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Hala Gorani Tonight

Thousands More Flights Canceled As Travel Chaos Continues; Omicron Sending More U.S. Children To Hospital; Ghislaine Maxwell's Trial Enters Fifth Day Of Deliberations; Judge In Ghislaine Maxwell's Trial Shares Omicron Warning; Brazil's Deadly Deluge; China Accuses SpaceX Of Endangering Astronauts; South Africa Plans Funeral For Desmond Tutu. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired December 28, 2021 - 14:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. COVID chaos continues. Thousands more

flights are canceled around the world and countries continue to add restrictions amid surges around the world. We'll have all those details.

Then children's hospitals in the U.S. are filling up with very young COVID patients.

I'll be speaking to the chief of infectious diseases at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio about what's going on there with Omicron. Plus,

jury deliberations in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial continue. We'll have the very latest from New York. Omicron simply won't give us a break, thanks to

the variant, travel is a nightmare and the reality of so many of us as well has been altered for the worse. Another 2,700 flights canceled today

globally and more than 5,000 delayed.

Add to that, the nearly 9,000 flights canceled since Christmas eve, there's even been some chaos in the skies. Delta says one of its flights from

Seattle to Shanghai had to turn around because of new cleaning rules at the Shanghai airport. Meanwhile, European countries are trying to get a grip on

some surging case numbers. France, which just reported -- I was just looking at its official website here, 179,807 new confirmed cases in the

last 24-hour period. That is a huge jump.

France is tightening restrictions after record-breaking new COVID infections, limiting public dining and mandating more work from home. But

it's not setting curfews or imposing lockdowns. So, it's stopping there. In Germany, hundreds of people gathered in various cities to protest

restrictions for the unvaccinated. And today, the U.K. is reporting its highest-ever case numbers of new daily cases with more than 129,000 new


England will not be imposing any new restrictions ahead of new year's eve, making London the only capital in the U.K. where people can technically

party as normal. Salma Abdelaziz joins me now live from London. Now, I was just looking up that France number because I saw it alerted. I mean, these

jumps are really terrifying. In the U.K. as well, 129,000, that's a lot higher than just a few days ago.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: These figures are absolutely astounding, I mean, they're jaw-dropping, Hala. I do wonder how much of this might be a

delay from the holiday season. If tests are positive, rates are being recorded later than expected, then that's why we're seeing these huge

numbers, but regardless, I mean, this is an unprecedented surge that we're looking at here. And each government really right now making an assessment

as to how to handle the next holiday, right, how to handle new year's eve here in the U.K.

Three of the foreign nations have imposed tougher restrictions that have gone into force already, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson says for now,

England does not need tougher measures. The house secretary says the authorities are reviewing the data hour-by-hour, and so far, it supports

this move. And the U.K. is not -- the U.K., it's sort of alone in this. As you pointed out, Hala, London being one of the very few cities where there

are not restrictions on how many people can gather during new year's eve.

But other governments across the region are imposing a mix of social restrictions, but they have to walk this very fine balance. I mean, you've

talked about these huge demonstrations we've seen in Germany, but it's not just Germany where we've seen these massive anti-restriction movements.

There's been massive demonstrations in the Netherlands, in Austria, protests that turned violent, led to police getting injured because of

crowds that simply do not want restrictions.

And there's, of course, the political upheaval here in the U.K. Again, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's party, the Conservative Party, do not want

to see tougher measures in place. So, every government walking this fine balance, trying to roll out tougher measures, push a booster program and at

the same time try to get a handle on the surge. We're absolutely not at the peak here, Hala.

GORANI: So, we know that case numbers are hitting record highs. What about hospitalizations across the region?

ABDELAZIZ: That's really the question. So in an overall sense, there is a delay in numbers here because of the holidays, because of the Christmas

period. But we do know that Prime Minister Boris Johnson here in the U.K. got a briefing just yesterday with his scientific advisors, and the data

and the numbers looked good.

However -- and by looked good I mean the hospitalizations remained low. That finite number of beds and ICU units and ventilators that are needed,

that still appeared to be in a good place for the authorities to not roll out restrictions, but things can change really quickly here.


