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Hala Gorani Tonight
Thousands Of Flights Canceled Globally As Omicron Surges; China Disinfects City Of Xi An As COVID Cases Rise; Archbishop Desmond Tutu Dies At Age 90; Russia: 10,000+ Forces Withdrawn From Near Ukraine; Taliban Dissolve Electoral Commission; Second Dam Bursts In Bahia State Amid Torrential Rains. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired December 27, 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, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. More COVID chaos as the world juggles
rising infections and new restrictions. Travel disruptions are causing more holiday havoc. We have the latest. Then some Russian troops return to base
after drills on the Ukrainian border. We look at what that means.
Plus, a second dam bursts in northern Brazil amid torrential rain. The mayor of one of the hardest-hit cities is linking the devastation directly
to climate change. We'll have that story as well coming up later in the program. Surging cases of Omicron are wreaking havoc on the travel industry
across the globe. Maybe you're watching us from an airport or a hotel and you too have been caught in the chaos.
Disruptions and delays have meant misery for thousands of people. Just today, more than 2,000 flights have been canceled around the word. That's
on top of the more than 6,000 canceled flights over the Christmas weekend. The vast majority of these cancellations in the U.S. and China. This period
is usually one of the busiest travel times, but for the second year in a row the industry is facing major uncertainty.
Airline staff and crew are calling in sick and quarantine measures are adding to the uncertainty and to the big giant mess, frankly, in so many
airports. On top of all of that, in Europe, the German airline Lufthansa says it will cancel 10 percent its Winter flight schedule due to a, quote,
"sharp drop in bookings". Let's break this all down with our business editor and our aviation correspondent Richard Quest, who will be hosting
"QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" next hour. He joins me from London.
Let's talk a little bit about what's going on. Are these cancellations mainly due to sick-outs by airline staff? What's behind the thousands of
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Basically, the airlines were already running on very short staff. So, if you think they'd laid off a lot
of people during year one of COVID. They'd started to bring many of them back in year two of COVID, but then Omicron comes along and suddenly
because, as we know of the greater transmissibility, more and more staff are calling in, basically saying either they're self-isolating or they've
got COVID or whatever they're quarantining and can't work.
GORANI: Yes --
QUEST: And that's why the airlines have no choice. What is interesting, Hala, is you talk about those two parts of the world most affected, the
United States and China. Well, China, of course, is locked down. So, to a large extent, the economy has continued except in certain areas pretty much
as is. The United States has seen a tremendous increase back in air travel to pretty much 2019 levels. So, you've got this tremendous increase in
the United States and China, less so in Europe where there has been a much slower uptake.
There hasn't been anywhere near the return that we saw. And that, of course, is followed on by what you're hearing from Lufthansa. This all
makes perfect sense in a terrible way.
GORANI: Yes, absolutely. But if you're one of those very unhappy, frustrated passenger stuck in an airport that may be --
QUEST: Yes --
GORANI: Watching us. Often times, we hear of travelers checking out CNN for the latest. What -- how do airlines decide which flight gets canceled?
QUEST: Simple --
GORANI: In a very difficult situation.
QUEST: Simple. I know you're probably thinking or it's all about which one makes money. It's not really to do with that. It's to do with which one is
most important for the network. So if you've got an entire plane full of people that need to connect to international flights, you're --
GORANI: Yes --
QUEST: Unlikely to cancel it because you're going to have knock-on effects further down. And the bigger the question we need to know now is whether
those in Europe and the U.K. will be able to claim 261 compensation because normally COVID would be an extraordinary circumstance. But these flights
are being deliberately canceled by airlines that are picking and choosing which ones. So, there may be a 261 case for compensation, too.
GORANI: So -- but what if your flight is simply delayed or you get booked on to another flight, you're not entitled to compensation there, are you?
QUEST: Well, this is the question, is it an extraordinary circumstance?
GORANI: Yes --
QUEST: Is it one of those exceptions that's in the law, 261 in Europe and the same thing in the U.K. My feeling is that last year, absolutely. COVID,
extraordinary circumstance, no --
GORANI: Right --
QUEST: Compensation was the view. But this time around, airlines are choosing which to cancel, and that could be a strong argument for saying if
you're delayed by the requisite amount, the requisite number of hours or your flight is canceled, then it's 261 time.
GORANI: All right, Richard, thanks very much. You know, Richard, I really didn't believe that many people would be interested in traveling on cruise
ships while we're still in the middle of a pandemic.
