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U.S. Inflation Slows But Remains At 40-Year High; Funeral Procession For Al Jazeera Journalist; Kyiv Mayor Worried About Russian Nuclear Weapons; Russians Using Virtual Private Networks to Access War Info; State Media: North Korea Identifies First COVID Case; Wildfire Burns Multiple Homes in Southern California. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 12, 2022 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, Ukrainian troops are making gains retaking several captured towns near the Russian border.

U.S. inflation may be peaking but it's still proving painful for most Americans, with prices for many goods at a 40-year high.

Plus, a funeral procession will take place soon in Ramallah, as mourners demand answers into the killing of one of the Arab world's most prominent journalists.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church. Thanks for being with us. Well, for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine 11 weeks ago, a Russian civilian has been killed on Russian soil by Ukrainian shelling. The report comes from the governor of Belgorod. Just across the border from Ukraine's second largest Kharkiv. Ukraine won't say whether it's responsible for a series of recent attacks on the region.

Meanwhile, new drone video and satellite images show Ukraine has blown up at least two pontoon bridges in the Luhansk region. Russian forces are building the bridges to try to move farther west in their Donbas offensive. And Ukrainian forces claim they have recaptured more villages in the northern Kharkiv region. Despite the gains much of the area is still within range of Russian artillery fire.

In the south, Ukraine is offering to swap Russian prisoners of war for wounded Ukrainian soldiers holed up in the Azovstal steel plant. And Ukrainian deputy commander reports as many as 600 people inside the factory need medical attention, but he believes all civilians are now out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SVYATOSLAV PALAMAR, SECOND IN COMMAND, AZOV BATTALION IN MARIUPOL (through translator): We all know the enemy out numbers that's by far. They've got aviation, they've got Navy. And for us, it is just not enough to hear from them that they are doing everything possible. What we need to hear is that they are doing and will be doing everything impossible to rescue their soldiers.


CHURCH: Meanwhile, the mayor of Kyiv tells CNN he is still worried about the possibility that Russia will use tactical nuclear weapons on the capital. And he says he has no doubt Kyiv is still Russia's main target.


MAYOR VITALI KLITSCHKO, KYIV, UKRAINE: As mayor of Kyiv I tell to anyone, sorry, it's your personal risk, but we can't give you guarantee. As any second, any minute can be, you know, Russian (INAUDIBLE) in any building, any place in Ukraine.


CHURCH: New surveillance video obtained by CNN appears to show Russian soldiers shooting to unarmed Ukrainian civilians in the back. And CNN's Sara Sidner reports it's already being investigated as a possible war crime. A warning what you are about to see is graphic and difficult to watch.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is a stark example of a potential war crime perpetrated by Russian forces and example, the world has not yet seen Russian soldiers shooting two civilians in the back. CNN obtain the surveillance video taken from this vehicle dealership that sits along the main highway to Kyiv. The video is from the beginning. As Russians tried and failed to shell their way to the capitol.

The fight along this road was clearly fierce. But what happened outside this business was not a battle between soldiers or even soldiers and armed civilians. It was a cowardly, cold-blooded killing of unarmed men by Russian forces. The soldiers show up and begin breaking in inside of a guard shack, two Ukrainian men prepare to meet them. We track down the men's identities. One is the owner of the business whose family did not want him named. The other was hired to guard it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My father's name is Leonid Alexievich Plyats (ph).


SIDNER: His daughter Yulia wanted the world to know his name and what the Russians did to him. Both civilians, both unarmed. We know this because the video shows them greeting and getting frisked by the Russian soldiers, and then casually walking away. Neither seemed to suspect what was about to happen. That is when a member of the civilian fighting force who talked to the man a couple of days before the attack, told CNN, he did not want to be identified for security reasons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We came there earlier, warn people to leave that place. We also hope for the humanity of Russian soldiers. But unfortunately, they have no humanity.

SIDNER: You see the two men walking in the shadows toward the camera. Behind them, the soldiers they were just talking to emerge. A few more steps and their bodies dropped to the ground. Dust, shoots up from the bullets hitting the pavement. The soldiers have opened fire. Minutes later, that guard, Leonid gets up. Limping but alive. He manages to get inside the guard booth to make a call to the local guys for help.

