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Protests in Paris After Shooting at Kurdish Community Center; At Least 43 Face Possible Execution Over Iran Protests; Taliban Say Women Banned From Universities Over Dress Rules; 200+ Million Across U.S. Under Wind Chill Alerts. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 23, 2022 - 11:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Atlanta, this is "Connect the World."

LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Lynda Kinkade at CNN global headquarters in Atlanta in for my colleague Becky Anderson. Welcome to

"Connect the World."

A tense and angry scene is playing out right now in the streets of Paris. A large crowd of protesters has gathered near a Kurdish community center,

facing off with police. The crowd angry about a shooting that happened at the Kurdish center just a few hours ago.

Three people, all of them Kurds, were killed, several others were wounded when a gunman opened fired. A suspect has been taken into custody.

Authorities say the alleged shooter had been involved with racist violence in the past, including an incident at a migrant tent camp.

I want to bring in CNN's Jim Bittermann who's following the developments and joins us from Paris. Jim, just take us through what has been happening.

Why protesters are facing off with police there?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's kind of a developing situation, Lynda. In fact, about three or four hours ago this

attack occurred against this Kurdish center. Three people were killed and three people were injured in that attack.

The first prosecutor was here, as well as the Interior Minister of France, and he basically said that there was no doubt about the racist nature of

this. And this is a heavily race - racially mixed neighborhood. And it's a Friday afternoon, a lot of people on the street. And that has now quickly

degenerated into a confrontation between the police and the demonstrators who have been shouting assassins, murderers, et cetera.

The police have now established a line here. But earlier they were shooting tear gas in the crowd, trying to disperse them. And we'll just see how this

develops as the evening plays out here. But in fact, at the moment, as far as the shooting is concerned, three people dead, three people injured, and

they're still investigating.

And uncertain whether they want to classify this as a racial incident or a terrorist incident. The difference is that a terrorist gets - a terrorist

incident gives the prosecutor much more power in terms of investigation and in terms of holding the suspect. They have the suspect in custody. 69-year-

old man who had been accused in the past of racial conduct - anti-racial contract. He was sent to jail.

And only recently - according to reports, only recently he has come out of jail no matter of days ago and then apparently committed this attack, and

the police have hidden in custody.

KINKADE: And four injured at a shooting in Paris. We will stay on this story. Thanks to Jim Bittermann there.

Well as Iran tries to put down months of protests, more people than we knew about, could be executed for their involvement in those protests. A CNN

investigation done with an activist group called 1500Tasvir found at least 43 people have been charged with crimes punishable by death, and the real

number could be much higher.

They include a 26-year-old footballer. He's accused of being involved in a killings of security officers during a protest. Iran's judiciary says fewer

than a dozen people have received the death penalty over the unrest. So far, we know about two people who were publicly executed.

On the left of your screen you can see Majidreza Rahnavard with his mother and on the right Mohsen Shekari. Now family and friends of those awaiting

possible execution are begging the world to step in before it's too late. CNN's Nima Elbagir brings us this exclusive report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): My son has been sentenced execution.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): My son is innocent. For the love of God, help him.

ELBAGIR (voice over): Desperate families in Iran, risking it all with a plea to the world to save their loved ones from execution. Fearing that

detainees in Iran are set to face a wave of executions in an accelerated judicial process, while holiday celebrations have the world's attention


ELBAGIR (on camera): In collaboration with Iranian activist group 1500Tasvir, we worked to verify court documents which show that dozens of

Iranians, including high profile Iranian athletes face execution. We also worked to verify video pleas like this one, from this 81-year-old mother of

one of the detainees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): We don't know his whereabouts, no information about him nor do we even know where he is. This document from

inside the Isfahan Regional Court shows that at least 10 people have been charged with Moharabe, war against God, spreading corruption on earth and

other charges, all which carry the possibility of the death penalty.

ELBAGIR (on camera): Through obtaining and verifying court documents and witness testimony, we have evidence which supports a rushed through

judicial process. Defendants having court appointed counsel forced on them. Many defendants having their right to appeal refused. Some defendants faced

with charges which could carry the death sentence being handed down in a single sitting.


Terrified Iranian families believe that while the world is busy celebrating the holiday season, busy with their families, that they in Iran face

imminent execution of their loved ones.

ELBAGIR (voice over): CNN has confirmed that Iranian footballer Amir Nasr- Azadani is among those facing execution. Here he is training ahead of matchday. Now, he's on death row, waiting.

This is social media video from the night of his arrest. CNN made contact with someone close to Amir Nasr-Azadani inside Iran. We are not disclosing

their identity. They told us that in the days after his arrest, they were unable to get word from him or about him from authorities, even as the

Iranian authorities denied his arrest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): It was one month and 19 days, I think maybe even perhaps longer since the security forces came and wanted to see

Amir's homes.

