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Suspect In Dance Club Shooting Killed Self In Van; Former UK PM Boris Johnson Makes Trip To Ukraine; Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu Dismisses Key Ally Aryeh Deri From All Ministerial Posts; COVID Deaths Rise in China; Protests in Peruvian Capital; Afghans Suffering Through Brutal Winter; Tackling Trash in the Balkans; Saying Farewell to Lisa Marie Presley. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired January 23, 2023 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to all of our viewers watching from around the world. I'm Laila Harrak, ahead on CNN Newsroom. A California community left reeling after a gunman opened fire inside a dance studio, leaving nearly a dozen people dead.
Plus, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a surprise visit to Kyiv, where he joined the chorus of voices calling for Western tanks to be sent to Ukraine.
And despite COVID concerns at China, more than 26 million trips were recorded as people reunites with family for the Lunar New Year holiday. We'll have a live report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Center. This is CNN Newsroom with Laila Harrak.
HARRAK: Police in Southern California say the suspect in a deadly mass shooting in Monterey Park is now dead. The Los Angeles County sheriff says 72-year-old Huu Can Tran died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was found inside a cargo van after a standoff with police when he's accused of opening fire at a dance studio Saturday night, killing 10 people and injuring 10 others in at Lunar New Year celebrations.
After that shooting, the sheriff says he went to another gathering nearby.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF ROBERT LUNA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: The suspects went to the Alhambra location after he conducted the shooting, and he was disarmed by two community members who I consider to be heroes because they saved lives. This could have been much worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK: It was that seized weapon that allowed police to identify him. And we're learning evidence in the van used by the suspect have linked him to the location of the mass shooting. The chief of police in Monterey Park described what officers on the scene encountered Saturday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF SCOTT WIESE, MONTEREY PARK POLICE DEPARTMENT: The first officers on scene were one of some of my youngest officers. They'd only been on the street for a very short period of time. When they came into the parking lot, it was chaos. There were wounded people. There were people trying to flee out all the doors. They immediately went into action, and within just a couple of minutes, those officers had entered the location looking for the suspect. That's our protocols here. We don't wait.
Inside they came across a scene that none of them had been prepared for. So, there were injured people inside, there were dead people inside. And my young officers did their job, searched for a suspect, and then came back and had to deal with the carnage that was inside. And it was extensive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK: Well, police say seven people who survived the shooting remain hospitalized. Now the community of Monterey Park is grappling with becoming the latest city to be shaken by a deadly mass shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF LIOU, PASTOR: This is a community where my kids took art lessons. We come down here for food all the time. We see elders walking around all the time. This has been a safe neighborhood for them to walk around and have community, historic, Taiwanese, Chinese community, so to see this happen in this place is shattering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK: Well, the sheriff says the investigation is ongoing, as police work to determine a motive for the tragic event. CNN's Natasha Chen has more from Monterey Park.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): On Sunday evening on Lunar New Year, when this community was supposed to be celebrating, law enforcement gave a press conference confirming that a man they had cornered in a white van in Torrance, California, was in fact the shooter of this Monterey Park scene just a couple of blocks away from us.
Where on Saturday night, he opened fire, police said, killing ten people. Almost 24 hours later, still seven people are in the hospital.
Now, we understand that the ages of the victims range in the 50s, 60s, and beyond. The coroner's office began to take away remains on Sunday afternoon, and they're still in the process of identifying the people who died.
Now, it took about 12 hours for police to find this person in Torrance, about 30 miles southwest of Monterey Park.
This after police say that he had gone from this dance hall in Monterey Park to a different one in Alhambra, a city north of where we are. That's where law enforcement says that a person matching the same suspect description went in armed and that a couple of people actually wrestled with him, tackled him, and they were able to recover the weapon that he had. And that's how police were able to also recover that weapon and begin to trace who this person might be.
Now, this community is still reeling and stunned after this mass shooting happened just after the first day of the city of Monterey Park's huge Lunar New Year festival that had more than 100,000 people on these streets. And many of the people speaking at the press conference, local leaders, were at those festivities just a couple of hours before this tragedy.
