Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

FDA, CDC Sign Off On Moderna, Pfizer Boosters For Adults; Kyle Rittenhouse Not Guilty On All Charges; House Democrats Win On Build Back Better Bill; China's Influence In Africa Grows; China Under Pressure Over Tennis Star Peng Shuai; Biden Pardons Turkeys Ahead Of Thanksgiving; New Toy Allows Your Dog To Call You. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired November 20, 2021 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber, this is CNN NEWSROOM.


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

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): A controversial verdict in the case tied to deaths at a racial justice protest. We have reaction from the courthouse to the White House.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Plus, COVID booster shots available for all American adults. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta will explain why they're so important.

And the United Nations asks for proof that a Chinese tennis champion is alive and well. Meanwhile, Chinese state media says these are new photos of the missing athlete.


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

BRUNHUBER: Scattered protests followed news of Kyle Rittenhouse's acquittal Friday in a closely watched trial that underscored the U.S. political divide.

Friday afternoon, a jury acquitted Rittenhouse of charges linked to the shooting deaths of two people and the wounding of a third at a protest demanding racial justice last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRUNHUBER (voice-over): So far, most demonstrations look like this one in New York, with people heeding calls to remain peaceful.

Protests in Brooklyn condemn what they see as unequal justice and also criticized lax U.S. gun laws.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) every state the same, not different for New York, different for Ohio, different for Texas. No, every state needs to be the same.


BRUNHUBER: CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with a look back at the trial and local reaction to the verdict.


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

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The jury in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse declaring him not guilty on all five charges.

First degree reckless homicide in the death of Joseph Rosenbaum ..


BROADDUS (voice-over): Two counts of first degree recklessly endangering safety ..


BROADDUS (voice-over): First degree intentional homicide in the death of Anthony Huber and in the shooting of Gaige Grosskreutz, attempted first degree intentional homicide ..


BROADDUS (voice-over): Rittenhouse visibly shaken after he's acquitted, appears to stumble to his chair after the verdict is read. His mother sitting in court, relieved.

The trial centered on the actions of then-17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse the night of August 25th 2020 and Rittenhouse's claims of self- defense, after he set out with an AR- 15 style gun and joined other armed volunteers to defend a business after protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

The jury in the case, five men and seven women, deliberated more than 25 hours over the past four days, requesting to review, again, some of many videos played in the trial, including graphic video showing the moments leading up to and seconds after the shootings.

The verdict coming after a trial that included testimony for more than 30 witnesses, including tearful testimony from the defendant. KYLE RITTENHOUSE, HOMICIDE DEFENDANT: There were people right there.

BROADDUS (voice-over): And heated exchanges between the judge and the lead prosecutor in the case.



BROADDUS (voice-over): Outside the courthouse, divided crowds but overall a peaceful end to the day's proceedings. Jacob Blake's uncle reacting to the verdict today, blaming city leaders in Kenosha for the events that transpired after the shooting of his nephew, leaving his nephew paralyzed from the waist down.

JUSTIN BLAKE, JACOB BLAKE'S UNCLE: They all have blood on their hands for the mishandling of that whole entire night.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Anthony Huber's girlfriend reacted to the not guilty verdicts.

HANNAH GITTINGS, ANTHONY HUBER'S GIRLFRIEND: I don't think that any of us who were directly involved in what happened last year on 25th are really that surprised. We know that this system is a failure.

BROADDUS (voice-over): The prosecutor, expressing disappointment in a statement said, "The verdict must be respected."

The lead defense attorney, speaking for his client after the verdict was read...


RICHARDS: He has a huge sense of relief for what the jury did to him today. He wishes none of this would have ever happened.

BROADDUS: And attorneys for two of the men Rittenhouse shot released a statement, saying in part, "While today's verdict may mean justice delayed, it will not mean justice denied. We are committed to uncovering the truth."

And moments after the verdict was read, I spoke with the uncle of Jacob Blake on the steps of the courthouse. He told me he was not surprised by the verdict but did say he was not satisfied. He says the fight for what he believes is justice continues -- Adrienne Broaddus, CNN, Kenosha.


