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Convicts, Mercenaries Fight For Russia In Bakhmut; Russia Using Iranian Drones On Battlefield In Ukraine; Putin May Call For Mobilization Of Military Reserves; Iranians Protest Death Of Woman In Morality Police Custody; Residents Shelter In Place As Storm Slams Turks And Caicos; U.N. Chief: Fossil Fuel Companies Feasting As Planet Burns; Bolsonaro Pushes Back Against Environmental Concerns. Aired 1- 2a ET
Aired September 21, 2022 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: All around the world, this is CNN Newsroom. And coming up this hour, world leaders gathering in crisis at the U.N. General Assembly, with Putin's war threatening the fundamental principles of the United Nations. A big tax on big profits, the U.N.'s plan to tax the fossil fuel industries massive profits to help poor nations already struggling with the impact of global warming. And outrage in Iran, protests over the death of a young woman detained by the morality police spreading across the country.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN Newsroom with John Vause.
VAUSE: With an anti-pandemic restrictions, world leaders are gathering in person at the U.N.'s Annual General Assembly for the first time in three years. Only this year, their meeting is Russia's invasion of Ukraine threatens the fundamental principles on which the U.N. was founded. After trampling the U.N. Charter with his invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be a no show for the 77th session of the General Assembly, which began on Tuesday.
Nearly every country around the world is feeling the impact from his war of choice, from shortages of grain, rising food and fuel prices, record high inflation, soaring energy costs, all of it linked back to Putin. And then there's the existential threat of climate change with the U.N. Secretary General calling for urgent action. Antonio Guterres wants wealthy nations to tax record windfall profits of energy companies, help poor nations struggling for the impact of global warming and global inflation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Let's have no illusions. We are in rough seas, a winter of global discontent is on the horizon. A cost-of-living crisis is raging, thrust is crumbling, inequalities are exploding and our planet is burning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And Putin's war crimes are apparently targeting civilian areas again, with the Russian missile strike on a residential building in Ukraine's second biggest city, Kharkiv.
The screen is black because the attack came in the dead of night. Ickesmer (ph) says rescue crews are looking for residents trapped in the debris. As of this hour, authorities still do not know how many have been hurt or killed.
And Vladimir Putin may or may not make a major announcement during a national address the next hour or so. It's still unclear what comes next after plans were announced on Tuesday for referendums in for Russian controlled areas of Ukraine and a future as part of Russia. A similar sham referendum was held in Crimea before it was annexed by Moscow and the plan could be the same for Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.
The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says those regions deserve to be masters of their own destiny. But Western countries and Ukraine's leaders are condemning the move.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we get a reaction to the referendums?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Sorry, Michelle (ph). Sorry, thank you.
DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We'll not change anything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry?
KULEBA: The Russians can do whatever they want. They will not change anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: With troop morale low and territorial gains shrinking, Russia's outstanding mercenaries and convicts to the battlefield in parts of Ukraine. And we get this report from CNN's Nick Paton Walsh.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): The mood here is black and old. From a time past, Ukraine didn't feel it was winning, taking heavy losses and struggling to hold on. But the Russian enemy is something new.
(on-camera): This is the very front line with Russian possessions literally 100 meters away from where I'm standing.
(voice-over): The Kremlin really wants the city of Bakhmut. So here on its edges, it sent ruthless mercenaries from the Wagner group to fight. The shelling endless.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Let's go while our Grad rockets are firing.
WALSH (voice-over): We have taken up to their vantage point from where they see the Wagner fighters rushing them leading the Ukrainians to open fire.
(on-camera): And it is just over there. They say that Russian Wagner mercenaries appear to try and run at them, exposing Ukrainian positions so the Russian artillery can hit where they are.
(voice-over): The fields between them charred, pockmarked, they are almost eyeball to eyeball. The next attack is imminent. We can see a motor unit, the drone operator says. They're preparing to fire at us.
Down in the shelter, the commander says, they've captured Russian convicts who were recruited to fight.
It was get shot or surrender for the convict, he says. Wagner Act professionally, not like usual infantry units. Shells continue to land all around them. Bakhmut is a mess. Russia edging towards it, but not inside. Prepared for street-to-street fighting, and meanwhile torn to pieces.
The losses are heavy and exposed positions around the city, particularly here. Russia's invasion tearing through the green treasured land it claims to covet.
(on-camera): Why do they want Bakhmut so much?
They retreated elsewhere and they need a victory. Something is significant, he says, so they throw forces here. Of course, we have casualties. Not today in our unit, but you can't avoid dead or wounded, sometimes heavily injured. I lost my close friend five days after we came here.
A few roads away, Andrei (ph) is cycling home. His eyes tell you how life is here. First, the shooting but there's no electricity or water. It's not too bad. Only every second house is ruined. There are still many people here buying a lot of Natalia's (ph) potatoes.
