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UN Chief Urges Halt Of Military Activity Near Nuclear Power Plant; CDC Fears NY Polio Case Likely "The Tip Of The Iceberg"; Nebraska Teen And Mom Charged With Violating Abortion Ban After Police Obtain Facebook Messages. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 11, 2022 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are days away from the one-year mark of the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. One year since these images of desperation, people clinging to a U.S. military plane leaving Kabul's airport, amongst so many others. CNN's Clarissa Ward is now back in Kabul reporting on what life is like one year later.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think you can probably see behind me we're at a market, there is a sense of normalcy on the streets of the city, there is not the same sort of or anything approaching the levels of chaos and violence that we saw playing out during those heart-wrenching scenes last year but the trial -- the change has also brought about a real decrease in the standard of living here. And a lot of people are now fighting to put food on the table.

The UN says that nearly half the country is in a state of acute hunger. The International Rescue Committee says by the second half of this year, they believe -- well, we are now in that second half of this year, more than 90 percent of people will be living below the poverty line. And that's for a whole plethora of reasons, partly because of sanctions and the freezing of Afghanistan's Federal Reserve after the Taliban took power, partly because of the food crisis, and partly because of inflation.

But what you see when you go round, and I just want to show you a little bit seeing as we're here in this market, you can see there is food. There is food that you can buy. The market stalls are full, but the conversations that we've been having with vendors make it clear that for the vast majority of people, it's become unaffordable this food.

So, flour I was told by these vendors has doubled in price. Cooking oil, which is obviously one of the basic necessities has more than doubled in price. And that's not even before you start talking about the very real changes and the impact that they've had as the Taliban has gradually become firmer in implementing its vision or version of Sharia Law. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Clarissa, thank you so much. Coming up for us. The head of the UN is sounding the alarm, urging an immediate call to military activity near a nuclear power plant in Ukraine. I'm going to talk to Ukraine's ambassador to the United States. She's our guest.



BOLDUAN: The UN Secretary-General is calling on Russia and Ukraine to hold all military activity near Europe's largest nuclear power plant. And there's also this new image -- satellite images showing several Russian warplanes were destroyed and craters created near a runway in Russian-occupied Crimea. Joining me right now is Oksana Makarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the United States.

Madam Ambassador, thank you so much for taking the time. At the same time, all of that is happening, the Pentagon has announced the largest single drawdown of U.S. weapons and equipment to be shipped to Ukraine since the start. What does this billion-dollar package mean to this fight?

OKSANA MAKAROVA, UKRAINE'S AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: It means a lot. And thank you very much, Kate, for having me. As we are now entered 169 days of this fight for our independence and our freedom, every package, and definitely this current package that the U.S. has just announced just allows us to do -- to defend ourselves more effectively, and to not allow Russians to occupy more of our territories and gives us hope to actually liberate our territories which we have done in the past to the north of Kyiv and which we really hope to do in the east and south.


BOLDUAN: What's happening at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is hugely concerning. The UN Secretary-General even described it as suicidal this week. Moscow and Kyiv have blamed each other for the danger created there. Is there any chance this danger is being driven by Ukrainian forces, Ambassador?

MARKAROVA: Well, definitely not. And it's even strange to hear you know that Moscow can blame anyone but themselves. They are the ones who invaded Ukraine. They are on our territory. This is our nuclear station that has been illegally attacked by them. They are creating a risky situation there from March 2022. And they are the ones who can stop it actually everywhere in Ukraine, but simply leaving the territory of our country.

So, if anyone is to blame here, it's Russian Federation for the war. For the war that started in 2014, for the war that continued into 2022, all the actual genocides and the terrorism, including this nuclear terrorism that we are observing right now.

BOLDUAN: How dangerous is the situation at the power plant? MARKAROVA: Very dangerous. This is the largest nuclear was stationed in Europe. I think the whole world and Ukraine especially leads to a Chernobyl catastrophe. And this station is at least six times more than Chernobyl. So it is dangerous and we need to eliminate that danger as soon as possible. That's why we're calling not only on Russia but on all of our friends and allies, to do everything possible to make Russia comply and get out from our territory and from the station.

