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73 Killed in Johannesburg Building Fire, Dozens Injured; Trump Pleads Not Guilty in Election Interference Case in Georgia, Waves Arraignment; Coup Leaders Name General Nguema as Transitional Leader; One Killed by Palestinian Authority Security Forces; UEFA President Ceferin: Rubiales' Behavior "Inappropriate"; U.S. Official Wants Marijuana Reclassified. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired August 31, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: This hour firefighters and rescue crews are searching through the charred remains of a building in the
city's central business district after a fire claimed the lives of at least 73 people.
Biden Administration has approved the first ever transfer of U.S. military equipment to Taiwan the package totals $80 million. China, sadly, roundly
condemned it. In Gabon the military junta says it has named the country's new transitional leader in the wake of its coup.
The African Union and several Western nations and the United Nations have denounced the coup. Plus, part two of my conversation with Spanish Football
Star Andres Iniesta after his recent move here to the UAE.
Well, it was the middle of the night people were sleeping and then panic and terrors flames engulfed a residential building in Johannesburg in South
Africa. At least 73 people are dead including we are told children.
A city official says the building where the parish is the so called hijacked building left abandoned by an earlier landlord and taken over by
gangs who rent space inside to migrants and others in need of housing.
Authorities are holding a press conference as we speak and we are monitoring that we'll bring you the key lines as they emerge. First up
let's get you to CNN's David McKenzie who reports from the scene of the tragedy.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A woman's whale pierces the streets of Johannesburg. More than 70 people are
now dead and dozens injured after a brutal fire tore through a five storey building in the center of the South African city.
WISEMAN MPEPA, FIRE SURVIVOR: Listen -- people are easy they make noise. Yes is fire, fire, fire and fire.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): Survivors like Wiseman Mpepa say he was woken up by screams in the early hours of the morning and race to get out of the
building. But the gates were locked.
MPEPA: So I come back in the gate. The fire is fully -- after that day I don't have any plan I just deceit.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): The smoke quickly smothering him.
MPEPA: With come up to me. Yes. After badly, I guess the fall down. Then from there, I don't know anything.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): Authorities quickly on the scene, moving through the building floor by floor and pulling out charred bodies, and either still
MPEPA: I have a brother sister and he's -- sister husband.
MCKENZIE: You don't know where they are?
MPEPA: I don't know.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): Another survivor who lost three sisters describes how her niece was thrown out the window and caught by people who already
made it outside.
OMAR FOART, SURVIVOR: -- hit the window and to throw the daughter outside. They want people to just take my -- on the wire was what --
MCKENZIE: If you look at this building behind me you can imagine the chaos and the terror that ensued people desperately trying to get out of those
packed apartments, floors of a totally gutted as people were burnt to death. This is what's known as a hijacked building in South Africa taken
over by gangs and mostly leased to poor migrants.
HERMAN MASHABA, FORMER JOHENNESBURG MAYOR: This is not an accident. This for me it's made our culpable homicide because it was bound to happen. We
actually want to say in this building, I can tell you I can take you to buildings that are west of -- where people live peaks.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): This tragedy tangled into the deeply ingrained inequality across the country. Many of the people lived here were migrants
just hoping to start a new life. Instead, emergency services are sorting through the ashes of the little that is left David McKenzie, CNN,
ANDERSON: Well, the City of Johannesburg has a history of these hijacked buildings as they're known structures abandoned by their owners and taken
over by others and leased out. But despite attempts to regulate hijacked buildings tonight we ask is this criminal neglect?
Well, at the end of David Mackenzie's report you heard Herman Mashaba a Former Mayor of Johannesburg called this fire culpable homicide. Herman
Mashaba joins me now via Skype from Johannesburg. The culpable homicide by which you mean what, who are you pointing the finger of blame at sir?
MASHABA: Well, thank you very much Becky for really giving me this opportunity. I had the privilege in 2016 to 2019 to serve as an Executive
Mayor of the City of Johannesburg after three decades of being in business when I realized that our country was in trouble we had no leadership.
We had leadership, which was also part of problems really working with criminal syndicates. When I became the Mayor I had a huge housing backlog
of over 300,000 people. But at the same time, the City of Johannesburg just 30 years ago, just before the 1994 elections Johannesburg was a real world
class city, the newest city in the world, hardly 10 years of our democratic government.
