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Hala Gorani Tonight

Taliban Poised To Name New Government Soon; At Least 23 Killed As Flooding Hits Northeastern U.S.; Louisiana Sees Food, Gas Shortages And 900,000 Still Without Power; U.N. Says Extreme Weather Happening Every Day On Average; Texas Abortion Ban; China Cracks Down On Celebrities And Fan Clubs. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired September 02, 2021 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello and welcome back to CNN. I'm Isa Soares in for Hala Gorani this hour. As you've been seeing on CNN's special

coverage so far this hour, our top story is the catastrophic storm that hammered parts of the northeastern United States overnight.

At least, 15 people have died after extreme weather caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida after it hammered really the southern United States. We've

seen flash flooding and tornadoes really brought in untold damage. An active rescue operations are ongoing.

Now, President Biden spoke earlier and urged unity at this difficult time. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My message to everyone affected is we're all in this together. The nation is here to help. That's the

message I've been making clear to the mayors, governors, energy and utility leaders in the region who my administration has been working closely with

over the past few days.


SOARES: Now, in New York City, we have seen apocalyptic scenes. Roads turned into rivers. And the subways are completely under water, you can see

those images really terrifying scenes here. We've seen similar disasters unfolding in other states. Homes flooding in New Jersey. Parts of that

state saw more than two meters of water.

Of course, we will bring you much more on this story throughout this hour. We'll take a look at the Hurricane Ida's impact that is continuing of

course to be felt, if you remember in Louisiana. We'll discuss how this is all related to climate change. So do stay right here, we'll have much more

on that story.

Now, I want to take you to Afghanistan where Taliban leaders are expected to unveil their new government in the coming hours. I mentioned saw Taliban

flags by the roadside in Kabul as you can see there where the militant supreme leader will likely become head of state. They face as you can

imagine daunting challenges. First of all, the economy is in near collapse. Prices, inflation prices are soaring and many international funding

agencies are withholding capital. All of this as thousands of Afghans still try to flee the country. The desperation has turned deadly.

At least, one man was killed in a stampede at a Pakistani border crossing southeast of Kandahar. CNN's Sam Kiley joins us now live from Qatar with

the very latest. And Sam, really all eyes clearly on the Taliban to see what kind of government they will announce. What are you hearing from the

Qataris or the regional players of how soon we'll see that government and how that might be shaped.



Excuse me, there's a hope that it will be sometime this week. Tomorrow, of course, being a day, a holy day for Muslims and may or may not be work

tomorrow. They may choose, the Taliban, to use tomorrow perhaps after prayers to announce their government.

There's no particular insight coming via the Qataris or indeed the British who have also been here, Dominic Raab; the foreign minister also in Qatar

to try and talk to the Qataris and through them to the Taliban. No indications of what personalities are likely to emerge in this Taliban-

dominated government.

It's the extent of the domination really that all international eyes are on. Will it include people like Abdullah Abdullah, the former chief

executive, former foreign minister who stayed behind to negotiate or even former President Hamid Karzai who also stayed behind to negotiate. Very

unclear indeed. And this may well be because the Taliban themselves who make most of these decisions through what's called the Quite(ph) Assurer

there, senior decision-making body.


It's not merely top-down in the Taliban. There's a lot of discussions and there are a lot of divisions arguably within the leadership. And that is

one the issues that the international community is going to be very concerned about. You've just played a picture there, photographs and videos

there, Isa, of people trying to cross between Spin Buldak in Afghanistan and Chamchamal in Pakistan. That border crossing, one of the busiest in

Afghanistan, a regular route between Pakistan and Kandahar.

Now crammed with people trying to get out. Similar scenes, though, mercifully not with these great stampedes have been played out elsewhere.

Because the Taliban are only the bear-restricting egress from the country, and the Pakistanis are also limiting the numbers of people that can come in

because they fear a growing refugee crisis.

It is very important indeed for the Pakistanis to see this new government emerge that will be stable at a time when the Taliban is going to be facing

an internal security problem from ISIS-k. It's got an ongoing and possibly growing insurgency in the panacea(ph).

