Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

More Than 2000 Flights Canceled Today Globally; South Africa Drastically Eases Some COVID-19 Regulations; Human Rights Leader & Anti- Apartheid Activist Dies; COVID Sick-Outs Ground 2000 Plus U.S. Flights Since Sunday; Top Weather Events of 2021; Looking Back at the Year's Top Entertainment Stories. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 27, 2021 - 11:00   ET




ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Eleni Giokos in Dubai. Hello and welcome to "Connect the World". With the start of the New Year just days

away, it's looking as if 2021 will end the same way it began centered around COVID.

The new Omicron variant continues to hit the aviation industry as airline staff and crew call out sick. More than 2000 flights have been canceled

today across the world and that's after more than 6000 flights globally were canceled over the Christmas weekend.

And the German airline Lufthansa says it's canceling 10 percent of its winter flight schedule. And that's because of what it calls a sharp drop in

bookings. Meanwhile, France is mulling possible new restrictions. President Emmanuel Macron is expected to meet with his cabinet this hour.

And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's medical advisors are briefing him today. But Downing Street tells us that we'd not to expect any major

announcements from it. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is in London for us, and she joins us live.

I mean, looking at just the sheer number of flights that have been canceled. It is a combination of cases rising of people calling in sick and

of course restrictions that are coming into play. What impact is this having on the industry?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: As Omicron picks up pace, it's absolutely causing huge travel disruptions. As you said a perfect storm there, two

things play record breaking infection rates more people testing positive than at any point previously.

In this pandemic, it means people have to go into self-isolation many others just taking matters into their own hands and canceling their travel

plans. Out of fear of the Omicron variant of course, all of that means lower consumer demand.

And then the other factor here is of course stakeouts among airline staff. It's leading to thousands of cancellations just today Monday, more than

2200 flights canceled in and around the Christmas period that three day period more than 6000 flights canceled globally.

And the concern is more is coming Eleni, because world leaders back in their offices today looking at the potential for new restrictions, French

president Emmanuel Macron they're in France. They had record breaking cases more than 100,000 cases in a 24 hour period on Saturday. Macron expected to

announce tougher measures to fight the Omicron variant here in the UK, of course, where there's also been record breaking infection rates.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is getting updates from scientific advisors and says he's reviewing the data hour by hour. And already tougher

restrictions have happened in some parts. Post-Christmas restrictions rolled out in places like Austria, which has already canceled its New

Year's Eve.

And that's where it goes next. And Eleni's question about what restrictions will be in place during New Year's Eve and how will that continue to impact

the airline industry. Many governments withheld travel restrictions during the Christmas period with the intention of rolling them out after

Christmas. So you can only expect many more of those cancellations, Eleni.

GIOKOS: Oh yes, I mean, it's happening across the board, isn't it even Italy some cities in Italy have canceled New Year's Eve, thank you so very

much for that update. Now one Chinese says he is taking drastic measures to combat COVID 19.

Local authorities in Xi'an began disinfecting the entire city on Sunday, residents were told to close their windows and doors and avoid touching

outdoor surfaces. The audit comes as current health guidelines do not recommend mass disinfection of outdoor environments.

The city reports more than 600 cases since December the ninth and one of the largest outbreaks since Wuhan in 2019. We've got Ivan Watson joining us

now from Hong Kong with more details. Take us through what it takes to disinfect an entire city and what impact that could have on curbing the

spread of the virus.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think as you just pointed out, this is something that China's Center for Disease

Control, kind of warns against doing spraying disinfectant over an entire city.


WATSON: And we haven't really seen scenes like this really, since the COVID-19 virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan way back in

December of 2019. Of course, the origin point as far as we know it for what became subsequently a global pandemic, but clearly the city administrators

in Xi'an are feeling pressure.

The national policy in China is to have a zero case approach to COVID. And currently, Xi'an is the biggest hotspot in China with more than 150 new

cases a day, a city of 13 million people under a very strict lockdown.

I mean, transport is closed down and you can't go outside of your home, unless you're one of these vital workers. And the some 26 officials in the

city government have been reprimanded by the ruling Chinese Communist Party for not doing enough to battle, the COVID outbreak currently taking place

in Xi'an. So that may explain part of why this, arguably, theatrical disinfection of the entire city is taking place there.

