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Isa Soares Tonight

Ukraine Cites Russians Are Withdrawing From Parts Of Zaporizhzhia; Ukrainian Foreign Minister Says Letters With Explosives Were Sent To Its Embassies; Chinese Police Drag Resident To Quarantine; IranWire: Iranian Rock Climber's Home Destroyed By Government; Pres. Macros Treated To Lavish Send-Off At White House; Lava From Mauna Loa Threatening Big Island's Main Highway. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired December 02, 2022 - 14:00   ET



ZAIN ASHER, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Hello, everyone, I am Zain Asher in for my colleague, Isa Soares. Tonight, the situation around Zaporizhzhia is

heating up as Russia appears to be planning the evacuation of towns in the region. Then, CNN exclusive, Ukrainian foreign minister says a letter sent

to embassies with explosives and animal parts are designed to terrorize.

And even as Chinese officials claim to loosen some restrictions, new video shows the zero-COVID disaster, this video here, unbelievable. We'll hear

from one person brave enough to protest measures like these. Ukraine says its special forces are carrying out operations behind enemy lines in


One of the regions Moscow claims it has annexed. Ukrainian military officials say they've destroyed a Russian missile complex and a facility

used to interfere with Ukrainian military and civilian communications. According to Ukrainian military Intelligence, Russia is preparing for a

stepped up Ukrainian counteroffensive in Zaporizhzhia.

It says that Russia is withdrawing its troops from some frontline positions and preparing for the evacuation of occupation officials which Russia

denies. And Ukraine says that Russia is now preparing to evacuate civilians from several occupied towns as well, much like it did in the southern city

of Kherson before it was liberated.

Sam Kiley joins us live now from Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. So, Sam, just walk us through this. Ukraine is basically saying that Russia is

withdrawing from key positions within Zaporizhzhia. What more do we know for sure here?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is sort of, he say/she says in the games of propaganda. So, we have to give these things a

bit of a health warning. But if we look at what we do know and what is really emerging as a pattern, first of all, we're seeing a number of

special forces-type operations that the Ukrainians have claimed responsibility for, whether they involve people on the ground or precision

missile strikes.

A claim that doesn't matter because there is evidence indeed that some of these missile depots and other important strategic sites such as that

communications note that you referred to that was blanking out the ability of local people to use the mobile phone system and attacking Ukrainian

communications. That these have been attacks, and many of them destroyed indeed.

There have been explosions seen from some of these attacks, even on the horizon. It's a very large explosion. At the same time, we do know even

from Russian sources, that there has been the drawing up of censuses and the number of villages which was part of a consistent pattern from Kherson,

essentially, the local authorities trying to figure out who is there and how to get them out of the area.

And some of this is occurring, allegedly, in places like Nova Kakhovka, which is at the headwaters effectively, it's a dam that across the Dnipro

River, that funnels freshwater into the Crimean peninsula. It was arguably one of the most important, strategic targets of the initial Russian

invasion. It was captured very early on in their campaign when they captured the rest of Kherson City a bit later on.

Because it is so important to send water into that part of the peninsula. So, we do know that we're seeing the evolution of something along that very

long frontline that really has been in a state of stalemate for most of the last six months, long lines of trenches with each side firing back and

forth at one another.

But it does seem to be movement certainly on the Russian side, some of it back from the frontlines, some of it concentrating forces in particular

areas at that frontline. And of course, the Ukrainians continue to talk about potential offensive there, also, perhaps part of the psychological

operations. Although the pattern has been in the past the last six months, when they've said they're going to do an offensive, they very often do,


ASHER: And Sam, let's talk about another key point here, this idea that Russia is now firing donning(ph) missiles, what does that mean for the

exhaustion of Ukrainian air defense capabilities?

KILEY: Well, you're absolutely right. That is the key element that the Ukrainians are pointing to as why these nuclear capable missiles, without

the nuclear warhead had been fired at the targets within the country.


They're also very accurate, and they can be used to pinpoint accurate attack, things like the energy infrastructure. But they're also useful, in

that they soak up Ukraine's limited air defenses. Ukrainians are insisting that they need, for example, they've repeated their demand that they need a

patriot missile system and the American piece of equipment that actually takes a long time to train people to use --


To try to defend their airspace against these sorts of attacks, Zain. And then on top of that --


Excuse me, they're also saying that the serial numbers of these missiles have been scratched off. Which may actually mean that they have Ukrainian

origins, and at the end of the day, they may well also be a sign that the Russians are running out of the most sophisticated, cruise missiles, and

they're resorting to using these cold war era missiles too, Zain.

