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Zelenskyy Thanks U.S. Congress for Bipartisan Support; Zelenskyy to U.S. Congress: You are Investing in Democracy; Taliban Crack Down Further on Education for Girls and Women; W. H. O. Concerned about Rapid Rise of Cases in China; Voice of the World; Tom Cruise Drives a Motorcycle off a Mountain. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired December 22, 2022 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Ukraine is alive and kicking today on "Connect the World" how Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's historic
speech to the United States Congress is reverberating across the globe. Hello, I'm Lynda Kinkade in Atlanta. Welcome back to the program great to
have you with us!
Well, humble and gratitude and fiercely determined to save his country from Russia's invasion. Ukraine's wartime leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered
heartfelt thanks to the American people for their lifeline of weapons and ammunition. And this came during an impassioned speech to a joint meeting
of the U.S. Congress. Mr. Zelenskyy also talked of the battle for the frontline City of Bakhmut and winning the war for the hearts and minds.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: It gives me good reason to share with you our first joint victory. We defeated Russia in the battle for
minds of the world. We have no fear nor should anyone in the world have it. The Russian tyranny has lost control over us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Mr. Zelenskyy, we are learning met with Poland's President he's stopped in Poland on the way back to Ukraine from the United States. Well,
the Ukrainian President's visit to Washington has been a risky, defiant journey and marks his first known trip outside his homeland since it was
invaded by Russia back in February. CNN's Jeremy Diamond brings us a closer look.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A historic visit to the United States Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meeting
face to face with President Joe Biden the first time since Russia's invasion of Ukraine nearly one year ago.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Brutal Assault on Ukraine's right to exist as a nation.
DIAMOND (voice over): Zelenskyy expressing gratitude to the Biden Administration and the American people.
ZELENSKYY: First of all, I really all my appreciation from my heart from the hearts of Ukrainians.
BIDEN: The American people come with you every step of the way and we will stay with you.
DIAMOND (voice over): Biden making good on that promise hours later announcing a fresh package of military aid.
BIDEN: $1.85 billion package of security assistance that includes both direct transfers of equipment to you that Ukraine need.
DIAMOND (voice over): That equipment includes the highly sought after Patriot Air missile Defense System.
ZELENSKYY: What's going to happen after Patriots are installed, after that we will send another signal to President Biden that we would like to get
DIAMOND (voice over): Zelenskyy's visit closing with a primetime address before a joint meeting of Congress, where he received a rousing welcome and
delivered a show of gratitude to the American people.
ZELENSKYY: I hope my wars of respect and gratitude resonate in each American Heart.
DIAMOND (voice over): In his upbeat speech, Zelenskyy tried to shore up public support in the U.S. and back home in Ukraine.
ZELENSKYY: To Ukraine didn't fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking. Ukraine holds its lines and will never surrender.
DIAMOND (voice over): A big promise in times of celebration for many around the world.
ZELENSKYY: We'll celebrate Christmas. Celebrate Christmas and even if there is no electricity, delight, or our faith in ourselves, will not be put out.
DIAMOND (voice over): Despite his optimism is Zelenskyy argued that Ukraine must continue to defeat Russia on the battlefield in order for the war to
ZELENSKYY: Your support is crucial not just to stand in such fight but to get to the turning point to win on the battlefield.
DIAMOND (voice over): And he argued defeating the Russian invasion is a worthy investment.
ZELENSKYY: Your money is not charity, is an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.
KINKADE: That was our Jeremy Diamond reporting there. Well, I want to go now to CNN's Congressional Reporter Lauren Fox who joins us now live from
Washington D.C. Good to have you with us Lauren!
KINKADE: So the Ukrainian President there, speaking in English to make this very special address making a compelling case for continued support for the
Ukraine people as they fight Russia's war. How were lawmakers responding to this today?
LAUREN FOX, CNN'S POLITICS CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, many lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats were obviously very inspired by the message you
heard the Republican Leader from the Senate Mitch McConnell saying that he was inspiring as always.
John Cornyn and other Republican arguing that he really hit it out of the park in terms of striking the right balance between thanking the American
people for what they have done already, and also reminding Congress that more is likely needed in the future.
And that comes at a very critical moment because lawmakers are going to be heading home for the holidays. And when they return, Republicans will
control the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy, a Republican who has been for Ukraine aid in the past.
But is now trying to become the Speaker of the House is going to have to make sure that he can pacify his right flank and in the future spending
bills, it may be harder to get aid to Ukraine because of the just political dynamics in the House of Representatives.
Now, that's not to say that it will be impossible. But the latest spending bill will include $45 billion in military assistance for Ukraine.