And a lot of the warlords that folded up resistance against them may well come back to life as warlords as opponents of them unless they are more

inclusive than they were certainly when they ruled '96 to 2001, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, they've got a lot of work on their plate and a lot of people looking to see how they fare. Sam Kiley for us there in Doha, thanks very

much, Sam. Now, an influential Afghan peace negotiator is warning that 9/11 could happen again if the international community abandons Afghanistan.

Khalid Noor is a member of the former government's negotiating team, he joins us now from Dubai. Khalid, thank you very much for taking time to

speak to us here on CNN. I really want to pick up from what you heard there from our correspondent Sam Kiley. I want to get a sense of how negotiations

are going with the Taliban.

KHALID NOOR, MEMBER, AFGHANISTAN PEACE NEGOTIATING TEAM: Thank you very much. Well, the negotiations have been failing so far. We haven't seen any

progress. We haven't seen any progress with the friendship(ph) either. So it seems like the Taliban are trying to create -- trying to repeat the

mistake that they had done before, by having their own government that is not inclusive. Yes, they may have include -- they may include some of the

other emissaries, but it will be symbolic positions but not very -- they will not include them in power.

And that will create problem for Afghanistan as it has done before because if there is no inclusivity and if the Taliban impose their values and

impose what they believe in, the resistance in Afghanistan will grow again, and it will expand again. And once again, we will have another civil war in

the country.

SOARES: Let's break this down further, Khalid, if you don't mind. You said that they're failing. Can I ask first of all whether you're meeting them

face-to-face in a roundtable? Are you going via Qatar or other intermediaries?

NOOR: I haven't been meeting with them. Until now, the meetings that are happening in Kabul among very few leaders who are still in Kabul. They have

-- it hasn't been successful. We are in contact with them, but at the same time, we in here are putting in effort to hold a meeting of the leaders of

Afghanistan, those who oppose the Taliban, to form a united front with -- for negotiations with the Taliban to form an inclusive government which I

doubt that the Taliban will have an interest for. And at the same time, to also resist, so sort of resistance against or expand the resistance that is

already in Afghanistan.

SOARES: So, Khalid, let me just clarify this. You're not meeting them face- to-face, but you are talking to them about wanting an inclusive government. When you approach -- nor -- when the negotiating team approaches and says

we would like to see an inclusive government, what response do you get from the Taliban?

NOOR: Well, it is a Taliban who are approaching us, as of right now. They have been approaching all of us, not just myself and our political party,

but other leaders as well. And our message is the same, that we want an inclusive government. We do not want to have a symbolic negotiation and

symbolic power-sharing.


They -- in appearance, they seem to be very nice, but when it comes to serious negotiations, they try to find a way out and not be serious in

their talks, as they have been the same in the last ten months in Qatar when I was meeting them and negotiating with them for almost ten months.

And they have been avoiding serious negotiations until now.

SOARES: So do you suspect, Khalid, given what you said, do you suspect that when we see this government, whether it's tomorrow, whether it's next week,

do you suspect that it won't be the government that the world is waiting for, that all-inclusive government that Afghanistan needs right now?

NOOR: Unfortunately, I have to say that the government that they will announce maybe probably tomorrow or the day after tomorrow is not going to

be inclusive. It will be more of the Taliban there and the same system they had in the '90s. They are basically repeating what they have done before.

SOARES: OK, so, if the talks are not going anywhere, and if the government is not all inclusive, what next? Where do you go from here?

NOOR: Well, we have been very clear about this. We always prefer negotiations. We always want to negotiate. But if they impose their values,

and if they impose their type of governments, then we will have no choice but to defend the rights of our people. Because it is not just about power-

sharing. It is also about the values that we hold dear to ourselves. It's the women's right.

It's the freedom of speech. It is the election that we want to negotiate on. We want to have in our system. If we don't have these things, and if it

is not respected, and then I am afraid to say this, that, we will enter into another civil war, and we will go back to Afghanistan to sort our

resistance once again, the country will enter another bloodshed.

