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Hala Gorani Tonight

Omicron Spreads Across Europe; Boris Johnson's Tories Party Lose North Shropshire Seat They Held For 200 Years; China Hits Back At U.S. Imports Ban; Ten Years Since The Death Of North Korean Dictator Kim Jong- il; U.S. Judge Rejects Purdue Pharma's Settlement Deal; Omicron Threatens To Disrupt Global Sports; Russia Moving More Forces To Ukraine Border; "Sex And The City" Actor Accused Of Sexual Assault. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired December 17, 2021 - 14:00   ET



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, live from the CNN center here in Atlanta, I'm Lynda Kinkade in for Hala Gorani. Tonight, as

Omicron continues its seemingly relentless March, Europe is bracing for another difficult Christmas. And after his party loses a seat they've held

for nearly 200 years, Boris Johnson remains defiant in the face of calls for him to resign.

And China is strongly criticizing Washington's move to banning imports from Xinjiang Province over false labor concerns Once again, Europe is facing a

surge of COVID cases across the continent. For the past three days, the U.K. has reported record numbers of cases. Today, over 93,000 cases in

just the past 24 hours. Just look at the spike the country has seen.

In France, it's a concern not just for adults, but for kids, too. Health officials are reporting very high infection rates in children aged 10 -- 6

to 10, and governments across the continent are understandably worried, doing everything they can to try and fight back. Italy is curbing social

events and Denmark announced it would shut cinemas, museums and theaters to try and curb the spread. And in the last hour, the Irish government has

announced an 8:00 p.m. curfew for restaurants and bars.

I want to get the latest from CNN's Salma Abdelaziz, she has this report from London as Europe looks to the U.K. with a sense of dread of what might

yet be to come.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: It feels like everyone here as a case of the holiday blues. The U.K. is dealing with record-breaking case numbers of

COVID-19, tens of thousands of people testing positive for the virus just days before Christmas. It's forcing many into self-isolation, forcing

families to cancel Christmas plans, and it means that many people yet again for another year will be alone on the holidays.

As for businesses, some of them forced to close their doors due to staff calling out sick and client cancellations. Prime Minister Boris Johnson now

being accused of lockdown by stealth. And what's happening here in the U.K. as it's very much in the midst of this Omicron wave is a harbinger for

what's to come across the world. Take a look.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): A depressing dose of deja vu, another holiday season in pandemic. And again, worrying scenes inside France's ICUs.

Coronavirus cases here and across Europe are exploding. Germany's government is warning of massive challenge from a potential fifth wave as

Omicron spreads faster than any other variant of COVID-19.

URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: We know that the Omicron variant is really threatening us. It is spreading at a ferocious

pace and potentially has the risk of escaping our vaccines, at least partially. We know that our health care systems are over-stretched right

now, and this is partly linked to the large number of unvaccinated patients.

ABDELAZIZ: The European Union will order 180 million extra doses of Pfizer vaccine, which may eventually be adapted to the Omicron variant. Fear is

spurring action. Italy is vaccinating children as young as 5, part of an EU campaign to immunize the very young. New year's eve events impacted, too.

Rome's iconic street party cancelled this year amid fears the gathering could spike cases. British night clubs hosted a celebratory return to

normalcy this Summer. Now the Welsh government says they'll be the first to close after Christmas.

MARK DRAKEFORD, WELSH FIRST MINISTER: People go there in order to be up close and personal, and we know that Omicron is particularly likely to lead

to super-spreader events where people are packed in together in that way.

ABDELAZIZ: Businesses across the world forced to shut as staff fall ill and cancellations skyrocket. "Hamilton", the hit Broadway musical, is one

of several shows to close its doors due to COVID cases among actors and staff. New York suffering a surge of positive cases as President Biden

offered this stark warning.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For unvaccinated, we are looking at a Winter of severe illness and death if you're unvaccinated, for

themselves, their families and the hospitals they will soon overwhelm.

ABDELAZIZ: In South Africa though, some possible hopeful signs amid record case numbers.

JOE PHAAHLA, HEALTH MINISTER, SOUTH AFRICA: Although, there is a rapid rise in hospitalization because we come from a very low base at the end of

the third wave, the large majority of also this hospitalized patients are fairly mild.


ABDELAZIZ: While possibly less severe to the vaccinated with Omicron's rapid spread, it's the sheer volume of cases that could threaten all of us.

