Return to Transcripts main page
Flooding Kills Dozen in India And Bangladesh; Israel P.M. Bennett And F.M. Lapid Agree To Dissolve Parliament; Zelenskyy: African Nations Taken Hostage By Russian War; Interview with Former Colombian Vice President and Former Colombian Ambassador to the U.S. Francisco Santos Calderon; First Afro-Colombian Vice President; Gustavo Petro Aims to Reset Relations with U.S.; Russia's War on Ukraine; UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller Visits Ukraine; Russian Nobel Medal Auctioned to Help Ukrainian Refugees; Iraqi Kurdistan, Ancient City Reemerged; Interview with Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations Max Boot; Biden Considering Gas Tax Holiday. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired June 21, 2022 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Lynda Kinkade.
Just ahead. Israel's parliament is just days away from dissolution. The prime minister could be replaced as early as next week. And Benjamin Netanyahu was eager for chance to get his old job back.
Plus, the House committee investigating the U.S. Capitol re returns for day four of hearings. We'll dive into some of the most bizarre elements that the former president's scheme to overturn the 2020 election.
And rivers overflowing, home submerged. Millions have been affected by flooding across India, Bangladesh, and China. We'll have a live report from the region.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center. This is CNN NEWSROOM with Lynda Kinkade.
KINKADE: Well, after weeks of political turmoil in Israel, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his key coalition ally, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will move to dissolve parliament. A bill to do so as expected to be submitted next week. And if it passes, Israel will be headed for its fifth election in under four years. The move Bennett says comes after attempts to stabilize the coalition failed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAFTALI BENNET, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER (through translator): In the last few weeks, we did everything we could to save this government that in our eyes, the continuation of its existence was in the national interest. Believe me, we looked under every rock. We didn't do this for ourselves, but for our beautiful country, for you citizens of Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Journalist Elliott Gotkine joins us now from Jerusalem. Good to see you, Elliot. So, the Bennett government expected to be dissolved next week, sending the country to its fifth election in three years. What does that tell you about the state of politics in Israel?
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lynda, I think most people will say that no matter what their political affiliation that Israeli politics is broken. You may recall of course, we had that seemingly endless cycle of inconclusive elections. Three inconclusive elections until finally, we had a fourth election. And all of these parties, eight parties from different ends of the political spectrum, including an Israeli-Arab party for the first time got together to form a government.
But I think that has shown unity can only go so far and only up to a point and it wasn't just divisions between these parties within the coalition that tore it apart. It was divisions even within parties, in particular Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's right-wing Yamina Party which has seemingly been fraying at the seams from day one. And that fraying has kind of turned into more of a ripping over the last couple of weeks or a month or so.
And ultimately, these fissures within the coalition and certainly within the right-wing members of the coalition have been ruthlessly exploited by a former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been plotting to try to topple this government from the very beginning even voting against bills such as the renewal of legislation that extends Israeli law to settlers. Even voting against that even though it's something that he and his political allies support.
So, Netanyahu very much hoping for a comeback. He will be hoping to get his old job back if you like once elections are held, and they will have to be held no more than five months after the Israeli Parliament or Knesset is dissolved. We've said it many times in the past that you write off, Mr. Netanyahu at your peril. But of course, there's no guarantee even if polls are showing him in his right-wing bloc resurgence that they -- according to some polls may even secure half of the seats in the Knesset.
There is no guarantee that fresh elections will be any more conclusive or that they will give rise to a government which is any more stable than the one that looks at to dissolve -- to be dissolved next week, Lynda?
KINKADE: All right. Lots of follow. Elliott Gotkine, we will chat again very soon. Thanks so much.
For this second date of where Ukraine's president is urging the country to brace for more attacks from Russia. Saying Moscow is nervous about Ukraine's bid to join the European Union. There are also fears that Russia could launch a new offensive in Kharkiv. On Monday shelling spots a massive fire at a factory in Ukraine second largest city and Ukrainian officials say at least three civilians were killed in shelling across the wider Kharkiv region.
KINKADE: CNN teams on the ground have also reported hearing more explosions than normal. Well to the south, the leader of the Russian annexed Crimea accused Ukraine of striking gas drilling platforms in the Black Sea. He says three people were wounded in the attack. Seven others are still missing. Well, for more, I want to welcome CNN's Salma Abdelaziz who joins us live from Kyiv.