QUEST: Oh, yes --
GORANI: But many people still are. That's our next story. Thanks so much, Richard Quest, we'll see you at the top of the hour. Royal Caribbean's
cruise ship Odyssey of the Seas is back in Florida after a COVID outbreak at sea. The ship was denied entry by both Curacao and Aruba last week.
At least, 55 crew members and passengers who were fully vaccinated tested positive. There have been COVID outbreaks on a number of cruise ships over
the past few days. A passenger on a carnival ship told CNN she felt left in the dark by the company after people began testing positive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHLEY PETERSON, PASSENGER, CARNIVAL CRUISE SHIP: The cruise started off kind of normal and then day after day, more and more people were testing
positive. And obviously, when you're at sea, you can't go anywhere, get off the ship. So, it kind of felt like we were kind of trapped, not knowing how
many people had COVID. I booked this trip, thinking that everybody was vaccinated, we all had to be tested, but the initial COVID cases on the
ship started with the crew.
And so I don't have -- you know, we weren't given that information of how often the crew is tested or when they're tested. And so -- and they weren't
really enforcing masks until a lot of people started getting COVID. And then they were kind of, you know, enforcing masks more. But at the
beginning of the cruise, they weren't. So initially, the cruise refused to tell us anything. We heard news reports from the news in Curacao that there
was COVID on the ship.
It wasn't until the next day when we were denied entry into Bonaire that the captain did say there was a small number of COVID cases. But pretty
much, the passengers that we know that had COVID were basically posting on Facebook that they were COVID positive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right, so that's a passenger on a cruise ship. So, we're going from travel chaos to obviously the public health angle and the public
health aspect, from concerns at sea to cancellations in the air. China is suspending some flights from the U.S. as Beijing is doubling down on its
zero COVID strategy. Four flights from New York and Los Angeles are being halted by China's aviation regulator as authorities in Xi An have been
disinfecting an entire city of 13 million people. Ivan Watson has that story.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The government in the Chinese city of Xi An has announced plans to try to
disinfect the whole city, warning residents not to open their doors or windows or touch anything outdoors. And this is because currently, that
city is China's biggest COVID hot spot. It's only getting a bit more than 150 cases a day, but its 13 million residents are under a strict lockdown,
and the city administrators are clearly under pressure with 26 of them being reprimanded by the ruling Chinese Communist Party for not doing
adequate enough approach to the COVID pandemic.
China maintains a zero COVID case approach to the pandemic, even though the virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December of 2019.
Singapore, meanwhile, has announced that if you test positive for COVID, and you're over the age of 15, you could be put into mandatory ten-day
government quarantine with a complete stranger of the same gender. That's clearly because they're running into problems with capacity with
In Australia, a lab has apologized after it put out some false information to people who took COVID tests, announcing that on Sunday -- this is a lab
called SydPath in Sydney -- more than 400 people who were told that they tested negative for COVID actually were positive. And then the next day the
company says it learned that nearly a 1,000 people who were told they tested negative may have gotten incorrect results. That lab says that this
is a result of human error. Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.
GORANI: Some European countries are imposing new restrictions. France has just announced it will limit the number of people at gatherings and require
increased working from home when possible. And those restrictions will come into effect next Monday. Meanwhile, Austria is tightening entry rules for
various foreign nationals including those from Britain. And Greece has set new limits on socializing starting January 3rd.
But the U.K.'s health minister has confirmed that no further measures will come into force in England before the new year, and that is despite England
reporting a record number of cases on Christmas day -- over 113,000. The figure comes after two days without data over the Christmas period, so
we're catching up on the stats. The other countries in the U.K., Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, have all already put additional restrictions in
Earlier, I spoke with Robert West; a professor of health psychology at the University College London. He's also part of a new advisory group,
recognizing the central role of the behavioral and social sciences in response to COVID. And I began by asking him why many people in the U.K.
still seem reluctant to wear masks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT WEST, PROFESSOR, HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Yes, it is. And it has been much higher in the U.K. generally and in England
than it is now. Unfortunately, what happened last Summer was that the national rules regarding mask-wearing were relaxed and it was kind of left
up to people to do it themselves. They were advised to do it, but then what you saw was although people's intentions to wear masks were still very
high, and that still remains the case.
The actual practice of wearing masks in these sorts of situations which are actually now mandatory is lower. So, we took our foot off the accelerator,
as it were, and behavior is a weird thing. You know, we don't always do what we think is a good idea even if we think is a good idea. And so, i
think this is -- this is something the government is going to have to address. You address it by -- well, a combination of things really.
