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South Africa Outlines Its Case Of Genocide Against Israel; Mariska Hargitay Shares About Rape In Powerful Essay; Michael Strahan's Daughter Battling A Malignant Brain Tumor; Inflation Cut Nearly In Half From Last Year. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 11, 2024 - 15:30   ET



MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Genocide, she said, in the history of humanity, where a people's own destruction had been live-streamed by themselves for the time being to the global indifference of the entire world. And that is what South Africans are trying to change here. By getting this on the public record, they hope it will force the world to get up and take notice.

But no sooner had the South African lawyers finished that there was already a rebuttal from the Israelis in the shape of a spokesman for their foreign ministry. We have a listen, first of all, to South Africans and then to what followed.


TEMBEKA NGCUKAITOBI. SOUTH AFRICA'S SENIOR COUNSEL: Israel's special genocidal intent is rooted in the belief that in fact, the enemy is not just the military wing of Hamas or, indeed, Hamas generally, but is embedded in the fabric of Palestinian life in Gaza.

LIOR HAIAT, ISRAELI MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS SPOKESPERSON: Today we were witness to one of the greatest shows of hypocrisy in history, compounded by a series of false and baseless claims. South Africa, which is functioning as the legal arm of the Hamas terror organization, utterly distorted the reality in Gaza following the October 7th massacre, and completely ignored the fact that Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel, murdered, executed, massacred, raped, and abducted Israeli citizens.


BELL: An angry rebuttal to begin with. We'll wait to hear what the Israeli defense says when it stands here tomorrow. But for today, it was three hours of chilling testimony about what has gone on in Gaza so far, based on the evidence provided by the United Nations, its agencies, some of its highest officials, people who've been on the ground about what they've seen going on. The idea here is to put before the court these allegations of genocide. They could take years for the International Court of Justice to rule on.

In the immediate future, what South Africa are hoping is that this injunction will force Israel to sit up and listen, pause its hostilities, that the rest of the world, and specifically the United Nations, can get in to figure out exactly what's been going on -- Brianna and Boris.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Melissa Bell for us live from The Hague. Thank you so much.

Still to come, a deeply personal message from actress Mariska Hargitay, striking a chord as she recalls being raped by someone she once called a friend. We'll talk about what she endured and how she persevered after a quick break.

Monday, the Iowa Caucuses. In this high stakes race, who will come out on top? CNN breaks down the results with the best political team in the business, the 2024 Iowa Caucuses.



SANCHEZ: We do want to give you a quick warning because we're about to discuss a very sensitive subject and it might be upsetting for some of our viewers, so we want you to consider that before we get into the discussion.

As Detective Olivia Benson on the hit show "Law & Order SVU," Mariska Hargitay has helped rape victims find strength and demand justice, and now the actress is sharing her own personal story about being raped in her 30s by a friend in a powerful essay published in People magazine.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: She says for years, survivors that watch the show credited her for giving them strength, but those survivors have been her source of strength.

With us now is psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Dr. Gail Saltz. I mean, Dr. Saltz, I think that Mariska Hargitay, as the character that she played for years, she's been such a heroine to rape victims, even starting the Joyful Heart Foundation as well. But even she says that for the longest time, she didn't identify as a victim, she didn't think about this as a rape, she really couldn't process that it had actually happened to her until she started to talk about it and realized, oh my goodness, yes it did. How common is that?

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST AND PSYCHOANALYST: Actually, it really is common, and that is because rape is tremendously traumatic and sometimes after a traumatic event, our minds basically repress a memory. It's really a defense mechanism to spare us from becoming so overwhelmingly anxious and depressed in the face of trauma that these memories are suppressed and we don't have access to them.

Sometimes it's called dissociative amnesia. You don't remember and then it may be much later, perhaps a trigger happens, something that reminds you in any way of the event and you might then have an intrusive memory and more and more memories. And later you may be able to process that in a different way than you could have earlier and be able to manage, work your way through trauma, develop resilience, coping tools, as she seems to have done, and come out to another place. That's what it sounds like, it is a very common occurrence.

SANCHEZ: Yes, she talks about in her essay about how she learned about the biology of trauma and how it changed her experience of what happened. She also writes that she wants to reframe how rape is seen. She wants us to talk about sexual assault the way that we talk about cancer.

She writes, quote: Tell someone you've survived cancer and you're celebrated. I want the same response for sexual assault survivors.

I'm wondering what your reaction to that is.

