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Polls Open In Iraqi PM And Parliamentary Election; Taiwan Defiant As China Calls For "Peaceful" Reunification; Merkel In The Middle East; Brazil's COVID-19 Death Toll Passes 600,000; Plane Evacuated At New York's LaGuardia Airport; Austrian Chancellor Resigns Amid Corruption Scandal; Massive Sandstorms Leave Six Dead In Brazil; China's President Vows To Halt New Coal Projects Abroad; Afghan Refugees Start Over In America; Social Media's Negative Impact On Teens. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired October 10, 2021 - 03:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers here in the United States and right around the world. I'm Paula Newton.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, missiles and the military making statements in Taiwan. Celebrating national day while refusing to bow to China.

Also, the politics of climate change ahead of the COP26.

Can the world's largest carbon polluters show the way to a greener future?

Plus --


ABID JAWAD, REFUGEE: Every day I feel like I'm starting a new life.

NEWTON (voice-over): So they're out of Afghanistan. Now how refugee families are adjusting to their new life in America.



NEWTON: Taiwan put its military on full display Sunday in an extraordinary show of defiance toward Beijing. A parade marking the anniversary of the Chinese revolution allowed Taiwan to showcase some of the island's most advanced and sophisticated weapons.

And there was nothing subtle about the message. Just the day before, Chinese president Xi Jinping had infuriated Taipei when he again called for Taiwan's peaceful reunification with the mainland. CNN's Will Ripley was at the national day parade and has more from Taipei.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This may not match the massive scale of military parades in Mainland China but, for Taiwan, it is an extraordinary sight, four kinds of domestically produced missiles rolling through the capital in front of Taiwan's presidential palace, an ominous sign of escalating regional tensions.

Taiwan's military has never played a more prominent role in recent history as it has this year. While the overall atmosphere is festive, the island, is increasingly, concerned about the behavior of Mainland China.

Provocative behavior, more than 100 planes entering Taiwan's self- declared Air Defense Identification Zone this month. With those aerial incursions, come new propaganda videos from the Taiwanese air force, vowing to defend their national sovereignty.

And the weapons they used to plan to defend their sovereignty on display here. Taiwan is vowing to up its national spending on defense by billions of dollars. In 2020, alone, saying that they bought $5 billion of weapons from the United States, including F-16 fighters and Patriot missiles.

They're also developing their own weapons on the island, increasingly, calling on the support of the United States and other democratic regional allies, to come to Taiwan's defense.

Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, speaking in front of the presidential palace, laying out the situation, as a fight for the future not just of Taiwan but the world.


TSAI (through translator): At this moment, free and democratic countries have been alerted to the expansion of authoritarianism. And Taiwan is on the forefront of the defense line of fellow democracies.


RIPLEY: Defending that future, coming at a cost, Taiwan, having to up its military spending, even as they struggle to get a volunteer military force, after phasing out most mandatory conscription on the island.

Wil these weapons and the help of the United States be enough to defend against the threat from an increasingly assertive Mainland China?

As President Xi Jinping vows to, in his, words reunify the mainland with Taiwan. Beijing has long claimed the self governing island as its own territory, for almost 70 years, since the end of China's civil war. Taiwan points out, they've never been ruled by the Communist Party of China and, say they plan to keep it that way, putting their military on full display here -- Will Ripley, CNN, Taiwan.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NEWTON: To Iraq now, where a possible low turnout and calls for boycotts threaten to undermine the country's general election. Voting to decide the next parliament and prime minister has been underway for about three hours.

But ethnic and religious fault lines still divide Iraqi politics. And corruption, unemployment and Iran's influence, of course, remain major issues. For the latest, CNN's Sam Kiley is tracking the election from Abu Dhabi.

Of course, we discuss it all the time; those religious and political divisions certainly have their role to play in this election.

In terms of the Iraqis themselves, though, there is a huge dose of skepticism and even contempt for the way this election's being handled now, why?


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a sad irony in many ways that, back in 2016 -- 2019, rather, when the protests against the corruption, Iranian influence and unemployment you mentioned in the introduction reached an absolute peak.

Over the course of several months, some 600 demonstrators at least being killed during those protests, many others being simply disappeared right across the country. That heralded a response from the central government.

First of all, the collapse of the previous government, then the government of prime minister -- a new prime minister came in, declaring earlier elections than were anticipated.

