tv CNN Newsroom Live CNN May 16, 2021 12:00am-1:00am PDT
welcome to all of our viewers here in the united states and all around the world. thanks for joining me. ahead on cnn, the seventh day of conflict between israel and gaza is underway. the home of hamas's leader there has been hit. we are live in the region. some afghan workers saved the lives of american troops, and now theirs hang in the balance. what the united states needs to do to return the favor. i'll speak with former intelligence director james
clapper. plus, mandatory fire evacuations in california. live from cnn center, this is cnn newsroom with robyn curnow. the israeli military says it has struck the home of the hamas leader in gaza. the idf says he was not hurt in the air strike. the attack on the hamas leader came hours after israeli war planes levelled a high-rise in gaza city. associated press, al ja dzeera d other media outlets had offices there and were given an hour to evacuate. the palestinian health ministry
says 147 people in gaza have died including more than 40 children. a ministry spokesperson says five children were pulled alive from the rubble sunday. in israel the death toll continues to rise to 10 on saturday as rockets fired from gaza struck a residential neighborhood in tel-aviv, killing an israeli man. the israeli prime minister vowed to keep up the military campaign until the rockets stop. >> israel has responded forcefully to these attacks and we will continue to respond forcefully until the security of our people is reinstated and restored. >> the israeli military claims it blew up the high-rise because hamas intelligence assets were operating there. but the head of the associated press, whose bureau was destroyed, says it had no indication of hamas activity in the building. we get the latest from ben wedeman. >> reporter: an israeli air strike in gaza brings down the
12-story tower, housing offices of the premier u.s. news agency the associated press and the al jazeera network. once more a massive building in gaza is reduced by israel's version of awe to rubble and dust. this israeli air force claims the building contained what it called hamas military intelligence assets, which it alleges, were using media outlets as shields. the air and artillery campaign against gaza continues with mounting intensity as hamas and other militant factions fire barrage after barrage of rockets into israel. gaza's cramped confines,
israel's claims to be avoiding civilian casualties aoften seem to ring hollow. early saturday morning, israeli war planes struck a home in the crowded camp, killing at least ten people, eight of them children. among them, four of mohammed's five sons and his wife. the only son to survive, found under the rubble, was his 5 month old. they destroyed the house without warning at 1:30 in the morning. the children were sleeping. saturday saw more confrontations in the west bank between palestinians and israeli soldiers. may 15th is catastrophe day, marking the displacement of hundreds of thousands of palestinians in 1948.
on the outskirts, young men use slings to hurl stones at the soldiers. with the west bank now aflame, hamas has called upon the people here, in their words, to set the ground ablaze under the feet of the occupation. indeed, the fires are spreading. ben wedeman, cnn. >> as ben has just reported there, journalists had to flee their offices right before the israeli air strike. this video captured frantic moments as journalists scrambled out.
>> so the head of the associated press says he doesn't know why israel bombed the building, but he says it will hamper further reporting in gaza. >> we didn't know any other details, but we knew to get out. our folks then did get out and the missile strike ensued and levelled the building. so we didn't get all of our equipment out, but importantly we got all the people out. but our bureau, our offices where we had operated for 15 years in gaza were completely destroyed. we don't know the motivation.
