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Donors Pledge More Than $1 Billion At U.N. Conference For Afghanistan; Antonio Guterres: Afghans Facing Collapse Of Entire Country; Israel To Share COVID Booster Data With U.S. FDA; Typhoon Chanthu Weakens To A Tropical Storm; Record Number Of Environmental Activists Killed In 2020; Report: Climate Change Making Some Areas Uninhabitable. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 14, 2021 - 00:00   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everyone. Welcome, I'm Robyn Curnow, you're watching CNN. So, ahead this hour, rising hunger, poverty and fears of an economic collapse, the United Nations tries to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan.

And surviving a second winter with COVID, Boris Johnson prepares to reveal the government's latest plan for fighting the pandemic in England.

And warnings that climate change could create a migration emergency. A new report predicts a warming planet could force tens of millions from their homes.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: U.N. Secretary-General is warning that Afghanistan is facing economic collapse. Antonio Guterres delivered the assessment during a donor conference that raised more than a billion dollars for Afghanistan.

The World Food Programme estimates 14 million Afghans are on the brink of starvation. Guterres says food could run out by the end of the month and economic collapse would create a mass exodus, threatening the stability of the entire region.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, SECRETARY-GENERAL, U.N.: Even before the dramatic events of last weeks, Afghans were experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.

Today, one in three Afghans do not know where their next meal will come from. The poverty rate is spiraling and basic public services are close to collapse. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes.

And at the same time, Afghanistan faces a severe drought. The second to hit the country in four years. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Our Arwa Damon is live in Istanbul this hour and has been covering the story. Arwa, hi, what else did Mr. Guterres say?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's really all about focusing right now, Robyn, on how to get humanitarian aid into the country and then how to get it distributed to those who are most in need.

You heard some of the statistics that Mr. Guterres was mentioning there. Add to all of that, even before the Talibans takeover of Kabul, around 76 percent of Afghans lived below the poverty line. And this isn't just about trying to get much needed food and other basic essentials to these various different families and children. This is also about access to critical medical care.

A lot of medical facilities in Afghanistan right now are struggling, some have had to shut their doors, there's a lack of medicine, there's a lack of access to, you know, things that a lot of us take for granted. You know, diapers, basic essentials for babies and that sort of a thing.

And so, the big focus right now, as he and others have been underscoring is getting humanitarian assistance into the country and getting it distributed.

Now, a number of humanitarian organizations have been meeting with the Taliban leadership, they have been able to carry out their work to a certain degree, they have been given guarantees of safety.

But this is an incredible logistical undertaking and the humanitarian sector, and therefore, those who rely on the humanitarian sector suffered greatly with the closure of Kabul's airport.

You know, that whole period that was covered so intensely with all of the flights trying to get Americans, the foreign nationals and some Afghans out of the country made it extraordinarily difficult for humanitarian flights to be able to actually get in.

The conversation needs to shift, Robyn. If leaders are going to be talking about how to prevent Afghans from leaving Afghanistan, so it's not to create a refugee crisis elsewhere, then the conversation also needs to focus on how to ensure that those who are effectively being trapped in Afghanistan, do have access to food, do have access to basic medicines, to life saving medical care.

Right now, the situation in Afghanistan is very near collapse, that's what the United Nations is warning, that is what other organizations are warning. What does that mean? To put it very simply, but very bluntly, Robyn, it means that if nothing is done, people, children will unnecessarily die.

CURNOW: Thanks for that Arwa Damon there in Istanbul. Thanks, Arwa.

So, Gul Maqsood Sabit is the former Deputy Minister of Finance for Afghanistan. He is now a lecturer at Ohlone College in California and he joins us from Union City. Good to see you, sir.


CURNOW: So, as both Antonio Guterres and Arwa were reporting that Afghanistan's economics were in a precarious position before the fall of the government, the Taliban knew that, they've taken power without a plan, knowing the international community would not want to do business with them.

