Return to Transcripts main page
Tigray Region's Tension Killed 30 People; Taiwan's with a Blunt Warning to China; Delta Variant Spreading Rapidly Around the Globe; Cubans Risk Their Life Amid a Pandemic; Taliban Forces Taking Advantage of U.S. Troop Withdrawal; Beirut Museum Putting Pieces Back; Partial Building Collapses Near Miami; Hong Kong's National Security Law Shuts Apple Daily; Benigno Aquino III Dead At 61; Software Magnate's Demise, Authorities Say Everything Indicates Possible Suicide; Rainbow Flags Fly In Munich; Buckingham Palace's Annual Report; Britney Spears Breaks Her Silence. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired June 24, 2021 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.
Just ahead here on CNN Newsroom, dozens are dead after an airstrike in Ethiopia's Tigray region. The military denies it happened, but witnesses say otherwise.
Plus, cheers and a few tears as Hong Kong's largest pro-democracy newspaper prints its final copy.
And fans took matters into their own hands after UAFA doubled down on their decision not to allow a rainbow-colored light display.
Good to have you with us.
The E.U. is calling on the international community to take action in Ethiopia's Tigray region after a deadly airstrike killed as many as 30 people. Witnesses say a market was struck Tuesday in the war-torn region. The U.S. strongly condemned the attack, calling it reprehensible.
Sources also tells CNN the Ethiopian military shot at doctors who tried to reach the victims, and that ambulances were blocked from breaching the wounded. But military claims the airstrike reports are fake and meant to overshadow Ethiopia's peaceful election held on Monday.
So, let's bring in CNN's Larry Madowo, he joins us now live from Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa. Good to see you, Larry. So, talk to us about the latest. Because of course we've heard the military denying this deadly air strike even happened. What are witnesses saying about this and what's been the reaction so far? LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, witnesses told us that an
airplane essentially dropped a bomb on a busy market on Tuesday afternoon, and the military is saying that did not happen because the military does not target civilians by land or air. And the colonel who is in charge of the military communications has actually told CNN this is news, but all reports we have CNN's journalists on the ground went to a hospital where some of the injured were blocked, we're getting treated and aid agencies and some Tigray and rebel leaders told CNN that when more ambulances, about 10 ambulances tried to go to this location, about 20 miles away from the Tigrayan capital Mekelle, that they were blocked by Ethiopian forces ostensibly because it's going to help those people wo have been injured would be trying to help the rebels.
But this denial actually has a little asterisk here. The military saying, they will never target civilians which is, leaving room for them to later say that these were not civilians, these were enemy combatants and that's why they were targeted in this air strike even though officially their line is still a denial.
Even if it is true, this would be the worst fighting to have hit this northern part of Ethiopia since November when this conflict began, already thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands are displaced. There are sanctions that the U.S. has placed on all leaders in the north and here in Addis Ababa, for anybody involved in this conflict.
And this area is difficult to access. So, we can't independently confirm, we cannot go there because it's dangerous. Connectivity does not exist. It's difficult to call. There's no internet connection.
And this adds to the mystique because the other problem is that there's been disinformation and propaganda on all sides from the Ethiopian government, from the Tigrayan rebels, from the Oromia, from Amhara leaders as well. So, it's difficult to know what exactly is true in this case. But it's really concerning that civilians, dozens killed on the 33rd anniversary, Rosemary, of another massacre that took place in this same part of the country.
So, today, right now, condemnation from the U.N., from the E.U., from the U.S., but silence from the Ethiopian authorities. But also silence from the African union which is headquartered right here in Addis Ababa.
CHURCH: Right. Some very disturbing images there. Larry Madowo, joining us live from Addis Ababa, many thanks for bringing us up to date on that situation.
Well Taiwan's foreign minister is issuing a blunt warning as China flexes its military muscle near the island. In an exclusive interview with CNN, Joseph Wu said Taiwan needs to prepare for a possible conflict with Beijing, but he also said the military pressure is part of China's strategic game plan that goes beyond Taiwan.
The foreign minister spoke with CNN's Will Ripley who joins us now live from Taipei. Good to see you, Will.
So, China of course will prove to be a daunting and deadly enemy in any conflict with Taiwan. So, what more did the foreign minister say about all this?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, Rosemary. China spends around 15 times on its defense budget as Taiwan, there simply is very little chance in an all-out military conflict that Taiwan could defend against Chinese missiles, to say the least. There are hundreds of them that are pointed at this island that could be fired at any time.
