Return to Transcripts main page
Hala Gorani Tonight
W.H.O: Europe Could Hit Two Million Deaths By March; Bus Fire Kills At Least 45 In Bulgaria; Biden Announces Largest Ever Release Of U.S. Oil Reserves From Strategic Oil Reserve; Ethiopian Prime Minister Vows To Join War Front As Rebels Advance; U.S. Considers Sending Military Aid To Ukraine; Ex-Aide Says Netanyahu Was Obsessed With His Media Image; Portugal To Bosses: Don't Text Or Call Employees After Work. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired November 23, 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 INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN in London on this Tuesday, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. U.S. President Joe Biden
is set to announce the release of 50 million barrels of oil from American reserves. He's due to speak any moment. We'll bring you that live. Also
this hour, a grave warning from the World Health Organization, it says Europe could hit more than 2 million COVID deaths by March. We'll be live
in Vienna where cases are still surging.
And later, the latest on that deadly bus accident that left at least 45 people dead in a single incident in Bulgaria. So, any moment now, we're
expecting the American President Joe Biden to make an announcement, the release of 50 million barrels of oil from American strategic reserves. This
does not happen often, and the White House says it's the largest release from this reserve that was set up after the oil embargo of the '70s, the
largest reserve release in U.S. history.
The goal is to bring down energy costs ahead of the busy holiday season. Gasoline prices have gone up dramatically for Americans compared to last
year. Inflation is settling in, in the U.S. and in many other parts of the world. Politically, it's a big risk, especially for Biden's Democratic
Party ahead of next year's midterm elections.
Now, what makes this special is that the release is coordinated with several other countries, including China. That's what makes it so unique.
India as well, Japan and the United Kingdom. Let's bring in CNN global economic analyst Rana Foroohar, White House correspondent Arlette Saenz who
is in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where the U.S. president will be celebrating Thanksgiving this year with his family, will join us as well.
Rana, I want to start with you. So, this would be a pretty big release from the strategic reserves. How much pressure is on Joe Biden right now?
Inflation is up, not just energy prices, but prices across the board.
RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Tremendous pressure, Hala. Inflation really hits people at a kitchen-table level. You know, lower-
income Americans spend 20 percent of their income just on fuel, of gas in their tanks, and this is coming on the holiday season when other prices are
rising, food prices are rising. There's still supply chain delays. So anything that the president can do to take some of the friction out of the
system right now is very important.
Now, whether or not it's going to have the impact that he might be looking for is another question, but politically, I think he had very little choice
than to make some kind of gesture to try and lower prices.
GORANI: He asked OPEC several times to increase production. They've resisted this call so far. Is this going to now cause confrontation with
the world's largest oil producers? Because next week, they're saying, well, the U.S. is releasing strategic reserves, maybe we won't increase
production when it comes to OPEC --
FOROOHAR: Yes --
FOROOHAR: Well, you're hitting the nail on the head. That's very possible. And in fact, that could actually dampen any effect that releasing those
reserves might have. But in terms of conflict, I mean, we are in for long- term conflict, oil-producing nations and oil-consuming nations, OPEC knows that the world is transitioning ultimately to clean energy. They want to
keep prices as high as possible on fossil fuels in the long term. You know, the U.S. has a totally different agenda.
We want to get rid of inflation now, we want lower prices. Other consuming nations feel the same. I do think it's a bit of a feather in the
president's cap that he was able to bring together, you know, some adversarial nations, China, for example, to say, all right, we're going to
do this. That shows some diplomacy and it's also going to play well, frankly, on the home front in advance of the midterms.
GORANI: So, Arlette Saenz, you're in Nantucket. The first family will be traveling there for Thanksgiving. In that CNN town hall with Joe Biden, he
essentially implied that perhaps his refusal so far to meet with certain Middle East leaders, the implication being Mohammad Bin Salman of Saudi
Arabia, is perhaps -- that, that perhaps is one of the reasons why OPEC -- obviously, Saudi is the largest producer among OPEC nations, is refusing to
increase production. How much of that is a topic of conversation in Washington?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House is really in establishing this coordinated effort with those five countries,
the U.K., China, India among them.
They wanted to be able to send a message to OPEC and to Saudi Arabia and Russia that they are ready to tackle this issue of rising energy prices.
You know, OPEC rebuffed the White House and other countries when they had pressed them to export more oil. But the White House now, the idea is they
think that it's going to be a bigger punch if they had all of these other countries on board with this release. This was not something that the
White House necessarily wanted to go alone.
