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Honoring Archbishop Desmond Tutu; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Is Urging People To Get COVID-19 Booster Shots; Stand News Headquarters In Hong Kong Was Raided By Police; Tensions Over Thousands Of Russian Troops Massed At The Ukraine Border; Joint Military Drills Next Year Announced By Russia And Belarus. Aired 11a- 12p ET

Aired December 29, 2021 - 11:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD.


Honoring Archbishop Desmond Tutu, mourners are gathering for a memorial service this hour in Capetown, South Africa. The funeral for the anti-

apartheid icon is New Years Day. Earlier on Wednesday, the arch-deacon of the Anglican Church of Johannesburg made prayers outside Tutu's former home

in the Township of Soweto to honor the man who was the conscience of a nation.

Desmond Tutu died Sunday at the age of 90, and he was one of the most prominent religious leaders in the world, a tireless advocate for human

rights and justice, and the winner of the nobel peace prize in 1984.

We've got CNN's David Mackenzie standing by for us on the ground. David, let's talk about the memorial service and what we're expecting to see in

the next few days. We do know that the arch wants it a humble send-off, and it's interesting he even picked his own hymns.

DAVID MACKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This man was deeply humble and spoke with a powerful voice, but never let the

trappings of his office, Eleni, either as a religious leader or a Nobel Prize winner, get to his head, frankly.

In the coming out, there is an interfaith service at the city hall in Capetown. It speaks, again, to the fact that this man's life was

underpinned by faith as an Anglican archbishop, but he was never dogmatic about his religion. You will have speeches from imams and clerics and

rabbis, as well as government officials, part of this weeklong mourning and celebration of the great man, Desmond Tutu.

And just the place that became home from him - for him, Capetown, is pulling out all the stops. You have 10 minutes every day at noon, the bells

will ring out, it's in St. George's Cathedral, the People's Cathedral, it's know, because of its roles in the anti-apartheid struggle.

For two days, ordinary people will be able to pay their respects to the great man at the cathedral. And then about 100 people will be at his

funeral, far more, of course, would have been generally invited but because of the COVID pandemic that has been reduced, probably fitting for a man who

was always about his strong voice but never about the trappings of his faith and his religion.

And this will be fitting. At St. George's Cathedral, which, as I said, had a very pivotal role in the anti-apartheid struggle, riot police even would

go after protesters in the surrounds of that cathedral for many years, Eleni.

GIOKOS: Look, he's been out of the public eye for quite some time, but I think for us, for many South Africans, he was almost - you know, we felt

safe still being sort of watched over by him in many different ways because he was so vocal politically.

He was always sending messages of love, but, importantly, he was always worried about the state of average South Africans, and he actually scolded

the ANC for not doing good by them. What is his legacy now and this - at this specific moment in time for the country?

MACKENZIE: Well, certainly. You saw him even through a protracted illness casting his ballot in November towards the age of 90. He was always a great

believer in the democratic experiment here in South Africa. He popularized the term "the rainbow nation" even from the very first election here in


And as you say, Eleni, he became a harsh critic or a pointed critic of the ruling ANC over the years, even saying he wouldn't vote for the ANC or at

times saying "that they were worse than the apartheid government."

So that didn't win him any friends amongst some of the leadership of the ANC, but you see the president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and the leadership of the

country right now paying deep respect to the man. It shows his place in the anti-apartheid struggle and his place as well as a moral compass for this

country. Eleni.


GIOKOS: Absolutely. David, thank you so much for that update. Good to see you. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging people to get COVID-19

booster shots and, he says, enjoy New Year's sensibly and cautiously.

He visited a vaccination center today and said the Omicron variant is milder than Delta, but has caused a surge in hospitalizations. In fact,

hospitalizations in England have increased 25% in the past week. And the U.K. set a new daily record for COVID-19 cases Tuesday that breaks a record

that was set just five days ago.

We've got CNN's Salma Abdelaziz in London for us. Looking at the graph, looking at where hospitalizations are going, both numbers are of concern

but it's the detail that matters in terms of severe illness, you know, are ICU beds filling up? And what is the dynamic between unvaccinated versus

vaccinated patients that are ending up in hospital?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely mind boggling figures. I mean when you look at these numbers, higher infection rates than

this continent has seen at any point in this pandemic. I'm going to give you the example of France, which recorded more than 200,000 cases in a 24-

hour period.

The French health minister said he had vertigo looking at the data. One person was - two people, rather, were testing positive for COVID-19 every

single second in France. Here in the U.K., another record-breaking day yesterday of COVID-19 figures, but there's three other numbers here that

are also really important.