They have reassured the community that they are now safe, that the person that police say died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound when police cornered him in Torrance that person is no longer with us, as they put it, and that there is no longer a threat to the community.
And this is indeed a huge blow to a predominantly Asian community in Monterey Park here, again, about to celebrate the Lunar New Year, supposedly a time for joy, for health and prosperity, instead having to mourn the loss of their neighbors and loved ones. Natasha Chen, CNN, Monterey Park, California.
HARRAK: U.S. President Joe Biden has ordered flags at the White House and other federal buildings in Washington to fly at half-staff until sunset on Thursday out of respect for the shooting victims. The president called it a senseless attack and pledged federal support for California authorities investigating the incident. While in Florida, Vice President Kamala Harris also addressed the tragedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: A time of a cultural celebration, and yet another community has been torn apart by census gun violence. So, Doug and I joined the president and Dr. Biden, and I know everyone here in mourning for those who were killed, as we pray for those who were injured, and as we grieve for those many people whose lives are forever changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK: We're also hearing reaction from Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that aims to address anti-Asian hate and racism across the United States. In a statement following the shooting, it said, quote, our community has faced so much tragedy and trauma over the last several years. This tremendous act of violence one of the most important days of the year for many Asian Americans at a place where Asian American families come together and celebrate, is sending shockwaves through our community. For more.
Now, I'm joined by Juliette Kayyem, a CNN U.S. National Security Analyst and former Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. So good to have you with us, Juliette. A celebration that unfortunately turned into a nightmare, the victims of the rampage are believed to be in their 50s and 60s. The gunman described as a 72-year-old and a regular patron at the dance hall. What do all these details tell you?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's interesting when we started to hear these details, the fact he is Asian, he had frequented this facility. He matched the age of the victims who are older. This is not a club that we might think of a club like 20 and 30-year-old. This is more of a social club that he has some relationship or connection to someone there, whether through relationship or employment. Because we just don't see victims like this in terms of their age on a Saturday night in a mass shooting in the U.S., but as well as the age of the assailant. It is -- he is older than most mass shootings in the United States are perpetuated by younger men.
HARRAK: Now, officials have not confirmed a motive yet, it's too early.
HARRAK: But do believe the gunman tried to carry out a second attack?
KAYYEM: Yes, exactly. In the same vicinity. So this is a rampage in which the reason why he's chosen this place is may not be for a legally recognized hate crime, in other words, targeted against a race or ethnicity.
On the other hand, the perception of what happened for the Asian American and other communities in the area was, as we've been reporting, as a victimized community.
This is a community that has faced harassment and targeting over the last couple of years. Here one that is often questioned out loud, as we saw in that statement about whether they go out and remember the Lunar New Year celebration is a celebration that sets the tone for the rest of the year. That's what it's about. That's why there's parties and festivities and family. After COVID this was the first very large public gathering. So the community is perceiving this, rightfully so, I think, you know, as an attack on them, even if the motivation wasn't anti-Asian American.
HARRAK: We understand that the murder weapon has been described as some assault pistol.
KAYYEM: It's a designation, I have to admit in the press conference it was vague. It may be that they're still studying the gun. We do -- pistols just describes essentially the length of the gun. There are ways in which both the capacity and the speed of the bullets and the magazine's capacity can turn these into essentially semiautomatic weapons, even though they are designated as pistols. It's a very contentious issue, but obviously here in the United States.
So, I believe, even though he was vague as to the specifics of what kind of gun he was implying, that while it was not the typical semi- automatic weapons that we see in the United States, an AR or something like that it killed people very quickly, and that's shown in the evidence. When you look at the time frame for what happened on Saturday night, the police receive a phone call, they are in the room within about two and a half minutes. Right.
You know, that's a very quick response time. And the ability to shoot over 20 people and kill 10 of them is something that you would expect essentially a weapon of mass destruction to do so.
HARRAK: So very fast response there, but it continues to be very problematic, Juliette, doesn't it? The ease with which powerful firearms can be acquired by individuals here in the United States?
KAYYEM: That's exactly what -- so you get the sigh of relief, and I admitted this on the air earlier. You get the sigh of relief like, oh, it's not a hate crime, as if the death of 10 people is somehow then better. Right. I mean, we have now set a standard, unfortunately, in the United States. We have -- this is the second mass shooting in California alone in the last week.
