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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Tensions On Belarus Border; Dangers Of Skin Whitening; Harry Potter Reunion. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired November 16, 2021 - 17:00:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London.

Tonight, the EU and NATO urge Russia to simmer down migrant tensions on the Belarusian border. We speak to Estonia's prime minister about Russia's

stake in this crisis.

Then, the industry of skin whitening. We tackle the harmful beauty standards imposed on people of color.

And actual (ph) reunion, a very special Harry Potter announcement 20 years after the film first debuted.

The European Union is calling on Belarus to take urgent action to calm down the clashes going on at its border with Poland.

Over the last 24 hours, CNN teams have seen some of the most violent scenes yet play out in the no man's land between the two countries. Thousand of

migrants, still caught in the middle of a geopolitical standoff, and a more immediate one with polish border security. Water cannon and tear gas firing

on those migrants as they throw rocks and try to dismantle the barriers set up to stop them one migrant's own words, they're fighting to survive, and

they say they have nowhere else to go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are fighting to stay alive here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, to stay alive. We're going to die here.

CHANCE: Will you go back to Iraq?





NOBILO: The longer the standoff goes on, the more dire these migrants' circumstances seem to get, so for many, frustrations are boiling over.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, if them give us flower, we will give them flower. But if they give us gas we will give them stone.


NOBILO: It's unlikely they have the power to force the EU's hand, and in the meantime people are dying from the cold. There have been several deaths

reported from exposure, and aid groups there are surely more than they were able to confirm.

Just yesterday, a Syrian migrant was laid to death in Poland after drowning. Estonia is one of the states with a major stake in how this plays

out. Belarus, as you can see, isn't a direct neighbor, but Russia is. So, Estonia has a vested interest in the tensions at the board as well as the

buildup in Ukraine.

I spoke to the Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and began by asking her whether the latest round of sanctions go far enough.


KAJA KALLAS, ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER: Well, Lukashenko is a dictator and dictator only understands strength. So, we already know the sanctions are

hurting his regime, and having more sanctions would make him reconsider the deeds that he's currently doing. So, he's using people as weapon in this

hybrid attack.

NOBILO: And Poland has received some criticism for pushing back potential asylum seekers from its borders. Given the context in this hybrid warfare,

do you feel like Poland's actions have been entirely legitimate in their response?

KALLAS: These people are legally in Belarus. They have come with visas, and they want to illegally enter European Union, and so Poland is

protecting European Union's borders. I think the humanitarian organizations should also help those people on the Belarusian side to get them back home,

because we get the information that there are very many people who want to return back to their home countries, but Belarusian regime does not allow

this, so the humanitarian organizations should definitely focus on the Belarusian side and how to help these people.

NOBILO: And, Prime Minister, the migrants could also apply for asylum seeker status or refugee status in Belarus. Why aren't they?

KALLAS: Exactly. That is a very good question. If they are fleeing Iraq or some other country and they have come legally to Belarus, then if we think

of international rules that everybody has agreed to, then these people are the responsibility of Belarusian regime, and they should be helped there.

And if they want to reconsider, return to their country, they must be allowed to do so as well.

NOBILO: NATO, Prime Minster, is monitoring an unusual increase in Russian military activity along the border with Ukraine. Are you concerned? What's

your assessment of what's happening?

KALLAS: Well, this is -- this is a very worrying picture that we are seeing also behind the Ukrainian borders. And we see definitely that Putin

is coming as mediator for Lukashenko as well to take maybe some kind of attention away from what he's doing around the Russian-Ukraine borders.

So this is something that we are looking into every day, and watching the moves, and these two crisis together are definitely very worrying for the

security of the region.

NOBILO: That was going to be my next question, actually, Prime Minister. The confluence of those two things, this crisis on the board we are Poland

and Belarus, which Russia some say is playing a part in orchestrating as there is a military uptick of activity from Russia. What possible strategic

goals are you alert to that Russia might be trying to pursue in this situation?

KALLAS: Well, Russia always wants to see Europe or the allies divided, so that we have differences in between us and, we definitely don't have those

differences. I'm happy to say we are in this together and very unified here, and Russia or Putin acts the same way as Lukashenko, definitely in

this way that he only understands strength and the steps he makes are maybe not the steps that Democratic countries would make.