But the foreign minister says there is another type of warfare that China's is engaging in far more quietly, far more secretly, cyber.
JOSEPH WU, TAIWAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Taiwan has some very good capabilities in dealing with cyberattacks and that is because of our long experience dealing with the cyber activities initiated by the Chinese tool at Taiwan. They used cyber warfare, they used cognitive warfare disinformation campaign and the military intimidation to create a lot of anxiety among the Taiwanese people.
RIPLEY: Why is Beijing doing this now? Why are they stepping things up now?
WU: They might have a territorial ambition over Taiwan for sure because they have been talking about that. But I think they are also trying to expand their sphere of influence over the East China Sea, over the South China Sea or beyond the first island chain into the white Pacific, so this is not just Taiwan's problem. And we certainly hope that the international community will continue to look at the peace and stability in this region with attention and continue to support Taiwan.
RIPLEY: How much to the actions of the United States and western democracies lead to those measures? That intimidation by China.
WU: If you look at the Chinese long planned military actions in Taiwan, it had started before the G7 meeting. It started before the senators arriving in Taiwan by C-17. But sometimes, the Chinese would like to use excuses.
RIPLEY: Do you believe that China has the intent of unification by force or preventing separation by force?
WU: I think the Chinese are trying to unify Taiwan through peaceful means if possible but they want to use force if necessary. So, we need to prepare ourselves for a possible conflict.
RIPLEY: What is the likelihood in your view of an all-out military confrontation between Beijing and Taipei?
WU: We hope it doesn't happen. A war between Taiwan and China is in nobody's interest. The important thing is that Taiwan is a democracy. And Taiwan is a high symbol of democracy at a time when China is trying to expand its authoritarian influence, Taiwan is on the frontline.
RIPLEY: You have also been a target of the mainland government. They have accused you of being a separatist and threaten to take whatever legal actions they can if they get their hands on you. What is that like to be a target of the mainland government?
WU: I would continue to say what is right and I will continue to advocate what is good for the people here in Taiwan. What I said is only the truth. They cannot tolerate the truth. And if they continue to say that they want to pursue me for the rest of my life I don't really -- I'm not really concerned about that. So, for that, I think it's an honor to be targeted by the Chinese government.
RIPLEY: Joseph Wu was labeled a die-hard separatist by Beijing after comments he made during a press conference where he said that Taiwan would fight till the very lies day if it were attacked by China, and that of course drew the ire of Beijing.
But one takeaway that I had, Rosemary, after this really wide-ranging interview that was supposed to last 30 minutes, we talked for almost an hour was the desire on the part of the Taiwanese leadership to have a sustainable relationship with China, and to reopen a dialogue, but they say that that dialogue has to be with both sides understanding that the sovereignty is crucial and that is the dividing issue.
It's that this self-governing island of 23 million people has had its own leadership, democratically elected for decades. More than 70 years since the end of China's Civil War, Taiwan has governed itself, yet China claims Taiwan is part of its territory, it uses it as a renegade province and will not rule out preventing separation by force.
And that is the dividing issue between this island's democratically elected government and the authoritarian regime in Beijing led by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
CHURCH: Very difficult situation there. Will Ripley joining us from Taipei. Many thanks.
The highly contagious Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is alarming health officials around the world. The European CDC says it's spreading so fast that it's on track to make up 90 percent of new COVID cases in the European Union by the end of August.
In the U.S., it has been detected in all states except South Dakota. And top medical expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci says that it could become the dominant strain in areas with low vaccination rates in just a matter of weeks. What's even more concerning is the latest version of the variant, the Indian health ministry is calling the Delta plus strain a variant of concern. Well meantime, Israel is calling for new COVID restrictions due to the
Delta variant, and the country's new prime minister says he is reestablishing the coronavirus cabinet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The Delta variant, sometimes referred to as the Indian variant is spreading at and accelerated manner throughout the world right now with a much greater infection rate than we have known, it is about 50 percent more infectious and to my regret, we are also seeing the beginning of a spread within Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): Naftali Bennett is requesting Israelis avoid non- essential international travel, start wearing masks again indoors and get vaccinated. He's also asking parents to vaccinate children over the age of 12, warning that the country has enough doses for now but they expire in July.
Well Cuba is racing to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19 as cases surge. More than 2,000 new infections were reported Wednesday, breaking another daily record of new cases. So far, only 8 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, but Cuban health officials say one of their homegrown vaccines is more than 90 percent effective against the virus.
Well the virus is one factor in the uptick of migrants attempting the sea crossing from Cuba to the United States. It's a dangerous journey that has cost an unknown number of lives.
