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Connect the World
France to Block British Tourists as Omicron Surges; Equivalent of a Category Five Hurricane Hitting Philippines; France Toughens Restrictions on Travelers from UK; Haitian Gang Releases 12 Remaining Hostages; The Push to get Communities out of their cars in the Gulf Region; Nearly 1,500 Documents Released on JFK Assassination. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired December 16, 2021 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Welcome to "Connect the World". I Max Foster in for Becky. France is taking drastic measures to try to
control the spread of the Omicron variant there.
It's blocking British tourists and Britain is traveling for professional reasons as well from entering Starting midnight Friday local time UK
travelers must have a compelling reason to enter or leave France for COVID surge in the UK has never been so dire.
The chief medical adviser for the UK says the R rate the Omicron variant could worsen at the moment is estimated to between be between three and
five. That means if you get Omicron you're likely on average to give it to three to five other people it is not decreasing, you need to be less than
one for that.
But with a number of cases doubling every day, UK Health officials say the R rate is likely to be much higher. The Queen isn't taking any chances
she's calling off her traditional pre-Christmas lunch with members of the royal family.
Buckingham Palace source tells CNN the British monarchs decision is a precautionary one, so people's Christmas Day plans aren't put at risk as
COVID cases surge in the UK.
It's worth noting here there's no indication that the queen or this has anything to do with the Queen's health. Cyril Vanier is standing by lifers
in Paris with more on the French band. But first we get to Salma here with me, just take us through the Queen's lunch.
I mean, it doesn't seem like a big thing to sacrifice but it's quite symbolic, isn't it? And it's a message to the rest of the nation.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: She's really setting an example Max, but I think in some cases she really doesn't need to. I mean it really feels like
this country is bracing for that tidal wave of Omicron that we've been warned about.
People are canceling their social plans right, left and center. I mean, you know this and everyone, I mean everyone is reconsidering what they're going
to be doing on December 25. Can they travel can they see their loved ones?
We're not under a lockdown. But it feels like a self-imposed when the streets are empty because of work from home orders. And people are just
really staying at home worried about this very rapid rise of the Omicron variant.
Now there are some restrictions in place mask mandates requirements to show health passes in large scale venues. But really, it's up to the individual.
That's why yesterday, we heard from the Prime Minister and the Chief Medical Officer in a press conference giving these updates telling people
that the hospitalization rate has increased by 10 percent in the last seven days.
The number of positive cases has increased by almost 20 percent in the last week. And the top medical officer saying look, I think more records are
going to be broken in the coming weeks because of Omicron.
Think twice before you go to the pub, think twice before you go to a social gathering, prioritize who you're going to see and who you're going to spend
your Christmas, your Christmas with Max.
FOSTER: Just take us through the R rates because we can't reiterate how important that is, for a very long time. It was the fundamental statistic
that we're looking out for and still is probably.
ABDELAZIZ: It's the most important number because what it tells you is how quickly this variant is spreading three to five people will be infected,
every time one person is infected on average. That is a phenomenal number.
I mean higher than what we've seen at some points during the height of that pandemic, that five figure. And what it means is that everything is going
to change so quickly. And the thing to keep our eye on now is hospital beds.
There's a finite of hospital a finite number rather, of hospital beds in any country. That's what doctors and nurses are going to be watching. Do
they have enough hospital beds? Are these cases turning into hospitalizations?
There are a few factors at play here. Many of us were immunized a while ago; we're waiting on our third shots. That means there's low immunity.
That means potentially people could get very, very sick. That's why the booster program has just expanded and you know it feels like a wartime
effort here everyone getting their invitation to get a shot before the end of the year, Max.
FOSTER: OK, Salma, Britain isn't putting in place any travel bans. But France has put in a travel ban. British travelers whether they're tourists
or you know working aren't allowed into France and as have very good reasons, Cyril just explain the French government's thinking and the way
it's dealing with this crisis.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, I think the French government has already seen this movie play out before exactly one year ago. And if
you replace the word Delta by Omicron, then you have the exact same scenario repeating itself.
In December of 2020 the Delta variant was fueling a surge of cases in the UK. And France at some point wanted to protect itself when I say at some
point very quickly after the appearance of Delta wanted to protect itself and slow down the arrival of Delta on the continent.
Well, France is had exactly the same reasoning when you're on with Omicron. And that is why France has decided to seriously restrict travel between
itself and the UK both outbound and inbound.
VANIER: And as you said now, only people with compelling reasons can travel now. What a compelling reason it's not work, work did was a sufficient
reason to travel for quite a long time. Not anymore.
They haven't detailed what compelling reasons are. But I know that last year, for instance, a compelling reason it was either an urgent medical
reason or safety or selling your house something like that.
