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"Extreme Hardship" In Ukraine Amid Widespread Power Outages; Putin Meets With Mothers Of Russian Soldiers Fighting In Ukraine; Authorities Release "Death Note" From Walmart Shooter's Phone; Outpouring Of Support For Hero Who Took Down Club Q Suspect; Biden Renews Call For Assault Weapons Ban After Mass Shootings; Shoppers Flock To Black Friday Deals Despite Inflation; Holiday Travel Nears Pre-Pandemic Levels; Rain & Thunderstorms Threaten Post-Thanksgiving Travel; Arrest Warrant Issued For Friend Of American Found Dead In Mexico; Dissent Grows Over Tough Restrictions As China Sets COVID Record; Iranian-American Women Support Protest Movement With Art; Team USA Plays England To A Dramatic Draw At World Cup. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 25, 2022 - 17:00   ET



DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: More brown, that means that you're really dehydrated.

So a lot of experts say look at your urine, that's most important Kasie?

KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST: All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much for that report.

And coming up Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION," Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff and Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson join Democratic Senator Chris Murphy Sunday morning at 9:00 and again at noon.

Our coverage here continues right now in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: Happening now, extreme hardship and appalling conditions in Ukraine amid widespread power outages caused by Russian missile strikes.

CNN is on the ground in Ukraine ad in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin is reaching out to the mothers of soldiers and acknowledging the deadly toll the war is taking.

Also tonight, new details on the "death note" left behind by the Walmart gunman, including his claim that people working at the store were mocking him.

This, as police reveal the handgun was purchased the same day that he opened fire.

And at the World Cup, the American underdogs played to a dramatic draw against England. Now Team USA is facing a must-win matchup.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Alex Marquardt. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's get straight to our top story, the growing hardship in Ukraine amid an onslaught of Russian attacks against the Ukrainian power grid. Authorities are racing to repair critical systems as winter quickly closes in.

Our senior international correspondent, Sam Kiley, is on the ground in Zaporizhzhia.

Sam, how bad, how widespread are these blackouts?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, they were very bad over the last 24 hours following a massive 70-plus onslaught, a storm of cruise missiles launched by Russia against -- overwhelmingly against the national energy grid.

Now not all of them got through. In fact, the vast majority got shot down. But this, of course, is the seventh wave of these attacks. Every time they occur, they knock out a bit more of it and then it gets rebuilt.

So by tomorrow, the government is saying that they expect to have the country back up and running, not by any means perfectly, but with scheduled blackouts rather than sudden Russian-induced blackouts.

This is coming at a time when even cities like Kherson are expected to be connected to the national grid. That's a town that was cut off from the rest of the country deliberately by the Russians and had its own energy structures, destroyed as the Russians retreated.

The problem for Ukraine is this is a steady process of degradation that the Russians are carrying out against the civilian infrastructure here as part of its ongoing campaign.

What the NATO secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg called the weaponization of winter. Nothing new for the Russians to weaponize winter. They've been doing it every time they've been invaded. It's a natural part of the rhythm of war, if you like.

But this is a direct attack on civilians and being treated by Russia's critics as something approaching a war crime. Because as the weather gets colder, as winter really deepens, and it's only just beginning to bite now, it's going to get an awful lot colder here.

Things are going to get very, very difficult, indeed, for the Ukrainians if these attacks continue -- Alex?

MARQUARDT: Sam, despite their retreat from Kherson, the Russians are still striking the city?

KILEY: Oh, they most certainly are. I was in the city yesterday. There were very audible incoming and outgoing strikes.

The Ukrainians are trying to deny territory on the other side of the river to Russian artillery but, of course, the quicker it beds in, the quicker it fires. So over the last 46 hours, 48 hours or so, at least seven people have

been killed. One of the main hospitals there in Kherson had to be evacuated because there was continued attacks against it.

And the authorities there are now encouraging people to take up the opportunities offered by voluntary evacuations, not compulsory. But they are worried this is going to get considerably worse -- Alex?

MARQUARDT: Sam Kiley, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, really appreciate the reporting.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin is acknowledging the toll that the war is taking on the mothers of soldiers who have been killed in Ukraine.

