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Isa Soares Tonight
Dozens Die In A Head-On Train Crash In Greece; Bola Ahmed Tinubu Wins Nigeria Presidential Election; An Israeli Minister Calls For A West Bank Town To Be "Erased"; U.S. Lawmakers Warn Of China Threat; FBI Says COVID-19 Origin Most Likely Chinese Lab Leak; U.S. State Department Calls Israeli Minister's Comments "Repugnant"; Iranian Foreign Minister On Nuclear Deal; Ice Around Antarctica 90 Percent Disappeared. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 01, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, dozens of people have died in a head-on
train crash in Greece. I'll speak to a rescuer on the scene. Then, Nigeria declares a president-elect. But the future is far from clear after
significant voting issues.
And then later this hour, CNN reports from the southern tip of Argentina on Antarctica's new record low sea level. But first, this hour, tragic human
error. That's what Greece's prime minister is blaming for a horrific train wreck in central Greece that has killed at least 38 people. The train
carrying 352 passengers and crew slammed head-on into a freight train around midnight near the city of Larissa.
Authorities say many of those on board were young people, including students. Rescuers worked through the night to retrieve the victims and
helped dozens of injured survivors, described an apocalyptic scene with fire, broken glass and twisted iron just all around them. The prime
minister visited the site a few hours ago, and Greece's transportation minister resigned.
A local station master is under arrest, charged with mass deaths through negligence. Our Nada Bashir has more on how this tragedy unfolded.
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): The aftermath of a horrifying late-night crash. Heaps of debris and carriages scattered across train
tracks in central Greece after a passenger train carrying more than 350 people collided head-on with a freight train killing dozens.
KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, PRIME MINISTER, GREECE (through translator): What we are experiencing today is very difficult as a country. We are talking about
an unspeakable tragedy. Our thoughts today are first and foremost with the relatives of the victims.
BASHIR: The crash happened shortly before midnight local time when the passenger train on its way from Athens to Thessaloniki changed lanes and
switched to a cargo track before colliding with the freight train. Firefighters worked through the night to find and identify victims. Rescued
passengers described the ordeal as a nightmare.
STERGIOS MINENIS, TRAIN COLLISION SURVIVOR (through translator): We heard a big bang. It was ten nightmarish seconds. We were turning over in the
wagon until we fell on our sides and until the commotion stopped. Then there was panic. Cables everywhere. Fire. The fire was immediate. As we
were turning over, we were being burned.
BASHIR: More than 70 people were injured, and are now being treated in the hospital. Most of the passengers were young. The head of the intensive care
unit at a local hospital told state media. Meanwhile, rescue workers continue the desperate search for more survivors.
MITSOTAKIS: One thing I can guarantee, we will find out the cause of this tragedy and do everything in our power to make sure it never happens again.
BASHIR: Greece has declared a three-day mourning period, flags flying at half mast across the country to remember the crash victims. Authorities say
the death toll is still expected to rise. Nada Bashir, CNN.
SOARES: Let's get more on this, Eleni Giokos is with me now. She's been keeping an eye on this story. And Eleni, we heard from the prime minister
there saying, the belief is, this was a tragic human error. Still, though, we are already starting to see the political fallout from this. Just bring
us up to date what your sources --
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes --
SOARES: Are telling you this hour.
GIOKOS: Yes, I mean, look, I've spoken to so many people throughout the day, and you heard the prime minister saying this will never happen again.
But the sense is, this shouldn't have happened in the first place, clearly because it was a well known fact that Greece's railway system needed to be
upgraded. It needed to be modernized and safety was an issue and even discussed in parliament many times over the past year.
And I think most telling is when the transport minister resigned. He actually spoke earlier at the crash site itself and he teared up, but when
he resigned a few hours later, he said it is a fact that we received the Greek railway system in a state that is not up to 21st century standards.
In these three and a half years, we have made every effort to improve this reality, it has not been sufficient to prevent such a bad incident.
This is clearly an admission of the fact that there was not enough effort being put in to upgrading systems that were not working. The station master
of Larissa also have been arrested, he's actually being charged as well with causing mass deaths through negligence, and also grievous bodily harm
through negligence as well.
And also reiterated by the prime minister, saying that clearly, this is a grave human error that caused this. To reiterate, you have two trains, Isa,
going on the same track in opposite directions and eventually colliding. The first two carriages, and we see some of that imagery right now, mangled
metal. It was so hot, it was about 1,300 degrees Celsius.
It took a long time for the firefighters to put that fire out resulting in death. The injury so severe that we're hearing hospitals need to identify
people through DNA testing.
