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Taiwan Defiant as China Calls for "Peaceful" Reunification; Polls Open in Iraqi PM and Parliamentary Election; Protests in Italy over COVID-19 Health Pass Turn Violent; COVID-19 Surge in Indonesia Proves Deadly for Hundreds of Health Care Workers; How Rising Greenhouse Gases Reshape Our Planet; Mourners Attend Funerals for ISIS-K Attack Victims; Women in Afghanistan Protest and Return to Work, School and the Streets; Ghana's LGBTQ Community in Fear over Draft Anti-Gay Law; Instagram's Negative Impact on Teen Girls; River of Lava Destroys More on Canary Islands' La Palma. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired October 10, 2021 - 00:00   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi, welcome to our viewers live and around the world. I'm Robyn Curnow, live in Atlanta. You are watching CNN.

In the show ahead, Taiwan marked its national day with an unprecedented show of force. Missiles and the military on full display a day after fiery rhetoric from the Chinese president.

Voting is underway at this time in Iraq. The country facing enormous challenges, battered by war, corruption and a failing economy.

And stunning images of the volcano in La Palma. Look at these images. Lava now destroying more than 1,000 structures, the place many people call home.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: Good to have you along this hour.

So Taiwan is pushing back hard against any suggestion that it can be taken over by Mainland China without a steep price. I want to show you these images from the Taiwanese capital moments ago.


CURNOW (voice-over): This is the annual parade, marking the anniversary of the Chinese revolution. The 1911 uprising marked the birth of modern China and is celebrated by both Beijing and Taipei.

But the outpouring of Taiwanese pride at this year's event was especially relevant. The day before, Chinese president Xi Jinping had again asserted that Communist control of Taiwan was, in his view, inevitable. Taiwan immediately rejected it and a short time ago, the president

answered defiantly, saying the Taiwanese people would never bow to Beijing's pressure. Our Will Ripley is in Taipei, with the latest.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Robyn, it was really extraordinary to see for the first time in recent history missiles rolling through Taipei in a parade that usually does not have such an militaristic theme as it did this year.

Of course, it doesn't match the massive military parades I've seen in Mainland China or even in North Korea and in many ways the mood quite festive. The music upbeat as these weapons were rolling by.

But for Taiwan to showcase four types of domestically produced missiles and some of the billions of dollars in military hardware they are buying. And there are expanding their military budget, including $5 billion in arms purchases from the United States just last year.

They had F-16 fighters in the air. We know Taiwan has purchased Patriot missiles although they did not go on display at this parade. So for Taiwan to make this kind of show of force, very out of character.

But given the tensions in the region, just in five days this month Beijing flew 150 warplanes into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone, this is a sign perhaps of the regional situation and the escalating tensions across the board.

CURNOW: It certainly is and people no doubt in capitals across the world watching events there and, of course, in Beijing, in the past few days, and comments from Beijing coming pretty tough and hard.

What are folks saying and what is the reaction on the ground to this show of force?

RIPLEY: You mention those comments from Beijing. Chinese President Xi talking about reunification, which is a term that doesn't make sense to the leadership and most people here in Taiwan, because this island has never been ruled by the People's Republic of China.

It's had its own government for more than 70 years since the end of China's civil war. So when China talks about reunification, polls show most people reject it. And yet there is not any palpable sense of concern or fear from people on the ground here.

The feeling is almost of an outdoor festival, the crowd lighthearted, watching and cheering the military officers, it didn't have the tense, ominous feeling you get with military parades in these authoritarian governments.

But the comments by the president laying out, that, in her view, Taiwan is on the front lines of a fight for the future of democracy, not only on this island, which is the only Chinese speaking democracy, but perhaps for the world because you have two superpowers, authoritarian China and democratic United States squaring off. The president says whatever happens here in Taiwan, could foretell

the future of other smaller democracies.

CURNOW: Which is why these images are so significant. Will Ripley there in Taipei, thanks so much.

I want to take you to Iraq now, where polls have just opened in the country's general election. I want to show you some live pictures right out of Baghdad.


CURNOW: There are two women who are planning to vote by the looks of things or they have just voted. Either way, polls have just opened. The vote is set to decide the next parliament and prime minister. Soldiers were among those allowed to cast ballots early.

But overall turnout is expected to be low. Ethnic and religious fault lines divide Iraqi politics and although security has improved after the ISIS war, corruption and unemployment remain major issues. Here's what some Iraqis are saying ahead of the vote.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The elections need to be, first of all, impartial. That is something we ask for. It is been 16 years. We do not want old faces, we want new faces, the youth.

