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U.S. Not Yet Out of the Woods; Australians Celebrate Their Freedom After 106 Days of Lockdown; Poland Wants to Remain in the E.U.; Not Many People in Iraq Responded to the Polls; Couple Charge for Violating Atomic Energy Act; President Biden's Sinking Poll Numbers Worries Other Democrats. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired October 11, 2021 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. And I'm Rosemary Church.
Just ahead, vaccinations gain new momentum in the United States, and cases are falling. But experts explain why we can't let our guard down just yet.
Mass protests in Poland many are fearful their country could be next to leave the E.U. And, it's not science fiction. Captain Kirk really is going into space but there is a slight delay. We will explain.
UNKNOWN: Live from CNN center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church.
CHURCH: Thanks for joining us.
Well, the U.S. appears to be rounding a corner on COVID. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are dropping across much of the country. And vaccinations are picking up pace. On Sunday, the U.S. was averaging more than one million doses a day, that's the highest we've seen since July.
But CDC data suggest its booster shots are driving the trend not new vaccinations. Still, the number of new infections is now falling or holding steady in most of the U.S. Just five states reported significant jumps in new cases last week. Health experts say the country is on the right track, but it's too early to declare victory against the virus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We need to just be careful that we don't prematurely declare victory. In many respects, we still have around 68 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated that have not yet gotten vaccinated. And even those who have been vaccinated, I mean, you want to look forward to holiday seasons and spending time with your family and doing those sorts of things. But don't just throw your hands up and say it's all over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): And we are joined now by Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, an internal medicine specialist and viral researcher in Los Angeles. Thank you, doctor, for talking with us and for all that you do.
JORGE RODRIGUEZ, BOARD CERTIFIED INTERNAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST & VIRAL RESEARCHER: My pleasure, as always.
CHURCH: So, we are seeing COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths come down in the U.S. But Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins saying now is not the time to let our guard down. Collins even telling anti-vaxxers these vaccines may be God's way of sending help. But still the unvaccinated push back at a time when other nations have reached much higher vaccination rates in the U.S. How concerned are you that the U.S. is going to be left behind here?
RODRIGUEZ: I'm always concerned that we become a little too complacent and we think that because things are better it means that things are completely gone. And they're not. We are still at a much higher baseline than we were a year ago when we had that winter surge.
So, I don't want to pooh-pooh the fact that the surge is starting to minimize but let's learn from what happened just even a few months ago when in June we thought, hey, everything is fine, let's take off our masks and what happened. We had another huge surge we had a variant that came around, so the key word is cautious optimism where we have to come outside, it's still drizzling but we can't really just take off our galoshes and just go running around because it's still raining. It's still raining.
CHURCH: Good analogy there. And doctor, OVID infections across the country are down 40 percent since the peak last month. Which, of course, as you've said are very encouraging, cautious optimism. But we are seeing higher infection rates in some of those colder states, and particularly in the north where temperatures are colder and vaccination rates are lower.
Does it worry you that the situation could worsen again once winter comes and sets in if more people don't get vaccinated? And should there be more vaccine mandates in place because we know they do work.
RODRIGUEZ: Well, yes, it does worry me because the winter is going to be another surge. It's just a question of how big is it. And Rosemary, I really don't like the word mandate. I know we use it all the time. I think it's a requirement. Nobody is guaranteed a job but if you want certain jobs you are required if they so wish for you to take a vaccination.
It so authoritarian but the truth is that requiring vaccinations decreases infection, improves health and actually improves what we want which is freedom and then the economic freedom to go work and to enjoy our families and our vacations.
[03:05:06] So these requirements will work and I hope actually that more of them are proposed by different corporations and the government.
