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Global Authorities Execute Massive Organized Crime Sting; U.S. VP Kamala Harris Wraps Up Latin America Trip; Macron Slapped While Greeting Crowd In Southeast France; Brazilian National Football Team Captain: Team Will Participate In Copa America Tournament; Taiwan Dealing With Worst Drought In Decades; Jerusalem Parking Lot Collapses Into A Giant Sinkhole; Mysterious Origin Of Northern Lights Now Proven. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired June 9, 2021 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM wherever you are around the world, thanks for joining us. I'm John Vause and coming up this hour. The encrypted app trap, a growing number of arrests around the world after a joint FBI and Australian Federal Police sting operation intercepts millions of messages allegedly between organized crime figures.

We'll hear directly from the FBI in a moment. Face to face for the first time in always two years, G7 leaders will meet this week in the U.K. and Russian disinformation likely to be a major issue. And COVID- hit Brazil moves forward with the Copa America football tournament. Can they do enough to keep players officials and fans safe from the Coronavirus?

The arrests have continued around the world as law enforcement agencies act on information gathered during an elaborate sting operation. The plan was reportedly born over beers between Australian police and FBI agents to try and disrupt the world of organized crime. So far, almost thousand arrests have been made and more than 30 tons of illegal drugs, hundreds of weapons and more than $48 million in global currencies seized.

The Australian police call it Operation Ironside, a three-year long investigation which Europol calls one of the most sophisticated law enforcement operations to date.

In a joint news conference with the FBI, Swedish Dutch, and Australian police, Europol's Deputy Director call for a global network of law enforcement to continue to crack down on organized crime. And he laid out what this operation has accomplished so far.


JEAN-PHILIPPE LECOUFFE, DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EUROPOL: These in the in information lead over the last week, hundreds of law enforcement operation on a global scale, from New Zealand and Australia, to Europe and the USA, with impressive results. More than 800 arrests, more than 700 locations searched, more than eight tons of cocaine and more.


VAUSE: Short time ago, I spoke with Calvin Shivers, Assistant Director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative -- Investigation Division. Here's part of our conversation.


CALVIN SHIVERS, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION, FBI: We could have continued this operation for several weeks to several months, but collectively, with the countries that were participants, you know, we made a decision to end the operation now. Because again, these are ongoing criminal enterprises involved in, you know, acts of violence, narcotics distribution, narcotics that were flowing into communities around the world, potential acts of violence that would occur all around the world.

And so we've made this decision to end the operation now. But one of the things I'd like to emphasize is that just because we, you know, conducted these arrests over the last few days does not mean that the operation ends there. There's additional intelligence that will be developed, I would imagine there are a number of individuals who may choose to cooperate, which will help us better understand and identify additional subjects to be arrested.

So I would anticipate for the next few weeks, if not even months that operations will continue based on what we did a few days ago.


VAUSE: The commissioner of Australia's federal police says every aspect of this sting, it is legal is covered by a fairly controversial law in Australia called TOLA, or Telecommunications and other legislation Amendment. That was passed by Canberra in December of 2018.

This joint FBI-AFP operation was born after another encryption provider, Phantom Secure, was shut down in early 2018. And someone with Phantom provided details that a new more secure encryption platform was being developed, which ultimately became ANOM, your app.

So two questions here, did the FBI work with Australian law enforcement because of the TOLA Law? And given the timeline, would it be a fair assumption that the law which was passed was not specifically passed, if not least entirely, but partially for the sting operation?

SHIVERS: Well, let me answer the last question first. And I would say that, you know, we, in the FBI, really didn't have an impact on the passage of that law. And so I think that the operation itself was really born out of the relationship.

[00:05:01] And I think you pointed out just a few minutes ago that we had worked with the Australian Federal Police or the AFP on the fan of secure investigation. So, you know, that created a natural relationship, you know, based on the work we had done, based on some of their capabilities, based on the amount of intelligence that we shared.

So I think that it was really just born out of that relationship. And I really credit the innovation and thinking outside the box of our agents and the -- their colleagues with the Australian Federal Police.


