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tv   CNN Newsroom Live  CNN  December 19, 2021 12:00am-1:00am PST

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only movies can present the truth of human drama and then transport you to a place that can't be seen in real life. ♪ the omicron variant on the rise in europe where it's leading to new restrictions and new protests and here in the united states, where there's a dire warning for the unvaccinated this holiday season. also hong kong is voting right now for their legislative council, but there's a catch. only pro-beijing patriots can run. live from cnn world headquarters in atlanta, welcome to all of you watching us here in the united states, canada and around the world. i'm kim brunhuber. this is "cnn newsroom."
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>> live from cnn center, this is "cnn newsroom" with kim brunhuber. the growing threat of omicron is forcing governments around the world to take quick action to stop the spread. and while scientists work nonstop to answer the many questions about the variant, omicron infections are rising rapidly. but the delta variant is the main cause of surging cases right now. u.s. health systems are at risk of being overwhelmed, especially across the midwest, northeast and southwest. we'll take a closer look at the u.s. in just a moment. europe is also seeing rampant spread. the uk reported more than 90,000 new covid infections for a second day in a row. and that's prompting germany to take tough action, adding the united kingdom to its list of areas with variants of concern. only german citizens or residents will be allowed to enter germany from the uk.
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for more on the sky-high infection rates across the uk and a major announcement from the mayor of london i'm joined by cnn's scott mclean in london. so scott, the london mayor declaring a major incident. explain what that means and why he's doing it. >> reporter: hey, kim. yeah. so effectively, it sort of ramps up the level of resources that all of the first responders, all of the different health care agencies can access in the city of london. but there is no doubt about how seriously european leaders are taking the omicron variant. in fact, because of the surge in omicron right now brits are effectively locked out of germany and france with very few exceptions. inside the uk the british prime minister also held an emergency cobra meeting, they call it. that's a meeting of his top cabinet secretaries, top civil servants as well, to discuss possible lockdown measures. that is the official word coming from downing street right now. but beyond that we don't have
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any more detail. of course in the british press they've long been speculating that further measures would have to be taken to try to get omicron under control beyond the ones that are in place right now which include an indoor mask mandate and also covid passports for large gatherings. right now it seems like the prime minister is sort of taking this wait and see approach because right now the uk is not seeing any substantial change in the number of people being hospitalized or on ventilators. in fact, that number has actually gone down slightly over the past couple of days. the more urgent issue that the mayor really alludes to is the fact that more and more frontline staff are getting infected with the virus and becoming absent. and that's why he's taking action. watch. london mayor sadiq khan declaring covid a major incident saturday. >> over the last 24 hours we've had the largest number of new cases since this pandemic began. more than 26,000.
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hospital admissions are going up but also staff absences are going up by massive levels. >> reporter: with cases rapidly increasing there's a push to get more people tested and vaccinated. uk vaccine minister helping distribute cove ifd tests at a sorting center saturday. the government aiming to get 900,000 a day shipped directly to homes across the uk. and long line-ups at a booster clinic northeast of london. many hoping to avoid another possible lockdown by getting a shot. >> another lockdown to me does seem a bit extreme. i think everyone just needs to be careful, go where you need to go and then go home. >> reporter: some vaccine clinics opening 24-hour jab-a-thons. in northern england one pharmacy opened for 36 hours straight. worldwide there's a push to get young people vaccinated. santa claus and his helpers visiting kids in portugal. germany and france also giving shots to 5 to 11-year-olds saturday. covid putting a damper on holiday shopping. but some still hit the stores