BRUNHUBER: Shortly after the decision, Rittenhouse appeared in a promotional clip for conservative FOX News host Tucker Carlson. Rittenhouse is in a moving car and appears to be wearing the same clothes he wore in court. They describe his relief at the verdict.


RITTENHOUSE: The jury reached the correct verdict, self-defense is not illegal and I believe they came to the correct verdict and I'm glad that everything went well. And it's been a rough journey. But we made it through it.


BRUNHUBER: One of the men Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed was Anthony Huber. He was in the crowd of protesters with his girlfriend at the time. After the verdict, his great-aunt told CNN she believes her great-nephew sprang into action to prevent future shootings.


SUSAN HUGHES, ANTHONY HUBER'S GREAT-AUNT: I'm firmly in the camp that he perceived an active shooter and he went to disarm that person. That is the Anthony I knew. You know, he was very much a person who would jump into action.

And you know, there were a couple of other people who did the same thing. Nobody was successful. He lost his life. I was asked the other day by one of the media people if I thought Anthony would do the same thing again.

And I think he would. You know if, even knowing he lost his life, because he was, he already knew that Joseph had been shot, he wanted to prevent further shootings.


BRUNHUBER: And U.S. President Joe Biden is weighing in. In a statement, the president urged everyone to express their views peacefully and obey the rule of law, adding, "While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken."

Another interesting reaction to the trial -- and perhaps an unexpected one -- from Rittenhouse's own attorney, Mike Richards. He spoke earlier to my colleague, Chris Cuomo, about the impact of America's gun culture. Here he is.


RICHARDS: To me -- and I know people will go nuts when I say this -- but there's too many guns in our society. And that might seem like a hollow statement coming from me. I do own firearms. I don't conceal carry. I don't want to carry a firearm.

I think too many people run around with guns in our society. And I represent a lot of people, who have legal conceal carry permits, who get into it. They pull the gun and there's problems from there, whether they're under the influence of alcohol or they use it to threaten somebody.

I wish our society -- I wish our society wasn't perceived as being so dangerous, that people needed to harm themselves. I'm old enough when I remember you couldn't carry a gun.



BRUNHUBER: Harry Litman is a former U.S. attorney and former deputy assistant attorney general and joins me now from La Jolla, California. He is also a legal affairs columnist for the "L.A. Times" and host of the podcast "Talking Feds."

Thanks so much for being here with us.

Based on the arguments and the testimony, are you surprised by the verdict?

What do you make of it?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: I wasn't surprised by the verdict, especially the way it was going in the last week or so. A very important thing to remember is that, while Rittenhouse was pleading self-defense, it was, nevertheless, the prosecution's burden.

And beyond a reasonable doubt, the biggest burden in the law and the most daunting to show that he wasn't acting in self-defense. And the thing that the defense did successfully and the prosecution was not able to parry is make it be about the nanosecond of the actual encounters with the three people that he shot.

And when you looked at it that way, it was not surprising to me that the jury would conclude that it wasn't clear beyond a reasonable doubt that he wasn't acting in self-defense.

Of course, both legally and even socially, the focus could have been on his initial decision to come into the fray in the first place.


LITMAN: That might have led to a so-called duty to retreat, under Wisconsin law. Things would have been different then. But given the case the jury received from the judge, I was not surprised.

BRUNHUBER: That's one of the things that people are taking out of this, right, that some say the laws like Wisconsin's need to change; that the idea of disproving self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt places too high a burden on the prosecution.

LITMAN: You know, I hear that. And I used to be a prosecutor but I don't really think that's the problem. And I have no quarrel with the general imposition of that kind of high burden.

Now what I think what people who are concerned and distraught are saying is, there are certain gun laws, there's a certain, right now, kind of championing of vigilantism that resulted in sort of encouraging a kid, a 17-year-old kid, to show up at a rally with touting an AR-15. And terrible things could happen in that situation and they did. So I

think the broader argument is really more about, say, gun control, vigilantism and the like; why he was there in the first place.

That the prosecution bears this burden, you're right; not all states do it that way but many states do and they do it for defenses across the board. And to me, that's just part of what's entailed in being a prosecutor and standing up and arguing for someone's liberty to be taken away.

BRUNHUBER: On the point of encouraging vigilantism, I mean the implications, I mean California's governor tweeted today, "America today, you can break the law, carry around weapons built for military, shoot and kill people and get away with it, that's the message we've just sent to armed vigilantes across the nation."