The numbers for this year are higher in terms of mass shooting, which we describe or we define as four or more killed in a single shooting, not including the gunmen.
And so we try in the sense that the American public is consistently for responsible gun use and responsible gun legislation. But the politics of this have not aligned behind public sentiment and it's just something that will continue to bump up those two camps will continue to bump up against each other. The victims are essentially all of these victims of these mass shootings, whether it's schools, bars or lunar events.
HARRAK: Juliette Kayyem, thank you very much.
In the coming hours, foreign ministers from the EU will meet to discuss the war in Ukraine and their support for the country. It comes as the Ukrainian officials are urging the west to provide them with the German made Leopard II battle tanks which Poland has already offered.
And on Sunday, Germany's foreign minister said her government would not stand in the way if Poland wants to supply them. But so far, Berlin has been hesitant to supply tanks from its own arsenal.
At a summit in Paris, German chancellor Olaf Scholz said all decisions on weapons deliveries would be made in coordination with allies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): We have constantly expanded our supply with very effective weapons that are already available today. And we have always closely coordinated all these decisions with all our important allies and friends with France, for example, with the USA, for example, with other countries in Europe, and of course, with all those who are involved in this discussion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK: At the same summit, French president Emmanuel Macau said his country hasn't ruled out supplying its own Leclerc tanks to Ukraine. But he said the delivery must not escalate the situation. It should include enough training for Ukrainians and it must not weaken France's own defense.
Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says supplying modern weapons to Ukraine would not lead to an escalation of war. Johnson delivered the remarks during a visit to Kyiv on Sunday, where he pledged further support to the people there. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTENRATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): As the fighting rages here in Ukraine, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited both Kyiv and the surrounding areas. Boris Johnson was in the suburb of Bucha and also Borodyanka. He later spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and he said what he saw there was appalling.
Now, of course, Boris Johnson is no longer the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but he is still an extremely popular figure here in this country. And he told Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the support that the United Kingdom is giving Ukraine will continue, as he put it, for as long as it takes.
Meanwhile, the fighting here in this country really concentrated around two areas. On the one hand, you have the south around the big town of Zaporizhzhia, and there the Russians had actually said that they'd made some gains, especially on Sunday.
The Ukrainians did acknowledge that there was a lot of firing going on from the Russians, a lot of shelling, but they denied that any territorial gains were made and said that they were holding the line.
The other big area where fighting has been going on is the east of the country, especially around the town of Bakhmut. Of course, the Russians have been making some gains there. The Ukrainians are saying that they're still holding the line in most places, but they do acknowledge that they are under a lot of pressure in that area around there near the town of Cremena. The Ukrainians say they've been trying to make some gains, but they do say right now that's become quite difficult because the Russians have reinforced their positions in that area. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kyiv.
HARRAK: This week, the U.S. is set to impose new sanctions on the Russian mercenary force Wagner, after announcing it would brand the group a transnational criminal organization.
Washington says the private military company poses a global threat through its, quote, serious criminal activity. On Friday, the White House said the group has received weapons from North Korea to use in Ukraine.
Pentagon officials have also assessed that in some areas, Wagner's fighters have had more success in the war than Russia's own military.
Let's discuss this now with Sorcha MacLeod, an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen and a member of the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries. Professor, thank you so much for your time and for joining us. Let's talk about this measure that the U.S. wants to implement. How meaningful is it to help to impede Wagner operatives from continuing to commit atrocities?
SORCHA MACLEOD, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN: I think it's an interesting decision. It probably is a result of the fact that it's very difficult under international law to define an individual as a mercenary. International law, the laws of war defines mercenary as someone who's been specifically recruited to fight in an armed conflict and who's going to be financially rewarded in a way that's substantially more than an ordinary member of the armed forces.
But one of the other criteria is that if you are a national of a party to an armed conflict, then you do not meet the definition of mercenary. If in Ukraine you have Russian nationals fighting on behalf of Wagner, then they would not meet the definition of mercenary and therefore would not fall within the international legal definition.