At this stage Max, that's where we are, France just trying to slow down the spread of Omicron and the arrival of Omicron on the continent.
FOSTER: Cyril, Salma, thank you both very much. A major development just into us what's been a week's long hostage situation in Haiti. We are
hearing that a Haitian gang has released the remaining 12 foreign missionaries that they've been holding since October. Matt Rivers is
following us, for us from the Haitian capital, Matt.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Max, this news coming to us within the last few minutes or so. We know that the remaining hostages, this is a
group of missionary 17 missionaries were kidnapped exactly two months ago to the day here, rather in a suburb just outside of Port-au-Prince.
12 of those 17 missionaries, the 12 that had still been being held captive after other missionaries were released over the last month or so. The
remaining 12 have now been released according to the country's Justice Minister.
And our source in Haiti security forces tells CNN that the remaining 12 missionaries they were released in an area south of Port-au-Prince not in
an area known to be controlled by this particular gang 400 Mawozo, which is the gang that authorities say was responsible for this kidnapping.
The remaining 12 were released around 5 a.m. local time, according to our source, and they were actually found by members of this community in this
neighborhood south of Port-au-Prince, where they were released.
The people, the locals who saw this group of missionaries, just wandering around their neighborhood alerted authorities to the fact that they had
been released. The conditions of their release, we're not yet sure whether a ransom was paid exactly how they were let go why they were let go.
We're still not sure about that. Initially, Max, back in October, the gang had made an initial ransom demand of $1 million per hostage. But it is not
known exactly the circumstances surrounding this release; it's going to be something that we're going to continue to work on.
And so we know that Haitian authorities are involved here, there were 16 Americans and one Canadian amongst the initial group. It's unclear. We also
know there were five children in that initial group. It's unclear what among these 12 people, how many were Canadian, how many were Americans, how
many children remained.
But all 17 missionaries that were kidnapped back on October 16 have now been released in what is sure to be a huge relief not only to their
families, but also to the U.S. and Canadian governments and the Haitian government, which had been negotiating directly with this gang to secure
FOSTER: What do we know about the way the negotiations were being handled? Who was leading them? And who would have you know, reached some sort of
agreement potentially with the gang?
RIVERS: Right, so what we do know is that U.S. authorities were involved in the negotiations. However it was Christian Aid ministries were told the
group that these missionaries were here representing that we're actually taking a lead role in these negotiations, presumably getting advice, of
course, from the U.S. and Canadian authorities.
We know that Haitian security forces were involved. So there were definitely multiple parties involved in these negotiations. But we do know
that Christian Aid ministries, at least had several phone calls with this gang over the last two months trying to negotiate the release of these
FOSTER: OK, Matt, thank you, back with you as you get more. Leads began a nationwide campaign to vaccinate five to 11 year old kids that kicked off
on Wednesday in Rome and is expanding today to all of Italy.
You can see a doctor here playing the guitar to make things a little easier for their young recipients there. The European Union has recommended that
all children aged five to 11 be vaccinated. Senior International Correspondent, Ben Wedeman is live from Rome.
I think what a lot of people will find interesting about this is that countries like the UK we're hearing earlier from Israel, a lot of parents
might be happy to take the vaccine themselves. They're less willing to give it to their children. But how are you seeing it play out there in Italy?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so it's clearly getting off to a kind of a soft start. And we're outside the Museo de
bambini the Children's Museum in Rome, which was only open for two hours for the vaccine for this age group.
They're five to 11 today, but they vaccinated 30 children. The parents obviously who came I have no prom with it. A recent opinion poll found that
around 40 percent of parents of children between the ages of five and 12 had concerns about the vaccine.
WEDEMAN: So there is some hesitancy. But I think with the Omicron variant looming on the horizon that the feeling is now is the best time to actually
just get the vaccine.
We did speak with one doctor who works with the Regional Health Authority, who said that there are two groups in which the Delta variant is spreading
most quickly and that his younger children and the 15 percent of the population, 12 years and older who have yet to get vaccinated.
He says as soon as those two groups are adequately vaccinated, Italy's fourth wave of COVID-19 could begin to slow down as far as the Omicron
variant is concerned in Italy, the numbers are relatively low.
The last reported number was only 26 cases in the entire country. And the feeling is that with more people getting vaccinated with the state of
emergency being extended with new travel restrictions, the hope is officials are hoping that the spread of Omicron will be limited as a
FOSTER: Which vaccine are they getting?
WEDEMAN: They are getting the Pfizer vaccine, but not the same dose that you perhaps and I have received. It's a third of the strength of the
vaccine normally given to adults. Max.
