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Crisis In Myanmar; Peaceful Protest In Myanmar Met With Deadly Military Response; Interview With U.N. Special Rapporteur On Myanmar Tom Andrews; U.S. Eases Travel Restrictions With Canada And Mexico; Space: The Final Frontier. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired October 13, 2021 - 02:00:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. And I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead, a major multinational pledge to help Afghanistan and the difficult task of dealing with the Taliban to deliver the aid.

Europe facing an energy crunch as fuel prices surge. What governments are doing to protect consumers.

Plus, from peaceful protests to handling explosives. The resistance to the military junta in Myanmar turns to violence.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center. This is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Good to have you with us. Well, the people of Afghanistan are in desperate need and the European Union is stepping up to help. The E.U. is pledging more than a billion dollars in aid hoping to prevent an economic collapse and humanitarian disaster. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the world can't stand by and watch 40 million people drown in chaos.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi who hosted the Virtual Conference of G20 nations, says the world's richest countries must address the crisis even if it means coordinating with the Taliban.


MARIO DRAGHI, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER: It's very hard to see how one can help the Afghan people, which is a big number. And Afghan -- Afghanistan is a big country without some sort of involvement of the Taliban government.

I mean, if they don't want us to enter, we don't enter. So, this is the degree of involvement, which as I said, doesn't imply a toll recognition. Recognition is a political decision that would be taken only when we are we -- the international community agrees the progress has been made on various issues. The respect of human rights, women, girls, education, essentially essential individual freedoms and so on. Right now, there isn't any progress that we can see.


CHURCH: War, poverty and the coronavirus pandemic or creating a humanitarian nightmare in Afghanistan. According to the United Nations, more than half a million Afghans have been forced from their homes this year alone. One in three people don't know where their next meal is coming from. More than 14 million Afghans are on the brink of starvation. And a million children are suffering from acute malnutrition and could die this year without treatment.

The U.S. State Department is reporting progress on a number of fronts in talks with the Taliban. U.S. and European diplomats have been meeting with representatives from the Afghan government in Doha, Qatar. Spokesman Ned Price explained what they're discussing.


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We engaged on a practical and pragmatic basis with Taliban as we have done in recent weeks focusing on security and terrorism concerns, a -- in some ways that a shared threat from groups like ISIS-K and Afghanistan. Safe passage for U.S. citizens and for foreign nationals. And as well as our Afghan partners to whom we have a special commitment, and of course, human rights and that includes the rights of women and girls.

We do want commitments when it comes to humanitarian access. And --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you get that?

PRICE: Did has been progress on a number of fronts. I think there were -- there were productive discussions on the issue of humanitarian assistance.


CHURCH: And speaking of humanitarian assistance, we are learning about a daring rescue operation by an Israeli aid group to help dozens of Afghans escape from their country. CNN's Hadas Gold has our report.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A group of 125 Afghans, female police officers, judges, activists, even professional cyclist and their families. Trying to find a way out by land or by air. Staying in secret safe houses along with way, for some new passports made by Afghan diplomats abroad transferred into the country.


GOLD: These now former police officers, their identities hidden over safety concerns, described part of their ordeal while in hiding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We were hiding at the location with other 120 people. But the location was discovered by Taliban.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We studied for 18 years and we helped with a recruitment of women to the police ranks. Our aim was to improve the potential of women and increase their numbers in the ranks of the security forces. In general, we worked very hard for Afghanistan. But now this opportunity has been taken away from us.

GOLD: The already treacherous journey made even more dangerous because of the nationality of the rescuers. For Israeli NGO israAID, it was the second evacuation out of Afghanistan in a month. Led by Yotam Polizer, who coordinated the rescues from a neighboring country. israAID had never before undertaking such an ambitious rescue operation.

YOTAM POLIZER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ISRAAID: The way it all came together was very -- was not -- like was not planned. It was all kind of an emergency response. After a very stressful couple of days of trying to cross through different places, including some very intense situations where group was surrounded by Talibans, we decided that the only way out is actually a flight through the northern airport in Afghanistan through Mazar-i-Sharif.

GOLD: But negotiating with the Taliban to leave Afghanistan was only part of the battle. They needed a neighboring country, which we've been asked not to name to transit through. And a third country with a group could be held before ultimate resettlement. A patchwork group of activists, wealthy donors, and more pulled every string possible.