SOARES: Eleni Giokos there for us, thanks very much, Eleni, appreciate it. Well, as you can imagine, for rescuers, the task of really of helping the
injured and recovering the dead has been arduous as well as extremely difficult emotionally. Marisa Kourkorini is the head of the Samaritan
Rescue Department in Larissa. She joins me now via Skype.
Marisa, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us. Can you just give us a sense of the situation on the ground? I assume rescue
operations still ongoing?
MARISA KOURKORINI, HEAD, SAMARITAN RESCUER DEPARTMENT OF LARISSA: Yes, of course, the rescue operation is still ongoing for now. We're not at the
place where it was the accident happened. We are at the hospital trying to give emotional support and psychological support to the families that have
lost the last one -- the loved ones.
We're trying to do the best. We were there on the first time, from the very beginning with 20 volunteers of the head at breakfast, and they tried to
help the Fire Department and the -- all the political, officially. So, we're trying to do our best, of course, and we're still here. We're going
to be here for the next days as much -- as long as the hospital needs.
And we also did a very fast and urgent, blood donation event. So all the victims that have to have blood donation will have the blood as soon as
possible, and will be going on until tomorrow also too.
SOARES: And Marisa, I've heard survivors describe a nightmarish kind of ten seconds in these flames. What have you been hearing --
KOURKORINI: Yes --
SOARES: From survivors?
KOURKORINI: Actually, when we got there, the survivors had already left with some buses that had picked them up, and we hadn't got the time to
speak with them. But some of them, we had found here at the hospital trying to find their loved ones, which were in the different train. They were
really shocked because it was like big bang, and then just flames.
What we saw, of course, was that the flames were covered by the whole train, especially at the first and the second wagon of the trains. So,
there was just a big mass of metal and fire, and lots of metal pieces all over the places. Unfortunately, lots of bodies which were -- I don't know,
just indifferent type -- where they had flew off the train and then different type in different ways and in fields.
So, it was kind of hard for us also to, because my 13 years in volunteering, I've never seen such, you know, circumstances before. So,
it's a --
SOARES: Yes --
KOURKORINI: Bit difficult --
SOARES: Yes --
KOURKORINI: To have to --
SOARES: I cannot imagine -- I cannot imagine, Marisa, but let me ask you, of course, we said 38 people have died in this horrific accident. But
those who have survived, what kind of injuries are you seeing?
KOURKORINI: Most of them have burns or broken bones, and some of them have some concussions, maybe. But they're in the ICU. Some of them are in the
ICU, some of them are just in the emergency room. And the doctors are doing their best. But I think that they're going to get through the difficulties,
but it's hard, you know? Because the injuries are large and the burns are much also too.
SOARES: Marisa Kourkorini, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. I know it's incredibly busy moment out there, understandably, so
we're really appreciative. Thank you very much, Marisa.
KOURKORINI: Thank you very much for your time too. Have a good night.
SOARES: Thank you. Now, Russia is throwing all its weight in the city of Bakhmut, but it hasn't yet encircled the city, according to Ukraine's
military. They say, Russian forces are now sending experienced fighters from the Wagner Group to the front lines. Soldiers who have fought in
hotspots like Syria and Libya.
And one Ukrainian commander says Russia is using air attacks to break Bakhmut into quote, "molecules". But Ukraine's defense forces are refusing
to give ground, saying they have no orders to leave. Our Alex Marquardt joins me now from eastern Ukraine. And Alex, I mean, this time roughly
yesterday here on the show, I was speaking to an adviser to President Zelenskyy.
And for the first time, Alex, I heard the Ukrainians say that they are weighing out the options in Bakhmut, including strategically pulling back,
if needed. I suppose it gives us an idea of the battle being fought there. What are you hearing?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, on the one hand, Isa, of course, they're saying that they're not going to give up.
They're going to keep fighting, they're trying to hold Bakhmut as long as they can. But it is clear that they are weighing their options, that they
are considering a strategic withdrawal that would allow them to save some of their forces, to fight another day.
Ukraine does appear to be on its heels, as the Russian forces are trying to push forward. Much of the city has been encircled. Those Wagner forces,
primarily, they have been backed up by Russian regular forces, have tried looping around the city, they've kind of taken territory to the north. It
is a fierce battle.
President Zelenskyy saying that this is the toughest fight in the country right now, that those Russian forces are hidden, the -- are intensifying
their assaults against Ukrainian defenses. Now, both sides have faced significant losses. There is an argument at this point that Ukraine is
trying to weaken the Russian side as much as possible and for whatever may come next.