So we have to see and look at this picture together for this whole security of the region we are concerned of.

NOBILO: And is your government and the intelligence that you see concerned or monitoring any possible desire on Russia's behalf to perhaps invade

Ukraine or even consider a formal annexation of Belarus?

KALLAS: Well, Belarus has always been working closely together with Russia. We have seen the training, so military exercises they do together,

and definitely there are very close ties.

So the signs that we see are very worrying regarding Ukraine as well, if you put the whole picture together. But do they have enough force? That's

why I have to say that we have to show unity on our side.

If we show some kind of weakness or something that we are in doubt how we would act, then it would weaken the deterrents, and the deterrents has, in

case of NATO, always worked so far.


NOBILO: United Nations is warning of what it calls arbitrary and disturbing arrests of Tigrayans in Ethiopia. Ethiopia declared a state of

emergency two weeks ago as rebels in Tigray gained ground. It's the latest escalation of the conflict that we've been covering for a year now.

The state of emergency allows searches without a warrant, and the U.N. says at least a thousand people, mostly Tigrayans are believed to have been

detained over the past week or so. Some report that figure is much higher and officials say the detainees are facing terrible conditions.


LIZ THROSSELL, SPOKESWOMAN, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: Detention conditions are generally reported to be poor with many detainees

held in overcrowded police stations in violation of international human rights standards, including minimum standards related to the treatment of



NOBILO: U.S. President Joe Biden says he made progress on the issue of Taiwan, at his first virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Mr.

Biden tells CNN that he made it clear that the self-ruled island makes its own decisions. Taiwan has been the subject of increased tensions in recent


U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaking after the summit says the two presidents will intensify their engagement on Taiwan.


JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Intense competition requires intense diplomacy and last night's meeting was part of that

intense diplomacy. President Biden was clear where he believes certain of the PRC's actions are potentially destabilizing and stressed the need to

develop ways to manage strategic risk and put into place common sense guardrails to ensure the competition doesn't veer into conflict.



NOBILO: Our David Culver has more on the high profile, high stakes summit.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A pandemic style face to face meeting.

XI JINPING, CHINESE PRESIDENT (translated): I'm very happy to see an old friend.

CULVER: The first time President Joe Biden speaking virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The conversation lasted more than three hours

covering a range of issues that are broad relations between these two countries to an all-time low.

A senior U.S. administration official calling the talks respectful, straightforward and open, a healthy debate in which Biden was clear and

candid on a range of human rights concerns.

In response, Xi telling Biden that China is ready to have dialogues on human rights on the basis of mutual respect. But we oppose using human

rights to meddle in other countries internal affairs.

On trade, Biden also pressing Xi to uphold China's commitments to the phase one trade deal, negotiated under former President Trump, they also talked

Taiwan, China's so called red line. China has been putting Military pressure on the self-ruling democracy firm in believing it should be

reunified under Beijing control. Xi is stressing that on Taiwan, the U.S. is playing with fire.

Following the meeting, Chinese state media immediately reporting their version tweeting, Biden reiterates that the U.S. government does not

support Taiwan independence.

But the White House had a different take in a statement stressing the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo

or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To ensure that the competition between our countries does not vary in to conflict.

XI (through translator): China and the United States need to increase communication and cooperation.

CULVER: The meeting as expected, there'll be no major outcomes.

PAUL HAENLE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE NSC CHINA DIRECTOR: That sort of the long term structural challenges between the U.S. and China have really yet to be

addressed. This could be the start of a process for that to happen.

CULVER: Perhaps the warm gestures a sign of progress in countering the frigid relations.

David Culver, CNN, Beijing.


NOBILO: Let's look at the key stories making impact today. Germany's energy regulator suspended the approval process for the controversial Nord

Stream 2 pipeline. The pipeline is supposed to bring Russian gas into Europe, bypassing Ukraine and fears it would give Moscow more influence.

Natural gas prices are now soaring in the region.