CHURCH: And doctor, Merck's COVID pill is awaiting FDA emergency authorization which could take some time. But once that happens how much of a game-changer could those antiviral pills proved to be if they become available in the midst of winter?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, they will be a game-changer in preventing illness that becomes very bad and preventing deaths. I want people to be very clear. These pills do not prevent you from getting COVID. They are to be used in the early stages of an infection once you have it. The prevention of COVID is still the same as we said. You have to be distant. You have to wear masks and you have to get a vaccine. That's what really helps.
But the great thing about these pills and they are a game-changer, is that if you get early symptoms you can start taking them for five days and your chances of getting seriously ill or dying are markedly decreased.
CHURCH: Absolutely. And of course, the first thing to do though is to get vaccinated. Right?
RODRIGUEZ: Yes, ma'am.
CHURCH: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, thank you so much for talking with us.
RODRIGUEZ: My pleasure.
CHURCH: Well much of the world is trying to find a new normal. As pandemic battered nations look to reopen without triggering new waves of the coronavirus. Malaysia is lifting some travel restrictions after vaccinating 90 percent of its adult population. Italy also announced an inoculation milestone, 80 percent of all eligible Italians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. There have been nearly 238 million cases worldwide since the pandemic began and more than 4.8 million deaths.
Now, one major city that is emerging from COVID lockdowns is Sydney. Fully vaccinated residents can now go to pubs, gyms, restaurants, and shops. More than five million people have been in strict lockdown since June. But officials lifted measures after hitting a 70 percent vaccination rate. The premier of New South Wales says if everyone does their part, they can open up even more. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOMINIC PERROTTET, NEW SOUTH WALES PREMIER: To everyone across New South Wales you've earned it. It's been 100 days of blood, sweat, and no beers. But we've got it. If we take personal responsibility we will get through this difficult time. It's a time of optimism, it's a time of hope. And we know that business confidence is crucial and getting our economy through last year. But importantly, we need to do it in a safe way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: CNN producer Angus Watson joins me now live from Sydney with more. Good to see you, Angus. So, despite a pretty slow start Australia's vaccination rate is higher now than countries like the United States. And after nearly four months of lockdowns Sydney at last is opening up. So, talk to us about the reaction so far across the city after such a draconian lockdown.
ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: Absolutely, Rosemary. People here in Sydney have been locked up at home for 106 days now, today, Freedom Day. Restaurants open for a meal. People are able to visit -- each other visit friends and family for the first time since June. Go to the gym, get a haircut. And there is such a sense of relief around town after there's 106 days in which the Delta variant really has spread quickly through this city.
It all began in June with one case with an unvaccinated driver who caught the coronavirus from an airline crew that he was chauffeuring. Now, that has turned into 60,000 cases and more throughout the entirety of that outbreak over 300 deaths as well.
But as those numbers have increased, so has the city and the country's vaccination rates. People really have been spurred on by the danger of that Delta variant to go and get vaccinated. Australia has sorted out a lot of the supply issues that it has had throughout the year and some of the hesitancy once, too.
So, now a relief and a sense of celebration around Sydney on what is actually quite a cold and windy and rainy day. I was in a pub earlier, the Angel hotel here in central Sydney where they are giving out free beer to celebrate the public. And told us that he is confident about being able to stay open through the next weeks and months and years as we live with COVID because of Australia's high vaccination rates. Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: I think we are lucky that Australia actually has a higher vaccination rate than some in U.K. does in a minute which has been great. People have been jumping on it which is excellent for us. We are going to hit 80 percent next week which is really good.
UNKNOWN: The pub is way better than drinking in your house. One hundred six days in my house is nothing compared to the pub.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: So, you heard there. Some relief, some joy from people here in Sydney. Now we are looking towards the next milestones. We've hit 70 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated which is allowed these freedoms today. Now we're looking at 80 percent to get the international border open hopefully next month. But there is some tension of course here in Australia between the states that have COVID-19 in the community. New South Wales here, Victoria here, where the capital of Melbourne is
in lockdown and the federal capital of Canberra also lockdown. They're trying to get those vaccination rates to catch up with Sydney. Some states however in Australia have no COVID. They've been living relatively normally but with those borders to the COVID states all closed up.
