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tv   CNN Newsroom With Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell  CNN  August 16, 2021 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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-- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com victor is on assignment today. president biden will address the nation this afternoon about the chaos in afghanistan. the taliban has seized the majority of the country and replaced the afghan flag with their own in the presidential palace. the american embassy is now completely evacuated. this is video from cnn's team on the ground of taliban fighters outside of the embassy. in response, the u.s. sending back in thousands of troops to
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defend the kabul airport where we're seeing frantic scenes like these on your screen. this is civilians flooding the runways, desperate for a way out. some people even chasing and clinging to the side of a u.s. military plane amid reports of gunfire there. after suspending operations for several hours, the u.s. is resuming some flights, thousands of americans still need to be evacuated, and cnn is reporting that any afghans who helped the u.s. in the past 20 years, well, they will have to wait for the moment. we've got a team of cnn reporters covering this story, some on the ground in kabul, and all following what has unfolded today, so let's start with nick paton walsh who is live for us in kabul. nick, let's start with what's happened at the airport. what is the status of those desperate crowds we saw there? >> reporter: i think it's fair to say they've probably diminished to some degree.
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they were telling people to move back, difficult task, though, essentially, because at any given gate, any given opportunity, people were simply trying to rush in wherever they could. i saw one man trying to climb over one of the walls into the airport too. absolute chaos and the streets full of people who had chosen to try to walk, to get near the airport. but startling to see the u.s.'s enemy for 20 years simply doing the crowd control to stop people from getting into that particular airport. some might say because they considered these people disloyal to what's happening here in kabul and maybe had worked for the previous government, but remarkable still that they were sort of providing that perimeter security, almost, for the american evacuations. still, though, not a comforting standoff in the slightest. the u.s. opening fire, killing, they say, two afghans they say were armed, although they've later seemed to suggest they weren't, in fact, taliban, as earlier reports had suggested. just in the last hours, quite far from where i am, i've heard
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quite a lot of what sounded like exchanges of gunfire, probably from the direction of the airport, very hard to know, frankly, what is happening there, but you had this extraordinary moment where the taliban are pretty much on the roads all the way up to the last part of afghanistan that the united states has control of, and that's that airport. more troops coming in. the sound of air movements above. we've seen some helicopters fire off flares. but i'm not hearing the volume of cargo planes that i did last night, so unclear quite how flight operations are continuing there now, but a startling day here in kabul, alisyn. >> nick, it's helpful to have you on the ground to tell us what's really happening. here in the u.s., it appears that people, even in the administration, white house, the president have been surprised by how fast this situation deteriorated once the withdrawal of the u.s. sped up. are people in kabul surprised by the deterioration? >> reporter: i think you have to understand that essentially when the taliban moved in here, there was a choice between a lengthy
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series of street battles over months in which it was probably likely eventually the taliban would somehow prevail, how they've managed to go through all the other cities that were key in afghanistan, or what happened instead, which was the afghan security forces crumbling and the taliban coming in without pretty much a fight. there have been clashes possibly in some areas, reports of dozens of wounded certainly, but not the kind of street-to-street intense conflict that many have feared could have happened. so while i think for some who have lived in kabul and work with the government here, far from a sense of relief, there is something possibly in the speed in which things have happened here that at least it's avoided some degree of bloodshed, but it is, i have to say, absolutely staggering how a city of six million, the place where all the guns, all the money were sort of stacked up during 20 years of the united states backing the government here, crumbled so fast. i did not believe last night when we looked out of one of our te terraces and i saw the taliban
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flag simply in one of the streets near where we are, startaling, frankly, and even more startling today after only ever really seeing the taliban when you're in an embed with u.s. militaries, walking straight through the streets here, unimpeded, carrying their weapons. where we were in the central streets, traffic cops even in evidence. alisyn? >> nick, it's interesting to hear you say there's calm and order even as you see the taliban parading down the street with their weapons. who's calling the shots there? who's in charge? in kabul or afghanistan right now? >> reporter: yeah, i mean, that is not an easy question to answer. it's definitely not former president ashraf ghani. we don't know where he is, in fact. we had a facebook statement from him after he fled the country. quite likely, the taliban hierarchy are in charge, obviously, because of the scale of their forces in the capital and elsewhere in the country,
