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Hala Gorani Tonight
U.S. And Russian Diplomats Try To De-escalate Crisis Over Ukraine; A Judge In Australia Rules For Djokovic To Stay In The Country; Kazakhstan President Says Unrest In Country Was A Coup Attempt; Italy Tightens Restrictions On The Unvaccinated; China Pursues Zero-COVID Strategy Ahead Of Beijing Olympics; At Least 17 Dead, 60+ Injured In New York Blaze. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired January 10, 2022 - 14:00:00 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. Russia warns that the risks of conflict
over Ukraine should not be underestimated. We're live in Geneva where talks have just concluded between Russia and the U.S. Then a win in the courts
for Djokovic, but could the tennis pro still face deportation? We'll be live from Australia with the very latest.
And later, quiet on the streets of Almaty in Kazakhstan after deadly protests, but how does the regime justify the arrest of 8,000 people? We
begin with a critical week of diplomacy across Europe aimed at diverting a crisis between Russia and the west that is reminiscent of the cold war.
U.S. and Russian diplomats met in Geneva today, and you could almost feel the tension in the room by looking at their body language.
The U.S. wanted assurances that Russia would pull its troops back from Ukraine's border amid fears of a possible invasion, while Russia wanted
guarantees that Ukraine will never join NATO. Neither side got what they wanted. Russia's deputy foreign minister insisted his country has no plans
to attack, but he did issue a warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEY RYABKOV, DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER, RUSSIA (through translator): We call on the United States to take maximum responsibility at this moment.
The risks associated with a possible increase in confrontation should not be underestimated. However, the business-like, professional nature of the
conversation, of course, sets a more optimistic mood. But, nevertheless, the main questions hang in the air, and we do not see that the American
side has any understanding of the imperativeness of their solution in a way that suits us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Sam Kiley is reporting tonight in Kiev and Alex Marquardt is in Geneva. And Sam, I want to start with you with reaction from Ukraine to all
of this. Is there some level of reassurance that at least there is some sort of open dialogue now between Russia and the U.S. on the Ukraine
SAM KILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, I think the attitude of the Ukrainians and, indeed, this has been echoed and reinforced really by
the American position and the European position, which is any discussion about Ukraine cannot and should not take place without the presence of
Ukraine. That clearly is the position of the Ukrainian government.
They will not in the least bit be reassured by Ryabkov's statement, the deputy Russian foreign minister there reiterating the Russian implicit,
threat of some kind of dreadful consequences if these demands from Russia, much wider demands than relate directly only to Ukraine, to roll back to
1997, the NATO position, the NATO location of troops and missiles right across eastern Europe, but of course, also saying that Ukraine could never,
ever, in the words of Ryabkov, become a member of NATO.
That absolutely is not the Ukrainian position. But as the deputy foreign minister here, Hala, said just earlier on today, they are very anxious
about the situation. This is a brief clip of what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLGA STEFANISHYNA, DEPUTY PM FOR EU & EURO-ATLANTIC INTEGRATION OF UKRAINE: Still, we would all realize the danger that is the build-up in our country,
Russia will amass enough troops to launch an additional full-scale invasion into Ukraine. So we need to do everything possible to prevent that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KILEY: So, given the language that has emerged from the Russians out of -- out of Geneva, the Ukrainians will be looking for even more support from
NATO when they have continued negotiations culminating this week on Thursday where there'll be joined by Georgia, Hala, with senior military
commanders of NATO. And at that stage, given the poor relations that exist at the bilateral level, I think there will start to be a kind of hoping for
the best, but planning very much for the worst out of Ukraine. Hala.
GORANI: Alex Marquardt in Geneva, we heard from the deputy foreign minister, we also heard from his counterpart, Wendy Sherman.
Clearly, they both have positions, they haven't really come closer on those demands or hopes or aspirations on either side. But the fact that this
dialogue has started, where does that leave us on the day after these talks resumed?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, many would certainly argue that when dialogue is happening, that it's a good thing,
that progress is being made, but the Russians have indicated that their patience is not infinite. Hala, I think you said it best. Neither side got
what they wanted. Russia certainly didn't get the assurances that Ukraine would never join NATO, and the U.S. didn't get any sort of indication that
there would -- that any de-escalation coming.
The deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman said that there was no indication Russia plans to withdraw its troops. She defined de-escalation
as Russian troops going back to their barracks, and an explanation of what is going on along Ukrainian border. Russia has not told the U.S. that they
are carrying out any exercises, which is traditionally what happened -- what happens in these situations. But I have to say that the way that the
Biden administration laid out their expectations for these talks has very much come to pass.
They said that not only would they not talk about Ukrainian issues without Ukraine in the room, but that they were able to discuss some issues of
mutual interest, namely missiles in Ukraine and in Europe and more transparency in terms of the scale and scope of military exercises. But the
U.S. is seeing this very much as the launching pad for continued talks throughout the course of the week. These discussions move on to NATO on
Wednesday, and then bringing in more countries on Thursday at the OSCE. Hala.
GORANI: All right, Alex Marquardt in Geneva and Sam Kiley in Kiev. Thanks very much. Earlier, I spoke with the former Obama administration official
who was director of Global Engagement at the White House. Brett Bruen served on the National Security Council when Russia invaded Crimea in 2014.
His position is that offering any concessions to Russia now would be a terrible mistake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT BRUEN, FORMER U.S. DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT: No, and forgive me, Hala, if I'm having a bit of -- a sense of deja vu because I see us
falling in to exactly the same trap that we did before, and we are, unfortunately, I think playing a game on Russia's rules, and Russia is
changing the rules constantly. What we have to do is stop with negotiating on their terms. This should not be a question of whether or not Russia
They are already in Crimea, as you noted, as well as New Hans(ph), Khanty- Mansiysk(ph) in eastern Ukraine, not to mention Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, Transnistria in Moldova. They need to get out of those
countries, and they need to stop this policy of trying to promote instability and insecurity along their borders.
GORANI: So what's the right strategy in your opinion?
BRUEN: Well, I think several fold. One, we've got to send a message to Putin we're not just going to tinker with economic sanctions any longer. We
will get serious. We will get serious both in terms of military defense of those countries as well as executing on some of the information and
intelligence that we have. Putin is increasingly in a weak position at home with domestic politics, and I think the U.S. needs to deliver --
GORANI: All right --
BRUEN: A message to him, that if he pursues that path, we will no longer pull punches.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Let's move on now to the Novak Djokovic story. The tennis star is still in Australia where he's been celebrating his court victory on a
different kind of court, one in Melbourne Park where the Australian Open will kick off next week. Djokovic has won nine of his 20 grand slams there,
and he's telling his fans he wants to try to compete. It's not a done-done deal. An Australian judge has ruled that the men's number one player can
stay in the country, saying border police did not give him enough time to speak to his lawyers when they revoked his visa over COVID vaccine
requirements last week.
Djokovic's family spoke in Belgrade after the ruling. They are hailing this as a huge win for Novak Djokovic. Their family and what they call freedom
lovers around the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIJANA DJOKOVIC, NOVAK DJOKOVIC'S MOTHER (through translator): We've tried really hard to fight for him, and the whole world has been fighting for
him. We've experienced sadness, disappointment, fear. We can't phone him. They took his phone from him. One time we were on the phone with him, they
cut the call off. We wondered, is he sick? Is everything OK with Novak? As a mother, you can imagine that this was very difficult for me. This is the
biggest victory of his whole career, bigger than any of his grand slams.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Wow, well, that doesn't mean the saga is necessarily over. CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Melbourne with more. So, can the -- this is the big
question. Can the government overturn the court ruling? Can the government still say Novak Djokovic cannot compete?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala. The simple question -- simple answer is yes. The immigration minister has the power
and the ability to revoke the visa of Novak Djokovic. Now, whether or not that will happen, we simply don't know. It's about 6 O'clock in the
morning, Tuesday here in Melbourne. We could hear something in the next few hours as to whether or not that is going to happen. But, certainly, Monday
was a tumultuous day for the supporters of Djokovic, standing outside, waiting to hear from that hearing for Novak Djokovic himself. So, let's
remind ourselves of what happened.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): One week out from the Australian Open, advantage, Novak Djokovic. A win in the Australian Federal Circuit Court Monday could
allow the defending Grand Slam champion to play in the tournament. His appeal to have his visa cancellation quashed has been successful. But In
the words of presiding Judge Anthony Kelly, "the stakes have risen rather than receded."
Immediately after the decision was read, lawyers for the Australian government warned the court that the Immigration Minister Alex Hawke
reserves the right to step in to exert his own personal power to remove Djokovic from Australia.
