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Hala Gorani Tonight
Colin Powell Dies At Age 84; Russia Hits New Record In COVID Deaths; Haitian Gang Kidnaps Missionaries In Haiti; Notorious Gang Believed Behind Mass Kidnapping In Haiti; Familiar Of "CITGO 6" Detained Americans Urge Biden To Act; Facebook To Hire 10,000 People To Build "Metaverse." Aired 2- 3p EST
Aired October 18, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. A giant of American politics and an architect of sometimes
controversial U.S. foreign policy, Colin Powell dies, aged 84. And COVID cases on the rise in Russia, it is translating to record high deaths. I'll
ask a doctor what we should do now. And later, a Haitian gang kidnaps missionaries including children. The latest victims of Haiti's descent into
General Colin Powell who rose through the ranks of the military to become one of America's most respected leaders and statesmen has died of
complications from COVID-19, age 84. Powell was the country's first black Joint Chiefs Chairman and Black Secretary of State. His legacy though will
forever be tied to the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. More on that in a moment. The Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, said of Powell this morning,
the nation has lost, quote, "one of the greatest leaders we've ever witnessed." CNN's Wolf Blitzer shows us why?
COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I will never not be a soldier.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN (voice-over): Colin Powell; a soldier-turned statesman, made history on many fronts. The first African-American and youngest
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and later the first African-American Secretary of State.
POWELL: So I've always felt strongly that you should try to solve conflicts in this world through negotiations, through diplomacy. Any time
we can solve a problem that way and not use force and satisfy our objectives, let's push for that.
BLITZER: Powell grew up in the Bronx, New York. His parents emigrated from Jamaica. By his own admission, he was not an outstanding student.
POWELL: It's been amusing over the years to have people come up to me and say, well, General Powell, you're chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
When did you go -- when did you graduate from West Point?
I couldn't have gotten in.
BLITZER: He enrolled in the City College of New York, geology was his major, but the ROTC became his passion. Powell flourished as a cadet, and
after graduating excelled as a soldier. He served two tours at Vietnam before earning a prestigious fellowship working for the Office of
Management and Budget during the Nixon era in 1972. Afterwards, Powell returned to his troops, eventually becoming a general, and went back to the
White House in 1987 as President Reagan's national security adviser. Then in 1989, the general became the highest ranking officer in the U.S.
military when President George H.W. Bush named him Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
POWELL: Our strategy to go after this army is very simple. First, we're going to cut it off and then we're going to kill it.
How long have you been here? Been here the whole time?
BLITZER: Powell became a household name during the first Gulf War. His policy of overwhelming force against Iraq became known as the Powell
POWELL: I express my sincere thanks to each and every one of you for being here to share my final day in uniform.
BLITZER: After a distinguished 35-year career, Powell retired from the army in 1993. Ten years later, the United States would become involved in
another Gulf War and Powell again played a key role.
POWELL: My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are
facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.
BLITZER: Then Secretary of State Powell made a case in front of the U.N. Security Council, arguing that Iraq posed a grave threat to the world
because he said, they had weapons of mass destruction. The following month, the U.S. invasion began. The war lasted more than eight years, no weapons
of mass destruction ever turned up.
POWELL: I regret it now because the information was wrong.
BLITZER: After four years as President George W. Bush's Secretary of State, Powell returned to private life. He spent his civilian years
empowering youth through his projects, America's Promise Alliance and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership.
POWELL: We're going to go and educate the kids who are most in need. And when I heard their stories, I said I've got to get -- this is where I
belong. I'm home again.
BLITZER: General Colin Powell, a leader and a patriot who devoted a lifetime to service.
GORANI: And CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer joins me now from Washington. Wolf, Colin Powell internationally will always be linked to the 2003 invasion of
Iraq, which was based, as we now know, on faulty intelligence. What did -- how did he feel about that?
BLITZER: Well, I spoke to him several times in the years that followed, and when it was clear, there were no significant weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq under Saddam Hussein's regime at that time, he did have poison gas earlier which he used against his own Kurds in northern Iraq.
But during the war, there were no weapons of mass destruction that were discovered in the years that followed. He said it was a mistake, it was a
major Intelligence failure on the part of the United States. He stepped up to it. He acknowledged it, and then he said we have to learn from those
kinds of mistakes.