We started really seeing criminality, imaging. And when I became the Mayor, I went all out to say we to address the housing challenges of our country.
We have to take this back this building so from the hijackers. Unfortunately, I could not really get the support of our national and
provincial government because when you run a metro in Johannesburg in South Africa you don't have the opportunity for prosecution in prison.
So you rely on national government. And unfortunately, our government never really provided this opportunity at the same time, when -- .
ANDERSON: This is interesting. Let me just stop you there. Because I've got -- I've got a statement from the African National Congress. And they say,
we urge the City of Johannesburg to pay focused attention to the safety of inner city buildings, including illegal occupation to prevent similar
humanitarian tragedies in the future.
The ANC is pointing the finger of blame, as it were, for this situation, not for this, despite itself here, which they say they are saddened by. But
the why that story here, they say is the responsibility of the City of Johannesburg, as the Former Mayor, the finger being pointed there, frankly,
MASHABA: Not really Becky, the City of Johannesburg was run by the ANC since 1994. We only unseated them in 2016. And I was the Mayor of the city
for three years, and at the time, already discovered 600 of this kind of buildings, which were highjack.
And when I started actually fighting it, then what they did the ANC government, they they're the premium, the Minister of Home Affairs, who
called me xenophobic, because what that did unleashed raids into these buildings.
And majority of the people who we found in these buildings were undocumented foreign nationals, but I was not really dealing with
undocumented for -- I was dealing with people who are here, which was affect, and on the basis of that, and they called me xenophobic, including
reporting me to the South African Human Rights Commission.
Refusing to provide law enforcement agencies to deal with the actual hijackers of these properties, I can tell you, without any shred of doubt,
the blame sits with the ANC because they speak to you right now because they obviously worked with the party I was representing at the time to
remove me as the Mayor of the City of Johannesburg. And they are the ones who are now running this city ever since I left in 2016. So for them --
ANDERSON: I remember those accusations, sir, at the time. They go on in this statement today, and I'm just putting this statement to you so that
you can respond or certainly will get your sense. We urge the enforcement agencies to ensure that those responsible for this tragedy is held
accountable that are what they go on to say in this statement today.
And I hear what you're saying about the -- you know, the lack of opportunity for actually getting enforcement agencies involved in this.
Look, these are unregulated buildings just give us a sense of how widespread these hijacked buildings are in the City of Johannesburg?
And how concerned you are that this could just be the tip of the iceberg and you know, this is 73 dead possibly more as the authorities getting to
find out what's going on? How does Johannesburg prevent this happening again?
MASHABA: Well, Becky as I'm talking to you now the number has risen to 75. A few minutes it was 73 right now the number sitting at 75. And I can tell
you if you look at the number of hijacked abandoned buildings in the inner City of Johannesburg at the time when I was the Mayor identified over 600
And while I was the Mayor in the three years despite the fact that I was not getting the support from national government, they unleashed what are
called -- so called human rights lawyers, calling me names insulting me, but fortunate enough because I was not distracted.
In the three years I've managed to expropriate 154 of this building, offer them to the private sector to build affordable accommodation for our
people. Unfortunately, I left way before the construction can start. But this was -- 154 buildings were already approved by council. It was just a
question of the private sector starting to build.
But when I left the ANC abandoned that whole project. The private sector lost money in this regard. Now is -- now free for all. They're allowing
international criminal syndicates working with them to really destroy our city and our country.
ANDERSON: Herman Mashaba it's good to have you, sir. The Former Mayor of Johannesburg, your insight and your perspective is extremely valuable
tonight as we continue to report on what is a developing story here. Thank you, sir. Well, CNN then have actually been inside one of those hijacked
buildings back in 2017. Eleni Giokos witnessed the cramped and stuffy conditions have a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look at these informal structures that have been built within the building itself. Each one of these houses has an
entire family. There's no running water. There are just cable wires running through for electricity. It's very, it's crazy. It's like an informal
settlement within a building.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Eleni found out that the resident of that apartment was paying thousand Rand months that was about $75 back then, but she couldn't get a
clear answer on who actually collected the rent. Well, still ahead, Russia says it shot down several drones today, including one aimed at Moscow.