ELBAGIR (voice over): And despite being told he would be freed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): They would tell us in the first few weeks that they will release Amir, and that Amir will be released by the

end of the week.

ELBAGIR (voice over): Then came a charge of the crime of Moharabe, war against God, which Amir Nasr-Azadani and nine other people have been

accused of, relating to involvement in the killing of two Basij militia operatives, and one policeman during protest in late November, a charge

they deny.

Now sources close to Amir Nasr-Azadani say he and four others have had their charges upgraded by the Isfahan Court to Baghi, a charge punishable

only by execution.

There's more. In the Regional Court of Khuzestan, west of Isfahan, CNN has confirmed with 1500Tasvir through court documents that 23 more people have

been charged with the same crime, punishable by death. We're redacting their names out of fears for their safety.

There is still more. In Karaj, CNN, and 1500Tasvir have confirmed that at least five more Iranians are facing execution, including 21-year-old

Iranian-Kurdish karate champion, Mohammad Mehdi Karami, whose parents have also gone public with their pleas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): Please I beg you to please lift the execution order from my son's life.

ELBAGIR (voice over): In messages shared with CNN his family say Karami was not only sentenced to death, but he's also been tortured in prison. In

another message shared with CNN they said Karami was somehow in good spirits, but physically damaged having suffered torture on his head and


ELBAGIR (on camera): Including those whose families recorded public pleas for help, that brings the total of those verified by CNN as facing

execution to at least 43. And that's in addition to the two executed by Iran amid the excitement of the World Cup.

ELBAGIR (voice over): Just this week, 27-year-old Iranian-Kurdish rapper Saman Yasin attempted suicide whilst in detention, according to a source

from the prison. Yasin tried to end his life sources say with pills, after enjoying extreme psychological torture in the harsh prison conditions in

Northern Iran.

As much of the world gets absorbed with their festivities, Iranian families have one message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): Please save them for the love of God save my sons.

ELBAGIR (voice over): Nima Elbagir, CNN London.


KINKADE: Well, CNN shared the findings with the U.S. government and officials are responding. CNN's Kylie Atwood is at the State Department

with more on all of this. And Kylie, after verifying these documents and videos and witness testimony gathered from CNN and this Iranian activist

group, how is the State Department reacting?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY REPORTER: Well, the State Department says they're gravely concerned about these reports of mass duress, torture in

prison, the sham trials, the confessions to crimes given under duress. And of course, now these death sentences, in some cases, are actually being

carried out.

The spokesperson said that a lot of these death sentences are happening after sham trials where the Iranians don't have access to lawyers, and just

a fair trial generally speaking. They say that this demonstrates that the Iranian leadership is fearful of its own people. This is something we've

heard repeatedly from the State Department in recent weeks. But this is again, how they're responding to this investigative reporting from CNN.


KINKADE: And Kylie, in terms of what else the U.S. can do, what more can be done in order - if anything, really just saved these young people on death

row in Iran?

ATWOOD: I think it's a great question. I think there's really no easy answer to that, though. I mean, particularly when it comes to individual

cases, the ability of the U.S. government to intervene is extremely limited. But what the State Department has been doing, the Biden

Administration has been doing is targeting sanctions on Iranian officials who have been involved in the crackdown, Iranians who are involved in the

judicial process in the country.

Their hope is that those sanctions that are beginning to hit hard at those involved in this crackdown on protests, could have some sort of a chilling

effect, could of course, have some sort of effect that would stop those involved from carrying this out due to the Iranian regime's orders here. We

don't know if that'll happen, though. That is just the hope of the Biden Administration. They say that more sanctions could be coming on those who

are involved in these crackdowns.

KINKADE: All right, Kylie Atwood for us at the State Department. Thanks very much. And if you want some more information, you can read more on our

exclusive investigation by going to CNN's team Nima Elbagir, Zahid Mahmood, Celine Alkhaldi, and Artemis Moshtaghian uncovering those chilling

details into the plight of those sentenced to death inside Iran, speaking with several of their family members. We do encourage you to have a read

for more on this disturbing, but incredibly important story.

Taliban is finally explaining their move to ban higher education for women, where protests have broken out in Afghan cities after the announcement

Tuesday. Girls and women and now banned from receiving a university education, Afghanistan's Taliban rulers are now justifying or at least

trying to justify that ban, accusing female students of not following the women's dress code and other Islamic values. Take a listen.


