Return to Transcripts main page


First Person Facing His Trial Under Hong Kong New Security Law; Africa Asking Countries to Help with their Vaccine Supply; Cuba's Effort Paid Off; Tokyo Olympic Fans Excited for the Games; Republicans Blocked Democrats' Voting Rights Bill; Bitcoin is Back and Surviving; Iran Election Aftermath; America's Longest War In Afghanistan; Violence Flares In Sheikh Jarrah; Ethiopia's Election Official, All Opposition Parties Report Harassment; Nicaragua's Former First Lady Detained By National Police; Hong Kong's Apple Daily Newspaper Announces Closure; Britney Spears To Speak Out; Bumble Gives Its Entire Staff A Week Off To Recharge; Wembley Stadium To Host 60,000 Fans For Final Matches; UEFA Says No To Rainbow Colors At Allianz Arena; The Elephant In The Room. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired June 23, 2021 - 03:00   ET




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

Just ahead here on CNN Newsroom, experts in Africa fear the worst as COVID cases rise and vaccine supplies run low. We will speak with the director of the African CDC on the dire situation on the continent.

Plus, just one month to go until Tokyo 2020, the Olympic Games are set to go ahead despite fears of COVID surges in Japan. And UEFA's rainbow route, why they said no to a colorful light display.

Thanks for joining us.

Well, a year after Hong Kong enacted a national security law aimed at cracking down on protests. The first person charged under that law is on trial. The 24-year-old defendant is pleading not guilty to secession and terrorism charges. He's accused of allegedly crashing into police with his motorcycle last year, injuring three officers.

Earlier today, he arrived at court in a police van but instead of a jury his case will be heard by a three-judge panel.

CNN's Anna Coren joins us live now from Hong Kong with the very latest. So, Anna, what are you hearing?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, we are nearing the end of the first day of this national security law trial, which as you say is the first for the city. Since that law was implemented a year ago, the 24-year-old defendant Tong Ying-kit he came here early this morning. He is in the dock, flanked by police officers. The courtroom as you can imagine is packed.

He is looking rather relaxed. But he was arrested last year on the 1st of July. A day after the national security law was implemented. He was riding his motorcycle, as you said, with a flag flying off the back with a slogan, liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times. That slogan is now outlawed here in Hong Kong. You can be arrested just for holding that banner under the national security law.

He then drove into a police roadblock, injuring three police officers and including himself. He was charged with incitement to secession, terrorism, as well as dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm.

Now, as I said, he was in the dock, listening to his translator who was relaying with the prosecutor was saying to these three judges. The prosecutors are speaking in English, interestingly enough, the translator in Cantonese. But these three judges, two women, a man, they have been handpicked by the chief executive Carrie Lam. And there is no jury.

The place or seats where the jury would normally sit completely empty. Despite repeated attempts by Tong to have his trial heard by a jury, the justice secretary, Teresa Cheng, she intervened yesterday, and said, quote, "that this will not be heard in front of a jury." So, I think perceived risk of personal safety of the jurors and their families.

Now, 113 people have been arrested here in Hong Kong under the national security law. More than 60 of those charged. The most recent, Rosemary, was a 55-year-old man from Apple Daily, the pro-democracy newspaper. That happened this morning. This follows that raid last week where five executives were arrested, 500 police officers raided those premises looking for journalistic material.

The chief executive Carrie Lam, Rosemary, I should say, says this is not an attack on press freedoms in the city, but rather protecting Hong Kong's national security law.


CHURCH: All right. Anna Coren joining us live from Hong Kong. Many thanks.

Ten percent of the world's population or almost 800 million people are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That is according to a major data research group, Our World in Data. Vaccination coverage varies greatly by region and by countries income levels.

So far, North America, Europe, and China are leading the way with the most vaccinations worldwide. But many African nations are lagging behind. Less than one percent of the population across the continent is fully vaccinated. And COVID-19 cases are increasing across Africa.

The World Health Organization warns dozens of developing countries receiving vaccines through the COVAX program, including many in Africa, are running out of stock. And its regional director for Africa says many countries have used only half the vaccines they've received due to logistical and funding issues and vaccine hesitancy.

Well, for more on all of this, let's bring in Dr. John Nkengasong via Skype from at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. He is the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thank you, doctor, for talking with us.


CHURCH: So, I want to start by asking you how worried you are that what we've seen in India will also happen across the African continent, particularly with the Delta variant spreading so very quickly, and what needs to be done right now to stop this?