GIOKOS: Yes, I mean, incredible images, just seeing how they using they funding the city. I'd like to shift our attention to Australia with over

1000 people received incorrect COVID test results as positive and this is as cases arising. How did this happen?

WATSON: Yes, this is a company called SydPath in Sydney. And what they said is that on Sunday, they confirmed that they had sent the wrong test results

to more than 400 people who got COVID tests telling them that they were given negative test results when they were in fact positive.

The next day, they realized that nearly a thousand people, who had been tested, were prematurely sent an SMS telling them their test was negative

when it wasn't clear what the test result was.

As a result, the company has apologized saying we're sincerely sorry for this error and acknowledge the significant impact it has had on those

involved. We have identified what occurred and confirm can confirm it was related to a specific human error.

Of course, people counting on those test results at a time in the midst of the holidays, when people are trying to see whether or not it's safe to see

their loved ones who may be elderly or immune compromised, so a big, big mess up for that lab.

GIOKOS: Absolutely, Ivan, thank you so very much for that update. Right and while some nations are increasing restrictions right now in South Africa

with the Omicron variant was first identified, health officials have drastically eased COVID-19 protocol for people exposed to the virus.

Those who I'm contact with someone who has COVID no longer have to quarantine will take a test. And fewer symptoms develop and officials have

stepped or stopped rather all contact tracing except in cluster outbreaks.

And that's because of early studies that show Omicron may be less severe than other variants like delta, with hospital rates far lower than in the

last wave of the pandemic. Linda-Gail Bekker is a Professor of Medicine and Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Center in Cape Town. She's also the Co-

lead of the Sisonke Study. She joins us now live. Good to see you, Dr. Bekker.

I'm sure you were hearing all the stories we're just covering where you have entire cities being disinfected. You have strangers that are being put

in quarantine together in Singapore; you've got Europe scrambling to find more restrictions. And South Africa is taking a very progressive view

almost how to now live with the virus going forward. Do you think it's the right decision?

LINDA-GAIL BEKKER, DIRECTOR, DESMOND TUTU HIV CENTRE: Hi, Eleni I suspect that you know, this is the right decision for South Africa. And I think

obviously each country needs to do its own base practice depending on where they are. But for South Africa, we saw a lot of cases.

But we have not seen the same number of hospitalizations or deaths that we saw in previous waves. And so I think this is a move towards saying this is

perhaps the future and we need to be able to get on with our lives.

GIOKOS: I'd like to take a step back here and look at something that many of our viewers probably don't know about. It's the - study. It's one of the

largest in the world. She talked about Vaccine efficacy and safety and you've been part of this program.

And you're now in phase three, where you're not offering placebos. These are all people that are being vaccinated What are you learning and I know

that you know we're sitting South Africa sitting on so much data that is helping the world understand vaccines and the virus. What have we learned

from the latest numbers?


BEKKER: Thanks, Eleni. Yes, so this, this study was actually implemented when our Vaccine National Vaccine campaign faulted. And we're putting

almost a year ago now. We were just coming out of our beta wave, which was a wave that not too much of the world experienced, it was our second wave.

And we were desperate to see vaccines - vaccination start in the country. And fortunately, because of that Beta variant, the vaccines we had on hand

with thought not to be efficacious. In the face of that variant, we didn't have evidence to support their use.

And so we as an emergency measure, managed to vaccinate 500,000 frontline health care workers, with the single dose J&J vaccine, which had been shown

to be effective in the face of the Beta variant. So it was in some ways serendipitous, but it meant that we were able to in, you know, in the

aftermath of the beta wave, and just before the delta wave, at least make sure that our frontline healthcare workforce was vaccinated.

As it happens, we were able to move in with booster doses just before now the Omicron variant wave. And so we're delighted to be able to report on

vaccine effectiveness now in the face of the Omicron variant.

And what I can tell you is that two doses of the J&J vaccine has held up very well, even against them on variant. And we think this is very

important news for the world, particularly on this continent, because we are very reliant on just a few vaccines in Africa, J&J being one.