Let's get an update from senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, who is in the Russian capitol.

Fred, what did Putin say to these grieving parents?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, I think it was a really important day for Vladimir Putin because one of the things that you also know from your long time in Russia is that the organizations of the mothers of soldiers are extremely important here in Russia.


And generally, the mothers of those who serve are very important to Russian society.

And there have been all these complaints, especially after the mobilization that took place here in the past two months, where more than 300,000 Russians are getting pulled into military service and some being deployed to the front very quickly.

Bad housing conditions, bad food, in some cases, no food, no uniforms, in some cases, and people getting deployed to the front lines very quickly.

Now, one of the things or the main thing that Vladimir Putin wanted to make clear today to the mothers, was that he feels their pain.

Here's what he said.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): I want you to know, I personally and the entire leadership of the country share this pain. We understand that nothing can replace the loss.


PLEITGEN: That's Vladimir Putin there speaking to the soldiers' mothers. There was a bit of controversy around that because there were some

soldiers' mothers organizations who said they had not been invited to this meeting.

In fact, the main mothers organization said they had not been invited to do this meeting. And that was really a hand-picked set of mothers by the Kremlin who they invited here. So that left a bit of a sour feeling.

Nevertheless, for the Kremlin, an extremely important event. This has been played on Russian TV the entire evening.

And there were some interesting other things that Vladimir Putin said as well, Alex, a view into the mind-set that he has right now.

One of the main things he said was Russia used to live by others' rules but the events of today are a path to some internal purging and reinvention, as he put it.

So he's essentially saying through this conflict Russia is reinventing itself. Obviously a very expansionist point of view.

He also went on to say he believed the annexation of Donbass should have happened a long time ago.

So what we saw tonight, Alex, was a Vladimir Putin who clearly wants to stay the course and not someone who seems he's going to back down any time soon -- Alex?

MARQUARDT: Yes, a remarkable meeting and one that will continue to be analyzed.

Fred Pleitgen, in Moscow, thank you very much.

Let's discuss this with CNN military analyst, "Spider" Marks, and the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor.

Gentlemen, thank you for joining me this evening.

General, I want to start with you.

In most wars, it would be very normal for a commander-in-chief to speak with families who have lost loved ones on the battlefield. Putin doesn't call this a war, he calls it a Special Operation, now in its tenth month.

Does this look like damage control to you?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, clearly, it does. And my assessment is that what Putin does as a matter of routine, as he speaks domestically, the international audience, the global international audience that looks at Putin, sees him for what he is, which is criminal behavior, international pariah.

And frankly, on a personal level, I feel very sorry for these women that are essentially being played for suckers. This is an optic that he wants to have brought forward.

Again, these are hand-picked ladies. I'm assuming they are legitimate mothers of soldiers.

I don't know that this does anything other than bolster his internal -- his domestic support, which, frankly, I don't see that eroding, even though he's mobilized 300,000 and we've seen the departure of hundreds of thousands that have gone across the border.

But that's the crust, it's the elitist crust of who we are seeing responding to Putin.

I think he is going to continue to march and will continue to conduct this operation, irrespective of what this particular discussion played out for him.

MARQUARDT: Russia can put out all of the disinformation it wants about this war, Ambassador, but the mothers of the dead and wounded soldiers, they know the true toll that this war is taking.

How worried do you think Putin is when you see him doing this?

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: I think that's the message, Alex. I think he's very worried. If he's got to go on television, and this clip is played over and over, you know that's a problem for him.

You know that he's worried about the effect of this war, his war of choice on the Russian people. And it's getting through to the Russian people, it's getting through to the mothers, it's getting through to the soldiers. We see the draftees fleeing the country.

He's got big problems in the Russian people, Alex.

MARQUARDT: And he is taking it out on the civilian population.

General, this war, as I just said, now in its tenth month. Russia pounding Ukrainian energy and water infrastructure, leaving Ukraine in darkness all across the country. It has made life incredibly difficult.

As winter sets in, what do you think this war is going to look like? Will it change very much in the coming months?

