of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Rafael Romo, CNN.


HOLMES: Dozens of small earthquakes and tremors are still being recorded around the Mount Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It erupted a little over a week ago killing at least 31 people and forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate the nearby city of Goma. And there are still concerns that another eruption is possible. CNN's Larry Madowo is in Goma with the latest.

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: CNN has flown above the mountain for the first-time and we've captured what it looks like right now, this is from just hours ago. And it shows grayish plumes coming out of this mountain. This indicates according to volcanologist that there is collapse in the crater of this mountain.

It shows that the lava lake is completely empty, but that does not mean that it is now safe and people can think that the worst is behind them. It just shows that after the eruption on Saturday, the lava lake has cleared out and there is no imminent danger for the city.

It is kind of stunning to see these images at this height because we've been reporting on this for over a week and it's something that the whole world is watching because this mountain is so close to a city of Goma of two million and it's always a looming over them, threatening disaster at any time.

We've been speaking to an Italian volcanologist, Dario Tedesco, who's been studying this mountain since 1995. This is what he says about what we are seeing and the reduction in seismic activity.


DARIO TEDESCO, VOLCANOLOGIST: The peak has been reached and now we are going down. And we're going even very quickly down. But, you know, sometimes there is another peak again. So, let's wait. Let's be patient.


MADOWO: There is concern about what's happening here both here in the eastern DRC, but across the border in Rwanda because some of the people that were ordered to evacuate crossed the border into the neighboring country and they just want to come back home. Larry Madowo, CNN, Goma.

HOLMES: A quick break now on the program. When we come back on "CNN Newsroom," Japan under a state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic. But Olympic athletes are already on their way to the upcoming summer games. We'll have the latest details and a live report after the break.



HOLMES: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Coronavirus concerns are growing as were just a little more than 53 days to the Olympics. Australian softball players are now on their way to Japan, among the first athletes to travel to the games.

The team departed Sydney a short time ago. They're set to land in Tokyo in the coming hours and when they do, they will arrive as Japan is under an extended state of emergency due to COVID-19. The country's Prime Minister has called the situation unpredictable.

CNN's Angus Watson is following the developments for us from Sydney Airport where those athletes just left from there. They must have been nervous enough just going to the Olympics. Now the world's going to be watching them as test cases in a way, given what's going on in Japan with COVID.

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: Absolutely, Michael. A lot of apprehension here this morning at Sydney Airport as these 23 young athletes and their support staff boarded a Singapore Airlines flight to take off for Japan after a short layover in Singapore to become, as you say, one of the first groups of athletes to arrive there in Japan.

A huge vote of confidence from the Australian Olympic Committee to send off its athletes to Japan, while there is still so much uncertainty in that country, as you say. So the athletes here have said that they're taking every precaution to keep themselves safe and the Japanese public safe from coronavirus. They've all been fully vaccinated. They're getting tested all the time.

They'll arrive in Japan after a long flight and layover in Singapore. It'll take them six hours to prove to the Japanese officials that they've had all the tests and vaccinations that they need before going into a bubble for a month and a half. Before the games begin. Here's what one of those senior athletes had to say about that today.


JADE WALL, AUSTRALIA SOFTBALL OLYMPIAN: We've going to go through lots and lots of COVID testing. But look, we're all prepared for it where we want to do everything that we can to make sure that we're safe when we get there and we're safe while we're in Japan as well.


WATSON: So while they're in Japan, of course, there is the threat of coronavirus abounding. The uncertainty over the games is fueled by the fact that there just are so many cases. There are over 3,000 a day at the moment on average. The Japanese government has announced a state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and other areas where cases are just too high, hospitalizations are just too high.

That will run until the 28th of June. It could be extended, that's just a month before the games are set to begin. The players have been practicing in empty stadiums because of the very real possibility that they won't have any fans performed for, Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Angus, thank you. Angus Watson there at Sydney Airport for us.

Quick break now on the program. When we come back working away their childhood. North Korea says young orphans are volunteering to labor in the country's coal mines, in the fields. We'll show you what's really going on after the break.




JONAS PRISING, CEO, MANPOWERGROUP: The technology that we've had at our fingertips for many years, can make a very significant shift in how we engage with the workplace. And I think that is going to be the lasting legacy of this pandemic, that worker flexibility and the choices that they have and employer's comfort level at making those choices available to them, is going to be the new normal.

I do believe that most employers and employees in the end want to have a level of interaction with their colleagues so that they can drive the business forward. It's just going to look a little bit different.

But we don't believe that there's a tidal wave of remote work coming on a permanent basis. It's a reaction to a health crisis and an economic crisis that eventually will find its way somewhere in the middle again.