NIDA MOHAMMAD NADIM, ACTING HIGHER EDUCATION MINISTER (via translator): Those female students going to universities were instructed to obey full

hijab, which was also not implemented unfortunately. Islamic Emirate was looking that this may be implementing today or tomorrow. But unfortunately,

after 14 months, it didn't happen. Girls were going to universities with clothing, like women go to wedding parties.


KINKADE: Well, the ban has drawn near universal condemnation with world leaders urging the Taliban to reverse it. The U.S. says the Taliban is

hurting their chances for improved relations with the world.


ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: And the bottom line is that no country is going to be able to succeed, much less thrive, if it

denies half its population the opportunity to contribute. And to be clear, and we're engaged with other countries on this right now, there are going

to be costs if this is not reversed, this has not changed.


KINKADE: But the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan women is urging them not to lose hope, tweeting, quote, "The world will not relent in supporting your

ability to get an education, to work and to restore the many rights that have been stripped away." And your special envoy Rina Amiri joins me now

live from New York. Good to have you on the program.


KINKADE: So you're an Afghan-American diplomat, and you say that the world stands with the women of Afghanistan. What can the world do at this point

to help? And what are the costs that Secretary Blinken was referring to?

AMIRI: Well, thank you, for putting attention to this very serious situation of Afghan women and girls is the worst in the world. And there's

a lot of concern in the U.S. government. But, I've been on the phone, my colleagues have been on the phone with capitals all over the world.

And as you've seen there is universal condemnation, Muslim majority countries have spoken very forcefully that this is not in any way aligned

with Islam, and that they don't buy the arguments that the Taliban are making.

There is admission that yes, one, we do have to publicly condemn and message very strongly to condemn the Taliban, but also to express

solidarity with the Afghan people. But we recognize that the - that we need to match the rhetoric with concrete actions. And I can tell you that U.S.

government as well as other capitals that I've spoken to, they - there are conversations and deliberations in terms of looking at--


KINKADE: Rina Amir we're going to leave it--

AMIRI: --to penalize the Taliban--

KINKADE: --there. We're having some issues with the connection. It just keeps breaking up. This is an important conversation. We do want to hear

from you. So we will see if we can get a better connection established and try and get you back. Thank you.

Well, for now we're going to take a break. But still to come, the deep freeze, more than 200 million people across the U.S. under wind chill

alerts as a monster storm barrels across the country with cold and snow.

Also ahead, many Ukrainians getting ready to spend Christmas away from home as refugees, to show you what they're doing to keep up traditions.


KINKADE: Well it's being called a once in a generation winter storm battering much of the U.S. ahead of the Christmas holiday weekend. More

than 200 million people are under a wind chill alert. That's more than half the U.S. population.

Now this storm will unleash more snow and blizzard conditions throughout the day, particularly in the Midwest, that's according to the National

Weather Service. More than million people are without power already and the weather is making the roads treacherous. Several governors have declared

States of emergency. President Joe Biden urging people to be very careful.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not like a snow day, you know when you're a kid. This is serious stuff. Please take this storm

extremely seriously.


KINKADE: The extreme winter weather is of course crippling travel at the worst possible time. Flight cancellations are growing by the minute. And at

last count airlines scrubbed more than 3,600 flights across the U.S. Thousands of travelers are stranded at airports just as people are trying

to get home for the holidays.

And if you were expecting your last minute gift together on time, you could be out of luck. Federal Express and the U.S. Postal Service say there have

been substantial disruptions at several hubs. As you'll appreciate, CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar keeping an eye on these plunging

temperatures, joining us now with an update.

And I understand, Allison, for much of the U.S. this will be one of the coldest Christmases on record?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes it is. So here in Atlanta, where I am, the current temperature is minus seven degrees Celsius. But believe it

or not, it's actually expected to get even colder as we go through the next 24 hours, which means, yes, we could end up having the coldest Christmas

Eve on record here in Atlanta.

But that's not the only place. There's going to be record set in several other cities. And even without the records, it's just going to be

absolutely bitter cold. Take a look at this towel. It was wet, now it is completely frozen solid.

The problem here is that it's not just frozen towels to be concerned about, it's also frozen roads.


Anywhere where there was precipitation last night, even if it was rain, it's now likely frozen over since the temperatures dropped so quickly, and

you're going to have those patchy icy spots along the roadways.

Not to mention, we already know there's numerous delays and cancellations in the air. The concern, though, is how widespread the cold air is. Take a

look at this map showing just how many people are under some type of winter weather alert. Here's the other concern, though. It's also the wind.

Now yes, the wind is making the temperature field even colder. But what it's also doing is taking any of that snow that has fallen and blowing it

across the roadways, reducing visibility even more. In some cases, down to less than a quarter of a mile, making dangerous even more treacherous than

it already was.