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but they haven't necessarily specified who's going to take over the sort of the reins of their movement here. we may hear something from that possibly in the days ahead, suggestions that maybe the son of the founder of the taliban, omar, younger man, might take that role. unclear at this point because so much of the leadership of the taliban since the death of him has existed in the shadows with doubts over quite where they were or what state of health they were necessarily in. that's a key thing, though, for the taliban, because there's obviously a desire amongst them in the statements they've made saying that journalists, foreigners here, diplomats should be kept safe, should be assured of their security here, that they want to try and encourage some degree of international respectability. some have always in the united states believed that the taliban accepted power, brief sell of power in the '90s as a pariah was a mistake so we've also heard from two key figures in
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the previous government and governments, the president before former president ashraf ghani and ashraf ghani's sort of co-leader of the government, they released a message that said they were encouraged by how the taliban were looking to create a kind of inclusive government, so signals being given off certainly of a broader church of the taliban here but we simply don't know who's going to lead it and what we're going to see in the months ahead as they consolidate power and begin to deal with an international reaction after so many warnings from international bodies that if they seized power by force, they would probably not get recognized or much international aid. the taliban would argue that it needed to use force in kabul because they simply walked in but i imagine we'll hear certain words from president joe biden in the hours ahead. >> nick paton walsh, thank you very much for your reporting from kabul for us. so, let's discuss the u.s. response with cnn's kaitlan collins at the white house and barbara starr at the pentagon. just a short time ago, president
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biden returned to the white house where he will address the nation in the next hour on the situation that we're watching unfold in afghanistan. so, do you have any sense of what he will say and how he and the white house were caught so unaware? >> reporter: well, the white house has been trying to push back on the idea that president biden has made the wrong decision here when it comes to withdrawal. they're defending it overall, but i think a lot of the questions and the scrutiny on the white house right now are on how this went down and how this happened and how this morning of clearly the airport in kabul is not secure. it's the only way to get people out of afghanistan right now. and you have seen what is happening not just on the ground there when it comes to people clinging to those planes as they are taking off but also the idea that there are still so many people there that the rust u.s. needs to get out, not just civilians or u.s. personnel but also the afghans who have stood by the u.s.'s side for the better part of two decades, helping them, and of course now clearly targets of the taliban, given how quickly everything deteriorated over the weekend. and that is one thing that the
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white house's top national security advisors have bluntly admitted this morning, which is that they are surprised by how quickly the taliban was able to take over, not just in afghanistan, but also with kabul on yesterday. and they're putting a lot of that blame on the afghan security forces, which president biden was telling us just six weeks ago he believed they were equipped and trained enough to fight back against the taliban. it's not clear for how long, but of course they believed it was going to be longer than what transpiesed but a lot of questions that are going to be facing the president is why he had that thought and why they were not better briefed on the lack of will on the afghan security forces to push back on the taliban but also why president biden made that claim that it was, quote, highly unlikely that the taliban was going to overrun everything and be running things in afghanistan in the way that we are seeing happening right now, and as nick just laid out there in his report. so, those are big questions facing the white house about how this withdrawal has happened and of course, what's to come over
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the next 24 to 48 hours, because one thing that we have seen is president biden has authorized the deployment of thousands of troops there to try to get this airport under control, which clearly, as of just a few hours ago sh it was no. and so a lot of questions that are facing the president and that is why he returned from camp david where he had been monitoring the situation from over the weekend to make his first public remarks on this since the government of afghanistan collapsed and collapsed quickly. >> barbara, what about that? what about the questions that kaitlan raises in terms of why the president had the impression that the afghan security forces were going to be able to equipped enough and mentally prepared enough and trained enough to hold off the taliban. does the pentagon have any ideas on what went wrong there? >> reporter: well, i think they've all parsed their words very carefully in recent weeks, alisyn. the word you kept hearing was, capacity. they had the capacity to fight. but going back several weeks, questions were quietly being raised about whether, in fact,