We sold half a ton today, she says. Who knows if the shelling is coming or going. Don't be scared, she said.
24 hours later, and Ukrainian artillery is hitting positions on the city's edge amid reports Russia has got closer. Much fresh smoke and it's always hard to know what Moscow thought it was hitting. Walking home with a squeaky wheel and food as Maria back to Kherson.
MARIA, BAKHMUT RESIDENT (through translation): With God you have no fear. And on your own land you cannot feel fear either.
WALSH (voice-over): Silence and terror in turn enveloping the city.
Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Bakhmut, Ukraine.
VAUSE: Which is might be Russia's most effective weapon in this war is made in Iran. The first shipment of kamikaze attack drones arrived last month and are now in service apparently with devastating effect. Farzin Nadimi is a military historian, expert on Iranian made weapons as well as an associate fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Welcome to the program.
FARZIN NADIMI, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: Thank you for having me.
VAUSE: OK, so neither Russia or Ukraine have confirmed any of this but debris of the drones from Ukraine seems to confirm that Iran has said both Shaheed and Mohajer drones launched from a flatbed truck both have a range of 2,000 kilometers. They can stay in the air for 24 plus hours. And they seem to operate in pairs and very effective so far. So much the Ukrainian Colonel fears that without countermeasures, Ukrainian artillery could be wiped out. So what makes these drones is such a problem and so effective?
NADIMI: These suicide drones have been very effective and they were used in Iranian drills for some time. And it seems that they are being used as a complement to their artillery in eastern Ukraine. We expected that if they were in use -- if they're going to be in use in Ukraine, that would be used for more strategic objectives to attack larger staging areas or ammunition dumps or command and control infrastructure because it has, as you mentioned, it has a maximum range of over 2,000 kilometers.
So, seeing them being used in a more tactical environment against APCs and artillery, it's a kind of surprising probably the Russians are still testing this weapon, or they as mentioned in the article, they have been deficiencies in terms of fire support in certain areas of the battlefield.
VAUSE: When Russian spy weapons failed badly during the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, Moscow blamed the poorly trained and incompetent Iraqi troops. This time it's their own troops and the results seems to be about the same. Despite that, here's the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: I will immediately note that the Russian weapons used during the operation show high efficiency. First of all, this concerns aviation, high precision long range missiles, aviation weapons, rocket and artillery weapons, armored weapons and others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: If Russian weapons have been so awesome and so effective, why did the Kremlin turn to Iran for these drones? NADIMI: Well the Russian drone industry has been lightened behind. And for many years, they are not investing enough in their drone industry. And they just have started to create modern drone industry near Scope (ph), the constant group has been starting to produce modern drones. But we don't believe that they will be produced enough numbers to reach the Ukrainian fronts and to reach in enough numbers to be -- to make a difference.
VAUSE: When Putin was making that statement, was he essentially talking to countries which are major buyers of Russian weapons? Because if you look at the actual results of the battlefield, the Russian weapons haven't fared too well.
NADIMI: No, no, they haven't fared too well. In terms of both land- based weapons, and also drones, but their missiles have done better, their cruise missiles have done very well. But as I mentioned, they don't have them in their inventory -- enough number of them in their inventory to continue to use them at this early rate.
VAUSE: Overall, though, the Ukrainian counter-offensive has been so effective. There is this growing concern over what Vladimir Putin might do next in terms of escalation. Here's the Assistant Secretary of State for the United States. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WENDY SHERMAN, U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: He is on the ropes. It, of course, increases our concern that he will use kinds of weapons of war that he should not. He's already weaponized food. He's already weaponized energy. People all over the world are suffering from Putin's war. And so, I think we should be concerned, but hopefully he understands what the President just conveyed. Don't, don't, don't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Just very quickly here, what do you see is Putin's next move?
NADIMI: Well, I think that's a million dollar question. I think they -- he will try to dug in Donbas, he will try to keep his right flank secure because of losing this 8,500 square kilometer has exposed its right flank. So they will have -- they will need to secure the right flank in order to be able to maintain the Donbas and especially Donetsk and also Luhansk.
It's very, very difficult situation because of their limited resources, limited manpower. They have to hold on both to the east and also south. So if the Ukrainians are able to put pressure on Russia simultaneously on both East and southern sectors, I think the Russians will get closer to collapse.
VAUSE: Farzin Nadimi, thank you so much, sir, for being with us. We appreciate it.
VAUSE: Today's rare public protests across Iran, security forces have shot dead at least five demonstrators, according to a human rights monitor. These demonstrations come one week after the death of a young woman in the custody of the board morality police. Iran has not seen protests on this scale since 2019 when the government raise gas prices.
And what's notable this time is the number of women taking part. Some chanting women, life, freedom and burning the headscarves. Tuesday, the woman in this video stood on top of a utility box and cut her hair in protests. That was chanting death to the dictator.