How much responsibility for this precarious situation do you place on the new leaders and the Taliban?

GUL MAQSOOD SABIT, FORMER DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE, AFGHANISTAN: A normal responsibility, actually, all the current responsibility of this current situation in the situation that the country will get in falls on the shoulder of the current leaders.

Now, it's a different question whether they will accept or take on that responsibility, or even feel it or not. But it plays on their shoulder, there is nobody else who can take care of the suffering population of those -- you know, these people were caught by surprise, both economically and politically.

Large number of the population dependent on an economy that was heavily reliant on the international aid, that was tapped all of a sudden. There is no governance. Basically, government is dysfunctional with no services at all.

And humanitarian aid that flew into the country before that stopped too all of a sudden, because of the political problems, and, you know, other logistical issues.

So, this is a shock for everybody. And the situation is, as you -- as you heard, rightly heard, is worrying for all of us.

CURNOW: So, what we've been seeing is a global call and response for aid, for support. Yet, when we hear our reporter saying that, obviously these aid agencies are having to talk to the Taliban, get security, assurances from the Taliban in terms of trying to get to ordinary people, should there be strings attached to any aid given to the Taliban, or at least an Afghanistan that is ruled by the Taliban?

How much pressure or inclusive should this aid be, especially when it comes to say, a woman's rights? What kind of strings attached should be put on all of all, at all?

SABIT: You know, the world concerns are understandable, and in their right, they should think about those strings. But I think at this situation, we are facing a humanitarian crisis, there is a population of about 35 to 40 million that will probably die of hunger and you know, lack of medical supplies and other basic needs.

So, at this time, I think it will not be right to link the two together. I think political pressure should be or political strength should not be attached to a humanitarian crisis or humanitarian aid at this time, because this will really result in the suffering of the common people. And I think one should separate the two.

And because if -- you know, the current leaders do not really shoulder that responsibility, or don't have the means to do so, somebody has to and that's the world that has to.

CURNOW: China has pledged millions, we know that Pakistan is a longtime supporter of the Taliban, regional leaders have been meeting.

How much responsibility is it then for neighbors to step up? Particularly those neighbors who will feel the impact of a broken economy and massive internal displacement?

SABIT: I believe this is everybody's responsibility. But I don't think only the neighbors can address this or can take care of all the problems because this is much bigger than what they can afford to do. Pakistan has its own economic problems, they have a high ratio of debt to GDP.

Similarly, China, usually their aid is mostly, you know, they have strings attached to it. And this population right now needs help without any strings.

I think the world must think about preventing this humanitarian catastrophe at this time, and then, think about the strings and conditions later on. Because this is -- this is a problem that's currently at hand. And that has to be addressed.

And again, in the future, I think humanitarian aid or flowing of humanitarian aid is not the solution because how long will you feed the population? You need an economy, a functioning economy, a functioning government or a system to feed those people. You cannot send an aid forever.

But I think at this time, before we move to the second stage of addressing governance problems or putting conditions on the current rulers or setting up an environment so that they can build their economy and feed the people, I think this crisis is very urgent and I think it needs to be addressed today.


CURNOW: Gul Maqsood Sabit, appreciate all of your perspective. Thank you for joining us here on CNN.

SABIT: Thank you for having me.

CURNOW: To the U.K. now, the British Prime Minister will announce the plan for managing the coronavirus pandemic through the ultimate winter on Tuesday.

Downing Street says the plan focuses on vaccines as the first line of defense followed by testing, public health advice and monitoring for variants of the virus.

The government is expected to unveil its booster shot program with details of its rollout. The prime minister will also lay out plans to repeal previous emergency powers that have been granted during the pandemic, such as applying restrictions to events and gatherings.

Boris Johnson says he thinks the country is well positioned heading into the next few months.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We've got to do everything that's right to protect the country. But the way things are going at the moment, we're very confident in the steps that we've taken. I'll be sending out a lot more.

