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Mourners Pay Respects to Anti-Apartheid Hero; W.H.O. Chief Warns of a "Tsunami" of Cases; Top 10 Health Stories in 2021; Dubai Gears up for New Year's Eve Celebrations; The Biggest Royal Moments; Many Dragonflies at risk of Extinction as Wetlands Disappear. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 30, 2021 - 11:00   ET




ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, CONNECT THE WORLD: I am Eleni Giokos. Hello and welcome to "Connect the World". At this hour the body of

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is lying in state at his former church, St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town, where South Africans have been paying

their last respects to the anti-apartheid leader.

His caskets arrived at the Cathedral Thursday morning and will remain there until his funeral on New Year's Day. The Nobel laureate is being honored by

a week of memorials and tributes after he spent decades fighting apartheid.

The world lost the Human Rights Campaign on Sunday when he died at the age of 90. We've got CNN's David McKenzie in Cape Town for us live.

David, watching the start of the memorial services, which began yesterday and you saw interfaith leaders joining in, you know, this was what Desmond

Tutu stood for, it was all about getting people together from all walks of life. Give us a sense of what we can expect in the next few days.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's start, Eleni. He was a deeply religious man, but never dogmatic and that was illustrated in that

memorial from people from all faiths paying tribute to this great icon of the anti-apartheid struggle, and the icon of reconciliation and forgiveness

here in South Africa all day today.

And on Friday, he will be lying in state with ordinary South Africans being able to pay their respects to this great man. It was striking when our team

was there, just a few blocks from where I'm standing.

So many of the people had a personal connection to the man, he was obviously world famous and Nobel Peace laureate, and instantly recognizable

in large parts of the world, and certainly here in South Africa.

But people spoke about having met him sharing a private moment with him. One woman saying he would walk towards the cathedral for his sermons and

point out the letter on the street.

There was no issue too big and no issue too small that is willing to tackle. And it was all in his life, his lifetime struggled to make this

country a better place both during the dark days of apartheid.

We often had sermons in St. George's cathedral, where he would preach against the apartheid state. And just out on the streets, saying what the

way that people should live their lives as a religious man. Here are some voices from outside the cathedral.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is going to be missed a lot because even recently, he was speaking out, particularly against the former president, you know, how

he was managing the country and the issues of corruption and so on. And he was quite outspoken about such issues. He was the moral compass of the

country, if you like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can pass away, but his memory will live beyond this moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just loved that this ability to celebrate the fact that we are all God's children. And, and that means that no one's more

important. So we're not afraid of anyone. And we're not going to pander to anyone. But we also go to notice everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His humor is going to be missed his passion for people. He was just an otter, not people's person. And that is what I think South

Africa will surely miss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He had a presence about himself. And it's that presence that made people really feel, you know, important and, and loved.


MCKENZIE: And it was that sense of humor that really struck so many people, including myself that met the great man always ready to share a joke to

lighten the mood, even when the circumstances were very heavy indeed. Eleni?

GIOKOS: Absolutely. It was it was that laugh, right. And he always was able to disarm people. What really struck me is that so many people, when I see

social media shared photographs and moments that they shared with him; he was truly a people's person.

But you know, I think you mentioned this before is that he was always crossing the line and kind of always commenting on the political landscape

not only in South Africa, but also where he saw atrocities occurring where he felt that people needed to pay attention as well. David, give me a sense

of some of the strong comments he's been made - he made before he retired.


MCKENZIE: Well, for many years after the end of apartheid, he was still there Eleni as a guiding voice for South Africa, whether the government

wanted it or not. And it was famously the moment where he was not invited to speak at Nelson Mandela's funeral.

Even though he was the man that introduced Mandela to the world at the Grand Parade close to where I'm standing right after he left prison in the

early 90s, he was snubbed in many ways from this celebration of Nelson Mandela because of the role of the ruling ANC and his criticism of that


I think since Cyril Ramaphosa, the President has come into power, there has been more of a willingness to publicly show respect and gratitude for the

man who did so much, who is always seen as a religious man, but was obviously deeply involved in politics, even if it was unpopular amongst

some people, including his support for the Dalai Lama.

He is his strong support for the Palestinian cause over the years of his public service. And his strong support as well for the LGBT community,

which he did, even when some people criticized him for what they said was him stepping outside of his balance. He was always willing to speak up for

what he believed was right, Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes, David an irreplaceable man, thank you very much for joining us and giving us that update. Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to

talk with U.S. President Joe Biden by phone later on Thursday.