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they had the will to fight. afghan security forces were deeply troubled organization, starting from the top. afghanistan, there is no question, was a government rife with corruption. that meant troops weren't getting paid. troops weren't getting food. they weren't getting resupplied. they weren't getting time off from being out in the field to go home and see their families. when the taliban attacked, they weren't getting the air support, sometimes, and the other support that they needed. and without the u.s. there to sort of back them up, the will pretty much ebbed away. and i think that that has become the fundamental issue, that disconnect between capacity and capability and will to fight. al alisyn? >> barbara, another question to you. the troops were withdrawing. that's something that president trump -- a deal that president trump made with the taliban. now, troops are having to go back in, thousands of additional
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troops, are going back in to secure all of this, and somehow, over the weekend, or i think maybe even this morning, national security advisor jake sullivan sugd, well, there was always this contingency plan if need be. >> reporter: well, look, there's contingency plans and contingency plans. there were plans when they started withdrawing the original 2,500 troops, if they came under attack, if they had to get americans out, absolutely, there's always a contingency plan about how you would do it. but clearly, the circumstances changed and the military had to begin reacting very quickly and a little bit on the fly to get troops in and to be able to deal with this. they had rehearsed what to do a number of scenarios if they had to evacuate americans, but in the last 24, 48 hours, what the world is seeing is these pictures of the kabul airport airfield and u.s. aircraft and afghan citizens deeply at risk. no evacuation plan calls for
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military aircraft to land in the middle of hundreds if not thousands of people running on a runway, trying to find any way out of the country. that is not how a military plan works for the u.s. government. make no mistake. so, an awful lot evolved very quickly and the military having to scramble to keep up with it. >> barbara starr, kaitlan collins, thank you very much for all the reporting. all right, so, we have more on the chaos at kabul international airport. there is new video that appears to show bodies falling from a plane, and of course the political blame game is now in full swing. plus, more heartbreak in haiti after a deadly earthquake. now, the tropical depression threatens even more devastation. like the new deli-style oven-roasted turkey. and new hickory-smoked b bacon. it's the eat fresh refresh™ at subway®. there's so much new we don't even have time for this guy! but i'm tom brady!
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more scenes of chaos at the airport in kabul to show you. some afghans are so desperate to flee the country and the taliban that they were hanging on to a moving u.s. military plane. also a warning, this next video is even more disturbing. this shows an object, possibly a person, falling from the aircraft just after takeoff. and you can hear people gasp in horror as they see what could be this body hitting the tarmac. cnn has not been able to confirm that anyone was still clinging to the aircraft when it took off. joining us now is the former u.s. ambassador to afghanistan, ronald neumann, now the president of the academy of diplomacy and cnn global affairs
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kimberly dozier. i want to start with you. was this chaos avoidable? i mean, is this just the chaos that we see that would be inevitable towards, you know, having to remove troops and a war coming to an end like this, or was there something that president biden should have done? >> reporter: you know, i know that the military, as even a month ago was planning to send thousands of troops in to secure the airport and secure a pullout of u.s. personnel, but i don't know if they had the imagination to conceive that the entire city and the entire airport would no longer be in afghan army control. but you know, the chaos, when you see a city break down, it goes fast, and what i was hearing is that there was a disagreement between the diplomats who thought they had at least a month before things went bad and some people in the
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intelligence and military community who thought that this, when it went, it would go as fast as it did. not maybe this fast, but you know, there's always that chaos factor that you can't plan for, and that's what they're trying to manage right now. the problem is, they're not telling us what happened with that plane, and that is surreal, because afghans and people around the middle east and around the arab world, they've made their mind up. they know what happened with that plane. >> ambassador neumann, i know that you were there in afghanistan recently. are you surprised by what you're seeing today? >> yes and no. in one sense, no, because i warned a month ago that if the cities started falling, the afghan army might quit quickly. but the roll into kabul, no, i certainly didn't predict that.
