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Isa Soares Tonight

African Leaders Begin their Push for Peace in Kyiv As They Meet with President Zelenskyy; Brutal Atrocities Being Committed in Sudan As the Conflict There Rages On; Several U.S. Government Agencies Hit By Hackers; 50 Million People In U.S. Under Severe Weather Threat. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired June 16, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, African leaders begin their push for peace in Kyiv as they

meet with President Zelenskyy. Russia responds with missiles. We'll have more on that in just a moment. Then brutal atrocities being committed in

Sudan as the conflict there rages on.

We have an exclusive CNN investigation. Plus, racial discrimination and routinely using excessive force. Just some of the findings in a blistering

report about the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of George Floyd's murder. But first, tonight, explosions in Kyiv as a peace mission

gets underway in the Ukrainian capital.

A delegation of several African leaders, including South Africa's president is trying to mediate a peace deal between Kyiv and Moscow. They just met

with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and will head to Russia for talks with Vladimir Putin. That's expected to happen on Saturday. African

countries have not been spared, of course, by the war in Ukraine.

Food and energy prices have shot up because of the conflict making it even harder for struggling economies. Well, Ukraine's foreign minister said

these missile attacks are a message to Africa that Russia does not want peace. Sam Kiley is in Ukrainian capital with more in Kyiv.

And Sam, I was just looking in the last 45 minutes or so, we heard from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who said that any peace talks with

Russia are possible only after the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from the occupied territories. Do we know what this peace mission of these

African leaders are proposing here to the Ukrainian and the Russian president?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, broadly speaking, they're asking for a cessation of hostilities, a withdrawal of Russian

troops and then peace talks. So they're not that far away from the position of Zelenskyy and, indeed, of Zelenskyy's western allies. So, I think the

slight difference might be that figures such as Cyril Ramaphosa; the president of South Africa, has a pretty good relationship with Vladimir

Putin, personally.

And the two countries are reasonably close. They had Naval drills together recently much to the irritation of Ukraine and her western allies. And the

hope was that people like Ramaphosa might go from here on to the Kremlin and start to try and find some means by which this conflict could be de-


But the fact of the matter is -- there are two facts of the matter. The first is that diplomacy was somewhat undermined by a missile attack against

this capital city whilst this very high-level delegation was in town. In the past, there's been -- the Russians have tried to avoid doing just that.

And secondly, the Ukrainian position is absolute.

They are absolutely consistent with this, Isa, and have been since day one of this war, that they will not tolerate any kind of a diplomatic

initiative or peace talks, until every single Russian soldier is out of the country. And of course, they are feeling a bit more robust about that

position now because they are getting more help from their western allies.

From the Ukrainian perspective, everything is coming too little and much too late. But they are stronger than they were a year ago. They are

prosecuting a counteroffensive. It is going to be bloody. It's not going all their way, but they believe that they are making significant gains and

they may be able to build momentum.

And they hope, ultimately, that the Russians will collapse, the Russian forces will collapse. That would have dangerous implications for Vladimir

Putin. He, meanwhile, of course, today, has been saber-rattling or rattling his nuclear weapons once again, saying that if the territorial integrity,

sovereignty or future of the Russian federation was threatened, then, he might use nuclear weapons.

A very sinister development just to see he's talking about moving tactical nuclear weapons onto Belarusian territory, where they were within striking

distance of not only Ukrainian targets, but of course, much closer to other targets too, not least, the Baltic states.

SOARES: And on that, that the Russians delivered its first tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus. Have we heard any reaction from Ukraine, from the U.S.,

to this?

KILEY: Well, they -- periodically, they -- I'm not sure exactly what the immediate reaction is, but of course, the Ukrainians are horrified.


The international community is imploring Russia not to do this movement of nuclear weapons, because it basically re-nuclearizes Belarusia and this

region. The Belarusian-Ukraine denuclearized it when the Soviet Union collapsed as a process of negotiation. Ukraine had one of the biggest

stockpiles of nuclear weapons on earth, for example, now has none.

And it did so because it was -- its security was guaranteed by Russia and other western partners. That guarantee was not met in 2014, and we are

where we are. But there is deep worry, indeed, that even if these tactical nukes are said to be temporary and related only to the threats being made

over the contemporary war, they may be impossible to get out again that they incrementally and therefore going to be moving nuclear weapons back

into territory that was denuclearized. That is a deep concern to the west.