You have the infection rates, but then you also have to look at hospital admissions, ICU usage and deaths. And thankfully, Eleni, those are nowhere

near the level that you would expect given these infection rates, especially when you compare this wave with previous waves.

Now, of course, that is because we understand from researchers and scientists that Omicron is milder. Now, estimates range 40% to 80%. We have

seen various figures based on various studies, but you are essentially much less likely to wind up in hospital.

But what is happening is that these massive positivity cases are essentially bringing some essential services to a halt. That's why Prime

Minister Boris Johnson was at a vaccination center today pushing boosters, boosters, boosters. Take a listen.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The Omicron variant continues to cause real problems. You're seeing cases rising in hospitals. But it is

obviously milder than the Delta variant, and we're able to proceed in the way that we are. But that's one reason and one reason only why we're able

to do that. And that's because such a huge proportion of the British public have come forward to get vaccinated and, particularly, to get boosted.


ABDELAZIZ: Now, the prime minister went on to say, Eleni, that 90%, or up to 90%, of those in hospital with COVID-19 across the U.K. are people who

have yet to get their booster jabs. And this is, of course, a picture that's repeated across hospitals around the world that overwhelmingly those

who are showing up in hospital severely ill with COVID-19 are the unvaccinated.

That's why you're seeing a real shift in restrictions across Europe. You're seeing some countries specifically target the unvaccinated, other

countries, like the U.K., not rolling out tougher measures, instead choosing to focus on those booster jabs.

And the other key question, Eleni, is about that isolation period. We're seeing more and more countries reconsider how long that isolation period

should be with a much milder variant so that they can keep essential services running. Eleni?

GIOKIS: All right, Salma. Thank you very much for that update. Good to see you.

Now the Omicron variant was first spotted in South Africa, and that country may be the first to be over the hump. It's seen new cases drop by nearly

half in just over a week. U.S. President Joe Biden Tuesday revoked travel restrictions on South Africa and seven other African countries and he says

there's no longer necessary to protect the public health.

Professor Barry Schoub is Chair of the South African Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 Vaccines. He joins us now from Johannesburg.

Professor Schube, really good to see you.

I first want to talk about the isolation rules in South Africa because it sort of happened under the radar where we had this press release, this, you

know, information given that if you have exposure to people that have tested positive for COVID-19, you don't have to isolate even if you're

showing mild symptoms or even if you're positive you don't necessarily have to isolate.

You almost have to watch yourself in terms of severity of illness, which was pretty groundbreaking stuff. The South African government, in the

meantime, has recalled that saying they need to amend it. Where do we stand on isolation in SA and what does that mean about how dangerous the Omicron

variant is?


BARRY SCHOUB, CHAIR OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN ADMINISTERIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Yeah, good day, Eleni. Yeah, there's a little bit of a confusion about the

isolation and the quarantine regulations or guidelines.

I think we are kind of feeling that because the Omicron, which I say our fourth wave due to the Omicron variant, is a lot less - a lot less serious

and much, much milder than we've had in our previous variants that some of the restrictions could be relaxed.

And specifically, those restrictions related to isolation of those individuals that are infected and quarantine those people that come into

contact with infectious individuals. So the isolation certainly has been reduced, nothing therefore remain to be reduced, to - you know, due to be

10 days down to about 8 days and maybe even five days.

There's another fine attitude on that (ph), I think there needs to be more discussion on that and I think this is why the government has -

GIOKOS: Do you support that, professor? Do you support a drop in isolation rules? Do you think that's a wise to do?


GIOKOS: Is it a gamble or what -

SCHOUB: No, I don't -

GIOKOS: - do you think this is showing us that we're - we're heading to a down mutation environment?

SCHOUB: No, I think there needs to be an international recognition that the infectious period is very much less than what we originally thought. It

probably - the infectious period is probably is about two or three days before symptoms start, up to about two or three days afterwards. So we can

comfortably reduce it from ten days, at least to eight days and maybe less.

GIOKOS: Yes. Okay, so let's talk about the vaccination rates in South Africa that are sitting at around 35%. You can correct me if I - if it's

moved higher.


GIOKOS: Is there a prevalence in South Africa, so in other words a number of people that have had COVID is expected to have - be around 80% of the


So when you're dropping isolation rules like this and contact tracing, what does that tell us about sort of hybrid immunity and how important vaccines

are going to play, you know, a role down the line because these - a drop in isolation rules and restrictions is almost sending a very different message

right now to the rest of the world as well?