Patrick Oppmann has this exclusive report on Cubans willing to risk everything to start a new life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A U.S. Coast Guard cutter enters Cuban waters carrying migrants. Stopped at sea while trying to reach the United States. Under an agreement between the two countries, the Cubans are sent back to the island after being picked up by the U.S., leaving the island usually on barely see where the rafts or smuggled out in speedboats by human traffickers.
While in recent years the number of Cubans making the illegal journey by boat had dwindled. Now as the communist run island is hit by the twin impacts of the pandemic and increased U.S. economic sanctions hundreds of Cubans are again attempting the treacherous sea crossing.
Cuban officials who gave CNN rare access to a migrant repatriation say they are concerned by the spike in activity. "They put people's lives at risk. They have too many people on board," he says. "They knew people trafficking with speedboats and they also overload those boats to make more money."
It can take days to make the 90-mile journey across the Florida Straits. And only seconds for a trip to turn deadly. Neither the U.S. nor Cuba can say how many people have died in 2021 attempting the crossing.
Juliette Cordez (Ph) says her brother Pedro Angel was one of at least five people lost at sea after the brother capsized leaving the island in March. "What we want is to know," she says, "to have some news, however tough it is. But at least know what happened to him."
Despite the risks, many Cubans are increasingly desperate to leave the island. Some sell all their possessions to pay for the trip. This woman who has returned by the U.S. Coast Guard attempted a hazardous trip. Carrying her 8-month-old baby.
After the U.S. embassy in Havana shut down visa services nearly four years ago following mysterious health incidents, more than 100,000 Cubans had been unable to obtain visas granted to them to visit or emigrate to the U.S.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OPPMANN (on camera): Cubans have to travel to a third country to apply for a visa to enter the United States legally. It's a costly and lengthy process, but during the pandemic it's been next to impossible to do. Many people say they can no longer afford to wait even if it means breaking the law, or risking their lives at sea.
While the numbers of Cubans leaving by boat are far less than during the rafter's crisis of the 1990s, and Mariel boatlift of the 1980s Cuban officials said they want to engage with Washington before the flow of migrants increases.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLOS FERNANDEZ DE COSSIO, DIRECTOR, CUBAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The trend is there. Difficulties at Cuba has today have not faced for over a decade. So, the recipe and the conditions are there for an uncontrolled migration through the ocean. Something that we want to avoid.
OPPMANN: So, far Biden advisers have said Cuba is not a priority for the administration. But as the pandemic and Trump era sanctions continue to cause havoc here, an increasing number of Cubans with nothing left to lose could create a crisis that becomes impossible to ignore.
Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Orozco, Cuba.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): Just months ahead of the deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan, the Taliban are moving aggressively across the country. Can Afghan forces stop them? We will take a look at the changing situation. Plus, rare pieces of glassware get a loving treatment after last
year's explosion in Beirut. We will show you how they're being restored sliver by sliver.
CHURCH (on camera): U.S. President Joe Biden is preparing to sit down with his Afghan counterpart on Friday to discuss the U.S. troop withdrawal in Afghanistan as America winds down its longest war. But as foreign troops head out the Taliban are making territorial gains and taking control of dozens of districts.
CNN's Nic Robertson has the details.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): In a recently overrun army base in northern Afghanistan, Taliban show captured heavy weapons and ammunition. CNN cannot verify the authenticity of the videos or the date they were filmed. And Afghan security officials could not confirm or deny Taliban claims in these videos to CNN but they do admit to losing dozens of towns in the past fortnight. The Taliban claimed 90 such victories in the past month. The U.N. says it's less 50 at 370 gone but still very concerning.
DEBORAH LYONS, U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TO AFGHANISTAN: Most districts that have been taken surround provincial capitals. Suggesting that the Taliban are positioning themselves to try and take these capitals once foreign forces are fully withdrawn.
ROBERTSON: At times, the Taliban claiming wins without firing a shot. In Takhar province, a whole column of Up-armored, American-made Afghan army Humvees are surrendered by government soldiers to the Taliban. The soldiers dump their guns in a pile. A valuable boost for the Taliban who are fighting hundreds of miles from their heartland in the southeast.
Afghan government officials say they are sending reinforcements to take back control and claim without proof to have killed hundreds of Taliban.
ROBERTSON (on camera): The Taliban offensive appears to take advantage of the U.S. and NATO drawdown, limiting air support for Afghan troops on the ground and raises questions about their intent that peace talks in Doha with the Afghan government is also significant that they're attacking the north and covered the Afghan conflict in the 90s when the Taliban were fighting the way up the country it took them years to get up to the north. This will send a very chilling message to Afghans.