GIOKOS: So, Dr. Bekker, I want to talk about J&J because the U.S. CDC came out with, you know, a preference for what they say should be MRNA vaccines

versus a Johnson &. Johnson.

We have seen sort of a negative response from many African leaders saying that this is not good news for a continent that is predominantly using

Johnson and Johnson, what is your view on this? And do you think that narrative out of the U.S. is pushing Africa's vaccine rollout back?

BEKKER: Yes, I think it's important. And I've heard our African CDC Lead, Dr. John Nkengasong says this as well, that we really need to be continent

specific and think about our own setting. So here in Africa, we don't have excess vaccines; we don't have the luxury of choice.

But at the same time, it's important to know the vaccines we are using have been tested; they have been shown to be effective. And that single dose J&J

has been shown to be effective is very important, particularly in rural areas, because of it's easier to use logistically and also because

obviously, a single dose is easier to administer.

GIOKOS: Yes. So Dr. Bekker, you know, you work for the Tutu HIV foundation as well. And frankly, this is such an important point because African

virologists and scientists have been working with viruses for decades now.

And that is why the countries had advanced genomic sequencing even when it comes to COVID. Could you explain the work that you've been doing over the

past few decades, specifically focusing on HIV and how that's played a role in understanding COVID-19 and dealing with it?

BEKKER: Yes, so we're not strangers to large viral epidemics. So we have one of the biggest HIV epidemics in the world, the most people infected.

And as such, we've really, I think, had to understand how to live with this virus, how to ensure that we are following it, we're tracing it and so many

of those surveillance systems were put in place prior to COVID.

In addition, we have large testing field sites, where we have been testing a variety of prevention strategies, everything from pre exposure

prophylaxis to HIV vaccines, and we were able to put those into good use as well. So our laboratory infrastructure as well as our field sites, our

ability to conduct good clinical research, I think is held us in very good state.

GIOKOS: Thank you very much, Dr. Bekker, good to see you and all the best for the New Year, much appreciated for your work, the work that you're

doing. Right we're remembering a giant of South African human rights anti- apartheid activist Desmond Tutu has died.


GIOKOS: And tributes are pouring in from around the world, that story up next. Plus monster storms, massive fires and some ominous signs that our

climate crisis is getting worse. We'll look at the top 10 climate headlines from 2021. And the COVID Christmas nightmare continues millions of people

are trying to get home from the holidays, while airplane pilots are calling in sick, a live report coming up.


GIOKOS: The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa honoring his countrymen, Archbishop Desmond Tutu .Take a listen.


CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: Archbishop Desmond Tutu was one of our nation's finest patriots. He was a man of unwavering courage, of

principle conviction, and whose life was spent in the service of others. He in many ways embody to the essence of our humanity.


GIOKOS: All right, and the Nobel Prize winning human rights advocate died on Sunday, a week of remembrance events have been organized in South

Africa. The Archers official funeral service will be held on Saturday at St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town. CNN's Robyn Curnow spoke with the

human rights leader in a wide ranging interview a few years ago.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Well, it made Nelson Mandela was the face of South Africa's liberation struggle. Archbishop Desmond Tutu

was its voice.

REV. FRANK CHIKANE, FORMER, HEAD, COUNCIL OF CHURCHES: I think because its Desmond Tutu speaking, he's got a way of reaching out to people. He makes

it light even when it is tough, makes people laugh, even when they are mourning. And he's able to inspire people and knew exactly what to say at

the right moment.

CURNOW (voice over): When he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the anti- apartheid movement was under attack. The minority government had banned the African National Congress and imprisoned its leaders. It was the clergy led

by Tutu that stepped in to fill the void.

CHIKANE: We have reached the stage where the church was a protector of the people who was the voice for the people. In fact, the President then P.W.

Botha put this way that the Council of Churches was presenting itself as an alternative government.


CHIKANE: And if a president of the country makes that types of a statement, then you know that, indeed the church has taken that taken the place. They

serve the victims of apartheid.

CURNOW (voice over): A decade later, the struggle paid off, when South Africa held its very first democratic election in 1994. CURNOW (on camera):

For you in your life, what do you think has been the greatest thing you've ever done?