Tomorrow, I'll be giving a full update on the plans for the -- at the autumn and the winter.


CURNOW: And the U.K. will now be offering the first dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine to young people aged 12 to 15.

Health officials say kids will primarily receive their vaccine in schools with invitations for appointment set to begin next week.

Meantime, the U.S. is still deciding whether to approve vaccine boosters for wide public use. The Food and Drug Administration will meet with Israeli scientists later on this week to find out about Israel's experience with administering booster shots.

Well, Elizabeth Cohen has more from Tel Aviv, Elizabeth.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can and we will turn the tide on COVID-19.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: President Biden anxious like all of us to get out of this pandemic. And to do that, he and his top health advisors are looking --

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When you look at the Israeli data, and they are about a month or so ahead of us in every aspect of this.

COHEN: -- to Israel.

At the beginning of the year, the vaccination rollout started much more quickly in Israel than in the U.S.

Dr. Ran Balicer is Chair of Israel's COVID-19 National Expert Advisory Panel.

DR. RAN BALICER, CHAIRMAN, ISRAEL'S COVID-19 NATIONAL EXPERT ADVISORY PANEL: By the end of May, Israel thought it was out of the woods.

COHEN: But even with a vigorous vaccination campaign, a dual threat arrived this summer, the Delta variant posed a challenge to the vaccine. And at the same time, the Israeli say protection from the vaccine has

started to wane over time, becoming less effective. Cases in Israel now higher per capita than in the U.S.

And that made Israel move quickly. They started administering booster shots August 1st.

In the U.S., the FDA and the CDC are still reviewing boosters.

Up until the booster shots, Israel waited for the FDA and for the CDC to chime in. But you guys just did boosters without the FDA and the CDC chiming in.

BALICER: I think there was a different level of urgency felt in the two countries. Decisions by the FDA have been made and we could have followed them. But in the situation that we were at, it was obvious that action was needed urgently, decisions need to be made.

COHEN: Balicer and other Israeli health officials are in constant contact with U.S. health officials sharing their data on COVID-19 after boosters.

BALICER: And with the third dose, they are much better protected against severe illness. So, this is one reason to go through with a booster campaign.

COHEN: Now, while hospitalizations are skyrocketing in the U.S., the number of severe cases in Israel has plateaued recently. And per capita deaths in Israel are lower than in the U.S. offering a glimpse of what could happen if the U.S. take certain steps.

I was vaccinated in Israel and received my booster shot last week. And it's not just the boosters that are different. No paper vaccine cards here. Instead, electronic vaccine passports or a Tav Yarok in Hebrew that have a Q.R. code. Restaurants scan it and also ask for an I.D. to make sure it's really you before letting you in.

Other rules also much stricter in Israel than in many parts of the U.S. Masks have to be worn indoors and at large gatherings. University students have to be vaccinated or test negative every few days. Same for school teachers and staff.

BALICER: All of this needs to be put in place. And I think that booster are just one component of that. It's definitely not the one panacea that would solve all of the problems that we have in living with COVID-19.

COHEN: You say we're going to live with COVID-19. So, you think COVID- 19 is here to stay?

BALICER: I think COVID-19 is here to stay.

COHEN: A word of warning from the Israelis. As the United States grapples with COVID-19 numbers that at this point seemed difficult to control.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Tel Aviv.



CURNOW: And still ahead on CNN, hundreds of millions of people could be forced to flee their homes if the world doesn't take immediate action on climate change, details of that sobering report.

Plus, the typhoon that sweeping through East Asia has weakened but it's still on the move. We'll have the latest forecast. Stay with us for that.


CURNOW: A typhoon in East Asia is now a tropical storm. It slammed into the Philippines and Taiwan over the weekend. It is now having China on high alert. But the worst of the rain is expected to stay offshore which is great news.