MARKS: Well, I think what probably will change is the volume of activity. I would anticipate that the Ukrainians will maintain a continuous set of operations against the Russians. They should.


Unlike for the past many years, when we viewed warfare through the filter of what took place in Afghanistan, we always talked about the fighting season.

There's no fighting season is this part of the world. But albeit, it will get extremely cold, The ground will get muddy and it will harden and it will be difficult to conduct operations.

But it's imperative that the Ukrainians continue. And I guarantee the Russian will continue without abatement to continue to launch drone attacks, artillery attacks.

And they're getting supplies from willing partners in Iran and North Korea and going to their own stockpiles and replenishing them.

We're going to see a consistent type of operation, just not as much going forward in the winter months.

MARQUARDT: Ambassador, Ukraine's defense ministry shared this photo of a young girl in Kyiv forced to go to a gas station so that her family could charge her inhaler.

Do you think this targeting of civilian infrastructure could backfire on Putin, and just drive up more international support for Ukraine?

TAYLOR: I absolutely do. As your reporter indicated, these are war crimes. When he attacks civilian infrastructure, when he attacks the electricity, the water, and focuses on civilians -- these are not military targets, Alex. This is against civilians. This is war crimes.

And that's having exactly what you said. That is enraging not just the Ukrainians, but also the international community that sees this.

And this will generate more support, I am sure it will generate more humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainians. But it's also going to generate more of the military assistance that they've been getting.

MARQUARDT: We did hear today from the NATO secretary general speaking on CNN, reacting to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, and his recent comments on how this war could end.

Take a listen.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: Ukrainians are, by far, paying the hardest price for this war. What we do is measured in money. What they do is measured in blood, lost lives every day. So it has to be up to Ukraine to decide.


MARQUARDT: General, when this war ends, there will be diplomatic negotiations to end it. But does it appear that the U.S. is more eager for those talks right now than Ukraine is?

MARKS: I can't speak for this administration. But looking at this from the standpoint of what I see on the ground, that the Ukrainians have been able to achieve and what they've not been able to achieve.

I don't see the Ukrainians pushing the Russians back across the borders that were Ukrainian borders before the invasion of 2014. So that means getting the Russians out of Crimea and getting the

Russians out of the Donbass and then reclaiming the land mass. I don't see that happening in the near term.

And there's a mismatch between ends and means. Zelenskyy has established maximalist objectives, which means all Russians gone.

What NATO is doing is phenomenal but it's maintaining this type of fight. And I think ultimately there will be Russians on Ukrainian soil when this ends, however this ends.

MARQUARDT: We have to leave the conversation there.

Ambassador, I see you shaking your head. But we have run out of time.

Really appreciate you joining us tonight. As always, enjoy hearing your expertise.

General "Spider" Marks, Ambassador William Taylor, thank you both very much.

TAYLOR: Good to see you, Alex.

MARKS: Thanks, Alex.

MARQUARDT: And coming up, new details in the Virginia Walmart massacre, including a chilling message the gunman left on his phone before the shooting. We'll be right back.



MARQUARDT: We are following a chilling new development in the Virginia Walmart massacre, a message found on the gunman's phone laying out his grievances and railing against his Walmart colleagues.

CNN's Brian Todd has been following this story.

Brian, what are we learning about this note?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alex, the information about the so- called "death note" comes from the city of Chesapeake. The note was found on the shooter's phone.

And basically outlines a series of grievances he had with some of his colleagues but also with himself. The note discusses God, the Holy Spirit, and how he felt his associates at work were mocking him.

One passage, quote, "The associates gave me evil, twisted grins, mocked me and celebrated my downfall the last day. That's why they suffer the same fate as me."

Here's another quote, "I wish I could have saved everyone from myself. My God, forgive me for what I'm going to do." The note also discusses how the author wished that his parents had

paid closer attention to what he called his social deficits and said that he felt like he was, quote, "led my Satan."

The note says the attack was not planned. But the fact that there even was a note discussing what he was going to do suggests, Alex, there must have been some planning here.

MARQUARDT: Just horrifying.

We are also learning that he bought the gun the same day.

