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Smog in Paris; President Trump Names Two More to Cabinet; Black Box Found in Pakistan International Airlines Crash; Rebels Desperately Cling to Small Portion of East Aleppo; British MI6 Director Makes Rare Apperance in Parliament; British Foreign Secretary Accuses Saudi Arabia, Iran of Playing Proxy Wars. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 8, 2016 - 10:00   ET



[10:00:25] FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And this entire area until a few days ago was right on the front line.


HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, HOST: Syrian government forces advance in the fight for eastern Aleppo. The country's president says victory there could be a

step towards ending the entire war. Next, a report from inside Syria.



FEMALE REPORTER: President-elect Donald Trump naming two more hard liners to his cabinet.


JONES: The president-elect is readying himself to announce his pick for secretary of state. Former rival Mitt Romney remains in the running for

the top diplomatic post. We'll take a look at how the next U.S. administration is taking shape.

And Pakistan mourns: a distress call was made before a deadly plane crash killed all 47 people on board. The very latest on the investigation into

what happened coming up.

Hello and welcome to Connect the World. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones, live for you in London.

It is the battle that could re-define the war itself. Right now, the Syrian city of Aleppo hinges on the brink of total recapture. The regime

now controls most of the east after stepping up its fierce offensive against the rebels. Syria's president says a victory by his troops would

be a significant landmark.

Bashar al-Assad also tells a Syrian newspaper that he rejects an offer of humanitarian cease-fire.

Tens of thousands of people are still trapped in eastern Aleppo. These images show just a few of the many, many residents still desperate to


And as the violence rages on, so, too, does the diplomatic disagreement. Earlier, the U.S. secretary of state met Russia's foreign minister once

again to discuss how a breakthrough can be reached.

Well, CNN's Frederick Pleitgen is seeing firsthand inside Aleppo what the war has done to all of those civilians there. This is Fred's report.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): This is what rebel desperation looks like during the Aleppo nights, unable to stop them from dropping their deadly load. And

this is what the rebels defeat looks like when daylight comes. Thousands of civilians fleeing the old town of Aleppo only hours after government forces

took most of it back.

Among them, Najua (Ph) with her seven children, one of them her baby, Dilal (ph).

"When we left there was a lot of shelling behind us, a lot of shooting in front of us and the airplanes above us," she says. "We barely managed to

get out."

Most seem weak and malnourished. Some resting, finally in safety in this former school. The smallest, a baby girl Hassal (ph) is only seven days

old, born as the battles were at their worst.

(on camera): It's really remarkable some of the scenes that we are witnessing here. Hundreds of people have already come across the border

crossing between eastern and western Aleppo. And many of them are taking shelters in buildings like this one, carrying only the very few possessions

they could take as they fled.

(voice-over): Soldiers take us to the places they recaptured from opposition forces only hours before. We see Syrian troops evacuating weak

and elderly. And rebel barricades showing just how intense the fighting was.

(on camera): Just look at all of the destruction here. We're actually in the old town of Aleppo right now. And this entire area, until a few days

ago, was right on the frontline.

(voice-over): While this may not be the end of the opposition's fight in Aleppo, many of those fleeing describe the rebels morale sinking and the

harrowing conditions in the besieged areas.

"We didn't have any food and barely any bread" this man says. "We were eight people they would only give us two loaves of bread every two days

that was it for all of us."

While much of eastern Aleppo has been reduced to rubble one thing expanding was the cemeteries. This one ran out of space as the bodies kept coming.

Now, that much of eastern Aleppo has changed hands, Syrian soldiers plant their flag on the runs the place they've just conquered.


JONES: And Fred Pleitgen joins us now on the phone from Aleppo. Fred, the U.S. and Russia have both said that they're hopeful of an agreement. But

what would a diplomatic breakthrough look like at this stage on the ground?

[10:05:05] PLEITGEN: I don't see a diplomatic breakthrough happening, or at least one that would make a meaningful difference here on the ground,

Hannah. It really seems to us as though the Syrian government, at this point in time, is very much continuing this offensive. And I actually

spoke with a Syrian commander here on the ground just a couple of hours ago, and told me flat out. He said, look, the rebels have the option here.

They can either surrender their weapons and get out of eastern Aleppo, or they can continue to face the onslaught that's currently going


So there really seems as though any sort of cease-fire that could be brokered would amount to very little more than a surrender by the

opposition forces that are still left inside those areas in eastern Aleppo, which have become very small. Apparently, only about four square

miles of territory that they still have left.

And when you look at the numbers of people coming out of eastern Aleppo, it really seems as though civilians in there are seeing the writing on the

wall. Many, many more coming out than we saw yesterday, going through these crossings, and many of them in very desolate condition, as well, Hannah.

JONES: Fred, there seems to be some confusion amongst the international community at least

about these humanitarian corridors, whether they exist, or whether they are functional, or whether it's just a lie that they're there at all.