(on camera): It's the ferocity and the speed with which Omicron spreads that has so many health officials here worried. They point to that R

number, the R figure of 3 to 5 for Omicron, which means for every one person infected, on average, they could infect three to five others. And

the fear is on hospital admissions here because you have tens of thousands of positive cases that potentially some of them could turn up in hospital

later on.

And of course, there's only a finite number of hospital beds. That's why everyone in this country is being warned to think carefully about their

Christmas plans and prioritize their social gatherings. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


KINKADE: Well, I want to bring in our Jim Bittermann now, who is in Paris for us. And Jim, in just three hours from now, the new French travel ban

comes into effect, banning non-essential travel to the U.K. Has there been a last-minute rush to board planes and trains to get out?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think to some extent, Lynda, but I think what more people have been interested in, which

just happened in the last half hour here, and that is, we have heard from the prime minister in the last half hour about what he's learned from this

Health Defense Council meeting that's been taking place late this afternoon. And in that meeting, this is the last meeting before Christmas,

they say -- in any case, in that meeting, they've decided a few things that are going to impact the holidays directly.

Basically, they're going to ban the kind of celebrations that you normally see here at new year's eve, for example, a gathering on the Champs-Elysees

going to be banned, other public gatherings are going to -- and fireworks displays are going to be banned. Discotheques already closed, but that's

going to be something that's also going to impinge on the holidays. Is they're going to expand as well the health pass, are going to make it not

just a health pass, they're going to make it a vaccination pass.

And the reason for that is that, the health pass used to be -- is required everywhere here, used to be subverted by the fact that a person could get a

last-minute COVID test and still get into a bar or a restaurant or something that -- without showing a health pass. Now, however, in January,

they've announced they're going to change the rules on that, it's going to become a vaccination pass, and that's going to really encourage people to

get vaccinated.

The prime minister pointed out that in fact, there are 6 million French who are still not vaccinated, and they're going to accelerate the vaccination

campaign here. Lynda?

KINKADE: Yes, a lot of changes, more restrictions in place as we continue to see that surge. Jim Bittermann for us in Paris, thanks very much. Well,

as we have been hearing, the surge in COVID cases are a huge problem for the U.K., and a huge problem for the country's businesses. They're

struggling to cope with cancellations, staff shortages and people staying home. The hospitality industry is desperately calling out for financial

support after cutting a trip to the U.S. short.

The U.K.'s Finance Minister Rishi Sunak has been speaking with industry leaders on new COVID-19 aid. Well, I want to bring in CNN's Anna Stewart in

London for more on all of this. Anna, people are being told to stay home, and that also means that people are canceling plans. The U.K. hospitality

industry already feeling it, but no official lockdown means that at this point in time, no financial support from the government.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: That certainly seems to be the policy so far. At least no additional financial support. There were some hangovers of

grants from local council and things, but nothing new. And that is because the government hasn't told businesses to shut, they haven't told people not

to have social gatherings. I can get on to that. I mean, in some ways they have, there's been a lot of different advice, and people, frankly, are very

concerned looking at the COVID situation in the U.K.

Another day of record number of cases since the pandemic began. They don't want to be self-isolating before Christmas. Now, the U.K. Finance Minister

did meet with business leaders this afternoon, and I can actually bring you the statement we just got in, has clearly wrapped up. He met virtually with

all sorts of groups including the CBI, the FSB, the BCC, which is the British Chambers of Commerce, and here is what they have said, they say,

"we recognize how important the festive period is for so many businesses, and the government will continue to engage constructively on how it can

best provide ongoing support to the businesses and sectors affected."

Now, unfortunately, that means more talks, but actually, it doesn't look like any action, at least not yet. Now, just to take one sector that has

been impacted badly, U.K. hospitality. The lobby group has told us that just in ten days of Omicron, bookings fell by a third. And this is in the

festive season which really accounts for a huge chunk of their annual revenue and they expect that to fall far further in the coming days.


So, these businesses, whether we're looking at the opera houses, the ballet halls, the ritz, the pubs, the restaurants, the pubs, they want additional

help right now so that they can survive through this festive season. They understand the health concerns as it does everyone else, they're worried

about their own staff being sick as well, but they do need some help, and it doesn't look at this stage like it's coming. Lynda?