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from europe to asia on the last weekend before christmas. sporting events also taking a hit. english fans disappointed as the premier league match between aston villa and burnley became the tenth premier league fixture to get postponed this weekend due to covid. later saturday anti-vaxxers marched in london, france, germany, and italy. the netherlands announcing a strict new lockdown starting sunday, also met by protests. as the world health organization announces omicron cases doubling every 1 1/2 to 3 days in countries with transmissions, the battle against covid rages on. now, if the british prime minister does try to take this country back to the kind of severe restrictions that we saw at the outset of the pandemic, he may face some serious resistance even from within his own party. just yesterday he accepted the resignation of his brexit minister over the direction that
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the government was headed, specifically on covid, that now former minister urging the prime minister not to adopt the kind of coercive measures as he writes that we've seen elsewhere, especially in europe. kim? >> all right. thanks so much. scott mclean, appreciate it. here in the u.s. president joe biden will address the nation tuesday amid fears that the omicron variant could make an already dangerous surge even worse. the country's now averaging more than 125,000 new infections a day. that's about where we were in september at the end of the summer spike. cases are rising especially fast in the northeast, midwest and south. and what's more concerning, experts say the delta variant is driving the latest surge, not omicron. it's expected to become the dominant strain in the coming weeks. but cdc numbers show right now omicron accounts for just around 3% of new cases. now, all this comes as the busy holiday season is fast approaching. more than 109 million americans are expected to travel this
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year, and for those who are unvaccinated experts say prepare to get infected. >> i think if you're unfvaxnate now and you travel in this country you are going to get this virus. i think if you're unvaccinated in this country and you go to a holiday party you are going to get this virus. if you're unvaccinated and you walk into a bar, you are going to get this virus. it's that contagious. and it will be that ubiquitous. >> new york just broke a troubling covid-19 record for the second consecutive day. the state is reporting more new cases than it did at the start of the pandemic. cnn's polo sandoval explains. >> reporter: the state of new york reported its highest daily covid case count, roughly 21,000, earlier this week here. here in new york city the city's health commissioner saying they have noticed a tripling of new cases just in the last month alone. it's certainly why authorities are making sure, at least
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calling on people to take those steps to protect not only themselves but others, especially because they have noticed two indicators, or a trend in two indicators including the seven-day average, which topped about 120,000-plus across the country, and the total number of covid hospitalizations that exceeded 68,000. so authorities certainly hoping that people will take those measures like getting vaccinated, getting boosted and getting tested to try to lighten the load on those health care workers that have already been at it for quite some time. when it comes to getting tested, we have certainly seen an increase in the interest of people including massive lines at facilities throughout the city here. in fact, just early saturday morning there was a long line of people outside this urgent care clinic of people hoping to get an appointment to come in and get tested to make sure it's safe to gather with their loved ones for christmas. >> because i've been potentially exposed, i've had friends -- or i had a niece that was going to come up here to visit. we canceled that. i had friends that were like oh, let's have a little gathering
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and already got testing. maybe next year. >> not too worried because i got the booster shot. i'm just about to travel. so it's a requirement to get the test. >> reporter: there are also the disruptions. here in new york city alone with broadway already canceling several of their performances, those are sporadic cancellations that were announced after several of the cast and crew experienced those breakthrough cases, and then of course the radio city christmas spectacular that is obviously familily popular, they canceled the rest of their performances for the rest of the season. when you hear from many new yorkers there's a sense of deja vu with these kinds of closures and cancellations although this time p people counting on the additional protection of the vaccines. polo sandoval, cnn, new york. for some insight on what we know about the omicron variant we're going to take you now to the university of nebraska medical center. now, this hospital has been on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic from the very beginning. it's where u.s. federal officials sent 13 infected passengers aboard the diamond