Obviously, that may be harder to do next year when Republicans have controlled the House of Representatives.
KINKADE: Yes, we'll have to see how many Republican minds were swayed by Zelenskyy's speech? Lauren Fox, good to have you with us. Thanks so much.
As we have been reporting, President Zelenskyy is on his way back to Ukraine with a stop in Poland. And CNN's Will Ripley has more on how Mr.
Zelenskyy speech is being received across his homeland? Take a listen.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi Lynda, we don't know the exact whereabouts now of President Zelenskyy. His office doesn't release
that kind of information for obvious security reasons.
But certainly people here in Ukraine are expressing pride in their President; they're glad that he's bringing back more in terms of weapons
and money from the United States. It is gratefully accepted and badly needed.
And of course, if you ask any Ukrainian soldier, they will tell you that they never have enough weapons, they could always use more especially
because they don't just want to hold the lines as they've been doing as of late.
They want to make progress to push the Russians out of their country completely back to pre-2014 borders. But that was going to take a lot more
than the Patriot Missile Defense Systems and the other weapons announced by the United States, it's also going to take more manpower.
And there are a number of fronts that Russia is challenging Ukraine on right now with the East Bakhmut, of course, which was the main focus of
President Zelenskyy's meetings with President Biden and his speech to the U.S. Congress comparing it to the 1777 battles of Saratoga that were
decisive for the Americans and their fights against the colonial British.
So many hundreds of years ago, that certainly struck a chord with some of the U.S. lawmakers in that room. And that was deliberate on the part of
Zelenskyy, a very media savvy President who honed his chops on television, not only as a comedian, but also acting in a television program called
servant of the people where he played an ordinary guy who stumbled into the presidency.
But here he is now leading this country through this war getting rave reviews in the States but back home the reality is millions of people are
living without electricity and heat right now in the dead of winter. There's a possible Russian build up to the northern border with Belarus,
which could pull Ukrainian troops away from the frontlines where the fighting has been intense both in the south and to the east.
And then of course, there's also the ongoing question of what Russia has planned next? Now the Kremlin is responding to Zelenskyy's visit at the
White House saying that the U.S. supplying Patriot Systems to Ukraine will only prolong people suffering.
Saying neither Biden nor Zelenskyy showed potential willingness to listen to Russia's concerns during the U.S. visit and the Russian Foreign Ministry
- the Russian Foreign Ministry warning that the collective west is set for a potentially long confrontation with Russia, Lynda.
KINKADE: Thanks to Will Ripley there. And Will mentioned Russia has been quick to react in Mr. Zelenskyy's visit. A Foreign Ministry Spokesperson
says it's clear that the west is set for a long confrontation with Russia, and that the weapons being provided to Ukraine will only prolong the
suffering of the Ukrainian people.
On Wednesday, Vladimir Putin visited an exhibition of new Russian weapons and back to plan to increase the size of the Russian Armed Forces by 30
percent. Our Former CNN Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty summed up Putin's response saying with Zelenskyy in Washington, Putin, as always
tries to up the ante.
This is an existential conflict with NATO. Russia can find anywhere, we have powerful new weapons, we will spend what it takes clash in Ukraine was
inevitable. CNN Contributor Jill Dougherty joins us now for more on all of that. Good to see you, Jill!
So Zelenskyy certainly used his speech to make a case for democracy saying this isn't about some sort of charity gift? This is the fight for democracy
pushing for more funding but you have been following the Russian response closely just take us through your thoughts.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Well, I really think that it was a very important moment. Because if you look at what President Putin was
doing, I mean, essentially, although they do not say that they are doing this, they don't use the word.
But essentially what they're doing is putting Russia on a war footing, what they're saying what President Putin is saying, this clash in Ukraine was
inevitable, it would have happened one way or the other. And as he put it, you know, people are dying. And unfortunately, that happens in war, but
better now than later.
So this is a justification that he's had, actually, for quite a long time. But it kind of to me, culminated in the statements that he made, you know,
again, he would say, this is a conflict, not just with Ukraine. Ukraine is being manipulated by the west, he would say, this is a conflict with NATO.
And then, as when I said up the ante, I mean, he's saying, you know, we can fight anywhere. And the implication of that, of course, is that there could
be some out of region, action by Russia, and then the increase in weapons, you know, we'll spend whatever will it takes? And so I would say it's
really an answer to Biden, an answer to certainly is Zelenskyy.
And also there was I would go back to one more quote, which to me kind of summed it up, and explains the resentment that Vladimir Putin has where he
said, Russia sought to be part of the civilized world. But it turned out we weren't welcome there.
