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Connect the World

U.S. to Lead Coalition to prevent Houthi Attacks in Red Sea; CNN on the Front Line as Ukraine Awaits Critical Aid; CNN Investigates Nonprofits Links to Anti-LGBTQ Laws in Africa; Texas Governor Abbott Signs Border Bill that makes Entering Texas Illegally a State Crime; Workers Pull Crocodile from Floodwaters. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired December 19, 2023 - 09:00   ET




JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Wow, this is the scene in Iceland where a volcano has erupted, following weeks of underground

activity. It's 2 pm in Iceland. It's also 9 am here in New York. I'm Julia Chatterley. This is "Connect the World".

Also happening this hour there are serious concerns over the impact of the Israel Hamas war on global shipping. How the recent Houthi attacks in the

Red Sea could affect prices and inflation beyond the Middle East. In China, rescue workers are battling subzero temperatures to find survivors of

what's been called the deadliest earthquake in a decade. And Turkish football fans celebrate the return of the sport following a one week


Hey, welcome once again to "Connect the World". The U.S. Defense Secretary is in Bahrain and Qatar today, after announcing a new task force formed to

protect commercial shipping in the Red Sea. Bahrain among the 10 countries that Lloyd Austin says will try to prevent further attacks from Iranian

backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Here's what he had to say about it in Bahrain's Capital.


LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: And these reckless Houthi attacks are a serious international problem. And they demand a firm international



CHATTERLEY: Houthi officials say the attacks are a response to Israeli military operations in Gaza and will continue until Israel stands down and

allows aid into the besieged enclave. Israeli Leaders insist the war against Hamas will not end until Hamas is eliminated and all Israeli

hostages are freed. And family members of two hostages seen in a video released by Hamas Monday. So the hostages looked to be in bad shape and

it's time to bring them home.

Natasha Bertrand is at the Pentagon for us. Natasha, let's begin there with hopes to see more hostages released. We know that Secretary Austin is in

Qatar speaking to the Prime Minister. It follows the CIA Chief Bill Burns meeting with the Qatari Prime Minister on Monday. Do you have any sense or

indication that we might be approaching at least some kind of further breakthrough?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, we really don't have a good sense whether this momentum is going to lead to an actual

breakthrough in allowing more hostages to be released by Hamas. The negotiations have been very slow. They only just restarted Israel

originally pulled its Mossad chief back from these negotiations a few weeks ago.

The Mossad Director was scheduled to meet with the Qataris to discuss this more. But that was ultimately cancelled because there were simply no

concessions being made. Now we are seeing that start to begin again very, very slowly, very cautiously. The CIA Director as you said has been meeting

with his Qatari and Israeli counterparts to discuss a potential restart in these negotiations.

But of course, one of the major sticking points has been that Hamas has not been willing to release the women that it still has in its captivity, Hamas

saying that they consider these women to be IDF soldiers. Of course, the Israelis saying that that is not accurate that is not true that there are


So that has been a key point here that has led to these talks to stall. So we'll have to see whether there is any progress on this in the coming days.

But as of right now, they seem to just be very slow going, Julia.

CHATTERLEY: And let's talk about the Red Sea and the security situation there. What we did hear from the Defense Secretary's more details on

operation prosperity guardian. What can you tell us about the nations and the forces that might be involved in this and how quickly perhaps, it can

start to secure this area?

BERTRAND: Yeah, so this is a really interesting initiative that has been launched by the U.S. in conjunction with its regional allies here. It's

part of an existing task force. And essentially, it just marks an expansion of it and a relocation of some of those assets in the Red Sea.

But we should note that you know there are a number of countries here that have said that they are willing to be a part of this. But others that don't

want necessarily to reveal themselves because of course they can make themselves targets additional targets for these Houthi attacks.

And so right now all we know is that this task force includes the UK, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, the Seychelles and

Spain. But it actually could be even broader than that. And the hope is that this could bolster the security of course of these commercial vessels

field traveling through the Red Sea because it is a major problem.