Pedram Javaheri has been following the storm for us for the last few days. And that's good to know that the rain is going to be, you know, off land. Tell us more about that and where you see the satellite images heading?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Robyn, you know, this storm system had so much potential to cause significant damage over a really high population area.

So, as you noted there, really great news, you don't often see it with a storm that was at one point a super typhoon but it is just offshore Shanghai making that right turn towards the east, towards portions of the Strait of Korea around Jeju Island, around Busan. These are the regions we're watching for very heavy rainfall over the next couple of days.

But you'll notice, some of the outer bands or the feeder bands just on the backside of it, producing some showers and thunderstorms in Shanghai. But the bulk of it indicated in the orange cloud tops or the tallest coldest cloud tops that are indicative of the strongest thunderstorms. Those are all well offshore and pushing in towards portions of Japan into southern South Korea.

That's where the moisture is we do have quite a bit of dry air coming in from Eastern China has kind of inhibited the amount of rainfall that we potentially could have expected to see from the storm system. And that is excellent news.

Still, about a hundred flights canceled out of Shanghai, about 50 flights canceled out of Beijing as a result. And you'll notice of course, with 26 million people just the way -- just a few kilometers away from the center of the storm system, it could have been far worse.

But I'm happy to report that the bulk of what is left of this feature moving away and weakening just a lot of rainfall left across parts of the Korean Peninsula over the next 24 hours, Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, thanks for that update. Pedram Javaheri, good to see you. Thank you.

So, as the world's climate crisis gets worse, attacks on environmental activists are rising. A new report found an average of four activists were killed each week last year, which is of course, a record high number.

And as CNN's Rafael Romo report, most of those killings happened in Latin America.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The report was made after gathering and analyzing data from around the world regarding deadly attacks on environmental activists, it was published by Global Witness, a London based human and environmental rights NGO, the report's conclusions are alarming, it says 2020 was the deadliest year on record for environmental defenders.


ROMO: There were 227 killings, an average of four per week, and most of those deaths happened in Latin America.

Colombia was the most affected country. 65 environmentalists were killed there, activists were protecting indigenous land or defending forests and their coca crops.

With 30 murders, Mexico ranked second on the list. A third of those killed were working to stop deforestation in the country.

The only country outside Latin America that had more than 15 deaths of environmentalists was the Philippines. 29 people there were killed for attempting to halt mining, logging and dam projects.

Chris Madden, one of the report's authors said it's clear that the unaccountable exploitation and greed that's driving the climate crisis are also having an increasingly violent impact on people.

In the last few years, the number of killings of environmentalists has been increasing, it went above 200 for the first time in 2017. And in 2020, there were 15 deaths more than the year before.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Mexico City.


CURNOW: Thanks, Rafael for that.

So, the effects of climate change could force 216 million people to migrate within their own countries in the next 30 years, that's according to a new report from the World Bank. The report also found that the world's poorest countries will be hit the hardest. It says immediate action needs to be taken to address the climate crisis, if there's any hope of lowering those numbers.

Joining us from Vermont is Bill McKibben. He's the founder of and the author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Certainly, tough reading this new report, what do you make of it? What strikes you first off?

BILL MCKIBBEN, FOUNDER, 350.ORG: Well, this is precisely what people have been warning about for a long time. And that we're beginning to see in real numbers. We're making the world a smaller place, Robyn.

As the oceans rise, there are people being driven off the coasts, as deserts spread, there are people being driven out of the interiors, as wildfire becomes more potent, there are no go places along the interface between forest and town.

So, the number of places humans can live is already smaller and will continue to shrink. And that kind of migration, both internal and between countries, is going to be one of the huge sources of friction on this planet in the century ahead. It's one of the reasons why we have to do everything we can to slow down the rise and the rate of temperature, in order to limit this kind of just existential suffering.

CURNOW: Yes, I want to break down a lot of these points. Let's just first start with migration. Clearly, this is about internal migration within countries. It's also about crossing borders and populations changing. Where are the real hotspots here?