And right now, the president, of course, will also have to balance, while he did engage -- the White House engaged in this diplomacy with those
countries to get this released, like as you brought up earlier, it's what will the further impact be with OPEC in Saudi Arabia and Russia down the
But the White House right now really trying to show Americans here at home that they are taking steps to try to curb that inflation that so many
people are feeling firsthand at the gas pump when they're trying to heat their homes and when they're at the grocery stores. This is something --
GORANI: Yes --
SAENZ: That we've really seen the White House amp up in the past few weeks, their focus on inflation as it's hitting so many American families.
GORANI: And briefly before we move on, and then we'll get back to you hopefully after the Biden address, Rana, we've been hearing for several
years that the U.S. is now energy independent. Why then that it exports more than it imports, oil products, both refined and crude. Why then does
it need OPEC so much?
FOROOHAR: Well, you know, energy is a really volatile market, and a lot of being independent depends on the price of oil. You know, the U.S. had this
shale revolution, but shale is very polluting. The price of getting it out of the ground is high. As prices go up and down, the way you can get oil,
how effective and how efficient that is changes. I mean, it really is one of the most volatile markets in the world.
In the midst of all of this, the already volatile market, we had a pandemic which changed supply and demand in all kinds of new ways. And we had a
mismatch in many cases between countries that were coming back, countries that were producing, those that were supplying. So, it's kind of hard to
imagine a more complicated moment in the global commodities market. So, you know, there's only so much that the president can do about that.
GORANI: All right, Rana Foroohar and Arlette Saenz, thanks to both of you and stand by. We will go live to the U.S. President Joe Biden when he makes
this announcement, releasing crude oil reserves, 50 million barrels. That's the expectation, this is a live image coming to us from the Eisenhower
Executive Office Building next to the White House where we are expecting the U.S. President to make this announcement, in coordination, by the way,
with other countries including Japan, China, significantly, the United Kingdom and others.
Now, to an alarming warning from the World Health Organization, which says Europe could hit more than 2 million COVID deaths by March. As you can see,
the current figure is close to 1.5 million, but cases are rising as the cold weather closes in. And in other developments, the French Prime
Minister Castex has tested positive. He is fully vaccinated.
Austria is under lockdown. It's now seeing record numbers of people getting jabbed, especially as the chancellor told CNN, told us on this program
yesterday, that unvaccinated people will face the prospect of a fine from next year.
Salma Abdelaziz is in Vienna. So, we spoke to the chancellor yesterday, and that really, it sounds like at least, is kind of the push that some people
needed to go ahead and get that vaccine, and a country that is only 66 -- or yesterday, was only 66 percent vaccinated. Today, I think that figure
went up a bit.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely Hala. I mean, the streets of Vienna, of course, are mostly empty because this country is under a
nationwide lockdown. But I can tell you from being at the vaccine center this morning, it felt like the busiest place in Vienna, the operating
manager telling us that there's a rush of people there to get their booster shots, but also a lot of people coming forward to get that first shot.
They've been eligible for months, Hala, but they've only come forward now, and that's because Austria is using restrictions that specifically target
the unvaccinated. It's not just about the vaccine mandate, that deadline, February 1st and the fines that will be imposed as the chancellor told you.
It's about the very fact that life is going to become nearly impossible if you are unvaccinated. Take the lockdown that's in place right now. Even
when it lifts, the unvaccinated for now will remain under those restrictions indefinitely. To get into a bar, a restaurant, a gym, even in
some workplaces, you have to show that proof of vaccination. The message here is essentially you're going to be cut out of public life if you are
And that's because, again, that -- the chancellor is blaming that population, the unvaccinated, the one in three that have not been immunized
for this huge spike in cases.
But there's a bit of a carrot-and-stick approach here. The public broadcaster yesterday ran a lottery for those who are going out to get
their first shot. You can win a TV, you can win a car, you can even win a house. And I think you're going to see more of this approach across the
The idea that leaders are getting fed up, they want people to get out and get immunized and get their shot, but they're also trying to encourage,
they're trying to give motivation to get that shot. The harder pill to swallow here, Hala, is that even with vaccinations, restrictions might be
You gave the case of the French Prime Minister who is vaccinated, but still tested positive. That is the tough reality right now, Hala.
GORANI: But it's really is about hospitalizations though, because in Vienna and across Austria, we're seeing these numbers put a lot of pressure on
ABDELAZIZ: Absolutely. Austria has recorded its highest incident rate in a seven-day period, just now since the pandemic began. That's huge. The
Health Minister has been saying the healthcare system is on the brink. The ICU units are running out of beds. So, right now, it's a perfect storm,
experts tell me, because many of us got our vaccine a few months ago, that means waning immunity, at the same time you have higher transmission rates.
One person told me it's about 40 percent higher during the Winter time. And of course, hospitals have other sick, other vulnerable people coming in to
be treated, so that means less beds.