More now from CNN's Jomana Karadsheh.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is so much anger on the streets of Iran and other Iranian cities. A crackdown by authorities has not stopped these defiant Iranians. According to one human rights group, several protesters have been killed and injured in these country wide demonstrations sparked by the death of a young woman while in the custody of the country's morality police.
Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish Iranian was detained last Tuesday by the force tasked with enforcing the country's strict Islamic dress code, including the headscarf. She was taken away to so called Re-Education Center. It was the last time her family says they saw her awake. Later that day, the authorities say she fell into a coma. Amini died on Friday.
Her family and rights activists blame her death on the brutality of the notorious police force. Authorities have called her death an unfortunate incident. On Friday, they released this edited CCTV video they claimed shows Amini at the so called Re-Education Center. State TV says she appeared unwell while speaking to a center expert before she collapsed and was rushed to hospital. Police say she had a heart attack. Her family says she was a healthy 22-year-old with no pre- existing heart conditions.
The Iranian president ordered an investigation into her death on Friday. An official say, they've carried out an autopsy and are reviewing it. The streets have responded with more protests, many don't believe the government would deliver a credible investigation. And despite the history of ruthlessness and dealing with demonstrations, protests appear to spread this week.
Amini's death has reignited the debate over the role and the very existence of the morality police, which has been repeatedly accused of using violence in the past.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): If they are supposed to be present, there is no need for so much violence and creating fear among the people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): I am strongly against this because we are talking about a cultural issue. It's not possible to apply a cultural issue by force. KARADSHEH (voice-over): As the Iranian President appears at the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week, women are back out on the streets, saying, enough is enough. Some brave enough to remove their headscarves as they chant "Death to the dictator."
Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.
CAMEROTA: Still to come, Hurricane Fiona continues to strengthen as it heads north of a (INAUDIBLE) and the islands to the Turks and Caicos. We'll have the very latest in a moment.
VAUSE: The islands of the Turks and Caicos have been battered by the remnants of Hurricane Fiona, which continues to get the strength as it moves further into the Atlantic. On Tuesday, the hurricane strong powerful winds and heavy downpour put a shelter in place order for residents. So far, no deaths or injuries have been reported.
But elsewhere across the Caribbean, the hurricane is blamed for five deaths. Puerto Rico was hit on Sunday, only now has managed to restore power to 300,000 customers. That means more than a million people are still without electricity.
Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now with the latest on the storm. So what path is Fiona taking and who's next in line, I guess?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, Bermuda is the only one left in line right now with the storm system. And unfortunately, John, the images you're seeing out of Turks and Caicos and even into Puerto Rico, the scenes certainly get far worse when it comes to just how strong the storm system could get, usually the strongest storm we've had in the Atlantic all season.
And you'll notice itself very symmetrical yet again, very organized that eye itself, the eyewall with winds sustained at 205 kilometers per hour, just a few notches of what would be considered a category four. So really a menacing category three feature here with a 64- kilometer diameter eye, which just to give you a sense of perspective, if you have Puerto Rico here, that'd be northern Puerto Rico and this would be southern Puerto Rico.
Essentially, the entirety of the island north to south is covered by just how large the store system is. And notice sea surface temperatures ahead of the storm system.
Dark contours indicative of temps into the lower 30s, typically about 28 degrees Celsius. What it takes to maintain and intensify a tropical system. Part of the reason why we think this system has what it takes to strengthen beyond category three into cat four, even maybe close to a category five. And Bermuda is the area kind of watching this very closely. In fact, the government across this region already issuing a tropical storm watch in advance of the storm system. It's about 1,200 kilometers to the south here. But over the next two to three days here, we do expect the system to make a very close run, possibly across the western periphery of Bermuda, passing it within maybe 200 or so kilometers.
But you got to keep in mind, the wind field of the storm, even if it doesn't make direct impacts, still extends about 260 kilometers away from the center. So certainly, could see impacts out of this remains rather strong. We do expect it to transition into an extra tropical system, which means it loses its tropical characteristics as it approaches Nova Scotia, but still could have category one winds and bring with it, get this John, snow showers across portions of eastern Canada.
Once it arrives, as today actually is the last day of summer, just to note what's happening here. So big changes across this region with the storm coming in.
VAUSE: Yes, that is crazy. But, Pedram, that's the weather at the moment, I guess. Thank you.
Hundreds of disaster response workers for FEMA are heading to Puerto Rico. And for meeting with the island's governor and the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They're expected to arrive within days. More now from CNN's Leyla Santiago.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hurricane Fiona wiping out power to the majority of the roughly 3.1 million residents here. 60 percent of them without water and about 1,200 people housed in shelters. Five years ago, Puerto Rico was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. Now barely recovered from that catastrophic storm, the island and its people are suffering again.
Officials say at least two have died on the island as a result of the storm. One man swept away by a flooded river behind his home. Another man died while trying to fill his generator with gasoline setting it on fire. We traveled with the National Guard as they tried to clear roads in the mountainous region of Cayey, their goal access and to start moving in much needed supplies to these isolated areas.