So, hopefully, Australia can join up again when all the vaccination rates catch up and the next step of course will be opening up to the world, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yes. A key to freedom, get vaccinated. Angus Watson, many thanks joining us live from Sydney.
Well, just in time for the half term school holiday in the U.K. dozens of countries are coming off the rest of restricted travel destinations. Starting today 47 nations and territories will be removed from the so-called red list. Now only seven countries remain on that red list, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
So let's get the latest now our Salma Abdelaziz, she joins us live from London. Good to see you, Salma. So, is everyone on board that this is a wise decision and how is this going to work exactly?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, Rosemary, this is a long-awaited decision. As you can imagine I'm at Gatwick airport here. This is a very international city. People have family from all over the world. I have family from all over the world.
So there has been a strong desire for the government to move and switch these rules. There is also a lot of, let's say frustration that vaccinated travelers from the United States and other countries were being accepted in the U.K. but not from other countries.
So, all of that changing starting 4 a.m. today, 47 countries again removed off of that red list. Now if you are not vaccinated you are still going to have to follow all of those rules and procedures around the number of tests that has to be taken and you will have to self- isolate for 10 days.
But there are 37 countries now where vaccination is accepted, where authorities here will recognize the vaccination status of those travelers. So, for those who can prove vaccination they will only have to take one test before departing and then another one when they arrive here. Proved that vaccination and be able to be exempt from isolation.
And there is a couple of reasons to make this happy -- to make this happen, rather, it's not just about reuniting families that's a huge part of it, but it's also, officials say here about restoring confidence in the economy. About reopening the travel industry so that families can begin to feel again that sense of confidence in the travel industry in airliners and being able to go abroad and come home. There is also a lot of confusion around the previous system here which
was a traffic light system with three different colors, countries it felt like were constantly on a last-minute basis rotating between making rules very difficult for families to follow.
So, all of this is supposed to simplify that system. Make the rules clear for the public, allow more visitors to come in and restore confidence in the economy for English travelers. Rosemary?
CHURCH: We'll be watching to see how it all goes. Salma Abdelaziz joining us live from London. Many thanks.
And still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, we are staying. That is the message from these crowds in Poland demanding to remain part of the E.U. More on the brewing legal fight that could throw the country's membership into jeopardize.
Plus, the polls are closed in Iraq's early parliamentary elections, but for our country facing so many challenges observers say the voter turnout left a lot to be desired. A live report from the region coming up next.
CHURCH (on camera): Massive crowds are rallying behind the European Union as fears are growing Poland could eventually break with the bloc. Organizers say protests were held in dozens of cities across Poland Sunday with as many as 100,000 people turning out in Warsaw alone.
Pro-E.U. rallies come after Poland's constitutional court challenge the primacy of European law over its national law.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins me now live from Berlin. Good to see you, Fred. So, talk to us about what's the latest and of course where this is all going?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, where this is going is definitely the big question, and certainly a lot of people in Poland are asking as well. Because the reason why these protests took place is obviously that decision by Poland's constitutional court challenging the primacy of E.U. law, essentially saying that some of the E.U. contracts between the E.U. and of course and the member states that they have together that they are against Polish law.
Now, of course, all countries that signed to the European Union they signed to the fact that E.U. law trumps national law. And so, therefore, there are some folks in Poland, first and foremost, the Polish opposition who believe that doing this on the part of the constitutional court which many people see as being sort of very close to the government that that could be a first step to Poland possibly leaving the European Union as they put it there, Pol exit. Now, Polish government polish conservative government says that that
is not the case, that this is just a bogeyman that the opposition is trying to release. But as you saw there were a lot of people who went out on to the streets especially in larger cities in more towards the west of Poland not just in Warsaw, also in places like Gdansk, also in places like Poznan and Szczecin as well.
