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Biden Administration Says Saudi's MBS Has Immunity In Khashoggi Civil Case; North Korea Fires Suspected Intercontinental Ballistic Missile; Russian Strikes Batter Ukraine Power Grid As Winter Sets In; Finance Minister Lays Out New Budget Plant To Save Billions; Qatar Dogged by Controversy Ahead of Tournament; China's Zero COVID policy Takes Huge Mental and Physical Toll; Ukraine Prepares for a Harsh Winter Season; Brittney Griner Moved to Penal Colony in Mordovia; Pelosi Says She won't Run for Democratic Leadership; White House Slams GOP House Agenda as Political Revenge. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired November 18, 2022 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Wherever you are around the world you're watching CNN Newsroom. Coming up. The U.S. Justice Department seeks of unity to serve the Arabia's Crown Prince, who according to U.S. intelligence approved the brutal execution of Washington Post journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

Close to breaking point. Ukrainian officials warned after weeks of unrelenting Russian airstrikes, the national power grid may not last much longer. And in China, the high price so many of paying zero COVID.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN Newsroom with John Vause.

VAUSE: The Biden administration has recommended Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman be given sovereign immunity usually reserved for heads of state. This means bin Salman will be shielded from a lawsuit currently before U.S. court for his role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

A 2021 U.S. intelligence report said bin Salman approved that operation has argued for Yonsei and the human rights organization, Khashoggi founded called Dawn allege a team of assassins, kidnapped, tortured, and then assassinated the journalist.

CNN's Anna Coren live this hour for us in Hong Kong with more. Can we just start with nuts and bolts here? What are the reasons for this recommendation? What does it actually mean? In a practical sense what's going on here?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, let's put it all into context because it is very confusing and rather complex. But just before midnight deadline, the Biden administration delivered its recommendation. That's what it is. It's a recommendation to a court filing to a U.S. federal judge claiming that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, should be granted immunity for his role in the killing of U.S. based journalist Jamal Khashoggi back in 2018.

Now, the reason they say is because MBS is now considered head of state after his father, King Salman recently made his son the Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia that is a title and normally held by the Saudi monarch. Critics say that this was deliberately done to strengthen MBS's immunity claim.

The State Department, John, says that sovereign immunity is based on long standing and well established principles of common law, and its suggestion of immunity for MBS is, quote, purely a legal determination. It did, however, condemn the murder of Khashoggi as heinous.

Khashoggi's fiancee sand human rights group, Dawn, filed a civil lawsuit in a Washington court against MBS and 28 others back in 2020. They allege as you said that a team of assassins quote, kidnapped, bound, drugged, tortured and assassinated Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, back in 2018. They then dismembered his body, his remains have never been found.

U.S. intelligence concluded that the Saudi Crown Prince had ordered the murder of Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist who was an outspoken critic of MBS and his harsh methods of silencing those who oppose him.

MBS is currently in Thailand. He's attending the APEC summit. He flew in late last night and was greeted very warmly by the Thai Prime Minister. We are yet to hear from him, or from any world leader for that matter. I mean, of course, it is still early. This news is only just broke. But we are expecting human rights groups to be outraged over the Biden administration stance on this case.

I mean, the U.S. government had a choice, John, not to make a recommendation. But then at the 11th hour, they decided to weigh in. As we know, President Biden was in Saudi Arabia back in July. We saw that famous fist bump that he did with MBS. This trip was in the hope of convincing the kingdom to undo a series of cuts in oil production. Saudi Arabia, in fact, did the exact opposite, which has many confused on as to why the Biden administration would, in a way help MBS and recommend immunity for him.

VAUSE: It's a good question, but also we talked about this as being a recommendation from the State Department. But because there is our recommendation, it goes to the judge who, for all intents and purposes will follow that recommendation. Right. That's how it works.

COREN: Well, you would assume so, John, but it is before the court. Judge Bates will make that decision as to whether this lawsuit will play out.

[01:05:00] But you would have to assume that the Biden administration has made this suggestion, this recommendation that immunity be given to MBS. And you would assume that the judge will play along.

VAUSE: So much for those campaign promises Biden made in 2020. Anna Coren, thank you for being live in Hong Kong.

The timing seems more than coincidental. Just as Asia Pacific leaders were gathering in Thailand for the APEC summit, North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. Tokyo says the ICBM most likely fell into the sea near Hokkaido inside Japan's economic exclusion zone and condemned the launch is provocative and unacceptable.

It's believed North Korea may have tested another ICBM earlier this month. North Korea has launched missiles on 34 days this year, an unprecedented flurry of missile tests, including a short range ballistic missile test on Thursday.

CNN's Will Ripley following developments live this hour for us in Bangkok in Thailand. I guess what do they get at the end of the day by this continual launch of short range, medium range and ICBM missiles?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's kind of like a field day for the rocket scientists in North Korea because they are not constrained by any fear of sanctions because North Korea is already very heavily sanctioned. There -- Kim Jong-un has no desire to talk to the United States. He basically lost trust after diplomacy fell apart with the former U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi. And they had to take a break because North Korea was grappling with a huge outbreak, a nationwide outbreak of COVID-19, which by the way, may have started at a military parade in Pyongyang when they gather people from all over the country unvaccinated without masks. And then days later, the first case has started popping up of COVID-19. And they spread like wildfire.