SOARES: A very valid point. Thanks very much Sam Kiley, appreciate it, for us there in Kyiv. Well, just hours ago as you heard Sam mentioning there,

President Vladimir Putin spoke at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum about the recent attacks on Russian soil near its border with

Ukraine. He said these attacks were distractions, and that Russia could, theoretically -- and this is what Sam was saying, use nuclear weapons, but

does not need to. Have a listen to what he said.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): The use of nuclear weapons undoubtedly is theoretically possible for Russia. For Russia, it is

possible if there is a threat to our territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty to the existence of the Russian state.


SOARES: Well, our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is in Moscow for us tonight. And Matthew, of course, today -- earlier today,

Peskov, Dmitry Peskov said that Putin supports any set of ideas to end the conflict. On the same day we heard this from the president talking about

the first tactical nuclear weapons going to Belarus. How do you read this, Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, well, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson was referring to -- was the African

peace plan that we just heard Sam talking about. Of course, Cyril Ramaphosa and the other representatives of the seven African nations who are part of

that initiative will be coming to Russia tomorrow to St. Petersburg, in their words, to listen to Vladimir Putin and to see what traction that

initiative is going to get.

Although, I have to say that there's not a lot of optimism, given the Ukrainian and the Russian position at the moment, that this African

initiative is going to, you know, have much chance of success. And you know, on the issue of the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to the

neighboring country of Belarus, obviously, it's concerning.

Obviously, it raises the tensions in this region. But it's also been seen, I think, you know, I mean, the United States for instance has said it's got

no reason to suspect that Russia is moving closer to using nuclear weapons. And so, it's not changing its nuclear stance. But I suspect it's as much

about reminding the western military alliance, reminding NATO of the seriousness and the high stakes of confronting Russia.

Remember, there's a NATO Summit planned next month in July in Lithuania, which is right next door to, obviously, Russia, and Belarus as well. And

it's part of the messaging that the Kremlin is putting out there that, you know, you could -- you can have these NATO Summit. You can -- you can

support Ukraine as much as you like, but you're still going to have to contend with the very real military threat that Russia can potentially


SOARES: Yes, so, a bit of saber-rattling. And Matthew, you've been across this, too, because this week, you know, we've been talking, Sam and I have

been discussing this too, Sam Kiley, that Ukrainian military is claiming that its forces are seeing partial success in several directions in this

offensive that started in the last week or so. How does -- how did Putin today frame the stage of his special military operation?

CHANCE: Well, he is much more positive. I mean, and he's, you know, rejecting this idea that there have been significant advances by the

Ukrainian side. I mean, I think we have to caveat this by, if not really possible to -- because we haven't got eyes on the ground --

SOARES: Yes --

CHANCE: All of the time, and in many of the locations where fighting is taking place, we don't know, you know, exactly what the situation is. But

from a Russian point of view, what the Kremlin is saying, what Vladimir Putin was saying today is that they're doing very well on the battlefield.

He was talking about how Ukraine since this counteroffensive began, has lost 187 tanks.


Many of them western-supplied Leopard tanks. And hundreds of other armored vehicles of various descriptions as well as, of course, the human cost.

There is no way of us to independently verify that. But you know, the general point is that while on the one side you've got the Ukrainians

saying we're making some significant -- small, but significant gains.

On the other side, the Russians are saying, look, that's not happening, plus, we're doubling up on our weapons and ammunition production. And the

Kremlin is, basically, putting out the message that it believes it's got every chance of not just weathering this counteroffensive, but, you know,

winning the war.

SOARES: Matthew Chance for us this evening in Moscow, thanks very much, Matthew. Well, the U.S. has strongly condemned the ongoing fighting in

Sudan. The conflict is now in its third month with more than 2,000 people believed to have been killed. Doctors without borders describes the

capital, Khartoum, as a violent situation that almost defies comparison.

Fighting broke out in April between Sudan's army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. The U.S. State Department is warning that attacks on

civilians must end. Well, a Sudanese rights organization say atrocities are being committed in Darfur, and CNN has uncovered evidence that the Russian

mercenary group, Wagner, is complicit, continuing to support the RSF; that's Sudan's Rapid Support Forces paramilitary.