We want youthful energy, someone to sympathize with the youth. We, as youth, want someone that represents us in the parliament.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Even if there is great degree of confidence, participation is still necessary, even if there are interferences. There are always interferences but that does not mean that the whole population should not participate in the vote, even if it is 20 million or 30 million that participate.

People have to participate in order to change things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Why won't I vote?

Because I have no faith in the people running for the elections.

Those we elected, what have they done?

The same thing. Look at the garbage, the same thing, the filth.

Where are the projects, the previous government's projects?

Where are they?


CURNOW: Such frustration but I also want to give you look at the way things stand in Iraq right now. A Shia Muslim group, some with ties to Iran, have been the driving political force in the post- Saddam era and that's set to remain the case in this latest round of voting.

Many Iraqis are without work or health care because of corruption and mismanagement, problems that became more acute during the pandemic.

On top of that, more than 1 million people are still displaced by the conflict against ISIS, years after the jihadist group was militarily defeated.


CURNOW: Joining me now is a man with a long diplomatic career in the Middle East James Jeffrey is the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Turkey. He also served as special envoy to the global coalition to defeat ISIS.

Ambassador, great to have you, thank you for joining me.

Is it fair to say that the Iraqis and international partners are really not expecting much from this election?

It's about guns and money and the influence of Iran.

JAMES FRANKLIN JEFFREY, FORMER U.S. ENVOY TO SYRIA: It's good to be back with you, Robyn. People are little bit cynical about these elections. But let's take a step back.

Where else in the Middle East, in the Arab world, do you have relatively fair and free U.N. monitored elections that do make a difference in the governance of the country for all of its problems?

Iraq is the only place that's happening and that's very important.

Secondly, this election is different, as your reporter has just reported. The Jushrin (ph) movement of public protest against bad government and also against Iranian influence has changed the dynamic in the country a bit.

I'm a little bit more optimistic on the turnout. The grand ayatollah has urged everyone to vote. And I think that some people believe there are reform candidates there. We will have to wait to see who comes out on top.

Iran will play a very powerful hand but the United States and the international community have allies (INAUDIBLE) as well.


CURNOW: As you are talking, I want to remind our viewers it is just past 7 am in the morning and these are the first pictures we are getting at CNN.

And now, Ambassador, the U.S. invasion and the failed attempts at nation building really cleaved the Iraq nation into a hotbed of ethnic and tribal fault lines.

Those still remain at the forefront of today's dysfunction, don't they?

Does this election intensify that again?

JEFFREY: I don't think it intensifies it; it just documents that it is a major factor.


CURNOW: Reinforces it at least?

JEFFREY: It reinforces it, definitely. It's been there a long time, even before 2003 and to some degree we exacerbated it. But nonetheless, the Iraqis have managed to govern themselves. They've kept the country out of the hands of Iran, which is trying to turn it into a second Lebanon.

And their oil production is almost half that of Saudi Arabia. So this is not a failed state, this is not Afghanistan, that's a very important point to make.


CURNOW: How dangerous is it for the region especially with the deepening of the Shia domestic and militias also gaining power more and more?

JEFFREY: Your point about Afghanistan is correct, another comparison. This is not Syria or Yemen or Libya; it's a functioning country. It's full of corruption, full of bad infrastructure but it's not the only center in the region.

I would say it's internally relatively stable. The main threat is the Iranians and their support, the armed militias, a state within a state, could attempt to do something, essentially a political or military coup. That's always dangerous if they don't like the outcome.

CURNOW: As you're talking again, this is the prime minister who is voting that we are seeing now, 10 minutes after 7 in Baghdad.

Is there any hope a new government will be more efficient, less prone to corruption?

What role does a -- what kind of optimism should people have?

JEFFREY: I am optimistic that the country will not collapse; that may be a low standard, but as you know, I've been through a lot of these collapses in the last 20 years and I'm relatively optimistic that the Iranians will not try a coup.

Slowly but surely, the country will continue to recover from what has been, since 1980, three decades of war.

And again, amplified by the failed and botched U.S. invasion and the aftermath. Let's talk, though, about Iraq's role regionally as sort of a middle man perhaps between Saudi and Iranian rivalries.

How key is that?

JEFFREY: It's quite important. This is not the way we will resolve the problems between the Arab states and Iran, through talks in Baghdad, between Iranian and Saudi officials, those officials on both sides have indicated talks are not going very far.

But nonetheless, the fact that Baghdad is a venue, that Iraq is playing a role as an Arab state, is very important because, for almost 2 decades after 2003 that was not the case. It is getting a lot of diplomatic and some economic support, Egypt, from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

Jordan have been very helpful and this is really encouraging because it's how the United States wants to deal with countries in the region by with and through our partners; in this case, Arab. States

CURNOW: Ambassador James Jeffrey, thank you for being on the show. Great to have your perspective.