But after kind of dealing with all of that taking, you know, maybe around six months off or have a really, you know, slower pace, because remember, at the beginning of this year, they were launching in a frenzy. But now towards the end of the year that frenzy has gone into overdrive and it's at a time you know that they had multiple things happening in the region you had ASEAN in Phnom Penh last week. You have APEC here in Bangkok this week. In fact, the U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is here. And in the coming hours, she's expected to hold an emergency meeting with the leaders of Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, gathering with her to talk about this latest North Korean launch.

And so basically Kim Jong-un can send a message and have all the leaders of the world pretty much gathered and ready to discuss it in one place. It was last week that President Biden and President Yun of South Korea and the foreign minister Kashida, I'm sorry, Prime Minister Kashida of Japan, they all gathered together in Phnom Penh for a trilateral meeting where they talked about this policy of extended deterrence.

Remember, there were huge joint military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. and even Japan participating in some of those in recent months. And so North Korea put out a statement just yesterday blasting that saying that this extended deterrence strategy is only going to lead to even more provocative and dangerous situation on the Korean peninsula.

And so by launching a salvo of missiles and, you know, basically it's been added up in South Korea, they launched around 50 ballistic missiles so far this year, 34 days of launch events, but on many of those days more than one missile was launched.

So 50 ballistic missiles, all of which are violations of UN Security Council resolutions. And if you add in the Scud missiles, that they're the older missiles that go slower that they launched, the number is significantly higher.

So, they certainly are demonstrating their capabilities. If and when they're ready to go to the negotiating table, to what extent they would actually seriously enter negotiations given that they've written into their constitution that they're a nuclear weapons state and that it's not going to change, they're not going to denuclearize. It's not even an option for the North Koreans. It's hard to see where this goes other than towards the inevitable seventh underground nuclear test at some point and however the world decides to respond at that stage.

VAUSE: Will happening. Will, thank you. Will Ripley live for us in Bangkok. Thank you.

Winter is still a month away in Ukraine but right now in keep the temperature is below freezing minus four Celsius 25 degrees Fahrenheit. But with many other parts of the country, the capital is in his first snowfall of the season, like dusty and white is a harbinger of hardships yet to come.

After almost two months of near constant Russian attack, Ukraine's power grid has been left severely damaged. Officials warn may not last much longer. Already, millions are living without electricity, which means no heating no lighting, as winter sets in, millions more may soon be plunged into the darkness.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The consequences of another missile attack against Ukraine continues all day. Again, there have been emergency power outages in addition to planned ones. As of now more than 10 million Ukrainians are without electricity.



VAUSE: In the east for the first time in weeks, the Ukrainian city of Dnipro was hit by a missile strike. According to city officials that industrial area was hit and surrounding residential buildings damaged leaving dozens wounded. Seven people were killed in a separate strike on a residential building in the city of Zaporizhzhia. The Polish government is expecting first findings within days from an investigation into how a straight missile fell into Polish territory. The missile hit this village near the Ukrainian border on Tuesday killing two people. The Polish president went to the site Thursday he called it a tragic accident, which Poland and NATO says was likely caused by Australia Ukrainian air defense missile. The Ukrainian president initially said he had no doubt the missile was not Ukrainian. Now he says he wants to establish all the facts. Polish president (ph) says he wants to support his Ukrainian counterpart.


ANDRZEJ DUDA, POLISH PRESIDENT (through translator): it is an extremely difficult situation and it's not a surprise to anyone that there are emotions here. President Zelenskyy has emotions too. He is going through everything his nation is going through. It is his nation that chosen for this post and for which he feels responsible.


VAUSE: Well, first days of freedom after months of Russia occupation for some Ukrainians. CNN went to a village in the Kherson region where Russian troops were forced to leave just a few days ago. CNN's Sam Kiley finds out the residents struggle the struggle is far from over even though the Russians are gone.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Of his proud of her garden proud of her home and proud to have lived through eight months of Russian occupation. Now free her focus is on the future. Although the presence still dangerous.

OLGA GRITSUNIAK, DUDCHANY RESIDENT (through translator): Look at this how we fortified our basement with my old man. Because they shoot from there over the river. There are some shrapnel pieces from our yard. Do you see how sharp they are?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Day before yesterday?

GRITSUNIAK (through translator): Thank God. We survived all this. We hid in the cellar for ages. Two days ago, there were a lot of explosions and today it's calm.

KILEY: That's no power. No water supply, but plenty of resourcefulness.

GRITSUNIAK (through translator): We are storing water here in drums.

KILEY: The summer under Russian occupation wasn't wasted.