Salma, Good to have you with us. So shelling intensifying in Kharkiv. Russians using multiple launch rocket systems to strike.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Lynda. All across that frontline. The war continues to drag out for the east, the main flashpoint city is of course Severodonetsk. A city that sustained for two months now, consistent Russian attacks. And Ukrainian officials are saying that Russia has the ability to large -- to launch rather a large scale offensive. That's extremely worrying because Ukrainian forces are already on the backfoot there.
Russian forces control most of Severodonetsk. There's thousands of civilians potentially still pinned down in the fighting the three main bridges that lead out of Severodonetsk that can be used to evacuate those residents. They are now impassable to heavily damaged by the -- by the fighting. Ukrainian officials told us at some points, they were running out of artillery and what is an artillery war.
So, the fact that Russia could launch an even larger, offensive, extremely concerning. And Severodonetsk is important because it's one of the last major strongholds in the Luhansk region for Ukrainians. If it falls, it is one step closer to President Putin's larger goal of trying to take full control of the Donbass area. That's part of trying to form that land bridge all along the east to connect mainland Russia all the way down to Crimea.
And now there's that fear as well that as shelling increases in Kharkiv, that Russian forces might try to open up a second frontlines. Stretch out Ukraine's already very thin resources. So, all down that eastern front and it's a very long frontline there, Lynda. About 1000 kilometers of active fighting that Ukrainian forces are trying to maintain there. It's a war of attrition. Neither side is strong enough to win but neither sides weak enough to lose essentially.
But it seems inevitable at this stage that Severodonetsk will fall at some point to Russian forces. Lynda?
KINKADE: All right. Salma Abdelaziz first in Kyiv. All thanks to you and your team.
With a war in Ukraine is also propelling a global food crisis that's only getting worse. While Russia and Ukraine have both blamed each other for the paralysis at Ukrainian ports. One fact hasn't changed. Millions of tons of grain are currently stranded inside Ukraine, putting millions at risk of food shortages. On Monday, Ukraine's president addressed the issue with the African Union telling leaders that Russia is holding their nation's hostage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): If it wasn't for the Russian war, you would be in a completely different position now, completely safe. That is why in order to avoid famine, the efforts of states like Russia to return to their aggressive policy of colonialism must end. The time of empires is over. People have the right to just, live just live and have everything for life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: For some more, let's bring in CNN's David McKenzie joins us live from Johannesburg. David, as we just heard from the Ukrainian president, he says that African nations been taken hostage from -- by Russia because of this invasion. This invasion, of course, meaning that grain is not leaving the so-called breadbasket of the world.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a very critical situation. And as you alluded to Lynda, it will get worse over the next few months if this isn't negotiated out. And what you've got is that ports like Odessa, other parts of the Black Sea where grain usually is leaving at this time of year to be exported around the world, but especially to Sub-Saharan African countries and parts of North Africa and Middle East.
That is being blockaded both by Russian warships and also by the defensive measures put in by Ukrainians. The minds to be hugely dangerous to try and get the grant out by sea. There are moves afoot to get it out by land. But the reality is, is that Zelenskyy is trying to get political support from African nations putting the blame on Russia on this issue and he might struggle with some countries to fully support Ukrainian side.
KINKADE: David, are African countries sympathetic to these cause from Zelenskyy?
MCKENZIE: Well, it's a vast continent with many different viewpoints. But there is a divide in Africa unlike there is in say the European Union which is very much solidly supporting Ukraine of course in this conflict.
MCKENZIE: Despite the fact that several African countries could see severe food price increases and possibly even supply difficulties. There is a lot of history there. And Russia has managed to also put its propaganda or its policy to African countries. A few weeks ago, you had the head of the African Union visiting President Putin in Sochi to try and negotiate out some kind of settlement.
Russia has repeatedly blamed the issue on supply on sanctions, something that most analysts say is just untrue. And the head of the European Union foreign policy team said that this amounts to a war crime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEP BORRELL, E.U. HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Russia's locating Ukrainian exports Russia, not us, Russia. Russia is destroying ports and Australian food stocks. Destroying passport infrastructure. Russia, not us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKENZIE: The fact remains though, that in the coming weeks and months if this isn't figured out, the hundreds of millions of tons of grain that could be on offer from Ukraine if that is continued to stay in Ukraine and not get out, you could see a very severe food crisis as the month stretch ahead. And if this war continues, it will just snowball into something very serious indeed. Lynda?