And now those elections are being conducted, all the predictions are the turnout's going to be very low because of the level of contempt, as you point out, that there is for the political system, the very political system people are wanting to change.

They're now not participating in any significant numbers to change it. So most of the expert predictions at the moment is that the old dispensation is going to be largely repeated in a new form, notwithstanding the fact that there's 3,200 candidates in this election.

It's been designed in some ways to try to give a greater voice to more independent politicians, politicians stepping forward, as a consequence of those protests that peaked in 2019.

But the turnout means that the representation of those very independent voices will be limited. There is some predictions that Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of one of the major Shiite factions that is opposed to Iran, might do best of the lot.

But he's up against others, other Shiite blocs with their own militias, that are very, very close to Iran; then of course, because of the sectarian nature of Iraqi politics, Sunnis and Kurds who are similarly divided.

So the predictions are for a messy outcome to this election and none of the sort of reform energy, reformist energy, that those protesters were demanding and that this early election is supposed to deliver -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yes, since you use the term, there's complicated, then there's Iraqi politics. I know you'll continue to follow it for us, Sam, appreciate it.

German chancellor Angela Merkel is in Jerusalem meeting with Israeli officials as her tenure winds down. She has a full day ahead, including a planned trip to the Holocaust Museum. For the latest, Hadas gold is in Jerusalem.

She could have stayed in Germany to sit out her days; she chose to go to Israel.

Why is this important?

HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It goes to show you the importance of the relationship between Germany and Israel, especially under Angela Merkel. As you noted, this visit was actually scheduled to take place in August.

But it was canceled at the last moment because of the situation in Afghanistan, rescheduled for today. To give you the idea of the importance of this visit, even though it's a farewell tour, the new Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, is essentially accompanying Angela Merkel all day.

He's cleared his schedule and will accompany her, including to meetings with the Israeli cabinet. She's met with prime minister Bennett. He tweeted a photo of the two of them together saying, "Welcome to Israel, dear friend."

She will visit the Holocaust Memorial and museum, which she has done on all of her visits. She will, as a physicist, receive an honorary doctorate from the Haifa University of Israel, Teknion Institute of Technology.

Germany and Israel have long had a strong relationship. Obviously there is a historical basis and sensitivity in Germany toward Israel because of the Holocaust. But that relationship is being seen as having strengthened under Angela Merkel.

This is her seventh visit to Israel, the first German chancellor to speak at the Knesset and proclaimed on the world stage that Israel national security was a top priority for German foreign policy.

During her tenure Germany outlawed symbols, for example, of the militant group Hamas and invested a lot to combat anti-Semitism. That doesn't mean she never criticized Israel, especially when it came with the relationships with the Palestinians.

She was known to have butted heads with the former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, especially as he sidled up to right-wing leaders in the union. A priority of her meetings will be a return to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal. Germany was a signatory to that deal.

Israel has long opposed the Iranian nuclear deal and a return to the deal. Although the Israeli leadership's tone has softened in recent weeks, now the Israeli leadership are looking for some sort of alternative in case diplomacy fails.

Although this is a farewell visit for Merkel, many Israelis are hoping it's not going to be a farewell to the strong relationship between Germany and Israel.


GOLD: Both Israelis and Palestinians are now eyeing who will succeed Angela Merkel, especially if that person comes from a more left- leaning political stance and how that will affect Germany's stance in the region.

NEWTON: There has been a lot of pressure on that left hand of German politics to perhaps be a little more strident with Israel and its policies. Hadas Gold will continue to follow the story, appreciate it.

The man known as the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program has died. State news reports that Abdul Qadeer Khan passed away after being taken to hospital. The atomic scientist was hailed a hero in his native Pakistan but seen as a dangerous threat by the West for providing material to nations wanting to make their own nuclear weapons. Khan was 85.

We want to bring in Sophia Saifi from our bureau in Islamabad.

Sophia, it is really a momentous death here for Pakistan. Certainly he had been ill. But this will really be Pakistan coming to terms with what this man meant, really, to its history and really its existence.

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Paula, the tributes have already started pouring in. I mean, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan is seen as one of the few figures in this country to actually unite Pakistanis.

You've got people from all ends of the political spectrum, from the prime minister to the leader of the opposition, praising A.Q. Khan for strengthening Pakistan's defenses, for ensuring Pakistan became a nuclear state in the late '90s.

