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279 Kidnapped Schoolgirls Rescued and Safe in Nigeria; Rise in COVID-19 Cases for First Time in Seven Weeks; 15 Percent of U.S. Public Given at least One Vaccine Dose; Official Tells Migrants to Wait before Traveling to U.S.; Pledges for Yemen from Donor Conference "Disappointing"; Calls for Stronger Response in Myanmar as Violence Escalates; Pope to Visit Iraq Despite COVID-19 and Terrorism Threats; Global CO2 Rising after Steep Drop. Aired 2-2:45a ET
Aired March 2, 2021 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You are watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm John Vause.
Coming up this hour, breaking news: hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls have been rescued. We have a live report from Lagos, with the latest.
Also, crackdown on democracy, as Myanmar security forces arrest dozens of journalists.
Amid concerns of violence and the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis set to visit Iraq by week's end.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
VAUSE: We begin with breaking news from Nigeria. Nearly 300 schoolgirls, kidnapped in the country's northwest, all rescued and, according to a government official, now safe. Gunmen raided their state-run school early Friday, in the region, growing increasingly lawless in recent months. CNN's Stephanie Busari, live for us in Lagos again.
Brings us up to date for the details.
Where were the girls, how were they found and what condition are they in right now?
STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN.COM SUPERVISING EDITOR, AFRICA: Good morning, John, it is good news. And I spoke to the aide for the governor of the state where this incident happened last week.
He says, around 4 am this morning, the girls arrived at the government statehouse. They were welcomed by the governor to the statehouse and they looked in good condition. They were safe.
And not much details were given about what led to their rescue. It is very likely that a ransom was paid. That is what we are seeing in these recent kidnappings as a pattern. They are taken, and in a few days, a couple of weeks, they are rescued or released. So it's quite likely that a ransom was paid here.
VAUSE: It does seem to be what's happening a lot, which seems to encourage more and more kidnappings in this region.
Also, one of the measures they've now taken in that state is to order the immediate closure of all boarding schools as a security measure, clearly, has an impact on many parents and kids.
BUSARI: Yes, absolutely. It has grave implications, firstly, for the education levels in this area, which are already quite low in the northern parts of Nigeria. Some parents we spoke to last week, from this school where the girls were taken, said they will never send their children to school again, if this government cannot keep them safe.
The president, himself, coming out to tell the governors, in this part of north Nigeria, to secure the schools. There is no reason why armed men should be able to burst into schools and cart away hundreds of school kids. There is just no reason for that.
They have also been told, do not pay ransoms. This encourages more bandits, more armed men, to waltz into schools and kidnap children. So it becomes an enterprise, really.
What is interesting, also, is that after these releases, we don't hear of any arrests. There is no attempt to bring justice, to make an example, if you like, of some of these people, to deter others from trying the same style of kidnappings -- John.
VAUSE: All carrots, no stick, it seems. Stephanie Busari, live, from Lagos.
VAUSE: For the past 7 weeks, the number of daily new coronavirus cases was declining. Gradually at first but picking up speed to a pace that raised hopes and cautious optimism that maybe, the worst is behind us. Now the declines have stopped. The daily case count is ticking upwards.
The declines coincide with the rollout of vaccines worldwide. The head of the WHO says that the recent increase is proof that vaccines, alone, are not the silver bullet to ending the pandemic. Basic public health measures are still crucial in a world that is nowhere near herd immunity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: This is disappointing. But not surprising. We are working to better understand the increases in transmission. Some of it appears to be relaxing of public health measures, continued circulation of variants and people, letting down their guard. (END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The U.S. now rolling out a third vaccine, distribution of almost 4 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine sent to local health departments, pharmacies and vaccination sites nationwide. Officials say, this is a positive step, to be sure, but the crisis, they say, it's far from over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: I remain deeply concerned about the potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic. The latest CDC data continuing to suggest that recent declines in cases have leveled off at a very high number.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: This week, the U.S. saw a 2 percent increase in new cases compared to a week earlier but that's enough to be of concern. CNN's Nick Watt has more.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine have shipped. 3 vaccines, they're out there in the mix.
DR. MARCELLA NUNEZ-SMITH, CHAIR, COVID-19 HEALTH EQUITY TASK FORCE: It's all good news. All 3 vaccines are safe, highly effective and prevent we care about most, which is serious illness and death.