NKENGASONG: Thank you. First of all, we need to intensify efforts to scale up vaccines across the continent. Massive vaccination campaign, that is characterized by a rapid uptick and rapid scale up is what is going to bring this pandemic under control in Africa.

As we speak, the continent of 1.2 billion people has only been able to immunize 10.2 million people fully, 10.2 million people, that represents about 0.78 percent of COVID for a total population of 1.2 billion. That is not the way we win a pandemic. The unfortunate thing is that we have the tools available, that is vaccines are available. We are calling and continue to call on those nations that are sitting on excess vaccines to redistribute them quickly so that we can avoid this moral catastrophe on the continent.

CHURCH: And sir, I mean, it's one thing to call for a massive vaccination campaign. It's another thing to put one in operation. How do you go about that right across the African continent?

NKENGASONG: I mean, there are countries in Africa that have demonstrated that if the vaccines are available in a predictable manner, they will be able to use those vaccines. Countries like Ghana, Rwanda, Nigeria, have all used vaccines that were delivered to them through the COVAX facility.

Rwanda, for example, just within one week of the arrival of their vaccines they were able to use all the doses there. So, if we know that vaccines will arrive in a predictable manner, then we can mount a massive campaign to make sure that the vaccination uptake is appropriate.

CHURCH: And sir, a prominent University of Liverpool doctor has described the surge and cases in western Kenya as a storm on the horizon. Do you agree? And what specific help is needed in Kenya to prevent the situation from getting completely out of control?

NKENGASONG: I think it is Kenya that is also across the continent, as we speak today, 19 countries are actually in the middle of a very aggressive third wave, and we need to implement a couple of measures which is enhance a prevention and make sure that we monitor this variant because what is also driving a lot of this transmission and the uprising cases is the new variant. In the country like the Democratic Republic of Congo the Delta variant

has actually taken over. So, I think we need to enhance our ability to -- our public health measures. And this is also an appeal to the population to cooperate with the authorities to increase the ability to adhere to mask wearing.

This is important. Masking is only effective vaccine that we have now on the continent because of the acute shortage and limitations of vaccines. We also have to make sure that we continue to rule out the social distancing and avoid mass gatherings. I mean, what we must not do is to offer the virus an opportunity to spread. If we do that, we'll continue to be in a very delicate situation.

CHURCH: And is that message that social distancing and wearing of masks, are those messages getting through?


NKENGASONG: They are getting through. I was very impressed recently in South Africa and Rwanda where we -- I was actually really pleased to see that at least in public many people were wearing masks, very consistently and correctly.

But we don't know is what happens indoors. And we know that transmission also occurs very -- at very high frequency when you do not ensure appropriate safe measures when people are gathered indoors.

So, avoid mass gatherings even when you are indoor. Avoid political gatherings because it will offer the virus the opportunity. Avoid mass religious gatherings because again, it offers the virus to spread very quickly.

CHURCH: Yes, sir. So, a lot of this, all things that we have seen and watched in other parts of the world. So, we wish you the very best in really containing this. Dr. John Nkengasong, thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it.

NKENGASONG: Thank you.

CHURCH: Cuba's homegrown vaccines are being put to the test as the country sees a record surge in COVID cases. Cuba reported its largest daily rise in cases on Monday with more than 1,500 new infections. So far, just over 8 percent of the country's population is fully vaccinated. But Cuban scientists say their three-dose shot called Abdala is highly effective.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann has the details.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cuban scientists are breathing a sigh of relief, and celebrating after one of the two most advanced vaccine candidates called Abdala has shown an efficacy rate of more than 90 percent. The other vaccine earlier Cuban scientist said had an efficacy of more than 60 percent.

But it really is the news that Abdala apparently has one of the highest efficacies of any vaccine announced at this point. That has got Cuban scientists feeling that they have made the correct choice not to import vaccines from other countries, but to focus on making their own vaccines.

For 30 years, Cuba has produced its own vaccines. This is a country that is often cut off from the outside world, that is under U.S. sanctions, so they have a long-standing program to develop their own vaccines, and their own medicines.

The question now is whether Cuba will be able to increase production of Abdala and Soberana. Enough of these vaccines not only to vaccinate their entire population, but also as Cuban officials have said, they intend to do offer those vaccines to other countries.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.

CHURCH: The European Commission has formally approved Italy's COVID recovery plan. That means Italy will get more than $200 billion from the E.U.'s post-pandemic recovery fund. The European Commission president made the announcement Tuesday, along with Italy's prime minister. The nearly $900 billion fund known as Next Generation E.U. is meant to help member states in their economic recovery. Italy, the first European country hit by the pandemic is getting the biggest share.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has received a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine but from a different maker than her first dose. A government spokesman says Mrs. Merkel got her second shot a few days ago. This one was made by Moderna, while her first dose came from AstraZeneca.

