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No Distancing And Few Masks At Trump Rally; U.S. Wildfires Kill At Least 28, Scorch Nearly Five Million Acres; Coronavirus Vaccine Trials; Trump Appointees Interfere With CDC Reports; Yellow Vests Return; Georgia Arrest Video Triggers Investigation; Naomi Osaka Wins 2020 U.S. Open. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired September 13, 2020 - 04:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're looking at the effects of climate change, record-setting fires out west and another storm taking aim at the Gulf Coast.

Also this hour --


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to win four more years in the White House. And then after that we'll negotiate, right?

ALLEN (voice-over): Donald Trump threatening to defy constitutional term limits, makes up stories about his rival and claims COVID-19 is on the way out.


ALLEN (voice-over): And a comeback at the U.S. Open not seen in a quarter-century, a win beyond the sport of tennis.

We're live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


ALLEN: And thank you for joining us.

Smoke from wildfires in the western U.S. is so bad that even people far away from the flames are having a hard time breathing. The air quality in some places is now ranked the worst in the world. And in the midst of a pandemic, medical experts fear the hazardous smoke will make people more susceptible to the coronavirus.

Almost 100 major fires are raging across the western half of the U.S. with very little or no containment. Fire crews are stretched thin and working long, grueling hours without relief. At least 28 people have died since the fires erupted one month ago and

dozens are missing. Entire communities are gone and officials fear they will find more bodies amid the devastation. President Trump is expected to visit California Monday to get a briefing from emergency officials. One fire chief explains flames are moving faster than people can escape.


FIRE CHIEF ROBERT GARCIA, ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST: We saw the unprecedented fire growth up on the Creek fire that rapidly grew and impacted our ability to evacuate and move people out of the way.


ALLEN: We're in two of the states hit the hardest. Our Paul Vercammen is near Los Angeles. First, let's hear from Camila Bernal, following developments in Oregon.


CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The flames here are still out of control and at the moment we're at 0 percent containment. On top of that, you add the smoke. The very thick, heavy smoke that makes it hard to breathe and hard to see.

But it makes it hard for the firefighters as well because, in some instances, they're not able to see the fire line. They're also not able to fight these fires in the air because of the conditions right now.

Governor Brown telling us that this is really the worst air quality in the world. And she does say that there is still a number of people who are reported to be missing. So that is the big concern at the moment.

For the people who live in this area, they're, of course, so worried about their homes. We spoke to one woman who lives up the road, Ms. Brown, and she says she has a camera up in her home and she has been looking at her camera day and night.

But she says she can't sleep. She is thankful because she is one of the only ones who knows that her house is still OK. But she says her friends and neighbors already know that, when they come back, there will be nothing left.

CAROLEE BROWN, MARION COUNTY RESIDENT: It's unreal. You don't really -- you can't really fathom what is going on, you know. You think this isn't really happening. But guess we better be prepared. You take what you think and just get out.

BERNAL: And firefighters say the smoke and the air conditions will remain the same for the next couple of days. They say we may get some pockets of clean air but, for the most part, this smoke is going to stay here in the state.

They also say the fires are so massive and so large that they will not be put out completely until they begin to see some rain in the fall. So this firefight here is just beginning -- reporting in Marion County, Camila Bernal, CNN.



PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With this Bobcat fire, so many of the fires out West, just not too far from a suburban neighborhood, fire will be burning in the canyons. And this is a threat. Listen to this crackling.

So what firefighters are keeping their eyes on is whether or not these flames start to send up sparks and embers that could be landing on these neighborhoods or if the wind shifts and it pushes the fires back onto the neighborhoods.

In Los Angeles County alone, along a huge swath of the foothills, you have evacuation warnings for the residents just because of this fire, because it's so absolutely stubborn and difficult for them to get out.

In fact, the chief of the forest service here telling me that, usually on a fire like this, he would have up to 1,500 firefighters battling the fire, which has burned around 30,000 acres. But he just doesn't have the personnel.


So they only have 500 people fighting this fire right now -- reporting from Los Angeles County, I'm Paul Vercammen.


ALLEN: As he surveyed the devastation, California's governor called out anyone who still denies climate change is real. He says the recent extreme weather is unlike anything his state has seen before.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): The debate is over around climate change. Just come to the state of California. Observe it with your own eyes. It's not an intellectual debate. It's not even debatable any longer what we are experiencing, the extreme droughts, the extreme atmospheric rivers, the extreme heat.