It has impacted international shipping. Oil prices have spiked because BP is one company that has said it's going to suspend its shipments and

operations in the region. So it is starting to have a very serious impact on the global economy and that really impacts everyone in the international



And so the hope is that by having these ships from these different countries kind of around not necessarily to directly escort these

commercial vessels but to have them in the general vicinity in the area just in case they need help that will serve as a deterrent for the Houthi

attacks that we've seen that have ranged from ballistic missile attacks to drone attacks.

But the question is whether they're actually going to be deterred by this? We have seen of course, the U.S. naval warships respond to their attacks in

recent weeks and they have continued them. And so there are a lot of questions now about whether the Pentagon is going to respond to these

attacks by striking the Houthis directly inside Yemen, taking it a step further of course beyond this task force that has been set up.

CHATTERLEY: Natasha Bertrand for now, thank you for that. Now, there's growing anger and condemnation today over an alleged Israeli sniper attack

on a church compound in Gaza. A Catholic group in Jerusalem shared photos of damage done to the Holy Family Parish Church, where it says two women

were killed over the weekend by an Israeli sniper. The Israel Defense Forces appear to deny the claim. Hundreds of people are said to be

sheltering inside the church.

And the U.N.'s Humanitarian Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Processes left the Palestinian territories after Israel refused to renew her visa.

Israel previously criticized Lynn Hastings for what a Foreign Ministry official called, "Ongoing silence about Hamas's responsibility for the

October 7th terror attacks that sparked the war". The Israeli Foreign Minister cited what he called "The bias of the U.N."

Now in Northwestern China now the death toll from an overnight earthquake has risen to at least 126 people according to state media. This is believed

to be China's deadliest quake in nearly a decade. Hundreds of people are hurt after a magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit the Gansu Province. Electricity

has now been restored to the region says authorities, Marc Stewart has more.


MARC STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Under a dark sky and enduring sub-freezing temperatures, rescue crews shuffle through debris desperately

looking for survivors. The 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Northwest China struck late at night while many people were sleeping. The survivors are

carefully carried out from the rubble and rushed to the hospital. They are lucky to be alive as the death toll is rising.

Surveillance cameras captured the moment when the earth shook. According to state media, the tremors lasted nearly 20 seconds and felt more than 60

miles away from the epicenter. Video on social media shows people inside buildings running downstairs fleeing to safety as lights across the region

shook from the ceiling.

At a local school students inside a dormitory are forced to break open a locked door to escape. While others poured into the streets still in shock

standing in the dark. Amid frigid temperatures these students are told to run and jump so they don't get too cold. And fires are set on a playground

to keep warm. The cold weather gripping the area is yet another obstacle to the victims.

As the sun raises the view from above reveals the extent of the damage, homes in nearby villages have collapsed. Thousands across the region are

damaged. In some places water and electricity have been cut off. Mobile signals have also been impacted making rescue efforts even more difficult.

While rescue teams still scurry to find survivors, there is fear of this quake may be the deadliest to hit China in nearly a decade. Marc Stewart,

CNN, Beijing.


CHATTERLEY: No threat to life. That's what we're hearing from the Icelandic government about a huge volcanic eruption that's less than 60 kilometers

from the Capital, Reykjavik. Just take a look at this dramatic footage. The government is also reporting no disruption to flights to and from Iceland.

And it says international flight corridors do remain open.

You remember that chaos from an ash cloud caused by an eruption on the Nordic Island Nation back in 2010. This is very different. I want to bring

in Melissa Bell now. Melissa, it's good to know there is a risk.

Of course the residents of GrindavIk evacuated and were starting to be told that they could go back. And now we've seen this eruption. I guess

infrastructure is still a huge concern, particularly trying to gauge how much this fissure might grow.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's a fissure that's grown, remarkably quickly. It began just after 10 pm last night. And that

fissure now four kilometers wide and its southern edge is only three kilometers from the Town of GrindavIk that you mentioned that's been

entirely evacuated.