Obviously, that was a major mistake. The first Gulf War, Hala, as I covered, I was then CNN's Pentagon correspondent in Operation Desert Shield
in 1990, then Operation Desert Storm in January 1991, he came up with what was called the Powell Doctrine. You have to have a concise plan, you have
to know what you're doing, you have to have overwhelming force, but then you have to have an exit strategy which is what the U.S. and its allies did
against Saddam Hussein in Iraq when it invaded and occupied Kuwait. The goal was to liberate Kuwait and prevent the Iraqi military from moving into
And as you and I remember, Hala, the U.S. deployed more than half a million troops together with the allies to defeat Saddam Hussein. The air war was
brief, a few weeks, the ground war was brief, and then more than half a million troops left and Kuwait had been liberated.
GORANI: Yes --
BLITZER: So, that's part of his military record.
GORANI: That was certainly a much swifter intervention. Now, fast forward to the Barack Obama presidency. He supported Barack Obama, he therefore
voted against Republican presidential candidates, and then there was the four-year administration of Donald Trump. What did he say about the
Republican Party as it became obvious that the party had become the party of Donald Trump in the United States?
BLITZER: He was a Republican, but you're correct, he voted for Barack Obama to become president of the United States, and he voted against Trump
in 2016 and, of course, in 2020. He wanted to make sure that the country from his perspective was secure and strong. He didn't think Trump was the
leader who could do that, and he was outspoken in his criticism of Trump. He didn't think Trump was interested in bringing the country together. He
repeatedly said, including in several interviews with me, that what Trump was trying to do was divide the country between those who supported him and
those who didn't.
And he said for a president of the United States whose goal it is to try to unite the country as much as possible, he saw Trump as a complete failure.
GORANI: Right. I remember interviewing him once abroad as part of some event, I can't exactly remember which one, but he was an intimidating man.
I mean he was a man with a lot of charisma. You knew when he was in the room. You -- you know, this was someone with a very large presence.
BLITZER: He certainly was, and I spent so many years, 31 years basically covering him, going back to 1990 when I was the Pentagon correspondent in
the months leading up to the first Gulf War. He was very intimidating, a very strong presence, but he was also so likable, so charming --
GORANI: Yes --
BLITZER: So decent. All these years, whenever I would reach out to him, he would speak with me, we'd have dinner together. He was just a wonderful
human being, you know, a terrific husband, Alma, his wife, our deepest condolences to her and to the kids and the grandchildren. A terrific family
indeed. And as we say, may he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing.
GORANI: Indeed, Wolf Blitzer, thank you so much there for joining us with more on the legacy of Colin Powell. And we'll be talking a bit more about
the health conditions that he had as he was just on the verge of getting a booster shot for COVID-19 a little bit later in the program. Thanks so
BLITZER: Thank you, Hala.
GORANI: And from across the world, those who knew Powell as a general, a diplomat and a friend in some cases are expressing their sorrow at his
passing. The former American President George Bush, who Powell served as Secretary of State under wrote, "he was a great public servant. He was such
a favorite of presidents that he earned the presidential medal of freedom twice and, most important, Colin was a family man and a friend."
And former British Prime Minister Tony Blair called Powell a towering figure. Quote, "his life stands as a testament not only to dedicated public
service, but also a strong belief in willingness to work across partisan division in the interest of his country. He still had so much to give."
Colin Powell dead at the age of 84.
Now, let us bring you an update on COVID because Russia is reporting a record high of daily COVID-19 cases for the third day in a row where there
are cases, there are often deaths. More than a 1,000 people died from the virus in the most recent 24-hour period. That, too, is another record. And
in the U.K., deaths are still down, but the COVID number of cases in this country are absolutely breathtaking. We're at 40,000 per day for the first
time in months, as you can see on the orange line. Despite the rise, we're not seeing much of a public reaction to these numbers, and some experts say
research is needed right now to find out if this spike is because of a different version of the Delta variant called Delta Plus.
Dr. Peter Drobac; an infectious disease and global health expert at the University of Oxford joins me now live. Let's -- Dr. Drobac first talk
about Russia. Now, we know there's low vaccine uptake in that country, but a 1,000 deaths a day, that is still very high, much too high for a country
with a population of Russia. What's going on there?
PETER DROBAC, INFECTIOUS DISEASE & GLOBAL HEALTH EXPERT, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: Well, Hala, thanks for having me. You know, these are the worst numbers
that we've seen out of Russia since the pandemic started, and there are two things that are happening together. The first is that, you know, whilst
they've really reopened the economy and society, and there are very few restrictions on daily movements and gatherings, et cetera, as you
mentioned, vaccine uptake has been very low, only about a third of adults in Russia have been fully vaccinated.
And actually, the numbers of people who have had one jab or two jabs is almost the same, suggesting that a really significant portion of the
population, probably a majority, are really pretty resistant to getting a vaccine. And that's a real issue right now because the population levels of
immunity are very low. There's a deep mistrust of vaccines in Russia, that needs to be the number one priority right now to reverse that.