VAUSE: That was Calvin Shivers and the full interview with Mr. Shivers from the FBI can be seen next hour here on CNN. It has been a remarkable 24 hours, news of this operation first broke in Australia just over 24 hours ago, CNN's Ivan Watson has more for us now on this live from Hong Kong. So, Ivan, exactly what are the details here when we talk about what the information and the intelligence was gained and who's been arrested and what we can expect?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, the announcement of this operation, which is called Trojan Shield by the FBI, but I think it might be more accurate to call it Trojan Horse because they hid these devices right in the heart of criminal organizations, and were able to spy on their communications, a digital Trojan Horse. The rollout was coordinated across different countries, different jurisdictions and law enforcement bodies, Australia, New Zealand, and then Europol out of the Netherlands.

And finally, the FBI made their detailed announcements and the indictment that the FBI put out, John, it reads like a crime novel. And it explains part of what you had mentioned, that that the FBI had worked with other law enforcement bodies to bring down other previous encryption platforms that were allegedly used by drug traffickers in the past.

And that a source who had been involved in the distribution of one of these platforms, Phantom Source, this confidential source, offered to work with the FBI on a new platform, this thing called ANOM. Now, what we're learning from these indictments is that organized crime don't communicate with iPhones using WhatsApp or iMessage, or these other platforms, what they're using are hardened encrypted devices.

So, a phone that has all of its other devices and apps cut off, they can't make phone calls, they can't send emails, they communicate on a closed loop. And that's what this new ANOM, these specially configured phones were doing, and the phones are distributed by word of mouth, between gangs and criminals that trust each other, who, according to the FBI indictment, are willing to pay up to $2,000 for one of these encrypted devices.

What they did not know was that the FBI had planted what they describe as a master key on every message that would go between these devices, so that they would then be able to store that information, decrypt it, and use it as evidence later. And some of the details are astounding that suspects were sending

photos of drug shipments, cocaine, packaged in kilogram sizes, with special packaging of Batman logo -- logos, for example, or hidden inside hollowed out pineapples, or cans of tuna and open brazen discussion between traffickers about the fees for dropping off a package, or how many kilos would be moved at a time. And this is part of what law enforcement agencies have used to conduct hundreds of arrests and seize many tons of illegal drugs and tens of millions of dollars in cash, John.

VAUSE: Yes, it has been incredible when you think about everything that's happened in just the last 24 hours. Ivan, thank you. Ivan Watson, Senior International Correspondent in Hong Kong. Thank you.

In the coming hours, U.S. President Biden will head to England for a meeting of G7 leaders, which is scheduled for Friday. Because of the pandemic, this will be their first face to face in person summit in almost two years. Still strict COVID measures will be in place. And along with the pandemic, they'll also focus on the economic impact of the health crisis, as well as global vaccination efforts.

But the reality is the pandemic won't be the main event. As the Independent newspaper put it, "In the wake of Trump and COVID-19 fake news, the G7 nations have to step up and fight disinformation." So for more on this, CNN Intelligence and Security Analyst Bob Baer, we should note Bob is also a former CIA operative and it's good to see you, Bob.


VAUSE: OK. So the head of Britain's domestic spy agency warned just on Tuesday that Germany is now the target of clandestine Russian interference at a level not seen since the Cold War. Russia is accused of ordering the assassination of a former Chechen rebel in Berlin -- in a Berlin Park orchestrating a series of cyber attacks on the Bundestag.


And here's what seems especially notable, carpeting Germany with more fake news stories then are directed at all the other E.U. countries put together. On top of that, last month, Britain's Foreign Office found that pro-Russian trolls are posting provocative statements in the online comment sections of The Times, the Daily Mail, The Sun, and the Daily Express to get the false impression that the public supports Russian aggression towards Ukraine.

You know, these comments are then picked up by Russian state media as evidence that the U.K. public likes Moscow, and that's just a snapshot into part, you know, of how part of this works. So overall, how sophisticated, how widespread are the Kremlin's ability to spread disinformation here?

Well, John, it's quite incredible. I mean, you know, 2016, the American elections, they went after Ukraine, they went after Georgia, and it's extremely successful, and there's been no pushback. What they want to do with Germany is effectively break it off, break it off from NATO and the rest of it, and that's not going to happen.