The real question was which way the lava would flow once it started to emerge from this fissure turns out? And this is what we've been hearing

from authorities on the scene dealing with that over the course of the last couple of hours is that, the lava flows are in fact heading north and east

and therefore away from the town itself so some good news there.

The other piece of good news as we watch these extraordinary images are the fact that we are seeing that the eruption itself is not as violent, not as

strong as it was just a few hours ago. There was a time overnight when we were looking at 200 cubic meters of lava erupting from this every second

Julia, so extraordinarily impressive pictures.

The other big question everyone had as they started to watch this is as you mentioned, throwback to 2010 at that time it was the mixture of the lava

and the glacial ice that had caused that ash cloud. No danger at this time. Flights still coming in and out of Reykjavik and it's expected will be

continued to do so.

The real danger now authorities say are the toxic fumes that continues to emerge from that fissure. And people have been warning authorities have

been warning people not to try and come and have a look too close because of the danger of that. And there is some fear even now Julia that those

toxic fumes could even make their way towards Reykjavik, the Capital which is not that far away.

So still some concerns about what the consequences of this volcanic activity will be. But the immediate fears of loss of life or a huge

disruption to air traffic systems appear to have been delayed for now, Julia.

CHATTERELY: Yes. And we'll continue to watch it very closely Melissa. And no tourism, I think was the message there. Don't go anywhere near this for

now. Melissa Bell, thank you.

Next hour we should hear from the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at his year-end news conference. It comes across a week after he appealed

to the United States and to Europe for more than $100 billion in new military aid. And then of course came home empty handed. $60 billion are

currently logged jammed in the U.S. Congress where Republicans have tied it to national immigration policy.

The White House warns that unless it's approved quickly America's money for Ukraine will run out at years end. And that's of course just days away and

hopes are deeming that the money will be approved by then. Nick Paton Walsh looks at how the holdup in Washington is playing out on the battlefield.

And I should warn you some of the images in his report are pretty difficult to watch.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): This was where the billions were meant to spell a breakthrough but where the counter offensive was supposed to have kicked Russia to the sea

this summer. Now it is mud death deadlock and the remnants of American help vanishing.

WALSH: It's a notably different mood here dark frankly in the summer they were buoyed feeling like they had the world at their back moving forwards.

Now it's slow, dangerous and a real sense of despair to be honest.

WALSH (voice-over): 40 Russian drones swarmed one Ukrainian trench here in a day. Down here in this tiny basement the rule is, do not get seen. The

other side is not so lucky two Russians spotted moving a load. They guide in a mortar strike. There were just so many Russians now.

Usually more meat means -- more mint the commander says but sometimes their machines struggles to handle it. And sometimes they have success. Batteries

die fast in the cold and Russian jamming seems to damage them too.

WALSH: This is Orikhiv, whose streets reek of crushed lives at how much horror Moscow is willing to bring to be seen to win. Then matter of months,

as you'll hear in the summer, how much more damage has been done.

WALSH (voice-over): If you've stopped thinking about Ukraine, be sure Putin hasn't. At command they watch a wasteland. Tree lines now bear. The dead,

the injured, it's unclear if Russia treats them differently. Another Ukrainian drone aims for a foxhole. But they've struggled with the waves of

Russian assaults.

WALSH: Dozens of Russian prisoners well trained and equipped backed up by armor, who they say are given a mix of drugs.

WALSH (voice-over): They show us this graphic video of a wounded Russian, his legs severed seemingly high enough to smile through his fatal injuries.

Still they claim they have held hard one ground but at a huge cost.