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princess cruise ship. clinicians there were among the first in the nation to develop their own in-house coronavirus test. and joining me now is infectious disease specialist dr. james lawler. he's the co-executive director of the global center for health security at the university of nebraska medical center. doctor, thank you so much for joining us here. so as i just mentioned, your hospital is widely considered one of the best-prepared hospitals to deal with covid in terms of pandemic-specific training and infectious disease equipment. so looking at what's happening in the uk now, record cases, the hospital system again under strain, how prepared are you for a possible huge surge due to the omicron variant? >> well, we're already experiencing a large surge with delta variant across nebraska and much of the midwest of the u.s. so we're not in a very good position to get additional patients either from omicron or from seasonal influenza, which
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we expect will be kicking up here very soon. we're already starting to see the first trends of flu season. so we're in a difficult position in our hospital to be able to absorb more patients. and i know that we're looking at potentially a large surge of patients with omicron. >> in the uk what we've seen is the strain on the hospital system it's not just because of the covid patients going to the hospital but because doctors, nurses, staff, they're getting sick themselves. so how big a problem do you expect that to be when many hospitals are already short-staffed and running on fumes? >> that's been a big problem for us as well. we've had more hospital staff absent in the last week than we've had at any time other than our previous peak last year. so we're very concerned about the well-being of our staff and also just their ability to be able to show up every day when
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either they or their family members can become cases themselves. >> yeah, it's totally understandable given how long this pandemic has just gone on and on. but widening this out beyond your hospital, you've said that the u.s. has just weeks to take action to stem a wave of omicron infection. but what can be done? what action specifically are you calling for? >> well, i think there are a number of things that can be done and need to be done. first of all, obviously pulling out all stops on vaccinations, especially trying to get folks who have not yet been vaccinated to at least get a primary series. getting boosters in to folks who have not yet been boosted. but we need to do more to step up non-pharmaceutical interventions. those things we had and we effectively used before we had access to vaccines. that's things like wearing face masks indoors. in the u.s. certainly mandatory
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face mask ordinances and a number of state and local areas had a significant impact. also limiting large indoor gatherings and attempting to contain and control spread in kong re congregate environments such as school. fortunately schools are now getting out for the holiday break but certainly we need to plan for what's going to happen in january when schools go back in session. >> yeah. many of those decisions are made at the -- you know, at the local or state level. but i want to look, you know, nationally here, the white house press secretary tweeted that "we are prepared for the rising case levels and potus will detail how we will respond to this challenge." so president biden will be giving an omicron-focused speech this tuesday. what are you hoping to hear from him? and what concrete steps are you hoping he will take at a national level? >> right. well, i don't share that
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optimism that we're prepared but i think there are some steps that we can take. and again, first of all, doing everything we can to increase vaccination, ramping up non-pharmaceutical interventions, including using all of the levers that we have to create mandatory wearing of face masks indoors, reducing large gatherings. one thing that the federal government can do is to provide significant support for testing, to be able to get testing resources where we need them. that's going to be hard to do in a matter of of weeks. some of it will take longer. but the old saying when's the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. but the second best time is today. and the second best time to get testing improved is starting today. and i think there are a number of things that can be done with financial incentives to help businesses and other parts of our community that would be impacted by ramping up non-pharmaceutical interventions. >> yeah. well, listen, we'll see what
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happens next week. but so far, you know, we wish you all the best, you and your staff, in dealing with already the number of cases you're dealing with, much less the influx you may be seeing in the coming weeks and months. dr. james lawler, thank you so much for joining us. really appreciate it. >> thanks for having me. >> as ukraine braces for a possible invasion by russia, the british defense secretary says it's unlikely nato would send troops if russian forces launch an offensive. we'll have a live report from moscow just ahead. plus, hong kong holds its first election under strict new laws that give the government more power to vet candidates. some pro-democracy activists are calling for a boycott. we're live in hong kong next. stay with us. my psoririatic arthritis, made my joints stiff, swollen... painful. emerge tremfyant®. with tremfya®, adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis... ...can uncover clearer skin
