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Hala Gorani Tonight
France Reports Europe's All-Time High New COVID Cases; South Africa Holds Memorials For Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Biden And Putin To Speak On Thursday; Biden-Putin Phone Talk Thursday; Russia And Belarus Agree To Joint Military Drills; Afghan Women Face New Wave Of Restrictions; Palestinian Authority President Visits Israel; Amazon Tribe Fighting Illegal Gold Miners; Melting Glaciers Reveal "Wonder Material" In Greenland. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired December 29, 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 am Hala Gorani. Tonight, a new European record for daily COVID
cases in France, and it's a trend seen across the world. I'll be speaking to the World Health Organization's special envoy on COVID-19.
Then South Africans pay tribute in a memorial for Archbishop Desmond Tutu. We'll have the latest from the country as it starts saying goodbye. And
later, a request from Russia's president to speak with President Biden on Thursday. We'll be live in Moscow with those details. The Omicron
coronavirus variant is smashing records across the world. France just reported 208,000 new cases in the last day.
That is the highest ever daily number in all of Europe since the pandemic began. New cases in France are doubling every two to three days. Today,
England reported nearly 140,000 new cases, that's its highest new number by far. And Italy just broke its record with more than 98,000 new infections
reported. In the U.S., the seven-day average of new cases is more than a quarter million, the largest number of the pandemic.
One medical expert tells us the U.S. could easily see half a million cases daily over the next week. Even though we're seeing these massive numbers of
new infections, countries are reconsidering isolation times for COVID patients. Spain is joining the U.S. in reducing quarantine time from ten
days to seven. And health experts do say Omicron appears to be -- and that's the operative word in this case, appears to be less severe.
Portuguese officials say there were 70 percent fewer deaths, hospitalizations and ICU admissions over the Christmas period compared to
last year. And the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Omicron is, quote, "obviously milder than Delta", unquote. There's a lot to get into.
Salma Abdelaziz joins me now live from London with more on these new records being set around the world. Salma.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Yet, another record-breaking day, Hala. I'm running out of ways to say it, but when it's happening day after day that
we're seeing countries with just eye-watering new figures. I mean, the French Health Minister saying he got vertigo looking at the data because
every second at least two French people were testing positive for COVID-19, and that curve is going nowhere. It is just shooting straight up. We are
simply not at the peak yet. But, Hala --
GORANI: Oh, unfortunately --
ABDELAZIZ: Not seeing --
GORANI: We've lost Salma, although, I'm hearing her still. Do we still have Salma or not? Salma, stand by for a second, I think we lost your -- we lost
your video, but I have your audio and you're back fully. So please continue.
ABDELAZIZ: I apologize for that, Hala, sorry for the technical difficulties. But what I was saying is essentially we are not seeing these
unprecedented figures when you're looking at the hospitalization rates and when you're looking at the death rates.
And that's why Omicron is presenting an entirely different challenge to governments. Those who are winding up in hospital severely ill are people
who are generally unvaccinated, and that was Prime Minister Boris Johnson's argument today to get boosted while he was at a vaccination center. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: I'm sorry to say this, but the overwhelming majority of people who are currently ending up in
intensive care in our hospitals are people who are not boosted. And I've talked to doctors who say the numbers are running up to 90 percent of
people in intensive care who are not boosted. If you're not vaccinated, you are eight times more likely to get into hospital all together. So it's a
great thing to do. It's very important. Get boosted for yourself and enjoy new year sensibly and cautiously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABDELAZIZ: Now, all of that is, of course, some relief that the hospitalization rates, the death rates are low. I'm going to add the caveat
here of always that delay, right? These positive figures, positive infection rates are happening now. There's always a delay between that and
hospitalizations. Health officials are still concerned in that sense, but Omicron is just giving us a challenge in the sense of keeping countries
I know we're doing the holiday season, but imagine if tens of thousands of people are calling sick out every day. Well, we already see that with the
airline industries, thousands of flights being canceled, airline staff struggling to keep up. You can only imagine that that's repeated in a lot
of other key industries. So, that could --
GORANI: Sure --
ABDELAZIZ: Be really the biggest challenge here. And you mentioned that isolation period that's reduced. That's how authorities are dealing with
GORANI: All right, trying to strike a balance, thanks very much, Salma Abdelaziz. The World Health Organization says there was a significant jump
in weekly COVID cases over the Christmas period, we've been reporting that every day.