GRITSUNIAK (through translator): Tomato juice, salads, pickled in a jar, can grapes, tomatoes, juices and even canned currents.

KILEY (on camera): You're obviously a boon survivor.

GRITSUNIAK (through translator): Well, I am. He's the one who's scared. And I'm not.

KILEY: Just a few days ago, this village was the scene of ferocious fighting as the Russians were driven out of this part of the Kherson region. The problem for those who remain behind the villages here is that their war is not over because the Russians are easily within range and hit this place on an almost daily basis.

KILEY (voiceover): In the next village, the few locals left with too anxious about a Russian return to speak on camera, and we were told to stay out of sight. Five Russian rockets landed here this morning we were told, liberated roads and tracks are still heavily mined, slowing efforts to rebuild. Russia has retreated from here. But as shifted much of its effort to attacking Ukraine's power grid and infrastructure. Civilian targets are a priority for long range Russian missiles.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): Dozens of missiles, civilian sites are the main targets. Russia is waging war on electricity and heat for people by blowing up power plants and other energy facilities.

KILEY: 15 civilians hospitalized after this strike in Dnipro. Temperatures are falling, millions are often without power. In the cities, that is a looming nightmare. Here, they may be better prepared. Sam Kiley, CNN, Dudchany, Kherson province.


VAUSE: Joining us now is General Mark Hertling and CNN military analyst and former commanding general U.S. Army Europe and seventh Army. General Hertling, good to see you.

GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Good to see you, John. Good to be with you tonight.

VAUSE: Thank you. Here's a little more from the Ukrainian President about this ongoing air assault on the nation's power grid. Here he is.


ZELENSKYY (through translator): Another Russian terrorist attack has occurred. Dozens of missiles,, civilians types are the main target. Russia is waging war on electricity and heat for people by blowing up power plants and other energy facilities.


VAUSE: There's also reporting from POLITICO that Ukraine is anticipating increased Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure in the coming days and that Kyiv us not have enough replacement parts to bring heat and power back online if those occur.

So if these attacks continue, as they have been, would Ukraine have what days or maybe weeks before total failure the power grid?

HERTLING: It's going to be challenging. John. We've known this has been coming for a while. [01:15:00]

And when you think about the general categories of electricity and heat, you know, the attacks on the power infrastructure, the first thing that comes into mind is the cold weather. Kyiv was below freezing today. They received their first frost of snow, several of the other areas of the country are seeing the same kind of very cold weather.

But you also have to consider all of the other things that that lack of electricity affects the ability for surgeons to do operations or emergency services, recharging of batteries, all of the things that are associated with what we see in modern life are going to be affected by this. And it's going to be very challenging for Ukraine to withstand this.

But Mr. Zelenskyy, President Zelenskyy has said they have a plan to do it. The Ukrainian citizens have been pretty stalwart in their in their countering of these kinds of attacks. But it's going to be very, very difficult.

VAUSE: And there's -- only so much you could do because this has been a very effective, very targeted offensive by the Russians. The Washington Post reported that Russia has focused less on well protected power generation plants, and more on the network nodes that are key to keeping Ukraine's electricity grid functioning and providing critical services. Most of the substations and transformers need to sit above ground, and many needs to be clear of obstructions around them, making them easy targets.

Now repairs can often take weeks or months that is if Ukraine has to pass. But then again, what's the point is they can be easily targeted again. So what are the options here trying to protect what's selected the power grid? Is there any way the Russians can be stopped before the whole thing has gone?

HERTLING: There really can't other than, you know, defending the air against the incoming missiles, which Ukraine has been very good in doing. You know, John, I've said from the beginning that Russia has been somewhat dysfunctional in their attacks against the Ukrainian military. They have been a horrible on the battlefield. But they have been extremely successful in criminal attacks on the civilian population. They are certainly building a case for themselves with regard to war crimes that will come back I believe in the future and haunt them.

But in the meantime, unfortunately, Ukrainian citizens are still suffering and Russia, I have to give them credit for this, as you just pointed out, they are targeting the kinds of connections, the synapses that are difficult, extremely difficult to repair, as opposed to the major power stations, and they're just draining Ukrainian repairmen and manpower as they try and fix these things to provide for a warmer and more electrified winter for Ukrainian citizens.

VAUSE: Well, it's -- the greatest push to the very brink. Ukraine has appealed to other Western nations to try and provide some help. We now have the EU commissioner on crisis management prioritizing the assistance for Ukraine. Here he is.


JANEZ LENARCIC, EU CRISIS MANAGEMENT COMMISSIONER: We have prioritized winterization, winterization already months ago. And these needs related to coming winter are now even more pronounced following the systematic destruction by Russia have critical infrastructure in Ukraine.


VAUSE: So the EU has already donated about 500 generators, 200 more are on the way. They're also sending these prefab shelters, sleeping bags, you know, all that kind of stuff. Is that much else which can be done in terms of assistance for the Ukrainians apart from just basically sending them warm gear to help fight off the cold.