The Taliban surge, also a concern for U.S. forces who agreed their own ceasefire with the Taliban as they exit their longest war but hoped they might leave the country at peace.
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Every day, the situation in Afghanistan changes. As the Taliban continue to conduct these attacks and to raid district centers, as well as the violence which is still too high.
ROBERTSON (voice over): On Friday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meets President Biden with final U.S. forces more than half gone. Hard to see an easy reverse to the Taliban's gains.
Nic Robertson, CNN, London.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: For more on this, I'm joined by Andrew Watkins, he is the senior Afghanistan analyst for international Crisis Group and joins me from New York. Good to have you with us.
ANDREW WATKINS, CRISIS GROUP'S SENIOR ANALYST FOR AFGHANISTAN: Thank you, Rosemary.
CHURCH: So, President Biden announced on April 14th that he would withdraw all troops in Afghanistan by September 11th ending U.S. military involvement in that country. But since then the Taliban have taken over 50 districts and have conducted a wave of offenses in the north. Preparing to seize back major cities according to U.N. envoys Deborah Lyons in here briefing to the Security Council. What do you think will happen once those U.S. troops have fully withdrawn?
WATKINS: Well, what seen happen since the 14th of April announcement is really a reflection of the sad -- the difficult state that the Afghan government and its security forces have found themselves in for some years. But the presence of the United States and NATO militaries have somewhat artificially tilted the balance to keep a fragile status quo in the Afghan government's favor.
That looks likely to no longer last as the international troops withdraw. And you see the Taliban shifting with momentum in their favor now. But also, these are trends that have been developing for years. The Taliban have been advancing. This is unfortunately not something new.
CHURCH: So, what could that mean for the country and indeed the region?
WATKINS: For the country, the most likely next steps are intensification of the conflict. The Afghan government is not going to want to withdraw or step down without a fight. And this means that not only will fighters on both sides continue to be killed and injured, but civilians across Afghanistan are going to be impacted. Already in the region we see fears of overflow and spillover across borders.
A border and customs control point were seized by the Taliban connecting with one of the central Asian republics, and regional powers are quite alarmed that the same could happen around the country.
CHURCH: And U.N. envoy Deborah Lyons also called for the parties to this conflict to move away from the battlefield and a return to the stalled peace process. How important do you think it is that that does get done? And could it possibly, do you think?
WATKINS: Unfortunately, the likelihood of a return to the peace process and making progress in peace talks, it's very low in the near term. The Taliban have very little incentive to return to talks where they would be asked to make compromises with the Afghan government and other Afghan political leaders.
As long as they're maintaining the momentum that they've generated on the battlefield, they're going to want to keep pressing to see if at some later stage they can get a better deal in the peace talks or even through the collapse of the Afghan state.
CHURCH: And meantime, what about the many Afghan translators and support staff who help the U.S. military during the course of this long war? Their lives will most definitely be threatened if they are left behind. but efforts to bring them to the U.S. have been bogged down in paperwork. What do you think will likely happen to these people?
WATKINS: Unfortunately, the threats to Afghans don't just extend to those who work directly for the U.S. government or other western nations. Over the last year, we've seen a targeted assassination campaign that's reaching out across Afghans society, civilian officials and the Afghan government, journalists and media workers, even simply being a woman who works and moves around in the public sphere has seen people targeted and killed in attacks that have gone unclaimed but many attributes to the Taliban. The threat is indeed to many Afghans who have tried to embrace more modern and progressive way of life.
CHURCH: Andrew Watkins, thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it.
WATKINS: Thank you.
CHURCH: It's been about 10 months since a massive explosion at the port of Beirut. It happened last August. And left a trail of destruction that decimated nearby neighborhoods and hit more than 200 people. Lebanon's economic crisis drags on but the work to recover and rebuild is well underway.
That's happening right now in a museum housing a treasure trove of the country's history.
CNN's Ben Wedeman shows us the effort to put a few little pieces of Lebanon back together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: This one has a lot of iridescent pieces that have fallen off. I'm going to pick them up. But it's going to be difficult to put back.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A month after last year's Beirut port blast, Claire Cuyaubere and Marya Subra (Ph) sort through what was a display case that held 74 rare pieces of ancient roman and medieval glassware in the archeological museum of the American University of Beirut.
CLAIRE CUYAUBERE, COSERVATOR: At first, I was horrified, and it was really daunting, like how much we had to get done.
