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tv   CNN Newsroom Live  CNN  December 19, 2021 1:00am-2:00am PST

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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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>> announcer: live from cnn center, this is "cnn newsroom" with kim brun huber. >> we begin with the growing threat of the omicron variant. cases are rising quickly around the globe less than a month after it was first detected. in the u.s., experts are warning that americans could be facing a dark winter as omicron collides with the surge of the delta variant. the country is now averaging more than 125,000 new cases a day. cases are rising especially fast in the north, midwest, and south, but experts say that's mostly being feudal by the delta variant, not omicron. it's expected to become the dominant strain in the coming weeks, but cdc numbers show right now that omicron accounts for just around 3% of new cases. u.s. hospitals are already feeling the impact. around 69,000 americans are currently hospitalized with the virus, and experts say omicron is only likely to make things worse, putting more strain on an
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already overwhelmed health care system. now, despite all of that, americans aren't putting the holidays on hold. more than 109 million people are expected to travel this year, close to pre-pandemic levels. 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: well, the state of new york reported its highly daily covid case count, roughly 21,000, earlier this week here. here in new york city, the city's health commissioner said they're noticing a tripling of new cases in the last month alone, which is certainly why authorities are making sure, at least calling on people to take those steps to protect not only themselves, but others. especially because they have noticed a trend in two indicators here, including the seven-day average, which hopped about 120,000 across the country, and the total number of covid hospitalizations that exceeded 68,000. so authorities are certainly
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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 who have already been at it for quite some time. when it comes to getting tested, we have 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 be able to get an appointment, to come in and get tested, to make sure that 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 and we canceled that. i had friends that were like, let's have a little gathering, and already got texts saying, 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: and there are also the disruptions here in new york city alone with broadway already canceling several of their performances. those were sporadic
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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 extremely popular, they canceled their performances for the rest of the season. when you hear from many new yorkers, there's certainly a feeling of deja vu with these kind of closures and cancellations, although this time many people counting on the additional protection of their vaccines. polo vasandoval, cnn, new york. we'll take you now to the university of nebraska medical center. 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 princess" cruise ship. clinicians there were among the first in the nation to develop their open in-house coronavirus test. joining me now is neinfectious disease specialist, dr. lawler.
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doctor, thank you very 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, you know, 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. and so we're not in a very good position to get additional patients, either from omicron or from seasonal influenza, which 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
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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 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 either they or their family members can become cases themselves. >> totally understandable, given how long this pandemic has just gone on and on. but widening this out beyond your hospital, you said that the u.s. has just weeks to take
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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 at least get a primary series. getting boosters into folks who have not yet been boosted. but we need to do more to step up non-pharmaceutical interventions. those things that we had and we effectively used before we had access to vaccines. that's things like wearing face masks indoors, and in the u.s., certainly, mandatory face mask ordinances in a number of state and local areas had a significant impact. also, limiting large indoor gatherings and attempting to contain and control spread in congregant environments, such as school.
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fortunately, now, schools are mostly 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 rise in 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. so 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 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
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large gatherings. one thing that the federal government can do is 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 weeks. some of that will take longer, but it's that old saying, when's the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the second best time is today. and the second best time to get testing improved is starting today. and then i think that 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 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 that you're dealing with, much less the influx that you may be seeing in the coming weeks and months. dr. james lawler, thank you so much for joining us, really
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appreciate it. >> thanks for having me. >> as both the omicron and delta variants cause cases to rise across europe, we have reporters covering all the angles. barbie nadeau is in rome for us, but first let's go to scott mclean in london. so, scott, the london mayor declared a major incident. explain what that means and why he's doing it? >> reporter: hey, kim. first off. we've got a little bit of news this morning from the uk health secretary who says that the omicron variant, as expected, is officially the dominant strain in this part of the uk. we already learned this week that it had been dominant in scotland. now it's dominant in england, as well. making up about 60% of the case. we know that brits are already locked out of france, effectively. as of later tonight, they'll also be locked out of germany. the prime minister meeting with his top cabinet advisers, top civil servants to try to figure out what to do next. the official word from downing street is that they're
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discussing lockdown measures. beyond that, we don't have more information. the health secretary saying this morning that if there were to be any kind of further measures taken beyond what's in place right now, that parliament would be recalled. there's plenty of suggestion in this country that the current measures, the indoor mask mandate and the covid passports for very large events and for nightclubs probably won't be enough to kcurb the spread of omicron. it seems like the prime minister is taking this wait-and-see approach, because right now at least nationally, there hasn't been any significant change in the number of people hospitalized or on ventilators, but in places where the omicron is most present, like london, they are seeing that start to spike. up 30% just in the last week. the number of hospitalizations, that's according to the london mayor, and as you said, kim, he's just declared this major incident. this is the kind of thing that normally would be reserved for the aftermath of disasters or terror attacks.