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hong kong voters are casting their ballots in the first citywide election vince china imposed its sweeping national security law. a committee has to vet all candidates to make sure only so-called patriots are running for office, which only further tightens china's grasp on hong kong. so let's bring in cnn's will ripley live in hong kong. so will, it seems like quite a contrast with the last
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elections. >> reporter: absolutely. i remember back in 2019, kim, when the pro-democracy movement was in full swing. the protests were happening. people turned out in droves. there were lines around the block at polling sites like this for people who wanted to cast their ballot. and they voted overwhelmingly in support of pro-democracy candidates who are now either in jail or in exile in many cases or they just completely pulled out of politics altogether. i asked my taxi driver on the way here if he was planning on voting today and his answer summed up what a lot of hong kong people are thinking. what's the point? election day hong kong. what a difference two years makes. in 2019 voter lines around the block. a landslide victory for pro-democracy parties. in 2021 those parties and most of their candidates absent, just like many hong kong voters. the crowds at this polling site sunday mainly media. covering hong kong leader carrie lam arriving early to cast her
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vote. lam telling chinese state media low voter turnout could be a sign the government is doing a good job. this is hong kong's first general election since china imposed major voting reforms. new mechanisms to vet candidates, making sure only so-called patriots, those loyal to beijing, can run. those reforms and a sweeping national security law imposed by beijing. in the wake of 2019's pro-democracy protests. erasing many of hong kong's freedoms, promised for 50 years under one country two systems. pro-democracy activist and former hong kong legislator nathan law now living in exile in london. he calls this weekend's vote a selection, not an election. >> it's impossible for us to get into the race. so i think it's really clear for all of us that this is just not an ordinary or not a free and fair election.
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it's just a selection process by beijing and they're putting on a show. >> reporter: a show law says is part of beijing's bigger plan, to make hong kong just like any other city. ruled by an authoritarian government. dissenting voices silented. either in exile or in jail. >> we've lost our autonomy, freedom. >> reporter: city leaders condemning activist calls to boycott the election or cast blank votes in protest. pro-beijing legislator michael tien says hong kong's election is legitimate. >> the competition is understand that everybody wants to have the highest number of votes. >> reporter: he echoes china's criticism of american democracy. >> chinese think that the western system is blind democracy, it leads to people who at the end defy election result anyway, like donald trump. so they say what's the
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difference? >> reporter: the difference at these polling stations is clear. democracy on china's terms means many hong kong voters simply don't show up. we've been standing out here for a couple of hours, and really most of the people walking inside are going in there to swim. they're not going in there to cast their ballots. there are definitely more police officers out here than people who are casting their votes. but even if many hong kong citizens are not taking this election seriously the officials certainly are. they actually issued arrest warrants for pro-democracy activists accusing them of inciting people not to participate in this election, an election that some critics even called a sham. kim? >> fascinating report. will ripley in hong kong, thanks so much. in the coming hours voters in chile face a stark choice between far right conservative jose antonio cast and leftist gabriello boric in a run jofr election. the winner will replace outgoing
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president sebastian pinera who's set to leave office in march. the election comes amid social unrest and as the assembly drafts a new -- nato allies are speaking out about russia's military build-up along ukraine and the looming possibility of an invasion. nato secretary says it's unlikely nato would send troops since ukraine isn't a nato member. but europe continues to threaten economic constant kenss. germany threatening to block russia's nord stream 2 pipeline. cnn's melissa bell joins us from moscow. we've seen this diplomatic flurry of activity from both sides around ukraine the last few days but are we any closer to a resolution here? >> you know, ever since the cia director bill burns came out to moscow at the beginning of the fall we've seen all of those