The latest figures do show that there is an increase in hospitalizations, one that might be higher than we've seen for several months now, and again,

it depends on that finite number of beds and it's all about how quickly the situation can change when you're talking about nearly 180,000 cases in a

single day, everything can turn on a head, Hala.

GORANI: Right, even a small percentage of a huge number ends up becoming a significant number, especially when hospitals are concerned. Thanks so

much, Salma, we'll be speaking to you a little bit later. The Omicron variant is ripping through the U.S. as well, but the CDC is now changing

its recommended isolation time for some COVID patients. It's saying if you don't have symptoms at the end of five days, then you can leave isolation

if you continue to wear a mask for five more days.

Before this, the CDC recommended ten days of isolation for all patients. They're also updating their guidance on quarantine for people who have been

exposed to the virus, but who may not have caught it. Our medical -- senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins me now with more. With kind of

the logic behind this latest announcement, because this is happening just as Omicron cases are surging.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And so it seems a big counter intuitive, doesn't it? And I think what's going on here is that

two things are converging. One, Omicron seems to be causing much milder illness and, two, we are seeing huge numbers of people not being able to

work, doctors, nurses, pilots, flight attendants. That's causing overcrowded hospitals -- overburdened hospitals.

It's causing the travel woes that Salma was just telling us about. So let's take a look at what the U.S. has decided to do. The U.S. Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention says if you have COVID and you're asymptomatic or you've had symptoms, but they're getting better, five days

isolation, not ten like before, and then after those five days, wear a mask when you're around others, but you can work. If you're a doctor, you can go

back and see patients.

If you are a flight attendant, you can get back on your plane, and you can go back to your life. Now, you mentioned being exposed, Hala. So, folks who

are exposed to COVID, meaning, let's say a family member has it, so they've been exposed but they have not actually tested positive. Here are the rules

there. The rules are no quarantine. I think this took a lot of people by surprise. If you are within six months of your second shot or you've

received a booster and you should wear a mask for ten days.

The reason for that, the CDC says, is that a booster or a recent second shot means that you're quite well protected against Omicron, and so they

don't see a reason for a quarantine. Again, it's about getting workers back to work in many ways. Now, Salma mentioned that there have been different

approaches to travel for different countries. The same is true for isolation and quarantine rules. For example, the U.K. says seven days to

get out of isolation with two negative tests.

If you have COVID, get out of isolation in seven days with two negative tests. South Africa says an eight-day isolation for a mild case, ten days

for severe. Singapore says ten days, if you're vaccinated or under the age of 12, 14 days if you're unvaccinated. The list goes on and on, everyone is

taking a slightly different take on it, but everyone is sort of -- the ones that we have seen have sort of headed in the direction of being less


In general, the thinking here is that you're most contagious just before symptoms, like a day or two, or just after, say two or three days after. So

why keep you out of work if you're --

GORANI: Right --

COHEN: Feeling fine and you're past that crucial five days just after having symptoms. Hala?

GORANI: All right. Well, trying to find that balance almost two years in. Thank you so much, Elizabeth Cohen. In the U.S., children's hospitals are

filling up with very young COVID patients. Nationwide pediatric hospitalizations rose 35 percent in the past week alone. Doctors say

Omicron is spreading to more children than ever, and children who are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated are at risk, in fact, of becoming

seriously sick.

Dr. Octavio Ramilo is the chief of infectious Diseases at Nationwide Children's Hospital and he joins me now from Columbus, Ohio. Doctor, thank

you so much for taking some time during this busy period to talk to us. How has it been in your hospital in terms of admissions -- the admission of

children in particular with COVID infections and cases of COVID in children?

OCTAVIO RAMILO, PROFESSOR OF PEDIATRICS, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, good afternoon. The situation has been very similar as the last time we spoke.

We continue to have a number of kids. On average, we have 25 children hospitalized every day. The very majority are in the ward. A few of them,

six, seven are in the ICU. We continue to have a diverse severity.

Some babies come with a fever. They stay two days and go home, others, especially teenagers with obesity, with risk factors, tend to have the

severe COVID pneumonia.