JEFFREY: Thank you.


CURNOW: So we are also following a razor close election in the Czech Republic, where opposition groups appear to have eked out a victory.


CURNOW (voice-over): Cheers erupted in Prague as the center right together coalition narrowly won a majority in Saturday's parliamentary election. The leaders of the opposition groups are pledging to work together to form a new government.

That would end prime minister Andrej Babis' grip on power even though his populist party won most of the votes of any single party.

And Austria's conservative chancellor resigned on Saturday under a cloud of a corruption scandal. Sebastian Kurz stepped down after a few days just after his office was raided by prosecutors, investigating allegations of bribery and breach of trust.

Opposition parties had threatened to bring a vote of no confidence against him. Kurz wants Austria's foreign minister to step into his role.


SEBASTIAN KURZ, AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): I would therefore like to make room to resolve the stalemate to prevent chaos and ensure stability. I have asked the government team of the people's party to definitively continue the work and as the chairman of the people's party, we are the people with the most votes.

I have proposed Alexander Schellenberg as the new head of government to the president.


CURNOW: The former chancellor has denied using government money for political purposes.

You're watching CNN. Still ahead, the surge may be over but the losses are still piling up. How the latest COVID wave in Indonesia devastated the country's health care system.






CURNOW: Protests here, against the COVID health pass system in Italy, turning violent on Saturday, as tensions mounted between demonstrators and police in Rome. The protests, come days before Italy is set to expand the green pass system to all workplaces.

The pass, a certificate, showing whether someone has been vaccinated, tested negative or, recently recovered from the virus.



CURNOW (voice-over): Thousands of people took to the streets of Switzerland on Saturday, to protest pandemic rules there. In Geneva, some demonstrators held signs, denouncing the Swiss COVID health pass system.

As of last month, the passes are required to enter bars, restaurants and fitness centers.


CURNOW: Russia, reporting its highest daily COVID death toll so far, with nearly 970 deaths on Saturday. It is the fourth day in a row the country has reported more than 900 deaths.

Authorities are blaming the steep rise on the country's low vaccination rate, as well as the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. Now just over 30 percent of Russians have been fully vaccinated.

Indonesia, among the countries worst hit by the pandemic in Asia, daily case numbers much lower than 3 months ago, when a devastating wave hit its peak. Now that surge took an especially heavy toll on the country's health care workers. Paula Hancocks, with this report -- Paula.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the front lines of Indonesia's battle with COVID-19, 35-year-old Dr. Riken Mediana Eka Putri, pregnant with her second child, became a victim of the very disease she was fighting.

ADITYO WIBOWO, DR. MEDIANA'S HUSBAND (through translator): She contracted the virus on the 4th of July and passed away on the 29th of the same month. Our 8-year-old and I were also positive. We recovered but not my wife, who was 34 weeks pregnant.

HANCOCKS: She was one of 208 Indonesian doctors who died in July alone, the highest monthly toll since the start of the pandemic. And one of nearly 800 doctors who have succumb to coronavirus in the country so far, according to the Indonesian Medical Association.

DAENG FAQIH, CHAIRMAN, INDONESIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (through translator): In July, doctors were exhausted. The COVID cases were increasing sharply, so was the workload.

HANCOCKS: Overwhelmed hospitals facing a severe shortage of beds and oxygen were forced to turn patients away as the highly contagious Delta variant swept through the country. The problem further exacerbated by a massive surge in deaths among health care workers.

WIBOWO: When many health care workers were testing positive for COVID, my wife risked her life, replacing several colleagues who had fallen ill.

HANCOCKS: Dr. Riken was not vaccinated. The government's approval in late June to start inoculating pregnant women came too late for her. But even those fully vaccinated with the most wildly available vaccine in Indonesia, China's Sinovac, were not always safe.

Dr. Sylvi Febriza Darori is a pediatrician who lost her brother to COVID. Despite being fully immunized, her brother, who is also a general practitioner, caught the virus in late July and unknowingly spread it to his love ones.

SYLVI FEBRIZA DARORI, SISTER OF COVID-19 VICTIM (through translator): Thirteen members of my family were infected including my father, my mother, my brother's family, his wife and his 2-year-old child.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): Though numbers have now started to improve, fatalities among doctors at the peak of the second wave left a serious dent in the health care system of the world's fourth most populous country which already had one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in Southeast Asia with just four doctors for 10,000 people.

EDHIE RAHMAT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PROJECT HOPE INDONESIA: The new medical doctor actually is a little bit hesitant to join the recruitment at the moment because of the situation.