If the Ukrainians do need to withdraw, obviously, they're going to try to blunt any kind of Russian advance, blunt any kind of advantage that Russia
might take, from taking this city of Bakhmut and turn it more into a symbolic victory for the Russians, rather than a natural strategic victory.
Of course, if Russia were able to take Bakhmut after several months of some of the fiercest fighting that we have seen, they would be able to claim a
victory. Whether it would actually reshape the battlefield in any way remains to be seen. The Ukrainians were definitely, and are intensifying
their defenses to the west of the city, and want to make sure that the Russians are in as weak a position as possible, so that Ukraine can hold
the line and prevent Russia from advancing further into Donbas. Isa?
SOARES: And you and the team have been in Vuhledar, we brought that story to our viewers, I think it was last week. You now continue to be in eastern
Ukraine, that's where we see the fiercest fighting in the Donbas. What is your sense that you're getting from the Ukrainians? What's the mood like
there at this moment?
MARQUARDT: Well, the sense from the Ukrainians is certainly that this Russian offensive that we've been talking about for sometime is underway.
And it's underway in several different areas. The Russians pushing forward on different axes. One certainly is Bakhmut. That's where they've been
pushing forward in one of their strongest ways.
Vuhledar is certainly another one. Vuhledar is very interesting as we pointed out in our reporting, because it does sit at that axis between the
southern and the eastern fronts. So far, the Ukrainians have managed to keep the Russians at bay. If Bakhmut were to fall, obviously, that would be
one of the first places where Russia would see a success in this offensive.
But Isa, they have not had any real successes. They have been throwing an enormous amount of troops and material at all of these different efforts,
and they have very little to show for it. In Vuhledar in particular, they are coming across open fields where Ukrainians -- where the Ukrainian
forces have laid mines. They have lost huge numbers of men, of armored vehicles.
They haven't been able to make any progress there. So, for the time being, Ukraine is holding its ground. It is doing quite well in the face of this
Russian offensive. The big question also is, when will we see a Ukrainian counteroffensive? That is something that Ukrainian military and political
officials have talked about, where exactly that would take place, when exactly that would happen. That is still unclear.
There's a sense that Ukraine will try to make some kind of push in the south, so that is something that we're also watching very closely, Isa.
SOARES: Alex Marquardt, really appreciate it, thanks very much, Alex. Well, the results of Nigeria's presidential election are in, Bola Tinubu,
one of the parties that's already in power has now been declared the winner of last week's contest. The new president-elect by Nigeria's Independent
National Election Commission for running a credible election.
But some opposition parties claim it was rigged and they are now rejecting the result. Peter Obi, one of Tinubu's main rivals is expected to challenge
the results in court. CNN's Larry Madowo reports now from Lagos.
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bola Ahmed Tinubu officially named the next president of Nigeria. The godfather of Lagos whose slogan
was "it's my turn", and now it is. A controversial win after three main opposition parties disowned the election and demanded a fresh one. But just
after 4:00 a.m., the announcement.
MAHMOOD YAKUBU, CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION: Tinubu Bola Ahmed of the APC, having satisfied the requirements of the law,
it's hereby declared the winner and is, in turn, elected. Thank you.
MADOWO: With nearly 8.8 million votes, the ruling party got about 36.6 percent of the total. But a win is a win.
BOLA AHMED TINUBU, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF NIGERIA: This is a serious mandate, I hereby accept it.
MADOWO: Tinubu says the Electoral Commission ran a credible election and any elapses were few and quote, "immaterial to affect the outcome". But a
group of 70 Nigerian civil society groups disagree, saying the process was not credible.
ENE OBI, NIGERIA CIVIL SOCIETY SITUATION ROOM: Up until this moment, the INEC chairman has not apologized to Nigerians, and he owes Nigerians
MADOWO (on camera): With the election over, it's back to the daily inconveniences of life in Nigeria, like this one. Cues outside ATMs that
have become commonplace after the redesign of the naira that led to this massive cash shortage. This is why some people voted for change in the
country. They wanted a Nigeria that works.
(voice-over): It was the first Nigerian election without an incumbent or former military leader running.
YEMI ADAMOLEKUN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: I think it was not the outcome Nigerians expected. It fell below expectations. INEC did not
communicate, INEC failed its own rules and its own promises. Nigerians had high expectations that we would have a transparent process because there
was a lot of hope on technology.
MADOWO: But Tinubu supporters are ecstatic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even before, I have already dreamed that he is going to become a president. And my dream come true.
MADOWO: If his win stands, Tinubu will take over in May.