This is one of those guys, a Ukrainian truck driver turn civilian soldier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): First of all, we felt a big responsibility. We knew we should go there because a man needed our help. He was still alive.

SIDNER: He's the commander of a ragtag team of civilians who took up arms to fight for Ukraine and tried to save the men. When the guard called them he explained what transpired with the soldiers. He said the soldiers asked who they were and asked for cigarettes, then let them go before shooting them in the back. When his men finally got to Leonid, he had lost massive amounts of blood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): One man from our group went there and the guy was still alive. He gave him bandages tried to perform first aid, but the Russian started shooting.

SIDNER: They tried to fight back but were unsuccessful. They didn't have the firepower to save their countrymen.

SIDNER (on camera): You'll -- have you seen the video?

YULIA PLYATS, FATHER KILLED BY RUSSIANS (through translator): I can't watch it now. I will save it to the cloud and leave it for my grandchildren and children. They should know about this crime and always remember who our neighbors are.

SIDNER (voice over): Her neighbors to the north, these Russian soldiers show just how callous they are. Drinking, toasting one another and looting the place, minutes after slaying the two men.

SIDNER (on camera): What were the last words that you remember he said to you?

PLYATS: Bye-bye. Kisses, say hello to your boys.

SIDNER (voice over): Her boys will be left with a terrible lasting memory. The death of their grandfather now being investigated as a war crime by prosecutors. Sara Sidner, CNN, Kyiv.


CHURCH: About an hour from now Finland is expected to formally announce its intention to join NATO. Finland has traditionally tried to stay neutral but the war in Ukraine as galvanized pro-NATO sentiment there. Becoming a member could potentially please NATO forces along 800 miles of Russia's western border. Finland's president says Vladimir Putin only has himself to blame.


SAULI NIINISTO, PRESIDENT OF FINLAND: Well, if that would be the case that we join, what my response would be that you cost this. Look at the mirror.


CHURCH: Well, neighboring Sweden is also close to deciding whether it will pursue NATO membership.

A fast moving wildfire is burning through the Laguna Hills area of Southern California with a mandatory evacuation order now in effect for some neighborhoods. About 20 homes, some described as multi- million dollar mansions overlooking the Pacific Ocean are engulfed in flames. The fire broke out several hours ago and quickly increased in size under strong gusty winds. At last report about 200 acres, that is about 80 hectares were burning with zero containment.

CNN's Pedram Javaheri will have the latest on the fire coming up in here with a segment.

In Washington, the U.S. Senate failed to advance a Democrat-led bill that would protect access to abortion nationwide. Ahead of that vote about two dozen progressives from the House loudly marched to the Senate making sure their voices were heard.


CHURCH (voice over): But it didn't help the Women's Health Protection Act failed with a 49 to 51 Vote amid strong Republican resistance. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin joined Republicans to vote against the measure saying it was too broad.



SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): It is not Roe v. Wade codification, it's an expansion (INAUDIBLE) 500. 500 state laws off the books, it expands abortion. And with that, that's not where we are today.


CHURCH: Vice President Kamala Harris later slammed Republicans for the failed Senate vote.


HARRIS: This vote clearly suggests that the Senate is not where the majority of Americans are on this issue. It also makes clear that a priority for all who care about this issue, a priority should be to elect pro-choice leaders at the local, the state and the federal level. Because what we are seeing around this country are extremist Republican leaders who are seeking to criminalize and punish women for making decisions about their own body.


CHURCH: The vote comes at a time of mounting concerns after a draft opinion revealed the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark Roe versus Wade ruling.

In many parts of the world, the price of everything just keeps increasing, but in the U.S., costs are no longer going up quite as fast. For the first time since August, the pace of inflation took a bit of a breather. The Consumer Price Index was up 8.3 percent in April from a year ago. That's down from the 8.5 percent increase in March. But that little dip is little consolation when the cost of everything from gas and food to use cars and housing is still so high.

