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Rioting in Rotterdam over COVID-19 Rules; No New COVID-19 Restrictions Planned for Poland; China under Pressure over Tennis Star Peng Shuai. Aired 12-12:15a ET

Aired November 20, 2021 - 00:00   ET




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

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, everyone, appreciate your company.

Riot police were called out in the Dutch port of Rotterdam, after several hundred people, protesting new COVID restrictions, threw rocks and burned vehicles. Police used water cannons and they say warning shots were fired to clear the streets. At least seven people, reportedly, hurt.

Like much of the E.U., the Netherlands is imposing new restrictions to curb the shocking rise of COVID infections across Europe. Most of those rules target the unvaccinated. But Austria goes even further. CNN's Melissa Bell, in Paris, with the details.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Austria has become the first country in Europe to announce a nationwide mandate, forcing people to be vaccinated by February 1st. Ever since last Monday, the unvaccinated population of Austria has been on lockdown. The entire country on lockdown, from next Monday.

Beyond the 10 days of the lockdown, the unvaccinated, say authorities, will remain under lockdown. Elsewhere, Poland said that it is bucking the trend of, many of its European neighbors, who have been adding restrictions that aim to get the unvaccinated vaccinated by saying that it is worried that, although it has a 53 percent rate of vaccination and rising COVID-19 figures, as do many other European countries, it will not be announcing fresh restrictions targeting the unvaccinated for fear of backlash from that part of the population.

Elsewhere, in Europe, the picture is more of governments following Austria's lead although on a more targeted basis. No nationwide lockdowns, for the unvaccinated so far. But many measures introduced several countries, encouraging them to get vaccinated. The extension of vaccine passports, for instance. Another aim of many European countries, to increase the boosters so

that those who have been vaccinated and whose immunization levels may be waning, will have access to their third dose.

This, as COVID-19 figures, alarm many governments across Europe, over the course of this week, as Europe, has once again, become the epicenter in this pandemic -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


HOLMES: Pharmacies across the U.S. could be busy this weekend, as all adults are now, eligible for a COVID booster. Late on Friday afternoon, CDC director, Rochelle Walensky, signed off on the extra shot for everyone 18 and older, who is at least six months past their second dose.

Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been okayed for booster doses. It does not matter what your first dose was. It comes as COVID infections in the U.S. are ticking up. The U.S. holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving, coming up, next Thursday.

Israeli medical experts are keeping a close eye on new cases there, as the COVID transmission rate has been going up lately. New infections are still far lower than early autumn. But officials are taking no chances. CNN's Hadas Gold, in Jerusalem.


HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For so much of the pandemic, people have been looking to Israel as a glimpse into the future, because of how quick the government was to start administering vaccines, including the third booster doses, which began in late July.

Now there are worrying signs. The R number, showing how many people one positive case infects, reaching its highest level, in two months. Showing, the virus may be spreading, once again, after weeks of declining cases.

The alarm bells, not quite ringing here yet. No new guidelines have been put into place. Health experts here say it is just too early to say whether this is a fifth wave. That is because the average number of cases is still, lower than it was previous months and most importantly for the hospital system, the serious cases are at their lowest level since July.

Health experts say, a variety of factors are contributing to this rising R rate. A million or so people haven't gotten their booster dose, even though they are eligible to do so. The public has relaxed on guidelines, like mask wearing, even though they are still required indoors. And the colder weather is bringing people indoors, more often.

And, unvaccinated children are making up a large portion of new infections. That is why there is hope, that as children aged 5 to 11 start to get vaccinated next week, that the R rate will start to drop, once again -- Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: The U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, is warning that the war in Tigray has launched Ethiopia on a path to destruction. Blinken will wrap up his three-nation tour of Africa in the coming hours.


HOLMES: He spoke with CNN while in Nigeria and called on Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed to bring the warring sides together to end the violence.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There is no military solution to the challenges in Ethiopia. None of the different combative parties can prevail by military means. That is a path to destruction for the country and misery for the people of Ethiopia, who deserve a lot better.

So I hope that all of the leaders, starting with, again, the leader of the country, the prime minister, will do that, bring people together and work through these problems politically.


HOLMES: Fighting between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, often marked by atrocities, has left thousands dead and displaced more than 2 million people.

Britain is moving to pass a blanket ban on Hamas, the group that rules Gaza. The military wing of Hamas already is designated a terror organization in the U.K. The home secretary now wants the ban to include the political wing. Hamas says it shows bias toward the Israeli narrative. Nic Robertson with the details.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: This still has to go before the British Parliament before it becomes law. But once passed into law -- and there is no expectation that it won't be -- someone who supports Hamas could face up to 14 years jail time. That would be maximum sentence for organizing or helping fundraise for Hamas or even waving a Hamas flag.

Priti Patel, the home secretary, saying this organization is deeply anti-Semitic, rabidly anti-Semitic. Those were her words. And she said that this should help make the Jewish community in the United Kingdom feel safer.