As we say in the army he says the counter offensive was smooth on paper, but we forgot about the ditches. Colossal changes are taking place. They

started making their own attack drones and outnumber ours, but used them badly like a kid's toy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me? What's happening?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heavy injuries.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dexter, Dexter, Dexter --

WALSH (voice-over): They say a drone has hit a trench and blown up a gas heater.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Begin the evacuation, begin the evacuation. Evacuate with a small vehicle. Did you move already?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not? Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No transport, no transport.

WALSH (voice-over): The silence, the wait for news agony.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Copy, is he dead?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's over, evacuate him, no rush. We can't help him already.

WALSH: Does it feel like the casualties are getting worse?

WALSH (voice-over): Every casualty makes a difference he says, it affects everyone's morale. It's very painful for me. Sergei (ph) aged 48 was one of

four Ukrainians to die in that area that day and about 50 that week. They haven't had to really talk about losing in this war. But this is what it

looks like.

It's not just drones. This Russian video seems to show a new threat gas, caustic, flammable. The Ukrainians have had nine incidents on this front

killing one. Here are two survivors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At first I saw smoke. We ran out from the trench and the gas suddenly caught fire. The trench was in flames. This gas burns blinds

you. You can't breathe, shoots down your throat immediately. We didn't even have a second.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You inhale it twice. Then you fail to breathe.

WALSH (voice-over): Medical reports confirmed they're poisoning and Ukrainian official told CNN a form of CS gas was being used.

WALSH: And there was injuries inside your mouth way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On my cheeks everywhere inside the mouth. My face is swollen and covered in red marks.

WALSH (voice-over): It is an ugly savage world even on a TV screen where there seems little Moscow won't do, but too much the west won't. Nick Paton

Walsh CNN Orikhiv, Ukraine.


CHATTERLEY: OK, coming up here on "Connect the World", draconian laws against homosexuality are on the rise in Africa. Next, we bring you an

exclusive investigation of foreign influences playing a role. Stay with us.



CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "Connect the World". The Catholic Church is taking a controversial turn regarding same sex couples. The Vatican will

now allow priests to offer informal blessings to people who are in "Irregular situations". And that includes couples of the same sex as well

as unmarried couples and divorcees.

The change comes in a document approved by Pope Francis, but it makes clear the church is still against gay marriage. Now some Conservative Catholics

are already expressing their dismay at the Vatican's ruling and it surely will not be received well in countries where homosexuality is still


In some African nations homophobic laws seem to be encouraging persecution and even violence. David McKenzie looks at allegations that an American

group is pushing anti-LGBTQ legislation abroad.


DAVID MCKENZIE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We are in Nairobi tracking the impact of hate.

MCKENZIE: So we're heading to a safe house that has been arranged for Ugandans that have fled Uganda into Kenya trying to get asylum.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): We are shielding their location, hiding their identity for their safety.

MCKENZIE: Hey, how are you doing?


MCKENZIE: Thank you for having us.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): No one is sure how many had fled but the numbers have surged. In safe houses like this their wounds are still fresh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He felt like if he can cut me into pieces, it would be better.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Adrian's own father tried to kill him he says for being gay.

ADRIAN, ASYLUM SEEKER: These are the knives, he stabbed me. In Uganda when they kill someone in the LGBT community it's not a big deal.

SYLVIA, ASYLUM SEEKER: My mom came herself and she told me not -- you're not welcome here. You're not part of our family.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Betrayed by their families pursued by the police. They fled into Kenya on foot or by bus often in the dead of night. Now they

are afraid to go out. They keep the curtains shut from prying eyes. Since 2021 politicians have pushed a new generation of disturbing homophobic

bills in Uganda, Ghana and Kenya.

Some even are calling for hefty jail terms including life in prison for same sex relationships and identifying as queer, all of them to protect so-

called family values. For months, CNN has been investigating the influence of American Charity, Family Watch International headed by this woman,

Sharon Slater. For years the organization has been advocating across Africa for family values and against educating young people about LGBT issues and

sexual health.