WATT (voice-over): Plus Johnson & Johnson's is single dose and does not need deep freeze storage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll have 20 million in March and hundred million by June and hopefully by the summer, there will a lot to vaccinating all of the United States.
WATT (voice-over): But, issues remain.
JEFFREY ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Scheduling remains for far too many people, too frustrating. We need to make it better.
WATT (voice-over): Today, teachers and Connecticut, Mississippi and Louisiana are eligible for vaccination. Educators, now on the list in 31 states and Washington D.C. Not yet in Massachusetts, where, today, roller rinks and theaters reopened at half capacity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a good step in the right direction, that's for sure.
WATT (voice-over): But let's hold off on the high fives. DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: It is
really risky to say, it is over, we are on the way out, let's pull back. Look, historically, at the late winter, early spring, of 2020. The summer of 2020 when we started to pull back prematurely, we saw the rebound.
WATT (voice-over): Average new case counts have been falling sharply for weeks. But:
WALENSKY: Recent declines appears to be stalling. Please hear me clearly: at this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard earned ground we have gained.
WATT (voice-over): On average, around 2,000 Americans are still dying from this disease every day.
NUNEZ-SMITH: Get vaccinated with the first vaccine available to you. Protect yourself, your family and your community, from COVID-19.
WATT: Monday was 11 weeks, exactly, since the first American in America got a vaccine dose.
The current situation?
About 100 million doses are being distributed across the country. About 10 percent of the adult population has been fully vaccinated, double dosed. This single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine should change the landscape -- Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.
VAUSE: Johnson & Johnson is aiming for 100 million doses in the United States by July.
But when will the new vaccine actually start making a noticeable difference?
Here's Anne Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at UCLA.
ANNE RIMOIN, EPIDEMIOLOGY PROFESSOR, UCLA FIELDING SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: We really need to see somewhere around 70-85 percent of the world's population to be vaccinated, before we, really, see a major difference. When we talk about what will happen here, most likely, in the United States, we are probably, over the summer, going to start to see so many people vaccinated, we are going to see a difference.
I think that this J&J vaccine, it's just a wonderful thing. We have 3 vaccines now and we have good news coming our way. This vaccine doesn't need to be stored at very cold temperatures, it is a one dose shot. It will be able to be used globally, in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where I've spent my career working, where it will be very difficult to get people to come back, in rural areas, here in the United States, where it will difficult to get people to come back. We have lots of very good news here. VAUSE: One thing which has been interesting, there's been a focusing
on the efficacy of the J&J vaccine, between Moderna and Pfizer. It's being overblown because they share one crucial number, which is zero. No one died, no one sent to hospital, during the COVID trials.
RIMOIN: You are absolutely right. Here's the thing about these vaccines. What we know is that they are all, really, great. What is very interesting about the J&J vaccine is we had zero deaths, we know that that is the biggest part, the hospitalizations and the deaths. That's that zero number.
The other thing about the J&J vaccine, it was tested when these new variants of concern were circulating, tested in South Africa and Brazil where they were circulating at great speed.
That's the thing with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, we were testing them in the time period. It's quite possible these vaccines could be very similar, when it comes down to true, real world, effectiveness.
VAUSE: It's not really apples and apples, it's an apples and oranges comparison.
Once you do get vaccinated, then the big question, can I take part in the national doorknob licking contest. Here's Dr. Anthony Fauci, more on what you can do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: Small gatherings, in of the home, of people, I think, clearly, you can feel that the risk, the relative risk is so low, you would not have to wear a mask. You could have a good social gathering within the home.
Beyond that, it will be based on a combination of data, a combination of modeling and a combination of good, clinical, common sense. The CDC is working on that, right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The big issue remains asymptomatic patients, not showing symptoms but they've been vaccinated. They may be able to continue to spread the virus. That is not known but, anecdotally, I guess the evidence is pointing to promising news on that, especially with Johnson & Johnson.
RIMOIN: We just need to be cautious, when we do not have data. This virus has surprised us many times. The entire idea, it is very possible, you could get infected, if you are vaccinated, have an asymptomatic infection and spread it.
But the data bears out, that may not be very common. We are still waiting to know, for sure and we, as epidemiologists, are always cautious in that. I do agree with Dr. Fauci I think, when more and more people are vaccinated, we will start to be able to get back to some normal life.
I would say that the doorknob licking contests that you just mentioned, no longer on the menu of things to be doing.
VAUSE: Our thanks to Anne Rimoin in Los Angeles.