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so this has clearly gotten ahead of us. i think what -- you know, this is monday morning quarterbacking, but the fact is that a month ago, i, and several of my colleagues, have written pieces saying that the problem with the afghan army was as much as anything a morale problem and if you wanted to cure that, or bolster them up, you needed to add the air support and say that we were going to continue air support after the 31st of october. it was the sense of abandonment by us that reinforced a lot of other problems. i know the short answer people love to say is they quit fighting. they've been fighting for years. the last three years, we've had minimal casualties. the last year, none, afghan army was losing thousands, so i think you have to look a little deeper than this kind of bumper sticker phrase about the afghan army and
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look at what happened to their morale and what role we played in that. >> kimberly, i know it's not that productive to play the blame game but i do think it's helpful to figure out who mismanaged this, and so, as you know, president trump, his administration made a deal with the taliban to get out in may. president trump would have done it sooner if he could, and they act as though there were all sorts of plans in place to keep frit devolving, as we've seen. president biden says his hands were tied because president trump made that deal, but he wanted to get out anyway, as he has said over and over, so which administration is to blame for what we're seeing today? >> wow, that's the toughest question, because the fact of the matter is, for those negotiations in doha to have worked, you would have needed the afghan government, the ghani administration, to also be willing to give up some power and i heard from u.s. officials and from afghan officials, why should we? we won by an election. and so, it just sort of ran out
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the clock, and the people trying to negotiate a deal and the military -- the u.s. military trying to hold things together was left with a situation of, okay, we've got two presidents in a row who have lost patience with this place. we're afraid it's going to all go bad, but we don't have any more arguments to try to keep some people on the ground. that said, i had talked to so many biden administration officials who had said, don't worry, we're never going to go to zero in afghanistan. biden doesn't trust the taliban to handle terrorism, and so they were all shocked to see where we are today. >> ambassador, do you have any thoughts on that? which administration did this too precipitously? >> no. i think both. you know, the doha deal is not a peace agreement. it's a withdrawal. it had specific timelines for us, vague commitments for the taliban, none of which they've kept. president ghani did resist that,
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but he was never part of it. we pressured him to release 5,000 prisoners, some of whom are on the battlefield and leading some of the attack, so from his point of view, thoroughly bad deal. and then we kept the afghan -- we pressed the afghans to stay on the defensive in the last year as part of our search for peace, so then you roll it over into biden, who got a bad deal, but he got a lot of advice to keep a presence, including from all our nato allies, british, germans,italians even, saying we should stay there, and they had more troops than we did. i think we need to look forward now at our responsibility to get out the -- not just the interpreters, all of those who worked for us. we have a much larger responsibility beyond that to afghans who bought into us, into our values. i don't think we can just say, you know, tough cookie, we're out of here now, the rest of you just, you know, women and others, are just going to have
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to die. and right now, there's a strong possibility of that. >> and so, i mean, just very quickly, ambassador, will we fulfill that promise? can they trust us? >> i would not trust us if i were an afghan. we've said we will make the effort on the sivs. we haven't made any real commitment to anybody beyond that. we've got phony -- i call them phony. we've got this process of priority referrals that gets people into a process that could eventually lead to a visa, but they have to get out of afghanistan for that process to start working and they may have to sustain themselves up to a year while it works with no guarantee of the outcome, and people have no way of doing that. so, this is a kind of totally phony process. now we're -- we seem to be more willing now. we're bringing up lists of people who, i think, get into that -- these categories, but
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whether we're going to stay there long enough and make the commitment to get them out, i have no idea. and so far, the administration is not speaking. it's not explaining what it's going to do. it's explaining how it's going to get the airport reopened. it's got to get it reopened and commercial flights in there as well. or you're still going to be mobbed by afghans. >> maybe we'll hear that from the president one hour from now. kim dozier, ambassador ronald neumann, we appreciate your expertise. >> many thanks. a new bok from legendary you're bob woodward is set to be released in just weeks, what it reveals about the tumultuous time between donald trump's election loss, the january 6th insurrection, and joe biden's inauguration. we have exclusive new details on that ahead.
