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France Reports Highest Daily new COVID-19 Cases in 2021; Will COVID- 19 Boosters become Yearly, Like Flu Shots; A Year of Despair Amid Political Gridlock & Financial Meltdown; COVID Adds to Woes for Nation Besieged by Poverty, Corruption; Xi Jinping Consolidates Control, Poised to Extend Reign; Libya's Election Commission Proposes One-Month Delay for President Election. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 22, 2021 - 11:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN, Abu Dhabi. This is "Connect the World" with Becky Anderson.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Well, this hour a storm is coming that morning from the World Health Organization's Europe Director as

the Omicron strain of Coronavirus becomes dominant across the continent and beyond.

And it is happening fast folks Germany's Health Minister today forecasting Omicron supplant Delta there within three weeks suggesting mandatory

vaccines may be the only way to curtail the spread.

Vaccine news front and center today, France the latest country to start vaccinating youngsters, Israel now offering a fourth dose to anyone over 60

and medical workers and Oxford and AstraZeneca beginning preliminary steps to produce a vaccine targeting the Omicron variants.

We're connecting you to the very latest development. Elliott Gotkine is in Jerusalem; Cyril Vanier is in Paris in France, where we are now seeing

yearly high in new COVID cases. And Salma Abdelaziz is in London the UK Prime Minister holding back for now at least on new restrictions.

Let's start with you Elliott, there are still isn't enough scientific data, as I understand it, to support this decision to go ahead and offer a fourth

jab. So what's the Israeli government's thinking behind this?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Becky, you're right, there isn't a whole lot of data, if at all showing the effectiveness of a fourth dose of the COVID

vaccine, or indeed if it's needed. So I think what the Coronavirus panel of experts here in Israel, which has made this recommendation is factoring in

is a number of things.

First of all, they are seeing the cases spiking in countries like the United States and in the United Kingdom as well. And they are worried about

the spread of the Omicron variant. They are seeing cases spiking in Israel in recent days. And they're also seeing the additional effectiveness, the

additional protection that a third dose of the COVID vaccine gives people in terms of infection and serious illness.

So I think what they're really doing here is erring on the side of caution, they're taking the view that perhaps the rewards for want of a better

phrase, of giving people a fourth dose of the COVID vaccine outweigh the potential risks of giving them a fourth dose of the COVID vaccine.

And so as a result, this has been the recommendation, it does need to be approved formally by health ministry officials. But I think that's a

foregone conclusion. And usually after they make these kinds of announcements, the rollout is pretty swift after that, but as you say,

initially just for high risk groups.

We're talking over 60s, medical workers, and also people with suppressed immune systems. But again, as we've seen in the past, there is a very high

likelihood that that will very quickly be rolled out to other age groups and the rest of the population, Becky.

ANDERSON: What's the likely take up?

GOTKINE: Hard to say. But if we start with - risk groups, one would imagine that the take up is usually quite high. It is, you know, generally quite

high in terms of the third dose. I should add as a sidebar there, Becky, that Israel I think is the second most boosted country in the world in

terms of having a third dose of the vaccine.

So there is generally up to this point. There has been quite a good appetite for getting vaccinated and getting boosters. When it comes to the

fourth dose you know, people are wary all over the world of lockdowns of restrictions of vaccines. Obviously, we'll get some data once it's rolled

out and we see what the uptake is.

But I guess until it's rolled out to the entire population, we won't really have a clear picture of just how much appetite or weariness there is for a

another dose of the COVID vaccine Becky.

ANDERSON: Elliott's in Jerusalem, Cyril, you're in Paris. The evidence is now pretty clear that this is a highly transmissible variant and the surge

in cases where you are, of course, reflects that question is just how many of those that are getting COVID will be hospitalized because that is

becoming increasingly important here as we consider how the government there is responding.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky, I think what we're seeing here in France is a collision of two realities. One is the Delta reality and the

other is the Omicron reality and just as the wave of Delta fuelled infections is peaking here in France and it has already brought us to a

year high infection number 72,000 infections per day. That's massive Becky.

And the Delta has already put 3000 People in intensive care - in intensive care beds in France for a country that only has 6000.


VANIER: So half of our intensive care beds are full of people who require treatment for Delta. Just as all this is happening, and the government

thought expected it would get a reprieve from Delta fueled infections Omicron is about to take over will become the dominant variant according to

the health ministry before the end of the year.