we're the associated press. we don't speculate about things. we deal in facts. i don't know the motive, but i can tell you the impact. and the impact is it will hurt reporting. the world will know less about what's going on in gaza as a result of this attack. >> elliot, hi. what more do we know about the targeting of that building? is the idf likely to offer any proof as the ap and others have requested? >> reporter: they haven't done so so far. we did reach out to them and they said they weren't adding to what they had said already about the building housing hamas military assets. the idf is coming under pressure from the ap to provide evidence as to whether indeed there were
hamas military intelligence assets in that building. the foreign press association has expressed concern and dismay at what happened in the gaza strip with that building. but i think what this also does show because obviously the idea that there was the associated press, al jazeera and other media organizations in that building, i think what this shows is its willingness to attack targets that it feels will help it meet its objectives, no matter the fallout. you're probably not going to get much worse fallout from the international press by leveling the building housing some of the international press. in terms of those objectives, they are of course to degrade hamas and other militant groups' infrastructure in the gaza strip, to take out leaders, to degrade underground tunnels and rocket lauchnchers and the like. in terms of the rocket fire, we
had more rockets fired into tell av tel-aviv last night. so quiet has not yet resumed. a few moments ago prime minister benjamin netanyahu has vowed that this operation will continue as long as as is necessary, in his words. >> talking about benjamin netanyahu, how have domestic israeli politics played into this latest cycle of violence? >> reporter: as he came into this latest conflict, the mandates to form a documgovernm had been lost by prime minister netanyahu. that mandate has passed to the opposition. he was getting closer to getting the right wing party on board and even the tacit support of
the islamist party. there was a real prospect that israel's longest-serving leader was facing the accident. in the wake of what's happening, the the opposition has seemingly done back to the side of prime minister netanyahu. former defense minister lieberman who used to be an ally of netanyahu and now doesn't get on with him at all says this is all part of his strategy to get more support as israel is likely to go to fifth elections later this year. >> the mounting death toll in gaza has forced the biden administration to mount a diplomatic effort. >> reporter: president biden spent most of saturday here at the white house where he spent the day working the phones,
having separate phone calls with israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu and palestinian authority president mahmoud abbas as there is growing concern about these tensions regarding israel. now, the president is trying to strike a delicate balance and extend support for israel's right to defend itself, but also expressing concern for the palestinian people. the president raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection. this phone call took place late saturday morning after that israeli air strike flattened that building in gaza that was home to the associated press, al jazeera and other media outlets. but these readouts do not
specifically say whether the president addressed that specific air strike. now, it was not just the president making calls over the weekend. the defense secretary lloyd austin reached out to his israeli counterpart to talk about the situation there. but right now the administration is really taking this all-hands-on-deck approach as they are trying to urge deescalation in the region. >> for more than a decade u.s. ambassador dennis ross played a leading role in shaping america's involvement in the middle east peace process. >> we've seen the middle east is imposing itself once again. you can ignore the middle east, but it doesn't ignore you. the administration at this point also has to think through how it's going to try to manage things. the reality that the administration is now going to be thinking through how it manages its position, what diplomacy is going to look like,
that also relates to country in the region, who are thinking, okay, how can we effect that? i cite egypt because it's important not only in terms of brokering a crease fire, but egypt also has an interest in reminding the biden administration that the u.s. has an interest in egypt and this is one example of why that interest is quite real. a lot of what's going on right now is everybody's thinking about how do the current events affect what may be american policy over the next few years. >> weave been seeing an yo outpouring of rage and solidarity for palestinians around the world. these scenes are in jordan. hundreds rallied there. in lebanon on saturday, mourners buried a man killed the day before. lebanese authorities say he was killed by israeli gunfire after he tried to cross the israeli border fence. the military says its tanks
fired warning shots at people who were damaging the fence. selma was at those z demonstrations on saturday. she joins us from beirut. what can you tell us? >> reporter: i know we have some footage to show you. they started out very peacefully, very calmly. we did see buses bringing people in, but we also saw families arriving with their children. you saw flags for some of the key factions, hit broke their hearts to watch families in gaza living under bombardment during eid al fitr. quite quickly we started to see
small groups of men come down those hills and go towards that very tall fence that you see in those images there that divides lebanon and israel. they began to throw stones, some tried to climb that fence, hoist flals a flags. we did hear what gunfire coming from the israeli side. we also saw troops on the other side. we found out that two people were wounded due to israeli gunfire. but by and large, it did end peacefully. that's because lebanese troops moved in to disperse those crowds, making it clear that everyone needs to go home. that's exactly what happened. those protests are not just seen here in lebanon. we also saw demonstrations in jordan along similar lines with the authorities also breaking those up there. but there's this sense across the region that these are very limited demonstrations. that's because of two big
reasons. the first is we are in the post arab spring period. there's a lot of autocratic regimes here that human rights groups will tell you simply do not want to see mass gatherings on their street. take for example egypt. you're not going to see president sisi allow a huge demonstration to come out. you have a lot of countries in the region pursuing normalization agreements with israel, countries trying to change their relationship with israel. that comes with more muted criticism, more muted response, a sense that they should quiet the streets. that's something protesters were telling me yesterday. they feel failed by arab leadership and government. they said this is the only way they can show and voice their solidarity and support. it's important to remember a lot of the people i saw yesterday, they were palestinian
descendants. this is not a remote conflict for them. this is at their heart and soul. >> thanks for that. appreciate it. coming up, the cdc rolled back its mask guidelines this week for americans fully vaccinated against the virus, but layers of federal and local regulations are causing confusion. where does that leaf sve school and students? try nervivenerve relief.