RASHAD ROBINSON, PRESIDENT, COLOR OF CHANGE: Racism doesn't have borders, and that racism can't be solved just by hopes and dreams and wishes, that we actually have to put effort and energy into it. Far too often we tell our story - ourselves stories about how inequality happened, that almost makes it seem like it's a car accident, rather than it's unjust.

Inequality is manufactured through a set of choices that we make in our society through a set of rules. And we have the opportunity to make other choices and other rules. But that doesn't happen overnight and it doesn't happen without us pushing and making demands. And so the road ahead will require people of all races, of all backgrounds to be willing to push on the barriers and the systems that stand in the way of change.

And that means that we have to recognize that there are actually barriers in the way of change, that racism actually exists.


HOLMES: Welcome back. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency says a U.S. warship failed to intercept a ballistic missile during a test on Saturday. That test took place in the Pacific Ocean northwest of Hawaii. The agency says an extensive review is underway to determine what went wrong. The U.S., working to fine-tune its missile defenses to guard against threats from countries like North Korea.

And speaking of North Korea, the government there denying accusations it sent orphan children into forced labor camps. Instead, state media claims the youthful workforce volunteered to work in the country's coal mines and on its farms. CNN's Will Ripley with more on that.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: North Korean propaganda has been ramping up this campaign in recent weeks showing enthusiastic youth displaying communists traits and its self-sacrificing spirit. The latest, North Korean orphans, who North Korea says, are volunteering for hard labor. Human rights groups fear they're being exploited.


RIPLEY (voice-over): Answering the call of duty from their Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, North Korea's orphan children in pressed uniforms, flowery wreaths racing to work at coal mines and farms.

COLIN ZWIRKO, SENIOR ANALYTIC CORRESPONDENT, NK NEWS: You can't determine their exact age, but they look quite young and they look like middle school students is accurate.

RIPLEY (on camera): Have we ever seen students that young doing this kind of work in North Korea?

ZWIRKO: This one is a little bit different, because of just how young they appear on camera. We can see with our own eyes how young these children are.

RIPLEY (voice-over): North Korean propaganda praises these so called child volunteers.

RIPLEY (on camera): How widespread is this and how young are the children that are that are volunteering to work.

LINA YOON, SENIOR RESEARCHER, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: I imagine happens to almost all children that do not come from privileged backgrounds or have money to pay instead of working. Child labor is a very serious problem. But the sad reality for North Korea is that it's quite common. RIPLEY (voice-over): North Korea denies allegations of forced child labor. Just last week, its foreign ministry accused developed countries of exploiting children. State media says these orphans are eager to show their loyalty to "fulfill their oath to repay" the ruling Workers Party and the leader they call father.

ZWIRKO: And that's how they repay the love of the party is to go to the coal mines and repay that debt.

YOON: The mines have horrible conditions and there's constant accidents.

RIPLEY (voice-over): On my trips to North Korea, orphans told me heartbreaking stories. Some lost their parents to industrial accidents, others to starvation during the North Korean famine of the late 1990s.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): My parents died a long time ago. I was so young Jong Jung Hua (ph) told me in 2015. At the time, she was barely out of school, working full-time, caring for seven other orphans. Jong said she hoped they would grow up strong to serve the nation.


Our country's one big family, she said. In North Korea country always comes first, even if it means a childhood of hard labor.


RIPLEY: The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has also said it is seriously concerned about this so called exploitation of North Korean children. In its most recent periodic report from 2017, it said that this kind of so-called forced labor interferes with a child's right to education, health, rest, and leisure.

Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.

HOLMES: Now, if you're an international viewer, WORLD SPORT is coming up next. If you're watching us here in the U.S., I'll be right back with more news.


ANDREA POWELL, FOUNDER, KARANA RISING: The pandemic has really shifted what we do to be predominantly a virtual space. At Karana Rising we focus in core areas and one of them that's actually in my heart is we work with survivors to create sustainable and ethical jewelry.

And the reason is that a lot of what we wear, a lot of what we put on our bodies, or put in our homes is created by individuals who've also been exploited. We're really committing to using materials and connecting to partners to create sustainable, ethical jewelry and body products.

And previously, we were selling everything in person - live events, because that's part of the fun of the experience. Survivors were making real money. We were actually selling so many of our products, so we couldn't put it on our website, because every time we think we were about to launch our online sales, everything we have we get sold out at an event.

Well, obviously, we're not doing live events. So we are really working to support survivors in a new initiative called shop (ph) survivor and it will be focused on helping our survivors and other survivors coming into our space and selling their artisan jewelry.