TODD: That's right. According to the police, he bought the gun locally on the day of the attack. This was a .9-millimeter handgun.

Police also say -- they had told us previously that he had a lot of magazines of ammunition with him, that he did not wear body armor or a ballistic vest at the time of the shooting.

MARQUARDT: Brian Todd, thank you so much. Terrific reporting on the story.

TODD: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: Now to an update on the massacre at the LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs, Club Q.

CNN national correspondent, Nick Watt, has been tracking this story.

What's the latest there?

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alex, this afternoon, Rich Fierro, one of the heroes in this horror, the man who took down the shooter in Club Q, the brewery that he and his wife own, Atrevior, will be reopening today.

Fierro says that they have had a huge influx of orders for shirts. He said it might take a year to meet those orders, but he will try.

Fierro says his friends are still in the hospital. His daughter is still hurt, recovering, but doing well. And they are all still mourning the loss of their daughter's boyfriend.

Now, meantime, Thanksgiving, the Club Q community held their Thanksgiving dinner, as they always do, but it was a little different.

In past years, they've cooked themselves and brought it to the club. This year, everything was donated, including the space by the Pike's Peak Metropolitan Church.


No media allowed at the lunch at the actual lunch. There are certain things this community needs and wants to do on its own without the glare of media. One of the legacies is going to be Red Flag laws. They are designed to

stop this kind of thing before it happens but they only work if they are used.

And then, of course, the sad reality is the eyes of the world, the eyes of the country, the eyes of the news will move on elsewhere. And this community will be left with years of hurt and healing ahead -- Alex?

MARQUARDT: Nick Watt, in Colorado Springs, thank you.

President Joe Biden is speaking out on this recent string of mass shootings, calling on Congress to pass a bill reinstating a federal assault weapons ban.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is live in Nantucket where the president has been spending the holiday weekend with his family.

Arlette, President Biden went out to lunch, did some shopping today. But yesterday, he spoke strongly about the Walmart and Club Q mass shootings.

ARLETE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alex. President Biden used those shootings as another opportunity to call for reinstating an assault weapons ban over on Capitol Hill.

But he's running up against the political reality that the votes at this moment simply don't exist to get that done.

And yesterday, speaking to reporters here in Nantucket, the president voiced his frustration with the sale of semiautomatic weapons and voiced also his desire to get some gun laws passed in the coming months.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The idea we still allow semiautomatic weapons to be purchased is sick, just sick. It has no, no social redeeming value. Zero, none. Not a single solitary rationale for it except profits for the gun manufacturers.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you do anything about it during a lame duck, sir?

BIDEN: I'm going to try.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What will you try to do?

BIDEN: I'm going to try to get rid of assault weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: During the lame duck?

BIDEN: I've got to make that assessment as I get in and start counting the votes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SAENZ: So the president there saying he wants to count and assess the votes. But he certainly faces an uphill climb to try to get any further gun legislation passed.

The House passed an assault weapons ban over the summer but it did not move forward in the Senate. And with a divided government set to come up in January when Republicans take control of the House, it would make that much more difficult to do.

But it comes at a time when Americans have said that they -- polls have shown that Americans say they want to see stricter gun laws in this country.

Now, the Biden family has been spending the Thanksgiving holiday here in Nantucket. Today, the president and his family were out and about in town, stopping by for launch.

And dropping into some local stores before ending the evening at the Christmas tree lighting here in Nantucket's town square as they kicked off the holiday season.

The Bidens will be heading back to Washington on Sunday.

MARQUARDT: Arlette Saenz, in Nantucket, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Up next, it is one of the busiest shopping and travel weeks of the year but the reality of inflation looms large. Is that enough to keep holiday shoppers away?




MARQUARDT: Despite the squeeze of inflation on many American families, holiday retail sales are expected to grow this year, which means shoppers will lean more on savings and credit cards to afford gifts.

CNN business correspondent, Alison Kosik, is live in New York amongst the shoppers.

Alison, how much are shoppers thinking about inflation right now?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It definitely is top of mind, Alex. But despite inflation weighing on their heads, a record number of shoppers are expected to come out between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday.