We'll take you live to Kyiv. U.S. making a strategic move with Taiwan, it's a first and it's already upset China. We've got details on that after this
ANDERSON: Well, news just coming into CNN. Former U.S. President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty in what is this sprawling Georgia election
interference case waving his right to appear in Fulton County next week.
This is according to a new court filing. Donald Trump had been scheduled to be arraigned in person on Wednesday next week as have his co-conspirators.
But a Georgia law allows for codefendants allows criminal defendants to waive their in person appearance and enter a formal plea that news just
coming in to CNN, more than that, of course, as we get it.
Russia says it's shot down another drone heading towards Moscow today. And officials southwest of the Capital closer to the Ukrainian border say
Russian forces shot down three drones in the skies over Bryansk.
Well, that came a day after the biggest wave of drone attacks Russia has seen since the war began and powerful strikes across Ukraine as well. All
drones looking to be a potential game changer in this war. CNN's Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour joins me now with more on
I think for many people, this war over the last 18 months has been an introduction to the use of these unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. Let us
just discuss just how the extent to which drones are being used and their impact on this war, Christiane.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, absolutely. So perhaps everybody really remembers the big time drones, the
military drones, like the predators and the reapers that the U.S. has used for years now in counterterrorism, and other such opportunities with you
know, operators sitting back in the United States operating these things by joysticks.
Well here, they have had a certain number of military drones, which they've been using. But they are according to officials here, running out rapidly
because of the warfare during this counter offensive and throughout the war.
So a key official told us was told the press here that they losing about 40 drones per day. So they are desperate to recruit anybody and anything that
can fill that gap. To wit, civilian soldier, citizens, if you like, are being recruited to convert civilian drones, anything you can buy off the
shelf, costing maybe about $500 each once they're weaponized and then sending them off into the battle zone.
And that's what we saw at an undisclosed location in this country, where we saw this training going on. And it is quite extraordinary, because they
know that they're now a very, very important part of the frontline battle.
We understand that they have deals with Ukrainian military, whereby they are, you know, signing memorandums of agreements, memos, to take frontline
troops, bring them back, train them, and then send them out again.
And these weapons can take out tanks. They can take out arms systems that are in the air. They can take out troop carriers. And again, they are the
most cost effective, and that's how they're transforming the face of war.
Plus, they give a transparency both sides can see what the other side is doing. And that makes them very, very difficult to use and very difficult
for the soldiers who use them. But also interestingly we spoke to the co- founder of a charity, part of a charity that's called "Drones Victory Initiative" or "Victory Drones Initiative". And she told us that she is
consciously and conspicuously recruiting women to the fight take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYUBA SHIPOVICH, COFOUNDER AND VICE PRESIDENT OF NGO'S RAZOM FOR UKRAINE: Before I was also actively involved in many gender equality projects and
being female myself, I believe that there is no difference on the front line, if you are male or female. It's like you're soldier, you have to
protect your country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And she basically says, look, you know, these women are very good anyway, they learn fast, but the fact of the matter is that you can have
you know, hands at function fingers that function, and you can operate a drone. It's not a heavy task, but they are very, very useful at the moment.
And once you weaponized them, some of them can carry up to two kilograms and fly 10s of kilometers. And they have been used and we've seen video
that they've shown us and we've seen video throughout this war, about how they're being used, and especially during this long slog that is the
counter offensive Becky?
ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. Thank you. And stay tune, you can watch more on Christiane Amanpour's report coming up today 9 pm here in Abu Dhabi 6 pm
London time that only on CNN. Christiane is live from Ukraine all this week.
Meantime, newly released U.S. intelligence says that Russia is negotiating a major arms deal with North Korea. The White House says it is concerned
that talks between the two countries are "Actively Advancing" and reveal that to Russian delegations have traveled to North Korea since July.
The U.S. says negotiations highlight Moscow's desperation for ammunition for its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Well, for the first time ever the U.S.
will transfer military equipment to Taiwan under a program normally reserved for sovereign states.
The Biden Administration is approving the direct $80 million military aid package through a State Department program known as foreign military
The U.S. has sold weapons to Taiwan in the past through another program that is typically used for nation states. Well move will not go down well
with China, which of course claims Taiwan as its own, even though the island is self-governing. CNN's Kylie Atwood has more from the U.S. State
Department in Washington. Kylie?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so that's right, the State Department alerting Congress this week that they have approved this
funding for what would be the first ever transfer of military equipment under a specific program here at the State Department to Taiwan. As you
said, Becky, the U.S. has been selling military equipment to Taiwan for quite some time now.
