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Regulators: AstraZeneca Vaccine Benefits Outweigh Risks; Asia- Pacific Region Hurt By Slow Vaccine Rollout; COVID-19 Makes Iraq's Drug Epidemic Worse; Use of Force Expert: Chauvin Used "Deadly Force" on Floyd; Jordan's King Breaks Silence after Royal Family Fallout; U.A.E.'s Nuclear Power Plant Begins Commercial Operations; First-Hand Look at Cathedral Restoration. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired April 8, 2021 - 01:00   ET



JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. I'm John Avlon. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Ahead this hour, health experts insist that the benefit to the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks, but worries remain. This latest will only increase vaccine hesitancy.

And Iraq's latest war, being fought on two fronts. How the coronavirus pandemic is making the country's battle against drugs even more difficult.

And two years after it was gutted by fire, we're going to take you inside Notre Dame Cathedral, to show you the work being done to restore it.


AVLON: Health authorities keep saying that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, it's benefits far exceeds the risks. We hear that again on Wednesday, but this time, E.U. and British regulators also acknowledge there is a possible link between the vaccine and rare blood clots.

The European Medicines Agency stopped short of calling for the vaccine to be used in a more limited manner, but U.K. authority say those under 30 should get alternative vaccines, while insisting that the blood clots are, quote, vanishingly rare.

Salma Abdelaziz has the story from London.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Very rare cases of blood clotting can occur. That was one of the side effects of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine. It was a conclusion after two press conferences were held, one by European health officials, another by U.K. health officials here in London. Let's start with the European Medicines Agency. They say the benefits

of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine still outweigh the risks. These very rare cases of blood clotting appear to be more public among women, among those age under 60, but experts could not identify any specific risk group.

EMER COOKE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EUROPEAN MEDICINES AGENCY: Based on the current available evidence, specific risk factors such as age, gender or previous medical history of clotting disorders have not been able to be confirmed.

ABDELAZIZ: Now, U.K. health officials say that out of 20 million doses of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine that were administered, 79 cases, 79 of these a very rare blood clotting cases occurred. Out of those 79 people, unfortunately, 19 of them lost their lives.

But again, U.K. health officials agreeing there with E.U. health officials that the benefits of this vaccine do still outweigh the risks.

However, U.K. health officials are now changing the guidance on who gets this vaccine.

WEI SHEN LIM, CHAIRMAN, U.K. JOINT COMMITTEE ON VACCINATION & IMMUNISATION: Adults who are aged 18 to 29 years old, who do not have an underlying health condition that puts them at higher risk from a COVID-19 disease, should be offered an alternative COVID-19 vaccine in preference to the AstraZeneca vaccine, where such an alternative vaccine is available.

ABDELAZIZ: Now, both sides agree that there is a reasonable plausible link between these rare cases of blood clotting and the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine. But, more scientific work needed to be done, to understand exactly what that link is and why this rare cases of blood clotting do occur.

But it's going to be difficult. The sample that is allowed, that is there for research, the study, is extremely small. One U.K. health official describing this as vanishingly rare.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


AVLON: Thank you, Salma.

Now, experts say that vaccination is the world's best hope for getting beyond the pandemic. But concerns of the AstraZeneca vaccine safety could make people more hesitant about getting any shots. And health authorities worry that it could set back overall vaccination efforts.


COOKE: This vaccine has proven to be highly effective, it prevents severe disease in hospitalization, it is saving lives. Vaccination is extremely important, in helping us in the fight against COVID-19. And we need to use the vaccines we have to protect us from the devastating effects.


AVLON: Joining us now, Jason Kindrachuk is an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba's Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. He joins us from Saskatchewan.


Professor Kindrachuk, thank you for joining us.

Look, I want to talk about the role that a resistance to getting vaccinated is playing in the geopolitical challenge. In the North America, we'd say they're anti-vaxxers. But geopolitically, it's a bigger than just some conspiracy theories people might have picked up on the web. How big a problem is this from a geopolitical public health standard?

JASON KINDRACHUK, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, MEDICAL MICROBIOLOGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Yeah, it's a great question right. It's certainly something we've been facing for literally centuries now, really since the onset of the virilization (ph) way, way backing the days of smallpox. So, it's something that consistently been in the background, we've seen more ratification of this fairly recently.