But they're looking at Germany as vulnerable. And part of this is, for instance, the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, they see Europe is weak, and they're going to do everything they can to disrupt European politics, and they're very good at it.

The Russians spend billions of dollars at disinformation. And with the internet, it's picked up everywhere and amplified. American news, FOX, you know, the right wing media, it's picked up right away, and the Russians know what they're doing. I mean, I've worked with Russian intelligence before and -- in the old days, and they are very, very good.

VAUSE: Well, Britain, recently liberated from the E.U., if you like, through Brexit, they seem to be taking sort of a global lead in putting forward a strategy to try and contain Putin and its disinformation. They're funding independent media countries, which neighbor Russia. They're increasing the budget for the BBC World Service, and also from U.S. President, Joe Biden, this morning for Russia earlier this year.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I made it clear to President Putin, in a manner very different from my predecessor, that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia's aggressive actions, interfering with our elections, cyber attacks, poisoning its citizens are over. We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interest in our people.


VAUSE: Yes, that's some tough words there. But what's the reality when it comes to the G7 in terms of stopping, actually stopping the harm which is being done by the Kremlin?

BAER: Well, right now, Putin's laughing in his hat. I mean, there's been no real pushback in all these years and, you know. With Trump, and now Biden, it's the same thing because Putin is getting what he wants. I mean, you really have to push back hard with him. I mean, you know, last time I did this, John, was involved in this was in Afghanistan in the '80s. And the way we pushed back then was surface- to-air missiles.

And the Russians paid attention, but anything short of this, look, they never paid the price for interfering in our elections, driving a wedge in the American -- among American voters. It's amazing. It's 50/50 down the line. And it was extraordinarily successful what they did to the United States, and they will continue to do it unless there's some real pain that the Russians pay.

VAUSE: And you mentioned just how good the Russians are at doing this. Because before it was fake news, the Soviets were notorious for spreading propaganda and also disinformation, but even before the Soviet days, you go back, what, 1787 Grigory Potemkin, Potemkin villages. So while this is a threat, and a problem, which is very real right now, it has a very, very long Russian pedigree.

BAER: They're brilliant at it, the protocol's the ZION. I mean, they've divided the Middle East over this for years. And really, they devote an enormous amount of brainpower to this and money, and they understand this, and we are an open society and we're vulnerable. We can never do the same to Russia. We could never come back at them like this because Putin is clamped down on the media. It's impossible to do propaganda. So it's very much a one-sided conflict.

VAUSE: So very quickly, if it's impossible to do the propaganda, I mean, what's the action here that can be taken?

BAER: You know, you can do covert action, there is none with the CIA right now. You can do extraordinary sanctions on Russia on Putin. You could support Russian, you know, opposition, all -- there's all sorts of number of things, but the Europeans would have to go along. But, John, let's not forget, they're assassinating people with nerve agents in Europe, and they paid no price for it.

VAUSE: Bob, good point to end on. Thank you. Bob Baer there with some good analysis and insight. Thank you. A rare moment of bipartisanship in Washington with the Senate passing a bill aimed at countering China's growing economic influence.


It's still not a done deal and next comes a vote in Lower House. But if the bill passes, it will mean more than $200 billion will be invested in U.S. technology, science and research.

Kamala Harris's first overseas trip as a U.S. Vice President is not going according to plan. Harris is now under pressure to visit the U.S.-Mexico border where almost 200,000 migrants arrived in April, the highest number in decades. White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond has been traveling with Harrison has more now reporting from Mexico City.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Vice President Kamala Harris wrapping up her first foreign trip as vice president. It's a three-day swing through Guatemala and Mexico, which she declared a success in terms of addressing those root causes of migration, which have been her central focus during this trip.

There were tens of millions of dollars of new investments for Central America, an anti-corruption task force to fight corruption in Guatemala, as well as an agreement with the Mexican government to address development together with the U.S. in Central America. All of those, the vice president arguing, will help at least in the long term to give the people of Central America hope that they can have better lives in their own countries.