Colombia, receiving more than 110,000 vaccine doses through the U.N. led COVAX program. The move, considered a critical first step to herd immunity in the Americas. Stefano Pozzebon has our report.
STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Colombia has become the first country, in the Western Hemisphere, to receive vaccines through the COVAX mechanism.
Well, the number of doses landing here in Bogota on Monday afternoon was limited, only 117,000 of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. The movement marks a significant development not just for Colombia but for the whole of Latin America.
COVAX was set up by the World Health Organization, at the beginning of the pandemic, trying to secure equal access to vaccinations for every country in the world.
While Western countries such as the United States, Canada or the European Union have, so far, secured most of the vaccines available on the international market, countries such as Colombia, Peru, Ecuador or Brazil are unable to compete and must rely on COVAX to receive extra doses to complement their vaccination campaigns.
Colombia, so far, has been able to secure a little over than 40 million doses of the vaccines directly from the manufacturers. It is awaiting 20 million more to reach herd immunity -- for CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.
VAUSE: The White House facing scrutiny after failing to sanction Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman for his direct role in the brutal murder of dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
According to U.S. intelligence, the crown prince approved the operation, which ended in Khashoggi's brutal death. The U.S. State Department, on Monday, the U.S. doesn't want to damage relationships with the Saudis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We are very focused on future conduct. That is part of why we have cast this not as a rupture but a recalibration. We are trying to get to the systemic issues underlying the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Meantime, world leaders are criticizing the U.S. for failing to hold the crown prince accountable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AGNES CALLAMARD, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR: It is extremely, in my view, problematic, if not dangerous, to acknowledge someone's culpability and then to tell that someone that we won't do anything. That is as if we have said nothing.
I am calling on the U.S. government to act on its public findings and to sanction Mohammed bin Salman for what he has done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: President Joe Biden's for cooperation during a virtual meeting with Mexico's president on Monday, a stark contrast to his predecessor's often hostile attitude America's southern neighbor. They discussed immigration, remaining a challenge for both countries. CNN's Phil Mattingly, reports.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For President Joe Biden's administration, alarm bells are ringing at the southern border.
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We are challenged at the border.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas declining today to call it a crisis.
MAYORKAS: It is a stressful challenge and we are -- that is why, quite frankly, we are working as hard as we are, not only in addressing the urgency of the challenge but also in building the capacity to manage it.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): But with migrant children arriving at the border by the hundreds each day, an urgent warning from a new administration.
MAYORKAS: We aren't saying don't come; we are saying do not come now.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): The administration, in a sprint to reassemble an immigration system that faced a massive overhaul under former president Trump.
MAYORKAS: The prior administration dismantled our nation's immigration system in its entirety.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): But, the influx of thousands of children, coupled with the pandemic, has stressed the system, officials tell CNN, with the administration forced to open a Texas overflow facility for the new arrivals.
MAYORKAS: What we are seeing now, at the border, is the immediate result of the dismantlement of the system and the time it takes to rebuild it, virtually, from scratch.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): All as Biden's cornerstone legislative proposal, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan, gets set for its biggest test.
A victory this weekend, when House Democrats passed the bill. But now, on to the Senate, with Biden set to blitz Democrats with multiple virtual meetings this week, all to maintain unity.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We reserved time in the schedule to ensure that he can be engaged, roll up his sleeves and be personally involved in making phone calls, having more Zoom meetings, potentially having people here to the Oval Office, to get this across the finish line.
MATTINGLY: The lobbying blitz with members of his own party, starting in earnest on Monday. President Biden, meeting virtually with 9 senators, 9 senators who are considered more moderate in the Democratic caucus.
On Tuesday, he plans to meet with the entire Democratic caucus. Again, virtually, but all of this underscoring everything the president does throughout the next several days as Senate Democrats get ready to take up the $1.9 trillion bill, will all be about keeping Democrats together.
Remember, there's no Republican, none of the 50 Republicans in the U.S. Senate, giving any hope to the White House that they will vote for this. That means the White House and Senate Democrats cannot afford to lose one single member.
If they lose just one, the president's cornerstone legislative proposal falls apart. So keep in mind, the president will be working this hard throughout the course of the week and so will Senate Democratic leaders, with the goal of having this through the U.S. Senate as soon as this weekend -- Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.
VAUSE: The former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has been sentenced to 3 years in prison. He was convicted on corruption charges for trying to bribe a judge, for information on a probe into his campaign finances after he left office. Two years of his sentence were suspended, he will be serving house arrest instead of jail time. I spoke with European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: What is so egregious in the case of Nicolas Sarkozy is that this is someone who held political office going all the way back to the 90s, including cabinet positions, including the minister of the interior and being the top cop in the country with a reputation for being especially uncompromising and harsh.