HANCOCKS: The government took steps to try to fix the problem offering booster shots of Moderna's vaccine to frontline workers. Vaccination rates among the general public, which were abysmally low, have also risen steadily since July.

The country is one of just 8th in the world to have administered more than 100 million doses of vaccines, but the distribution is uneven. In the capital, Jakarta, about 70 percent are fully vaccinated. Elsewhere in the country, that number is just 16 percent, putting doctors at risk -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


CURNOW: China is battling an energy crisis, as the world economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic. Residents and businesses are facing power shortages and China has now ordered coal mines to ramp up production. In some cases the government is also rationing energy during peak hours. Here is Selina Wang with that story.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: China has ordered 72 coal mines to boost production by nearly 100 million metric tons, according to Chinese state media.

That figure is equivalent to about 30 percent of China's monthly coal production and it is an example of China's struggle to balance its aims, to tackle the climate crisis, while also using coal to keep the lights on.

Power shortages, in China, have spread across most of the country in recent weeks. It is forcing the government to ration electricity and some factories to suspend production. It also disrupts people's daily lives. Some areas, dealing with complete blackouts. Stores, shutting down earlier or resorting to candlelight.

Traffic lights stopped working in some areas, leading to severe traffic jams. Coal is still China's main energy source. But in a push to reduce carbon emissions, China has shut down hundreds of coal mines earlier this year.

But experts say, in the short term, China has little choice but to increase coal consumption, to meet demand. This current energy crunch, is the result of a perfect storm of factors. You have demand for Chinese goods surging as the world emerges from the global pandemic.

That's increasing the use of China's electricity-hungry factories. That is sending energy prices skyrocketing. But since electricity prices are regulated in China, some power companies are losing money and hesitant to boost production.

At the same, time China is trying to meet these ambitious climate targets, to be net zero, by 2060. And, for carbon emissions to peak by 2030. So local officials ration power to meet those targets.

All of that, putting more downward pressure on the Chinese economy, with economists, slashing the estimates for China's GDP growth -- Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CURNOW: It is even worse in Lebanon, where most of the country is, without power. The two major generating stations, shutting down this weekend, because of a fuel crisis there. Lebanon state-run news, is reporting, residents are blocking roads in several areas to protest. They say electricity will gradually return in the coming hours.


CURNOW: Over the years, CNN has brought you crucial and critical information about the climate crisis and the catastrophic weather events brought on by the warming of our planet. For things to improve, the world needs to do more to lower our rate of emissions and remove new carbon from the atmosphere.

Chad Myers outlines some of the challenges we face in the search for answers.



CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Manmade climate change or global warming, is simply this: a buildup of excess gases, called greenhouse gases, in the atmosphere. And they are called greenhouse gases, because they act just like a greenhouse.

The air wants to leave the atmosphere but it bounces down to the surface and back and, forth and back and forth, just like keeping your plants warm in your greenhouse.

These gases, mainly carbon dioxide, methane, though, another one, nitrous oxide, all part of burning fossil fuels, for industry, for making electricity, for transportation and even agriculture.

Now the concentration of these greenhouse gases high school been going up ever since the Industrial Revolution. But the dramatic increase has really been in the past 60 years. More cars on the road, more people on the planet.

And that is why it was going up so quickly. The IPCC, this year, said that the globe has already warmed 1.1 to 1.2 degrees Celsius. Now we are seeing the effects of this, from flash flooding, to bigger storms, to drought and forest fires.


MYERS (voice-over): All part of this warming of the atmosphere, changing the climate in some places across the globe.

Those same scientists have warned that these and other impacts will get progressively worse if we reach some key thresholds; namely, 1.5 or 2.0 degrees Celsius, above where we were before we started burning fossil fuels. That's why the world's nations pledged to try to keep this warming below these levels. That happening in 2015, with the Paris climate agreement.

The amount we continue to let the atmosphere warm is really up to us.

How much more carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases do we pump into it before we start to slow it down?

More importantly, can we get any carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere?

Scientists know, if we put in 1,000 gigatons, yes, 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, our atmosphere will warm another 0.45 degrees Celsius.

So how long do you think it will take for us to get 1.5 or 2.0?

It won't take long at the rate we're putting it into it right now. Think of filling up a sink. The amount already in the sink is the amount of excess greenhouse gases that we have already put into the atmosphere, 2,390 gigatons so far.

That has given us a level rise of 1.1 degrees Celsius. Now we are filling up the sink at the rate of about 40 gigatons per year. That is the faucet. This represents the planet's annual emissions of greenhouse gases.

Now we have been turning up the faucet over the recent decades. Now if the rate stays the same, likely we will reach 1.5 degrees in 10 years. And if we don't turn down this faucet, we will reach 2 degrees between 25 and 30 years from right now.