And we're expecting to see that number of infections just explode right Becky? It's going to go up exponentially. The health minister saying today

maybe more than 100,000 infections a day now, even if it is less severe, as real world data seems to suggest the fact that it is so much more

transmissible means so many more people will get it that that smaller fraction of people who will develop a severe case of an Omicron infection

that could drive up the number of people in hospital.

The number of people in intensive care beds and sadly, the number of deaths and that is what the governments worried about Becky. What are they doing

about it? They are increasing their booster rollout 1 percent of the total French population is getting a booster every weekday. That's a lot. And

they're expanding the pool of people who can get vaccinated to children aged five to 11 Becky.

ANDERSON: So new cases are huge new hospitalizations, concern new deaths, sadly, are likely and the decision has been taken to give five to 11 year

olds jabs. Can you just explain why that is?

VANIER: Yes, again, it's this idea of widening the pool of people who can get the vaccine. You know, think back to a year ago and we were talking

about herd immunity, something you don't hear anybody talk about today why?

A year ago, they said it would take about 75 percent of the overall population of any given country to be vaccinated in order for that country

to reach herd immunity. That's to say three out of four people are vaccinated in the country, then we believe the virus will stop circulating.

That was the belief a year ago, but that was the reality under the Alpha variant which was taken over which was overtaken by the Delta variant much

more transmissible and now by the Omicron variant, exponentially more transmissible.

And as we get these more transmissible variants, the threshold to reach this herd immunity becomes much higher; you need to have pretty much

everybody vaccinated. That is why France is now turning to five to 11 year olds Becky.

ANDERSON: Cyril is in Paris for you. You've had the story out of Jerusalem in Israel. Let's get you to the UK where Salma is standing by. And Salma

despite the rising cases in the UK, and we are seeing an increase in in hospitalizations of course as well albeit a you know, I think, as Cyril was

suggesting the numbers are less than this incredible surge in case numbers.

The government there has decided to reduce the self-isolation period for people who have COVID or have come into contact with somebody with COVID

from 10 to seven days, certainly for vaccinated people why?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, you started this segment by talking about the storm of Omicron that is coming that was the World

Health Organization's warning but for the UK, that storm is here already. We are in the eye of this Omicron storm.

You have seen over the last several days' record breaking case numbers tens of thousands of people testing positive every single day there was one day

over the weekend, where 100,000 people tested positive in a 24 hour period.

And of course it has health officials highly concerned. But it also means that critical public services are being hurt or slowing down because so

many people are calling out sick because there's so many cancellations. And this is a particular concern when you're talking about public transport.

And of course the health care industry of doctors and nurses are calling out sick because they have the virus they can't treat people who have the

virus. So the authorities want to see Omicron minimize that impact on lives and livelihoods by reducing the isolation period.

This they say this matches with the science but there is a caveat here you must test negative on a lateral flow test on day six and day seven then and

only then two negative test 24 hours apart day six day seven, then and only then can you be released from self-isolation.

The hope is of course that you can restart critical public services and continue them as the country prepares for the surge of cases potentially

turning into a surge of hospitalizations in a couple of weeks times.

And as you noted, it's not the only step the government is taking Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed no more restrictions before Christmas

time. That means the authorities need to turn to other ways to bolster their defenses ahead of this potential surge of hospitalizations as we said

that means more and more booster programs.

That means for the UK Government, they've just purchased two huge contracts that are going to provide 4.2 5 million anti-viral - antiviral drugs that

will be available in the beginning of the year.


ABDELAZIZ: So you're seeing the authorities here taking steps buying medications in bulk to help the most vulnerable. Expanding the booster

program, reducing that isolation period, all to try to keep this country running and moving as it prepares for what comes next Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, Salma, thank you to all of you, terrific reporting and important stuff. I want to bring in our Senior Medical Correspondent

Elizabeth Cohen now for a deeper dive into some of this news and Elizabeth, let's start with the news from Israel announcing a fourth dose of the

vaccine for over 60s.

As we discussed with Elliot, the fact that there isn't actually an awful lot of scientific data to suggest that people would need a fourth dose. So

take us through the science behind this decision, if you will.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So I'd like to take us back actually, to late July, when the Israelis decided to do third doses,

they were the first to decide that and people said exactly what you just said, Becky. And now fast forward to December, many countries, including

the United States, are doing third doses.

This is sort of been the way that Israel has operated throughout the pandemic. They don't necessarily wait for all the data to be sort of pretty

and tied up in a bow and reported in the way that we are accustomed pre- pandemic, everything's published in the medical journal, and it's there and you can see it, you know, this is moving quickly.

