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Afghan Women Vow to Keep Protesting Despite Ban; 100 Plus Foreign Nationals Leave, More Flights Expected; Biden Unveils Tough New Measures on Vaccinations. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 10, 2021 - 01:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes. I appreciate your company.

Coming up here on CNN Newsroom. Now comes the hard part, after their rapid takeover of Afghanistan. Questions persist about whether the Taliban really have the capability to run a country. Enough, is enough, President Joe Biden warns his patience, is wearing thin with the millions in the United States who still refuse to get the COVID vaccine. And later, Facebook for your face. The company unveiled its first pair of smart glasses and raising some privacy concerns at the same time.

It is just past 9:30 in the morning in Afghanistan, where more flights carrying foreign nationals are expected to leave Kabul in the coming days. More than 100 people were flown out of the country on Thursday on a Qatar Airways Charter. They included American Canadian, British and German citizens. The U.S. in Qatar praising the Taliban for their cooperation.

Meanwhile, the U.N. envoy says reports of Taliban restrictions on women are on the rise. She also warned that millions are at risk of hunger and poverty without a generous infusion of international aid.

Plus, we're hearing from two Afghan journalists who say they were beaten by the Taliban for reporting on protests. One says seven or eight people hit them with sticks until they passed out.

CNN's Anna Coren was in Afghanistan just last month. She remains in touch with number of sources there. Tell us about these flights out of Kabul, this one that went out who was on it, but also how many others there might be and who might be most?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, we know the one flight, the Qatar Airways flight that flew out to yesterday, the Qataris and the Taliban, were there holding a press conference saying that this was a first step to reconnecting with the outside world, as you mentioned, we believe that several 100 people were on this flight, Qatar Airways is refusing to confirm the exact number. But you mentioned the nationalities, we know that there were dozens of Americans on board and hearing from the U.S. government, they say that the Taliban thus far in relation to these flights behaving professional and businesslike and cooperating in getting Americans out.

Now, we know that there were around 100, maybe 200 Americans left in the country, obviously, that number has now reduced and will continue to as more flights leave. But the Qataris on the ground who helped make the airport operational over, the last few weeks say that it is now open for business. But it is anything but normal. Michael, as we have been discussing, considering what we've seen it coming out of Afghanistan, particularly these last few weeks.

HOLMES: And I know that you've been in touch with some of those who are involved with these protests by women, very brave women who take incredible risks to protest their rights in the face of great danger. What are they telling you?

COREN: Yeah, Michael, this is a generation of women that have been educated, that have gone to school, gone to university. So, for this Taliban caretaker government to come into power to basically say there will be no women in our government. You know, women aren't even allowed to return to the workforce due to their safety, there's still concern about that their safety. You know, there's talk that girls will be allowed to go to school, we get to see any evidence of that.

So, I mean, these are women who say we refuse to return to the Dark Ages, we've come too far, we've gained too much. There was expected to be a large protest yesterday in that Kabul. However, there was a huge show of force by the Taliban, certainly in Kabul as well as in other cities like Herat, we saw a convoy of Humvees have been driven down the road in Herat, but we know that there were protests still in Kabul, perhaps smaller, but still, you know, violently put down by or shut down by the Taliban.

It was interesting, Michael, I've also learned that there were other protests in Kunduz, Kapisa, you know, Mazar-i-Sharif, where we have seen protests over the coming days. So, there are people who are still agitating, you know, despite the show of forced by the Taliban, despite how they are treating protesters violently, you know, treating protesters. People are still coming out. The protesters we're speaking to, Michael, say they will continue to do so, they will not be silenced.


HOLMES: Yeah, incredible bravery. Anna, thank you. Anna Coren there in Hong Kong.

Vanda Felbab-Brown is a senior fellow in the Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology at the Brookings Institution. She joins me now from Washington to discuss, and thanks for doing so.