Yet this is somebody who used this position of power and authority and engaged in a whole range of corrupt practices that are a product of this entitlement. I think the political establishment in France does not forget this. These are historically Macron and Sarkozy and people who came to power as some of the youngest presidents in the history of the French republic. They're still around, they're political threats and they're all settling scores with one another.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Thanks to Dominic Thomas for that.
Still to come, humanitarian aid for Yemen falling far short of the need and the head of the U.N. says it could be a death sentence for millions suffering.
Protesters return to the streets of Myanmar despite the latest deadly crackdown, bringing great urgency for a resolution to this crisis.
VAUSE: The U.N. needed nearly $4 billion to prevent widespread starvation in Yemen, but a conference on Monday raised less than half of that. More than six years of war have led to what the U.N. calls the world's largest humanitarian crisis, teetering on a large-scale famine.
The U.N. says more than half of the population is going hungry. There's 24 million in need, many displaced. Jan Egeland is the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAN EGELAND, SECRETARY GENERAL, NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL: There are 20 million people who need humanitarian assistance, 16 million need food to avoid starvation.
It is as big is that, it's as simple and as difficult as that. If we are now counting, there is, perhaps, is it $1 billion?
We need another $3 billion. There are many countries to go. But it's too little.
On top of that, we need an end to this war, a cease-fire. The shortfall will be measured in lives lost, in children's lives lost, to children and the youth, the women, the most vulnerable of whom we all must agree have nothing to do with this senseless conflict among grown men that, on both sides, are willing to quarrel and fight each other to the last child.
The lack of funding for our operation, also means rations will remain halved and a father with 8 children told me, listen, to me, the monthly ration for my family must last 15 days. Then I could scrape together enough -- many go on of garbage dumps and find a little bit of food for example.
I could scrape together to get to the end of the month. When we only got one food ration every other month, it was impossible. Then comes this tsunami of death, associated to malnutrition. And that is not the future. It is today.
So we need to scale up today and tomorrow and the day after. We need more access and we need an end to the senseless violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: As violence escalates in Myanmar between protesters and security forces, there is growing urgency to resolve the political crisis, beginning with last month's military coup.
Protesters back on the streets, marching through Yangon, despite a violent crackdown leading to at least 18 deaths over the weekend. Hundreds of people have been arrested since the coup a month ago.
That includes a reporter for a local news outfit, "The Democratic Voice of Burma." The Association of Southeast Asian Nations will meet with foreign ministers to discuss this crisis. Meantime, Ivan Watson live In Hong Kong, with more details on that.
Journalists are often the target in Myanmar.
What are the details?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The individual you mentioned, actually live streaming the security forces coming to his house at night and he can be heard yelling off of his balcony, calling for help. Then, apparently, detained. One of dozens of journalists to be detained since the coup began on February 1st.
The leader of the military dictatorship who declared himself a leader after detaining the elected civilian government has been on state media. He has been quoted, saying, insisting that the police in Myanmar have been using minimum force and the least harmful means to deal with the protests.
That despite accusations coming from the U.S., from the United Nations secretary general even from a fellow ASEAN member, the foreign minister of Singapore, accusing the security forces of using live rounds against unarmed protesters, on Sunday, killing at least 18 people.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WATSON (voice-over): Shock and grief after the deadliest day since Myanmar's month-old military coup. This 53-year old and his mother mourned the sudden loss of his twin brother. He was one of the victims of Sunday's burst of bloody violence.
KO KO AUNG HTET NAING, VICTIMS BROTHER: And then we go to the road, then we fight for our democracy. But they shot my brother.
Ko Ko says the twins attended many protests against the military dictatorship after the February 1st military coup.
NAING: We are against the military coup and we really want democracy.
WATSON (voice-over): On the night of Saturday, February 27th, Naing posted what would be his final message on Facebook, #howmanydeadbodiesunneedtotakeaction?
On Sunday morning the twins were part of this crowd in front of Yangon's number 5 business education high school. A half hour earlier, police had fired tear gas down the street, sending protesters running. But at 9:20 am, after a brief lull in detention (ph) this was him crumpled in front of the school gate.