Now exactly when we reach these thresholds is a matter of how soon we can turn away from fossil fuel and get to more renewables. The more we can take out and the less fossil fuel we can burn, the longer it will take to get to those thresholds.

There are only two ways to stop the sink from filling up further, turn down the faucet or open the drain. Draining water out of the sink requires removing carbon from the atmosphere. This happens naturally from things like trees and even the ocean. But we have long since overwhelmed the planet's natural ability to keep up.

That brings us to the idea of carbon capture and removal; though, carbon capture happens with natural sinks, like planting trees and things or through manmade carbon removal and storage technologies, many of which are not yet proven. But they could be scaled and they could be developed, because the technology is there.

It should be obvious by now, we need to turn off this faucet and urgently turn it down before the sink overflows. We also need to find more technology on how to get carbon out of the atmosphere as soon as possible.


CURNOW: Thanks, Chad, for that, a really important message.

Still to come, Afghan women are dealing with harsh conditions imposed by the Taliban, since U.S. troops left the country. But some remain defiant. We'll look at the challenges and the courage that the women now face, after this.





CURNOW: Welcome back to CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow.

Mourners from Afghanistan's Shia community have been holding funerals and burying their dead after a suicide attack killed at least 46 people on Friday. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the explosion, which ripped through a Shia mosque in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz.

That is the latest attack since the terror group seized control of Afghanistan a month ago.

Meanwhile senior Taliban representatives have been meeting with a U.S. delegation in Doha. It is the first meeting of its kind since the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of August.

The Taliban want the international community to unfreeze funds belonging to Afghanistan, saying that would stabilize the country, which is in the global community's best interests.

The U.S. State Department say the Doha meetings are a continuation of, quote, "pragmatic talks on vital national interests." Those issues include women's rights and safe passage out of the country for Americans and other foreign nationals.

Meanwhile women in Kabul are taking a stand as the Taliban attempt to roll back their rights. Clarissa Ward reports on the courage these women are showing.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A handful of women stand quietly but defiantly. They're here to protest the Taliban's de facto ban on girls going to school after fifth grade, a small act of great courage.

Taliban fighters start to pour in, their heavily-armed presence a menacing question mark. A new arrival appears unsure of whether to get out of the car. For a moment, it seems the Taliban may have come to protect the women but the illusion is quickly shattered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

WARD (voice-over): Someone from the Taliban has just come in telling everyone to put away their cameras, it's getting a little tense over there. A senior Talib rips a phone out of one woman's hands, these men shove journalists back. We try to keep filming but the Taliban don't want the world to see. WARD: They're ripping the women's posters.

"No, put it away. Put it away."

WARD (voice-over): A machine gun burst sends a clear message, the protest is over. Maunadin Nasser Talal (ph) tells us, he is the head of the Taliban's intelligence services in Kabul and that the women did not have permission to protest.

(on camera): Why does a small group of women asking for their right to be educated threaten you so much?

WARD (voice-over): "I respect women's rights, I respect human rights," he says. "If I didn't respect women you wouldn't be standing here."

Would you have given them permission if they had asked for one?

"Yes, of course," he says, "we would have."

But permissions are illusive and previous protests have met a similar fate. On the streets of Herhana (ph) neighborhood, the consequences of one recent demonstration can still be seen. At almost every beauty salon, images of women's faces have been defaced as if to erase them from public life completely. The women inside this salon are too scared to appear on camera.


(Speaking foreign language).

How are you?

WARD (voice-over): I asked them about the posters outside.

(on camera): Who did it?


WARD: The Taliban did it?


WARD (voice-over): "The Taliban came and drove away the protesters. Then they cursed us and said to remove the posters," they tell me.

"They told us to put on a burqa and sit in our homes."

But this city is full of brave women, like Arzo Khaliqyar, who refuse to do that. The activist and mother of five says she was forced to become a taxi driver when her husband was murdered one year ago, leaving behind his car but little else.

(on camera): Tell me a little bit about how life has changed for you since the Taliban took power?

ARZO KHALIGYAR, TAXI DRIVER (through translator): A lot of changes, too many. I'm sorry -- I'm sorry.

WARD: It's OK.


WARD: Take your time. It's OK.

KHALIGYAR: Since the Taliban regime has come to power, it has become very difficult.

WARD (voice-over): She offers to take us for a ride. It's another small act of courageous resistance. While the Taliban have not officially banned women from driving, she says she has received threats and that the militants hit her car two weeks ago as a warning.

(on camera): I see the men. They stare at you.