I mean hyperbole, maybe, but is that right?

Does it seek to further enshrine the rights of vigilantes, who perceive themselves to be under attack and then shoot and kill possibly unarmed opponents, like we saw?

LITMAN: Yes. I think that case does. It is always fraught to try to take a specific dispute in the confines of a court with fact and law and make it into a broader social issue. But that's happening inevitably here.

And, yes, look, I have no -- I have said that from the standpoint of how it was tried, you can see what the jury did. But if we take a step back and look at what happened and what it might encourage, the notion that a 17-year old should be taking this kind of weapon to what is already a conflagration and, you know, with an eye, at least potentially, to so-called protecting property, that's a bad, bad situation.

And so we should be trying -- we should, for starters, Kim, in no way lionize or make a hero of Kyle Rittenhouse. And yes, we should be having laws in this country that make it harder, not easier, for that situation to occur.

BRUNHUBER: Harry Litman, thank you so much. Appreciate your input.

LITMAN: Thank you, Kim. Good to be here.


BRUNHUBER: Another high profile murder trial is underway in Georgia, with closing arguments expected on Monday. It involves the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, who, according to prosecutors, was chased down and killed by three white suspects while he was jogging.

The attorney for Arbery's mother says the two cases have something in common.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY FOR WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: Well, what is deeply troubling and it's very scary for that family, Kyle Rittenhouse was a vigilante who instigated an encounter with people that admitting he used the danger that he created to justify the use of that in force.

Well, that is very similar to what happened in Glynn County there in South Georgia. Ahmaud was the victim of vigilante justice. He was misidentified as someone who may have been responsible for petty thefts in the area. But I'm hoping that the jury doesn't take the same course as the Rittenhouse jury.


BRUNHUBER: The suspects in the Arbery case face felony murder and other charges.

All right, just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, the CDC weighs in on boosters for all adults and we will tell you when those shots could start going into arms -- ahead.

Plus, President Biden underwent his annual physical exam on Friday and temporarily transferred his power to Vice President Kamala Harris. The results of his checkup just ahead. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Pharmacies across the U.S. could be busy this weekend, as all adults are now eligible for a COVID booster.

Late Friday afternoon, the CDC director, Dr. 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.

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has details on why boosters are so important, especially now.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: With the FDA authorizing boosters and the CDC now formally recommending them, boosters are recommended for all adults in the United States. That is now available to people right away. People can go to their pharmacies or doctors' offices.

First of all, even before these most recommendations, most adults in the country were eligible for boosters. If you had a preexisting condition like diabetes, heart disease, moderate asthma or obesity, you were already eligible for a booster. What is now different it is a blanket recommendation for all adults

across the country. We should point up there was a second vote on boosters, saying people over the age of 50 should get a booster. People under the age, they say, it's recommended for people and for people over the age of 50 they strengthen the language a bit, saying, they should get a booster.

Let me show you a few reasons, a few pieces of data, that drove this. First of all, in the United States, what has happened up to September here. If you got COVID, you ended up in the hospital, it was almost always in someone who is unvaccinated.

If you look at the green line at the bottom, it was pretty flat but it has started to trend up a bit. It you look at some of the data in Israel, going up until November 1st, you saw an interesting picture emerge. The same story in that most of the people who are developing severe COVID were still unvaccinated.

But take a look at the middle graph there. That is close to 10 per 100,000 people, people who, in fact, were vaccinated, they were still getting severely ill. But if they got boosted, you can see how significant the numbers drop. So a lot of protection from the boosters, in terms of severe illness.

Again, most of the unvaccinated but you did see some waning of that overall efficacy of the vaccines.


GUPTA: Now one thing to point out, this is a big discussion at this time because as we go into the winter season, one of the big concerns is that if there's more and more people in the hospital, it's not only COVID that would be impacted but other illnesses, as well.

Take a look. If you start to see surges here, say 75 percent capacity for ICUs, that leads to a lot of other patients potentially not being able to take care and, according to the modeling studies, maybe 12,000 excess deaths over the following couple weeks in the country.

If ICUs become completely full, it could lead to 80,000 excess deaths over the next couple of weeks. That is what they're trying to mitigate and what they're trying to avoid.