WEDEMAN: Claire, a conservator from the French National Institute for Cultural Heritage is now back in Beirut to help finish the task.
And how does this compare with a jigsaw puzzle?
CUYAUBERE It's so much harder. You usually don't have 72 jigsaw puzzles mixed up together, right? And then you have the added difficulty of the fragility of the object.
WEDEMAN: Fitting thousands of tiny jagged pieces of broken glass together again is a task requiring painstaking precision. And the patience of job.
Marya (Ph) is studying archeology as demanding and difficult as this work is, she says it will be easier to repair this ancient glassware than fix Lebanon, a country fractured repeatedly in recent years by crises and catastrophes.
UNKNOWN: I think this is more possible because you actually have all the pieces on the trays. You just have to pick them out. But for Lebanon where the pieces, you know, you just really don't have them. You are going to have to find them or if you don't find them have to create them ourselves.
WEDEMAN: Yet this effort to restore a small part of Lebanon's rich heritage is therapy in itself, says museum curator Nadine Panayot.
NADINE PANAYOT, MUSEUM OF ARCHAEOLOGY CURATOR, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT: When you are on the floor picking up those pieces, sifting through the glass, and you are so happy when you identify some pieces and you put them together, it just had a healing effect.
WEDEMAN: Indeed, this project shows that even things shattered into hundreds of miniscule pieces are not beyond repair.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): After 26 years in print Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper is closing and with its last edition goes a trusted pro- democracy voice as Beijing tightens its grip on the region.
Plus, a software pioneer with a colorful past has died in a Spanish prison, why authorities wanted him extradited to the United States.
[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH (on camera): Breaking news from Miami Beach Florida, rescue crews are responding to a partial building collapse. Miami-Dade fire and rescue says more than 80 units including technical rescue teams are on the scene. We don't have any details yet on injuries, what kind of building this is or the cause of the collapse. But we are working to bring you more information and video. Again, a partial building collapse in Miami Beach, Florida.
Well, Hong Kong's largest and loudest pro-democracy anti-Beijing newspaper is no more. Apple Daily has printed its last edition after 26 years, a casualty of Hong Kong's-year-old national security law. Employees came together to celebrate the final edition while also coping with the fear of press freedom disappearing with it.
CNN's Ivan Watson was there when the final issue went to print.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the sprawling Newsroom of one of Hong Kong's most popular newspapers, Apple Daily. But it's not likely to be functioning for much longer because the staff here are working to put what management say will be the final edition to bed. And that's because less than a week ago, hundreds of Hong Kong police raided these offices and began going through computers and hard drives and they arrested at least five of the newspapers top executives.
And those individuals are now being accused of essentially treason. They have allegedly incited foreign governments to put sanctions on the leadership of Hong Kong and of mainland China through the articles that they had published. The leadership of Hong Kong vehemently deny that this is an effort to stifle Hong Kong's free press.
CARRIE LAM, HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE: And don't try to accuse Hong Kong authorities for using the national security law as a tool to suppress the media or to stifle the freedom of expression.
WATSON: Throughout sporadically rainy night, several hundred demonstrators gathered outside the offices of Apple Daily and in an impromptu show of support, a gathering that is now attracted the attention of the police. And now the final edition has been printed in these predawn hours. The
headline here says Hong Kong's painful farewell in the rain. The management of Apple Daily say since the police seized the company's assets they cannot afford to continue publishing this daily newspaper. Meaning, these printing presses will soon go silent for the very last time.
The British foreign secretary, the European Union have denounced this and is part of a broader crackdown in Hong Kong where opposition politicians have been rounded up and face different kinds of charges, the pro-democracy marches in protest that once was part of the cities culture have not been tolerated for a year.
Ostensibly on the grounds of public health because of the coronavirus pandemic. It has taken just one week for the authorities in this city to kill this newspaper.
CHURCH (on camera): And Ivan Watson joins me now from Hong Kong. So, Ivan, people lined up to get this last edition of the pro-democracy newspaper. So, where will they now get uncensored news? And what does this mean for free press and democracy in Hong Kong?
WATSON (on camera): Well, I think it certainly sent a chill through this city which has been going through historic changes over the course of the last year as the authorities tighten their grip on organized forms of dissent here. Its front page news in one of Hong Kong's other hometown newspaper, the South China Morning Post in English language paper and also I just wanted to show this cartoon that they've posted here.