I want you to listen to some of the folks had to say who attended those rallies. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: So we want to stay in the European Union because we are stronger and we hope that there will me more prosperity if we are in.
UNKNOWN: I am here for Poland. I am here for my children. One of them is my -- is with here with me here. And I don't believe we can never leave Europe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN (on camera): So, there you have some folks there who fear that the conservative government could be plotting to leave the European Union. Now the government itself the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, he said that that's absolutely not true, that there are no plans to leave the European Union.
And again, that this is something that the opposition is saying as he puts it because they have nothing else to talk about, no political points either. So, the government sort of dismissing it a little bit but you know, we do have to say, Rosemary that Poland at this point is quite a divided country, especially between eastern and western Poland, the rural areas and the big cities.
And there are some folks in Poland who do believe that in the past couple of years certain rights have been curtailed, the great (Inaudible), the freedom of the press like the independence of the judiciary, and so we do see that political battle that's being waged inside Poland now also has that topic of the European Union as well, Rosemary.
CHURCH: All right. Fred Pleitgen bringing us up to date on those developments from his live point in Berlin. I appreciated.
Polls are now closed in Iraq and preliminary results in the country's parliamentary election are expected in the coming hours. The turnout was low despite a push from protesters to hold these elections early.
CNN's Sam Kiley is following developments from Abu Dhabi, he joins me now live. Good to see you, Sam. So preliminary results expected in just a few hours but what is the likely outcome here? And why was the voter turnout so low?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the voter turnout we understand from some of the early reporting coming from Baghdad and the electoral commission there could be as low as 20 percent, 20 percent, Rosemary, a fifth of the population or the eligible population turning out to vote.
Large numbers of the young people and the middle class people who took part in those very widespread protest in 2019 that precipitated first the change of government and then the government's agreement on all early election appear to boycotted this round of elections which were in theory at any rate aimed at trying to break the political stranglehold that the various sectarian groups have over the whole body politics in Iraq.
This was intended in theory, Rosemary, to try to usher in the opportunities for more independent candidates. But the results has been that, although there's 3,200 candidates, 55,000 different polling stations across the nation that this hasn't convince the people, large numbers of people throughout that these elections are likely to produce anything like the sort of changes that those demonstrators were demanding and demanded in bloody terms and that 600 of them at least were killed during those demonstrations and many others also disappeared and political disappearances.
As a consequence of this whole process though, Rosemary, the predictions are for more of the same, more of the sort of sectarian, large number of Shia voting on block that many of them are going to vote for parties that are very heavily involved with Iran.
The one possible, well, total exception to that is Muqtada al-Sadr's grouping. His whole organization is now heavily focused on trying to break the tights bonds, if you like, between Baghdad and Tehran. He is the leader of a Shia grouping and a Shia militia that is now oppose to Iran.
And then of course you got the sectarian politics of Kurdistan and the Sunnis of Iraq all breaking up into their own sectarian groups. This is something that young people born after the invasion in 2003 lead by the United States that toppled Saddam Hussein. These are people who are born after or around that time who want to see a completely different dispensation in Iraq. But there are no signs whatsoever, Rosemary, that they are going to see it.
CHURCH: Yes, 20 percent turnout just shockingly low there.
Sam Kiley bringing us the very latest on the elections in Iraq. I appreciate it.
Well still ahead on CNN, a pair of alleged spies may have given a new meaning to submarine sandwich. What we are learning about a plot to smuggle naval secrets between two slices of bread.
And later, Taiwan's president says the island won't bow to pressure from China after comments by the mainland's leader. We'll hear from them both. That's just ahead.
CHURCH (on camera): Welcome back to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And you are watching CNN NEWSROOM.
Well, undercover agents have arrested a U.S. navy nuclear engineer and his wife in a sting operation that's stranger than fiction. The Maryland couples accused of trying to tell secrets about nuclear powered submarines to a foreign country. Agents post as spies for the country and arranged for a handoff.