When you take a look at the Taliban's caretaker government, what do you say not so much in terms of ideology, although that is relevant, of course, but in terms of ability, the capability to govern, run a country, keep the lights on?

VANDA FELBAB-BROWN, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, the Taliban faces tremendous challenges in running a country and remaining in power as a regime. And the government is very aware of that, including particularly the most significant challenge, which is the possibility of internal fragmentation. So, the composition of the current government and some of the initial rulings are very much geared toward pacifying some of the hardliners.

HOLMES: There has been a brain drain undoubtedly these recent weeks, including many technocrats who had the ability to run things. I mean, how big of a challenge does that present given the real world needs of running the country, just maintaining existing services like electricity or water, let alone economic policy or droughts, poverty and COVID, and so on?

FELBAB-BROWN: Well, the governance challenges in this domain, the technocratic technical capacities are really a huge challenge for the Taliban. The Taliban is an insurgency and international government has excelled in providing order and enforcing rules, it excelled in collecting taxes. But it has no capacity really to actively deliver services to create structures, build infrastructures, create administrative regimes, it has no knowledge of macro-economic policy, and in saying the appointment of the top cabinet, and some of the sub cabinet officials are very emblematic of this lack of education, lack of technocratic skills. And clearly the only way they can address those larger challenges beyond enforcing order is to be able to lose some of the demos, some of the technocrats back into the government. They have been trying to do so sometimes at gunpoint, at various parts of the country, forcing those business technocratic skills to return to work and or by relying on international technical assistance.

HOLMES: Your article in the Brookings website, a fascinating read, by the way, you've pointed out that the Taliban, of course, is a monolithic, it has differing views and strengths of ideology, do you think there will be a challenge for leadership in maintaining cohesion across those various factions? Is that tougher now that the common goal of getting the Americans out is over and they're actually in power?

FELBAB-BROWN: It's absolutely much harder for the Taliban now to maintain the cohesion. The group, frankly, your coalition, features very many different factions have highly different desires for power, and also highly different views of what governance in any aspect of governance from women's rights, political liberalism, inclusiveness, relationships with external actors, relationship with other Jihadi groups should be.

And the Taliban will face many challenges in maintaining that cohesion. And both in assuring that the various factions, in particular, the powerful leaders have enough access to economic rents and spoils something the Taliban also needs to do with other non- Taliban potential opposition groups, but also with respect to the policies that it puts forward. So, the policies that we are seeing now are really appealing to the most conservative elements and powerful military commanders whom the Taliban fear could be a challenge, but they will be contested. There are already major different polls of views and power dynamics within both the cabinet and the top leadership, and they will only increase over time.

HOLMES: Yes. And as your article also points out, there are generational differences too, a lot of those who will wield power weren't even around in the last incarnation. We're almost out of time. But I did want to ask you about this, about the role going forward of not just al Qaeda, but crucially, ISIS-K, which has former Taliban commanders in its ranks. Could there be fracturing defections to the even more hardline ISIS-K and what threat does it pose to the Taliban?

FELBAB-BROWN: Well, the Islamic State in Kurdistan is really the most fundamental threat to the Taliban rule from outside of the Taliban, and it's a fundamental threat in several ways. It is hell bent on a sectarian war in Afghanistan, which will pause if it happens, tremendous amount of problems for the Taliban with neighbors such as Iran.


It is far more plugged into international Jihadi networks, again, something that generates frictions with external actors like China, like Russia, like Iran as well as of course the United States and it can become an anvil for Taliban commanders, Taliban leaders or even local militias that are not satisfied with either the Taliban rule as it will shape up or when the economic rents, economic resources they are getting.

HOLMES: Could really be a rocky road ahead. Vanda Felbab-Brown, thank you so much, I appreciate it.

FELBAB-BROWN: My pleasure.