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now to an update on haiti. a tropical storm system is expected to hit haiti in just a matter of hours, bringing even more devastation to the island just days after that massive earthquake hit. tropical depression grace expected to bring 15 inches of rain and trigger flash flooding and mudslides. on saturday, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit, killing 1,300 people and destroying roughly 14,000 homes there. our matt rivers is live in
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port-au-prince, haiti, so can the island even brace for this coming storm after everything they've been through this weekend? >> reporter: the reality, alisyn, is no. in all likelihood, there are not going to be any evacuations. people don't really have anywhere to go, especially because of what you just said. nearly 14,000 structures collapsed. people already have nowhere to go, and now they're facing this threat of flash flooding, of mudslides, that only exacerbates what's happened here. these areas that are affected, primarily by this earthquake, are difficult places to get to even in normal times, but now you add in this damage, add in some of the mudslides that took place on saturday, debris jarred loose by that earthquake, very difficult to get to some of these places. these are one road in, one road out kind of places in many situations and that's why so many aid convoys are having trouble getting there. it's why this search and rescue
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process is going so slowly. we were actually able to get into one of the hardest hit areas yesterday by taking a helicopter, about a 100-mile flight west of where we are right now in port-au-prince. when we got there, we saw that devastation firsthand. we saw specifically this hotel, it was a multiple story hotel, alisyn, that had collapsed. authorities told us there were bodies inside that rubble. at the time, there were limited search and rescue operations ongoing but nothing to the scale that you would expect to see or even hope to see and that's only going to be compounded by this storm. the tropical depression moving in, the cnn weather team telling us the most rain it's going to drop on this island is going to happen right around the center of this storm. that's going to make this very complicated, difficult rescue operation that much harder. we can only kind of hope that we don't see the kind of flash flooding that will make this much more difficult for rescuers to carry out their very, very
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important work. >> oh my gosh, our hearts just break for what's happening in haiti. matt rivers, thank you for the update. so, our breaking news coverage on afghanistan continues, and grave concerns for women and girls in the country, what their future looks like now. that's next. was that your great-grandmother, keeping the family together? was that your grandfather, paving the way for change. did they brave mother nature... and walk away stronger? did they face the unknown, with resolve...and triumph. ♪ there's strength in every family story. learn more about yours. at ancestry.
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well, his first two books about donald trump were bombshells and now legendary journalist bob woodward is at it again. he and "washington post"
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political reporter robert costa have a new book coming out. it's called "peril" and it looks at the tumultuous period between the november presidential election and the inauguration of joe biden. jamie has a sneak peek of the book. what's in there? >> fasten your seat belts. according to sources familiar with the book, we are told the reporting covers the final days of donald trump. it also has a first look at the biden white house, including extensive reporting on biden's decision making leading up to withdrawal from afghanistan. here are a few other exclusive details. i'm told that they interviewed more than 200 insiders for the book, that they obtained never before seen materials, secret orders, transcripts of confidential calls, diaries, emails, meeting notes, and other personal and government records, and that as you said, the book
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is -- has really in-depth reporting on that critical period between election day and january 6th and that it's going to reveal that the transition was, and i'm quoting here, far more than just a domestic political crisis, that it was one of the most dangerous periods in american history. alisyn, the title, "peril," actually comes from biden's inauguration address, the line where he said, we have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility. alisyn? >> i don't suppose bob woodward got any more interviews with donald trump. >> funny thing about that. no. i am told that donald trump is still very angry about "rage," where woodward revealed that the then president knew much more about covid. i just want to say about this book, we have not read the book
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yet, but there is one quote from this book that we obtained that i would say is both intriguing and ominous, and that is a quote from trump's former campaign manager, brad, and it's about trump's ambition and motivation for 2024, and he writes, "he had an army, an army for trump. he wants that back. i don't think he sees it as a comeback. he sees it as vengeance." so, i think that gives you a sense of what woodward and costa have learned about where trump's head is right now. >> well, i mean, it is -- that is chilling in some way, particularly when you look at it in the light of january 6th and so there were -- there were revelations, as we know, in woodward's previous books. does he have any revelations about what went on behind the scenes before or during january 6? >> i expect that he will.