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essentially, first responders or emergency services are able to draw resources from wherever they can and make special arrangements to make sure that they're fully staffed. one of the things that the mayor is saying is that there have been so many infections amongst health care workers, that there's starting to be a lot of absences piling up, which is obviously causing a lot of big problems, kim. >> yeah, and, you know, we've seen some pretty stark warnings from government scientists about the likely case numbers they'll see in the coming weeks, if more restrictions aren't put in place now. but how hard will that be for boris johnson, given he's facing more and more political backlash from within his own part about the measures that he's already putting in place. >> yeah, you're absolutely right. look, when it comes to those predictions, one of the most dire predictions came just this week. and it found that under the worst-case scenario with omicron, that about half of the
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english population, more than half of the english population could be infected with that variant over the winter months. obviously, that would cause huge problems, even if the variant is sort of a less-severe strain, because, of course, even a smaller percentage of hospitalizations of a very, very large number is going to cause big problems. you mentioned boris johnson's political issues right now. if he were to try to go down the road of bringing in further restrictions, the kind of thing we saw earlier on in the pandemic, you're right, he would likely run into wbig, big problems. that's because even right to pass the restrictions that are in place right now, the covid passports, he faced a backlash from about a hundred of his own mps who voted against it. he only got that passed with the support of the opposition labor party. and just yesterday, kim, he also accepted the resignation letter from one of his top cabinet ministers, the brexit secretary, who resigned over concerns about the direction that this country
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was headed on covid. in his resignation letter, he urged the prime minister not to adopt the kind of coercive measures, as he wrote, that we're starting to see elsewhere in europe. >> it would be a shame for politics to inform action on this score, but anyway, we'll wait and see what happens. scott mclean in london, thank you so much. now for more on how the rest of europe is right to stem the spread of the covid variants, let's turn to cnn contributor, barbie nadeau. let's start with the netherland, going into lockdown yet again. >> that's right. it's kind of a surprise lockdown. people had already made their christmas holiday plans, now they're limiting to having just four people to their private homes for the actual holidays and two people during the holiday season. that is a huge disappointment, because they had just come out of a restrictive lockdown a couple of weeks ago. and here they are, back in again. because of the spread of, in their case, omicron. the rest of europe, however, is still dealing with delta and the hospitalizations are going up, case numbers are going up,
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people are getting tested to be able to go to cocktail parties and things like that. everybody is worried about what the next week is going to look like here, kim. >> yeah. many countries having problems. germany, france, the prime minister warning omicron is spreading at lightning speed. >> that's right. and these lockdowns bring protests. people who are very, very angry about further restrictions are generally those people who are not vaccinated. and we've seen anti-vax protests across europe this weekend, especially. and some of these restrictions are limited to the people who are not vaccinated yet. that makes those people more angry. they get out and gather together and of course the virus spreads that way, as well. but we're seeing it affect everyone here right now. you know, with the tighter restrictions, curfews in some places, new year's eve festivities canceled here in rome and in paris, you know, there'll be no fireworks displace and things like that. last year was a terrible christmas for many people. and this year really is starting to look like it's going to be a
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very similar holiday season for many, kim. >> yeah. sad to see. barbie nadeau, thank you so much. 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. i'll have a live report from moscow, just ahead. plus, survivors ss grapple h the aftermath of a powerful typhoon that battered the philippines. we'll show you the devastation that the storm left behind and tell you where it's headed next. stay with us. firefighter maggie gronewald knows how to handle dry weather... ...and dry, cracked skin. new gold bond advanced healing ointment. restore healthy skin, with no sticky feeling. gold bond. champion your skin.