They have more prolonged hospitalizations. But we also have younger children, two years old, seven years old, definitely healthy without any

pre-exposing condition who get really sick. Some of them develop these inflammatory syndrome, what we call MIS-C, that sometimes can affect the

heart and cause heart inflammation. For instance, we have a child last week with very severe myocardial involvement, and he required to be in the ECMO.

Right, ECMO is like a lung-heart machine, that -- the same thing that we use for heart surgery and adaptation. This patient was there for four days,

but then he went home. So, what is remarkable is how well they respond to the anti-inflammatory therapy. This is remarkable because it's very

different from other inflammation in the heart that we have seen with other viruses.

GORANI: And what is the vaccination status of those children and there are all those teenagers who end up severely ill, because that's a question that

many of us had. Are they unvaccinated? Are they under vaccinated, or do vaccinated children also catch the virus and develop severe symptoms?

RAMILO: This is a really wonderful question, 98 percent are unvaccinated, 98 percent unvaccinated. Yes. So you hit it right on target. That's -- we

cannot continue to -- the families to vaccinate their children.

GORANI: Yes. What would parents -- if you had to speak to parents now who are listening because they're so concerned. Is this virus -- variant

Omicron more contagious for children? Because we're seeing much larger numbers of children admitted to hospital. The latest figure was 2,000

hospitalizations of children in the U.S. now versus 700 last month. Is it Omicron?

RAMILO: Well, I don't think we have all the data yet. You know, if you remember our previous conversation, when we have the -- when Delta hit us,

we saw a real increase, dramatic increase in hospitalizations for children. So we're seeing also an increase, but I think different parts of the world,

different parts of the country may have different experience because we have, you know, higher now, 50 percent are Omicron.

But for instance, I have colleagues and friends in Madrid, Spain, 95 percent are Omicron, and the rates of hospitalization there are much lower

than ours. So, I don't think we have all the information yet. Another detail, you may remember that you asked me last time what about if the

Delta variant causes more disease, more severe disease in children, right?


RAMILO: Now, we have that data. A very nice study conducted by a network of hospitals in the U.S. have looked at the data very carefully and it's not

more severe. What happened is that children represent the highest proportion of unvaccinated patients, and therefore, represent -- when you

see the number of kids admitted that represent the higher proportion, 22 percent, 23 percent, 25 percent compared to maybe enviably some that

represent 10 percent, 11 percent.

GORANI: Yes, I'm curious. When you say some kids with no pre-existing conditions, no reason, they're in good health, yet they become severely

ill, do we have any idea why?

RAMILO: We are working hard. And that's why, you know, when we talk about the children get hospitalized less frequent than adults. Yes, but if your

child, your family is 100 percent, we don't understand that combined. But, you know, I think this is not unique to COVID. If we go back in the history

of our work with influenza or already common viruses that affect children, RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, we always know there are certain

children, despite how they look, perfectly healthy, that they can get very sick. We suspect --

GORANI: Yes --

RAMILO: It's a combination of factors. Maybe they get a lot of exposure to a certain amount of viruses, maybe that they have gone through another

phase that made their immune system a little bit weak, maybe the time that they got exposed to that virus was more, maybe there's something that we

still don't capture, some details of the body's white cells, the body's immune system that make it very uniquely susceptible.

That -- you know, the technologies we are applying in these cases, we are using all the tools we have to dissect --

GORANI: Yes --

RAMILO: All these details, but we still don't have all of the answers. And we -- I think we need to be very humble, very --

GORANI: Yes --

RAMILO: Flexible, and only continue to pay attention and realize that we still don't have all the answers.

GORANI: And doctor, one quick last one on masks. Would you recommend -- because so few compared to adults, children are vaccinated. They're still

going through that population as quickly as they can. Would you recommend that children wear masks in settings like schools and other public places?

RAMILO: Yes, absolutely yes. Absolutely yes. The mask, if you think -- in the context, it's a -- you know, it's not so complicated. We all -- you

know, nobody likes it, but we have to be disciplined, right? And I think we -- it's important that we convey a very clear message to our younger ones,

you know.


When you see these kids in the hospital, we need to prevent this from happening and we can use all the tools we have, and vaccinating everybody

around and using masks definitely helps.