SOARES: Let's get Larry Madowo now who joins me now. So Larry, how much change here are we expected to see, given that we're not really looking at
a changing of the guard that -- I mean, his party -- he was part of the ruling party here.
MADOWO: This is continuity, Isa. And that's part of the problem for some Nigerians who expected a change. This was the first election I can mention
where there was no incumbent running, and there's no former military leader. The man that many people were excited about, especially younger
Nigerians was Peter Obi, that third party candidate that made sure that this was no longer a two-horse race.
He has not officially spoken to Nigeria. His deputy did, and said that they will be contesting this election in the court. That's a long shot. The
Nigerian Supreme Court has never overturned an election before, so it's not expected to do so in this case. And there are not that many people here
expect that it's independent enough that it will even overturn an election.
So, what Peter Obi says will be critical here. But yes, in terms of Bola Tinubu, his motto was, "it's my turn". He's the godfather of Lagos, and now
he's the godfather of Nigeria.
SOARES: And so, all the problems that you and I have been discussing, you know, for several days, that people want change, that people, now is the
time. One lady said yesterday, you know, Nigeria is at a breaking point. Continuity, it seems to be the key here. What kind of policies are we
expected to see from him then?
MADOWO: He does not see this continuity. He's promised renewed hope, he's promised a new Nigeria. He specifically addressed the youth today and said,
I hear you, and I will work with you. My door is open, let me know how we can make Nigeria better. He is reaching out to Nigerians that live abroad
and the Diaspora, saying come back and let's rebuild this country.
So, even he recognizes that he was not the most popular candidate among the younger people here, and said repeatedly, even when he accepted his
certificate, that I know that many people who didn't vote for me, who were disappointed, and I will be your leader too, and how can we --we have only
one nation, he said in his acceptance speech.
Let's build the pieces together. And so, he's got big challenges ahead in Nigeria, about a third of Nigerians are unemployed, higher among young
people, and how he intends to turn that around, when he is of the ruling party that to blame for some of these challenges, it'll be an interesting
plan to work.
Because in about every objective measure, Nigerians worse off, poor off, and in a worse of standing, even internationally, compared to eight years
ago when President Muhammadu Buhari took over.
SOARES: Larry Madowo, really appreciate it, Larry, thank you.
And still to come this hour, a far-right Israeli minister says a Palestinian town that was attacked by settlers needs to be, quote,
"erased". We are live in Jerusalem with the details. And a red carpet, a gun salute, and a firm handshake. The Belarusian president gets a warm
welcome, though, in Beijing. That's next.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. An Israeli minister with significant powers over the occupied West Bank says the Palestinian town of Huwara,
quote, "needs to be erased." Bezalel Smotrich made the remarks just days after settlers went on a deadly rampage there, setting fire to cars and
homes with families inside.
A top Israeli general calls it pogrom, saying his forces expected reprisals after a gunman killed two Israeli brothers on Sunday, but they were
surprised by the extent of the mob violence. Smotrich says the state of Israel itself should take action. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEZALEL SMOTRICH, FINANCE MINISTER, ISRAEL (through translator): I think the village of Huwara needs to be erased. I think that the state of Israel
needs to do this, and God forbid, not private people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, let's get more on this. Hadas Gold is following developments tonight for us from Jerusalem. So Hadas, let's start then with those, I
think it's fair to say, pretty incendiary comments from the finance minister. How is this playing out there? Is he facing any sort of backlash?
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: There's been a huge amount of backlash, both social media. It's been covered very widely in the media
here, and we're already getting a sort of clarification from Bezalel Smotrich, this minister. But just to provide some context, Huwara obviously
is the scene of where much of this violence took place on Sunday.
Those two Israeli brothers, as you mentioned, were killed. And then those reprisal attacks. It has been a flash point village for some time because
of where it sits. It sits along a main roadway that both Israeli settlers and Palestinians use. So, it's not a -- it's a place that's -- it's sad to
say, it's sort of used to this. But these sort of clashes have been there before.
Now, what happen is, in that conference that he was speaking at, he was being interviewed at a conference sponsored by a magazine, and he was asked
why he -- so after those two Israeli brothers were killed, but before those settler rampages happened, he liked a tweet that somebody wrote saying,
Huwara should be erased.
So, he was asked on stage, why did you like that tweet? And then he had that response that we saw there. Now in the last hour or so, he has sent
out a clarification statement, essentially saying, Huwara, he says is a hostile village, it's become a terrorist outpost, throwing stones and
shooting against Jews are launched every day.