Just think, in the last few weeks alone, we have experienced the hottest August in California history. We had 14,000 dry lightning strikes over a three-day period. We're experiencing temperatures, world record-breaking temperatures, in the state of California, 130 degrees, arguably the hottest recorded temperature in the history of mankind, in the state of California, just a few weeks ago.


ALLEN: Joining me now in Santa Rosa, California, is Nina Oakley, a research scientist at the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Dr. Oakley, thank you so much for coming on.


ALLEN: Well, the -- we have you during these very challenging times for sure. First, I would like to just get your reaction to what we are seeing right now in the West, more than 3 million acres burned in California already this year, as I understand it. And the fires extend throughout Oregon and Washington State as well.

OAKLEY: Right. So this is the most acreage burned in a fire season in modern history in California. We're still not through the fire season. And this is possibly another month or two to go before we can expect sufficient rainfall to tamp down the fire risk.

ALLEN: Let's talk about the contributing factors. Much has been said about fire suppression and that is a matter of government and policy for California.

But your area of expertise is climate. And we're talking about drought that California has seen, heat; talk about those factors and let's start with the historic temperatures that Southern California just recorded.

OAKLEY: Right. So this is a complex situation and several contributing factors as to why we're seeing these wildfires now, these persistent long-term issues plus a recent sequence of events like extreme temperatures, the extreme heat wave we had in California.

And so climate change doesn't directly cause the fires but it creates these conditions that are favorable for the large and destructive fires. And we're already experiencing, as with the extreme heat wave and predicted to see more higher temperatures on average, more extreme heat waves, dryer conditions, more severe drought.

And these factors all serve to dry out vegetation and create hazardous conditions for wildfires, speaking from the climate side.

You also mentioned the way land is managed; fire suppression on the landscape for the past century has allowed for a buildup of fuels. We also have the factor of an increased population, especially at the wild and urban interface, where the wildlands meet human development.

And many of California's fires are ignited directly or indirectly by human activity, so sparking power lines, campfires out of control, fireworks, cigarettes from vehicles. So with more people living and recreating in these areas, there is more opportunity for the ignitions.

So we have all these background factors contributing. But then specifically in this year, we have lingering impacts of the 2011 to roughly 2016 drought and we had drought-stressed trees killed by bark beetle attacks that provide fuel for the fires. The current drought conditions in the northern part of California and in Oregon, following a dry winter and spring, a rare lightning storm a few weeks ago that impacted California, that caused widespread fires and required significant firefighting resources.

And on the heels of that, as you mentioned this extreme heat wave, which then was followed by a high wind event that created hazardous fire conditions, where any ignitions could and did grow quickly into the destructive wildfires we see now.

ALLEN: It is almost like, hearing you talk, what isn't contributing to the terrible disaster that we're seeing. So I know that you have studied warming trends, climate change, as it affects Ventura County. So if you could touch on that a little bit, because the question is, is this the new normal for California?

OAKLEY: Yes, I -- one of my colleagues, Mike Anderson, who's the state climatologist for California, rather than saying the new normal, saying --


OAKLEY: -- it says we're basically jumping off into something totally, totally new. So new normal would imply we're, you know, hitting a new threshold and kind of leveling off.

But that's not what we expect with climate change. We expect things to continue to change and become more extreme and more climate extremes, more interannual variability with wet and dry, more severe droughts, extreme heat and such things. So new normal and leveling out is -- we don't anticipate that's where we're at.

ALLEN: That's already an old term, understood. Well, we really appreciate your insights and your expertise. We wish there were something positive here but, right now, this is just a terrible situation and so many people have lost everything. Dr. Nina Oakley, thank you so much.

OAKLEY: Thank you.



ALLEN: Police are searching for a gunman who brazenly shot two Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officers. We want to show you video of the shooting that appears to be from a surveillance camera nearby. It happened in the city of Compton Saturday night, outside a transit station. The deputies were there, sitting in their patrol car, when as you saw, they were ambushed. You can see the man approach the car and fire and run off.


CAPTAIN KENT WEGENER, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: The suspect approached them from behind as the deputies were facing southbound in their patrol vehicle.

The suspect came from the north. He walked along the passenger side of the car. He acted as if he was going to walk past the car and made a left turn directly toward the car, raised a pistol and fired several rounds inside of the vehicle, striking both of the sheriff's deputies.

The suspect then fled on foot northbound from the shooting scene and out of view.