The Justice Department says the FBI retrieved an SD card concealed within half a peanut butter sandwich at a prearrange dead drop location. The couple has been charged with violating the Atomic Energy Act.
Well, the drop in U.S. President Joe Biden's approval rating has one Democrat worried about his own election chances three weeks for now. Terry McAuliffe is running for governor in Virginia. He is downplaying a recent remark that he has to overcome the president's lagging support in the state but he's calling on Democrats to stop the infighting and pass the infrastructure bill.
Joe Johns has the details.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: If there is one thing that comes through about Terry McAuliffe's comments is that he's frustrated. It's a frustration shared by many Democrats and similar situations around the country due to the presidents low polling numbers.
For McAuliffe, of course, it's a different issue simply because he comes from Virginia, he's a former governor from Virginia and it's a state that has been trending blue over the past several years. This race is also considered a bellwether looking forward towards the midterm elections. Add all of that up, Terry McAuliffe ended up venting on a call with supporters. Listen.
TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR, VIRGINIA DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE (voice-over): We are facing plenty of headwinds from Washington, as you know. The president is unpopular today unfortunately here in Virginia, so we have got to plow through.
JOHNS: On Sunday, on state of the union, CNN's Dana Bash asked Terry McAuliffe about his comments. Here is what he said.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: As you well know, you are talking about the Democratic president you helped elect --
BASH: -- and Democratic-controlled Congress.
MCAULIFFE: You got it. BASH: So, you're frustrated with your own party. Are they dragging you down?
MCAULIFFE: You bet I'm frustrated.
BASH: Are they dragging you down?
MCAULIFFE: It's not dragging me down. I worry about the people of Virginia --
BASH: But in your ways --
MCAULIFFE: -- who want medical leaves, who want --
BASH: They're making it harder for you?
MCAULIFFE: I want to raise minimum wage.
BASH: They're making it harder for you?
MCAULIFFE: You know, hard or not, I mean, people understand what I'm doing, my plans, my 20 big plans to take Virginia to the next level. So, they're going to vote for me, but there is frustration in all over the country. We just want action.
JOHNS (voice-over): So, what does the White House say about the president's drop in approval numbers? Press Secretary Jen Psaki blames it on COVID and the delta variant and the spillover effect between the pandemic, the labor market, and the economy.
Joe Johns, CNN, Wilmington, Delaware.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Joining me now is CNN White House correspondent John Harwood. Great to have you with us. So, John, Democratic nominee for Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe, says President Biden's low popularity is dragging him down and blames the party's inability to pass the stalled infrastructure and social spending bills.
Is that what is causing Mr. Biden's approval rating to fall as low as 38%, according to a Quinnipiac poll, or is there more to this falling support, do you think?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I do think there is more to it. This is something that has been going on for a couple of months now. President Biden has been taking on water in his popularity. The biggest driver of that decline is the resurgence of the coronavirus, the delta variant.
President Biden got very high marks for much of the year and kept his overall approval above 50% because people saw normal life returning. They saw the vaccination campaign that he was pushing making progress.
And what has happened over the summer is that people felt a sense of disappointment and felt that we were going backwards because of the rising cases. And that took a toll on President Biden's sense of command of the situation.
Then you had the Afghanistan withdrawal which, of course, produced a lot of chaotic difficult images, bad stories for President Biden. That weighed him down even further.
Now, what President Biden needs to do going forward is to take advantage of the new decline in COVID cases. He is pushing harder for mandatory vaccines. That is something that, if the vaccination campaign picks up and he can overcome some of that remaining resistance to vaccines, he has got a better chance of restoring some confidence in his management of COVID.
The other thing, as you alluded to, is he has got to get that program, that economic program through the Congress. He has got both an infrastructure bill and a larger social safety net bill. Both of those things, if the president can show that he can unify the Democratic Party, get those things done, he will have a more positive regard for his leadership.