Male: Well, tomorrow, the United States marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, which of course launch the U.S. into war in Afghanistan. CNN's Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson and his team were in Kabul when the attacks took place. And now with the Taliban back in control, he looks at the consequences of America's longest war and the threat that still remains.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Behind the Taliban's newly painted huge flag, America's Kabul embassy inside the grounds buried under a plug, debris from New York's twin Trade Center towers 10 years ago, America's then Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who had overseen the memorial on his first tour, told me it was there so future diplomats would remember what triggered U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nic, what do you have for us at this point?

ROBERTSON (on camera): We just had an impact, perhaps two miles away.

(Voice-over): I was in Kabul during the 9/11 attacks. Each major anniversary I analyzed the intervening years. This was 10 years ago. There are no signs yet of serious contact between the Afghan government and the Taliban. And it could be that the Taliban will wait out the foreign presence here. Crocker wanted the talks but doubted the Taliban would negotiate in good faith.

RYAN CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO AFGHANISTAN 2011-2012: Their goal is rather simply to re-Talibanize Afghanistan to retake the country. And if they do, then al Qaeda is going to be back in here. The only reason al Qaeda isn't here now is because we are.

ROBERTSON: Fast forward to today, 20 years of foreign policy fears realized American troops and diplomats gone.

The Taliban ousting the U.S. back government capturing much of the inventory of the Afghan army the U.S. help build proudly showing off warehouses loaded with weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Look, these boxes are full, all new, unused.

ROBERTSON: More, much more than the Taliban ever had before.

The new Taliban government as uncompromising as the one America ousted after the 9/11 attacks. Their newly appointed powerful Interior Minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani has a $10 million FBI bounty on his head for ties to terrorism and al Qaeda.

In 2020, they promise not to fight for power, but to negotiate in good faith, promised al Qaeda won't use Afghanistan again to attack the U.S. Now there is another potentially more dangerous enemy rooted in Afghanistan, ISIS.

(On camera): We drove this road to Kabul just a few days before al Qaeda's attack on September the 11th. Al Qaeda was in the mountains over there and Tora Bora. Today, it's ISIS, that's a bigger threat here.

(Voice-over): The roads are in better condition now, thanks in good part to American tax dollars, the towns brighter, better developed, more prosperous, or a positive part of the legacy of America's longest war.

(On camera): But here is hard reality, sources around here say it will be near impossible for the Taliban to take control of al Qaeda or ISIS rather than other groups, because their agendas are so intermingled, they share fighters share causes at times, and if Taliban do go that way, it would be splitting their base.

(Voice-over): Right after the 9/11 attacks, we asked Kabul residents what would happen if U.S. forces came?

The result of Russian aggression was the breaking of Russia into 16 countries, this old man says, remembering the 1980s Soviet occupation. If America attacks us, Allah will divide America into 52 pieces.

Back then, it seemed inconceivable America could fail to 20 years later, the Taliban's writing outside the embassy wall, in effect claims just that. The conditions now a pariah government, a failing economy point to trouble ahead. And no guarantees it won't reach America's shores again. Nic Robertson, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.



HOLMES: And a programming note for you, do join CNN as we honor the victims of those 9/11 attacks, 9/11 20 years later is this Saturday, our coverage starts at 8 a.m. Eastern, 1:00 in the afternoon in London, right here on CNN.

Well as COVID again threatens to overwhelm U.S. hospitals, strict new mandates could force millions of Americans to finally get their shots or risk losing their jobs. We'll have the details coming up.

And then later, the leaders of the world's two largest economies talk for the first time in months, and they had plenty to discuss. We'll have a live report from Beijing after the break.


HOLMES: Tens of millions of American workers who have not been vaccinated might soon have to choose between getting the shot or losing their job. The President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiling tough new measures to compel up to 100 million people nearly, two-thirds of the U.S. workforce to get vaccinated, and he is directed the U.S. Labor Department to push large private companies to do more as well. CNN's Kaitlan Collins with the details.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, President Biden's frustration was clear as he unveiled these new measures to try to encourage 10s of millions of Americans to get vaccinated saying that he believes those 80 million Americans who still have not done so have "failed to get the Coronavirus vaccine." The President making an appeal to those, talking about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines but also talking about areas where they may not have a choice but to get the vaccine.