ALI, RESEARCHER: This is Africa and what it takes to be close to just stand next to the President of an African country in Africa. It means it's not


MCKENZIE (voice-over): The President is Yoweri Museveni of Uganda at a Sex Education Conference in Entebbe in April. The conference included

politicians pushing the homophobic laws. This opposition researcher has tracked Slater's organization for years. We agree to conceal his identity

to protect the ongoing work.

ALI: She presents herself as an expert. She presents herself as a consultant.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): A source with direct knowledge of their involvement says they were much more instrumental than just consulting. The source says

a Family Watch International Representative made repeated changes to draft versions of the homophobic bill, together with members of parliament even

suggesting clauses that should be added to the text. A CNN Producer found Sharon Slater at the United Nations in New York.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sharon Slater, there are allegations that Family Watch International is pushing homophobic laws in Africa. What do you have to say

in response to that?

SHARON SLATER, FOUNDER, FAMILY WATCH INTERNATIONAL: It's absurd, totally, totally absurd. I've got documents. I can send you later to show that I

have not been involved in any of those laws. It's just absurd.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Family Watch International provided this document to CNN, an extraordinary endorsement of Slater's work by President Museveni.

He says she played no part in "Originating canvassing or supporting the law", instead suggesting a safe haven for homosexuals. The final law allows

for the rehabilitation of offenders, including widely discredited conversion therapy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gay people and lesbian people are human beings like me.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): We tracked down a youth leader in Nairobi with close ties to Family Watch International.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will not be happy for them to be punished. But what I would recommend is to respect and uphold those laws.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Family Watch International said he is not authorized to speak for the organization.

MCKENZIE: So are you happy with these laws being pushed is what you're saying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm happy for the laws being pushed.


MCKENZIE: I've seen people who are fearing for their lives on this continent because of these laws.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're very minor cases.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): The awful reality is this. CNN has tracked a severe spike in abuse of LGBTQ Africans. Often put on social media, often too

graphic to show. It's an epidemic of hate, inspired by the laws. In Kenya, human rights group say that attacks on the community have at least doubled

in the last two years with more than thousand incidents up until August. The proposed law here is the most sweeping yet.

PETER KALUMA, KENYAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: When you engage in those acts of LGBT which are prohibited in Kenya you become a criminal.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): The MP sponsoring the bill has Sharon Slater's book on family values on his shelf.

MCKENZIE: Family Watch International is not specifically helping with the drafting of this bill.

KALUMA: No, they can't. That would be to say, I don't have my own brain.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): In the safe house as the hate spreads they fear their space is running out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel at any point I'm left nowhere to go. If I go outside there, they will notice that I am LGBTI sooner or later I'll be



MCKENZIE (on camera): The Ugandans face a difficult road to asylum with no guarantees of success. Human Rights experts believe that Family Watch

Internationals work, behind the scenes is pushing homophobia in the continent. It's an allegation the organization denies. David McKenzie, CNN


CHATTERELY: OK, and still to come here on "Connect the World" Governor Greg Abbott signed a border bill on Monday that makes entering Texas illegally a

state crime. We're following reaction and why the Coronavirus variant JN-1 is causing concern among health experts, stay with CNN.



CHATTERELY: Welcome back. And it's the final full week of trade on Wall Street for 2023. And as the opening bell, NFL Legend Marshawn Lynch is

ringing it today. And you can see the scenes there clapping across the New York Stock Exchange. Investors in fact are currently riding a seven week

winning streak, the S&P 500 approaching record highs.

If you take a look just to take stock of where we are? Oh my goodness, he's really enjoying that moment. Here we are for the open this morning and we

are in the green. I can give you a stock check of where we are and what the performance is year-to-date.

Just to give you a teaser look at that, this S&P 500 is up nearly 25 percent this year, certainly not what we were expecting at the start of the

year when all the talk of course was on recession risk. It remains all about the outlook.