HERTLING: Well, the warm gear in the generators, it was interesting to me to hear the EU Minister talk about generators, because I was very familiar with that during my time in Iraq, serving with the Iraqi soldiers, we were able to deliver not just the small kind of generators that most people are familiar with. But in fact, there was one or two occasions where we delivered something called the mother of all generators. It was a huge capability provided by an electrical engineering company that actually powered an entire city, a small city, so nothing like Kyiv, or Kherson, but a small city nonetheless.

But when you're talking about manufacturing these kinds of large generators to supply in a very quick manner, a large country like Ukraine, that's the size of the state of Texas, it's going to be very challenging, especially now that winter is upon us and getting those generators there. So that could be the next push as opposed to some of the weapons systems.

VAUSE: I remember the mother of all generators back in Iraq back in the day. It was big, General Hertling, thanks for being with us. I appreciate it.

HERTLING: Always a pleasure, John. Thank you.

VAUSE: High taxes and cuts and government services. When we come back, Britain's finance minister announces some tough new budget measures, try and save billions of pounds.

Also had already in judges, handing down death sentences to anti- government protesters, as civil unrest spreads into a third month. That story and more after the break.



VAUSE: The UK government has ushered in a new era of austerity with a new budget aimed at saving $65 billion in public spending. Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt says Britain's will have to deal with high taxes as well as reductions in public services. On the news the pound fell in comparison to the U.S. dollars. CNN's Clare Sebastian has more now reporting from London.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): In less than two months, the UK has gone from about $53 billion worth of tax cuts to about $65 billion in tax rises and spending cuts. Finance minister Jeremy Hunt cementing the reversal of the chaotic growth driven budget of the former Prime Minister Liz Truss, promising to restore faith in the UK public finances.

JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH FINANCE MINISTER: We want low taxes and sound money. But conservatives no sound money has to come first, because inflation eats away at the pound in people's pockets even more insidiously than taxes.

SEBASTIAN: Well, everyone will pay higher taxes. Hunt said although the pain will be concentrated on higher earners. He also increased an existing windfall tax on oil and gas companies and added a new one for electricity producers. And there will be cuts to public services that most will not happen straight away.

Well, UK inflation at over 11 percent in October is among the highest in the G7 higher even than the euro area. And that's partly but not only because of what Jeremy Hunt calls a Made in Russia energy crisis. The Bank of England Governor warned this week that the UK is facing another supply shock that other industrialized countries are not and that's the fact that its workforce has shrunk since COVID. Because of long term sickness and early retirement that's led to worker shortages and of course pushing up wages.

And also unique to the UK the central bank says Brexit is hurting trade and raising costs for businesses. That's why the new government says it's committed to working in lockstep with the central bank to tackle inflation first, even though doing that, of course, causes extra pain for a country already in the grip of a cost of living crisis and facing a historic fall in living standards, if they don't, the forecast Thursday from the government's independent budget watchdog for a recession, lasting just over a year could end up much worse. Clare Sebastian, CNN, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Listen up. Now if you're flying into or out of London's Heathrow Airport, get ready for a major disruption in the coming hours. The union representing hundreds of ground handlers have made that warning as they begin a three day strike over pay.

The Unite Union says the strike will lead to delays and flight cancellations at three terminals. Multiple airlines are affected including Air Canada, American Airlines, Lufthansa, as well as Swiss Air.

CNN has obtained exclusive photos of damage and debris from Tuesday's drone attack on an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman. U.S. and Israeli officials shave identified the Iranian made drone is similar to once used by Russia in Ukraine. CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the images.

The Biden administration says it's likely that Iran was behind the strike in the Pacific Zircon. No casualties or oil leaks were reported. U.S. official says the ship did not appear to sustain major damage.


Now Iran has crackdown on anti-government demonstrations have led to five alleged protesters being sentenced to death in recent days. At least 1,000 people have been arrested. On Wednesday, a young boy who was added to the rising death toll. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has that report.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Nine- year-old Kian wanted to be an inventor. He shows off a wooden boat he made for a competition. We don't know when this video was filmed. It surfaced on social media after a little Kian was killed. It was one of a number of people killed Wednesday in what state media said was a shooting incident in the southwestern city of Izeh where anti-government protests have been raging for days.

Family members say Kian was on his way home with his father when he was shot. The Iranian government says this was a terrorist attack. But activists say Kian is a victim of the regime's ruthless crackdown on protests, one of more than 40 children killed since September according to rights groups.

Every day for more than 60 days now, Iranians have been burying their dead. More than 300 lives lost in this battle for change. 30-year-old Hudhan Kharami (ph) was shot in the head on Wednesday according to activists. This disturbing video scaptures sthe moment a bullet struck him.

At Kharami's (ph) burial mourners chant, Mother, don't grieve for your child, we will take his revenge. With every funeral their rage grows the brutality only fueling their determination to risk it all for regime change. That regime struggling to contain the popular uprising is now sentencing protesters to death. Several have been handed the death penalty this week in what human rights groups say are sham trials. The repressive Republic's latest attempt to crush the growing dissent. But nothing seems to be stopping the will of the people.