With inflation still near a 48-year high, the president is pinning a lot of the blame on Russia as well as Republicans.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Under my predecessor, the great MAGA King, the deficit increased every single year he was president. They don't want to solve inflation by lowering the cost. They want to solve it by raising taxes and lowering your income.


CHURCH: Rryan Patel is a senior fellow at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. He joins me now from Los Angeles. Always great to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, a little flicker of hope with inflation falling slightly to 8.3 percent but still close to a 40-year high. Is this an indication inflation has peaked in the U.S. and the worst is behind us? Or do you -- do you think we need to be more cautious in that?

PATEL: I still think we have to be more cautious. Let's talk about the hope first because we want to talk about hope. You know, there was good news that, you know, especially on gas prices, and some of the consumable items, they didn't grow as much quickly. But when you think of the core inflation, right, the vault of -- excluding the food and gas prices, it did go up. It wasn't, you know, the cost of food, shelter, airline prices, and new vehicles were a large contribution to the increase of all those items.

So we're not out of it. I also think that we were all looking for or maybe hoping for a watershed moment that we think that peak was here. But it's still early to say that we are there. And I think these monthly, you know, Labor Department reports are going to be real closely on this next month as well.

CHURCH: Right. And of course, despite this very small dip in inflation, Americans are still having to make some tough choices as they battle higher food and gas prices. How long might it be before inflation comes down to a more manageable level do you think?

PATEL: I mean, that's a great question. I don't think it's going to come down as fast as it went up, for sure. And I do think it's going to take a little more time than anticipated. The Federal Reserve is going to increase -- the Fed, you know, increased interest rates five more times possibly by the end of 2022. That indicates to you that they needed to be more aggressive, but it does take time, Rosemary to feel it to get to a normal level.

So, I mean, it all hopes that we get down to somewhere, you know, less than eight to six percent by the end of the year, but there still has to be a lot of work done. That also means that all these other variables of supply chain and those aspects kind of come into line. But it's going to take at least a year, two years to stabilize this unless, you know the Fed can really, really, you know, dial in the other aspects to this.

CHURCH: And President Joe Biden says inflation is his top domestic priority, but many Americans blame him for where things stand right now, even though the pandemic supply chain issues you mentioned in the war in Ukraine are the main causes of high inflation rates. But is the Biden administration doing enough and everything it can to bring inflation down?

PATEL: Well, I'll tell you one thing, Rosemary, they will need to especially coming up to the midterm elections.


PATEL: They will need to show progress from now until then have what policies in place that they put in to ensure that inflation now at this point doesn't get out of control? It's funny, nobody remembers what you did six months ago, but they'll remember what you do now. And I think this is an opportunity for the administration to show him and help and do whatever levels that levers that they can to get -- to get inflation in place, but also to ensure that the prices don't get out of control.

And that's key there for the consumers and for the economy to get back to where it needs to get to.

CHURCH: Yes, I mean, there's certainly not very much time for the Biden administration between now and the midterms to show some sort of positive change here. But just going forward, what is the best strategy for lowering inflation? PATEL: Well, truthfully, I mean, they don't need to -- they just need to stabilize it. I mean, the lower inflation, obviously, the Fed needs to take, you know, that aggressive cut on the interest rates. Also let's be very honest, you know, the U.S. administration, the economy needs to keep jobs keep growing, which is kind of showing that go take a step back where the labor market still has to continue to do what it's doing.

And truthfully, when you think about the supply chain woes, you know, the war in, you know, in Ukraine and even the China-U.S. tariffs, let's put that on the table. If the U.S. and China come together and get the tariffs off, that could help ease up some of the inflation pressure too. Maybe a percentage base point, and that could be a win. But, you know, all these things are on the table.

It's up to the U.S. administration, specifically Biden administration to decide what it wants to do to show it to doing something.

CHURCH: Yes. Let's hope we see some fall in inflation, certainly by the end of the year. We'll watch it very closely, of course, as will you. Ryan Patel, many thanks.