And to give us some indication today Express Delivery Business FedEx due to announce its quarterly earnings later on, a useful bellwether, at least for

consumer and business demand and the broader health of the global economy. Something else we've also been watching particularly in the last couple of


The oil price changes, Brent still up six tenths of 1 percent, WTI up a similar amount adding to gains from yesterday some nervousness in the oil

markets following those recent attacks on shipping by Houthi rebels. We'll have to see whether the measures taken with this naval task force bear


Welcome back. I'm Julie Chatterley in New York and you are watching "Connect the World". Let me give you some of our headlines this hour. U.S.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visiting Bahrain and Qatar today after announcing a 10 nation task force to protect commercial ships from Houthi

rebel attacks in the Red Sea. The Houthi say the attacks are a response to Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza and the Red Sea task force will not stop


In Northwest China, the death toll from an overnight earthquake has risen to at least 126. Hundreds are hurt too after the magnitude 5.9 earthquake

hit the Gansu Province. You're looking at a gas station as that quake hit.

And many homes were also damaged. Rescuers are looking to debris for survivors. This is China's deadliest quake in nearly a decade. And a

volcano in Iceland is erupting with dramatic bursts of lava. It's near the Town of Grindavik which was evacuated last month after weeks of seismic

activity. The Icelandic government says the eruption poses no threat to life and there's no disruption to flight.

Now in the United States nearly two dozen lawmakers have written a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland expressing what they called "Grave

concern over the signing of a Texas border bill". The State's Republican Governor signed a bill into law on Monday which makes illegal border

crossings a state crime.

The measure is creating fear in particular throughout the Latino Community in the state. In the letter Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas called on

the Attorney General to stop the controversial bill from going into effect writing "We urge you to assert your authority over federal immigration and

foreign policy and pursue legal action as appropriate to stop this unconstitutional and dangerous legislation from going into effect". Rosa

Flores has more on the potential impact.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: They're poisoning the blood of our country.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Donald Trump's hardline immigration stance echoed in Texas where Governor Greg

Abbott signed into law with the ACOU Dubs (ph) one of the most radical anti-immigrant bills ever passed by any state.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Senate Bill 4 is now law in the State of Texas.

FLORES (voice-over): SB4 creates a new state crime for illegal entry into Texas gives local police the power to arrest and judges the power to remove


ABBOTT: But the problem is far more than just numbers.

FLORES (voice-over): After multiple attempts the controversial measure passed the Republican led legislature.


FLORES (voice-over): But not without a fight by the Democratic minority that erupted into this on the House floor.

REP. ARMANDO WALLE (D-TX): You all will understand the -- that you all do hurts our community.

FLORES (voice-over): After Republicans cut debate short.

WALLE: And you all don't understand that, you all don't live in our - skin.

FLORES (voice-over): That is Texas State Representative Armando Walle from Houston, an American with Mexican roots. He says he fears SB4 will lead to

the racial profiling of Latinos across Texas.

WALLE: Why do we and those of us that look like me? Why do we have to carry our passports around?

FLORES (voice-over): The Republican authors of the bill said there was no need to safeguard the measure against racial profiling. Texas has not

determined the cost of SB4, some county governments fear it's an unfunded mandate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't agree with the cost of being shifted over to our local -- I don't agree.

FLORES (voice-over): Texas Republican Senator Brian Birdwell voted against the measure saying it's unconstitutional.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we are setting a terrible precedent for the future by invalidating our obedience and faithfulness to our constitution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe SB4 is completely unconstitutional.

FLORES (voice-over): For Americans outside of Texas.

FLORES: Representative Walle, great to see you.

FLORES (voice-over): Walle warns SB4 could be used to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's 2012 so-called Show Your Papers law,

which upheld that immigration is a federal function.

WALLE: This is their roadmap now, now that they have a much favorable Supreme Court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not in conflict with the precedent set in Arizona versus U.S.

FLORES (voice-over): As for Walle who lost the fight against the law, but was one of the strongest voices against it.