When we talk about where the snow is expected. The bulk of the snow remaining today will be across areas of the Northeast. Few lingering spots

also in the Midwest, mainly focused along the Great Lakes region. Most of these areas likely to pick up an additional 10 to 15 centimeters of snow,

but there will be some spots, especially to get that lake effect snow enhancement that could pick up an extra 60 centimeters of snow on top of

what they've already had.

So again, it's going to be a lot of snow, a lot of cold air. And unfortunately winter for some folks, this cold air does not get back to

normal until next week.

KINKADE: Next week. All right, getting started for us, Allison Chinchar, thanks to you and Leon (ph) you're working with them much appreciated.

Well, CNN's Lucy Catherine Oliver is on the streets of frigid Denver, Colorado and joins us now. And Lucy Kafanov, I understand it's the coldest

day there since 1963.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it was the coldest days in three decades yesterday, Thursday when temperatures dropped minus 25

degrees Fahrenheit below zero. And, the speed with which this arctic blast, barreled over Colorado was just stunning.

Wednesday, it was hot Wednesday afternoon. I wasn't - I didn't actually have to wear a coat if I didn't want to, to report on the upcoming

snowstorm. We saw a 75 degree temperature drop in basically one day. Now we are largely out of the worst conditions right now. We are still dealing

with below zero temperatures, but things are warming up. In fact, we might even be expecting 50 degrees Fahrenheit just in time for Christmas as that

arctic front moves and barrels its way and pummeled the East Coast of the United States.

But, you know, there are consequences for folks here in Colorado and in Denver. We do have a lot of people who are experiencing homelessness. There

is also a large influx of migrants, not just here in Colorado, but in many of the neighboring States. But Denver has seen nearly 2000 Newly arrived

migrants making their way from Central and South America. And there was a scramble to find a warm place to stay for a lot of these families who

didn't necessarily have a place to go.

Yes, Denver opened this massive Coliseum, which it used as a 24 hour emergency warming center. The demand was so strong, so many people wanted a

warm place to stay that they ran out of beds and the city actually opened to more emergency shelters. But again, those temperatures slowly, but

surely climbing up. It is going to get warmer. We are hopefully going to be out of the worst conditions soon. Again, that's not necessarily the case

for the rest of the country. Back to you.

KINKADE: And Lucy, of course, Colorado is used to snowy conditions. But even the conditions right now is playing havoc both on the road, also

causing a lot of cancellations at the airport there.

KAFANOV: Yes, that's right. I mean, nationwide, the cancellations were massive with Chicago's O'Hare Airport leading the way in the cancellations.

But Denver, right in the middle of the country, it's a big transit hub. More than 600 flights canceled on Thursday, and the after effects of that

rippling through today.

And of course, this is one of the busiest travel days of the year. We are right before the Christmas holiday. We just got out of like the worst part

of the pandemic. So a lot of people are trying to get home to see relatives and loved ones for the first time in over two years, and now they're

dealing with this. These delays, these difficult travel conditions. Driving also very difficult because you still have ice and slippery conditions on

the roads.

And so it's not an easy time to be traveling. Of course, yesterday everyone was being told to sort of stay at home and try not to get out of the house

if you can help it. But people do want to get home and so we probably will see things returning to normal slowly.

KINKADE: Well, thank you to you and your crew for being out there in it for us. Much appreciated Lucy. Stay warm and stay safe. Merry Christmas.


Well, up next on "Connect the World", the final act in this 17-month Congressional investigation into the attack on U.S. Capitol. The January 6

Committee says it should be down to Donald Trump.


KINKADE: Welcome back to "Connect the World." I'm Lynda Kinkade in Atlanta. Thanks for being with us.

I want to return now to one of our top stories in Paris where clashes have broken out between protesters and Police. It's happening near Kurdish

community center where a gunman opened fire earlier. Police threw tear gas a short time ago in an effort to disperse the crowds. Three people, all of

them Kurds, were killed in the shooting, several others wounded. A suspect has been taken into custody and he has been connected to racist violence in

the past.

Well, I want to bring in CNN's Jim Bittermann who joins us from Paris with the latest. Just extraordinary scenes here of these protesters fighting

with Police. Just take us back to the incident that sparked this. What can you tell us, Jim?

BITTERMANN: Well, I'm going to tell you first about the tear gas that has just been fired the last minute or so down the street here. This is a very

large street here and a lot of people gathered on the street, and the police are trying to clear out these crowds.

Basically, about three or four hours ago, there was an attack on a Kurdish center here. Three people were killed, three other people were wounded. It

was perpetrated by a 69-year-old man who, the prosecutor tells us, was obviously out to attack foreigners.