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that can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up refreshed. the brand i trust is qunol. nato allies are speaking out about russia's military buildup near ukraine and the looming threat of an invasion. the uk's defense secretary says it's unlikely nato would send troops to assist ukrainian forces, since ukraine isn't a nato member, but european leaders continue to warn punishing economic consequences if russia invades with germany threatening to block russia's nordstream 2 gas pipeline. melissa bell joins us now live from moscow. we've seen this diplomatic flurry of activity from both
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sides around ukraine these last few days, but are we any closer to a resolution? >> reporter: on the contrary, kim, the brinkmanship -- the war of words seems only to have intensified with on one hand, on the russian side, that list of demands clearly put before not only the united states, but nato during the week. we've heard from sergey ripkov saying, look, these were not ultimatums, just warning. yet, warnings, of course, that the west in the shape of nato in the united states needs to sit down to begin these discussions, these negotiations on the basis of demands by moscow that would simply be unacceptable, either to european partners, to european leaders, to nato, or to the united states. on the american side and on the western side, much greater coordination than anything we've seen before regarding ukraine in terms of its preparation of sanctions, in terms of its intelligence sharing. and in terms of a much more coordinated measure that
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anything it had before. we've seen activity in brussels, in washington, as well. and we've been hearing from top american officials that what they consider now is that there is a four-week window of opportunity for some kind of de-escalation, some kind of sense of resolution tool, but that narrow -- that window definitely narrowing, even as moscow watches with a wary eye, the united states and europe prepare the sanctions on the european side, europe saying that they would have massive consequences for russia, and what we know is that both sides are really preparing sanctions far beyond anything that we saw in 2014. >> all right. so melissa bell in moscow. thanks so much. officials fear the death toll will keep rising after typhoon rise rampaged through parts of the philippines. local officials say at least 75 people have died, even though a national emergency agency still keeps the death toll at 31. it pummeled the nation for three days bringing wind gusts of more
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than 190 miles per hour at one point. now, while corn and rice fields are underwater because of flooding, the storm forced more than 300,000 people to flee their homes. r r rai is now out of the philippines, but still packs a powerful punch. meteorologist derek van dam joins us now. where is the storm headed next? >> for all intents and purposes, vietnam wanted and needed to see this satellite image emerge over the last six hours or so. let's analyzes this together. it tells the story of this very deadly typhoon that's moved through the western pacific. notice the disappearance of that eye-like feature near the center of the strong. that's where we see the strongest and most destructive part of a hurricane or typhoon. notice the cooling cloud tops. the deep, dark shades of red and orange, changing over to that shading of purple. this is a good indicator to meteorologists that the storm is
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weakening, as predicted, becoming less organized, as the hours and minutes wear on. 2 220-mile-per-kilometer sustained winds. only 200 kilometers separate the storm from the coastline of vietnam. lit veer away from the coastline, but they're still feeling the impacts with heavy rains and gusty winds and that includes the danang region, the storm is forecast to continue to weaken, just skirting the southern coastline of china. that's near the hanon island, eventually into the early parts of the workweek for hong kong and out to sea before it dissipates near taiwan, bringing showers to that particular region, by the middle of the week. this is good news, because the storm is going to be on this continued weakening trend over the next 36 to 48 hours, but we still have to contend with a very blustery sunday across the coastal areas of vietnam. monday and tuesday, from haiku
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into hong kong and eventually into the taipei region. look at the forecast accumulation. this area being spared the heaviest of rainfall, as well, which continues to be on the east-northeasterly quadrant of the storm. will bring in some showers into hong kong, again, for the middle of the workweek. let me bring into malaysia. they've had rough weather lately with some flooding across this region. enhanced by this tropical activity. in fact, we had a depression move at just 4 degrees north latitude, very rare for this time of year. this wasn't even a named storm and produced rainfall totals in ku kuala lumpur, higher amounts to the north of there. interesting weather taking place over the western pacific today. >> absolutely. thanks for that look at the storm, derek van dam. proo really appreciate it. still to come, cnn heads to michigan where the military was deployed to help a hospital inundated with patients.
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and the vice president is under scrutiny over what she said regarding the omicron variant. what she said and how the white house is responding.