But this diplomatic test for the Vice President certainly quickly turning into political quicksand and that is because she drew criticism initially from the left when she warned would-be migrants in Guatemala not to come to the U.S.-Mexico border telling them that they would be turned back. And then there was another issue and she was asked why she hasn't

visited the U.S.-Mexico border. Initially, she equivocated comparing it to not having gone to Europe yet as Vice President, which was frankly, neither here nor there.

I asked the Vice President, again, whether she would commit to visiting that border, here's what she said.


DIAMOND: Can you commit right now that you will indeed visit the U.S.- Mexico border and will you do it soon?

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jeremy, let me tell you something, but, yes, I will. And I have before.


DIAMOND: And I also asked the Vice President about another item in her portfolio, an assignment from the President to tackle this issue of voting rights. The Vice President telling me that she is not giving up on this despite these new comments from Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, that he will not weaken the filibuster, he will not support one of these key pieces of voting rights legislation.

And so while the Vice President's insisting that this is a fundamental fight for democracy, and she will press on not being entirely clear on what the how is to get that done. Jeremy Diamond, CNN, traveling with the vice president in Mexico City.

VAUSE: Police in Nicaragua have detained two more opposition figures ahead of November's presidential election. Felix Maradiaga was arrested Tuesday, Juan Sebastian Chamorro Garcia was also taken in. He's the cousin of another detained opposition figure, Cristina Chamorro. In all, at least four major rivals to present Daniel Ortega had been arrested over the last week. A Senior U.S. State Department official says the arrest confirmed that Ortega is a dictator.

Still to come, Israel offering details on a controversial airstrike on a Gaza building that house media offices. The response from the Associated Press, that's next. Also the shocking moment French President Emmanuel Macron gets slapped in the face for visiting Southern France. These political challenges have now responded.



VAUSE: Well, if your favorite website or app is offline on Tuesday, then the good news is that that backup, the problem was caused by an outage at Fastly, a cloud computing service provider, which supports sites like CNN, Amazon, and a lot of others. CNN's Anna Stewart reports, this disruption is yet another reminder of just how vulnerable the internet really is to outages.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: This was a huge web outage, albeit short- lived. Now it wasn't the result of a cyber or ransomware attack, this was due to a malfunction at a company that many people will never have heard of. It's called Fastly. It is a CDN, a content delivery network.

And it's a company that essentially helps websites and services to run fast so websites load quickly. They have a network of servers distributed around the world, what it means that those servers are closer to the end user.

Now the problem on Tuesday, according to Fastly, was some sort of configuration error. They identified it, they fixed it, and many of the websites were up and running again within the hour. But this isn't the first time that something like this has happened. It's happened to other CDN companies like Amazon Web Services, and Cloudflare.

Perhaps not outages quite the scale that we saw Tuesday, but it highlights just how reliant the internet really is on some of these companies and how a problem at just one can have a huge global ripple effect. Anna Stewart, CNN, London.

VAUSE: Israel says an airstrike destroyed the high rise building housing the Associated Press and Al Jazeera offices in Gaza because it was also acting as an electronic warfare site for the militant group, Hamas. The al-Jala building came crashing down during last month's conflict.

The AP says it has not seen any evidence which supports Israel's claims and is now calling for an independent investigation. AP's CEO met with the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and U.N. on Monday to discuss the airstrike. CNN's Hadas Gold has more details now from Jerusalem.

HADAS GOLD, CNN REPORTER: The Israeli military is giving more details into why they struck and destroyed a building in Gaza that hosted the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera during that 11-day conflict with Hamas-led militants last month. Now according to the Israeli military, Hamas was using the building known as the al-Jala building to develop new capabilities that they said could electronically jam Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system. This is the system that intercepts rockets mid air before they can land in civilian areas.

But these really Air Force gave occupants of the building an hour's notice to evacuate before they struck the building leading to its collapse. And according to the Israeli military, they say the target was of a high military value to Hamas and that the equipment was in the building at the time that it was struck and the building collapsed. But the move was widely condemned by news organization and international journalism organizations who called it unacceptable and a threat to freedom of the press.