Can you clear it up for us?

PLEITGEN: There are places where civilians are able to leave those areas in eastern Aleppo. Of course, it's still very dangerous for them. Many of

them have told us that they were caught in the crossfire, because, of course, at this point in time, there is no cease-fire to speak of. The two

parties that are involved in this are not stopping the fighting, even as people are (inaudible).

But there certainly are areas, there are crossings, where people are managing to get out. And we saw big lines of people trying to do that

earlier today. They go over to the government-held part of Aleppo, then many of them go on buses to go to displaced shelters, which are really,

very, very bare. There is little there for them. Certainly, the authorities here are having a lot of trouble trying to get

people food. The international aid agencies that are on the ground, the UN and the Syrian Arab Red

Crescent, also having trouble trying to get the people the aid they need.

But there are crossings the people are coming through. And I was at myself three different

locations that were packed with people trying to get out.

JONES: Fred Pleitgen, live for us on the line there from Aleppo. Thanks very much indeed.

Well, as we mentioned, the U.S. and Russia have been discussing ways to try to end the fighting in Aleppo. Let's bring in CNN's contributor Jill

Dougherty now from Moscow.

We know that Russia has, so far, refused any attempt by the UN to even consider a cease fire. Is this retaliation because they did have a strike

on one of their own medical facilities earlier in the week?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, Hannah, I don't think that's really the reason. I mean, that is something, of course, Russia is very

angry and sad about, those two nurses who died.

But I think it is a broader perspective. I mean, what they're saying is, any -- that they have to clear what they would say are terrorists out of

eastern Aleppo, and anyone who stays, any of those fighters who say are defining themselves, basically, as terrorists. And so they are fair game.

If they don't leave, then they will be eliminated.

And that's the problem. It's quite black and white.

Now, if you look at what Kerry and Lavrov are trying to do, it appears that they were trying to

get a way to get those fighters out of there and to make sure that then aid could get in to the people. But that is not showing any promise either.

So, I think at this point, you know, it is a situation where the Russians, with the Syrians, who were doing the fighting, are intent on clearing

eastern Aleppo, period.

JONES: Jill, we appreciate it. Jill Dougherty live for us from Moscow on the diplomatic wranglings ongoing still in Aleppo. And Fred was on the

line for us from Aleppo earlier as well. Thank you to both.

Now, a fight is brewing over one of Donald Trump's latest cabinet picks. Critics say his choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency amounts

to the fox guarding the hen house.

Oklahoma attorney Scott Pruitt is a climate change skeptic and a harsh critic of federal environmental regulations. But Trump says the EPA has

wasted taxpayer dollars far too long on an out of control anti-energy agenda. And promises that Pruitt will reverse that trend.

His appointment is one of several announced in the last 24 hours. Sunlen Serfaty has all the details for us.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President-elect Donald Trump naming two more hardliners to his cabinet, elevating climate change denier and fierce

EPA critic, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, to run the agency.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: There were a number of qualified candidates for that position that the president-elect interviewed, and he

settled on Attorney General Pruitt.

[10:10:05] SERFATY: A signal the Trump administration is intent on reversing President Obama's move to curb climate change. Trump also tapping

another general to his cabinet, retired general John Kelly to head the department of Homeland Security, raising questions about the militarization

of his administration. Kelly, a decorated four-star Marine general, retired earlier this year as commander of the U.S. southern command. He is also a

gold star father whose son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

And tonight Trump will introduce Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as ambassador to China at his third stop on his thank you tour in Des Moines. Branstad's

longtime friendship with the Chinese president could help reassure the country that the president-elect is interested in maintaining its

relationship with Beijing.

Trump also mixing business and entertainment, nominating former wrestling executive Linda McMahon to head the small business administration. All this

as Trump is readying to announce his choice for secretary of state which could come next week. Trump insisting former adversary Mitt Romney still

has a chance at the post.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: It's not about revenge. It's about what's good for the country.

SERFATY: But Trump's overshadowed by another feud, the president- elect lashing out again on Twitter against the Carrier union leader Chuck Jones

after he called into question Trump's math over how many jobs the deal he brokered with Carrier actually saved. Jones appearing on CNN last night.

CHUCK JONES, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES STEELWORKERS 1999: And 550 are still going to lose their jobs.

SERFATY: Trump tweeting meant later that Jones had done a terrible job and blaming job losses on Jones. Quote, "If United Steelworkers 1999 was any

good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana." Jones then calling into "Anderson Cooper 360" to respond directly to Trump's attack.

JONES: Because of corporate greed and unfair trade they want to move these jobs out of the country. So if he wants to blame me, so be it. But I look

at him and how many billions of dollars he spent on his hotels and casinos trying to keep labor unions out.


JONES: Well, Sunlen joins us live from Washington.