WARD: They look at you --


WARD (voice-over): It's not long before she picks up a fare. Usually she prefers to take women and stay in areas she's familiar with.

(on camera): Are you aware of the risks that you're taking when you go out every day and do your work?

KHALIGYAR: Yes, and some places where I see Taliban checkpoints, I'm forced to go through a street or change my route. But I accepted this risk for the sake of my children.

WARD (voice-over): On the other side of town, English teacher Atifa Watanyar is also working hard to give her students a better future.

ATIFA WATANYAR, TEACHER: Please open your books --

WARD (voice-over): The past year has not been easy. In May, a horrific bombing targeted the Syed Al-Shahada school where she teaches, taking more than 80 innocent lives.

(on camera): So you were here when the explosions happened?

WATANYAR: Yes, I was in front of the door.

WARD: You were in front of the door, did you see it with your own eyes?

WATANYAR: Yes, I saw a very huge explosion in front of the other door.

WARD (voice-over): Incredibly, the school reopened. But weeks later, the Taliban swept to power and announced that, for the time being, from 6th through 12th grade, only boys should come to school.

WARD: It's just very striking that a bomb was not able to stop these girls coming to school --


WARD: But now, the Taliban has been able to stop them from coming to school.

WATANYAR: Yes, it's true. Every day I see Taliban in the streets I become -- I'd be afraid.

WARD: But you're still coming here every day, you're still teaching?

WATANYAR: Yes, what should we do?

What should we do?

It's just the thing that we can do for our children, for our daughters, for our girls.

WARD (voice-over): In the 5th grade classroom, the girls are excited to test their English skills.



WARD (on camera): I want you to raise your hand if you love school.


Everybody loves school.

WARD (voice-over): This may well be the last year they get to come and study, yet they are still full of hope for the future.

WARD: Raise your hand to tell me what you want to be when you grow up.

What do you want to be?


WARD: Doctor, OK.

Who else wants to be a doctor?

Oh, wow. There are a lot of doctors.

WARD (voice-over): Sixteen-year-old Sanam (ph) used to have dreams, too. She wanted to be a dentist. The explosion at her school left her with serious injuries but she was brave enough to go back for the sake, she says, of her close friend who could not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I felt that I must go back and study for the peace of her soul. I must study and build my country so that I can make her wishes and dreams come true.

WARD (on camera): So right now you cannot go to school. How does that make you feel?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I feel all of my dreams are crushed and buried, for I won't be allowed to go to school and study. All my motivation is completely gone.

WARD: It's OK, take a minute. It's OK. If you want to stop, we can stop. It's OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): No, Taliban -- the Taliban are the people who -- they are the cause of the situation I am in right now. My spirit is gone. My dreams are buried.

WARD (voice-over): And yet recently, she has started to read her books again and study a little bit every day, just one more small act of great courage --


WARD (voice-over): -- Clarissa Ward, CNN, Kabul.


CURNOW: Thanks to Clarissa and her team for that very powerful report.

You're watching CNN. Just ahead, the terror of being gay in Ghana as the government considers passing a law many call homophobic. Violent anti-gay vigilantes are forcing some to live in hiding.

Also we go inside the potential toxic effect Instagram is having on teenage girls. All that and more coming up.




CURNOW: In Ghana, some gay people and activists are in hiding after they were targeted for attacks. They also fear a proposed law, which would make being gay illegal and that would be a green light for prison sentences and violence. David McKenzie has this exclusive report. We must warn you, some of this video is disturbing.





How are you doing?

MCKENZIE (voice-over): We're heading to a safe house in Accra --

MCKENZIE: We're probably about 15 minutes from your live location now.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): -- run by gay activists.


MCKENZIE: Can we carry in the cameras or do we need to keep the cameras in boxes?

"JOE": I think let's go into the boxes.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): We're meeting "Joe." We agreed to hide his identity, because he's afraid of being attacked again.

MCKENZIE: Take me back to that moment when those men came and started harassing you.

"JOE": I was shaken when they took me to that room and they said they had cameras. And I was crying.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): His crime, the Ghana man said, approaching another man.

"Is it true that you told him that you like him?" they asked.

"Yes," he whispers.

"JOE": Like, how can this happen to me?

They beat me.

How am I to living, all these times they beat me?

I wanted to kill myself. For me, when I saw this video, I was like, it would be better I kill myself, because I have nowhere to go.

MCKENZIE: And your dad threw you out.

"JOE": Yes.

MCKENZIE: And what was that moment like?

"JOE": I cried like never before.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Captured in videos too graphic to show and shared on social media, part of a pattern of brutal verbal and physical attacks by vigilantes to humiliate LGBTQ Ghanaians. Soon, the community fears, they could be targeted by the state.