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diplomatic contacts really increase. as you say, with that frenetic activity we saw last week. karen donfried, the u.s. envoy to europe coming not only to moscow but to kiev. american congressmen coming to kiev last weekend. the ukrainian president heading to brussels to meet with nato and also european leaders. and yet here we are heading into a new week, no closer to a resolution. if anything, kim, the positions on either side appear to have hardened as has the distrust that one side has for the other over exactly what is happening in the ukraine. for the last few months joe biden's been instructing his national security council to do everything it could to prevent vladimir putin from atemth a land grab in ukraine. what we've seen is in fact that troop build-up has continued in the last few days. what we're hearing now from top american officials is that the window of opportunity, the possibility of a resolution to this has narrowed to a four-week window. that gives you an idea of of how
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alarmed american administration officials are by what they're seeing, by what they're hearing. again, hearing on the diplomatic front from moscow increasingly unrealistic demands about what it expects from nato and america in terms of -- in the united states in terms of its promises and guarantees regarding russian security and so top officials now telling cnn that they're extremely worried about what's going on and that that window of opportunity is getting narrower, even as moscow should expect something much more serious, graver consequences than it saw in 2014 should it go ahead with the land invasion people are warning about. >> thanks so much, melissa bell, live in moscow. just ahead on "cnn newsroom," europeans vent their anger as surging covid infections prompt officials to enforce unpopular restrictions hoping to slow the spread. plus inflation and supply chain issues take a toll on food
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welcome back to all of of you watching us here in the united states, canada and around the world. i'm kim brunhuber and you're watching "cnn newsroom." let's return to our top story. rising covid cases are forcing governments and the private sector to take drastic action to stem the spread and it's driving many people in europe who are unhappy over vaccine mandates and restrictions into the streets to protest. in london police clashed with demonstrator protesting a recurrent plan b measures. this comes as the uk reported more than 0,000 new infections for the second day in a row.
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for more on how europe is trying to stem the spread of the variants let's turn to cnn contributor barbie nadeau. let's start with the netherlands going into lockdown yet again. >> reporter: that's right. this is the second time in a matter of a couple of of of months they've had some sort of lockdown. and this comes right before christmas. of course people had already made their plans. they'd already ordered the turkey. they want to have people over. they can only have two people in their homes except for christmas day and new year's day. then they could have four people. now, that's very restrictive. people are not happy about it either, kim. >> yeah. looking at all those protests i was listing there, there's a sense that the backlash to these restrictions is growing. >> that's right. we've seen protests all across europe this weekend, here in italy and in france. and these are protests largely by anti-vaxx people who don't want to have to be vaccinated in order to do anything. that's something we've seen all -- since last summer. basically each time these people
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gather it becomes a super spreader event. the cases are always tied to these gatherings, these protests, these angry outbursts across europe. and they're very counterproductive because the governments aren't going to do anything to change it. they're going to keep those restrictions in place, making this really a pandemic of the unvaccinated in many ways, kim. >> yeah. you kind of touched on this, but just to really enforce this one by one, the holiday festivities are getting canceled. it's sort of promising. other dark holidays and new year's. i know rome is also affected where you are, right? >> that's right. they've canceled a new year's eve concert that everybody was looking so forward to. last year was a holiday season like no other and this year it's a holiday season that's seemingly like last year, which is dispointing to a lot of people across europe. kim? >> yeah, absolutely. barbie nadeau, thanks so much. in the u.s. legal challenges to the biden administration's vaccine mandate for large employers are likely headed to the u.s. supreme court.