Sunlen, let's talk about this environmental pick to start off with. Donald Trump himself met with Al Gore earlier in the week, and obviously, an

ardent climate change activist. I'm guessing Scott Pruitt wouldn't have been his first choice.

SERFATY: Yeah. This pick of Scott Pruitt really raising some eyebrows here in Washington. among progressives, among Democrats, among a lot of

people who question at this point on where the Trump, the incoming Trump administration will fall on a lot of these environmental issues.

You noted that Trump had had a meeting on Monday with Al Gore in Trump Tower, and that gave a lot of environmentists some hope that maybe Trump

was going to be looking at another viewpoint. And certainly over the course of the campaign, he'd be a little all over the map, as far as where

he stands on some of these issues.

Before the campaign, he called climate change a hoax. After the campaign, after he won, in an interview with The New York Times, he said that human

activity had some connectivity to global warming. So this pick of Scott Pruitt, though, really very interesting, given that he is such a fierce

critic of climate change science.

In May of this year, he said that the debate is far from settled over whether human activity has

contributed to the warming of the Earth. So, certainly, potentially a signal coming from the Trump

administration of making this big pick now that he will be heading the EPA agency.

JONES: Yeah, and have we heard anything from the Trump team on the perceived militarization of this cabinet? These picks that have been made

in what are traditionally, of course, civilian roles?

SERFATY: That's right. It certainly is getting a lot of attention, the fact that Trump is in his picks so far really leaning heavily on generals.

And I think no response yet from the incoming Trump administration about that. But I do think the response is in how Trump is choosing his cabinet.

You already have three generals, three big picks. You have Former Marine Corps General James Mmattis as

secretary of defense, former head of southern command James Kelly, and of course Michael Flynn for national security adviser. Those are three big

positions within the administration, three former generals. And of course, we know that General David Petraeus is also being considered potentially as

secretary of state.

And it does raise a lot of questions about these military men in these civilian positions. We know General Mattis for secretary of defense he

needs to get a waiver from congress here to even serve in that role.

And then, of course, Senate confirmation. So, a lot of questions on how this will work, given not only that Donald Trump himself was very critical

of the generals during the campaign. He said over and over again he thinks he knows more than the generals. And later said that he'd bring in new


So certainly interesting picks, who Donald Trump is drawing from.

[10:15:09] JONES: Certainly are. And we wait to see what he decides on secretary of state next week.

Sunlen Serfaty live for us in Washington. We appreciate it. Thank you.

SERFATY: Thank you.

JONES: Now, turning back to Syria. And a rare public speech by the head of the UK's spy agency. Alex Younger says Syria and its Russian ally are

trying to wipe out opposition in Aleppo at any price.


ALEX YOUNGER, DIRECTOR, MI6 : In Aleppo, Russian and the Syria -- Russia and the Syria regime seek to make a desert and call it peace. The human

tragedy is heartbreaking.


JONES: Younger's speech was the first made by a serving MI6 chief inside the agency's headquarters. Our London correspondent Max Foster joins us

now. You can see I think the MI6 headquarters the Vauhall Cross just behind him there on the River Thames.

Max, he made a lot of reference to hostile states. He might not have named names, but I'm guessing the Kremlin would have been listening.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's lots of suggestion about Russian involvement in various aspects of intelligence.

But where he really was very critical was in that sound bite you just heard there, in relation to Syria.

And his big concern really is that the big terror threat around the world really comes from two

states, Iraq and Syria and what's going on in there, and particularly in relation to Syria where you have a situation like Aleppo and the regime and

Russia are basically saying anyone opposed to the regime is being regarded as a terrorist, then what you're doing is taking out everyone who

potentially could stand up against the extremists, as well.

So, it's the extremists they should be targeting, not anyone opposed to the regime, and that's causing a fundamental threat to the region and an

existential threat to the rest of the world., particularly here in Europe, for example, where there has been this counterattack

On European soil in the past from the likes of . That's the big concern, so that's his big concern.

The other sort of issue that was raised today in this very unusual meeting as you say -- just a small group of journalists invited in to hear what he

had to say about a range of issues -- was the idea that perhaps intelligence sharing isn't going to be as good in Europe following

Britain's withdraw from the European Union, and perhaps some concern about Britain's relationship with the United States, as well, following Donald

Trump's election.

But he was very clear that he didn't think actually cooperation with key intelligence services around the world would be affected by this big,

political eruptions this year.

JONES: Max, did he give detail on the success of his agency, with trying to sort of foil attacks

in the UK?

FOSTER: He did. And he gave a figure of 12 attacks foiled since 2012. It's not a new figure, but it does show that there were 12 potentially very

serious incidents they managed to foil.

I mean, one of the reasons we're invited in today was because there is this pressure on the organization to be a bit more transparent. It is

accountable to the British public and taxpayers. And he also wanted to give this message that actually MI6 is doing a huge amount to protect

British lives, but also the lives of other nationalities in the UK and abroad. And he also pointed out the CIA, for example, has very much

protected British lives in the United Kingdom, as well.