people are in north carolina getting back to normal this weekend. you can see many of them here are maskless at this outdoor food and drink festival. states around the u.s. are revising and loosening many covid restrictions as more americans become fully vaccinated. now the u.s. cdc says schools could continue to mask for the rest of the academic year. health officials say that's because there's not enough time for students to become fully vaccinated before schools are out for the summer. schools will need time to make potential adjustments in policy. meanwhile, the u.s. recently
opened up the pfizer-biontech covid vaccine for kids as young as 12. that's helping schools to reopen further and get kids one step closer to normalcy. olymp some small business owners haven't decided what to do. >> reporter: to take it off or keep it on. >> i don't mind the masks but it's liberating to not wear them. >> reporter: trader joe's, walmart, coaststco, starbucks s no masks for those who are fully vaccinated. but many still unable to make changes and unclear about what they will eventually require from their staff and customers. >> i think that everybody wants to take their mask off. when people come in the
restaurant and sit down, the first thing they do is they just want to rip their masks off. >> reporter: what miakes it eve more complicated, states in red didn't require masks before the cdc updated their guidance. states in blue updated their guidance and others like california still reviewing their regulations. >> i will continue to wear my mask around people that i feel are more vulnerable, because i feel it's the responsible thing to do. >> reporter: in the meantime, the biden administration trying to answer questions. >> it's important to understand what you're putting into your body. this is especially important because we know there's a lot of misinformation. these are rigorously studied vaccines. doctors and nurses are not only recommending them but they're taking them themselves. >> reporter: the experts have been on defense after the new cdc guidance saying fully vaccinated people can go without a mask in most cases caused a great deal of confusion. the cdc says the change was
based on new analysis of data from vaccinated health care workers. >> the rules change so much that we just wait until the day of and then adapt on the fly. >> reporter: spangler believes there will still be confusion, changes and last-minute notices, but overall -- >> it's great to see people's faces again. >> reporter: and he's hopeful about the future. >> the more we could fit inside, the better, just because we've got a lot of recouping to do. >> parts of the u.k. are set to forge ahead with the easing of restrictions on monday, but there's certainly growing concern over the covid variant discovered in yindia that's prompting the u.k. to step up its vaccine drive. >> reporter: the british prime minister boris johnson often describes the situation here as
a race between the rollout of the vaccine and the spread of the virus. this new variant which is known to be more transmissible tightens the race significantly. with that in mind, the u.k. is tweaking its -- or i should say england is tweaking its vaccination program to try to get more coverage to those deemed to be most vulnerable. up until now, the waiting time between first and second dose has been about three months. for even over 50 or those who are more vulnerable, they will wait just eight weeks. the ideas is to try to get them as much protection from the vaccines as possible ahead of any possible significant spread from this new variant. so it is a race,but it is also a balancing act. lifting significant restrictions from tomorrow, these are new freedoms which will allow people
to once again mix indoors in homes, bars, restaurants. this is a lifting of restrictions that even without the new variant carries some risk. what the government is hoping is that it can proceed with this lifting of restrictions while at the same time targeting more acutely those who are most vulnerable with the vaccination program and also testing aggressively, hunting down new instances of this variant. that's the tactical situation they've embraced for the moment until they learn more. i think the analysis is if this new variant is not significantly more transmissible, then that plan holds a good chance of working. if it is specifically more transmissible, then the government will have to rethink and particularly rethink further plans to reopen society. as of june 21st, it was hoping
to lift all restrictions. but as the prime minister said if this is more transmissible, significantly so, there are going to have to be hard decisions in the weeks ahead. >> which folks in the u.k. do not want to hear. football fans in london got a refreshing return to some normalcy on saturday. around 21,000 people were allowed into wembley stadium. fans were overjoyed. >> it's great, obviously. we've been waiting so long. it is a bit strange, i must admit. you got used to this experience of seeing everything third hand on the television. so it is a little odd. >> it's brilliant. it's fantastic. i've got to say, i must admit it's great to be back. i really live round the corner basically. we walked here today.