PATEL: Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And still to come. Palestinians are preparing for the funeral procession of the Al Jazeera journalist who was fatally shot in the West Bank. We will have a live report from Jerusalem next.



CHURCH: A funeral procession will begin soon in Ramallah for Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. She was fatally shot while covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday. Her producer was also shot but is in stable condition. A warning now, the video you're about to see is disturbing.


CHURCH (voice over): Al Jazeera released this footage of the immediate aftermath of the shooting. And you can hear the shots fired. A man shouting, Shireen, Shireen. And she's then seen lying face down on the ground.

Well, journalist Elliott Gotkine joins us now live from Jerusalem. Elliot, the tragic loss of yet another journalist just trying to do her job and still so many unanswered questions. What more are you learning about the shooting of Shireen Abu Akleh?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, in the last hour, we've had a kind of development, if you like, in the killing of Shireen. A tweet from the Palestinian head of civilian --Palestinian Authority head of civilian affairs. This is Hussein al-Sheikh, he has tweeted out that Israel has requested as we know, a joint investigation and to be handed over the bullet that assassinated the journalist Shireen. We refused that and we affirmed that our investigation would be completed independently. You may recall, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz saying that Israel needed the bullet to conduct forensic analysis, ballistics tests to see if that bullet did indeed come from the weapon of an Israeli soldier. Mr. al-Sheikh continues and we will inform Shireen's family, the U.S., Qatar, and all official authorities and the public of results of this investigation with high transparency.

But it seems from what he says at the end of his tweet that certainly they've already reached their conclusions. He says that all of the indications the, evidence, and the witnesses confirm her assassination by Israeli special units. Israel's position, of course, remains that we do not know for sure who fired the shot that killed Shireen. That -- and certainly in the immediate aftermath of her killing, the Israeli prime minister and other spokespeople were heavily implying that the bullet was likely to have come from Palestinian militants who were operating in the area and whom Israeli forces were engaging with.

That seem to be rolled back in terms of the language slightly later on in the day. But certainly from the perspective of -- from Israel's perspective, we do not know, we cannot definitively say who fired the shot that killed Shireen -- there will be a funeral procession which is due to begin in about just 45 minutes time, 40 minutes time or so. Her body will be taken from the hospital in Ramallah to the Palestinian Authority headquarters where she will be honored by Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and other dignitaries.

She will then be taken to the Greek Catholic church by the Old City of Jerusalem and she will be laid to rest alongside her parents tomorrow. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Such a devastating loss. Elliott Gotkine joining us live from Jerusalem with those details.

Well, getting to the truth of what's happening in Ukraine. Coming up, how everyday Russians are using Internet technology to get information about the war that President Putin doesn't want them to know.



CHURCH: Every day, Russians are increasingly finding a way to get around the Kremlin's tight control of online news coverage of the war in Ukraine. They have been flocking to something called virtual private networks or VPNs that allows them to securely access sites for normally blocked within their country. The Washington Post reports download surged when the war began and are continuing at a rate of nearly 300,000 a day.

For more on this, we want to turn to Tonia Samsonova. She is a Russian media entrepreneur and the founder of the startup The Question.

[02:30:00] And she joins me now from London. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So millions of Russians are downloading these virtual private networks as a way to get around the Kremlin's effort to block certain websites. And for many of these people it means they can find out what's really going on in Ukraine. How big a threat could this post to Vladimir Putin and of course his false version of the war?

SAMSONOVA: Well, I believe that the reason why Russians are downloading VPN is not because they want to get access to -- to -- to information, there are some other reasons. And also unfortunately this time with this cold war we're having now, and are incurred (ph) we're having now, the case of the previous one is not applicable. So it is not that you believe in certain things because you don't have an access to the information.

As like with the COVID, people were not believing in the vaccine because they didn't have access to the information that vaccines is actually helping. The same situation applies to Russia. People believe in Russia, some people believe that this war with Ukraine is justified. Not because they don't know what's going on, they know. So access to the information in itself doesn't help, unfortunately.

CHURCH: Well, even as millions of Russians succeed in penetrating Putin's digital iron curtain, how possible is it that the Kremlin would eventually be able to shut down access to these VPN's and totally cut the country off to the rest of the world?