Europe's Medicines Agency hasn't made it clear whether it approves mixing and matching vaccines, which would help speed up vaccine rollouts in many areas. But some studies are looking into it.

We are now a month out from the Tokyo Olympics which have been plagued by COVID concerns. But not everyone is worried. Coming up, you will meet some super fans who can't wait to cheer on their favorite Olympians.

And China is looking to limit the use of cryptocurrencies. What effect that's having on the price of bitcoin, just ahead.



CHURCH (on camera): It's game on for the Tokyo Olympics as preparations enter the home stretch. They will officially kick off a month from now after the pandemic delayed the games by a year. On Tuesday, organizers unveiled the official posters for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They are long standing tradition, this time for an event that will be anything but traditional. While organizers have made widespread changes to prevent the Olympics from becoming a COVID super spreader event but not everyone is convinced.

So let's bring in CNN's Blake Essig. He joins us live from Tokyo. Great to see you, Blake. So, just a month away and decisions keep changing on how to keep everyone safe. What's the latest on this?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Rosemary, it's really been a fluid situation. We keep getting new rules and regulations seemingly on a daily basis in that effort to provide safe and secure environment that Olympic organizers keep preaching. Now, for months we've heard from a chorus of voices calling for the games to be canceled or postponed.

But in exactly one month from now in all likelihood of course this stadium behind me will host the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony during the middle of a pandemic. Now despite the health and safety concerns there are some people living here in Japan who couldn't be more excited about it.


ESSIG (voice over): At the Olympic Games in Tokyo summer here to compete for glory, while others have a different mission.

KYOKO ISHIKAWA, OLYMPIC SUPERFAN: For the well-being of the world and the success of Tokyo Olympic Games.

ESSIG: That's Kyoko Ishikawa, a self- proclaimed Olympic superfan and unofficial international Olympic cheerleader who can't wait for the summer games to begin. She's dressed in a traditional Japanese costume equipped with headband and fans to cheer on athletes and celebrate the Olympic spirit.

ISHIKAWA: The purpose of my cheering activity at Olympic Games is basically to share the message of love, smile, friendship and peace with the people around the world.

ESSIG: It's a message she says she's been staring at every Olympic Games since 1992. Making friends and gaining fans along the way. Back then she was a student traveling around Europe. And as luck would have it, she managed to get a ticket to the opening ceremonies for the games in Barcelona. A moment in time that forever changed her life.

ISHIKAWA: When I saw the vision, the diversity, I was amazed.

SHLOMI TSRAFRIR, OLYMPICS MEMORABILIA COLLECTOR: Unless you've seen it with your own eyes you would never understand.

ESSIG: Originally from Israel, Shlomi Tsrafrir has lived in Japan for more than 30 years. He got hooked in 1998 at the Winter Olympics in Nagano while operating a souvenir shop. Since then what started as a hobby has turned into an all-consuming obsession.

TSRAFRIR: It's almost everywhere I have pins, and pins, and pins.

ESSIG: Altogether? Tsrafrir says he's collected roughly 100,000 pieces of Olympic memorabilia.

To the point where it is everywhere.

TSRAFRIR: Yes, literally, every -- almost every drawer, every cupboard you open in this house. Something Olympic will pop up.

ESSIG: Can we test the theory?

TSRAFRIR: Sure, go ahead.

ESSIG: All right. Let's go. All right. How about this right here?

TSRAFRIR: Yes. I'm sure something will be there. There you go.

ESSIG: There it is. You aren't lying.

TSRAFRIR: No, no. That's a rare item actually. That's a teacup from 1940 Tokyo cancel games.

ESSIG: Those games were canceled because of World War II. This time around it's a global pandemic that's led medical professionals and a majority of the majority of the Japanese public to cover the games to be canceled or postponed.


Despite all that Olympic organizers are adamant that the Tokyo Olympics can be held safely and will go ahead this summer.

TSRAFRIR: This is 1958.

ESSIG: A prospect that Tsrafrir hopes will happen. Not just so he can continuous his role promoting Olympic history through memorabilia but also to bring pride to the country he calls home.

TSRAFRIR: For the whole country I really hope there are going to be big games, very good games and very successful games, games that the Japanese people afterwards will be proud that they staged.

ESSIG: And even though foreign spectators have been banned and only a limited number of local fans will be able to attend the games, Ishikawa says she's going to keep cheering for her fans around the world and the one that matters most, right here at home.