ASHER: All right, Sam Kiley, live for us there, thank you so much. All right, Russia's battlefield losses in Ukraine are changing the mood in

Moscow. There are not many who are willing to speak out against President Putin's so-called special military operation. Fred Pleitgen joins us live

now from Moscow. So, over the past 10 months, Fred, how has the opinion changed about this war among ordinary Russians?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Zain. Well, the face of it hasn't changed at all. It's quite interesting because

as we speak right now, a new poll has come out here in Russia claiming that Vladimir Putin's credibility rating is still at 78.1 percent, and that it's

actually gone up.

However, when you speak to people in the street, you do feel that there's a bad feeling creeping in about many people, especially after those

battlefield losses that the Russians have suffered over the past couple of months. Also, the fact that you've had this mobilization.

And really, also a lot of people don't see a light at the end of the tunnel as far as the sanctions are concerned. Here's what we're learning.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): As Moscow lights up for the holiday season, the festive mood is dampened by a dose of melancholy, as there seems no end in

sight to what the Kremlin calls its special military operation in Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I think the operation is not going too well, to put it mildly, because there are many losses on our


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I don't know what the goal of the operation is, but it's not reaching it.

PLEITGEN: After Russian forces were forced to retreat from large parts of northeastern and southern Ukraine, many here don't even want to talk about

what's happening on the battlefield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): To this question, I don't know what to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is a provocative question, I don't want to answer it.

PLEITGEN: Even after the Kremlin ordered a partial mobilization, drafting around 300,000 Russians between September and early November, gains have

been hard to come by for Moscow's forces in Ukraine. Still, many Russians say they trust their leadership's decision-making.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): As far as the military operation goes, I can only say one thing, that it is underway, and that I should not

comment on it. Because we all support our president of the Russian federation.

PLEITGEN: And Russian President Vladimir Putin is asking for more support and patience, promising things will turn around.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): We, as all of you here, rightfully said, we must achieve our goals, and we will achieve them

in the end.

PLEITGEN: But increasing numbers of boarded up shops show Russia's economy is running out of steam as sanctions bite, and some goods are becoming


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Of course, many things we've grown used to buying have disappeared, but life goes on. We have to adjust


PLEITGEN: Economic expert Sergey Zhavoronkov tells me he fears the economic woes could lead to wider discontent.

SERGEY ZHAVORONKOV, SENIOR RESEARCHER, GAIDAR INSTITUTE OF ECONOMIC POLICY (through translator): It is a known effect, the short victorious war may

provoke enthusiasm, but if the war lasts endlessly, and does not lead to the desired outcome, comes disappointment.

PLEITGEN: For now, the lights remain bright in Moscow, even as the dark clouds of economic uncertainty looms over the Russian capital.


PLEITGEN: That's exactly that uncertainty, Zain, that so many people tell us is a big problem for them. There are people that we spoke to who say

that they simply don't know what's going to happen next month and two months or in three months, as far as their own economic situation is


Of course, really not many of them see light at the end of the tunnel as far as sanctions are concerned, either especially as Russia is having

serious trouble on the battlefield in Ukraine as well. Zain.

ASHER: And Fred, all of this coming as President Biden intervenes that he would be willing to have a meeting with President Putin. But there are

conditions on both sides. Walk us through, A, what those conditions are --


ASHER: And B, if --


ASHER: Given those conditions, this meeting is really likely to take place at all?


PLEITGEN: It seems as though right now it's not very likely to take place because of those caveats that both leaders have put in place. Of course,

President Biden is saying that he would be willing to meet or to speak with Vladimir Putin, of Russia, if Vladimir Putin were seeking in some way to

get out of Ukraine.

Now, of course, the Russians are saying the exact opposite. In fact, the spokesman for the Kremlin Dmitry Peskov, he came out and he said that one

of the big inhibitors to such a meeting, or such a talk taking place between the two presidents, is the fact that at this point in time, the

United States is not recognizing what the Russians say are their new territories in Ukraine.

Of course, the ones that they've annexed, of which, large parts of which they don't actually control, which is actually under Ukrainian control. And

so it seems extremely difficult, especially since not many nations in this world have recognized those new territories. And certainly, the United

States has made very clear that it believes that those territories have been illegally annexed by the Russians, and the U.S. says that they will

continue to fund and aid Ukraine until Russia leaves Ukrainian territory.

So, it seems as though, right now, the conditions for talks between the two presidents seem fairly difficult. However, both sides have said that they

do believe that diplomacy needs to have some sort of chance. In fact, the spokesman of the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov said that the Russians want to

achieve their goals, which of course, are very difficult to really ascertain because they seem to keep changing.