And so they move quickly. To paraphrase one Israeli researcher, she said, you know, you got to get on the train before it leaves the station. And as

we've seen in the pandemic, these trains leave the station very quickly; if you wait too long, you miss it.

So this is what exactly - this is what Israel has decided to do is they say that four months, at least after your third dose, you can go ahead and get

a fourth dose, or it's actually recommended that you get a fourth dose, if you are 60 or over if you're a medical worker, or if you are immune

suppressed. And actually that last one has also been done in the United States so that's been done for a while now that folks who are immune

suppressed, can get fourth doses.

So that's what they're doing in Israel. They're also having some schools if they're in low vaccination rates, go back to online learning, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, it's fascinating. While you and I have been talking, I've just got the latest numbers on boosters, out of the UK. And obviously,

we're talking about the third jab, the booster jab in the UK, the third one. The UK it's just hit 30 million boosters as the push continues to get

boosted now before the end of the year.

That's a record breaking week, last week for daily vaccinations with a rolling average of nearly 1 million top up jabs in arms a day and in the

country of 60 odd 63 million people that is a that's a big number. So they may not be getting everything right in the UK and certainly Boris Johnson

under an awful lot of pressure.

But that is a - that's a decent number. Experts have been saying that down the line, once he pandemic gets under control Elizabeth, we may be taking

the vaccine yearly just like we do with the flu vaccine, for example. So it does beg the question, doesn't it and the number of doses at present really

matter here when it comes to immunity?

COHEN: Becky, I think it is so hard to talk about the future and what we may end up doing, whether it's an annual shot or not all we can look at as

the precedent, which is that it's a more than annual shot. I mean, countries are doing third shots, Israel has moved on to a fourth shot. And

it just tells you that this virus is unpredictable.

The flu virus is very predictable. It is an enemy that we know well, we know that a new version of it comes out every fall winter. And so it's

predictable. We know it's got that sort of annual cycle to it. We don't know this virus very well.

This virus already has given us several variants where the original vaccine didn't work as well, you know, with Delta, the vaccine that was developed

with all the vaccines were developed before Delta, they didn't work as well on Delta, and they really don't work as well on Omicron.

So I think it is just so hard to tell how often we are going to have to be vaccinated but to sort of flip that question around. I think we should all

feel grateful that there are vaccines and that we're lucky enough to be able to get first, second, third or fourth shots not everyone in the world

is that lucky.

ANDERSON: You're making a very good point. And if you hadn't made that point I would have done in some parts of the world. We are lucky enough to

be getting third and fourth doses in some parts of the world. People are still waiting to get their first. Thank you!

Well, from the pandemic to the economy to the performance of the government 2021 has proven to be a year of utter despair for Lebanon. Ahead how some

are pushing the country's leaders to deliver something better in 2022?


ANDERSON: And little later this hour how China's leader could expand the influence of the world's second biggest economy and his own?


ANDERSON: The UN Secretary General told Lebanon's politicians they do not have the right to be divided. Antonia Guterres spent three days in Lebanon

this week urging politicians to work together to overcome the country's multiple crises. He said free and fair elections must be held on time in


Lebanon's President has been trying to delay those elections for months. Well, on top of the political crisis the country's economy has been in

deepening free fall. CNN's Ben Wedeman explains how 2021 has been a year of so much disappointment for the people of Lebanon?


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is what a collapsing state looks like. Perennial disorder, sporadic violence,

basic services barely functioning, basic goods in short supply, a national currency and economy in free fall and a squabbling political class,

incapable or unwilling or uninterested in putting aside their differences to save this country once described as the Switzerland of the Middle East.

When 2021 began, it seemed things couldn't get worse. Beirut was still reeling from the August 2020 port blast. COVID was ravaging a population

already battered by a deep economic crisis. The politicians couldn't agree on the formation of a new government and as 2021 ends events have proven

things could get even worse.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Najib Makati hasn't met since October divided between those who want Tarek Bitar, the judge investigating the Beirut port

blast to resign and those who want him to stay. The Lebanese currency already a fraction of its pre-crisis value has plummeted from a historic

low to historic low, the economy continues to shrink.

2021 ended up being the year that never was the year when the families of the victims of the port blast demanded justice which never happened. The

year when once again Lebanon's leaders failed to serve the people almost 80 percent now live below the poverty line the United Nations reports.