ALEX VILLENUEVA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF: That was a cowardly act. Two deputies were doing their job, minding their own business, watching out for the safety of the people on the train and seeing somebody walk up and just start shooting on them, it's -- it pisses me off. It dismays me at the same time. And I -- there's no pretty way to say it.


ALLEN: Both deputies were shot multiple times. One is a 31-year-old mother, the other is 24 years old. They only had been on the force just over a year. They have had surgery but both are in critical condition, fighting for their lives. Of course, the suspect is still on the run.

U.S. president Trump, who is running on a law and order platform, retweeted the surveillance video with the caption, here's a quote, "Animals that must be hit hard!"


ALLEN: President Trump's latest campaign rally is certainly likely to alarm medical experts, despite the threat from coronavirus. A huge crowd packed together in Nevada, Saturday night. It comes as the president faces a firestorm for downplaying the pandemic. Boris Sanchez was there in Nevada.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Largely a return to form for President Trump in Nevada on Saturday night, the president speaking to a huge crowd of supporters at a rally in a way that we haven't seen since March and the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The crowd rushing to fill the venue, at one point, grabbing chairs that had been separated, part of social distancing guidelines, and rearranging them as they wished. A massive, sizable crowd. The president noticing and apparently getting angry at the media for what he says is an underreporting of the number of supporters that were here.

Keep in mind the venue had to change for this event. It was originally going to be held at the Reno Tahoe airport but that was scrapped because there is a mandate in the state of Nevada banning gatherings groups of people 50 people or more.

The president says the campaign got around that by effectively calling this a political protest, a peaceful protest. The president railing against Democrats, repeatedly going after Joe Biden, insulting his intelligence, his cognitive abilities as well.

The president also trying to make the case that he is the person to lead the country through economic rebound because of the crushing shutdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The president saying the country is turning the corner, despite what we've heard from a number of health experts within his own administration. President Trump, again returning to form, speaking candidly to his supporters.


SANCHEZ: And they ate it up -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president in Minden, Nevada.


ALLEN: People at a hospital in the state of Kentucky are grieving the loss of a beloved doctor after a four-month fight with COVID-19. Rebecca Shadowen led the Bowling Green Warren County Coronavirus Work Group. A health center official said she will forever be remembered for providing the very best care for our patients and community.

During her illness, she joined a conference call, surprising her colleagues, urging everyone to wear face masks and saying, it is a great day to be alive.

Global drug trials for one potential vaccine were suspended a week ago but now will resume but only in one country. We'll have a live report on that next.




ALLEN: U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech are working on their own coronavirus vaccine and are now planning on expanding their phase 3 trials. The plan is to enroll 44,000 volunteers, some as young as 16 years old, as well as people with HIV.


ALLEN: The companies say they already have submitted their proposal to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Drug giant AstraZeneca said drug trials for the Oxford vaccine will resume but only in the U.K. They were stopped a week ago after an unexplained illness in one volunteer. AstraZeneca says it will work with health authorities around the world to restart trials in other countries.

The Oxford vaccine is one of three potential coronavirus vaccines in late-stage phase 3 trials in the U.S. Let's get more on these developments from our Scott McLean, standing by live in London.

They did have this issue but looks like they're moving forward, Scott.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right, Natalie. Experts say, if you took any group of people, any large group of thousands of people and watched them for a couple of months, someone in that group is bound to get sick.

When it comes to a vaccine trial, it's a matter of figuring out exactly why. In this case, you're talking about 18,000 people that had the vaccine or a placebo so far. The company's goal is to put the shots in 50,000 arms before it is all said and done with volunteers from around the world.

So in this case, the person with this unexplained illness was here in the U.K. But the trial was paused around the world. So when you have this kind of a trial, the first thing you have to do -- when you have this kind of potential adverse reaction or unexplained illness, the first thing you have to do is figure out whether the person had the actual vaccine or the placebo.

If they had the vaccine, you have to figure out, was it caused by the vaccine or was it completely coincidental?

The company also said this week this is not first time the trial was paused, it was paused in July when someone had an undiagnosed case of multiple sclerosis, something they deemed had nothing to do with the virus at all. And so things continued on as they were.

So the U.K.'s health regulator has given the green light for this trial to go forward. It is now just a matter of the company getting the green light from every other health regulator in every other country that they're dealing with.

Earlier this week, a U.S. health official had told Congress that the issue was "a spinal cord problem." The company that same day, though, denied it was something called transverse myelitis, a rare spinal cord condition, saying there was no final diagnosis until there were more tests.