And so I think it's, you know, Putin turning his back saying you didn't want us any way you were planning on this. And I'm going to; you know, turn
it around and do what you're doing. And, you know, take it to the enemy. It's a very real to me, one of the strongest moments, sadly, in what
President Putin has been saying.
KINKADE: This whole war has really been a debacle for Putin. He certainly underestimated Ukraine, not just their military strength, but their
willingness to fight and protect their own land. He underestimated the potential for mass casualties on the Russian side. And he certainly
underestimated unity within NATO, as you're speaking to NATO has become more unified as a result of this war. That's the opposite of what Putin
DOUGHERTY: Well, it is. But, you know, I don't think that so far, at least, has dissuaded President Putin from doing what he is intent on doing. And
it's a very personal thing to him; I think we have to remember that he set out to bring Ukraine back under the sway of Russia in one way or the other.
And that meant changing the regime.
So it must be very galling to him to see those pictures and that video of Zelenskyy in Washington, regardless of what he would say about it, but that
must be really galling that the man they wanted out, and maybe even to be killed as Zelenskyy said, alive and kicking in Washington. And now he's
So he hasn't, Putin has not accomplished what he wants. But right now, he is intent; not only in giving messages to the world, but giving messages to
his own people to stay the course follow us. This is us against the world - this in a very much that feeling. And I do think that some of that does
have resonance with Russians. If you don't feel that the world wants you, then why not, you know, pull back and give it to them?
KINKADE: And to that point Jill, Zelenskyy seem to make a point, speaking to the Russian people, talking about a need for a change in leadership, I
just want to play some of that sound from his speech to Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENSKYY: I know one more, I think very important thing, the Russians will stand a chance to be free only when they defeat the Kremlin in their minds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: So what was he saying there? He wants the Russians to stand up to Putin? He wants a change in leadership. Do you see that happening Jill?
DOUGHERTY: Frankly, not in the foreseeable future unless something unexpected happened? You know, among Russians, there are many people who
probably don't support the war, or at least wished they would end and there are some indications in polling that people really want an end to it one
way or the other because it's not good for Russia. Russian Men are dying at the front et cetera.
DOUGHERTY: But I think, you know, there's the one thing that the Kremlin has tried to do, and they've tried to do this for years, is to really take
away the agency of Russians to feel that they can really change anything.
So, you know, many people would say, well, yes, I wish it would change, but I'm just a cog in the wheel. You know, I have no real influence on the
government. And after all, it's my country. And I should support it that often; unfortunately, I don't think it's unique to Russia.
But right now, it is pushed by the Kremlin, to an extraordinary degree with 24 hour propaganda. You've got to support the government. You know, this is
it. This is an existential conflict - quotes of course, but I think that's kind of what's going on.
KINKADE: Yes. Always good to get your perspective Jill Dougherty thanks so much for joining us. And I hope you have a great Christmas.
DOUGHERTY: Thank you. You too!
KINKADE: Well, Israel's government is about to shift to the right. And when we come back, we'll have a closer look at Benjamin Netanyahu's
controversial cabinet choices. Also, first, secondary schools were shut down for girls in Afghanistan, then universities became off limits for
female students. Will elementary schools be next? Taliban start clamp down on education for girls and women when we return?
KINKADE: Welcome back! Benjamin Netanyahu says he has managed to form a coalition government. The Prime Minister's ministerial choices could take
Israel further to the right than ever before. Some of his top ministerial picks were once considered extreme nationalists on the fringe of Israeli
One has even been convicted of tax offenses. Netanyahu barely beat the deadline to inform the President that he was able to establish a
government. CNN's Hadas Gold in Jerusalem following the developments and joins us now. So a really right wing cabinet and in the midst of forming
government, Netanyahu got a call from Russian President Putin?
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Yes Lynda, it's interesting because Netanyahu really taking it up to the last minute even though he
initially said he was going to be able to form a government very quickly.
It wasn't until really the closing minutes of that deadline that he called the Israeli President and let him know that he had managed to form a
government. Now well, while most of the more high profile ministerial positions, say Justice Minister, Defense Minister, are expected to go to
members of Netanyahu's Likud Party.
It's the other ministerial positions that are going to go to his right wing allies that are causing concern because some of these people, as you noted,
are once considered the far right nationalist fringe of Israeli politics. But they did very well in the November 1st elections and that's why some of
Israel's allies even are bracing themselves for the months ahead.
GOLD (voice over): That's why some of Israel's allies even are bracing themselves for the months ahead. The new Israeli government setting off
alarm bells around the world. Even allies are warily eyeing Benjamin Netanyahu's new ministers who will make up the most right wing government
in Israeli history. A stark change from the last coalition now made up all of men and all Orthodox except for Netanyahu himself.