SALTZ: Well, she's absolutely right and in fact, she brings up many points in this piece that survivors need to know about.


Importantly, that many people undergoing a trauma like this do freeze and freezing is a neurobiological response to trauma and it is not the same as consent. And sadly, as she brings up, many people who freeze during that event later blame themselves because society often blames them for not having fought or run when this is a neurobiological mechanism that happens to people undergoing this kind of a trauma.

And we have to know about this so that we don't blame ourselves or blame the victims, which only re-traumatizes them. And so these are excellent, important points in the first person that she brings up, which will really help, I think, other women who've been victimized or who may be victimized in the future to understand these very, very important points.

KEILAR: It's such a good point because she talks about how she froze. She said she didn't want it to escalate to sexual violence and then she realized looking back on it that it was sexual violence. And there's this common perception that unless it escalates to this, you know, very violent fighting back situation, that it isn't actually a real rape.

And for anything less than that, especially there is victim blaming. It really is something that needs to be changed. But I wonder how you do change that.

SALTZ: Well, this is this is a good step because she is a huge celebrity with a following. And so, a lot of people are listening. But generally education, education to potential victims out there, but also education in terms of policy and courtrooms where often, again, women either do not bring it to a courtroom because they're afraid, because they self-blame, or they get blamed in a courtroom because it is not understood that, in fact, freezing is probably the most common thing to happen to a woman during a sexual assault.

And that is because the flight or fight response is basically moved into a freeze response because the woman doesn't see a quick exit to the situation and because she fears escalating the violence against her, as this person said she feared. And until I think, you know, lawyers understand this, judges understand this, basically the public at large, it is hard to make a shift. So I think education is important. I think the kind of philanthropic organization she started is important because they do education and they support women and help them understand in the moment that this is what happened. And it means that they are the victim and the person who did this is fully the perpetrator. They have no responsibility.

KEILAR: It's so illuminating and brave what she's doing here, and we really appreciate you, Dr. Gail Saltz, for talking to us about it. Thank you.

SALTZ: Well, thank you for having me today.

KEILAR: If you or someone that you know has been sexually assaulted, you can find support at the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800- 656-HOPE. That is 4673 or RAINN,

SANCHEZ: We're also learning today that a prominent TV personality revealed a very difficult personal struggle that his family's been enduring since the fall.

KEILAR: That's right. In an emotional moment, Michael Strahan and his teen daughter, Isabella, announced on Good Morning America that she is fighting a brain tumor.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning. This morning, our dear friend Michael, side by side with his daughter, Isabella.

MICHAEL STRAHAN, TV PERSONALITY: All right, here we go. Here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As they reveal what they've been facing over the last few months.

M. STRAHAN: Papa Bear, Papa Bear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How proud are you of your daughter for wanting to take control and to be the one to share her story?

M. STRAHAN: I mean, I'm very proud of her. And she's always been strong. And this is something that is so personal that I didn't know if it would be something that she would want to share. I'm extremely proud, Robin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd know that smile anywhere. Isabella, how are you doing at this very moment? How are you feeling?

ISABELLA STRAHAN: I'm feeling good. Not too bad. I don't know. I'm very excited for this whole process to wrap. But you do have to keep living every day, I think, through the whole thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KEILAR: Isabella Strahan is 19-years-old and she has been diagnosed with what's called medulloblastoma. And joining us now to talk more about it is our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, and certainly we wish her and her family all the best as she is fighting this. Tell us more about this type of cancer.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, that was that was really touching. And, you know, I have kids that age now.


So it really strikes you, you know, you're in this case, your daughter calls, says she's been having headaches for some time. And obviously, I think initially it's just headaches.

But a medulloblastoma is what this ends up being, which is a type of brain tumor. Thankfully, it's rare. So when someone's calling with headaches, it's typically not going to be something like this.

But we talk about rare in the United States. You know, some few hundred people are diagnosed every year, around 4,000, just under 4,000 people are living with a tumor like this. So you get an idea of just how small the numbers are.

It is the most common pediatric brain cancer. So even though small numbers when it comes to pediatric brain tumors, this is the one that is the most common.

A couple of things about this. It is considered a malignant tumor. So that is something that means that it could potentially spread within the brain or even spread to the spinal cord or within the fluid around the brain. Usually appears in the back of the brain. And I want to show you this image here. This is not Isabella's images specifically, but these images will give you an idea of what this looks like.