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you know, woodward has an expression that he doesn't like to publish a book until he, quote, has the goods. i am told he has the goods. so, i think we're going to see not one but several bombshells from this book. >> and we know you will bring those to us, jamie, because you have an uncanny way of getting those before everyone else, so thank you. >> i will do my best. >> okay. always great to talk to you. thank you. to, 20 years after being driven from kabul, the taliban has now taken control of afghanistan's capital once again. as they've seized one province after another, they have deployed a pr campaign to try to trumpet their victories and coax foot soldiers to hand over their arms and equipment and then send them home. cnn's nic robertson spoke with a taliban spokesman. nic, tell us what they are claiming they want to do. what is this sort of -- is there a new and improved taliban that
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they want us to bloelieve exist? >> reporter: they want us to believe a new one exists, for sure. they want to have us believe that it is improved and i think the real test of that is going to be in what they do and not what they say and at the moment, they haven't announced their new government. they haven't announced the new style of leadership, whether it will be a president with a supreme leader, you know, something like iran maybe, in the sort of absolute charge of the country. they have said that this will be a government that does include non-taliban members. i asked taliban spokesman just yesterday if that would include senior figures like the former president, going back a decade or so, or senior figures like dr. abdullah abdullah who was recently in the government in afghanistan. he wouldn't be drawn on that but what he did say very clearly was that the united states should not evacuate its embassy, should keep a diplomatic presence
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inside kabul. the reason for that, he says, the taliban can be trusted. this is how he explained it. >> they should trust us when we sign the agreement with them during -- from the beginning up to now. we have not attacked the american forces. not a single american soldier has been killed because of our promise and commitment. >> reporter: you know, so, i said to him, okay, so, you say that, but the united states is pulling out. does that mean that they don't trust you? and he said, they should trust us. and this is -- this, of course, is the crux of the issue. what should we believe about what the taliban is saying? saying today? they are certainly putting on a different play, if you will, in kabul at the moment, letting international reporters roam relatively freely around the city. domestic reporters, on the other hand, are getting knocks on their doors, particularly female reporters, tolo television, a
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very important, independent station, respected by many afghans across the country. they have had a knock at the door today. their security was replaced by taliban security. they've had their reporters in the past killed by the taliban. i think that we cannot judge what we're being told from the taliban at the moment until we actually see how it plays out on the ground. there is a trust deficit. there's no getting around that. that's where we stand. >> well, yes, and as you point out, nic, actions speak louder than words and the fact that female journalists are already being harassed and we've seen clarissa ward on the street showing how now once again, they're in garb, women from head to toe covered, in a way that they weren't last week. and so, what do we think? what is the taliban saying about the future of women and girls? >> reporter: yeah, i asked that -- i asked the spokesman that question, you know, about the issue of education, because we know in the past, the taliban denied education to girls, even
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to very young girls under the age of 10. i remember in the '90s under the taliban rule, reporting on the sort of clandestine classrooms that were set up out of the eyes, out of the knowledge of the taliban, just so that people could give their girls an education, because that's what so many afghans want. they still want it. the spokesman said, we will educate them beyond 12. we will give them higher education. they asked about university education as well. he indicated that would be possible but the reality, clarissa is seeing played out on the streets today. she was asked to sort of stand to one side because she was a woman. afghan women actually now have to wear the sort of full burqa with a face covering as well in many cases. what we're seeing play out on the streets of kabul today will not be what's happening in the rural communities, the rural heartlands that are very conservative, conservative like the talibans are, in their interpretation of islam, in those rural communities, there will be plenty of men in those villages who will be very happy
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to go back to the days of not letting their girls go to school, of keeping them sort of in their houses, of marrying them off young. that's been the taliban's way in the past, and i think, you know, in those rural communities, for the more enlightened families, this is going to be a very, very tough time. and in those rural communities, that's where the international community does not have a lot of eyes. there's not going to be able to see so easily what goes on and precisely what the taliban do. however, they are saying, straight-up, promising that they will give women education, higher education. what happens beyond that, you know, i think clarissa's experiences today on the streets of kabul tells us. the expectation is they will be marginalized and pushed to one side, despite what the taliban say today. >> and how quickly we've seen that already happening. nic robertson, thank you for all that context. really helpful. well, now to coronavirus. a new dire warning from the national institutes of health.