MCKENZIE: What is your message to someone who is LGBT in Ghana right now?

EMMANUEL BEDZRAH, GHANAIAN MP: Well, we love them. We always say we love them. MCKENZIE: But you want to send them to prison.

BEDZRAH: No, we are asking them not to do it.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): A draft law to be debated in weeks coerces LGBTQ Ghanaians to choose between jail time and so-called conversion therapy, seen by U.N. experts as torture.

It prosecutes same-sex displays of affection.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): Even punishes activists supporting the community. Activists call it a homophobe's dream.

MCKENZIE: Today in 2021, you believe that someone who supports or openly the LGBT community should potentially go to prison for 10 years?

BEDZRAH: Of course.


BEDZRAH: Because it's against our culture. It's against our norms. It's against our tradition. And we don't want things that are against our sensibility to be, you know, given priority in our society.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Tragically, THE LGBTQ community here says that tolerance was slowly improving in Ghana.

GREGORY ANDREWS, AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER: And I know that African cultures are cultures of tolerance, diversity, acceptance and participation.

MCKENZIE: When they opened a support center in January, it rallied conservative lawmakers, who said that being gay is un-African, a western import. Backed by powerful religious groups, the leadership of the million strong Pentecostal church, say LGBTQ organizations are a national security threat. We

MCKENZIE: Are you struggling a little bit to get hold of someone?

MCKENZIE (voice-over): But they refused to speak to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We talk to our leadership.

MCKENZIE: To the leadership?

MCKENZIE (voice-over): And the security stopped us from filming.

MCKENZIE: We're just trying to speak to some people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not allowed.

MCKENZIE: It's not allowed.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): The religious support for the bill here is absolute.

MCKENZIE: It's one thing promoting the values of the church. It's another thing to prosecute those who are identifying like this.

So why take that extra step?

ARCHBISHOP PHILIP NAAMEH, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC BISHOPS COUNCIL, GHANA: It is not the values of the church. It is the values of the human species. The human being is created to be in a family and to propagate itself. It's not just the church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the same Bible told people to love their neighbor as ourself (sic), why would you want to torture your own neighbor? Why would you want to torture your child?

MCKENZIE (voice-over): This prominent gay activist has already gone underground. The draft bill calls on all Ghanaians to hand in their LGBTQ neighbors for prosecution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are waiting for the bill to pass so that they can actually beat you up, they can do whatever they want with you.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): The limited space Ghanaians like "Joe" had just to be themselves could soon vanish. And they'll need to move further into the shadows.

MCKENZIE: What is your message to those politicians?

"JOE": We are all human beings. They are sons and they're daughters, can be like you and me. My answer to them is, they should put a stop to it.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): David McKenzie, CNN, Accra, Ghana.


CURNOW: Facebook is back in the spotlight this week. Whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before a Senate subcommittee about internal research showing that the company was aware of various problems caused by its apps, including Instagram's potential toxic effect on teen girls.

Now two young women, on opposite sides of the world, know that toxic effect all too well. They say content on Instagram let them down a path of extreme eating, dieting, depression and eating disorders when they were teenagers. Sara Sidner reports -- and we must warn you, some of the images you're about to see are disturbing.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We spoke with two young women who live almost on opposite ends of the world but they had very similar stories about their experience as teenagers with Instagram. Both say it led them down the path to an eating disorder.


SIDNER (voice-over): This is Ashlee Thomas at 14 years old, having a complete meltdown because her parents are demanding she eat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on Ash, just open your mouth and swallow it.

SIDNER (voice-over): Thomas was in the grip of anorexia starving herself.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the last one.

THOMAS: I got to the stage where I remember sitting down and my dad holding my jaw open and my mom's syringing food into my mouth because I just refuse to eat.

SIDNER (on-camera): How bad this good for you and your family?

THOMAS: When I was admitted into hospital the doctor said to me we don't understand why you're here. You should be dead. And actually in hospital I -- my heart failed twice.

SIDNER (voice-over): Thomas says her journey with anorexia as a teen began with consuming content on Instagram about clean eating and what she thought were perfect bodies.

THOMAS: When I saw these influences that had all the likes and had all the followers. I want to get a taste of that, I wanted to be liked and loved.

SIDNER (on-camera): Would you say you were addicted to Instagram?

THOMAS: Yes. I was very addicted.

SIDNER (voice-over): Thousand of miles from Thomas' home in Australia --

ANASTASIA VLASOVA, EATING DISORDER SURVIVOR: I was most definitely addicted to Instagram.

SIDNER (voice-over): -- Anastasia Vlasova was also spiraling out of control in the United States, clean eating captured her attention, too.