So that isn't new. But what are new about this program are two things. First of all, typically, this is a program that is used for sovereign
countries. So of course, China doesn't view Taiwan as a sovereign country. And therefore, this is prompting pushback from China.
We are already hearing from the Chinese defense ministry saying that they will always take all necessary measures to counter this condemning this
move that the United States is going ahead with this type of military assistance to Taiwan. And then the second aspect of this program
specifically, is that it's actually paid for by U.S. taxpayers.
So it's a grant that's given to Taiwan, they can use it for many different types of military equipment, military training from the United States, and
Taiwan isn't paying the U.S. for that equipment. It's coming out of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Now, this is an $80 million price tag on this specific
part of the funding that's been approved, as you said.
But we should expect more of this because congress has actually moved ahead and authorize the U.S. government to provide $2 billion in this type of
military assistance to Taiwan every year from now until 2027.
ANDERSON: Thank you. And Syria, infighting is broken out among the ranks of the Syrian Democratic Forces and anti-ISIS coalition backed by the United
States. This began Monday in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor. The SDF detained the commander of one of the armed groups fighting for them
The SDF say six of them and eight rival fighters have been killed. Local media reports that over a dozen civilians were also killed this week and
claim the SDF was using heavy weaponry. CNN cannot independently verify the numbers of casualties. We are just over two weeks away from the anniversary
of Mahsa Amini's death in the hands of Iran's morality police and Iran has been cracking down on activists across the country.
This week, the trial for Amini's lawyer began. He's charged with propaganda against the system. We'll bring you updates on that case, of course, as it
progresses. Well military coup and Gabon has been widely criticized by other African nations and in the west. Military leaders place President Ali
Bongo under house arrest on Wednesday and named a top general as the country's transitional leader.
The power grab there follows a series of recent military coups, of course in Africa. And it threatens a reversal of the democratization process that
the continent has undergone in the past two decades or more. Let's bring in CNN's Larry Madowo in Nairobi, in Kenya.
Certainly, we are getting condemnation of these military leaders from a number of areas, not least western leaders in the UN and in Africa itself.
What do you make of what has happened and what you believe may happen next?
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So Becky, this, if it were to succeed would be the eighth coup we've seen in Africa from a former French colony,
we had two in Mali and Burkina Faso in Guinea, in Chad, in Nigeria, which is still unresolved and now in, in Gabon.
The difference here is that this follows a disputed election. In fact, the opposition in Gabon now says that the military junta in Gabon should
recognize that they rightfully won the election, and they should essentially hand over power to the opposition candidates. Even though this
coup happened just moments after the Electoral Commission in Gabon declared that President Ali Bongo Ondimba had won the election with just about 64
percent of the votes.
So that is the difference here. Others had other long standing issues. This one appears to stem directly from the election. What we see similar to
other places, we saw people out in the streets in -- celebrating thanking the military after nearly 56 years of the family of Ali Bongo ruling the
Gabon. Some of the people are fed up and we're ready for a change, so that's one major development.
We expect that the self-declared leader of Niger now that is General Brice Oligui Nguema will be sworn in on Monday in front of the Constitutional
Court. A short while ago, his people have been essentially reassuring the world that they will honor their international obligations that they will,
you know, pay off their debts and anything else that had commitments overdue from the previous administration.
When you look across that spectacle that central and West African countries that have coups recently, it's certainly an issue of concern, many of them
stemming from former French colonies, suddenly there is a rejection of what is known as France of Freak.
The continued influence of France in its former colonies, but this does not have that direct connection. It really, like I said, stems from that
election. And right now the African Union Peace and Security Council meeting again, when they finally come out of that they're likely to
announce something that they've done.
In many of these instances, Becky, suspending Gabon from the African Union, demanding that President Ali Bongo is reinstated but it's almost a template
ANDERSON: Absolutely, thank you. Streets became rivers, homes destroyed after wreaking havoc in Florida the storm known as the Idalia is moving up
the U.S. East Coast, we'll take a look at where it is now. And what it left behind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDRES INIESTA, SPANISH FOOTBALL PLAYER: I have a contract for a year here and I really hope to spend more time here. That of course depends on the
job we do, how happy people are with the job we do and the desire to continue playing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: We asked Spanish football legend Andres Iniesta about his life here in the UAE and where he might go next.
