Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

Defiant Anti-Coup Protesters Block Roads in Sudan; Facebook under Fire; U.N.: Earth is Warming Faster than Expected; World Food Programme Calls on Space Billionaires to Step Up; "Rust" Crew Members Used Guns with Live Ammo. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired October 26, 2021 - 10:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): A military takeover in Sudan, a leader missing and protesters marching on the capital.

Where does that country go next?

And crisis, what crisis?

Facebook posts record profits, despite international condemnation over leaked papers.

And no end in sight for the climate crisis. The world's CO2 reaches its highest level in 3 million years. Startling statistics giving world leaders

plenty to talk about at the upcoming climate meeting in Glasgow next week.


ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD, live for you from Abu Dhabi, where it is 6:00 in the evening.

We start this evening in Sudan, where the military is defending seizing power from the transitional government. As international outrage grows,

protesters in Khartoum back on the streets today, defying the military and calling for a return to civilian rule.

The capital largely shut down a day after the military arrested the prime minister and other government officials and severely disrupted phone and

internet service. The general who announced the coup, addressed the nation again today, claiming the prime minister is safe and is now staying at his

own house.

He says the military acted to prevent a civil war. This is the aftermath of Monday's protests, the injured treated at hospital. A doctor's group says

the army fired at protesters, killing four and injuring 80.

There is intense international backlash to this coup. United Nations Security Council set to meet on Sudan later today. The African Union

western nations calling for the immediate release of the prime minister and other detained government officials and the restoration of the civilian-led

transitional government.

The United States is spending its $700 million program meant to help the country transition to democracy, a blow to a nation already mired in

economic crisis. And we should note, in the leadup to the coup, Sudan's main port, a major economic lifeline, has been blockaded since last month.

With its strategic location on the Horn of Africa and bordering seven other nations, what happens in Sudan will have both economic and geopolitical

consequences in the region and beyond.

Joining me now is Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, Sudan's foreign minister.

Thank you for joining us. You heard from General Burhan today.

What did you make of what he said?

And are you, yourself, safe?

MARIAM AL-SADIQ AL-MAHDI, SUDANESE FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you very much. And I do welcome you and all your viewers. Actually before the -- what I

have heard lately from General Burhan, I was anticipating more deeper and a more serious will to reform.

But it seems that this has been a very well predetermined scenario to lead the -- to this coup, this military coup, which is absolutely in the

interest of some few individuals as the leadership of the military.

He's not at all addressing the interests of the military itself. In the first bath (ph), they are anticipating not to turn over the presidency (ph)

of the -- the heading of the sovereign council to a civilian.

And this is basically -- seems to be what is the problem. And because of that, we went all the way and a group of them to make -- to get the country

into a nonsensical series of problems, most of them are invented, to lead to this ending and for them to take over in a fully military coup, which



AL-MAHDI: It will be fully rejected by every single Sudanese at all edges, at any place because we already -- we had serious problems during the

previous military coup, the military ruling.

So now he's trying to -- (INAUDIBLE) to (INAUDIBLE) a civilian powder (ph) by saying that we will -- he will have partnered with some civilians. He

himself will pick and choose and so that is -- and that -- the Constitution of the (INAUDIBLE) is still on. And why he totally abrogated the document.

ANDERSON: You have no confidence in what General Burhan is saying, is that what you are telling me?

And as I understand it, you feel less safe yourself, now that you have heard his speech today, correct?

AL-MAHDI: Absolutely because, before I listened to the speech, I was a Sudanese citizen. But now because I belong to a political party, I'm a

politician. It means after what I heard General Burhan, we have been already incriminated as citizens and that we will not be allowed to

participate in any way, not even in the executive body, not at all at any level, to determine or to participate in the ongoing of the --



AL-MAHDI: -- of the transitional period. And that because I am a partisan politician, then I am -- I have to be very careful on what to say and what

not to say, to -- to not to make the military rulers upset or --


ANDERSON: Well, let me -- let me ask you this, General Burhan insists that the prime minister has not been arrested; in fact, he said he is hosting

Abdalla Hamdok in his own home. And he says the prime minister will return home, and I quote the general here, "when he feels safe."

What do you make of that?

AL-MAHDI: Well, this is in itself part of this shallow explanation of what has been happening. And he knows to what extent Abdalla Hamdok, the prime

minister, is a well respected personality inside Sudan and (INAUDIBLE) outside Sudan.

So he wanted to say that he is (INAUDIBLE) all sorts of things and I hope really he is safe. But he was -- he was -- he has come with him to show his

safety and to show that he's -- has free will, since he's having his -- in his company to be safe.