Monday UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres visited the ruins of Beirut's Port; tweeting afterwards the Lebanese people deserve the truth. He's the

latest in a long list of world leaders to call on Lebanon's politicians to do their duty and save the country from falling into the abyss those calls

still falling on deaf ears. Ben Wedeman, CNN.



ANDERSON: Well, in a recent emotional op-ed, my next guest writes, "I've witnessed my own country's collapse under a plethora of crises, the

implosion of its economy; the enormous blast at the Beirut port, and of course, the pandemic.

All of it wrapped up in endemically corrupt politics and meddling by foreign powers, notably Iran, that's Journalist and author Kim Ghattas.

She's also a non-resident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She joins me now live from Beirut and it's an absolute

pleasure having you on Kim. Just explain what you mean by the meddling of foreign powers, particularly Iran.

KIM GHATTAS, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Thanks so much for having me, Becky. Lebanon has been going through two years of upheaval, economic crises,

financial turmoil, and political crises.

And as Ben Wedeman just pointed out there, it is also to do with local Lebanese politicians, incapable or unwilling to come together to reform the

country to reform its institutions to reform its politics and its economy.

But I would put it in bigger terms and say that they're unwilling to do anything that would undermine their own grip on power, because there's no

golden parachute for them. And all of them look to the outside as well, for support to the extent possible.

And that includes, for example, the group like Hezbollah in Lebanon, looking to Iran, for support, financing and weapons. A lot of Lebanon

problems are really local domestic corruption is Lebanon, making the decrepit state infrastructure Lebanon is making.

The Ponzi scheme of the economy that collapsed over the last two years Lebanon doing. But when it comes to the regional context, it's important to

take into consideration how the odds are stacked against the Lebanese on their own trying to find solutions for the bigger problems.

And when you look at Iran, for example, and you look at Hezbollah, Hezbollah is not just a local Shia political party; it is a militant party

that is armed. And it's a regional paramilitary force with foot soldiers in Syria and Iraq, in Yemen, that answers to Iran.

And that's why what I see in Lebanon is an economic crisis wrapped in a financial crisis wrapped in a domestic political crisis wrapped in some

very complex regional politics.

ANDERSON: So what is the solution? What is your sense of what needs to happen next in 2022?

GHATTAS: Gosh, if I had the answer to that question, in one simple sentence, I'd run for president I'm, I'm the wrong sect. But I think there

is one solution. I think there are several steps that will have to be taken by the Lebanese and by the international community and by regional actors

in the coming year.

I think, as we heard there from the U.N. Secretary General and from the French, and from the Americans, the parliamentary elections must be held,

and they must be held on time. Now, elections are never a panacea.

I think we also need to keep people's expectations in check; we're not going to see a wholesale reform and wholesale change just because of one

election. But we might see some breakthroughs in some districts in Lebanon, by independent reform minded opposition candidates, you know, it might be

five out of 128, it might be 20, it might be 30.

But every single step towards a renewal of the political system and the political leadership is important. And that also means that there needs to

be international pressure on Lebanon's leaders to make sure these elections take place.

And until they do take place next year, there needs to be more pressure to make sure that some modicum of reforms and assistance to the Lebanese

people are put in place and put in motion.

Otherwise, we're going to continue seeing descent into poverty and continued brain drain and all that undermines the potential for political

renewal. And then there are some issues that need to be dealt with on a regional level that includes Iran's role in Lebanon.

That includes how Saudi Arabia views Lebanon; there are a lot of issues that as I said, cannot be solved by the Lebanese themselves. But as

Lebanese, people here cannot wait for the regional context to resolve itself which is sometimes a reflex in this country. And equally in the

region they cannot expect Lebanon to solve all its problems.


GHATTAS: You hear often the Saudi say, well, Hezbollah should Lebanon should solve the problem of Hezbollah, that's too big a problem for the

Lebanese to solve on their own. As I said, Hezbollah is now a regional paramilitary force.

So I think a combination of local action movement and regional context is what might potentially push this country onto the road towards something a

little bit better than what we've seen over the last few years.

ANDERSON: Yes, nobody wants to see it go down a road that is worse by any stretch of the imagination. We started with a quote from a piece that you

wrote recently, which was which was terrific.

In another piece that you wrote, I quote, you here, crisis is always around the corner in the Middle East. And if the nuclear negotiations with Iran go

nowhere, tensions will rise again, rapidly.