One of those is a new vaccine mandate for all federal workers. Previously, they had the option to test out of that requirement. They could take a test instead of being vaccinated. But now that has been eliminated and all federal employees or contractors who do work with the federal government will have to be vaccinated within the next 75 days of the president signing this executive order.

His second step he took involves the private sector where the Labor Department is going to issue a rule. According to officials in the coming weeks. It says any company that has 100 or more employees must require that those employees be vaccinated or take a test once a week. Of course, that is something that is likely to face legal challenges as you're going to see a lot of pushback on that. But it is a model that the President and his aides are hoping to set for other companies, to encourage their employees to get vaccinated when they return to the office.


One other step the president is taking that is also significant as for healthcare workers, and anyone who works in a healthcare setting that receives reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid will also have to ensure that those employees are vaccinated with the President explaining this is why.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us. So please do the right thing.

COLLINS (on camera): The President is also taking a series of smaller steps when it comes to the pandemic including doubling fines for TSA for people who do not wear a mask or try to not wear a mask in the airport or on an airplane. The President adding of those remarkable videos, you've seen people pushing back on that mandate that they need to, "show some respect." Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


HOLMES: The second largest school board in the U.S. is now mandating COVID vaccines for students 12 and over. The Los Angeles Unified School Board decided on Thursday that the requirement was appropriate based on a surge caused by the Delta variant. The board is requiring eligible students to have had their first doses and second doses respectively no later than a few days before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

In Cuba, state media are reporting that kids as young as two are now being vaccinated for COVID, apparently the first country in the world to do that. The government declared last month that its homegrown vaccines were safe to administer to the youngsters.

Now the move is meant to get children back into schools, where most in-person classes have been suspended during the pandemic.

Cuba's health ministry reporting that more than 4 million people in Cuba have been vaccinated. It did not say how many are children.

Dr. Thomas Tsai is an Assistant Professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He joins us now from Boston. And thanks for doing so, Doctor. Parents getting their kids back to school at the moment. But the fact is the number of children admitted to hospitals with COVID has risen to the highest levels ever, 30,000 ended hospitals in August, how worrying is that in terms of getting on top of the pandemic as the school year gets underway?

DR. THOMAS TSAI, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, HEALTH POLICY AND MANAGEMENT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: It's definitely very worrying, especially in school districts that are not taking advantage of the full infection control policies to protect the children and create safe learning environments. However, in places where schools are enacting these protocols, including masking ensuring that all teachers and staff who are eligible for vaccinations are vaccinated, and with some distancing in classrooms, they can create a safe learning environment. But the concerning factor is while all the other age groups have been declining, the number of cases over the last week, the group that's under 18 has been the main demographic group that's seeing rising cases.

HOLMES: I guess despite the worrying numbers, kids are less likely to get severe illness or be hospitalized. But these are still stunning numbers. And one expert pointed out that the average pediatric ICU in the U.S. has 12 beds, I think, how much real-world pressure does that put on facilities and crucially, I guess staff?

TSAI: There's an intense pressure for these pediatric ICUs and the story is very local in the areas or have a severe level of COVID-19 infections, especially among children. And also, keep in mind that this isn't the first wave of the pandemic. For many the frontline clinical staff, this is as much as the fourth wave. So, there's a lot of burnout and fatigue on the clinical staff, but also a real shortage of pediatric ICU beds. And we're seeing that hospitals are at a critical capacity around the country.

HOLMES: We had President Biden announcing that all federal workers must be vaccinated, no option for testing, the Department of Labor, saying businesses with more than 100 or more workers need to be vaccinated or weekly testing. Los Angeles schools issuing a student vaccine mandate, when you see what you see day to day in hospitals, is the notion of mandates, a good idea?