Most recognizable is Itamar Ben Gvir once convicted of anti-Arab racism and supporting a Jewish terrorist group. Now National Security Minister in
charge of Israeli police, eager to allow Jews to pray at Jerusalem's holiest site where only Muslims are now allowed to worship, a place that
has sparked intifadas and even wars. Former Israeli ambassador to the United States Danny Ayalon warning Washington will be on high alert.
DANNY AYALON, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO U.S: If they will perform what is conceived in Washington as provocations. For instance, change of status
in Temple Mount or unchecked enlargement of new settlements. This could be a very, very big problem for Netanyahu and for the government.
GOLD (voice over): Then there's Bezalel Smotrich, another far right settler lawyer turned politician has been named Minister of Finance, and has also
been given power to appoint the Head of the Israeli body which controls border crossings and permits for Palestinians. Smotrich supports abolishing
the Palestinian Authority and annexing U.S. Bank. Israel staunchest ally the United States perhaps hoping the rhetoric won't match the actions.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We will gauge the government by the policies that pursues rather than individual personalities.
GOLD (voice over): Other appointments causing uproar include a gay rights opponent who has vowed to ban pride parades to position in the education
ministry and proposed changes to the law of return for the restricting who was considered Jewish enough to be permitted to immigrate to Israel.
Netanyahu, for his part has repeatedly claimed that the buck will stop with him.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER-DESIGNATE: I've had such partners in the past and they didn't change an iota of my policies. I
decide the policy with my party.
GOLD (voice over): But as the government has taken shape, his critics like this cartoonist say he's creating a monster he won't be able to control.
GOLD: And Lynda earlier today, Benjamin Netanyahu receiving an interesting phone call from Vladimir Putin is congratulating him on forming the
government. Now according to readout from Netanyahu's office, the two discussed the Iran and Ukraine with Prime Minister Designate Netanyahu
telling President Putin that he hopes away will be found as soon as possible to end the war and the suffering caused by it.
Now this relationship between Netanyahu and Putin will be one that's very interesting to watch. Because back when Netanyahu was in power before he
used to tout his relationship with Vladimir Putin, even during one election campaign, putting up a giant billboard in Tel Aviv of the two men together.
Now it's been 18 months since Netanyahu has been in power.
And obviously Russia has invaded Ukraine. And while Israel has always been sort of advancing this sort of tightrope, diplomatic tightrope is
supporting Ukraine and humanitarianly and in the UN, but not providing it with weapons. And this they cite, because of Russia's president's military
presence in Syria, there are questions about how Netanyahu will handle this relationship going forward.
He's been asked repeatedly about Vladimir Putin in recent interviews and he says that he doesn't try to step on toes while he is not in power, and that
they will reassess the Ukraine situation when he comes into power, which is expected to happen in the next week and a half or so, Lynda?
KINKADE: All right. Good to have you with us. We will touch base with you again next week or so. Hadas Gold for us in Jerusalem thanks very much.
Well, it could be another step and the Taliban's brutal clamp down on rights of Afghan women.
Three girls schools in Kabul were told to completely shut down, their principals telling CNN earlier. Well, meanwhile women took to the streets
of Kabul in protest today, the Taliban suspended university education for all female students. In March, girls were barred from returning to
Afghanistan's Taliban rollers are keeping up those restrictions even though they promised to respect women's rights after seizing power last year. I
want to bring in CNN's Nada Bashir, who joins us, now live from London. Interesting there seeing those pictures of women in Afghanistan to fight
pushing back against this Taliban crackdown. What more can you tell us about the reaction there?
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Lynda, we have seen women taken to the streets chanting as you heard their education, work, freedom. These are
women demanding their fundamental right to education a right that has been fought for over the last two decades.
But as we've seen over the last few months since the Taliban's takeover in Afghanistan to Taliban has been rolling back those fundamental rights and
freedoms and in particular focusing on the education sector as you laid out there.
BASHIR: We've already seen girls being told that they aren't able to return to secondary school. Most recently now, we are learning that young women
are being told they are prevented from attending university, of course, a hugely distressing development. But now this appears to be a continuing
We are learning as you laid out from the three principles in Kabul from three separate girl schools that they were told that their elementary gold
students would be unable to return to school until further notice. Now it is important to note the schools are currently on break, they aren't due to
return until late March.
But there isn't a whole lot of clarity on what these restrictions currently mean and how far reaching this ban will be whether it is affecting only a
few schools in Kabul or whether this could potentially affect elementary school girls across the country. And of course, this is hugely concerning
and hugely distressing for the young women and girls of Afghanistan.