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a federal appeals court on friday upheld the mandate for companies with 100 workers or more. but within hours numerous groups appealed the decision to the high court. the government agency overseeing the mandate said it wouldn't enforce it before january 10th, acknowledging that many legal issues are still unresolved. and u.s. president joe biden will address public concerns about the omicron variant in a speech on tuesday, and the white house is clarifying remarks made by vice president kamala harris about mutations like the omicron and delta variants. cnn's joe johns reports. >> reporter: in a departure from the continuing message from the white house on covid, vice president kamala harris conceding in a wide-ranging interview with the "los angeles times" that the administration did not anticipate the omicron and delta variants. here's a quote from that interview. "we didn't see delta coming. i think most scientists did not upon whose advice and direction
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we have relied, didn't see delta coming. we didn't see omicron coming. and that's the nature of what this, this awful virus has been, which as it turns out has mutations and variants." a white house official also clarifying to cnn that the administration was aaware of variants in general and that's the reason for masking as well as encouraging the public to get vaccinated. on saturday the white house press secretary announced on twitter that president biden will give a covid speech on tuesday that will include a stark warning to americans who have not gotten vaccinated. joe johns, cnn, at the white house. higher demand, limited supply, and shipping delays are all contributing to higher prices. and now the new variants, we have the omicron variant, that could shift demand from services to goods as people avoid crowded places and stay home instead. and that would put even more
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stress on supply chains. it could even affect energy demand. less travel and more time at home could actually ease energy prices which are driving a lot of inflation. and it could limit supply of goods. some factories are closed due to the pandemic. the ceo of second harvest of silicon valley, a food bank based in san jose, california that serves santa clara and san mateo counties including silicon valley and the san francisco peninsula. and she joins me now from san francisco. thanks so much for being here with us. so a new report showed a key measure of inflation climbed to a level we haven't seen since 1982. basically, when "thriller" had just come up, argentina invaded the falkland islands. obviously, the downstream effects have been enormous. you serve some 450,000 people every month. so how has your food bank been affected? >> well, you know, of course the
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pandemic has just been so challenging for food banks across the country. for our food bank we're providing still twice as much food as we were pre-pandemic. and for so many of our neighbors they are still struggling due to months of lost wages and being behind on rent and other expenses. so we're expecting to continue this for the foreseeable future. of course what's challenging right now is we're seeing food costs increase. we're seeing freight costs increase. and we're also seeing a lot of challenges in the supply chain like things not arriving or showing up late or just missed orders that's making it really tough for food banks to continue to supply this amount of food. >> concretely, i mean, how is it causing you problems? is it just you can't get your hands on things or is it your costs have gone up so much that you can't deliver certain items to people? i mean, what's the worst part of this? >> it's a little bit of both. i mean, at our food bank about half of what we distribute is
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fresh produce. we literally bring in 40 to 45 truckloads of fresh produce from the central valley that's donated to us, but we have to pay the freight to get it here. and right now sometimes it's even hard to find that transportation because there's such a driver shortball, especially during the holidays. then there's other staple items like milk and eggs that have gone up 10 to 15% or 25% in some cases for certain items. and that makes it a real challenge for food banks that are already, you know, like in our case we've had to double our budget just to provide twice as much food. >> double your budget. that must be eating into the future of how you can provide to people. and then you talked about the growing need. you've had to sort of -- people are really being hit hard here. do you xwpexpect the growing inflation, all the prices of groceries, gas and so on to further squeeze families to increase demand and increase the pressure on you to deliver?
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>> absolutely. we are already seeing that. like you described the increase in food prices, gas pricesize a real challenge. and what a lot of people don't realize is low-wage workers are really disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. so many people faced months of unemployment. and so what we're seeing is even as people are going back to work it is just so hard to recover from that kind of financial deficit. and yes, definitely inflation and increasing costs are keeping people reliant on services lightning food banks. >> the biden administration has been kind of slow to acknowledge the problem of inflation. they've now tried to do something about things like gas prices and so on. yesterday the president says he thinks we're at the peak of the crisis. do you agree? do you think the worst is behind us? >> well, you know, i've been doing this work for more than 20 years. i was doing this work in 2008 during the great recession. and what we saw is it takes