(on-camera): And the island's interior like Cayey, a very mountainous municipality, this is part of the problem, the mudslides that blocked the road and block access to that power substation. Hector Rivera Santiago was gathering drinking water off the mountain side.
So he came to the mountainside to get water because there's no water at his house.
CARLOS VARGAS, RESIDENT: Power. We know that, you know, we're going to face that and we can deal with that. But the biggest concern is water, can't leave with a water. SANTIAGO (voice-over): Carlos Vargas lives just beyond a big mudslide that blocked access to the road. The National Guard had to evacuate about 35 elderly patients from a facility here before the mudslide demolished the building.
LT. COL. JOSUE FLORES MORALES, PUERTO RICO NATIONAL GUARD: We carry the elderly, their chairs and their beds, and we just ran over and carry them over the landslide so we could get him out before the house collapse.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): The recovery ahead without its own set of challenges.
PERDRO PIERLUISI, PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR: The hurricane and now the storm, the related storm has impacted the whole island. So we're still in the middle of this event. We're basically responding at this point. The next step will be recovery. We're not there yet.
SANTIAGO: And in Cayey, the gas stations are busy lines, are forming people coming to get gas, diesel to power those generators they need to be able to turn the lights on at home since there is no power. But the governor says he expects that by tomorrow night, a good chunk of the island will have power restored. One big exception, though, the southern part of the island, one of the hardest hit areas in Puerto Rico right now.
Leyla Santiago, CNN, Cayey, Puerto Rico.
VAUSE: Katharine Hayhoe is Chief Scientist at The Nature Conservancy and an expert on atmospheric science and climate change. Thanks for being with us.
KATHARINE HAYHOE, ATMOSPHERIC SCIENTIST: Thank you for having me.
VAUSE: And that's your book there. It's the, "Saving Us: A Climate Scientists Case For Hope And Healing In A Divided World." So I'm glad we got that in.
OK, so in the opening remarks, the U.N. General Assembly, the Secretary General talked about the threat we're all facing for climate change. He placed the blame on big oil and other carbon-based energy producers. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUTERRES: The fossil fuel industry is feasting on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfall profits, while household budgets shrink, and our planet burns. Essences. Let's tell it like it is. Our world is addicted to fossil fuels. And it's time for an intervention. We need to hold fossil fuel companies and their enablers to account.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Last month, Guterres tweeted out that energy companies in the first quarter of the year made $100 billion in profit.
It's a staggering number. What are the chances of a global fuel tax? And if not a tax, about just ending subsidies for fossil fuels which in 2020 globally, costs $5.9 trillion. That's an even bigger number. Look at that.
HAYHOE: People don't realize how subsidized our fossil fuels are. And I'm a climate scientist, not an economist. But I know that nearly every economist around the world, including across the political spectrum agrees that the easiest and cheapest way to cut our emissions is to put a price on carbon.
The Secretary General also highlighted how incredibly unfair climate change is. According to one Oxfam analysis, the 50 percent poorest people in the world are responsible for only 7 percent of our heat trapping gas emissions, yet they're bearing the brunt of the impacts.
VAUSE: What we add also this tax on windfall profits from big energy companies, where they helped finance the assistance for those poor countries, which have been hardest -- hit hardest, at least responsible. There is one country making a move in that direction, Denmark, the first wealthy nation to promise compensation, the damage caused by carbon emissions and climate change.
In a statement, the Danish Development Minister was quoted saying, "It is grossly unfair that the world's poorest should suffer the most from the consequences of climate change, to which they've contributed the least." That's -- so I guess, can wealthy nations be relied upon to do this voluntarily, or you don't help struggling nations or actually they need to be forced to do this?
HAYHOE: I think you need a combination of the carrot and the stick plus a lot of peer pressure. How do you force a nation to do something other than by showing it is in their best interests to do so? And one of the biggest concerns we have with climate change, again, is the way that it affects all of us, but it doesn't affect us all equally.
Where will people go when they have no food to eat, when they have no water to drink, when they have no land to farm and they have no homes to live in? Climate change represents as the United Nations says one of the potentially greatest threats to refugee crises we have ever confronted with hundreds of millions of potential refugees, if it is not tackled now.
For the sake of all of us, not the planet. But as humans and other living things to share this planet with us, we need to act now as much as possible, as soon as possible.
VAUSE: Yes, ultimately, is in everyone's self-interest to do this, that seems to be the message which isn't getting across. Right now, though, with Europe, in the midst of an energy crisis, many countries have restarted carbon producing coal fired power plants. That's an issue that the President of Brazil addressed, oddly enough, while at the podium. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAIR BOLSONARO, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL (through translation): All of this impact drives us all away from the Sustainable Development Goals. Countries that was presented themselves as leaders of the low carbon economy have now turned to dirty sources of energy. This is a serious setback for the environment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Here's something else which is a big setback for the environment. Loggers, ranchers, miners, and others seeking profit are tearing apart the Amazon, faster than ever, motivated by fears that Bolsonaro's reelection bid could fail -- and that the next president could crack down harder on such activity."