GORANI: I want to talk about the U.K. because the U.K. may give us a sense, may give us kind of a look into the future when it comes to other
European countries because the U.K. had a successful vaccination program, and a large majority of adults in this country are double-vaccinated.
However, because they were vaccinated earlier, the protection against COVID-19 may be waning sooner. We're seeing 40,000 cases a day in the
United Kingdom. What I'm also seeing is almost no one wearing masks. Why are we seeing these figures in this country?
DROBAC: Yes, they're some of the highest numbers that we've seen in about three months, 300,000 cases a week and about a 1,000 deaths a week also.
One of the most concerning things is that there are 7,000 people in hospital in England with COVID right now, 90 percent of beds are already
full, which doesn't portend well as we move into Winter. I think what we're seeing here are the -- are the effects of policy decisions that were made
in the Summer to really relax all restrictions, to make mask wearing and social distancing personal choices, and really to rely only on vaccines as
a measure for control, or very heavily on vaccines.
And whilst the vaccines have been such an important -- you know, had such an important effect here in the U.K., it's really not enough. And as we
move into the Winter, the biggest risk we face is pressure on the NHS, which we're already starting to see, and I think we need to think about not
just continuing to increase vaccination rates amongst school-aged children for example who are driving a lot of the cases right now, and boosters, but
also thinking about other measures that can start to interrupt transmission.
GORANI: Right, and also you talk about kids. There are so many instances of parents being exposed to COVID-19 through their school-aged children,
and critics of the government are saying that there was a huge missed opportunity over the Summer to vaccinate kids, and that, that -- there was
no sort of strategy to take advantage of the lull over the Summer. Do you agree?
DROBAC: I do. And back in the Summer, I was among many who were calling for vaccinations of kids 12 and older. The U.K. was behind the U.S. and
other countries in offering vaccinations to secondary school-aged kids. Really started doing so only after the school year started, and really in a
half-hearted way, we're still seeing the vaccination rates in that age group are low, and that demographic is also, you know, has the highest
share of new cases. So, we're seeing a ton of transmission being driven through schools. As you know, mask wearing is not required and actually not
happening in schools.
So, we're starting to see now some efforts to open up walk-in clinics for kids 12 and older. There needs --
GORANI: Yes --
DROBAC: To be a campaign to catch up, and I hope that JCBI and the government are looking closely at the data on vaccinations for kids 5 to 12
because we're willing to get those kids vaccinated as soon as that can be approved.
GORANI: Now, moving away from the U.K., obviously, we're seeing all over the world, when I say this could be a projection of what the future might
look like for other countries because other countries started vaccinating later.
And so, therefore, the decrease in protection against COVID-19 will happen later. So how important are these booster shots going into the Winter?
DROBAC: We're still learning, and I know there's been a lot of confusion around booster shots. Some of the data that we have so far does suggest
that our protection from vaccines, which is very good does begin to wane somewhat, both the protection against infection as well as maybe to a
lesser extent the protection against hospitalization and severe disease. And so, by about 20 weeks after completing the two-jab course of
vaccination, there's some waning of immunity. Now, people are still very well-protected, and I want to absolutely encourage everyone that vaccines
are the right thing to do.
But I think over time as we continue to study this, we will see that -- we'll probably see an expansion of the people eligible for booster jabs.
And it is just going to --
GORANI: Yes --
DROBAC: Take some time, you know, to see how long immunity lasts. It may be that this is an annual shot that we're all going to need in the future
to keep our level of protection up because the virus, of course, is not going away. But we just don't know enough yet, and that's one reason that
as we move into Winter, as pressure on our healthcare systems --
GORANI: Yes --
DROBAC: Increase as we enter flu season, that we need to take other precautions as well.
GORANI: Which I'm not seeing. I was in a store today, I was the only one wearing a mask. I thought it was an alternate universe. Quick word on Colin
Powell. He was double-jabbed, but he had blood cancer, also, we're hearing he had Parkinson's. And so therefore, people with these who are
immunocompromised because of some of these conditions and these illnesses, what does that tell us about how effective the vaccine might be for them?
DROBAC: Thanks. Well, first, I just want to say, as an American, this is a real loss for the country and my condolences go out to his family and all
those who cared for him. As you say, you know, no vaccine is a 100 percent effective, and that's true of COVID vaccines as well. However, the
protection against severe disease and death is very high, a 95 percent plus. To take U.K. data because the data here really good. In the first six
months of the year, 55,000 people died of COVID, only about 260 of those deaths were in people who were fully vaccinated.