FOSTER: OK, Ben, thank you. Super typhoon Rai has driven nearly 200,000 people from their homes in the Philippines. The storm is the equivalent of
a category five hurricane and it's hammering the country's eastern coast right now.
The Philippine Coast Guard helped evacuate before the super typhoon made landfall. It grew from category one to category five in just 24 hours. Last
hour, I spoke with Philippine Senator Richard Gordon. He's chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD GORDON, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, PHILIPPINE RED CROSS: Well, we have about 170,000 people in evacuation centers right now. And in 735 evacuation
centers, there's a lot of flooding going on in Mindanao.
And now the river systems in Cagayan de Oro River and in - critical level because of the rains, here you had about 200 millimeters of rain in the
last 12 hours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Let's speak now to Vedika Sud. She joins us with more on the storm, the evacuation and all of the damage; we're getting a sense of it, at least
at this point, Vedika.
VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Max, very little is really known from the ground currently because it's already past midnight, almost midnight in
Philippines. But what we do know is that there has been damage the extent will only be determined by tomorrow morning, local time in the country.
Like you said, you spoke to the CEO of Philippines Red Cross. What he also said later was that he does know of some damage to rooftops. And they're
flying across because of the gusty speed of wind, currently, which is now less strong than it was earlier.
But the biggest concern will remain the flash floods, the landslides and the storm surge, if any in the coming hours. If you remember, Max, this is
not the first time that a typhoon has hit Philippine.
This year is the 15th time people are used to this now in the country, and so are the rescue officials. But with COVID it's going to be a very
difficult task given that there are numbers that are still relatively low in Philippines.
But they've been over 200 in the last 24 hours like the Red Cross CEO Philippine told you earlier in the show. Now very quickly what's really
been surprising is how this typhoon converted to a super typhoon within hours before landfall.
It did slam the eastern coast and then it made way to a holiday island where we're hearing of power outages. According to the CEO of Philippine
Red Cross, there is also word of two rivers reaching the critical level because of the heavy rainfall and downpour that the eastern coast has been
What we also do know is that a lot of precautionary steps were taken earlier yesterday and today. Overnight flights have been stopped today from
operating in the eastern coast and other areas of Philippine.
Also the Coast Guard made sure that yesterday it they banned sea travel because of which almost 4000 passengers are stranded at sea ports. So like
I said, all eyes will be on tomorrow morning.
We'll get to know more about the devastation the extent of it. Casualties fortunately as of now are none. But this could change in the coming hours
once there's daylight and we hear more from the officials in the country, Max.
FOSTER: We mentioned that, you know, you mentioned very sadly that the country is getting used to these types of tragedies. We can't pin these
events on climate change. But is climate changing a big part of the debate in that region when we look at these storms?
SUD: Well, yes, experts have said that this can be attributed to climate change. But it's you know, there's no offseason in this area Max, so to say
when it comes to typhoons, especially in the West Pacific tropical region.
This is the 15th typhoon that hit the country like I just mentioned, and early in the early years itself, we've seen a lot of them take place in the
month of December. So like I said, officials are well equipped by now because over the years they've had to deal with this.
But this year, especially as well as last year, it's been relatively tougher given the pandemic in the area for now.
Like the Red Cross chief or Philippine also mentioned it's about taking care of the vulnerable beat, the youngest population in the eastern course
and the Central Coast central area of the country or the oldest. And that's going to be their biggest challenge currently, Max.
FOSTER: Vedika in New Delhi Thank you. Later on "Connect the World" easing inflation's painful sting, how some of the world's major central banks are
trying to rein in global price growth.
FOSTER: Israel's adding more countries to its so called Red List as Omicron fears grow. Under a new proposal, Israelis will be barred from traveling to
six more European countries and the UAE they include France, Spain, Ireland, Norway, Finland and Sweden.
The UK and dozens of African countries were already on the list if approved by parliament, it would go into effect on Sunday. Even as the Omicron
variant spreads across the globe, the World Health Organization has been discouraging countries when posing travel bans.
Officials there say the ban simply don't work in stopping the spread. Last week, the W.H.O Chief criticized the latest travel bans on countries in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION DIRECTOR-GENERAL: We are also disappointed that many countries imposed blanket travel ban
transparency should be rewarded not penalized.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Catherine Smallwood, the Senior Emergency Officer for W.H.O Europe and joins me via Skype from Bristol here in the UK. Thanks for joining us.
Lots of being, you know, said and criticized about the child bands you know, from Africa between Africa Europe, for example.
We're also seeing child bans within Europe now between France and the UK. Have you got concerns about that too?
CATHERINE SMALLWOOD, SENIOR EMERGENCY OFFICER, W.H.O. EUROPE: Well, the position remains the same, Max. In fact, what we're seeing in the UK and in
some other countries in the European region is that Omicron is really spreading very quickly.