You have to understand how important Pakistan's own understanding of itself comes from being a nuclear state because of neighboring India, its much-reviled neighbor, that was heading toward becoming a nuclear state late in the '90s.

In 1998, Pakistan became a nuclear state and that was because, according to many Pakistanis, according to the efforts of Dr. A.Q. Khan. He has a complicated legacy internationally because, back in 2009, 2004, the U.S. State Department had accused him of heading a vast proliferation network, assisting North Korea, Libya, as well as Iran, for getting nuclear assistance. This had marred Pakistan's reputation as being not a very reliable

nuclear country. However, you know, with the fact that he had been under house arrest, then even after being taken out of house arrest, he was under surveillance by Pakistani security agencies for his own security as well as fears he might share Pakistan's nuclear secrets.

And he's expected to get a state funeral today in Pakistan, so he leaves behind a complicated legacy internationally but is very revered here in Pakistan.

NEWTON: Sophia, thanks so much, I appreciate you following developments for us there.

U.S. health experts are cautiously optimistic that the country may be turning a corner on the pandemic. Here's a look at the latest numbers.

The U.S. is now averaging less than 100,000 new cases a day. That's very good, some of the lowest numbers we've seen in weeks. We're also seeing fewer people hospitalized for COVID-19.

Since September the number of COVID patients in U.S. hospitals has dropped more than 30 percent. COVID deaths have also been trending downward, though the U.S. is still averaging more than 1,600 deaths a day.

And a potential game changer for many parents of young children. FDA advisers meet later this month to discuss emergency use authorization for a vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds.

Experts warn there are signs the U.S. isn't out of the crisis just yet; 15 states still haven't vaccinated half their residents. On Saturday, the National Institutes of Health director blamed vaccine hesitancy and misinformation.


DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Lots of reasons for that much of it is this disinformation that is so widely spread on the Internet and which has I think caused a lot of people to be confused or fearful about what the vaccinations might do to them.

And that is truly heartbreaking when we see still more than 1,000 people losing their lives to this disease, almost all of those unvaccinated and, therefore, didn't have to happen.


NEWTON: In Brazil, it has now passed a grim milestone, with more than 600,000 people dead from COVID-19. It's only the second country to pass that threshold after the United States. Brazil's president has been heavily criticized for his handling of the pandemic. He has repeatedly downplayed the dangers and has openly refused to get vaccinated.


NEWTON: Only about 45 percent of Brazilians have been fully vaccinated.

Protests against a COVID health pass system in Italy, turning violent on Saturday, as police used tear gas and water cannon to push back hundreds of demonstrators in Rome. The protests comes as 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.


NEWTON (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.

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


NEWTON: Still to come here on CNN, why passengers were forced to evacuate their plane after a security incident at New York's LaGuardia Airport.




NEWTON: An airline passenger taken into custody after a security incident forced a plane to make an emergency landing at New York's LaGuardia Airport on Saturday.


NEWTON: CNN's Polo Sandoval picks it up from there.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The plane was wheels down safely yesterday afternoon at about its scheduled arrival time. But the landing was anything but routine.

Dramatic images captured by passengers after American Flight 4817 landed safely in New York LaGuardia yesterday afternoon. It was flying from Indianapolis here to New York City when, toward the tail end of the flight, according to investigators, several people aboard that flight reported one of their fellow passengers was acting strangely.

Erratic is the way they described it, at one point some even reached for their luggage. The crew relayed that information down to first responders on the ground, that scrambled into action, waiting for that safe landing of that airplane.

It was not long after it landed that the pilots then moved the aircraft from the active runway onto the taxiway. And that's when that emergency evacuation took place. The goal there was for first responders to board the aircraft and make sure there was no immediate threat.

As we see some of these pretty dramatic images, it's important to remember it's unclear as to whether or not that person that is seen in that video, being held down by authorities, is that passenger in question.

We also haven't been told if there have been any criminal charges filed in connection to this. What we do know is 76 passengers and six crew members are safe this morning as this investigation gets underway.

It's important to point out this is also happening just days after the Federal Aviation Administration released brand-new numbers of incidents involving unruly passengers, now over 4,600 this year to date. And that is, according to authorities, the highest weekly increase in 2.5 months.