And what he is saying is that, he supports, he says, a proportionate response by the Israeli military. Saying that he wants a collection of a
painful price until the terrorists and their supporters realize essentially that terrorism does not pay. But clearly, I mean, in making those remarks
openly on stage, despite whatever this clarification might be, I mean, it's getting a huge reaction here.
And actually, the attorney general, the Israeli attorney general has already called for an investigation into a different minister -- excuse me,
a different member of parliament who had made similar remarks. She wants to investigate him for incitement to violence, and now, there are calls for
this -- for this minister, the Minister of Finance, who also, as you noted, had significant powers over the occupied West Bank, to be investigated as
well for incendiary comments. Isa?
SOARES: Yes, I don't think the clarification actually helps to, you know, bring down the temperature at all that we have been seeing. But let's talk
about the anti-government protests that we have been seeing throughout the day today. You know, you and I have talked about these protests. There have
been several already. This is about, obviously, the overhaul to the judicial system by the government.
This time though, it looked a bit different. Looks somewhat the crowd is large, but somewhat -- but more violent. Just talk us through what happened
GOLD: Yes, I mean, listen, we have been at these protests for the past eight weeks or so, and even with 100,000, 150,000 people on the streets,
the police have been very hands off. And they were there, but not really very much involved. Today was called for -- protesters called for
essentially a day of disruption, they call it.
They wanted people to be blocking the streets, blocking the highways, blocking the bridges, blocking the roads, essentially disrupting people's
everyday lives in order to get their point across, their opposition to this judicial overhaul, which among some of its more drastic changes, would
allow parliament to overturn Supreme Court decisions.
But then, what we saw was a much more forceful police reaction. As you can see from these videos. Mounted police were there, they were using stun
grenades, they were using water cannons, there was a huge police force there. We have reports of at least 11 people who were injured. Two, who had
to be hospitalized.
And we also know of dozens of arrests. People who were arrested, taken off the streets. But the protesters there, while they were being interviewed,
while even as these, you know, stun grenades are going off, even as they're getting drenched by these water cannons, they vowed to stay there.
They said they're going to stay there until they're literally forced away because for them, they say that's how serious the situation is.
And I should note also, Isa, that the police here are now under the authority of Itamar Ben-Gvir; the National Security Minister, one of the
most right-wing ministers in Netanyahu's government. He called these protesters -- he said that they were all anarchists, Isa.
SOARES: Hadas Gold, really appreciate it, thanks very much, Hadas. Still to come tonight, it's been called one of the most aggressive moves by a
social media company. How TikTok is targeting endless scrolling, that's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES (voice-over): The red carpet was rolled out as Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko arrived in Beijing to meet his Chinese counterpart, Xi
During talks, the pair bolstered their already friendly relationship. Mr. Lukashenko praised Beijing's conduct amid mounting tensions with the West
as we've been reporting.
He also said he fully supports China's proposed plan to end Russia's war in Ukraine. That meeting came just hours after a committee of U.S. lawmakers
met to discuss China. The chairman of the panel laid out what he sees as the stakes. Have a. Look
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): This is an existential struggle over what life will look like in the 21st century. And the most fundamental freedoms are
REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Like Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping seems to believe his own propaganda.
So how do we make our powerful deterrent believable to Xi and the Chinese Communist Party so that they don't draw us into war?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Let's get more on this, CNN's Natasha Bertrand joins me now from the Pentagon.
Natasha, great to see you. This was the first hearing by the House Select Committee on the overall threat of China. Talk us through what came out of
it and what threats the committee outlined here.
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Isa, it was a really broad look at what this committee says is one of the biggest threats if not
the biggest threat to the United States, if not the entire West.
They covered a range of different issues, ranging from China's military rise to things like TikTok, that being a Chinese owned company. The
committee was very concerned about that company's ability to kind of vacuum up the data of Americans.
It also covered the topic of the origins of the pandemic, which we got new information about earlier this week, new questions over whether the
pandemic did emerge from a lab.
But the overall sentiment of the hearing -- and really this was just the first of many to come from this committee -- is that the U.S. needs to be
taking the China threat, in their words, more seriously.
And essentially, decouple the United States' economy from the Chinese economy and take stock of the competition that exists between the U.S. and
China and how it is not a healthy one, about how it is actually very threatening to the U.S., considering China's theft of intellectual
Basically, everything that the Republicans and the Democrats are warning about with regard to China, all kind of smushed into one hearing. So this
was a broad overview of what this panel is going to look like over the next several years.
They really want it to be a bipartisan look at the national security threat they say that China currently poses to the U.S.
SOARES: I'll be speaking about TikTok to Clare Duffy in just a moment. This comes, as you just outlined, Natasha, at a time when tensions are
already so high between both nations over myriad issues. You mentioned some of them.