All of that coming together at the same time, and unfortunately, it is right before the festive season when people already have that COVID
fatigue, but this is why these restrictions are in place, Hala, because it is absolutely essential, as the chancellor told you yesterday, to protect
the country's healthcare system, to make sure those doctors and nurses aren't overwhelmed. And that's a finite number of beds there, Hala.
GORANI: Right, and it's before the Christmas season. So, hopefully, if this lockdown lasts 20 days, then it will be lifted before the festive season
and people will actually be able to get together and spend time with their families when those numbers go down, those crucial hospitalization numbers.
And that will be different from previous years. Last year, many people weren't able to travel to spend time with family.
ABDELAZIZ: That's the hope and that's the dream for many people here, but there's also a lot being missed out on here. Of course, the crucial
business season -- you know, we were at a Christmas market just the other day, there are so many beautiful iconic Christmas markets here in Vienna
that were shutting down. The shop owners were of course despondent, they're missing out on the second opportunity here to have business to make that
This is a country also known for its tourism, for its ski holidays, all of that now shut down. If you go to the official website for tourism in
Austria, it says we are basically closed for business during this lockdown. So, you are missing here a crucial economic portion, an economic
opportunity that was missed out on last year, and yes, the hope is that families can come together if these restrictions are lifted, if that surge
of patients going into hospitals slows. But, again, there is a message here.
And now, the chancellor was giving you that yesterday. The holiday season, the festivities are for those who are immunized, for those who are
vaccinated because, remember, even when these restrictions lift, they will remain in place if you are not immunized, Hala.
GORANI: Right. When that -- the chancellor told us after the announcement was made, that unvaccinated people would have to lockdown, essentially half
a million unvaccinated Austrians lined up to get their jabs. So it worked in France when they requested COVID passes, and it seems to at least be
having the desired effect in Austria. And we'll catch up with you again, Salma Abdelaziz in Vienna soon.
And tomorrow, I'll be speaking to the World Health Organization Vaccine envoy Carl Bildt, about Europe's rising case numbers and vaccination across
the continent as well. What does the future look like for those people in this part of the world? So, what more can people do to try to minimize the
risks even if they're vaccinated? CNN spoke to the CEO of AstraZeneca, who is urging people to keep wearing masks even if they're double-jabbed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PASCAL SORIOT, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ASTRAZENECA: Vaccinated people and they're doing it, and of course, when and where how appropriate, continue
to use masks. I think it is important people don't give up the masks too quickly. So, of course, we can't spend our entire life with masks on, but
we should get into the habit of wearing them where necessary and not elsewhere. But vaccinations are really the first line of defense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, you can watch the full interview with AstraZeneca's CEO Pascal Soriot, he's on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" next hour. All right, we are
still awaiting President Biden's remarks on releasing oil reserves in the U.S. But first, I want to bring you this story, a scene of absolute horror
in Bulgaria. Take a look at this bus carrying tourists mostly from Northern Macedonia, it caught fire, it happened overnight.
Dozens of people who were caught inside died, only a few people on board escaped. It happened on what locals say is a very dangerous stretch of
road, and now authorities and grieving families are pressing for answers. Phil Black has the latest.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The long highway winding through Bulgaria's countryside is now quiet. At least, 45 people, including
12 children, were killed here early Tuesday morning after this bus caught fire. Flames quickly overwhelmed almost everyone on board.
BOYKO RASHKOV, INTERIM INTERIOR MINISTER, BULGARIA (through translator): It's hard to look there, hard to look. I don't know if we should go into
the details at this early hour. Let's leave it for a later hour. In my experience, I've never seen anything like this. People are clustered
inside. They are burnt to ash.
BLACK: Just seven people sitting near the back survived by smashing windows to escape. The fire was so intense, authorities say, it will be difficult
to identify the victims or even be certain how many died. They were mostly tourists from North Macedonia returning home after visiting Turkey. Just
outside the village of Bosnek, the bus slammed into a barrier in the middle of the highway. Bulgarian television says this is known as a dangerous
stretch of road.
The driver was among those killed. So much is still unclear how and when the fire started, whether this was human error or mechanical failure. While
investigators work to find answers, a convoy of ambulances park nearby, waiting to carry away the dead. Phil Black, CNN, London.
GORANI: So tragic. Still to come tonight, the case of a black jogger in Georgia who was chased down and killed by three white men is now in the
hands of the jury. We'll tell you what arguments they're considering as they debate a verdict. Plus, what could be a dramatic escalation in
Ethiopia's year-long civil war. The country's prime minister now says he is headed for the battlefield.
GORANI: The lawyers and the judge are done speaking and one of the most racially charged cases in recent U.S. history, it's now in the hands of the
jury. On trial for murder are three white men who chased down Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was jogging, unarmed, and eventually shot and
killed him. The lead prosecutor wrapped up closing arguments by telling the jury that claims of self-defense made no sense. Here is CNN's Ryan Young
with a breakdown of what the jurors are now considering.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It has been two weeks of testimony.