Worldwide infections were up 11 percent last week compared to the week before. North and South America were the worst-hit continents in that
regard. Dr. David Nabarro is the World Health Organization's special envoy on COVID-19, and he joins me now live from Geneva.
Doctor, thanks for being with us. What is your take on these record case numbers? Over 200,000, for example, in France. What do you make of them?
DAVID NABARRO, SPECIAL ENVOY ON COVID-19, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Well, Hala, they really are extraordinary. You know, we've been used to much
lower numbers in the last few months. We've been watching the case rates go up and down, but suddenly, in the last five weeks, the acceleration has
been enormous. The saving grace is that so far we're not seeing big increases in the numbers of people in hospital. And that is partly as a
result of the very good results that have been received as a result of vaccination.
But the people who have not been vaccinated are now in serious difficulty, and, as you say, it's an important reminder to everybody, please get
vaccinated. Indeed, get your booster doses if you possibly can. But I'd also like to ask people where ever possible to do what they can to avoid
spreading this virus. You know, if we do wear our masks and maintain physical distancing, reduce contacts to a minimum, we can have an influence
on the rate of spread, because if we don't, then the level of absenteeism of workers from essential sectors, including from --
GORANI: Yes --
NABARRO: Hospitals is just going to climb.
GORANI: Let me ask you though, about the delay, because if France, as an example, I'm taking France as an example because it has the highest number
of cases in a 24-hour period. It takes a few weeks for the hospitalizations and, sadly, for deaths to occur. Are you concerned that even a small
percentage of such a large number of infected people could overwhelm hospitals?
NABARRO: Yes, that's the math that we're all doing. We think that the Omicron may be much less lethal, but at the same time, the rate of spread
is high --
GORANI: Yes --
NABARRO: And we are expecting a really big burden on hospitals everywhere in the coming weeks and months. It's not a good prospect. Hospitals
overloaded, essential services without adequate personnel, and people who are at risk, that's people with diabetes or other diseases as well as the
unvaccinated are likely to end up being seriously ill. So in general, it's not a good situation and everybody has to take it really seriously.
GORANI: And we're seeing increased numbers of hospitalized children. What's going on there? Because with Delta and the original variant -- virus
variant, it seemed as though children were less susceptible to catching it. Now that's not the case. In the U.S., 2,000 kids are in hospital versus 700
a month ago. What's going on? Is Omicron more --
NABARRO: Yes --
GORANI: Infectious toward -- with children?
NABARRO: Well, my colleagues in the sort of brains trust in the World Health Organization are looking at these numbers really carefully. I have
to say we don't know the full story about Omicron right now. It is a slightly different kind of virus. It causes a different illness, and it may
well be that it has a different profile in terms of who gets infected.
NABARRO: I agree with you that we're seeing more children ending up in hospital. Is that just because Omicron is spreading more widely or does it
actually affect children more intensely? We just don't know yet. Everybody, we need about another three or four weeks to get the full picture of what
Omicron means, and for the time being, could everybody be as careful as they can. And while celebrating new year, please do what you can to reduce
your opportunity for this virus to spread.
GORANI: And let me ask you for the World Health Organization's view and position on isolation periods. We're seeing the U.S. and other countries
reduce the isolation period for people who have been infected, but don't show symptoms. What is -- where does the W.H.O. land on this question?
NABARRO: Well, the head of the emergencies program at W.H.O., Michael Ryan, was speaking about that with us this afternoon. Here is the situation.
Obviously, if you have a long isolation period, the likelihood then of you passing the virus on to somebody else at the end of that period is very
GORANI: Right --
NABARRO: If you shorten the isolation period like from ten days down to five days, there's a greater risk of you passing it on, but at least you'll
get back into circulation more quickly. It's always like with everything in COVID, it's basically a trade-off, and you have to make that choice if
you're a decision-maker between going for absolute security in terms of health versus getting staff back on the job as quickly as possible, and
every government is making these choices with great difficulty, I might say.
GORANI: Yes, does the W.H.O. have a position on it though or is it kind of a country-by-country decision as far as you're concerned?
NABARRO: Well, we have to be really careful on this. I think, of course, from a public health standpoint, we stick by the requirement for about ten
days of isolation, but we recognize that in many places with shortage of staff, you have to take the risk and reduce to a shorter isolation period.
We understand that, and we believe that every country and, indeed, quite often every institution has to make these kinds of decisions.