Throughout the months of fighting, despite calls by U.S. and others for support to cease. In an exclusive CNN investigation, we uncovered the

Russian supply lines prolonging the conflict between the RSF and Sudan's armed forces that has displaced around 2 million people since mid April and

push the country further into a humanitarian crisis.

The RSF denies links to Wagner and any involvement in mass rape. Well, as part of this investigation, CNN verified uncorroborated incidents of rape

perpetrated by the RSF, including one which was captured on video. Now, we feel it is important in the face of the RSF's repeated denials to broadcast

part of that video. But we must warn you it is graphic and it is disturbing. CNN's chief international investigative correspondent Nima

Elbagir brings us this story.



NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The fighting on the streets of Sudan is relentless. Ceasefire after ceasefire has not helped. Forces previously accused of genocide returning

to a well-worn playbook -- terrorize, expel, and ethnically cleanse. The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, RSF, are currently engaged in a fight

for dominance with Sudan's army.

But years before that rivalry spilled blood in Sudan's streets, they were implicated in atrocities in Darfur. Now, once again, Darfur to the west of

the country is stoked by the specter of genocide. The damage wrought by these forces is so extensive you can see it from satellite images. This is

Al Junaynah, west Darfur.

Hundreds killed, whole districts razed to the ground. And it's not only Al Junaynah that is burning. This is Ad Douiem(ph), and this, Kutum.


ELBAGIR: On the ground, it looks like this. These scenes sadly familiar in Darfur. Twenty years ago, the region descended into genocide. The same RSF

leadership in place as their men killed, occupied and raped. Now, once again, women's bodies are part of the field of war. This video is too

disturbing to broadcast in full. But it goes on to show a girl, believed to be just 15 years old, being raped.

You see here a man in light-colored fatigues marching those worn by the RSF, we've paused the video just before the camera pans to show another

soldier wearing the same uniform forcing himself onto the prone girl. CNN verified and geo-located the area where this happened. We're not revealing

the exact location in Khartoum, to protect our sources and the young girl.

This is not an isolated incident. We received and reviewed dozens of cases where women say they were raped by RSF soldiers, identifying them by their

light-colored fatigues and the insignia on their right shoulders. So, who is complicit in this pain?


ELBAGIR: The RSF's key ally and a notorious Russian mercenary group, Wagner, has been sustaining their fight and providing the impetus to

slaughter innocent people by supplying arms.


We're going to show you how? This is an Ilyshin-76 cargo plane operated by Wagner sitting at a Libyan airbase. A previous CNN investigation exposed

how this Russian cargo plane was providing the RSF with deadly arms from a Russian Naval base in Latakia, Syria, by a Wagner-controlled bases in

Libya. This passing starts just days before the war begins in Sudan -- Libya, Syria, and back.

And it picks up pace. What's interesting here is the new focus on the city where it goes next. Bangui; the capital of the Central African Republic.

After our exposure of the Libya route, a route directly from the Central African Republic into Darfur, became crucial for the RSF. Eyewitnesses a

key transit point and intelligence active in the region told CNN, arms and supplies from this Illyshin transported over land using the truck-captured

here and others like it.

First to a Wagner base in Birao, and then into south Darfur, to an RSF base in Une(ph) Darfur. Wagner putting their thumb on the scales here to secure

access to Sudan's resources through Darfur, creating chaos and terror, helping tip the balance of power in their war in Ukraine whatever the cost.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, Juba, South Sudan.


SOARES: Well, U.S. condemnation of the latest violence Sudan has been swift, with the State Department African Affairs Bureau issuing this

warning. "Rape, murder, targeted ethnic-based killings, the destruction of whole villages. That these are the horrors that the war in Sudan has

brought back to Darfur.

Credible sources place blame at the feet of RSF and allied militias. Attacks on civilians in Sudan by any part must end", as you see the

statement there. Now, crew members on board a packed boat of migrants which sank in the Mediterranean on Wednesday have been arrested. Dozens of people

are confirmed dead and scores more believe missing. Many women and children who were believed to be trapped below deck. CNN's Melissa Bell has all the

details for you.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Greek officials have announced that nine Egyptian men amongst the 104 survivors of the disaster Wednesday

morning here just off the coast of the Pylos. Police -- have been arrested on suspicion of people trafficking.

They are now in Greek custody, most of the survivors have now been moved towards Athens where their asylum applications will be processed even as

Greece faces questions about the precise timeline of what went on. And whether or not what could have been done to save those who drowned.