The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Gilad Erdan, met on Monday with the AP Leadership in New York, he said to try to restore the relationship and give this information and he said that Israel does not think that the Associated Press knew that Hamas was possibly operating out of the building. The AP says that it had no indication that Hamas was operating out of the building and has called repeatedly for an independent investigation so that the facts are fully known. Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.

VAUSE: Well, the French President Emmanuel Macron, during a visit to Southeast France on Tuesday, a bit of a shock. He was slapped across the face. It was while he was greeting a crowd of onlookers. And a man could be heard shouting "Down with Macronia," a slang for Macron's presidency. And then he slapped him on the cheek. Security went into action. Condemnation has been coming in. CNN's Melissa Bell reports now. It comes amid rising tensions ahead of next year's election.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a video that quickly went viral, the French President being slapped by a member of the public. Two men are now in custody and facing possible charges related to having carried out violence on someone who represented the authority of the state.

The French President himself has spoken to local media since, downplaying the incident saying that it was an isolated incident. The political classes as well from the left to the right have also rallied round saying that any form of violence within the democracy is unacceptable.

It is a reminder though the fact that the few coming months are likely to be fairly acrimonious with France looking ahead to a presidential election next spring that looks said to be a rerun of 2017.


According to the polls, Emmanuel Macron, possibly against possibly against Marine Le Pen and a fight that looks fairly tight after many months of a fraught presidency cursed, first of all, by Emmanuel Macron's handling of the Coronavirus crisis at first well seen by the public and something that has gone downhill since.

And then of course, before that, the two years of Yellow Vest protests, Emmanuel Macron seeking to reconnect with voters. This was absolutely not the image that the (INAUDIBLE) would have hoped for. Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.

VAUSE: Well, political leaders across France have condemned the slap. The French Prime Minister says it's a lot more than a slap. It's an attack on democracy.


JEAN CASTEX, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Officially, for the head of state, it is quite simply democracy that is being targeted, because see. Democracy, ladies and gentlemen. Democracy. And you are all an illustration of this. It's debate. It is dialogue. It is the confrontation of ideas. It is the expression of legitimate disagreements, of course, but it cannot, under any circumstances, be violence, verbal aggression, and even less physical aggression.


VAUSE: A London Metropolitan Police officer has pleaded guilty to the kidnap and rape of Sarah Everard whose death sparked outrage in the U.K. as well as protests over violence against women. Prosecutors say Wayne Couzens has yet to enter a plea on the murder charge. CNN's Nina dos Santos has more now reporting from London.

NINA DOS SANTOS, JOURNALIST: Forty-eight-year-old Wayne Couzens appeared via video link from a high security prison, Belmarsh at the Old Bailey the central criminal court here in London earlier on Tuesday. He pleaded guilty to two charges, kidnapping and rape of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old young marketing executive who vanished from the streets of a quiet South London suburb on March the 3rd.

Her disappeared at the height of the lockdown when she was just walking home from a friend's place nearby prompted a wave of anger and indignation. It brought tens of thousands of people to the streets, including here in Parliament to highlight the consequences of a dangerous culture of toxic misogyny across the U.K. Well, Couzens was not asked to enter into a murder plea at this stage pending the release of medical reports. The next date in this case is set to be a hearing on July the 9th. Nina dos Santos, CNN in Westminster, London.

VAUSE: After the break, we head to Taiwan where the climate change alarm bells are ringing, amid the worst drought in more than 50 years. Also, Brazil's Supreme Court could soon decide the fate of the Copa America tournament. Details in a live report in a moment.


VAUSE: Welcome back. Well, the captain of Brazil's national football team insists they'll be playing in the Copa America tournament. It could be Brazil's Supreme Court which has the final say on that, with a ruling expected on whether the tournament should go ahead amid a COVID crisis.


Journalist Stefano Pozzebon is following the story, live for us from Bogota in Colombia. He joins us now. So Stefano, what are the details on the Supreme Court?

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: The news of the Supreme Court case, you can see, just by having the Supreme Court involved in what is eventually a sport event, you can tell how these stories get in influxes from sports, politics and health.

The president of Brazil wants to do a major sport event, despite the fact that even the football players say it's not a good idea due to COVID-19. The opposition in Parliament presents an appeal to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court decides that they will take into consideration the metric (ph) in their consideration. They will -- may get a special session to decide whether Brazil will eventually hold this football tournament.