SAMSONOVA: Well, technically, it is possible and as we know there is nothing completely impossible for Kremlin administration. But it's much more difficult then something else because there are different VPN providers and Kremlin itself depends on part of the infrastructure that is used for the VPN.

So this is potentially and technically possible as we can see an example of different countries who want to constrain the freedom of access to the internet. But, again, I believe that A, VPN is used not only by people who aren't critical towards Vladimir Putin.

So it's a combination for Russia to be pro-government and use VPN. The two thoughts can -- can leave in -- like you don't necessarily have to be able to (inaudible) or be in the position to be afraid of the government. People within the government usually use VPN to protect their data against the government. That's normal case of Russia.

So, I don't believe that VPN will be blocked in the nearest future in Russia.

CHURCH: Right, and of course most of Russia's older generation, they get their news from state television and expect everything that Putin says about the war. While younger Russians are more likely to turn to the internet and use VPNs to get their news or access to programming. But do you think there will ever be enough Russians who reject Putin's lies? Our is that highly unlikely?

SAMSONOVA: I believe that news and media coverage the news died (ph) in itself will not tremendously influence their attitude towards war. And as we saw, people believe not only well-established outlets. So it's not a choice between Russia today and CNN, for example. It's the choice of which WhatsApp group to follow, who to trust.

And there are small circles of some social activity. And the Kremlin administration is very good with infiltrating WhatsApp. So I believe there are many Russians who oppose the war. I believe that we don't hear all the voices of those people because it's risky, it's dangerous to be vocal in Russia at the moment.

If your phone has like some -- if you're subscribed to some channels or something and you're stopped by police you can as well be detained. Especially if that happens on the border. So we don't know how many Russians are actually against the war.

CHURCH: Right.

SAMSONOVA: But I don't believe that media actually influences the situation.

CHURCH: It's all right, Tonia Samsonova, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

And, we'll have much more news just ahead. Stay with us.



CHURCH: North Korea has identified what it claims is its first case of COVID-19. State media says the Omicron variant case was detected in the capital Pyongyang. And it's calling the situation, a major national emergency.

North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, shared a bureau meeting where the attendees agreed to implement a maximum emergency anti epidemic system. Although, it is not clear how many cases have been detected, all cities have been ordered into lockdown.

North Korea has not acknowledged any coronavirus cases before this.

Well, more vaccinated people in the U.S. are dying of COVID-19. That is according to a CNN analysis data from the CDC. It shows more than 40% of COVID deaths in January and February were among the vaccinated people when the omicron variant was surging.

However, less than a third of them had gotten eight booster shot. A vaccine expert put this into perspective for us.


PAUL OFFIT, DIR. VACCINE EDUCATION CTR. CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: I think we should redefine what it means to be fully vaccinated, I think those people who are over 65 this is a three-dose vaccine, a three dose primary series.

If you're over 12, any of the kind of health problems that put you at risk for serious COVID this is a three-dose vaccine. I think the term booster is confusing people, and the CDC's current definition of fully vaccinated really is two doses, still. But I think this is a three- dose vaccine, with a third vaccine been 46 months later in certain groups, to be truly protected against serious illness.



CHURCH: Meantime, a new study finds 55 percent of early COVID patients at one hospital in Wuhan, China, had at least one symptom of the virus two years later. The study, published in the Lancet, looked at almost 1,200 patients who were discharged in the first half of 2020.

It could be one of the largest of its kind thus far to follow people with so called long COVID. Well, for the first time this season, major league baseball has been forced to postpone a game due to COVID.

Wednesday's game between the Cleveland Guardians and Chicago White Sox was called off, less than an hour before game time, after several Guardians' members tested positive, including the team's manager.

And thank you so much for, company I'm Rosemary Church, for our international viewers, World Sport is next. For those of you in North America, I'll be back with more news in just a moment, just stay with us.




CHURCH: Let's recap one of our top stories, multiple homes are burning in the Laguna Hills area of Orange County in Los Angeles. An evacuation order is now in effect for some neighborhoods. No word on the cause of the fire, which started Wednesday afternoon. It quickly grew to almost 200 acres fueled by strong, gusty winds.