CHURCH: Yeah. It has to be said, I mean, those divisions within the Democratic Party, they are not helping President Biden's immense struggles here. Did they realize that their efforts to go blindly after their own agenda, whether moderates or progressives, run the risk of sinking Joe Biden's chances of success in 2022 and ultimately 2024? How close are they to reaching some level of agreement on those two critical bills?
HARWOOD: I think they have known all along, Rosemary, that when you have margins as narrow as the Democrats have, zero margins for error in the Senate, if they want to get something done, the Republicans oppose, which is most things, they have to get all 50 Democrats on the same page.
They've got a couple who are of a distinctly different view than the rest of the caucus, the overwhelming majority of the caucus. Same is true in the House. They can only lose three votes in the House and get their program through.
That means that any faction within the party can hold up progress. It has been very difficult. They did get the bipartisan infrastructure plan through the Senate. That is awaiting action in the House. Progressives want to hold that up as leverage to try to encourage the moderates to support their social safety net bill.
HARWOOD: I do think that they are closer than they were a month ago. The negotiations have really kicked into gear between those progressives and the moderates. Democrats are looking at the month of October as a rough window for when they can get this done. I think the odds are still in Joe Biden's favor that by the end of the month, he should be able to have some sort of agreement or deal across the Democratic Party.
CHURCH: Right. Of course, that Quinnipiac poll that we mentioned shows that of all the main issues being tackled right now, President Biden received 48% support for his handling of the pandemic. But immigration is his weakest issue with only 25% support for his handling of what is happening right now at the southern border. It is a tough issue to win, isn't it? But what does he need to do to try to turn this around?
HARWOOD: It is an extremely tough issue, as you mentioned, especially the Democratic Party. You know, when you're the president and you're setting the agenda, you want to focus on things that unite your party rather than divide the party. And immigration is one of those things that there is a segment of Democratic voters who very unfavorably inclined toward rising levels of illegal immigration.
And so, Joe Biden needs to try to both restore control of the border, which is something that a president only has some amount of control over because you got a lot of people who want to come into the United States, but also deemphasize the issue. That is why he has not been -- he is not going to the border, for example, because he is trying not to raise attention to that issue, while they do try to change some of Donald Trump's policies, they haven't changed them entirely.
And so that is going to remain a tough one for Biden, and he's going to have to manage that the best he can.
CHURCH: John Harwood, great to talk with you, appreciate it.
HARWOOD: You bet.
CHURCH (on camera): China is lashing out to Taiwan's president, saying her speech during the Ireland's National Day celebration distorted facts and incited violence. President Tsai Ing-wen spoke Sunday amid heightened tensions with Beijing, saying the self-governing island will defend its democratic way of life and won't bow to pressure. Now, this came one day after China's president vowed to pursue a peaceful reunification with Taiwan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
XI JINPING, GENERAL SECRETARY, CHINSE COMMUNIST PARTY (through translator): No one should underestimate the resolve, the will, and the ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The complete reunification of our country will be and can be realized.
TSAI ING-WEN, PRESIDENT OF TAIWAN (through translator): We hope for an easing of cross trade relations and will not act rationally. But there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will vow to pressure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): CNN's Ivan Watson is tracking developments and joins us now live from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Ivan. So, tensions between China and Taiwan intensifying here. How dangerous is this? What is the biggest concern for the region if this gets out of hand?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, I mean, you've got this very unequal contest here. On the one hand, you have mainland China which dwarfs Taiwan demographically, militarily, economically, with its leaders saying, succumb, submit, become part of our one-party system.
And on the other hand, you have a democratically-elected president in Taiwan who is saying, we want to preserve our democratic freedoms and telling the world, we are the frontline of defense against authoritarianism. Take a listen to what else the Taiwanese president had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ING-WEN (through translator): Nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us. This is because the path that China has laid out offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan nor sovereignty for 23 million people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON (on camera): And the kind of war of words going back and forth across the Taiwan Strait and we had a reaction today from Beijing, saying -- calling the Taiwanese president kind of a provocateur and calling her a secessionist, even though the Communist Party of China has had no control over Taiwan ever since nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949.