But they also say that they believe that diplomacy is the best way to try and do that, of course, right now, it really seems that both sides, and all

sides, really, if you take the western nations and Ukraine as well, they are very far away from that happening. Zain?

ASHER: All right, Fred Pleitgen live for us there, thank you so much. Ukraine is tightening security at all of its embassies and consulates after

a series of incidents involving letter bombs, including packages and pretty much vandalism. Many Ukrainian embassies across Europe have also received

bloody packages this week containing, of all things, animal eyes.

Speaking exclusively to CNN, Ukrainian foreign minister blamed Russian sympathizers for the sinister deliveries.


DMYTRO KULEBA, FOREIGN MINISTER, UKRAINE: Well, it started with an explosion at the Embassy of Ukraine in Spain, but what followed was, this

explosion was more weird, and I would even say sick because we started receiving letters with eyes, animal eyes cut off.


KULEBA: Animal eyes, yes. In some cases -- in one case, it's most probably an eye of a cow and an eye of a pig in another case.

CHANCE: Let me ask you, who do you suspect, who does Ukraine suspect of been behind this?

KULEBA: Well, of course, I feel tempted to say the name Russia straightaway, because first of all, you have to answer the question, who

benefits from that? And it's definitely this campaign is aimed at sowing fear and terrorizing Ukrainian diplomats. I think it's either Russia itself

or someone who sympathizes the Russian cause.


ASHER: CNN's Kylie Atwood is following these developments from the State Department. So, Kylie, I mean, this is bizarre. The fact that some of these

packages contain animal eyes, animal parts, animal tissue, it's mind- boggling. Just walk us through what we should be reading into this, and the response from Ukrainian side in terms of stepping up security at some of

these embassies.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, these packages that first started to arrive at specific spots in Spain were

frankly, terrifying. These were mailed bombs. There was one Ukrainian official who was opening -- the first one that was received at the

Ukrainian embassy in Spain, and they were hurt, had to go to the hospital.

There were five other such suspicious packages, mail bombs that were sent to other locations in Spain, and they were interdicted before they hurt

anyone. The one that went to the U.S. Embassy in Spain was blown up in a controlled environment with Spanish authorities. And from the U.S. angle

right now, they're saying that they are leaving it essentially to the Spanish authorities to do the investigation into where those packages are

coming from and, of course, what the motivation is behind them.

But now, this is expanding and becoming incredibly gruesome. Because as you said, there are these bloody packages that are arriving at more than half a

dozen Ukrainian diplomatic outposts across Europe. And they have things including animal eyeballs in them. So, the Ukrainian foreign minister is

the latest person that we have heard from, of course, in that exclusive interview with Matthew Chance on this.

He believes that those who are sending these are Russian or at least have empathy for the Russians. And so, what we're really waiting to hear,

however, is who is actually behind this?


Because Spanish authorities have said that they believe that some of the packages, those mysterious packages could have been sent from locations in

Spain or they could have been sent from Ukraine, some of them had Ukrainian return addresses. So, it's not altogether clear right now. But the Spanish

authorities are taking the lead on that investigation as far as we know. Zain?

ASHER: All right, Kylie Atwood live for us there, thank you so much. All right, new video out of China is giving us a flesh -- fresh glimpse into

the strict COVID policies that have been fueling nationwide protests. Here you see police in the city of Hangzhou forcibly dragging a man to a

quarantine facility against his will. The man clings desperately to a sofa, still tries to continue to drag him.

Authorities apologized for that encounter as China eases restrictions in some cities, citing higher vaccination rates and the mildness of the

Omicron variant. Meantime, police are using cellphone data to track down protesters who have staged dozens of protests across China since Friday,

asking for those very changes.

Our Selina Wang in Beijing has more now on the desperate frustrations feeding the protest movement.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Silence will not protect you.

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This person, one of thousands across China, willing to put their lives on the line to

speak out. Years of pent-up anger over China's draconian COVID lockdowns boiling over into protests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I felt like I lost control of my life because of this COVID policy. Nobody is telling you when this is going to end. We are

limited physically, and now, we're limited mentally. We are forbidden to express our ideas.

WANG: For some, that cathartic emotional release is spilled into calls for political changes. Some even chanted for Xi Jinping to step down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It takes the one who is responsible for this whole policy thing. But for me, first things first, I want this zero COVID policy

gone. And if we have more freedom speech and freedom of press, of course, that would be great.

WANG (on camera): What do you think you guys achieved by participating in that protest?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't demonstrate, if you don't show them your voice, your idea, they will never know.