We've heard from one university student, a young 21 year old woman who was due to be finishing her final exams just over the coming day. She had this
message for us; I always thought that we can overcome our sorrow and fear by getting educated. However, this time is different. It is just
unacceptable and unbelievable.
And this is hugely distressing. We have seen women and girls taking to the streets protesting. But there is a concern around what measures the Taliban
will take to really clamp down on education. We heard from one student at a private education sector, center say that they had seen a sign on the wall
telling them that women were to wait until further notice before returning to school.
But men could continue to go to the private education center for classes according to an administrator at that center, Taliban officials had
personally come some of them armed to inform them of this new measure. And look, this is hugely concerning. But it hasn't come as a huge surprise to
many in the international community observing the political situation in Afghanistan. We heard actually earlier this morning on CNN from the former
Afghan ambassador to the United States saying as much, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROYA RAHMAN, FORMER AFGHAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S: No surprise at all. This is the same group that were in power in 1990s that turned the country to
that of like a state of zombie place where there was nothing going on. And this is exactly what they are doing now. If changed their front in terms of
their war now on Afghan women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASHIR: And look Lynda, since the takeover by the Taliban in Afghanistan, they have attempted to present themselves as a perhaps more moderate, more
modernized entity than in the late 1990s. But what we have seen over the last few months is those similar restrictions coming into force a complete
rolling back of those fundamental rights and freedoms not only for women and girls, but for the Afghan population in general.
The concern now is as we continue to see that international condemnation, the Taliban, Afghanistan will grow ever more isolated from the
international community and that could give way to even harsher restrictions and measures in Afghanistan. Lynda?
KINKADE: Yes, absolutely devastating for women and girls, really entire communities across Afghanistan. We will continue to stay on this story.
Nada Bashir, good to have you with us from London. Thank you. Still to come on "Connect the World", the disgraced founder of crypto exchange FTX is
back in the U.S. and headed to court as two of his former aides turn against him. Plus the International Space Station gets another solar power
boost. We'll tell you why this spacewalk was delayed.
KINKADE: Welcome back. I'm Lynda Kinkade. You're watching "Connect the World". Well, FTX Crypto Exchange Founder Sam Bankman-Fried is expected to
face a judge in New York court at any moment. He was extradited from the Bahamas overnight and faces eight counts of fraud and conspiracy.
Prosecutors accused him of masterminding one of the biggest financial frauds in U.S. history on the Crypto currency exchange. Prosecutors now say
too close aides to Bankman-Fried have pled guilty to similar fraud charges and are now co-operating with authorities.
While I want to bring in our Kara Scannell who joins us from New York is covering the story. Good to see you, Kara. So he's now back in court
expected to face court today in Manhattan as two of his former top lieutenants turn on him.
KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Lynda, that's right. I mean a significant development overnight, learning that from the U.S. Attorney's Office that
two of Sam Bankman-Fried's top lieutenants have pleaded guilty and are co- operating with federal prosecutors. That's Gary Wang, who's the Co-Founder of FTX with Bankman-Fried and Caroline Ellison. She is the former CEO of
Alameda Research. That's the hedge fund is intertwined in this alleged fraud.
So a significant development because it means that these two because they don't want to serve long prison sentences are going to be cooperating with
prosecutors. That means they will explain to them how this whole operation work, what Bankman-Fried did and how to navigate exactly how these multiple
alleged schemes have been carried out, so a significant development with their cooperation.
And that was announced as Bankman-Fried was on a flight on his way from the Bahamas where he waives any challenges to extradition and eventually
landing last night in the U.S. Now he will appear in court today. He is expected to go before a judge well, he will face these eight criminal
counts of wire fraud and conspiracy in what the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has called one of the biggest financial
frauds in American history.
Now that U.S. Attorney Damian Williams has also said that they are continuing to investigate this. They said they're announced that last week
of the arrest of Bankman-Fried was not going to be the last night's announcement. They said stay tuned. There is more to come. So today's
appearance will be the first by Bankman-Fried on American soil since he was arrested last week in the Bahamas, Lynda.
KINKADE: And Kara, Bankman-Fried is hoping for a bail deal as we understand it. And that would mean he would not have to sit in jail up until his
trial. Is that right?
SCANNELL: That's right. I mean, this ultimately will come down to the judge to decide exactly what kind of bail to give Bankman-Fried whether that
there will be any detention here in the U.S. or if he'll be able to walk out the door.