KINKADE: No, it certainly doesn't. Looks much like last Christmas. Yes, talk to us about the bigger picture right now. A U.K. inflation has hit its

highest level really in over a decade, fueled largely by rising fuel prices and supply chain disruption. How challenging is that for people right now,

and what is hoped will happen as a result of the interest rate rise?

STEWART: Well, there's a lot of concern, inflation hitting 5.1 percent last month, a 10-year high as you say, that is now very much outstripping

any kind of wage growth. So, that's actually going to start to really hurt people in the pocket. This is going to be sticker prices going up on all

sorts of goods. Now, the interest rate rise yesterday was a very modest one, just 15 basis points. It's hoped that, that will help keep a lid on

it, but the Bank of England still thinks inflation will actually hit 6 percent next April, largely due to fuel.

Now, the economic picture outside of inflation really isn't good and Omicron is not going to help that because the economy barely grew in

October, that's the last GDP figure we had, it grew at 0.1 percent. And the worry now is with inflation surging and this latest outlook with Omicron

looking pretty negative with business activity already very sharply slumping in the festive season, i think the worry now is you've got

sluggish economic growth and inflation, and that could lead to stagflation. Lynda?

KINKADE: All right, Anna Stewart for us staying across it all in London. Thanks very much, in what is a very empty office. Thanks so much. Well,

there is still a lot we don't know about the Omicron variant. South Africa's health minister says vaccines and the high number of people that

have had COVID-19 in the past may be keeping disease milder this time around. Some have said the variant itself appears to be causing less severe

illness that scientists are trying not to rush to any conclusions.

A new study from the Imperial College London says booster shots are going to become critical to stop Omicron from spreading further. Well, joining me

now is Dr. Piotr Kramarz; deputy chief scientist at the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. Good to have you with us, doctor.


KINKADE: So, the U.K. has reported a record high number of COVID-19 cases for a third day in a row. Germany is warning of a massive fifth wave. Given

the numbers we're seeing right now and the rapid rise in infection, what concerns you most?

KRAMARZ: What we're observing in Europe is that we are in the middle of a large wave of the pandemic caused by the Delta variant. We see -- we've

seen steeply increasing case numbers over the few last months and weeks, and slowly increasing death rates. And this discrepancy has been largely

attributable to vaccination uptake in Europe, but we started seeing now in most countries in Europe, the Omicron cases, and in several countries, we

also see outbreaks, clusters, and there are indications of already happening community transmission.

And it's predicted by looking at the mathematical modeling that Omicron will take over Delta, probably already in January. And even if it causes

less severe disease than Delta, then the sheer numbers that we will soon see may put too much pressure on some health care systems and health care

workers. And we evaluate the risk to public health from Omicron on top of Delta as very high.

KINKADE: Yes, I mean, the sheer numbers are just incredible. And we continue to be told, particularly in countries where people have already

had two shots, the need to get a booster jab. Talk to us about the protection you get from a booster jab. How long does it take that

additional vaccine dose to be effective?

KRAMARZ: We -- again, we are still in the middle of a large wave caused by the Delta variant, and here vaccination is crucial because vaccines are

very good at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, in terms of care unit admissions and deaths from the Delta variant. And they may protect

from also from severe outcomes of the Omicron variant. But like you said, it takes time to deliver a vaccination. In Europe, the vaccination coverage

on average is quite high, but it's quite uneven between the countries, and there are still many gaps to be filled.


And also it takes time to deliver booster doses, and then it takes some time until they start working. So it's extremely important to adhere --

non-pharmaceutical interventions like physical distancing, mask-wearing, hygienic measures and avoiding crowded spaces.

KINKADE: I want to ask you a bit more about that in just a moment, but first, I want to talk about what's happening here in the U.S. as well

because the death toll just reached a grim milestone, a 100,000 COVID- related deaths. And we heard from Dr. Fauci who said we might need to reconsider what it means to be fully vaccinated. Let's just take a listen

to what he had to say.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, right now, it is a bit of semantics, in that fully-vaccinated for the

purpose of the regulations and requirements that people have as to be what are you considered as being fully vaccinated, but there's no doubt that

optimum vaccination is with a booster. I mean, there is no doubt about that.


KINKADE: So he's suggesting that it's on the table, that they might consider changing the definition of being fully-vaccinated from having

three doses as opposed to the two. Is that something Europe is considering, to redefine what it means to be fully vaccinated?