GORANI: Well, thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Octavio Ramilo, really -- and thank you so much for all the work that you do.

RAMILO: Thank you for being here. Thank you.

GORANI: OK, thank you. Now, in China, they're taking quite a different approach with only a few hundred cases, an entire city of 13 million people

is at a standstill because of one of the country's worst outbreaks of coronavirus since the first wave of the pandemic. The city of Xi An was put

into lockdown last week, part of China's zero COVID strategy. Our Steven Jiang is in Beijing.


STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Just to put things in perspective. The record-breaking number in Xi An, we are talking about was 175 new

locally-transmitted cases recorded on Monday. A small number in any other country, but in China, this is a huge deal because of their continued

insistence on a zero COVID policy, especially ahead of the Winter Olympics in Beijing which is less than 40 days away.

That's why authorities in Xi An are doubling down on their strategy of mass testing and mass quarantine, but they insist that the alarming numbers we

are seeing there is only to be expected as they conduct more city-wide testing for 13 million residents. State media has said a lot of the new

infections are close contacts with previously confirmed patients. So these numbers will stabilize soon and start decreasing.

And this whole outbreak could be over in a month or so as the spread of the virus being stopped because a city-wide lockdown for Xi An continues to be

in place along with other stringent measures, such as the cancellation of all domestic flights since last week from the city's airport, which is

actually one of the country's busiest aviation hubs, handling more than 31 million passengers last year. But now its terminals almost completely


And the city's officials have said what the city needs right now is to come to a complete standstill as the government focuses on its containment

efforts, something probably only possible in China's political system. Steven Jiang, CNN, Beijing.


GORANI: In the Indian capital, New Delhi, a nightly curfew has been imposed. Schools closed and there is reduced capacity in restaurants as a

potentially catastrophic third wave has India in its sights. Thousands of resident doctors are striking as well. They're upset about a hold-up in

assigning them to hospitals. India, you recall, was hit very hard by previous waves. Disturbing images as bodies piled up at crematoriums.

There were so many that some areas run out of space for burials and bodies were burned in the open. Some of those images from back in April are on

your screens right now. India still has the world's highest COVID death toll after the United States. Still to come, the new year will bring a new

chance to try to find a way out of the Russia-NATO dispute over Ukraine. We'll tell you about the talks the U.S. and Russia have just scheduled in


Plus, it's the fifth day of deliberations for Ghislaine Maxwell's sex abuse trial in New York. Why the judge is warning that Omicron could put the

trial at risk now. We'll be right back.



GORANI: The U.S. and Russia are now set to talk face-to-face about the escalating crisis on the Ukrainian border. A National Security Council

spokesman tells CNN officials from the two countries will meet on January 10th. He says it's a chance for both sides to air their concerns and

differences. Russia has dramatically beefed up its forces on Ukraine's border in recent months leading to fears that it will or might invade


The Kremlin says it wants guarantees that NATO won't expand further eastward. The U.S. says it will only negotiate in full consultation with

its allies. Now, about the meeting, January 10th, apparent diplomatic breakthrough comes days after Russia says it has pulled 10,000 military

forces from the region, Our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is in Moscow for us. So, on January 10th, what level of officials are

meeting and it's not at the presidential level, but who will be talking face-to-face?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, this is a sort of using a full might of the United States and Russian abuse in the past for

nuclear talks. And the U.S. officials say that this is, you know, for them, the best way to deal with it. So, it's going to be at a technical level is

what we understand. But I think from what we understand from the Russian side as well, there are still some conversation going on about who

precisely should attend and what the agenda will be on the day.

But very clearly, both sides have put their views forward, Russia with its concerns, wanting those legally binding guarantees about NATO. Clearly,

President Putin sees the United States as the principal vehicle to bring about any change in NATO's thinking because he's talking to the United

States days before those expected to be the conversation. Similar conversations with NATO officials and also with the OSC in Europe as well.

So, you know, President Putin has chosen the United States very carefully and very clearly at this moment. But it's not clear if he's going to get

everything that he wants. U.S. officials say look, we're going to have some agreements, but there will be some disagreements. And what it appears that

President Putin wants and has been pushing for very hard is real clarity, black and white clarity about NATO's position on Ukraine because he

believes it lies within Russia's sphere of influence.