ISHIKAWA: I think that he is the super fan of the super fan, which is me, his wife.

ESSIG: That's perfect. We all have a role to play.


ESSIG (on camera): There's no question that these games still remain deeply unpopular with the majority of people here in Japan. In fact, there's a large anti-Olympic protest planned for later this evening. But none of that is likely to change the reality here, Rosemary, that in 30 days from now the Olympic flame will be lit and the games will take place.

CHURCH: All right, Blake Essig joining us live from Tokyo. Many thanks for that. China's military is accusing the U.S. of deliberately sabotaging peace

and stability in the Taiwan Strait. It comes one day after the U.S. Navy sailed a warship through the sensitive waterway that separates Taiwan and China.

U.S. Officials say it was a routine transit. Tensions in the South China Sea have been on the rise recently. Last week, Taiwan reported more than two dozen Chinese military planes entered the country's air defense identification zones.

U.S. Senate Republicans dealt a fatal blow to a landmark voting and election bill on Tuesday, at least in its current form. Democrats were unable to convince them to budge on the controversial bill, a signature part of U.S. President Joe Biden's agenda. Well now the only hope lies in making concessions to attract bipartisan support.

Here's CNN's Ryan Nobles with more.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It turned out to be not too big of a surprise, Senate Republicans successfully blocking Senate bill one of the Voting Rights Act, the For the People Act, which Democrats have said it's one of their top priorities in this Congress.

The Democrats were able to get all 50 of their members to vote in favor of this legislation but because of the Senate's filibuster rules you needed 10 Republicans to join up in that effort. And they couldn't even get one Republican to vote for.

So, the question is what happens next? The Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that they are not giving up. That they're going to exhaust every possible avenue to try and get voting rights legislation passed. The problem is there is one big obstacle that remains. And a collection of Senate Democrats that are unwilling to jump over that obstacle and that is the Senate filibuster.

Now both Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona they both said that they believe there are too many long-term repercussions for breaking up the filibuster for any reason and that includes voting rights. But now, there is becoming a level of pressure in concern amongst rank and file Democrats that voters and states, and also progressive activists, you know, that want to see Manchin and Sinema take that step to get rid of the filibuster and pass this legislation. At this point, they don't seem willing to do it. So, the question is, where do Democrats go from here?

Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.

CHURCH: The world's biggest cryptocurrency is back in positive territory after bitcoin dropped below $30,000 for the first time since January. Here's where things stand right now. Bitcoin is currently trading up after a recent downward trend.

CNN's David Culver explains how China has contributed to pressure on the price of the cryptocurrency.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: China's Central Bank sending a clear message that it will not tolerate crypto trading. The move caused bitcoin in other currencies to plunge in trading. On Monday, bitcoin hit a two-week low before prices stabilized a bit on Tuesday. But it lost roughly half its value since it hit an all-time high back in April.

Other cryptocurrencies were also caught up in Monday's big sell off. Cryptocurrencies have had a rough couple of months for a few reasons including concerns about the environmental impact of mining coins and increasing government scrutiny. Here in China officials have been signaling for months a more aggressive pushes to curtail use of such currencies.

On Monday, the people's Bank of China summoned Alipay, the widely popular online payments platform here along with five big lenders and told them to comprehensively investigate and identify cryptocurrency exchanges and dealers so they could cut off any crypto trading.


The Central Bank said that is the cryptocurrency trading breeds the risk of illegal cross border transfers of assists and money laundering. It reinforces just how far this country is willing to go to restrict the usage of bitcoin and other digital coins.

Over the weekend, Chinese state media reported that the southwestern China province of Sichuan ordered a halt to all crypto mining operations and cut off the power supply to many mining facilities. That province is a major hub for crypto mining.

While China does not completely ban cryptos, regulators back in 2013 declared that bitcoin was not a real currency and forbade financial and payment institutions from transacting with it. The growing crackdown is also in part to boost China's state max digital yuan initiative which authorities want to implement so that they can keep money flows in check.

David Culver, CNN, Shanghai.

CHURCH: Ethiopia just held its first multiparty election in 16 years. And opposition parties are crying foul. Coming up, the latest on the country's potentially pivotal and controversial vote.

Plus, police arrest a former first lady in Nicaragua, silencing yet another critic of the current president. We will have the latest on the political purge in that country.


CHURCH: The United States is taking action against Iran online. If you go to the web site of the Iranian news network, Press TV right now, this is what you'll see. The Justice Department says it has seized dozens of Iranian linked web sites accusing them of targeting the U.S. to subvert Democratic processes with disinformation.