SCHOUB: You know, Eleni, I think South Africa is in a particularly, in a way, good position because we have - certainly have a very high level of

immunity in the population, both from natural infection of those people that have recovered from infection, supplemented by vaccination.

But as you say, our vaccination coverage is not nearly as high as in the Northern Hemisphere. We're really more about 40% to 45% of the adult

population at the moment. That's where we stand at the moment, but certainly it is very low. And I think a large amount of that, 80% presence

of antibodies that you measured, is due to natural immunity.

And I'm sure that plays - that's playing a very large role in the relative mildness of the fourth wave. Certainly it is much milder, it's much - the

actual epidemic was much shorter. The hospitalization rates are much lower. Those in hospital are not being treated as long as previous variants, and

there's - certainly the ratio between hospitalization and the severity as measured by (inaudible) is much lower.

GIOKOS: Are we watching what's happening? You know, is South Africa watching what's happening in the rest of the world when you're seeing eye

watering numbers, positive cases in the likes of France of over 120,000 in one day?


GIOKOS: You've record numbers in the U.K., and they're looking at the correlation with regards to hospitalization. South Africa has been a key

leader in understanding the data in terms of the efficacy and safety of vaccines. What do we know, because we're ahead of the curve in terms of

understanding Omicron because it started far earlier in South Africa than other parts of the world?

SCHOUB: Correct. Yes, no, I think if you compare the incident in South Africa compared to what, as you say, the kind of European figures and even

the United States' figures, we're a fraction. We are about 1/40th, 1/50th of the new daily cases they're experiencing in Europe.


SCHOUB: So there's a great discord between what we see in South Africa and what's being experienced in Europe. And I think there are many reasons for

that. You know, I think the immunity that we spoke about is probably one reason. I think some of it might simply be artifact because there's a lot

more testing that's going on in Europe than in South Africa.

And, of course, the access to health care in South Africa is not as great as it is in Europe. So I think all these things play a role. What we're

hoping for, of course, is that the virus itself is intrinsically, biologically not as virulent.


SCHOUB: And there's some -


SCHOUB: - initial, very preliminary signs of that.

GIOKOS: Okay. So I - it's so fascinating because, you know, South Africa has also said that isolation is - isolation rules are causing a lot of

havoc with regards to businesses and keeping people away from work.


GIOKOS: You're sort of seeing a similar narrative coming out of the U.K. The U.S. has said the same with regards to what they're doing with

isolation days, dropping that down as well. And there's sort of a divergence in the way that countries are dealing with this.

In the meantime, in China, they're basically fogging and disinfecting a city of 13 million people.


GIOKOS: Do we need to start looking at the virus in a different way, soft of let's live with it and figure out, now that we've got a mutation that is

a lot more manageable, trying to figure out how we deal with it differently socially?


SCHOUB: Yes, you're right, Eleni. I think this is what we always kind of thought, you know, projecting into the future, this is what we thought

would happen with SARS COV-2, in other words the virus that causes COVID. But eventually, it would become tamer, a lot less virulent and really come

settle in to become one of the endemic coronaviruses.

Like those endemic four coronaviruses which you've - you know, cause the common cold. And we've had - we've had those for millennia, and it may well

be that those particular coronaviruses may well have started off the same kind of pandemic as we saw with SARS-COV2.


SCHOUB: But eventually it becomes tamer and eventually we tolerate it.

GIOKOS: Okay. Am I getting a signal from you that you think, and the South African Scientific Community might think, that it's down mutating? Is this

a good sign?

SCHOUB: Well, no. I - well, I - you know, Eleni, I think it's a bit too premature. We're hoping so. You know, as I said before, there are some

very, very -

GIOKOS: I'm hoping. I mean, we're worried about what 2022's going to look like.

SCHOUB: Yes, I know. I know. We all are. I think there are some preliminary signs. And (inaudible) very preliminary signs, biological signs, that only

at the laboratory level that the virus may be showing some signs of becoming less virulent.


SCHOUB: I don't want to put too much in at this stage. It's a very optimistic hope. We hope that that is what will materialize.

GIOKOS: All right. Professor Schoub, good to see you again. Thank you so very much for joining us on the show.

SCHOUB: Thank you, Eleni. All the best, thanks.

GIOKOS: Okay, all right. Thank you.

So one of the remaining pro-democracy voices left in Hong Kong has been silenced. Police raided the headquarters of Stand News on Wednesday and

arrested seven people for publishing what they called seditious news articles. In the wake of the raid, Stand News said it would shut down and

delete all of its social media accounts.

Among those arrestors were - arrested was Pop Star Denise Ho, who's been a strong support of Stand News. Hong Kong authorities have targeted pro-

democracy media outlets since Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the city last year. CNN's Senior International Correspondent Ivan

Watson joins us live from Hong Kong with more details.