MCKIBBEN: Well, you can find them all over the world. But take some of the examples we already see. A country like Bangladesh is very low to the ocean. The average height I think of the entire country is only about six meters above the Bay of Bengal. And so, farmland is being eroded and eaten away every day. And many millions of people have already had to leave their small homes.

And where do they end up? they end up in a cardboard box or a corrugated hut on the edge of the capital city. They've exchanged the life that they've known for many generations, for the kind of squalid and difficult urban life that's coming to define the future for too many people.

You can see the same thing happened in areas that are decertifying, say in the north of Africa, where people have no choice but to go because it's gotten too dry or you can watch the remarkable effects of natural disasters.

The last two hurricanes of last year's busiest ever Atlantic hurricane season crashed into Central America. The damage they did in say Honduras was profound, we think equivalent to about 40 percent of the GDP. There's lots of farmers there who can't get their produce to market anymore, because there's no bridge to get it there.

So, what do they do? Well, maybe they move internally, or maybe they head for the southern border of the U.S. CURNOW: So, there are three scenarios kind of from bad to worse. I mean, none of them are particularly good for climate migrants. What can we be looking at as the years unfold?

MCKIBBEN: Well, how bad this gets remains entirely dependent on what we do now. If we're able to hold the increase in temperature to the targets we set in Paris, say a degree and a half Celsius, then it will -- by no means, a perfect world but it may be a survivable one.


MCKIBBEN: If we allow things to go on their current trajectory where the temperature of the planet goes up three degrees Celsius say, I think it's a very open question, how our civilizations will be able to respond?

Think of the chaos unleashed when people have to leave their homes and move. There's nothing more disruptive in the life of a person, in the life of a country or in the life of a region to have people pouring across borders.

I mean, think about Bangladesh again, what is it next to, India. Is there room in India for millions of people to move? Not really.

We're in a very, very tight and crowded world already. And we have to do everything we can to limit that damage.

CURNOW: So, who is the we hear? Where does responsibility for this lie?

It definitely doesn't lie with the people in Bangladesh or the north of Africa, when you look at the tables, they haven't put enough carbon in the atmosphere to cause any global warming at all.

It lies with those of us in the rich world in places like the United States. Four percent of humans are Americans but we've put 25 percent of the carbon into the atmosphere.

So, that's where the action has to come and it has to come very, very fast.

That's why these meetings in Glasgow will be so important. They're kind of last chance to allow us to rally the world to act on the scale we need in the time that physics is allowing us.

CURNOW: From the Vermont, Bill McKibben, thank you very much for your sober assessment, appreciate it. You're the founder of and the author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

MCKIBBEN: Thank you, Robyn.

CURNOW: Ahead on CNN, dozens of Afghan women take to social media to defy the Taliban and show the world their version of traditional and colorful Afghan dresses. It comes as fears grow over women's rights in Afghanistan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that this is an attack on Afghan identity and Afghan culture. And it's trying to take Afghanistan back into a more extreme version of Islam.


CURNOW: It's 29 minutes past the hour. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Robyn Curnow. Thanks for joining me.

So, America's top diplomat defended the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan during a virtual hearing with House lawmakers.


Now, Republicans have blasted the withdrawal as a debacle and an unmitigated disaster. But the secretary of state suggested that extending the U.S. presence in the country would have made little difference.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There's no evidence that staying longer would have made the Afghan security forces, or the Afghan government any more resilient or self-sustaining. If 20 years and hundreds of billions of dollars in support, equipment and training did not suffice, why would another year, another five, another 10?


CURNOW: Blinken also call the evacuations from Kabul an extraordinary effort. He said they almost got all U.S. citizens and Afghans who wanted to leave out.

Tens of thousands of Afghans who fled the country are now in the U.S. Oren Liebermann has details on that -- Oren.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Ever since the first flight of evacuees landed at Dulles International Airport in late July, the number of Afghans coming into the United States has soared.