KRAMARZ: I think, like you said, it's -- a lot about this is semantics. We are talking here about the health impact of vaccination, and here, booster

doses increase the protection already from the Delta variant especially, the more severe outcomes, and it's likely that they will also protect

against severe outcomes from Omicron. So, I think we're talking here about maximizing the protection.

And we will need these because, as I said, we are facing a difficult period when there would be additional pressures on health care systems that are

already stretched and health care workers who are quite tired. So, this is quite a big threat, so we have to do everything possible to slow down the

spread and reduce the impact.

KINKADE: Dr. Piotr Kramarz from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. We really appreciate your time today, thanks so much.

KRAMARZ: Thank you.

KINKADE: Well, still to come tonight, Boris Johnson's political problems just got a lot worse. Why a new member of parliament is telling him the

party is over. Plus, U.S. lawmakers are clamping down on certain goods from China, prompting a strong response from Beijing. That full story ahead.



KINKADE: Welcome back. Well, as the COVID crisis deepens in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson's political troubles are also deepening. A

liberal democratic has just won a seat in parliament that the Johnson conservative party has held for almost 200 years. Helen Morgan will now

represent a district near the Wales border, and she has a direct message for the prime minister.


HELEN MORGAN, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT MP-ELECT: Tonight, the people of North Shropshire have spoken on behalf of the British people. They've said loudly

and clearly, Boris Johnson, the party is over. Your government run on lies and bluster will be held accountable. It will be scrutinized, it will be

challenged, and it can and will be defeated.


KINKADE: Well, Morgan's victory comes as Mr. Johnson's party is mired in scandal over holiday parties last year, and five polls taken before the

election show the conservatives now trail the opposition Labor Party. Mr. Johnson says he accepts responsibility for the defeat. Well, John Rentoul

is the chief political commentator for "The Independent" and joins us now live from London. Good to have you with us.


KINKADE: So, we saw the prime minister today forced to apologize over losing a seat in a by-election that his conservative party have held for

nearly 200 years. You write that this means the party is over for the prime minister. Explain what you mean and how much is he to blame for this


RENTOUL: Well, that was a very clever line by the new liberal democrat MP for North Shropshire saying, the party is over, Boris Johnson, because one

of the issues that has really dominated this by-election campaign has been the public outrage over the fact that some of Boris Johnson's staff in

Downing Street were holding Christmas parties, not this year, but last year when they were supposed to be in lockdown. They were holding -- they were

holding Christmas parties and generally making light of the rules that were in place at the time.

Now, that really goes down extremely badly with the British public because they feel that there's one rule for them and a different rule for the

rulers. And that theme has really dogged the prime minister and it really came to hit him in the face on Thursday.

KINKADE: And certainly everyone is feeling it right now as they're being told to again stay home. I have to ask you about how much credibility Boris

Johnson lost over the revelations that his staff members, you know, that he had to apologize for his staff members allegedly having this party. And is

he now an asset or a liability for the party?

RENTOUL: Well, that is the question that many conservative MPs are now asking themselves. It's a surprising question to be asking so soon after

the last general election. It was only two years ago that Boris Johnson delivered an 80-seat majority for the conservative party against all the

odds. I mean, it looked as if the conservative party was in an impossible position, and yet he managed to turn it around, win that election and

deliver Brexit.

He got us out of the European Union. And two years later, his party is already asking the question, is this guy an asset or a liability? And that

just tells you how bad things have been recently.

KINKADE: And we certainly saw that play out in the recent vote, right? The government ultimately pushed through a series of new coronavirus measures,

but it did so relying on opposition votes. So, we saw 99 members of his own party vote against him or vote against his plan. What does that --


KINKADE: Tell you about his future?

RENTOUL: Well, it tells you that he's currently doing a rather tricky balancing act between the libertarians in his party, the 100 conservative

MPs who really don't like what they call vaccine passports, although, the government refuses to use that term. But I mean, this is about showing

proof that you've had the vaccine or a negative test before you get into a concert or a big event. And they all voted against it, and the prime

minister insisted that he had to get on with it.

He recognizes that public opinion supports him, but his party doesn't. And that's really awkward position for a prime minister to be in?

KINKADE: Yes, it certainly is. And I mean, as we've been discussing, we are seeing a record number of COVID cases in the U.K. right now, people

being told to stay home, the hospitality industry reeling. Certainly, it's looking very much like last Christmas even though the government is saying

it's not canceled, Christmas is not canceled. How can they have it both ways, telling people to stay home, but saying Christmas is still on?