SOARES: So, you said you will defend the rights of your people. Are we talking here, Khalid, about an armed resistance?

NOOR: As I said before, we hope to solve the problem through negotiations. But if negotiations fails, if the Taliban do not listen to us, do not

listen to the demands of our people, then I'm afraid it will be an armed resistance at some point.

SOARES: Khalid Noor, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us. Do keep us posted on how those negotiations on the Taliban go and as

soon as you have any updates, let us know. Thank you very much. Khalid Noor there. And still to come tonight, climate scientists agree weather

disasters are happening more than ever, and they're going to keep coming. The question now is, how do we prepare? We'll talk about that just ahead.

Plus, the strictest abortion ban in the United States is allowed to stay on the books, but for now what's next in the legal fight against the

controversial law? That's later in the show.



SOARES: More on our top story now. Rescue operations have been underway in the U.S. Northeast all day long after the remnants of Hurricane Ida dumped

record-breaking amounts of rain on the region.

The rain came down quickly and its impact was fatal. We're hearing at least 23 people are dead. Emergency crews have rescued hundreds of people from

flooded homes and vehicles.

For the first time ever, New York City issued a flash flood emergency. Officials appeared caught off guard by the severity of the flash flooding

and have been scrambling to respond to the crisis.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: This is the biggest wake-up call we could possibly get. We're going to have to do a lot of things

differently and quickly.


SOARES: Hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana still reeling in the wake of Hurricane Ida, which hit the state over the weekend, if you

remember. Nearly a million residents are without power and the heat remains oppressive.

Two-thirds of the gas stations in New Orleans and Baton Rouge don't have gas. CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is there.

Give us a sense of what you are seeing on the ground.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'll take you through and show you. You see this line of cars. We've seen cars lining up all day at this gas

station. They have a system going on here.

On this side of the gas station, you'll notice it's -- the pumps are reserved for people who are driving their vehicles in to the gas station

and filling up.

On the other side of the station, people are physically walking up to the pumps with their gas cans.

I just met a family a short time ago as we were in the commercial break -- to give you some perspective -- that's how fast the line is moving. It

seems the owners here, who have 10 employees working, have gotten a system.

So the gentleman in this vehicle is here with his family. His name is Denzel (ph). He's going to tell us how he's been coping.

Hey there, Denzel.

DENZEL: How are you all doing?

BROADDUS: We're doing OK.

How are you and your family doing?

I see you have a 3-month-old baby in the car.

DENZEL: Yes, we've been worried a lot. As time goes on, things get a little better.

BROADDUS: What do you need most of all right now?

What's the situation for you and your family?

DENZEL: Gas. That's what we really need, gas. Even with electricity off and stuff, at least we can get in the car, you know, have the air conditioning


BROADDUS: Have you guys been stepping out of the house into the car for relief?

DENZEL: Yes, we have. Until we run out of gas probably two days ago. We've been in a line for the last two days with no gas.

BROADDUS: So we spoke with a woman earlier. She said she and her children have slept in the car.

Is that the case for you?

DENZEL: Every night we try. But with a 3-month-old baby, don't always work like that. Sometimes have to get on the couch and open up the door, have

the air blowing through the windows.

BROADDUS: What about his milk and the baby food?

DENZEL: We had a lot before all of it happened so right now it's getting all together. We planning on leaving and getting out of here so we can get

before we run out.

BROADDUS: Denzel, I'm going to let you pump your gas. I want to grab some information from you before we take off.

But this is just one story of what folks here in New Orleans are dealing with. He's going to pump some gas because his car, not only is it what he

uses for transportation to get around, this is what's providing relief for him and his family.

You heard him say, they have a 3-month-old baby. They don't have any power at their home and he's not alone.

Across the entire state, nearly 900,000 power outages. Now there are some signs of hope. For example, in the French quarter, about 10 percent of

power has been restored there. I'll send it back to you.