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low-income families a long time to recover from this kind of economic setback. and you know, we saw our numbers increase dramatically then. and they leveled off eventually but never went back down. and that's what we're afraid we're fating right now, is that folks will be relying on our services for months or even years to come. >> so there could be long-term consequences to all this. before we go, how can poemeople help? i mean not just your food bank but people facing this across the country. how can they help? >> absolutely. i would say look for your local food bank, go to the website. food banks really need volunteers. our food bank is so dependent on volunteers at our distribution sites and facilities. and of course we need your financial support. food banks rely on donations and volunteer labor. for every dollar donated we can provide nufr food for two meals. >> well, listen, keep up the great work as that demand and all the problems people are
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facing is increasing as we go into the holidays. thank you so much for joining us. really appreciate it. leslie bacho. >> thank you. thanks for having me. >> and for more information on leslie's organization, second harvest of silicon valley, and how you can help or donate this holiday season, please head to shfb.org. now, of course, food insecurity takes on a whole new meaning when you talk about what's happening in afghanistan. coming up, the dire situation being made even worse by winter weather. stay with us. lactaid is 100% real milk, just without t the lactose. so you can enjoy it even if you're sensitive to dairy. so anyone who says lactaid isn't real milk is also saying
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everyone needs health insurance. covered california is making sure more people can get it. new federal funding of $3 billion is available to help more californians get covered. julie and bob are paying $700 less every month. dee now gets comprehensive coverage with no monthly premium and the navarros are paying under $100 per month. check coveredca.com to see your new lower price. covered california, this way to health insurance. enroll by december 31st. winter in afghanistan threatens to make an already dire situation worse for millions of people. michael holmes reports on the horrific conditions facing
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desperate people as cold weather sets in. >> reporter: kabul's first snowfall. for these children throwing snowballs at each other it's a fun day. but for many afghans facing their first winter back under taliban control the cold conditions are a sign of difficult times ahead. this man says when there's snowfall it's a day of happiness and celebration for rich people but adds for the normal people of afghanistan who are poor and helpless it's like poison. the country's economy, already shaky after decades of war, has been pushed to the brink of collapse since the taliban's takeover in august. billions of dollars in international aid, which afghanistan relied upon for humanitarian assistance and to fund the government, has been cut off. with another $9.5 billion in assets of the central bank of afghanistan frozen by the u.s.
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millions are without work, and the cost of food and fuel has shot up, making many basic necessities too expensive for afghans to buy. the u.n.'s world food program warns that a harsh winter could bring "an avalanche of hunger and destitution to the country koechlt the aid group says an estimated 98% of afghans aren't eating enough, up 17% since the taliban's takeover. >> families are resorting to desperate measures as the bitter winter sets in. 9 in every 10 families are now buying less expensive food. which tends to be less nutritious. 8 in 10 are eating less. and 7 in 10 are borrowing food in order to get by. >> reporter: officials say that food insecurity will push people deeper into poverty, which could result in families turning to
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ever more desperate measures to survive, including child labor, early marriage, and even the sale of children. on saturday senior taliban leaders asked countries to release the blocked aid, saying it hurt the common people and would force more families to migrate. hard choices ahead for the international community, but mainly for the people of afghanistan who once again are left out in the cold. michael holmes, cnn. >> the taliban say they're ready to start issuing passports again, raising hopes for afghans desperate to leave their country. crowds gathered outside the passport office in kabul as the news spread. the islamist rulers stopped issuing passports after taking power in mid-august. they tried to restart the process in october but closed days later when their biometric machines stopped working. well, 'tis the season, after all. let's face it, a rather ugly year. ahead, we'll go around the world
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pro football in the u.s. is changing its covid protocols as it grapples with a surge in cases among players. the national football league is dropping its weekly testing requirement for fully vaccinated players and staff members who aren't symptomatic. instead the nfl will implement what it calls a strategic and targeted testing along with voluntary tests. players who aren't fully vaccinated will still have to be tested daily. about 100 players have tested positively in recent days forcing the league to postpone three games this weekend. well, tiger woods is back. the golf legend is competing for the first time since a car crash that crushed his leg in february. cnn's andy scholes has more. >> reporter: tiger woods said he had a blast in his return to golf at the pnc championship here in orlando on saturday. tiger competing with his 12-year-old son charl yea in his first action since his