KINKADE: Yes, certainly not looking good. David McKenzie for us in Johannesburg, our thanks to you.
Well, still to come. Deadly flooding is fueling a crisis in Bangladesh and people are running out of food, water and medicine. We'll have a forecast and a look at how the military is bringing in supplies by air.
Plus, the January 6 Committee is back with new evidence that Donald Trump knew his election lies will leading to threats of violence. That story coming up next on CNN NEWSROOM.
KINKADE: Welcome back. Days of heavy rain have triggered flooding in parts of southern China. Officials say almost half a million people have been impacted in Guangdong Province. Rivers are overflowing and homes are submerged. The floods have also collapsed roads in some areas causing severe traffic delays. Local forecasters expect more rain over the coming day. And in India and Bangladesh, millions have been affected by monsoon weather.
Officials say flooding has killed at least 84 people and some 300,000 others is said to be taking shelter in Bangladesh alone. We have reporters covering all angles of this story. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is at the CNN Center here in Atlanta. And Vedika Sud is in New Delhi.
SUD: I want to go to New Delhi first. Vedika, the death toll is rising. Hundreds of thousands of people are now needing shelter after their homes have been destroyed. But the impact extends even further.
VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Lynda, it does. These floods have had a devastating impact on the lives of millions of people both in the northeastern parts of Bangladesh and northeastern states here in India, including Assam. But I want to start with some very strong visuals that are coming in from Bangladesh, from the worst hit district of Sylhet. Now what you see there is a boy wading through flood water, he can barely keep his head above water.
And then you see scores of women riding on boats, they're all essentially looking for drinking water, Lynda. There's water all around, but very little on none to drink. And that is the biggest challenge that authorities in Bangladesh are currently facing. We also have visuals we have access from the Bangladesh Air Force when the same district of Sylhet, they're dropping food and water packets to people who are scurrying really on the ground to get hold of this.
There's a huge shortage of both in the area. Now coming to Assam, let's just talk about this one strong image we want our viewers to see of this young boy who's being rescued by an official belonging to the national disaster response team in Assam. He's in a bucket, Lynda and he's being pushed away from the areas that are underwater to a rescue boat. And they're trying to get him to safer ground as they have with tens of thousands of other Indians living in Assam.
There are other northeastern states of Assam that are facing the same problem. The worry is this, that this could be directly connected to climate change in the region. And here's what an environmentalist, a leading environmentalist here in India, Sunita Narain had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUNITA NARAIN, DIRECTOR GENERAL, CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT: So, it is very clear that with climate change, this region is going to see extreme rainfall. And already in Bangladesh, and in the northeast, you're seeing that impact that the region has gone from water scarcity to flood in one -- in one book. And that is the impact of climate change. This devastating flood is clearly linked to the changes that we are seeing in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SUD: More and more embankments have been breached over the last few days in Assam, Lynda. Also along with this, we seem tributaries that have been overrun. Something that's not happened in the past. It's one main river Brahmaputra that usually overflows. So, this has been a huge learning lesson for India. Hopefully, it should be rather for the government here. And there needs to be some action that is taken short and long term to save the lives of these people who have to run to safer ground every year.
This is an annual event of sorts that takes place in India as well as Bangladesh. Lynda?
KINKADE: Yes. Certainly extraordinary scenes both in India and Bangladesh. Vedika Sud, our thanks to you. And we are going to stay on this story. I want to turn to CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. So Pedram, just put this in some context for us. How bad is this flooding historically speaking? And when can people expect some relief?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: You know, Lynda, it's a great question. Because, of course, part of it is that we are in the heart of the monsoon season. But the extreme nature and the intensity of the rainfall really, is what really has to be kind of -- can't be overstated here, when you look at what has played out. And we know that it's not just an abstract sort of a setup.
You look at just the past two decades across Bangladesh, in particular, we know about $4 billion in weather-related losses have occurred. The intensity of the rainfall certainly has increased and, oh, you look at wet -- climate experts will tell you about 200 specific extreme weather events have played out across this region just in the past two decades alone. And just about every single one of them has the fingerprints of climate change written all over it.