Ivan, what do we know about the people that have been arrested? And in terms of interpreting the content as seditious, you know, we know that

there was a sweeping national security law that came into effect. And the government says it is all about creating calm, but it's - to the rest of

the world, signs that they are hunkering down with regards to what press freedoms Hong Kong has?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think that there are polls that indicate that the people think the freedom of the press has

diminished over the course of the last year. And this latest incident, this raid on this online outlet, is not isolated. But let me tell you about what

happened. It was 200 police, the Hong Kong police announced, raided the newsroom of Stand News this morning, early in the morning, seizing

materials, arresting at least seven people, six that are believed to be directly related to Stand News.

And as you mentioned, Denise Ho, who is this Kanto pop star who's also been this loud, pro-democracy voice supporting the protests that we've seen in

the streets in 2014 and 2019. On top of that, one of the individuals who was detained and then released is an editor from Stand News, and he's also

the chairman of the Hong Kong journalists association.

And that organization has since put out a statement saying that it is deeply concerned that the police have repeatedly arrested senior members of

the media and searched the offices of news organizations containing large quantities of journalistic materials within a year. It's urging the Hong

Kong government to protect press freedoms.

Now, about six months ago, the biggest circulation tabloid newspaper in the city, Apple Daily, which was very critical of the Hong Kong authorities and

the central government in Beijing, it was raided, its assets were seized, its publisher and top editors in jail, and it was forced to close and shut

down its printing presses for good.

So this is part of a broader trend we're seeing when it comes to press freedom. The Hong Kong police insist that, hey, they're protecting national

security. They see a threat here, but listen to the rhetoric coming from the number two official in the Hong Kong government.


JOHN LEE, HONG KONG CHIEF SECRETARY: Anybody who attempts to make use of media work as a tool to pursue their political purpose or other interests,

contravenes the law, particularly offenses that endanger national security, they are the evil enemies that damage press freedom.



WATSON: So, you know, he's talking about, in terms of evil here, in regards to suspects who haven't gotten due process yet, have not seen a court yet.

And that is the posture of the Hong Kong government right now when it comes to journalists and also lecturing of people - journalists at press

conferences are asking, hey, how do we know if we break the law here?

And one of the advices is stay away from people like this who are at places like Apple Daily and Stand News.

GIOKOS: Ivan Watson, thank you very much. Good to see you.

The presidents of two former soviet republics have been meeting today, making plans to strengthen ties in the New Year. Ahead, how those plans

could affect next month's high-level talks between Russia and the U.S.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is number one on Clarissa Ward's review of news stories of 2021. Find out what else is in the top ten.

And a fragile beauty that needs our protection, but how can it be done? Would you believe if I mentioned a cloud of mist? Details coming up.



And you're seeing live pictures from St. George's Cathedral in Capetown, South Africa, as the memorial service for Archbishop Desmond Tutu now has

begun. The official funeral will take place on the 1st of January, but what you're seeing here is the wishes - are the wishes of the arch, that's how

he was called in South Africa, the arch, a multi-faith ceremony that will take place from all religions that are present in South Africa.

And he picked his hymns. The arch wanted a very humble send-off. He also wanted the cheapest coffin, and a short while ago, the memorial service has

begun. And these are live pictures. We'll be checking in on this memorial service later on.

All right. So let's move on. And Russia and Belarus announced they will be staging joint military drills early next year. The decision was made during

a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarus Leader Alexander Lukashenko Wednesday. This comes as U.S. and Russian officials

are set to hold security talks on January 10th.

There are tensions over thousands of Russian troops massed at the Ukraine border, and now Moscow wants guarantees that NATO will not expand eastward

or allow Ukraine to join the alliance. For more on this, we've got Nic Robertson joining us from Moscow. Nic, when you hear news about plans

between Belarus and Russia happening probably around the same time when Russia is meeting with the U.S., what message is that sending ahead of this



NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's sending a message there's going to be no quick de-escalation from Russia's desires to have a

clear statement from NATO about its intentions or lack of them for Ukraine, or at least for Ukraine to become a member of NATO.

Look, so several months ago, September, there were the once-every-four-year big military exercises between Russia and Belarus and a few other nations

as well, 200,000 troops, the Zapad military exercises were underway.

There was a sort of concern about that as well because, you know, it depends where you have your military exercises or where Russia and Belarus

would have their military exercises in Belarus, close to the border with Ukraine or on the other side of Belarus, perhaps closer to some of the

Baltic states for where the perceived threat would be.