Amid more gunfire, by bystanders struggled to drag him to safety. The brothers have been separated in the panic, Ko Ko only learned that his brother was fatally wounded with a bullet to the stomach after he repeatedly called his twin's phone.
NAING: I called my brother again and again, he took my phone and he said, you're brother had been shot by the military.
WATSON (voice-over): The spasm of violence erupted across Myanmar Sunday, claiming victims in at least 6 cities, according to the United Nations human rights office. The U.N. secretary general and U.S. secretary of state both condemned security forces for attacking peaceful protesters.
CNN has tried to reach the military for comment but it has not responded. The military-controlled media insist, police only used tear gas and stun grenades against what they described as rioting protesters.
On Monday, protesters were back out on the streets of Yangon, rebuilding their barricades. Sunday's killings have only angered the anti military movement, this activist says --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even today, after many people got killed yesterday, even today we see a lot of people out on the streets. They resist in the same scale. So nothing can eventually stop us. That's what the military needs to be convinced about that.
WATSON (voice-over): There is a memorial on the street where Ne Ne (ph) bled, Ko Ko hopes his brother's death will not be in vain.
NAING: Please help, us the Myanmar people. Please reject our military because they are not our leaders. They are not our government, they are not our future.
WATSON: Now John, in addition to the deadly theater playing out in the streets with the security forces, there is another aspect to this opposition movement, much less visible but maybe having much more of an impact. That is, widespread work stoppage across many different sectors of the economy.
The head of the military dictatorship has instructed ministries to take action against civil servants, against physicians who are refusing to go to work, thus, kind of crippling the health care system, crippling the banking sector. How the security forces can force people to go back to work, that is going to be a major question and a major dilemma going forward.
VAUSE: Ivan Watson, live, in Hong Kong.
We're taking a short break. When we come back, heading to Iraq, that is where they have major safety concerns. Live reports from Rome and Baghdad, in a moment.
Also, it didn't last long. One of the few benefits of a nationwide pandemic lockdown, clean air and cleaner blue skies. But latest data shows carbon emissions are back and then some.
VAUSE: Pope Francis will visit Iraq on Friday, despite threats of COVID-19 and terrorism. It'll be his first trip outside Italy since the pandemic began. The Vatican says his 4-day visit includes multiple stops, promoting peace, diversity and tolerance.
Church leaders believe that Iraqi forces will be able to protect him during this trip. Once more, Delia Gallagher, live, in Rome, and CNN international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, live in Baghdad.
Ben, I want to start with you because as you know, there are Iraqi forces and Iraqi forces. You know which ones -- which security division is keeping the pope safe?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, they have been mobilized and when you're talking about Iraq, there are two different authorities, the federal government in Baghdad and then there is the Kurdish regional government in the north, where the pope will spend his last full day in Iraq.
Certainly, what we know is they are pulling out all of the stops to make sure that in terms of his protection against any possible violence, they're not taking any risks. Certainly, this is a country where security will dictate every single move.
The real concern at this point is not with the potential for violence. The real worry, of course, is the potential threat imposed by COVID- 19, not to the pope or his entourage, all of whom has been vaccinated, but of course, to the population in general. The fear is that, perhaps, there could be a superspreader event as a result of his 4-day visit -- John.
VAUSE: With some of those questions, has the Vatican addressed concerns that Pope Francis could, in some ways, be pulling a Donald Trump, flying in and holding superspreader events?
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: John, the pope himself addressed it and that is the one reason they may consider postponing the trip, is if there were a rise in cases of COVID. Yet, the Vatican says, the trip is still on.
The pope has been vaccinated as are those who will be traveling with him. But Iraqis are not. And certainly, the Iraqi authorities are saying that they will limit the number of people who go to events and the pope will not be using his Popemobile to avoid people coming out into the streets to see him.
But having traveled on many of these trips, I know that, when the pope is in town, people are excited and want to come out to see him. So much is going to depend on how well the Iraqi authorities are actually able to control crowds. That remains to be seen.
The pope also said, in his interview, even if they only see him on TV, at least he feels he will accomplish what he set out to do, give support to the Iraqi people -- John.
VAUSE: With that in mind, obviously, this trip is special, in terms of bringing people together.
How does that happen, especially with the Christian Iraqis?
WEDEMAN: There is enthusiasm about his upcoming visit. In northern Iraq, he will be visiting a town near Irbil. There is enthusiasm. They are putting up posters, they are cleaning up the towns, they are painting streets.