One of the issues that we're seeing now is in fact that again through virtual technologies that were using for this interview and for otherwise, we now see that a lot of this misinformation has a much broader reach. And that's a big concern for us. We know there are marginalized communities, certainly people that have a distrust in what they're hearing from government, what they're hearing from health care communities. And once they hear, you know, some of those messages of why they feel that feel of it more like their actions are condone, that creates a bigger problem for us from a public health standpoint.

AVLON: I'm amazed how widespread this is. As you know, a lot of historically marginalized communities have historic reasons to be skeptical of a government coming in and offering vaccines. But the flip side to the massive amounts of disinformation out there is that people should know that in this global pandemic, if you don't get this vaccine, especially with these new variants currently raging through Canada, the United States, and much of the world, you are going to get sick, and possibly die.

What can convince them that their lives are on the line, if they embrace this denialism?

KINDRACHUK: No, this is such a great question, right? I think this goes back a little bit to the fact that people like myself and others, that have found their way in science were not naturally trained as communicators. So, one of the issues that I think we have faced, for a long period of time is that the language that we use, when are trying to explain topics and explain the reasons behind why vaccines are so important, why we need to be concerned by the fact in general. That maybe has not resonated with public because it hasn't maybe been in a language that is conducive for the public to fully understand.

I think we really need to do our due diligence in trying to figure out how to better communicate those messages and get that point across about the concerns we have, the justification for why we have these concerns.

AVLON: All right, Professor, you're on the spot then. What does that sound like? Given your research, what is the way of talking to folks so that they understand the stakes here? Go.

KINDRACHUCK: Yeah, it's a great question, right? So I think part of it is taking us out of the academic silos that were in and really coming out to the community. So, making it accessible for people for us to be able to move out to whether it's public forums, or online chats, doing face to face interactions. These are really important, again to try and take away some of that mystification that we have for scientists.

And again, think about the ideas of why different communities are facing some of these questions, that they have. We don't have a blanket response for every community, I think we have to understand that and appreciate that. That the things that I may be talk about in Central Africa or West Africa, are certainly want to be different in the things I talk about here in Saskatchewan or Manitoba, or when I was still in Washington.

AVLON: So how much of an argument that goes like this, it's not just about you, and your fears, and your choices. It's about the way your choices impact the people around you, your family, your grandparents, your spouse, your kids, your friends? Does that kind of moral imagination play resonate more than simply it's about you?

KINDRACHUK: I like to hope. I mean, I think that's part of, you know, for me being Canadian. I think we've always thought of ourselves as being people who reach out and try to do the best for our communities are not just for ourselves. Sometimes that has, worked other times it hasn't and it's been interesting in this pandemic.

You know, we've talked a lot about this idea of doing the right things for the people around you, to have those protections in place for people that are vulnerable to severe disease with COVID-19. Sometimes it's worked very well, other times we've seen a lot of people that have said if it doesn't affect me, I know I'm worried about that.

So, I think, again, we had to figure how to try and get that message across to those people, about why this is important.

AVLON: Well, I've just got to say for folks who are listening and who may still be on the fence for whatever reason, your lives are on the line. We are making great progress in this race between vaccines and the variants, but if you opt out of the vaccine, the variants are going to get you.

Jason Kindrachuk, thank you very much for joining us here on CNN NEWSROOM.

KINDRACHUK: Thanks for having me, John.


AVLON: Now to a grim new pronouncement from health experts, nowhere are COVID-19 infections more worrisome than in South America. That's the word from the head of the Pan-American Health Organization.

Brazil is in the new epicenter of the pandemic, where scientists predict the latest surge could be even worse than the one here in the U.S. back in January. A slow vaccine rollout and a dismissive response from President Bolsonaro are both to blame.


JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are not going to expect this policy to stay in home, of closing everything down. This virus will not go, this virus like others is here to stay and will remain for a lifetime. It is practically impossible to eradicate, what are we going to do until then?


AVLON: And now, Brazil is reporting its first case of a highly contagious variant, first identified in South Africa.

CNN's Shasta Darlington reports.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN REPORTER: That COVID crisis isn't letting up in Brazil. After recording the deadliest months since the pandemic began in March, the numbers continue to rise this week. Tuesday a record number of deaths and Wednesday was just behind with more than 3,800 people killed by COVID-19, as well as the second highest number of daily new cases, over 92,000. ICU occupancy in almost all states, at or above 80 percent, yet only 8.5 percent of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine.