WANG (voice-over): And this is what happened next. Chinese security apparatus swiftly smothered the protests. CNN is shielding the protesters

identities because of fear of retribution, even conducting the interview in a car to avoid tracking from authorities. Police are calling and visiting

the homes of some protesters.

And in Shanghai, randomly stopping people to check their phones on streets and what appears to be in subways. Protesters say they're looking for VPNs,

needed to use banned apps like Twitter or Telegram, which some protesters used to communicate. Another protester told CNN, I'm afraid we cannot hold

protests like this again in the future.

There are always undercover agents in our Telegram group. Every few meters on the street, there are police and police dogs. The whole atmosphere is


(on camera): I'm at the center of a protests in Beijing right now. They're chanting that they don't want COVID tests. They want freedom.

(voice-over): Less than 24 hours after this, we drove back to that spot, police cars as far as the eye could see. Then a few days later --

(on camera): It's pretty much back to normal like nothing ever happened. And that is precisely the goal of the communist party.

(voice-over): In Guangzhou, residents destroyed COVID testing booths. Police in riot gear immediately swarm in. They marched through a market,

shouting at people to leave. Firing tear gas to disperse protesters, pushing through with shields and making arrests. Authorities have gone into

over-drive to censor all evidence of unrest online.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The white piece of paper actually represents the censorship and all the deleted contents, and cannot arrest us for just

holding a white paper. I still have that white paper I protested, and I put it in my diary as a souvenir to show my future generations that you should

always fight for your rights. And never let your voice be silenced.

WANG (on camera): How does it make you feel, though, that the government even censored pictures of people holding white papers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By doing this, they're just going to make the crowd even angrier, instead of trying to silence us. They should really focus --

and they're trying to think why this happened.

WANG (voice-over): Authorities are silencing them, but it seems they are listening. Right after the riots in Guangzhou, the city started lifting

some lockdowns, removing COVID road-blocks. "Unsealed! We are unsealed!" A man screams with excitement as he bikes through streets being opened up.


But so many others are still counting down their days in lockdowns and quarantine, wondering when zero COVID would really end. Selina Wang, CNN,



ASHER: All right, still to come tonight, shocking eliminations, controversial goals and lots of drama. We'll have the latest World Cup

action as the group stage draws to a close. Plus, French President Emmanuel Macron is ending his trip to the U.S. soon. He just made it to New Orleans.

These are pictures of his arrival there moments ago. We'll explain why he's there, plus details from Thursday's glamorous state dinner.


ASHER: Right, welcome back, everybody. It's a nerve-racking last day of the group stage at the World Cup in Qatar today, with teams fighting for a

spot in the last 16. CNN's Don Riddell is on the ground, he joins us live now to discuss the highlights. Let's talk about that game with South Korea

and Portugal. South Korea beating Portugal there, 2-1, I'm sure nobody expected that outcome. Just set the scene for us in terms of the move, we

saw all those pictures of the Korean fans just in shock and awe and utter delight.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, we've seen some extraordinary drama here, Zain. And today has been no exception. To paint the full picture, I

need to walk you through both groups, and both games in group H, and kind of go back and forth of it. So we'll start with Ghana-Uruguay. Ghana, this

was a -- you know, a rematch of -- a grudge match from 2010 World Cup.

Ghana with a chance to actually go ahead with an early penalty, but it was saved from Andre Ayew, then Uruguay, then very quickly went 2-0 goal, 2-0

ahead, thanks to a brace in the span of seven minutes from Georgian De Arrascaeta. So that gave Uruguay a 2-0 lead. We'll show you both goals here

before we move to the other game.

And that was pretty much, given how things were going in the other match, good enough for Uruguay. But look what happened. So Portugal, who were

already through against Korea, Portugal had an early lead, it was canceled out through Kim Young-gwon, and this game at 1-1 meant that Korea were

going out until stoppage time when Hwang Hee-chan scored a sensational late winner for Portugal.


But they had to hope that Uruguay didn't score another goal. That game still hadn't finished. If Uruguay had gone 3-0 ahead, it would have been

over for South Korea, but they didn't. So, as you can see, Korea now through. And let's cut back to the scenes in the Uruguay game, where they

were absolutely devastated. Because, until that late Korean winner, Uruguay were going through.

So you're looking at Luiz Suarez there, absolutely devastated. You know, this World Cup, Zain, has served up some extraordinary drama. These kind of

last games in the group where everybody plays at the same time, if the groups are blown out, they're boring, if they're like this, it's just

absolutely sensational drama.

So, this is how it all stands, Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal going through as group winners, South Korea going through in second place. Uruguay and

Ghana will be packing their bags tonight and heading home tomorrow.