So, for the latest on this wildfire we want to go now to CNN Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Pedram, what are you seeing here?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Rosemary, firefighters have their work cut out for them here. They're telling us they're using some 60 different types of resources whether it be fixed winged planes or down on the surface doing what they can to try to contain this fire that is rapidly spreading across this region, a very densely populated area into southern California.

I kind of want to show you what's happened across this particular landscape, because of course we know the draught situation has been prevalent, the entirety of the state of California dealing with draught situation, 41 percent of it underneath extreme draught. But when it comes to southern areas there of Orange County, still

looking at severe draught for that entire region, so really, a dangerous scenario, quite a bit of fuel and this is why these fires can become so explosive so quickly is the fire's only about seven, eight hours old here.

But you'll notice with these gusty winds especially in this elevated terrain of southern California where you have the canyons, you have the hilltops a lot of these spot fires are formed and then embers are picked up - they're carried downstream and essentially you create new fires further downstream.

And this is why the acreage goes from five acres up to 100 acres in the matter of a few hours, and now approaching 200 acres as of the last update. But just kind of looking at the lay of the land, just how dry this region has been.

Of course, we're coming off of the tail end of our wet season across southern California where about 80 plus percent of the rainfall for the entire year comes down in these first five months of the year.

But you'll notice through May 1 into Long Beach which is one of the closer observation points I could find to this fire, 1.14-inch of rainfall has come down where on average about 8-inches should come down, so about 14 percent of normal in the wet season, that kind of speaks to how dry this landscape is where even the little rainfall you expect you're only getting 14 percent of that here across portions of southern California.

So there we are, 195 acres consumed, 0 percent containment. Again, when you're talking about this particular fire in a very densely populated region a lot of high-end properties across this region.

Here into the overnight hours, you'll notice Rosemary, the wind's generally quieting down, but that's just at the airport observations. These canyons, that's an entirely different story, fire weather creates its own weather and that's the concern on these canyons where winds move (ph) much stronger, Rosie.

CHURCH: That's a real worry, thank you so much for keeping an eye on that. Thanks to Pedram Javaheri.

Well, in the coming hours the U.N. Security Council is set to discuss a new Taliban decree, which orders Afghan women to cover their faces in public. The order has sparked international condemnation and as CNN's Paula Newton reports, protests even on the streets of Kabul.



PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Defiance in Afghanistan. Women protesting in the capital Tuesday after the Taliban strips yet another freedom away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Through translator) Ever since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, all their projects have been against women. They want to limit and eliminate women from the field of society and politics.

NEWTON: A new Taliban decree over the weekend orders all women to cover their faces except their eyes in public, or around men who aren't close adult relatives. It's to avoid provocation the group spokesman says. Any woman who doesn't comply could see her male guardian jailed or lose his job.

When The Taliban took over last year they promised to respect women's rights within Islamic law. But the oppression of women remains a hallmark of Taliban rule.

Since last August they have barred girls from returning to school, banned women from travelling long distances without a male chaperone, and placed strict limitations on where women can work.

Now this latest decree becomes another measure chipping away at women's rights in Afghanistan, and earning condemnation from western leaders.

NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: No country can succeed that holds back half of its population, its women, its girls.


The Taliban's policies towards women, we think are an affront to human rights, and will continue to impair their relations with the international community.

NEWTON: The State Department Spokesman saying the U.S. is working with international partners to influence the Taliban to reverse some of its restrictive rules on women. But some Afghan women's rights advocates say those changes would have to come from within.

MAHBOUBA SERAJ, JOURNALIST AND WOMEN'S RIGHTS ADVOCATE IN KABUL: I don't want anything from the countries of the world, from the governments because they would promise, and that promise is never going to take place, I have seen it.

This is the time for the men of Afghanistan to stand next to their women. Don't you think it's about time that these men should stand next to us and ask the government, what do you think you're doing to our women? This is their right. They could - they don't have to cover their faces.