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU, ANTI-APARTHEID LEADER AND VOICE OF JUSTICE: Well, I say to people, that my happiest moment was, when I was told I'm a father

for the first time when, when our son was born, I was on cloud nine. A close second to that is 1994, when I was standing on the balcony of the

city hall, overlooking the grand parade, and introducing Nelson Mandela, to the crowd to South Africa to the world.

TUTU: I actually say to God, I don't mind if I die now.

CURNOW (voice over): As a New Democracy took hold in South Africa; Tutu was again called on to lead. In 1995, President Nelson Mandela appointed him as

Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in front of a nation; desperate to heal a man never afraid to speak his mind wasn't afraid to

show his emotion either.

GRACA MACHEL, DEPUTY CHAIR, "THE ELDERS": He is a person whose life was always dedicated to others. And the thing that has enriched in him also in

knowing how to connect to different kinds of people, different status, but he connected very, very, very well. We owe our freedom to extraordinary


CURNOW (voice over): In 2007, he joined a group of prominent world leaders called The Elders, their mission, focusing the world's attention on all

forms of injustices. His biographer John Allen says it was during the liberation struggle that Tutu gained an unwavering confidence in his

causes, grounded in his faith.

JOHN ALLEN, DESMOND TUTU BIOGRAPHER: To take that particular role that he took, which was really to be public enemy number one for - Africans, and to

be able to withstand the pressures and the enormous pressures on him and the hatred that he was the victim of during those years, he needed somebody

who had an enormous amount of self-confidence and a healthy sense of self and ego. And his faith helped that.

CURNOW (on camera): Any regrets sir?

TUTU: Be maybe too abrasive and because I was right, so easily becoming self-righteous.

CURNOW (on camera): For you to say that?

TUTU: Yes, you know, we knew we were right. But it was so easy for that to turn and you get to feel you're better than your opponent, whereas you

aren't. You're all God's children.

CURNOW (voice over): Tutu officially retired from public life in 2010, but remained in the public eye, a man unafraid of criticism and threats from an

apartheid government. He was also unafraid to criticize even those with whom he had fought for freedom.

Before his 80th birthday celebration in 2011, Tutu lashed out at the South African government for denying the Dalai Lama a visa. One day when you

start praying for the defeat of the ANC government, you are disgraceful. I want to warn you, you are behaving in a way that is totally at variance

with the things for which we stood.

CURNOW (on camera): Walking in Desmond Tutu shoes, do you feel like a great man? Do you feel like a--

TUTU: What is that?

CURNOW (on camera): I don't know.


TUTU: What is a great man? I just know that I've had incredible, incredible, incredible opportunities. And I know and that is why I say, I

know I depend on others. And they've said, when you stand out in a crowd, it is always only because you are being carried on the shoulders of others.

What is your leader without followers? You depend on them. Imagine if the people in the townships had repudiated me, what it would have been. So, the

plaudits and all the awards that one has called, I've always said, I accept them representatively because they belong as much to those people, the

millions and millions out there.

As to me, maybe I should say, they go much more to them than to me, they took me only because I have this large news. And I have this easy name


CURNOW (voice over): The country's moral compass with a voice to match.


GIOKOS: Yes, hearing him say his large nose and easy name, he was always so much fun. In the meantime, tributes to the late Archbishop are pouring in

from around the world. The U.S. president reacted to the news in a statement writing in parts.

His courage and moral clarity helped inspire our commitment to change American policy toward the repressive apartheid regime in South Africa. His

legacy transcends borders and will echo throughout the ages. In a tweet from a U.S. President Barack Obama called Tutu a mentor, a friend and a

moral compass for me and so many others.

Right, in the coming hours we'll have more on the man and his work along with global reaction to his death, please stay with us.


GIOKOS: Welcome back. You're watching "Connect the World". I am Eleni Giokos in Dubai. As millions of Americans are trying to get home from the

Christmas holiday COVID is throwing a range in their travel plans. More than 2000 airplane flights were canceled Sunday and Monday in the U.S. and

that's as pilots and crews called in sick due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.


GIOKOS: Thousands more flights were delayed as airlines scrambled to find crews that could fly. CNN U.S. Correspondent Nadia Romero joins us now from

a very busy airport in Atlanta, Georgia.