The majority of them were older than 75 years old or had a medical condition compromising their immune system. So there's severe breakthrough
cases or breakthrough jabs do happen. They are extremely rare. That said, it goes back to what we were talking about earlier around our need to be
vigilant and to focus on boosters, particularly in those high-risk groups.
GORANI: All right, Dr. Peter Drobac, as always, thanks so much for joining us this evening.
DROBAC: Thank you.
GORANI: A day of mourning and tribute in the U.K.'s parliament today. British lawmakers today paid their respects at a church service for their
fellow MP Sir David Amess, he was, you'll remember, brutally murdered on Friday. Earlier, parliament was filled with those remembering his life,
falling silent, his colleagues united in their grief and sometimes anger. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson led the many tributes to Sir David's
character. Listen to Boris Johnson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: This country needs people like Sir David. This house needs people like Sir David, and our politics
needs people like Sir David. Dedicated, passionate, firm in his beliefs but never anything less than respectful for those who thought differently.
Those are the values he brought to a lifetime of public service.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Fred Pleitgen has been following these events at and around parliament today and he joins us now live. So, what are we hearing about
increased security for some of these MPs? Because, of course, Jo Cox was murdered five years ago, so this has got to be of great concern to some of
the people who work in that building behind you.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're absolutely right, Hala. Of course, it's one of grave concerns. And one of
the things that we have to say about this day as we've been covering it of course from outside the house of parliament, of course, it's a somber day,
it's a day of mourning of Sir David Amess, but at the same time, that discussion about the safety and security of parliamentarians, of members of
parliament as they interact with the public is, of course, of prime concern right now after those two horrible events that took place five years ago
and, of course, just this past Friday.
And I want to just look at one other thing that Boris Johnson said today as he was speaking his tribute, I think it's very important. He said, quote,
"we will never allow those who commit acts of evil to triumph over the democracy and the parliament that Sir David Amess loved so much."
And that, of course, goes to the core of what's being discussed here right now, is how to move forward with parliamentarians as they conduct those
meetings with the general public which, of course, are called surgeries here in Britain, and how to do that in a very safe way. And it's been quite
interesting following what politicians have been saying about this over the past couple of days. You have Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who of course is the
speaker of the House of Commons, he said he didn't want to have any knee- jerk reactions to all of this. He didn't want to make any decisions too quickly.
Of course, the security he said needs to be increased, but it also needs to be done in a smart way. And then you have the Justice Secretary Dominic
Raab, he went earlier today to several media outlets, and he also said that he does believe that there needs to be some form of increased security,
whether or not that's more security at these surgeries. But at the same time, he also said that, look, there might be some constituents who want to
speak one-on-one with their parliamentarians, who might feel inhibitions if there's security on hand.
So it is a lot of things that need to be taken into consideration and certainly some new measures that this country will need to come up with.
There are already parliamentarians who are getting calls to see about increased security. One of the things that Dominic Raab by the way also
said is that he believes that a lot of this is going to have to be decided on a case-by-case basis. There might be some parliamentarians who feel that
they want to keep their level of interaction, there might be some who want more security, there might be some who feel that they might have a little
less interaction, but it's certainly is a very important question, especially after the case of Jo Cox five years ago, and then again what
transpired here last Friday, Hala.
GORANI: And the latest on the investigation, the police are saying 25- year-old British national of Somali heritage. What more do we know about the motive here behind this act?
PLEITGEN: Yes, and they've named the suspect. It's Ali Harbi Ali, again, 25-year-old British national of Somali origin. Right now, this is a
terrorism investigation, Hala, and he's being kept by the authorities under the Terrorism Act, which means that he can remain in custody until this
coming Friday, and then, obviously, the authorities are going to have to decide whether or not they are going to charge him. But one of the things
that, of course, is being looked at as a possible motive is Islamist extremism. But again, this is still an investigation that obviously is in
the early stages. I think one of the things that is important to point out is that the authorities continue to believe that this is someone who acted
alone, and so therefore they don't believe that there's a further risk to the general public at hand, Hala.
GORANI: Fred Pleitgen, thanks very much. Still to come, China's economic growth is slowing as the country struggles to recover from COVID. We'll
take a closer look at the main reasons why? And later, Lebanon's protest movement. Two years on, we'll see how daily life there has gotten even
harder despite all of those demands for change.
GORANI: The world's second largest economy is growing, but it's growing at its slowest pace in a year. China's GDP expanded by just 4.9 percent,
that's still a dream number for any western economy though, it has to be said. That's in the third quarter compared to the same period a year ago.