I think it's pretty self-explanatory. The apple kind of chewed down to the core here. A symbol also that was shown by the U.S. Consulate here in Hong Kong and Macau that posted an image, the word freedom with an apple in it as well. You know, the Hong Kong had been without a doubt probably the free-est corner of modern-day China up until a year ago.
It was really remarkable, Rosemary, when you cross the boundary from mainland China here into Hong Kong, the onerous censorship and restriction where even the children storybook character Winnie The Pooh is not allowed to be shown online in mainland China because for some reasons it's deemed to be insulting to the Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
When you would cross these boundaries, suddenly the internet was free and up until a year ago. You just had just the explosion of all kinds of different commentary in the press. Religion is not tolerated in the mainland were allowed here.
And this is being very much interpreted as a sign that those days of kind of freedom and just kind of anything you wanted to say do seem to be coming to an end. Even though the authorities here continue to insist that this is not an attempt to stifle descent or freedom of expression here. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Ivan Watson joining us live from Hong Kong. Many thanks.
Well, former Philippine president, Benigno Aquino III has died. The man affectionately known as Noy-noy was elected in 2010 and served through 2016. Aquino's father a Philippine Senator who opposed Dictator Ferdinand Marcos was assassinated in 1983. His mother, Corazon Aquino went on to win the presidency three years later. Benigno Aquino III, dead at 61.
Well, Spanish authorities say everything indicates possible suicide and the death of software magnate John McAfee. His body was found in his prison cell near Barcelona on Wednesday. The eccentric 75-year-old was awaiting extradition to the U.S. on tax evasion charges. He also faced allegations of fraud and money laundering. McAfee founded the antivirus software firm that bears his name. But he was no longer affiliated with that company.
And CNN's Al Goodman joins us live this hour from Madrid with more. Good to see you Al. So, what more are you learning about the death of John McAfee?
AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Hi, Rosemary. Well, McAfee was charged was charged last year in the United States with multiple counts of tax fraud. He was arrested last October at Barcelona's airport. The United States wanted to extradite him, bring back to the United States to face those charges.
A hearing -- before the Spanish Court hearing, Madrid was held on that earlier this month. The United States argued that even though he's no longer associated with the McAfee antivirus software firm, in recent years he's been earning millions of dollars by promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting, speaking engagements even selling his life story to be made into a documentary.
McAfee appeared virtually at the hearing by video from his prison cell in Barcelona before the judges hear Madrid. He and his team argued that these charges were politically motivated. But the judge issued a ruling this week that said the extradition could go ahead not on all of the charges the United States wanted but on three for alleged tax fraud in the years 2016, 2017, 2018.
But the judge has also said that McAfee could appeal to a broader panel of judges at the same important Spanish court. The next thing that happened, as you say, happened around 7:00 p.m. local time in Barcelona on Wednesday, when they found his body in this prison cell. It's in the greater Barcelona metropolitan area, officials say that prison guards and medical personnel rushed and try to revive McAfee, but to no avail.
Now, the last two decades of his life have been filled with all sorts of incredible events, including him fleeing in 2012 from a small Central American country of Belize after the death of his neighbor.
He even ran for president of the United States as a libertarian, and launch a product back around in 2016 claiming to be a game-changer. Of course, he's company -- the former company McAfee continues to be one of the most widely used anti-virus software companies in the world. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Alright. Al Goodman joining us live from Madrid. Many thanks.
And you are watching CNN Newsroom. Just ahead, if you can't light up the stadium, love the streets with color. The rainbow flags fly in Munich for the Euro 2020 tournament. We will explain why.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: Euro 2020 fans rolled out the rainbow in Munich, Germany for
their home teams match against Hungary. Football's governing body UEFA denied a request to light the stadium in rainbow colors to protest Hungary's new anti-LGBTQ law. So Munich will lit up city hall and other landmarks and handed out about 20,000 flags to spectators. Hungary's Prime Minister praised the decision not to light up the stadium, and said his country actively protects the rights of gay people.
So, let's head to London and global sports correspondent for the Associated Press Rob Harris. Good to talk with you.
ROB HARRIS, GLOBAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (on camera): Good morning.
CHURCH: So, UEFA has defended its decision to deny the request for a rainbow lights display at the soccer stadium, saying that request was political. What's been the reaction to this attempt to stay neutral on this issue?
HARRIS: Well, the reaction in Hungary, it means a lot to their stadium for the Hungarians with flags, but in Germany we've seen lots of rainbow flags being handed out at the stadium in Munich before last night's games with fans determined to still express their signs of -- showing the rainbow flags despite that denial of the actual stadium being lit up.