BOLDUAN: On that note, in a new interview, President Zelenskyy is now calling on Western nations -- Western countries to ban all Russian travelers. He did this in an interview with the Washington Post. Do you really want the Western world to ban all Russians from traveling anywhere?

MARKAROVA: Again, 169 days, but essentially eight years of this work, and yet we see Russian people supporting their leader so we cannot cool this guy -- this war, the Putin's war only, it's Russian Federation's war. And it's -- you know, when we had a bad, pro- Russian, anti-Western, and actually anti-humane leaders, were Ukrainians, Democrat -- in a democratic way change them. So it's, of course, up to Russians. But if they defend -- if they defend and support what their government is doing, and if they defend and support this war, then they're as responsible as their leaders and their armed forces -- criminal armed forces.

BOLDUAN: What of -- and I know you've seen them and heard from them, the Russians who have spoken up in defense of Ukraine. We've seen people in the -- standing in the streets getting arrested in Russia because of it.

MARKAROVA: And we thank every Russian that is trying to save their own country first and foremost.

BOLDUAN: I want to ask you about the relationship now between President Zelenskyy and President Biden because I was really surprised, Ambassador, to read the take of foreign policy columnist Tom Friedman in the New York Times because he wrote this in a recent column. Privately, U.S. officials are a lot more concerned about Ukraine's leadership than they are letting on. There is deep mistrust between the White House and President Zelenskyy of Ukraine, considerable -- considerably more than has been reported. Madam Ambassador, is that true? I mean, how would you describe that relationship?

MARKAROVA: I was also really surprised. And as we saw from comments of the National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, the White House was also surprised. I mean, I think we never had better relations with the U.S. than we have now. We have regular phone calls and contacts between our presidents, between our ministers, ministers of defense, and minister of Foreign Affairs, on all levels.

And I think, you know, the level of trust between our countries, and I've worked a lot with the U.S. before in my previous capacity as finance minister, has never been where it is now. So it was really surprising to hear that. But we're very grateful to President Biden, to the administration, to Congress on a very strong bipartisan basis for being such a true strategic partner, but I would even say strategic friends for Ukraine in these difficult times, and we will always remember it.

BOLDUAN: And I'm grateful that you gave us -- gave us so much time today, Ambassador. Thank you so much for coming on.

MARKAROVA: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Russia's war in Ukraine has driven up energy prices as we know for months, but there is some good news on that front today in the United States. AAA reports the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded is now $3.99.


That's the first time it has dropped below $4 since March. This marks the 58th day in a row the gas prices have gone down, now, more than $1 lower than the June peak.

Summer is a time, of course, that many of us love to enjoy the calm that comes by sitting on the beach or sitting by a lake. It turns out there is actually science behind that feeling, the benefits of being near the water. Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains in today's "CHASING LIFE."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, host of CNN's "CHASING LIFE" podcast. When you hear this sound, it's hard not to feel calmer almost immediately. That's not a coincidence because being near what we call blue spaces can give us both mental and physical benefits. Environmental psychologist Mathew White says part of this positive connection is because of the way we humans evolve along the water sides. And that's created this hardwired appreciation of our oceans, lakes, and rivers.

He says that people tend to exercise more and for longer around blue spaces, and that it can also promote mindfulness, helping you focus on the present. And here's the good news. You don't have to live next to a blue space to reap these benefits. Even listening to the sound of waves or watching movies about the ocean can improve your health. So dive right in and let the benefits wash over you.

You can hear more about how to optimize your health and chase life wherever you get your podcasts.