TSAI: I think the mandates are a good idea. And then not just thinking about the mask mandates, but really as a way to create a safe work environment. And what President Biden has done today is really shifting the focus to creating around workplace safety and school safety by empowering a department of labor to enact these safe working standards for federal employees and contractors. And the idea here is to make sure that we're protecting not just individuals but protecting those in their work environments and potential customers and the workplaces and the protecting these teachers as well as the students. So, this goes a very long way to ensuring that we actually have a path out of the pandemic, as a plan calls for.


HOLMES: One thing that strikes me as cases right now in the U.S. are way, way worse than they were this time last year. And yet it doesn't seem to be the intensity of concern at a public level. What do you make of that? Are we just getting used to it? And what are the risks of that?

TSAI: And that's my real worry, was March, April, May of 2020, there was a collective sense of urgency, we all came together to flatten the curve to protect especially the elderly in nursing homes and create capacity for hospitals to take care of both COVID and non-COVID emergency medical care. My worry is that in this phase of pandemic, the focus has moved from the collective towards individual. And there's a less sense of collective urgency. And I think that's what we need now is to really, again, flatten the curve once more, not just for the elderly this time, but really for our children, so that we can make sure that they can get the care they need in the hospitals in the intensive care units, but also that they can be in school safely. And then this takes a communal effort. And by protecting everyone around us, by reducing the risk of transmission, by everyone masking, everyone getting vaccinated. All of that creates a layer of safety around our children.

HOLMES: Yeah, great points. Good advice. Dr. Thomas Tsai, we'll have to leave it there. Thanks so much.

TSAI: Great, thank you.

HOLMES: Two dangerous storms are threatening parts of Asia and one of them is a super typhoon. We'll have the very latest after the break.


HOLMES: You're watching CNN Newsroom. I'm Michael Holmes. A pair of dangerous storms expected to cause problems in different parts of Asia. The first Super Typhoon Chanthu is the equivalent of a category four hurricane. It's brushing the northern Philippines. Taiwan though could feel the biggest impact from that storm. Conson is a tropical storm, at the moment, headed towards Vietnam. CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is following all of this for us and joins us now with the very latest. What are you seeing there, Derek?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Michael, I have to start out with this because it's absolutely phenomenal to see what super typhoon Chanthu has done.


It's only the fifth storm in recorded history to rapidly intensify this much.

It went from a tropical depression on the 6th of September and then in 48 hours it bolstered (ph) itself to a super typhoon status now continuing to strengthen once again. This has only occurred five times according to NOAA.

And look at this perfectly symmetrical eye that is now starting to really tighten up and that is a good indicator to meteorologists that it is still strengthening on its approach to northeast Luzon on, 240 kilometer-per-hour sustained winds. Although reading some of the discussions from the joint typhoon warning center, the potential there for even stronger winds right along the center of circulation.

Now, we do have, according to PAGASA, the meteorological agency out of the Philippines, a signal 3 across northeastern Luzon, so a very localized area, but this particular region will feel the impacts of winds over 120 kilometers per hour.

They're suggesting people to seek shelter, obviously, in advance of this oncoming super typhoon. And stay away from the low lying areas and, of course, the coastal regions as well. So there is a strengthening storm, 250 kilometers per hour, within the

next 24 hours. It moves into the Philippine Strait, impacts Taiwan within the next two days. This will be a major rainmaker for them, and of course strong winds. They've got an infrastructure that can handle this type of wind, but nonetheless, very impactful.

3,000-meter plus mountain ranges across that area help just enhance the rainfall. Not to mention the southwest monsoon that continues to uptick our rainfall totals across this area, even prior to a 10-point (ph) tropical system, we are already experiencing some rescues taking place over the central Philippines.

Getting very hyperlocal here, you can see some of the localized rainfall totals from Manila, northward to the northeastern Luzon will easily topped 100 millimeters, if not more.