And you can see just how much slower that is than the first two quarters of 2021 annualized. Kristie Lu Stout has more from Hong Kong.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): China's latest GDP report signals a clear slowdown in growth. Today, China announced its economy has
grown 4.9 percent in the third quarter, that is a sharp slowdown from the 7.9 percent growth posted in the previous quarter. Now, China is
confronting an array of economic challenges including a major energy crisis. The price of coal, that's China's main source of energy, has spiked
to record highs leading to widespread power outages. That has forced the government to ration electricity in 20 provinces and for some factories to
suspend production moves that led to a sharp fall in industrial output.
China is also contending with another problem, the Evergrande debt crisis. The Hong Kong listed Evergrande is China's most indebted developer with
more than $300 billion worth of liabilities. The fate of Evergrande has triggered concern about systemic risks to the property sector, which
accounts for as much as 30 percent of China's GDP which could seriously hurt the greater economy. Now, before today's GDP data was released,
several economists revised down their growth forecast for China including Aden Yaong(ph) at Asset(ph) Investment Managers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the data suggested that there are multiple headwinds that are facing the Chinese economy at the moment, some of which
are temporary. Some of them could be more long-lasting. So, I think the key long-term challenge is the housing market crackdown.
LU STOUT: Last week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said despite slowing growth, China has the tools to cope with these challenges. Kristie Lu
Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.
GORANI: Well, even as China prepared today to receive the Olympic flame for the Beijing 2022 Winter games, protesters made their voices heard. It
happened during an elaborate torch-lighting ceremony near the Acropolis in Athens. The highly choreographed event was meant to reflect traditions
dating back to the first Olympiad in the eighth century B.C. But three protesters brought it very much into the present, chanting and unfurling a
banner denouncing China on human rights. Police arrested them and the ceremony was not interrupted.
Still to come, one of Haiti's most powerful gangs could be behind the kidnapping of 17 foreign missionaries including five kids. We're live in
Port-au-Prince ahead. Plus, Facebook has a lot on its plate right now facing scrutiny on multiple fronts, but it is moving ahead with a new
project that is straight out of a science fiction novel. That's ahead.
HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: And now to Haiti where 17 kidnapped missionaries could be in the hands of some of the country's most notorious and dangerous
criminals. A Haitian security source tells CNN authorities believe the powerful 400 Mawozo gang abducted the sixteen Americans and one Canadian
over the weekend. The missionaries had just visited an orphanage northeast of Port-au-Prince when their car was stopped at gunpoint and five children
are among the hostages.
CNN's Matt Rivers is live in Port-au-Prince with more on -- so first of all, any contact between the kidnappers and the organizations that these
missionaries work for?
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we do know, according to the organization itself, that they have made contact with the organization. We
don't know if that was through Haitian authorities or through the FBI. But the organization apparently has been in touch with these kidnappers. We
also know that as the kidnapping was happening, we know that at least one if not more members of the group managed to hold on to their cell phones,
at least for a little while to give an update as to where they were and what was happening to them. So, it was almost as real time, you know,
narrative from the sixteen Americans, one Canadian, thirteen adults -- excuse me, twelve adults, five children of what was happening to them
allegedly by this gang.
We know that President Biden and the administration have been briefed on this, that there is an interagency taskforce looking into this, not only
through here at the embassy, but also at the State Department back in Washington, DC. And Hala, we're also learning more about the gang itself,
they carry this out.
According to a source of ours in Haiti, Haiti security forces, this gang, as you mentioned, 400 Mawozo is one of, if not the most powerful, most
deadly, most capable gangs in all of Haiti. And that's saying something because this is a country just brutally plagued by gang violence and
different warring groups. And yet, this group might be the worst of them all, kidnapping, a real hallmark of theirs over the past few years,
especially this year.
And they are known as opposed to other kidnapping organizations here, they're known for being willing to kidnap groups, they usually hold these
groups for ransom, sometimes asking for large sums of money, especially when they know they've got high profile targets. So everything that we've
seen with this group is very much in line with the M.O. of this gang here in Haiti.
GORANI: So do we know if there are any negotiations going on between the gang and the organization that the missionaries are working for in Haiti?
RIVERS: Well, so we don't know the exact details of that as of now. We know for a fact that both the State Department and the FBI are telling the
organization that they don't want to play this up too much, because they fear that that could impact the negotiations should there be some. Given
the fact though that there is contact between the kidnappers and this group, there has at least been some communication so far, whether that is
into negotiations, whether that's talking about how much money would be paid in any sort of ransom, that we're not sure, at least at this point.
GORANI: And quickly, how old are the kids? Five children among the seventeen?
RIVERS: Yes, so we know that -- yes, we know that several of them are quite young, and there's been quite a number of questions involved here about,
you know, why the group would choose to bring children into an area that is just very unsafe at this point.
This part where they were kidnapped just east Port-au-Prince. You know, this is an area that is a no-go zone, even for some police officers here in
Haiti, let alone unarmed children.