Look, I can't even imagine what that must be like to hear your flight has been canceled when you're trying to get back home. What are you hearing

from travelers?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Well, Eleni, we spoke with one woman yesterday, she was hoping to get back Sunday night because she was supposed

to be at work today. But instead she had to call her employer and tell them she wasn't going to be able to make it because her flight was canceled.

Her flight was canceled due to weather relays is what she was told. But she was going from Atlanta to Wyoming. So it's not like you can jump in a car

and just get there in a couple of hours. That would take a couple of days if you're doing that trip by yourself by car.

So she's dependent on the airline to get her back to her home so she can get back to her normal life. At last --, we saw more than 900 flights being

cancelled today alone, just here in the U.S. And then you add so many more when you talk about globally thousands of flights that were canceled over

the weekend.

Airlines are telling us that it is mostly because of the Omicron variant, because of COVID-19 that their flight crews are calling in sick. Many

airlines already had staffing shortages before the new variant started to spread.

And then you have the weather the technical difficulties you normally see, during the holiday season. We saw some travelers who said that they were

doing everything they could to try to get on their flights and get back home or get to family and friends, take a listen.


NICK GORDON, AIR TRAVELER: They call this and said that there was some malfunction, whatever that may be. And so our flights are leaving a little

earlier now.

RANI LALL, AIR TRAVELER: We actually changed our flight to a nonstop flight just in hopes of hopefully not having any cancellations. It was a little

bit stressful because of you know, obviously COVID and everybody taking precautions, but you know we're ready.


ROMERO: And Eleni, we spoke with some international travelers as well. One man told us that he was on his way to Paris, because this time last year,

he wasn't able to go home because the borders were closed. And so he says, listen; it's been two years since I've seen my family I am going. I'm going

to do whatever it takes to see them this time around, Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes, and look, I can see travelers behind you with bags, you know, hearing the sort of experience from everyone where they say that the

flights were canceled because of the way they'll malfunction.

I mean, are they getting any messaging about the alternative to trying to get to their final destination? How long these delays are going to be a

reality? Is this going to carry on until the beginning of the New Year?

ROMERO: Yes, this is something that will happen for the next at least couple of days for some travelers, right, depending on your destination. If

you had a quick flight an hour or two, they can likely find another way to get you there.

But if you had a long flight, maybe a couple of connections and try to get it at an international destination. That's where the challenges are going

to lie. There was one woman who was leaving Atlanta on her way to Hawaii. And she told us that she switched her flight to a nonstop just to avoid the

layover and avoid that possibility of getting stuck in an airport somewhere in the middle of her travel plans.

Some of the airlines are offering no fees if you're going to change. Some of them are trying to give their passengers a lot of heads up. It was on

Wednesday that delta canceled about 250 flights for the Christmas holiday.

So they gave people a couple of days to find another alternative but where are you going to go when they're canceling thousands of flights globally

each day? And there are just not a lot of options for people trying to travel right now Eleni?

GIOKOS: Awesome, Nadia, thank you very much for that update. I'm watching the family behind you and I can see they're having so much fun keeping

themselves entertained, while they wait for the flight. I'm sure everyone's trying to full time as they wait for news. Good to see you. Thank you so

much for that updates.

Let's get you up to speed now on some other stories that are on our radar right now. Right at least eight people are dead after a suicide bomber

targeted a bar in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Christmas Day. 20 others were wounded.

A government spokesman says Islamist insurgents are suspected to have activated a sleeper cell to target citizens. We're learning the Taliban

have dissolved Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission, as well as its state ministries for peace and parliamentary affairs.

A spokesman tells us there is no longer a need for them. Much of the world has yet to recognize the new Taliban government as it stands out basic

human rights. Negotiations on reviving the Iran nuclear deal will resume in Vienna, Austria next hour. The talks will be based on a new joint document

with Iran calling for all U.S. sanctions to be lifted.


GIOKOS: It's the eighth round of negotiations aimed at restoring the 2015 deal, the U.S. withdrew from it under the Trump Administration. The impact

of climate change is becoming clearer with each passing year. We'll look back at some of the biggest extreme weather events of 2021.

And he's one of the youngest Avengers and just finishing high school but his huge appeal has made him a superhero across the world. Have you guessed

who it is?