And 166 million people are expected to shop. Of those, 115 million will just shop today on Black Friday, the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season. And 67 percent of those are expected to shop in the store.

I certainly saw that earlier today when I was inside Macy's. The crush of people super excited to get in there and touch the gifts that they were buying.

Not to be outdone, though, online shopping. Thanksgiving Day, Alex -- get this -- despite the fact that it was Thanksgiving, people sitting down and having a meal with their families and friends, people were shopping big time. And $5.2 billion spent by consumers on Thanksgiving.

Now, as I said, inflation really is the big elephant in the room. It is cutting into the spending power for so many Americans and they're having to get creative in the way they shop.

Here's what one shopper told us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the problems is inflation, prices are high, so we have to make some adjustments, what we're going to buy this year. So, yes, it is a little bit downsizing in terms of buying gifts, not like last year. So, yes, inflation is affecting us.


KOSIK: So shoppers are telling me they are sticking to their budgets this time around. They are focusing on deals and discounts and navigating which presents to buy.

But the National Retail Federation is remaining positive about how the holiday shopping season will wind up.

They believe that Americans will spend 8 percent more than last year, adding up to $940 to $960 billion spent between the months of November and December -- Alex?

MARQUARDT: All right, the holiday shopping season fully underway.

Alison Kosik, in New York, thank you very much for that report.


Now if you drove or flew to your holiday destination this year, you probably spent more than ever on gas or plane tickets.

CNN aviation correspondent, Pete Muntean, is at Reagan International Airport.

Pete, how many people flew this year compared to other years?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Alex, we are in a short- lived air travel lull. But it's all about to come roaring back the Sunday after Thanksgiving when everybody begins coming home all at once.

The TSA screened 1.4 million people at airports across the county on Thanksgiving Day. That's the lowest number since February.

The day before, 2.46 million people screened by the TSA at airports nationwide. The number only 6 percent off of the same day in 2019 before the pandemic and just shy of a pandemic-era air-travel record.

Now the question is, will Sunday hit a pandemic-era record and could it hit the all-time air travel record when the TSA screened 2.88 million people at airports nationwide the Sunday after Thanksgiving, back in 2019?

I asked TSA administrator, David Pekoske, if that's a real possibility this time around.


DAVID PEKOSKE, TSA ADMINISTRATOR: This holiday travel period will be the biggest, we think, since the pandemic. So pre-pandemic on the Sunday following Thanksgiving, almost three million passengers. We'll be pretty close to that the Sunday following this Thanksgiving.


MUNTEAN: These numbers are so important because of all the uncertainty that airlines and passengers faced over the summertime when they canceled 50,000 flights in total, due, in part, to staffing shortages.

And that was all compounded by bad weather. The weather this time around has been relatively good and airlines have been on a hiring blitz.

In fact, United Airlines canceled no flights network-wide on the Tuesday this Thanksgiving 00 Alex?

A busy weekend ahead.

Our thanks to Pete Muntean for that report.

Now on some of the busiest travel days of the year, heavy rain today and throughout the weekend could mean delays.

Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is live at the CNN Weather Center.

Jennifer, what areas are you watching most closely?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Alex, today is basically Texas and the Deep South.

But this is a system that's going to intensify over the next couple of days and bring rain not only to the gulf coast but the entire eastern half of the country and could cause major delays by the time we get into the second half of the weekend.

Right now, all rain and even snow across portions of west Texas. Get this, we have blizzard warnings in effect until tomorrow morning. Some of these areas could pick up close to a foot of snow.

We're also looking at that very heavy rain. So for today, airport delays aren't so bad. If you're getting home early, consider yourself lucky. Because we are going to see this system strengthen. Very heavy

rainfall for places like Houston, Dallas, seeing some pretty significant delays.

This rain pushes into the lower Mississippi River Valley. By Sunday, we see all of this rain push into the Ohio Valley, the mid-Atlantic, the northeast and New England. And that's when we could really see some delays.

So here are your delays for Saturday. They're all going to be pretty much in the south. Could see a couple in Denver as well as Billings. But most of the delays anywhere from Dallas, Houston, Atlanta.