SOARES: Very much, very -- really good to hear from him as well and the challenges and, of course, he's one of those who can get out and get in his

car. There are so many other elderly who cannot do that. Adrienne Broaddus, thank you. Appreciate it.

As Ida made its way from the South to the Northeast, more heavy rainfall was expected. But one official said it was unknown precisely where the rain

would fall until just before it came down.


SOARES: In the past 50 years, we've seen an average of one extreme weather event a day. That's according to a new U.N. report, which proves it's not

your imagination. Climate change is hitting us harder and faster than ever before.

And these are just some recent disasters we have seen. We've seen catastrophic flooding, if you remember, in Germany. That happened this


Then we had flooding in Venice. Massive wildfires in Greece last month. And the Caldor fire, one of many now ripping through California. New York's

governor says major disasters like Hurricane Ida are here to stay. So we need to prepare.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): For anyone who says it's once in a century, once in 500 years, I am not buying it. This has to be considered the normal

course of business. So we need to take steps to prepare.

We should have evacuation plans that every single homeowner knows about, what you do when the waters start rising.

Is our communication system adequate to let people know in homes and on subways that this is dangerous?

Are alerts going out on people's cell phones?

How do we communicate and are we doing a good enough job?


SOARES: Let's talk more about all of this with Dr. Michael E. Mann, the director of the Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University,

and the author of "The New Climate War." He joins us from State College, Pennsylvania.

Thank you for taking the time to speak to us here on CNN. What's really staggering is the frequency of these events are very alarming -- and we'll

talk about this in just a moment.

But simply from a management perspective, you know, how do cities, how do governors need to -- how do they plan and foresee these events?

I'm talking investment, infrastructure.


day. We are seeing, we are witnessing in real time now the devastating impacts of climate inaction, of our failure to act meaningfully thus far.

At this point, we are going to need to take steps to adapt to those changes that are baked in, because what we're seeing play out right now in the

western U.S., these unprecedented wildfires; this unprecedented storm that's led to, once again, unprecedented flooding now in the Northeast,

this is what's baked in.

This is what we're already reaping from what we have sown. If we continue to burn carbon, continue to burn fossil fuels, it gets worse. So the first

thing we have to do is to stop burning fossil fuels.


MANN: That means that any infrastructure package, the one that's working through Congress, has to have major items within it, that shift us away

very quickly from our reliance on fossil fuels but, at the same time, we need to increase our resilience.

We do need to adapt to those changes that are now baked in. That means more resilient infrastructure, retreating from coastlines where the flooding

potential is great, where we shouldn't be building structures anymore, moving out of regions that are so wildfire prone they are not safe to live


So it's a combination of, unfortunately, retreat from regions that are no longer hospitable and actions to increase our resilience -- dams, levees,

land, you know, management policies that seek to minimize our exposure to dangerous wildfires. We've got to be doing all of this at the same time.

SOARES: So a two-pronged approach really to build that resilience from a policy perspective but also from a planning and infrastructure perspective.

But how about, you know, when we're looking at the images we've seen, parts of Philadelphia that have never seen flooding before, same thing with

tornadoes, areas that wouldn't have faced this.

What does this tell us as we see all this happening so quickly?

MANN: Well, it tells us that climate change has hit home now. And my grandparents lived in Philadelphia. I spent a lot of time in Philly when I

was growing up. It's heartbreaking to see the scenes coming out of Philadelphia right now, flooded neighborhoods that I recognize from the

time that I had spent there.

And one of the things, that recent report, that recent U.N. report, the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC,

that came out a few weeks ago, one of the things this report showed is that we now have to be prepared to deal with simultaneous disasters.

One of the things that climate change has now brought is disasters that play out at the same time -- the wildfires out west, the hurricane that

struck the Gulf Coast, the flooding we now see in the northeastern U.S. along the mid-Atlantic coast. These are simultaneous disasters that we have

to be able to deal with at the same time.

And that commands even more resources. It commands even greater degree of resilience. So this is climate change. You don't have to read a novel. You

don't have to watch a film about the future.