RENTOUL: Well, I mean, the big difference this time, of course, is the fact that we do have the vaccines.


So with any luck, most people in this country will be -- will have some degree of protection against serious illness and death, which is not the

situation that we were in --


RENTOUL: This time last year. I mean, then we were waiting for vaccines. So, the vaccine program had just started then, but the problem then was

that if you were elderly or overweight, and you caught coronavirus, it was a serious risk to your health. Whereas with a bit of luck, that is not the

case now, although, the numbers could get -- could get very scary.

KINKADE: Yes, that's what we are watching closely, that surge. All right, John Rentoul, good to have you on the program. Thanks so much.

RENTOUL: My pleasure.

KINKADE: Well, China is strongly criticizing Washington's move to ban imports from the Xinjiang region over forced labor concerns.


WANG WENBIN, SPOKESPERSON, FOREIGN MINISTRY, CHINA (through translator): U.S. actions have seriously undermined the principles of market economy and

international economic and trade rules, seriously harmed the interest of Chinese organizations and companies. Beijing is strongly dissatisfied and

resolutely opposes the actions. We urge the United States to immediately rectify its mistaken ways.


KINKADE: Well, U.S. President Joe Biden is set to sign the measure into law after the Senate passed the bill on Thursday. Steven Jiang has more.


STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF (on camera): The Chinese response has been fast and furious with a foreign ministry official on Friday

calling the latest U.S. action showing how Washington has become hysterical towards China and vowing to retaliate to protect the legitimate rights and

interests of Chinese businesses. Now, this latest move in Washington, of course, is a part of broader push-back by Washington towards Beijing on a

series of issues, but especially on its Xinjiang policy.

Just in the past few days, for example, we have seen reports of new and strengthened sanctions targeting Chinese companies that allegedly helped

authority conduct high-tech surveillance on the Muslim population in Xinjiang. And that list includes some very prominent Chinese companies such

as DJI; the world's biggest commercial drone maker as well as the SMIC; the country's biggest computer chip maker.

And if and when all those measures and laws are fully implemented, they will have teeth because Xinjiang does play quite an important role in the

Chinese economy and even the global supply chain when it comes to the manufacturing of solar panels, for instance. And that's why we've seen this

realization here in Beijing that this issue is not going away despite their very strong and repeated denial of any human rights abuses in the Xinjiang


And that's also why we've seen increasingly officials here, including Chinese leader Xi Jinping, emphasize the need for China to become

technologically self-reliant, as Xi Jinping keeps reminding his officials the importance and urgency to free China from the U.S. chokehold when it

comes to key sectors and technologies. Steven Jiang, CNN, Beijing.


KINKADE: Well, still to come tonight, the death of a dictator ten years on. As North Korea marks the somber anniversary, we'll see what has changed

since Kim Jong-il's son came to power. Plus, a powerful storm leaves several dead in the Philippines. We'll tell you how authorities are

responding to the crisis.




KINKADE (voice-over): Welcome back.

It has been 10 years since the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, ending his 17-year rule as one of the most oppressive regimes on Earth.

North Koreans gathered today to mark the anniversary with solemn memorials. Three generations of the Kim family have ruled the country since 1948,

demanding absolute loyalty to those who have absolute power. CNN's Paula Hancocks tells us what has changed since Kim Jong-il's son took over.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: October 2010, Kim Jong-un was introduced to the world as North Korea's heir apparent. A warning to

expect another dynastic success of the Kim family.

The following year in December, Kim Jong-Il died and his son took control.

JOSEPH YUN, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA: I was in State Department when we heard Kim Jong-Il had died. His father had died.

And we thought goodness, is this it?

Essentially, a 25-year-old is taking over, a 26-year-old taking over?

And you saw him kind of looking bewildered, as he walked by the hearse.

HANCOCKS: Speculation of instability for an opening up by a leader briefly educated in the west, soon died down once purges began, as Kim consolidated


YUN: We saw him, you know, essentially, having his uncle, who was almost like a regent, being executed. Some are rarely executed. And then, of

course, a few years later, his older half-brother being killed, assassinated in an airport in Kuala Lumpur.

HANCOCKS: Kim Jong-un oversaw more nuclear and missile tests than his father and grandfather combined over the past 10 years. Intense development

and launches making North Korea far more than just a regional threat.