The third month of the uprising began with a new wave of strikes and protests sweeping across the country. The rising voices for freedom, refusing to be silenced. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


VAUSE: Still ahead, one of the most watched sporting events in the world has put the host country Qatar under the microscope and many don't like what they see, back in the moment.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Just days now before the World Cup begins in Qatar and even before action on the field begins, the whole event is being overshadowed by a growing list of controversies from corruption in the bidding process to women's rights, the country's stance on same-sex relationships to the treatment of migrant workers who have built the essential infrastructure for the games. About 15,000 foreign workers died in Qatar between 2010 when it was awarded the World Cup to 2019.

Stephen Cockburn is head of economic and social justice for Amnesty International. He joins us live this hour from Newcastle in England. Stephen, thank you for getting up early.


VAUSE: Good morning. It seems the closer we get to the opening round, the louder the criticism on so many topics. But the French president believes the time has long since passed for criticism. Here he is.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): I think sports should not be politicized. These questions need to be raised when events are attributed. When Olympic Games, World Cups are attributed -- that is when these questions need to be raised with all honesty.


VAUSE: He is saying, all of these issues should have been worked through during the whole bidding process, and once the decision is made, that's it.

And there could be an argument for that, except for the totally corrupt and opaque process we saw Qatar win the rights to this year's World Cup in the first place. Is that --

COCKBURN: Sorry, John I wasn't sure it would come to me.

VAUSE: Yes. So essentially, we have a bidding process which eventually worked things out but the bidding process itself is so corrupt that it doesn't work these details -- and that's how you end up with Qatar. So, where do we go from here?

COCKBURN: So I think there is a point that we should have been a process when the bid was given to Qatar to look at human rights concerns, that it was -- it was very, very well known that there were human rights abuses in the country, workers rights abuses in the particular were rife at the time.

Yet FIFA did absolutely nothing to look at the human rights record and did nothing to put conditions in place on that to improve conditions. so it took nearly a decade for any of the legal changes for workers to come in and that meant hundreds of thousands of workers got exploited during that period.

Now that's not to say that things can't be done now. There had been some reforms in recent years. It's really important that we keep talking about workers rights, about human rights more broadly because there is still things that can be done.

There is, for example, compensation for workers that could be provided if Qatar and FIFA choose to do that. And there are improvements that could be done in other areas as well.

So it's really, really important. We can't separate sport and politics. We can't separate sport and human rights. And I think this World Cup has really shown that.

VAUSE: Yes, when South Korea made a transition from authoritarian rule to democracy. There was this added incentive of holding the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. It was an honor. It was a huge deal at the time.

The problem now is with (INAUDIBLE). The mega sporting event is now so expensive that the sporting bodies need sort of autocratic countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia and China with terrible human rights records and the billions of dollars needed to meet all the requirements to be other cities.

So it seems in a way there's no incentive to change -- if a host city wins the rights then there is no incentive to actually move towards democracy or move towards greater freedoms or greater workers rights. That kind of stuff. We saw that happen in China.

COCKBURN: Well, One of the most important things that we think is that FIFA and other bodies like the International Olympic Committee need to put human rights criteria when the bidding process happens. That was a clear gap in terms of Qatar. It was a clear gap in terms of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, for example.

In the last few years FIFA and the IOC have both committed to doing that for future tournaments. And so I think now there is actually an opportunity to do things differently.

The big test will come, for example, next year the bidding process for the 2030 World Cup will start. And there are some very controversial bids that will go through that. Saudi Arabia, for example, is one of the favorites alongside Egypt and Greece to host the tournament in 2030.

And, you know, if the same mistakes are made, by not talking about human rights from the very start, by not putting conditions in place we are going to see the same problems again.

So, you know, we should learn something from this World Cup. We should make sure that human rights continue to be central. I think fans want that. I think players and athletes want that. And I think sponsors want that. Football associations want that and it's really, really important now that those human rights considerations do not get displaced when it comes to bigger issues about money and power.

And we've seen that before. And we really need to change things in global sport to make sure we don't see these things again because global sports can be a catalyst for positive change. It can be a catalyst for good things as well. But only if there's criterion and conditions are put in from the very start.

VAUSE: And a number of cities around the world -- from London, to Paris, to (INAUDIBLE) -- they've decided to ditch World Cup fan zones to protest for both Qatar hosting the games and for a variety of reasons.


VAUSE: The Dutch supporters are staging a boycott of the World Cup and not going there because of human rights concerns. And that move has been supported by the Netherlands coach. Here he is.


LOUIS VAN GAAL, HEAD COACH, NETHERLANDS MENS NATIONAL TEAM: I think that they are right to do this because they believe in this and they have to do this. So no problem with that.

And I hope that we play so fantastic that at the end of the tournament when we play the final, they shall look how they celebrated how good we are.