So we know with a warmer planet, the atmosphere has a higher ability to hold and retain moisture. And that results in heavier rainfall. And that is how things have been playing out across this region. So as Vedika kind of noted here, we go from having extreme drought to extreme rainfall and just kind of a flip of a switch, the sort of a setup. And there are lot of dangers when you look at these scenarios where we know of course the flooding is taking place.
But a lot of people don't think about is with the flooding scenario you've got contaminants, infectious diseases, aggressive insects, wildlife, all of this are kind of embedded within the waters here. So, a lot of people that are forced to essentially wade through these waters are facing these additional dangers that oftentimes in anywhere that's flooded around the world kind of becomes another part of what's playing out here.
And the monsoons are also in full effect across portions of Asia. The Meiyu-Baiu front as it's known here producing an incredible amount of rainfall.
JAVAHERI: Some of the wettest weather we've seen here in quite some time and in fact across Guangxi, Guangdong and Fujian about 620 millimeters on average has fallen in the span of 45 days. That is exceeding what fell for average there for the entirety of 2021. Getting the span of 45 days here across parts of southern China, Lynda.
KINKADE: Absolutely extraordinary. Pedram Javaheri, our thanks to you.
Well, the House Committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riot returns with another live hearing in the day ahead. Election officials from Arizona and Georgia are set to testify that Donald Trump pressured them to overturn the 2020 presidential vote. Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger will certainly talk about this phone conversation with Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,1780 votes, which is one more that we have because we won the state. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: We will also hear perhaps the most detailed account to date of one of the most bizarre elements of the former president's scheme. The attempt without any legal basis to get alternative and completely imaginary slates of electors installed from seven states to swing the election.
This is what it looked like in Michigan back in December when those fake electors actually showed up at the statehouse and tried to talk their way past police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: We're electors. We're electors. We're here to take part in the electoral process.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The electors are already here. They've been checked in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not all of them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They've also electors.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not all the electors are inside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Capitol is full. All 16 electors have already been advised by the governor's staff that were going to be here to vote in the electoral college have been checked in. They're already here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the GOP electors --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But these are the rest of electors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: or more on this, I want to bring in CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein joining me from Los Angeles. Good to have you with us.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be with you again.
KINKADE: So, this plot to overturn the 2020 election has already seen so many twists and turns. Are we learning more about a group of Republicans in seven states where Trump lost pretending to be electors? Do we expect to hear from these fake electors this week? And will they give us some idea about who was coordinating that effort?
BAIER: Yes. I, you know, I don't know if we're going to hear from the fake electors themselves. But what's striking is that the announced witnesses for tomorrow continue to be dominated by Republicans. Right? That's been the story throughout. We're talking about the Secretary of State in Georgia, the speaker of the House in Arizona. Another top election official in Georgia, continuing what we saw with officials from the Vice President Pence's office.
The former Republican appointed federal judge. Clearly this committee is trying to send a message to the voters in the Republican coalition, voters in red America that there are serious disclosures and revelations here that they have to pay attention to and they're trying to do it with voices they may be somewhat more likely intrinsically to trust.
KINKADE: Yes. And you mentioned that Georgia call obviously that Georgia official and that now infamous call where Trump asked the official to find him 11,780 votes, enough votes to win the state of Georgia. Georgia, of course back to the Democratic Party for the first time since 1992. Ron, what will you be listening for when he takes -- when he starts to speak out at the hearing?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, first of all, you know, viewers have - should remember that in addition to the committee investigating this, the Fulton County D.A., the county that centered on Atlanta, has a grand jury that is investigating this and there are many who think that D.A. is more -- is likely to act against former President Trump sooner than the Justice Department. That's something to keep an eye on.
Look, I think Raffensperger -- first of all, it's striking that he's testifying at all. He just recently survived a primary challenge a few weeks ago against a Trump-backed election denier who was seeking the Republican nomination as secretary of state in Georgia. I'm not sure he wouldn't be testifying in person if he was going into a runoff and that but I, you know, that the fact that he's going to sit in front of the cameras makes me -- and in front of the committee makes me think that he's going to have some strong things to say about the pressure that Trump put on him and his aides.
The aide Gabriel Sterling was also testifying. You may or people may recall in 2020 he basically says Trump was going to get someone hurt or killed with his allegations about fraud in Georgia. So, it will be striking to hear what he has to say as well tomorrow.