One is that people need to understand precisely why it is still --
Excuse me -- really important to wear masks. There is a kind of fatalism that says, somehow crept into the narrative from the government and from
other -- and you know, various sources. And so, it's almost as though, well, you know, what difference does it make? I'm going to catch it anyway
at some point. And that's clearly not the case. You know, it's always a question of trying to reduce the infection rate. So, it's partly about
It's partly, to be honest, about enforcement, but you can't do it in a sort of half-hearted way. You have to do it in a consistent way, and in a
way that respects the rights of people and understands that, you know, the people who are -- most of the people who are not wearing masks, they're not
anti-mask or anything like that. In the U.K., it's very rare to see people who sort of have this as a political statement.
It's kind of like, well, you know, I haven't really got around to it. So there's a lot more that can be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Sorry, there were some technical issues there. You couldn't hear my questions to -- addressed to Professor West. But one of the things he
said, which hopefully we'll be able to air a little bit later is, it is near certain that we are going to see an up to doubling number of
hospitalizations in England if new restrictions are not put into place.
And this obviously is something that is very concerning to health professionals, not because people are suffering from COVID, but because
people who may have other health emergencies will be bumped down the list and the wait times for ambulances, for instance, will grow longer and
longer. So, there's certainly concern among health care and public health professionals.
Now, as countries race to administer a third vaccine dose, Israel is already giving some people a fourth. A test group of health workers got
the jab as part of a study into how effective a second booster of Pfizer's vaccine is against Omicron. Elliott Gotkine has more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's do it.
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST (voice-over): It's another shot in the arm. This says the Sheba Medical Center is the first time in the world healthy
subjects are receiving a fourth shot of COVID vaccine.
JACOB LAVEE, FORMER DIRECTOR, SHEBA MEDICAL CENTER HEART TRANSPLANT UNIT: Well, I don't feel much as a guinea pig. My own immunity has dropped below
the threshold, and, therefore, not only am I, myself, exposed, potentially exposed to the Omicron, but more importantly, I might be a potential hazard
to my heart transplant patients that I'm taking care of.
GOTKINE: His colleagues, all of whose antibodies levels have also dropped were lining up to play their part in this trial, designed to show if a
fourth shot of the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective.
(on camera): So, right here is among the first of 150 health workers at the Sheba Medical Center just outside Tel Aviv to receive the fourth dose
of the vaccine. It's not the much-publicized rollout of the fourth shot campaign, but it could be a step in that direction.
(voice-over): That at least is what Prime Minister Naftali Bennett seems to want. Last week, he welcomed the decision by a panel of experts to
recommend the additional booster for over 60s, health workers and people with suppressed immune systems. But the health ministry's director-general
has yet to sign it off. Some health experts remain unconvinced.
GILLI REGEV-YOCHAY, DIRECTOR, SHEBA MEDICAL CENTER INFECTIOUS DISEASES UNIT: See, I didn't think that it's right now at this moment, it may
change in a week, you know, it depends on what we see is happening in England, what's happening right now here, if we see that there is more
severe disease, maybe it will be correct. I think that's why it's so important to start a research as soon as possible.
GOTKINE: Initial results from the study are expected by the end of the week, by which time Israel's rising COVID case load will likely be even
heavier. Elliott Gotkine, CNN, Ramat Gan, Israel.
GORANI: While Israel is looking towards a fourth jab, the Democratic Republic of Congo is struggling to get the first dose to its citizens. It
is the lowest vaccinated country in the world. The result, immense pressure on the health system as the country battles that fourth wave. A medical
official in Kinshasa says hospitals are reaching the breaking point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK MUKENDI, HEAD DOCTOR, COVID TREATMENT CENTER (through translator): Here at the COVID treatment center, we have a capacity of 38 beds, now as
I'm talking to you, we have 37 sick people. We have asked our partners to add tents behind the center in order to absorb the overflow of sick people
who are still coming in because we can't let them die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, the Omicron variant is sweeping through the United States as well, driving up case-counts and leaving many Americans hospitalized. Now
with some hospitals overwhelmed, health care workers are being pushed to breaking point as well. CNN's Sara Sidner spoke with some of them in New
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the annual holiday light display dazzles the eye and lifts the spirit. But
these are the lights grabbing all the attention just down the road. This is a COVID ICU. Suddenly, as busy as it ever was.