This is where the unusual level of inter-Arab dialogue and efforts at cooperation could provide some balance and a rare win for everyone except

the leaders of Iran. Can you just explain what you meant what the conceit of your argument is here?

GHATTAS: Well, Becky, as we see the U.S. and Iran engaging in well, indirect negotiations in Vietnam, because the Americans are not actually in

the room with the Iranians, but they're part of the bigger dialogue with America's allies to return to the JCPOA.

And it's taking much longer than anyone expected. Certainly, it's taken much longer than I think the Iranians or Hezbollah or Bashar Al Asad

expected. Everyone looked at the Biden Administration and thought, you know, some of the same officials that we had in the Obama Administration;

this must mean a quick return to the JCPOA and the lifting of sanctions.

But almost a year later, there's not much progress. In fact, Iran's demands seem to be more maximalist and the Biden Administration and Biden officials

are now saying, we're ready to return to the JCPOA. The ball is really in Iran's court.

But Iran doesn't seem to be in a mood to compromise, because I do think that it feels cornered and under pressure, in many ways in the region. So

it's, it's a contradiction in some ways. It's uncompromising, and feeling insecure. And that makes for a dangerous combination. What I refer to as

this inter Arab dialogue, which it's, you know, often easy to read too much into it, but there's a lot of activity going on.

There's you know, some it's in Iraq, there is an Egyptian Jordanian effort to bring power gas to Lebanon. There's an Israel Georgia in UAE agreement

on energy as well, there are talks between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, about energy deals, all of that.

And of course, don't forget, the UAE very busy in the region, with the foreign minister of the UAE going to Syria, going to Turkey, sending an

emissary to Iran, all of that is way for the region to decrease the pressure as much as possible as we head towards a potential stalemate in

those negotiations on the nuclear front. And that means that Iran have somewhat isolated in the region but also less able to maneuver.

ANDERSON: Fascinating Kim, it's always good to speak to. I had Rob Malley on the show yesterday who frankly said the Iranians have got just weeks to

continue these talks before the Americans quite frankly, say, that's it. So it's going to be a busy time.

It's going to be an interesting time is an important time in the region and future have pointed out what the region is up to itself and sort of

recalibrating, taking the heat out of what is going on here is important stuff for our viewers. Thank you, Kim. This is "Connect the World". This is

the look of power. After the break, how China's President is consolidating his influence is his country pushes for more success.



ANDERSON: Russian President Vladimir Putin is demanding security guarantees from the United States and from NATO, including a binding pledge that NATO

won't expand further to the east.

Now this comes amid soaring tensions as you will be well aware over Russia's Military buildup near Ukraine's border. And Mr. Putin says his

demands do not amount to an ultimatum. Vladimir Putin may have found this year that he had more to talk about with Xi Jinping than Western leaders.

Chinese President has been gaining power and stature under President Xi. China is growing stronger and wealthier. But also moving further away from

the west CNN's David Culver looks at where China stands is 2021 comes to a close.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Walk in the streets of China's capital. It's not hard to see who's in charge. There are pictures of President Xi

Jinping all over, this poster addressing the firefighting community. At the center of life here is the Chinese Communist Party, but at the center of

the party, this man Xi Jinping.

CULVER (voice over): 2021 saw major steps to further consolidate power. And in early November meeting of China's ruling elites, the 400 or so top party

officials passed an almost unprecedented resolution, highlighting the role of its current leader and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the nation's

triumph and rise on the global stage.

VICTOR SHIH, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO: He wants to really highlight his own contribution to the development of the party that

also will seal his legitimate rule over China in the foreseeable future, then; of course, no one would challenge his power within the party.

CULVER (on camera): Inside national museums like this one President Xi Jinping has elevated themselves to be on par with past paramount leaders

like Deng Xiaoping. And even the most famous Mao Zedong.

CULVER (voice over): China has already become the second largest economy in the world on track to surpass the U.S. It has successfully lifted millions

of its people out of poverty.

CULVER (on camera): Walking in the morning rush hour here in the Chinese capital, they feel the rush of energy, a lot of activity. And times it

feels like everyone in this country is on this constant drive for more ambition, more success. It's only amplified by a population, more than 1.4

billion people.

CULVER (voice over): And incredible buying power bolstered by new technologies, making it quicker and easier to spend money, not to mention

track people.