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back to our top story. the omicron variant of coronavirus is threatening to send america's covid surge into overdrive. the country is already seeing spikes in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, but experts say that's being driven by the delta variant, not omicron. it's expected to become the dominant strain in the coming weeks, but hospitals are already stretched thin and experts warn that omicron could push them to the breaking point. and a possible sign of what's to come in the u.s., a short time ago, the uk health secretary reported that omicron is now the
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dominant strain in england. all right, now to michigan, where hospitals are overburdened with covid-19 patients. health officials say many of these patients aren't vaccinated. cnn's jason carroll visited one hospital to see how they're handling the case load. >> it's been a lot worse lately, but we do what we can. >> the hours at work for nurses like lisa maddox seem never-ending. >> unfortunately, i'm not a super hero, i'm just a nurse. >> reporter: mad ddox is a covi worth working on eighth north team, eighth floor, north tower at dearborn, michigan. she's worked here since she graduated from nursing school only haabout a year and a half ago. lately, the covid unit here is seeing more and more patients, all while there are fewer nurses to care for them. >> there have been days like, i don't know how much longer i can do this. and i'm brand-new. but at the same time, it's very rewarding what we do. >> reporter: the new wave of covid-19 is flooding michigan's
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health care system, overwhelming doctors and nurses. admissions to hospitals statewide have risen 43% over the past month. currently, there are more than 100 people being treated for covid-19 at belmont hospital. by comparison, in july, hospitalized covid patients were only in the single digits. the influgs of patients has taxed this hospital so much so that the department of defense dispatched a joint task force civil support unit to help. >> i mean, the pace is very, very fast. the need is constant. >> reporter: teresa nowalk is a lieutenant colonel based off of brook army medical center in san antonio, texas. she's part of a mobile team that includes 14 critical care nurses, 4 doctors, and two respiratory therapists. now working at beaumont. the team has worked at hospitals in 13 states since august. the situation so critical here,
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just a few minutes into our interview, staff had to rush in to help a distressed patient. >> can you tell us what's happening behind us here? >> if there's a patient that needs acute care, maybe has a change in heart rate, a change in respiratory rate, generally, a care coms that have critical care experience, they come in and help with care for that patient. i've been for almost 17 years. and if you would have asked me five years if i would be embedding in a civilian hospital to help provide care, i would have -- i would have been like, no, you've got to be kidding me. >> reporter: what is not surprising to the strike team or to hospital staff, people needing critical care are overwhelmingly unvaccinated. beaumont health says 443 out of the 583 covid patients it is caring for statewide are unvaccinated. the vast majority of those in its icu and on ventilators also,
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unvaccinated. sarah is a recovering covid patient. she said her vaccination status is private. she and her father who also has covid, were admitted on sunday. >> i hope he's okay. he's not too far from me here. i'm flouted to see him because of the quarantining. it's been a roller coaster. sorry. it's been -- it's been a roller coaster, but now i feel a lot better. >> reporter: she says she needed oxygen when she arrived, but no longer, and she credits those working the covid unit here, both civilian and military, with helping to save her life. and as for urgent pleas from those in the medical field for more people to get vaccinated, she says this. >> what do you see as the right thing and the wrong thing? >> i -- i -- i really like to stay neutral. >> reporter: nurses like lisa maddox know the stress for the
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eight north team may just be beginning, again. >> will i break in three months? will i break in a year, will i break in ten? i don't have that answer for you. right now, i'm battling this with my patients. and i don't see a stop anytime soon. >> reporter: the doctors and nurses here express how grateful they are to have the military team here at beaumont hospital. in terms of how long they're going to be at beaumont, we're told that the military team could be here for a month, possibly longer, depending upon the need. after that, they will then move on to another hospital where there is more need. jason carroll, cnn, dearborn, michigan. 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. >> in a departure from a
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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 eqquote from that interview. we department see delta coming. i think most scientists did not, upon whose advice and direction we have relied didn't see delta coming. we didn't see omicron coming, and that's the nature of what this awful virus has been, which as it turns out, has mutations and variants. a white house official also clarifying to cnn that the white house was aware 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
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stark warning to americans who have not gotten vaccinated. joe johns, cnn, at the white house. several groups are appealing a u.s. circuit court decision that reinstates a covid vaccine or testing mandate for large employers. they're asking the supreme court to put the biden administration requirement on hold while the appeals process plays out. cnn asked republican congressman larry bachan to weigh in on all of the legal maneuvering. he's also a physician who opposes vaccine mandates. here he is. >> i think ultimately, it needs to get to the supreme court. i think it's a controversial situation. you know, with the private sector, i'm against the federal government mandating the private sector to do medical procedures like this. but i still think everybody should get vaccinated. i think ultimately, it just needs to go to the supreme court and they need to decide. >> the biden administration's mandate impacts over 80 million workers across the u.s.