So I suspect that what the U.S. is doing here is trying to ensure some accountability for these actors, for example, by putting more sanctions in place. Now, that's already been done by the U.S. and the EU in the last year or so.
HARRAK: Exactly, because the EU already has sanctions in place against the Wagner Group for quite some time, and that didn't stop Wagner mercenaries from continuing to operate with impunity. So, again, how effective are sanctions?
MACLEOD: Well, that, of course, remains to be seen. And the UN Working Group has been saying for a long time that impunity is a huge problem. The lack of accountability for the Wagner Group and other types of mercenary actors is a huge problem. And what states need to be doing is actually ensuring that people who are perpetrating these kinds of atrocities across the globe, in Libya, in Central African Republic, in Syria, that they are prosecuted, that if appropriate, that they're convicted and punished for the human rights violations and war crimes that they've committed.
HARRAK: But the problem, of course, with these groups and with these operatives like the Wagner mercenaries, I mean they do not operate within a legal framework. They're illicit. They're very difficult to pinpoint. I mean, you know, unless sending, for instance, a force into Ukraine to apprehend them. I mean what's the solution? What can be done?
MACLEOD: Yes, the reality is that there is an international legal framework that governs mercenaries and mercenary type actors. We have the laws of war. We also have a UN convention on Mercenarism which requires states to put in place measures to prevent the recruitment, the training, the financing, and the deployment of mercenaries.
Now, of course, this is a preventative measure, and it's something that states should have been looking at long before the war in Ukraine but the U.S. is not a party to that convention, neither are many other Western states. If they had been a party to this convention, then this would have given them some tools to actually prevent the deployment of actors like Wagner.
HARRAK: But if what drives the Wagner Group is continuation basically of conflict because that's how they make their money, and if nothing can realistically restrain them, there is also not really -- I understand there's like a legal framework that talks about mercenaries, but they can't regulate them. Where do you see this going, especially in Ukraine?
MACLEOD: Well, this is exactly the problem that we've been trying to highlight. We actually submitted a report to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in September last year, highlighting the problems of accountability. So we're now in the phase of we've not been able to prevent the Wagner group being deployed and carrying out recruitment. We're now in a phase where we need to be able to hold those personnel responsible for the atrocities to account.
So either that has to be done at the national level, it could be done via the International Criminal Court, it could be done through human rights mechanisms. There are a whole variety of different ways to hold these actors to account.
We could have states exercising universal jurisdiction, so that would be a situation where a state exercises jurisdiction over a case, a situation of a trust is being committed outside that country, but for example, torture.
And if the human rights violations are serious enough, then the country can claim to, sorry, excuse me, can prosecute the individuals in that country. And so, you know, there are tools there. But the problem we can't put the toothpaste back in the tube at this point. We need to be looking seriously at these kinds of actors and putting in place mechanisms at the national level to stop them being recruited, to stop them being trade, to stop them being financed. And I suppose that is what the U.S. trying to do with this new law or this new provision, and I guess it's going to try and target particularly the financing of the Wagner group.
HARRAK: Sorcha MacLeod, thank you so much for joining us. Greatly appreciate you.
Macleod: Thank you.
HARRAK: A day after massive protests across Israel, a key ally of the Prime Minister is out of the cabinet. We'll have the latest on that and the growing antigovernment demonstrations.
HARRAK: Israel's Prime Minister has dismissed key ally Aryeh Deri from all ministerial posts. Deri's Shas Party is a key component of Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition. But last week, Israel's High Court ruled that Deri's appointment cannot stand due to his past criminal convictions and his promise to retire from public life.
Well, the dismissal on Sunday came a day after the largest turnout so far in three weeks of protests against Mr. Netanyahu's government and planned judicial changes. More than 100,000 people rallied in Tel Aviv, Saturday and thousands more in other Israeli cities. CNN's Hadas Gold has more from Jerusalem.
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Benjamin Netanyahu isn't even one month into his new term as Israeli Prime Minister, and he will already have an empty minister's chair at his next cabinet meeting. Forced to fire Aryeh Deri after a bombshell Supreme Court ruling last week said Deri could not serve as minister because of his previous criminal convictions and his declaration to the Court last year that he would not return to public office.