POLIZER: People who, who were able to just pick up the phone and call this president or call this Prime Minister and influence them immediately to open their border.

GOLD: The first group extricated by israAID made up a female cyclist and members of a robotics team ended up in the UAE. Something that may not have even been possible just a few years ago. An Emirati Foreign Ministry Spokesperson celebrated their arrival and the joint operation with the Israelis on Twitter.

GOLD: How did the Abraham accord affect your ability to work with the Emiratis?

POLIZER: I think it's absolutely affected. I mean, there's no way that we could do it before. And for them, there was a very special partnership. They really appreciated the fact that he was like the first joint humanitarian mission. And in a lot of our conversations with really high level government officials, they said that they want to do much more of that.

GOLD: None of these rescues could happen without some serious financial support much of which came from an anonymous Family Foundation, and Canadian Israeli billionaire Sylvan Adams. An avid cyclist, Adams felt drawn in particular to his fellow two wheelers.

SYLVAN ADAMS, FINANCIAL SUPPORTER: So many people but specifically women who have been given a taste of freedom and openness including riding your bike and today will be at best persecuted and possibly lose their lives simply for riding their bicycles.

GOLD: And as a Jew, he says it's his duty to help where he can.

ADAMS: We have the -- this ancient cultural imperative. It's my obligation to try to practice Tikkun Olam, improving our world. So I get involved in situations where I know, I'm blessed to be able to help.

GOLD: After a five-day journey, the second group made it to Albania. Well, there'll be hosted until resettlement. Hadas Gold, CNN, Tel Aviv.


CHURCH: Less than three weeks before the big U.N. Climate Change summit, the Cop26 president is warning countries to cut carbon emissions or risk failure. Alok Sharma, urged G20 Leaders not to treat the conference as a photo op and he reminded them of the pledge they made back in July to lay out ambitious targets before the summit. The countries that have not boosted their carbon reduction commitments include Australia, China, India, Russia, Brazil and Turkey.

Sharma said on climate the world will succeed or fail as one and his taking aim at the use of coal.

ALOK SHARMA, COP26 PRESIDENT: I was delighted to co-chair the G7 Climate and Environment Ministers meeting in July when we delivered a historic agreement that no G7 nation would finance any more coal projects internationally. South Korea has made the same commitment. And with China's recent announcement, we are well on the way to choose financing for new coal power is the ramp up support for renewables.


SHARMA: But we still need the G20 to tackle domestic unabated coal power use. So at the G20 meeting, I urge leaders to kick coal into the past where it belongs.


CHURCH: Meanwhile, the President of France has revealed a new $35 billion plan to green the French economy. Emmanuel Macron announced a major investment in renewable energy and vowed to make France the leader of green hydrogen by 2030. He's promising a 35 percent dip in carbon emissions by that same date, and is calling for two million electric and hybrid vehicles to be built in France. Mr. Macron says all this will move the country away from fossil fuels and improve quality of life.

While European countries are working to move away from fossil fuels to clean energy, the transition isn't fast enough. CNN's Anna Stewart takes a look at the continent's energy crisis.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Heating homes, cooking food, and fueling industry. Europe depends on natural gas for its energy needs. The E.U. imports 90 percent of it, leaving the bloc vulnerable to a surge in prices over the last few months. It's a classic case of supply and demand. As economies roll back to life, post pandemic and need more fuel demand goes up. On the supply side, a long winter depleted gas reserves and weak solar and wind outputs during the summer, mental alternatives weren't able to fill the gap.

(on camera): The effects are particularly clear here in the U.K. where at least nine energy suppliers went bust just in September. One energy CEO told me many more could be at risk.

BILL BULLEN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, UTILITA ENERGY LIMITED: I think Warren Buffett famously said something like, you know, when the tide goes out, you get to see swimming naked. And, you know, certainly some of those energy suppliers didn't forward hedge their positions. And consequently, we're now seeing them buying energy at extraordinary high prices from the spot market and consequently that failing.

STEWART: Countries including Spain, France, Italy and Greece have already announced measures to protect consumers from the spike in prices. But what's really needed to bring prices down is more fuel, even if it damages country's climate targets.

BULLEN: A lot of countries across Europe are quietly switching on coal fired power stations again, that had been mothballed in the last few years because, you know, rather run something dirty and run out of electricity.