Then he will have come to this conference to be as well safe and to show this --


AL-MAHDI: -- quality (ph) relationship that -- (INAUDIBLE) has been trying to portray.

ANDERSON: It is very difficult to get a picture of what is going on the ground; internet connections have been cut, of course. We are getting some

images from Khartoum.

What is the situation on the ground today?

AL-MAHDI: Well, yes; the situation on the ground as you do it -- or maybe you are better situated than myself because you see, from different status

for me, I see columns of (INAUDIBLE) smoke all around the place where I'm staying.

And I know, because my children and my -- the children my relatives and my neighbors are (INAUDIBLE) safe. I know they are outside. And they come very

tired and harassed and reporting that they are being shot at by tear gas and all that.

And so the situation, really, it is, in this sense, the people of Sudan are resisting this military coup. And the youth of the Sudan are continuing to

(INAUDIBLE) their principles. And unfortunately, what is happening now is something very serious in the whole of Africa because we've in only six

months, we have mounting (ph) the false nonconstitutional change -- or excuse me -- (INAUDIBLE) taking place in four countries (INAUDIBLE). I

believe this is a very serious (INAUDIBLE) time.


ANDERSON: Yes. And let's discuss the -- let's discuss the international reaction here because it has been swift. The governments of the U.K., the

U.S. and Norway condemning the coup, saying they are deeply concerned about the situation.


ANDERSON: What are the conversations that you are having with your foreign counterparts, particularly those in the region, Foreign Minister?

AL-MAHDI: Yes, actually they have done, like, a testing balloon for a coup on the 21st of August, last August. And the national stance was really very

outstanding. It happened again with this actual coup.

And I believe they are having -- they will be having serious problems because all the things that they have tried to present as (INAUDIBLE) for

their seizure or their patronizing the civilians, has been already addressed.

So that's why really very should -- by their very strong international stance also in the A.U., the A.U. and the Arab League and many of the

African countries, many of the Arab countries, they have expressed contempt in an usually way except of course which is -- may be (INAUDIBLE) not

completely up until now but total silence.

But the thing is we are very much sure of our march toward democracy because of our youth and (INAUDIBLE) also because of the regional

(INAUDIBLE) -- and --


AL-MAHDI: -- and --

ANDERSON: -- let me put this to do you. Let me put this to you. And I hear what you're saying. In light of these developments, let's just be quite

clear, the U.S., the United States, has paused some $700 million of emergency assistance.

What kind of an impact will that have on Sudan's struggling economy?

And have you reached out to the U.S. envoy, who was in the country, until an hour before this coup takes place?

What do you believe needs to happen now, in terms of international cooperation and support?

AL-MAHDI: I think, yes, of course, this now implementation of the support to the civilian government and the implementation and actualization of the

threat to any unconstitutional overtaking of power is important now. We must go beyond words.

The second thing I think -- and I have met with Mr. (INAUDIBLE), the envoy, the U.S. envoy to Sudan. And I have brought him all the key lists that they

have been following the case of Sudan, while holding to the different parties and trying to exert some sort of (INAUDIBLE) mediation.

And I hope the way they will handle it, the whole matter, was quite useful and helpful to the Sudanese. As soon as they have reached to Doha in the

(INAUDIBLE) trip back, they have contacted me to confirm the actualization or the happening of the time. We weren't sure whether it was (INAUDIBLE)

but I confirmed that.

Some of my colleagues were already in prison and we didn't know about their whereabouts. So they actualized right away a series of actions. Part of

them is the $700 --


ANDERSON: Dollars of aid, yes, yes.

AL-MAHDI: -- as we now, yes, we expect further and genuine action by the U.N. Security Council because they have been (INAUDIBLE) with us very

closely and recently. We have welcomed here the president of the World Bank in an unprecedented visit for --


AL-MAHDI: -- years and we all -- and they celebrated with us the good deeds that has been done by the civilian government and how things were

going in the right way. We have stopped the -- actually the events, the inflation rates. There was succession of the dollar price vis-a-vis the --


AL-MAHDI: -- pound (ph), actually it was decreasing. So --


ANDERSON: So there has been much progress made, much progress made, yes, absolutely. I'm going to leave it there. We do hope that you remain safe.

Thank you very much indeed for talking to us on what is such an extremely important story.


AL-MAHDI: Thank you very much.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Foreign Minister.

AL-MAHDI: Thank you very much.

ANDERSON: Thank you.

Well, I want to bring in CNN's Nima Elbagir, who has done extensive reporting on and from Sudan. She was with us this time yesterday and is

back today, reporting out of London.