Now sources tell me that lawyers for Bankman-Fried and the federal government have been negotiating a possible bail package that would allow
him to walk out those doors behind me at some point later today. It remains to be seen what the judge will do with that. We are expecting an appearance
though sometime this afternoon, Lynda.
KINKADE: All right. Kara Scannell on the case for us from New York, good to have you with us, thank you. Well, the World Health Organization is raising
concerns about an unprecedented wave of COVID-19 cases in China. It says more information is needed to understand how severe it is.
And it's asked China to share more data. It comes as concerns grow about a shortage of drugs within the country. Our Selina Wang has the latest.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's relief that after three years of its draconian zero COVID policy China is finally opening up but the country
is not prepared. Hospitals are coming under pressure, fever and cold medicine is running out. The local versions of Tylenol and Advil are nearly
impossible to get drug stores across the country.
Now to try and calm panic buying some local governments are resorting to rationing the amount of medicine for sale down to the exact number of
pills. And dozens of pharmaceutical companies say they're going all out to try and increase production.
WANG: But even as COVID is rapidly sweeping through the country, China has only reported less than 10 total COVID deaths for this entire month. That
is a strikingly low number. And the government now is saying that it is narrowing the definition of COVID-19 deaths to only include patients who
died of respiratory failure directly caused by the virus.
That means that people who died because of another underlying condition will not be counted as a COVID death, even if they were sick with COVID at
the time, that goes against the World Health Organization's guidelines and the W.H.O. says it will severely underestimate the true death toll in
This change in China's counting method also comes as crematoriums across the country fill up. I visited a crowded crematorium in Beijing this week
and from the video you can see the long line of cars waiting to get into the cremation area. The parking lot was also completely full.
Several people there told me their loved ones had died from COVID and employee said they've been swamped with work. I saw metal containers full
of yellow body bags and workers loading more coffins in, stores nearby selling funerary items that they're much busier than normal.
I also went to a COVID designated hospital where a worker told me elderly patients with COVID are dying every day. A new study by Hong Kong
researchers estimates nearly 1 million people in China could die from COVID if the country doesn't take necessary public health measures like increased
The vaccination rate is still lagging for people over 60 and only run 42 percent of those over 80 have received a booster shot. And experts say that
third dose is necessary to get enough protection since China is using less effective vaccines compared to the mRNA vaccines used overseas.
China is only now going through this painful reopening but the rest of the world has already gone through, but China is not sharing the same data.
Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.
KINKADE: Well, let's get you up to speed on some other stories on our radar right now. In a hospital in Sao Paulo says Pele's condition has gotten
worse. The Brazilian football legend has been treated for colon cancer. He's also dealing with kidney and heart issues.
Pele's family plans to spend Christmas with him in hospital. At any time we could get the final report by the Congressional committee looking into the
January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The committee is expected to release thousands of pages of transcripts and summaries from 17 months of
30 transcripts were released Wednesday, many showing that Donald Trump's closest advisors refused to answer any questions asked by the committee.
After a 24 hour delay, two NASA astronauts are conducting a spacewalk outside the International Space Station. Take a look.
These pictures are amazing; they are installing new solar panels to help boost the station's electrical capabilities in power supply. NASA had
postponed the walk on Wednesday. And for more on why they postponed it, I want to introduce CNN Space and Defense correspondent Kristen Fisher joins
us live from our Washington bureau. Good to see you, Kristen. So this spacewalks had to take about seven hours or so today. It was meant to
happen yesterday. Why was it postponed?
KRISTEN FISHER, CNN SPACE & DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Lynda, this is pretty wild, it was postponed because there was debris from a fragment of
an old Russian rocket that just got too close to the space station for comfort. NASA just did not feel comfortable sending those two astronauts
out into space when there was this debris traveling several thousand miles per hour.
And it was expected to get within less than a quarter mile away from the space station. So NASA called off the spacewalk yesterday, they fired some
thrusters to move the space station a little bit further away to a bit more of a safe spot. And now you're seeing the spacewalk which has been
rescheduled. Clearly for today, they're in the middle of it right now.
Look at those incredibly crisp images. Those never get old. And those two NASA astronauts are installing a new rollout solar array, a system of -
source of power for the space station right now. And so Lynda so far, this is a lengthy spacewalk about seven hours long.
And for those of us that like to watch it here on Earth, you get to follow along and watch the astronaut's progress. You know, I should point out that
this debris maneuver, it's well; I said at the top it is pretty wild, right? I mean the fact that it could threaten the lives of these astronauts
and the rest of the crew onboard the International Space Station, but it's actually not that uncommon.
They've had to do these debris avoidance maneuvers multiple times over the last year, especially after that Russian anti-side light weapons test in
November of 2021. So it does happen and it is happening with an increased frequency as there's just more stuff up in orbit, Lynda.