VAUSE: And the Australian team, the Socceroos, made a video supporting LGBTQ rights. You know, in the past, athletes and coaches sort of shied away from this political to stuff? They're now changing with Qatar simply because there are so many issues there?

COCKBURN: I think it is hugely changing. I think we have seen that in sport generally actually with the last two years. You know, it could have been, you know, in England you have a footballer like Marcus Rashford talking about food poverty. You have had tennis players like Naomi Osaka talking about Black Lives Matters. And in the World Cup you have had the Australian team, you've had teams in Europe and you've had a visiting coach talking about different human rights issues, whether that is workers' rights of LGBT rights.

Last night we had the global football association FIFPRO, which represents organized footballers, calling on FIFA to do much more on diversity issues, on equality issues. But also calling for compensation for workers.

And so I think, you know, players want this. And they are actually driving this demand for human rights now, which is really great and it's really important. And it's impressive they do so because they reach a huge audience.

And I think, you know, the genie is out of the bottle with sports and human rights. There will have to be a change because athletes and fans and sponsors are talking for it. And there is something really important they can do that athletes have been calling for which is the compensation front for migrant workers and calling for (INAUDIBLE) to announce something really important before the World Cup starts. And you know, athletes and fans have been calling for that. So I hope we see it.

VAUSE: Stephen, thanks for being on. Stephen Cockburn there from Amnesty. Appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.

COCKBURN: Thank you.

VAUSE: While the rest of world seems to emerge from the worst of the pandemic restrictions, in China, zero COVID has meant not just more of the same but more extreme and longer lockdowns often prompted by just one or two cases of infection. Some are so desperate to escape the lockdown, they're taking their own lives.

CNN's Selina Wang has this report and a warning, some of the images are very disturbing.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The piercing cries of a grieving daughter. She kneels and cries by her mother, who lays motionless on the ground, still wearing a mask.

Her mother jumped to her death from the 12th floor of their apartment building, their compound under lockdown in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, after two COVID cases were reported.

In this widely shared audio recording, the daughter is heard banging on the tall barricades that locked residents inside. She pleads, "open the gate, open the gate, I am begging you, please." She's eventually allowed to rush to her mother side.

Neighbors filmed the tragedy from their windows. Audio messages captured her desperate pleas to building management to be allowed to comfort the daughter. COVID enforces and police surround the body.

Local police said the 55 year old woman suffered from anxiety disorders. A later statement from police blamed managers of the locked building for their slow response.

In the eastern province of Xandong (ph), a group of COVID enforcers in hazmat suits dragged a resident out into the streets. Two people hold the man down while others kick and punch him. Another woman is thrown to the ground.

Many cases of brutality from COVID workers have not been held accountable, sparking outrage in China, but this time police without giving a motive for the attack detained seven COVID workers in (INAUDIBLE).

In Hubei Province, just outside of Beijing, a desperate father stepped out of his car, holding a knife. He tells the authorities his baby son has been out of baby formula for a long time during lockdown. He gets back in the car and drive right through the COVID barrier.

Moments later, police arrive. They escort him, handcuffed towards a large group of policeman. They surround him, one policemen sprays him down with disinfectant. He's arrested, all because he needed to feed his baby.


WANG: After outrage on Chinese social media, local police released a statement saying the man have been fined only 100 yuan or less than $15, and that his child milk powder problem had been resolved.

These scenes of suffering and tragedy adding to rage over the growing human and mental health toll of China's brute force COVID restrictions. And the southern metropolis of Guangzhou (ph), presidents locked down for weeks rushed to the streets, pushing, taking down red barriers and metal gates, trapping them in buildings.

Protesters cheering and shouting, demanding that they want to eat, they want to be unsealed, as people struggle to get enough food, essentials and medical care in lockdown.

Beijing recently announced incremental changes to COVID restrictions but said the country is sticking to its zero COVID policy. And for people that have lost their loved ones in lock downs, these changes are all too little and too late.

Selina Wang, CNN -- Beijing.


VAUSE: Winters are brutal in Ukraine. This one expected to be no different. And when we come back, how millions will be dealing with the cold, ice and snow in homes damaged by war and without electricity for heating.


VAUSE: A fire in a northern Gaza refugee camp has left at least 21 people dead. Gaza's interior ministry says a large amount of gasoline was stored in this residential building. No one made it out alive.

A Dutch court on Thursday convicted three men for their roles in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17. The court sentenced two former Russian operatives and a Ukrainian separatist to life in prison. The convictions were handed down in absentia, none are likely to serve time. The fourth suspect was acquitted.

The plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine and by a Russian missile launched from territory held by pro Russian separatists.

All 298 people on board were killed. Families of the victims were emotional following the verdict.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MERYN O'BRIEN, RELATIVE OF MH17 VICTIM: I feel relieved. I feel like it has -- the process has come to an end and it has been very fair. And it has been meticulous. And it has been thorough. And the evidence has been weighed. And I feel like, for those who want to hear, the truth is out there.