And just today, this Tuesday, the health minister of Brazil comes to the rescue of the president, saying that -- that the -- the event does not run the risk of being a super-spreader, does not run the risk of increasing COVID-19 infection.

Here is what the Brazilian health minister said earlier on Tuesday.


MARCELO QUEIROGA, BRAZILIAN HEALTH MINISTER (through translator): For the athletes, I don't see an additional risk of catching COVID-19. Based on the evidence we have, based on the Brazilian Football Confederation, the athletes can also catch COVID outside of football. And they're going to be within a very restricted environment. It's not a total bubble, but it's almost like a bubble.


POZZEBON: So it really seems that, if the Supreme Court does not change the cards on the table yet again, the Copa America will eventually take place. It was due to take place in Colombia, where I am. It was later moved to Argentina due to the Colombia social unrest, the situation.

Argentina was later moved to Brazil, because Argentina was dealing with COVID-19. Brazil is both dealing with COVID-19 and social unrest. We have the Supreme Court taking a position on Thursday. The tournament is due to commence this Sunday, John.

So very intense time around this story, John, for everybody who is looking at it very, very carefully.

VAUSE: Yes, a lot at stake, Stefano. Thank you. Stefano Pozzebon there, live in Bogota. Appreciate the late hour.

Well, one of the worst droughts in decades has hit Taiwan. No typhoon made landfall last year, meaning a lot less rain. There have been some recent rains, which means water restrictions were recently eased, but the economy minister warns the drought is far from over. It's impacting Taiwan's electricity management and semiconductor ministry.

For more, let's go live to Will Ripley. He is in Taipei for more. So Will, this is kind of a drought on top of a pandemic. The problems just keep mounting up.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A string of bad luck for the island of Taiwan, John, to have the worst drought in 56 years at a time that they're already struggling to keep the economy here going. Because the water supply has a direct impact on the chip supply.

Taiwan is the world's leading semiconductor manufacturer, but without water, it can't make chips.


RIPLEY (voice-over): Taiwan's worst drought in more than half a century, making this island look more like a desert. Cracks snake across the bottom of Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan's largest body of water.

Parched reservoirs across the island evaporate. Recent rains put a small dent in a big problem, a problem scientists predict will only get worse. HUANG-HSIUNG HSU, CLIMATE RESEARCHER, ACADEMIA SINICA: Our projections

show that it is going to become more and more serious in the future.

RIPLEY: Climate change models paint a dire picture for Taiwan, stronger typhoons, more flooding, less frequent rain. Future droughts, far more severe.

(on camera): This mural gives you an idea of what Baoshan Reservoir usually looks like. This is what it looks like now. Water levels are right around 30 percent. They were less than 3 percent before monsoon season kicked off in mid-May.

Taiwan is experiencing its worst drought in decades. That's a big problem, because this reservoir is the primary water source for the Hsinchu Science Park, home to nearly 600 electronics companies, including the world's leading semiconductor manufacturer, TSMC.


Why is this drought a problem for Taiwan's semiconductor industry?

JEFFEREY CHIU, ELECTRICAL ENGINEER, NATIONAL TAIWAN UNIVERSITY: Every layer, we need a lot of chemical processes. And every process, we need to clean the surface. We need to clean by water. Flowing, pure water.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Semiconductor manufacturers are searching for solutions. Water recycling, purifying seawater, both years away from quenching the insatiable thirst of chip factories.

Making chips also requires huge amounts of energy. Taiwan, like the world, is trying to fight the climate crisis, cutting its carbon footprint while the phasing out nuclear power. The island's semiconductor industry is investing big in green energy. Hundreds of giant wind turbines line the coast. Solar panels dot the landscape.

HUANG-HSIUNG HSU, CLIMATE RESEARCHER, ACADEMIA SINICA: We need to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions. But on the other hand, we need to generate more electricity.

RIPLEY: Just after we arrived, rolling blackouts hit the Taiwanese capital. Energy demand grows as temperatures rise.