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devastating car accident ten months ago. and tiger, he looked really good, hitting off the pro tees and taking some really hard swings in the fairways. he did use a golf cart to get around the course as it was allowed for this tournament. tiger and charlie birdied four of the first five holes. and on 15 charlie with a nice birdie putt that put a big smile on dad's face. team woods finishing 10 under for the day, just three shots back of the lead. >> we had a great time. it was just a blast. we had a blast last year on the first round. and again, this year it was the same. we had so much fun out there. i wish i could have walked, you know, with him and been with him leach and every step like i was last year. physically i'm unable to do that. so i was the guy going out there and getting golf balls. i was offline or -- bringing balls back around. it was different trying to drive the court slower with him and
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talk to him and make sure we were present, we're still a team, we're still doing it together. >> and tiger added that his shots still aren't coming off like he's tuzed to and it's going to take some time for him to get back to playing at a tour level. but no matter what level tiger woods is playing at the fans here and everywhere are thrilled to have him back. in orlando andy scholes, cnn. 2021 will be remembered for many things. the neverending pandemic. a dramatic volcano. deadly tornadoes. afghanistan. but around the world people are showing their inner strength, doing their best to recover and spread a little bit of holiday cheer. cnn's al good naan has more. >> reporter: at the end of another hard year the festive lights in new york city are a soothing sight. the gift many of us wanted, a return to our normal lives and the vanquishing of covid-19, is still elusive. and even though it may be a
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struggle for some to see, there is something to celebrate this year, our be altered but in many places go on like taking the children to see santa claus. in this winter wonderland in finland there is no sitting on santa's lap and no whispering in his ear. mom and dad will just have to be in on that little secret. but santa has a wish too. >> i've been hearing worrying news around the globe about well-being and coping of children and young people. now it's time to turn these worries into plenty of goodwill. >> reporter: people around the world are finding ways to make the season a little brighter, like this santa in peru, visiting children infected with covid-19. wearing a mask, santa didn't come down the chimney but delivered presents instead through open windows with the help of a fire truck. migrant children strike a pinata at a shelter in tijuana.
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a little holiday cheer as families gather together for a religious festival to commemorate mary and joefrs's search for shelter before the birth of jesus. a quest close to the heart of many people here who have been stuck in this border town for months while they wait for permits to enter the u.s. a volcano blotted out the livelihoods of many residents of spain's la palma island. thousands were forced to evacuate as rivers of lava incinerated houses, buildings and farms. one church says it will rise above those ashes and has even incorporated them into its nativity scene. >> the church closer to the volcano. we wanted to make them have a smile. >> reporter: people in kentucky are still trying to come to terms with the devastation caused by tornadoes that obliterated entire neighborhoods and killed dozens. one woman says she may have lost her house but will keep a
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promise made to her daughter. >> i tell her baby, we're going to have santa claus wherever we're at. he's coming to visit, and we'll do the best we can. >> reporter: doing the best we can when things seem to be at their worst. maybe that's the true spirit of the season. al goodman, cnn. well, that wraps this hour of "cnn newsroom." i'm kim brunhuber, and i'll be back in just a moment with more news. please do stay with us.
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mom, hurry! our show's gonna start soon! i promised i wouldn't miss the show and mommy always keeps her promises. oh, no! seriously? hmm! it's not the same if she's not here. oh. -what the. oh my goodness! i don't suppose you can sing, can you? ♪ the snow's comin' down ♪ -mommy? ♪ i'm watching it fall ♪ watch the full story at www.xfinity.com/sing2
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welcome to all of you watching us here in the united states, canada, and around the world. i'm kim brunhuber. ahead on "cnn newsroom," the u.s. on alert with covid cases surging ahead of a busy holiday week, americans are in encouraged to prepare for tough times ahead. the story is the same in europe as protests rock in reaction to tighter restrictions. we'll have the latest in live reports from london and rome. and with afghans facing their first winter back under taliban control, the humanitarian crisis looms. we'll hear the stark warning from one aid group.

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