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Isa Soares Tonight

Hunter Biden Indicted On Three Gun Charges; Libya Flooding Relief Effort Grows; Russia Claims 11 Ukrainian Drones Shot Down Over Crimea; Cuba Supports "Legal Participation" Of Citizens Fighting For Russia; Humans Pushing Earth Beyond "Safe Operating Space." Aired 2:28-3p ET

Aired September 14, 2023 - 14:28   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You have been watching CNN's breaking news coverage of Hunter Biden, who was indicted on three gun charges. After

the break, we're going to take a quick look at the situation in Libya, where at least 8,000 people have now died. (INAUDIBLE).





SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. We begin this hour in Libya, where at least 8,000 people have been killed after Storm Daniel hit the northeastern part

of the country on Sunday.

The death toll is, according to Doctors without Borders. Another aid group says the giant 7-meter wave struck the city of Derna, washing entire

communities out to sea. Now traumatized survivors are urging the people of Libya to help them collect as well as bury the bodies. We're joined live

from Rome by Ben Wedeman.

Ben, from what I understand, help is coming. You were telling us this yesterday. But the logistical difficulty, I imagine, is so large and

profound that relief efforts are much more complicated here.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're complicated because many of the bridges and roads that allow access to Derna were

washed away in this flood.

Now, keep in mind that, in the span of one day, eight months of rain fell. So in a sense, it was a freak storm that was very difficult to anticipate.

But what is emerging is that perhaps human negligence did play a role.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): Days after disaster struck Derna, they're still collecting the bodies. Egyptian rescue workers lower one full body bag to

the pavement and go back for another.

The death toll is still unclear but there's no doubt thousands were killed in the floods and thousands more remain missing. This survivor recounts

what he saw.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): "The children died in front of my eyes, my neighbors died," he says. "It feels like a nightmare. Until this hour I still can't

believe it."

And the nightmare isn't over. The magnitude of this disaster is more than this doctor, interviewed on Libyan television, can take.

"The numbers," he says, "are awful."

In a country consumed by years of conflict and hijacked by rival foreign powers, simple things like the weather service were neglected, says the

head of the World Geological Organization.



PETTERI TAALAS, SECRETARY-GENERAL, WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION: If there had been a normally operating (INAUDIBLE) service, they could have

issued a warning and also the emergency management also would have been able to carry out the evacuation of the people.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): In Derna, the authorities urged caution and imposed a curfew before the storm. But there were no evacuations. And this is the



WEDEMAN: And also let's keep in mind that, for instance, those two dams that broke apart, basically burst and sent that 7 meter high wall of water

rushing through Derna, they were built in the early '70s.

And according to an academic study done by Sabha (ph) University in Southern Libya, on those dams, they hadn't been maintained since 2002, even

though, according to that study, there was a high risk of those dams breaking.

SOARES: Yes, a convergence of so many problems, climate crisis, lack of preparedness, absence of a stable government all playing out. Ben, thank

you very much.

Well, our Jomana Karadsheh joins us live now from eastern Libya.

Jomana, give us a sense of what you have been seeing, you and your team.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I hope this lines holds (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE) very difficult in this part of (INAUDIBLE) and of course it's

very difficult as well.

As for aid, (INAUDIBLE) relief to that part of the country, as you know, this is critical (INAUDIBLE) international, complicating things in this

already very dire (INAUDIBLE).

For the past few hours, we have been on the road from Benghazi to Derna. (INAUDIBLE) were usually (INAUDIBLE) hours. But because of the conditions

on the road, we have to use different roads, we have to take detours. The road conditions are making this very difficult and we expected that it is

going to (INAUDIBLE) worse and (INAUDIBLE) --


SOARES: And I'm hoping that Jomana --

KARADSHEH: -- that have been damaged --

SOARES: -- unfortunately, we are having trouble hearing Jomana. The signal just dropped. As you can imagine, communication has been a problem as she

and her team are on the way to Derna.

Communication has been troubled for several days. Infrastructures, you were hearing there, is part of the problem getting to Derna. We'll try to

reconnect, to speak to Jomana and her team as, of course, they're on the road, making their way to Derna. Very important that we try to hear it from

her. We're back after this short break.





SOARES: While Kyiv is launching a new round of attacks on Crimea, Ukrainian security source says a Russian air defense system was destroyed there

overnight. Russia meanwhile says it shot down 11 Ukrainian drones over Crimea early Thursday morning.

Crimea, as you remember, was annexed by Russia back in 2014 and president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said there won't be peace until Ukraine takes back all

of its territory and that includes Crimea.