KINKADE: Yes and I have to ask you Kristen a question about the Mars Rover or the Insight Mars. It's been up there for four years. Essentially, the
sun is now setting on its lifespan.
FISHER: I know a lot of people are really sad about this, the death of the Insight Mars rover, you know, but don't feel too bad for this little guy or
girl, or I guess we should call it. This rover was only supposed to live up there for about two years. That was what it was designed for. And it's
lasted twice as long.
It's been up there for four years, so don't feel too bad for it. It has been scientifically very successful it is detected, the Mars version of
earthquakes, they're called Mars quakes, for the very first time, really getting like an internal health check of the red planet.
And what ultimately led to its demise, Lynda, was all that dust one of the last selfies that this rover took in it, you could see its solar arrays all
covered with red Martian dust. And if those solar arrays get too caked with dust, of course, it can't get the energy from the sun that it needs in
order to power all these systems.
So NASA did indeed lose communication with the Insight rover earlier this week, formally saying goodbye to it, but you know it lasted twice as long
as it was supposed to, so good luck, Godspeed. Thank you to the Mars inside Rover. Lynda?
KINKADE: I guess the next Mars Rover will have to have some sort of inbuilt cleaning device.
FISHER: It needs like a windshield wiper or something with the solar.
KINKADE: Exactly. Just like NASA know that all right. Kristin Fisher, god to have you with us. Thanks so much.
FISHER: Thanks you too.
KINKADE: Well, a giant winter storm is moving through the U.S. it won't lead to a white Christmas everywhere but in many States it will be the
coldest one in years. We'll take a closer look at the forecast. Plus we visit a wildlife conservation place in Kenya home to one of the most
KINKADE: Welcome back. Well, throughout this week, Call to Earth" is turning the spotlight on
Kenya. Parts of the East African country are experiencing the region's worst drought in some 40 years, which is taking a toll on both humans and
animals. Today's Guest Editor Paula Kahumbu is the 2021 Rolex national geographical explorer of the year and visits a pair of conservation areas
to learn how they are helping to preserve Kenya's wildlife heritage in the face of such extreme conditions.
PAULA KAHUMBU, CEO, WILDLIFEDIRECT: Wildlife in our parks in Kenya primarily is migratory, it needs to move it needs to breathe into the
larger ecosystem. Elephants will - they have to move over vast landscapes. But the development in those landscapes now includes mega farms, avocado
plantations, roads, railways, cities being built, that's interfering with the ability of animals to move.
And so the animals are becoming more and more constrained. So when you have a drought, they can't go anywhere. This is the bull that died on Friday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): Even in southwestern Kenya, around the Maasai Mara, where the drought has been less deadly, it was starting to
reach a breaking point. So when the rains did come, they were greeted with joy.
KAHUMBU: Hi, Dixon.
DICKSON KAELO, CEO, KENYA WILDLIFE CONSERVANCIES ASSOCIATION: Hello, Paula, how are you doing? Good to see you. Welcome to Ol Kinyei.
KAHUMBU: thank you so much.
KAELO: Yes, you brought us some rains. It's been so dry. Yes, we've had more than six months of dry period and we were beginning to panic. The rest
of the countries definitely very bad, animals are dying, and the Mara was just getting other brink.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): Dixon Kaelo is the Head of the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association. As climate events like the drought grow
more extreme, the conservancies will become increasingly important for the survival of Kenya's wildlife. Unlike the national parks, they're managed
and protected by the people or communities who own the land.
KAELO: What the conservancy does is it tackles the underlying factors that are driving biodiversity loss is not even the poaching of elephant ivory is
not bush meat trade, is not all the other factors that we often told. It's actually the loss of space because if wildlife are not able to move over
large distances, they affect the environment in a way that negatively impacts them.
If the territories of lions are much smaller and have little prey, the lands fight and prides kill each other as a result. So the conservancy
actually expands the area available for wildlife. And in the Mara, now, it has doubled by the creation of the 22 conservancies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): The success of the conservancy's movement lies in the fact that it not only helps the wildlife, but also the local
community diversifying their income streams with the addition of tourism. In Ol Kinyei and the neighboring Naboisho Conservancy 90 percent of the
camp workers are from the local community, with more Maasai students being trained each year.
KAELO: These are young men and women who have grown with the wildlife around here. They're quite familiar with the animals. But all they need now
is the technical part, how to interpret that one to the guests. A lot of them have transformed their livelihoods from the employment that I've
gotten from the tourism industry within the Mara.