ANDERSON: Welcome back, you're watching "Connect the World" with me Becky Anderson. 7.30 here in Abu Dhabi, your headlines this hour and this is a
story just into CNN former U.S. President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges in Georgia.
Trump and many of his associates of course are accused of attempting to subvert the 2020 election by trying to overturn the results. He was due in
court in Atlanta next week, but he has waived his right to that appearance. Also in the headlines this hour, officials in Johannesburg say they are
still trying to determine a cause of a deadly fire in a residential building where more than 70 people were killed.
Officials describe it as a hijacked building with migrants and others living in crowded often squalid conditions. These buildings are unregulated
and have become increasingly common in Johannesburg. Military Junta in Gabon says it is named a top general as the country's transitional leader
in the wake of its coup.
On Wednesday, military leaders placed President Ali Bongo under house arrest and said they were dissolving the government enclosing the country's
borders until further notice. International community has denounced the action. Well after dealing a blow to Florida what is now a tropical storm
Idalia is moving up the eastern coast of the United States, bringing a soaking to North Carolina for example.
Idalia is blamed for three deaths in Florida and in Georgia. Meantime, people along Florida's Gulf Coast are getting a look at the damage after
Idalia hit is a powerful category three hurricane CNN's Carlos Suarez with more.
CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hurricane Idalia barreled through Florida Wednesday making landfall near key to beach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if it's there or not. But this right here, I don't know. I don't know if I'm going to have a house to go home to.
SUAREZ (voice-over): The eye of the storm ripped through Florida's Big Bend region with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour, resulting in a
once in a century weather event.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was bad that was heavy, heavy, heavy winds. Worst I've ever been in.
SUAREZ (voice-over): The category three storm left homes demolished and streets flooded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We clearly have significant damage throughout the Big Bend region.
SUAREZ (voice-over): This family in Perry Florida watched as trees fell directly on their home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my gosh. No. Its OK it's OK. It's OK.
SUAREZ (voice-over): Up and down Florida's West Coast record breaking storm surge occurred in Citrus County, Crystal River left devastated by
DOUGLAS BABER, CITY MANAGER, CRYSTAL RIVER, FLORIDA: People are actually really going strong and we are in an entire city of Crystal River is in a
flood zone, so we have no choice but to move to higher ground.
SUAREZ (voice-over): Further south along the coast in Hudson beach, crews rescued residents by boat as the floodwaters came rushing into their homes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't believe this I've never seen unlike it.
SUAREZ (voice-over): This family rescued but heartbroken to leave everything behind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just came in before we can get out man like so quick. We're trying to get into the truck and it's up to the -- really be able to
get the doors open.
SUAREZ (voice-over): In Pasco County around 150 residents were rescued from flooded neighborhoods. This home caught fire in the midst of the
floodwaters. Michael bought it from Cedar Key Florida says he stayed behind to weather the storm.
MICHAEL BOBBITT, RESIDENT, CEDAR KEY, FLORIDA: These are all little old school Florida villas and they were just picked up and carried into the
Gulf. So that was heartbreaking to see.
SUAREZ (voice-over): One resident on Anna Maria Island posted this video of her swimming through floodwaters at four in the morning.
ALEXIS DELEON, RESIDENT, ANNA MARIA ISLAND, FLORIDA: Golf Carts cars flooded the trailer homes. I mean it was up to our knees our waist. We're
riding bikes through it, so it got pretty high.
SUAREZ (voice-over): Idalia then traveled north through Georgia into South Carolina, where the storm surge reached nine feet in Charleston according
to the National Weather Service, leaving roadways throughout the state treacherous. This car in Goose Creek, South Carolina flipped over in the
middle of the road.
ANDERSON: Long road ahead for some of those people living in Florida, thanks CNN's Carlos Suarez for that report. Well, back in this region in
the West Bank, Palestinian Authority security forces and militant fighters reportedly got into a brief gun battle last week with at least one
Palestinian man killed. CNN's Hadas Gold has the details.