What did you make of what we just heard from the foreign minister?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that the analysis is spot on in the sense that it was very clear that General

Burhan was attempting to make some sort of argument, an attempt to mollify the global community and international opinion.

As an attempt that didn't -- it didn't seem to do particularly well; what we have been hearing from contacts and governments around the world is

that, do better, that really the hired red line in the ground for the U.S. certainly and others is a return to civilian rule.

And not civilian rule and civilian leadership as they are picked or handpicked by the military rulers, the current erstwhile military rulers of

Sudan, but civilian leadership as previously agreed under the transition agreement document.

I think it is very important to contextualize for our audience that Dr. Al- Sadiq's, Sudan's foreign minister is from a political party that enjoys a lot of popular support. It is a historic political party.

So to hear her say that she fears for herself, that she has concerns, that her loved ones and the children of her loved ones come back, having been

targeted to the street -- in the streets, I think really allows us to understand how the broader population in Sudan is taking this and how other

families and other homes across the country are feeling, if someone like she, herself, is feeling these fears, Becky.

ANDERSON: Nima, thank you. Your analysis and insight as ever so important on these developments in Sudan.

Nima Elbagir is in London for you today, thank you.

Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, a failure to communicate leaked documents suggest that lies and hate are slipping by on Facebook simply

because the company doesn't know all the languages that its site is read in.

Plus disturbing climate warnings from the United Nations as it holds a high-level meeting just days before its main event in Glasgow. Why some

countries are generating more heat than light.

Just a little later on the show plus, a string of gun safety issues being reported on the movie set of "Rust." What we're hearing about live

ammunition casually used hours before the fatal shooting on the set.





ANDERSON: Welcome back.

Facebook under new scrutiny as leaked internal documents reveal that hate speech can be lost in translation and have a global impact like you

couldn't possibly imagine.

Every month, more than 3.5 billion people log onto Facebook or onto one of its related apps. Users speak more than 100 languages and many, many


However, leaked internal documents supplied by whistleblower Frances Haugen show that Facebook moderators do not speak those languages, that is, or

those dialects. The papers show the company's own research has warned they aren't equipped to flag hate speech or misinformation in languages other

than English.

This can be extremely dangerous in hot spots like Afghanistan, Myanmar; in Ethiopia, Facebook allegedly knew it was being used to incite violence but

did little to stop it. Well, Facebook's biggest market is India. A digital rights advocate there says concerns about Facebook haven't been addressed.

Have a listen to this.


APAR GUPTA, DIGITAL RIGHTS ADVOCATE: Facebook has been in the realm of controversies regularly in India and even the previous reports.

But the official reaction by the government of India to these disclosures, as well as to past exposes, disclosures, data breaches or this kind of

concern, which threatens the democratic forms of government or any person's individual rights or a community's safety has actually not been responded

to in terms of a sustained investigation.


ANDERSON: CNN's Vedika Sud is in India. Larry Madowo is standing by from Nairobi. And we have Anna Stewart in London.

Anna, I want to talk about Facebook's founder reacting to these leaks. But I want to get to Vedika first.

We heard there the words of one analyst on Facebook's influence on and impact on its users in India. Just explain what we know in what is

Facebook's biggest market.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is the biggest market by audience size because there are over 400 million users across the platforms

in India. According to the research, it is Facebook that is failing to actually control content with hate speech, misinformation, fake news here

in India.

In fact, this researcher logged in as a Facebook user just ahead of India's elections in 2019. And the researcher says in the notes that the researcher

found a lot of hate speeches and this is something that Facebook had no control over and had to take them down.

Now our audience should also remember that, when it comes to taking down hate speech, Facebook relies on a combination of human reviewers and

artificial intelligence. An artificial intelligence model is trained with the use of freezes to help take down hate speech. It's an enormous

classifiers (ph).

India officially has 22 languages. We talk about 600 million users, who use at least, you know, two languages here in India, which is Bengal and Hindi.

Now Facebook has found it very difficult to have those classifiers in both languages to pull down any offensive content.

And that has been the failing of Facebook here in India. And the Facebook spokesperson also has gone on to say that, yes, in 2018, they put

classifiers in place for Hindi and in 2020 for Bengali.

But what about the other 19 official languages?

It is going to be a huge task for Facebook, which they haven't been able to even accomplish until now. This is the greatest failing for the company

here in India. We have reached out to the Facebook India company here and they haven't responded.

We reached out to the information technology ministry here in India. They haven't responded to our requests for a comment on what we've just heard

from the Facebook Papers.

ANDERSON: And internal documents showing that there is an impact on the spread of religious hatred in India as a result of what you just -- have

just been reporting.