it's fantastic, just brilliant. >> it's what football is all about. if you don't enjoy a day like today, you'll never enjoy football. >> and they were treated to a spectacular game as leicester city pulled off the shocking upset defeating chelsea 1-0. the fuel crisis in the u.s. is starting to ease, but in some places offensit is far from bac normal all because of last week's cyber attack on a pipeline. how the future of cyber security is shaping up. i have that conversation, next.
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welcome back to our viewers here in the united states and all around the world. thanks so much for joining me this hour. it's 31 minutes past. i'm robyn curnow. the major u.s. pipeline hacked in a ransom ware attack last week has been up and running for a few days, but it's still a huge challenge to find gas in some areas. in washington, d.c., outages were reported at more than 80% of gas stations there and across the southeast. >> reporter: gas stations like this one here in charleston, south carolina, don't currently have fuel, but the overall situation is slowly improving across the southeast. in fact, near us other gas stations got new supply of fuel overnight. on saturday morning colonial pipeline said its systems are now at normal operations but it could take several days, up to two weeks in certain places for there to be a sense of normalcy. fuel flows through that pipeline at about 5 miles an hour.
in the meantime, a handful of southern states are understates of emergency. that lifts weight restrictions for trucks delivering fuel. these declarations also help states prevent price gouging from happening. authorities are also urging drivers not to panic, because hoarding gas could prolong this issue and make matters worse. according to the app gas buddy, which is crowd sourced from drivers self-reporting prices and outages, the highest percentage of gas stations without fuel is in the nation's capital, washington, d.c., followed by the state of north carolina. just under half of gas stations in georgia and south carolina are without gas. t >> so this attack on the colonial pipeline is part of a growing trend of ransom ware attacks. cyber security experts say the extortion website used by the hackers is now offline, but a lot more needs to be done to make sure it doesn't happen
again. here's the head of the u.s. cyber security agency. >> cyber attacks in our nation's infrastructure are growing more sophisticated, frequent and aggressive. malicious cyber actors are dedicating time and resources towards researching, stealing and exploiting vulnerabilities, using more complex attacks to avoid detection and developing new techniques to target information and communications technology supply chains. >> speric cole joins me from washington. he's the author of "cyber crisis." hi, good to have you on the show. how embarrassing has this hack of colonial pipeline been for the u.s.? it really has exposed huge vulnerabilities. >> it's unfortunately not surprising to myself and other cyber security professionals, because we knew the vulnerabilities that existed for a while. and unfortunately these organizations are not fixing it.
you're right, this is a big embarrassment. not only did they have to shut down their entire pipeline for almost a week, but after denying multiple times that they weren't paying the ransom, it turned out that they did have to pay a ransom of almost $5 million. >> did paying a ransom increase the possibility of future threats, not necessarily for their company but for others? >> absolutely. it's sort of a double-edged sword. unfortunately with ransomware, when they get into your entire network -- in this case, they got into the entire pipeline and they had to shut it down. the only possible way to recover in any timely manner was for them to pay the ransom. unfortunately, this sets a precedence that really scares me because the vulnerabilities present in colonial are present in over 70% of the critical
infrastructure not only in the united states but across the world, which means from an attacker's standpoint, game on. and you're going to see these attacks increase significantly now that they know companies are going to pay. >> so what are the lessons that have been learned, particularly in how government and these private companies who maintain and own all of this critical infrastructure particularly here in the u.s., how can they work to prevent this happening again? >> first, to me, this is an enron moment. what i mean by that is, when enron happened with publicly-traded companies, it basically showed the government that these companies couldn't self-regulate and the government needed to step in. to me, this shows, especially in the united states, that the government must step in and start regulating these industries. what's interesting is, nuclear power plants is already regulated by the nrc and they've had zero ransomware and zero attacks.