She said that the organization has access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, access to terrorist training. It is a terrorist organization, she said.

So that vote likely going before Parliament, likely to come next week. No significant political voices, subsequent to Priti Patel's announcement have come forward, yet to raise concerns.

But undoubtedly, there will be politicians who have some concerns about this move. But, absolutely, bringing the U.K. back into line with the European Union, which it left just a couple of years ago -- Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


HOLMES: It's not just the European Union that Britain would be in line with. If that goes through, as expected, the U.K. would join Canada, Israel, Japan and of course the U.S. They have all designated Hamas a terrorist organization in its entirety.

A U.S. teenager who killed two people and wounded another during a Black Lives Matter protest last year was acquitted of all charges on Friday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find the defendant, Kyle H. Rittenhouse, not guilty.

HOLMES (voice-over): That was Kyle Rittenhouse reaction to the verdict. He was accused of first degree intentional homicide and four other felonies but said he acted in self-defense, as the case riveted the nation.

The jury, deliberating over four days to reach the verdict, which cannot be appealed. Protests over the verdict, taking place in New York, on Friday and are planned this weekend in several U.S. cities.


HOLMES: The United Nations human rights office is calling on China to provide proof of tennis star Peng Shuai's whereabouts. She appears to have vanished more than two weeks ago. Now a journalist with a Chinese state media arm is claiming to have new photos of Peng but CNN's has not verified when they were taken and if they are from her. CNN's Will Ripley with more on that.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tennis in China, a billion-dollar business for the WTA, 10 tournaments, reportedly a third of their revenue, highly lucrative and for the Chinese government, highly prestigious.

Now it's all on the line. The WTA demanding answers.




RIPLEY (voice-over): Where is tennis icon Peng Shuai? Is she OK?

A household name in China, Peng has not been seen in public since November 2nd. The 35-year-old doubles grand slam champion accusing China's 75-year-old former vice premier of coercing her to having sex about three years ago at his home.

Chinese state media on propaganda overdrive seemingly trying to silence the growing global outcry. A Chinese journalist tweeting these pictures upon claiming they're from her WeChat with the caption, "Happy weekend;" no timestamp on the photos, no actual direct communication with Peng herself.

On Wednesday, a suspicious email released by a state owned broadcaster only adding to fears for her well-being.


RIPLEY (voice-over): The email retracts her allegations, saying, "I'm not missing nor am I unsafe. I've just been resting at home and everything is fine."

The WTA not convinced, demanding proof Peng is safe. A probe into her allegations. The organization's CEO telling OUTFRONT he is prepared to pull out of China potentially losing a lucrative 10-year deal.


STEVE SIMON, CHAIRMAN & CEO, WOMEN'S TENNIS ASSOCIATION: We have to start as a world making decisions that are based upon right and wrong, period.

And we can't compromise that and we're definitely willing to pull our business and deal with all the complications that come with it because this is certainly -- this is bigger than the business.


RIPLEY (voice-over): China is a nation ruled by powerful men, long accused of suppressing the rights of women and minorities, including silencing leaders of China's #MeToo movement, now the apparent silencing of Peng Shuai.

China appears to be going to great lengths, using the government's immense power to protect the reputation of a retired communist party leader. So far, Beijing's blatant censorship is doing just the opposite, China's ministry of foreign affairs refusing to comment or even acknowledge the growing controversy.

The WTA, taking a stand, a huge financial gamble. Its regional headquarters is in Beijing. The tennis organization, willing to walk away from the massive Chinese market to stand up for one of its stars.

Olympics' organizers are staying out of it, just weeks before the Beijing Winter Games. Peng is a three-time Olympian. U.S. President Joe Biden considering a diplomatic boycott. But the IOC says experience shows that quiet diplomacy offers the best opportunity to find a solution.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: IOC buckles under the thought of losing business in China. The NBA buckles under the pressure. And here's the WTA saying, enough is enough. Standing up doing what's right.

When in the world do we see that anymore in sports?

A major pro-sports league or entity doing the right thing?

RIPLEY: The WTA's bold stance against China winning praise from around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are at a crossroads. And it's time now to make the tough decision that you can't do business when you're -- your -- the safety of your players are at risk.

RIPLEY: For the international tennis community, some things are more important than money -- Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


HOLMES: A woman who has staged a hunger strike while being jailed in Iran has been honored with a Courage under Fire Award. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a British Iranian charity worker for the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

She has been detained for more than five years now. Iran, accusing her working with organizations allegedly attempting to overthrow the government, something she, has strongly denied.

The Magnitsky Human Rights Awards, which recognizes those involved in advancing human rights, honored her for her bravery. Her daughter, accepting the award on her mother's behalf.

Thank you for spending your part of your day with me, I'm Michael Holmes, stay tuned for "MARKETPLACE AFRICA." I will see you a little later.