So the idea that, MI6 is doing a good job is one of the messages coming out today. Concerns about what's going on in the Middle East, but also about

how Russia plays into those tensions as well around the world.

JONES: Max, thanks very much indeed. Max Foster is live outside the MI6 in central London.

OK, some other stories now on our radar this hour. Iraq says it carried out air strikes on a town in Anbar Province that borders Syria. The

military denies that dozens of civilians killed, saying those reporters were ISIS propaganda.

A 26-year-old Emirati student who was shot and killed by police in the United States is to be

buried in the United Arab Emirates on Friday. Saif Nasser Alameri is reported to have been

driving erratically when his car crashed and flipped over, then he ran off. Police say he was shot in the

head during a struggle with a police officer.

South Korea's parliament has introduced a bill to impeach the president, Park Geun-hye. The measure is expected to pass in the vote on Friday;

however, the constitutional court will have to rule on the motion, and that could take some six months. Thousands of people are protesting every week

for President Park to resign over a corruption scandal.

Still to come on Connect the World this evening, neighborhoods in one of the world's oldest inhabited cities emptied almost six years of war. We'll

tell you why Aleppo is just so significant for Syria and for the rest of the world.


[10:22:21] JONES: That is what Aleppo's war sounds like this Thursday. Bombs and gunfire as the Syrian army fights rebels in their dwindling

enclave in the city. Activists say opposition fighters now only control about 10 square kilometers in eastern Aleppo.

To put that in context, that's over twice the size of Central Park in New York. You're watching CN and this is Connect the World. I'm Hannah

Vaughan Jones. Welcome back.

The ousting of the rebels from eastern Aleppo would mean the Syrian government takes full control of this very key city. Aleppo's devastated

old city is a sad reminder of what a crucial commercial and culture hub it once was for Syria.

Strategically, too, the northern city was a prize for an array of rebel groups from ISIS and al Qaeda to the western-backed moderate fighters.

Well, here with me to explain just why Aleppo is at the center of such a fierce fight and why the rebels have failed to fully take it is Fawaz

Gerges, the chair of contemporary Middle East studies at the London School of Economics and also author of ISIS: A History.

Fawaz, thanks for coming in.


JONES: If we accept that Aleppo, the city, is redefining this war, can we also use Aleppo as a blueprint for what might be to come in other cities

in and around Syria?

GERGES: It is the blueprint in the suburbs of Damascus, in Homs, in Daraa, and other places. I mean, it is a significant gain for Assad.

And the reason why it's a significant gain, Hannah, because now Assad, when and if he takes the 20 percent of eastern Aleppo that's left in the hands

of the rebels, he would control all the major urban cities: Damascus, Homs, Hamaa, Aleppo, and Daraa. And this is the last urban section that has been

controlled by the rebels so far.

JONES: And Bashar al-Assad is very buoyed by what's going on in Aleppo at the moment. He's been writing an article about him in the Syrian newspaper.

Somehow, he survived over the last five or six years and now there doesn't seem to even be that much talk about a possible transition of power.

GERGES: Absolutely not.

Do you hear anyone saying that Assad must go? Do you hear anyone talking about a transitional government?

JONES: And that used to be the main point that the west would come up with anyway. It said whatever happens, there has to be a transition.

GERGES: Let's remind our audience, President Barack Obama, the French President Sarkozy, David Cameron, they all said that Assad's days were

numbered, that his ship was sinking.

The tide, Hannah, have turned in Assad favors. And why? Why the tide turned in Assad's favor? Because of shifting regional and global

realignment. Russia have provided Assad with significant military and diplomatic capabilities and the rebels have been forsaken by the regional

and global partners.

So you have now -- Assad really has the upper hand in Syria.

[10:25:07] JONES: I was going to say, is there any feasible opposition still in place or any viable transition of power to an alternative to

Bashar al-Assad? Because one question really who the rebels are now. Are they just moderates, the Free Syrian Army, or are they infiltrated by all

of these jihadi terror groups?

GERGES: And you know, this particular point you are mentioning has been one of the most

powerful cards in the hands of Assad. He has played this particular card very effectively and very powerfully. Basically, he collapsed all the

rebels with other ISIS or al Qaeda, and that's why the strategic priority for the United States, for Britain, for the international community, is not

to topple Assad now, but rather to confront ISIS, to confront al Qaeda.

And Assad is saying, even the Russians are saying, what alternative do you have for Assad? The challenge now facing -- or the challenges facing the

armed rebels and the political opposition, where do you go from here? They are outmaneuvered, they are out gunned. They have no major -- I mean,

critical global and regional support. It is a very, very existential predicament that the rebels find themselves in.