so it shows when it comes to critical infrastructure and regulation, unfortunately, it does work. >> i know that the u.s. president joe biden did institute an executive order that had been talked about in terms of trying to rework cyber security. did it go far enough? when you talk about regulation, do you really think anything is possible in the divided congress right now that is going to make real changes? >> i definitely think executive orders are a good start. however, what was very confusing is the executive order that came out a few days ago on the same exact day that colonial opened up again actually had nothing to do with colonial ransom ware. that was an executive order that dealt with solar winds that happened back in november. so it shows even the u.s. government is 6 or 7 months behind when it's passing these regulations. i think you really identified the key problem.
right now congress is viewing cyber security as a political issue. we saw the sanctions against russia blaming them for so-called election fraud without a lot of proof and they're really using it more as a political weapon. what congress needs to recognize is cyber security impacts every single person, not only in the united states but the world, and it needs to be a bipartisan issue that they start passing good regulation to implement proper security. >> is this also an example of a blended threat essentially, that this is a criminal group that was supported by a nation state? so this wasn't a direct attack from china or from russia, but a criminal group based in russia, according to the u.s. what does that tell you also about what companies are facing? >> dark side was the group that it was traced back to and actually took credit for it. what's interesting about dark side, they've actually
commercialized cyber crime. they're a commercial entity in russia that's run just like a normal business, except they make all of their money on ransom. and unfortunately, because the united states doesn't have extradition treaties with russia and it's not illegal to hack outside of russia, this is a situation where being in cyberspace where you can access any country anywhere but not having international laws is really something that's going to hurt us for the next five or eight years. >> eric cole, thanks for joining us here on cnn. >> my pleasure. working for the u.s. is a risky business for interpreters and others in afghanistan. now there are concerns about what will happen to them when the u.s. military withdraws. that, next.
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we're talking about afghan citizens who worked for the u.s. as interpreters and other critical jobs, putting their own lives on the halloween in the process. according to a former u.s. national intelligence director, these citizens saved thousands of american lives and now they feel they'll be prime targets for the militants when the u.s. leaves. my next guest james clapper wrote this. what they did made a difference in mission success and failure and between being killed or fighting to survive another day. we can and must do the right thing here. cnn national security analyst and a former director of u.s. national intelligence james clapper joins me from fairfax, virginia. thanks so much for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> you've written this op-ed on cnn.com. in many ways it reads like a plea. why did you feel you need to
publicize the plight of afghan interpreters? >> it's through the coauthor, a gentleman named keith sadler that i became aware of this situation since i did not actually serve in iraq or afghanistan. my war in air quotes was southeast asia. he got in touch with me and enlightened me as to the plight of these literally thousands of people, both in iraq and now and more critically right now in afghanistan who have worked for the u.s. military in a variety of capacities, probably most notably as translators or interpreters from the highest levels of the u.s. command down to the squad level in the field. they're in a real bad place right now, because with the fixed date for the departure of u.s. forces, their lives are literally in jeopardy because the taliban have vowed many times in the past to want to get
even with these people for assisting us. so they are at risk, as are their families. so i was engaged by a group called no one left behind, which is a group of service people, former service people that served in iraq and afghanistan with these people and have taken up their cause. i believe it's a worthy one. >> you mention the delays and lags in processing these applications. are things getting at least better under a biden administration compared to a trump administration, and how critical is it to speed up the process? you've, of course, mentioned this end date of 9/11. >> well, they do have now an end date and there is a fairly rigorous 14-step process, as i understand it, that they have to go through to apply for what's called a special integration visa, an arrangement that was
established by the congress in 2009 in recognition of the plight of these people. so as the clock winds down towards the time when the u.s. military is completely out of afghanistan, something needs to be done to expedite the processing for these people. due to covid restrictions, there was as we understand it, one person assigned in the embassy in kabul to process thousands of people. so there needs to be more effort put forth in terms of people and resources to process them and a related challenge, of course, is once they're processed and moved to the united states, then the issue is settling them. here we've asked for no one left behind has implored the contractors who profited over many years by hiring these people and employing them, just to remind them of the moral and ethical responsibility they have for helping to resettle these
people in the united states. >> so you talk about the security situation and how this needs to be sped up. do you think they will be targeted by the taliban? >> i don't think there's any question of that. the taliban have already targeted them. so there are records of hundreds of these people who have been assassinated, murdered by the taliban and retribution against their families as well. so there's no question about what the taliban intent is. the reason that these are crucial from the taliban standpoint is that this was the bridge, the means by which the u.s. forces in the field could communicate with the locals. so if the translator is killed, which the taliban regarded as critical, that then cut off the bridge of, the conduit of communication between the u.s. forces and the local people.