And I think that is why these boosters are now recommended for all adults. And they get a booster, people over the age of 50 should get a booster. Again, those messages coming from the FDA and the CDC.


BRUNHUBER: Much of Western Europe is reeling from some of the highest numbers of COVID infections since the pandemic began.

The vast majority of those new cases are people who haven't been vaccinated and officials say months of persuasion have failed to get vaccination rates up so they're taking more drastic measures. Austria will impose a total lockdown beginning Monday and says every

eligible person must be vaccinated by February 1st. Other E.U. countries are banning unvaccinated people from public events and venues.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Now those new restrictions have sparked violent protests. Riot police in Rotterdam, Netherlands, used water cannons and say they fired warning shots after protesters torched vehicles and threw rocks.

At least seven people were reported hurt including some officers. About 20 people were arrested. For more on the escalating COVID crisis in Europe, we bring in Barbie Nadeau from Rome.

We are seeing some extreme measures to fight this spike.

What's the latest?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we're seeing cases rise all across Europe. There are places like Germany, where they're at now 60,000 or more a day and those in the ICUs filling up fast there.

Some places like Italy, Spain, France with higher vaccination rates, the numbers aren't quite as bad but what they're trying to do right now across Europe is to avoid the sort of blanket lockdowns that we saw last year.

And they shouldn't have to do that because vaccinations are available. What they're trying to do is to get those people who have resisted being vaccinated to get the vaccine and to get those who are vaccinated now to get their booster shots.

And that seems to be so important and that's what is kind of lagging behind here, across Europe, at the moment.

BRUNHUBER: And going back to those sometimes violent protests, to those lockdowns, as countries like Austria crack down with, you know, mandatory vaccinations, how bad are you expecting the pushback here?

NADEAU: Well, we're seeing pushback all across Europe, because many countries have green passes or health passes that you need to prove vaccination. And you need to have taken a COVID test or prove that they have recovered from COVID before they can dine inside a restaurant and go to a movie or go to a sporting event.

A lot of people don't think that's fair so we've got protests across the bloc. And this afternoon, there's one in Rome that is not expected to be particularly violent or particularly big. But people don't want to be told what to do.

And those who aren't vaccinated are generally the ones out there, which then causes the super spreader event when they gather to protest against these regulations. But across the Eurozone right now, we haven't seen travel restrictions among the countries.

We haven't seen the sort of measures that we saw last year and that's what everyone is trying to avoid. People are tired of this. They want to get back to normal. And they have vaccinations as a tool to fight the pandemic going forward.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, absolutely. All right, Barbie Nadeau in Rome, thank you so much.


BRUNHUBER: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez is a board certified internal medicine specialist in viral research and joins me from Los Angeles. Thanks for joining us, Doctor.

Broadly, concretely here, what difference will this make as we head into the winter?

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST AND VIRAL RESEARCHER: Well, if we're talking about the boosters, I think it will make a huge difference. As we're already seeing, more people are becoming infected who have been fully vaccinated and are ending up in the hospital.

So we've known for a while that the immunity seems to wane in the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines after approximately six months, and even earlier in J&J, so getting the boosters should bring people's immunity back to at least where it was with their first two shots, if not even higher.

BRUNHUBER: What do you make of the differing sort of instructions based on age, that those over 50 should get a booster and those who are 18 and older, you know, may opt for one?


BRUNHUBER: Do you think the language should be stronger, that everyone should get one?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think -- I thought that today, the CDC had clarified that a little bit. In my opinion, eventually, every human who gets vaccinated should get a booster, regardless of age.

They're just, you know, looking at the information as it goes along. I thought it was always a little bit lacking, you know, to say that only a certain group should get it, because immunity will wane in everybody.

And yes, certain groups are at higher risk of getting sicker and, obviously, we have to protect those people that are older and have underlying diseases first because they're at greater risk. But eventually, I think it is going to be about how long it's been since you've had your last vaccine and everybody should get revaccinated.

BRUNHUBER: If we knew that we would get here eventually, by basically allowing everybody to get this, why didn't we just do that right away, as soon as the first boosters were authorized?