The issue of unruly passengers has been something that's been heavy on the mind of U.S. authorities that have been trying to obviously cut down on that. But in terms of this latest incident on Saturday afternoon, the investigation is just getting started -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.


NEWTON: Austria's conservative chancellor resigned Saturday under a cloud of suspicion surrounding a corruption scandal. Sebastian Kurz stepped down just a few days 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 next week. Salma Abdelaziz is following the story from London.

I guess he decided to go before he was actually pushed. Having said that, this lays the groundwork for a bit of a change in Austrian politics at the moment.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. The allegations first: Saturday evening, prosecutors raiding the office of Chancellor Kurz. He is under investigation, along with nine other officials linked to his party.

And the allegation here is that public funds were used to obtain a favorable poll for Kurz and to get favorable coverage. This is the second time Mr. Kurz has been forced out before the end of his tenure and the second time his exit has been linked to allegations of corruption.

So very serious concerns there about his ability to lead. Already, as you said, movements to make a vote of no confidence against him, the coalition he is in, with the Green Party in Austria, the Green Party expressing he's no longer fit to lead. Chancellor Kurz, now he's stepped down but he has proposed that the

foreign minister take his position for the time being. We'll see if that takes place.

But this has larger implications beyond Austria. And I'll tell you why. Kurz is a very young, charismatic, conservative figure at a time that conservative parties across Europe are struggling to get votes, especially among young people.

At age 31, in 2017, Kurz was one of the youngest democratically elected leaders in the world. He's seen as bringing a fresh face to conservatism. I'm going to point to Germany in particular.

The Christian Democratic Union, the party of Angela Merkel, I was in Berlin when they lost in the polls, a stunning defeat. And the concern for that party and other conservative center-right parties is that young people are leaning toward more progressive parties, more green parties.

So Chancellor Kurz was seen as someone who could really bring this conservative movement forward to the future.

That puts all of this in question, of course, and it asks, what is the future of Austria?

Also, at large, what is the future of conservative parties across Europe if they can't continue to galvanize young people and continue to meet the agendas of green demands across Europe, the demands of the climate crisis and more progressive agendas wanted by young people?

NEWTON: Important perspectives. You covered the elections in Germany and I guess, if you look at Austria as a larger context, a lot of implications on what will be, I'm sure, a complicated coalition going forward.


NEWTON: Salma Abdelaziz, thanks so much.

Opposition groups in the Czech Republic appear to have eked out a razor-thin victory in parliamentary elections.


NEWTON (voice-over): Cheering there in Prague as the center right coalition narrowly won a majority in Saturday's vote. The leaders of the opposition groups are pledging to work together to try and form a new government.

PETR FIALA, SPCLU COALITION LEADER (through translator): Ladies and gentlemen, friends, the democratic coalitions have a majority in the lower house. Now we have a chance to create a majority government. That is the change. We are the change. You are the change.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NEWTON: A key point here, if they succeed, it will end the prime minister's grip on power, even though his populist party won more votes than any single party.

Power shortages putting pressure on Beijing. What China is doing to boost output and why it could threaten efforts to address the climate crisis.




NEWTON: In Brazil, unusually powerful sandstorms have led to the deaths of at least six people in recent days. Since the end of September, there have been at least three scenes like this one.


NEWTON (voice-over): That's just incredible, terrifying orange dust clouds, rumbling across urban and rural areas, packing extremely high winds.



NEWTON: Officials say hot, dry weather is making the storms worse, of course, but add, they can't be separated from climate change. Activists are speaking out as Brazil sees its worst drought in nearly a century.


PAMELA GOPI, GREENPEACE CLIMATE AND JUSTICE SPOKESPERSON (through translator): Today, the water crisis in Brazil is giving us a sign, a warning sign, that is important for us to be able to act and demand concrete actions from government, to regulate our country's climate issue.

Today, to speak of a water crisis is to speak of the largest tropical forest in the world, the Amazon forest, which is, mostly and Brazilian territory and which, today, has alarming levels of deforestation, fire seasons and fires caused by human actions.


NEWTON: In Lebanon, most of the country without power. The two major generating stations shut down because of a fuel crisis. Lebanon's state-run news is reporting that residents blocked roads in several areas to protest. They say electricity will return gradually in the coming hours.