KINKADE: Yes. It certainly will be intriguing. So Ron, what's the overall goal of this committee hearing? Take us through the key parts of this investigation. And what if anything, would be the easiest, most likely parts for some sort of prosecution?
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Well, look, I think the committee has reframed the way Americans and people around the world need to look at what happened on January 6.
BROWNSTEIN: For most of the period after January 6, the question people were asking was did Trump's words and tweets inspire, ignite the mob to attack the Capitol? The Committee has completely reframed that. They have portrayed the January 6 attack as merely the final step in a multi-pronged, multi month effort to subvert and overturn the election. And I think they have, above all, both paved a path for and pointed a finger at the Attorney General Merrick Garland.
And that they have tried to lay out what, you know, many legal analysts have said since they started as a pretty strong case that former President Trump violated the law and needs to be prosecuted, that not only was -- were his actions improper, not only do they broadly violate his oath to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed, that they specifically broke the law in terms of obstruction of congressional proceeding and conspiracy.
So, I think that's going to be the first measure. Does this create pressure on the Justice Department to look more seriously than they seem to have been doing it but whether Trump should be indicted? The other, of course, would be to clear up some of the ambiguities in the law that created these openings, in particular, changing the Electoral Count Act of the 1880s to provide more clarity, and to limit more clearly the discretion of the vice president.
KINKADE: Ron Brownstein, always good to get your perspective. Thanks so much.
BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.
KINKADE: Well, you can see the inside hearing plus in depth analysis right here on CNN starting at 1:00 p.m. in Washington. That's 6:00 p.m. in London, 1:00 a.m. in Hong Kong.
Well, air travel is returning to normal now to several days of widespread delays and flight cancellations. Airlines and airports are struggling with a shortage of staff, forcing them to cut the number of flights they can schedule. The CEO of the United Airlines is calling on the U.S. government to help get the industry back on track in the wake of the pandemic. CNNs Richard Quest asked him about the industry problems at a conference in Doha.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Realistically, there's not much that can be done to improve the situation. Do now in the summer. It's just -- it's hold you knows and --
SCOTT KIRBY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, UNITED AIRLINES: I disagree. Although it requires, you know, the truth is, I think it requires government help. Because the biggest issue is there's more flights scheduled in Newark, for example, than there is capacity at the airport, even in a perfect blue sky day. And air traffic control is understaffed. And because of that, there's just more flights in the airport can handle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Well, the head of the International Air Transport Association says high costs of fuel will likely translate to higher prices for consumers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WILLIE WALSH, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IATA: We're not going from a business as usual environment to a recession. We're in a recovery, which likely will go into a downturn. We're still going to grow through that because we've not recovered all of the last business that we had.
I would say the number one challenge that airlines will face will be the price of oil. You know, we have seen that significantly spike this year, we estimate that the price of a barrel of jet is at $125 U.S. a barrel. That's high as we've seen it for a long, long time. Now, good news, airlines are somewhat cushion from that because they do have some hedging in place, which clearly will, you know, soften the blow in 2022 and to some degree in 2023.
But ultimately, that price is going to impact on airlines and it is going to impact on consumers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Well, Britain is bracing for its largest rail strike in decades in the coming hours. Tens of thousands of rail workers are set to walk out Tuesday in a dispute over pay and job cuts. The strike is poised to cause severe disruptions across the region. Only about half of the rail network will be open and on strike days. And even then with very limited service. Rail workers are said to walk out again on Thursday and Saturday.
Still ahead on CNN NEWSROOM. From guerrilla fighter to president- elect. The challenges facing Gustavo Petro as he prepares to lead Colombia.
Plus, a Russian Nobel Prize winner auctions his award for Ukrainian refugees. What it's sold for after the break.
BARRY HURST, ENERGY AND SUSTAINABILITY DIRECTOR, SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC: I'm Barry Hurst, energy and sustainability director at Schneider Electric. Schneider electric was ranked the world's most sustainable company in 2021 by Corporate Knights. And it drew a lot of attention to what we've been working on now for over 10 years. So, I think the important thing to emphasize is, that it's a long term commitment and that it takes a lot of organization to really make big strides.