BEN ROTHENBERG, RACQUET MAGAZINE: Scott Morrison's government wants to seen as being tough on COVID and tough on border safety related to COVID.
HANCOCKS: So, while Djokovic won this round, the showdown is far from over. For now he remains in Melbourne, free of immigration detention where
he has languished for five days.
ROTHENBERG: Before most, I think Djokovic dropped the ball a bit by just not getting vaccinated, by taking this very hard stance, he made life much
tougher for him.
HANCOCKS: Separate to where Djokovic held a valid medical exemption to enter Australia unvaccinated, Judge Kelly ruled the Serbian was treated
unfairly when detained at the airport by federal officers. Djokovic was not given adequate time to speak to his lawyer or get in touch with tennis
Australia officials when he was served with the intention to cancel his visa. Few in Australia have much sympathy for Djokovic who has expressed
opposition to vaccine requirements before even entering the country unvaccinated.
Howbeit, with an exemption he thought would suffice, Judge Kelly took an opposite turn. A professor and an eminently qualified physician have
produced and provided to the applicant a medical exemption, Judge Kelly said, later adding, what more could this man have done? Djokovic's medical
exemption relies on a recent COVID-19 diagnosis, officially recorded on December 16th. In his affidavit, Djokovic says he knew of his infection
that day, raising questions about maskless public events on December 16th and 17th.
The tennis star seen at a panel and a tennis award ceremony. But for now, Djokovic has won this battle. All eyes now on the government to see their
HANCOCKS: Now, the family of Djokovic were asked about the timing of his positive test, and the fact that he was seen in public maskless just the
day after, and that's when they ended the press conference, not wanting to delve into that. But that's certainly a question that many are asking,
GORANI: All right, Paula Hancocks, thanks very much. In Melbourne, Australia, where it's 6:13 in the morning. Before we go to our guest, I
want to remind you briefly about the timeline of these events because they start way before January. On December 16th, Djokovic says he tested
positive for COVID-19. Then around December 16th and 17th, he appears at press events without a mask. December 30th, Djokovic receives a medical
exemption from COVID vaccination for entry from Tennis Australia on the grounds that he had just recovered from COVID.
Then on January 5th, he arrives in Australia, and on the 6th, his visa is cancelled after his exemption was deemed to be invalid. Obviously, as we
all know by now, earlier today, a judge has ruled Djokovic can remain in Australia, but will he be allowed to compete? With the Australian Open
almost here, we're seeing a lot of reaction to this in the tennis world. David Law is the co-host of "The Tennis" podcast, and joins me live from
Thanks for being with us, David. What's your reaction to this whole fiasco really? Because it's just been unbelievable on both sides. Both Djokovic
providing that proof that he had tested positive and then the next day being seen without a mask at a public event. And the Australians telling
him that he can come and then saying, you know, doing a 180. This is unprecedented in the tennis world.
DAVID LAW, CO-HOST, TENNIS PODCAST: It is. I don't think anybody is coming out of this looking good in any way. And whichever way it goes from here, I
think it's going to be problematic. If he's allowed to stay and if he plays, I think the reaction within the crowd during his matches could be
something like we haven't seen in many years. I think he may be shocked at the anger that has been generated within Australia by this situation.
I think if he's -- if he is sent home, we've already seen violent scenes on the streets of Melbourne today, and that's really concerning. And there are
tempers and tensions are running so high on both sides right now, it is really unsettling, absolutely. And we've never seen anything quite like
this. And I think --
GORANI: Yes --
LAW: Really, the whole thing is a mess.
GORANI: Well, why do you think -- I mean, the violence surrounding this in the streets and cops in Melbourne having to use pepper spray, why do you
think this has kind of generated so much passion, this whole debate?
LAW: Well, I think there's an ideological disagreement here. Djokovic thinks that he should be allowed to choose whether he has the vaccine or
not. And he said, I'm not having it, and he's decided not to have it, but he still wants to play the event. And this COVID infection has granted him
the exemption. Now, I think a lot of people find it really troubling that he tested positive for COVID on December the 16th and was then seen in
these pictures the next couple of days. He needs to explain that.