What we would like to happen is that there is as much clarity as possible from governments as to the kind of decisions they're making, and that if
they possibly can, they don't chop and change on their decisions because that's the sort of thing that frustrates people no end.
GORANI: Let me ask you about these lateral flow tests. So many people rely on them before meeting friends and family and socializing. I have used them
over the Christmas period. But our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen was on our air last hour, she reported on the CDC in the U.S. testing
the Abbott rapid flow test and finding that --
NABARRO: Yes --
GORANI: In asymptomatic people, they are wrong, 64.25 percent of the time. And that really is making me question, and many people question whether or
not we should bother really taking these lateral flow tests before meeting with people. I mean, does it make it -- where does the W.H.O. -- what is
its position on these rapid tests that so many people are using?
NABARRO: Hala, let me be straight with you on this. I'd rather you use a rapid test than use no test at all, because at least, it gives you some
chance of knowing what's going on. And certainly for symptomatic people, they're much more sensitive.
It's in the asymptomatic people that the sensitivity appears to be reduced. But getting a PCR test, for example, over the holiday season is really
difficult. And in many parts of the world, PCR tests are really few and far between.
So, I would say if you've got only a rapid test, do use it, and actually use them quite often. And my colleagues and I say perhaps if you use two
different rapid tests, then you're much more likely to get a reasonably precise answer than just one on its own. It's all --
GORANI: Yes --
NABARRO: An inexact science, but if you can, do a rapid test as an alternative to doing no test at all.
GORANI: All right. Understood. I've been doing a rapid flow about every two days, so I'm hoping that --
NABARRO: Good on you --
GORANI: The number of tests at least will give me a more accurate picture. Thank you so much, Dr. Nabarro, I appreciate having you on the program and
have a great new year --
NABARRO: Thank you.
GORANI: All right, in the early days of the pandemic, Latin America was hit very hard with some of the highest death rates in the world, and when
vaccinations were well underway elsewhere, it was a struggle in the region just to get vaccines. But now, that's changed. Many Latin American
countries today are actually, in fact, outpacing much of Europe and North America when it comes to vaccinations.
Cuba, Chile and Brazil are even among the top ten countries globally using the data from the Pan-American Health Organization. Matt Rivers is in
Mexico City for us with more. So that was a great effort really by these countries that were so far behind a few months ago, Matt.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A 100 percent, Hala. I mean, how many live shots have we done on your show here, you know, going back to the beginning
of the year, and you and I have been talking about how bad so many countries here in Latin America have been hit by this. And now we can talk
about some good news, which is nice considering where this region was, you know, six months ago.
Let's just start with those three countries that you mentioned off the top there, Brazil, Chile and Cuba. You know, Brazil, you're looking at a 65.7
percent fully vaccinated population rate. You've got in Cuba, 84.1 percent, and then in Chile, according to PAHO, you have 85.6 percent.
I mean, those are incredibly high numbers. And in Brazil specifically, you go to some of those major urban centers, you have places like Rio de
Janeiro, places like Sao Paulo, there -- those cities have seen their adult populations basically -- almost the entire adult population in those major
urban centers have received at least one dose.
You've got those three countries, but there's also standouts as well in other parts of this region. So, you've got Uruguay, for example, you have
Ecuador, you have Argentina, all of those are at 70 percent or above. And these are major population centers within Latin America. This is a huge
change over the past six months where we have seen more vaccine supply make it into these health systems, and in many of these countries, the public
health infrastructure is there.
You know, in Brazil, for example, there's a long tradition of immunizing its population effectively against various diseases. The problem was supply
for a long time, and now that vaccine supply is more readily available to these countries, governments are taking advantage of it, Hala. One thing I
would add just to round it out, I guess, when you're talking about the biggest countries, Mexico, here in Mexico, it is a bit of a disappointment.
The country just managed to cross the 50 percent threshold, which is not a number that public health experts will be thrilled about. But still, 50
percent is better than 25 percent, and, you know, we're trending in the right direction here in Mexico.
GORANI: OK, Matt Rivers, thank you. More than 150 new COVID cases have been reported in one Chinese city despite a lockdown that's keeping residents
right in their homes, locked up in an effort to curb the outbreak. Steven Jiang is in Beijing with the details.
STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF (on camera): The situation in Xi An is starting to feel like a deja vu of what we saw in Wuhan some two years
ago with a growing amount of frustration or even anger being vented online by people in Xi An who say they now have difficulties accessing to food
items. That is in sharp contrast to officials and state media portrayal of orderly deliveries of daily necessity items by the government to households
throughout the city.