But as Delia mentioned, the concern is COVID. Now it's important to keep in mind, the number of daily cases reported in the last month has tripled. And there does seem to be a real spike here. It is important that this is a country with more than, perhaps any other country on Earth, collective post-traumatic stress disorder.
This is a country, where, by my rough calculations, in the last 40 years, 1.7 million people have died, roughly, as a result of first the bloodbath, the Iran-Iraq War, then the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and its aftermath. And then, the U.S.-backed sanctions on the country and the U.S.-backed invasion and occupation of Iraq. Then, the war against ISIS. For Iraqis, you go around Baghdad, you go around Irbil, you go around
any Iraqi city and you will see, it is almost a time warp, back to a year ago before COVID-19. Perhaps one in 15 people are wearing a mask and social distancing seems to be a foreign concept that's not sinking in here.
So if you look through the historical lens, Iraqis look at it, COVID- 19 is just a blip on the screen.
VAUSE: Good point, if anyone needs hope, good wishes and blessings, is the people of Iraq. Ben Wedeman, in Baghdad, Delia Gallagher in Rome, both of you, thank you so much.
Prince Philip being treated at another hospital in London. He was transferred to St. Bartholomew's, specializing in cardiac care. He's having tests on a pre-existing heart condition and also being treated for an earlier infection. He is expected to stay until the end of the week. The husband of Queen Elizabeth was admitted to a private hospital 2 weeks ago it's his longest hospital stay so far.
The Duke of Edinburgh turns 100 in June. He stepped back from public life in 2017.
The New York attorney general saying she now has the authority for an independent investigation into sexual harassment claims against governor Andrew Cuomo. Two former aides, publicly detailing the allegations. "The New York Times" reporting a third woman is now accusing the governor of an unwanted advance at a wedding in 2019.
In a statement on Sunday, Cuomo apologized to those who may have misinterpreted his remarks as flirtatious. One of the accusers, Charlotte Bennett, releasing her own statement.
"It took the governor 24 hours and significant backlash to allow for a truly independent investigation. These are not the actions of someone who simply feels misunderstood. They are the actions of an individual who wields his power to avoid justice."
Cuomo, maintaining, he never inappropriately touched or propositioned anyone.
Still to come, a global pandemic clearing the air around the world. How much CO2 emissions are now rebounding. More on that after the break.
VAUSE: Goods come from the pandemic but it triggered the largest annual drop in global energy rate of carbon emissions, since World War II. It did. Now economies starting to open back up, CO2 emissions rebounding, in a big way. CNN's John Defterios, live with, us in Abu Dhabi.
If you look at the correlation between where the emissions are coming from, especially in December, which economies are actually doing well and starting back up and having good economic growth again compared to those that aren't, is there a correlation here?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: There is, John. As emerging markets editor, you can see the two pillars of the emerging markets, China and India, leading the global economic recovery; I would say, especially, China.
We can physically see the difference. We can say wow, fantastic, the inactivity but clear skies. It is changing, of course. Look at the tally from the International Energy Agency. A near 6 percent drop, year on year, something we haven't seen since World War II. It's like taking the European Union out of the global economy when it comes to emissions.
You will see this number again, 8.6 percent drop in oil demand in one single year, extraordinary. And the number you're talking about, December to December, a rise of 2 percent because China's emissions were up 7 percent. From September India started going above zero in terms of its emissions as well.
But this is an important year. This is COP26 so the good news is Joe Biden is back in play, the U.S. will be at the table, setting new emissions targets. China should come along for the ride. India is a big question mark, how aggressive will they be in the future.
The European Union, using the pandemic to reset and putting forward its own policy. This is the momentum building but it's not there yet, until the end of the year.
VAUSE: In terms of worldwide, it was down 8 percent, which is a big drop of for one year but how does the oil industry see the future?
DEFTERIOS: I'll give you a few headline numbers. That drop of 8.6 percent took us to 92-93 million barrels per day, crossing 100 million in 2019. The big question mark for the industry, when does that peak forever and then drop?
Some of the CEOs this week, in Houston, happening virtually, they say for the next 10 years, we should see oil demand rise above 100 million barrels per day. The huge question mark is when does it drop in the next 20-30 years, perhaps dropping like 40 percent to 50 percent. Last year, the IEA were suggesting that renewables made up 20 percent of global energy for the first time.
At the same time, electric vehicle sales went up 40 percent. It is a transition. How quick is the big question going forward.
VAUSE: John Defterios, emerging markets editor, live in Abu Dhabi, thank you, John.
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