So we're creating supplies and content that is ethical and sustainable, but also allowing survivors to take care of themselves with the money that they make from the sales are able to support their own livelihood and really feel empowered to take that next step in their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the 100 Club. Our look at companies that are 100 years old or older. It's early in the morning and Tony Simmons is tasting something a bit stronger than coffee. He is CEO of the McIlhenny Company, better known as the makers of TABASCO pepper sauce.

This is his morning ritual. To personally check the pepper mash before it goes on to become the famous sauce that bears the TABASCO label.

TONY SIMMONS, PRESIDENT & CEO - MCILHENNY COMPANY: We have a philosophy of how to run our family business to continue the legacy that was started by my great great grandfather.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was 1868 when Edmund McIlhenny decided to go commercial with a pepper sauce concoction he invented and had been sharing with friends and family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, we make 750,000 bottles of sauce per day on average, and Edmund, during his entire career as a pepper sauce manufacturer - and that was a 22 year period, he made about 350,000 bottles. So we make twice as much in a single day as he made during his during his entire career.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And today that TABASCO label is produced in 25 languages and exported to 195 countries around the world.




HOLMES: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Now, the U.S. is pushing forward with its full withdrawal from Afghanistan with a deadline, of course, now inside the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. But already there are new signs Al-Qaeda will remain a global threat.

In this exclusive report, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh finds the terrorist group is still up and running in Afghanistan.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Al- Qaeda the reason the U.S. went to Afghanistan are greatly diminished the Biden administration said.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's time to end America's longest war.

WALSH (voice-over): But a CNN investigation has discovered Al-Qaeda very much alive and thriving in Afghanistan linked to global cells the U.S. is hunting.

Senior Afghan intelligence officials tells CNN, Al-Qaeda are communicating with their cells worldwide from Afghanistan, getting shelter and support from the Taliban in exchange for expertise. And could be able to attack the west from there by the end of next year.

WALSH (on camera): U.S. Treasury in January said Al-Qaeda was, quote, "growing in strength here." But Afghan intelligence official I spoke to go further saying it's more substantial than that. That Al-Qaeda provide expertise like bombmaking but also in finance, in moving cash around.

WALSH (voice-over): Core Al-Qaeda members, number in their hundreds most assessments conclude but it's not how many but who which is most telling.

Key is senior Al-Qaeda Husam Abd al-Rauf, known as Abu Muhsin al-Masri here on FBI wanted poster issued in 2019. An Al-Qaeda veteran, he was in on 9/11 before it happened, said Afghan officials.

WALSH (on camera): Al-Masri crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan in 2014. And over six years, I was told, moved around different provinces in Afghanistan, something that senior Afghan intelligence officials say would only be possible if you had the assistance of top Taliban official.

WALSH (voice-over): But he was in October tracked down to here, a tiny Taliban controlled village in Ghazni that we can only see on satellite images. Afghans Special Forces lost the soldier raiding this compound so fierce with a Taliban resistance and al-Masri died of injuries here.

WALSH (on camera): When they went through al-Masri's possessions, his computer, they found messages communicating with other Al-Qaeda cells around the world, talking about operational matters, not necessary attacks, but also about how soon Afghanistan could be a much freer easier space for them to operate in.

WALSH (voice-over): Then something curious happened, revealing a lot about Al-Qaeda and Afghanistan's global connections, particularly in this case to Syria. There were two rare U.S. strikes in Al-Qaeda cells in Syria immediately afterwards this one on the 15th of October and another a week later, both in Idlib. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Military said they were, quote, "not aware of any connection to the Afghan raid." But a senior Afghan official told me they were most likely connected because the Americans asked the Afghans to delay announcing their raid for over 10 days. And during that delay, before the Afghans broke the news, both Syria strikes happened.

Strikes on Al-Qaeda figures are often announced by Afghan intelligence who present the threat as why the U.S. must stay. A Taliban spokesman rang CNN to say the claims were false and designed to keep American money coming to Afghanistan. He also said the Taliban had agreed to kick out terrorists as part of their peace deal with the United States.

WALSH (on camera): I was told there isn't evidence at this stage that Al-Qaeda is plotting attacks on the west from Afghanistan. But still as they grow in freedom of movement, I was told, it is considered simply a matter of time until that may happen. Raising the question, is the reason why the U.S. came to Afghanistan in the first place going to end up the reason they have to come back?

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.

HOLMES: Now, I spoke earlier about the U.S. withdrawal with Carter Malkasian, he is a former Senior Adviser to the former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford.