A new and more contagious variant has feel this latest surge, according to a report by Brazil's T.O. Cruz Foundation, only a national lockdown with a minimum duration of two weeks could curb the rapid spread of coronavirus cases across the country.

Meanwhile, Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro repeated yet again on Wednesday, that he will never implement a national nationwide lockdown. He warned that the virus is here to stay, that staying at home is not a solution.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paulo.


AVLON: Maharashtra, India's worst hit state, is facing a vaccine shortage, as that country deals a surge in new COVID infections. In Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, and Thailand, cases are up more than 50 percent compared to previous week. CNN's Blake Essig is live this hour in Tokyo with more -- Blake.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, John, there are a number of countries struggling here in Asia Pacific with the coronavirus right now. And Japan is no different here.

We've seen more than 3,000 cases reported just today. That's the most cases that we've seen in the past two months. And the third of those cases were reported from Osaka prefecture, which were just yesterday, the governor declared a medical emergency because hospital beds are filling up.

And they event went as far as to change the format of the torch relay scheduled for next week in Osaka city. Instead of being held publicly, it will now be held behind closed doors.

Now, as you mentioned, John, there are a number of countries struggling here in Japan, or here just beyond Japan, all over this region.


ESSIG (voice-over): In a part of the world which is first to bear the brunt of COVID-19, pandemic fatigue, virus variants and vaccine rollout seemingly moving at a snail pace, are three factors that Dr. Jerome Kim, the head of the U.N. organization promoting vaccination and its development, says will likely continue to cause problems across Asia Pacific.

DR. JEROME KIM, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL VACCINE INSTITUTE: If you can't control the pandemic, and you don't have access to vaccine, you're not going to be -- you're going to be in a situation we're in in the spring of 2020, with hospitals being full, with people being denied admission and people dying at home.

ESSIG: It's a grim reality that many countries in the region could face in the days and weeks to come. The Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, most of Japan, and South Korea are all seeing their daily case counts moving in the wrong direction.

As for India, they just reported more than 115,000 new infections, that's the most new cases reported in a single day since the pandemic began.

VINOD KUMAR PAUL, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR TRANSFORMING INDIA: Last couple of weeks, the situation is coming bad to worse, and the serious cause for concern.

ESSIG: In the Philippines, the president spokesperson said the spread of more infectious coronavirus variants, came as a surprise. More than 24 million people in and around Manila had been living under Barack lockdown for more than a week, as cases continue to surge. Infections have been on the rise almost daily since mid-February, the result many hospitals are overwhelmed, nonessential workers fear for what an extended lockdown might mean.

EDDIE ABRASALDO, JEEPNEY DRIVER: It will be more difficult when we don't have jobs, because we don't have the money to feed our family.

ESSIG: While case counts are on the rise in several countries throughout Asia Pacific, vaccines are not as readily available as in countries like the U.K. and U.S.


Dr. Kim explains why.

KIM: I think countries are a little late to enter the queue for vaccine purchases. I mean, to some extent, in Korea and Japan, it's because there weren't as many cases and they want to perhaps to know the vaccines were working or which vaccines are safe.

ESSIG: Japan has fully vaccinated about 0.2 of a percent of its population. The Philippines and South Korea, even less than that.

In India, the vaccine factory of the world, is still at less than 1 percent.

But it's not all bad news across the Asia Pacific region, in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam, the new average daily case count has remained extremely low.

JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OFNEW ZEALAND: While keeping their countries --

ESSIG: And in New Zealand and Australia, the count is low enough that they will resume operating in a quarantine-free travel corridor between the two countries, later this month.


ESSIG (on camera): The World Health Organization believes the latest surge in the region is driven by the relaxing of measures by governments here across Asia Pacific, allowing more people to gather. Now, beyond that, here in Asia, we've been dealing with the coronavirus for the past 15 months. And so, fatigue is a real thing, and medical experts acknowledged at this point that the messaging needs to change, simply telling people to pay attention to personal hygiene and social distancing, wearing a mask, has simply lost its edge -- John.

AVLON: Blake Essig reporting live from Tokyo -- thank you very much, Blake.

All right. Iraq is battling two deadly epidemics. And its crystal meth crisis is only worsening, as the pandemic pushes it into the background.