The move comes just days after Iran elected a new hardline president. Ebrahim Raisi won't take office until August but he's made it clear he will take a tough stance when it comes to the U.S. In his first speech as president-elect, thousands of supporters, Raisi outlined his goals for domestic and foreign policy.

Fred Pleitgen has our report from Iran.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was really very much a victory lap for Ebrahim Raisi as he came here to the Imam Reza shrine at the holy city of Mashhad to deliver his speech to people who no doubt are very much Raisi followers.

Now, of course, this is also a very, very important day that this was taking place as the folks here are commemorating the birth of the Imam Reza. And Ebrahim Raisi of course has a lot of followers here, there were tens of thousands of people who came here to the shrine to listen to him speak.


And Ebrahim Raisi said that he would do exactly the things that he said in his election campaign. He said that he would fight corruption, that he would also try to improve the economic situation of this country, but also move along a more conservative track.

EBRAHIM RAISI, IRANIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In domestic and foreign policy upholding the dignity of these people of our nation and our people and in no negotiations can we allow the dignity of the Iranian nation to be damaged. In our foreign policy, and in our engagement with everyone across the globe, our foundation will be the safeguarding and increasing of the dignity of the people of Iran.

PLEITGEN: Of course, one of the other things that Ebrahim Raisi has said is that he plans to follow a much tougher line towards the United States. He has said categorically he will not meet with U.S. President Joe Biden. He has also said while he hopes the nuclear agreement between the U.S. Iran and other world powers can be once again be fully implemented, there is no way with the current Iranian leadership that it could be expanded, for instance, to include Iran's ballistic missile program and also other regional issues as well.

Now, a lot of the things that Ebrahim Raisi is criticized for internationally, of course, being very tough when he was the head of Iran's judiciary, that's exactly the thing that endears him to some of the folks here who are his followers.

UNKNOWN (through translator): Raisi is the candidate of the revolutionary front. We totally support him because he has the right beliefs and also he has been in the judiciary a few years and has shown good performance.

UNKNOWN (through translator): We hope that he will solve people's problems. We hope the economic issues of the country will be solved and that the youth will have an easy life. PLEITGEN: Even before Ebrahim Raisi began his speech, there were many

people who were out here listening to a lot of prayers, waving Iranian flags. Of course, a lot of them are hoping that indeed this country will move in a more conservative direction, despite the fact that of course the voter turnout for the election that took place was at a historic low.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Mashhad, Iran.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): We are getting a better sense of the Taliban's recent advances in Afghanistan as the U.S. continues its military withdrawal. The U.N. special envoy on Afghanistan says since May militants have gained control of 50 of the country's 370 districts. The Taliban's intensifying campaign comes just months ahead of the U.S. deadline to end America's longest war.


DEBORAH LYONS, HEAD OF U.N. ASSITANCE MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN: For the Taliban to continue this intensive military campaign would be a tragic course of action. It would lead to increased and prolonged violence that would extend the suffering of the Afghan people and threaten to destroy much of what has been built and hard lined in the past 20 years.


CHURCH (on camera): Deborah Lyons also says most districts taken by the Taliban surround provincial capitals suggesting they will try and take those capitals once U.S. and NATO forces are fully withdrawn.

Twenty Palestinians were injured after violence fled in east Jerusalem alShaykh Jarah neighborhood. The Palestinian Red Crescent says most of those injuries were from tear gas and pepper spray. Several Palestinian families in the neighborhood are facing the threat of forced removal from their homes. CNN witnessed violent confrontations between Jewish settlers and local residents. And saw police fire stun grenades into several Palestinian homes. Four Palestinians were detained.

The head of Ethiopia's national electoral board says all opposition parties have reported facing harassment or intimidation on Election Day. They are counting the votes in many places while some districts have begun posting preliminary results.

CNN's Larry Madowo is in Addis Ababa with more.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They have been here all night and they just finish counting at this polling station in Addis Ababa. They're sealing the ballot boxes and the Party agents are filing against the results. The final results are posted outside polling stations around the country, so that the public has a chance to look at which parties have won the elections.

The national elections board of Ethiopia says there were instances were because of the logistical challenges. They had to extend voting to Tuesday, it also reported that in isolated incidences in parts of the country, opposition agents who were even intimidated or harassed.

BIRTUKAN MIDEKSA, ELECTORAL CHAIR (through translator): We have received complaints from all parties except the ruling Party. We've informed the local administration to take corrective measures. If it's not corrected, if the representative of the Party is not able to observe, they should know the process and the credibility of the result will be jeopardized.