We've got Ukraine, Taiwan, the concerns over the use of China's social media platform TikTok.
Now an assessment from intelligence agencies that the pandemic is most likely a Chinese lab leak, we heard today. But I was under the impression
that the intel community is somewhat divided on this. So just break it down for our viewers.
BERTRAND: There still really is no overall assessment as to how this pandemic actually began. The intel community is pretty much split between
those who believe that there is no way of really knowing for sure how it began, those who believe that it was natural origin, that it came from the
And those, including the Department of Energy and the FBI who believe that this was a lab leak. It is still the major agencies here, including the
CIA, that say that both hypotheses are plausible. But that it is just really --
BERTRAND: -- they're not able to say with the information that they currently have, the Department of Energy did shift their opinion over the
last couple of years since their first assessment was released in 2021.
The first intel community assessment was released in 2021. That was still a low confidence assessment. The FBI had a medium confidence assessment. But
it is still very much the minority view of the intelligence community that this pandemic did emerge from a laboratory.
We should note that the intel community as a whole is united on the fact that they do not believe that this was deliberately engineered in a lab, it
was not made as a bioweapon.
What they also say, what they also all agree on is it's going to be very difficult to ever get to the bottom of how this pandemic began without
China's cooperation. And right now, it is not likely that's going to happen.
SOARES: Natasha Bertrand there for us at the Pentagon. Thanks very much, Natasha.
We mentioned TikTok. Teenagers who love endless scrolling, they may be about to hit a bit of a roadblock, a bit of a TikTok timeout. TikTok is
setting a one hour daily limit for users under 18.
While teens will be able to turn off this new setting, it at least prompts them to actively decide to extend their time on the app. This is one of the
most aggressive moves by a social media company after years of scrutiny of platforms' impact on young users.
Earlier today on Capitol Hill, the House committee voted to advance a bill that would make it easy to ban TikTok in the U.S. CNN's Clare Duffy joins
me now to discuss the proposal.
Clare, let's talk about this TikTok timeout. One colleague of mine today in the meeting was saying one hour, it feels like 10 minutes when you are a
TikTok user. The thing is, they can just ignore it.
So what is the point of it?
CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: There are a lot of caveats to this feature. As you said, will be a default feature but teens can choose to
turn it off. However, the app did say that if teens turned the feature off, once they've reached 100 minutes of screen time, it will prompt them to set
some kind of limit.
So I think this is an effort by TikTok to address some of these concerns about -- from parents and lawmakers about the way that young people use the
app. There are these concerns that young people are sacrificing sleep to continue to scroll or that the app can lead them down sort of problematic
content rabbit holes.
TikTok isn't the only platform that's faced these kinds of concerns. The app, TikTok in particular, makes it so easy to keep scrolling. So I do
think this is an effort by the company to address some of those concerns. We'll have to wait and see how much of an impact it really has, given some
of these caveats.
SOARES: Let's talk about the House committee voting to advance a bill that would make it easier to ban TikTok.
What is the mood?
What are you hearing from the investors?
DUFFY: It would be massive. TikTok has become one of the most popular apps in the U.S. as well as outside the U.S. This would be a huge blow to the
company. It's still early days. This bill would still have to be approved by the House and the Senate.
It would be a huge step for the U.S. government to say 100 million American users can't use this very popular app. TikTok has called that fact out.
They have said that this will be tantamount to censoring that 100 million American users.
There's no evidence that this presents a risk to U.S. national security. But as you're discussing there with Natasha, there are real concerns from
U.S. lawmakers about the ways of the Chinese government could act to -- could influence the app or access U.S. user data through its Chinese parent
I think that the company's going out to sort of scramble to regain trust with lawmakers if it wants to avoid this.
SOARES: Clare Duffy, I know you'll stay on top of this for us. Appreciate it.
The U.S. intelligence community cannot link any Havana syndrome cases to foreign industry (ph) and it's unlikely that a U.S. enemy was using a sonic
weapon to injure U.S. diplomats abroad. That is according to officials familiar with the new assessment, which found no credible evidence that any
U.S. adversary has a weapon or device capable of causing the symptoms.
This comes years after the first reports of an unexplained illness affecting U.S. diplomats in Cuba, causing ear pain, dizziness and extreme
Still to come, here tonight, the story of an unsung hero who fought for justice in Syria and died in last month's earthquake. Jomana Karadsheh has
the story after this break.
SOARES: Just moments ago, the U.S. State Department spokesperson addressed the recent violence in the Middle East at a briefing with (INAUDIBLE).