GORANI: Well, this gang certainly had no qualms about grabbing them as well. Let's hope they all make it out safely. Thanks so much, Matt Rivers,
live on the scene in Port-au-Prince.
It began with so much promise, tens of thousands of people coming together to demand real political change that would improve their daily lives. But
two years after Lebanon's protest movement, though those hopes have all but faded away. Ben Wedeman tells us how the country marked the anniversary.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The chants, the flags are out again on Beirut's Martyrs' Square to mark the second anniversary of the mass
uprising against a political elite that has ruled, many say misruled Lebanon since the Civil War. But where two years ago there were tens of
thousands, on this day, just a few hundred. The demands, however, haven't changed. "We want our country back," says Abira Laragi. "We want our
rights. We want to live like everyone else."
And they want accountability for the catastrophes this country has suffered in recent years. Suhel Asus lost his job as an interior designer. Now he
has the time to construct a model of the fate he hopes for Lebanon's politicians. "What matters," he says, "is that people need to wake up and
rise up and arrest all the murderers and crooks to put them in an iron cage and set them on fire.
At dusk, they gathered near the city's port, a symbol of the fatal negligence and corruption that have plagued Lebanon for decades and the
impunity of a ruling class that has yet to be brought to account. Two years ago, there was a sense that something was changing. But since then, the
Lebanese economy has collapsed, the country has been ravaged by the Coronavirus pandemic, there was an explosion in the Beirut Port in August
of 2020 that killed more than 200 people. And most recently, there were clashes in Beirut reminiscent of the Lebanese Civil War. Whatever hope
there was two years ago, much of it has faded. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.
GORANI: And still to come, the U.S. extradite the Maduro ally and Venezuela revokes house arrest for several American oil executive. We'll bring you
that story next.
GORANI: A close ally of the Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, appeared in an American court in the last hour. Alex Saab is accused of laundering
money on behalf of Venezuela's government. He was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. over the weekend and that enraged Venezuela, and hours
after Saab's extradition, Venezuelan intelligence official picked up the CITGO 6, American oil executives who are under house arrest in Caracas.
Their families are now begging President Biden to start direct negotiations with Venezuela.
Rafael Romo is following all of this, he's in Mexico City. Let's first talk about the extradition. What's the latest on that and the expectation going
Yes, the last hour, Hala, Alex Saab virtually in a U.S. Federal Court in Miami. He was assigned a defense attorney, and he was ordered to appear at
a new hearing to be held on November 1st. And, Hala, one of the main reasons why this story is so relevant is because U.S. authorities now have
Alex Saab in their custody, the Colombian national was extradited from Cape Verde to Florida over the weekend on money laundering charges, although he
said in the letter that he has committed no crimes in the U.S. or elsewhere.
He has, for the last few years, been very close to embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, so close that some say he was the President's
figurehead. And because of his closeness to Maduro, law enforcement officials and in United States hope to interrogate him to see if he knows
all the ins and outs of Maduro's authoritarian regime.
The problem is that in what has been perceived as a retaliation moves, the government of Venezuela sent back to jail five U.S. citizens and one
permanent resident who had been under house arrest since May. The group is known, as you mentioned, Hala, as the CITGO 6 because they're all former
executives of the CITGO Petroleum Corporation. They were arrested in 2017 in Caracas on embezzlement charges, which they deny. They were put behind
bars only hours after Alex Saab's extradition from Cape Verde to the United States on Saturday, Hala.
GORANI: And do we know where the CITGO 6 have been taken?
ROMO: Yes, they were taken to a notorious prison in Caracas, it's called El Helicoide. And just to give you an idea, this is the very same prison where
on Tuesday, last week, a former defense minister and army general died of COVID-19. In fact, an NGO said that there were another 20 cases of COVID-19
recently there, that's where they are. And that's the reason why their families and loved ones are desperate to get them out. In fact, they sent a
letter to U.S. President Joe Biden to see if he can intervene or do anything to regain their freedom, Hala.
GORANI: And obviously, the families of the CITGO 6 are hoping that there can be some discussion between the countries coming to some sort of
agreement so that the six can be released maybe they're thinking in exchange for Saab. I mean, is that even on the table?
ROMO: You can read that between the lines, most definitely. And what caught my attention about this case is that the Venezuelan legal justification
there was to send the CITGO 6 back to prison. Intelligence officials just showed up at their homes, picked them up, and they were sent to jail. So
you can imagine the reason why and they're very nervous about what Alex may or may not say, in a U.S. Federal Court, Hala.
GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, Rafael Romo, reporting on that a story live. The former British intelligence officer, whose controversial report
became part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, is standing by the reports claims. Christopher Steele is giving
his first on camera interview since the Steele dossier was revealed four years ago. Now you'll remember his report claimed Russia held compromising
information on former U.S. President Donald Trump. Although not proven to be true, one claim was that Russia has a video of Mr. Trump with
prostitutes in a Russian hotel, an incident Trump has denied ever happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, AMERICAN TELEVISION HOST: Today, do you still believe that that tape exists?
CHRISTOPHER STEELE, FORMER BRITISH INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: I think it probably does. But I wouldn't put on uncertainty on it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So how do you explain if that tape does indeed exist, it hasn't been released?
STEELE: Well, it hasn't needed to be released.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not?
STEELE: Because I think the Russians felt they'd got pretty good value out of Donald Trump when he was president of the U.S.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Steele says he's speaking out now because the problems that were identified in 2016 are arguably getting worse according to him. Still to
come, Facebook is about to invest in European talent to build what's called a Metaverse and it might be the next big thing, but just remember it is
having to deal with a lot of negative press coverage these days. We'll look at that story coming up next.
And Expo 2020 in Dubai is the marking and out-of-this-world event space week, we'll hear from an American astronaut Scott Kelly about the future of
GORANI: So it's called a Metaverse. I'm not exactly sure what it is. It's something you read about in science fiction novels where people use digital
avatars to walk around and interact with other digital avatars in real time. Now it's something Facebook wants to make a reality, "reality." The
tech company says it's planning to hire up to 10,000 people in Europe over the next five years to build that Metaverse, just as it's having to deal
with some pretty negative coverage. CNN's Anna Stewart joins me now live. So first of all, what is a Metaverse? Because I'm not at all into that
world at all.
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: You're not, and most people aren't, and I think there will be a huge spike in people searching for what is Metaverse on the
internet today. If we took it to its absolute extreme, this is living life online through VR and AR. Imagine you create yourself an avatar online. You
can meet people socially, you could go to an online virtual Starbucks, you could go to a club, you could go to a shopping mall, you could buy clothes
for money, that are virtual for your avatar. You could live life blended with the virtual world. That's the extreme version.
Facebook put out this definition saying it's a new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies like virtual and augmented reality
they go on to say, interacting online can become much closer to the experience of interacting in person. And I think they point out there some
of the things that we will struggle with it in the last couple of years, which is frankly remote working, speaking to other at Zoom, that's never
really matched up, at least not in my experience to the real thing.
So I think Facebook here is saying they're not trying to replace the world we live in. We with the Metaverse, but there could be some sort of blended
version. You know what, Hala, I haven't dipped my toes into the Metaverse, but lots of people have actually, those that did gaming with lots of multi-
players, people that have done AR or VR business meetings, some people are already playing with the Metaverse right now.
GORANI: I mean, I've seen it in movies and people interacting via their avatars, et cetera. But ultimately, as you said so correctly, we've had a
two-year real life experiment with living virtually and it's not great. After a while, no matter how much of an introvert you are, at some point,
you kind of need the real thing. I wonder what Facebook is planning in terms of monetizing this, in terms of -- what how does it fit into the
Facebook strategy to go down this route?
STEWART: Yes. Well, I think if you look at the huge amounts of money and growth of it is when you look at gaming and with AR and VR and the
excitement there is around that you could see why they want to be a part of this and they are battling in terms of investment against some of the big
game companies like Epic Games and Roblox are also microchip company and video that are really interested in this space. So there's definitely
something we want to invest here.
What I was so interested in is that Facebook have decided to pick the E.U. It's not all of Europe, This is just the E.U., 10,000 jobs over five years.
And of course the E.U. is where they have a pretty rough ride when it comes to regulators so clearly, this Metaverse is going to require a lot of
regulation, it's going to raise lots of questions about data privacy, and all of the problems that plague Facebook right now. But more so, so it's
interesting they picked the E.U., perhaps the most tricky battleground for a company like Facebook for this investment.
GORANI: All right, Anna, thanks very much.
Outer Space is the focus of focus this week at the Dubai Expo and the American astronaut Scott Kelly is there. He's flown four space missions,
including spending a year at the International Space Station. Scott McLean asked him if he'd live on Mars, run for senate, and if he believes in UFOs.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I just wonder if you think that all of this focus that we have right now in space tourism and in commercial flight
is sort of detracting from the broader goals that humans have in space.
SCOTT KELLY, RETIRED U.S. ASTRONAUT: I know it's cliche, but space is pretty big. And I think there's room for both, you know, I think, you know,
governments can do the hard stuff, you know, go back to the moon, go to Mars, companies like, you know, SpaceX, Blue Origin, other -- maybe others
that, you know, are just getting started can, you know, take over access to low Earth orbit and, you know, build a space station. And then that, you
know, frees up the resources for the governments to do the harder things.