Larry, we know that Ethiopia is noted as a serious issue in these papers. Just explain how and why.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, the accusations here is that Facebook knew that it was fanning the flames of violence in Ethiopia by

allowing toxic ethnic and religious content to go unchecked.

So essentially, even though Facebook ranks Ethiopia among the top tier for countries most at risk of conflict, it just doesn't have enough moderation

firepower to deal with that content.

So for instance, Facebook didn't have tools to detect hate speech and misinformation in two of the most widely spoken languages in Ethiopia,

Oromo and Amharic. And so what that means is that when -- the way Facebook works is, if a post is getting a lot of comments and likes and shares, then

Facebook shows it to more people.

If that is a post that is incendiary, that is inciting people to ethnic violence, it will really get around before any action is taken against it

to reduce its limit or to take it off the platform.

And so what has happened is that, in the conflict in the north of Ethiopia, in Tigray, which has claimed already thousands of lives, Facebook could

have known that people were getting incited on its platform by politicians, by armed groups and didn't do enough to try and stop that.

ANDERSON: This is really worrying.

Anna, how is Facebook's founder reacting to these leaks?

And how are investors responding?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Unsurprisingly, Mark Zuckerberg refuted that he's putting profits before safety here. He's also said that before.

He also did say he thinks the documents here are being used selectively to paint a false picture of Facebook.

He says there needs to be a balance between reducing harmful content and values like freedom of expression. He says that AI is picking up now 90

percent of harmful content. That is opposed to human moderators.

But what he can't say and what Facebook can't say is how much harmful content they're just not aware of. That's the issue that my esteemed

colleagues have got into. There is a huge issue being raised for these reports.

And from what Frances Haugen has been saying, that many identifiers or classifiers just aren't being picked up around the world. Now once again,

Zuckerberg is recognizing that regulation needs to happen. He doesn't think it is their responsibility.

He thinks governments and regulators should play a more active role. Essentially he's saying he will play by the rulebook but wants someone else

to write those rules.

In terms of the earnings, pretty stellar earnings report yesterday. The share price was up on that in after hours trading. They have dipped down

lower now though. And it has been tracking slightly lower I would say over the last month or two, since Frances Haugen came out with the leaked

papers, first came out in "The Wall Street Journal."

But over the year, Facebook share prices up 20 percent. If you look at the user growth, over 3.5 billion users, that's nearly half of the world's


ANDERSON: Anna, Larry and Vedika, thank very much indeed you for joining us.

Still to come, Japan's former Princess Mako is no longer a royal. She is officially married to her commoner husband.

So why is she apologizing?

That's coming up.





ANDERSON: Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. You're watching two hours of CONNECT THE WORLD.

Another day, another dire climate warning, I'm afraid. This time from the United Nations. It is the second this week. The latest says Earth is

warming faster than previously thought. And scientists warn, the window is closing to avoid catastrophic outcomes.

Other findings our earlier in the week say common outside levels in the Earth's atmosphere reached a 3 million-year high in 2020. Yes, you heard me

right, 3 million-year high.

The new warnings come as heads of state and other leaders, of course, are gathered in New York at this hour for a high level U.N. meeting to address

what it calls delivering climate action. It could be seen as a warmup before next week's COP26 summit in Glasgow, in Scotland.

There are some big and, frankly, scary numbers coming out of this report. Salma Abdelaziz has been going through the report for us and is here to

reflect on what she has found.

It puts the planet on course for warming that far exceeds critical limits.

What have you found at this point, how bad is it?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're just a few days from COP26. As if the world needed any more sense of urgency, the United Nations has

published two bits of information that really highlight the extent of this crisis.

The first is the greenhouse gas emissions report. And what this report finds, Becky, is that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, yet

again this year, made records.

If you thought the pandemic brought some respite, yes, it did bring a decline. But overall this report found it made no discernible impact in the

amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, particularly when it comes to CO2 emissions.

What that means is now we are looking at a planet that has 149 percent greater concentration of CO2 emissions than it did before the Industrial

Revolution. Bottom line here, Becky, the scientists say we are nowhere near where we need to be to stave off the climate crisis.

And what is even more concerning, Becky, is actually, if things remain as they are, the planet is on track for an increase in CO2 emissions, 16

percent increase in CO2 emissions by 2030.

So you have that first piece of information from the United Nations, also an update to the synthesis report, that helps countries understand what

policies they need to bring out during COP26. That report also says we are far off track, Becky.

And what you're looking at here is almost 200 countries coming together in Glasgow. This is the decisive decade, that's what the conservationists say,

change needs to happen now. At the same time you have every country dealing with its own internal policies.