We've been discussing with Hadas Gold the last 15 minutes or so.
Ned Price addressed comments by an Israeli minister who said the Palestinian town of Huwara, quote, "needs to be erased." Here is what Ned
Price had to say about that very quote. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: These comments were irresponsible. They were repugnant. They were disgusting.
And just as we condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn these provocative remarks that also amount to incitement to violence. We call on
prime minister Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials to publicly and clearly reject and disavow these comments.
We condemn, as we have consistently, terrorism and extremism in all of its forms. We continue to urge that there be equal measures of accountability
for extremist actions, regardless of the background of the perpetrators or the victims.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: That was Ned Price there. Of course, the person who made this comment, Hadas Gold was telling us, is Bezalel Smotrich, who made the
remarks, if you remember. Hadas was telling us, just days after the settlers went on a deadly rampage, setting fire to cars and homes with
families still inside.
And he said that the town, the town of Huwara, I'm quoting here, "needs to be erased." What you heard there from the U.S. State Department was a
reaction to those comments, incredibly incendiary. We will stay on the story.
From 12 months to 12 days, the U.S. warns that Iran has sped up its ability to produce a bomb's worth of fissile material. A Defense Department
official testified before Congress about the progress Iran has made since the international nuclear agreement fell apart. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN KAHL, U.S. UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR POLICY: Iran's nuclear progress since we left the JCPOA has been remarkable. Back in 2018, when
the previous administration decided to leave the JCPOA, it would have taken Iran about 12 months to produce one fissile -- one bomb's worth of fissile
Now it would take about 12 days. And so I think there is still the view that, if you can resolve this issue diplomatically and put constraints back
on their nuclear program, it is better than the other options.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Iran, meanwhile, denies it's trying to build nuclear weapons. Its foreign minister talked exclusively with our chief international anchor,
Christiane Amanpour. She asked him about a report from the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog that confirms the discovery of uranium particles enriched to
nearly weapons grade at an Iranian plant.
He didn't directly address the report but he did say this. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOSSEIN AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We have a roadmap with the IAEA.
AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN (through translator): And on two occasions Mr. Grossi's deputy came to Iran in the past few weeks. And we had constructive and
And we have also invited Mr. Grossi to come and visit Iran soon. Therefore, our relationship with the IAEA is on its correct and natural path. And we
have said this to the U.S. side through mediators that we are on the path to reach an accord.
But if the Iranian parliament adopts a new law, then we will have to abide by the parliamentary act. So the window for an accord is still open. But
this window will not remain open forever.
The U.S. party has been sending us positive messages through diplomatic channels. But in its media remarks, they make very deceptive remarks that
are totally different. And really, as an Iranian foreign minister, sometimes I have serious doubts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: And that's the foreign minister's view on the nuclear deal. The Iranian foreign minister also talked about his country's alleged role in
the war in Ukraine. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Can you tell me why it is Iran's policy to send drones and other military support to
President Putin that are used to kill civilians inside Ukraine?
Why are you sending drones to -- violating all sorts of sanctions but still also causing a huge amount of death?
AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN (through translator): We oppose the war in Ukraine. And we have not sent weapons to either side.
And from the very beginning of the war, we have tried to stop the war so that both sides focus on a political dialogue. This is the same policy that
we adopted in the case of Yemen, Afghanistan and various other countries in crisis.
Regarding accusations that have been made against Iran with regards to drones, they are untrue. We have had defense cooperation with Russia in the
past. And we continue that cooperation. But we have not provided Russia with any weapons to be used in the war in Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Iranian foreign minister speaking exclusively to our Christiane Amanpour.
The death toll from last month's earthquake in Turkiye and Syria's now risen to more than 51,000 people. Among the lives lost, a man who risked
his life to smuggle out evidence of atrocities at the hands of the Syrian regime. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has the story.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Under the rubble of every building are stories, of lives, of families, of dreams, all ended too
soon. Here lived an unsung hero, a man who risked his life for justice, for his Syria.
CNN met Mustafa (ph) in 2018 at Turkiye's border with Syria while filming a report about his team's work. For his safety, we could not show his face.
He was on one of many clandestine missions over the past decade, to smuggle out evidence of atrocities committed by the regime of Syrian president
Mustafa (ph), a trained lawyer with the deputy chief of the Syria investigations unit at the nonprofit CIJA, the Commission for International
Justice and Accountability.
NERMA JELACIC, CIJA: Mustafa (ph) was a man, quite unlike any other man in the field of work, especially in Syria. He has been one of our first
recruited investigators. They have secured over 1 million pages of the documents produced by the regime itself. And that is something unheard of.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): The troves of evidence secured by Mustafa (ph) played a key role in landmark trials, including the case in the U.S. of
slain journalist Marie Colvin versus the Syrian Arab republic.