Because if he knew that he was positive, then I think most people think that, that is deeply irresponsible behavior. But at the same time, he is
regarded as a god in Serbia, and they -- there's been a history of Novak Djokovic of it being him against the world. He has often made missteps, I
think, in a number of parts of his particularly off-court life as well as on court. You may remember he was defaulted at the U.S. Open. There was the
sort of the event that he held during the pandemic in 2020 which ended up causing a lot of positive COVID tests with lots of people maskless in the
And I think people have been very angry at him and they've shown that, and his supporters believe that he is being victimized, that it's always him
that everybody is always out to get him. And I think that he has been either personified that as well. He has used it as fuel during tennis
matches. If 23,000 people are cheering against him and cheering for Roger Federer in the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Novak Djokovic seems to get stronger.
It's an extraordinary siege mentality.
GORANI: What about the tennis world and tennis pros? Nadal came out and said, look, you know, I mean, the judge has ruled he can stay, he should
LAW: Yes, I think it's caused some split. I mean, more than 90 percent of tennis players -- I think 97 percent of tennis players now are vaccinated.
So I think that there's some anger and irritation that he appears to have found a way to enter this event without being vaccinated. Nadal was
initially quite clear in his statements that there's a way to play the Australian Open, and that's to get vaccinated.
But at the same time, as you say, I mean, he did express some sympathy with Djokovic for the circumstances with which he was being detained, and he
felt for him on that score, and he said, look, the judge has made the decision, OK, let's get on with it. But as you've been hearing from your
reporter there, it may not be over yet. And I think --
GORANI: Yes --
LAW: That the players are shocked really that it came to this, but at the same time, there's still so much uncertainty.
GORANI: Right. This is going to be such a huge distraction. I mean, I guess, look, on the plus side, if you want people to watch the Australian
Open, I think you're going to get a lot of eyeballs on this one. But it's going to be such a huge distraction, right, for the players?
LAW: Yes, and it's -- either way, I don't really see how this resolves quietly or to the satisfaction of everybody. It's created such a lot of
heat. And --
GORANI: Yes --
LAW: When he plays, when he does his first press conference even, I can't imagine the number of people that are going to want to be in there and want
to put these questions to him. As you heard, his family, the moment the positive test and the ensuing days was referenced, they just shut the press
conference down. Well, he can't do that. He can't just avoid these questions completely. He has to have some answers for them. And then when
he plays his first match, who knows? I mean --
GORANI: Yes --
LAW: It could be -- it could be really uncomfortable.
GORANI: David law, thank you so much, the co-host of "The Tennis" podcast, really appreciate having you on the program this evening. Still to come
tonight, thousands arrested in Kazakhstan. The president says last week's protests were -- violent protests were an attempt to take over the
government, while Russian President Vladimir Putin had some blunt comments of his own.
We'll tell you about those. Plus, if you are in Italy and you are unvaccinated by choice, say goodbye to basically any kind of fun activity
you can think of. We'll be right back.
GORANI: The president of Kazakhstan says the violent protests that rocked several regions last week were a coordinated coup attempt, and he says
security forces are fanning out, hunting for what he calls the terrorists responsible. The burned-out center of the country's largest city, Almaty,
now appears calm but is almost deserted. And some 8,000 suspected protesters are under arrest. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is on the Kazakhstani
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's some pretty strong language coming from the President of Kazakhstan,
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, he called the protests that of course happened last week in Kazakhstan an attempted coup. He also said that Kazakhstan was
currently going through what he called the toughest times since it became independent around 30 years ago.
Now, Tokayev also said that he believed that some of those who participated in the protests were trained abroad, as he puts it. So far, the Kazak
government has not provided any evidence to support those claims. However, it does appear though that the crackdown seems to be very much going on in
that country. Right now, the authorities are saying that they've detained around 8,000 people who participated in those protests.
And in relation to the protests, they also say that so far, the death toll stands at 164 killed in and around those protests. A 100 -- around a 100 of
those in the city of Almaty alone. Now, what happened today is that there was a day of mourning in Kazakhstan, but also a very important call that
took place of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Of course, Russia is the lead nation in that.
The Kazakh President on that call, he said that he believes the situation is currently getting under control, but he also said that a lot of that was
thanks to troops that were provided by the member nations of that organization. Of course, the largest contingent of those troops came from
Russia. Vladimir Putin also had some very choice words, he said that he believed the protesters were using what he called Maidan technology, of
course, referred to the protests that happened in Ukraine in 2014.
And he also said that there would be no color revolution in the former Soviet Union states. So some very strong language coming from the Russians.