SCOTTY SILVA, RESPIRATORY CARE DIRECTOR, CHRISTUS ST. VINCENT MEDICAL CENTER: It is clinically, psychologically impossible to keep doing this
day in and day out, especially for the past year or two. Even the strongest respiratory therapists that I have, have broken down at times.
SIDNER: The staff is resilient, but despondent some days, and plain, old exhausted most, suffering and death greet them every day.
SILVA: They come to me and they say, I do need a break, help me.
SIDNER (on camera): You know, when you talk about things like pulling them out and people breaking down, it sounds like a war zone. That's the same
language that soldiers sometimes use.
SIDNER: Is that what it feels like?
SILVA: Yes, to the point of it being almost unbearable. To see that these are very good people, good respiratory therapists, good clinicians, who
want to do the best possible job, and they just can't. They can't do it.
SIDNER (voice-over): There was a moment of light and hope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thought the cases were going down.
SIDNER: Clinical nurse manager Dominick Armijo was filled with hope when the vaccines were approved. He was one of the first in New Mexico to get
DOMINICK ARMIJO, CLINICAL NURSE MANAGER, CHRISTUS ST. VINCENT MEDICAL CENTER: It was just that light at the end of the tunnel, and then all of a
sudden it was like, wham, bam, here we are again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's have a round of applause for everybody who is here today.
SIDNER: He couldn't have possibly accounted for the number of people who would refuse the vaccine.
ANGELA BYRES, ICU PATIENT: I in the beginning was an anti-vaxxer, only because of my immune system, but not anymore.
SIDNER (on camera): What was it that sort of kept you from going to get vaccinated?
BYRES: I do not have a very good immune system.
SIDNER: A lot of times, the doctors will tell you, if your immune system is compromised, go get vaccinated. What were your concerns?
BYRES: My heart issues. I know there was a lot of clotting in the first few, and I did have an example of not a good reaction to a friend who did
SIDNER (voice-over): Byres never got the vaccine, instead, she got a bad case of COVID and was unable to breathe.
(on camera): Do you regret it now?
BYRES: Do I regret it? Yes and no. I wish I had gotten vaccinated sooner, I wouldn't be here. That's the regret.
SIDNER: I've talked to a lot of doctors and nurses, and I have heard a lot of people say, I don't want to retire, I don't want to leave, but I don't
know if I can do it. Where are you on that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am probably at the end of that spectrum as well. It's trying. But I just -- this is my family and this is my community. We're the
city of holy faith. Just been a lot.
SIDNER (voice-over): The unending pandemic surges have taken a toll.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have lost 110 nurses this year.
SIDNER: That's 25 percent of the hospital's nurses.
LILLIAN MONTOYA, PRESIDENT, CHRISTUS ST. VINCENT MEDICAL CENTER: It's across the board. I mean, most definitely nursing, respiratory, but it's
also food and nutrition and custodial support and techs and medical office assistants and registration. It is across the board.
SIDNER: The remaining staff are fighting back death alongside their patients. There is no respite, not even for Christmas.
(on camera): The unfortunate thing that everyone is realizing, including, of course, this exhausted staff inside these hospitals is that COVID is
here to stay. Sara Sidner, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
GORANI: Still to come, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has left behind a huge legacy in his life-long fight for justice, compassion and human rights.
We'll take a look back at his life next. And later, Russia says it's pulling thousands of forces back from near the Ukrainian border. Is it
simply the end of a training mission or something else? We'll discuss it with our Melissa Bell.
GORANI: South Africa is entering a week of official mourning for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, one of the country's loudest, most effective
voices for civil and human rights died Sunday, aged 90.
The bells toll at St. George Cathedral in Cape Town, they will ring for ten minutes every day until Friday. Archbishop Tutu's ashes will be interred
there on new year's day. And tributes are pouring in around the world for the anti-apartheid icon. And in South Africa, has been remembered for his
unshakeable morals and his willingness to step into the fray. David McKenzie shows us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You find your cousin has been killed.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When we spoke to late photographer Judah Ingwene(ph) in 2016, he remembered a different time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got funeral each week. People getting killed. And then you don't find one person, five, six, seven, eight people, mass
MCKENZIE: During the 1980s, the apartheid regime was at war with the black majority. One of its goals, to turn the liberation movement against itself.
Neighbors betrayed neighbors, friends became informants. In this maelstrom, a diminutive Anglican bishop was ever present. Desmond Tutu was never
afraid to step up to the racist regime using his bully pulpit of peace.