Now this is a neighborhood which is racially diverse, it should be said, and where there has been tension between people and police in the past. And

when the police came out here and sort of roped off the area, first a crowd of Kurds gathered and then a crowd of the neighborhood folks. This is a

Friday night, and a lot of people on the streets on a Friday night.

And so they have sporadically crashed the police. They've set fire to garbage cans and whatnot. You can hear the tear gas going off in the

background and as a consequence are trying to I think control the crowds, but they've been running up and down the streets. And the crowds have been

baiting the police. So it's a little back and forth with the police and a lot of pure gas involved, Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes, highly unusual scenes in the days leading up to Christmas on the streets of Paris. What more can you tell us about the suspect and

possible motivation for this attack?

BITTERMANN: Well, the prosecutor told us that he definitely wanted to attack foreigners. And in fact, according to some of our colleagues at the

other press agencies, he had a record of attacking the foreigners. He had served jailtime, and only got out of jail a few days ago, before committing

today's attack.


Now the police have him in custody. They so far are investigating him for racial crime. They haven't said that he's part of any kind of a terrorist

group. That would give - if they did class it as a terrorist crime that, in fact, would give them more investigative powers. But at the moment they're

saying - they're investigating a racial motivation at this point and only he is involved in not a larger group.

So we'll see how that plays out from a legal standpoint, but at the moment, he's being charged, I think, with racial crime. That hasn't - we don't know

that for a fact, but that looks like what he's going to - what's going to happen here that he'll be charged with racial attack rather than a

terrorist attack. And also probably with murder, because he's - these three people are dead after the shooting that took place here.

KINKADE: Three people dead, three people injured and protests on the streets of Paris. We will stay on this story. Thanks to you, Jim


Well, after nearly three years of stringent COVID lockdown, China relax its zero-COVID strategy early this month, and health experts now want the rest

of the world should brace for the arrival of new variants that could prove more dangerous than previous ones. The warning comes as hundreds of health

professionals from across China are traveling to Beijing, medical centers deal with a wave of infections that rippling across the country. Kristie Lu

Stout has the details.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Concern is growing about the scale of COVID-19 infection in China. Official figures are unreliable, especially

now as less testing is taking place across the country as it unwinds from its tough zero-COVID policy. And after China has narrowed its definition of

COVID related deaths to only patients who died of respiratory failure directly caused by the virus. This month China has reported only eight

COVID-19 deaths, a remarkably low number, given the mounting evidence of a surge in cases and deaths.

In Beijing, our colleagues here have filmed evidence of a crowded crematorium. Its parking lot was completely packed, smoke constantly

billowed from the furnaces. And yellow body bags are seen piled up inside metal containers. Hospitals there in the city are also under pressure.

Health professionals across China are traveling to Beijing to help out. Cold and fever meds are running out and people are desperate. One resident

tells CNN this, "In the past five days I had many symptoms, but couldn't buy any medication to treat sore throat, coughing or fever. None of the

medicines are available."

The U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is now calling on all countries, including China, to share information about the COVID-19

outbreak. In a press conference. He cited a number of concerns, including the possibility of a new variant emerging saying this, "Anytime the virus

is spreading or is moving around, there is the possibility that a new variant develops. That variant spreads even further, and it comes and hits

us or other countries around the world."

Secretary Blinken also spoke to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to discuss several issues, including the importance of transparency. China's Ministry

of Foreign Affairs says China has always shared relevant information with the international community and will continue to cooperate. Kristie Lu

Stout, CNN, Hong Kong


KINKADE: Thanks to Kristie there. Well despite what China's official COVID- 19 numbers say, CNN is seeing a disturbing evidence of a surge in deaths linked to the virus. Selena Wang is in Beijing and visited a crematorium

that's dealing with a sharp rise in deaths.


SELENA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As crematoriums in China fill up, the country shifts the way it counts COVID deaths. Its method of counting

deaths goes against the World Health Organization's guidelines and experts say it will severely under count the COVID death toll.

By China's count, less than 10 people have died of COVID this month. It is a shockingly low number, especially considering how fast COVID is spreading

in China and the relatively low vaccination rate of the elderly. But what we've witnessed on the ground in China at crematoriums and hospitals, it

points to a very different situation.

WANG (voice over): The burning can't go fast enough.

WANG (on camera): The smoke behind me it's been billowing constantly from all the bodies that are burning and these crates over here, they're all

full of yellow body bags.

WANG (voice over): Workers later opened those metal containers here at a major Beijing crematorium, revealing rows of body bags as they move more

coffins in the freezing cold temperatures.