MADOWO (on camera): This election did not take place in the northern region of Tigray, where there is a violent conflict ongoing. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed while casting his vote counterterrorism aid agencies who say there are 250,000 people there are in famine conditions.

ABIY AHMED, ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER: There is no hunger in Tigray, there's a problem Tigray and the government is capable of fixing that.

MADOWO: Despite some international concern about the environment around these elections, one major opposition candidate has told CNN it really came down to the Ethiopians to decide.

BERHANU NEGA, OPPOSITION LEADER, EZEMA PARTY: I really don't need the blessing of any western government. Although it is important if they were here to observe, that would have been, you know, good. But that's why at the end of the day it is what we as Ethiopians feel, what we as Ethiopians who have a lot to lose from election that is more credible, how we see it.

MADOWO: The Ethiopian wants to liberalize its economy and reform its politics, but the country is fractured by so much ethnic violence that has led to a lot of death, destruction and displacement and that will be the priority for whichever government takes over.

Larry Madowo, CNN, Addis Ababa.


CHURCH (on camera): A sweeping wave of arrest continues in Nicaragua. Now the national police have arrested former first lady, Maria Fernanda Flores Lanzas. Police say she's being detained at her home on charges of threatening national sovereignty.

CNN Matt Rivers has more on the country's recent crackdown on opposition leaders.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The political crackdown against dissent by Daniel Ortega and his regime in Nicaragua continues, as we've seen the detention of two more prominent opposition figures in Nicaragua, including former Nicaraguan first lady, Maria Fernanda Flores Lanzas, she was detained at her home on Monday as well as prominent sports journalist and frequent Ortega regime critic, Miguel Angel Mendoza Urbina.

Both of them were detained under the so-called national security law 10-55, that the Ortega regime according to critics has been using to essentially criminalize anyone that speaks out against the regime. And this is just the continuation of what we have seen over the past several weeks, with a total of 17 opposition leaders now having been detained in this ongoing crackdown by Daniel Ortega.

Of course, this is garnering a lot of international attention. But some activists are saying that other governments around the world need to do more to speak out against what is happening in Nicaragua. Human rights watch for example, released a report this week saying the international community needs to do more.

The U.N. Security Council needs to get involved, saying as a part of the report quote, the gravity and intensification of the Ortega government's brutal crackdown on critics and members of the opposition in recent weeks, requires a redoubling of international pressure.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


CHURCH (on camera): And we have this breaking news out of Hong Kong. The pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily says it will stop publishing both its digital and print editions no later than Saturday. The Board of Directors made the announcement in a memo to staff. Hong Kong police raided the papers offices earlier this month, and have arrested several employees for allegedly violating the national security law. Staff were told to stay home after a columnist for the paper was arrested today.

Well, after years of staying silent, Britney Spears is expected to speak out about the controversial court order that put her father in charge of her finances. What we can expect during Wednesday's highly anticipated court hearing.



CHURCH (on camera): Pop sensation Britney Spears is expected to break her silence in the coming hours about her ongoing conservatorship case. A court appointed her father to be her guardian 13 years ago, putting him in control of her multimillion dollar finances, after the singer experienced a series of health issues.

CNN entertainment reporter, Chloe Melas, takes a look at what we might expect during Wednesday's highly anticipated legal hearing.


isn't shy about sharing with her fans on Instagram. But for the first time, the world may hear from Britney regarding her court order to conservatorship in a hearing on Wednesday. Britney has yet to address the court since their court ordered attorney filed to suspend her father Jamie Spears as the conservator of her 60 million dollar estate last year.

The singer's father has been overseeing her finances since the conservatorship began in 2000 and following a series of health issues that played out publicly. The highly anticipated hearing has fans and reporters clambering for a seat in the courtroom, although Spears is expected to appear virtually, the Los Angeles County superior court has already issued a press release stating that they are going to have an overflow courtroom. Everyone is wondering what Britney might say, and conservatorship attorney Lisa MacCarley who does not work on Britney's case has been vocal about the court having had her appointed Samuel (inaudible) as her attorney.

There's legitimate reasons why Britney Spears was deprive of an attorney of her choice. What I am hoping that she won't say -- and all she really needs to say is, I want to hire an attorney of my own choice to talk about my options, that is something that they have stead vastly refused to allow her to do.

MELAS: Spears attorney had no comments citing pending litigation, CNN has also reached out to two judges who have issued rulings on these cases over the years. Both declined to comment to CNN. Members of the free Britney movement planned to demonstrate outside of the courthouse. They want to give me more singer released from the conservatorship but they say, this is bigger than Britney and want an overhaul of the system that they believe has widespread potential for corruption.