STEWART: Gas is a cleaner options, and it's possible more could be on the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For over 30 years, Gazprom has been a reliable gas supplier to the countries of Europe.

STEWART: President Vladimir Putin says Russia could export more gas amid accusations Europe's biggest supplier has been withholding exports to keep prices high. This offer though, may have strings attached.

BULLEN: They might be pumping less supply to Europe, because they want to support Nord Stream 2 pipeline which is ready going into Germany, but it's not approved yet. And they have been sending less gas through their pipelines going through Ukraine and into Europe.

STEWART: With approving Nord Stream 2, the new pipeline, would that solve the issue?

BULLEN: Probably not just the regulatory process will take several months. And even if it got approved right now, which it won't, it will take several weeks for the gas to be fully piped through the system and arrive in Europe to make a difference.

STEWART: One of the simplest solutions to the gas crisis is out of policymakers control. A mild winter would ease prices. Within their control, speeding up the transition to cleaner energy sources without leaving consumers still reliant on gas out in the cold. Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


CHURCH: Mainland China now says military exercises in the Taiwan Strait are necessary to "Defend national sovereignty." These comments come amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Taipei and hours after the Pentagon reacted to China's latest moves.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: PRC has stepped up efforts to intimidate and pressure Taiwan and other allies and partners including increasing their military activities. Conducted in the vicinity of Taiwan, the East China Sea in the South China Sea, which we believe are destabilizing and only increased the risk of miscalculation. Our support for and defense relationship with Taiwan remains aligned against the current threat posed by the People's Republic of China.

And we urge Beijing to honor its commitment to the peaceful resolution of cross strait differences.


CHURCH: CNN's Will Ripley is following developments and has more on the strained relations between Mainland China and Taiwan.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over) Forceful words from the head of the world's largest one party state, China's president saying unification of China and Taiwan "Will definitely be achieved."


RIPLEY: Taiwan's president firing back pledging not to bow to pressure. This as the island shows its military might. Days after Taiwan's defense ministry said nearly 150 Chinese war planes flew over four days in its air defense zone. Tensions between the two governments may be reaching a boiling point, but they've been brewing for decades. And a complex relationship that began with war. In 1949, the previous Chinese government fled to Taiwan after a brutal civil war with the communists.

Those communists set up what is now the People's Republic of China. Both sides claimed they were the true authority of the island. Then came decades of hostility. With no travel, trade, or even communication between the two sides. In the 1990s, relations between Beijing and Taipei began to thaw, authorities put aside the issue of sovereignty in favor of more economic and cultural cooperation.

Still, China insisted Taiwan was a breakaway province that must eventually be reunited with the mainland even if that means by force. In Taiwan, two parties began to form, one that was more aligned with the People's Republic of China, another in favor of complete independence. In 2016, the pro Independence Party nominee Tsai Ing-wen was elected President of Taiwan. Since then, relations started to deteriorate again.

China started using its massive economic power against the much smaller democratic islands for about 24 million people. In 2018, they pressured international companies to consider Taiwan part of China and threatened to crack down on the business of anyone that didn't comply. Meanwhile, the U.S. which has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, showed commitment to the islands defense and to preserving peace in the western Pacific.

That has been incensing Beijing, which believes Taiwan has no right to its own diplomacy. In the past, China has stopped short of a full scale military invasion. But every Chinese leader since the current government's founder, Mao Zedong, has vowed to take control of Taiwan. Now with China's President Xi Jinping renewing his vows to bring the two together. Taiwan's fate hangs in the balance. Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


CHURCH: Still ahead, three Rivers of lava are endangering lives in the Canary Islands. We will have the latest on the La Palma eruption in a live report. That's next.

Plus, a new report shows just how many cities could be at risk if emissions are not caught. And sea levels continue to rise.



CHURCH: We're showing you live pictures right now. Authorities tracking three main lava flows from the volcano erupting on La Palma in the Canary Islands. One of which is moving quickly toward the Atlantic Ocean. Lava is also advancing on a neighborhood forcing hundreds more evacuations. And a cement factory caught fire Monday when it was engulfed by the lava, prompting a temporary lockdown.

And journalist Al Goodman joins me now live from Madrid. Al, first lockdown then an evacuation and for many, that means leaving so much behind. What is the latest on the situation on the island of La Palma?