By the time we get into Sunday, we start looking at longer delays in some of our bigger cities. New York City, Boston, D.C. could see some moderate delays.

We could also see some minor delays in some of the other airports in the east. This does include Seattle and Portland that will also be seeing another storm system move onshore by the end of the weekend.

So, Alex, we could see some pretty decent delays, especially getting into the second half of the weekend.

MARQUARDT: All across the country. Best of luck to everyone hitting the roads and skies to head home this weekend.

GRAY: Yes.

MARQUARDT: Jennifer Gray, in the CNN Weather Center, thank you very much.

Mexican officials have issued an arrest warrant in the death of a 25- year-old North Carolina woman who was killed while on vacation in Mexico where she was with a group of her friends.

CNN's Ryan Young has been following this story.

Ryan this happened more than a month ago. Why are police only now issuing this arrest warrant?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Honestly, that's part of the big question. October 28th is when this happened. And social media has really been keeping this alive in terms of a hashtag and celebrities and activists, have all been pushing to get answers.

We know the FBI is involved but Mexican authorities have issued that arrest warrant but we don't know which one of the friends or one of the people who was there they're looking for.

There was six people who traveled to the Mexican destination. Apparently, they were all college friends.

There's a video that has surfaced online that we have gotten confirmation from her father that it's her being hit over and over again. Now, we haven't been able to get that video cleared to be on air just

yet. But it's a brutal video to watch. You understand why this family had so many questions.

Mexican authorities are calling this a direct attack. And they believe that's why they're moving forward.

But listen to her mother talk about the idea of what the friends initially called and told them.


SALAMONDRA ROBINSON, MOTHER OF SANQUELLA ROBINSON: On Saturday evening, they called and said she wasn't feeling well and they was going to call a doctor. But when they called, the doctor hadn't arrived yet but they said she had alcohol poisoning.

We received an autopsy report on Thursday and it said that her neck had been broke.



YOUNG: Just imagine that, being hit so hard that someone's neck was broken.

I can honestly tell you I've been tagged a lot of times with this story on social media. People were asking questions about why we hadn't started covering it yet. And part of the reason was we were waiting for Mexican authorities to start moving this forward.

So now the conversation is about, was the murder scene looked at thoroughly, what investigators were doing, what's the next steps here.

Obviously, with an extradition hearing that has to happen, will more friends have to face charges in this?

Alex, because obviously, you have a family in Charlotte who has so many questions right now, not a lot of answers.

Especially when you know the video is online and so many people want to know, how could friends go someplace and, on the first day, something like this happens.

And then that story gets twisted and turned to the mother who was sitting back there in Charlotte.

MARQUARDT: So many questions and such a tragic loss for those parents.

Ryan Young, thank you so much.

Just ahead, China cracking down on protesters, as soaring infections threaten the country's draconian zero-COVID policies, as they're known.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



MARQUARDT: We are following growing protests in China. Demonstrators are clashing with government forces over the country's strict zero- COVID policies.

CNN's Selina Wang is joining us from Beijing with details.

Selina, COVID infections are soaring in China right now?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, exactly, Alex. China has been reporting record-high COVID case numbers, the highest since the start of the pandemic, reaching more than 30,000 cases a day.

We're seeing the country resort to harsh lockdowns across the country. People are being sealed in for days, weeks, even months.

But increasingly, it is the restrictions, not COVID itself, that's being blamed for heartbreaking deaths we're seeing that are fueling nationwide outrage.

Adding to the anger is a fire that broke out in the capitol of China's Xinjiang region on Thursday night. Ten people were killed and nine injured in a fire at an apartment building.

Most parts of Xinjiang had been in lockdown for more than 100 days.

Widely circulating videos, which have now been censored in China -- we're showing some of them now -- show that COVID lockdown measures very likely delayed firefighters from getting to the scene.

Video shows fire trucks unable to get close because the compound entrance is partially blocked with fences, tents, metal barriers that are frequently used as part of COVID measures.

You can see in the video that smoke and flames are coming from a high floor of the building but the water actually failing to reach the fire.

What adds to this tragedy is that, you think about those who died in the fire, they likely spent their last three months largely confined to that building, if not entirely.