Ugandan officials blame an Islamist rebel group for two suicide bombings in the capital Kampala. Police say at least three people were killed. The

first happened near the central police station and the second went off a few minutes later near parliament.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a rare court appearance at his corruption trial on Tuesday. He's pleaded not guilty to

charges of bribery, breach of trust, and fraud. Netanyahu is accused of accepting improper gifts and giving favors to media moguls in exchange for

positive coverage.

Turkey has arrested a man considered a suspect of great interest in connection with the assassination of Haiti's president. Jovenel Moise was

struck dead at his private residence in July and his wife was wounded in the attack. A group of Colombian mercenaries have emerged as the main


It's another horrifying example of India's ongoing sexual violence crisis. A 16-year-old girl says he was raped hundred of times by hundreds of men.

CNN's Vedika Sud explains why India is still struggling with this problem despite legal reforms and stronger penalties.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Bianca, at least eight people have been arrested for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

The victim in a statement to the child welfare said she was raped by 400 people. Speaking to CNN, an official from the community said, that the

minor had been begging at a bus stop and was forced into sex work by three men who also allegedly raped her.

The police have registered the case under special act for the protection of children from sexual offenses and under rape and molestation sections of

Indian penal court. A case under the prohibition of child marriage act has been registered because she was married to a 33-year-old man at the age of

13 and has alleged that he sexually abuse her.

The 16-year-old also named two police personnel in the statement to the child welfare committee for sexual abuse. The local police refused to

comment on this allegation when contacted by CNN.

Bianca, despite legal reforms introduced after a horrific gang rape in India's capital in the year 2012, government data shows a rape takes place

every 17 minutes in India. Well, these are just official numbers. According to activists, many rape survivors don't lodge a complaint with police,

fearing intimidation by rapists, harassment by law officials while probing details of the case, and stigma.


The backlog of cases is also astonishingly high in India. According to the Indian government, there were over 240,000 pending cases in courts related

to rape and sexual offenses against minors until December 2019 -- Bianca.


NOBILO: Vedika Sud, thank you.

We're getting a new look at how the coronavirus and low vaccine rates are causing excess deaths in Eastern Europe. In September, some 50 percent of

all people died than usual in Bulgaria, the EU's least vaccinated country that's according to a new Eurostat report.

Bulgaria has one of the world's highest COVID death rates per capita and since September, the pandemic in Eastern Europe has only worsened.

Meanwhile, Portugal is one of the world's most vaccinated nations, but cases are rising, and the country's prime minster says they're mulling

other new restrictions.

France is on a state of high alert after cases jumped last week by around 50 percent. But officials say there's no lockdown planned just yet.

Ireland is setting a midnight curfew on bars, restaurants and nightclubs starting Thursdays. It's part of the government's -- to slow contact and

slow skyrocketing new infection rates.

Pfizer is trying to make its experimental COVID-19 antiviral pill easier to get in poor countries. The drugmaker has signed an agreement with a U.N.-

backed group to make it widely available in nearly 100 low and middle income nations. Pfizer says the pill treats mild to moderate COVID symptoms

and early tests show it can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by almost 90 percent.

Still to come --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like people make it seem like dark skinned women just now are existing when we have been here for years.


NOBILO: We'll hear from dozens of women like Sophie about their experience with colorism, as CNN "As Equals", launches a new series exposing the

dangers of skin whitening.


NOBILO: In a new six month series called "White Lies". CNN's "As Equals" is investigating the world of skin whitening. The series aims to raise

awareness of colorism, which often underpins the use of skin whitening products and to hold those involved in the industry accountable.

In 2020, the global skin whitening market was reportedly valued at $8.6 billion. By 2025, it's projected to grow to $13.7 billion. Skin lightening,

whitening, or bleaching is not just a global south problem. The U.S. makes up a third of the 2020 market, with such products and practices built on

harmful beauty standards.

Colorism refers to the idea that lighter skin is best, even among people of the same ethnic or racial group.


It shouldn't be, but it's often referred to as racism, which rather refers to the marginalization a group received based on their ethnicity.