So, the advice I would give is, to do strategy and action in parallel. We see a lot of companies who have a strategy but are unsure on how to implement it. And we see companies that have -- want to get action, but don't have a clear strategy. So, I would say, always do the two in parallel if you want to get maximum impact and really accelerate your journey.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Lynda Kinkade, you're watching CNN Newsroom. Well, Colombia won't swear in its next president until August 7th. But the country's last recognized guerrilla group is already asking to reopen peace talks with Gustavo Petro. The leftist leader won Sunday's vote and now there is a chance to shape Colombia's futures. Stefano Pozzebon reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN JOURNALIST (voiceover): Gustavo Petro, Colombia's first ever left-wing president. Four decades ago, he was a guerilla fighter, waging war against the Colombian State. Now, he's the head of state. After being detained for almost two years in the 1980s, he laid down his weapons and ran for political office. He was elected as a congressman, then mayor of Bogota, and then as a senator. He campaigned for the presidency three times before becoming the president-elect on Sunday by a razor-thin margin of three percent. A sign, that many remain concerned about his past.
His election comes at a turbulent time in Colombia's history. The economy is flourishing, but the chronicling equality means that the countryside remains under developed. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the inflationary wave that followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine only exacerbated Colombia's troubles. Food prices increased more than 20 percent this year. And Petro told CNN his focus will be on food security. He also said he wants to stop oil and coal extraction and open a new relationship with the United States.
POZZEBON (on camera): You're renegotiating a free-trade agreement wih U.S.?
GUSTAVO PETRO, PRESIDENT-ELECT, COLOMBIA: Yes.
POZZEBON (voiceover): He says, he wants Colombia to export food rather than cocaine. Fighting the war on drugs with agricultural subsidies instead of weapons. The challenges ahead are huge in bringing the country together after a polarizing campaign in the beginning. But Petro believes he's the right person to steer a new era and says that if he could change from armed rebel to statesman, Colombia can change, too. Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, Bogota.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Joining me now from Bogota is politician and journalists Francisco Santos Calderon. He's Colombia's former ambassador to the U.S. and served as vice president of Colombia from 2002 to 2010. Good to have you with us.
FRANCISCO SANTOS CALDERON, FORMER COLOMBIAN VICE PRESIDENT, FORMER COLOMBIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Lynda, good to be here.
KINKADE: So, you were the former vice president of Colombia. You were also a victim of kidnapping by a narco-trafficker, Pablo Escobar. And, of course, you faced threats from the far guerrilla group. A former guerrilla number has now been elected president of Colombia. What is your response?
CALDERON: It shows the maturity of Colombian democracy. It -- but it also shows how a country that is very, very stable can make decisions that might cost a lot in the near future. Everybody is very scared. We don't know how far to the left he's going to go.
Actually his speech shows something that is closer to Venezuela than to what Chile under Lagos or social democrat is. And so, we're very, very worried.
KINKADE: And of course, the 62-year-old, Gustavo Petro is Colombia's first leftist leader. And, right now of course, Colombians are facing a rising inequality, surging violence, soaring inflation. Petro has promised profound economic and social change. How do you think he would change the direction of Colombia?
CALDERON: Well, a lot of his main proposals are very -- well, have a populace type of tendencies appropriating the private pension funds, changing totally the health system, which is the -- one of the top 10 health systems in the world. Eliminating oil, that is the biggest foreign exchange, a winner in Colombia.
A lot of the things that he has been promised don't act up. So, I'm very worried that in six months to a year, we can start a crisis like the one that Venezuela has. I foresee tomorrow, which is the first day in today's holiday in Colombia, tomorrow a big run on the peso and that will create even more problems regarding inflation because most of our food stuff are imported. So, I wouldn't be surprised if we had a 10 to 15 percent in one day, next month -- next Tuesday, sorry.
KINKADE: And, Ambassador, we were just looking at pictures there of Francia Marquez, the vice president elect. She, of course, has long history of rule social activism and environmental work. And she's a former housekeeper and a single mother. And now, the first Afro- Colombian elected to this role, the first female VP. What's your reaction to the fact that Colombia has its first female black vice president?
CALDERON: No, the --
KINKADE: A woman who promises to stand up nobody.
CALDERON: No, again, it shows how deep Colombia democracy is. We have had -- we're the second oldest democracy in the region after the U.S. We haven't had the -- practically the military dictatorships. We -- we're a country that in the worse state moment of violence in the late '80s, instead of going, like, both to southern countries to military dictatorship, did a new constitutional assembly that deepened the democracy.