JONES: And the Russians, you can say, have been strategically playing this quite cleverly, by taking advantage of some paralysis in Washington whilst

we have a lame duck president there ahead of the Trump administration, and really pushing ahead in Aleppo to wipe out

the terrorists, as they say, but also with countless number of civilians killed in the meantime.

GERGES: This is another critical point. My take on it, the reason why the Syrians and the Russians and the Iranians are really racing in Aleppo, they

want to create facts on the ground. They want to present the new American administration with a fait accompli. Here you have it.

The challenge is not just about Aleppo. You've mentioned -- Aleppo is very significant. But the question is, you want to translate the significant

gains on the battlefield into political capital. And that's what the Russians are trying to do. They want to use Aleppo with the new American

administration to say, let's work together against ISIS.

And that's exactly what Donald Trump has been preaching for the past year and a half.

JONES: Just very briefly, Bashar al-Assad suggesting that what happens in Aleppo could signify the end of the entire conflict. Do you agree with


GERGES: No, I don't agree. It is a significant gain. It's a significant turning point, but the war might last -- could go on for many years unless

there is a political settlement.

The fall of Aleppo does not mean the end of the war. It is a very complex and very difficult conflict in Syria.

JONES: Fawaz, we appreciate you coming in and explaining to this. Fawaz Gerges there.

Now, the latest world news headlines are just ahead.

Plus, investigating a deadly plane crash in northern Pakistan. Searchers have now recovered the black box.


[10:31:09] JONES: Now to some undiplomatic language, you could say, from the man who

represents Britain on the world stage. The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has accused UK ally Saudi

Arabia and also Iran of, quote, puppeteering and playing proxy wars.

The two regional giants are involved to varying degrees as things stand in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon. Critics accuse them both of fueling


Well, Mr. Johnson' comments came to light at a particularly embarrassing time, of course, for the British Prime Minister Theresa May. Erin

McLaughlin is here to explain all.

Boris Johnson is something of a loose cannon anyway. What exactly did he say?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The British foreign secretary and one of the chief architects of the Brexit

campaign is known for being gaffe prone,this time, directly criticizing a British ally.

he remarks were made last week at a conference in Rome, coming to light now. Take a listen to a bit of what he had to say.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: That's why you've got international, you've got the Saudis, the Iran, everybody moving in and

puppeteering and playing proxy wars. And it's a tragedy to watch it.

We need to have a -- we need to have some way of encouraging visionary leadership in that area, people who can tell a story that brings people

together from different factions and different religious groups into one nation.


MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he also went on to say, quote, there are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion and different strains of the same

religion in order to further their own political objectives. And he also said there is not strong enough leadership in the countries themselves.

Now, Saudi Arabia and Iran are frequently accused of engaging in proxy wars in places such as

Iran and Syria, but it's -- excuse me -- Yemen and Syria. Except this time, hearing it directly from a British diplomat is highly unusual, highly


And many would say, as well, that he goes too far on the question of, quote, twisting religion. The Sunni/Shia divide seen as a fundamental part

of the wars in Yemen.

JONES: And they weren't just off the cuff comments. I mean, he was obviously in a particular

meeting. And all this happening, of course, while his boss, the Prime Minister Theresa May, is trying

to woo Gulf states with trade deals as well. It's a particularly embarrassing for her.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, absolutely. She was just in Bahrain on a two-day visit, looking to

strengthen business ties. Keep in mind, the Gulf region is the third largest export market for the UK. It will be vitally important in a post-

Brexit world for the United Kingdom.

Downing Street already trying to distance itself, the spokesperson there saying, quote, those are the foreign secretary's views, they are not the

government's position on Saudi and its role in the region.

The foreign secretary will be in the region this weekend. He will be in Saudi Arabia on Sunday and will have the opportunity to set out the way the

UK sees its relationship. We have yet to hear reaction from Saudi Arabia.

JONES: It'll be interesting to see how that meeting goes down.

Erin, thanks very much indeed.

Now, the pilot of the plane that crashed on Wednesday in northern Pakistan made a mayday call

before the disaster. The chairman of Pakistan International Airlines says the pilot explained he had lost

control of one of the two engines. The official describes the crash as a tragedy, saying the airline doesn't understand why the pilot was unable to

land safely with one working engine. All 47 people on board the plane were killed.

CNN's Muhammad Lila is tracking the investigation for us from Istanbul in Turkey. Muhammad, we know that this distress call was made. Is there any

more information that we can glean from the wreckage of the aircraft?

[11:35:01] MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIOAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hannah, the biggest development from the wreckage of the aircraft itself is that

the black boxes have been recovered and that's going to have a treasure trove of information as investigators try to piece together exactly what


You know, sometimes when a plane crashes, it is difficult to find a black boxes. And it takes some time. In this case, the flight data recorder was

found within hours of the plane being located. That suggests that perhaps they were intact. And it should be easy for investigators to determine,

for example, if any of the flights on board systems were malfunctioning, if there was a sudden change in course, or if there was a lot of turbulence.