LEANNE SIMMONS, FREEBRITNEY MOVEMENT: We know that conservatorship abuse is much bigger than just Britney Spears, and that's what this has evolved into, of course this movement started because we're Britney fans, a lot of us. It has evolved into a global movement now, they're activists and advocates from across the globe. Some of whom are not Britney fans who are family members or victims themselves of conservatorship abuse. So this is much bigger than just Britney.

MELAS: As for an end in sight, this legal battle is far from over with another hearing scheduled for mid-July.


MELAS (on camera): It feels like the entire world is watching to see, what will Britney Spears say during the hearing? We have no idea if this hearing is going to end up being closed because she might talk about some very sensitive subjects that require the judge to actually clear the courtroom.

Also, many people wondering will Britney ever take the stage again to perform? Well, she just posted a video on Instagram the other day saying that she doesn't know, she's still taking time for herself. So in the meantime, all we can do is sit back, wait and watch.

CHURCH (on camera): And we just heard from Attorney Lisa MacCarley in Chloe's report, and I also spoke to her earlier and asked what she expects Britney Spears to say at today's hearing.


LISA MACCARLEY, CONSERVATORSHIP ATTORNEY: She needs to demand to see an attorney of her own choice. I think that is the best option, so that's what I am hoping for. Although it's expected that she is really going to talk about wanting to remove her father as her conservator.


CHURCH (voice over): So you don't think she should go beyond just requesting her own lawyer?

MACCARLEY: No, I think if she request her own attorney, and that attorney is allowed to go through the file with her, I think that she will move very quickly to terminate the conservatorship. So, I think that if she wants to terminate it, I believe that there is ample evidence to suggest that with the right legal counsel, she could have this conservatorship completely terminated.

CHURCH: And it's in Chloe's package, we heard you criticize effected Britney Spears was forced to use a court appointed attorney. Why was she not allowed to select her own lawyer? What would be the possible justification for that? And why is she paying for both her father's legal fees and her own?

MACCARLEY: Right. So, in terms of, let me answer the easiest question first, it is not uncommon, meaning that it is often the case that the conservatorship estate does pay for both sides of these proceedings. Most of the time, the numbers are not nearly the astronomical legal fees and costs that we are seeing in this case. This is highly unusual.

Although conservatorship's can get expensive when there is sibling squabbling, it is very rare to see a conservatorship fight be between whether or not the conservatee needs a conservatorship, and who her conservators actually are. That's actually a rather rare scenario.

Now, in terms of what happened in February, 2008, when the conservatorship was established, they're actually is and was, always has been a law in the state of California that a person facing the loss of life, liberty, or property is absolutely entitled to a fair hearing and a fair hearing generally means an unbiased tribunal.

So, a judge that hasn't already made up her mind and a zealous advocate of his or her own choice. So, I believe it was inconsistent with the law of the state of California for the commissioner than to deprive Miss Spears council of her own choice. In fact, I would go as far as to say it was a violation of a sacred constitutional right.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH (on camera): Attorney Lisa MacCarley speaking with me earlier.

And you can stay with CNN as we continue to follow the hearing throughout the day.

Bumble has made a reputation for shaking up the dating app scene, now it's innovating again to help its employees. Bumble has shut down all of its offices this week and staffers will still get paid. It's one way companies are looking to help their employees unwind, and recover from COVID related burnout.

Our CNN's Clare Sebastian explains.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bumble, the dating app, known for empowering women to make the first move is giving all of its employees a little extra love this week. Now, 15 months into the pandemic, the company says that this extra paid time off is a way of thanking staff for their hard work and resilience. And Bumble has had a lot of hard work. The company went public in February, that's no small undertaking. It's also seeing really strong user growth, pay users grew up 30 percent in the first three months of the year.

And one staff member writing on Twitter, that tweet now unavailable, said that this move shows that the CEO of Bumble is picking up on staffs, quote, collective burnout. Well, the sense of burnout is not limited to Bumble, it is starting to show up in data. In April in the U.S., almost 4 million Americans quit their jobs. That's the highest that it's been over the past 20 years.

Microsoft also did a survey after this month where they surveyed 30,000 workers across 31 countries and found that 41 percent are considering quitting their jobs in the next 12 months. All this means that employers are really thinking about retention.

We are seeing some companies the likes of Google and Uber offering hybrid work options. Some days in office, and some at home. We are seeing widespread wage increases, particularly across ledger and hospitality. So, Bumbles paid free week off work, but just another sign that if the jobs market where a dating app, it would be the employees doing the sweeping.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.