You know, so if deforestation in the Amazon continues at its current pace, is there a timeline when it goes from being a net carbon capture to carbon release?
HAYHOE: According to science, there is the possibility of that happening. And the tipping point depends on how much and how fast. Now, most of the areas under threat there are what's called undesignated lands. So they either belongs still to the state or the federal government. And because there's such a complex land tenure situation in those areas, that's what makes them prone to that illegal land grabbing.
But look at the flip side, a key climate solution is allowing indigenous peoples to manage their land and conservation such as national parks. In those places, either conservation or indigenous land management, 97 percent of the original Amazonian Forest coverage has been retained. And that is why land management and land tenure is such an important issue. Who owns the land, who has the right to make the decisions?
VAUSE: Straight quickly, the solutions are out there, we just have to put them in place.
HAYHOE: You're absolutely right. We know what those solutions look like. We know that through efficiency alone, the U.S. could cut its carbon emissions nearly in half. We know that clean energy is abundant and available even in some of the poorest parts of the world. We know that agricultural revolutions that nature positive solutions to take carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back in the soils and coastal wetlands and peatlands and forests and grasslands where we want it are available.
We know those solutions are at our fingertips. We just need the acceleration that smart policy would give us.
HAYHOE: A price on carbon and carbon fees and dividends.
VAUSE: Absolutely. Katherine, thank you. Sorry to interrupt your last thought there, but great to have you with us. Really appreciate it. Thank you.
HAYHOE: Thank you for having me.
VAUSE: Still to come, crackdowns and lockdowns. Why the exodus from Hong Kong is only growing in number. After the break, what the government is doing to try and stop it.
VAUSE: Welcome back. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
Call it a sign of the times. Last month Hong Kong recorded its sharpest annual drop in population. What that actually means is a growing number joining an exodus which began two years ago during the pandemic.
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout live for us in Hong Kong. Last one out, turn off the lights.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm still here, John. I'm still here.
VAUSE: You will always be there. That is one comfort that I'm sure of.
So what is the government doing to try and essentially encourage people not to leave?
STOUT: Yes, you know, it is interesting, on Tuesday we heard from the city's top leader John Lee at a press conference. He said that the city will soon announce plans for a quote, "orderly opening of" and keep in mind that the fate of Hong Kong is so tethered very closely to mainland China and its sub zero COVID policy. Very tough pandemic restrictions remain in place here.
In Hong Kong. Right now, all new arrivals have to pay for and spend three days in hotel quarantine, followed by four days of self- monitoring. The "South China Morning Post" is quoting sources saying that that could soon change to zero hotel quarantine followed by seven days of self monitoring.
Now, an announcement is widely expected to take place this week. But it remains to be seen whether that would be enough to end the exodus of talent from Hong Kong.
STOUT: American couple Sara Churgin and Stephen Kody are fed up with the city. She is a vet, he is a banker and after eight years in Hong Kong, they are packing up for a one-way trip back to the U.S.
SARA CHURGIN, EXPAT LEAVING HONG KONG: The biggest thing for us has been the change in how often we can see our families. Usually I got to see them anywhere between two and four times a year. Now we went two and a half years without seeing anybody. STOUT: Sara and Stephen joined over 100,000 other residents abandoning
the Chinese territory this year, unable to endure life in a city that has become one of the most isolated in the world.
Mask mandates remain in effect here. And as other countries live with COVID-19, people have fled Hong Kong's heavy-handed restrictions and they've been leaving in droves.
Hong Kong is bleeding talent at a record pace. Over the last year the financial hub, long billed as Asia's world city, has seen over 113,000 residents leave including expatriates and non-permanent residents.
It is the city's sharpest annual drop in population on record since 1961. Authorities attribute part of the decline to a natural decrease of reporting more deaths than births.
STOUT: Experts say Hong Kong's changing political landscape and strict zero COVID policy have prompted many to leave.
LUCY JORDAN, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: You are witnessing a historic departure. The result of the social unrest and the social movement here in Hong Kong and then followed by COVID.
STOUT: The government has eased the hotel quarantine period from a peak of 21 days to three and plans to host the International Rugby Seven and the Global Banking Summit in November are seen as opportunities for Hong Kong to open up.
But Beijing's political crackdown on the territory has also contributed to the population decline. An offer of citizenship by the U.K. has attracted at least 140,000 Hongkongers to apply for the special British National Overseas -- BNO visa.
Including Gavin Mok, who moved to the U.K. last year with his wife and two daughters. A former stockbroker, he is now a delivery driver in (INAUDIBLE) who has no plans to return.