Just turn on your television. Read your headlines. We are seeing the impacts of climate change playing out now in real time. This is baked in.

We can prevent it from getting worse but we have to act dramatically. We need to stop burning fossil fuels.

SOARES: And this is the new normal, like you're saying. Michael E. Mann, thanks for taking the time. Thank you.

MANN: Thank you.

SOARES: Still to come, the highest U.S. court refuses to block a controversial law that effectively bans most abortions in the state of

Texas with no exception for rape or incest. The details just ahead.





SOARES: Welcome back.

Access to abortions in the U.S. has just become more difficult after a controversial new law went into effect in Texas. It bans abortions after

six weeks of pregnancy, often before women even know they're pregnant. Our Jessica Schneider has all the details for you.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first time since the early 1970s, a law banning abortion at six weeks has gone

into effect. At the stroke of midnight the Texas SB-8 became law.

It prohibits abortions in the state once a fetal heartbeat is detected. And there is no exception for rape or incest, only for medical emergencies.

ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION OF AMERICA: Most people don't know that they are actually pregnant by six

weeks, 85 percent of abortion happens in Texas after six weeks.

So there could be people waking up today or this week finding out that they are pregnant and not having a full range of options to make the best

decision for themselves or their families.

SCHNEIDER: In a twist intended to make it harder to challenge the new law, the Texas bill does not impose criminal penalties. Instead, it authorizes

private citizens anywhere in the country to bring lawsuits against anyone who assists a pregnant woman seeking an abortion and provides for penalties

of $10,000 or more.

That is fueling concern that lawsuits could be filed against not only medical professionals but also family members or even Uber drivers who take

women to abortion appointments.

Anti-abortion activists are already preparing to sue anyone who violates the six-week ban.

JOHN SEAGO, LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR, TEXAS RIGHT TO LIFE: We are collecting information. We are open to, you know, any informants. We've been working

with a network of pro-life attorneys and pro-life activists around the state.

And so, if necessary, we will bring these suits against the abortion industry if they decide not to comply with the law. And that's what we're

closely monitoring.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The Texas law took effect after both the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court stayed silent, refusing to step in to block

the law.

The lack of action comes amid question about whether the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade, the seminal 1973 case that declared a

constitutional right to abortion prior to viability, which is around 23 weeks. The High Court is scheduled to hear a case out of Mississippi in the

coming weeks that bans abortion after 15 weeks.

STEVE VLADECK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That they let this go into effect tells us if nothing else that they are not nearly as bothered by the impact of

the law on the ground here in Texas, as they have clearly been bothered by restrictions on religious services during the pandemic, by the eviction

moratorium, that they just -- that they're not impelled to move quickly.

It doesn't mean that Roe is dead. But I think it does suggest that Roe is on life support.

SCHNEIDER: The White House is issuing forceful condemnations of the Texas law. President Biden issued a statement saying the extreme law blatantly

violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade.

Vice President Kamala Harris called it an all-out assault on reproductive health. The Supreme Courts could still act to block this law. The emergency

petition is still pending.

But abortion rights groups say the damage is being done now since abortion clinics effectively had to shut down at midnight with no signed of

reopening -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


SOARES: Let's get perspective from CNN's legal analyst Asha Rangappa.

Talk us through and explain to our viewers around the world how this would work. From what I understand from that report is that anyone could sue an

abortion provider or anyone who aids and abets a woman who is getting an abortion.

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. So normally these kinds of laws, when they have been passed in the past, have empowered

state officials to enforce it and then, you know, putative defendants, doctors, abortion providers, can seek an injunction, naming state officials

as the people who would be enforcing it.

And it would be state action and, you know, in violation of the law.


RANGAPPA: What Texas has done to kind of circumvent this is basically saying, look, we as a state are not going to enforce this. It's private

individuals who are going to enforce this. So this not only makes it harder to challenge but what it does is it opens the door for any of these

providers, any of the people who may assist a woman in procuring an abortion, to be sued by pretty much anyone.