The U.S. anticipates the arrival of more than 65,000 Afghan refugees by the end of the month. Already, the military has built what one official described as small cities on eight bases. Those base now house 53,000 at-risk Afghans.

Fort Bliss in Texas was the first to grant media access to see the facilities. Here, there's housing for more than 10,000 Afghans. They'll get COVID vaccines, medical screening, and the beginning of a new life.

At Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, the Afghans have broken up their village into councils. The leaders of these councils meet with base officials on Afghan society within a U.S. military facility. Already, two babies were born on different bases, some of the first

new Americans from the Afghan evacuation.

Some Afghans who were far along in their visa application left the bases within days. But that number, one U.S. official said, was not large. Many may be here much longer, months even, as they work through a complex visa process.

At Dulles Airport, officials discovered three confirmed cases of measles among at-risk Afghans. Another case was confirmed at Fort Pickett in Virginia and a fifth at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin.

REP. RON KIND (D-WI): There are no 100 percent guarantees with any of those, but I am comfortable with the extreme vetting process that we were briefed on today. The multi-layered, the biometric, all the background checks.

LIEBERMANN: The discovery of the highly-contagious disease prompted the military to pause the flights of Afghan evacuees from Europe to the United States for at least seven days.

ADM. JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We want the people who work on these spaces and the families who lived there to know how seriously we're taking it.

LIEBERMANN: One homeland security officials said this is likely one of the most important missions they'll ever work on, as the U.S. tries to draw a better future for tens of thousands of Afghan evacuees.

(on camera): Secretary of State Antony Blinken was grilled about the security screening and the medical screening that will go into allowing the Afghans to enter the U.S.

To speed along that streaming, the Department of Homeland Security has added about 150 employees at U.S. bases to help in that screaming process and some 400 employees overseas.

But make no mistake: this is a process that will take time. There is no clear answer for how long the U.S. military will house these Afghan evacuees. They simply say as long as is necessary.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, in the Pentagon.


CURNOW: Pakistan International Airlines has landed its first flight in Afghanistan since the withdrawal of U.S. troops last month. An airline spokesperson says the flight into Kabul Monday morning was intended to create goodwill with the people of Afghanistan.

Foreign journalists traveled into the Afghan capital on the flight, and World Bank employees were brought back to Islamabad on the return leg.

Meanwhile, Afghan women around the world started an online campaign to protest the Taliban's new hijab requirement in schools. Many are posting photos of wearing their traditional colorful dresses on social media, using hash tags like "do not touch my clothes."

Here's Becky Anderson.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The issue of women's rights have been a huge concern in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Many feared a return to the repressive period of Taliban rule in the nineties, and some strict rules on woman's attire have already been reimposed.

So dozens of Afghan women are taking to social media to show the world their version of traditional and colorful Afghan dress.

Bahar Jalali, the founder of the first gender studies program in the country, started the trend on Twitter when she shared this picture of herself. Jalali says she wants to, quote, "inform, educate and dispel the misinformation that is being propagated by Taliban."

British politician Peymana Assad was visiting her family in Afghanistan when the Taliban swept into Kabul. She managed to get out of the country just in time.


PEYMANA ASSAD, COUNCILOR, HARROW COUNCIL: You know, I believe that this is an attack on Afghan identity and Afghan culture, and it's trying to take Afghanistan back into a more extreme version of Islam.

ANDERSON: That version was on display in Kabul, where hundreds of women, covered from head to toe in black, sat in a university lecture hall to express their support for the new government.

A Taliban spokesperson shared this video of a rally in the capital, in which this woman spoke out against so-called western ideals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, KABUL RALLY PARTICIPANT (through translator): Those women who are west-inclined and are dictated by the west cannot represent the Muslim and pious women of Afghanistan.