ANKIT PANDA, SENIOR FELLOW, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: Many of the developments that we saw North Korea complete during Kim Jong-

un's tenure so far were initiated by his father and his grandfather.

So there is a story here that involves all three Kims but certainly Kim Jong-un will be remembered in North Korea for crossing the most important

threshold, which includes bringing the United States into range with ICBMs.

HANCOCKS: Intercontinental ballistic missiles, a new version paraded just last year.

In January of this year, at the 8th Party Congress, Kim Jong-un announced his weapons agenda. Hypersonic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic

missiles among them, testing this year, reported to be from that very wish list.

PANDA: If I were North Korea, I would focus on doing one thing or two things or three things and doing those well. But what we see in North Korea

is really more than 10, around 15 potential nuclear delivery systems in development. It's really remarkable.


PANDA: Tense exchanges between Kim and then-U.S. President Donald Trump brought the peninsula closer to military confrontation than it had been in

years. Both sides blinked and more than a year of unprecedented diplomacy ensued. Kim achieving what his predecessors could not: meeting a sitting

U.S. president.

YUN: He appeared quite confident, talking with Trump, one on one, as a leader to leader. And also, you saw him doing things that you don't

normally expect a communist dictator to do, which is he was walking around at the marina area, kind of waving at people and taking selfies.

HANCOCKS: Three meetings with former President Trump, five with China's leader, Xi Jinping and three with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): Kim Jong-un is well-established on the international stage.

DUYEON KIM, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: I think he's really tried hard and pretty much has succeeded, in trying to be

perceived as this normal leader of a normal country. And, you know, really putting his stamp, his mark on old policies.

HANCOCKS: His pledge to revive the economy, however, remains elusive. International sanctions and closed borders, due to the COVID-19 pandemic,

have crippled the country, already considered one of the world's poorest.

The U.N. said this year around 40 percent of the nation suffered food insecurity before the pandemic and that has only increased. Adverse weather

and bad harvests pushed Kim Jong-un to admit this year, quote, "The people's food situation is now getting tense."

CHEONG SEONG-CHANG, SENIOR FELLOW, SEJONG INSTITUTE (through translator): The biggest difficulty North Korea is facing now is that even North Korea

doesn't know how long this isolated situation will last.

HANCOCKS: Kim Jong-un's health has kept experts and intelligence agencies guessing. South Korea's national intelligence service told lawmakers Kim

has lost more some 20 kilos, 44 pounds but appears healthy.

Photos over the span of recent months show a significant change. Assumed health scares earlier in the rain sparked fevered speculation of who might

succeed him. That has not calmed down.

YUN: I see him beyond 10 years -- 20, 30, 40 years. And assuming his health holds up.

HANCOCKS: Ten years into his rule, Seoul's spy agency says they believe Kim is beginning his own brand of self-idolization, removing the photos of

his predecessors from a key meeting and starting a new concept called Kim Jong-un-ism.

KIM: Our people first, our nation first, self-reliance, really trying to differentiate himself from his father and grandfathers.

HANCOCKS: A metaphorical coming of age. His predecessors introduced their own "isms" at a certain point. A sign Kim Jong-un is just starting to stamp

his style on the country he inherited -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


KINKADE: Well, a powerful cyclone that swept through the Philippines has left at least 14 people dead and several missing. The typhoon completely

wrecked entire neighborhoods in the south and central regions.

Homes have been torn apart, trees have been uprooted and floodwaters have turned streets into rivers. Officials say they're conducting rescue

operations and that they've evacuated more than 300,000 people. CNN's Selina Wang reports.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Super typhoon Rai has wreaked havoc across the Philippines. Images of the aftermath show the destruction of the storm

that initially packed winds of 160 miles per hour when it made landfall at a popular tourist and surfing destination on the country's central east


It tore houses to pieces, uprooted trees, toppled power lines, flooded villages and towns. Villagers were seen scrambling to rescue whatever they

could from damaged homes.