And we don't think that travel bans are going to prevent that from happening in other countries. What needs to happen is that countries really
focus on slowing down transmission within their own populations. And what we're seeing is that's the most effective route to slowing down the spread
FOSTER: Could it be damaging? You know, in a policy like Israel, for example, we're hearing from our correspondent earlier in the show, you
know, blanket bans on large parts of the world trying to lock down.
So we've got very few Omicron cases, you can see the temptation to do that. But could it do more harm than good, do you think, for Israel?
SMALLWOOD: Well, there are lots of things and harms that could come out of those types of policies. And in Israel, in particular, we are seeing some
low level transmission of Omicron at the community level, and that's likely to pick up speed on its own.
Now, that's not to say that those types of interventions might slow the introduction of Omicron. And, and certainly, that's something that we want
to happen. But it can be done more effectively, we think through the broader implementation of preventive measures at the population level.
FOSTER: What do you make of the latest situation in the UK? We're seeing numbers, we're now getting more than 80,000 cases a day, the R number is
really frightening, isn't it here in the UK, as it becomes some sort of epicenter would you say that other countries need to be wary of?
SMALLWOOD: Well, it's a big red flag to the rest of the region into the world. And there's no reason to believe that what's happening in the UK
won't be happening in other countries soon enough.
And the UK was in a position where it had lifted most of the preventive measures that had been put in place during the pandemic. And so there's
very much an open, open road, let's say for the virus to spread.
And we were already seeing that with the Delta transmission leading to very high numbers of cases in the UK. So this will just be a more transmissible
variant that will take better advantage of those open roads.
And there's really a need for things to come down and transmission to be brought down. And if it doesn't, then it's likely to put quite a strain on
an already strained health system.
FOSTER: Just explain that this a lot of people will say in response to that, that Omicron doesn't look as symptomatic as delta. But because it's
more transmissive, presumably, you'll have a having a wider range of people with less symptoms is still going to put the same even potentially more
pressure on the health service, isn't it?
SMALLWOOD: Yes, exactly. And it's really too early to me to be drawing conclusions on the intrinsic severity of Omicron variant as opposed to
Delta on its own. There's so much more that needs to be taken into account there, including the vaccination coverage and populations.
And thankfully, in Western Europe and in many European countries, there's very high vaccine uptake. And that's really likely to contribute to milder
courses of disease.
So certainly that's going to and we believe that highly vaccinated populations will continue to benefit from the protection of that vaccine
against severe disease. However, what we're seeing with Omicron is that, the risk of reinfection and then the risk of infection or breakthrough
infections in vaccinated groups is higher.
And so there will be more cases. And of course, when you have a much larger caseload in terms of total numbers, you're going to get a lot of people
with COVID-19. And when you have a lot of people in COVID-19, even a small proportion, becomes bigger. And that's where we need to be very careful
about what it brings on COVID wards but also what it means for other health services that have had a really rough time over the past few years.
FOSTER: In well vaccinated countries, the issue being that the vaccination rate can't keep up with Omicron; can it if you're looking at the numbers.
So is it inevitable that lockdowns in places like UK and other parts of Europe are inevitable possibly America later on as well? Because you know,
you can't vaccinate people quickly enough to slow down the R rate.
SMALLWOOD: Well, I don't think lockdowns are a necessity at this stage in the pandemic. We really have much wider, broader use of tools including
vaccination. That mean that we can actually if applied appropriately, avoid lockdowns and that should be the strategy we need to achieve stability in
We all want stability to know what's going to be happening next week. What we can do next month where we can travel. And the way to do that is to
apply a combination of measures.
That includes widespread testing, contact tracing, early detection, reporting, and some measures that may be in place and targeted at high risk
types of settings where you have lots of people gathering together. Omicron at the moment is spreading mostly in 20 and 30 year olds.
SMALLWOOD: And there are some very clear reasons for that it may be because of the Christmas parties and increased socialization at the end of the
year. And there may be some targeted interventions that might not be long over long periods of time, but there will help bring down the numbers of
And we're already seeing that in countries that have put in place measures, not lockdowns, but measures Omicron is spreading more slowly, and so it'll
be more manageable. And that's what we really need to achieve.
FOSTER: Just another quick thought on another trend that we're seeing. We're reporting from Italy earlier about vaccination for children, young
children. We're also hearing from Israel that whilst you know, adults, their vaccination rates been really strong and effective.
And it's been a real example to the rest of the world. Many of those vaccinated parents are thinking twice about vaccinating their children.
There's a lot of apprehension there, which is understandable, I think, for a lot of parents.