Crematoriums in major cities are swamped as COVID sweeps through the country, but China has only reported a small handful of COVID deaths since

reopening late last month.

WANG (on camera): I spoke to a man earlier who said that his close friend passed away from a fever. Normally the hospital would hold the body, but

the hospital told him that there were too many dead bodies. He said he's been waiting here for hours, and he still has no idea if his friend's body

can even get cremated today.

There is a long line of cars that snakes around this whole area, waiting to get into that cremation area. I'm in the parking lot right now, and it's

completely full of cars. I'm speaking here because there are many, many security guards patrolling this entire area.


WANG (voice over): Grieving family members clutch photos of the deceased. Some tell us off camera they know their loved ones died from COVID and have

waited for more than a day for cremation

Busy shops nearby sell funerary items with paper money, clothes, houses, and animals used in burial traditions, strewn on the side of the road. A

woman who sells flowers says she's running out of stock. A man selling urns says business has jumped. In the convenience store and the crematorium

grounds is getting busier. Normally you aren't so busy, right? I asked. The man nods and tells me that normally there's nobody here.

And it's not just in Beijing. Social media video shows crowded crematoriums and funeral homes around the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): At this funeral home in Jinan, the man is saying it's going insane. Here it is packed with cars. Vans carrying

bodies stretch all the way into the distance in front of this crematorium in (inaudible).

WANG (on camera): This is a COVID designated hospital in Beijing. There's been a steady stream of elderly patients in wheelchairs being led into this

hospital. I spoke to a man who has been waiting outside for his elderly family member who he said is very sick with a high fever from COVID. But he

said this hospital it's running out of bed space.

WANG (voice over): I asked the doctor outside of this hospital, did a lot of people die here? Yes, every day he responds. I ask is it all because of

COVID? Yes, people with underlying conditions, he says.

China is now going through the painful reopening. The rest of the world has already gone through. But it's not sharing the same data. The government

now says it's narrowing the definition of COVID-19 deaths only to patients who died of respiratory failure directly caused by the virus.

People we spoke to what the crematoriums may have said their loved ones died of COVID, but their deaths and so many others won't be counted in the

official tally.

WANG: One of the people I spoke to at the crematorium told me that the hospital where his friend passed away was too full to keep the body,

because so many people had died there. He told me his friend's body was left on the hospital floor. The vaccination rate in China is still lagging

for people over 60 and only around 42 percent of those over 80 have received a booster shot. And experts say that getting that third dose is

necessary to get enough protection since China is using less effective vaccines compared to mRNA ones used overseas.

Hospitals, they are overwhelmed. Fever and cold medicine is running out. Health experts say China has not adequately prepared for this reopening

despite having years to do so while it was enforcing zero-COVID. Selena Wang, CNN, Beijing


KINKADE: Well, the congressional committee investigating the January 6 Insurrection has released its final report. The 845-page document goes into

painstaking detail, laying out how Donald Trump and his allies tried to overturn the presidential election.

It begins with their scheme to pressure state election officials and Vice President Mike Pence to put forward fake slates of electors. When that

failed, the report says, they encouraged far right militia members to lead a mob into the Capitol and disrupt the certification of Joe Biden as


CNN Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid is poring over the details and joins us now. Good to see you, Paula. So, obviously, this

report was released overnight. And overall, the Committee concluded that the Insurrection would not have happened without Donald Trump.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. That is their key finding. And then they used this 850-page report to lay

out the evidence they've collected over the past year and a half to support that conclusion. And they were directly attacking his primary defense,

which has always been that the former president was just relying on the advice of his attorneys and his advisors.

The report begins before election day in 2020. And they argued that this false claim that he won, even though he didn't, that it was premeditated.

They present e-mails from a conservative group urging the President to just declare victory, no matter what the outcome of the election was.

And then they move into what happened after the election, including this campaign on states, especially states where the former president lost, but

they have GOP Republican led legislatures, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona.


This report reveals that the former president and his associates engaged in over 200 attempts to pressure state officials to overturn election results.

And the Committee lays out how they believe the former president's false claims about election fraud spurred his supporters to the Capitol where

violence, of course, ensued. And then the report gets into detail about what the former president was doing in the White House while the Capitol

was under attack. They say he watched it play out on TV. He resisted any calls to call off his supporters. And his own staff members have testified

that they were, "appalled" that while this violence was being carried out that he was tweeting, attacking the former vice president.

Now former President Trump has responded to this. He dismissed it as a witch hunt. That's a common criticism, of course, that he levies against

congressional or criminal investigations that he doesn't like. And the Committee has recommended that he be barred from office.