So, at this point, yes, there are a lot of question marks about exactly what caused the plane to crash, but those questions should be answered

shortly as the flight's data recorder is analyzed.

JONES: And we are starting to learn a bit more information about the pilot himself. What do we know?

LILA: Well, an interesting footnote to the story is that PIA says that there were actually three qualified pilots on board, but one of them was

just on board to learn how to fly this specific route because it required a certain type of experience on the landing.

But PIA says the main pilot on board, his name is Muhammad Janjua, he had more than 12,000

hours of flight experience, which is actually very extensive. And we actually did -- our team on the

ground did speak to Captain Janjua's brother. And here are some of the things that he had to say about his brother.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saleh was a really good guy. I mean, he was really a brave -- I mean, he was like a brave soldier. This is not the first time,

you know, that anything happened like this. there were many other weather conditions, which he's come out through. And he had completed almost like 12,000 flying hours. And he was a really

professional guy.


LILA: And you know, the captain himself actually used to shoot stunning, dramatic aerial footage on some of the flights that he had taken. Some of

those videos posted very recently, giving the world a window into that area, that mountainous area that is full of so much beauty, but that now is

also home to one of the world aviation disasters in Pakistan's history.

JONES: Muhammad, we know that 47, all the people on board that plane, were killed in this crash, but there was one particularly famous passenger, as

well, which must be making the effects of this incident that more devastating for the people of Pakistan.

LILA: Well, that's right. His name was Junaid Jamshed. He was a former pop singer turned Islamic preacher. Very, very well-known. More than 6

million fans on Facebook, adored by Pakistanis, and in fact across all of south Asia, around the world.

And what's interesting about Junaid Jamshed is that not only was he a singer and an artist, but he also had a line of -- a fashion line and a

series of stores that sold clothing not only in Pakistan, but also outside of Pakistan. So, he was a real cultural icon and, certainly, a major loss

not only to Pakistan's artistic community but even the religious community, because in recent years he assumed a very prominent role on Pakistani

television as an Islamic preacher. So, he's somebody who really bridged that divide in Pakistan.

So you have vast segments of the society there that are mourning his loss.

JONES: Muhammad Lila live for us there in Istanbul on this disaster in Pakistan. Thank you.

Now, in Donald Trump's thank you tour, visits the state of Iowa. The U.S. president-elect will have a familiar face by his side. Trump is to

introduce Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, his choice for ambassador to China.

Branstad has long-standing ties to the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. A foreign ministry spokesman calls him a, quote, old friend of the Chinese

people. His appointment could help ease concerns in China after Trump broke with decades of U.S. protocol to take a

phone call from the president of Taiwan.

Let's get some reaction now from Beijing. Matt Rivers is live for us there.

Matt, has this managed to ease some concerns on the Chinese side about what is to come with the Trump administration?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are hearing some very high praise from the Chinese government, which frankly, we don't hear

that often in terms of the kind of specificity that we're getting from Chinese officials.

We don't often hear Chinese officials come out and specifically name American officials in their political statements. And we certainly don't

hear them when they make the statements use the kind of praise that officials here in Beijing have been speaking about when they've been

talking about Governor Branstad.

As you mentioned, he goes all the back to 1985 with his friendship with President Xi Jinping. That was the first time that Xi Jinping went to

Iowa, then just a 31-year-old, mid-level bureaucrat from a rural province in China. He went there as part of a delegation to learn about

agricultural policy.

And then fast forward to 2012, President Xi, who was then Vice President Xi on his way to becoming president, makes another visit to Iowa, where he

again meeting with Governor Branstad.

And so it was over that time that the two established what both sides would call a very close friendship. Officials here in Beijing actually called

Governor Branstad, lao pung yo (ph), which means an old friend to the Chinese people.

And that's a term here in China that is used only for people that are really held in high regard. It's not something that you would just throw

away just because you knew someone for a long time. It's someone that you hold very dear.

So there is certainly a sense of optimism here in Beijing about this appointment. And it really is in stark contrast to what we've seen and

heard from President-elect Trump over the last week beginning, of course, with his, as you mentioned, breaking of decades of foreign policy tradition

by taking a phone call from the president of Taiwan and then subsequently tweeting some of the anti-China rhetoric that we have heard throughout

Trump's campaign for president.

So, really, a 180 in appointing Governor Branstad to this very, very high- profile position that, no doubt, will help navigate some of the differences between China and the U.S. that currently exist.

[10:40:58] JONES: Donald Trump seemingly keeping China on its toes somewhat about what he might -- which direction he might go with his

administration. How is Beijing preparing for that?

RIVERS: Well, Beijing, like frankly a lot of other countries in the world has been facing a bit of uncertainty. And really, if you look at the

Chinese example, you can take it two different ways. On the one hand, you have got South China Sea, right, and the Chinese military expansion in the

South China Sea where Donald Trump has been relatively quiet in terms of his

positioning on that subject, in terms of how he would counter, if at all, Chinese military expansion.