This comes one day after Mr. Putin met with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko and agreed to hold joint Military exercises inside Belarus. The

U.S. and its NATO allies fear Moscow is preparing to invade Ukraine.

Again, an accusation Russia denies joining us live to talk more about this. We've got White House Correspondent John Harwood, and International

Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson live in Moscow. Nic, I'd like to start with you.

And interesting that it is the Russians that reached out to have this conversation and what seems almost in preparation for the wider meeting in

early January. What did I want to achieve with this foreign phone call?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, it's that meeting in January where the real issues will get sort of begin to be hammered out,

if you will. What the Russians have been really expert at the moment is creating the conditions and therefore the incentive to get the United

States and NATOs attention and to get them into talks quickly.

And you know, President Putin wanted to have a conversation with President Biden back at the beginning of the month, they had a conversation.

President Putin said he'd get back to President Biden with a list of what they wanted.

And you know, within days that list came out. And it was pretty unpalatable to President Biden and many European leaders, NATO, because it demands that

NATO doesn't take Ukraine as a member, it demands that NATO doesn't put its troops and Military hardware inside of Ukraine.

It demands that NATO stop as Russia sees it, eastward expansion. So Russia created the conditions, if you will, of genuine concern that it might

invade Ukraine created the impetus and momentum to have the dialogue.

And this seems to be another step in that dialogue. So from the Russian perspective, they've taken these earlier steps. Now let's have this phone

call with President Putin and President Biden because the Kremlin says its complicated issues extremely complicated.

You know, we don't know what the nature of that conversation is going to be. But it's both leaders are going to try to shape each other's

expectations of what to expect. And from a U.S. perspective at the moment, there is a real feeling Russia's not making the right steps to reduce


GIOKOS: Yes, absolutely. OK. So let's bring in John here. Do you think that the conversation that Putin had with Lukashenko is going to have any

bearing on the conversation today? And we know that the U.S. has said that they want meaningful diplomacy with Russia, but if needs be, they will

respond with harsh, coordinated sanctions if required?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, both sides are positioning in advance of this call Putin talks to Lukashenko. The

Secretary of State Blinken yesterday talked to President Zelensky of Ukraine as President Biden has previously. So the expectations are not high

publicly, at least in terms from the U.S. side.

They did not say on a background call yesterday that they interpreted. Vladimir Putin reaching out for this call as a sign that he wanted to

negotiate. They're saying anytime he asked for a call we say yes, anytime we ask for a call they say yes.


HARWOOD: They really don't know, as Russia has amassed these 100,000 troops, whether they truly intend to invade or they're trying to get

something for it. And in terms of this phone call, does Vladimir Putin want to use the call as an excuse to say, well, the U.S. is not going to meet my

demands to promise that Ukraine will not join NATO.

Therefore, we're going to act or does he genuinely want to pursue a diplomatic off ramp, which is what President Biden has signaled backed up

by the promise of severe sanctions, unplugging Russia from the international financial system, perhaps sanctions on oligarchs and Putin

himself if they do invade.

But there are possibilities for reducing tensions that would involve not promising that Ukraine isn't going to join NATO, but perhaps signaling that

that's a long way off.

There's some or that there's some other interim way of guaranteeing neutrality and reassuring the Russians that NATO and the United States are

not trying to aggress onto Russia's sovereignty.

So we do know that Vladimir Putin has a demonstrated record of aggression. He invaded Georgia when George W. Bush was President; annex Crimea when

Barack Obama was president. Question now is does he want to do it again?

And we don't know the answer. We'll find something some more information about that in this phone call. And also in the negotiations that will occur

in Geneva next week.

GIOKOS: --questions there, John Howard, thank you very much. And Nic Robertson in Moscow, much appreciate it. England's health leaders say this

means war their enemy, the rising number of COVID cases, we'll look at their efforts to stop the spread.

Of course COVID-19 dominated headlines all year long, but it wasn't the only major medical news. We'll have our top health stories for 2021 and

doctors' fear India could be in for another massive COVID surge. But Omicron is only a part of that reason for that, we'll explain.


GIOKOS: With 2021 coming to a close we are seeing the Coronavirus Pandemic explode again right around the globe. According to Johns Hopkins

University, the world is averaging an all-time high of more than a million new infections a day and experts are warning things will only get worse.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: This virus will continue to evolve and threaten our health system if we

don't improve the collective response. Right now Delta and Omicron are twin threats. I'm highly concerned that Omicron being more transmissible

circulating at the same time as delta is leading to a tsunami of cases.