Now, this isn't the only news we're likely to get from the Committee over the next few days and weeks, they're going to continue to release

transcripts from interviews they've done with witnesses, many members of the former president's inner circle. Those were all conducted behind closed

doors, but they plan to release many of those transcripts going forward.

So likely, more revelations and more news. But all of this ends up in the hands of Special Counsel Jack Smith, as he contemplates possible criminal


KINKADE: All right, the conclusion of a 17-month investigation. We will see if charges follow. Paula Reid, good to see you there in Christmas red.

Merry Christmas to you. Thanks so much.

Well, earlier, we were discussing the Taliban's move to ban higher education for women with Rina Amiri. She is the U.S. Special Envoy for

Afghan Women, Girls and Human Rights. We have her back now. I am told the connection is better. Good to have you with us again.

AMIRI: Thank you and apologies for the tech issues.

KINKADE: No problem at all. So you're an Afghan born American diplomat. You say the world stands with the women of Afghanistan. But what can the world

do right now to help? And what are the costs that Secretary Anthony Blinken was referring to earlier?

AMIRI: Well, you know, I say that the world's going to be behind Afghan women, because I've been on the phone with capitals all over the world. And

that condemnation comes from every part of the world, from Muslim majority countries, from South Asia, Central Asia, and certainly from the U.S. and

Western capitals.

And the message is very clear. It is a kind of a condemnation of the Taliban, but also an expression of solidarity with the Afghan people. And

there's a recognition that there needs to be something behind those words. There are internal deliberations in every capital in terms of how do we

approach this in a targeted way to penalize the Taliban, while it's making sure that there is not further suffering of Afghan population.

In addition, there is a recognition that more needs to be done to support Afghan women and girls directly through providing them support for

education and their homes. And in addition to providing them with support for entrepreneurship, and identifying. Afghan women and girls are

incredibly resilient, there has to be a top down approach of pressuring the Taliban and a bottom up approach in terms of providing the tools to the

population themselves, to be able to carry on, and that further time is not wasted. Afghan girls and women have lost far too much time since the

Taliban have instituted these extremely regressive decrees.

KINKADE: They really have, and the restrictions are only increasing. Earlier this week, I spoke with the Afghan human rights activists, Pashtana

Durrani, and this is a woman who has dedicated her life to the education of girls and women in Afghanistan. She was forced to flee after the Taliban

took over. I asked her to respond to your tweet calling for firm action. This is what she had to say.


PASHTANA DURRANI, FOUNDER, LEARN AFGHANISTAN: Everyone and anyone who feels that they can comment and tweet about it, but wouldn't go to that extra

length where they can actually sanction the Taliban family, from Qatar. Where they can talk to Qatar and sanction their families, sanction their

travel, sanction their bank accounts.

All those things are something that I think could be done, but are not being done. The same way people could be talking to Pakistan, asking

Pakistan not give safe havens to the Taliban, while their own daughters can study in Pakistan and Qatar, but girls in Afghanistan cannot. Real shame

his own daughter studying in Qatar, you know.

So all those things have to be thought of. But what I hear from all these world leaders is, "Oh, we are very sorry, this is happening in

Afghanistan," and tomorrow they wouldn't care. They will be on the other tour. So for me it's just hollow words. You have to do more.


KINKADE: You have to do more. Obviously she's speaking about the frustration that the situation is getting worse for women and girls in

Afghanistan. Is the United States prepared to step up sanctions on the Taliban right now?


AMIRI: You know, I think Afghan women are - I hear this from Afghan women everywhere, that there's tremendous level of frustration and a desire to

see concrete action. I cannot speak to the deliberations that are taking place internally. But I can assure you that both in the U.S. Capitol as

well as every capitals that I've spoken to, there is a recognition that there needs to be something behind the words.

And, you know, it's - I appreciate hearing Pashtana's recommendations. I'm also in touch with Afghan women who are thinking very specifically in terms

of what they want the international community to, to take on. And I can assure them that the deliberations are serious. This is not just rhetoric.

There's a recognition that this is of strategic relevance.

It's an issue of principle, but it's strategically relevant to the United States as well as to the rest of the world. If the situation of Afghan

women is not addressed it sends a very dangerous message to the rest of the world. And particularly - there are many countries where women are

vulnerable. And if they don't see that there is going to be implications, it does put women's rights at threat everywhere.

KINKADE: Yes, it certainly does. And we appreciate that response. The U.S., Afghan envoy - Special Envoy to of Afghan Women, Girls and Human Rights,

Rina Amiri, good to have you with us. Thank you.

AMIRI: Thank you very much.

KINKADE: Well, "Connect the World" is going to be back in just a moment with much more news. Do stay with us.