But how damaging could that be to a country like Israel, where the vaccination rate up until now has been really effective? Could this
jeopardize their response?
SMALLWOOD: Well, where there are pockets of susceptible groups, there are, of course, going to be opportunities for the virus to circulate. And that's
true in all age groups.
What we're seeing here with Omicron at the moment, though, is that if is having an impact on the ability of the vaccine to prevent infections, not
hospitalizations, but infections, we'll see a movement of the pandemic and of the disease back into all age groups.
And so really, for W.H.O and our position is quite firm here at the moment, we still really need to target protecting people who are at risk of severe
COVID 19. Those are the people who are older people who have other chronic diseases, health care workers.
And that really should be the continued priority, especially now with a new variant that we're really not sure how it will pan out in terms of severe
disease. So vaccinations among children need to be discussed are on the table are being put in place.
Certainly when it comes to individual choices, it's up to parents and individuals to make their own decision. There would be no concern on our
side around the safety. In children, those have been looked at very carefully in the in the vaccines that have been licensed for use in
But certainly from a public health perspective at this stage, our position is really to focus on people with who are particularly vulnerable to severe
disease to really keep deaths and hospitalizations low.
FOSTER: Catherine Smallwood from the W.H.O thank you for your time today.
SMALLWOOD: Thank you, Max.
FOSTER: Some of the world's biggest central banks are trying to cool the heat of inflation all linked to the pandemic of course, how they're
juggling the impact of the pandemic on one hand and surging prices on the other.
FOSTER: An updating breaking news story for you. Christian Ministries has released a statement saying its prayers have been answered after gang in
Haiti released their remaining 12 hostages from their group. The gang had kidnapped 17 Americans one Canadian missionary back in October. Matt Rivers
is following all of this for us from the Haitian capital, Matt.
RIVERS: Yes, Max, this news coming in to CNN within the last half an hour or so. We know that 12 --the remaining 12 missionaries that were being held
hostage here were released by 400 Mawozo the gang authority say did all of this.
They were released into a neighborhood south of Port-au-Prince at around 5 a.m. local time this morning. That is where locals found them and alerted
authorities to what was going on. This is the end of a two month ordeal for these missionaries and what has been a horrific experience for them and
RIVERS (voice over): A moment two months in the making with the news, that all 17 missionaries including 16 Americans and one Canadian kidnapped by
arm gang members in Haiti are now free, it started back on October 16, as the group was returning to their home base from visiting an orphanage east
Among the missionaries is representing Christian Aid ministries, five children, including an infant, a three year old, a six year old and two
teenagers. The bus they were in got stopped by armed men as they drove through the suburb of Croix-de Bouquet.
RIVERS (on camera): Several miles down that road there is where our source in the Haitian security forces says this kidnapping was carried out. And in
a more normal situation we would drive several miles down that road and go see exactly where this took place.
But following the advice of both our Haitian producer and our security team, we're not going to go any further than this because they say it's not
safe. Down that road is the suburb of Croix-de Bouquet, which is essentially completely controlled by the 400 Mawozo gang, the gang that
authority say carried out is kidnapped.
RIVERS (voice over): As the group was being kidnapped, this WhatsApp message obtained by CNN was reportedly sent by one of the missionaries.
Please pray for us. We're being harassed, kidnapped currently. They have control of our vehicle with about 15 Americans right now, ladies, men and
A few days later, the gang that took them seen here in an older video said they would kill the missionaries if they didn't get paid a ransom as
Christian Aid Ministries quietly open negotiations with the gang.
We got some insight into what conditions might be like for those kidnapped. We spoke to a French priest who'd been kidnapped by that same gang in Haiti
earlier this year, who told us about one of the places the gang held him.
FATHER MICHEL BRIAND, KIDNAPPING VICTIM: He says it was like a dark hole like a prison cell the last place we were in with no windows. At the
beginning they were giving us food once a day, but by the end they stopped feeding us. They forced us to go hungry he said believing it was a
RIVERS (voice over): But the first sign of hope two missionaries both adults freed by the gang on November 21. Then came three more freed exactly
two weeks later, and the remaining 12 would soon follow.
Meanwhile, Haiti's kidnapping crisis goes on unabated. An overmatched federal government is unable to quell the gangs behind the crimes with
total kidnappings this year nearing 1000 according to a Port-au-Prince NGO tracking that data nearly 100 in November alone.
The vast majority of victims are Haitians not foreigners thankfully the ordeal for 17 foreign missionaries is over, but for many Haitians the
RIVERS: And our source here in Haiti says to us that when this group was found the 12 remaining hostages that the group looks skinny remember, there
were several children among them. We're not sure of the 12 that were released today. How many were children how many children had been released
previously, Max, but that the group looks skinny.