And what happens there affects Russia's security. So, you know, he may not get what he wants, neither may the United States. So, at the moment we're

still, you know, on the path to the talks. It looks like they'll happen, but I think there are still many details and precisely who will be there to

be worked out.

GORANI: OK, Nic Robertson, thanks very much. Live in Moscow. Well, if you want some clues about where Russia is coming from, the Supreme Court upheld

a ruling today to shut down a prominent human rights group called Memorial International. It's accusing the group of failing to identify as a foreign

agent. Now, it's important to note that Memorial International was founded by Soviet-era dissidents and documents repression during that period. The

Stalinist period in particular.

A Memorial board member called the court's decision illegal, claiming Russia is no longer a legal state. So what is Memorial International? What

does it mean that the government and the Supreme Court want to shut it down? Here is Melissa Bell.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Alexey Yeks, this is history. The little things that survived the gulags and that will have been

treasured all the more by those who had lost everything.

ALEXEY YEKS, SCREENWRITER: They want to leave, they want to remind -- remember their house, remember the normal life.

BELL: People like Rigory Evanov(ph), Alexey's great grandfather who never made it back from the gulag he was sent to during the Stalinist purges of

the 1930s.


Here in the basements of Memorial in central Moscow, he explains that it was thanks to the organization which specializes in investigating Soviet-

era crimes that he was able to learn the truth about his family and why that matters. History, he says, is cyclical.

YEKS: Of course, our situation today was in the past a few times, and such things can come back, and this is awful I think. So, we should remember it

and keep it to our -- you know, our minds, I think.

BELL: But the government wants it shut down. It accuses it of breaking the foreign agents' law, which has increasingly been used to close down

organizations that are not in line with the government's thinking.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): Unfortunately, Memorial has repeatedly committed violations, and as the document given to

me reads, it did so defiantly.

BELL: At risk, the 100,000 boxes of archives the organization has gathered since it was created as the Soviet Union began to crumble.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): In each of these boxes is someone's story. So many letters were destroyed, but thanks to the ones we

have here, we can learn more about what life in the gulag was like from those who were there.

VASILY STAROSTIN, HISTORIAN & MEMORIAL TOUR GUIDE: Its main function was the garage.

BELL: But it isn't just documents. Memorial also takes people on tours, from the Lubyanka building that once housed the KGB to this court yard

behind another secret police building where 15,000 executions are believed to have taken place --

STAROSTIN: Yes, something like that. This story, this history is our huge - - like social trauma, and you can't get past that trauma if you talk about it.

BELL: The author and journalist Andrei Kolesnikov says the problem is that Memorial has become an obstacle to the current government's determination

to glorify Russia's past.

ANDREI KOLESNIKOV, SENIOR FELLOW, CARNEGIE MOSCOW CENTER: Indeed, there are memories which are struggling with official memory because there are a lot

of families which suffered from Stalinism and they are keeping that memory. They are grateful to Memorial.

BELL: Families like Alexey's where there had been shameful silence, he says, now there is truth.

YEKS: I think the history is not just the history of the state and politics. History is the history of families, of people. And this is a real

history without final cuts.

BELL: Melissa Bell, CNN, Moscow.


GORANI: Well, Memorial International started by documenting the human rights abuses of Stalin's Soviet Union, but more recently, it's drawn the

ire of the Kremlin for a different reason. Here is what CNN political and our national security analyst David Sanger told me about it.


DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Memorial came into being just as the Soviet Union was crumbling as a way to make sure that

there was a permanent way to note the excesses of the Stalin era. And over time, it developed another sort of arm which looked at repression in modern

day Russia.

And in many ways, that's really what it is that Putin and his government are most concerned about right now, which is that they put a highlight on

the Navalny case and similar cases of oppression which have grown a lot more frequent, particularly, in the past year in Russia.


GORANI: Still to come tonight, deliberations are ongoing in Ghislaine Maxwell's sex abuse trial. But now the judge is concerned the jury is

running out of time to reach a verdict. We'll explain and we'll also have an update on those terrible floods in Brazil. Heavy downpours have been

going on for weeks, and since it's rainy season, it could potentially get a whole lot worse. We'll have that as well.