And there has been a lot of, you know, criticism from across the political world in Germany and across the Europe as well. Just about why UEFA did deny this request, they are very much betraying, as well as that was political, because it came from the mayor of Munich.
But for others in the game they're seeing it actually as a promotion of equality and in the fallout from all these, UEFA did put out a statement yesterday which said that they stand behind the rainbow flag, and say they are behind a more equal just society, but the statement didn't specifically mention sexuality or indeed the LGBT community.
They just talked about gender in it. So, it was still quite a vague statement as they tried to tread a fine line here between perhaps dealing with a very politicized matter in the midst of a major tournament that actually many see actually that was political, but about just societal and creating more just society.
CHURCH: Yes. I mean, that is a big point here, isn't it? As you mentioned even though the stadium wasn't lit up in rainbow colors, other landmarks were. And fans and German players made their views very clear. How significant was all this and what might it mean going forward? Can UEFA remain on the sidelines here on this issue?
HARRIS: Yes, it's been a really challenging moment for UEFA. The fact is they launched an investigation briefly into the Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in the weekend, because he wore a rainbow armband. Yes it wasn't an official (inaudible) UEFA (inaudible). It wasn't official captain armband. But they still embroiled themselves in controversy for several hours on Sunday.
It looked like he could face punishment. It was eventually approved and now they really do have to work out themselves as an organization because they do promote what the call equal game. They do want to be behind causes such as campaigning for more just society and removing discrimination. But then it's often more difficult inaction when they counter situations like complaints from the Hungarian side.
One of their member states when it involves a political matter in terms of how they navigate that. And that's what this incident really has shown. And it's a question of whether or not the words of their campaigns against discrimination are meant by the actions, and also just how actually communities do feel. Because a lot of people feel let down by UEFA, the fact that they haven't stood up for the ability for the rainbow flag to be demonstrated and displayed in pride month.
And it's another challenging moment really for world football as we approach a World Cup in Qatar in 2022. Where there are anti-LGBT laws there as well. So, it's really just showing actually how sports bodies can become very heavily into link in political matters. We saw it before for the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 as well. When there were laws in introduced in Russia that were perceived as reducing the ability to discuss LGBT rights. And we are seeing it here yet again with this law that's being passed in the Hungarian parliament.
CHURCH: And of course, Hungary's Prime Minister taking a victory lap, so it's difficult to avoid politics in these sorts of situations. So, Rob Harris, we thank you so much for your analysis on this. I appreciate it.
Well, Buckingham palace now admits in its annual report that the Royal Household is not diverse enough. It also says it was working on becoming more diverse even before Prince Harry and his wife Meghan accused some members of the royal family of racism. That was during their big interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year when they mentioned comments about the color of their sons skin before he was born.
Let's go to CNN's royal correspondent Max Foster.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The British monarchy is often described as a white institution. And Buckingham palace accepts now that it does need to do more to address diversity among the staff working here. For the first time in their annual financial report, they broken down the numbers in relation to diversity.
So 8.5 percent of Buckingham palace staff royal household staff considered themselves diverse. The palace has a target of bringing that up to 10 percent by the end of next year.
A senior royal source says the results are not what we would like but we are committed to improving this, hence we've started to publish for the first time our diversity statistics to ensure they we are both open and transparent about our efforts to improve and fully expect to be held accountable for the progress that we make.
Harry and Meghan the Duke and Duchess of Sussex famously made allegations of racism within the royal family. But this report isn't about the family itself rather the staff that work for them.
Max Foster, CNN, Buckingham palace, London.
CHURCH (on camera): And coming up after more than a decade Britney Spears is breaking her silence. Why she is pleading for a judge to help her regain control of her life.
CHURCH (on camera): Fans are rallying around Britney Spears in a show of support after the popstar broke her silence over the ongoing legal battle to regain control of her finances. She pleaded for a judge to end the 13 year court arrangement that put her father in charge of many of her life decisions. The singer said she feels, quote, traumatized.
CNN's Stephanie Elam has more on the bombshell testimony.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Britney Spears is angry. She wants her life back, and she wants the world to know it. Speaking remotely to a Los Angeles County courtroom, the pop singer saying her wish and dream is for the conservatorship to end, a legal arrangement she's been living with for nearly 13 years. In the status hearing, Spears expressing frustration over the lack of control of her own life, saying, quote, I am traumatized. I'm not happy. I can't sleep. I'm so angry, it's insane.