Here's the two different storms we are monitoring. This one, of course, tropical storm Conson heading towards central Vietnam. This will impact the region within the next 24 hours. More of a rain maker for them, Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Derek, good to see you, thanks for that. Derek Van Dam with the latest on those storms.

Now, the U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday evening, only their second phone call in seven months. According to the White House, the two leaders discussed a broad range of issues on which the U.S. and China disagree as well as areas where they might cooperate.

CNN's Steven Jiang tracking all of this for us in Beijing. Yes, it was a long list of things they could chat about. What do we know about the call?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well Michael, we now have learned from a U.S. -- senior U.S. official that this call lasted 90 minutes and the tone was respectful, candid and familiar. Now, the two men apparently kept referring back to their previous in-person interactions with Mr. Xi recalling to Mr. Biden stories that he had told the Chinese leader in their previous encounters. So obviously, they were trying to establish a good rapport. That is in sharp contrast to what we have seen in some of the more recent high- level U.S. China official meetings, where things got really contentious, and sometimes even spilling out into the open.

So that is one of the complaints from the U.S. in recent months, that is Chinese officials have been playing for the press or even propagandizing these previous talks.

And that's also why they say this latest phone call is very important because it allows the two top leaders to have these private conversations given how contentious relationship -- the relationship has become.

Now obviously, one phone call is not going to resolve all the contentious issues you alluded to, ranging from COVID origin tracing, cyberattacks, human rights, trade imbalance and Taiwan. But this kind of phone call between the top leaders, usually don't dive deep into the specifics.

They are really being conducted on a more strategic and general terms but setting the tone for the next phase of this overall relationship, but also setting the tone for the future rounds of working level communications.

That is another reason why U.S. officials consider this phone call very important because they have been frustrated with the lack of results from their working level communications with their Chinese counterparts, even complaining about their Chinese interlocutors' attitude and behavior.

And they say Mr. Biden understands this very well, and given Mr. Xi's increasingly concentrated power, one word or one order from him could instantly change how Chinese diplomats conduct themselves, or engage their Chinese -- engage with their U.S. counterparts.

And as you know, a lot of the discussions are being conducted in detail at this working level communications that sometimes things get resolved.

So that's why it is extremely important, at least from Washington's perspective to keep open line of communication and having this kind of substantive and candid dialogue, Michael.


HOLMES: All right. Thanks for that, Steven. Steven Jiang in Beijing with the latest for us.

Now, a CNN investigation has uncovered evidence of atrocities committed against people living in Ethiopia's Tigray region. That is where conflict has raged for almost a year. Well now, bodies are turning up downriver in Sudan.

We must warn you, what you are about to see and hear is disturbing.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Could this be a new chapter in the ethnic cleansing of Ethiopia? More than 60 bodies washed up on these river banks.

Now a new CNN investigation uncovers evidence of torture, mass detention, and execution.

(on camera): We just got a call that three bodies were found down at the river front.

(voice over): Evidence of a methodical campaign, one which bears all the hallmarks of genocide in Ethiopia's Tigray region.

(on camera): They pulled the body out, and the stench was immediate.

(voice over): We expose the latest dark secret inside war-torn Ethiopia.


HOLMES: And we will have Nima Elbagir's full report coming up in our next hour. That's 7:00 a.m. in London, 2:00 in the afternoon in Hong Kong.

We'll be right back.


HOLMES: Welcome back.

Facebook and Ray-Ban are teaming up to offer the latest fashionable technology. The new Ray-Ban Stories look just pretty much like their designer glasses, but are packed with smart features. Wearers can listen music, make phone calls, take pictures, and record 30-second videos.

Now, if you think that sounds a little familiar, you are right. Companies like Google and Amazon have released their own smart glasses over the years, with very little success.

Joining me now from Los Angeles is senior reporter for "The Verge" Alex Heath to talk about this incarnation of smart glasses.