ANDERSON: But women's clothing isn't the only thing being debated. The Taliban has said woman will still be allowed to study at universities, but not alongside men.

In the past, the Taliban have not even allowed girls and women to go to school. But the education minister says the new government does not want to turn the clock back 20 years.

ABDUL BAQI HAQQANI, TALIBAN'S ACTING HIGHER EDUCATION MINISTER (through translator): We have recently started applying the proposal the universities had suggested in terms of male-female segregation, and we see no negative impact.

ANDERSON: Women who wear traditional Islamic dress are not necessarily pro-Taliban. But that could be the point. In a free society, women should have the choice to wear what they want and enjoy the same rights as men.

Clearly, Afghanistan is no longer free for women.

Becky Anderson, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


CURNOW: It is the final day of voting in the election to determine if Florida's [SIC] Democratic governor gets to keep his job. But Republicans are already laying the groundwork to reclaim -- to claim the recall is being stolen. Stay with us for more on that story.


CURNOW: Apparently, suing a British royal is very complicated. On Monday, a lawyer for Prince Andrew ordered his client was not properly served a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse, and the case can't proceed until judicial authorities in the U.K. weigh in on whether the papers have indeed been legally served.

Virginia Roberts filed a civil suit last month in New York against the prince. She claims he had sex with her when she was 17 at some of Jeffrey Epstein's private properties.

Prince Andrew denies any wrongdoing. His lawyer also argues that a settlement between her and Epstein, who was convicted as a sex offender, released Prince Andrew from any and all potential liability.

The court is giving both sides more time to prepare. They'll appear for another hearing next month.

Meanwhile, we are just hours away from the polls closing in California, where Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is hoping to survive the effort to remove him from office.


Now, the recall in the left-leaning state could have national consequences, as well. And Republicans backing Newsom's biggest challenger are already laying the groundwork for another so-called big lie, claiming the vote is rigged, as Kyung Lah now reports.


KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before a single ballot has even been counted in California's recall election, Republican challenger Larry Elder is pulling a page from the Trump playbook, questioning the results.

LARRY ELDER (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to file lawsuits in a timely fashion. What I believe is that, no matter what they do, and I believe that there might very well be shenanigans, as they were in the 2020 elections.

Barack Obama's done a commercial for him. Joe Biden has done (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

I was called the black face of white supremacy.

LAH: Elder is a Republican frontrunner of 46 challengers on the second part of the ballot. The conservative radio host emerged early on as a leading contender to replace Newsom, helping to engage Democrats to react and vote early, like Maria Morales.

MARIA MORALES, CALIFORNIA VOTER: When you have another candidate who's very similar to what we had four years ago, that's not what we want here in California.

LAH: With just hours left to vote, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom will close his campaign beside President Joe Biden, rallying in California on election eve.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Vote no, no, no, no.

LAH: Newsom needs a simple majority to stay on the job. In rally after rally up and down the state, Newsom has argued to Democrats that the election is not just about California, but the national Democratic agenda. Namely, policies on masks and vaccines that Newsom says could rollback if he's recalled.

NEWSOM: The contrast and the stakes could not be higher. This election is a matter of life and death. Public health is on the ballot.

LAH (on camera): The Newsom campaign is displaying extreme confidence. The top strategist for Governor Newsom said right now looking at the ballot returns, they are so confident they believe that there is no scenario in which they lose.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Long Beach, California.


CURNOW: And Apple is now urging users to update their devices after a critical spyware vulnerability was discovered. The update fixes a flaw in the iMessage software that allows hackers to infiltrate a user's phone without even clicking on a link.

That's according to the University of Toronto Citizen Lab, which is credited with finding the vulnerability.

They said it allows spyware from an Israeli firm to infect a device. Researchers say it's already been used to spy on a Saudi activist.

We'll continue to monitor that story.

Well, thanks for watching CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow. WORLD SPORT starts after the break. But I will be back with you in 15 minutes.