MCLEAN: Should we be sending people to live on other planets?
KELLY: I would see someday people living on Mars. Now me personally, having spent nearly a year in a module inside, would not want to spend the rest of
my life on Mars, but I would certainly be willing to visit as long as I had a pretty good chance of coming home.
MCLEAN: Even if it took a year or two to get there?
KELLY: I can do two years no problem.
MCLEAN: Russia is planning to start their own space station. China is doing its own thing. The Emiratis are sending a probe to Mars. Do you think that
that the era where everyone was sort of a big happy family of Earthlings out in space, do you think that era is passed?
KELLY: No, I think we still kind of exist on the International Space Station. I mean, I've spent, you know, 500 and -- over 500 days in space
with cosmonauts, Russian guys, you know, people that their government, their country, we sometimes don't get along with very well, sometimes we
get along with them better, but it never -- those, you know, earthly political tensions never transmit to space, because what's important to us
is, you know, supporting each other, being friends, helping each other with our jobs and literally relying on each other for our lives.
MCLEAN: But if the Russians leave, you might not have that same kind of dynamic with countries that maybe don't get along on earth up in space.
KELLY: Yes. I don't think they'll leave.
MCLEAN: You think that they're bluffing?
KELLY: Every few years, they say they're going to leave, and so far they haven't.
MCLEAN: Do you think that the United States should be inviting China on to the International Space?
KELLY: That's a complex question.
KELLY: That's kind of a political question. Because there's a, you know, our government has, you know, issues with human rights violations, you
know, issues with, you know, technology transfer or -- so that's the challenge there.
MCLEAN: The government has similar issues with the Russians.
KELLY: Our government does.
KELLY: Yes, but --
MCLEAN: Alexei Navalny, Exhibit A.
KELLY: Yes, exactly. But I am not -- I don't work for the government so it's not for me to decide.
MCLEAN: But just broadly speaking though, you know, do you -- wouldn't it be nice for sort of global cooperation to have everyone on board and kind
of put Earth differences aside?
KELLY: I think it would be. Yes. But that's not for me to decide.
MCLEAN: Got you. So if you were making the decisions, you'd invite the Chinese?
KELLY: I'm not saying that. I would have to look into it more and understand more the issues involved.
MCLEAN: Do you believe in UFOs?
KELLY: You mean like aliens? Yes, like flying saucers?
KELLY: That visit this planet? Yes, no.
MCLEAN: Why not?
KELLY: Because I don't believe in them.
MCLEAN: You think --
KELLY: I think the distances are too great. The physics involved are, you know, the nearest Earth-like planet, if we went as fast as we could, it
would take 80,000 years to get there.
MCLEAN: So you haven't seen any piece of video that convinces you otherwise, everything is explainable?
KELLY: Yes. When you're flying in space, when you're flying in an airplane in certain weather conditions, there are a lot of optical illusions. So I
think -- I'm not saying the people, especially the military people, that claim to see something that doesn't make sense as far as their
understanding of technology, I'm not doubting that that's what they think they saw. But I'm very skeptical that that is some kind of alien
spacecraft. I think it's a little outrageous, to be honest with you.
MCLEAN: Someone asked you on Twitter in January if you'd run for the U.S. Senate in Texas versus Ted Cruz, and you said, hmm, maybe. Were you joking?
KELLY: Yes, I was joking.
MCLEAN: You're never running for the Senate?
KELLY: I was joking. My brother's the senator. That is not me, sometimes confused with me that he's the U.S. Senator from Arizona.
MCLEAN: But I just want to clarify a hundred percent, you will never run for U.S. Senate in Texas?
KELLY: I would I never say never on just about anything.
MCLEAN: You might run for U.S. Senate in Texas?
KELLY: I am not saying that.
MCLEAN: Should they take it down from your Wikipedia page?
KELLY: Someone should probably remove that from my Wikipedia page. Definitely not in 2024.
GORANI: It wasn't a complete no though. Finally, tonight, an artist is bringing the Dead Sea's plight to life with hundreds of naked people.
Spencer Tunick is a world renowned photographer whose subjects are world wonders and nude bodies. Two hundred men and women painted top to bottom
and white paint posed in a desert in Southern Israel to highlight the receding Dead Sea.
Well, the photographer says the installation connects the vulnerable human body with the fragile sea and shows how we all affect the world. Thanks for
watching tonight, I'm Hala Gorani. Stay with CNN. "QUESTS MEANS BUSINESS" is next.