(on camera): During apartheid, Archbishop Tutu's position in the church gave him a semblance of protection, and his deep faith gave him an
unwavering moral compass.
(voice-over): Even when it was deeply unpopular.
DESMOND TUTU, LATE SOUTH AFRICAN PRIEST: I am not a politician! Even if there are those who say so, I speak from the Bible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The car was standing down there.
MCKENZIE: For Igwene(ph), Tutu's defining moment came at a funeral.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not what we wanted. We want to kill him.
MCKENZIE: Mourners wanted to throw a suspected informant into his burning car, but Tutu saved the man from the mob, saying he should be forgiven,
that the struggle should rise above the violence of the state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tutu is a man of God that taught the truth, nothing else, but the truth.
MCKENZIE: But people listened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People listened to Tutu, no matter what.
MCKENZIE: And during those dark days with ANC leadership in jail or in exile, Tutu was the voice of the struggle. But after liberation, Tutu's
embrace of the ruling ANC was awkward.
D. TUTU: You and your government both represent me.
MCKENZIE: When the rainbow nation faltered, he spoke up on corruption, aids policy, diplomacy.
D. TUTU: One day we will start praying for the defeat of the ANC government. You are disgraceful!
MPHO TUTU, DESMOND & LEAH TUTU LEGACY FOUNDATION: He's an equal opportunity irritant.
MCKENZIE: But Tutu's daughter says now that he is gone, South Africa will lose its conscience.
M. TUTU: South Africa will lose a champion and a coach.
MCKENZIE: She says Tutu always cheered South Africa when it did the right thing, and consistently called the country to task when it did not.
GORANI: David McKenzie reporting. And that was a look back at the life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who died Sunday at the age of 90. You're watching
CNN, we'll be back after a quick break.
GORANI: The Russian military says more than 10,000 of its soldiers and other forces have been pulled back from the Ukrainian border. The U.S. says
though, that it hasn't confirmed those troop movements. The Defense Ministry says the forces have completed training in the area and are now
heading to their permanent bases somewhere else. It comes amid growing signs that the U.S. and Russia will hold formal talks in January
specifically about some of the tension on the Ukrainian border.
Russia has positioned tens of thousands of forcer forces near Ukraine in the past few months. And that has raised fears in the West that it might
invade the country. Melissa Bell is with us now. She just spent several weeks in Moscow. So, why the withdrawal now? What should we make of the
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the timing is interesting. But as you say, the Defense Ministry's saying this is about training exercises
that have come to their conclusion and a sort of natural turnaround of troops. But you're right, it comes at an interesting time because we're
looking at these talks that look set to happen in the month of January, some question, according to the Kremlin, as to whether they will accept the
data that's been offered to them by NATO of the 12th of January.
Some question also, too, Hala, I think we should be clear about exactly what the parameters of the discussions are going to be since when NATO
announced on Sunday that it was suggesting the 12th of January as a date, it also explained that it was doing so along on the basis rather of the
longstanding agreements and regulations of NATO, i.e. its open doors policies, within the context of keeping all of its allies informed so not
just between the United States and Russia, all kinds of things that Russia has been sending mixed signals about these last few weeks.
So, there are questions about exactly what the date will be. There are questions exactly about what the parameters of the discussion will be with,
again, Vladimir Putin speaking in his annual conference last week, Hala, about the fact that it could only be on the basis of those Russian demands,
i.e. the fact that NATO not expand eastwards, the fact also that NATO withdraw some of the weaponry and men manpower that it has in countries
like Poland, Romania, and the Baltic states, things that are non-starters for NATO. So, lots of discussion about that.
But you're right, the fact that these troops have been removed from a border that had been the subject of so much attention from the entire world
these last few weeks is interesting. And yet it should be noted that we are talking about a fraction of the troops that are understood according to
both Ukrainian and American intelligence to have been heading towards the border these last few weeks, 10,000 men brought back from the border. But
still, according to the sources that CNN was speaking to these last few weeks, several tens of thousands still there.
So the pressure continues to be maintained. And the question is whether we're really heading to a sort of thawing of relations and proper
discussions and an easing of tensions or on the contrary, whether the sticking points will hold firm. All lies very much now on whether the
Kremlin will accept the 12th of January as the date and the terms set out by NATO on Sunday as the terms and the framework for those discussions,
GORANI: All right. It'll be interesting to see. Thanks so much, Melissa Bell.