(voice-over): It's the biggest rescue operation they've ever undertaken, say Greek authorities. But far too little, far too late, say several of the

NGOs who patrol the Mediterranean Sea, now, the deadliest migrant crossing in the world. The boat, here, hours before it sank, the Greek coast guard

says refused help. Greek authorities say it took just 10 to 15 minutes for it to sink, only 104 people survived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): All women died, all children died. Because women stayed all in one room, so impossible they would survive.

Impossible. So difficult. All women and their children died.

BELL: Those who did make it out alive say the boat may have carried up to 750 people, only 78 bodies so far have been found. Among the missing, the

young wife and brother-in-law of Qassam Abu Zaeed(ph), a Syrian who's lived in Germany for seven years. His friend says they paid $5,000 per person to

be smuggled to Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five thousand dollars for a quick death.

BELL: At least, 40 children were on the vessel, the U.N. says, and as the search for bodies continues, there are questions about how long it took to

send help. The boat started out from Libya heading towards Italy and called for assistance Tuesday afternoon, one charity said. It claims the

authorities had hours to reach the vessel, but a rescue operation was, quote, "not launched until it was too late."

GIORGIA LINARDI, SPOKESPERSON, SEA-WATCH: This intervention did not result in a rescue. And this is the point. Even if authorities went to check on

the vessel, as a matter of fact, a rescue operation was not carried out. And this is a clear duty of search and rescue authorities under

international laws.

BELL: Countries like Greece and Italy have long been calling for harder borders. Last week, the EU took another step towards a long elusive

compromise that goes in their direction. But so far, the signals that Europe's borders are closing have done nothing to dissuade those willing to

risk death in the name of life.


(on camera): The fear now for many of the NGOs that worked to patrol the Mediterranean Sea, tragedies like the one we saw on the early hours of

Wednesday morning could become more frequent, Europe is moving towards closing, tightening its borders further still, their fear that, that will

not dampen the hope of those desperate to come to Europe to claim asylum. Melissa Bell, CNN, Kalamata, Greece.


SOARES: Just truly heartbreaking. We'll stay on top of that story for you. Still to come though, tonight, a blistering report on the Minneapolis

Police Department. We'll have more on the two-year-long investigation. That is next. And allegations that Cuba could be helping China spy on the United

States. We'll tell you what the Cuban government and the Biden administration are saying in a live report coming up.


SOARES: Welcome back. Well, just hours ago, the U.S. Justice Department released a blistering report on the Minneapolis Police Department. Attorney

General Merrick Garland says the department used excessive force when its officers killed George Floyd back in 2020. He says the investigation found

a pattern of overly-aggressive policing.

And DOJ investigators say this, quote, "made what happened to George Floyd possible". Have a listen.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: As I told George Floyd's family this morning, his death has had an irrevocable impact on the

Minneapolis community and our country and in the world. His loss is still felt deeply by those who loved and knew him, and by many who did not.

George Floyd should be alive today.


SOARES: Well, the two-year-long investigation was launched after Floyd was killed while being arrested, sparking, if you remember, nationwide

protests, and protests right around the world, I should say. CNN correspondent, Adrienne Broaddus joins me now from Minneapolis. And

Adrienne, this is a blistering report from the Justice Department. Just talk us through their findings first and foremost.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the Department of Justice really slammed the Minneapolis Police Department. And they talked about systemic

issues within the department. If you go back to how the media found out about the killing of George Floyd, the initial police report says it was a

medical incident.


I remember living here in the city at the time working for a local station. And public spokesperson at the time for the Minneapolis Police Department

told us on camera that it was a medical incident. We know that was not the case. We have later learned what happened. And three years after the murder

of Floyd, this DOJ report reveals excessive examples of racial discrimination within the department, excessive and unlawful use of force,

First Amendment violation, and a lack of accountability for officers within the department.

But we heard from members in the community, and they were not surprised by this report. In fact, they say it echoes what many community leaders and

people who live here in the city have said for decades. Listen in.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no doubt that this report found many egregious incidents of excessive force and abuse, and probably even the use of deadly

force unjustifiably on the part of the Minneapolis Police Department, although I'm unsure how far the DOJ will go in terms of pulling the curtain

back on the horrific behavior of Minneapolis police officers. That, again, they've been allowed to get away with, for so many years.