GIOKOS: A second dam has now burst in the Northeast region of Brazil the state of Bahia. Flooding has hit nearly 40 cities there because of heavy

rains. Authorities say at least 18 people are dead and are now warning about potential landslides. Stefano Pozzebon reports on the crisis.

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Torrential rains and floods left more than a dozen deaths and hundreds of injured in the Northeastern Brazilian state of

Bahia over the weekend. Bahia is one of Brazil's poorest states in the entire Northeastern region had been suffering from a drought in the year so


But State Governor Rui Costa said to reporters that tens of cities have been impacted by the catastrophic damage caused by the floods.


RUI COSTA, GOVERNOR OF BAHIA: This is a massive tragedy. I can't remember seeing anything like this in Bahia's recent history, given the amount of

cities and houses involved. It's truly terrifying. There are so many houses and streets that are completely underwater.


POZZEBON: The state's civil protection agency said that at least 16,000 people have been left on less and thousands more of these placed by the

flood. The local meteorological service is forecasting even more rain through Monday and Tuesday potentially inflicting even more damage on the

population already impacted by the disaster. For CNN this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.

GIOKOS: From floods to fires record cold to record heat, we saw it all in 2021 except a way to stop it. CNN Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir

looks back at the top 10 Climate stories of the year.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: The signs were everywhere in 21. Starting at the top of the world, where Greenland's highest peak was so

freakishly warm that it rained for several hours.

They believe that this is the birthplace of the iceberg that sank the Titanic. But now scientists are really worried this place could help sink

Miami and Boston and Bangkok and Shanghai because just this part of Greenland has enough ice that if it all melts, will raise sea levels by two




WEIR (voice over): A new study predicts that the Arctic will see more rain than snow as soon as 2060. And in the meantime, the ice sheets so vital to

a planet in balance is melting at a staggering rate.

And number nine that icy surprise in Texas which illustrated how the climate crisis can run hot and cold, with wind chills below zero on the Rio

Grande, nearly 10 million loss power. The February blast became America's costliest winter storm event ever.

At number eight flash floods on three continents. In Germany and Belgium, modern day warning systems failed as a month of rain fell in one day. In

China, commuters clung to the ceiling of a subway as thousand year flood hit Elon province.

And back in the U.S., the deadliest flood in Tennessee history came like a tidal wave. At number seven, the U.S. rejoins the Paris Climate Accord

hours after Joe Biden became president.

But pledging to slash planet cooking pollution by half this decade is one thing. Convincing Congress to take bold action is another. At number six, a

code red for humanity, as scientists around the world issue their most dire warning to date.

The U.N's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it is unequivocal that human activity has cranked up the global thermostat by over two

degrees Fahrenheit and that we are careening dangerously close to a point of no return.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We meet with the eyes of history upon us.

WEIR (voice over): And those warnings made number five all the more urgent, COP 26 in Glasgow Scotland.

WEIR (on camera): Of the four main themes laid out by COP 26 host Boris Johnson, coal, cars, cash and trees probably is going to be cash that

provides the biggest challenge.

WEIR (voice over): For the first time in 26 meetings, the world's delegates agreed that fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis. But not a single

country committed to stopping oil or coal production anytime soon.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A monster named - Ida a hurricane is intensifying quickly and drawing chilling comparisons to Katrina.

WEIR (voice over): Hurricane Ida comes in at number four as 150 mile per hour winds screamed ashore in Louisiana in early September. But that was

just the beginning. Ida's aftermath dropped a rain bomb on New York sudden enough to drown families in their basement apartments. And all told the

single storm cost over $60 billion.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are following breaking news this morning, a dangerous and deadly night across the central United States, a

powerful line of storms unleashing at least 24 tornadoes across five states.

WEIR (voice over): At number three tornadoes in winter. December usually brings the fewest twisters of any month. But record warmth in the heartland

spun up funnel clouds from Arkansas to Ohio.

And weeks later, the damage is still being tallied. At number two, the Pacific Northwest heat dome, which pushed the mercury in famously mild

Portland well over 100 degrees for days, creating a mass casualty event of creatures great and small, over a billion shellfish bait to death on the

shores of British Columbia.