KIMBERLEY SAKIAN NTUTU, FORMER STUDENT GUIDING SCHOOL: When I was a young child, and we used to come here for trips, like when all my classmates used
to go back to school, I always used to cry and say I don't want to leave the animals. I don't want to leave the lions. I don't want to leave the
antelopes. I just want to stay here. So when I had like I had a chance of being with all the animals like it is in my heart, like it's not something
I'm forcing, like even right now doing a tour guide is just from my passion.
KAELO: What we've seen is when the community begin to see wildlife as their own asset, and they begin to feel that decisions that are being made around
wildlife conservation has their voice and their say, and that actually the benefits that accrue actually also flowing into them. We've seen
stewardship coming in, but to what it was a few decades back.
KINKADE: And please do join us this weekend for the special half hour program "Call to Earth" Voice of the Wild. It's airing this Saturday and
Sunday, only on CNN. We're going to take a quick break, we'll be right back.
KINKADE: Welcome back a storm U.S. weather forecast is a calling once in a generation type event is underway during one of the busiest times to travel
or year. The storm is hitting the Midwest with heavy snow and in some areas it's expected to become a bomb cyclone soon.
Flight tracking site, Flight-aware says more than 4000 flights have already been delayed or canceled. I want to bring in CNN Meteorologist Allison
Chinchar more on all of this a bomb cyclone and arctic blast never really sounds great. What can we expect?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Unfortunately, a little bit more of what we're already dealing with temperatures are very cold in some spots,
but it's going to be spreading to other areas and the snow. This is one of the big things you don't want to see when you are headed out on the
roadways or heading onto an airplane.
We already have significant delays out of the Chicago airport also some delays out of Miami for an unrelated issue. But we anticipate a lot more of
these airports starting to transition into the orange and red color, meaning that delays and cancellations are ticking up as the snow begins to
make its way off towards the east in the coming hours.
Behind that system though, incredibly cold temperatures, all of these areas where you see the purple and blue color are under some type of wind chill
advisory or wind chill warning. And it's the combination of the temperature but also the wind and when they mix together you get these bitter cold
feels like temperatures.
Denver, Colorado for example, the feels like temperature is minus 39 degrees Celsius, even Amarillo, Texas, a state as far south as Texas
looking at some of those wind chills around minus 32. So again, this is a very widespread concern. Here's a look at the forecast map of where we
anticipate some of those delays we already talked about for the rest of the day.
So other cities like Memphis, Atlanta, Raleigh, Washington, DC, New York and Boston all likely to end up with pretty significant delays and
cancellations as the bulk of that storm begins to make its way off towards the east. You've got the blizzard warnings, winter storm warnings and
winter weather advisories as this system is expected to make its way off towards the east coast. So unfortunately, Lynda even tomorrow if you have
some travel plans; keep in mind there may be delays.
KINKADE: All right. We will rug up and get the fire going. Allison Chinchar, good to see you, Merry Christmas, thank you so much.
CHINCHAR: Thank you.
KINKADE: Well, before we go, a big question, what will Tom Cruise do next? Well, for starters, he has a new Mission Impossible movie called Dead
Reckoning. And in it he says he pulls up one of the most dangerous stunts ever, CNN's Jeanne Moos reports.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Whatever you do, don't tell Tom Cruise to go jump off a cliff because he will.
TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: This is far and away the most dangerous thing we've ever attempted.
MOOS: Yes, I bet you'd say that every mission impossible. But is he really going to drive a motorcycle off a mountain? Oh, yes, he did.
CRUISE: So I don't hear myself scream.
MOOS: His fans are screaming about how insane this is. How many different ways are there to say holy. After riding the bike off a Norwegian mountain
he eventually opened his parachute. And though he nailed it on his first take Tom didn't stop.
CRUISE: Six times today.
MOOS: Cruise can add this latest stunt hanging off a plane during takeoff and standing up atop a biplane. And don't forget, scampering around the
outside of the world's tallest building, not to mention. Rock climbing that most folks would have to have rocks in their head. They will attempt for
the latest Mission Impossible seven, they build a special motocross ramp on the practice on. 13,000 practice jumps say the movie makers, 500 practice
sky dives. At least Tom didn't break an ankle like he did when he slammed into a wall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is from the side here we go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shot it with three cameras.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, here it goes and boom.
MOOS: Tom watch the painful replay on "The Graham Norton Show".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well that's over, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Up, I guess, and he's running.
MOOS: In four decades, Cruise has gone from jumping off a coffee table in his undies is riding off a cliff, Jeanne Moos CNN New York.
KINKADE: Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Lynda Kinkade in Atlanta. "One World" is next.