ASHER: Yes, I mean, I was upset about Ghana, but they played an extraordinary game. Let's talk about Cameroon --


ASHER: Playing Brazil. I think it's happening -- do you know what the score is yet, Don, in terms of Cameroon and Brazil right now?

RIDDELL: Yes, let's talk about that. I might have to consult my notes --

ASHER: Yes, go ahead --

RIDDELL: But so we're going to have a final group games happening right now. It's Brazil, Cameroon and Serbia versus Switzerland. So Brazil already

through, they've already, you know, progressed to the next round.

Every team here can progress, but they all have to win. And in the case of Switzerland, if they win, they're good enough, but Cameroon and Serbia have

to win and hope that the other game goes in their favor. It's too much to like, breakdown all the permutations.

ASHER: Right --

RIDDELL: But essentially, this is something you have to pay attention to. So, as it stands, Switzerland are leading. So if it all ended now, Brazil

and Switzerland are the teams that go through. That table only reflects the standing after the second round of games, not the third. But it's actually


As it stands, Brazil and Switzerland would be the teams that go through. But as we saw last night, it was just the drama was insane in the games

last night. Anything could still happen, Zain --

ASHER: Right, that's the thing about this World Cup, right? Anything can happen. We'll see what happens --


ASHER: Between Cameroon and Brazil. Brazil is not playing with Neymar, so there's that. But obviously, they're still an excellent team even without

Neymar himself. All right, Don Riddell --


ASHER: Live for us there --


ASHER: Thank you so much --

RIDDELL: All right --

ASHER: The World Cup has been packed, full of -- as Don was just talking about, extraordinary underdog stories with many marveling at how African

teams are dominating the field. Yesterday, Morocco sent Canada home, becoming the first African nation since 1998 to top their group. And

Senegal is through to the knockout stages as well, and for the first time in 20 years.

Earlier, I spoke to sportswriter Musa Okwonga bout Senegal's chances against England on Sunday. He was much more optimistic than I was. But

here's part of our conversation.


ASHER: The game I'm quite nervous about is what we're going to see on Sunday, Senegal versus England. I mean, Senegal without Sadio Mane. Do they

stand a chance against the Three Lions?

MUSA OKWONGA, SPORTSWRITER: Of course. I don't know why you're being nervous. Look, here's the thing. Senegal adapted so well to the losses --


OKWONGA: Ecuador was so good, Ecuador was so good at this tournament, Senegal took them out without Sadio Mane, extremely impressive, actually

Ecuador underrated. England should be nervous. If England play a low tempo, Senegal have a real chance. Yes, Senegal have a real chance in this game.

ASHER: You think Senegal actually have a chance of beating England?

OKWONGA: A huge chance. The -- what England have to do, England have to turn this game into a shootout, if the game is low-scoring, I think I

actually back Senegal in this one. England to win this, they've got to play a high tempo, then they can maybe win 3-1. If they keep it slow, if Senegal

slow it down, they've got a real chance, I think.

ASHER: OK, well, you know what? I'm going to be -- I'm going to be like you. I'm going to be much more optimistic. I'm going on vacation, so I'm

going to tune in, and I'm going to channel, Musa, and be much more optimistic. So --

OKWONGA: Well, I hope you get plenty of rest during the holiday. Hope you enjoy yourself. Yes, enjoy yourself.

ASHER: Let's talk about the number of upsets we've seen. I mean, it's been unbelievable. The fact that Germany, Belgium --


ASHER: Are not going to be in this next round. The fact that, instead, you've got Japan -- I think South Korea just made it through, right. So,

you've got Japan, you've got South Korea, you've got Morocco --

OKWONGA: Right --

ASHER: You've got Senegal. What's going on?

OKWONGA: Listen, if you're not ready, you'll get cooked in this World Cup. You get cooked. And Japan were ready. Japan was so patient. And I think

that's the key to this World Cup. The teams that are patient, the teams that are brave, they end up prevailing. Look at South Korea's goal in the

last minute. it was unbelievable. The way they constructed that --

ASHER: Yes, that was unbelievable --

OKWONGA: Composure. Teams that keep -- teams that keep their heads late, that's the theme, isn't it? You look at all the late winners. The teams

that keep their heads late are the ones that prevail.


ASHER: My conversation with Musa earlier. Still to come tonight, scandal in South Africa. President Cyril Ramaphosa fights for his political life

over corruption scandal. Plus, Iran's crackdown on dissent takes a shocking turn as local media outlets report government officials destroying the home

of one alleged protester.