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: This was a rare clash between Palestinian Authority security forces and militants in the West Bank. And
it resulted in the first Palestinian to be killed by Palestinian Authority security forces this year.
And the reaction from the militant groups has also been harsh and highlights the widening gap between the official Palestinian institutions
and the militant groups which hold increasing sway and power especially in the northern part of the West Bank where this happened.
Now violence has been surging across the occupied West Bank over the past year and a half with the Israeli government saying that the Palestinian
Authority's lack of action compels the Israeli military, they say to conduct regular raids across the West Bank to tamp down on militant
So what happened was that a gun battle erupted in the town of Tulkarm after Palestinian Authority security forces say that their forces entered the
refugee camp there to remove what they called hazardous materials and barriers, including some that were near a school and that they then came
under fire from armed youths in the area.
A local journalist told CNN that the forces entered the camp to remove unarmed IEDs that were put in place to target Israeli forces if and when
they were to enter the refugee camp. Now security forces say that they took, "Necessary measures to control the situation".
Now the man killed was identified as a 22-year-old Abdel Qater Zaqdah. His brother told CNN that he was an electrician and claimed that he was not
associated with any militant groups. But the militant groups have called this like Hamas set a crime against our people. And the Al Aqsa martyrs
brigade, which is associated with the Fatah party, which is the dominant party in the Palestinian Authority.
They accused the Palestinian Authority forces assisting the Israelis and announced that official security forces from the Palestinian Authority are
now prohibited from entering the Tulkarm refugee camp. The militants also warn that the Palestinian security forces will be treated, "Like the
occupation, meaning the Israeli forces if they came into the camp". Hadas Gold, CNN Jerusalem.
ANDERSON: Well, Hadas just mentioned, there is growing discontent amongst Palestinians in the West Bank with the Palestinian Authority. Earlier this
summer after Israel carried out one of the largest military raids in years in Jenin, members of the PA went to visit the area and this was the
response they received.
Well, they're chanting for is for them to get out. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is deeply unpopular. A poll carried out last year
in Ramallah found that 74 percent three quarters of residents wanted him to resign. Abbas of course took office in 2005 at the end of the Second
Intifada and presidential elections have not been held since 2006.
We'll coming up how an innovative form of crowd funded conservation is helping to preserve one of the world's rarest primates that is up next.
ANDERSON: Today on Call to Earth, CNN's Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir introduces us to one of the most impressive conservation efforts in
the Americas. This is an innovative project focused on the preservation of a rare or captivating animal. Have a look at this.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In one particular corner of one particular country, there lives a creature that exists
nowhere else in the world. This is Colombia. And word is their unique species is adorable and elusive and critically endangered, a combination
that can frustrate when trying to spotlight but trudging through a forest hot as a sauna, our odds are better than average, thanks to people who know
them really well.
ROSAMIRA GUILLEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR/CO-FOUNDER, FUNDACION PROYECTO TITI: They love the nectar of the flower. And they stick their hair, the hair
like in the flower like that and their facial hair.
WEIR (voice-over): Rosamira Guillen started her career as a landscape architect. But when she was hired to help build a zoo, she met the animal
that would change her life. And there's the cotton top tamarind, a little monkey with a look right out of Dr. Seuss. And an equally cute local
nicknamed the TT.
WEIR: I can see why you fell in love with these -- .
GUILLEN: Yes. Yes, how can you not?
WEIR (voice-over): When she learned that the illegal pet trade and slash and burn cattle ranching had driven them to the brink of extinction. Her
architect mind shifted from building zoos to rebuilding forests, which is much more difficult than just dropping seeds and soil.
GUILLEN: It may take a day to cut a hectare of forest, but to rebuild it takes about 20 years.
WEIR (voice-over): Her effort is called Project TT. And over two decades, she's learned that re-wilding takes sweat, smarts, and human relations.
Because in order to connect the TT's fragmented habitat, she would need land and the cooperation of ranchers who do not share her love for these
WEIR: Is it harder, working with nature or human nature?
GUILLEN: Definitely from a nature. Oh, I would be happy to just hang out with the monkeys and in the forest. Our goal is to get to a certain point
where there's enough for them to be stable and make it in the long term, right. Our fears are that you know you always fear that you don't get
enough support to keep going.