The left image there. I don't know if you can tell this, but that white area near the back of the brain, that's the tumor that shouldn't be there. You can also see on the other image that same sort of area again, a little bit harder to tell. But that white area in the back of the brain, that's where these tumors sort of arise. And they can be really problematic because of that. They can cause fluid to back up inside the brain and cause all these sorts of symptoms that she was having. But that's what the doctors are targeting.

SANCHEZ: Sanjay, So what kind of treatments are available? What's the typical prognosis? Yeah, what kind of treatments are available? What's the typical prognosis?

GUPTA: Yes, well, you know, as far as treatments go, there's a couple of things to think about. And as you know, you know, I'm a brain surgeon. I remove tumors like this as well. But one of the things if we can put that image up again of the tumor, I just want to show you this. When you're looking at that tumor, you're also thinking about the fact that fluid may build up on top of the brain. So sometimes you have to remove some of that excess fluid. And then you also want to actually do an operation to take out the

tumor. What you have to assume with these types of tumors, because they're malignant, is that no matter how much of the tumor you've removed during the operation, that there may still be some tumor that's remaining.

And that's why radiation is often given, which is something Isabella has already received. And she will be getting chemotherapy as well. So it's an aggressive tumor requiring aggressive treatment.

KEILAR: Well, all of our best to her and for her strength in talking about it. And Sanjay, thank you so much for telling us more about it.

GUPTA: You got it.

KEILAR: President Biden has pushed to make the economy a key part of his reelection message. And now we have a full picture of how effective last year's fight against inflation was. What the new numbers say about what we're paying for key goods like housing and food.



SANCHEZ: The final consumer inflation report of 2023 is out today, showing prices you pay for everyday items ticked up in the latest month, but they cooled down significantly overall in 2023.

The CPI, Consumer Price Index, rose 3.4 percent for the year, nearly cut in half compared to 2022. Real wages also grew in 2023 for the first time in three years.

KEILAR: We have CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich here with us. Vanessa, what does this final report tell us?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: It tells us that there's going to be a little bit of a bumpy road to the finish line. We're seeing that last year prices rose 3.4 percent. And in December, we saw prices rise 0.3 percent.

That's a little hotter than what analysts were predicting, but not alarming. It's sort of like if you're trying to lose weight. The Fed has set a target goal. People set target weights. The first few pounds may come off easily, but it's that last little bit that can be tough. And that's exactly where we are right now.

But we have come down dramatically from the high inflation that we saw in the summer of 2022. You can see about 9.1 percent. And then December of 2022, we were at 6.5 percent. So we are certainly making progress. And here is where people are still feeling the pinch. And then maybe where there's some savings.

So if you look at food prices still high at the grocery store, up 2.7 percent. You have shelter rents still too expensive. Shelter made up made up about half of the entire month of December in terms of that increase that we saw.

You are saving seeing some savings on energy. That's really good as gas prices have been coming down. Also, airfares have dropped about 9.4 percent on the year.

But vehicle insurance, motor vehicle insurance, that's up more than 20 percent. That could be because of all of the interest rate hikes that we've seen the Federal Reserve do over the past year and a half. When you hike interest rates, that means that mortgage rates go up. That means that what you're paying on your car loan, your student loan goes up. And that's why we may be seeing that.

And you can see those gas prices coming down pretty dramatically over the last year and a half.

And I think the big question is, what's the Fed in all of this? Analysts had projected that we could see the Fed start to cut rates in March of this year. This report may change things a little bit. There might be more of a pause in March as opposed to a cut.

But we are clearly on the road to recovery to that 2 percent target. But we do have a ways to go. People still feeling the pain of higher prices. But the fight continues and moving in the right direction -- guys.


SANCHEZ: The fight continues. Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you so much.

So we've heard about the way that Taylor Swift can impact the economies of major cities when she comes to town. Now she's being asked to use her influence for political elections. We'll explain.


KEILAR: In a bid to boost youth turnout in the upcoming European elections, one EU official is turning to a familiar face like a really, really familiar face, none other than superstar Taylor Swift.


Surprising plea coming from a European Commission vice president calling on Swift to rally her fans to the ballot box during the European leg of her Eras tour this summer, which kicks off conveniently just before voting gets underway.

SANCHEZ: Swift, we should point out, has more than 279 million followers on Instagram, and she's increasingly speaking out on political issues. Last September, her calls for voters in the United States to register saw report a 23 percent jump in registrations compared to the year before. So she's rocking the vote.

KEILAR: Yes, I mean, harness that, right? You sure want to if you're anyone.

"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.