And we don't know a whole lot about the patient because neither the company nor Oxford University are giving out information or detailed information because of privacy laws.

Beyond that, though or sorry, CEO, excuse me, said it is still possible for a vaccine to be finished this year. But remember, Natalie, this is not the only vaccine that the world is banking on. There are 35 vaccines in human trials right now. And eight of them are in their later stages.

ALLEN: All right, Scott McLean for us in London, thank you. We have more about vaccines, this coming from an overly optimistic

claim about when a vaccine will be available, made by the U.S. president. That's next.





ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

U.S. President Donald Trump is making more optimistic claims about a vaccine for coronavirus. During an interview on FOX News Saturday, Mr. Trump said a vaccine could be available as soon as October. Yes, next month. And he promised at his rally in Nevada Saturday that a vaccine would be ready early.


TRUMP: You're trying to hurt this country by saying bad things about the vaccine because we're going to produce it early. It is the craziest thing. Think about it. Having a vaccine is good but we're rounding the turn, regardless. We're rounding the turn. And it is happening. It is happening. You see.


ALLEN: Some lawmakers are clearly dissatisfied with President Trump's insistence of holding large rallies during this pandemic and that, to his comments -- add that to his comments he deliberately downplayed the pandemic in journalist Bob Woodward's new book entitled "Rage."

And representatives such as California's Ted Lieu want to see him out of the office.


REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): He took actions to downplay this virus and he lied to American people to downplay this virus and you can draw a straight line between his words and actions and tens of thousands of preventable American deaths.

And even now, he's doing this super spreader event in Nevada. Donald Trump is, in fact, increased the number of cases and increased the number of preventable deaths in America. It shows how unfit he is for office.


ALLEN: All this as the White House faces new accusations over its handling of the pandemic. A federal health official says Trump appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services pushed to change the language of weekly reports coming from the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control.

The source says the goal was to avoid undermining the president's political message. In the past, CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield, seen here, has denied officials are putting politics ahead of science. A former HHS secretary had this take. Here's Kathleen Sebelius.


KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER HHS SECRETARY: The notion that somebody sitting in that HHS office, a campaign flunky, would suggest that he should be able, without any scientific background, without any scientific information, to edit reports so that they fall in line with Trump's talking points, is really shocking. And it is incredibly dangerous.


ALLEN: Current Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar gave this statement, which you'll notice isn't a clear denial. Here is the quote.

"I have briefed President Trump alongside the nation's top doctors and I have insisted that he have direct access to these doctors throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He has always been receptive to the data and science presented by me and other members of the task force."

Meantime, Mr. Trump kept up his attacks on voting by mail Saturday, alleging without evidence that the system is corrupt.



TRUMP: I'll tell you what, whether it is in North Carolina, whether it's in Michigan, whether it's in other states where they're sending out -- they're going to be sending out -- they're going to be sending out 80 million ballots. And it is Democrats. They're going to -- they're trying to rig this election.


ALLEN: Again, we want to repeat, there is no evidence of any of that. But as the president repeats those claims, postmaster general Louis DeJoy is facing a legal battle from Colorado.

The secretary of state there, Jena Griswold, is suing the Postal Service over pre-election mailers it sent out. They advise voters to request a vote by mail ballot at least 15 days before Election Day and return the ballot at least one week before.

But that is not how the system works in Colorado, where ballots are sent to voters automatically. Here was Griswold explaining the lawsuit.

Quote, "These false statements will confuse Colorado voters, likely causing otherwise eligible voters to wrongly believe that they may not participate in the upcoming election. This attempt at voter suppression violates the United States Constitution and federal statutes and must be stopped immediately."

Griswold was seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the mailers. She tweeted hours ago, "It has been granted."

We want to turn to a major development in the Middle East, the announcement that Israel and the tiny Gulf nation of Bahrain will form a new partnership. This is the second time in less than a month that an Arab Gulf state has agreed to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates are set to sign their historic deal on Tuesday in Washington.

But there are plenty of detractors to these new agreements. So let's bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann to talk more about it. He's in Jerusalem to give us more perspective on how these came about and what are the questions surrounding them.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you get a sense of why this is important to President Donald Trump and to some extent for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

These are major foreign policy accomplishments. And as Trump creates controversy at home, he can point to these successes overseas and say, look over there and ignore the issues I'm having at home.