NEWTON: As the Taliban focuses on restricting women, the humanitarian crisis worsens. Nearly 20 million people in Afghanistan face acute hunger, the United Nations warned Monday food and security rising while human rights diminish as the Taliban lives up to its fundamentalist roots.

Paula Newton, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: Losing a life to overdose every five minutes, that is how a top U.S. official is describing alarming new data from the Centers for Disease Control. It shows U.S. drug overdose deaths set a new record high for the second year in a row.

Nearly 108,000 Americans suffered a fatal overdose last year, an almost 50 percent increase from 2019, the year before the pandemic started. Most of the deaths, about 2/3 involved a synthetic opioid such as Fentanyl. Drug overdoses killed about a quarter as many Americans last year as COVID.

Tibet Airline says all passengers and crew were safely evacuated after one of their passenger planes skidded off the runway and caught fire at Chongqing Airport in Central China.

According to the flight crew the plane had trouble during takeoff, and after leaving the runway the engine scraped the ground and caught fire. 122 people were onboard, more than 40 passengers were taken to hospital with minor injuries. The accident is under investigation.

And here's another aviation emergency that ended well, just like in the movies. A passenger grabs the controls of a plane after the pilot is incapacitated and makes a perfect landing with some help. It all happened in real life in Florida. Pete Muntean has the details.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent and I have no idea how to fly the airplane but maintaining at 9100.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: The voice you're hearing is not a pilot, but a passenger radioing for help. Audio capture from Live ATC details the communications between the plane a Cessna Caravan, and the control tower at Fort Pierce in Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Caravan 333LD. Roger. What's your position?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea. I see the coast of Florida in front of me, and I have no idea.

MUNTEAN: Air traffic controller Robert Morgan was on break from working in the tower when his colleague said he needed to come back fast.

ROBERT MORGAN, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: There's a passenger flying a plane that's not a pilot, and the pilot's incapacitated. So they said we need to try to help them land the plane.

MUNTEAN: Morgan is a 20-year veteran controller, but also a certificated flight instructor with 1,200 hours flying experience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was the situation with the pilot?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is incoherent. He is out. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 3LD. Roger. Try to hold the wings level and see if

you can start descending for me, push forward on the control and descend at a very slow rate.

MUNTEAN: Controller Morgan had not flown the specific type of plane, so he pulled up this photo of the layout of the instrument panel and talked the passenger through it step-by-step.

MORGAN: I knew the plane is flying like, any other plane, I just had to keep him calm, point him to the runway, and just tell him how to reduce the power so he could descend to land.

MUNTEAN: Data from FlightAware shows the flight's path, the first challenge to controllers locating the flight and pointing the passenger turned pilot to the airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: N3LD maintain wings level, and just try to follow the coast either north or southbound. We're trying to locate you.


Have you guys located me yet? I can't even get my nav screen to turn on, it has all the information on it. You guys have any ideas on that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: N3LD Palm Beach he's telling me (ph) that you're about 20 miles east of Boca Raton, just continue northbound over the beach and we'll try to get you some more further instructions.

MUNTEAN: Morgan's instruction paid off, guiding the flight to a landing at Palm Beach. Aviation experts call it a remarkable feat that left other flights listening in stunned, including a commercial pilot waiting for takeoff.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you say the passengers landed the airplane?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my god. Great job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No flying experience. We've got a controller that worked him down that's a flight instructor.

MUNTEAN: After the landing Morgan left the tower and met out to the ramp to meet his newest student pilot that he taught to land without ever getting in the plane.

MORGAN: I just feel like it was probably meant to happen.

MUNTEAN: The original pilot in this incident was taken to a local hospital. The new pilot, Darren Harrison, told air traffic controllers he only had familiarity with flying through observation, no formal flight training or flying experience. He's from Lakeland, Florida in the window and flooring business. Adding to the drama of all of this, Harrison told air traffic controllers he was simply trying to get home to see his wife who is pregnant.

Pete Muntean, CNN Erlanger, Kentucky.


CHURCH: And thank you so much for joining us this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be right back with more coverage after a short break. Stay with us.