GORANI: Well, jurors in Ghislaine Maxwell's sex trafficking trial haven't reached a verdict yet. And now the judge is concerned that the Omicron

variant might upend everything.

The judge says New York's COVID-19 case surge could force the trial participants and jurors into quarantine and that would put their ability

to, quote, "complete this trial" at risk.

Ghislaine Maxwell is accused of helping long-time associate Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls. And she faces up to 70 years in prison if

convicted on all counts. CNN legal analyst Paul Callan is a former New York City prosecutor and he joins me now live.

You have written a piece about this trial and you write that both lead lawyers in the case have displayed exceptional skills in the art of cross-


Does one side have an edge over the other, do you think, and, if so, why?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the prosecutors have an edge over the defense but only an ever-so-slight one. That is because of the

nature of this case.

There's a natural sympathy that jurors have for children who were allegedly sexually abused and that's very, very difficult for the defense to


Even with excellent cross-examination, they have got some serious explaining to do as to how Ms. Maxwell would not have been aware as to what

was going on in the massage room, in the many mansions that were occupied by Mr. Epstein and herself. After all, she was the lady of the house. She

was running the house.

How would she not know about this?

I think that's what the jury is struggling with right now.

GORANI: And the prosecutors really tried to shred that notion that she was unaware of what was going on.

Were they successful?

CALLAN: Well, I think they were largely successful, Hala. For instance, one of the readbacks that happened over the last couple of days was of a

butler, who worked for Mr. Epstein.

And that butler described the fact that one of his assignments was removing sex toys from the massage room and moving it (sic) to Ms. Maxwell's

bathroom, where they were stored.

So that says to the jury that she had to be aware that there were sexual things going on in the massage room. And that's where these underage girls

were brought to by Mr. Epstein.

GORANI: So you mentioned some of the things that the jury has requested to revisit. They sent notes, a few notes; some of the more significant ones

are up on our screen here. They requested the definition of enticement. They requested a transcript of Gregory Parkinson's testimony.


GORANI: He's a former Palm Beach Police Department crime scene manager.

In another note, they requested a transcript of former pilot David Rogers' testimony, which includes flight logs. Maybe we could take those in order.

The fact that they're asking for a definition of enticement, what does that tell us?

CALLAN: Well, that definition is included in two of, I believe, the six counts that have been lodged against Ms. Maxwell.

The claim is that she was involved in enticing minors to travel back to Palm Beach mansion and to some of the other mansions occupied by Jeffrey

Epstein. So obviously, they're focused in a big way on a word that could put her in jail for many, many years.

GORANI: And what about the testimony of the pilot?

They've requested the transcript of that.

I wonder why have they zeroed in on that and why it could be significant?

CALLAN: I believe it is significant, Hala, because the pilot would have been involved in transporting some of the alleged victims between the

mansions used by Epstein. One of the victims is a woman, who has gone by the name Jane. That's not her real name but it was a pseudonym used during

the trial.

Jane allegedly flew on one or more flights in which he was the pilot. So I think the jury is focusing specifically on Jane's claims. By the way, she

testified that she was 14 when she had sex with Epstein.

GORANI: I don't know if this is consequential or not but they've requested extra stationery, the jurors -- highlighters, white boards, Post-it Notes.

In your experience, when a jury is very careful and studious and they take this responsibility of judging their peers in a criminal court, is it an

indication, if they take their time, that they are weighing a guilty verdict more likely?

Or is there -- does it have no bearing, the length of the deliberations, on eventually what verdict might come out?

CALLAN: Hala, it is very difficult to read these tea leaves. Sometimes you have a conviction coming down the turnpike and other times it is an

acquittal. I will say this -- and I have tried murder cases and cases involving sex abuse for many, many years as a prosecutor and a defense


I have never seen a jury ask for a binder to put testimony in. And they asked for that last week, because they wanted to be organized in the

approach. Now they're asking for highlighters and other things. That suggests to me that they're being exceptionally careful in evaluating the

evidence very, very carefully.