And the little town of Litton broke the Canadian heat record three times in a week before most of it burned to the ground. And at number one, America's

mega drought. Your water can come from rivers, reservoirs, or from wells, all of which have been impacted by a 20 year mega drought fueled by the

climate crisis with 90 percent of the west starving for rain.

The feds declared the first ever shortage of the Colorado River, which is a source of life for over 40 million Americans. Meantime, smoke from Western

wildfires reached the east coast this year, from one to 10. It is all connected and without dramatic changes on global scale. Scientists warn us

the worst is yet to come. Bill Weir, CNN, New York.



GIOKOS: Spinning money out of a successful movie franchise ahead on "Connect the World". New York is Spider Man's home but his webs of movie

magic have spread around the world and guess what? It is worth a lot of money.

And what Britney Spears, Alec Baldwin and Tom Holland have in common apart from all being big stars, answers when you return.


GIOKOS: This is Spider Man the third incarnation of the popular hero and his appeal continues to draw fans into the cinemas. Thanks to his

incredible web of adventures. No Way Home got the fans very excited as it bought back. Watch out spoilers, two previous actors Tobey Maguire and

Andrew Garfield to join Tom Holland.

The trio battles not one not two villains but of course five and the fans absolutely loved it, especially since it sets up the next Marvel

blockbuster, Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.

Nowhere Home is the first film to reach the billion dollar mark since 2019 Star Wars, The Rise of Skywalker and it's the second largest U.S. domestic

opening of all time. Nobody knows if Tom Holland will return a spider man, so watch this space.

Right so not everyone had such a great headline as Spider Man. There were deadly accidents, surprising losses and even more amazing wins. Plus a pop

icon found something better than an award, thanks to her devoted fans. CNN Stephanie Elam looks at 2021's biggest entertainment stories and we mean



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From Adele giant return to Jeopardy's host in jeopardy. And Alec Baldwin at the center of a Hollywood

tragedy here's a look at the top entertainment stories of 2021. Number ten, the Kim and Kanye Split after seven years of marriage Kim Kardashian files

for divorce from rapper Kanye West, citing irreconcilable differences.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am - deserve someone that can go support his every - -, go follow him all over the place and move to Wyoming. I can't do that.

ELAM (voice over): It began with Kanye's elaborate proposal in a rented baseball stadium. Parts of the 2014 wedding airing on ease "Keeping up with

the Kardashians". The splits are so airing on the show, which like Kanye ended its run this year after 14 years. Number nine. A shocker when it

comes to best actor.

ELAM (voice over): Anthony Hopkins wins Best Actor for The Father, stunning Oscar producers who were so confident the late Chadwick Boseman would win.

They move the Best Actor category to the end of the show. Hopkins wasn't on hand leaving the critically Penn telecast to end abruptly and Hopkins to

honor Boseman later on social media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman was taking from us far too early.


ELAM (voice over): Number eight, The Astroworld concert at stampede.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've never been in such chaos like so unorganized and just so many people like slamming into me.

ELAM (voice over): One of the year's top news stories also rocking the entertainment world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could just never imagine the severity of the situation.

ELAM (voice over): With Astroworld headliner Travis Scott and concert promoters facing scrutiny for not stopping the show as the crowd surge

killing 10.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could feel you know myself losing the ability to breathe.

ELAM (voice over): Scott said he wasn't aware of major problems during the show and denied legal liability in response to scores of lawsuits against

him. But the tragedy has the industry considering change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I definitely want to you know, step in to figure out you know, how we can fix this in the future.

ELAM (voice over): Number seven, Grammy boycott. The weekend calls the Grammy's a corrupt after his smash album after hours is shut out of the

nominations. Not even his hit single blinding lights were honored.

The Grammy said the omission wasn't intentional and later dumped controversial nominating committees that govern the final nominees relying

on a popular vote among the recording academy.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a history making night for Beyonce Taylor Swift.

ELAM (voice over): The show went on where women reigned supreme. With Beyonce, nabbing her 28th Grammy, a record for a female artist. Number six,

The Return of Adele her album, 30 becomes the fastest selling album of the year, besting every other title in just three days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I pick all day people are going to go, that's all you're going to hear.