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family members say at least one person is missing after a fire tore through a distribution center for the popular qvc tv shopping channel in north carolina. but officials say they think all 300 employees working there at the time got out safely. the fire chief says about 75% of the warehouse is damaged. the company can't say how deliveries of purchases will be affected and the cause of the fire is also unclear. haiti's second largest city is reeling from a fuel truck explosion that has left more than 70 people dead. tuesday's pablast highlights another problem that fuel is in short supply and powerful gangs can choke its delivery. as matt rivers reports, many haitians are paying a high price for that. massive flames illuminating the night sky in the northern port city in haiti's second largest. a fuel truck had exploded moments before in the middle of a dense neighborhood. it's not clear what caused the explosion, but the city's mayor said the truck had mechanical
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problems and had stopped. it began leaking fuel and people had crowded around, hoping to collect some for themselves. that crowd is what made the explosion catastrophic. dozens of people dead and dozens more injured. front line workers clearing bodies, covering them with white cloths the next morning, moving the dead into waiting truck, it was a brutal scene, in part caused by a critical fuel crisis on the island. spot protests have gone on for months, people angry over not being able to get fuel. we don't have a government, this man says. if we don't demand change, who will? >> tires set on fire and debris thrown into the street are desperate attempts to cause enough chaos that the government rice to fix the problem, but it won't be easy. not only is the government so broke it often can't buy enough fuel, but when some arrives, it can't get delivered. the vast majority of fuel is imported at these two locations,
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but gangs in port-au-prince are so powerful that they have near complete control over this crucial stretch of highway, which means they control the flow of fuel into the capitol. a gas retailer identity hindu to security concerns told us what happens if you try and drive a tanker into pickup fuel. so i might get kidnapped? >> yeah. >> i might get shot? >> yes, if you don't stop. >> i might get killed? >> yes. >> or at the very least, i'm going to have to pay an exorbitant bribe to get that? >> yes, of course. >> reporter: haiti's law enforcement are either unwilling or unable to secure a flow of p fuel from the ports. but not having enough fuel doesn't just mean you can't use your motor bike. consider this, here many port-au-prince, the energy grid is not reliable. let's say you own a small store and sell cold drinks. in order to keep that refrigerator running you need to run a generator, and if the fuel going into that generator is way more expensive than it was before, you immediate to cause
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your customers more for those cold drinks. not having enough fuel makes all kinds of things more expensive, and that's brutal in a country already dealing with extreme poverty. this from a scene about six weeks inside the empty hallways of the hospital, normally packed with patients, just a few were there. ketya's son almost died during an overnight asthma attack. she says the doctor was using the flashlight on his phone to put my sop on oxygen, because there is no electricity. it's so bad, i almost lost him. normally, all of those cribs would be filled with sick kids, but the hospital is turning away nearly every single patient that comes here, because right now, there's simply not enough doctors, nurses, or electricity to take care of them. that means that one of haiti's largest hospitals is essentially not functioning. the doctors are trying, but they cannot do anything, she says. they have no help. only god can help at this point. her son survived, but other victims of this fuel crisis did
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not. so many crowded around the leaking fuel truck, said the mayor, in part because they were so desperate for gasoline. what happened, a horrific consequence of a country starving for fuel. matt rivers, cnn. the taliban are changing their passport policy in afghanistan. we'll look at what this means for afghans trying to flee a humanitarian and economic crisis. that's ahead, stay with us.
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by switching to xfinity internet and mobile. with nationwide 5g at no extra cost. and lou! on the most reliable network, lou! smart kid, bill. oh oh so true. and now, the moon christmas special. gotta go! take the savings challenge at xfinitymobile.com/mysavings or visit an xfinity store to learn how our switch squad makes switching fast and easy this holiday season. the taliban say they're ready to start issuing passports again, raising hope 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 machine stopped working.