you know, in a situation where they're trying to borrow an express win the hearts and minds of the local people. >> you worry for the afghan interpreters, especially those who have moved to kabul. i think doesn't it point to a broader concern about long-term security and the outlook for afghanistan, because then are you concerned about the resurgence of the taliban in places like kabul and other main cities? >> well, exactly. many of these people sought safety and security, they thought, by moving from a rural area to an urban area, most notably the largest urban air in afghanistan, which is kabul, thinking that because there's a large american presence there and it's a big city with lots of people, that they might be safer. well, that may not, probably will not be the case once the u.s. military departs. >> what can be done? what else can be done? how else can urgency be injected
into potentially saving the lives of so many afghan interpreters who worked with american troops? >> two things need to be done. one is the processing by the state department, perhaps the defendant of defense, i don't know, could lend a hand with resources. so the more people that are there to adjudicate cases in afghanistan to get them through the 14-step process, the better. then the other thing that has to happen is, once they are processed and they're authorized to come to the united states, is settling them someplace that's safe and secure for them. there's not sufficient government funding to do that and that's why no one left behind has called on the contractors, the companies who employed these people for many years in a variety of tasks, not just translators, but construction workers,
electricians, people who worked number of tasks, all of whom are going to be at severe risk when we leave. so the two aspects, the processing and the settling. >> james clapper, appreciate you joining us here on cnn. thank you very much. >> thanks robyn. for the first time in nearly a decade, the entire state of california is suffering from a drought as one wildfire forces mandatory evacuations. details just ahead.
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mandatory evacuations are underway in parts of southern california due to the fast-moving palisades fire. the los angeles county fire department says it's burned 750 acres so far and is zero percent contained. areas near topanga canyon in western los angeles county are evacuating. it's unclear how many homes and residents are impacted by these evacuation orders. this comes as california suffers from a statewide drought for the first time in seven years. derrick, hi. can we hope for some rain soon?
>> there is some rain in the forecast, but it is a drop in the ocean compared to what they actually need to experience. just this past week, the entire state of california has moved into at least moderate drought conditions. i want you to pay attention to that exceptional drought there. look at what it was last week, 5%. look how it expands this week to 14%, now the entire state under at least moderate drought risk. california residents specifically remember 2014-2015, the exceptional drought, so costly. we just go back one year, the most historic in terms of cost and acreage burned in wildfires of california. that was a historic year for this entire state. get this, firefighters in the
s sequoia national park. you can see some of the smoldering taking place. that puts it into perspective. we have seen just the start of the wildfire season this year tenfold in terms of the acreage that has burned so far compared to last year when we had our historic year. we are off to the races. that is not what we want to see, not what we want to hear and not what we want to report on. there's a reason for this. see the rainfall that we would normally experience to date across the state of california. you can see that shade of yellow and red. that's where we see the exceptional amount of precipitation on an average year. look at what's happening this year. we don't have those shades of yellow and red across the sierra nevada range. that impacts the reservoirs. they are running well below capacity. basically from the plains west ward we have 74 million americans under drought conditions, 85% of the west
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