I find it hard to believe that, if they were convinced that Ms. Maxwell was innocent, that they would be organizing evidence in such a meticulous way.

It sounds like it would be more likely, if you are sending someone to prison for a very lengthy period of time by convicting them, that you want

to show that you were organized and you put all of the evidence together.

That's just my gut feeling, that this may be an indication of at least some of the counts coming back as a guilty finding.

GORANI: Well, we'll see and we'll see if Omicron delays things, because that's certainly a concern that the judge has expressed. Paul Callan, as

always, thanks so much for joining us. Always appreciate talking to you.

CALLAN: Thank you, Hala.

GORANI: All right. Now to Brazil. Rescue teams are racing to save people trapped on the roofs of their homes in some cases because of deadly floods

in the northeastern part of the country.

Officials in the state of Bahia say at least 20 people have been killed. Look at that rescue there. Almost 63,000 people are now without a home.

And to make things worse, the local governor says many COVID-19 vaccines are now destroyed since some health centers are basically underwater. It is

what he calls a perfect storm. CNN's Matt Rivers reports.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the streets of Brazil's northeastern Bahia state, some are resorting to rafts and jet

skis to get around. Others can only trudge through the fast-moving waters. Locals doing what they can to cope and finding ways to carry on while

deadly flooding surrounds them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's very sad to see our town like this. It's very sad. I have never seen anything like it in my life.

RIVERS (voice-over): For weeks, a tense rain has been pounding the area. Then, in recent days, two dams gave way, overwhelming towns that were

already swamped. Since the start of November, more than a dozen have been killed, scores injured and tens of thousands forced from their homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There is a bridge over there. It's crazy. It's like the sea. There was a wave of almost two meters high.

RIVERS (voice-over): Water now stretches as far as the eye can see -- homes, roads, cars and land partly or entirely submerged.


RIVERS (voice-over): In the wake of the devastation, one of the towns' mayors blames human-caused climate change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We know rain can be seen as a blessing from God but because of the ecological imbalance that we human

beings have caused there can be too much of it causing serious damage.

RIVERS (voice-over): While heavy rain in northeastern Brazil is not uncommon this time of year, local leaders say this is the worst in recent

history. According to weather officials in Bahia's capital, December's rainfall is already six times greater than average.

And as rescue operations continue, emergency crews work to find anyone who may be trapped, hoping to stop the deadly rains from claiming another life

-- Matt Rivers, CNN.


GORANI: Well, in Afghanistan, dozens of very brave women once again taking to the streets of Kabul to protest, now that the Taliban are banning them

from taking long-distance trips by themselves.

The Taliban official claims the new law is designed to prevent women from encountering any harm or disturbance, as he puts it. Afghan women wanting

to travel for more than 72 kilometers will now have to be accompanied by a male family member.

These women say, "We do not need to be treated like children. We are adults."

Still to come tonight, why China is accusing SpaceX of endangering Chinese astronauts and what it could mean for Elon Musk.

Also ahead, as the world mourns archbishop Desmond Tutu, a closer look at what South Africa is planning for his funeral this weekend.




GORANI: SpaceX founder Elon Musk is in hot water with China. The country is accusing the SpaceX satellites of endangering China's space station and its

astronauts. They say collisions almost occurred twice in the past year. Ivan Watson has details in this report.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: China is lashing out at SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, saying that two of his satellites endangered

Chinese astronauts.

In a complaint filed with the U.N. Space Agency, Beijing says two satellites from Musk's Starlink network flew too close to the country's

space station, forcing it to take evasive maneuvers. The report says the incidents took place in July and October.




WATSON (voice-over): Starlink is an international service developed by SpaceX, with a constellation of around 2,000 low-orbit satellites. During a

briefing on Tuesday, China's foreign ministry's spokesperson urged the U.S. to act responsibly in space.



ZHAO LIJIAN, SPOKESPERSON, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): The United States repeatedly claims to have its own so-called concept of

responsible conduct in outer space.

But it ignores its international treaty obligations concerning outer space, posing a serious threat to the safety of astronauts. This is a typical

double standard.