Coming up, you're going to meet some of those at the center of the addiction crisis.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They used her mostly to smuggle their drug stash through checkpoints, that she would hide it underneath her close and women here tend not to get searched.



AVLON: Violence is escalating in Northern Ireland, protester said a hijacked bus on fire and attacked police with stones in a pro-British area of Belfast. Dozens of officers have been injured in days, amid ongoing outbreaks of violence, and it comes amid the growing tensions over Northern Ireland's Brexit protocol and frustrations over the decision not to charge members of Sinn Fein for allegedly breaking COVID restrictions.

The U.K. and Irish prime ministers have both condemned the violence.

The White House says it is disturbed by reports that jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny's health is deteriorating. Navalny's lawyers say he's now dealing with two hernias and is losing feeling in both hands. Amnesty International has warned, this may be the slow death of the opposition leader.

Still, Navalny remains on a hunger strike and now the White House is demanding his immediate release and as this message for Moscow.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We urge Russian authorities to take all necessary actions to ensure his safety and health. So long as he is in prison, the Russian government is responsible for his health and well-being.


AVLON: The Kremlin has previously said that Navalny would get any special treatment, saying his health issues will be addressed according to prison policy.

Myanmar's ambassador to the U.K. says he's been locked out of the London embassy allegedly by officials loyal to the military. The ambassador called for Aung San Suu Kyi's release from detention, after the military seized power in Myanmar and launched a deadly crackdown on protesters. The envoy suggests the junta has conducted another kind of coup on Wednesday, by taking over London's embassy. So far, the embassy has not responded to CNN's phone calls, and the U.K. government says it's investigating the incident.

And activist groups said nearly 600 people have died at the hands of the military since protests began in Myanmar. New video appears to show how authorities are treating civilians. It shows a group of men being blindfolded and led away by security forces, then being forced to sit on the ground. Now, a special envoy of the ousted civilian government is warning a civil war maybe imminent if the world fails to act.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: How bad are things likely to get if the international community doesn't come up with a coordinated response?

DR. SASA, UNION PARLIAMENT OF MYANMAR SPECIAL ENVOY TO THE U.N.: If the world refused to stop this military (INAUDIBLE), and then my country is going to face the greatest civil war that we've never seen before. That means the bloodbath are real, it's coming, more people will die I'm afraid. It is the time for the world to prevent another genocide, another ethnic cleansing, another massacre. So the world has the power to stop it, before it's too late.


AVLON: And Myanmar's military is defending its action, saying the protests are a country-destroying movement.

Two deadly epidemics are plaguing Iraq, as the country battles a surging COVID cases, the virus is pushing the nation's crystal meth crisis into the background, but the trade is still expanding. Authorities are struggling to control the flow of drugs from neighboring, countries and networks are becoming more sophisticated.

CNN's Arwa Damon spoke with Iraqis at the center of the drug addiction crisis. CNN agreed to protect their identities given the stigma that remains.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The tentacles of a different form of warfare are leeching into Iraqi society.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated): Little by little, I would say to myself, what is wrong with my son?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated): I've been doing drugs, crystal meth.

DAMON: Far too many are susceptible, when joy, happiness, a vision for the future is blurred away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated): Life in this country is miserable. The guys said, this is better. It will take you somewhere else.

DAMON: Officials say the drug networks here have grown more complex over the last few years and, as of late, recruiting more women.

Thuraya, her husband and the man she refers to as their friend smuggled, sold, and used crystal meth.

THURAYA, DRUG DEALER (translated): My husband said: Let's start dealing

DAMON: The friend would get it from the Iranian border, from the big dealers, she says.

They used her mostly to smuggle their drug stash through checkpoints, because she would just hide it underneath her clothes.


And women here tend not to get searched.

THURAYA (translated): I didn't think. I wasn't afraid, because I was high.

DAMON (voice-over): They were all captured in a house they were selling out of with around $18,000 worth of crystal meth.

Iraq's anti-drug unit, which officials say is undermanned and underfunded, has yet to make what they would consider a significant bust. Their biggest seizures are in the countries south, close to the border with Iran, the main transit point for crystal meth.

The era of COVID-19 has resulted in a surge in demand, General Hamad Hussein (ph) with the anti-drug unit tells us, more unemployment, more frustrated youth idling in the streets, more targets.