The Russians also saying that their troops will remain in place until order is restored. Fred Pleitgen, CNN at the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border.
GORANI: Kazakhstan's president says the thousands of troops that Russia and other allies sent to help quell the unrest will be leaving soon. But
why ask for them in the first place has left many observers wondering. A senior Kazakhstani diplomat told our Christiane Amanpour it was because
Kazakhstan's security forces were overwhelmed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERZHAN KAZYKHANOV, KAZAKHSTANI SPECIAL REP. FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: Eleven regions simultaneously were attacked. The government buildings were
burning. The prisons were attacked. The precincts were attacked. They were preventing the work of the first responders, medical workers, fire-
fighters, and they were threatening the population, looting the properties. And all these things created a big problem for the law enforcement in
Kazakhstan, now the National Guard.
So the president using its right for self-defense of the country, made a request for the small contingent of the Collective Security Treaty
Peacekeepers to come to Kazakhstan and to protect strategic sites, mainly in the southern part of our country. That permitted our law enforcement to
concentrate on counterterrorism operation and fight against those perpetrators who were attacking the cities of my country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, some of the human rights activists we spoke to over the last week claim that the government, the regime itself was sending in some of
these provocateurs to try to make it look like the protest movement was violent. Still to come tonight, Italy is trying to raise its vaccination
rates and it's hoping new lockdown measures will help for the unvaccinated.
Plus, in China, mass testing and harsh lockdowns all over just a couple of dozen COVID cases. Why China is so adamant to get rid of the virus entirely
when the rest of the world has pretty much given up on that. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Well, if you're in Italy and you're eligible for vaccines, but choose not to get one, the government is pretty much fed up with you.
Officials are requiring a so-called Super Green Pass to get into public places like public transport, restaurants, hotels and gyms. The Super Green
Pass is only for people who've been vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID.
Last week, Italy recorded a rise in vaccinations especially in the over 50s age group, after making it mandatory for over 50 workers to get their shots
or face fines. Cyril Vanier is following this for us in Paris. Cyril.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala, the whole idea is to try and squeeze the unvaccinated because as the health minister just explained in a
recent press conference just a couple hours ago, he says, look, we're a country with a very high rate of vaccination. And that is accurate. More
than 90 percent of the people who are over 12 years old eligible for a vaccine have been vaccinated, but of the tiny majority that is not
vaccinated, 10 percent over 12 years old, they make up more than two thirds of the people in the country's intensive care units.
And for that reason, the Italian government has decided that in order to preserve the health system, they're going to squeeze the unvaccinated so
essentially they're going to bar them from accessing everything in anything that is fun in life. I mean, that's my own personal take on it.
But you described it, Hala, anything outside of school and work, you can't do if you're unvaccinated. Schoolwork, pharmacies, supermarkets, that's
what you can do, retail as well, I have to say, but beyond that, whether it's bars, restaurants, gyms, going to a hotel, any kind of large
gathering, cultural events, religious ceremonies, public transport, Hala, that's the one that gets me. You can't go from point A to point B outside
of your own car if you're not vaccinated in Italy.
And as you said, the step two for that is the vaccine mandate for the over 50s, which was announced last week but will kick in next month, that's
already working, Hala. We're already seeing an effect of that. It is pushing people towards getting immunized because we saw on Friday, two days
after that was announced, the number of over 50s getting vaccinated tripled, Hala.
GORANI: Yes. And how do they enforce this? Will it be like France where you have a past with a QR code and you have to show it? I mean, because then
you're asking really restaurants, cafes, public transport, staff to police all this.
VANIER: Yes, that's very good question. Because to a large extent, these policies are only as strong as the enforcement, right? So yes, a lot of it
is phone-based, app-based. And yes, if it's not enforced, whether it's restaurants, or whether I think public transport is a good litmus test, you
can go and take a bus or board a train in Italy without having to show your pass.
However, if there is a control, as there are random checks, right, in public transport generally for -- to make sure that you've purchased a
ticket and that you have a right to be there, if you are controlled as part of that random check, then you'll be fined if you do not have the pass, the
adequate pass to be on public transport.
So you're right, Hala, that certainly control of this is critical. Nonetheless, this does -- these rules, and we've seen the same thing happen
in France, these rules do change people's behavior because they are checked quite frequently.
GORANI: All right. Thanks very much for that. Cyril Vanier is in Paris.