ELAM (voice over): After a six year absence, fans can't get enough of Adele. As roughly 10 million people tuned in to her CBS special, which

included a concert and an Oprah interview?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm nearing my goal of like, finding my happiness.

ELAM (voice over): And as if that weren't enough, Adele announced a 2022 Vegas residency, becoming the hottest ticket on the Strip. Number five, the

Jeopardy host controversy after a high profile search for Alex - replacement - Jeopardy hired its own executive producer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is Mike Richards, the answer to the question is no longer the host of jeopardy.

ELAM (voice over): But then Mike Richards past incidents from another show and his comments on a podcast resurfaced, Richard stepped down and

apologized. But the backlash continued, and less than two weeks later, he gave up his executive producer role and left the show.

Number four, the Squid Game phenomenon; the South Korean series swept the globe becoming Netflix's biggest series ever at launch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plot hundreds of people heavily in debt enter a game to win a huge pile of cash the downside if the contestants lose a game

they're killed on the spot.

ELAM (voice over): Netflix says Squid Game was viewed by 111 million accounts in less than a month. And fan recreations like this one in the

United Arab Emirates proved the show has worldwide appeal. From BTS to pericyte and now Squid Game, the South Korean influence on entertainment

seems here to stay.

Number three, the box office bounces back. Behind powerhouses like spider man no way home - and no time to die. The box office emerges from the

pandemic topping $20 billion worldwide.

In North America theaters doubled their haul over 2020 passing $4 billion still way behind 2019, 11.4 billion. But the resurgence came with growing

pains as studios use streaming platforms to pick up the slack.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Black Widow biting back today.

ELAM (voice over): Scarlett Johansen sued Disney for releasing Black Widow on Disney plus the same day's theaters, alleging it would cut into her

profits. Disney said it had no merit. Both sides eventually settled.

Number two, the Alec Baldwin movie set shooting. The star discharged a prop gun on the set of his New Mexico Western rust killing Cinematographer

Halyna Hutchins and injuring the director.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was my friend. The day I arrived in - Institute, I took her to dinner.

ELAM (voice over): Hollywood and movie fans were stunned left to wonder how this could happen on a fictional set.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there was some complacency on this set and I think there are some safety issues that need to be addressed by the



ELAM (voice over): As authorities investigate, speculation swelled. Baldwin sat down with ABC. In a dramatic interview professing his innocence and

fueling the drama over what went wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gun was supposed to be empty. I was told I was handed an empty gun.

ELAM (voice over): And the number one entertainment story of 2021, the FreeBritney Movement and the end of Britney Spears's life in a

conservatorship. The pop star had been living a restrained life since 2008 under the tight control of her father through a conservatorship.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was so open and vulnerable. How we treated her was disgusting.

ELAM (voice over): But a New York Times documentary energize the FreeBritney movement and put a spotlight on the courtroom. And rallied

outside the LA courthouse until the moment they'd been waiting for. Later Spears thanked her fans, and shared what life feels like as a free Britney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wanting an ATM card seeing cash for the first time being able to buy candles, it's the little things for us women, but it

makes a huge difference.

ELAM: And many wonder if Britney will do a sit down interview, which just might make our list next year. We'll be covering all the top stories of

course, from Hollywood. I'm Stephanie Elam.


GIOKOS: Nothing like a bit of entertainment news to break us away from reality. But I'm going to bring you back now and we do have some news out

of the U.S. President Joe Biden is meeting virtually with the nation's governors to discuss the COVID surge, and he addressed the lack of

available tests across the country.


BIDEN: We're now able to purchase 500 million at home rapid test to be sent to the American people for free when requested. And we're going to continue

to use the France production act, produce as many tests as possible.

And started in two weeks private insurance will reimburse you for the cost of at home test. We're providing access to free tests for folks who don't

have insurance. But we have to do more. We have to do better. And we will.


GIOKOS: The U.S. so long lines of people waiting to get tested ahead of the Christmas holiday with store shelves empty of at home testing kits. Mr.

Biden told governors the U.S. government would have their backs in any way they needed during the pandemic. I'll be in for Becky Anderson the entire

week, so I'll see you tomorrow. "One World" is up next.