WALLE: It fills me with pride because I've had elderly people today tell me that they were proud that somebody stood up for them, stood up for somebody

who didn't have a voice.


FLORES (on camera): I asked Governor Abbott point blank if he's trying to overturn Arizona versus the United States. That's the 2012 U.S. Supreme

Court decision that upheld that immigration is a federal function.

Now Governor Abbott first said that he believes that this law stands alone that it is constitutional. And then he said, "We also welcome a Supreme

Court decision that would overturn the precedent set in the Arizona case" Rosa Flores, CNN, Brownsville, Texas.

CHATTERLEY: Now in health news, scientists say they expect the Coronavirus, sub variant JN-1 to become the leading Coronavirus variant around the world

in a matter of weeks. Several nations in Europe including Denmark, Spain, Belgium, France and the Netherlands have also seen exponential growth of

JN-1 and with it rising hospitalizations.

For more let's bring in our CNN Medical Correspondent Meg Tirrell. Here we go again, I read this morning that this variant is now 20 percent of cases

in the United States. How bad is this? How concerned should we be?

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is rising pretty quickly here in the United States. If you look at the CDC's estimates for the

variant proportions over the last few weeks, you can see that this one JN-1 has really been rising pretty quickly from just about 4 percent a few weeks

ago going up there now to more than 20 percent nationally and here in the northeast, more than a third of new cases.

And this is expected to become dominant both here in the U.S. and worldwide really within a few weeks. And now, when we think about variants of course,

in order for them to become dominant they have to be fitter than the variants that came before them. They have to show some kind of advantage.

And with this one this is a descendant of a variant known as BA.2.86, which is part of that Omicron sub variant group. Now people were worried about

that previous one because it has so many mutations in the spike protein, they thought it would really be able to evade our existing immunity. Now

that one really didn't seem to take off maybe because it wasn't as good at infecting us.

But this one has an additional change and it does seem to be even fitter. The good news though is that early tests suggest the vaccines should still

provide good protection against JN-1. So public health officials are recommending if you haven't already go out and get your updated COVID

booster, of course this comes in the face of increasing hospitalizations not just around the world, but here in the United States as well from


Particularly across the Midwest, you're seeing on the CDC's map of increased hospitalization or hospital admissions. You're seeing higher

levels in the Midwest. But really they are increasing everywhere, unfortunately Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Yeah, grown is my response. But its good news at least that existing vaccines do provide protection. Stay well, everybody, please. Meg

Tirrell, thank you for that. We're back after this, stay with us.



CHATTERLEY: The flooding in Queensland is causing problems for both humans and animals alike. In Cannes, kayakers stopped to save a wallaby

floundering in the floodwaters and brought it back to safety. And in Ingham, rangers rounded up this two and a half meters saltwater crocodile

from the flooded creek. Officials say the croc will eventually be taken to a zoo or a crocodile farm.

Now it's Turkish delight for football fans as the sport resumes in Turkey after an attack on a referee last week halted fans going to matches. Amanda

Davies joins us now. Amanda, maybe Turkish delight but I have to say the horrific nature of that attack has to leave a bad taste in people's mouths.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN WORLD SPORTS ANCHOR: Yeah, it wasn't just a case of stopping fans going to matches. It was a case of all football at every

league level in Turkey being banned after those shocking scenes with the attack on the referee described as the darkest day for Turkish football.

The criminal investigation into those involved continues. But the action has resumed on the pitch in Istanbul. I think it's fair to say there are

still a lot of questions amongst fans and the football community uncertainty amongst Turkish referees about what happens next?

What measures are going to be put in place to protect them moving forward? And we are going to be speaking to our team on the ground in Istanbul in

just a couple of minutes in "World Sports". We'll find out a little bit more about how it's going.

CHATTERLEY: Yeah, a serious story there, but plenty of sparkle coming up to in "World Sports". So stick around. And "Connect the World" will be back at

the top of the hour, stay with CNN.