China is finding it hard to balance its need for electricity with its growing efforts to combat climate change. The country has ordered dozens of coal mines to boost production as residents and businesses face ongoing power shortages.

In some places the government has been forced to ration energy during peak hours. CNN's Selina Wang has more.


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.


NEWTON: China's increase in coal production is sure to harm Xi Jinping's goal of a carbon-neutral nation by 2060.

Thom Woodroofe is a former climate diplomat and a fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute and joins us now from Oslo.

To make a fine point of this, the International Energy Agency has made clear that China will remain the world's largest carbon polluter for decades to come but that it can, it has the opportunity to move to a clean energy infrastructure. Do you think that's what President Xi has in mind, especially given

what we saw in Selina's report?

THOM WOODROOFE, FELLOW, ASIA SOCIETY POLICY INSTITUTE: I mean, look, China's absolutely the world's largest emitter. They hold the keys in many ways to our global future and will for -- what China does in the next few decades will therefore absolutely matter for the rest of the world.

What's really significant, though, is the carbon neutrality commitment that your reporter just mentioned there for 2060. Until that was announced last year, China is the world's largest emitter, soon to be the world's largest economy, didn't have a timeline to decarbonize their economy as increasingly the rest of the world does.

Now that's in place. It's all about how does China actually get there. And do they get there soon enough, such that we can stay within the global carbon budget that's required, in order to stay within the temperature limits established by the Paris agreement six years ago.

NEWTON: You know, the negotiations around all this, of course, is something that's been on the table, whether explicit or not, for decades.


NEWTON: The fact that China and the United States continue to get caught up in the point that, look, China keeps pushing back and saying, we'll go at our own pace, thank you very much.

The United States, going back to the table again and again at these COP meetings and saying, China, you have to do more.

Where do you think we are in all of this and do you think China still has more to bring to the table here?

WOODROOFE: Absolutely, I mean, every country has to do more.


NEWTON: Right but I mean, their willingness to bring more because there's been a lot of speculation as to whether or not Xi will still come out with another grand gesture that he will stick to for the climate meeting in November, even though we should point out he's not attending.

WOODROOFE: Well, let's get a couple of things right. So first of all, even by Xi's own commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2060, China has to do more. They are not on a pathway to reach carbon neutrality by 2060.

So the durability of that commitment, of Xi Jinping's personal commitment, is increasingly on the line if that is not matched with short-term action. That is principally what the world is looking for, including the United States, from China, to deliver by COP26, is additional action this decade and at home in order to reduce emissions.

So things in recent weeks like their pledge to stop building coal- fired power plants overseas, the belt and road initiative, is welcome. But all eyes are very much on what China can do this decade.

You're right, there's a expectation, in fact, even potentially in the next few days, that China will formally deposit what's called their nationally determined contribution, their revised target under the Paris agreement.

Whether that sort of measurably increases what they committed to six years ago or whether it sort of budges a little bit of what those commitments were and improves them in some smaller ways remains to be seen.

But there is absolutely a hope, whether it's done there or elsewhere, that China will take much greater additional steps in the short term. The biggest signal people are looking for is a commitment that China will peak their domestic emissions around 2025.

At the moment, they're committed to do that around 2030. That would be much more consistent with a carbon neutrality by 2060 pathway.

That said, you know, there are expectations also on the United States. The United States has come out with a groundbreaking commitment to reduce emissions by about half by 2030. That's absolutely seismic.

From Beijing's perspective, they are looking for signals around the durability of that commitment, including given the recent administration in the U.S. So they would be hopeful, for example, to see signals around how that is being involved in domestic legislation, ongoing short-term steps toward doing that, as well as financial interests in the United States, which goes into the thrust within the international negotiations process that developing countries, understand that developed countries are there to help them through that transition.

NEWTON: Do you think, though, that materially -- and I don't have a lot of time but I'm wondering how you've parsed everything, especially since in September, when Xi said, as you pointed out, they would no longer be building coal plants in other countries.

Do you sense that shift ahead of this climate meeting?

WOODROOFE: I think for China, the risk for them, frankly, is being painted as a villain at COP26. And as a result, they therefore need to bring something more to the table.

You're right in saying Xi Jinping won't attend. Frankly, I wouldn't read too much into that. China will absolutely be there. He'll speak virtually. And either way the world's attention will be on what China delivers, probably more than any other country, around the world.