Now, things have been made worse by tightened regulations because last week each household was still allowed to send out one representative every other
day to do grocery shopping. That, quote, unquote, "privilege" has been suspended starting this week as the government there tries to further
restrict the movement of people to curb the community spread of the virus because of the Beijing leadership's insistence on its zero COVID policy,
especially ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
That's also why authorities in Xi An are doubling down on their strategy of mass testing, mass quarantining, now harsher lockdown measures. But the
numbers recorded in the city still pretty grim by Chinese standard, 151 new local cases recorded on Tuesday, but the government there says this is only
to be expected as they keep testing the entire population of 13 million residents. They just started a sixth round of city-wide testing on
But they say with the strict lockdown firmly in place, these numbers will stabilize soon and start decreasing with the whole outbreak may be ending
in a month or so. But that is cold comfort for millions of residents trying to survive now under increasingly harsh conditions. Steven Jiang, CNN,
GORANI: Still to come tonight, one of Hong Kong's very last independent media outlets falls silent after yet another police raid. We'll have a
special report. Then honoring the legacy of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. South Africa remembers the anti-apartheid hero. That's all ahead. Stay with us.
GORANI: Another blow to press freedom in Hong Kong. Independent media outlet "Stand News" is closing down after a police raid saw staff members
arrested. Ivan Watson has the details in this report.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One of the last remaining independent media voices in Hong Kong silenced. Two hundred
police officers raided the newsroom of the online portal "Stand News" early Wednesday. Police also arrested at least seven people including six current
and former senior staff, charging them with the publication of seditious material. Among the arrested, pop singer Denise Ho, and outspoken supporter
of past pro-democracy protests.
DENISE HO, HONG KONG-BASED CANTOPOP SINGER: Our fight is still going on. It is not dying down, and, yes, I think this is a new generation of a fight
for democracy in Hong Kong.
WATSON: Hours after the arrests and raids, "Stand News" announced it is shutting down immediately. Similar to the silencing of the newspaper "Apple
Daily" which ran its printing presses for the last time in June after police arrested its publisher and editors and seized its assets.
(on camera): Do you consider this a success when you raid a news organization and arrest their executives, and then they close down, as has
also happened with "Apple Daily" this year?
STEVE LI KWAI-WAH, SENIOR SUPERINTENDENT, NATIONAL SECURITY DEPARTMENT, HONG KONG POLICE: I feel success is to detect a case of a seditious intent
involving national security issues.
WATSON (voice-over): But a more senior city official calls the arrested journalists, evil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are the evil enemies that damage press freedom.
WATSON: Hong Kong authorities have been on a Christmas crackdown of sorts. Under-cover of darkness on December 23rd, workers quickly removed this
statue dedicated to the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. It had been standing on the campus of Hong Kong University for 24 years. Since
the violent anti-government unrest of 2019, the Hong Kong authorities have been on a campaign to crush political dissent.
Dozens of opposition politicians now sit behind bars or have fled into exile, and most opposition candidates were disqualified from participating
in this month's legislative elections, which only got 30 percent voter participation. And the peaceful street protests that were once part of the
city's culture have been all but banned. At a meeting days before Christmas, Chinese leader Xi Jinping congratulated Beijing's top official
in Hong Kong.
XI JINPING, PRESIDENT, CHINA (through translator): Over the past year, Hong Kong's situation has continued to consolidate from chaos to under control,
and that, the situation has continued to improve.
WATSON: Beijing's version of law and order leaves little room for the freedoms that the city once enjoyed. Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.
GORANI: A giant in the fight for social justice and the conscience of his nation, Archbishop Desmond Tutu is being remembered in South Africa and
indeed, across the world, but nowhere more so than in his native city where mourners gathered a short time ago for a memorial service that happened and
took place today in Cape Town. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Earlier on Wednesday, the archdeacon of the Anglican Church of Johannesburg led prayers outside Tutu's former home in the township of
Soweto. The funeral for the anti-apartheid icon is scheduled for new year's day. Desmond Tutu died Sunday at the age of 90.