BOLDUAN: The CDC is calling it the very, very tip of the iceberg. The agency is worried after finding the first case of polio in the United States in almost a decade just outside of New York City. A senior CDC official says there are likely hundreds more cases already in the Rockland -- in the Rockland County area. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen is here. She's been tracking this. Elizabeth, you spoke directly to a top CDC official about this, what are they doing now to stop this spread?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've sent a team, a team of CDC disease detectives to Rockland County, New York, from Atlanta headquarters for the CDC to say what can we do to help? Because this is not a good situation if you've got one case of polio, you very likely have much more. Let's take a listen to the CDC's Dr. Jose Romero.


JOSE ROMERO, DIRECTOR, CDC NATIONAL CENTER FOR IMMUNIZATION & RESPIRATORY DISEASES: This is just the tip of the iceberg, right, the very, very tip of the iceberg because it's the rare case that causes paralysis. So that means that there must be several 100 other cases in the community circulating before you see this one case. It's not just this community, it's any other community that surrounding it, that has low vaccination rates, it's also at risk. So the spread is always a possibility because the spread is going to be silent.


COHEN: So let's take a look at those vaccination rates that Dr. Romero is referring to. The vaccination rate nationally for polio was 92 percent, which is really quite good. In Rockland County, New York 60 percent, that is really not good. In neighboring Orange County, this is just north of New York City, 58 percent, so they want to get those rates up. One of the things they know they need to do is they need to sort of re-educate this community to say, you know, we know that you weren't alive during polio. But when you look back in the 1940s, the 1950s the children who are paralyzed, tens of thousands of them, just you don't want this to happen to your child, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely not, especially since it was eliminated in the United States in the 70s. It's really remarkable. It's good to see you, Elizabeth. Thank you so much.

COHEN: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: So also at this hour, a teenage girl and her mother are facing multiple charges in a case involving Nebraska's ban on abortions. Part of the police investigation obtaining the mother and daughter's private Facebook messages. CNN's Clare Duffy has been tracking the story. She joins us now. It's good to see you, Clare. So, this all happened before Roe is overturned by the Supreme Court, but what happened here?

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: So what happened is that police received a tip that this 17-year-old girl had a stillbirth and was improperly sort of disposing of the remains along with her mother. As police started to investigate this, they're doing an interview with a 17-year-old girl and she's scrolling through Facebook messages to try to tell them the date that this had happened.

And that sort of tipped them off realizing that they might want to look into that further. They sent a search warrant to Facebook, received a bunch of data both about this young girl's Facebook account, her messages or images as well as her mother's, and those Facebook messages, law enforcement say, show that you know this girl and her mother were discussing abortion pills, they were discussing hiding the evidence. And so they've been you know -- this has become now a part of the case.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And multiple charges that they're facing. There's been a big concern, Clare, following the Supreme Court decision and state actions over the role of tech companies that they would play in what they would do with users' data, I guess I should specifically say when it comes to enforcement of abortion bans, what is Facebook saying about this?

DUFFY: So Facebook says that at the time, they didn't know that this was related to abortion. But the thing is that tech companies don't necessarily have a choice when they received a search warrant like this about whether or not to respond. So, it's a thing where users need to be aware of whether they're -- whether they're communicating on platforms that tech companies could have access to, or whether you know digital privacy experts are encouraging people to speak on end- to-end encrypted platforms like Signal or WhatsApp, which is also owned by Meta, but it's different from Facebook Messenger to have these kinds of sensitive conversations.


BOLDUAN: It's a -- it's a big question, though, overall for tech companies, though, that needs to be considered now.

DUFFY: Right. Tech companies, you know, internally have said to their employees, we want to support you, we care about access to abortion rights, and so this is sort of a tension that they're going to have to deal with.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, a tension. And also as being as time passes and more anti-abortion laws take effect in this new post-Roe world, we're going to be -- this is a complicated and sensitive situation, but we're going to be following more and more of these stories.

DUFFY: Yes, we are expecting to see more of these stories.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Clare. Thank you for following and bringing it to us. I really appreciate it.

DUFFY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you all so much for being with us today "AT THIS HOUR," I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this break.