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rosemary. Those seven to 800 people who received that evacuation order on Tuesday afternoon have just spent their first night out of their homes. They got this urgent evacuation order from -- emergency services in a tweet to start with telling them to just get out of their homes, take their personal documentation, their property documentation, proof that they own that house, their pets and move on.

If they had animals, chickens, cows, something like that they might be able to go back later for the -- these are a repeat of scenes that happened several weeks ago at the start of this eruption when most of the people evacuated that's now 6700 people evacuated on this island and 80,000 had to leave their homes. All of this do as you mentioned, to this northern flow of lava, which is the most active moving, the quickest, it's the most fluid. According to officials moving towards the Atlantic Ocean. That's the same lava flow that earlier this week prompted a fire at that cement factory in a -- an industrial park, gasses and smoke, that prompted a lockdown for some 3000 people. That was lifted on Tuesday. A short time later came this evacuation or for seven to 800 other people. And now all of this on the island where the damage, the Spanish government here in Madrid has promised almost $260 million.

That's why what they want people to make sure that they can prove that this was that their home if it is devoured by the lava. 612 hectares, about 1500 acres of land has been consumed. A lot of that agricultural land and principally banana plantations. There's also aid promised for that. There is no end in sight yet. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes. That is devastating for those people living there. Thank you. Al Goodman bringing us the very latest from his vantage point there in Madrid. Appreciate it.

Well, a new study is painting a dire picture of what our world could look like if global temperatures keep rising. Researchers from Climate Central's say rising sea levels will impact more than 800 million people if the earth warms just a few degrees. And 50 major coastal cities will be underwater unless they take unprecedented measures to prevent flooding.

Meteorologist Tyler Mauldin joins me now. So Tyler let's take a closer look at this. What are you finding?

TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: So, Rosemary, the sea levels are on the rise. Since 1993, the world has averaged about 3.2 millimeters per year increase in sea levels. But within the last 10 to 15 years, that average has started ticking up. From 2014 to 2019, we've averaged a rise of five millimeters per year. That makes sense because some of the hottest years on record globally had been -- have occurred within the last 10 to 15 years.

The temperature is on the rise exponentially as is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. The two main contributors to carbon dioxide emissions are the transportation sector and the electricity sector. If we want to lower our carbon emissions, we've got to clean up transportation and energy. That's through cleaner technologies and also carbon sequestration technologies.

Right now, the earth has warmed to 1.2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial temperatures. But, you know, the IPCC says that anything above 1.5 degrees Celsius will have major impacts. We're really already seeing that. We have limited evidence here that with a warming climate, we're going to see more frequent tornado events. While we've seen that. We also have evidence that we'll see more frequent hurricane events, major hurricane events and typhoons.

We've seen that as well. What about the droughts, the heavy rain events, the coastal flooding, we've seen that recently as well. And yes, even the heat waves. So we're already seeing the impacts from a climate that has increased to 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre industrial times. Now what happens at three degrees Celsius? Well, take a look at this. Sydney would be -- see all this area around here? I mean, that is completely underwater if we go to three degrees Celsius.


MAULDIN: London, notice all the greenery here. Well, a lot of that is going to be underwater if we increase the global temperature to three degrees Celsius above pre industrial. And then looking at New York, here's the Statue of Liberty, here's all that greenery and boom, all that's underwater if we see the global temperature increase to three degrees above pre industrial levels. But it's not just the sea level rise, rosemary.

We're also talking about, because it's an entire package. It's also the extreme weather events that are becoming more frequent. And in the United States last year, we had the most billion dollar disasters on record 20, totaling $100.2 billion adjusted for inflation. And notice this year, we're on track to rival what we saw in 2020. In fact, we've already seen more in the way of financial hardships because of these disasters with just fewer disasters, only 18 so far.

CHURCH: That is quite the wake-up call for all of us, isn't it? Thank you so much for bringing that, Tyler. Appreciate it.

Well, dozens of civil society groups in Brazil say President Jair Bolsonaro his threat to the world's efforts to contain global warming. It's another damning accusation for the controversial far right leader. Earlier on Tuesday, a group of climate lawyers filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court saying Mr. Bolsonaro's record on the environment amounts to crimes against humanity.

They're urging the ICC to investigate the Brazilian President over what they call attacks on the Amazon.

Well, peaceful protests were crushed by Myanmar's military rulers. Months after the coup, the resistance is turning to violence as well. We'll have the details for you on the other side of the break. Stay with us.