The drug dealers will give someone a hit or two for free, General Hussein explains. Once they are hooked, they often start to deal themselves, to finance their own addiction.

The unit has intelligence that dealers are active in this market.

They have about five or six wanted people in this neighborhood.

General Hussein chats with people, giving them the hot line number for tips -- they get hundreds a day -- and tries to ease some of the distress that exists between the population and the security forces.

He compares the booming drug trade to another face of terrorism.

The era of traditional warfare with two armies facing each other is over, he says. The enemies of Iraq are also using drugs to destroy the core of our society, our youth.

The anti-drug department prison in Baghdad's Western District is full. Each cell is meant to hold 30. But there are more than 50 men here, dealers, and addicts.

Up until 2016, Khaled says he had steady work as a security contractor. Then it all fell apart. He lost his job, spiraling into depression.

Friends pushed him to try crystal meth.

KHALED, PRISONER (translated): They insisted, try it, try it. It will help you forget. I was trapped. I couldn't get out.

DAMON: The love of his life left him.

KHALED: There isn't a single day that I don't think about her and the good days we spent together.

DAMON: Khaled's cell mate, Mahmoud, who agreed to show his face on camera, says he ended up stealing from his elderly mother to fund his crystal meth habit.

MAHMOUD, PRISONER (translated): I would never have thought that I would fall this far.

ENAS, ACTIVIST (through translator): "Please, I am begging you help me. I am a user. Please save me from this.

DAMON: Each appeal coming through on Enas' Facebook page is one more person she hopes she can help recover, one more drug addict she can keep out of prison.

This is a message from a teenager in Basra. He writes that he's 15 years old, that he wants treatment, that he wants to get better, but he doesn't know what to do.

DAMON: Enas, a middle school biology teacher who realizes some of her students were using, is trying to raise awareness about the options that exist for addicts. Many users who want to recover are afraid the authorities will just detain them.

What most don't know is that, if they willingly go to rehab, there are no legal repercussions under Iraqi law.

ENAS: There are three paths with drugs, recovery, prison or death. There is no fourth option.

DAMON: The beds at this rehab center are full. The doctors here tell us they have to cycle out patients faster than they would like to. This young man says he used to drive a tuk tuk. One of his passengers offered him crystal meth, and that was it, he was hooked.

His parents found him with a gun to his head, because he was having hallucinations that people were coming at him and ordering him to kill himself.

Ahmed was discharged two days ago, but he says he still has cravings. His mother is too afraid to take him back home to Southern Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated): He went from being a person to a monster.

DAMON: She's scared, scared he will use again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will kill myself. I can't take it.

DAMON: When high, Ahmed at times would beat her, set things on fire.

AHMED (translated): I was going to get married, buy things. I lost it all to the crystal.

DAMON: Crystal meth, he says, made him feel powerful, like there was no limit to what he could achieve, a tantalizing state of mind in a country that has repeatedly shackled its own youth. And now risks losing more of it to addiction.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad. (END VIDEOTAPE)


Straight ahead, the prosecution in the Derek Chauvin trial is adding to the mounting testimony that the former officer used excessive force against George Floyd, got more details from the courtroom today - next.




I'm John Avlon in New York.

Crucial testimony in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin. Use of force experts said the former police officer used excessive force against George Floyd. But the defense is trying to put the blame on Floyd's own action, once again raising questions over his drug use.

CNN's Sara Sidner has more details.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): So far nine Minneapolis current or former police officers, including the chief, have testified for the prosecution.

On Wednesday a prosecution expert on the use of force from the Los Angeles Police Department testified.

STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: Sir, do you have an opinion to a degree of reasonable professional certainty whether the force used as shown in Exhibit 254 -- whether that force being applied then for the restraint period which you defined as 9 minutes and 29 seconds, would constitute deadly force?


SCHLEICHER: and what is that opinion?

STIGER: That it would.

SIDNER: Sergeant Jody Stiger was also asked about the crowd shouting at police as they restrain Floyd.

SCHLEICHER: Would it be possible for a group, loud group to distract the defendant from being attentive to George Floyd? Is that right?


SCHLEICHER: Do you believe that occurred?

STIGER: No I do not. SCHLEICHER: And why is that?

STIGER: Because in the video you can hear Mr. Floyd displaying his discomfort and pain. And you can also hear the defendant responding to him.