WEIR (voice-over): She worried she'd never have the resources to buy a pivotal piece of land. But then came an angel investor from Silicon Valley.
CHRIS VARGAS, FOUNDER, REWORLD: Steve Jobs and Jane Goodall, all wrapped into one entrepreneurial, smart dedicated to saving our planet. I said,
look, if there's one thing I want to do before I die, it's helped this woman do what she does, which is incredible.
WEIR (voice-over): Chris Vargas has been a supporter for almost 20 years. And when he heard Rosamira wanted to buy an old cattle ranch in a vital
spot, he came up with an innovative form of crowd funded conservation. He calls ReWorld.
VARGAS: Why don't we just build a website and build a technology that lets anybody in the world, click on a map, pick an acre, pick 10 acres, pick 50
acres and get all that feedback exactly what happened with your money.
WEIR (voice-over): With a one-time donation of around $1,200, he says one acre can be secured for the TT's forever.
VARGAS: And every year we'll give you some satellite shots that show your land being re-forced and the trees growing. So you know, what you gave
worked. So when you buy land for her, you're giving her the chance to get carbon credit income for the next 40 years, which will fund staff, trucks,
fuel educational programs for kids.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One is for my son River, and my daughter Olivia. History is for you.
GUILLEN: While we save this beautiful forest for them, we're saving the forest for many other animals, now so of all biodiversity.
WEIR: And a livable planet for us
GUILLEN: And a livable planet for us exactly. Because we get water, we get air, we get lots of resources. And that's why we focus so much on
connecting people with nature, to appreciate it in and care for it and want to do something about it. With a little help, we can make it because we've
got the experience. We've done it and it works.
ANDERSON: Let us know what you are doing to answer the call with the #calltoearth, use your social platforms for that. You're watching "Connect
the World". There's more news just ahead, stay with us.
ANDERSON: Well, the Head of European football UEFA calling Luis Rubiales' kiss for the player are the Women's World Cup inappropriate. Alexsander
Ceferin stopped short though of demanding Rubiales' resignation, he says and I quote him here. "I hope he knows it was out of order. That's enough
for the time being because the disciplinary committee will decide."
Well, FIFA suspended Rubiales from football activities for three months while the disciplinary committee carries out its investigation the
covenants today from Ceferin the first from UEFA after 11 days of silence. Well I spoke this week with the legendary Spanish footballer Andres
And in a similar tone to the UEFA boss, he also criticized Rubiales, but that was far from the only thing that we discussed. Iniesta won the World
Cup and European championships with Spain while adding a few champions' leagues with Barcelona in what was a legendary career.
The 39-year-old spent the last few years playing in Japan and now has moved here to the UAE to join Emirates club based in Ras Al Khaimah. It's less
well known than the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but a beautiful place which puts sport at the heart of its policies and he's hit the ground
running. We spoke about his new home, missing his old teammates and his love for teaching the beautiful game. Have a listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here in Saudi Arabia. I am -- .
ANDERSON (voice-over): Football is undergoing a revolution as Saudi Arabia continues to sign star players. After Qatar hosted the World Cup in
December, it's another sign the Gulf means business when it comes to sport. And here in the United Arab Emirates, Spanish World Cup winner and former
Barcelona star Andres Iniesta has added his name to an ever growing roster in the Middle East.
ANDERSON: Do you see a genuine opportunity here in this region to build out quality competitive football?
INIESTA: At the end of the day, football is a global sport, and everybody would like to have a big name and important players playing in their league
in order to grow football in the region at a fan and training level.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Andres Iniesta is the epitome of Barcelona, winning 32 trophies for the club. He joined the Catalan side at the age of 12 and
learned his craft in the prestigious La Masia Academy. Now he wants to take his famed football intelligence and imparted on budding players around the
ANDERSON: You talked about promoting football and helping the youngsters in Ras Al Khaimah, just how important is it to you to help a new generation?
And what sort of support have you seen here for the game of football?
INIESTA: Apart from helping them as footballers, I would like to help them learn what we have picked up throughout our careers through the academies.
We have the Iniesta Academy in many places around the world. And we would love to be able to help people here, understand the methodology and the
work ethic that I have learned throughout my career.
It is currently one of the biggest projects we have to date. It is what I understand is football and taking that and transmitting it to the youth so
they can grow in their football training. But also developer's people, it is a lovely thing to do.