He was one of the most prominent religious, moral and religious leaders in the world, a tireless advocate for human rights, and, of course, the winner
of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. CNN's David McKenzie is in South Africa for us now. And I love that Desmond Tutu said to get him the cheapest
casket they could find.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's classic Desmond Tutu. The man --
GORANI: Right --
MCKENZIE: Who had such a huge stature in this country, in South Africa and across the world, yet so humble, and in a way mischievous is the way he
often called himself in fact, and this would be in that view. And you have the man who wasn't born in Cape Town, but certainly is most closely
associated with that city. And you've had every day at noon, Hala, this is the sound that is ringing out from St. George's Cathedral.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKENZIE: Minutes each day throughout the week, this is where he was most prominent in his preaching at St. George's cathedral. He was the
archbishop, of course, of Cape Town. Often, he in fact, led protests from that cathedral in Cape Town and had to scurry back to the pews. It's known
as the people's cathedral, and that's where he will be for Thursday and Friday as regular citizens can go and pay their respects. The funeral, as
you say, will be on January 1st.
Only a 100 people will be there because of COVID restrictions. And, again, he asked for a simple funeral and nothing too lavish, in keeping with the
man who had an outside voice and a major moral compass of this country and the world, but never wanted it to be about himself. Hala?
GORANI: Thank you, David McKenzie. A short time ago, I discussed the archbishop's legacy with Sello Hatang; the chief executive and spokesperson
for the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory at the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Here is what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SELLO HATANG, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, NELSON MANDELA CENTER OF MEMORY: I think a part of many South Africans died when he died. And like -- to resuscitate
that, we have to then say today should mark an opportunity for us to reflect on what we need to do differently as a country. Today should mark a
time when we should then ask ourselves, what do I need to do to build a caring democracy, a democracy that doesn't eat its children.
A democracy that pulls those who feel discarded, forgotten, that they are left behind, that we make sure that democracy works for them. And if we are
to do so, Hala, it starts with us asking ourselves, what is my role as an active citizen? That he pleaded with all of us to always stand up and be
counted whenever necessary. And I hope that South Africans and the global community will see that and seize that opportunity today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Sello Hatang who knew Desmond Tutu personally, said a part of him died with the death of the archbishop. Still to come today, diplomacy by
phone. Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are set to talk tomorrow with Ukraine topping the agenda. We'll go to Moscow to find out why one senior U.S.
official says we're at a moment of crisis.
Plus, the Taliban under pressure once again for their treatment of women. What a rights advocate for Afghan women told me today Stay with us.
GORANI: So we learned in just the last few hours that Vladimir Putin requested a phone call with the U.S. President, Joe Biden. U.S. officials
say the Russian president asked for that call; that was readily accepted by the American leader.
They say the two leaders will discuss the planned January 10th talks about the crisis over Ukraine and that the U.S. is committed to a diplomatic
solution. But a senior official also said the U.S. is ready to respond, quote, "harshly" if Russia invades Ukraine, including bolstering its forces
in Eastern Europe.
Nic Robertson is in Moscow for us with more.
So the Russian president asked for this call.
Will it be a video call?
What more details do we have about what will happen next Thursday?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, very little coming from the Kremlin, which seems unusual in this context, inasmuch as
they`ve been pushing for these talks all along.
They are the ones that requested this phone call, sort of being squeezed in ahead of New Year`s holidays here. So remarkably little from the Russian
side. But from the U.S. side, actually quite a bit.
We know that secretary of state Antony Blinken called President Zelensky in the Ukraine to give him a preview of what President Biden would talk about.
We have heard from U.S. officials, saying that they are not seeing any sign of deescalation of tensions along the border, of Russian troops withdrawing
along the border at the moment.
They`re not seeing that. They`re making it very clear, they say, that, if there is to be real progress in these talks, to try to meet what Russia
wants -- and they say they have a list of things they will put on the table as well -- if there is to be real progress, they`re saying it has to be in
an atmosphere, if you will, of de-escalation.
And they`re saying they`re not seeing that now. To be productive, there has to be more than just the desire to talk, in essence, is what we`re hearing
from the United States.
So is what we`re hearing from U.S. officials to play down expectations?
Is this what President Putin is going to be told?
We know that a U.S. spy plane flew over Ukraine in the past couple of days and will have been able to look down where Russian forces were.
Will President Biden be calling President Putin out about the 10,000 troops that Russia says it has withdrawn back from those military exercises to
We don`t know. We do know that both sides are a way, way distance apart at the moment.