They're currently undergoing medical checks right now after which presumably some of them will be some if not all of them will eventually go
back to the United States and or Canada, depending on which person we're talking about. But Max, this is the end of this ordeal for these 17
missionaries kidnapped exactly two months ago today.
FOSTER: OK, incredible story, Matt. Thank you. We're going to return to our other top story this hour. The global struggle to keep Coronavirus case is
at bay with case numbers rising and the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreading disruptions are also piling up.
The French government poised to ban tourists and business travelers from the UK where Omicron cases are soaring. And the U.S. health officials are
bracing for a tough winter with a triple threat from Omicron the flu and the Delta variants. Meanwhile, China which is aiming to stamp out
infections before the Beijing Olympics in February, reported 69 new locally transmitted cases across five provinces from Wednesday.
As the world's biggest economy suffers from the hottest inflation in the generation, the gloves are coming off at the world's most influential
central bank. The U.S. Federal Reserve's inflation battle plan includes wrapping up its pandemic era stimulus program faster than originally
At the same time, the Fed hints that three interest rate hikes are on the cards next year. Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell says any rate increases will
be gradual. U.S. consumer price inflation is the highest it's been in for decades, as Americans pay more for everything from gas to ground beef. And
Powell says it may not get better anytime soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME POWELL, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: These problems have been larger and longer lasting than anticipated, exacerbated by waves of the
virus. As a result, overall inflation is running well above our 2 percent longer run goal, and will likely continue to do so well into next year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: It's not just in the U.S. though only hours ago, the Bank of England responded to inflationary concerns by hiking interest rates to one
quarter of 1 percent. It comes after consumer price inflation here in the UK serves more than 5 percent last month, this highest level in more than a
In Turkey, President Irwin still says rate cuts are king his central bank has cut rates are fourth month in a row that's despite inflation hitting an
annual rate of 21 percent in November. We'll have coverage for you, team coverage. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, in Istanbul, Turkey, Anna Stewart join me
here in London.
I want to go to you first though Jomana because the president there seems to be going against sort of economic convention rarely in lowering rates
with such a high inflation rate. But these are extraordinary times. So just take us through his thinking.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's no surprise Max; the Turkish President has long been a staunch opponent of interest rates that
he has described as an evil that makes the rich richer and the poor, poorer and to deal with the country's inflation.
He is doing the opposite of what other countries would be doing how they would be handling this by increasing interest rates. What President Erdogan
has made clear is that his country is going to be taking a different path; this economic plan that he says is going to be focused on lowering interest
He argues that by lowering interest rates, that's the way to fight inflation, despite what economists and experts say he says that will lead
to growth, it will create more jobs.
It will stimulate the economy, more exports, more tourism coming into the country, more exports. But a lot of experts are really questioning that.
And we saw this continuation on this path today, the central bank no surprise announcing another cut the fourth month of these interest rate
And we saw the markets reacting to that Max, the Turkish Lira losing again dropping to a record low. I mean, I have really lost track as many people
in this country have the number of times the Turkish Lira has hit and you low over the past few weeks and months.
I mean this year so far the Turkish Lira has lost about half of its value against the dollar 30 percent of that in November alone. And a lot of
experts blame this on President Erdogan's unorthodox economic policies.
The President is promising Max that in the next few months people are going to be seeing the results of this economic plan. In the next six months, he
says he's going to be delivering. I mean, I can't begin to tell you how tough the situation is for ordinary Turks right now.
KARADSHEH: As you mentioned, they are facing an inflation rate of about 21 percent. What that really translates into is people feeling that they are
getting poor by the day Max, they're waking up finding their incomes losing value, and they're seeing the prices of pretty much everything rise on a
And to that effect, we heard the President a few hours ago announcing that they're going to be increasing the minimum wage by about 50 percent. I mean
to put that into context, that's less U.S. dollars than what they were making earlier, this year might provide a bit of a relief. But it will be
probably a short term one. We'll have to wait and see what that leads too specially with experts warning that there's really no end in sight for this
FOSTER: Jomana, thank you. A horribly stressful situation isn't it Anna? When you got your money and your pocket is losing value all the time. And
then you feel like you have to rush out to spend it, thankfully, more stability here in the UK.
But interesting that they are increasing rates, it does suggest that they see a long term problem here, when in the past, they saw inflation as a
temporary problem linked to the pandemic.
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Yes, and certainly no rate cuts in Europe, but the big debate Max on whether to raise rates or whether to raise rates in
the future. And actually, we're seeing completely different strategies for different European countries.