CHURCH: In his first public comments since the February coup, Myanmar's ousted president says the military tried to force him to resign hours before the takeover. Win Myint was testifying Tuesday alongside Aung San suu Kyi in their joint trial on incitement charges. He told the court that military officials told him to resign due to ill health. His attorney told reporters the President turned down their proposal saying he was in good health.

The officers warned him that denial would cause him harm, but the President told them he would rather die than consent.

Well, meantime, the opposition to the military is ongoing and the tactics have moved beyond peaceful protests.


CHURCH: Ivan Watson has our report. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Eight months after the military overthrew Myanmar's elected government, resistance to the dictatorship has grown increasingly violent. The opposition waging a campaign of bombings, assassinations and infrastructure sabotage. Destroying cell phone towers, for example, apparently belonging to a telecommunications company partly owned by the Myanmar military.

WATSON (on camera): Have you yourself planted any bombs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, a couple of times.

WATSON (voiceover): This man who asked not to be identified, once organized peaceful anti-military protests, but now calls himself a guerrilla fighter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It used to be holding protest signboards. Now, it's about using explosives, sometimes even using guns, for our own safety.

WATSON (voiceover): In fact, when I first interviewed him in March, he rejected violence.

WATSON (on camera): Do you support violent attacks on the military?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all.

WATSON (voiceover): For weeks, after the February first coup, opposition demonstrators staged colorful peaceful protests. But the military cracked down hard, shooting at protesters by day, arresting them in their homes at night. As the death toll swells to estimates of more than 1,100, the once peaceful protester says he embraced armed resistance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm no longer the same person I was before, just about six months ago. And I think that that applies for everyone in this country.

WATSON (voiceover): The army general who declared himself Myanmar's ruler calls the insurgents terrorists.

MIN AUNG HLAING, MYANMAR MILITARY CHIEF: Extremists and their supporters chose the act of terrorism instead of doing or solving it in line with the law, they insighted anarchy and committed armed insurrection.

WATSON (voiceover): Military run media claim the opposition carried out more than 2,000 bomb attacks and killed nearly 800 people in the last seven months.

On September 7th, Myanmar's opposition government in exile endorsed the many small sales of armed resistance that have cropped up calling on them to attack the military regime.

NYI THUTA, FORMER MYANMAR MILITARY CAPTAIN: This is a war, because our military created war.

WATSON (voiceover): Until February, Nyi Thuta was a captain in the Myanmar military. But he says the slaughter of civilians pushed him to defect.

WATSON (on camera): When you see these videos of a bomb exploding next to soldiers, how does that make you feel?

THUTA: I feel sick. But we must fight them, because they are killing our people.

WATSON (voiceover): Now a wanted man, the former officer says he doesn't fight in the streets but instead resists the regime online, n weekly Zoom calls like this, during which he urges members of the security forces to quit. The urban guerilla fighter I talked to estimates more than 50 people he knows in the opposition movement have been captured or killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of my colleagues either are dead or in prison. I'm still lucky to be alive, but I don't know when that luck is going to run out.

WATSON (voiceover): The stakes for these would be revolutionaries could not be higher.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


CHURCH: Let's talk more about this with Tom Andrews, he is the U.N. special rapporteur on Myanmar.

Good to have you with us.

TOM ANDREWS, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON MYANMAR: Thank you so much, Rosemary. Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: So, I want to start with this and ask you how likely it is that this urban insurgency will succeed in coming anywhere close to overthrowing Myanmar's military. Is that within the realm of possibility?

ANDREWS: Listen, you have a brutal military occupation. People feel just angry, frustrated and desperate. But the fact is, we are talking about one of the largest militaries in the region, really in the world. They have very sophisticated weaponry and they will show no limitations whatsoever to using those weapons against their own people.

So, the fact is, is that people who are trying to fight back using weapons, very often, these are homemade weapons, homemade rifles, flintlock rifles, single shot rifles, very primitive rifles against some of the most sophisticated weaponry that is available on this planet. So, what I think the reality is, is that, despite the fact that people are so desperate trying to do anything and everything to protect themselves and their family from this what really is a brutal military occupation, overcoming this military, using military means, is not, in my view, possible.


CHURCH: Right. And, of course, it is worth pointing out, opposition to the military is growing though with bombings and assassinations being carried out. What impact is this campaign likely to have on the military and the way they operate right now? Are they changing their approach?