GORANI: Yes. And today Vladimir Putin met with the Belarusian president, Lukashenko. There was even, I guess, this interesting video of the two men
playing on the same hockey team. But Vladimir Putin seems to have scored more goals than Lukashenko.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI (voice-over): There they are. Obviously, Lukashenko wants Vladimir Putin to back him, to support him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: He is a much smaller state, dependent on Russian support here.
ROBERTSON: Yes, he is. That was really the tone of the pair when they had a bilateral meeting before that game of ice hockey. Lukashenko was thanking
President Biden -- President Putin, rather -- for bailing him out because of sanctions that have come from Europe, because of coping with the
This is, you know, a relationship that is troublesome for President Putin, because Lukashenko does things, such as trying to push migrants toward the
border with Europe, which causes, you know, huge, obvious international outrage.
But this is beneficial also to President Putin. And we saw a sense of that today.
You know, Lukashenko saying that, look, how can I pay you back, how can I pay back this debt, these loans?
Why don`t you come and have some military exercises in Belarus?
And that`s what is going to happen in February or March. President Putin said those military exercises will go ahead. Looking at it in the context
of that hockey game and this tells you everything you need to know, President Putin and Lukashenko on the same team, as you say. They won, 18-
7. No surprise.
As you say, Putin scored seven goals, Lukashenko two. They`re on the same team. The other side didn`t play particularly strongly, it would seem,
looking at the video and past videos of President Putin playing. No one seems to want to defeat him on his own territory.
It will be entirely different when he gets into talks with -- or when Russia gets into talks with NATO, with the United States and with the OSC.
GORANI: Yes, he scored five more goals than Lukashenko. I am sure that was a relief to some of the people who were there. Thank you so much for that,
Nic Robertson, live in Moscow.
The Taliban are not stopping at a new law that bans women in Afghanistan from going on long distance trips without a male relative. They`re putting
out even more rules.
Drivers can no longer play music in their cars or transfer alcohol. There`s also a new rule, saying they shouldn`t let a woman sit in their car if she
is not wearing a veil. Earlier I spoke with, Pashtana Durrani, the founder and executive director of Learn, an organization dedicated to helping girls
in Afghanistan get an education.
PASHTANA DURRANI, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LEARN: We have to unpack it strategically when they say they`re imposing these laws or imposing
these weird sort of quotations and saying, OK, this is according to the religion.
It is less of the religion; it is more of the pressure on the international community to be recognized. And that`s what they`re pushing for right now.
The second thing is, apart from that, every Afghan household has widows and not all of them are accompanied and not all can afford to go and ask for
people, where they will be given the right to travel alone if they don`t have someone.
Not even everyone knows about it. So it is somehow going to affect the day- to-day life of every woman in Afghanistan.
GORANI: Yes, and there`s also the education of women, older high school- aged women, denied an education since the Taliban took power, for now over 100 days.
DURRANI: Yes, yes, it has been more than 100 days. And the Taliban keep on coming up with different excuses, like we`re going to make a new strategy
for girls to go to school. But then at the same time they themselves say they have schools open.
How come it doesn`t apply to all of those schools?
Apart from that, the most important thing is, what is it that scares them so much about girls` education?
What is it that is making them politicize girls` education from class 7 to class 12?
We have to look that they`re not connected on their own and most importantly they`re using girls` education, women`s mobility, women`s
socialization as a part, as a tool to make their own ends meet and to be recognized in the world.
GORANI: Last time we spoke you were in hiding in Afghanistan. You are out now obviously but I`m sure you get news from Afghanistan, from girls and
women, who are trying, despite all of these roadblocks put in their way, trying to continue their education.
How are they doing this?
DURRANI: I am actually running two schools right now. I have around 160 girls, who need to go to school. So it is actually going to affect around
160 girls and around four teachers, who are actually teaching them in person, who are supposed to be going and traveling to the location. They
will be affected by that.
So just imagine, you didn`t -- they didn`t just close the doors of schools on them but also every venue that is willing to give them that education.
They are making sure that every venue is on chokehold and is closed, just because they`re making it more harder for women to even go out.
GORANI: And what about sort of are there any secret sort of internet, Web- based classes?
How are girls -- and I know that the internet connection is an issue.
But perhaps in more densely populated areas, are there efforts there to, at least not allow girls to completely be cut off from their education on a
DURRANI: Yes. Actually, we are working with a radio channel right now and we will be launching the radio classes as soon as possible, within the next
few weeks. Apart from that, there is a site that is teaching girls online right now.
And there will be an offline site that will be teaching them at home when they don`t have internet.