This is the 15th typhoon to hit the country this year. It is a bitter blow to those still rebuilding homes and livelihoods from the destructive storms

of the past year but also from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Communication and power were out in several parts of the country on Friday, which made the rescue efforts even harder. Officials were also struggling

to determine the extent of the damage because of those outages. The storm also hit heavily populated areas including Cebu, a city of nearly 1 million


RICHARD GORDON, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: In the case of places like Cebu, buildings have been affected, business has been affected. There's been an

explosion of debris from falling trees and falling buildings. There were two casualties in the area, two dead from a fallen tree and from a fallen


WANG (voice-over): Authorities said more than 300,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. The typhoon is expected to gradually weaken and

spread to Vietnam and China's Hainan province.

But the impact is not expected to be too significant. The climate crisis is making typhoons and hurricanes more intense. A recent study found that

typhoons in Asia could have double their destructive power by the end of the century -- Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.


KINKADE: Well, a $4.5 billion settlement may sound like a lot. But a U.S. judge has ruled it is not enough to legally shield the owners of OxyContin

of Purdue Pharma from future lawsuits.

The billionaire Sackler family is accused of helping fuel the opioid epidemic by aggressively marketing OxyContin while downplaying its risks.

They deny the accusations. Thousands of people sued them and their company, leading Purdue to file for bankruptcy protection.


KINKADE: The Sacklers, worth billions of dollars, did not file bankruptcy. The judge who overturned the settlement said the bankruptcy court had no

authority to grant the family broad immunity in an exchange for a payout to opioid victims. Purdue says it will appeal.

Well, the White House says the hostages freed in Haiti are getting the care they need after a traumatic two-month ordeal. A Haitian security source

tells CNN the 12 hostages were released before dawn Thursday and were then flown to the U.S. on a Coast Guard flight. Five other hostages had already

been freed.

The source says a ransom was paid to the gang that kidnapped the U.S. and Canadian missionaries.

CNN's Matt Rivers has been following the developments from Port-au-Prince and joins us now.

Matt, I understand there were some images shown of the hostages released.

What are they suggesting about their well-being after this two-month ordeal?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think there's no question that these missionaries, the 12 that were released yesterday here

in Haiti and also the five that were released previously, they have gone through a very difficult time, no question about it.

I mean, our source in Haiti's security forces, Lynda, said everyone in the group appeared, quote, "skinny" and the pictures certainly seem to suggest

that is the case.

Then speaking over the past two months, as we have with other victims who have been kidnapped by this very same gang, you know, they have described

conditions in which they're only given a few meals, one meal a day.

At one point we spoke to a French priest, who was kidnapped here in Haiti by the gang, who told us, by the end of his three weeks, captured by the

gang, that the gang actually stopped feeding them altogether for large stretches of time.

So it is really no surprise that the group is emaciated, is skinny, according to our source. However, they do appear to be getting the care

they need at this point.

KINKADE: Yes, that is good to hear, that they're finally out. These people obviously were there in Haiti to do some Christian ministry work.

Will that organization reconsider their work in the country at this time as a result of these risks?

RIVERS: Well, they certainly should. I think there's no question about that. I don't think -- I don't mean to say that groups like this should not

be coming here to do work because they, at times, do good work that does help the people of Haiti.

But I think there's no question they need to review how they are letting these people do work. I mean, from the very beginning, you know, this is a

group, Christian Aid Ministries, that has been operating here for a long time. You know, this group getting kidnapped as they did, frankly, it did

not come as a surprise.

If you knew anything about Haiti and where this group was traveling through, they were targets. There is no question about that. If this group

had taken these missionaries' work more seriously, they probably would not have let this group go to that part of the city, certainly not with five

children among them, including two toddlers and an infant.

It was simply irresponsible for this group to let these missionaries go and do that. Hopefully, this group will now be taking a look at their operating

procedures here in Haiti to ensure they can secure the safety of those missionaries that come here to do work on their behalf.

KINKADE: Yes, exactly. Well said. Matt Rivers for us in Haiti, thanks very much.

Well, still to come tonight, Omicron is bringing a sense of deja vu in the sports world. The new variant is threatening to plunge it once again into

chaos. We will explain.

And Vladimir Putin put his demands about Ukraine down on paper. We will tell you what he is insisting on and why the U.S. and NATO aren't likely to






GORANI: Well, throughout this coronavirus pandemic we've noticed the sports world is often a reflection of what is happening in society at

large, whether we are talking about rules, guidance or reopenings. Now with the Omicron variant, sports leagues across the world are serving as

canaries in a coal mine once again.


KINKADE: Well, U.S. intelligence says Russia is moving more of its forces to the border with Ukraine. This comes just a day after Moscow gave the

U.S. a proposed treaty outlining its demands to settle the dispute.