But the Chinese military flew three warplanes into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone on Sunday as Taiwan was celebrating its National Day, and that came after record number of military flights into that ADIZ earlier in the week.
WATSON: So that is part of what has attracted more attention and why senior Taiwanese officials have described this as the worst they have seen relations across the strait in 40 years. Back to you.
CHURCH: And Ivan, if China and Taiwan were to engage in conflict, either through some miscalculation or for any other reason, Taiwan would be no match for China's military might, as you touched on. So why is the president of the self-governing island pushing back so defiantly here?
WATSON: Well, I mean, her argument is, let's maintain the status quo, and that means not becoming part of communist China. China is accusing her of ramping up the tension. So, it is a war of two different narratives right now.
And China's insistence that Taiwan is a breakaway region of its own territory extends around the world. It is basically warning every other country around the world, don't you dare recognize Taiwanese sovereignty.
That goes to the U.S, of course, which maintains a policy of strategic ambiguity, saying, okay, we're not going to recognize Taiwan as an independent state, per se, we're going to recognize the one-China policy, but we are going to recognize Taiwan's right to self-defense.
So, the U.S. sells weapons to Taiwan, for example, much to the chagrin of the Chinese central government. And the U.S. also routinely sails warship through this Taiwan Strait, which really irritates the Chinese.
But this goes further. China does not want Taiwan recognized in the United Nations system, for example, not by the World Health Organization, even at the height of a once in a century pandemic with COVID.
And that goes to tiny countries like Lithuania, tiny Baltic states of some four million people, that said it would welcome, it would accept the Taiwanese representative office and its capital. China protested and demanded the withdrawal of ambassadors from each other's capitals.
That just goes to show the length that China will go to refuse Taiwan any recognition at all anywhere around the world. Back to you.
CHURCH: Ivan Watson monitoring these rising tensions from Hong Kong there, many thanks.
Well, parts of the U.S. are dealing with severe weather, including tornadoes. We will get the latest from the CNN Weather Center just ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (voice-over): Just take a look at these images from that erupting volcano in the Canary Islands. Blocks of lava as large as three-storey building have rolled down the hillside on the island of La Palma. The lava has been flowing from more than three weeks and tremors are still being felt in the area. About 6,000 people have been forced from their homes and more than a thousand buildings have bene destroyed. La Palma's airport has reopened, though, after being forced to close on Thursday due to volcanic ash.
Well, Sunday was the second day the Central U.S. has been hit by severe weather. The National Weather Service reported at least nine tornadoes in Oklahoma on Sunday night as a line of severe thunderstorms has been moving through the region. The risk of severe weather is now shifting, though.
So, let's turn to meteorologist Tyler Mauldin who has been watching this very closely. So, Tyler, what do you see?
TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Rosemary. Those severe thunderstorms are now beginning to move out of Oklahoma. As you see with the image behind me, the storms are stretching from basically Kansas City all the way down to Houston. We will zoom in to the area where you see the red shading. This is a tornado wipes (ph) that is in effect for
the next couple of hours. That is for portions of Oklahoma, Southeast Oklahoma, Arkansas, and portions of Louisiana and Texas as well.
In total, we have seen 10 tornado reports and 29 severe winter reports. The of those winter reports show that we had gusts almost a hurricane-force in portions of Oklahoma and we've also seen some large hail, too.
The system is moving to the northeast. We have it at level 2 out of a 5 risk for portions of the Midwest and the great lakes on Monday. Large hail and damaging wind are the main threats here.
But it is not over for the Central U.S. Here in the plains, we are looking at a level 3 out of a 5 risk for Tuesday. Large hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes are the threat with this setup. And the reason why we are seeing this setup coming our way on Tuesday is because of what is developing out west.