Most importantly right now, I am in the U.S. We are working on a way where Afghanistan, the girls in those venues, will connect everywhere they are
and they don`t have to worry about the internet provided by the ISP.
These solutions were worked on just because the Taliban keep on pushing [back] opening the girls` education and schools of girls.
GORANI: Pashtana Durrani; the last time we spoke to her, she was in hiding in Afghanistan. She is out now, so thankfully safe.
A lot more to come this evening: a visit, a very rare visit. The head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, makes an official trip to Israel.
We`ll tell you what that was about after this.
GORANI: It was a rare face-to-face today for the first time in almost 12 years. The president of the Palestinian Authority has traveled to Israel to
meet an Israeli official there, namely defense minister Benny Gantz.
Gantz tweeted that he and Mahmoud Abbas, quote, "discussed the implementation of economic and civilian measures and emphasized the
importance of deepening security coordination and preventing terror and violence for the well-being of both Israelis and Palestinians," unquote.
Elliott Gotkine is in Tel Aviv.
I mentioned it was a rare face-to-face; 12 years have passed since the last time this has happened.
What was it about and why now?
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are a few things that they were discussing, Hala. I should say what this wasn`t about, at least from the
Israeli`s perspective, was paving the way for peace talks. The peace process remains more abundant.
And no one expects progress to come from that. There are a few things going on right now. There have been rising tensions in the West Bank, violence by
Palestinians against Israelis, Israeli settlers against Palestinians.
GOTKINE: So they`re trying to de-escalate tensions there. The Israelis also trying to bolster the position of Mahmoud Abbas, as they worry that the
only alternative to him would be a Hamas-run Palestinian Authority and obviously they don`t want that. They`ve seen what happened in the Gaza
The other reason that is happening now is we saw last week the U.S. national security advisor, Jake Sullivan. He came to Israel and met with
prime minister Naftali Bennett and he met with Mahmoud Abbas, to try to show support for the situation around the Gaza Strip, to a relatively
peaceful situation there.
I suppose this meeting shows the Biden administration`s additional engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian issue, vis-a-vis the previous
administration, is actually having some kind of impact, some kind of progress, even if it`s not quite the progress that perhaps many want.
But is suppose when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, even a conversation and a meeting like this counts as progress. Hala.
GORANI: Thank you very much.
In Brazil`s Amazon rain forest, illegal gold miners are contributing to the devastation of the region. Now one indigenous tribe is trying to fight
back. Our Isa Soares follows their efforts in this report.
ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Under the cover of the dense Amazonian jungle, the Yanomami indigenous tribe in Brazil step up for
battle. But theirs is as much a rallying cry as it is a cry for help. The approximately 27,000 Yanomami is under attack by an elusive but old enemy,
wildcat miners with a thirst for gold and a hand for destruction.
With only bows and spears as their defense, they`re here to protect their riverbanks and their villages from boats like this one. Illegal gold miners
exploiting and destroying the rivers and land and in doing so, intimidating and firing at the Yanomami.
In May of this year, a half-hour shootout between the miners and the Yanomami was caught on camera. Women and children are seen desperately
running for cover as a speedboat of gold miners fires as it passes.
With the violence on the rise, the federal police and the army have been sent in to investigate these deadly clashes that have left four dead,
including two indigenous children. Fernando, one of the Yanomami`s community leaders, tells us what they`ve been doing for months now.
FERNANDO, YANOMAMI COMMUNITY LEADER (through translator): The problem is the armed miners who pass here at night. There are always a lot of them.
SOARES (voice-over): The entire community has been put to work, converting paddles into weapons, bamboo into spears.
FERNANDO (through translator): This is a spear. This one pierces quickly. You will die fast. It goes through everything. This one, made from bamboo,
has venom, lots of venom.
SOARES (voice-over): They say they`ve had no choice but to step up these last few years, under a populist president who promises space to develop,
some would say, exploit the rainforest for his resources. Naturally, they`re furious.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Bolsonaro, you are ignorant! You let these people walk into our land and threaten the Yanomami. These people
have come and have killed us. We want you to remove them quickly.
SOARES (voice-over): And with 30 percent of the land in the hands of illegal gold miners, their plea is clear and loud. Get the miners out. All
they ever wanted, they say, is to protect the children and their already vulnerable way of life. Their very existence as the guardians of the
From above, the challenge is made clearer. The Yanomami reserve, almost 24 million acres of it sits deep in the dense Amazonian jungle.