TRAVIS MCMICHAEL, DEFENDANT: I just killed a man. I had blood on me still. It was the most traumatic event of my life.
YOUNG: And two weeks filled with controversy.
KEVIN GOUGH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR WILLIAM RODDIE BRYAN JR.: Which pastor is next? Is Raphael Warnock going to make -- be the next person appearing this
YOUNG: But also a show of solidarity with victim Ahmaud Arbery's family. And multiple calls for a mistrial from defense attorney Kevin Gough because
of high-profile people in the public gallery and gatherings outside the courtroom.
GOUGH: This is what a mob-dominated trial looks like in the 21st century, and we're asking for the mistrial.
YOUNG: All three denied, but today might be the last chance for either side to sway the jury in the state trial of three men accused of murdering
Ahmaud Arbery. The man who fatally shot Arbery was one of the last taking the stand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he brandish any weapons?
MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Didn't pull out any guns.
MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Didn't pull out any knife --
GORANI: Let us go to Washington now where Joe Biden is addressing the U.S. economy and petroleum reserves.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Reuniting with the loved ones in cities and towns all across America to celebrate Thanksgiving. As
they do, I want to take a moment to talk about the economy, both the progress we made and the challenges we -- remain, we have to face. We made
historic progress over the last ten months. Unemployment is down to 4.6 percent, two years faster than everyone expected.
When we started this job, it was over 14 percent. Wages are rising. Disposable income is up. More people are starting small businesses than
ever before, and our economy has created a record 5.6 million jobs since I became president on January 20th.
There's a lot we can be proud of and a lot we can build on for the future. But we still face challenges in our economy, disruptions related to the
pandemic have caused challenges in our supply chain, which has sparked concern about shortages and contributed to higher prices.
Moms and dads are worried, asking, will there be enough food we can afford to buy for the holidays? Will we be able to get Christmas presents to the
kids on time? And if so, will they cost me an arm and a leg? I told you before that we're going to take action on these problems. And that's
exactly what we're doing.
It starts with my port action plan, a proactive three-month effort to invest in our ports and relieve bottlenecks, 40 percent of the goods, for
example, that come into this country on the West Coast come through two ports, Los Angeles and Long Beach.
To help ease the congestion at these ports, I brought together labor and management and asked them to step up and cooperate, and move from operating
the ports at 40 hours a week at those ports to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And I provided the resources to other key ports including Savannah,
Georgia, and on the East Coast -- on the East Coast, and to help reduce congestion and undo damage caused by COVID.
We also met with the CEOs of Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, T.J. Maxx and others, those retailers, large retailers and others agreed to move products
more quickly, stock their shelves more quickly, and by the way, you may have heard the CEO of Wal-Mart yesterday on the steps we've taken.
He said, and I quote, "the combination of private enterprise and government working together has been really successful." He went on to say, "all the
way through the supply chain, there's a lot of innovation because of the actions we've taken, things have begun to change", end of quote.
In the past three weeks, the number of containers sitting on docks, blocking movement, are down by 33 percent. Shipping prices are down 25
percent. More goods are moving more quickly and more cheaply out of our ports on to your door steps and on to store shelves. And so all these
concerns, a few weeks ago, there would be -- there'll not be ample food available for Thanksgiving.
So many people talked about that, understandably. But families can rest easy. Grocery stores are well stocked with turkey and everything you need
for Thanksgiving. And the major retailers I mentioned are -- have confirmed that their shelves will be well-stocked in stores this holiday season.
And that's good news for those moms and dads who are worried about whether the Christmas gifts will be available. It goes for everything, from
bicycles to ice skates. You know, today though, I want to address another challenge that families are facing, and the one I think they're most
focused on right now, high gas prices. This is a problem. Not just here in the United States, but around the world. The price of gasoline has reached
record levels recently in Europe and in Asia.
In France, at the end of last month, it reached about $7 per gallon. In Japan, it's about $5.50 per gallon. The highest it's been in years. Of
course, it's always painful when gas prices -- gas prices spike. Today, the price of gas in America on average is $3.40 a gallon. In California, it's
much higher. The impact is real, but the fact is, we faced even worse spikes before. Just in the last decade, we saw it in 2012 when the price of
gasoline hit $3.90. We saw it in 2014 when it hit $3.69.
As recently as 2019, we saw it surpass $3 in many places. The fact is we always get through those spikes, but we're going to get through this one as
well and, hopefully, faster. But it doesn't mean we should just stand by idly and wait for prices to drop on their own. Instead, we're taking
action. The big part of the reason Americans are facing high gas prices is because oil-producing countries and large companies have not ramped up the
supply of oil quickly enough to meet the demand.