We have our first winter-like storm system developing over the Intermountain West and it's going to drop a lot in the west snowfall on Tuesday and Wednesday. When you this clash in air masses, that cold Canadian air coming down from the north and then you got the warm, humid air rising up from the south, well, that clash causes severe weather.
And geographically here in the U.S., we are set up for this clash to occur twice a year. The first time is the primary tornado season, which runs from March to June, AKA spring. But then the secondary season is right now in October and November. So, we have two tornado seasons. And the main areas to see these clashes in the air masses and al the tornadoes are these areas here. You all heard of Tornado Alley but, Rosemary, what about Dixie Alley? Down here across the Southeastern U.S.
CHURCH: All right. Tyler Mauldin, thank you so much for keeping a close eye on all of that. Appreciate it.
Next here on "CNN NEWSROOM," he waited 90 years to make it into space. Now, he will have to wait a little longer. More on why William Shatner's lift off is being delayed and what the actor is saying about his historic flight. Back in just a moment.
CHURCH: A three-year-old boy in Texas is now reunited with his family after he was lost in the woods for four days. Christopher Ramirez was found Saturday in rough terrain five miles from his home after apparently wandering off while chasing a dog on Wednesday. A massive search effort was launched, but ultimately, a citizen's tip help authorities find the boy. They say he was tired, hungry, and dehydrated, but otherwise, okay. Happy ending there.
Well, Star Trek's Captain Kirk will have to wait a little longer to boldly go where no 90-year-old man has gone before. Blue Origin is delaying William Shatner's space trip by a day because of high winds in the forecast. The launch is now slated for Wednesday at which point the actor will become the oldest person ever to travel into space.
CNN's Kristin Fisher has a preview.
WILLIAM SHATNER, ACTOR: Losing command, losing the enterprise.
KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He led the USS Enterprise on an intergalactic odyssey. Now, he will get
to go on his own odyssey.
SHATNER: Things I have only played as an actor -- I'm going to see it firsthand.
FISHER (voice-over): Star Trek's iconic captain, James Kirk, will soon get to go to space for real.
SHATNER: I'm thrilled and anxious and a little nervous and a little frightened about this whole new adventure.
FISHER (voice-over): Blue Origin announced on Monday that actor William Shatner will be on the company's next flight, alongside Audrey Powers, Blue Origin's vice president of Mission and Flight Operations.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Two, one.
FISHER (voice-over): Shatner, Powers, and two others will lift off from a remote stretch of West Texas less than three months after the company's first crude launch.
UNKNOWN: Here, catch.
FISHER (voice-over): The crew will enjoy about four minutes of weightlessness during an 11-minutes suborbital trip to space, similar to what Jeff Bezos, his brother, and two others did during the summer.
SHATNER: I go to the edge of space, loosen the restraints around me and be weightless, and looking into the vastness of the universe.
FISHER (voice-over): Shatner, who played Captain Kirk on the hit television series, "Star Trek," went on to star in seven "Star Trek' films, joked about this opportunity years ago.
UNKNOWN: If you were given the opportunity to go into space, would you?
SHATNER: If I got a guarantee that I would come back.
FISHER (voice-over): That opportunity is now here, and 90-year-old Shatner seems surprised himself.
SHATNER: Because 55 years ago, I was destitute, I'm looking at the sky, the astronauts stepping on the moon, and I had a little bit to do with those astronauts. And 55 years later, I'm going into space. I want to come back and tell you about how I really felt when I saw these things that we have only learned about secondhand.
FISHER (voice-over): His fans are excited to hear about his mission, too, many taking to Twitter to express their excitement. Late night host Stephen Colbert even making a joke about the mission, tweeting, I hope William Shatner doesn't have unrealistic expectations of what space is like.
Kristin Fisher, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH (on camera): Love that. Very funny indeed. And thank you so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Have yourselves a wonderful day. "CNN NEWSROOM," continuing next with Isa Soares.