BROADDUS: Here is another portion of the report, it's nearly 90 pages long that struck me. It says Minneapolis police patrolled neighborhoods

differently based on their racial composition and discriminated based on race when searching, handcuffing or using force against people during

stops. It found that native Americans and black people were six times more often to be pulled over when compared to their white counterparts.

And for those of you wondering how did the DOJ come to this conclusion, well, not only did they interview Minneapolis police officers, they

examined hundreds of hours of body-camera video as well as, looked at complaints against the department's reports, and they heard from the people

who live here. They heard those experiences that people in Minneapolis had with the police. Isa?

SOARES: So, what is the Minneapolis Police Department saying? I mean, what happens next then?

BROADDUS: You know, it's not something that's going to change or happen overnight. The Department of Justice has a long list of recommendations to

correct or fix or change the problem. The chief of police, Brian O'Hara, who it's important to underscore was not in this role when George Floyd was

killed. But he says from the inside, there needs to be a cultural shift.

And the Mayor Jacob Frey, also said that, but in order to have that shift, he says the city and people in the city need to recognize the pain, the

trauma, and the frustrations that people in the community have endured. Right now, they are in a negotiating period. The DOJ is going to implement

a consent decree. And are simply in agreement, where someone else will make sure these changes that have been outlined and recommended in a nearly 90-

page report will be enforced.

But before that agreement is solidified, they have to negotiate the terms of the agreement. And the DOJ says that could take up to a year.

SOARES: Acknowledgment first of all that it happened and then reform. Adrienne Broaddus, appreciate it, thank you very much. Well, the verdict is

in for the man who went on a shooting spree at a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania synagogue. A jury there has found Robert Bowers guilty on 63 federal

charges. Those charges including murder and several-hate crimes.

Eleven worshippers were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue in October 2018. He was also found guilty for the next -- for the six people, of

course, who were wounded at the scene. It is the deadliest attack on Jewish people in the United States. And still to come tonight, alleged Russian

cyber criminals take aim at U.S. government agencies as well as organizations in-and-out of the United States.

Why they weren't stopped sooner. That is the question we are asking tonight. Plus, severe weather brought devastation to a small Texas town.

We'll show you scenes from the tornado's path of destruction. Both those stories after this short break.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tornado just went through town!




SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Millions of Americans, U.S. government agencies, hospitals, and universities and businesses around the world, all

victims of a cyberattack. And the culprit? Well, authorities blame Russian hackers who took advantage of not one, but two vulnerabilities in a popular

software system. The question is now, if experts knew about those flaws, why then they do more to fix them?

CNN's Cybersecurity Reporter Sean Lyngaas broke the story for us and joins us now. And Sean, before we talk about who could be behind this, just talk,

first of all, about the scale of the breach and what the impact this has had.

SEAN LYNGAAS, CNN CYBERSECURITY REPORTER: Right, Isa. Well, the scale is pretty massive, just because of the number of organizations that use this

software. It's a popular file transferring software, known as MOVEit, that's made by a company here in the U.S. and Massachusetts called Progress

Software. And it's one of those things that you may not notice on your computer, but just about every corporation has it because it's useful to

send files from A to B.

And in this case, the hackers were able to burrow in to the software vulnerability in the system and get access for quite a while before the

company and the U.S. government was aware that they had that. Because, you know, there were -- the hackers were kind of tinkering with this software

early on to try to see where they might be able to get in.

And so the scale is, you know, we're talking several hundred, potentially here in the U.S., impacted in terms of data exposed. Now, that doesn't mean

that there's any disruptions or anything like that, because the hackers are basically trying to get in, steal data, and then extort their victims. They

don't really want to mess around with causing havoc or anything like that. And we'll see how that goes. I mean, they're in ongoing negotiations with

some companies. They're not trying to extort the U.S. government. They're not quite that audacious. But they're in it to make money and they've made

millions in the past and there's no reason why they couldn't make millions in this case.

SOARES: Hackers, who are these hackers? Authorities blaming Russian hackers, but do we know any more about these hackers, Sean?

LYNGAAS: Well, they -- they've been around for about four years, three or four years. And when I say they, they're a piece of ransomware, the type of

code that they're using has been around for that time.