Today, the Bank of England did decide they will raise rates very moderately; they're just 15 basis points. And really two key reasons as to
why firstly, to keep a lid on inflation, as he said, that is really high 5.1 percent last month that was actually a 10 year high for the UK.
And today, looking at the minutes for the Bank of England, they expect that potentially to rise to 6 percent by April next year. So keeping a lid on
that, also to have some firepower to tackle the next economic shock, which could be just down the road, it's always important to remember no matter
how bad things may look right now, they could always get worse.
So that has been the decision here. However, it really did surprise the market. And that's because Omicron is spreading at a very rapid pace here
in the UK. And of course, that does represent potential risk for the economy here.
The UK government hasn't imposed a lockdown, but plenty of people are staying away from pubs, restaurants. And we do wonder whether the UK
government will have to introduce more financial help for some of those businesses. Max.
FOSTER: OK, Anna, Jomana, thank you both very much indeed. Now, have you ever been stuck in traffic and thought maybe there's a better way to get
around. While our next guests might just have the alternative means of transport that you're looking for, coming up next.
FOSTER: Now if you've ever been to Dubai or probably complained about the traffic. Frankly, the city is built for cars and urban congestion can be a
real problem there. In fact, is a common issue across the Gulf region including in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. According to report from PWC in Dubai
only 11 percent of people walk or cycle to get around. That figure is as low as 3 percent in Riyadh.
FOSTER: In contrast, in Barcelona, over half the population gets around on a bike or on foot. The dominance of road infrastructure and private
vehicles leads to higher co2 emissions and congestion. And that could hinder the UAE and Saudi Arabia as they try to reach Net Zero targets for
2050 and 2060, respectively. My next guest is trying to change all of that.
He is the CEO of Lime a micro mobility company focused on e-scooters, and e- bikes, having already conquered much of Europe and North America. The
next target is the Middle East. He sees cars a major culprit in cluttering our streets. And in his opinion, micro mobility is the solution. Wayne Ting
joins me now from Dubai. Thanks for joining us.
I mean, the first thing that people are going to say perhaps when they hear this is that obviously there's the temperature difference, you know, going
out on a scooter is one thing in Barcelona, very different in the height of summer in Dubai. So do you see this as a seasonal change that you're
working towards or something else all year round?
WAYNE TING, CEO, LIME: Yes, Max, thank you for having me. You know, I think we have a seasonal business in many of our markets. And in Dubai, of
course, the winter months are much more hospitable. But the interesting thing is, in the summer months, I think there's going to be used case as
Because when people get to the end of their public transit stop, they still need a first mile last mile way to get to where they're going. And what
we've actually seen is a lot of people take the scooter or e-bike for the final one kilometers in order to not get drenched in the summer.
So it's the use case is slightly different, maybe less tourism in the summer months, but we definitely see a year round way to use micro mobility
in the Middle East.
FOSTER: Do they need their own lanes? Do you think because we're looking at some images here, they're often in cycle lanes effectively, aren't they?
And they're not really in place right now in that region?
TING: Absolutely, one of the most important things with micro mobility is you have to have the right infrastructure. Because you know when people
talk about safety, you know what the most important thing on safety on a bike or scooter is protected bike lanes, it has the number one correlation.
And the other thing that I think we've learned over time is that we used to think you have to look at how many of you on bikes and you decide how much
bike lanes to build, it's actually the opposite, you have to first build the bike lanes, and then the usage will come.
But one thing I'll say about the region, I've been here meeting with lots of transportation department officials, every single city is committed to
building more bike lanes protected bike lanes, I think we're going to see the infrastructure improve. And that's one major reason why we're excited
to invest in the region.
FOSTER: It's that cultural difference, though, isn't it? If you go to a typical European city, there are, you know, there's always been lots of
cycling, people like to be outside. But, you know, in the Gulf region, it's always been slightly different as the people enjoy, you know, it can be
quite rough terrain to additionally.
So they have a bigger car. They also like the air conditioning. How are you battling that? What's your argument to people used to have big air
conditioning car and trying to get them on scooters and bikes?
TING: Well, I think there's, I think there are three big three major arguments. One, we're oftentimes the fastest way to move around. If you
look at downtown financial districts, you know, the fastest lane is usually the bicycling, two are cheaper.
If you look on a per mile basis, we are oftentimes the cheapest way for short distance travel. But most importantly and when you talk to young
people, especially, the reason why they're changing their behavior is because of climate change.
We face one of the greatest crisis of our time; a quarter of the world's carbon comes from transportation. The bulk of that is because of personal
cars and trucks. If we're going to have a chance to need our climate change goals, and be net zero and every goal state have actually said very
ambitious net zero goals.
We have to reduce our reliance on cars, and move to more public transit alongside green transportation alternatives, like e-bikes and e-scooters.