On the other side, he's been much more vocal about U.S. trade with China, saying that he'd be in favor of levying a tax on Chinese imports or exports

to the United States. But even then, there is some uncertainty because Governor Branstad, the appointee for ambassador,

has been much more in favor of free trade and as governor of Iowa, actually really promoted trade with China, exporting lots of Iowa corn and soybeans

to China, really enhancing that relationship.

And so what I think you're seeing in Beijing is just a general sense of where is the Trump

administration going to go? On the one hand, people will tell you, well, maybe the Trump administration doesn't have a clear cut policy. And on the

other hand, people will tell you, maybe he is doing it on purpose to keep the Chinese on their toes and to gain some leverage in the relationship.

The fact of the matter is, at least at this point, we just don't know because there are conflicting things coming out of the Trump administration

as they prepare to take office in January.

JONES: Matt, thanks very much indeed. Matt Rivers live for us there in Beijing, just coming towards the end of the day there for you. Thanks very

much, indeed.

Now, during the campaign, Donald Trump said that China dreamed up the concept of global warming so environmental regulations would hobble U.S.

business. Well, if his latest cabinet appointment is anything to go by, his opinion on climate change hasn't changed much.

CNN's Joe Johns reports now from Washington.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHNGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump's pick for Environmental Protection Agency administrator, is a

staunch climate change denier. Giving Democrats and environmental groups whiplash, after Trump's highly publicized meetings with prominent climate

change activists.

JASON MILLER, TRUMP SPOKESMAN: Attorney General Pruitt has a strong conservative record as a state prosecutor and has demonstrated a

familiarity with laws and regulations impacting a large energy resource state.

JOHNS: An ally of the fossil fuel industry, the Oklahoma attorney general is a fierce critic of the agency he may soon lead, filing lawsuits against

the EPA over its regulations of power plants, including Obama's effort to significantly reduce their emissions.

SCOTT PRUITT, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA: When you look at the EPA and the role that it's played over the last several years, there's going to be

substantial change in that agency. There's going to be a regulatory roll back.

JOHNS: Critics blasting Trump's nominee. The League of Conservation Voters writing, "Scott Pruitt running the EPA is like the fox guarding the hen

house. He has fought to pad the profits of big polluters at the expense of public health."

As for climate change, Pruitt wrote in "The National Review" just a few months ago that the link between global warming and human activity is far

from settled. Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying Pruitt's reluctance to accept the facts on climate change couldn't make him any more

out of touch with the American people and with reality.


JONES: Live from London, this is Connect the World. Still to come on the program, Paris is facing its worst pollution in a decade. What's causing

it though? We'll have the very latest from the CNN weather center.

And you may have noticed your virtual world being polluted, as well, with fake news. Well, now, Facebook is trying to clean it up for you. Details

on that just ahead.


[10:47:01] JONES: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones. Welcome back.

Paris is choking up. The level of pollution in the French capital is at its worst in a decade, causing officials to take action.

But the third day in a row, they have imposed driving restrictions based on license plates. So, only those with even numbers can drive in the city

this Thursday. Public transport is also free.

So, what is causing all of this smog?

Well, Chad Myers is at the CNN weather center for us.

Chad, why is it that winter is playing havoc with French life right now?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's because there is a layer of air above Paris that won't allow the smog to move away, won't allow it to rise, won't

allow it to blow away, because it's just a big high pressure that sits there.

Now, we don't expect pictures like this from Paris. More industrial cities we expect this, but they have had an air quality problem over the past few


And it is getting better now because of the restrictions that they've put in. It is doing a little better than it was the past couple days. We were

up to 175 to almost 200 when it comes to that air quality index, parts per million and parts billion that they all count to see.

It's not just can you see the air but they actually count all the particles in it in a scientific manner. There will be some improvement in the

weather, but not for a couple more days. The rain is still there. The rain will be coming down for much of the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday,

but we're still only moving into Friday right now. And so it is going to take time for all of this to get better.

We will see a cold front move on by, eventually push that away. But for now, it is just simply stuck there. Your air quality index should be

somewhere, hopefully, less than 100. You can go on to air quality index websites and see what your city is right now, as well. But we were up in

the unhealthy area a little bit earlier, but now we are down to, I think, 121, somewhere like that. So, that's getting better.

So, if you take the cars off the road, at least half of them, there are people who are using public transportation for free today, and they're also

allowing people, even with that odd number, even number thing, if you have three or more people in the car, you're OK because you're essentially car

pooling. So, I guess that's good news.

Now, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we don't get all the way to the green numbers but we're

somewhere hovering around 100. And typically on a Saturday and Sunday, there's not as many cars

on the road anyway. Tourists, sure, but not commuters going back and forth to work. So, we'd expect a little bit of relief there.