And the smaller supply means higher prices globally, globally for oil. To address these issues, I got on the phone with leaders from other countries
grappling with this challenge to try to find ways to lower oil prices and ultimately to the price you pay at the pump. So today, I'm announcing that
the largest-ever release from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve to help provide the supply we need as we recover from this pandemic.
In addition, I brought together other nations to contribute to the solution, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom have
agreed to release additional oil from their reserves, and China may do more as well. This coordinated action will help us deal with a lack of supply
which, in turn, helps ease prices.
The bottom line, today, we're launching a major effort to moderate the price of oil, an effort that will span the globe in its reach and
ultimately reach your corner gas station, God-willing. I've worked hard these past few weeks on calls and meetings with foreign leaders,
policymakers to put together the building blocks for today's global announcement.
And while our combination -- our combined actions will not solve the problem of high gas prices overnight, it will make a difference. It will
take time, but before long, you should see the price of gas drop where you fill up your tank. And on the longer term, we will reduce our reliance on
oil as we shift to clean energy.
But right now, i will do what needs to be done to reduce the price you pay at the pump, from the middle class and working families who are spending
much too much and it's a strain, and you are the reason I was sent here to look out for you. There's another issue that I will be addressing as well,
because the fact is, the price of oil was already dropping prior to this announcement, and many suggested in anticipation of the announcement.
The price of gasoline on the wholesale market has fallen by about 10 percent over the last few weeks, but the price at the pump hasn't budged a
penny. In other words, gas supply companies are paying less and making a lot more, and they do not seem to be passing that on to the consumers at
In fact, if the gap between wholesale and retail gas prices was in line with past averages, Americans are going to be paying at least 25 cents less
per gallon right now as I speak. Instead, companies are pocketing the difference as profit. That's unacceptable. And that's why I've asked the
Federal Trade Commission to consider whether potentially illegal and anti- competitive behavior in the oil and gas industry is causing higher prices for consumers. So, we can assure the American people are paying a fair
price for the gasoline.
I also want to briefly address one myth about inflated gas prices. They're not due to environmental measures. My effort to combat climate change is
not raising the price of gas or increasing its availability. What it's doing, it's increasing the availability of jobs, jobs building electric
cars like the one I drove at the GM Detroit -- GM factory in Detroit last week. For the hundreds of thousands of folks who bought one of those
electric cars, they're going to save $800 to $1,000 in fuel costs this year.
And we're going to put those savings within reach of more Americans and create jobs installing solar panels, batteries, electric heat pumps, jobs
making those clean-power generating devices.
And by the way, deploying these technologies for each home where they're installed is going to save folks an additional hundreds of dollars in
energy costs every year.
Let's do that. Let's beat climate change with more extensive innovation and opportunities. We can make our economy and consumers less vulnerable to
these sorts of price spikes when we do that.
And finally, even as we meet -- even as we meet to work out this challenge, it is important to maintain perspective about where our economy stands
The fact is America has a lot to be proud of. We're experiencing the strongest economic recovery in the world. Even after accounting for
inflation, our economy is bigger and our families have more money in their pockets than they did before the pandemic. America is the only major
economy in the world that can say that.
It is a testament to the grit and determination of the American people as well as our unique approach to this recovery and our focus on rebuilding
our economy from the bottom up and the middle out, not the top down.
Because of that approach, we're the only leading economy in the world, where household income and the economy as a whole are stronger than they
were before the pandemic hit.
Let me close with this. This Thanksgiving, we have so much to be grateful for: vaccines that are effective, safe and free; promising new treatments
providing for hope that we can bring an end to the worst tragedies of this crisis; record job growth; the strongest recovery in the world and, most of
all, the chance to be together again with the people we love on Thanksgiving.
As you gather together with your family this Thanksgiving, I want you to know how grateful I am to serve as your president. And I promised you that
I will never stop working to address your family's needs.
And together, we are going to confront challenges that we face them, are going to face them honestly and that we will keep building this economy
around hardworking folks who built this country.
Happy Thanksgiving. God bless you and may God protect our troops.
And I'm heading to a food kitchen to serve meals right now. Thank you for your time and effort. And I will have plenty of time to talk to you later.
Thank you. Thank you.
GORANI: U.S. President Joe Biden there, making a few key announcements. The big headline obviously is the release, the largest release in U.S. history,
of oil reserves, as the price of gas at the pump for ordinary Americans has gone up.
Inflation across the board also an issue, as economies around the world try to recover from the COVID pandemic.
He touted some of the positive headline numbers linked to his administration, that over 5 million jobs have been created since he took
office in January but acknowledged that supply chain disruptions are a major issue.