I'm sure that the individuals behind this have been doing this longer than that. But, you know, ransomware gangs in Russia and elsewhere, they tend to

brand their malware, give it a name, and try to promote themselves. That way, they have a victim-shaming site. And so they're following a playbook

that many other ransomware gangs in Eastern Europe and Russia have followed in trying to shame their victims into paying. And it's with the Russian

invasion of Ukraine, any cooperation bilaterally between Moscow and Washington has really doomed on this issue, Isa.

SOARES: Yes. I mean, if they keep doing this, it begs the question, what is being done to actually stop them from doing it in the first place in or in

the third place now. Sean, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Well, more than 600,000 people across the southern United States are without power as they battle another day of severe weather. Severe

thunderstorms, including flash floods, as well as tornadoes are the biggest threat.

On Thursday night, a tornado ripped through a small Texas town, leaving nothing but devastation behind killing at least three people and injuring

dozens. Their local fire chief says a tornado carved a path of destruction 2 1/2 kilometers long.

I want to bring in Lucy Kafanov, who's standing by in Perryton, Texas. And Lucy, this must be incredibly scary for so many. Just talk us through what

you are seeing, what people there are telling you.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been really interesting, Isa, to watch the progression of the cleanup and the aftermath. When we were

here early in the morning, this entire street, that's Main Street right there, took a direct hit. It was full of debris. We have seen loads of

heavy machinery, clearing power lines that have been down, clearing tree branches, clearing heavy pieces of metal, pieces of roof that have been

scraped off of some of the structures. There's a pile right there.

You can see traffic has been reopened up to some of the vehicles. And then I want to pan over here, down this street is sort of a more residential

area. And a lot of those homes -- well, you can see actually there's a brick structure, that's actually a church and that was decimated. You can

understand the extent and the force of the tornado to be able to create that kind of damage on a brick structure. But a lot of the homes were

completely flattened.

Now people in this area, in this part of America, are used to experiencing things like tornadoes. There are several shelters, in fact, in this area, a

local library two blocks away, but locals told me there was simply no time to get to safety. That's how quickly this tornado moves. Take a listen.


JAMIE JAMES, PERRYTON, TEXAS TORNADO SURVIVOR: It started raining a little bit and it had a little bit of hail, like five or six little pellets of

hail every thousand raindrops. It was just barely sprinkling. And all of a sudden, the tornado formed and it just dropped on us. It came out of

nowhere and there was no sirens. No time to get to shelter.

There was a time where I thought that I was going to die and I was going to leave a lot of things undone. I know there's people here who died today

serving our community.


KAFANOV: Three women -- three people tragically lost their lives. One of them, a woman that Jaime knew, Jamie said that she would have been out here

helping, helping with the reconstruction, helping with the cleaning up. It is a small community, roughly 8,000 people. Folks know one another. They

are banding together to try to get the resources that are needed for this community because people lost everything. Those who lost their homes don't

have power, the power lines are still down, the electricity has been shut off for safety reasons. They don't have food, they don't have water. There

are a lot of local resources on the ground here to help, but, of course, rebuilding this community is going to take a long time. Isa.

SOARES: Lucy Kafanov there for us in Perryton, Texas. Thanks very much, Lucy.

Well, Cyclone Biparjoy made landfall late on Thursday night in India's Gujarat state, sparing Pakistan. And really it's full force. At least nine

people have died and twenty-three have been injured. Some areas along the coast have been inundated with heavy rain, flash flooding, damaging winds,

and storm surges. Heavy rainfall warnings are still in place for the Northwest India throughout Saturday. We'll stay on top of that.

And still to come on the show tonight, Cuban officials are denying it, but allegations swell that Havana could be helped -- could be helping China spy

on the United States. We have a live report coming up.

Plus, it's never too late for a second career. Meet the TikTok gran influencers taking the social media app by storm. I kid you not. That's




SOARES: I'm going to take you to Cuba now, which is denying it has provided any sort of foreign spying from the island just 60 kilometers from the

United States. This follows reports, if you remember, that China gathers intelligence from facilities on the island, including allegations of

listening devices, and other high tech eavesdropping equipment.

We've got our man in Cuba, Patrick Oppmann, sorting out this alleged spy game. He joins me now live from Havana. And so, Patrick, while Cuba may be

denying this, what we have been seeing for some time, it is really China's growing power and influence in the region. You have covered Latin America

for some time. Is this raising eyebrows?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And you imagine it'll be something that Secretary of State Antony Blinken brings up on his upcoming

trip to China, this robust Chinese effort, increased Chinese efforts to gather intelligence via electronic espionage. And, you know, as you said,

the U.S. is maintaining the China has a base here in Cuba. And we got a -- to that alleged site.