CHURCH: Well, some of the top names in football will take the pitch today in Euro 2020 action. The stadium in Munich will not be lit up in pride colors. That is next on CNN Newsroom.


CHURCH (on camera): London is planning a huge celebration to mark its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The cities iconic Wembley Stadium will host more than 60,000 fans for the semifinals and final of the Euro 2020 tournament. Those matches are still two weeks away, but the crowds will be the biggest assembled for a sporting event in the U.K. in more than 15 months. Ticketholders will have to prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or show a negative test result. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel is weary.


ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): Great Britain is a virus variant area. So we will simply quarantine anyone traveling there for 14 days. There are very few exceptions to that, and I think or I hope UEFA will be responsible, and I don't think it will be good if you have full stadiums. And I support all the efforts of the British government to have the necessary hygiene measures in place.


CHURCH (on camera): A few more wins and home team England could be a part of the final four. They beat the Czech Republic one nil on Tuesday to advance to the knockout round.

More now from Darren Lewis in London.


DARREN LEWIS, CNN SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR (on camera): Just a one goal scored but enough to reignite the optimism of their fans and to get the country dreaming again. Raheem Sterling scored and here's a snap for you, England won all 12 of the games in which Sterling has scored for his country. They didn't play champagne football tonight, but they didn't impress in patches to beat the Czechs top of the group and to set up a last 16 tie with one of the giants of world football. France, Germany, or the defending champions Portugal.

A tough task perhaps but they will have 45,000 fans back here at Wembley. And the clutch of top class players at their (inaudible) disposal. Some of them, including Arsenals (inaudible), and the Aston (inaudible) were here tonight to bounce the Czechs. But in particular, the value of Sterling continues to rise.

Darren Lewis, CNN, London.


CHURCH (on camera): European football's governing body says it's staying out of politics, but it still causing quite a stir. UEFA says it will not light up the stadium with the rainbow flag at today's Euro 2020 match between Germany and Hungary. Munich city council asked UEFA to show the gay pride colors after Hungary past anti LGBTQ legislation.

But spectators can see the rainbow elsewhere as Munich now plans to light up its town hall and other landmarks. So, let's head live now to London. And CNN World Sports Alex Thomas. Good to see you, Alex. So, what is the latest on all of this? ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORTS (on camera): We have seem to be

staggering from one bad decision to another off the pitch. They just want to hold a football tournament a year later in plan, because of the COVID pandemic. but certainly after on Monday, being in a bit of controversy when the Germany Captain Manuel Neuer seemed to be starting to be investigated over wearing a rainbow colored armband in honor of pride month being celebrated by many countries around the world.


UEFA then said they're going to drop their investigation. In a letter the armband has been assessed as a team symbol for diversity and thus a good cause. Yet the idea of lighting up the (inaudible) arena, the stadium where Germany will play Hungary later on Wednesday with similar rainbow colors has been dismissed.

In relation to that legislation passed by Hungary's GET parliament last week, it's been widely criticized by human rights groups and opposition parties. It bans the dissemination of contents in schools deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change. UEFA in a statement admitted that racism, homophobia, sexism, all forms of discrimination are a stain on society and represents one of the biggest problems faced by football.

But their statement went on to say that they are a politically and religiously neutral organization, and given the political context of this specific request, UEFA must decline. Hungary's foreign minister was reportedly delighted with UEFA's decision, but as you say, more opposition in Germany, the president of Bayern Munich, (inaudible) play at the stadium, that will host the game later said he would like to see the rainbow lighting.

Munich will light up its town hall and other landmarks. Other football clubs are going to follow suit as well. You had a (inaudible) policeman, the France megastar tweeting out an image of the (inaudible) arena lit up in its rainbow colors, and a little rainbow and solidarity fits emoji there as well.

And if you think about UEFA's expensive equality campaign, the equal game campaign actually features (inaudible), who is gay and a vocal LGBTQ plus advocate. So, it really seems like they've compromised what they say are their values, UEFA, just to appease the Hungarian government.

CHURCH: Thomas bringing us the latest from London. Many thanks. And finally this hour we need to address the elephant in the room. Quite literally. Take a look. A wild Asian elephant was found in the middle of the night, rummaging through a woman's kitchen in Thailand. It stuck its head through a hole in the wall, made by another elephant just last month.

Wildlife experts believe the elephant was looking for food and say the House may have been targeted because it's near a national park. These types of encounters have been on the rise in Asia as wildlife habitats continue to shrink. And thanks so much for joining us, I'm Rosemary Church. I will be back

with more news after this quick break. Don't go anywhere.