Russia has been building up its forces along that border for months. And that is raising fears that Russia might invade Ukraine, even though the

Kremlin says it has no plans to do so.

It also says the U.S. has not responded so far to the proposed treaty, which includes provisions Washington has already rejected. They include a

ban on further eastward NATO expansion into the former Soviet states and that, of course, would include Ukraine.


KINKADE: Also that the U.S. would not put military bases or cooperate militarily with former Soviet states not already in NATO and that neither

side would put forces or weapons in areas one side considers a threat and that neither side would deploy missiles or nuclear weapons outside their

own territories.

Experts say Russia is trying to carve out a permanent sphere of influence across Eastern Europe. But the U.S. (sic) president is having none of it.


URSULA VAN DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: The message is very clear. Should Russia take further aggressive actions against Ukraine, the

costs will be severe and the consequences serious. And this is the clear messaging at this time.


KINKADE: That, of course, was the E.U. president speaking there.

Russia says it is ready to start treaty talks immediately but so far there are no takers.

Well, up to 27 people are feared dead after a fire broke out Friday morning in Osaka, Japan.


KINKADE (voice-over): It happened at a mental health clinic housed in this building. Officials say dozens were injured according to a news report and

police are investigating the possibility of arson. A man inside the building was seen spilling liquid near a heater and starting the fire. That

man is reportedly in the hospital listed in a critical condition.


KINKADE: Still to come tonight, a "Sex and the City" star is accused of assault. Details on the allegations against Chris Noth and how the actor is





KINKADE: "Sex and the City" actor Chris Noth is denying allegations of sexual abuse. Two women told the "Hollywood Reporter" that he assaulted

them in separate encounters. They say they were motivated to come forward after he reprised his "Sex and the City" role in a recent sequel.

He was also featured in a new ad for Peloton but the company has pulled it, saying they take the allegations seriously. CNN's Chloe Melas joins us with

more on all of this.

Chloe, take us through the allegations.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, thanks for having me. Well, two separate women spoke out to the "Hollywood Reporter" in a lengthy

investigation that published on Thursday. And these are two women that went by pseudonyms to protect their anonymity. They said that these incidents

took place separately.


MELAS: These women don't know each other and they separately approached the "Hollywood Reporter." So one alleged incident took place in New York

City in 2015; the other took place in Los Angeles in 2004.

Los Angeles County saying that they have no active investigation or are planning to. It doesn't appear that either of these women ever filed police

reports; unclear about the statute of limitations or if they plan to.

Like you said, the women say that seeing Chris Noth in his role in the new HBO series "And Just Like That" motivated them to come forward. Here is

what Chris is saying. He is denying the accusations, saying, quote, "The accusations made against me by individuals I met years ago are

categorically false.

"These stories could have been from 30 years ago or 30 days ago. No always means no and that's a line I did not cross."

But the story still has legs. Many people talking about it here in the United States and all over the world. Like you said, Peloton scrubbing his

ad from YouTube, from all of social media.

And we have yet to hear from his long-time "Sex and the City" co-stars, like Sarah Jessica Parker and others, as to what their thoughts are on all

of this. They've known him for decades.

Again, these women coming forward in the wake of the #MeToo movement, feeling empowered by the movement that was set off by Jodi Kantor, Megan

Twohey, Ronan Farrell years ago with Harvey Weinstein. It will be interesting to see what happens and if more women come forward, because

these are two separate instances, 2004 and 2015. Quite a gap there.


MELAS: It will be interesting to see, you know, if it is potentially a power. Again, he says these are accusations that are completely not true.

KINKADE: As you mentioned --

MELAS: So we'll see.

KINKADE: -- at this point the Los Angeles police say they've had no formal complaint, there's no investigation underway at this point in time. So we

will see what comes from it. Chloe Melas, thank you so much.

Finally tonight, for some stumbling across a creature with 1,306 legs might just be the stuff of nightmares. But for a group of researchers in

Australia, it was a stroke of luck.

The world's first-ever actual millipede was discovered by accident about 60 meters underground, living far deeper in the Earth than scientists thought

possible. The researchers who discovered it say they were "instantly mind blown" by what they had found, leaving many to question what else might be

down there.

That is a lot of legs. Thank you for watching tonight. I'm Lynda Kinkade. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next. Have a great Christmas.