OPPMANN (voice-over): Are these antennas on a Cuban military base evidence of a secret Chinese spying facility on an island just 90 miles from the

coast of the United States? Or are U.S. allegations of a spy base here, as Cuban and Chinese officials, say simply Cold War era saber-rattling?

The White House initially dismissed reports of increased Chinese spying capabilities from Cuba as not accurate, but then made a partial about face

saying those upgrades occurred but before President Biden took office.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: in fact, based on the information we have, the PRC conducted an upgrade of its intelligence collection

facilities in Cuba in 2019.


OPPMANN (voice-over): Cuban officials deny there's any kind of foreign base spying on the U.S. from their island.


BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA, CUBA FOREIGN MINISTER: The assertions made by the U.S. Secretary of State about the presence of a Chinese spy base in Cuba

are false. Totally false.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. threw up a steel fence. Dare to stop --


OPPMANN (voice-over): More than 60 years ago, nuclear missiles that the USSR secretly dispatched to Cuba, pushed the world to the brink of

annihilation. The U.S. placed naval blockade on Cuba and the Soviets withdrew their missiles.

For years, the USSR operated a spy base the size of a small town called Lourdes on the outskirts of Havana. Now abandoned, Lourdes is a falling

down relic of the Cold War. Russia still periodically sends a spy ship to resupply in Cuba before travels just off the U.S. coast to intercept

electronic intelligence according to U.S. officials.


In 2015, I reported in front of the Viktor Leonov when the spy ship docked in Havana's harbor just as the U.S. sought to restore diplomatic relations

with Cuba.


OPPMANN: This is a place where you see tourists walking around, snapping photos of old cars. And here instead we've got a Russian spy ship, you can

see on the Viktor Leonov satellite dishes, antennas, lots of high tech equipment.


OPPMANN (voice-over): And four years, U.S. officials have assessed China listens in on U.S. communications from this military base near the small

town of Bejucal, signs saying military zone line the barbed wire fence that surround the base.

Some of the base's antennas are painted green and blend into the foliage, but are still visible from nearby hilltops and via satellite. Having a spy

base so close to the U.S. would provide foreign adversaries key advantages, analysts say.


JAMIL JAFFER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY INSTITUTE: Tremendously more valuable to have a permanent station, you can put a lot more

capabilities there. You can outfit it over time, and you're just collecting tremendous amounts. And remember, this data likely, you know, it's probably

going to be encrypted, it's probably going to be coded in other ways. And so you're going to need the data for a while.


OPPMANN (voice-over): U.S. diplomats say they're working on dissuading Cuba from helping adversaries like China and Russia who alleged the U.S.

intercepts their communications as well. As each country vies for an advantage in this unfolding spy game, it does not appear anyone is backing



SOARES: And that's Patrick Oppmann reporting from Havana in Cuba.

Now a Chinese football fan wanted to hug football great Lionel Messi. Now, he's paying for it with police detention. Beijing Police say the teenager

stormed the pitch to meet his hero. They aren't saying how long he'll be held in custody. Our Kristie Lu Stout brings us the story of Messi-mania.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, it was all about Messie.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Beijing recast as Buenos Aires for one hot summer night in the Chinese capital. A sold-out stadium welcoming

Lionel Messi and his World Champs, Argentina, a ticket to the match against Australia costing hundreds of dollars. The city's Workers' Stadium awash of

blue and white. But one young fan seemed to take Messi-mania too far, breaking onto the pitch, hugging Messi and high-fiving goalkeeper Emiliano

Martinez, evading security for around a minute, an unruly moment in an otherwise tightly organized event, as most mass gatherings in China are.