WATSON (voice-over): But SpaceX is a private company and the tensions point to the larger issue of how to manage traffic in space, as more countries

and companies now have space capabilities, where near-misses between objects happen often.

An astronomer at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics says the International Space Station has had to avoid debris created by China's 2007

military anti-satellite test several times in recent years.

But now it is the richest person in the world who is catching heat.

ELON MUSK, TECH BILLIONAIRE: It is going to be a very exciting future.

WATSON (voice-over): Musk spent years winning over Chinese authorities so his electric carmaker, Tesla, could make inroads where other foreign

companies could not. But the billionaire's reputation has been tainted by a run of bad publicity, including a recall of most Tesla cars that were built

in Shanghai.


WATSON: SpaceX has not responded to CNN's request for comment, so we'll just have to wait and see how the outspoken entrepreneur responds to this

space challenge from Beijing -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


GORANI: After weeks of widespread pessimism over the lack of progress at the Iran nuclear talks, the Russian ambassador is now seeing some hope. The

talks to try to resurrect the international agreement resumed this week in Vienna.

The Russian envoy says he is now seeing "indisputable progress," quote- unquote.

He says lifting sanctions, Iran's key demand, is being actively discussed at informal settings and he's had, quote, "very useful and positive

meetings" with European delegates.

Separately, Israel's prime minister now says Israel would not oppose a, quote, "good" nuclear deal with Iran but Naftali Bennett also said the

world needs to get a lot tougher with Tehran.

The international charity Save the Children says two of its staff members were among the more than 30 people killed in Myanmar last week. Their

charred bodies were found after an apparent attack by government soldiers on Friday.

State media reported that soldiers had killed, quote, "terrorists with weapons." Save the Children is asking the U.N. to investigate.

A week of mourning is underway across South Africa for the late archbishop, Desmond Tutu, who died Sunday at the age of 90. He is famed for his

campaign against apartheid, which won him the Nobel Peace Prize as well as many other injustices around the world.

He will be laid to rest on New Year's Day. CNN's Larry Madowo explains why his funeral won't be a large and elaborate affair.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu will not get a big stadium funeral service like that of Nelson Mandela, his

contemporary in the anti-apartheid struggle. That is because of current restrictions, because of the pandemic in South Africa.

Only 100 people will be allowed for the funeral service at St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town. After that Anglican Requiem mass, his ashes will be

interred behind the high altar in the church that was once called the people's cathedral during the apartheid struggle.

This is in respect of his wishes and in consultation with his widow, Blair Tutu. President Cyril Ramaphosa visited with his family in Cape Town and

afterwards this is what he had to say.

CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: And if there ever was one person who really promoted social cohesion, it was Archbishop Desmond Tutu. A lot

of great things can be said about him. His global status, the love that he was and is being showered with across the various countries in the world

just speaks volumes of what he stood for.

MADOWO: Because of that love that president Ramaphosa talked about, South Africans are asked not to travel across Cape Town for the funeral service.

Instead, memorial services are being held this week all across the nation in parishes and cathedrals.

The body of Archbishop Desmond Tutu will also lie in state at St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town on Friday, 7 am to 7 pm to allow people to pay their



MADOWO: Beyond the tributes from kings and queens and royalty and leaders from around the world ordinary people are also remembering him on social


And one of the quotes really coming through is, if you're neutral in situations of in justice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. That

is why this South African national treasure, African hero and global icon has touched so many lives and will be remembered by so many -- Larry

Madowo, CNN, Nairobi.


GORANI: Stay with us. We will be right back.






GORANI: By the way, the new year is around the corner. In Richmond, Virginia, the past is being dug up literally. A second time capsule was

found yesterday at the former site of the Robert E. Lee statue, the Confederate monument that was removed in September.

So far, artifacts uncovered include a Masonic symbol, Confederate money, a Richmond directory and a Bible. Make sure you take care when handling

those. The gloves are on.

The first capsule was found earlier this month, holding about 60 items, including an 1875 almanac.

Gosh, the joy of finding this type of -- these treasures under this statue, I'm sure, is absolutely overwhelming.

That's going to do it for me for tonight. Stay with CNN. "NEWSROOM" is up next with my colleague, Lynda Kinkade.