The Taliban are sending a clear signal to Afghans who were still hoping for some semblance of democracy. The Taliban government during the weekend
dissolved Afghanistan's Electoral Commission, along with two other ministries, the entirety of them, saying they're no longer needed. That's
the agency that managed national and local elections as CNN's Arwa Damon reports, it's a sign that the group may plan to push the country further
back toward the harsh rule of the 1990s.
ARWA DAMON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CNN CORRESPONDENT: The decision to dissolve Afghanistan's Electoral Commission along with the Ministries of
Peace and Parliament are not necessarily a big surprise. But for Afghans who are stuck in Afghanistan, it really does represent a very bitter and
undeniable, at this stage, reality that democracy is dead along with any sort of hopes and dreams and basic freedoms that they had been enjoying for
the better part of the last 20 years.
Now they have to really try to figure out exactly how they are going to live and survive underneath this Taliban government that most certainly
appears intent on ruling, if not exactly the same way that they did 20 years ago, a very similar version of that. The Taliban said that they no
longer need these institutions. They don't need an Electoral Commission. They don't need a Ministry for Peace or Parliament because those specific
systems, those specific institutions, according to the Taliban, are no longer needed now that they are the ones in power.
As for the international community, it has long been voicing its concerns over a number of steps that the Taliban government has taken. It has not
yet recognized the Taliban government officially. But all that has meant that things like much needed aid has not really reached those most in need.
And Afghanistan, and frankly, the vast majority of Afghans really feel as if they have been completely and utterly betrayed and abandoned by the
United States and by the international community. Arwa Damon CNN from Uludag in Turkey.
GORANI: An escalating political crisis in Somalia is drawing attention in Washington and London. The country's president has just suspended the Prime
Minister's powers accusing him of corruption. But the Prime Minister is calling on the military to back him saying the President is trying to stage
a coup. It all stems from a dispute between the two leaders over the slow pace of elections. The U.S. and Britain are warning the feuding sides
against violence and urging them to cool tensions.
And still to come this evening, deadly floods hit Northeastern Brazil. Heavy rains have been going on for weeks and could continue. That's bad
news for that part of the country. And climate change made by humans likely has a lot to do with it. The climate crisis is getting worse across the
globe. We'll look at the top climate headlines from 2021.
GORANI: A second dam has now burst in the Northeast Region of Brazil in the State of Bahia. Heavy rains have been battering the area for weeks and
flooding. It has now hit about 40 cities there.
There looked like a man on a floating mattress there the middle of the city. Weather officials say December rainfall in the state capital of
Salvador so far has been six times more than average. And the floods have killed at least 18 people. There could be mudslides as well, potentially.
As a result, Matt Rivers joins me now live with more on the situation. So a second dam bursting, we saw the effect there, that massive flooding. What's
the situation now?
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the situation is one where authorities are still trying to get a broader picture of exactly what's
happening here. I mean, you could see in the video that we're showing our audience here, where authorities are having trouble just accessing a lot of
these areas, you know. We're told so far that there haven't been any fatalities directly as a result of this dam. But that's only so far with
authorities basically saying that they still don't know the total extent of this damage, because this is still very much ongoing.
But this is kind of the culmination of weeks worth of rain going all the way back to November. You know, I was speaking to our CNN meteorological
team and they were telling us that, you know, it's not unusual for there to be lots of rain during this time period. This is the rainy season for the
eastern part of Brazil, which is where the state of Bahia is, but the amount of rain, and you alluded to it off the top, Hala, was six times the
amount of rain in the state's capital of Salvador. It's just not normal to see this much rain this quickly.
And there is no doubt that climate change is playing some sort of a role in this, including, that's the opinion rather, of one of the mayors of one of
the hardest hit towns, I want to play you a little bit of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDER AGUIAR, JUSSIAPE BRAZIL MAYOR (through translator): We know rain can be seen as a blessing from God but that's because of the ecological
imbalance that we, human beings, have caused. There can be too much of it, causing serious damage. That's what happened today in our town. I ask for
the understanding of all the population of the town of Jussiape, Russian water, because our main source of potable water is compromised. Thanks to
God we didn't have any fatalities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIVERS: So they're basically asking that people are rationing water right now because despite all that water that you can see in the video, obviously
it's not potable. So that's a very difficult situation, just some numbers, Hala, 35,000 people so far have been forced from their homes. We know that
hundreds of thousands more have been affected. And unfortunately, this might continue.