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so we'll tell you how many more cases we could see across the country and how much covid is spreading among children. we have those new details next. sfloechlts to their medical appointments. that's why i started medhaul. citi launched the impact fund to invest in both women and entrepreneurs of color like me, so i can realize my vision and give everything i've got to my company, and my community. i got you. for the love of people. for the love of community. for the love of progress. citi.
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the new warning today from the national institutes of health says the u.s. could soon see more than 200,000 new cases a day of coronavirus. we're learning that pfizer has submitted initial data to the fda showing a booster shot works well against the original coronavirus and the delta variant. in new york, governor cuomo issued an order all health care
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workers must be vaccinated. a new study shows young children are more likely to spread covid in their household than older children. for more covid developments, here is cnn amara walker. >> reporter: new fears that the kocovid-19 pandemic will only g worse. >> i will be surprised if we don't cross 200,000 cases a day in next couple of weeks. that's heartbreaking considering we never thought we would be back in that space again. >> reporter: the country averaged 200,000 cases day in january before covid-19 vaccinations for widely available. right now the u.s. is averaging about 131,000 cases a per day. one expert says he's concerned about rising infection rates across the country highlight georgia, the care liocarolinas, tennessee and illinois. >> i think the surge could sustain itself for another four to six weeks. >> reporter: hospitals
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overwhelmed. more than 75% of inpatient hospital and icu beds are full according to health and human services data. nearly a quarter of icu beds are being youed for covid-19 patients. >> the system is breaking. it's not just the beds. finding the qualified staff to take care of critical ill patients becomes hard. >> reporter: the increase in cases coming as students are heading back to the classroom. schools in four states have had to ship back to virtual teaching. forcing districts to look at policies around masking. in texas two districts are wearing masks. >> contrary to what our attorney general tweeted out, a tweet is not an order. he said it applied to us but it does not. we need to protect the safety of our students. we're going to continue with our mask mandate.
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>> reporter: in florida, more than 4,000 students in hillsboro county are in isolation or quarantine after exposure or testing positive for covid-19 according to the district. in broward county the school board imposed a mask mandate with kids set to return this week. >> we believe in science. >> reporter: beginning tomorrow, new york city will mandate vaccines for indoor events. proof of vaccination will be required to enter gym, theaters and restaurants. new orleans, louisiana, similarly will require proof of vaccination or a negative covid test to enter bars, restaurants and other indoor venues in the city. the emphasis right now from public health officials is on masking. masking up using high quality masks. we're in the middle of a surge right now and n-95 and k-95 masks for children are what is
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most effective. we're here at a drive up vaccination and testing site near here in dekalb county. the owners tell us that three of tharz busiest locations, on average, they are seeing 200 covid vaccination shots a day compare that to nearly 3,000 covid tests daily. alison. >> thank you for all the developments. our breaking news coverage continues. president biden is expected to address the nation within the hour on the taliban takeover of afghanistan. we'll bring you that.
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