JORDAN WITHERS, RELATIVE OF MH17 VICTIM: And you have got to remember, while we are in court today, we still have to go home and sit at a dinner table without our loved ones. And I think that is never going to go away, that feeling that no matter what the court says or what happens in court, that's always going to be the case.

And for the nearly 300 victims' families, it's a difficult day.


VAUSE: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the ruling important -- an important moment for accountability, while the U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also welcomed the ruling.


VAUSE: Well, it's been snowing in Kyiv. The first snow of the season as Ukraine prepares for what is expected to be unusually harsh winter. Russia's continued attacks on the power grid means many have been left without heating, without electricity.

CNN's Nic Robertson has our report.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Gas just came back to Kramatorsk, a boon of battlefield gains. Maria, a 70-year-old pensioner, wasn't expecting it, had bought a wood burning stove.

"It was hard without gas," she tells us. "And now, thanks to God, we are ok." But for how long?

When the government turned the gas back on here at the beginning of November, they did it without any big announcement. Because, like every other critical service here, gas depends on electricity. And that is what Russia is targeting.

When I met the mayor here three months ago, he was urging residents to leave ahead of winter.

OLEKSANDR HONCHARENKO, MAYOR -- KRAMATORSK, UKRAINE: We do not have gas at all and it's not possible to repair gas lines.

RAJU: When we meet now, he tells me the population has actually increased by 30,000 to 35,000 people -- over 80,000 total.

Residents returning home, even though the situation, because Russia is targeting the power grid, is much more precarious. Lives, he fears, may be lost in what he expects to be the harshest winter since Independence 30 years ago. HONCHARENKO: When the electricity disappears, cities are plunged into

darkness. Anything can happen. Boilers can stop, gas distribution networks can stop. You can be left without everything, even without heat.

ROBERTSON: Keeping warm is on everyone's minds. This factory making heating logs from sunflower seeds, demand outstripping capacity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our requests have gone up three or four fold. We don't have enough trucks for deliveries.

ROBERTSON: They are working at full capacity here. Everything that is ready, shipped out immediately. But the whole system here, extremely vulnerable. Electricity could go off at any moment.

Every log delivered, a few hours spared from the cold. Each sack perhaps a week's peace of mind.

Has he got everything that he ordered?

His answer -- everything, everything, all good, perfect. I don't have words.

Food is also on people's minds this winter. Mostly pensioners, mostly poor bundle up against the cold. A free bread distribution, tempting them out of frigid homes.

"If they help us like they do here, it would be fine," 84-year-old Yulia tells us. I'm a child of World War II," she says. "We were cold, hungry, but we survived."

Across town, another pensioner, 82-year-old Oleksandra shows us the basement she shares with neighbors, already stockpiling food for winter. No gas for warmth here. Just an old electric heater.

But when there's no electricity, you have no heat. How do you stay warm?

"We just have to put on our coat, wrap ourselves in blankets, and go to bed," she says. "That is how we live. That is how we exist. Born into war," she says. "I will probably die in war."

Nic Robertson, CNN -- Kramatorsk, Ukraine.


VAUSE: The pattern is so familiar by now. Once the Russians retreat next comes the evidence of torture. Ukrainian officials say the city of Kherson is no different.

According to Ukraine's Interior Minister, 63 bodies have been found so far. He did not say where or under what circumstances.

Finally, there were four detention centers that's being used where much of the evidence of the torture was uncovered. Russia has previously denied any allegation of war crimes, despite evidence gathered by human rights experts, criminal investigators as well as the international media.

American basketball star Brittney Griner is said to be doing as well as can be expected after she was moved to a Russian penal colony. She was convicted in August of smuggling drugs into Russia. Her appeal was rejected last month.

We have more details now from CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: New unsettling information on Brittney Griner's whereabouts. Griner's Russian attorney saying in a statement to CNN, she is serving her sentence at the IK2 penal colony in the Russian region of Mordovia.

It's remote, human rights monitors say, about 300 miles southeast of Moscow. And bleak.

OLGA ZEVELEVA, GULAG ECHOS PROJECT, UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI: Mordovia is known for being one of the harshest regions in Russia to serve a sentence. There's even a saying that says, you haven't been to a Russian prison unless you have been to Mordovia.

TODD: State department officials upset that Vladimir Putin's regime has kept them in the dark on Griner's location.


VEDANT PATEL, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Formally, the Russian Federation has still failed to provide any official notification for such a move of a U.S. citizen, which we strongly protest.

TODD: Griner recently lost her appeal of a nine-year sentence for drug smuggling for what in the west might seem to be a minor offense of carrying cannabis oil and two vape cartridges when she was arrested in February. The 32-year-old former Olympian has been sent to a place that human rights monitors say is horrific.

SARAH MENDELSON, FORMER U.S. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL AT U.N.: Conditions are not good. And there is abuse, both for women and men. This is the last place on earth you want to be.