Putting off the dismissal for days, Netanyahu ultimately told Deri he was doing so with a heavy heart and would find a legal way to get him back into government. Needing to carefully maintain the alliance with Deri, whose eleven parliamentary seats Netanyahu needs to stay in power.
Deri's dismissal amplifying an already heated debate in Israel over Netanyahu's proposed judicial reforms that would give the parliament power to overturn Supreme Court decisions, prompting more than 100,000 people to flood the streets once again in protest.
On Saturday, the third week in a row, tens of thousands have come out to decry what they see as the destruction of Israel's independent judiciary, claiming these reforms will help Netanyahu get out of his own ongoing corruption trial, a charge Netanyahu denies.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We will complete the reform legislation in a way that will fix what needs fixing, will fully protect individual rights and will restore the public's trust in the justice system which needs this reform so much.
GOLD: But the protesters are gaining momentum and numbers as opposition leaders, including former Prime Minister Yair Lapid, joined them in the streets.
YAIR LAPID, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): What you see here today is a demonstration in support of the country. This is a demonstration for the country. People who love the country have come here today to defend its democracy, to defend its courts, to defend the idea of coexistence and of common good. There are people here who love Israel, who came to demonstrate for a democratic Jewish state according to the values of the declaration of Independence, and we will not give up until we win.
GOLD: With hopes these protests turn into an ongoing public pressure campaign, Netanyahu won't be able to ignore. Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.
LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR: New Zealand will have a new prime minister in just a few days if all goes according to plan. The country's Labor Party has unanimously endorsed Education Minister Chris Hipkins to fill the role. He says he expects to be sworn in on Wednesday. Hipkins was the only nominee for prime minister and Labor Party leader, making Sunday's confirmation merely a formality.
Ardern announced her surprise resignation last week, citing exhaustion. She still needs to notify New Zealand's governor general to make it official.
Still to come, as China rings in the Lunar New Year, the government reports thousands more COVID-related deaths. We'll have a live report next.
Plus, Peruvian demonstrators demand the release of more than 100 people detained at a university over the weekend. We'll show you how police responded to their protests.
HARRAK: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world.
I'm Laila Harrak. And this is CNN NEWSROOM.
Back now to our top story: the deadly mass shooting in Monterey Park, California. Police have identified the suspect as 72 year old Huu Can Tran and say he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a cargo van after a standoff with police.
Tran is accused of shooting and killing ten people and injuring ten others at a dance studio Saturday night amid Lunar New Year celebrations. Los Angeles County Sheriff says Tran went to another gathering in nearby Alhambra where some people wrestled the gun away from him. The sheriff says a search of the van he was using has provided authorities with evidence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF ROBERT LUNA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT: During the search, several pieces of evidence were found inside the van linking the suspect to both locations, in Monterey Park and Alhambra. In addition, a handgun was discovered inside the van.
The investigation is still ongoing. Sheriff's homicide detectives are working around the clock, gathering additional information, and working on determining the motive behind this extremely tragic event.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK: Well, U.S. President Joe Biden is speaking out against what he calls a senseless attack in California. CNN's Arlette Saenz has details of his reaction.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden offered condolences to those impacted by the mass shooting in Monterey Park, California and acknowledged the impact that the shooting had on the Asia-American and Pacific Islander community.
SAENZ: The president on Sunday evening ordered flags at the White House and other federal government buildings be flown at half staff. And he also in a statement pledged federal support for the local community.
President Biden saying in a statement quote, "Jill and I are thinking of those killed and injured in last night's deadly mass shooting in Monterey Park. While there's still much we don't know about the motive in this senseless attack, we do know that many families are grieving tonight or praying that their loved one will recover from their wounds. Even as we continue searching for answers about this attack, we know deeply this attack has impacted the AAPI community. Monterey Park is home to one of the largest AAPI communities in America, many of whom were celebrating the Lunar New Year along with loved ones and friends this weekend."