ASHER: The family home of Iranian rock climber, Elnaz Rekabi, has been demolished by government official, that's according to pro-reform news

outlet, IranWire. This video from the scene said to show the house almost completely destroyed. You see rubble there. You'll remember that in

October, Rekabi competed in an international competition without her hijab, which is mandated by the Iranian government. Videos of her claiming in only

a headband went viral online. These pictures were celebrated by anti-regime protesters as a sign of dissent.

And earlier this week, anti-government demonstrations -- demonstrators, rather, took to the streets to celebrate Iran's defeat in the Qatar

Football World Cup. During those protests, one young man was killed. Human rights groups say that he was shot dead by authorities, but Iranian police

are denying that. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has the story.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Protests turned into scenes of joy and jubilation across Iran this week. Iranians were out celebrating their

country's defeat to the World Cup. Surreal, but for many, after touting its team, it was the repressive regime that was defeated. No longer could it

claim a victory while violently suppressing its own people. Mehran Samak was out on the streets of his city of Bandar Anzali in his car, honking the

horn in celebration when he was shot in the head. Activist and a human rights monitor tells CNN it was regime forces that killed the 27-year-old.

Authorities deny killing Samak. They're investigating his "suspicious death." They say several suspects have been arrested. Investigations by the

Iranian government into the deaths of young protesters since September lacked credibility and impartiality, according to the U.N. We're not

allowed to report from inside Iran. Those who speak to this face jail or worse, making it hard for us to tell the stories of victims and those left

to mourn.


Samak's Instagram posts just a little snapshot of a life ended too soon, an athletic young man who enjoyed life being with his friends and water

sports. Growing up, he played soccer with Saeid Ezatolahi, now a midfielder in the national team who shared this photo, mourning his childhood friend,

he wrote, "I wish we could always stay at the same age, without any concerns, without hate, without jealousy, without fighting to put each

other down. After another bitter night last night and with the news of your death, my heart is even more on fire."

At Samak's burial, mourners chant "Death to the dictator, Khamenei must go." Every life loss brings more heartache, more anger, more defiance and

determination of a people risking it all in this bloody battle for freedom. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


ASHER: All right. South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, is fighting for his political life in a scandal over cash stolen from his farm. African

National Congress officials met Friday to discuss the fate of their leader and they plan to reconvene next week as well. Mr. Ramaphosa is under fire

after claims that he covered up a robbery at his buffalo farm. He also admits that thieves took more than $500,000 hidden in the cushions of a

sofa, but says that money came from the legitimate sale of livestock.

Earlier, I spoke with William Gumede from the Democracy Works Foundation. He has tracked South African politics for many years, and I started by

asking him if he thinks Mr. Ramaphosa were forced to resign.


WILLIAM GUMEDE, EXECUTIVE CHAIRPERSON, DEMOCRACY WORKS FOUNDATION: Yesterday, he was on the verge of resigning, but was then convinced by his

political allies in the ANC not to resign, to think of it, get some legal advice, and have a discussion with the agency's National Executive

Committee first before he take any action.

ASHER: So if he does end up going, what sort of turmoil, do you think, the ANC will be plunged into?

GUMEDE: You know, yesterday, you know, from the conversations that he had yesterday with his political allies, actually one of the arguments that

they made for him to stay was the argument that if he leaves, there will be chaos in the ANC. Now right now, despite the shenanigans and the scandal

around him, he is still perceived by many ANC supporters, you know, as more trustworthy than the ANC as a party itself. I mean, you know, local polls

have saw that he has at least a 10 percent higher rating than the party itself. So --

ASHER: So, he's more popular than the ANC itself?

GUMEDE: Absolutely. So, if he goes, it's very likely that the ANC would drop in the national elections. We're having our national elections in

2024, very likely the AC will drop below 40 percent and will be out of power in the opposition bench, and the opposition parties will take

control. So it's not just about his political career, obviously, it's very, you know, his political career, but also this is also the ANC itself. If he

goes, it's very likely that a chaos that will envelop the ANC will, you know, plunge them into the opposition benches.


ASHER: All right. The French president and his wife left Washington a short time ago after an impressive sendoff Thursday night. Emmanuel Macron and

his wife, Brigitte, were treated to a lavish dinner. It's the first one in three years. There were so many guests. President Biden couldn't host the

event inside the White House, it's actually held at a huge tent outside instead. The French President and Mrs. Macron are now about to meet with

the governor of Louisiana in New Orleans. CNN's Melissa Bell looks back on this state visit, the first one since President Biden took office.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: It was a state visit marked by all the pomp and pageantry typical of the events, much of which we've seen, of

course, back in 2018, when Emmanuel Macron had been the first foreign leader to get a state invitation from Donald Trump. This time, one from

President Biden, a president with whom he has much more in common, both in terms of temperament and in terms of world view. In fact, both men are

multilateralists and Europeans had been somewhat relieved when he's taken office, hoping that relations might be better and yet they've proved

thornier than Europeans had imagined.