This situation has really struck a chord with the public because we've been seeing scenes of tragedy and suffering play out again and again during these three years of zero-COVID in China.

Countless stories of people struggling to get enough food, essentials and emergency help in those lockdowns.

MARQUARDT: Just awful.

What about the capital, Beijing, where you are? What is daily life like?

WANG: Yes, well, authorities here are getting increasingly nervous about the rising case number here in the capital. And we're essentially in a de facto lockdown. They wouldn't call it that.

In the largest district, they're urging people not to leave their homes. There's been no official announcement in my area but virtually everything is closed.

I'm still allowed to walk out of my apartment right now, but there's really nowhere to go.

If I do want to enter one of the few places that are still open, take a taxicab, I've got to line up for a COVID test because you've got to show a 48-hour COVID test to participate in any public activities.

There's a lot of fear and anxiety because, if your building isn't already sealed off, it almost feels like it's only a matter of time.

People are trying to stock up on goods. There has been some panic buying.

And remember, in China, if you get COVID, it's not like in other parts of the world. You become a pariah because you get sent to a mass quarantine facility.

All of your close contacts get sent to a mass quarantine facility. Sometimes that can mean an entire building. Then your whole community or neighborhood very likely goes into lockdown.

So there's fear and anxiety about getting COVID, not so much for everybody about getting the virus itself, but the repercussions if you do.

MARQUARDT: Very restrictive policies.

Selina Wang, in Beijing, thank you so much for that report.

"A full-fledged human rights crisis," that's what the United Nations high commissioner for human rights chief says is happening in Iran as security forces brutally crack down on protesters.

This week, I met with a group of Iranian-American women who launched an exhibit with protest art highlighting the strength and bravery of the young Iranians who have taken to the streets.


GOLI GANJI, IRANIAN-AMERICAN ARTIST: It's just the anger and the bravery on her face is just so beautiful.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Goli Ganji lived in Iran until she was 18 years old and is now one of the Iranian-American women behind a new exhibit in Washington, D.C. called Iran Rising, with works of protest art that have sprung up in support of the demonstrations that have swept Iran. GANJI: I want to start my Iranian brothers and sisters. If this is the

only thing we could do to support them, to amplify their voices, this is it.

Some people didn't understand the words, but just seeing these powerful images, you can see the pain and suffering of the Iranian people.

MARQUARDT: The protests, driven by young women, are now in their third month, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran's so-called Morality Police.


Thousands have been arrested, more than 400 killed, according to the Iran human rights group. The regime has started sentencing people to death.

(on camera): You must be incredibly proud of these young people, particularly the young women. But, as an Iranian, do you feel any helplessness?

GANJI: It's amazing to see this young generation right now fighting for their country, fighting to get their country back, fighting for their freedom. It's beautiful. And I wish I could do more. I really wish I could do more.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): A portrait of Mahsa Amini is among the more than 160 works, many of which were done by international artists.

There's also a 10-year-old who, last week, was shot dead, just one of dozens of children killed.

AZAR NAFISI, IRANIAN-AMERICAN AUTHOR & SCHOLAR: The Iranian people go into the streets and get killed and, the next day, they go into the streets and get killed, and the next day and the next day.

MARQUARDT: Azar Nafisi is a famous Iranian author who left Iran in the '90s because of the rules imposed by the Islamic Republic on women.

NAFISI: They have already failed.

MARQUARDT (on camera): They've already failed?

NAFISI: Because something is broken. Within the system itself, there are deflections.

No matter what happens with these demonstrations, even if we lose the battle, we have won the war. This is a turning point in the struggle of the Iranian people.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Nafisi and others call what is happening gender apartheid.

(SINGING) MARQUARDT: The world was reminded again this week of Iranian bravery when, at their first match, the members of the World Cup team defiantly refused to sing the national anthem.

MINA, IRANIAN-AMERICAN ARTIST: I applaud them for doing that.

MARQUARDT: Mina is another of the Iranian-American women behind the Iran Rising exhibit. She designed this wall, with a pair of lines, the symbol of Iran, a tribute to the movement's fearless female protesters.