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now, all of this as the country faces a dire humanitarian and economic crisis. winter in afghanistan threatens to make an already dire situation worse for millions of people. michael holmes reports on the horrific conditions facing 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 that 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
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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. 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, quote, an avalanche of hunger and destitution to the country. 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. nine in every ten families are now buying less-expensive food. which tends to be less nutritious. eight in ten are eating less and
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seven in ten 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 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 plokd aid, saying it hurt the common people and would force more families to migrant. 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. a teen in texas is using his coding abilities to help people who are nonverbal. coming up, we have the inspiring story of just who motivated him to take on that cause. stay with us.
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it's frustrating when i don't hit the ball as far as i
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know that i can and the shots that i see don't come off the way that i want. after what i've been through this year, it's been a difficult year. so understanding that i'm not in golf shape, i'm not in practice shape or tournament shape, hopefully i'll get to that point again. we'll see. >> as you can see, tiger woods is book. that was the golf legend after competing for the first time since a car crash that crushed his leg in february. the 45-year-old alongside his teammate and 12-year-old son, charlie, finished the opening round of the 2021 pnc championship saturday. they're currently tied for fifth. well, people take the ability to speak for granted, but for some, it's not a given. now a teen in texas is determined to give everyone a voice, through an innovative app he created for someone close to his heart. >> you were telling me how you wanted a scooter from santa. how you wanted a scooter for christmas.
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is that true? >> scooter. >> you want scooter? >> reporter: this is della. the 14-year-old was born with a rare genetic condition that impacts her ability to speak. >> we didn't realize there was an issue until she was about 1 and she wasn't meeting her milestones. difficulty sitting up, crawling. we also noticed there was no speech. she's completely non-verbal. >> train. >> you want to ride the train? >> reporter: della's brother, archer, has developing a web application to help his sister communicate. >> she wants to communicate like everybody else. and just imagine how hard it would be if you couldn't communicate by talking to people. >> the website lets users program buttons with images of their choice that represent words. >> i like you. >> nuggets! >> nuggets! okay. >> train. >> yeah, we're going to go to the train. >> we're still going to the train. >> in the past, when we had to run errands, we just took her. she was never really consulted. and i mean, now, today, outings
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start with us just asking, hey do you want to go do this? do you want to go do that? yes, i want to go do that. >> choo choo. >> do you want to go fast? >> i want to go faster. >> you want to go faster? >> wherever i first made the application, i spent an hour or two coding the tile pad for her and making sure that it has all of her favorite buttons and stuff. i remember, i gave it to her, i put it on her ipad, and she opened it, and then closed it. but it was a big deal to me. seeing her communicate with my application. i want everyone to have a moment like with their nonverbal sibling or friend. i have a nonverbal sibling. that being said, a lot of the apps on the app store are made for people who can't talk are extremely, extremely expensive. >> that's why archer made his app free for anyone to use. >> when i had first made my first video, i only expected it to receive, you know, a few dozen, a few hundred views.
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when it received a million views, i got a lot of comments, a lot of comments congratulating me. and originally, because i was such a junior developer and i knew it, i kind of felt this sense of like imposter syndrome. the good part about it, i got a lot of eyeballs on the project, and i got a lot of contributors who wanted to contribute their code. >> archer made his software open source, which means other coders can add new features to the app. >> today i'm going to show us how we can control free speech with just our eyes on the ipad, using an awesome application called hawkeye access. i will then look up the word hello, blink. >> reporter: while the app is still a work in progress, it's already helping people across america and the world find their own voices. >> the fact that he's motivated to help other people, he takes in the comments that they have, he takes in the suggestions. that's what any parent wants for their son. they want their child to grow up to be empathetic. and now here he is in a very
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tangible way helping other peo people. >> wolf blitzer cnn washington. >> what a great story. 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. with mucinex nightshift you've got powerful relief
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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. this is "cnn newsroom." whether it's delta or omicron, covid cases are surging across the globe, bringing restrictions and also protests. we'll have the latest from new york and london and rome. voters in hong kong head to the polls for their first election under a new system, but their options are pretty limited. we'll explain. and despite 2021 being a tough year in many ways, we'll share stories from around the world about people determine

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