So it is no doubt a historic ceremony that we'll see on Tuesday. And while it was supposed to be three countries, the U.S., Israel and the UAE, it will now be four, with Bahrain joining to mark peace agreements or normalization agreements between Israel and the UAE and Israel and Bahrain.

There are, of course, key questions here. We know what the UAE got out of their agreement. They stopped Israel's annexation of the West Bank and expect it to be easier to obtain F-35s from the U.S., the latest fighter jets.

We're already seeing the consequences and the effects moving forward with agreements between Israel and UAE higher education institutions. And that process will continue quite quickly, it seems.

Bahrain, we don't know what they're getting out of this, either from Israel or the United States. But we know that, just like the UAE, Bahrain has a major U.S. military presence and they expect this will lead to benefits from Israel and the United States, from economy, finance, tourism, health and more.

There are, of course, critics; Iran and Turkey have criticized the agreement as have the Palestinians saying, this is, first, of course, Trump simply ignoring the Palestinians and pretending they don't exist.

And they also accused Bahrain of betraying Jerusalem, betraying al Aqsa and the Palestinian cause. So some friction we're seeing here. But Netanyahu and Trump have gotten some key endorsements of the deal, of course the UAE endorsed it as has Egypt.

We saw a statement from Oman, suggesting perhaps Oman will be the next to normalize agreements with Israel -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Something to continue to watch. Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem for us, thank you.

Yellow Vest protesters in France are trying to make a comeback. Their latest demands, they're out on streets. We'll tell you about it in a live report from Paris.





ALLEN: Police in Greece clashed with migrants protesting a new camp planned for the island of Lesbos. They fired tear gas to disperse people.

For the fourth straight day, migrants have been protesting along the main road where the new camp is expected to be built. A massive fire earlier this week destroyed the old migrant camp on Lesbos, the largest one in Greece.

Meantime, France's Yellow Vest protesters have been largely quiet during 2020 but they marched again Saturday after a COVID-19 hiatus. And things got violent at times.

Police in Paris fired tear gas and detained hundreds of people for questioning. The Yellow Vests protests started in 2018 over a plan to hike fuel prices but now they have expanded in their scope. Let's check in with CNN's Melissa Bell about it. She's live for us in Paris.

And hello to you, Melissa.

What brought people back on the streets and why now?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the month of September and this is when people go back to school, they get back to work, the unions get back to their demonstrations, the government to its reform and, of course, the Yellow Vests, as you say, this really important movement for the last two years here in France that, for the first year of its existence, around the Champs-Elysees, had really managed week after week to cause a fair amount of pandemonium and make itself heard.

On a number of points have the government roll back the reforms that it had intended. Over the course of the last year, that momentum as you mentioned a moment ago has dropped away and then, of course, the lockdown, the COVID measures.

This was therefore an important test. They did not get the numbers out that they would have liked to, 8,500 countrywide, 2,500 in Paris. That is a far cry from the sorts of numbers that they had even a year ago.

What was interesting about this Saturday, perhaps, this return to the streets for the Yellow Vests, is they were joined by the anti-mask groups, the anti-vaxers, the big question was whether that would help them swell their ranks to any considerable level. That appears not to have been the case.

But you're right, despite that moderate turnout, there were some impressive scuffles at some points between law and order forces who use tear gas to push them back, with a few determined protesters who were really seeking to get to the Champs-Elysees.

That was the part of Paris made entirely blocked off by the police, they have been allowed to hold one march in one part of Paris and another march in another.


BELL: Several of the determined few were hoping to get onto the symbolic Champs-Elysees, the center of their demonstrations for so long. That did not work. It did lead over the course of the day to a number of confrontations, because the numbers of police on the street were really impressive.

If you were in Paris yesterday, anywhere near the Champs-Elysees, you would have seen a lot of riot police, police vans, a determined effort to prevent the Yellow Vests from getting back to the Champs-Elysees.

ALLEN: All right, Melissa Bell, following it for us, Melissa, thank you.

Next here, a familiar winner at the U.S. Open. But the young repeat champion Naomi Osaka has made it clear she has a purpose bigger than tennis.

Also, Iran executes a popular wrestler after he's convicted of murder. Just ahead, we'll get international reaction to what happened in a live report from Iran.




ALLEN: Another violent incident involving a Black man and police officers has prompted a Georgia sheriff to put one deputy on leave and immediately open an investigation. We caution you, the video is disturbing.


ALLEN: And here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN (voice-over): It shows two deputies holding Robert Walker on the ground and repeatedly striking him in the face. Walker's lawyer says Walker was in a rideshare car when it was pulled over for a taillight violation.