Now, Congresswoman Judy Chu who represents Monterey Park said that she received phone calls from the White House as well as Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
President Biden spent the weekend here in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware where he continued to receive updates including from his homeland security adviser, Liz Sherwood-Randall. And the president in his statement said that he directed her to ensure that the federal government is offering all support necessary to the local community. Now, one thing that is very important in the president's statement is
that he notes that there is still no motive that has been determined to be tied to the shooting. That is something law enforcement officials have been working through throughout the day.
But President Biden with his statement trying to make clear that they are offering support to a community that is grieving these very deep losses.
Arlette Saenz, CNN -- traveling with the president in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
HARRAK: In China, concerns about COVID haven't stopped millions from welcoming the Year of the Rabbit with widespread celebrations. Millions of trips have been recorded as residents traveled to see family for the Lunar New Year.
In fact, state media report more than 26 million trips were recorded on Saturday alone. But there are fears all that traveling could aid in the spread of COVID. Chinese officials are now reporting more 12,000 new COVID-related deaths in the week just before the New Year.
Despite those fears, many residents remain optimistic. Those who gathered at this temple in Beijing prayed for good fortune and health in the New Year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Everybody's finance or life has been greatly affected by these three years of pandemic. Now that this is gone, I think we can say the spring festival has epic (ph)- making significance.
Having been through the pandemic, now everybody appreciates life even more. And this is a starting point of our hopes for the future. These are my thoughts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK: CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson joins me now live from Hong Kong. Ivan, before the pandemic, the spring festival in China was described as the world's largest annual human migration. What was it like this year?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well it's really the spring festival is just kind of getting started. And the people are on the move. Now, the numbers of travelers does not quite compare to before the pandemic and the lockdowns and the quarantines that have made this year so special for people.
It's the first time that many people are getting to see loved ones during the Lunar New Year festival. In some cases in some three years because the restrictions for COVID were so onerous in mainland China. And so now again, people are on the move. And as you mentioned, we
have estimates of some 26 people -- million people traveling on Saturday alone. Those numbers are still barely half of what they were on the first eve of the Lunar New Year in 2019, before the pandemic. And yet they're 50 percent higher, Chinese state media is reporting, than they were at the same time last year.
So you do get a sense of a recovery and life starting to get back to normal for so many people for whom the last couple years were so dark and restricted.
The Chinese ministry of transport is predicting that there could be two billion passengers that will have traveled in Mainland China by the end of the 40-day spring festival.
And in another sign of life getting perhaps back to normal, we're hearing from the ministry of culture and tourism that starting in February, China will once again allow, for the first time in more than three years, package tours to begin overseas.
And top among the list of countries are basically Southeast Asia, countries like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia.
HARRAK: Ivan Watson reporting from Hong Kong. Thank you so much, Ivan.
Authorities in the Peruvian capital used tear gas to quell a protest outside the police headquarters over the weekend. Demonstrators are demanding the release of more than 100 people detained on Saturday who were accused of illegally occupying a university.
The actions are part of a broader campaign of anti government protests that have gone on for weeks.
HARRAK: CNN's Rafael Romo has more on the unrest.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN-AMERICAN EDITOR: It's been yet another week of turmoil in Peru. Nearly 200 protesters were arrested on Saturday at a university campus in Lima, the capital that they have taken it over in the last few days. Those arrested at the National University of San Marco could now face charges related to occupying the facilities according to Peruvian interior minister Vicente Romero.
This is one of the latest cases of unrest that has gripped Peru over the last several weeks. A new wave of violent protests forced authorities Saturday to close the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, one of Peru's main tourist attractions.
A railway track was damaged there, leaving more than 400 tourists stranded. The rail service was suspended briefly in December for a similar reason.
Later on Saturday, Peru's foreign trade and tourism minister Luis Fernando Helguero said in a statement all of the stranded tourists have been evacuated. Among those evacuated, he said, there were 270 domestic tourists and 148 foreigners.
The statement also said the Cusco International Airport which is used as a connecting point by many international travelers had reopened after being closed on Friday. Flights were temporarily suspended Thursday from the international airport in Arequipa, Peru's second largest city after protesters tried to storm it.
So far, more than 50 people have died since the protests began in early December and more than 1,200 have been injured, according to Peruvian Ombudsman's offices.