I'll single out Australia here because we finally have that announcement today from prime minister Scott Morrison. And it is very depressing,

because essentially he says we're going to do this the Australian way.

We will not be lectured by other countries on how to do this. You get my gist. There is a sense that that lack of cooperation across nation states

and within nation states could mean weak results at the table in Glasgow.

ANDERSON: There is obviously a big push for these findings to light a fire and countries to come up with their -- to up their climate game.

The question is will COP be a flop?

Or will we actually see more than just talk and some proper action next week?

Let's see. Salma, thank you.

Coming up next hour, we'll bring you more of what is my recent sit-down with the head of the World Food Programme, David Beasley. His warning on

the climate crisis fueling the global food crisis, a crisis for millions and millions of people around the world. He's calling on the world's

billionaires to help end that hunger. Take a listen.


DAVID BEASLEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WFP: The billionaires need to step up now on a one-time basis, $6 billion to help 42 million people.



ANDERSON: That's David Beasley with a plea for action. My chat with him in the next hour of CONNECT THE WORLD. Please do stay with us.

Let's get you up to speed on the other stories on our radar right now.

Former Japanese Princess Mako is formally giving up her royal title after marrying her commoner husband. She apologized for any trouble their

marriage may have caused. Her husband revealed his mother fell ill after misinformation was spread about the couple and his mother's finances.

Brazilian lawmakers are set to vote today on a Senate report accusing Jair Bolsonaro of crimes against humanity and other offenses regarding his

handling of the pandemic. The president has said he's not guilty of any crimes.

Meanwhile, YouTube joined Facebook and Instagram in removing a video of Mr. Bolsonaro, in which he suggested COVID vaccines could increase the risk of


Iran says a cyberattack has shut down the government system that runs petrol stations nationwide. Card readers at gas stations are displaying

error messages, leading to massive disruption and long lines. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

For the first time since 2017, Egypt is not under a state of emergency. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced its end on Monday, calling Egypt

"an oasis of security and stability" in the region. It was initially put in place after ISIS attacked two Coptic Christian churches there.

Coming up, the Afghanistan cricket team were all smiles in their first match since the Taliban took over the country. "WORLD SPORT" with more on

how they got on -- after this short break.




ANDERSON: Serious gun safety concerns are emerging from the set of the movie "Rust" following last week's fatal accidental shooting. "The New York

Times" is now reporting that ammunition was found in a fanny pack on the set.

The report citing court documents. And just hours before the incident, crew members reportedly used guns with live ammunition in a pastime called

plinking, shooting at cans during their down time.

The entertainment outlet "The Wrap" reports one of those guns was later handed to Alec Baldwin, who fired the shot that killed the film's director

of photograph. CNN's entertainment reporter Chloe Melas joining us live from New York.

Plinking and other gun safety issues have been reported.

What do we understand was going on, on the set of "Rust"?


CHLOE MELAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. Just more disturbing information in the latest, like you're saying, coming from the entertainment website,

"The Wrap," who says that some members of the crew were doing target practice.

And it is called plinking, where you are shooting ammunition into, like, bottles and cans. I'm sure we all seen this in, like, old time Western

movies and things like that.

But supposedly -- CNN has not been able to confirm this -- this was happening in between takes and during some down time that the crew had. And

so when CNN reached out to "Rust" products for comment, they wouldn't comment on this.

But they reverted us back to an old statement, which said that they do prioritize safety, that they are doing their own internal investigation.

Again, we do not know what exactly was inside the gun that killed Halyna. We don't know if it was a dummy round, we don't know if it was live

ammunition. The ballistics tests are not back yet.

So we are awaiting those results -- or was it some other type of projectile?

Remember, in the death of Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee, it was a sliver of a bullet that had been in there, that ricocheted and then severed

his aorta. So again, there are a lot of different scenarios that could have happened and a lot of unanswered questions. But this is disturbing new


ANDERSON: Yes, what do we know about previous safety complaints against the film's assistant director, briefly?

MELAS: So the film's assistant director is a man by the name of Dave Halls. He worked on a movie in 2019 called, "God's Way" and CNN found out

he was fired from that movie after there was an accidental misfire from a gun on set.

Didn't physically injure somebody but it did cause -- the blast of the gun caused some audio issues and some hearing difficulty for one of the crew


But yes, he was fired; we reached out to Dave for comment; no word back. But again, a lot of information needs to be still learned.

And we need to figure out, was there a breakdown in this chain of command, was this recklessness, carelessness?

And I think we'll get some more information imminently.

ANDERSON: Thank you. Chloe Melas on the story.