So you've already had this massive once-every-four-years military exercise, 200,000 troops, and now we heard President Lukashenko talking with

President Putin about this new exercise. And it all came up in the sort of context that was played out on television here.

So understand that the context of how this was played out is important because it was only a fraction of their meeting, but it came out this way,

President Lukashenko thanking President Putin for helping him with sanctions and COVID and helping out the economy, helping support the

country through this difficult time.

And he said that the debt - President Lukashenko said the debt would be repaid to Russia. And then President Lukashenko offered and why don't we

have these military exercises? And President Putin replied, yes, let's do that in the New Year, let's do that in February or March in the New Year.

So, you know, it's constructed in a way that Lukashenko is offering Putin replies. But I think the messaging here will be very clear that there will

be another very big potentially military exercise going on, potentially close to the border with Ukraine, as well, at the same time, as Russia

having troops close to another border with Ukraine.

And in the midst of that, as you say, these security talks between Russia, the United States, Russia, NATO, Russia and the OSCE. So the messaging from

Russia is going to be very clear and very military based around all of this.

GIOKOS: Absolutely. Nic Robertson, thank you so much for that insight.

You're watching "Connect The World." It's been a decade since the Palestinian leader held talks in Israel with a minister. We're live in

Jerusalem to find out details of today's meeting.

And turmoil at the European borders, a bloody conflict in Ethiopia. Plus, Chinese Leader Xi Jinping tightens his grip on power. These are some of the

top stories which shaped 2021. We will tell you what the others are. Stay with us.



GIOKOS: Welcome back. You are watching "Connect The World." I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi. Creating a political horizon, that was the goal of a

rare meeting of Israeli and Palestinian senior officials. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, traveled to Israeli territory to

meet with Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

The two discussed a package of confidence-building measures for the occupied West Bank. It was Mr. Abbas's first official visit to Israel in 12

years. For more let's bring in journalist Elliott Gotkine who is live for us in Tel-Aviv. Good to see you, Elliott. When we're talking about a

package of confidence-building measures, what do we mean by that?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Eleni, we mean a number of things. I suppose, first and foremost, the fact that they're actually

having conversations and talking is in, itself, a good thing in terms of building confidence.

Specifically, they talked about a number of issues, one of which is that it - Israel seems set to advance 100 million shekels, that's about $32

million, of - to the Palestinian Authority in lieu of taxes that Israel has collected on the Palestinian Authority's behalf.

Now, it's been holding on to that tax revenue because it says that the Palestinian authority uses it, in part, to pay stipends to the families of

people that have carried out attacks against Israelis, other measures, making it easier for thousands of Palestinians to gain access to Israel

from both the west bank and the Gaza Strip as well.

So those are a couple of things - the specifics that were going on in that meeting. And I suppose, you know, making these concessions is part of the

Israeli's priority, which is to, you know, ensure greater stability in the Palestinian territories and also to try to help de-escalate some of the

tensions that have been rising in the West Bank of late, both between - with attacks from Palestinians against Israelis and Israeli settlers

against Palestinians as well.

So those are a couple of things going on. Beyond that, of course, Israel wants to bolster the position of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority

President, to show that he's really still the only person that Israel or the Americans can do business with, and, in other words, not with Hamas.

And also, of course, we just saw Jake Sullivan, the U.S. National Security Advisor, in Israel last week. He met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

He met with Mahmoud Abbas to try to kind of shore up the situation around the Gaza Strip.

But I think that this would also be another way of showing that the Biden administration's additional engagement in the situation here between Israel

and the Palestinians is perhaps having an impact, and that, in itself, will be seen as a positive step in contrast to the situation under the Trump

administration. Eleni?

GIOKOS: Elliott, thank you very much. Good to see you.

Now, do you remember when 1,500 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel earlier this year? When the Myanmar junta seized power and unseated Aung

San Suu Kyi, it seems like a long time ago, but they are on the list of top ten international events of 2021 and we covered them all right here on

"Connect The World." Clarissa Ward reports.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As 2021 comes to a close, so does another tumultuous year. At number ten, the bombshell interview

that put the British royal family in an unwelcome spotlight.

MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: Concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born.


WARD: Prince Harry and his wife, Duchess of Sussex, opened up to Oprah in a two-hour TV special, speaking freely for the first time since walking away

from a life as working royals.

UNKNOWN MALE: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, opens up to Oprah about being singled out. She believes forced out of the royal family.

WARD: A month after the explosive broadcast, Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, died at the age of 99.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Tonight, a shocked and saddened nation remembers the legacy of an irreplaceable figure head.