This is an issue which is close to many of us here at CNN, including a special member of our team, Jaya. We talk about colorism far less than

racism, and Jaya wanted to raise awareness of how damaging it is and how hard it is when it comes from within your own community. She couldn't

believe how similar the experiences she heard were to those she lived herself and how empowering it is to hear people back proud.

This shows us beauty standards need to keep changing. Fairer is not more beautiful.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It came to a point where I thought my skin tone was a problem, because it was an ongoing joke all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She immediately said, oh, wow, you know, your daughter is much darker compared to the rest of the family members. I mean,

jokingly said, where do you find her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I walked into the living room and she looks at me, she was like, why is this one so black?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was don't go out in the sun. You won't be successful. You won't find a partner. You won't find someone -- you know,

you're going to have a life marred with this extra melanin, so just stay out of the sun and protect your skin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They would say, oh, you look so dark. You look like you have been burned, so please don't go out and play in the sun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People will always say to you, don't be under the sun. You'll get more dark. You're already dark, and you're going to get


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wasn't a child that was swayed by much, you know? What you thought of me didn't really bother me, but that really bothered


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to go back and give that little dark girl a big hug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am the color I am, but you want me to be darker, so it fits into your narrative of what personal color should be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Especially when I was younger, I always have a shade that was four shades lighter than me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, all these products like Fair and Lovely (INAUDIBLE) because I wanted to present myself to be light.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad is from India. My hero mother is white and American. I would check my skin tone to the swatches next to the side of a

Fair and Lovely to see where I was, and I think I started realize really young skin that many people were trying to achieve.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's called whitening, more lightening, more brightening, or removing dark spots, but the whole emphasis is on the fact

that if you're not light enough, you're not beautiful enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the end of the day, I feel like people make it seem like dark skinned women just are not existing when we have been here

for years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to challenge what we consider as beautiful. We need to challenge the roles we allow certain dark toned skin people to

play as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is where colorism plays in and where we've got a long way to go, where women can just be seen equal -- equally beautiful,

equally white, equally intelligent irrespective of their skin type.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One really powerful tool that I've seen among -- especially young women is a power of social media.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am hopeful of -- especially when I look at the younger generations, because they get it. They get how people are all


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still seem really radical every time I sit out in the sun. It's a big act of rebellion just to sit out on the beach, so, yeah.


NOBILO: Two of the people you saw in that report referenced the Unilever product Fair and Lovely, a product known for skin lightening and receives

widespread criticism. Unilever has renamed its fair and product, acknowledging that that branding suggests a singular ideal of beauty.

One of the women who spoke to us there is Amira Adawe. Having grown up in Somalia, she saw her own family members using skin lightening products and

the devastating side effects that come with using them. As one of the darkest member of her family, people would tell her own mother to lighten

her skin as a child in order for her to have a better life.

Determined to put a stop at this, she founded Beautywell Project to fight against skin lightening and chemical exposures in beauty products

worldwide. She's already had success, from petitioning Amazon to remove 15 harmful skin lightening products from their website, to getting U.S.

Congress to pass legislation.

But Amira's work is not work. You can find out more about her and her campaign on

Amira's story is just one of many that will be part of the "White Lies" over the next six months. If you want to get involved in the conversation,

we'll be hosting a virtual panel with journalists across CNN alongside experts and advocates who are fighting to end skin whitening, discussing

the broader problem of colorism.


That's on the 23rd and 24th of November.

You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be right back after this.



REPORTER: What are you most looking forward to tonight?

EMMA WATSON, ACTRESS: Musical performances like (INAUDIBLE)


NOBILO: Twenty years ago today, a very excited Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, and Rupert Grint made their red carpet debut at the premier of

"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". It sparked the beginning of a $7.8 billion film franchise with a story that even today continues to

capture the hearts of children around the world.

And for those who well and truly graduated from hog warts, it's time to return. So dust off your wizarding robes. HBO max today making a very

special announcement.


NOBILO: Much to my producer's delight, who nearly fainted at that announcement, the full cast will be returning for their reunion which

releases on January 1st next year.

Now, magic is not for everyone. Me, I'm obviously a serious news anchor and far too grown up for that, but to each their own. See you tomorrow.