GIOKOS: Several countries across Europe are reporting a massive surge of COVID infections never seen during the pandemic. The first time spent

surpassed 100,000 COVID-19 cases in its single day despite the rise in numbers.

The Spanish government has decided to reduce the quarantine period for those who test positive from 10 to seven days.


GIOKOS: Meanwhile, France reported 208,000 cases in just 24 hours. That's the highest number of daily infections for any country in Europe since the

pandemic began. More records falling to in the UK is set to yet another new daily high on Wednesday with 183,000 COVID infections.

Hospitalizations are also rising sharply. The National Health Service is setting up temporary structures outside some hospitals called surge hubs to

handle the wave of Omicron admissions. The NHS England Medical Doctor says the health service is now on a war footing.

Let's talk about this war footing with Salma Abdelaziz who joins us from London. Salma, akin to a war you've got these search hubs that are ready to

take in more admissions, when you see a number like 183,000 new cases in a single day. How is that translating firstly in terms of admissions, and

then secondly, in terms of severe illness?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, so far Eleni, we are not seeing the levels of hospitalization and the death rates that you would expect with a

variant that has this infection rate as we have seen in previous waves.

It's simply because the Omicron Variant appears from what researchers have found and anecdotally to be milder than previous variants. Still, these

mind boggling numbers of course, have health officials worry. And as you know, Eleni, we always have fear of the unknown.

And that's exactly what the NHS chief said just today. We can't waste time waiting to find out how many people are going to wind up in hospital. We

need to make preparations now. So what's the National Health Service doing?

Well, they're setting up surge hubs and I know we have video of that to show you eight hospitals around England are going to have temporary

structures set up each of those structures could serve up to 100 additional COVID patients.

You also have plans drawn up now for super search beds. That's an additional 4000 beds if the NHS needs it. Quite simply health officials are

worried they are saying they are preparing for a potential wave of Omicron patients and indeed we have seen an increase in hospitalizations in


The latest government figures showed an increase of about 65 percent. So we now have more than 10,000 patients with COVID-19 in hospitals around

England. The last time we had a number that highlight it was during March of this year, it was a very deadly surge.

It was a time of restrictions and lockdown. That's the fear here. And of course, when you talk about these numbers, translating from infection rates

and into hospitalizations, there is always a lag time.

You don't know when we have that 180,000 additional cases, how many of them and how long will it take for them to wind up in hospital. So that's the

fear right now for health officials really trying to set up a structure to help the healthcare system handle that potential wave of Omicron patients

at the same time, you're seeing this the other side of this, which is that countries have to keep running right.

The trains have to keep running on time. You can't have tens of thousands of people every day calling out sick and still have essential servicing

services functioning. That's why some countries are looking at cutting down that isolation period.

I know Spain has taken steps to do this. So you have two sides of a coin. On one side, you have the isolation periods being cut down. On the other

end you have health officials concerned about the health care system. Eleni?

GIOKOS: Alright. Selma, thank you very much for that update, much appreciate it. Now the Coronavirus pandemic dominated health headlines for

the entire year but that wasn't the only thing we looked at in 2021. CNN's Sanjay Gupta takes a look back at the top 10 health stories of the past



DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: While the Coronavirus pandemic did demand most of our attention, another epidemic continued to


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alright American drug epidemic now deadlier than it has ever been.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Record death toll.

DR. GUPTA: For the first time on record more than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses in a 12 month period between May 2020 and April 2021, much

of it from illicit Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.

Now President Biden's new drugs are Dr. Rahul Gupta, no relation to me, told me that we need to more strongly employee harm reduction, making drug

use safer with things like Naloxone, clean syringes and testing drugs for the presence of Fentanyl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People will say look, you're enabling drug use. That's the provocation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As evidence based physician that has spent his career dealing with science and moving data around, we just do not have that


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight for the first time in almost 20 years as a new drug just approved to treat people in the early phases of Alzheimer's



DR. GUPTA: In June the U.S. Food and Drug Administration green lit Aduhelm, the first new drug approved to treat Alzheimer's disease since 2003. Now

according to the FDA, the drug can reduce Alzheimer's signature tangles and plaques of amyloid proteins that blocked the neural pathways and people

with mild disease.

But the approval was controversial, with many researchers, including the FDA's own independent advisory committee, saying the evidence simply wasn't

there to show it slows down cognitive decline.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Effectiveness is something that we don't fully understand just yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a growing concern about a surge of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instead of a metal count, we're already tracking the COVID count.

DR. GUPTA: It had already been postponed the previous year. But this summer, the Tokyo Olympic Games took place in the midst of the pandemic.