MINA: Their bravely is astounding and incredible.

MARQUARDT (on camera): If you were in Iran, what do you think you would be doing?

MINA: I would be there right with them, right next to them.

There's a protest chant that they say --(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE). And that is "don't be afraid, don't be afraid, we are altogether, we are all in this together."


MARQUARDT: These protests have become arguably the most significant since the revolution in 1979, which established Iran's theocratic regime.

And as the U.N.'s Human Rights Council met yesterday in a special session, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called out Iran's brutal repression and said that the United States continues to support the people of Iran.

Coming up, Team USA plays England to a dramatic draw at the World Cup. What it means for American hopes to advance out of the group stage. That's coming up next.



MARQUARDT: Checking in now on the World Cup in Qatar where Team USA just wrapped up a tense and dramatic match against England fighting their heavily favorite opponents to a 0-0 draw.

CNN's Don Riddell is joining us live from Doha.

Don, this was a tie, but how do you think the U.S. fared against England?

DON RIDDELL, CNN HOST, "WORLD SPORT": You know, I think it might be one of those drawn games that feels like a win, maybe even a moral victory, at the very least, for the United States.

It was a really good performance by the Americans. The English team, one of the favorites to go away in this tournament. They put six goals past Iran in their opening game.

So I think they acquitted themselves very well, the American side. They handled England very well. And they gave them a run for their money at times.

We're going to show you some of the highlights from this game. The Americans had some really, really good chances in the first half.

Western McKinney, a man who's known for his love of Harry Potter, he had a chance. Unfortunately, his finish wasn't as magical as it could've been.

But arguably the state's most famous player, Pusilic, had a terrific shot there against the crossfire. He ended up with the Man of the Match Award at the end.

England had their chances too, though. This is Mason Mount drawing a good save out of the American goalie.

Matt Turner and England's captain, Harry Kane, had a chance right at the end. He hit it just wide from a free kick.

So honors even in the end. I think it's a moral victory for the United States. They've now got two points from their first two games.

In some ways, it didn't matter whether they won or whether they drew or lost this game. Because they still go to that final match on Tuesday against Iran, knowing that they have to win.

But that's good. Destiny is in their own hands. The trouble is Iran looked quite good in their game against Wales today. So we'll see how it plays out for the Americans.

But I think, going up against one of the tournaments favorites and doing so well today was a good performance by the states.

MARQUARDT: Yes, that Iran game will be big on a number of levels. A lot of people watching.

Don, early disappointment for Qatar, who, of course, is hosting this tournament.

RIDDELL: Yes. To be honest, not much was expected of Qatar. This was their first-ever World Cup tournament. They were only playing in it because they are hosting it.

However, they made history today in a way that I don't think they'll be terribly proud of. They become the first host nation to go out after just two of the three group games, and only the second host nation ever to go out in the group stage. That was because they were beaten 3-1 by Senegal.

The only positive, I suppose, that we can take from this game, if you're a Qatari fan, is that they did score at score their first World Cup goal. But it now means they are already out of the tournament. However, they

get to play one more game and it's against the Netherlands, who are really, really good.


And the Dutch, because they drew their game tonight, probably won't go lightly when they play Qatar. So if the Qataris are not -- they could easily get taken to the cleaners in their last game, which would be a very disappointing way for them to go out.

But, as it is, they've laid on a tournament with some pretty special facilities and stadiums. And all of the fans have been very impressed by the way it's run. The team just wasn't quite so good on the day.

MARQUARDT: Yes. That Qatar/Holland game a little bit less dramatic than the U.S./Iran one coming up.

Don Riddell, in Doha, thank you very much, sir.

RIDDELL: Right, yes.

MARQUARDT: And coming up, new details about the gunman who opened fire inside a Virginia Walmart before killing himself with the same gun. We have new information about a message that he left on his phone before carrying out the massacre.



MARQUARDT: Happening now, the Walmart gunman's death note is revealed, detailing his grievances and railing against colleagues who mocked him.

Also tonight, we're learning more about former President Donald Trump's problematic dinner with rapper, Kanye West, at Mar-a-Lago, which also included an outspoken Holocaust denier.