GAVIN MOK, BNO VISA HOLDER: I'm glad that I made a decision -- freedom of speech, democracy everything. You can say whatever you like.
STOUT: Gavin misses the comforts of Hong Kong, but he relishes his freedom.
PAUL YIP, POPULATION HEALTH EXPEWRT, UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: In Hong Kong, the population is very volatile, I mean very fluid. I think it can turn one way or the other. It really depends on the relevance of Hong Kong or how the people perceive this place.
STOUT: 7.29 million people still call Hong Kong home but not sara and steven, despite their many fond memories.
CHURGIN: In addition to COVID, there has been a lot of political changes. the city has changed a lot since we both came eight years ago. And some of that is not going to go back. STOUT: Their boxes are sealed, plane tickets booked even for the cats.
Another family ready to leave the city they once loved.
STOUT: A senior Beijing official has rejected concerns of a talent exodus from Hong Kong. In fact on Tuesday, we heard this from the deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office. This is Hwang (ph) Lee (INAUDIBLE) who said quote "Based on these statistics -- referring to the recent Hong Kong government census -- Hong Kong's population drop is caused by multiple factors. There is no way to suggest that it is a result of an emigration wave."
Hwang also added that because Hong Kong is an international city, the population is highly mobile. Back to you John.
VAUSE: Kristie thank you. We appreciate the report. Kristie Lu Stout live for us from Hong Kong.
Well, the U.S. Federal Reserve will be closely watched on Wednesday with expectations of another big interest rate increase.
Wall Street has been on edge with the Dow dropping another 300 points Tuesday. Investors are bracing for interest rates to rise another three-quarters of a percentage point.
The bigger concern though is whether the Fed can strike a delicate balance between bringing down inflation and preventing a recession.
Catherine Rampell is a CNN economic and political commentator, as well as opinion writer for the "Washington Post. Good to see you.
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good to be here.
VAUSE: Ok. So hiking interest rates at the moment, it is not just an American thing with the Fed expected to announce a third and historic increase of three-quarters of 1 percent.
The Bank of England considering their biggest interest rate rise in 33 years. Notably will begin quantitative tightening as well.
In Sweden, official interest rates are also up by 1 percent. And that is just a few which we could find with a quick Google search.
So up there is a lot more. Now for a decade of ultra low interest rates and easy money which saw government, corporate and personal debt skyrocket. Welcome to the new world where debts cost a lot more and money isn't so cheap. What happens next?
RAMPELL: Well, you're going to see financial conditions get a lot tighter around the world. Borrowing costs going up. I mean they are already going up here in the United States we have seen mortgage rates reach their highest level I think since the housing bust at this point. So it becomes a lot more expensive to buy a house or to buy a car or to hold a lot of credit card debt. All of those things will in the fed's mind and other central banks hopes will hopefully cool down consumer spending, cool down demand. And therefore, reduce some of those inflationary pressures, without we hope tipping either the United States or the world into a recession. But that is the hope. It is not guaranteed and in fact there are a lot of people who are pessimistic that that will be the outcome.
VAUSE: Only one central banker has ever slayed inflation it seems -- former Fed Chair Paul Volcker. He was without mercy. He actually did two recessions, raising interest rates to 20 percent and Politico makes this point. When Volcker hiked interest rates in 1980s, the total amount of U.S. government debt was only $907 billion, or about 30 percent the size of the total U.S. economy. Today U.S. debt stands at $28 trillion or about 125 percent of the total U.S. economy. How does that complicate matters and in comparison to the current inflation battle, did Volcker have it easy?
RAMPELL: Now, I mean Volcker had a very difficult job. In part because people did not believe that the Fed was willing to tame the dragon of inflation and that is why they had to raise interest rates so much. They were very unpopular as you may recall when they were doing this.
RAMPELL: They tipped us into a couple of recessions as you just pointed out and a lot of people lost their jobs and suffered a lot of pain.
So, it was not an easy set of decisions to make and in fact, that is evidenced by the fact that Volcker's predecessors were unwilling to make them. However, the fact that Volcker made those decisions in the early 80s essentially, meant that the Central Bank, the Fed had a lot of credibility for the subsequent decades that if, in fact, inflation ever got uncomfortably high again, the Fed would be willing to step in. Would be willing to take the punchbowl away, as the expression goes.
So Volcker I think built up this reserve of credibility that the Fed has essentially been able to benefit off of from many decades. And now it is being tested again because once again, inflation is nowhere near the levels that we saw in the 70s, to be clear, or the early 80s. But it is uncomfortably high.
And there are questions about the Fed's response. Whether they should have acted much more quickly than they did in raising interest rates. And how willing they are again to force the economy to endure some pain in order to get inflation under control.
VAUSE: And Jerome Powell has been echoing Paul Volcker, warning of more pain to come. And the U.S. president was asked about the pain, many are feeling right now. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PELLEY, HOST, "60 MINUTES": People are shocked by their grocery bills. What can you do better and faster?