ANDREWS: Well, opposition, Rosemary, you're exactly right. It is broad, it is deep, it is strong and continues to get stronger. So, with every atrocity being committed by the military, opposition gets even stronger. I think what is being used right now by most people in Myanmar are nonviolent means of opposition. There's a civil, very vibrant civil disobedience movement. There is a citizens sanctions movement in which anything and everything connected to the military is being boycotted.

There is, right now, people withholding their taxes, they're withholding utility bills. Those two steps alone have caused a projected $1 billion lost from the military.

CHURCH: CNN's Ivan Watson we saw talk to an insurgent who said he and others learned how to make bombs from an online website after giving up on nonviolent means, nonviolent protest. What does that tell you about the determination behind this urban insurgency and the desperation perhaps to it?

ANDREWS: Well, it tells me that these are desperate people. The level of frustration is quite high and desperation is quite high. And frankly, they're looking for help and support from the international community that just hasn't been forthcoming. There has not been a clear, focus, strategic arms embargo, combined with sanctions, economic sanctions the regime that can do what the people of Myanmar themselves are doing, cutting off their revenue. So, they are frustrated. They're looking for any and every and way to save their country and their children and their grandchildren.

CHURCH: The army general who declared himself Myanmar's ruler calls these insurgents terrorists. He is either killing or imprisoning them, but Myanmar's opposition government in exile has endorsed this armed exile, calling on insurgents to attack this military regime. How will this likely and for these guerrilla fighters, do you think?

ANDREWS: Well, it's not going to end well. I mean, thousands and thousands of people have been arrested, they are in prisons, they are being tortured. Young children are being abducted. If the Junta cannot find these rebels, they are taking their wives and their children and their parents. It is just an extraordinary situation in which you have this brutality on top of brutality in which even the most innocent, young, young children being imprisoned to punish members of their family.

So, it doesn't and well and I think it only ends when the international community shows the kind of resolve that the people of Myanmar are showing. CHURCH: So, important to continue telling this story. Tom Andrews, thank you so much for talking with us.

ANDREWS: Thank you, Rosemary. Really appreciate it.

CHURCH: The U.S. is set to ease some of its COVID travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico. Starting earlier next month, fully vaccinated travelers will be allowed to cross U.S. land borders for nonessential visits. By January, vaccinations will be required for all visitors, even for essential travel.

Time for a short break, but when we come back, prepare for lift off. We are just a few hours away from actor William Shatner's voyage into space.



CHURCH: Move over "Bridgerton," "Tiger King" and "Queens Gambit." South Korea's "Squid Game" is now officially the biggest series launch ever for Netflix. The streaming service says more than 110 million subscribers have watched the survival drama since its debut last month. The nine-episode series is number one on the Netflix top 10 lists in 94 countries. And Netflix says the series' success shows there is a global market for foreign language productions.


MINYOUNG KIM, VP OF CONTENT FOR ASIA-PACIFIC, NETFLIX: We have slowly realized that a global content doesn't have to be only in English. It can come from anywhere around the world. And we are seeing proof with "Squid Game" that the sky is the limit and a great content and great story can come from anywhere.


WATSON (on camera): Well, better late than never for "Star Trek's" Captain Kirk, Actor William Shatner and three others will be on board a Blue Origin rocket launching into space in the coming hours. The mission was delayed from Tuesday over weather concerns. Lift off is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Eastern from the launch site in Texas. The 90-year-old Shatner played Captain Kirk in the 1960 "Star Trek" T.V. show and seven movies. And this, his real-life journey into space will last 11 minutes.

And I spoke earlier with retired astronaut, Leroy Chao. I asked him what he thinks about this kind of space tourism and what it can achieve.


LEROY CHAO, RETIRED ASTRONAUT: I think it's great because this is a natural evolution of spaceflight, First, of course, came the actual ability to get into space with humans on board. And then, after several decades of exploration, we've come to the point of commercialization where we are now being able to take people into space, in this case, just to touch space just for a few minutes, but into space nonetheless. And I think it's wonderful and it raises awareness, especially when you have these kinds of celebrities get a chance to go into space and everybody gets a chance to learn a little bit more about space exploration, and I think it's a great thing.


CHURCH: And you can see my full interview with Retired Astronaut Leroy Chao in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM. So, do stay tuned for that. We will be back in just a moment.