For us, China's efforts to completely eliminate COVID are not going as planned, but the country's not giving up. And it's really taking some very
drastic measures. Much of the city of Tianjin is in partial lockdown, because of only 40 cases reported. The city has nearly 14 million
residents, and they're not allowed to leave unless "absolutely necessary." Most trains from Tianjin to Beijing are cancelled. Selina Wang tells us why
China is so determined to keep COVID out and how it is affecting people there.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: China is dealing with an outbreak of Omicron just weeks before the Beijing Winter Olympics. In a port city just
80 miles away from Beijing, the country has reported its first case of community spread of Omicron. After reporting at least two Omicron cases,
the city of Tianjin is now testing its entire population of 14 million people.
It's put 29 residential communities into strict lockdown. Citizens cannot leave the city without special approval. The number of cases reported daily
in China are dramatically low compared to the numbers reported in the U.S. and elsewhere. But China is doubling down on it zero COVID strategy,
relying on a combination of mass testing, lockdowns, and extensive quarantine measures, but Omicron has already spread far beyond Tianjin
hundreds of miles away in the central province of Hunan. The city has detected several Omicron cases linked to a traveler from Tianjin.
And meanwhile, the city of Shiyan and its 13 million people have been under strict lockdown since December 23rd. And since then, there's been a steady
outpouring of heartbreaking and desperate stories of people struggling to get food, basic supplies, and medical attention, including a viral video of
a pregnant woman who is allegedly turned away from a hospital in Shiyan because she could not provide valid proof that she did not have COVID-19.
According to the video, she was waiting outside and bleeding and hours later was finally admitted into the hospital, but ultimately suffered a
miscarriage. The hospital, authorities and officials were later punished.
But all this highlights the human toll that China's COVID-19 strategy is taking. Critics say that the sacrifices and disruptions to life that people
are facing make Beijing's COVID approach unsustainable. But with the Winter Olympics fast approaching, officials are only under increasing pressure to
keep COVID cases low. Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.
GORANI: COVID is spreading rapidly in Latin America, even among those who are vaccinated. Chile's president has said the country will offer a fourth
vaccine dose to high risk citizens starting in February. The country already has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world according to
the Pan American Health Organization. It all goes to show how difficult it is to fight Omicron. Rafael Romo tells us how that fight is going in the
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a room in Quito, Ecuador's capital, where Juan Francisco Camino spent the holidays. "From this window, I
watched New Year's fireworks," the 38-year-old college professor says. He put himself in quarantine starting December 19 after testing positive for
COVID-19. It all started with a family gathering where eight out of sixteen people who attended and ended up contracting the virus in spite of the fact
that they were all vaccinated according to Camino.
"My 78-year-old father who had a kidney transplant was there," he says, "as well as my 98-year-old grandmother so we were all very anxious after
learning about the infections." The story repeats itself thousands of times in Latin America despite of high levels of vaccination.
In Ecuador, vaccination has been mandatory for eligible citizens over 12 Since December 23rd. Before getting access to supermarkets, pharmacies,
bank, stores, and other public places, people in the South American country need to prove they're vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic is going one step further. Starting January 31rd, it will be required proof of not only two doses of any
Coronavirus vaccine, but a booster shot as well before entering any public or private space where people gather. "We're facing a fifth wave of COVID-
19," President Abinader says. "Infection levels are higher but mortality rates are down and many people are either asymptomatic or showing very mild
In Argentina, the capital's main Children Hospital reported a 266 percent increase from December 20th to January 6th, in the number of admissions due
in large part to COVID-19 infections.
In Mar del Plata, this man complained the line to get a PCR test was six blocks long due to a dramatic increase in demand after the holidays. Back
in Quito, after more than two weeks in quarantine, Camino's trying to get back to normal and is relieved that none of the eight people in his family
who got infected became seriously ill see.
"If we hadn't been vaccinated," he says, "I know it would have been worse. The best thing you can do is get your shots." Ecuadorian Health Minister
Ximena Garzon agrees after the holidays. Infections are higher, she says but the mortality rate is not although she warns that community spread is
at the national level due to the Omicron variant. Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.
GORANI: The committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize is slamming new convictions against Aung San Suu Kyi calling them politically motivated.
A court controlled by Myanmar's military regime sentenced the ousted leader to another four years in prison today. The source says the charges
including possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies. This is the second round of verdicts against Suu Kyi since she was detained in a coup last year.