I think the essence of your question or the essence of the suggestion of your question is correct, that we are yet to see what have been some very groundbreaking announcements to really translate into action in China in what is really the critical decade.

There are a number of policy instruments coming down the pipeline domestically, which hopefully will speak more to that transition. But there is going to have to be, you know, a very large line in the sand drawn at some point, particularly with respect to the domestic use of coal.

And obviously, yes, we saw a shift in the international support for coal and a similar shift at home; for example, a moratorium on building any new coal-fired power stations would be something that is so significant that I think would give the international community faith that China is absolutely heading in the right direction.

NEWTON: Right. We're going to have to leave it there. But you've teed up a lot of things for us to think about and cover in the coming weeks before that all-important climate meeting. Thom Woodroofe, thanks so much, appreciate it.

WOODROOFE: No worries, thank you.

NEWTON: Thousands of Afghan refugees are beginning their new life in the U.S. after fleeing violence and instability in their homeland.


NEWTON: Ahead on CNN, hear one family's experience as they make their transition to America.




NEWTON: Thousands of Afghan evacuees are once again leaving Germany, bound for the United States. This flight departed Saturday, carrying a few hundred evacuees to Philadelphia.

The flights were paused for weeks due to confirmed measles cases among evacuees who had already reached the United States. Officials say approximately 1,000 evacuees will be flying out on a daily basis until all 9,000 remaining at Ramstad arrive in the United States.

So what has it been for Afghans who have already escaped to the United States?

CNN's Pamela Brown spoke with one family adjusting to their new life.


A. JAWAD: Every day, I feel like I'm starting a new life.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Jawad family arrived in the United States in August after fleeing Afghanistan on a special immigrant visa.

What was that like when you set foot in the U.S.?

SOORA JAWAD, REFUGEE: Fresh, the first word that comes in mind. All this greenery and stuff out there fresh, wonderful.

BROWN: The Jawads were initially on their own when they arrived, living in a bare-bones basement apartment, sleeping on the floor and surviving off just enough saved up money for food as they awaited housing help from one of the nine resettlement organizations receiving funds from the U.S. government.

S. JAWAD: We have to start everything from zero.

BROWN: But they at least felt safe, unlike their final weeks in Afghanistan, when the Taliban was rapidly taking over.

Abid Jawad says he worked alongside a U.S. defense company and knew his family could be targeted.

S. JAWAD: Our daughter was our concern, was our priority. That's what made us move out. I couldn't just make myself eat. I was like so stressed. Since the day we stepped in this country, I don't see myself to stop eating.


BROWN (voice-over): The Jawads are among an estimated 60,000 Afghans resettling in the U.S. after our rapid and chaotic withdrawal from the 20-year war in Afghanistan.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: So many of them have gone through a tremendous amount for us that we consider it not only our obligation but quite frankly a privilege to dedicate resources for them in return.

BROWN: But the unprecedented relocation efforts have come with challenges, like finding affordable housing and airtight vetting and security procedures for people entering the United States.

MAYORKAS: We take their fingerprints, we get their biographical information, we take their photographs.

BROWN: Do you know of any instances where someone didn't pass the screening and they couldn't come through?

MAYORKAS: Oh, yes, we have. And quite frankly, if we learn of information at any point in time, remember, we have our enforcement authorities as well that we could bring to bear and have brought to bear.

BROWN: In September, a measles outbreak among Afghan refugees halted evacuations for a few weeks. But resettlement efforts have resumed after the CDC make new vaccine and quarantine requirements against infectious diseases including COVID-19. Where refugees initially end up in the U.S. depends on their status. MAYORKAS: If in fact they are U.S. citizens and they're U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents or visa holders, they are actually able to resettle directly into the United States. But if they are not, then they go to one of eight military facilities where a tremendous amount of resources are dedicated to their wellbeing.

BROWN: The U.S. government accommodations for Afghans have raised questions about why the same isn't being done for migrants arriving at the southern border and record numbers.

But the U.S. government was able to set up the system so quickly for Afghans, why not set it up so quickly for those that are in need coming to the southern border?

MAYORKAS: Remember, we are working with countries to the South that are dealing with a border management challenges themselves, resource constraints and like, so the challenges are very different here than they are with respect to the Afghan nationals.