What do you -- what do you make of them? I guess one thing they do is eliminate the ugly factor, which a lot of people didn't like about previous versions.

ALEX HEATH, SENIOR REPORTER, THE VERGE: That's true. They are a lot more slim and normal looking, honestly, than smart glasses we've seen in the past. I actually have a pair right here. They're very light. They look like normal Ray-Bans.

HOLMES: Who's the market? Who's going to want these?

HEATH: Well, they are a pretty novel product, honestly. There haven't been many glasses that have cameras in them like this. And they also have speakers in them that can play audio sent from your phone over Bluetooth. So they act as kind of like headphones on your face, as well as cameras on your face.

And it's a really novel concept. It's one that we haven't seen released in such a mass way, with a brand that's so prominent as Ray- Ban. And obviously Facebook is the one who is powering the technology behind the glasses.


HOLMES: You know, during our team meeting today, one of our group sort of called them creepy. And I guess that's that whole thing about the video and photographs and whether you know you're being photographed, and so on. Are there concerns about that?

HEATH: There are. So when you're recording on them, there is a little white light on one side of the glasses that let people know that it's recording. But what I found, and actually with a lot of the privacy experts that Facebook put me in contact with found, that the light is not really that pronounced. It's kind of dim.

And so, there's definitely situations where people are going to be recording with these and you may not necessarily know. And that's something that I hope Facebook addresses in the future versions.

But they say that the glasses are actually more pronounced at recording than say a phone where you could be holding a phone up and potentially someone may not even know that it's recording. But with these, at least, there's a light on the front that lets you know that it's recording.

HOLMES: Facebook's had issues with data in the past, too. What is to show that the data is going to be secure and what you are videoing with your glasses isn't going to end up somewhere else?

HEATH: Sure. So it just works as a very basic camera (INAUDIBLE) with a camera built into your phone. You can share the video clips that these glasses take, honestly wherever you want. Not just Facebook services.

And Facebook says that it's not using any of the footage that you to record to target you with ads. That said, you do need a Facebook account to use the glasses. And so, you are definitely being in Facebook's ecosystem just by using them. So you have to be comfortable with that. But they're not being used to target you with ads.

HOLMES: So, what else is on the market? I didn't know this until I was reading up on it today that Snapchat apparently, has spectacles which have been around since 2016. Shows how cool I am. They have a display in the lenses, these Ray-Bans do not.

What are the other differences between these and other attempts to popularize these gadgets?

HEATH: Well, that's true. Snap came out with spectacles to a lot of hype, actually, several years ago. Now, they haven't sold that well, that's the thing. These smart glasses, people may remember Google Glass which is almost a decade old at this point, that kind of come out as these techie toys. They really haven't caught on to the mainstream.

And I would say that what Facebook has done with Ray-Ban and these glasses, is probably the most advanced pair of camera glasses on the market. but there are glasses nowadays that actually have displays in them.

And many people in Silicon Valley, the industry I cover, believe that these kinds of glasses will eventually become very ubiquitous, almost used as mobile phones. But these glasses do not have displays in them.

But spectacles, the newest spectacles do, but they're not for sale. You actually have to know someone at Snap to be able to get a pair.

HOLMES: Real quick we are out of time, but you've got a freebie pair, obviously. Would you buy them out of your own money?

HEATH: They cost 300 dollar, so you're paying about $100 extra for the tech versus what a normal Ray-Ban costs. I think they're kind of fun. I'm very curious to see who buys them.

I'm not necessarily sure that I would buy them, but I do think people who maybe want to record things hands free and may record them with sports and that sort of thing --

HOLMES: Right.

HEATH: -- may find it useful.

HOLMES: We shall see. Alex Heath, really appreciate it. Thanks so much. With The Verge.

All right. I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for spending part of your day with me.

"INSIDE AFRICA" coming up next. I will see you in 15 minutes.






HOLMES: Hello everyone. I'm Michael Holmes, appreciate your company.