JELACIC: Mustafa's (ph) contribution to accountability in Syria has already been enormous. He never lost sight of what it was all for. And
despite all the hardships, he and his family have been through, he never gave up, he never lost hope and he never lost track why he was doing what
he was doing.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Three years ago, Mustafa (ph) and his family had to leave their beloved homeland.
JELACIC: We helped move Mustafa (ph) and his family into Turkiye, not only because of the security threats that he had faced but also because his
daughter had a medical condition. Ironically, the effect, that he lived in Turkiye, was supposed to mean some level of normalcy and hope and
peacefulness for his family. And it ended so tragically.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Mustafa (ph), Rulah (ph) and their children, Talah (ph), Hamim (ph), Mace (ph) and Ahmad (ph) were asleep in their apartment
in a new high-rise building in the Turkish city of Antakya when the earthquake struck.
The family all perished and, with them, the dream of a new life they were planning in Europe. "When I'm with them, there is no war," Mustafa (ph)
would say -- Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Antakya, Turkiye.
SOARES: Heartbreaking there.
Still to come tonight, the scientists are sounding alarm on melting sea ice. We take you to the southern tip of Argentina for more. That's next.
SOARES: Welcome back.
Scientists are sounding the alarm in Antarctica. Sea ice is at its lowest point since satellites started monitoring in 1979. CNN's chief climate
correspondent Bill Weir has more from Ushuaia in Argentina.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Greetings from the tip of Patagonia, a beautiful place, sometimes called the end of the world. But
we're not talking about the Book of Revelations existential end of the world here. We are talking about Antarctica, which is right on the other
side of that mountain range.
Those mountains are a national park here on the Chile-Argentina border. We're going to get on a boat, go around those, across a great passage to
Antarctica with some whale scientists here in a couple of days.
But the news today is about how much that place is changing and how much it affects all of us long term. We are talking about sea ice. Just for
perspective, in 2014, in the summer, there would be about 7 million square miles of sea ice, all around this continent down here at the South Pole.
Now the National Snow and Ice Center out of Colorado confirms it's just over 700,000 square miles. So that's a 90 percent loss in less than a
And what is really worrisome is that the big glaciers like Thwaites, this is a glacier, a frozen river the size of Florida, which is holding back
masses of inland ice, is hanging on by a fingernail.
They sent down robotics that look like sort of a torpedo underneath that ice, the ice fin, to take pictures. It's melting in bizarre ways that were
never predicted. If that thing, pops it could create a sea level rise pulse.
Right now, the trend is that all of these signs are pointing toward a world with very different coastlines than we have grown accustomed to. It's a
warning to leaders on the coast to prepare infrastructures, to prepare citizens for what this means.
But mostly, the top line is that for a long time, people thought the North Pole was melting; the South Pole would be OK. Now both ends of the planet
are heating up in ways that even science would not a predicted a couple of -- even five years ago.
Amazing flock of birds overhead. I am in heaven down here with all the South American wildlife. Of course, that's at risk as these ecosystems
change down here as well. And it seems so far away. We're at the bottom of the world. But all of this adds up. Our systems are so connected.
WEIR: So the drought stories I was doing in Utah last week about towns, the fastest-growing metro center in the country growing so fast that
they're not sure how long they can grow, given the lack of water.
The water cycles that are affected by these currents, by these systems, are changing in ways that are getting just freakish blizzard events in southern
California at the same time as heat waves in the summers up in British Columbia.
So this, unfortunately, is the new normal. The warning is knowledge is power. Preparation is key. The sea level, as we know, it is changing before
our eyes. But science is getting in front of this.
And hopefully, the leaders, the decision makers are paying attention to what's happening at both the top and the bottom of our blue marble. I'll
send it back to you.
SOARES: Let's hope they're listening. Bill Weir there.
Finally, our quote of the day comes from the U.S. Supreme Court. The chief justice John Roberts, who said this.
"It might be good English to say that the French revolution modified the status of the French nobility but only because there is a figure of speech
called understatement and a literary device known as sarcasm."
Roberts was grilling the lawyers representing the Biden administration case about student loan cancellation. The administration argues that their
policy modifies the student loan program when it actually cancels around $400 billion worth of debt.
As Justice Roberts points out very clearly, as he stated there, that is one big modification.
That does it for me for tonight. Thank you very much for watching. Do stay right here because I'll have your business news after this short break.
"QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.