Joe Biden, President of the United States : Well, first of all let's put this in perspective. Inflation rate month to month is just up just an inch, hardly at all.
PELLEY: You're not arguing that 8.3 is good news?
BIDEN: No. I'm not saying it's good news. But was 8.2 -- 8.2 before, I mean it's not, I can make it sound like all of a sudden, my God, it went to 8.2 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Except it kind of did. Inflation sort of came out of nowhere I think, you know, for many people, anyway. And it seems Powell is sort of likely to repeat Volcker's approach because, you know, if interest rates increases are like chemotherapy for a cancer patient, how much chemotherapy are we in for and how painful is it going to get?
RAMPELL: You know, I think it's sort of a course comparison but it is a very good analogy for what we're talking about right now. We're talking about administering a medicine that might ultimately kill the patient. The Fed is hoping that they can get the dosage just right that the chemotherapy, the medicine whatever you want to call it does its job without causing a whole lot of other problems.
And there is a path in which you can imagine that happening, you know. There's so much excess demand for workers right now that maybe no workers actually need to lose their jobs in order to cool the economy down. Maybe just have a fewer vacancy postings for example. That's what the Fed is hoping for.
VAUSE: Catherine, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.
RAMPELL: Thank you.
VAUSE: When we come back, the evolution of human smuggling. From small operations to multinational criminal organizations over decades, shipping desperate immigrants into the U.S.
VAUSE: A civil rights group has filed a class action lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the state of Florida and others accusing them of defrauding vulnerable migrants to advance a political motive.
DeSantis arranged for two planes to fly nearly 50 migrants, mostly from Venezuela from Texas to Massachusetts last week. Other Republican governors have also sent migrants to more liberal areas in the north to protest what they describe as a failure of the federal government to secure the U.S. southern border.
DeSantis office responded to the Wall Street on Tuesday, say the migrants were moved on a voluntary basis.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports the number of encounters which migrants from the U.S.-Mexico has topped 2 million this year.
The agency says migration from countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba as driving those numbers up. Migrants often face treacherous conditions when crossing the border like (INAUDIBLE) desert heat as well as dangerous waters.
CNN's Rosa Flores shows us how just dangerous it can be. And a warning, some images in her report are disturbing.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is what human smuggling looks like. Migrants gasping for air in this 2015 case or a trailer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can anybody stand up?
FLORES: Covered in wailing humans in this 2017 case. Ten people died, authorities say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know which one next, just pick one and I'll help you up.
FLORES: A similar scene unfolded in June when 53 people died in San Antonio in a tractor trailer.
CRAIG LARRABEE, ACTING SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE WITH HOMELAND SECURITY INVESTIGATIONS: That was the worst smuggling disaster in U.S. history.
FLORES: Craig Larrabee is the acting special agent in charge with Homeland Security investigations in San Antonio, the arm of DHS that investigates human smuggling and says migrants have more than death to fear.
LARRABEE: The extortion, the assaults, physical assault, sexual assault -- they are real.
FLORES: He says human smuggling has changed in the last decade, from small family businesses that charged $2,000 per migrant to multinational criminal organizations that charge $10,000 and make billions of dollars a year.
LARRABEE: So maybe the vehicle at 50 bodies in it years and years ago. They'll put 150 bodies in that vehicle.
FLORES: Larrabee debunks the myth that migrants are usually smuggled into the U.S. on tractor-trailers.
LARRABEE: They are smuggled across the country on foot, that's generally speaking.
FLORES: Once in the U.S. migrants are taken to so-called stash houses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen over 70 people in a little apartment. FLORES: Hidalgo county sheriff, Lt. Erin Moreno shows us the stash
house they dismantled last year. The windows of the small home, clues smugglers tried to hide 37 people inside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a tactic. You look -- put aluminum foil and/or cardboard so nobody or cardboard so nobody can see inside. So they can't see outside.
FLORES: From those stash houses -- migrants are packed in travel trailers
You're under arrest for human smuggling.
In the trunks of cars, tool boxes, vans and other vehicles that are sometimes locked shut like this one last week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll get it.
FLORES: That had to be pried open by law enforcement. The driver sometimes get thousands of dollars per migrant according to these Tiktok videos used by the Mexican cartels and by to CNN by Texas Department of Public Safety. Why would the cartels pay driver so much?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're trying to pass this checkpoint right here.
FONTENYAN: There are border patrol checkpoints in south Texas that those drivers have to go through sometimes with human cargo.
Smugglers will try to avoid that checkpoint by guiding migrants through this tough terrain. Now the migrants that can keep up continued north. The ones that can't are left behind, sometimes to die.
Migrant deaths so far this year, a record nearly 750, a number already exceeding last year's total of 557. The alleged driver in the deadly June tractor trailer tragedy in San Antonio apparently went through a checkpoint near Laredo. He has pleaded not guilty. It's unclear if the migrants were already on board.