TODD: Griner's lawyers tell CNN she's doing as well as can be expected. But that is relative. Nadia Tolokonnikova, a member of the activist band Pussy Riot, says she spent nearly two years in a Russian penal colony for protesting against Putin. Women are kept in cold, crowded barracks, she told CNN, places compared to gulag by human rights groups, with unsanitary conditions and little access to health care.

From the moment you wake up Tolokonnikova says, conditions are brutal.

NADIA TOLOKONNIKOVA, MEMBER, PUSSY RIOT: The morning starts with a scream. It means, "get up, whores (ph)".

TODD: Many women work as seamstresses through long days that seem to never end.

TOLOKONNIKOVA: In a Russian penal colony, you wake up at 6:00 a.m. And then you work for 16 hours a day in order to sew police uniforms and army military uniforms.

TODD: Psychological torture, Tolokonnikova says, is an especially cruel tactic in a women's penal colony.

TOLOKONNIKOVA: They turn other prisoners against you. They will punish everyone else in a penal colony. Let's say they take away their warm clothing from them. And they will tell them, openly, that it happened because of her. This all happened because of Brittney.

TODD: How might Griner come out on the other end, however long she's kept in Mordovia?

TOLOKONNIKOVA: I think it will harden her. She will probably come out very traumatized.

TODD: Nadia Tolokonnikova says Brittney Griner's status as an openly gay person might also work against her in that penal colony, that you might get ridiculed by the guards for that. Tolokonnikova says she had a cellmate who was transgender, who she says, would sometimes be taken to the warden's office, get ridiculed mercilessly and would come back in tears.

Brian Todd, CNN -- Washington.


VAUSE: Well, when we come back, brace for congressional investigation for loser. With Republicans set to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, think Hillary 's emails and Benghazi times a thousand.


VAUSE: A changing of the guard underway in the U.S. House of Representatives with Speaker Nancy Pelosi not standing for leadership position. But she will stay in Congress. The 82-year-old California Democrat will be given up the speaker's gavel in January when Republicans take control.

Pelosi rose to the top of the House Democratic Caucus in 2002. She made history as the first and only woman to become speaker in 2007.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic Caucus that I so deeply respect. And I'm grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility.


VAUSE: Pelosi's likely successor is 52-year-old New York Democrat Hakeem Jeffries. He will be making history as well, the first black person to lead a party in Congress.


VAUSE: So when Republicans do take over the House in January, what will their top priorities be? Could it be climate change, maybe the war in Ukraine, inflation, the economy? No.

Apparently the priorities will be to investigate the Biden administration and President Biden's family. The White House has slammed the proposed GOP agenda as political revenge.

CNN's Sara Murray has that report.


SARAH MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: After clinching the majority in the U.S. House, GOP lawmakers are gearing up for the subpoena power they will inherit in January, outlining a broad range of investigative targets, many aimed squarely at President Biden, his son Hunter and his family's business dealings.

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): We would love to talk to people in the Biden family, specifically Hunter and Jim Biden.

MURRAY: Republican Congressman James Comer set to become Oversight chairman vowing to focus on bank records. Known as Suspicious Activity Reports or SARs from financial institutions and allegedly related transactions by Biden family members.

We will continue to pursue all evidence and, specifically, the SARs and bank records in the new Congress.

MURRAY: While Comer has claimed the reports indicate problematic behavior --

COMER: Red flags were raised by banks to the account owner or owners, indicating suspicious or illegal activity.

MURRAY: Such reports are not conclusive and don't necessarily indicate wrongdoing. Millions of suspicious activity reports are filed each year and a few lead to law enforcement inquiries.

GOP Congressman Jim Jordan set to lead House Judiciary also (INAUDIBLE) plans to investigate the Justice Department and the FBI.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We are going to look at the politics of the Justice Department based on the fact that we have had 14 different -- actually -- more than 14 now -- whistleblowers come talk to us.

MURRAY: Comer firing off letters seeking more information to further GOP probes, requesting suspicious activity reports from Treasury, Information about Hunter Biden's art sales from a gallery owner and communications from a former Hunter Biden business partner related to Hunter and Joe Biden's finances, taxes, and debts.

The president has repeatedly insisted that he had nothing to do with his son's overseas business deals.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've always kept everything separate --

MURRAY: And in a 2019 interview, Hunter Biden admitted to poor judgment but not wrongdoing when it came to his business ventures.

HUNTER BIDEN, SON OF JOE BIDEN: I think that was poor judgment on my part. Did I do anything improper? No. Not in any way.

MURRAY: A spokesman for the White House counsel's office slammed Thursday's announcement as political revenge, saying. "Republicans' top priority is to go after President Biden with politically motivated attacks, chock full of long debunked conspiracy theories.

Federal prosecutors have also been investigating Hunter Biden since 2018. They have not yet brought any charges related to that matter. And Hunter Biden has broadly denied any wrongdoing related to that probe.

We also reached out to the private lawyers for Biden family members. They did not respond to our request for comment.

Sarah Murray, CNN -- Washington.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. Kim Brunhuber takes over. He steps up to the plate after a very short break.

See you in a couple of weeks.