Strict testing and masking protocols were put into place and attempts were made to keep athletes in a bubble with very limited interaction with anyone

outside. I reported firsthand about how the Olympics pandemic playbook was being put to the test.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a criterion by which you would start to become concerned?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mostly what we look at is changes in pattern, so safely started to see infection and people who weren't part of a closed contact

group. And we started to see a rising number of cases, if we start to see the cases doubling more rapidly than we saw.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announcing sweeping changes to its vaccine rollout to get more people


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They're now saying that the vaccine should be made available to anyone over age 65.

DR. GUPTA: The first COVID shots when to the most vulnerable nursing home residents, frontline health care workers, and then eligibility was expanded

to those with underlying conditions and those 65 and older.

By April, everyone 16 years and older in the United States was eligible for a shot. In May 12 to 15 year olds were authorized for Pfizer shots, and in

August, Pfizer's vaccine became the first fully FDA approved COVID vaccine in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Biden White House calling out the misinformation machine accusing Facebook of killing people by letting anti vaccine lies

linger on the platform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their outrageous offensive posts that compare vaccines to the Holocaust and Nazi Germany.

DR. GUPTA: It has become so significant an issue that the Surgeon General called it a serious threat to public health.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: We are still seeing misinformation spread like wildfire on social media sites in particular.

DR. GUPTA: What's resulted is a persistent pandemic, with more than 100,000 new infections daily, and tens of thousands of COVID patients in the

hospital, most of them unvaccinated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In some of these heavily red districts that voted overwhelmingly for the former President Donald Trump, the vaccines remain

unpopular, not just hesitancy here, there are people that truly believe the vaccine is a big problem.

DR. GUPTA: With more than one in 10 Americans saying they have no plans on getting a shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We live in a free country and the right to make our own healthcare decisions is the core of it.

DR. GUPTA: School districts, businesses, states, even the federal government are starting to implement vaccine mandates in an effort to

return to normal.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: This is not about freedom, or personal choice. It's about protecting yourself and those around you.

DR. GUPTA: It is one of the clearest examples of public health colliding with politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Health officials in China are trying to identify mysterious strain of pneumonia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And mysterious new cluster of pneumonia cases.

DR. GUPTA: When we first learned this virus nearly two years ago, we had no idea that destruction it would leave in its wake. By September, we lost

more lives to COVID than the estimated 675,000 people who perished in the 1918 flu pandemic.

Now granted the population the United States was 1/3 of what it is now, but there were no vaccines available 100 years ago either. It is difficult to

fathom that we have now lost more than 800,000 lives to the Coronavirus sadly, much of it preventable as Dr. Deborah Birx told me.

DR DEBORAH BIRX, CNN MEDICAL EXPERT: There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original search, all of the rest of them in my mind could

have been mitigated or decreased substantially.

DR. GUPTA: After most kids spent the first year of the pandemic online, getting kids back into the classroom this year was a priority for everyone,

but how to do it? That was up for debate. Vaccination requirements, masks mandate, testing, quarantines, it all erupted into clashes of local school

board meetings across the country.

While children are less likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 the number of infections among children has been steadily rising since the summer. In

October, the FDA authorized a smaller dose of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages five through 11. That group does remain the least vaccinated.


DR. GUPTA: Vaccination is an important tool to controlling this pandemic. But we are still learning just how long that protection can last. Studies

are finding that antibody levels can start to fall after a few months, making people more susceptible to infection, while protection against

severe disease does remain high.

The CDC has now expanded the recommendation for all adults over a team to get a booster shot six months after the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and two

months after the Johnson & Johnson one.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF BIDEN MEDICAL ADVISER: We know they're safe and we know they're highly effective in bringing very, very high up the

optimization of your protection.

DR. GUPTA: Over the last two years, there have been thousands of variants with a handful of them becoming variants of concern, still, vaccination,

masking, testing can help limit the spread of the virus. This past spring, we saw the rise of delta, a variant two to three times as infectious as the

original Coronavirus.

It overwhelmed India, and then Europe and the summer it swept through the southern United States where vaccination rates are among the lowest in the

country. And now Omicron cases are growing all over the world.

DR. FAUCI: This is really something to be reckoned with. It is really rapidly spreading literally throughout the world and certainly in our own


DR. GUPTA: As the weather gets cooler, and we move indoors remember to get your shots to mask up despite all the fear, we do have the tools to stay

healthy and protected.