He says deputies asked Walker for identification but he said he didn't have any and challenged their right to ask for it. The situation escalated from there. The Georgia NAACP tells CNN they are condemning the officers' actions.


GERALD GRIGGS, NAACP ATTORNEY: And it is just distressing the level of force that was used and then the backstory behind it is even more upsetting. Administrative leave is not enough. The level of force used in that video was just abhorrent. And then considering the facts as we gather them, we become more disturbed by what we're learning.


ALLEN: Walker's attorney says he's currently in jail, charged with two counts of battery and two counts of obstructing or hindering law enforcement officers. The sheriff's office has not responded to CNN's request for an explanation about what happened.

The International Olympic Committee says it is shocked by Iran's execution of a popular wrestler. Navid Afkari was put to death on Saturday after being convicted of murdering a government worker.

That is despite an international campaign to spare his life. Iran's state-run news agency reports the death sentence was carried out after the victim's family refused to forgive him and let him pay restitution. For more on this, let's turn to CNN journalist Ramin Mostaghim, joining me from Tehran.

Good to see you.


ALLEN: Thank you. There is international outrage over this and as I understand it, he was taking part in a protest when this happened.

What can you tell us?

MOSTAGHIM: In December 2018, he was active in the protests and he didn't deny that. But he was deported along two brothers from Turkey while he was -- he received information that he would be arrested.

But unfortunately in Turkey he was arrested and deported to Tehran and ended up in Iran and ended up in a jail in Shiraz. Now they seem shocked because despite all the attempts to spare his life, Navid Afkari's life, and because the execution unexpectedly caught him by surprise.

And to give you one example how social network users are feeling, metaphorically I can tell that Margaret Atwood's book "Testament" and also "The Handmaid's Tale" and TV series of her, is coated (ph) or the picture of mass hanging of people and protagonists of the book "The Handmaid's Tale" is shared in Telegram and social networks in Iran.

This can be the tip of the iceberg to show that how potentially this unexpected execution can lead to the -- see protests in the future.

ALLEN: Yes. And as a result, there are questions about whether Iran would be able to compete in international athletic events, maybe even the Olympics. So we will see what the fallout is from this execution of a very popular athlete there. Hard to fathom. Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran, we always appreciate you. Thanks.

MOSTAGHIM: Thank you.

ALLEN: Japanese tennis sensation Naomi Osaka has won her second U.S. Open title, coming from behind yesterday to defeat Victoria Azarenka in three sets. Osaka is just 22 but already has three major championships.

She also made a statement off the court, wearing face masks with the names of victims of alleged racial violence. For more about it, here is "CNN SPORT's" Carolyn Manno.


CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It's been 25 years here at the U.S. Open since a woman has dropped the first set in the women's singles final and come back to win it all.

Naomi Osaka did just that. But this tournament has been anything but ordinary. At the beginning of this year's U.S. Open, she made a bold proclamation to the world.


MANNO: She had seven names on seven masks. Each name was a victim whose death sparked outcries for social justice and racial equality. Seven the number of matches it would take for her to reach the final. And she did, an enormous amount of pressure and an important message for Osaka, who is Haitian and Japanese.

As for the match itself, it looked like Victoria Azarenka was going to win handily, 6-1 in the first set and up two games in the second before she opened the door just a little bit, getting tight and letting Osaka walk through, ultimately for the victory.

After the match, Naomi Osaka was asked what message she was trying to send.


NAOMI OSAKA, TWO-TIME U.S. OPEN CHAMPION: Well, what was the message that you got was more of the question. I feel like the point is to make people start talking.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MANNO: We should note that the two headlines that have dominated the news cycle globally, coronavirus and social justice, have left an indelible mark on this year's grand slam. No crowds here and as such no fanfare for Naomi Osaka. You may recall two years ago when she won, she was in tears after defeating one of her idols, Serena Williams.

This time around, Osaka's still soft-spoken but sending a very clear message and the world is listening -- Carolyn Manno in Queens.


ALLEN: In just a few hours, we'll have a new men's U.S. Open champion, number two seed Dominic Thiem of Austria will be in the fourth major final after he defeated Russia's Denel Medvedev in straight sets in their semifinal. Thiem will face Alexander Zverev of Germany who came from behind on Friday to beat Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.

Whoever wins later today will notch his first grand slam title.

Thanks for watching. I'm Natalie Allen. Stay with me. I'll have another hour of CNN NEWSROOM right after this.