VLASOVA: I was just bombarded with all of these messages of you have to exercise every single day or you have to do these types of exercises or you have to go on this type of diet.

SIDNER (voice-over): The more she saw, the more anxiety and depression she felt but she couldn't stop. She says that led to her cycles of binge eating.

FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: Facebook likes to present things as false choices.

SIDNER (voice-over): Their stories illustrate what former Facebook employee turned whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress.

HAUGEN: I believe Facebook's products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy.

SIDNER (voice-over): Haugen also submitted complaints to the Securities and Exchange Commission citing Facebook's own internal research, which found Facebook's platforms, which include Instagram, make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls; 13.5 percent of teen girls on Instagram say the platform makes thoughts of suicide and self injury worse.

And 17 percent of teenage girls say Instagram makes eating issues such as anorexia and bulimia worse.

In a statement to CNN, Facebook disputed the interpretation of the study and said the percentages are actually much lower.

HAUGEN: The company's leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer but won't make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people. Congressional action is needed.

MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: Remove content that could lead to imminent real world harm.

SIDNER (voice-over): Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to Haugen's testimony in a post to his employees posting in part, we care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health.

Many of the claims don't make any sense. If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place?

Facebook has also said it welcomes regulation. But those who know the inner workings of the tech world say that won't save teens.

TRISTAN HARRIS, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR HUMANE TECHNOLOGY: Because their business model is putting kids into these kinds of loops of engagement. And that's what I'm really worried about is that if -- there isn't some quick fix to this thing, it's the intrinsic nature of the product.

SIDNER (voice-over): These two young women say simply put Instagram endangered their very lives as teenagers.

THOMAS: We shouldn't have to end up in hospital beds or we shouldn't have to be fed by the nasogastric tube or our parents have to say goodbye to also hand over their parental rights because your platform is encouraging us to starve ourselves. SIDNER: As for Ashley Thomas, who you saw there at 14, going through the throes of anorexia, she's now 20. And she has started an organization, called My Secret Burden. And she's back on Instagram but she's using it as a way to try and heal people who have had eating disorder issues or mental health issues.

As for Anastasia Vlasova, she's 18 years old and going to college. She says she decided she must delete her Instagram account for good. She's been off it and says she feels better and less anxious now.

She's also starting a podcast called "Brave Takes" and she is writing a children's book to try to help children deal with technology better -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.


CURNOW: Coming up on CNN, eruptions from the Canary Islands volcano are destroying even more homes. These extraordinary images, next. We speak to residents who say their livelihoods are gone.





CURNOW: Extraordinary images here. As this video shows, it is from the Canary Islands and it is detailing lava spewing from the volcano on La Palma. Its eruptions have destroyed more homes and more buildings.

Lava has been flowing since the first eruption over 3 weeks ago and continues to do so. But the airport is operating again after volcanic ash shut it down last week and we'll continue to monitor that.

The volcano has forced thousands of people to abandon their homes and not only are houses devastated but livelihoods have also gone up in flames. Kim Brunhuber with the details.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A view no property owner ever wants to see: a tree, catching fire, engulfed by a river of lava, steps away from a building. More than 1,000 structures, destroyed, since the volcano on La Palma began erupting, three weeks ago, according to E.U. Commission authorities.

It is incinerating the land, sparking fires and forcing families to leave their homes, abandoned neighborhoods have been turned into infernos and the lava just keeps coming.

This man says he felt powerless to stop it as it burned through the land passed down to him from his parents. JOSE ROBERTO SANCHEZ, LA PALMA RESIDENT (through translator): Here,

we are suffering many things. This is the inheritance you get and lose. This is what it is, noise, dust and a volcano that does not stop.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Another woman, saying her family winery and home, built over the past 50 years, is also at risk.

CLARA MARIA, LA PALMA RESIDENT (through translator): The lava is, really close. I have hope and faith that it will be saved.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Spain's military, saying it's closely monitoring the lava flow as it encroaches on residential areas. About 6,000 people have been evacuated. Authorities in La Palma are urging residents to stay calm.

Lightning flashes as the volcano continues to flare, a spectacle and a warning of how powerful and unpredictable nature can be -- Kim Brunhuber, CNN.


CURNOW: In Brazil, unusually powerful sandstorms have killed at least 6 people, in recent days. Since the end of September there's been at least 3, scenes like this one. Terrifying orange dust clouds. Rumbling across urban and rural areas, packing extremely high winds.

Officials say, a lack of rain, high temperatures and low humidity, are driving the size of these storms. But add that they can't be separated from climate change.

You've been watching CNN. Thank you so much for joining me, I am Robyn Curnow. Up next, our special look at Expo 2020 is next.