GIOKOS: And coming up fires and floods wards full of COVID patients. It hasn't been the easiest year for Brazil. We will take a look at what

happened in our 2021 review. And it's not long now until those famous fireworks light up the skies of Dubai. But there are some new rules to keep

us all safe this year.


GIOKOS: Welcome back. You're watching "Connect the World". I am Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi. For a second day in a row India is seeing an enormous

increase in new COVID cases. It reported more than 13,000 new infections on Thursday.

And more than 40 percent jump over the day before. But Indian political parties are in a full campaign mode holding big rallies ahead of

legislative elections in five states early next year. As Ivan Watson reports, there's a concern those rallies could make the COVID situation a

whole lot worse.



IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): India's Prime Minister on the campaign trail addressing packed crowds in Uttar Pradesh, a key political

battleground. With elections due to start here early next year, Narendra Modi's made seven trips to India's most populous state in December alone.

At these rallies most including the nation's leader are not wearing masks and little mention from Modi's ruling BJP of the COVID 19 pandemic.

GILLES VERNIERS, POLITICAL ANALYST: And it seems unlikely that the BJP would want to take the risk to conduct the election in the aftermath of

another wave. On the other hand, they are reckless enough to push for holding an election during a COVID wave.

WATSON (voice over): But there are fears of a repeat of recent tragic history. This was the scene in New Delhi in the spring of 2021.

Crematoriums working overtime death tolls from COVID skyrocketing hospital beds and oxygen in short supply.

With the healthcare system overwhelmed critics accused Modi of putting politics before public health after encouraging election rallies and large

religious gatherings, which would later be declared super spreader events by some experts. Fast forward to today.

NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER: Omicron is a concern, please don't panic. But be careful and stay alert. Use mask as much as possible.

WATSON (voice over): Some Indian States have imposed measures to curb the spread of the new Omicron variant. But despite urging caution, the national

government has yet to announce any restrictions on large public gatherings.

As cases rise, only 41 percent of India's population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As the nation's political parties come out to campaign,

public health officials are sounding the alarm.

V.K. PAUL, INDIAN COVID TASK FORCE HEAD: If India observes the same pattern as UK and if we compare the population of both countries, 80,000 daily

cases in UK would mean around 1.4 million daily COVID cases in India.

WATSON (voice over): They worry the election cycle could fuel a fresh wave of new infections.

DR. DHIREN GUPTA, SIR GANGA RAM HOSPITAL: People might not get tested if the symptoms of this variant aren't visible. So there are more chances of

the election rallies becoming super spreader events. But there is no doubt that we should postpone these rallies for at least two months. Prevention

is the best cure for India.

WATSON (voice over): In the spring of 2021, India's healthcare system buckled under the pressure of its second Coronavirus wave, which peaked at

some 400,000 recorded daily cases. Since then, the government has increased the number of ICU beds and bolstered oxygen supplies.

But it's still an open question how hospitals will cope if there's a new wave of Omicron infections. For now Prime Minister Modi's message is clear

when it comes to casting ballot. The show must go on. Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


GIOKOS: And CNN has reached out to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the BJP regarding the decision to allow large political events to continue.

We've not received a response.

India's political parties have expressed that election should take place as scheduled with more polling booths and more distancing while abiding by

current COVID protocol states have in place.

The Election Commission said today that the state health officials have told it enough people have been vaccinated and more vaccinated each day. It

says it will issue guidelines on rallies once formal elections dates are announced.

So COVID cases are rising here in the UAE as well. The government reported more than 2000 new COVID infections on Wednesday. That's the highest daily

number since June, but that won't stop Dubai from ringing in 2022. Tourism is booming and the emirate is moving full steam ahead with its New Year's

Eve celebrations.


GIOKOS (voice over): From bustling restaurants, to packed beaches.

KENNETH, SWISS TOURIST: It looks like it's not even in the pandemic although everyone is wearing a mask, but I feel like it's really like we

are getting back to normal.

GIOKOS (voice over): While the Omicron variant is shutting down countries around the world record numbers of tourists and visitors are flocking to

Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. At the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, teams prepare for the - the top fireworks and laser lightshow.

Dubai does nothing small.


GIOKOS (voice over): This year, New Year's Eve revelers will need to register via an app to gain access to view the show downtown Dubai. Spurred

by one of the world's highest vaccination rates and strict government mandates, Dubai has become a tourist go to hotspots.

SOFIA, UKRAINIAN TOURIST: We are here in the pandemic. It's a lot of people here we know. But we wear masks and do we have a COVID passport and all of


GIOKOS (voice over): According to the Dubai Department of Tourism, international visitors reached over 1 million in October. Hotels in Dubai

recorded 16.8 percent surge in occupancy in the first 10 months of 2021. The UAE has reported that 99 percent of all those eligible for vaccines,

anyone over 12 has received at least one dose.