While Larrabee says a lot has changed in the business of human smuggling, one thing is constant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on.
FLORES: Smugglers have no regard for human life.
In April, the Biden administration launched an effort to disrupt and dismantle human smuggling organizations. So far nearly 5,000 individuals have been arrested. As a matter of fact just last week eight individuals were arrested and they allegedly helped smuggle hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals into this country in brutal conditions.
Rosa Flores, CNN -- El Paso, Texas.
(END VIDEOTAPE) [01:49:56]
VAUSE: Actress Angelina Jolie is in Pakistan to draw attention to the country's humanitarian crisis after recent deadly flooding. The Hollywood actress and activist visited some of the hardest hit areas in Southern Pakistan, Tuesday.
The government says more than 33 million people have been impacted by the floods since June. Almost 1,600 have died including more than 500 children. The UNICEF says nearly 3.5 million children needs immediate lifesaving support.
Still to come. As King Charles settles into his royal duties, he promises a lifetime of service just like his mother.
VAUSE: Just like his mother who was Britain's longest reigning monarch, King Charles III has promised his subjects lifelong service. He's aged 73. CNN's Nina Dos Santos reports now from London
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Under the reign of a new king the United Kingdom is slowly returning to a new normal.
With the late Queen Elizabeth II laid to rest a new Carolean era as it's known was mounting towards its second week, along with all the tradition the royal family is known for.
First a national address.
KING CHARLES II, BRITISH MONARCH: That promise of lifelong service, I renew to all today.
DOS SANTOS: Then the official proclamation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prince Charles Philippe Arthur George is now by the death of our late sovereign of happy memory become our only lawful and rightful lead lord, Charles III. And as he and a nation mourned a bereaved son took on his duties as monarch.
That means meeting crowds and traveling to all four nations of an increasingly disunited kingdom. Including one which he had been prince of since the age of nine.
And this is the moment the late Queen Elizabeth II's son has returned to Wales no longer as a prince instead as a King, marked by a 21 gun salute here at Cardiff Castle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your majesty.
DOS SANTOS: He also met with the UK's newly appointed prime minister.
But perhaps the image that will linger most is that of a stoic somber king holding a vigil by his late mother's side. For 70 years Queen Elizabeth reigned over the country and her legacy will last for decades to come. But for now at least, the nation seems united behind its king.
Nina Dos Santos, CNN -- in London.
Finally, one football super fan, doing the footwork to motivate himself and others walking all the way from Spain to Qatar in time for the opening ceremony of this year's World Cup.
CNN's Michael Holmes explains why.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: To paraphrase the old saying the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Or a journey of over 4,900 kilometers begins here for this man, Santiago Sanchez.
HOLMES: The 41-year-old set out on foot from his home in Madrid, Spain with one goal in mind, to reach Doha, Qatar by November in time to cheer on the Spanish national team at the 2022 World Cup. Throwing a camping kit on wheels and averaging 14 to 15 kilometers a day since January,
He's traveled France, Monaco, Italy and San Marino, then by boat to Albania, Greece and Turkey. Now he's reached Iraq's Kurdistan region.
Along the way, he says he's been greeted with offerings of tea, food and lodging. Kindness is a universal language. Many are surprised at the distance he's traveled. Others feel inspired.
SANTIAGO SANCHEZ, WALKING TO DOHA FOR WORLD CUP: Oftentimes have to take out the map, show where Spain is and what the road is, the road I took to get there, and what I have left.
SERJAN RAMADAN, HOSTIN GSANCHES IN KURDISTAN: Yes I was really surprised, especially when I found out that he came from Spain on foot. So I was really excited about this. And now I hope to become like him in the future, to go to other countries and be in good health like him.
HOLMES: Sanchez says the decision to leave his comfortable life and loved ones back home was not an easy one. Yet to him it is not about the destination but the journey itself.
SANCHEZ: I had my job, my football team, my friends, my family, a life of comfort. If you don't set a date for your dreams, you don't realize them. You have to say on this day I go, and on this day I left. Eight months later and here I am.
HOLMES: He will next head to Iran, before crossing the Persian Gulf to Doha. He hopes to teach others the essential wisdom of slowing down life's hectic pace and following one's dreams.
SANCHEZ: Solitude is often good and necessary. We are all living at a very fast pace, and you have to push the pause button and realize that you are alive. Open your arms, breathe. I found my button. Many people don't know where their button is. And this can be a good way to inspire other people so that they can find this pause button.
HOLMES: A message he also hopes resonates with his national team.
SANCHEZ: In the end I go to support my national team. I go to support Spain. It's not easy to reach Qatar and I want to give them a little bit of motivation so they give it all on the pitch.
HOLMES: Michael Holmes, CNN.
VAUSE: Everybody's got to be something. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.
The news continues with my friend and colleague Rosemary Church right after a short break. See you tomorrow.