The Nobel laureate faces even more charges and could get up to 100 years in prison.
Still to come tonight, investigators are trying to figure out how a fire in a New York apartment building spread so fast and killed so many people,
including children. A live report from the scene. And resilient rescuers carry a child to safety after a sudden rock fall at a popular lake leaves
at least 10 other people dead. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Brazilian authorities say they're not certain when they'll be able to identify all of the victims from Saturday's disastrous rock fall. It
happened on a popular boating lake north of Rio de Janeiro. Rescuers found two more bodies on Sunday, raising the death toll to at least 10. As CNN's
Matt Rivers shows us for the boaters nearby, there was no time to escape.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All the horrific tragedy over the weekend in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais on Saturday, it is a tragedy that
you almost have to see to believe, and a warning to our viewers that the following video might be disturbing for some to see. In a video taken from
a lake, you can see part of a rock face that is adjacent to that lake beginning to crumble and then later on in the video, you can see part of
that rock face utterly collapse in spectacular fashion, sending dirt and rock cascading down below to the lake. Unfortunately, that collapse
actually landed on a number of boats that were in the lake at the time.
And according to Brazilian authorities, at least 10 people have been killed as a result of that collapse and additional 32 people injured. Thankfully,
first responders though were able to rescue several people as -- that needed rescuing after this collapse, including two children who were
reunited with their families. Our affiliate in Brazil, CNN Brasil, spoke to a geologist who said that it was likely, in this geologist's opinion, a
preexisting a fracture in the rock in addition to several weeks of heavy rain in that area that ultimately led to this collapse.
But still no matter the cause, families' now grieving the loss of at least 10 people in this very dramatic collapse. Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.
GORANI: Well, it's being called a punch in the face and a sign of another nail in the planetary coffin, that is the reaction from climate scientists
to an E.U. study on the Earth's warming. The Copernicus Climate Change Service found that the last seven years had been the warmest on record,
this alongside their warning that the earth is 73 percent of the way towards the all-important 1.5 degree threshold. You'll remember this is the
level of warming that scientists warn the planet must stay under to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Almost every corner of the world felt
the effects of the rapid warming in 2021 and experts say we should only expect it to get worse.
No one can forget the agonizing scenes of Afghans desperate to flee the country when it fell to the Taliban back in August. Now, months after that
chaos, a long awaited reunion, an infant boy separated from his parents during the American evacuation has been found with his relatives in Kabul.
A taxi driver found him in the airport, took him home, and cared for him. But he's -- finally he's being handed back to his grandfather. They're
hoping to reunite him with his parents who were evacuated months ago to the U.S.
Well, doctors are trying to save at least a dozen people suffering from smoke inhalation after a deadly fire at a New York apartment building. The
blaze has already claimed 17 lives making it one of the worst fires in modern times in New York City. It appears this space heater in a bedroom
started the fire. So how can this happen in a city like New York City? Shimon Prokupecz is there at the scene with more on what investigators and
firefighters are saying started the fire and why it was so deadly.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So it's that space heater that started the fire and the fire -- the flames, that fire was
really contained to one apartment on the third floor and then it's extended out, but what really caused all of the destruction and sadly, so much of
the death, is the smoke, thick black smoke that escaped the fire apartment because the door was left open.
The mayor says that these buildings, the doors are -- when you leave, the doors are supposed to automatically close behind you. That did not happen
here. So people who were escaping the fire from that fire apartment ran out, expecting perhaps for the door to close, it never did and so all of
that smoke that came out of the apartment went up the stairs, really just leaving people no way to exit.
Many of the people panicking in the building because of the smoke and the fire, the smell of the fire, and so they started leaving their apartments
and where they headed was really dangerous because they went into the stairwells where that thick, black smoke was starting to rise and so many
of the people died in the hallways and in the stairs of these buildings as they were trying to escape.
GORANI: And Shimon, who were the victims? Who was living in that building?
PROKUPECZ: So this is a predominantly Gambian community, people from Gambia, many of them who've been living here for many, many years. These
aren't people who just moved here, but they've been here for a long time. I've spent the day here in the community. I was at the local mosque here
were many of the family and friends have been gathering. What's really happening is that people in Gambia, the family members are all trying to
get answers because not only have so many people have died, but also so many have been injured and many of them don't even know if their loved ones
I spoke to one man who his brother is missing, the brother and his wife, they live on the 18th floor of the building here, he has no idea where they
are. And so people in Gambia are asking questions, they have the Gambian ambassadors here in town trying to help these families. But this is how far
the tragedy here is stretching all the way, obviously to Gambia because this building behind me is very well known in Gambia.