Well, southern Ukraine has become a main focus in this war but for both sides, CNN's Melissa Bell has this report from the front lines, showing us

the new role of artillery in this conflict.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Aiming for a specific target, the fury of Ukrainian artillery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

BELL (voice-over): Nothing in this war goes unseen, not even the Russians walking into this house eight kilometers away. The target, spared by

Ukrainian miss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

BELL (voice-over): As they try to move the Zaporizhzhya front line forward, these gunners must now wait for better coordinates from the surveillance

drone, even though they, too, are constantly watched and, more often than not, outgunned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

BELL (voice-over): And 20th century artillery is slow to move and far too easy to see with 21st century technology.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

BELL (voice-over): Russian surveillance and attack drones are never far. But neither are Ukrainian ones, says Odessa (ph), the battery's commander.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

BELL (voice-over): Odessa tells his men to lower the gun one notch. Between drones and artillery, nothing is left to chance.

BELL: What they've been targeting is a building just on the other side that has Russian infantry and Russian artillery inside. The drone's been guiding

them. They're about to fire for a third time and what they say is we should then expect incoming Russian artillery in response.

BELL (voice-over): This time it's a hit, not just the building but Russian ammunition and artillery, too, which means that the retaliation should be

swift and it's time go as fast as we can. The reply doesn't take long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

BELL: They're hitting over there.


(Speaking foreign language).

BELL: Because as expected, that incoming artillery followed, we're now having to drive away as quickly as we can although what they explain is it

isn't just the incoming artillery, one of the most dangerous things about driving around these parts are the drones.

BELL (voice-over): From his position at the back of the pickup truck, Odessa (ph) can hear and see the incoming fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language). Go, go, go, go, go.

BELL: He's telling us to drive fast because of the incoming artillery.

BELL (voice-over): In all, nine artillery rounds were fired back, a measure of Russian anger and today for these soldiers of Ukrainian success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

BELL (voice-over): The rush of survival, for today at least -- Melissa Bell, CNN, in southern Ukraine.


SOARES: Well, just a week ago, authorities in Cuba said they arrested 17 people linked to a ring of human traffickers. They're allegedly recruiting

young Cuban men to fight in Russia's war against Ukraine.


SOARES: Now Cuba's ambassador to Moscow is saying his country does not oppose the, quote, "legal participation" of its citizens in the fight.

Vladimir Putin signing a declaration last year, making it easier for foreigners serving in the Russian army to get citizenship. I want to go to

Patrick Oppmann, who's been following this story in Havana.

First they were horrified by the recruitment of these Cuban men. And now they're saying, sure, you have our blessing.

How to make sense of this?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, lots of twists and turns in the story. You're absolutely right, it does not all add up and probably that

speaks to the enormous Russian influence that they wield over Cuba.

And, of course, we're talking about a country that depends on Russian oil and a patronage that has increased since the war in Ukraine. And Cuban

authorities parroting Russian propaganda about how the war started.

They seemed to break with Russia last week without ever directly pointing the finger at them and saying, it's against our laws to have Cubans fight

in conflicts overseas, to be mercenaries, to be going to a battlefield strictly for the pay on their own.

And in fact, we've arrested some of the recruiters and soldiers who are trying to do that. And now they are backtracking. There's no other way to

say it.

And by saying there's a legal contract, somehow it's different. There are perhaps hundreds of Cubans in this situation right now, where they are on

the battlefield. Some say they did not realize that they were enlisting to go fight. They thought they would be working as cooks or repairing

infrastructure damage by the war.

And earlier this week I had the opportunity to sit down with the mother of one of these very young men, who says her son is trapped in Ukraine,

fighting for Russia. And he's seen the horrors of that war.


OPPMANN (voice-over): "He said, 'Mama, I'm on the front line in Ukraine.'

"He's there where it's dangerous," she says.

"They are there to shield the Russian troops, they are cannon fodder. He has seen what you see in a war," she says.

"He said he has seen the wounded. At the hospital, people arrived missing arms and legs. He isn't used to seeing that."


OPPMANN: And, you know, another question becomes, the Cubans who are at this point serving on Russia's military, are they given a new contract as

part of their earnings, have to be shared with the Cuban government or something like that?

It's really not clear. It's only for some of the people that say that they have been tricked into fighting for Russia.

What happens to them?

They are really ending up as people without a country because they have been told, if they come back here, they will be charged as being

mercenaries. And that's what happened, we understand, as several Cubans were attempting to leave to go fight for Russia.

Certainly they have no interest in staying and continuing to serve in the Russian military. And if there's now "a legal way," quote-unquote, for

Cubans to go and serve in the Russian army, fighting against Ukraine, that will certainly be an escalation. But as we've seen, Moscow is reaching out

to its allies for badly needed help right now.