Later, the young fan apologized. "Messi, I'm sorry. I'm really sorry to meet you this way," he says. "I really wanted your autograph but they were

chasing me, so I didn't ask for it." But in the country unused to acts of disobedience, many cheer the young man. The crowd lauding behavior that is

across the world met with fines, stadium bans, even arrest. State media did not broadcast the pitch invasion. That is standard practice around the

world. Later, one news website ran a comparison of different social media reactions, some in support of the young fan, some against. But in a country

whose national soccer team has long struggled, even rigid state media commentators acknowledge his insuppressible passion for the sport and its

global superstar. Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


SOARES: Now U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, heads to China this weekend, a trip that has been delayed for several months amid strained

relations between the two countries. Blinken was originally scheduled to visit China in February, but the trip was canceled after suspected Chinese

spy balloon, of course, was discovered floating over the United States. Chinese state media has little to say about the most senior visit by an

American official in five years.

And still to come tonight, move over, young people, meet the TikTok granfluencers taking the social media app by storm and hear about the

lucrative deals they're making with big brands. That's next.



SOARES: Well, the social media app, TikTok, has always been a young person's game, but now, there's a new wave of older influencers who are

seeing a surge in followers and companies, well, they're taking notice. Our Vanessa Yurkevich has the story.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Six strangers pick to live in a house and have their lives taped for social media.


SINGER: I got me some bathing apes, Soulja Boy off in this --


YURKEVICH: This isn't exactly the real world house. These six strangers are well into retirement age, but their TikTok, The Retirement House, is

anything but. These seniors, who are doing a bit of acting, are pumping out curated content, rivaling influencers more than half their age, while

amassing more than five million followers.

They're called granfluencers and are pulling in huge brand deals. The Creator economy is worth $250 billion and could double to 480 billion by



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looks good for me.


YURKEVICH: The Retirement House promoting CeraVe. Four friends from Palm Springs known as The Old Gays on TikTok and have 11 million followers

partnered with Hyundai. And Chobani took notice of 74-year-old Lynn Davis's cooking videos and her 15.7 million followers.

62-year-old Helen Polise is approaching one million followers on TikTok.


HELEN POLISE, INFLUENCER, THE THEMUTHERSHIP: it's daunting to think about that many people because it's like populations of cities. Here we go.


YURKEVICH: Polise he found TikTok over the pandemic, a distraction and a way to have fun.


YURKEVICH: Was there a point that this turned into more of a business?

POLISE: Some people would ask me, oh, how did you do that transition? How did you figure that out? So I said I'll make a tutorial for you. And that

was the turning point in social media for me.


YURKEVICH: Instead of brand deals, she's teaching her followers how to TikTok through paid tutorials. It started with mostly older people, but now

it's younger people, too.


POLISE: I'm really get at technology, probably better than a lot of young people. So I want to highlight that it's OK to get older. I feel more

authentic, not afraid to be myself.


POLISE: And I think that's really helpful on social media, especially.


YURKEVICH: And for older influencers. Success comes in the form of connection to millions of people often a quarter of their age.


DEBRA RAPOPORT, ARTIST AND INFLUENCER: It also opens up a lot of community. I have more friends than I can count. And I have more friends who are,

like, 25 and 30 than 75, 80-year-olds.


YURKEVICH: At 78, Debra Rapoport has found a new audience for her sustainable wearable art on Instagram. She's able to promote her upcoming

shows, workshops, and sell what she's made.


RAPOPORT: And I've modeled this naked.


YURKEVICH: To her nearly 60,000 Instagram followers.


YURKEVICH: Why do you think they're attracted to you?

RAPOPORT: I think young people are craving authenticity. And that's what I try to encourage.

YURKEVICH: Is being older actually an asset on social media?

RAPOPORT: Totally. Totally. Not only on social media, but in life itself. I'm not afraid at 78 to put myself out there and say, this is who I am.

This is what I do. I've been doing it a very long time. I don't intend to stop.



YURKEVICH: For many granfluencers, this is fun and doesn't feel like work. Even while we filmed with Polise, she was capturing her very next TikTok.


SOARES: Good on them. Well done to them. That was Vanessa Yurkevich reporting there.

And finally, tonight, the fossils of a new species of dinosaurs with blade- like spikes have been discovered on the Isle of Wight, as you can see here. Researchers from London's Natural History Museum said it's the first

armored dinosaur to have been found on the island in over 140 years. It's been named vectipelta barretti, after Professor Paul Barrett, who has

worked at the museum for 20 years.

Well, in a statement, he said he was, "Flattered and absolutely delighted to have been recognized in this way." And he went to say, "Any physical

resemblance here is purely accidental."

And that does it for us for this evening. Do stay right here. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next. I shall see you next week. Have a wonderful week. Bye-