Finding miners, an estimated 20,000 of them here, becomes a game of cat and mouse. This boat knows what`s circling above and speeds away from the
authorities. But the police persist and follow the trail back to the station. They spot an opening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Federal police. Federal police. Come here.
SOARES (voice-over): This is as much about catching criminals as it is understanding how they work, who pays them and funds the devastation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Where is the gun?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): I don`t have one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): It seems he only brought the ammunition.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): I don`t touch other people`s bags.
SOARES (voice-over): The women, often used as cooks, pay for their journey in gold in advance but the gold rush is not what they imagined and they
struggle to pay it back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): How did you come?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): By canoe, I paid 4 grams.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): What`s a gram worth here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): $240 ($47 U.S).
SOARES (voice-over): Miners, too, become disillusioned, as that dream of striking it rich fails to materialize.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I`ve been here for three months.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I came here because they told us it was good. It would be good. But until now, we haven`t seen any gains.
SOARES (voice-over): Yet the destruction is clear for all to see. Their very presence of razing the pine forest, their thirst for gold
contaminating rivers with mud and mercury.
The police go deeper and find several wooden barges full of heavy machinery to dredge for gold.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated text): You see the diving suit?
One of them stays below the water, pushing the sand inside the hose.
SOARES (voice-over): The police know this is a losing battle. There`re too many miners and the area is too vast to patrol. So all they can do is slow
them down by destroying their equipment.
This isn`t a solution the Yanomami have been pleading for but until President Bolsonaro changes his environmental policies, the Yanomami cries
will continue to fall on deaf ears. And this burden of riches, the lungs of the world risks falling with it.
GORANI: Still to come this evening, glaciers are melting in Greenland. That`s undeniable. But scientists say they may be revealing a silver
lining. We will explain.
GORANI: The melting glaciers of the Arctic are dramatic and visible signs of global warming. However, in Greenland, the melting of these ice sheets
is revealing something that may just help fight the process. Lynda Kinkade explains.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Greenland, a paradox is unfolding as glaciers disappear due to global warming. At the very same time, that
melting is helping to form an ultra fine silt that has the potential to cool the earth.
One scientist is calling it a wonder material. When used on farmlands, the silt dissolves in rainwater, releasing nutrients and boosting agriculture
production, while trapping carbon dioxide.
Scientists at the University of Copenhagen say that one metric ton of glacial rock flour can remove anywhere between 550 to 660 pounds of CO2
form the air , which farmers can use as carbon credits.
Tests have ramped up. Researchers in Ghana are finding the application of this material to the soil offset the impact of rain and heat and boosted
maize production by 30 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you have rock flour, instead of this fragment of rock, the plants have 80,000 times easier access to the good stuff it needs
to grow compared to if it (ph). And so this is kind of more or less a unique product to Greenland.
KINKADE: Greenland is home to one of the two remaining ice sheets in the world and the only one in the northern hemisphere.
In Denmark, scientists at Multinational brewery Carlsberg discovered that adding 25 metric tons of glacial rock flour per hectare increased crop
yield by 30 percent on their barley fields.
PAI ROSAGER PEDAS, CARLSBERG`S RESEARCH LABORATORY: It`s a more, you can say, more clean product compared to a very processed inorganic phosphor
fertilization strategy where this could more directly from nature, sort of say. It needs less processing and thereby less impact on the nature.
KINKADE: Researchers are already planning large-scale field tests in Denmark and Ghana. They are trying to assess if it`s feasible to ship the
rock flour to farmers around the world.
Many already use other finely grained rocks on their farms but the added benefit of absorbing CO2 from the air makes glacial rock flour a potential
game changer -- Lynda Kinkade, CNN.
GORANI: Lawmakers are used to trading blows in parliament but, in Jordan, things have taken a turn for the literal, unfortunately. We will let this
clip do the talking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI (voice-over): The fistfight broke out during a debate over constitutional reforms. A draft amendment would add the Arabic female noun
for a Jordanian citizen to a section of the constitution on equal rights.
That shouldn`t be controversial but, in this case, it really was for some people, because some MPs called that amendment "useless." The debate was
being livestreamed and has now, as you can imagine, gone viral.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Thanks for watching tonight. I`m Hala Gorani. I will see you the same time, same place tomorrow. Do stay with CNN though. "CNN NEWSROOM" is
up next with my colleague, Lynda Kinkade.