ANDERSON: Andres, your debut game was a thrilling one, albeit played in very hot and humid conditions, a full all draw, you scored a penalty.
At your age, the ripe old age of what 39 at this point, is it tough to go out and those sorts of conditions and still play a decent competitive game
INIESTA: Well, during the first few weeks, you try to adapt quickly to the conditions, which isn't easy as you aren't used to them. But in the end,
it's our job. And the only way is to get everything in you to be in the best shape possible. And at my age, I still have the desire to keep
playing, training and having fun, which is why I take care of myself. I will try to enjoy myself the most during the whole season.
ANDERSON (voice-over): In an Exodus this summer, three of Iniesta's former teammates and the Massiah Alumni, Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Jordi
Alba, all joined into Miami, in the MLS in the United States. There were reports that Iniesta would follow as fans willed on a reunion. But he chose
instead to relocate from Japan, to the UAE.
INIESTA: When I left Japan, I was lucky enough to have different options. And in the end, you make the decision based on what you think is the best
for you and your family. And based on the place and the confidence they transmit to you to help in the project. And here, there are many things we
can help improve, which allows me to provide my experience to the club, as well as the academies.
This is what excited me the most. I am so happy here and the welcome I have had by the club and the people has been wonderful. And I just hope I can do
a good job.
ANDERSON: Are you still keeping the door open for a move, for example, to North America at some point, can you see that in your future?
INIESTA: I have a contract for a year here. And I really hope to spend more time here. That of course depends on the job we do, how happy people are
with the job we do and the desire to continue playing.
ANDERSON: Let me tell you people are so excited that he is here. And you can watch that interview with Andres Iniesta on our digital platform.
Cnn.com of course is coming up very soon. There's also a full digital write outline and players hopes and dreams for the next few years in his career
and what his plans might be next go to cnn.com to get all of that.
Well in the U.S. a high level government official wants to ease restrictions on marijuana. The official from the Department of Health and
Human Services requested the drug be classified as lower risk. Currently marijuana is included in the most dangerous category alongside heroin and
What would this reclassifies, reclassification do or its impact be. Joining us now is CNN Health Reporter Jacqueline Howard, Jacqueline.
JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Yes, Becky what we can expect this reclassification does not mean that cannabis will be legal here in the U.S.
it will still be a scheduled substance so it would still be illegal. But if it is shifted from a schedule one substance to a schedule three, this is
the difference we could see.
With schedule one that's typically for substances that are considered to have no current accepted medical use. These are substances considered to
have high potential for abuse like heroin, or LSD. But schedule three are substances that are considered to have acceptable uses and medicine.
And these are substances considered to have low to moderate risk or low to moderate potential for abuse. And this schedule three is where the HHS
health officials here in the United States are recommending for Gant cannabis to be rescheduled to.
So what we can expect to happen next, this was a recommendation made to the Drug Enforcement Agency here in the U.S. We can expect to hear from the DEA
there might be a period where the public can weigh in with their own public comments, and then we could possibly hear from the DEA on what its final
But I can tell you, Becky; this is an interesting process to watch happen. Many advocates here in the United States have been advocating, not just for
rescheduling, but some say to de-schedule marijuana which would make it legal. But for now the conversation that's happening, health officials made
their recommendation to reschedule from one to three. Next we might hear more from DEA authorities as they continue their review process, Becky.
ANDERSON: Isn't it fascinating. It's good to have you. Thank you very much indeed. And finally as the song goes, blue moon, you saw me standing alone
and like others around the World, I was probably taking a photo of this rare blue moon peaked Wednesday evening. You can see it here or seen from
Johannesburg, Chicago and over Jerusalem.
Because its orbital path is closer to Earth, a super moon appears to be much bigger and brighter than a regular full moon. A Blue Moon is when two
full moons fall within one calendar month. You can still catch this super blue moon until Friday morning. The next one isn't expected until 2030.
And we tracked it on our way home last night; it is really remarkable to see it look so low in the sky. I'm Becky Anderson. You've been watching
"Connect the World" with me from our broadcasting hub here in Abu Dhabi. From the team working with me here and those who work with us around the
world, it is a very, very good evening. CNN of course continues after this short break. Don't go away. We'll see you same time same place tomorrow.