SOARES: Thanks, Patrick.

Facing recent polling that reports President Biden's policies have made economic sanctions worse in the U.S. and looming, a government shutdown,

shortly the president is expected to unveil an update to his so-called Bidenomics agenda.

And his message will focus on the impact of partisan bunch of cuts and threats by conservative Republicans to shut down the government. Mr.

Biden's speech could also divert attention away from the impeachment inquiry, called against him by the U.S. House Speaker. When that gets

underway, we'll, of course, bring that to you.

Still to come, have we reached a point where Earth is unsafe for humanity?

A new analysis by a scientist is out. We'll have a live report on the findings with our Bill Weir, next.





SOARES: Welcome back.

Well, the Atlantic island of Bermuda is feeling the impact of Hurricane Lee, this is the latest satellite view from the U.S. National Hurricane

Center. Tropical storm conditions, heavy rainfall and high surf are expected to impact Bermuda through Friday.

Bermuda is closer to the mainland than it is the U.K. But it's a British territory and it could threaten the Northeast U.S. and parts of Canada.

Saturday could bring heavy rain, coastal flooding as well as storm surge to the region. That's a huge concern. Of course, we'll continue tracking

Hurricane Lee for you in the next few days.

Well, have human actions made Earth unsafe for people?

A new study says, yes, they have. A group of 29 scientists from around the world describe Earth as moving outside a safe operating space for humanity.

The group looked at climate change, biodiversity, fresh water as well as land use. Our chief correspondent Bill Weir is here from New York.

First of all, explain what they mean by safe operating space here.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: It's sort of the sweet spot that we lived in through most of the hollow scene, that Goldilocks period

between the glaciers, where most of humanity evolved.

So there's just a certain mixture that makes Earth the most only livable place that we know about there. And so these group of scientists, this is

29 folks from about eight countries, they tried to set sort of parameters. This is going back a few years to measure how far we're slipping away from

a livable planet.

And the biggest -- this is a kind of a hard graph to read. But the circle in the center is the safe spot. And each of these sort of slices of pie

radiating out from the middle are deeper into the danger zones.

The biggest one there, at about 11:00 on the clock position, is the genetic biodiversity, that's a result of, out of 81 million known species, a

million are in danger of going extinct. So we really overshot living within the balance of the healthy planet there.

Some of the other bigger ones are novel entities, that's nuclear fission for example or genetic modifications to change the Earth systems. That's

way out of bounds.

Climate change at the top is out of bounds. There are some good ones; there is one here that was in the danger zone. That is ozone depletion. But

humanity has fixed that. It's gone in the right direction.

So that's the one sort of ray of hope that we can find in this but when it comes to how we use forests or mangroves or interact with the air and water

around us, humanity is pushing our spaceship to the brink, into the red.

SOARES: What do you take away from it?

There are some bright spots. But fresh water was also a concern.

What do you take away from that?

WEIR: Well, it's the ozone hole, that's the biggest victory for humanity to come together and try to solve a huge problem. It's the Montreal protocol.

All of the countries in the world say we're going to stop using these CFCs, these chemicals in air conditioning units.

The United States was behind that effort because it benefited a lot of businesses, decarbonizing the world, getting off of oil, gas and coal

obviously much, much more difficult.

But it purely comes down to human agreement about this. The more humans there are, the tougher it is to find an agreement, as we've seen. You've

got allies and enemies sharing the same planet and hopefully reaching the same goals here.


WEIR: But there are some disagreements on whether some of these things can even be measured between scientists. But it's yet another warning that, as

we sort of keep our heads down and go about our daily lives, we lose facts -- sight of the fact that we're losing so much of a livable planet around


And it's never too late to wake up, examine all of our choices and figure out, when it comes to fresh water or biochemical flows in our ecosystems,

that this all matters. And if we prioritize these things, they can be fixed. Nature can heal, if given the space.

SOARES: Very quickly, how do they reach (INAUDIBLE). Scientists remain countries (ph). Talk to us about what's gone into this.

How do they actually reach a senalis (ph) in conclusion?

WEIR: It's everyone as they're trying to determine how much fresh water, percentage do you need on a livable planet and how much out of whack are we


This is where the controversy is on certain things that you can't really measure. It's climate change in parts per million of CO2 in the air. It's

very measurable and that's the one most people are focused on right now.

SOARES: Bill, appreciate it, thank you very much.

And that does it for us for this hour. Do stay right here. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" will be up next. Hope you have a wonderful day. I shall see you

tomorrow, bye-bye.