WARD: Number nine.

UNKNOWN MALE: Hours after Haiti's president was assassinated, gunfire still crackled through Port-au-Prince.

WARD: The assassination of Jovenel Moise took place against a background of extreme violence in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

UNKNOWN MALE: There are at least 17 people detained at this point.

WARD: Number eight, the conflict in the Middle East came to a head once again this spring and turned into one of the worst rounds of violence

between the two sides in years.


UNKNOWN FEMALE: It's a pattern that shouldn't be familiar, yet already is. Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets streaking across the sky from Gaza.

UNKNOWN MALE: Airstrikes and rocket barrages, artillery and mortar fire.

Hundreds of people dead and more than 2,000 wounded.

WARD: The conflict lasted 11 days before Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas agreed to a cease-fire. Israeli airstrikes killed more than 250

Palestinians, including dozens of children. Palestinian militant fire from Gaza killed 13 Israelis, including children.

Number seven, Myanmar's military junta seized power in a coup, ousting de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

UNKNOWN MALE: Clarissa Ward and her team were the first western TV journalists allowed into the country since the coup.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: After days of pushing, we are allowed to visit a public space, an open market. As word of our presence spreads, we hear an

unmistakable sound. Banging pots and pans has become the signature sound of resistance.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: We want democracy. We don't want military coup.

WARD: Since the February coup, the military has killed more than 1,300 people and arrested more than 10,000, according to an advocacy group.

Number six, a powerful CNN investigation sheds light on a raging civil war.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: The Ethiopian government has waged war against Tigray's ousted regional leaders for the last five months with the help of

neighboring Eritrea.

WARD: CNN was one of the only western media outlets to travel to the country -

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Three bodies were found at the riverfront.

WARD: - to investigate reports of mass killings.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: One by one they enter the church, carrying in sacks all that's left of loved ones executed by Ethiopian soldiers. This is fresh

evidence of a January massacre.

WARD: In late April, a CNN team traveling through Tigray witnessed Eritrean soldiers, some disguising themselves in old Ethiopian military uniforms,

cutting off critical aid routes to starving communities.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: CNN. CNN. We're CNN, journalists.

WARD: Eritrea's government has denied any involvement in atrocities, and Ethiopia's government has pledged investigations into any wrongdoing. But

the bloody conflict rages on, spilling into other parts of the country, raising fears of an all-out war.

Number five, turmoil at European borders. Shocking images of thousands of migrants stranded on the Belarus/Poland border in freezing conditions,

desperate to make it into the European Union. The situation at times surging out of control.

UNKNOWN MALE: It's because Poland has sealed the border and now has 15,000 troops here to make sure that no one can pass, Jake.

WARD: European leaders have accused Belarus of manufacturing the crisis as retribution for sanctions over human rights abuses, a claim Belarus denies.

The year ends with tensions between Ukraine and Russia at their highest in years with a massive buildup of Russian forces along the Ukrainian border,

fueling fears over Moscow's intentions.

Number four, Chinese Leader Xi Jinping's steel grip on power tightened.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: David, how has President Xi been able to cement his hold on power for so long?

UNKNOWN MALE: It really sets him up as the undisputed supreme ruler for years to come.

WARD: And with this, an ever more assertive China. 2021 saw sophisticated propaganda campaigns to deflect criticism over allegations of human rights

abuses in Xinxiang, the arrest of pro-democracy activists and former lawmakers in Hong Kong, as well as aggressive military maneuvers aimed at


UNKNOWN MALE: This island is a potential flashpoint for what their president calls a fight between authoritarian China and democratic Taiwan

allied with the United States.

WARD: Number three.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Protest rallies across Russia today in support of detained Kremlin opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

WARD: Russia's best known opposition politician Alexei Navalny sent to a penal colony. He dared to return home five months after a near fatal nerve

agent attack.

UNKNOWN MALE: Shortly before his detention, Navalny saying he's not scared.


WARD: Number two, the new year brought with it great hopes for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic with the ushering in of widespread vaccinations. But

the virus continued to mutate, killing millions of people around the world.


The uneven vaccine rollout hasn't kept up with the speed of the spreading virus, especially in poorer countries.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: In Delhi now, you're never far from heartbreak. Almost everyone in the city has been visited by grief.

WARD: Despite high vaccination rates, Europe became the epicenter of the pandemic once again this winter, the fourth wave of COVID-19 is now

sweeping across the continent with lockdowns reinstated in some countries.

Across Europe protests against mandates and health passes have drawn tens of thousands of people. In November, South African scientists discovered

the new Omicron variant. It has since spread around the globe.