So he has promised to take action on ports, ports of entry into the United States, to ease the supply chain problems, also trying to recruit retailers
as part of the plan and coordinating this effort to release oil reserves with other countries, including India, Japan, the U.K., South Korea and,
maybe, he said, China.
Rana Foroohar is still with us.
What stood out for you here?
I mean the president himself acknowledged, look, the impact might not be huge and might not be immediate.
FOROOHAR: Yes, for sure. You know, I think he was being honest. But I think he was also saying, I feel your pain, you know.
Things are tough right now for a lot of people, particularly in some of the Heartland states, some of the swing states that will be important in the
midterms. And I think it is a very politically astute move to say, look, we're going to address this in whatever way we can.
He is also making a point interestingly about some monopoly power issues, potentially in refineries, that play to a larger agenda he has, about
really getting tougher on big corporations and their profit margins. That's something that's been a part of his agenda from the get-go.
I think also pointing to the fact that this is a global market, I mean oil is not just -- the price of oil is not just set by what the president does;
it is a marathon, not a sprint. We are transitioning to clean energy.
I do disagree a little bit with what the president said about that not being inflationary. I think it is a little inflationary in the short term;
longer term, two years, three years, five years, it will be deflationary. But there will be some bumps in the time we have to move through that
GORANI: Arlette Saenz, you're in Nantucket, where the president and his family will be spending Thanksgiving.
How much pressure is he under politically?
His poll numbers aren't great in the last few weeks; really since the Afghanistan withdrawal, we have seen a pretty steady decline.
Politically how much pressure is he under right now?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's under a lot of pressure. When you think about these high energy prices, when it comes to gasoline for cars,
also heating costs in Americans' homes, that is something that is just very tangible for Americans to feel, when they look at their bank accounts and
they're going out to the stores, going out to the gas stations.
So the president is feeling some of that frustration from voters. We have seen that his polling numbers have dipped over the course of the past few
months; the concerns about inflation being a top priority for many American voters.
If you even look back to that gubernatorial race in the state of Virginia, that was the top issue, the economy.
So what you are seeing the White House really doing this week is trying to show that they have a handle, that they're trying to curb this inflation
that's been seen across the board, whether it is in the grocery stores or when you are filling up your gas tanks.
So the president making this announcement today about releasing 50 million barrels of oil from the nation's emergency stockpile. Also, that
announcement last week, when he was asking the FTC to investigate whether oil and gas companies are engaging in illegal activity, that is driving up
The president is trying to show Americans that he is trying to get a handle on this situation but also warning that it is going to take a little bit of
time for people to actually see the impact of these actions.
It may not be until mid-December that you really see gas prices lowered. And there's, of course, that question of how much it actually will be
lowered with this announcement.
But the White House is aware of the political impacts that inflation is having on the president's standing with Americans. And right now they're
trying to show that they're taking action and that they're taking it seriously.
GORANI: Rana, the release of these oil reserves will be incremental and go into next year.
Why not do, if you really want to have a big impact, why not do it sooner and all at once?
FOROOHAR: Well, I think the president's probably thinking about the fact that inflation is changing. It is really a moving target. That's one of the
difficult things actually about this moment.
Generally, when you are in for a higher period of inflation, as, you know, we were in the '70s, for example, all of the vectors kind of move in one
direction. Right now there's a lot going on.
We heard the president actually make that point, quoting the Walmart CEO, saying there's a lot of innovation happening in the supply chain.
Technology is speeding things up.
That's absolutely true. That's deflationary. So you know, we could see a period, where inflation goes up, it goes down, it goes up again. I think he
wants to wait and maybe not blow the hoard of oil all at once.
And how, Arlette, the Republicans on the other side of the aisle obviously are seizing on these big inflation headlines to advance their message
politically. This has to also be on Joe Biden's mind and on the Democrats' mind, really a year away from the midterm elections.
SAENZ: Yes, and especially as Democrats right now are trying to enact that $1.9 trillion social safety net spending package on top of that $1.2
trillion they passed earlier this month when it comes to infrastructure.
You have heard Republicans repeatedly saying that the Biden administration's high levels of spending, the type of money that they're
trying to get passed in Congress, that that is also going to drive up prices and make the economy a bit more unstable for American people.
So the White House, of course, is keeping all of that in mind as well. Of course, they argue that these plans that they're making will directly
impact people in a positive way. And they're hoping that Americans will see that in the coming months and years.
GORANI: Arlette Saenz in Nantucket. Thanks so much.
Rana Foroohar, as always, thank you so much for your analysis.
Again, the headline there coming to us from Washington, The U.S. president announcing the largest-ever release from the American strategic oil
reserves to try to bring the cost of energy down, the cost at the gas pump for ordinary Americans.
And this is in coordination with other countries around the world, including, he mentioned, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, South Korea and
possibly China as well, part of this effort.