Even adding she wants to marry and have another child, both major life moments she says the current conservatorship doesn't allow. Her father's only response to the artists stinging criticisms was that he loves and misses her. The trouble for Britney Spears began in 2007. Her girl next door image unraveling in front of the paparazzi, who were always chasing her, capturing her every move, especially the uncomfortable moments in the singer's personal life.
The following year, multiple health and psychiatric issues landed Spears in the hospital in January. Her father, Jamie Spears, filed a petition with the Los Angeles County superior court that February, to place her under a temporary probate conservatorship.
Jamie Spears and Attorney Andrew Wallet becoming permanent coconspirators of Britney's estimated $60 million estate in October, 2008. Her father getting control of her medical care. Something Spears spoke emotionally about saying, quote, I want to be able to get married and have a baby. I was told I can't get married. I have an IUD inside me, but this so-called team won't let me go to the doctor to remove it because they don't want me to have any more children. This conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good.
LISA MACCARLEY, CONSERVATORSHIP ATTORNEY: Usually, most conservatorships in probate court are for the elderly. People that have exhibited memory deficits or judgment deficits that are pervasive and most likely going to endure the rest of their lives.
ELAM: But through all this, Britney Spears kept working while under this conservatorship. Releasing several albums, two that went platinum.
BRITNEY SPEARS, SINGER: What's up, Vegas!
ELAM: Holding down her pieces of me Las Vegas residency, reportedly earning her $30 million, and serving as a judge on the x-factor. Attorney Andrew Wallet resigned in the spring of 2019, leaving Spears' father in control of just about every aspect of Brittany's life. But last summer Britney pushed back. In legal documents her court appointed lawyer stating Britney is, quote, strongly opposed to having her father as conservator, and requested that Jamie be removed.
Instead, a judge in November added (inaudible), a private wealth and investment management firm as a co conservator to oversee her estate. Now Spears wants to pick her own lawyer and as she said in court, quote, I just want my life back.
As this was just a status hearing, up next will be a new court date that will be set where Britney Spears will likely petitioned the court to end the conservatorship.
Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.
CHURCH (on camera): And my colleague Paula Newton spoke earlier with Samantha Stark who is the producer and director of framing Britney Spears. She asked her about one of the most shocking revelations from today's hearing when the singer claimed she is forced to be on birth control. This was her reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMANTHA STARK, DIRECTOR, FRAMING BRITNEY SPEARS: In our report we uncovered some confidential documents and we know that in 2014, Britney through -- asked her lawyer to ask the court to express that she wanted to get married and have kids and she wanted to retire. It's seven years later, now we know she's felt forced to work. And she said that she has an IUD, birth control in and that she feels like her team will not take her to the doctor to have it removed. This is a lot of control that they have over her.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yeah. And all legal, right? All court sanctions.
STARK: Which is -- yeah. Which is so surprising. Well, it's surprising and not surprising, right, because there's so much conflict of interest in the conservatorship system. Britney is paying lawyers on both sides to fight against each other. If her conservatorship ends, her own lawyer that the court appointed to her stops getting paid.
Today she said I didn't know I could file a petition to end my conservatorship. Can you imagine? Thirteen years has gone by and her lawyer, they said she is incapable of hiring her own, and the one they assigned to her does not communicate to her that that's a possibility, even though we know from the documents we uncovered that she has been asking for it for years.
NEWTON: Unbelievable, it's just unbelievable. Your documentary, we just mention was entitled Framing Britney Spears. And it really did frame the controversy, right, for the world. It's a story that now transcends celebrity, I would argue. Crude tabloid interests. It really strikes to the heart of the issues of sexism and how cases of mental health are dealt with. Was that your intention when you set out to really create this documentary?
STARK: Well, absolutely. You know, we had a big team from The New York Times that we're working on it. And we decided that we didn't want the story to be about celebrities. We wanted it to be about, we wanted it to show how this could happen to anybody and how sexism really influences us. I mean, there are many people in the narrative that I feel like Britney totally squashed the way she laid out her points.
But there is this narrative that she was out of control, unhinged, hysterical, and that she needed her daddy, literally her daddy, to come in and save her and take care of her. And that, you know, she needs continuous evaluation because if they weren't looking out for her she would you know, go off the rails or whatever and this is a woman who is making millions of dollars in an athletic schedule. And the way she said it, it just feels like this idea that she's a little girl that needs protection is so misogynistic and it feels like it has carried throughout his whole 13 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): I'm Rosemary Church. Thank you for your company. Kim Brunhuber picks up things from here as CNN Newsroom continues in just a moment. Do stay with us.