Because again, in talking to our meteorological team, they told me that in some parts of Bahia, you could see a hundred millimeters of rain in the
next 24 hours. Roughly four inches of rain in an area that is already inundated with floodwaters so this might only get worse in the few days set
GORANI: Thank you so much, Matt Rivers, with the very latest on these floods in Bahia State. Officials in Brazil, as Matt just mentioned, are
blaming climate change for this extremely heavy rainfall. The climate crisis is the biggest challenge we're facing as a human race even though
the past two years have been clouded with a Coronavirus. Promises were made this year to try to stop this climate change, to try to reverse some of the
impact that it's already had on the planet and once again, they fell short. Humans are pumping more planet warming emissions into the atmosphere as
ever. Our chief climate correspondent Bill Weir looks back at the top 10 Climate stories of the year.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: The signs were everywhere in '21 starting at the top of the world, where Greenland's highest peak was so
freakishly warm that it rained for several hours.
I believe that this is the birthplace of the iceberg that sank the Titanic. But now scientists are really worried this place could help sink Miami, and
Boston, and Bangkok, and Shanghai because just this part of Greenland has enough ice that if it all melts, will raise sea levels by two feet.
A new study predicts that the Arctic will see more rain than snow as soon as 2060. And in the meantime, the ice sheets so vital to a planet in
balance is melting at a staggering rate.
At number nine, that icy surprise in Texas, which illustrated how the climate crisis can run hot and cold, with wind chills zero on the Rio
Grande, nearly 10 million lost power. The February blast became America's costliest winter storm event ever.
At number eight, flashfloods on three continents. In Germany and Belgium, modern-day warning systems failed as a month of rain fell in one day. In
China, commuters clung to the ceiling of a subway as a thousand year flood hit Hainan province. And back in the U.S., the deadliest flood in Tennessee
history came like a tidal wave.
At number seven, the U.S. rejoins the Paris Climate Accord hours after Joe Biden became president. But pledging to slash planet cooking pollution by
half this decade is one thing, convincing Congress to take bold action is another.
At number six, a code red for humanity, as scientists around the world issue their most dire warning to date. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change says it is unequivocal that human activity has cranked up the global thermostat by over two degrees Fahrenheit and that we are
careening dangerously close to a point of no return.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We meet with the eyes of history upon us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEIR: And those warnings made number five all the more urgent. COP26 in Glasgow Scotland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WEIR: Of the four main themes laid out by COP26 host Boris Johnson, coal, cars, cash, and trees, it probably is going to be cash that provides the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEIR: For the first time in 26 meetings, the world's delegates agreed that fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis. But not a single country
committed to stopping oil or coal production anytime soon.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN NEWSCASTER: A monster named Ida, the hurricane is intensifying quickly and drawing chilling comparisons to Katrina.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEIR: Hurricane Ida comes in at number four as 150-mile per hour winds screamed ashore Louisiana in early September. But that was just the
beginning. Ida's aftermath dropped a rain bomb on New York sudden enough to drown families in their basement apartments. And all told the single storm
cost over $60 billion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: We are following breaking news this morning. A dangerous and deadly night across the Central United States, a powerful
line of storms unleashing at least 24 tornadoes across five states.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEIR: At number three, tornadoes in winter. December usually brings the fewest twisters of any month. But record warmth in the heartland spun up
funnel clouds from Arkansas to Ohio. And weeks later, the damage is still being tallied.
At number two, the Pacific Northwest Heat Dome, which pushed the Mercury infamously mild Portland well over 100 degrees for days, creating a mass
casualty event of creatures great and small, over a billion shellfish baked to death on the shores of British Columbia. And a little town of Litton
broke the Canadian heat record three times in a week before most of it burned to the ground.
And at number one, America's mega drought. Your water can come from rivers, reservoirs, or from wells, all of which have been impacted by a 20-year
mega drought fueled by the climate crisis with 90 percent of the West starving for rain. The feds declared the first ever shortage of the
Colorado River, which is a source of life for over 40 million Americans. Meantime, smoke from Western wildfires reached the East Coast this year,
from one to ten, it is all connected.
And without dramatic changes on a global scale, scientists warn us the worst is yet to come. Bill Weir, CNN, New York.
GORANI: You're watching Hala Gorani Tonight. We'll be right back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALFRED MOLINA, ACTOR: You're flying out into the darkness to fight ghosts.
TOM HOLLAND, ACTOR: What do you mean?
MOLINA: They all die fighting Spider-Man. It's their fate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Spider-Man has a lot to deal with in Marvel's newest blockbuster film. His identity is no longer a secret and villains from across the
Marvel multiverse are looking for revenge.