Protesters want new elections, the resignation of current president Dina Boluarte, a new constitution, and the release of former president Pedro Castillo who's currently in pretrial detention. Castillo was accused of rebellion and conspiracy after trying to dissolve congress -- charges he denies. He was ousted by impeachment on December 7th.
Rafael Romo, CNN -- Atlanta.
HARRAK: In Syria, a residential building collapsed in Aleppo, killing at least 16 people according to state media. Frist responders have been searching through the rubble for survivors. The Syrian interior ministry says there were seven families inside the five story building when it collapsed on Sunday. Right now, no official word on what caused the collapse.
Thousands of people are taking to the streets of Brussels to protest the detention of a Belgian aid worker in Iran.
Olivier Vandercasteele was sentenced by an Iranian court to 40 years in prison and 74 lashes for espionage and money laundering charges, according to state media. He also faces a million dollar fine. He was arrested last year while doing humanitarian work in Iran. Protesters are demanding justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLAUDINE NAASSENS, PROTESTER (through translator): We want action. What is the European Union doing? Are we protected us citizens? Olivier is a citizen who fought for humanity in Belgium, abroad, all over the world.
This has to come to an end. Belgium must protect its citizens and Europe must do so too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRAK: Well, his sentence comes after Belgian's constitutional court suspended a bill last month which could've paved the way for a prisoner swap with Iran. The Belgian government has also said Iran's charges against Vandercasteele are fake. Still to come, many Afghans enduring a brutal winter. With economic hardship it's a difficult choice -- food or warmth. A look at the crisis putting millions at risk.
And what should be a beautiful water way in the Balkans is fouled by a river of trash. The environmental crisis on the Drina River coming up.
HARRAK: Within the last few hours, Pakistan has been hit with a massive power outage. Officials say a breakdown in the national power grid has left much of the nation of 220 million people without electricity.
The ministry of energy says system maintenance work is progressing rapidly. And the power has been restored in a limited number of grids in Islamabad and Peshawar. Pakistan endured another national grid breakdown two years ago in January of 2021.
Millions of Afghans already on the brink of starvation and economic hardship are struggling to survive through the winter's freezing temperatures, according to the United Nations. Critics say the Taliban's return to power in 2021 has helped fuel the crisis.
CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Arctic conditions, heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures in Afghanistan have killed at least 78 people in the last few days, according to Taliban officials. CNN not able to independently verify that number.
Thousands of livestock reportedly froze to death according to the U.N. Temperatures plunged to as low as minus 28 degrees Celsius. This as millions of people in Afghanistan face starvation, according to the U.N.
To eat or stay warm. That is the choice many Afghan families are forced to make according to the International Red Cross. However, most Afghans struggle to afford either.
Almost 20 million people in Afghanistan suffer from hunger, the U.N. says, with 4 million children and women facing acute malnutrition.
Aid groups are attempting to provide help, but since December at least half a dozen major foreign aid groups have temporarily suspended their operations in Afghanistan after the Taliban banned women from working for NGOs.
Women aid workers are essential to reaching other women and children in households in Afghanistan and providing them with services like food and warmth to survive the winter. But the Taliban's decision has halted time-critical support for Afghans this winter. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we're trying, you know, to cover this gap but it
has affected our -- all our operations. In many cases we need female staff, you know. Especially when it comes to serving families that they're women-run. So for that, we need female staff.
Also, there are some other cases that the children (INAUDIBLE) woman is --
HOLMES: Afghanistan's humanitarian crisis only deepened after the United States froze billions of dollars of the countries assets. Billions in foreign aid evaporated all as more than 28 million Afghans require immediate humanitarian assistance according to the U.N.
Access to sources of warmth and food are scarce, and many Afghan families are starving and dying. The Taliban claims to CNN it has helped Afghans affect. But even if that's so, for many, it may be too little too late amid fears the cold conditions will worsen.
Michael Holmes, CNN.
HARRAK: The Drina River forms part of the border between Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. And sections of what could be a pristine European water way has now become a literal dump.
Allison Chinchar reports on a Balkan river clogged with frozen trash and waste.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Snow falls on a lake on the Drina River. From up high, it's coated with frost, but get a little closer and you can see what's underneath the veneer of snow.