Taiwan's top energy consumer, semiconductors, vital to the global economy, powering everything from cars to computers. If Taiwan's power and water supply is in peril, the whole world could feel the pain.


RIPLEY: Climate scientists say that Taiwan is set to be battered in the coming decades by the impact of climate change. There will be far fewer typhoons. You mentioned how they didn't even have one hit the island last year.

But because there will still be a lot of moisture in the atmosphere, the typhoons that do hit will be extraordinarily powerful. It is predicted, because the ground is expected to be so dry, due to long periods without rain, we will have increased risk from flooding, which could also potentially impact the chip manufacturing supply chain, not to mention the fact that Taiwan is prone to earthquakes.

So a lot of challenges, not to mention the geopolitical issues that Taiwan is facing and its ongoing position, kind of caught in the middle between these two superpowers, the United States and China, John.

VAUSE: Will, thank you. Will Ripley, live for us in Taipei.

When we come back, a mystery that's puzzled scientists for centuries may finally be solved. A breakthrough discovery shedding light on the Northern Lights. When we come back.


VAUSE: Not exactly what you expect to see in a hospital in Jerusalem was a giant sinkhole.


The massive pit appeared suddenly on Monday afternoon, swallowing a number of cars, as it basically appeared. Officials are now looking at a possible connection to a highway tunnel being constructed nearby.

The source of one of the world's greatest mysteries has finally been proven. They're called the aurora borealis or Northern Lights. And after centuries of speculation, scientists from the University of Iowa confirmed that it's produced by powerful electromagnetic waves during geomagnetic storms. What does that mean?

Joining me now, meteorologist Tyler Mauldin. So Tyler, please explain.

TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: John, the Northern Lights are one of Earth's most fascinating, brilliant, and beautiful of light displays. Most oftentimes, it shows this green color, which is, ironically, the same color as my shirt here.

Now, back in the Forties, 1946, to be specific, a physicist determined, he thought, he knew what was the culprit for these Northern Lights. And it became a theory.

Well, now that theory has been proven to be correct. What is that theory? Well, it says that the auroras are produced by powerful electromagnetic waves that are generated from geomagnetic storms.

What are geomagnetic storms? You've heard us talk about this before. And it's essentially space weather. So a geomagnetic -- geomagnetic storm is a disruption of the Earth's magnetic field, and this is caused by little solar flares, little waves of energy that ride a solar wind and end up impacting the Earth's magnetic field.

On the heels of these waves are electrons. And these electrons can get sped up by the solar wind or the electric waves, and they can actually get up to 45 million miles per hour. What happens is when those electrons hit the Earth's magnetic field,

they collide with the different gases in the atmosphere, different particles in the atmosphere, and they create these beautiful colors.

So that theory that came into existence back in 1946 has been proven to be correct. And here's what that looks like, actually. You can see that wave coming off the sun and eventually creating the Northern Lights here at the bottom of your screen.

The most common, as I said, is the green and the yellow color, the same color as my shirt here. A little less common is the blues, the violets, the purples. And then the rarest of all are the red aurora borealis.

It doesn't just happen here on Earth, though. It actually happens with other planets, too. Here's a picture from the Hubble telescope of Jupiter's aurora borealis. This was taken about 5 years ago on June 3, 2016, courtesy of NASA.

Now, why does this theory being proven to be correct or proven to be true, why does that matter? It matters because this gives us a better understanding of space weather, which leads to improved forecasts for geomagnetic storms.

But why do we here on Earth care about that? It leads to faster detection of solar events, and these solar events actually have a huge impact on us here on Earth, not just giving us the beautiful Northern Lights, John, but it can actually impact telecommunications, the power grid, satellites, you name it. It actually has a big impact.

So this theory being proven correct, John, helps us detect those events that could end up impacting some of the utilities here on Earth.

VAUSE: So the guy from 75 years ago was right.


VAUSE: And he'll never know it.

Tyler, thank you. Good to see you.

MAULDIN: You, too.

VAUSE: Well, for more on this, please visit our website, There you can learn a lot more about the Northern Lights.

And thank you for watching CNN. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. WORLD SPORT is up after a very short break. See you at the top of the hour.