And if the -- you know, if the plaintiff, the person who sues them wins, they are entitled to a minimum of $10,000. So it's essentially almost a

bounty on these doctors, the legal equivalent of torches and pitchforks really to go after these providers.

SOARES: And so, if you want to report someone, that someone is getting an abortion, first of all, who would you call?

And do you need proof?

RANGAPPA: Well, it sounds like some of these pro-life groups have set up tip lines basically. So I think we just heard the gentleman say that they

are actively soliciting tips from informants.

So yes. And these organizations have deep pockets. So they can essentially finance these lawsuits.

And, you know, the civil procedure system goes through phases. A frivolous lawsuit can ultimately be dismissed. But the problem is, you still need to

defend it to that point.

So even if it's a frivolous lawsuit, these doctors and providers are going to have to spend money defending themselves, which really, I think, is the

worst aspect of this law because it can encourage people to essentially financially ruin these providers and just drive them out of business, which

I think is really the underlying point of this law.

SOARES: It's fascinating. I wish we had more time, Asha, thank you.

It's staggering. My producer and I were talking earlier. She showed me this Quinnipiac poll; 49 percent of Texan voters say they don't agree with the

law. But 42 percent support it.

And the irony is that Texas voted these lawmakers in. So it's staggering when you look at these numbers. Of course, it's a topic we'll stay on top

of throughout the week here on CNN. We'll have much more news after a very short break. Do stay right here.




SOARES: Now China is carrying out a sweeping crackdown on a wide range of industries. In recent weeks, it has announced regulations on Big Tech,

broadcasters, even video games. Now it's clamping down on the entertainment industry, namely celebrities, as well as their fan clubs. CNN's Will Ripley

has more for you.



WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her face lighting up screens in China for decades. Zhou Wei, also known as Vicky Zhou, one of China's

highest paid household names.

At least she was. Government censors scrubbing Xiao from most of Mainland China's internet, yanking her movies and TV shows from streaming platforms

without even giving a reason.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't matter how big you are in China. You can be a very big celebrity. But the government is not afraid. No one is above the

law basically. I think that is the signal here.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Xiao's agent did not respond to CNN's request for comment.


RIPLEY (voice-over): Xiao's name on a list of misbehaving celebrities, circulating on Chinese social media. The list includes Fan Bingbing,

arguably China's most famous and reportedly highest paid actress, fined nearly $130 million in 2018 for tax evasion.

The same charge levied last week against another canceled actress, Zheng Shuang, slapped with a $46 million fine. She did reportedly make 24 million

bucks for a recent romantic drama in a nation where hundreds of millions barely make $140 a month.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can't get too high. You can't get too famous and you can't get too wealthy.

RIPLEY (voice-over): President Xi Jinping is pledging to redistribute wealth, a policy believed to be popular among many Chinese young people.

The nation's top internet regulator also targeting celebrity fan clubs, state media comparing them to cults, susceptible to the influence of

hostile foreign forces.

Authorities announced measures to clean up chaos caused by fan obsession and cut off the capital chain behind the phenomenon. The cyberspace

administration of China promising to protect online political security and ideological security.

The Beijing leadership calling on celebrities to promote patriotism, morality and, above all, the Communist Party's ideology.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to stay clean and wholesome. Make sure you're friends with the right people and paying your taxes and it's a very

narrowly defined, what's good and what's not appropriate by Beijing.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Those who don't comply, experts say, risk being blacklisted in the blink of an eye -- Will Ripley, CNN, Hong Kong.


SOARES: Thanks to Will for that.

Welcome news for any ABBA fans out there.



SOARES (voice-over): Remember them? The iconic Swedish music group announced they are releasing a new album, their first in four decades. You

might be lucky enough to see them on stage alongside the 10-song album called "Voyage."

They'll be appearing as digital avatars in a concert here in London in spring in 2022. I'm surprised there are not enough ABBA fans in there. So

all I'll say is thank you for the music.


SOARES: And that's it for me. Thank you, everyone, for watching. I'm Isa Soares. I'll be back in just a few minutes with QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Have

a good day.