SARAH, JORDANIAN TOURIST: I am really surprised because I've caught a lot of people here. So I'm very bit free to test positive here. But let's hope


GIOKOS (voice over): Hosting the World Expo has also been a drawl to Dubai this year. Visits crossed the 6.3 million mark as of mid-December. But as

the party continues in Dubai with the world hunkering down this luxury travel destination will keep pushing forward. And as they say the show must

go on.


GIOKOS: Alright, let's get you up to speed on some other stories that are on our radar right now. South Korea's former president will no longer have

to serve the rest of her prison sentence. Park Geun-Hye received a special presidential pardon over ill health.

She has served nearly five years of a 22 year sentence for corruption. The Yonhap News Agency says Park is in a Seoul hospital and is expected to

remain there until February. A jury in New York has convicted Ghislaine Maxwell of helping the late convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein sexually

abused teenage girls.

Maxwell now faces up to 65 years in prison for crimes including sex trafficking of a minor. The conviction was based on the testimony of four

of Epstein's victims. Jordanian lawmakers took trading political blows to a whole new level getting to a fistfight on the parliament floor.

The Brawl broke out during a debate over constitutional reforms Tuesday that would give more rights to women. One conservative lawmaker said the

proposed changes go against morality and motherhood.

First, he also did the talking in Kenya's parliament where one lawmaker suffered an eye injury during this ball on Wednesday. He was attacked by

the minority leader that was later suspended for five days, according to state media.

Ironically, it happened while they were voting on a law that regulates political parties conduct. 2021 has been a year that many Brazilians would

have liked to skip. The pandemic took a heavy toll on the nation, which also fires devastated parts of the Amazon.

And many critics are blaming President Jair Bolsonaro for mismanaging the situation. CNN's Isa Soares has the details.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Little Sarah Gois was born this January in Brazil in the midst of a ravaging pandemic. That even an

abundance of love wasn't enough to stop her daughter from contracting COVID-19. And despite all her please, Little Sarah died. She was only five

months old.

SAMEQUE GOIS, LOST CHILD TO COVID-19: When she died, when they gave us the news, I was able to hold her; I was able to feel her one last time.

SOARES (voice over): Loss and grief like the one experienced by Sameque Gois became an all too common sight this year across Brazil more so than

many other countries.

DR. ANA LUIZA BIERRENBACK, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Kids have been dying more in Brazil since the original variants were here.

SOARES (voice over): One research group says misconceptions about COVID impact on children, as well as inequality in access to health care made

Brazil a COVID hotspot for the young. But other age groups suffered as well. Almost two years since Marcio lost his son to the virus. The pain

continues to bring him to his knees.

MARCIO ANTONIO DO NASCIMENTO SILVA, LOST SON TO COVID-19: When I tell my son's story, when I share my pain which is so tough, I do it to save lives.

SOARES (voice over): His 25 year old son - one in a sea of more than 600,000 lives lost in Brazil. His indignation and anger became harrowing

testimony, one of many witnesses in forming a parliamentary report on how Brazilian government handled the pandemic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we deserve an apology.

SOARES (voice over): The parliamentary committee blamed President Jair Bolsonaro directly for Brazil's massive death toll and recommended he be

charged with crimes against humanity as well as other charges for reckless leadership.

Bolsonaro dismiss the parliamentary report as politically motivated and having no credibility. Throughout the pandemic the Brazilian President

continue to promote alternative treatments, refusing the vaccine and forging ahead.

JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT: we have to face our problems enough fussing and whining. How much longer will the crying go on?

SOARES (voice over): Bolsonaro was also criticized for his alleged attacks on the Amazon rainforest. CNN flew over some of this year's hardest hit

areas to see the devastation for ourselves. From above our cameras capture the damage of these increasing fires.

The demarcated lines a sign of human destruction at work as the forest is cleared for agriculture or mining. There have been nearly 13,000 fires in

the same area, roughly a 50 percent increase from 2020 to 2021. Now compare these images with these of a five year period.

ROMULO BATISTA, GREENPEACE: We are living an extreme year in Brazil. Record floods in the north and the biggest rain deficit in the south, southeast

and Midwest of Brazil. Scientists say that this may already be the effect of deforestation in the Amazon.