This time, as he headed to Washington, Emmanuel Macron had some pretty harsh words for the Inflation Reduction Act. When he spoke to lawmakers on

Wednesday on Capitol Hill, he was hoping to get some kind of progress, concessions specifically, from the Biden administration. That will mean

that European industries aren't too badly impacted from what Europeans believe is an extremely harmful set of subsidies that are aimed at helping

the American economy and helping it to transition to a greener form.


There are exemptions being made for Canadian and Mexican companies, no hint yet that that is something Emmanuel Macron has achieved.

On the contrary, President Biden, after the three hours of bilateral meeting, said that he made no apology for helping the American economy

recognizing, however, that there were glitches that would be addressed. Specifically, we're waiting to hear more details about exactly how the

United States hopes to assuage some of those concerns expressed by Emmanuel Macron and find ways of making sure that European industries aren't as

badly impacted as Europeans feel they will be. Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


ASHER: All right. The lava flow from Mauna Loa is slowing down. But that's not the only threat from the two, not one but two volcanic eruptions in

Hawaii as I speak. That's next.


ASHER: Now there's something you do not see every day. Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano is quite the sight to behold. It is oozing lava. As you see there

on the screen, this is the first time it's been oozing lava since 1984. But the eruption and another one from Hawaii's Mount Kilauea are raising air

quality concerns. Children, the elderly people who have breathing issues, respiratory problems, asthma, for example, are most at risk. David Culver

is there for us.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just behind me, you can see the lava flow from what is the world's largest active volcano here on the Big Island of

Hawaii. And you can see some lights of cars perhaps people have been pulling up throughout the night just to try to get a glimpse of what is

just a striking scene, the glow of the lava, of course keeping several miles away. And to give you a better look at it, we'll step out of the way.

We'll turn off the lights here. And that's what people have been doing out of respect, shutting off even their car lights and allowing others to just

take it in.

Some people with their families in the middle of the night, taking photos, of course, but also just standing in silence and allowing the majesty of it

all to seep in. Officials are concerned and they're keeping the urgency up, in particularly warning of the lava flow and its potential impact on what

is a main thoroughfare here. It's called Saddle Road, and it is considered a extremely important artery on this island and one that could be cut off

if the lava continues to flow another few miles in the direction that it's currently heading.


The other big concern for officials is what you see coming out of this fissure right here. And that is not smoke, but acid gas. And so they're

warning people who might have respiratory issues, that this could be a problem for them. As of now, though, they're saying that the threat remains

low. They're still monitoring it. And they're warning that this is something that could change rather quickly. All of this, it's so

unpredictable as they say. So, they're trying to keep on tabs with where it's going to go, what impact it could have.

And they say the good thing is, as of now, the movement pace of the lava is so slow, that if it were to impact, say, the main thoroughfare, they'd have

enough time to give people a heads up, at least a day or two at its current pacing. All in all, though, there's this balance between the urgency,

between the uncertainty and the concern, and the beauty of it and the appreciation and the respect for what created more than half of this the

Big Island and that is Mauna Loa. It is striking. David Culver, CNN, Hawaii.

ASHER: All right. Still to come out tonight, how pandemic stress appears to have aged teenagers' brains faster than normal. More on the groundbreaking

study next.


ASHER: A new study has found that the brains of teenagers in the U.S. aged faster than normal during the pandemic and that stress may indeed be to

blame. Joining us live now is CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. So in a way, I mean, Sanjay, I'm surprised we're not surprised, in a

sense. Obviously, we know that the pandemic took a mental toll on teenagers. I mean, it was brutal, right? It was a really difficult time for

a lot of us. But this is actually one of the first studies to look at the physical changes in the brain that all of the stress and all of this

anxiety brought with it. Just walk us through it.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, first of all, I agree with you, it was brutal. I -- as you know, I have three

teenagers at home, three teenage girls and, you know, the isolation, the lack of the ability to be with friends when so much of your social

development comes from friends at that time was really hard. And we know that, frankly, even before the pandemic, there was increases in anxiety and

depression that was self reported.

But what was happening here, Zain, was they were already doing a study before the pandemic where they were imaging adolescents brains trying to

determine how they change over time.