I mean there was so much confusion initially over who should get it, based on how old they were, where they lived, what they did for a living. It seemed like a missed opportunity here for clarity.

RODRIGUEZ: Well, I think in retrospect -- which by the way, you know, the retrospectoscope is always 2020, so looking back it seems pretty clear what should have been done.

But in real time, as information comes out, you have to weigh the pros and the cons. You don't know the negatives of having a booster; you only know that it will protect you. So I think that they're walking a very thin line, in making sure that above all else, they do no harm, while they protect people.

You know, so what America, what the world is seeing now, is science as it happens. And it's not as clear as we think. By the time people would get information, it's because it has been tested and retested. And now we are all learning as it happens. And that's why it seems confusing.

BRUNHUBER: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, thank you so much for being here us with. Appreciate it.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you, Kim. And happy Thanksgiving.

BRUNHUBER: You, too.


BRUNHUBER: Israeli medical experts are keeping a close eye on new cases there as the COVID transmission rate increases. The R rate, as it's called, has now risen to 1, which means, in simple question, every 10 people with COVID will infect another 10.

New infections are still far lower than in early autumn but officials are taking no chances. Children aged 5 to 11 can begin getting vaccinated on Tuesday. Health officials hope that will keep the transmission rate in check.

After months of Democratic infighting, President Biden finally gets a much-needed win in Congress on his domestic agenda. We'll explain what's in the legislation plus the results of his annual physical exam.

Plus U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken is in Africa and sounding the alarm about the conflict in Tigray. His dire warning for Ethiopia when we return. Stay with us.




(MUSIC PLAYING) BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United

States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

The White House may have doubted this day would ever come but the second pillar of President Biden's domestic agenda finally cleared its first major hurdle in Congress. CNN's Phil Mattingly is at the White House with the latest.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The Build Back Better bill is passed.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, President Biden and congressional Democrats won major step closer to a cornerstone legislative victory.

PELOSI: This bill is monumental. It's historic. It's transformative. It's bigger than anything we've ever done.

MATTINGLY: A vote of 220-213 with all but one Democrat voting yes marked an end to months of House Democratic interparty warfare, advancing a swiping $2 trillion measure that would touch nearly every corner of the U.S. economy, from paid leave and universal pre-school to an extension of the enhance child tax credit, lower prescription drug costs and historic spending on climate change mitigation.

Biden in a statement calling the vote a, quote, giant step forward and clinching his second major win in a week signing his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law on Monday but with clear hurdles ahead on that second piece of his domestic agenda in the form of two centrist Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have remained in touch even as we've been working to get it through the House at high senior staff levels, senior White House officials with Senators Sinema, Senator Manchin, other members of the Senate as we know that is the next important step here.

MATTINGLY: Neither senator onboard yet and both likely to force pieces of the House bill including paid leave to the cutting room floor.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer making clear, Senate Democrats plan to move fast, pledging to, quote, "act as quickly as possible to get this bill to the president's desk."

And key House progressives signaling optimism about what's ahead across the Capitol.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): There are a few things that are not preconference. We're going to have to work those out. But I believe, through my conversations and with those senators as well as the president's own commitment, that he is confident we can get 51 votes. MATTINGLY (voice-over): But one clear reality: there is no margin for error. All 50 Senate Republicans opposed to the bill and every House Republican voted no on Thursday night. Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy setting a new record for the longest House floor speech, 8 hours and 32 minutes.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This is the single most reckless and irresponsible spending bill in our nation's history --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House is now in order.

MCCARTHY: That's all right. I got all night.

MATTINGLY: -- designed in part to delay the vote but also to solidify his standing as the next potential speaker while also drawing a little snarky from the White House.

PSAKI: Kevin McCarthy said a lot of words, a lot of words. I just want to emphasize that, over the course of 8.5 hours.

MATTINGLY: And while Democrats may have dismissed Leader McCarthy's 8.5 hours of remarks, at least one Republican, probably the most important Republican, seemed to enjoy them.

Former president Trump putting out a statement, saying that McCarthy has done a great job.

Now that vote, to pass the president's climate and economic package, came the same day President Biden went to receive his annual physical. And during that physical, the president had a colonoscopy, which required for an hour and 25 minutes, a transfer, on a temporary basis, of presidential powers to Vice President Kamala Harris.