GEORGE FLOYD: I need some water or something. Please. Please. I can't breathe, Officer.


SIDNER: Stiger testified about the medical complication he learned of as an officer himself, when putting pressure on someone's body who is lying on their stomach.


SCHLEICHER: How long have the dangers of positional asphyxia been known?

STIGER: At least 20 years.

SIDNER: He also testified that body camera video showed Chauvin using pain compliance (ph) even after Floyd stopped resisting.

STIGER: Pain compliance is a technique that officers use to get a subject to comply with their commands.

SIDNER: In cross-examination, Chauvin's attorney question Stiger's expertise.

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Have you ever previously testified in any court or in any state or in federal court as an expert on the police use of force?

STIGER: No I have not.

SIDNER: Eric Nelson argued the crowd was distracting Chauvin. He brought in the issue of Floyd's drug use, intimating he took drugs during the arrest.

FLOYD: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me see your other hand.

NELSON: Does it sound like he says "I ate too many drugs," listening on here.

STIGER: I can't make that out, no.

SIDNER: The next state witnessed, Special Agent James Reyerson who investigated Floyd's death. At first, he agreed with Nelson.

NELSON: Did it appear that Mr. Floyd said "I ate too many drugs"?


SIDNER: But when asked again by prosecutors, disputed Nelson's interpretation.

REYERSON: I believe Mr. Floyd was saying "I ain't doing no drugs".

SIDNER: A BCA forensic scientist testified she tested a pill found in the squad car weeks after Floyd was pulled from it.

MCKENZIE ANDERSON, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: The swab collected from that pill, I obtained a single source male DNA profile that matches George Floyd.

SIDNER (on camera): We also heard a chemist testify. She testified about those pills that were found inside of the SUV, that Floyd was in and also the squad car as well. And she testified that there were average levels of fentanyl in some of those pills and low levels of methamphetamine.

Sara Sidner, CNN -- Minneapolis.


AVLON: The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says Tiger Woods' car crash, was caused by excessive speed and his inability to navigate a curve in the road. The golf legend suffered serious leg injury when the SUV he was driving ran off the road and rolled down a hill back in February.

Now the sheriff's department says the speed limit is 45 miles an hour there, but Woods was going 87.


CAPT. JAMES POWERS, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: The data recorder also recorded breaking. There was no evidence of breaking throughout this collision. It is speculated and believed that Tiger Woods inadvertently hit the accelerator instead of the brake pedal, causing that 99 percent rating on the accelerator pedal.


AVLON: After several weeks in the hospital Woods is recuperating at home. He won the Masters five times and many golfers are lamenting that his absence at the tournament tees off this week in Augusta, Georgia

Jordan's King has since broken his silence about the royal family drama there, calling it the most painful episode over his two-decade reign. And there were reports of an alleged plot to destabilize the country, involving King Abdullah's half brother, Prince Hamzah. A claim the prince has denied. The monarch insists the plan has been cut short.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has more.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): For the first time since the royal crisis erupted in Jordan over the weekend people heard from their monarch addressing the nation in a letter to the people, reassuring them that their country is stable, that it's secure.

He said that quote "The sedition has been in nipped in the bud. And he said the challenge over the past few days, was not the most difficult or dangerous to the stability of our nation. But to me, it was the most painful. Sedition came from within and from outside our home. And nothing compares to my shock, pain and anger as a brother and the head of the Hashemite family."

Of course, there he is referring to what the government has called an alleged plot, accusing his half brother, the former Crown Prince, Prince Hamzah bin al Hussein, other individuals also in the country, of working, they said, with foreign entities, plotting to destabilize the country. That is something that Prince Hamza had denied saying the he's not part of any foreign conspiracy.

Now, over the past few days here, there has been a lot of speculation, a lot of questions about the whereabouts of Prince Hamzah, what happened to him after those dramatic leaked videos over the weekend. In which he essentially said that he was under -- effectively under house arrest.

And we heard from King Abdullah tonight saying that Prince Hamzah was in his home, with his family, and he said quote, "under my care".

Now, it's not entirely clear what that means. But what the king made clear is that his decision was to deal with Prince Hamzah, with this situation as a family matter.


KARADSHEH: His uncle had been delegated to mediate and deal with it.

When it comes to the rest of this case, to the investigation -- that he says is ongoing, and it is going to be dealt with through the country's judiciary. And he promised that it is going to be fair and transparent.