We're going to take a quick break on CNN. Stay with us. We will be right back with more.
GORANI: Ethiopia's prime minister is raising the stakes in his country's devastating year-long civil war.
Abiy Ahmed is vowing to personally lead his soldiers from the front lines. And he is urging fellow citizens to rise up and join him. It comes as
Tigrayan forces and allied fighters continue their advance toward the capital. CNN's Larry Madowo has more.
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is not the first time that the Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed is issuing a call to arms. But it is
the first time he is promising to personally go to the front lines. In fact, he sees this as a final fight to save Ethiopia from internal and
And he is asking -- he is trying to paint this as this nationalist movement for the people of Ethiopia.
A section of his statement says, "Those of you who aim to be one of Ethiopia's children, who will be celebrated in history, rise up today for
your country. Let's meet at the war front.
"In the past and in the present, the needs and lives of each and every one of us is below Ethiopia. We will rather die to save Ethiopia than outlive
I have only recently returned from Ethiopia and I saw firsthand how much prime minister Abiy Ahmed has been ratcheting up the rhetoric, how much he
is trying to stoke up nationalist sentiment, to try and paint an anti- Western narrative.
And this seems to be the latest attempt to do so. Whether it will be successful it is hard to tell at this stage. But the last time an African
leader went to the battlefront against rebels, it ended in death. That was for the Chadian president Idriss Deby.
I'm not sure how much of this for prime minister Abiy Ahmed is performative, is posturing or if he really intends to do it. And it will be
quite significant -- Larry Madowo, CNN, Nairobi.
GORANI: A reminder that the prime minister of Ethiopia is a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
The U.S. is considering sending military aid to Ukraine, including advisers, equipment and weaponry, just as Russia has started amassing
troops near the country's border. The Kremlin claims the U.S. and NATO are already sending aid and that that is only aggravating tensions.
Russia says it has no plans to enter Ukraine. That does not reassure Kiev; intelligence officials there say Russia has been conducting large-scale
military exercises in the separatist-controlled Eastern Regions -- you see them highlighted there on the map -- and that they're afraid that all signs
point to another Russian invasion.
Nic Robertson joins me now with more.
How right are Ukrainians to be concerned here?
GORANI: How unusual are these troop movements?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is not clear what President Putin intends. He has got close to 100,000 troops there and some
of them are 3,000 miles from base. And they have a lot of military hardware.
They have got T-80 tanks and other equipment that, when he surged troops to that border earlier this year, that equipment got left behind. So the
posture is there; the intelligence assets are there. That's what we're hearing from U.S. sources.
The real sense is, where is Putin going to go with this?
So if you are in Ukraine, yes, you are going to be worried. But what we are hearing from the Kremlin as well, they say that they're concerned about
this sort of increase or potential increase in support for the Ukrainian government -- military support, diplomatic support, political support.
And I think indicative of all of this, the U.S. chief of -- chief of staff, General Mark Milley, called his opposite number, General Valery Gerasimov
in Moscow today.
And in their conversation -- we don't know the details -- but they talked about deconfliction; in essence, making sure, in all of this heated
language and rhetoric now coming out from both sides that there isn't a military miscalculation on the ground or that the risk of that can be
That is the danger at the moment, that either side miscalculates. The missiles and the weapons the U.S. is proposing to send to Ukraine -- anti-
tank systems, anti-aircraft systems, military helicopters as well. So it is significant support that the Ukrainians could get here.
GORANI: And what is the worst-case scenario here?
If the Russians do cross the border, then what?
What are we looking at?
ROBERTSON: The worst-case scenario would be high civilian casualties; you know, a military confrontation that could drag on. Ukrainian troops in
these areas, where there are already these independent separatists in the Donbas region, those areas could potentially grow.
Therefore, the strain of relations between Moscow, the United States, NATO, European Union would really grow very tense. It is not that NATO is
postured and positioned to come rushing into Ukraine. That's not on the -- that is not on the cards.
But the relationship is in a poor position at the moment. But when we look at this calculation, you have to look at what is in it for President Putin.
There are political pluses and minuses.
If an incursion goes wrong and his casualties are high, that will be bad for him politically at home. The one thing we know about President Putin,
he wants to preserve his position in power. So every calculation will be based on that -- national security, Russia's historic claims over Ukrainian
territory but actually President Putin's hold on power.
GORANI: Nic Robertson, thanks very much.
This just in: the federal jury in the civil case against the white supremacists who planned the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in
Charlottesville, that jury has reached a verdict on some of the claims but remains deadlocked on others.
Among the claims they can't reach a verdict on, the most prominent, claim 1, which pertains to whether or not the defendants conspired to commit
racially motivated violence. The rally was held in August 2017 to protest the removal of a Confederate statute.