SOARES (voice over): Romulo Batista is a spokesman for Greenpeace Brazil. He and other activists say the blame falls squarely on Bolsonaro. Back in

Brasilia, the President's policy also saw him lose some of the key populist support that got him elected.

And - thought the Right Wing leader would be Brazil savior. But two and a half years after Bolsonaro swept to power, this form of fan is full of


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a mistake. It was the biggest mistake of my life.

SOARES (voice over): --is one of many to lose faith in the country's leader, putting pressure on Bolsonaro ahead of presidential elections in

2022. With less than a year and for the presidential election, Bolsonaro, who's been called the Trump of the tropics, got a reelection boost from the

man himself.

In a recent statement, former U.S. President Donald Trump calls him a great president, who will never let the people of his great country down and

taking a cue from the Trump playbook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bolsonaro will win unless it's stolen by guess what, the machines.

SOARES (voice over): Bolsonaro has been sowing doubt on the integrity of Brazil's entire electronic voting system, calling for printed ballots to

supplement electronically cast votes. And in doing so, he has his eyes fully on the presidential prize.

BOLSONARO: I have three alternatives for my future, being arrested, killed or victory.

SOARES (voice over): A fight for political survival, the main need continue into the New Year. Isa Soares, CNN.


GIOKOS: NASA has some ambitious plans for the New Year, including a closer look at the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The U.S. space agency

plans to launch the psyche spacecraft in August.

It'll check out the psyche asteroid which is thought to be rich in iron and nickel and has a theoretical value of get --10,000 quadrillion dollars.

The space rock could be left over from the early days of our solar system and could help explain how our corner of the Milky Way was created. It will

take psyche four years to reach the asteroid. You're watching "Connect the World" that spurts and scandals it was a roller coaster ride for the royal


We have the highlights of 2021 ahead. And the iconic Elton John song a candle in the wind will always be associated with Princess Diana. But it

came close to never being played. We'll tell you why.



GIOKOS: Welcome back. A new report says Elton John was nearly barred from performing a reworked version of his song Candle in the Wind at the funeral

of Diana Princess of Wales in 1997.

Press Association media says there was a concern that the rewritten lyrics were too sentimental and a saxophone player was on standby just in case. A

personal appeal from the Dean of Westminster to Buckingham Palace resolved the disputes.

The song was originally written in memory of Marilyn Monroe; now 2021 has been a roller coaster year for the British Royal Family from mourning the

loss of Prince Philip to weathering allegations of sexual abuse. CNNs Max Foster recounts some key moments for the British Monarchy this year.


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The royal family 2021 was punctuated by loss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the month since the death of my beloved Philip, I have drawn great comfort from the warmth and affection of the many tributes

to his life and work.

FOSTER (voice over): Husband's father, grandfather and great grandfather, the man she described as her strength and stay no longer by her side after

73 years of personal and professional partnership.

One image lingers from his funeral that spoke not just to her loss, but to that of so many others who were left on their own because of COVID.

But it didn't slow her down, the Queen back at her desk, while she was still officially in mourning until doctors advised her to rest in October

following a hospital stay and preliminary investigations into an undisclosed condition later compounded by a back sprain.

KATE WILLIAMS, ROYAL EXPERT & AUTHOR: It's an extremely punishing schedule for someone who is 95. And I think no one would criticize her at all and

everyone would support her in stepping back and doing a bit less.

FOSTER (voice over): She gave up international travel some years ago. So Prince Charles represented her in Barbados in November for a ceremony to

replace her as Head of State by a locally appointed president. It marked the end of 396 years of British rule and the long awaited reconciliation

with the islands colonial past.

PRINCE CHARLES: The appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains history; the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary


FOSTER (voice over): It wasn't the first time that race come up as an issue for the family in 2021.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born.

FOSTER (voice over): Prince Harry and Meghan the Duchess of Sussex went rogue, not just leaving their royal rolls, but telling all to Oprah Winfrey

on why they felt the need to get out.

EMILY NASH, ROYAL EDITOR, HELLO! MAGAZINE: It raised very serious allegations of racism, but also of rifts within the family difficulties

between Prince Harry and his father. The difference is between him and his brother. It was really was a very --- opening up of things that have

traditionally been kept very private by the Royal Family.

FOSTER (voice over): The Queen issued a statement acknowledging the allegations and committing to address them. Whilst also pointedly noting

that recollections may vary. The rest of the family characteristically kept calm and carried on until William was fired unsolicited question.

PRINCE WILLIAM: No, we're very much not a racist family.

FOSTER (voice over): The Queen's youngest son Prince Edward spoke to CNN, but wouldn't be drawn on the Sussex saga.