Even after hearing from their monarch, Jordanians still have a lot of questions about the events of the past few days that really sent shockwaves across this country and beyond.

But the message has been clear from the leadership of Jordan. They want to put this behind them. They want to close this chapter. And try and restore the image of this country that is known for its stability and it's united royal family.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN -- Amman.


AVLON: The U.A.E. has entered the nuclear age. Ahead an exclusive look at the first nuclear power station in the Middle East. We'll show you how it works and what stands out.


AVLON: The first nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates has started commercial operations. And it's the only one of its kind in the region meant to diversify the energy mix of the oil rich U.A.E.

CNN's John Defterios is live in Abu Dhabi with details.

John, why is this such an important milestone?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: You know it's interesting John because I remember when they launched this policy framework back in 2008, nobody really thought it would be finished, to be frank. And they ran into a couple of hurdles here of the global financial crisis and funding between 2008 and 2011, then we had the Arab Spring, which just slowed the process down but did not derail it.

So it's interesting with the U.A.E. They think it's extremely important in terms of climate change emission reduction foremost, but it also likes to be accepted in this exclusive club if you will of atomic nations. Let's take a closer look.


DEFTERIOS (voice over): A graphic rendering depicting Abu Dhabi by drone at night, the image captures the scale of energy needed to power the capital.


DEFTERIOS (on camera): What's unique here is that the U.A.E. is the first Arab country to generate light from its own nuclear power.

MOHAMED AL HAMMADI, CEO, EMIRATES NUCLEAR ENERGY CORP: In this building, we have the single biggest generator in the Middle East.

DEFTERIOS: Mohamed al Hammadi has been involved since day one, taking a working model seen here to the launch of commercial operations.

AL-HAMMADI: Now we are commercially connected to the Internet (ph), and we are making revenue. And also dispatching clean, reliable, safe security grid and these lights that you see right now has for some part of that nuclear power plant.

DEFTERIOS: It's all generated here at the Barakah Nuclear Facility about 300 kilometers southwest from Abu Dhabi, near the borders of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

(on camera): This facility has four reactors. Number one is now fully operational. Number 2 is loaded with fuel, and 3 and 4 will come online over the next few years.

When it's all said and done, Barakah will provide about 25 percent of the nation's electricity. HAMMADI: Four units of nuclear power plans will avoid probably around

21 million tons of CO2 emissions, and annual -- we've got to put it in perspective for the audience -- that's around 3.2 million cars off the road.

DEFTERIOS (voice over): The U.A.E. took a big leap into this arena setting the policy framework back in 2008 and spending $24 billion to develop the sector.

More than 3,000 workers are on sight, 60 percent or U.A.E. nationals. Like Elham Al Nuami (ph), who took her degree five years ago in nuclear engineering.

ELHAM AL NUAMI, REACTOR OPERATOR IN TRAINING: It's unique. And it's new to the UAE, and I wanted to be part of this new project that is significant.

MOHAMMAD AL SHEHHI, MANAGER, HEALTH SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENT: When I went to university this plan did not exist. So once I graduated, this job offered me a bigger exposure in all aspects of environment.

DEFTERIOS (on camera): this is an exclusive look inside the turbine building in the protected area. I was here in 2017 and it was silent because it was not operational. That clearly has changed.

And I can feel the heat with the steam running right into that turbine behind me.

(on camera): The temperature rose to 47 degrees Centigrade or 116 degrees Fahrenheit as the facility crossed the threshold into commercial operations.

(voice over): Most people think of the U.A.E. as an oil and gas producer, heavy on hydrocarbons. Does this change the narrative coming online commercially?

AL HAMMADI: I would agree with you and the key point here is the U.A.E. is diversifying its economy. And diversifying its resources of energy.

(INAUDIBLE) will be one of the key measure for decarbonization, and also will be a key pillar for the economical growth of the world.

DEFTERIOS: As the demand for data and artificial intelligence grows, so too will electrification and the need to meet that growth with fewer fossil fuels, driven by splitting the atom.


AVLON: Diversification beyond fossil fuels is a major step in the region. So do other countries plan to follow suit and build more plants in the Middle East?

DEFTERIOS: Yes. This is very language-specific if you will, John, because Iran which is not an Arab state, has the Bashir facility. Israel hasn't declared theirs but it's known to have the nuclear capabilities of course.