Mother nature has to take care of this. We see this in other big cities. But for Paris, that beautiful city, they don't usually expect this. They

expect the wind to blow and to it all away. So far this week, it just hasn't happened, Hannah.

JONES: Chad, appreciate it.

But of course, it's not just people suffering the effects of the changing natural world. Soon, this could be the only way to see giraffes, in

pictures. The world's tallest animals are now facing extinction. An environmental conservation group says their numbers have plunged by some 40

percent over the last 30 years, blaming a loss of habitat, civil unrest and illegal hunting.

Well, sadly, giraffes aren't alone. Biologists think the planet is on the verge of a sixth era of

extinction. That means, three-quarters of all species could disappear in the coming years if we don't make some drastic changes right now.

Elephants, amphibians, corals reefs, bees and birds: we'll explore five stories of extinction in our special Vanishing: The Sixth Mass Extinction,

that's right here on CNN.

This is Connect the World. And here's a riddle for you, if you read two facts on Facebook then how many facts do you know? We'll explain next.

Plus, why is one of the world's most famous soul singers in Sudan? We'll explain that coming up next.


[10:52:30] JONES: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones in London for you. Welcome back.

Now, a few months before Americans went to the polls for the presidential election, it was reported the pope backed Donald Trump to land the job in

the White House, except that didn't actually happen. It was a fake story on a bogus news website.

But it still spread like crazy on social media. And this happens all over the web all the time. Thousands of totally made up stories shared by

millions of people.

Well, now, Facebook is experimenting with ways to get you to help stamp it out. Our Samuel Burke has the details on that. He's coming to us live

from Abu Dhabi.

Samuel, how that this work, then, what's Facebook doing?

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN MONEY: Hannah, this is part of Facebook's wider campaign to

weed out what they call misleading news from their platform, that's everything from the fake news you were talking about to click bait.

Sometimes you click the headlines and you think, this is going to be a fantastic article, but it was just the headline and the article isn't so


So, take a look at this survey which many users of Facebook are starting to see beneath news

stories. It has a simple question. It says, to what extent do you think that this link's title uses misleading language? Five options. Not at

all, slightly, somewhat, very much, or completely.

Now, Facebook says right now, they're just experimenting with these tools. But I think it shows that there are actions that these social networks can

take to try and get fake news or click bait off their platforms. At first, they threw up their hands, the social networks, but then they use

technology to help innovate.

The problem this does pose, though, even though we want to get fake news off is, is people

are voting on headlines, then you have an effect of maybe only getting mainstream headlines that we

can all agree on. And sometimes we know what may seem like something on the fringe, Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction, moves from the

fringe to the mainstream.

So, there will be a lot of ethical questions from journalists about some of these solutions to combat fake news, as well.

JONES: OK, interactive news, effectively. I mean, it sounds like a good idea, but presumably, there is a flip side to this, this idea of consensus


BURKE: Exactly. And I think that's what people are very afraid of, the fact that Facebook was or has been a place where you can share any type of

news. Conservatives can share conservative news with friends and liberals and maybe some ideas that weren't well-known about all of sudden going to

the mainstream because of Facebook.

But there are other tools that Facebook is looking at, as well, on top of these. And again, these are just experimenting.

So, let me put on the screen what Facebook is also looking at, according to a post from Mark

Zuckerberg. He says an automatic and stronger detection system. So, we talk about artificial

intelligence all the time. So, they say they might be able to develop something that can detect fake news before even humans can, making it

easier for users to report fake news.

If you can report bullying online, then why not be able to report fake news, or at least what you perceive to be fake news. And also, and Hannah,

this one seems like the lowest hanging fruit to me, warning labels from fact checking sites.

So many of us go to these websites. So, at least if it has a label and it says, well, this is what, for example, labels this site, fake

news, at least users see that label and have the option to click it or not to click it.

So, just some of the things that Facebook is looking at.

JONES: Facebook blazing the trail for this, then. Samuel Burke, thanks very much for explaining what this all means for us. Thank you.

Well, you can't miss Joss Stone's distinctive style and, of course, her voice right there. So for your Parting Shots tonight, we're bringing you

the soul and the R&B, singer/songwriter performing in Sudan. She hit the stage this week as part of the total world tour,

tweeting, and K quote, "thank you, Sudan. It was truly an amazing experience and one that I will never


And it probably won't be one the country will forget either. Joss Stone is said to be the first western artist to perform in the country in years.

Some actually saying she is the first ever.

Stopping over in Khartoum as actually part of her bigger mission to perform in every country on the planet.

Plenty of opportunity to check out Joss Stone there.

For more stories, head to our Facebook page where you'll find stories from the Middle East and

around the world. So, do check out

I'm also on Twitter. So, don't be shy. Do tweet me @HVaughanJones. It'll be great to hear from you. Thanks so much for watching. I'm Hannah

Vaughan Jones in London. And that was Connect the World.