Many of the people who first came to this country years ago use this address to come to the United States, because what I've learned is that
there was an old man here, an older who lived here and to help get people into the United States from Gambia they would use this address. And that's
how many of these Gambians settled in this community. It's a really interesting story. It's a very tightly knit community, really just
encompassing this one building.
And there is a mosque just up the block where many of them have been gathering, trying to get answers from city officials as to whether or not
their loved ones survived.
There are also complications in identifying some of these -- some of the dead and some of the victims because many of them lost loved ones, family
members, so they need to find other family members who can identify the victims. And that's certainly proving challenging for the city.
GORANI: Shimon, thank you very much for that report in New York. We'll be right back after a quick break.
GORANI: The Golden Globes have traditionally been one of the biggest events in Hollywood's award season, but on Sunday night, they came and went pretty
quietly. There was no TV coverage, no stars in attendance, no audience because of COVID-19. The Hollywood Foreign Press, which hands out the
globes has been criticized for a lack of diversity in its membership, and many stars and studios say the Globes are no longer relevant.
Still, MJ Rodriguez made history when she became the first transgender person to win a major award taking Best Actress in a TV series and the 77-
year-old O Yeong-su became the first Korean actor to win a globe, winning Best Supporting Actor for his role on the TV series Squid game.
Well, we've always known dogs are smart and if you're a dog owner, you no doubt think yours is the smartest of the lot. I actually don't. But
scientists now say that canines can even be bilingual. Lynda Kinkade has the details.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When Kun-Kun, the Border Collie, and his owner moved from Mexico to Hungary, both were immersed in a new language.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA CUAYA, DEPARTMENT OF ETHOLOGY, EOTVOS LORAND UNIVERSITY: Here, people are really friendly with the dogs. So they are talking all the time to Kun-
Kun. But I was wondering if he can detect this different language.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: So Kun-Kun's owner set out to find an answer. She and a team of researchers in Budapest designed an experiment with 18 dogs to see if they
can differentiate language. With their owners present and the ability to leave the scanner at any point, each of the dog's brains were analyzed with
MRI scanning as they heard either Hungarian, Spanish, or scrambled speech. Two of the pups were familiar with Spanish.
The other 16 were used to hearing Hungarian.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ATTILA ANDICS, NEUROSCIENTIST, EOTVOS LORAND UNIVERSITY: What we see from these results is that they do pay attention, they do pick up on these
auditory irregularities that characterize a certain language.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Scans show different parts of the dog's brains were activated when a familiar language was spoken versus a non-familiar one, as well as when
nonsense was spoken versus authentic speech. The researchers also found that the older the dog, the better its brain was able to distinguish
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUAYA: It's a fact how dogs are social beings. So they are, all the time, picking up information about the social world. For the dogs, humans, we are
an important source of information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Kun-Kun, who was one of the study participants, already knew as much. So while Fido may not be exactly bilingual, they may be hearing much
more than you think. Lynda Kinkade, CNN.
GORANI: Well, I took my job to Paris for Christmas, and I can guarantee you, you have no idea what anyone was saying. We leave you tonight with
scenes from a rescue so dramatic that it feels straight out of a Hollywood action movie. Now just this morning, first, the video is graphic but take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go, go, go!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: What you're seeing is body cam footage from the Los Angeles Police Department. So they pulled this pilot out of the wreckage of his small
Cessna private plane. He'd made an emergency landing, but unfortunately, he made the landing on a railroad track. So what you're seeing there is them
getting out with seconds to spare before the oncoming train hits the wreckage very dramatically.
Two passersby also caught the incident from another angle on camera. That's from the other side of the tracks. Thankfully no one was hurt and the pilot
was the only occupant in the plane and miraculously, I have to say, no one was hurt from any shrapnel from the exploding wreckage when the when the
train plowed into it. You know, you can expect sometimes some shards of glass of metal to injure people. In this case, nothing like that happened.
So that's good news and I hope the pilot makes a quick recovery. Great job from those who rescued him.
A quick programming though, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next anchored all week from the Dubai Expo 2020. So stay for -- stay with us on CNN and I'll
see you next time.