So, it shows how it is. But, again, it's very, very, very dangerous in uncertain times. And certainly for the U.S., it's going to become a huge problem because without a doubt, Colombia is going to move to the -- to be a lot closer with Russia. Probably, we'll go neutral in its position in Ukraine. It will be a lot closer to China. It will be very close to Maduro in Venezuela and to Diaz-Canel in Cuba.
So, I think that U.S., with these selection losses, it's -- I would say, its strongest ally in the region and leaves the U.S. totally isolated in our continent, especially within Latin-America.
KINKADE: So, Ambassador, what in your view is this incoming governance biggest challenge?
CALDERON: Not destroying what has been built and creating -- created such expectation that is going to be very, very difficult to respond to them. I wouldn't be surprised if in three to five months, they're going to start saying that the opposition that doesn't allow them to govern and they become more radicalized and they start using different type of authorities like Chavez did to not -- to suspended the traditional way of democracy that works.
As a matter of fact, Petro said in his speech that he was ordering the attorney general to free some students that had been caught because of vandalizing things in the city. And the attorney general said, you know if you want to have them free, you have to change the law because I am an independent government. That just shows one of the biggest challenges that Colombian democracy is going to have during the four years that's why a lot of people are very scared.
KINKADE: Interesting times ahead. Francisco Santos Calderon, Colombia's former vice president, our thanks to you.
CALDERON: Thank you very much.
KINKADE: Well, still to come on CNN Newsroom. Actor and Goodwill Ambassador, Ben Stiller, shows up in Ukraine with a message about protecting the millions of people who have fled the war.
More now on the war in Ukraine, actor Ben Stiller, who is a Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner of Refugees visited with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in Kyiv on World Refugee Day, Monday. Still a code for a collective global responsibility to protect people who were displaced because of war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN STILLER, ACTOR AND UNHCR GOODWILL AMBASSADOR: Hey, I'm Ben Stiller and I'm here in Ukraine. I am eating people who've been impacted by the war and hearing how it's changed their lives. War and violence are devastating people all over the world. Nobody chooses to flee their home. Seeking safety is a right, and it needs to be upheld for every person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Well, Russian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dmitry Muratov, put his price metal up for auction to support children displaced by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It sold for more than $103 million which will go directly to UNICEF. Muratov is the editor of a newspaper "Critical of the Kremlin". And he won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa.
Well, in Iraqi Kurdistan, an ancient city has reemerged from a reservoir after extreme drought caused water levels to drop. Kurdistan-German archaeologists excavated the 3,400-year-old settlement along the Tigris River. They documented fortifications, storage buildings, and structures made of mud bricks. Those have found ceramic vessels in more than 100 clay tablets. Researchers believe the city belonged to the bronze-aged kingdom. The city surfaced briefly back in 2018 but it's largely been underwater since the Mosul Dam was built in the 1980s.
Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Lynda Kinkade. World Sport is coming up next. And I'll be back with much more news from around the world in about 15 minutes. You are watching CNN. Stay with us.
JEFF MAGGIONCALDA, CEO, COURSERA: Fundamentally, the world is changing very rapidly because of technology, globalization. And people need to learn new skills and if they do, there's a wide range of new opportunities for new jobs if people get scaled up. So, we think this is going to persist far beyond the pandemic. There's a lot of interest for individuals coming directly to Coursera Online to take professional certificates, to learn the skills, to get new digital careers.
But the other thing that we're seeing is that businesses are realizing that embracing technology, going digital, moving into the Cloud, using AI makes them more competitive. And so, businesses are upskilling, their employees using Coursera. And now, post-pandemic, universities and colleges all around the world even as students come back to campus, they're realizing that integrating online learning into the way --
LEMON: So, you got to pay attention to this. All right. Missouri's former governor, current Republican senate candidate calling on voters to take down members of his own party. Eric Greitens campaign ad shows him holding what appears to be a long gun while he talks about hunting RINOs, or Republicans in name only. It also shows him barging into a house with a tactical unit. And the add-ins with this message, "RINO hunting permit. No bagging limit. No tagging limit."
It's also worth noting that Greitens is facing allegations of sexual misconduct, child abuse, and blackmail but he denies them. Scott Jennings and Max Boot are back with me.