Number one, the last U.S. military planes left Afghanistan, marking the end of its longest war.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: They took this city of 6 million people in a matter of hours, barely firing a shot. This is a sight I honestly thought I would

never see, scores of Taliban fighters and just behind us, the U.S. Embassy compound.

WARD: Thousands scrambling to leave before the U.S. military exit.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: So we're saying, they all worked at American camps as translators for the Americans and they can't get into that airport.

WARD: A terrorist attack at the Kabul airport killed 13 U.S. service members and more than 170 afghans during the evacuation.

And there's no question everybody here is doing their best, but it's not clear if it is fast enough.

The collapse of Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government was, perhaps, the most damaging setback. It was a blow to U.S. credibility and to democratic

advances, especially on women's rights and media freedoms which were stifled overnight.

GIOKOS: Let's get you up to speed on some other stories that are on our radar right now. Jury deliberations continue this hour in New York in the

sex trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell. The judge is concerned the Omicron variant could cause a mistrial if people start going into

quarantine. She's now warning if jurors don't reach a verdict today, they'll need to clear their schedules to deliberate over the holiday


In Bolivia, dozens of people stranded by massive flooding have been airlifted to safety. At least 13 people have died in the floods, and the

damage to homes and agriculture is extensive. A defense official says the situation remains critical with rivers continuing to break their banks.

And California's Sierra Nevada Mountains are seeing record snowfall for December, over 5 meters, but it's not enough to snap the region out of an

extreme drought. The snow pack in the Sierras account for nearly a third of California's fresh water supply.

And still to come, the Taliban made many promises to women but haven't kept a single one. Instead, they are imposing one more restriction. We'll tell

you what it is right after this.

And these Afghans fled their country hoping for a new life, but several months later they're stuck in limbo. We find out why.



GIOKOS: Welcome back. And a new law in Afghanistan strikes another blow to women's rights in the Taliban-controlled nation. Some women are - or women

are no longer allowed to travel alone for long distance road trips. The Taliban says it's for their own protection. Since the Taliban took control

in August, women's rights have been eroding, effecting women attending school, working, and now traveling.

We have Arwa Damon standing by. She's following developments for us from Istanbul. Arwa, it is shocking. We know. We heard those empty promises when

they first came into power, and they have not kept any one of those commitments to ensure that women's rights, yet we don't see steps back -

steps that are going to erode women's rights, and here we are today, more rules, more regulations.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And all of this, Eleni, is happening under the auspices of trying to protect women, at least that is

what the Taliban says that they are doing, claiming that, for example, the roads are not necessarily safe enough for women to be traveling on their


But also when this decree came out forbidding women from solo travel, there were also a number of other things that were mentioned in it, such as

drivers should not be playing music, drivers should not be picking up women who do not have their hair properly covered, and all of this is really par

for the course when it comes to how the Taliban has actually been governing Afghanistan.

You'll remember that a while back, they actually effectively eliminated Afghanistan's Ministry of Women's Affairs, and instead in the building

where it once used to exist there is now what is known as the Ministry of Vice and Virtue, and this is a ministry that was very much in existence

under the Taliban 20 years ago.

It was the ministry that was responsible for carrying out the very harsh rules and regulations that the Taliban used to impose upon the population,

especially upon the female population. And then just a few days ago, we also had the Taliban dissolving the electoral commission and also the

Ministries of Peace and of Parliament, saying that now underneath the Taliban government those institutions were no longer needed.

And what is quite terrifying for so many Afghans is this continuous erosion of their basic freedoms and of this basic concept of democracy that was

just beginning to take hold to a certain degree within Afghanistan, albeit a very faulty hold, it must be said.

But when it specifically comes to women and children, we have also seen the Taliban repeatedly saying that in order to keep women safe and, you know,

school girls safe that they can't be going to school, that universities have to be segregated, that a lot of them are unable and should not be

going back to work because the situation is still so tenuous.

We are seeing a handful of small protests taking place, and those brave women who are daring to take to the streets most certainly should be

commended by all of us. But as one of them was saying, specifically when it comes to this new law about solo travel over longer distances, one very

rightly pointed out, well, what if I'm pregnant, for example, and my husband or a male relative isn't around to take me to the hospital, what am

I supposed to do?

Women are increasingly having more and more of their basic of basic freedoms stolen from them, and many will flat out tell you what all this

has done has also stolen away their happiness.

GIOKOS: Arwa Damon, thank you very much for that insight.