With word of military outposts already surrendering to the Taliban in Afghanistan and attacks by Al-Qaeda, also ISIS, I asked him what he sees happening when the U.S. pullout is complete.


CARTER MALKASIAN, FMR. SR. ADVISER TO FMR. CHMN. OF U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: What we're seeing right now is kind of the expected escalation of Taliban attacks. In some ways, it's not terribly different from what we've seen in previous years. I think what I worry about is it could get worse once our pullout is complete.


I think that as the Taliban start to attack in more places, we'll likely see more posts surrendering and more places on being conceded to the Taliban and that'll happen probably for two big reasons. The first reason is that Afghan forces have for a long time had difficulty fighting when they don't have the advantage of U.S. airstrikes and U.S. advisors, so those will be gone.

The other big thing that's going to have an effect here is the kind of fear that they're going to have knowing that we're going to be gone. The fear that they won't be able to fight as well as they did before. And so you might be able to think about it a little bit like a stock market crash. That when you know that the prices of things are going to go down, you might start selling things off.

So it's the same kind of thing here. When they know that support is less, they might be more inclined to surrender earlier, even at times when they might be able to fight well and survive. I think it's pretty hard for the Taliban to completely break with Al-Qaeda. They face - there's lots of family ties between them. They have a long history together. Both sides value the cooperative relationship that they have.

And if the Taliban were to leave them, they face the problem that some of their more militant supporters could call the leadership into question and they don't want to see that.


HOLMES: That was Carter Malkasian joining me a short time ago.

Now, Monday, of course, Memorial Day in the U.S. and it is Joe Biden's first as the nation's Commander in Chief. On Sunday, he paid tribute to fallen service members near his home in Delaware.

CNN's Arlette Saenz has more.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden honored those Americans who lost their lives in service to the nation during a Memorial Day event in Delaware on Sunday.

The President urged Americans to remember the price that so many paid in order to defend our rights and liberties here in the country. It was also a personal day for President Biden as six years ago, his son Beau Biden passed away from brain cancer.

Beau Biden served in the Delaware National Guard, including a tour in Iraq. And the President spoke in very personal terms, relating to the loss that so many military families have also endured in this country. Take a listen.

BIDEN: Beau didn't died in the line of duty, but he was serving the Delaware National Guard Unit in Iraq for a year. That was one of the proudest things he did in his life. So thank you for allowing us to grieve together today.

I know how much the loss hurts. I know, the black hole that leaves in the middle of your chest that feels like you may get sucked into it and not come out.

Greetings like this and gatherings help. And while I know nothing I can say to ease the pain, I just know that each year it gets a little bit - a little bit easier.

SAENZ: President Biden also said the United States has an obligation to speak out against human rights abuses and he plans to raise that issue of human rights abuses when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland next month.

Now, on Monday, the President will visit Arlington National Cemetery where he will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and deliver remarks marking Memorial Day, his first such remarks as Commander in Chief.

Traveling with the president in Wilmington, Delaware, Arlette Saenz, CNN.


HOLMES: Now, the Memorial Day weekend there's an annual motorcycle ride which returned to the streets of the U.S. Capitol, where hundreds of bikers paid tribute to the nation's military veterans and those still missing in action scenes.

CNN's Alex Marquardt reports now from Washington.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a familiar sight here in the nation's capital over Memorial Day weekend, motorcycles rumbling through the streets of Washington DC to honor veterans.

Last year's event was canceled due to COVID concerns. But it was back this year, under a slightly different name, "Rolling to Remember" organized by the veterans group and vets.

The famous Rolling Thunder rally that was held for more than 30 years ended in 2019, because of rising costs and logistics complications. But the missions are the same, to honor veterans to remember the more than 80,000 troops, they say, who are still missing in action and to raise awareness about veteran suicides, more than 20 every single day across this country.

As the riders were looping around the National Mall, they rode past a veteran marine in full dress uniform, saluting them as he has for the past 20 years. We spoke to him about why it's so important.

STAFF SGT. TIM CHAMBERS, U.S. MARINE CORPS: It weighs very heavy on my heart. And that's why I do things not just on this day, but every day that I can represent their service, that I cannot let it go in vain. And that's how I can play my part. Because I didn't do as much as they did, but I'm not going to stop serving.


MARQUARDT: This was the capstone of three days of Memorial events. Participants tell us that there were fewer riders, which is understandable. But the fact that the event was held at all is a real sign of the country opening back up, of getting back to some sense of normalcy more than a year into this global pandemic.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: I'm Michael Holmes, thanks for spending part of your day with me. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @HolmesCNN. Rosemary Church will pick things up after a quick break. But first, I want to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Military.