This is notable, not because it occurred -- President George W. Bush did this a couple of times when he was in office -- but who it occurred with. Kamala Harris becoming the first woman to ever have just on a temporary basis full presidential powers.

After an hour and 25 minutes, they went back to President Biden; he called the vice president, called his White House chief of staff and made very clear he was awake and in good spirits.

And we now have a summary of the president's physical, six pages that made clear that the president is fit to be in office, fit to be President of the United States.

And for the most part staying in the same baseline he had in the 2019 physical. Of course, this physical, related to a 78 year old man, the current age of the president, that will change on Saturday. He will be turning 79 for his birthday -- Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


BRUNHUBER: U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken is warning that the war in Tigray has launched Ethiopia on a path to destruction. He is in Senegal now on the last stop of his three nation tour in Africa. He spoke earlier with CNN's Stephanie Busari and called on the

Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed to bringing the warring sides together. Stephanie has more now from Nigeria.

So Stephanie, what else did he tell you?

STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN.COM SUPERVISING EDITOR, AFRICA: Well, Kim, Secretary Blinken was very clear, very clear to emphasize the need for the violence to end in Ethiopia, so as not to destabilize this region.

And he was very clear about bringing all of the sides together to talk about a cease-fire. Take a listen to what he had to say.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This has to happen as soon as possible (INAUDIBLE) with every passing day what we're seeing is an increase in communal tensions, that really risk ripping the country apart and spilling over into other countries in the region.

So there's tremendous urgency, which is why we are engaged, every single day, in supporting efforts by the African Union, by others, engaging directly ourselves to try to bring people together, to actually start talking.


BUSARI: Secretary Blinken really threw his diplomatic weight behind efforts to resolve these various conflicts on the continent. He had to speak to a bomb blast in Uganda, for example, the unrest in Sudan and also this Ethiopian crisis as well. So it really was a firefighting trip of sorts for him, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: And sort of looking at a wider look, I guess, around the region, the Biden administration seems to be taking a very different approach than the Trump administration when it comes to the continent. So explain how it's different and how it's being received.

BUSARI: Yes, there is certainly more engagement with this trip, with this administration. Secretary Blinken announcing a U.S.-Africa summit for an unknown date in the future. But he was clear that this was to bring greater cooperation between African nations and the U.S.


BUSARI: Which for so long, many here have felt has been unequal, they felt it's been a paternalistic type of relationship. And China has really gotten in there and exerted influence while the United States was looking away, in a sense.

So you know, many say that this summit is an attempt to really counter China's huge influence here on the continent. And everybody, it seems, wants a piece of Africa and African leaders are not adverse to that competition.

Nigeria's foreign minister describing it as being a bride with many suitors and from whom they will take as much as they can. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: Stephanie Busari, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Britain is moving to pass a blanket ban on Hamas, the group that rules Gaza. The military wing of Hamas is already designated a terrorist 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 has more.


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.


BRUNHUBER: Amid growing concerns over the safety and whereabouts of tennis star Peng Shuai, the editor-in-chief of a state-run newspaper claims Peng will appear in public soon. Details ahead. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: The editor-in-chief of the Chinese state-run newspaper "Global Times" says missing tennis star Peng Shuai will appear in public soon. He also claims to have confirmed through sources that recent photos of Peng at home, shared by a state media journalist, depict her current state. Now CNN hasn't confirmed when the photos were taken nor if they're

from her. CNN's Paula Hancocks is following the story for us from Seoul.

So Paula, some enigmatic evidence, some vague promises; what more do we know?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kim, at this point, everything that we are hearing is from Chinese state media. We're not hearing anything from family, from friends of Peng. We're not hearing from Peng herself directly as well.

And that is what is increasing concerns about her well being an about where she is at this point. So what we have heard now is from "Global Times," which is state-run media, it is a mouthpiece of the Communist Party.

So we know it is a sanctioned comment from the "Global Times" editor, saying that Peng will be seen in public soon. Now we don't know what kind of format that would take, if in fact it is true. But he is claiming that she has been at home and she is freely at home and freely the words that he has used.

But there are growing concerns, that she is not undergoing anything at this point, freely. And now, it was back on November 2nd, when she accused the vice premier, former vice premier of coercing her into sex at his home.