OK. So, I'm going to get what you guys think about this. Max, Greitens is a top contender in the senate race. Would he had put out this ad if he didn't think that it was a winning message?
MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS AND COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Clearly he does think it's a winning message and he knows the formula which is to say something outrageous and horrific then get blow back from the mainstream world, from the media, from Democrats. And then he becomes a hero to the MAGA hordes by claiming that they're trying to sensor him and he's a brave speaker of the truth. It's this tedious carnival act but it's a very dangerous act because what Greitens is doing is he is encouraging violence.
We already have more gun violence than any other country in the world. We have more guns than any other country in the world. Republicans are preventing us from passing any kind of sensible gun safety legislation. We can't ban assault weapons. We can't oppose even a 21- year-old age limit to buy assault weapons. But on top of that, Republicans have made a fetish of guns. They -- they are -- they have this gun cult where almost every single Republican can out-pay now these days, has to have a gun in it.
And, of course -- and that losses its shock fairly. And so, Greitens has taken it up another notch by actually miming this act of killing his Republican opponents, whoever they are. But sadly, what I see is that the mainstream Republican Party, to the extent that there is a mainstream is cowed by the gun lobby. They are cowed by the gun knots. They will not stand up to the insiders of patriot and violence. And that is ultimately more of a problem. And you can certainly have extremists and very bad people like Eric Greitens or the people who are writing the Texas Party platform.
But the fundamental problem is, there are no grown-ups left in the Republican Party who will stand up for moderation and decency.
LEMON: You know, Scott, the Missouri Paternal order of police is denouncing that Greitens' ad. But we haven't heard anything from the RNC or Republican leadership. Why aren't they condemning this and making it, you know, that clear that violence will not be tolerated?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND FORMER SPECIAL ASST. TO PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes, I don't know. I do know this, that the Republican leadership at large is freaked out about the possibility that Greitens will become a nominee in Missouri. There's a widespread belief that if he gets the nomination, which by the way is possible because there's so many candidates, he can get the nomination with a low number of votes. And if he gets it, this senate race goes on the board.
And if we nominate Greitens in Missouri, the Republicans will get what they deserve. Which is a race that we could easily lose because we'll have nominated someone who's not worthy of our party's nomination, he's not worthy of a seat in the United States Senate, and we got to stop him.
So, this is one of those races, Don. This is not -- unlike, the 2016 Republican primary for president where fragmentation helps a candidate who does the most extreme thing.
LEMON: Scott --
JENNINGS: And he's doing the most extreme thing. It's bad for the party.
LEMON: Let me ask you before you go, you're a smart man. I asked you, I said, you know, why aren't they saying anything? I mean, you're -- why don't you think they're saying anything even if you don't -- if you're not sure or you haven't heard from them. But you must have some idea.
JENNINGS: Well, I think there's a question of strategy in this race, to be honest with you, Don. Because I think what Max said is not incorrect that candidates like this do these sorts of things in an effort to illicit, push back from media, or push back from the so- called party leaders or establishment. And then they use that as evidence, you know, that, hey, the swamp is coming to going to get me.
And so, I think whenever things like this happen, everybody hesitates because they don't want to make it worse. And so, that's part of what I think is going on. Overall in Missouri, there's a massive effort away of people trying to figure how to stop Greitens from getting this nomination with 30 percent of the vote. That's what's happening and nobody wants to mess up the plan to try to get this thing for somebody else.
LEMON: Scott and Max, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
We're going to talk about high gas prices and the White House knows it. What Joe Biden is saying he's going to do about it, that's next.
Well, tonight gas prices dropping ever so slightly after climbing to record high levels. AAA reports that as of today, the national average price of a gallon of gas stands at $4.98, that's down three pennies a gallon from last week. Now, the White House is desperate to get gas prices down. President Biden considering a federal gas tax holiday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: That's what I'm considering.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How soon can we expect a decision?
BIDEN: Well, I hope I have a decision based on data I'm looking for by the end of the week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The federal gas tax is just over 18 cents a gallon. Suspending it temporarily could give drivers a break at the pump. But President Biden cannot take action unilaterally. He would need Congress to go along with it.
Another public hearing, this time, three Republicans are testifying in front of the January 6th Committee and all of America.