CHINCHAR: A massive tangle of trash clogging the waterway. Even environmentalists are surprised by what ends up here.
DEJAN FURTULA, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST (through translator): In addition to floating waste, such as plastic, there are also various household items, including refrigerators and stoves. There's nothing that is not present. But a significant portion is also fallen trees, which are very difficult to remove.
CHINCHAR: Experts say it's a recurring problem at this spot in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are several landfills and illegal dumps near the Drina river. And after a heavy rain, the waste washes into the water and collects here.
Anti pollution barriers have been installed where the waist ends up accumulating. Local authorities say the problem will continue until there's adequate waste collection, and people dispose of their trash more responsibility. FURTULA: In addition to posing a significant health and environmental
problem, this is a source of great embarrassment for all of us. As we seem unable to solve this issue for such a prolonged period.
CHINCHAR: A lake of trash, far from what nature intended it to be.
Allison Chinchar, CNN.
HARRAK: Saying goodbye to rock and roll royalty. We'll take you to the memorial service for Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of Elvis Presley, the king of rock and roll.
HARRAK: The memorial service for Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of Elvis Presley, was filled with music. She died on January 12th at the age of 54 after an apparent cardiac arrest.
CNN's Nadia Romero spoke to fans and friends who had gathered in Memphis, Tennessee to say goodbye.
NADIA ROMERO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For four and five hours people were waiting in line, sleeping in cars just to be able to be a part of the public memorial for Lisa Marie Presley.
People tell me it was absolutely beautiful. A way to celebrate her life. And they say that's exactly what she would've wanted.
So this is the funeral agenda that everyone received. One woman told me this is a piece of history that she's planning on holding on to for a very long time.
Behind me is the famed stone wall. And you can see people left their flowers, they also left messages to Elvis and to Lisa Marie, and then flowers even on the ground. Candles, teddy bears, all along the stonewall.
On the other side, that's the Graceland mansion there and that's where the public memorial happened. After the services, there was a private ceremony where she was laid to rest next to her father, Elvis and next to her son, who also tragically died.
People told me they came from all around the country -- from Ohio, from Colorado, from Washington State, from Florida -- just to be a part of this moment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the ending of something. And she told us to be happy, so I was happy the whole time I was there. Now it's just kind of catching up with me what this really is, it's the end of an era. It's very touching.
[01:54:51] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Elvis fans are the best people in the world. They really are. And his daughter has been through so much in her lifetime. And it's like tragedy follows this family, but you can't stop loving them. And you can't stop rooting for them.
So from that perspective, I will always remain a fan of Elvis and his family.
ROMERO: Now, there is still questions looming over how exactly Lisa Marie Presley died, but for many people I spoke with, they tell me that although they're curious, they just want to celebrate her life and the legacy of the Presley family.
Nadia Romero, CNN -- Memphis.
HARRAK: Football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo made his Saudi pro league debut on Sunday. He didn't score any goals, but his new team, Al Nassr (ph), got a one-nil home victory, thanks to a hitter by Brazilian forward Anderson Talisca. Here is one Al Nassr's fans' thoughts about the match.
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MOHAMMED AL-AMEER, AL NASSR FAN: I came for Ronaldo. Since this is first match, the performance wasn't as expected, but we enjoyed it.
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HARRAK: Well, Al Nassr's win puts them back at the top of the Saudi pro league standings. Ronaldo was named team captain before the match.
And French surfer Justine Dupont may have just broken a record -- she rode a wave estimated to be up to 100 feet tall off the coast of California on January 13, that's up to 30 meters, and it's believed to be a new milestone. The biggest wave ever written by a female surfer. The previous record was a wave of Portugal in 2020.
It's official. Director James Cameron has another box office smash hit on his hands with the long awaited sequel to "Avatar". His latest film "Avatar: the Way of Water", has now earned more than get this two billion dollars globally according to the Hollywood news sight deadline.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know you think I'm crazy. But I feel her.
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HARRAK: The epic sci-fi sequel has held the number one box office spot since its release in December. This is the third James Cameron movie to gross more than two billion dollars, with the original "Avatar" still the highest grossing movie of all-time.
Thank you so much for watching.