The good news though is Spider-Man: No Way Home has just become the first film in the pandemic era to make a billion dollars in global box office.
The film reached the milestone just 12 days after its release. Only Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War, both Marvel films as well,
got there quicker.
There's no person to talk about our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man than obviously our very friendly Chief Media Correspondent. I'm not contributing
at all to these box office numbers because I just do not watch these big superhero movies. I just don't. I mean -- but they are so successful.
And in the pandemic era, we just told our viewers, it's the first movie to reach a billion in global box office sales. So are people now -- I mean,
are -- is the movie industry feeling more confident that it's getting back some of its lost momentum?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Well, if they had a movie like this every week they could release, then it would be a turning point
for the film industry. This is really momentous because it is the first film of the pandemic era to cross that billion dollar line so fast.
Sony is saying it happened in only 12 days. This is a Sony and Disney film. So you know, part of the Marvel universe of course. And, you know, because
it is a Marvel film, people did rush to see it both in the United States and around the world. More than half of that billion dollars was made
outside the domestic box office, which means in the North America box office, that's how Sony counts all of this.
So that means this film is doing well all around the world. But it's striking to see people flocking back to movie theaters, especially in areas
that are being ravaged by the Omicron variant. You know, we're seeing long lines in New York City and other major U.S. cities for testing, but also to
go and see Spider-Man. These are happening at the same time.
So I think this is a sign of COVID fatigue, it's a sign people do want to get back in movie theaters, but only how if the movie is worth it, if it's
the kind of movie that you want to see in a big dark theater with lots of strangers. And when it's a superhero film with a beloved character, that is
something worth seeing in the theater, but other kinds of movies not so much.
GORANI: Not so much. Now, I was just asking my team if they'd watch Don't Look Up, and I know it had a box office release. But ultimately, it's a
Netflix streaming movie. And so many people are choosing to watch films at home by the way regardless of any pandemic. I mean, this is kind of a habit
that we've developed over the last almost 10 years or so.
I wonder what are the big bets that studios are making? Is it -- are we now -- is it just going to be big budget superhero movies going forward? And,
you know, is that where the emphasis will be placed?
STELTER: When it comes to releases in theaters, I'm sorry to say I think Spider-Man is the way forward. We are not going to see as many of those
kinds of more mature -- and not more mature, I'm going to get criticized by fans of Spider-Man here.
But the films that are made for let's say adults going out on a third date, you know, the kind of movie you go to see where you're expecting this kind
of rich drama, that is increasingly going to be streaming. When you mentioned Don't Look Up, a really fantastic satire about climate change and
about, you know, about the world going to heck. That is a movie that, yes, came out in theaters but only really gained an audience on Netflix this,
you know, in the past week.
West Side Story just came out in theaters, big Steven Spielberg release, did not do well in theaters, it basically bombed in theaters. Those are the
movies that are going to rely on streaming. It's going to be these tent- pole epic superhero films that have success in theaters. Here's the problem, there's not that many of those. So this is a real actually warning
sign for movie theaters, the physical theaters, even though to be a moviegoer, it's a great time, there's more options than ever, but for
physical movie theaters, it's a real struggle going forward.
GORANI: We see so many of them closing down by the way. In every big city you visit, you see closed movie theater. Thank you so much, Brian Stelter.
Have a great new year if we don't speak before that.
GORANI: they say you should think before you speak. The same goes for posting on social media. Boy, do we know that in our business, but now it's
possible to tweet just by thinking. Let me explain. 62-year-old Phillip O'Keefe is paralyzed and has just become the first person to successfully
tweet by using an implantable brain interface.
He took over the Twitter handle of the CEO for Syncron, the tech company that developed the technology, writing "Hello, world. Short tweet.
Monumental progress." The software will also allow people to shop online through thoughts. I'm not sure that's a development we necessarily need.
But there you have it.
The technology called stray node was implanted using a noninvasive technique with no need for drilling or surgery, thankfully. Elon Musk's own
company, Neuralink, is also set to begin human trials in 2022.
Habitat for Humanity is a group that builds affordable housing for people around the world. This year, they're using a revolutionary tech to make it
easier. That is habitat's very first 3D-printed home in the US. It took 12 hours to construct a three-bedroom house which would normally take about
four weeks. So great progress there. It's made of concrete, which is great for insulation and is very durable. The family who bought it got the keys
just in time for Christmas. Congratulations.
Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. Do stay with us. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming up next after a quick break and I will see you next