BROWN: The Jawads are now living in a one-bedroom apartment in Virginia they found through one of the resettlement organizations.

But Miry Whitehill, founder of Miry's List, a group that helps incoming refugees, says housing alone is not enough to make refugee families feel at home in the U.S.

MIRY WHITEHILL, FOUNDER, MIRY'S LIST: Imagine, you are coming to a new country being dropped off, we can intervene to make sure that the arrival is a completion to the refugee experience and the beginning of a resettlement experience. These are our newest Americans. We have a tremendous opportunity to show up for them.

S. JAWAD: It's handmade by someone who doesn't even know us.

BROWN: The Jawad family says Miry's List gave them comfort items, like this handmade blanket and toys for their daughter and comfortable beds to sleep in.

S. JAWAD: I said, OK, we need beds.

And then she said, what type of beds?

And that was surprising for me.

I was like, OK, I get to choose what type of bed?

BROWN: Soora and Abid will be on their own paying for rent after two months and are both looking for work, Abid as an accountant and Soora potentially finishing her pursuit of becoming a heart surgeon.

S. JAWAD: I did my MD and I was halfway to become a heart surgeon and I was in third year of my residency. It's a five years program but I had to leave. I hope I can do something to be useful to the society.

BROWN: The Department of Homeland Security says it is working to match skills from eligible Afghans with job opportunities in the U.S. And there are many ways that you can help. Miry says the easiest way

is a handwritten note welcoming a family here. You can go to, click on "list," find a family to help directly. Visit for more ways to assist -- Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.


NEWTON: Social media platforms are under scrutiny. How apps like Instagram could be having a negative effect on teenagers.





NEWTON: So Facebook and its platforms, including Instagram, have been under intense scrutiny this week. Whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before a Senate subcommittee, opening the discussion into the negative impact the social media apps can have on teenagers. Clare Sebastian now has more.


FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: It's just like cigarettes. Teenagers don't have good self-regulation.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Whistleblower Frances Haugen says she saw how Instagram's algorithm can lead the teenage brain down a negative spiral.

HAUGEN: They say explicitly, I feel bad when I use Instagram and, yet, I can't stop.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Experts say they've been seeing this for years.

DR. PAUL WEIGLE, ADOLESCENT AND CHILD PSYCHIATRIST: You could hit something really exciting or you could connect with someone in a really positive way that feels great. These things don't happen often.

But they could happen at any moment. And this is not unlike a gambler, who is playing a slot machine, just playing it over and over because you never know when that next hole is going to hit a jackpot.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Studies have shown the part of the brain that controls decision-making and judgment is still developing in teenagers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to understand the science of teens' emotional life.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Doctor and filmmaker Delaney Ruston says that can make it harder for them to stop doing something, even if it is upsetting.

DR. DELANEY RUSTON, PHYSICIAN AND FILMMAKER: They'll have micro emotions that are positive, like get attention, and micro emotions that are negative. Ooh, I feel jealous of that person. The real concern that we have as a society is that the teen brain is primed to more likely get absorbed by that negative feeling.

SEBASTIAN: It's not just the type of content that affect the teenage brain; it's the amount of time spent just sitting and scrolling.


WEIGLE: Remember that adolescence is a time when the brain is not finished developing. It is not actually growing, it's actually but it is becoming more efficient.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Dr. Paul Weigle says if social media starts to displace other activities, that could leave a permanent mark.

WEIGLE: If a young person isn't engaging in certain activities sufficiently, whether they be, for example, social activities or developing musical talent or reading, these parts of the brain are -- tend to wither and are destroyed, so that they can never really be regained.

HAUGEN: They say just take your kid's phone away. And the reality is, those issues are a lot more complicated than that.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Quitting social media in a digital world is not always realistic. Experts say there's a middle ground.

WEIGLE: I think that social media companies could very realistically put safeguards in place that encourage people to take breaks from social media.

RUSTON: Teens tell me over and over that they feel better when they have significant bouts of time off social media.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.


NEWTON: A Facebook spokesperson hit back on the whistleblower's testimony, saying, quote, "We don't agree with her characterization of the many issues she testified about. Despite all this we agree on one thing, it's time to begin to create standard rules for the internet."

I want to thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton. My colleague, Kim Brunhuber, takes over for me right now after a short break. You are watching CNN.