KINKADE: Well throughout this week, "Call to Earth" is highlighting the work that conservationists are doing in Kenya to protect and restore its

diverse, but threatened ecosystems.

Well, today guest editor Paula Kahumbu, the 2021 Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year takes us to the country's coastline, a small protected

area that has proven to be a hugely successful conservation model for all of East Africa to follow.


PAULA KAHUMBU, CEO WILDLIFEDIRECT: The community in Kuruwitu realized that their fishing success was declining. And so they got together, created a no

take zone and it took on the same kind of structure as the forests. There are sacred forests all along the Kenyan coasts and they are controlled and

managed and regulated by the elders. So what they did was they said we'll have a sacred reef.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In 2005, a one square kilometer area of coral was set aside to be managed and protected by the local community. Now the area's

boundaries are patrolled by the very fishermen who used to rely on these waters, and who now see the benefits of protecting them.


LEDAMA MASIDZA, ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM MANGER, OCEANS ALIVE: How it's policed still touches on this traditional practice through appreciating and

recognizing the authority of the elders. That is the voice that governs this interaction.

MASIDZA (voice over): What it eventually led to was a massive comeback in the fish by almost 400 percent fish biomass increase, a huge recovery in

the seagrass, by 17 percent recovery and 30 percent recovery in the coral reefs and bring back that color.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That come back has partly been aided by the project's investment in coral gardening. Already more than 4,000 coral colonies have

been planted in the sanctuary, many by this matter, Katana Ngala a fisherman turned coral gardener at the heart of the restoration project.

KATANA NGALA, CORAL RESTORATION TECHNICIAN, OCEANS ALIVE: I've seen fish are coming back a lot, a lot a lot. The time I was a fisherman, I was no

thinking coral is a very important thing to the sea. By the time I realized that the coral are very important in the sea that the time also I start

concentrating to learn about coral, coral family and even species and the genus. And also I chipped in to do the coral restoration, because I love

it. Yes, I love it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Results are clearer to see when compared to the neighboring reefs where fishing is still permitted. A mass of black spots

sea, urchins, a sign that coral is dying and fish have abandoned the reef.

MASIDZA: The difference between inside the marine sanctuary and just outside, it's a stark contrast. The coral has lost its color, it's broken

off. It's not as vibrant. And without nature's natural regulators, the sea urchins start to start to take over.

You know, they say the grass is always green on the other side here. Here it really is because just next is the marine sanctuary and that's where we

take the inspiration of what each of these degraded ecosystems could become.

KAHUMBU: That little Conservation Area has become a model for community led marine conservation all around East Africa. That's what excited me.


KINKADE: Well, you can watch that special half hour program, "Call to Earth: Voice of the Wild" which airs this weekend, Saturday and Sunday only

on CNN. We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back.



KINKADE: Welcome back to "Connect the World." A dominatrix trio has attended their local city commission meeting expecting a submission on one

key demand. And who else would have this story? CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The guy in the shorts better get out of the way, dominatrix coming through to take the mic

at a Fort Lauderdale City Commission meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good evening Council peoples, you may call me mistress.

MOOS (voice over): Wearing an outfit that everyone kept comparing to Daft Punk. There was no way not to lose yourself to mistress as she brought up

the contract for solid waste management.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That you will spend almost $1 million.

MOOS (voice over): Of course, that got compared to Dr. Evil.


MOOS (voice over): Mistress proposed they spend a quarter of that million to support dominance and submissives--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To build a dungeon.

MOOS (voice over): And in that dungeon--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I look forward to spanking each and every single one of you.

MOOS (voice over): The commission members were unfazed. Dare we say submissive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Happy Holidays to you. City manager are there any districts that have a dungeon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not that I know of.

MOOS (voice over): We wanted to know more about the mistress who gave her name is Ms. Tres Krave. So how do you find a dominatrix disguised in latex?

MOOS (on camera): Hi, is this the South Florida dungeon rental? Do you by any chance no a dominatrix by the name of Tres Krave?

MISTRESS MONA: Not off hand I don't. Thank you for calling Fetish Factory, your ultimate sportswear everything Fetish.

MOOS (voice over): Eventually our informants led us to a club called Krave X Miami where they don't answer how may I help you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How may I spank you?

MOOS (on camera): How may you spank me?

MOOS (voice over): Some in the Fetish community said Mistress Krave is giving them all a bad name. But Krave told CNN anyone who says that

requires firm and forceful punishment, while promoting a club, she did manage to create some spanking new headlines. Jeanne Moos, CNN

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are dismissed.

MOOS (voice over): New York.



KINKADE: And so are we. Merry Christmas to you. I'm Lynda Kinkade. Stay with us. You're watching CNN.