CULVER (on camera): Just to get into some of these stores and restaurants you have to first take your temperature shows that you're OK. And then

you've got to scan your health code. Then says we're good to go. One thing that is incredibly convenient about China is, we really don't even do carry

your wallet, places everything is on your phone including payment and ID.


CULVER (voice over): 2021 marked 100 years since the party's founding in Shanghai, it's a triumphant rise that the leadership proudly displays at so

called a Communist Party pilgrimage sites historically revered spots that downplay or ignore failures and controversies from the tumultuous Cultural

Revolution to the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Instead, they focus on a century of successes. And China is now making other countries including the U.S. increasingly uneasy with its rapid

Military expansions.

CULVER (on camera): With all the power that President Xi has amassed coupled with an increased Military might let me believe that one of his

ultimate goals is to reunify with Taiwan. He has not even ruled out taking the island by force, if necessary.

CULVER (voice over): China has been putting Military pressure on the self- ruling democracy. Xi stressing in a recent virtual meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, that on Taiwan, the U.S. is playing with fire, Biden

trying to calm the rapidly rising tensions.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States do ensure that the competition between our countries does not

veer into conflict, whether intended or unintended, just simple, straightforward competition.

CULVER (voice over): That's easier said than done. A deep rooted geopolitical battle is lingering into the New Year, citing widespread

allegations of human rights abuses against China's Uyghur population.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of country does this to people, to innocent people?

CULVER (voice over): The U.S. announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Biden Administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

CULVER (voice over): With allies following, calls for boycotting the games fueled in part by the case of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, the three

times Olympian briefly disappeared in November after she accused a top Communist Party official of forcing her into sex.

The Women's Tennis Association suspended tournaments in China calling for Peng to be able to speak freely and openly. But for now, it won't help the

Winter Games. These, the first Olympics to be held under President Xi, 2022 setting the stage for Xi to rule for an unprecedented third term is likely

beyond. David Culver, CNN, Shanghai.


ANDERSON: We're taking a short break back after this.


ANDERSON: Well, it is highly unlikely that Libya's first ever presidential election will happen is scheduled on Friday. Country's high Election

Commission wants to push back the vote one month to January the 24th that could have long lasting consequences. The interim government's formal term

expires Friday also rival armed groups have appeared in parts of the Capitol sparking fears of renewed violence.


ANDERSON: Well, at this time yesterday, I spoke to a man who knows the inner workings of Libyan politics like the back of his hand, Jamal Benomar,

former Under Secretary General advocated against elections as soon because he said it will cause chaos and dysfunction, here is what he had to say.


JAMAL BENOMAR, FORMER U.N. UNDER SECRETARY-GENERAL: Elections by their nature, unleash political competition. But unleashing political competition

in a country with no states to speak of no institutions to manage conflict is a recipe for disaster. What was needed really is a Libyan led political

process that could lead to a new social contract among Libyans.

So the international community put the cart before the horse what was needed really is for Libyans to agree on a system of values, norms, a

constitution. And rules of the game before elections, you know, can be held.

And don't forget, you know, that I always remind my European friends of this it took Europe you know, hundreds of years, you know, to get a culture

of democracy established is not going to happen Libya within you know, a few years.


ANDERSON: Well, the U.N. has been hurting for calm in Tripoli, in order to get the security and political conditions right and give the best chance

for free and fair elections to take place. While Santa's won't be delivering presence until the weekend for those who are celebrating

Christmas around the world, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station got their gifts today.

And by gifts, I mean cargo sent from Earth on a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft the Dragon will remain docked at the ISS for about a month before heading

back to Earth with return to cargo. Well back on Earth this evening is a great time to see the Ursid meteor shower is visible every year starting on

the 17th in the northern hemisphere.

I say it's a good time to watch Nasser actually says it may be a low key affair. Since moonlight will wash out most of the shooting stars with a

full moon of course of the weekend. Viewers can usually see about five meteors per hour this year. Look up. If you're lucky you will see at least

one or two per hour.

And before I bring this show to a close this evening, I want to alert you to a 17 million year old fossil and how it is shedding links a light on the

links between dinosaurs and birds have a look at this.

This is the perfectly preserved embryo of an AVI raptorial dinosaur curled up inside its egg. It was found in China more than two decades ago but sat

in storage for a decade and is now the subject of a new study. Isn't it amazing?

Researchers say the fossils shows that dinosaurs were moving around and changing poses before hatching in a similar way to modern day birds. Well

actually a lot tonight slightly shortened show because we've got marketplace Middle East up next.