Egypt has plans for four reactors in partnership with Rosatom, the Russian advisory and construction group when it comes to this technology. It has not progressed at a very fast pace.

And Saudi Arabia wants to do the same but as of late, Saudi Arabia has been pushing solar technology, because of the abundance of that here in the broader Middle East and North Africa itself.

But it is a strain because oil prices are hovering around $60 a barrel on lower production so the outlays at this stage as opposed to starting in 2008 when oil prices were above $100 a barrel is very different, John.

AVLON: For sure.

Fascinating stuff. John Defterios, thank you very much.

Still ahead, a window into the world of the Notre Dame restoration. Two years after the devastating fire, how much progress has been made when it comes to salvaging 800 years of history?


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is the central part of the nave where the great majority of reconstruction is going to have to take place since it's here that the spire collapsed bringing down the stone structure with it.

Elsewhere what's really remarkable is how intact the structure is. These stones that have stood for more than 8 centuries almost exactly as they were.




AVLON: New fissures are opening up on an Icelandic volcano that's been erupting for almost a month. This drone footage shows molten lava bubbling up and then gushing out from one of the fissures.

Local media report that hikers had to be evacuated from the mountain after this new vent was formed. For weeks, thousands of people have been flocking to see this ongoing eruption which is located just southwest of the capital.

All right. A meeting between Turkey in the E.U. president is raising eyebrows after a seating mishap. European Commission President Ursula Van Der Leyen was left standing while her male counterparts were seated in two gilded chairs at the head of the room.

Video shows Von Der Leyen unsure where to sit. Eventually she was seated on a nearby sofa. In previous meetings, the three presidents all sat together. Now, it's been almost two years since that massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and rebuilding it could take many more years. But much of the focus has been on restoring the church's spire which famously collapsed during the blaze.

CNN's Melissa was given the opportunity to see how the work is going so far.


BELL (voice over) : Its vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows AND elaborate columns. As you can see on these images shot by CNN so much of what makes Notre Dame one of the world's most exquisite Gothic (ph) wonders stands tall almost miraculously.

The construction of the cathedral may have taken 182 years from when it began in the 1163. It took the fire of 2019 a matter of hours to compromise its stability.

The work of the last two years has been all about ensuring that the cathedral stayed upright.

JEAN-LOUIS GEORGELIN, NOTRE DAME RECONSTRUCTION CHIEF: We had to be sure that the structure is solid. So I take a lot of measures to consolidate. We don't want to make the reconstruction without being reassured.


BELL (on camera): Here you can see the iconic north tower that at one point had been threatened by the flames on the night of the fire. In the end they were put out before it could collapse.

But this was where the most devastating part of the fire took place. It was here, that the famous Notre Dame spire once stood.

(voice over): As the world watch, the spire which had been under renovation collapsed, breaking through the vaulted ceiling which then crashed into the nave.

The scaffolding that had surrounded it, 40,000 tubes of metal now twisted into the structure, then had to be carefully picked through and removed.

General Jean-Louis Georgelin, who's in charge of the renovation, gave CNN a rare tour.

GEORGELIN: This is the place where the spire collapsed, you know. This is the center of the drama.

BELL: The general then shows us the exact spot where the spire first came crashing through. Here the vaulted ceiling is held up by wooden pillars, each weighing a ton and a half.

They ensure, explains the project manager, that if the stones give way for whatever reason -- bad weather, tremor, a shock -- well, the wooden support beams will keep the structure standing.

Now that the scaffolding for the renovations is ready, General Georgelin says that the work of rebuilding Notre Dame's vaulted ceiling and its spire will begin before the end of the year.

(on camera): This is the central part, where the great majority of reconstructions is going to have to take place, since it's here that the spire collapsed bringing down the stone structure with it.

Elsewhere, what's really remarkable, is how intact the structure is. These stones, that had stood for more than 8 centuries, almost exactly as they were.

(voice over): Outside too, the cathedral's iconic Gothic facade stands as a testament to a construction that has proven as sturdy as it is delicate.

Cathedral officials say that almost a billion dollars have been raised through donations from 150 countries so far. A reminder of the place that Notre Dame has, not just in the history of France, but in the hearts of so many all around the world.

Melissa Bell, CNN -- Paris.


AVLON: Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Avlon. The news continues with Paula Newton right after this.