You will remember, at the time, one participant drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a woman. This story is still developing. We
will bring you more details as we get them.
But just to repeat the headline, the federal jury in this civil case against those men, the white supremacists, who planned that 2017 rally, has
reached a verdict on some but not all of the claims.
And a key witness' testimony is bringing Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial back into the spotlight. In an Israeli court on Monday, a one-time
aide testified that the former prime minister wanted total control of his image, saying Netanyahu spent as much time on media as he did on security
matters. Hadas Gold has that story for us.
HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Benjamin Netanyahu back in court for his corruption trial. But the now former prime
minister in a familiar spot, the center of attention, surrounded by lawyers and journalists.
"How are you feeling?" one asks.
"Among you, like I'm at home," Netanyahu responds.
A few moments later, Nir Hefetz, the leader's onetime aide and confidant, now turned star witness against him, a man ready to lift the lid, the
prosecution believes, on the alleged wrongdoings of Israel's longest serving prime minister
With cameras ushered out, proceedings began.
GOLD (voice-over): Hefetz describing a man driven to entirely control his media coverage.
"If we use the term 'control freak,' he is much more than that. And everything to do with media, he demands to know it all, down to the
smallest detail," Hefetz said.
"He spends at least as much time on media matters as he spends on security matters."
GOLD: Israel's news media plays a central role in three of the four charges that Netanyahu faces. The most serious of those charges is for bribery for
his alleged role in facilitating regulatory changes for a telecom entrepreneur in exchange for positive coverage on Walla, the businessman's
influential news website.
GOLD (voice-over): In meetings and letters exchanged, an alleged arrangement was reached, Hefetz claimed. Hefetz said Netanyahu's oldest
son, Yair, became convinced the Walla website was failing to keep its side of the bargain.
But when the wife of the businessman began to oversee coverage of the prime minister, the situation changed.
"Netanyahu had the greatest control over the Walla website, including what the headline would be and where it would be on the homepage," Hefetz told
the court. "Even the most supportive media didn't give him that degree of control."
Outside the court, a small but noisy contingent were getting their message out that Netanyahu was a liar while his supporters stood their ground.
Israel's ex-prime minister denies all the charges and may not reappear in court for some time. Nir Hefetz is expected to spend weeks giving evidence.
And the trial itself could take years -- Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.
GORANI: Still to come, Portugal passes a new law about the way bosses can interact with their employees, protecting homelife from work intrusions. We
will give you the details on that after a break.
GORANI: For some people during the pandemic, working from home has meant always working. It can be hard to separate company time from me time when
your house is your office and your office is your house and you can be reached 24/7 on your phone or computer.
But now one country is trying to change that. Isa Soares reports from Portugal.
ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Portuguese parliament here behind me has approved one of the most employee-friendly labor laws in an attempt really
to preserve the work-life balance as people continue to work from home.
Now under this new law, bosses are not allowed to contact employees outside of working hours. And that basically means no phone calls, no text messages
and no emails.
SOARES: Or else they will be fined.
SOARES (voice-over): The new law says employers must also pay working from home expenses, such as increased electricity, gas and internet bills.
On the streets of Lisbon, many told me this law was essential.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): With working from home, there was an extension of our working hours. And, unfortunately, some bosses could
have had a tendency to abuse that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I know what my colleagues and I went through and the lack of regard for working hours because they're not
respected. People nowadays have to be available 24 hours day because they have a company cellphone or a work computer. People have to have their own
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I think there should be some sort of regulation in regards to questions of working from home. I'm not sure
that, just because it has been written in law, that it will be effective enough for it to be respected.
SOARES (voice-over): Portugal's ruling socialist party is hoping the new labor law will attract digital nomads to their shores.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This gives power to workers that can choose the best place to live and to work, to any part of the world. Of course, it also
gives a huge opportunity to companies that can have the best talent in the world, no matter where the workers live.
SOARES: It is perhaps a bit too soon to tell how exactly this law will be implemented. But it was one of the last measures taken by parliament before
it was dissolved ahead of a snap election next year, where jobs and the economy are likely to be the main issues -- Isa Soares, CNN, Lisbon,
GORANI: Finally tonight, housework might not be so bad after all. And good news for compulsive cleaners like me.
A study published by the "British Medical Journal" has found that doing chores is associated with better health in old age. Researchers asked
almost 500 people from Singapore for this study about their levels of household work.
Then they tested their cognitive and physical capabilities. Older adults who performed heavy housework, like vacuuming, achieved 14 percent higher
in attention tests. That's important when you get older.
Light housework, like dusting, was linked to a better memory score. As I said, good news for me. I am very much a daily vacuumer-duster myself.
What is interesting in this study is that they -- this link was seen independently of how much other physical activity people engaged in. So it
really is the housework. There you go. No more excuses.
Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.