And then the pandemic happens. And they decided to continue the study. And now they have this opportunity to look at brains, both before the pandemic

and then after that first year of the pandemic. And it was really interesting. Again, talking about the teenage brain here, and I want to

show you this on this model, a couple of things that specifically happened. First of all, there was a thinning of the cortex of the brain, that's the

outer layer of the brain, sort of like the bark on a tree. It thins as we age, but it thin much more rapidly during that first year of the pandemic

and these teenagers in the study.

There was also, if you look sort of near the center of the brain here, there's an area of the brain that's responsible for your ability to

regulate your emotions, it's called the amygdala. And they saw advanced aging in that area of the brain as well, Zain. So, you know, these are a

couple of examples of things that changed at a much more rapid pace when they looked at this.

I will say this, that about 10 percent of the teenagers in the study had also had COVID at that point, this is within the first year. And we know

that the virus itself can have an impact on the brain. So as a, you know, as a result of the combination of factors, there were objective changes in

teenagers' brains during that first year.

ASHER: That is frightening. But as you pointed out, COVID, at least, at least some of the participants may be to blame the rest of them. I mean, it

could just be due to a lot of stress and a lot of anxiety during that period of time. So, what are the long-term consequences of this, though?

The fact that the brains of teenagers aged over the course of 2020.

DR. GUPTA: Well, you know, I think the most honest answer here is we don't know because we are talking about something for which there is little

precedent. We've had pandemics before but, you know, at that time, we could not do these types of studies, looking deep on the brain with MRI scans.

So, it is possible, Zain, and this is hopeful that maybe there would be a reverting back to more normal that you'd get some a reversal of those

changes I just described.

But we do know a lot of the symptoms that are associated with those changes in the brain. Some of them we mentioned, you know, anxiety and depression,

which were going up even before the pandemic, but really accelerated during that time. And a lot of these what are called internalized problems or

internalized symptoms, sadness, low self-esteem, fear, the difficulty with regulating emotions, social isolation, loneliness, things like that, that

are all associated.

Interestingly, they didn't see as many externalizing symptoms where you're talking about violence, and anger, and rule-breaking behavior. But I think

you know, your question about long-term consequences, it's too early to tell. Some of these changes are associated to the same types of things you

see with what are called adverse childhood experiences. Children who have adverse childhood experiences do see some of these same changes in the

brain. But with regard to the pandemic and the virus and the stress from all of that, we'll have to wait and see these studies continue.

ASHER: All right. Sanjay Gupta live for us there. Thank you so much. All right. Now to some news from the entertainment world as a movie trailer

making the rounds now that has everyone grinning and bearing it including Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When the name of a movie is Cocaine Bear --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bear getting cocaine?


MOOS: -- you can expect critics to snort. But the bonkers trailer has movie goers salivating to see the film featuring a bear high on coke embarked on

a murderous rampage. Sharknado but for bears, but on cocaine. And then there's that tease inspired by true events, this much at least is true.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Millions of dollars worth of cocaine fell from the sky this morning in Knoxville, Tennessee.


MOOS: That did happen in 1985 when a drug smuggler named Andrew Thornton died in someone's backyard when he jumped from a small plane with bricks of

cocaine and a duffel bag attached to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just looked like a gentleman jumped out of an airplane with a parachute that's too small for his load.


MOOS: Before he jumped, he apparently dumped other cocaine-filled bags and a 170-pound bear was found dead among the drugs on a Georgia hillside.

Officials said he OD'ed. The movie shows the bare dining on coke.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no, don't eat that. Don't eat that.


MOOS: The real bear died from the drugs and there was no killing spree. It's believed the stuffed bear eventually ended up in a place called the

Kentucky for Kentucky Fun mall where you can buy Cocaine Bear earrings, and even what they call a blow globe, does not contain cocaine.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What the (BLEEP) is wrong with that bear?


MOOS: The poor guy is being compared to Scarface, some are calling him Pablo EscoBear, a nickname even a coked-up bear might not take lying down.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


ASHER: And The Rocket Man himself, Elton John, is going to be touching down at the legendary Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2023 next year, and what a

way to end his long-awaited farewell tour. It will be his last ever performance in his home country before his retirement. Here's one of our

favorite Elton John hits, Rocket Man.


ELTON JOHN, SINGER: And I think it's going to be a long, long time until touchdown brings me around again to find I'm not the man they think I am at

home, oh, no, no, no, I'm a rocket man.


ASHER: Who on earth does not love that song? The British pop icon teased fans with the announcement on his Instagram account on Thursday, saying

"One final date to announce, the Rocket Man is incoming." He said it was a fitting day to say farewell to his British fans.

All right. Thank you so much for watching tonight. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.