Now within 30 minutes of that post on social media, it was taken down. And nothing has been heard or seen from Peng directly since. So everything we are seeing, it has been from Chinese state-run media.

In fact earlier last week, there was an email according to state-run media once again, that reportedly had been written by Peng to the WTA chief, the Women's Tennis Association, Steve Simon, saying that she walked back those accusations against the former vice premier and that she was doing fine.

We've heard from Simon himself; he said he immediately replied to that email and has heard nothing since, has not heard anything directly and believes there are concerns about this email not potentially being from her or at least being coerced.

And this is a feeling that is widely held within the tennis world. Tennis associations around the world condemning China and calling for more information to be forthcoming.

We're hearing from some of the tennis stars as well, Novak Djokovic has been commenting and we heard from Serena Williams, from Naomi Osaka, saying the concerns are growing about the censorship and about where exactly Peng is.

So we're not hearing from friends and family at this point. This is increasing concerns from China's point of view, Beijing is saying, has been saying, on Thursday, also on Friday, we heard from the ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson, saying, when they were asked about this case, it's not a diplomatic issue and they have nothing to say about it.

So China remaining tight-lipped when it comes to what has happened to Peng. And at this point, really the latest information we have, once again from state-run media "Global Times," saying she will be seen in public soon. So at this point, we just really have to wait an see whether that does materialize. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: We'll keep following this story, CNN's Paula Hancocks in Seoul, thank you so much.

Coming up, on CNN NEWSROOM, we'll show you how kind volunteers and a veterinarian gave a stray dog a leg up and four new paws. Stay with us.






BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Thanksgiving is less than a week away here in the U.S. and two turkeys won't be on the dinner table, thanks to a presidential pardon. U.S. President Joe Biden pardoned Peanut Butter and Jelly and even joked about the birds' vaccination status, saying, instead of getting basted, these two turkeys are getting boosted.

They will retire to their home state of Indiana to live at Purdue University's Animal Sciences Education and Research Department.


BRUNHUBER: So you have ever been at work and wished you could just talk to your dog on the phone?

Well, researchers in Scotland and Finland, they're working on a device for just that. Jeanne Moos has the story.



JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When you pick up a phone and say hello, you don't expect this, from the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. Yes, this is Dog.

MOOS (voice-over): Cartoon becomes semi-reality as animal tech researchers at universities in Scotland and Finland experiment with dog phones. No, it doesn't look anything like a human phone.


ILYENA HIRSKYJ-DOUGLAS, DOGPHONE INVENTOR: It's a softball with a technology device on the inside of it.

MOOS (voice-over): Actually, buried inside a tennis ball, within the ball.


MOOS (voice-over): When Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas' dog, Zach, moved the ball, it triggered the nearby dog-height laptop to ring. Zach's owner answered the call and two end up face to face, with audio and video, if he didn't ignore her.

During a 16-day experiment, Zach the Lab called often.

HIRSKYJ-DOUGLAS: It was about five times a day.

MOOS (voice-over): And when he didn't call ....

HIRSKYJ-DOUGLAS: He won't ring me through the day, I'd be thinking, well, he usually rings me at this time.

MOOS (voice-over): Commercial companies like PetChatz have tried combining remotely-operated treat dispensers with a paw call, which sends the owner a text alert. But no one really knows if pets are intentionally calling their owners.

HIRSKYJ-DOUGLAS: Some days, he would sort of lean on the ball and then he would ring me from there, either with his butt or with his shoulder.

MOOS (voice-over): Maybe this is all one big doggy butt dial. After all, dogs like to say hello from behind -- Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BRUNHUBER: That's a great closing line there.

And a stray Russian dog named Monika now has a fresh shot at mobility after a brutal act. Rescuers think someone cut off her paws just to be cruel. But a crowd funding operation was organized and she ended up at a clinic, where a veterinarian fitted her with prosthetic paws.

Now a doctor says Monica's bones will grow and adapt to the artificial titanium limbs, like antlers on a deer. And once recovered, she will be able to walk into her new home.

That's amazing.

All right, that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. "MARKETPLACE ASIA" is next for our international viewers and for viewers in Canada and here in the U.S., stay with CNN for "NEW DAY."