And I think when you talk to young people; they're excited to change their behavior because they know they need to do something to save our planet
from what is an incoming disaster.
FOSTER: There is one issue that people might point out, you know, you've got rechargeable lithium batteries is concerned about you know, mining that
lithium and that impact on the environment and how you dealing with that and guaranteeing that the batteries are procured in a safe and
environmentally friendly way.
TING: Absolutely, I think when we think about our environmental responsibility, it is starting with the production on R&D of our scooters
all the way to end of life. And so one of the things in our latest innovation e-bikes and e-scooters is that we have a swappable battery
technology, which means that even if a scooter dies, we can use the same battery on a e-bike as a e-scooter and we can ensure that that battery is
used for as long as possible.
And even after that the battery is no longer usable for the context of e- bike, e-scooter we actually find second lives and second homes for that. We're working with a manufacturer of portable speakers in the UK. We give
them the batteries and they turn it into a second life and people can use again.
TING: The other thing I'll say is, if you look at the alternative, so much of the conversation right now is about moving from gas cars to electric
cars. Nothing will take more in terms of precious minerals, scraping the Earth to find these minerals than these huge batteries in electric cars.
I absolutely believe electric cars better than gas cars, but there's going to be real costs if we truly transition all the cars to electric cars, and
we don't reduce our overall reliance on cars as part of that transition to electric.
FOSTER: OK, thank you very much indeed for joining us Wayne Ting and good luck with your project. Now after a four year delay, the U.S. government is
OK, we're going go straight to break. We're back in a moment.
FOSTER: After four year delay, the U.S. government has finally released previously classified documents on the assassination of President John F.
Kennedy. As Tom Foreman tells us these documents contain little in the way of new information and many others remain classified.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As not what your country can do for you.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The nearly 1500 documents are filled with intriguing details. A Polish driver in Australia saying he
listened in on Russian passengers talking about five Soviet submarines carrying 400 to 500 Soviet soldiers on their way to Cuba.
There was a plot to pay $100,000 to kill President Kennedy. A Nicaraguan claiming he saw the President's killer Lee Harvey Oswald being paid $6,500
Oswald meeting with a KGB agent just months before the killing and endless reports like this. Oswald entered Mexico claiming he was a photographer
phoning the Soviet embassy to ask for a visa, so he could go to Odessa USSR, little of the information is entirely new to the public. Many of the
leads were long ago dispensed with or disprove him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the White House in Washington comments that final verdict on the fateful tragedy which hadn't gotten the nation 10 months
FOREMAN (voice over): But ever since the Warren report, every tiny bit of information pulled from the shroud of government secrecy has fed conspiracy
theorists who believe Oswald did not act alone and may have been backed by Cuba, Russia, the mafia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And karma, I saw a flashlight and bushes and then shots running out.
FOREMAN (voice over): And these latest papers are fascinating serious historians too even when they aren't all about Oswald.
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I learned some things today, more details about how the mafia were used in an attempt to kill Castro. Now I
sort of understand much better that the technique that would have been involved. And why it was a serious effort, which did not actually succeed,
as we know.
FOREMAN: That sort of information is precisely what intelligence agents are cagey about. They don't want their methods or their contacts known even
decades later, after this far ranging investigation. And that's why about 10,000 documents remain either heavily redacted or entirely off limits, Tom
Foreman, CNN, Washington.
FOSTER: I want to look back at the life and the work of the trailblazing feminist author Bell Hooks; she died on Wednesday at the age of 69. Hooks
work frequently explored issues of gender and race.
Her first book "Ain't I a Woman" widens the field of feminism beyond just that of the white middle class to include experiences of black women. Her
accessible writing helps bridge academic theory and practice allowing the new generation to "work with her work", as she likes to say.
Writers around the world pay tribute to Belle Cornel West wrote "she was an intellectual giant spiritual genius and free us to persons we shall never
forget her". Well, for Margaret Atwood wrote on Twitter "very sad news that a foundational figure of later 20th and early 21st century, so many beyond
the U.S. will miss her.
Born Gloria Jean Watkins hooks grew up in Kentucky in the 1950s, where she attended segregated schools before going on to Stanford University. That
experience influenced her understanding of racial dynamics in the United States.
She wrote more than 30 books on poetry, art, media, racism and sexism. In her book "All about love", she wrote, "love empowers us to live fully and
die well. Death becomes then not an end to life but a part of living".
Bell Hooks will always be remembered as an influential literary figure around the world. Thanks for joining us. I'm Max Foster that was "Connect
the World". "One World" with Lynda Kinkade is up next.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST, ONE WORLD: I'm Lynda Kinkade in Atlanta and this is CNN.