PRINCE EDWARD: And listen, we've all been there before we've all had excessive intrusion and attention in our lives. And we've all dealt with it

in slightly different ways. And listen, we wish them the very best.


FOSTER (voice over): The palace has continued to distance itself from Prince Andrew publicly pursued by the FBI in recent years for sexual abuse

allegations. Accuser-- Virginia, Robert G. Frey filed a civil suit this year, claiming the royal assaulted her when she was 17.

Prince Andrew has repeatedly denied all wrongdoing. Regardless of how the impending trial unfolds, royal commentators expect the institution to

survive intact.

NASH: I think the royal brand has taken quite a battering in 2021. From all sides, you know, we've had the fallout from the Oprah interview, we've had

Prince Andrews, ongoing legal issues, these are all things that you know, really should have dented the monarchy.

But I think that the key players have just quite simply kept calm and carried on and done some really good things.

FOSTER (voice over): In February 2022, the Queen will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee, the only British monarch to do so having first ascended

the throne 70 years ago, in 1952. The firm is keen to focus attention on that, and the success of the Queen's entire reign, rather than a tumultuous

12 months. Max Foster, CNN, London.


GIOKOS: Dragon flies are around the world are under threat. Why its happening and the major effect it could have on the global mosquito

population coming up. And Happy New Year and sorry, we've run out of bubbles. OK, you want to know why so I help tell you when we return.


GIOKOS: Alright, sciences say about 16 percent of the world's species of dragonflies and the closely related damsel fly are at risk of becoming

extinct. That's because our wetlands are disappearing but wetlands along with dragonflies are crucial and we can't afford to lose them. As CNN's

Jennifer Gray explains.


JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST (voice over): These beautiful flying insects have been around for some 300 million years. They're harmless to

humans and can eat hundreds of mosquitoes a day. Engineer study them as models for flying robots.

But now the rapid loss of wetlands is putting some dragonflies in danger. And new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or

IUCN found that out of some 6000 Dragonfly and damselfly species, one sixth are at risk of extinction.

VIOLA CLAUSNITZER, ENTOMOLOGIST: 16 percent is really-- it is a warning sign and we do have a lot of threatened species for example, in Southeast


GRAY (voice over): Dragonflies are natural wetland predators. They help control mosquito populations and in turn manage mosquito borne diseases

like malaria and dengue fever. But as wetlands vanish, the dragonfly's future is uncertain.

According to a 2018 Ramsar Convention study over a third of wetlands have been lost since 1970, a rate three times data forests.


CRAIG HILTON-TAYLOR, HEAD OF THE IUCN RED LIST UNIT: And so if you drive along the road you see a sign against a wetland saying, being reclaimed and

what they're doing, they're draining it and filling it in to build housing, industry and infrastructure. That's what reclamation that's destruction.

And this is perverse attitude around the world that wetlands are there to be reclaimed and made more habitable for humans. And in fact, we're losing

incredibly important biodiversity and they perform a huge value for humankind.

Because all of our freshwater comes out of these freshwater systems, so without them, we would have no freshwater.

GRAY (voice over): Overall, the IUCN's Red List features over 40,000 species of plants, animals and fungi 28 percent of all assess species,

which face extinction.

HILTON-TAYLOR: It shows that threats to species around the world are continuing. And that we are at risk of losing large numbers of species

unless we do something urgently about it.

GRAY (voice over): Jennifer Grey, CNN.


GIOKOS: Earlier this year, vaccines gave us hope and many of us dare to envision a perfectly normal 2022. And sadly, with Omicron that's not on the

cards and a lot of places are changing the New Year's Eve plans major cities like Atlanta, London, Athens, Singapore and others all canceling

their celebrations.

Others are moving ahead or scaling back. Madrid, for example, will hold an event in prayer to Seoul square limiting the crowd to 7000 people. Well,

whether you're massed in a crowd or staying home put on your fanciest clothes and raise your glass of bubbles to celebrate 2022 years New Year's

Eve is tomorrow.

But wait, has the champagne run out this is really bad news. According to the Wine Spectator, the cage that goes on top of your bottle, the labels

and the boxes to put wine in are all in short supply.

That means you may have problems finding your favorite brand between now and tomorrow night. I hope that doesn't happen to any of you. And since

this is the last edition of "Connect the World" this year, we wish you a very happy New Year and we hope that you stocked up on your bubbles.

From the Abu Dhabi team and the entire "Connect the World" team, thank you so much for watching and good night. "One World" with Hala Gorani is up