Months after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, thousands of afghan evacuees abroad at - and at the U.S. bases are still waiting to be

resettled. The Department of Homeland Security says about 83,000 Afghan nationals, American citizens and lawful permanent residents have arrived in

the U.S. so far, but nearly 3,000 people are having to deal with longer processing times, missing paperwork and a measles outbreak are just some of

the reasons why.


CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is in Washington to get answers from U.S. officials. What are you hearing in terms of trying to expedite these - you

know, the paperwork? And do you think they'll be able to speed this up to gain momentum?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, officials say that they are working around the clock to resettle Afghans who evacuated

earlier this year, and the State Department says that they are trying to facilitate travel for those without documentation.

And that is very common for many who fled with little to no belongings, including crucial paperwork that is needed at times for processing and for

vetting. Now, we spoke to an Afghan who was in that waiting period. They are in a transit country, it's a man and his family, waiting to come to the

United States, and it's been now three months.

He says that he went to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul before the Taliban took over and he turned in his passport but he never got it back. And so he is

missing, again, one of those key pieces of information. And he doesn't have many answers as to why there is a delay.

And again, that is one of nearly 3,000 people who are waiting in these so- called transit countries or lily pad locations before coming to the United States. Now, this is a pressing challenge for the Biden administration, not

only abroad but also in the United States. There are still tens of thousands of Afghans who are at domestic military bases waiting to be

resettled into their new communities.

Now, the administration has already resettled 48,000 into communities across the United States, but many more are waiting. And one of the

challenges here in the United States has been housing. It has been difficult to find housing options for Afghan given - Afghans given the

crunch here in the United States.

So that is something that the administration is still trying to work through, through public and private sector. And they say that they hope

that by mid-February, they can clear out those domestic bases, but clearly a long road ahead as they both try to tackle challenges abroad and getting

those Afghans to the United States and trying to resettle those who are already here.

GIOKOS: All right. Priscilla, thank you very much.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef is in trouble, but a group of scientists found that manufacturing mist above the reef may give it a second chance.

Find out how it works next.


GIOKOS: Scientists in Australia are spraying mists above the water to protect what's below the water. It's a process that's called cloud

brightening, using the mist to block the harmful sunlight that's threatening the Great Barrier Reef. Lynda Kinkade explains how it works.

LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: About 100 kilometers off the coast of Australia, right above the Great Barrier Reef, researchers are

spraying fine mists of sea water into the air. They're using a process called cloud brightening to protect endangered reefs from rising

temperatures and sunlight that causes irreversible coral bleaching.

The premise of the project is simple, the water droplets from the mist evaporate, leaving tiny salt crystals that drift up towards the sky. Water

vapor condenses around those crystals, brightening existing clouds, which block the damaging solar energy from reaching the reef.


The project, initiated last year, had its second trial in March at the end of summer in the southern hemisphere.

DANIEL HARRISON, CLOUD BRIGHTENING PROJECT LEADER: If we do it over an extended period of time for a few weeks to a couple of months when the

corals are experiencing a marine heat wave, we can actually start to lower the water temperature over the reef.

And the second way that we can help the coral is it's actually the light in the presence of the hot water that causes the coral to bleach. So by

reducing just a small amount of light, about 6% or so of the average light over the summer, we can reduce about 50% to 60% of the bleaching stress on

the corals.

KINKADE: The research team used a boat floating just above the coral reefs. Scientists used sensors attached to drones to monitor the nano droplets as

they drift to the sky. The researchers found that the results exceeded their expectations, with far more droplets making it into the clouds than

their initial estimation.

Despite the promising results, some environmental groups fear the project may detract from global efforts to limit green house emissions. But

Harrison says his focus is on the reefs, not global geo engineering, and tackling climate change is key.

HARRISON: If we - if we don't have strong action on climate change, then cloud brightening can only help for a little while. Eventually the effect

that you can get from the clouds, it's limited and it just becomes overwhelmed by climate change after a couple of decades.

KINKADE: Lynda Kinkade, CNN.

GIOKOS: And before we go, the New Year is around the corner and the future is in sight. But in Richmond, Virginia, the past is being dug up,

literally. So yesterday, we told you about a time capsule found there under the statue of a rebel general from America's Civil War. Well now, state

officials are delicately cataloging and preserving its contents.

Some of the artifacts uncovered include a masonic symbol, coins, a magazine clipping about President Abraham Lincoln's funeral and a bible. Workers

removed the statue in September following racial justice protests, and, by the way, it was the only story my mother was interested in yesterday after

watching our show. So mama, that was for you.

All right, thank you so very much for watching. "ONE WORLD" with Hala Gorani is up next. For me, Eleni Giokos, I'll see you tomorrow. Take care.