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U.K. COVID-19 Cases Rising; Melbourne Felt a Sigh of Relief; China Making Drastic Moves; Cinematographer Killed in the Set; Queen Elizabeth Back to Palace; A Military's Struggle from Taliban's Rule; Growing Questions Over Russian President's Strategy; Extreme Weather, Torrential Rains And Flooding; Dire Warnings On Climate Change, When Climate Fails, Civilization Collapses; Massive Immigration Fuels Right-Wing Politics; Japan Holds Drills Simulating Real-Life Battle; NBA Boston Celtics, Enes Kanter's Criticism To China. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired October 22, 2021 - 03:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): And a warm welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Paula Newton.

Ahead right here on CNN Newsroom, fears across Europe as weather turns cooler. Health experts warn already high COVID rates could spike dramatically.

The queen back at Windsor Castle, the latest on the health scare that had Queen Elizabeth spend the night in hospital.

And tragedy on a movie set. A prop gun fired by actor Alec Baldwin, discharges, killing the film's director of photography, and wounding the director.

Across Europe, COVID-19 infections and deaths have been rising ominously for the past several weeks. And despite lockdowns, restrictions and mask mandates, public health experts fear cooler weather will lead to a dramatically more cases still.

Nearly all of Europe and Russia, as you can see, they are already in some shade of red with daily deaths now breaking records in Russia. Moscow has announced it will again, going to lockdown for 10 days beginning next Thursday. Only about 30 percent of the population is now vaccinated.

Meantime, in the U.K., more than 52,000 new cases were reported Thursday, the highest since July. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the government is sticking to its plan to push for more vaccinations instead of new restrictions. Now, while the U.K. chooses to stay the course for now, people in Melbourne, Australia are finally emerging from one of the world's largest lockdowns.

Angus Watson is covering that for us in Sydney. But we begin now with Salma Abdelaziz in London. And Salma, you know, the big fear here is for Britain's hospitals. Now I get that there is still isn't talk of further restrictions, but there must be a lot of second guessing at this point.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, especially when you are hearing from the British Medical Association. They're accusing the government of being willfully negligent, by not putting more restrictions into place. Especially when you're hearing from the NHS, the National Health Service, which says it is under strain and it does need more support and more restrictions in place to keep these case numbers down. Especially when you're heading into the winter season and you have a rise in flu cases that's coming alongside this increase in the number of COVID infections.

So, a lot of worrying signs here. But as you said, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his administration saying they are sticking to their plan. That is, the promise that the prime minister made months ago, which is cautious but irreversible, lockdown being lifted.

So, they do not want to see more restrictions in place. They say, the government says, that most of those who are going into hospital and getting seriously, ill are people who are not vaccinated. And so their focus is in getting more people vaccinated.

Now there are plans in place, currently we're in a plan A which is essentially I went out yesterday in central London, everybody is out and about, there are no restrictions. Masks are optional. There is a potential plan b, that's what's the British Medical Association is pushing for. That would require masks in certain settings, increase the number of vaccines, push the government to really emphasize caution and the risk here.

But again, these are not very tough rules, Paula, even going into this plan b, that's proposed. And the real concern, the real fear here again is for England's hospital system. Just to give you an idea of the figures, as you noted, 52,000 cases recorded on Thursday. That's a 15 percent increase in cases. And then there is that crucial figure of hospitalization. There has been an 18 percent increase in those in the last seven days.

So, for now, the government saying that they are closely monitoring this. They say that it does fall in line with modeling predictions, that they are now concerned. But you're going to hear from doctors and nurses across this country, Paula, calling for more restrictions. Simple things like mandated masks.

NEWTON: Yes. And the fact that that is still, as you said, is optional. Salma, thank you for the update.

And meantime, residents of Melbourne, Australia celebrating their newfound freedom as restrictions for that city eased late Thursday night. Now since March of 2020, the city has endured nearly nine months of restrictions in six separate lockdowns. You'd be celebrating too.

[03:04:55] For more on that we want to bring in our Angus Watson. Now he is in Sydney. But I know you've been closely watching the situation. It was labeled the world's longest lockdown for a reason, right? I get why they're celebrating. And yet, cases are still quite high, the government is hoping that what, the rate of vaccination will kick in to help keep the virus in check?

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: That's absolutely right, Paula, the government down there in the state of Victoria is confident that it can go ahead with the removal of these lockdown restrictions because of its high vaccination rates.

Victoria has hit 70 percent of the adult population, double those vaccinated against COVID-19, and at least 90 percent of people have had at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. That's given people the confidence to come out after the 6th lockdown that they've had to go through as the pandemic has drawn on it.

This is interesting one as you say, cases are much, much higher now than they were when this lockdown came into force in August. So, as you might know, Melbourne is a cultural capital for Australia, it's a restaurant capital. Those are some of the things that now people can go out and enjoy. It's a cautious opening, there are limits on the number of people that you can gather with and shops that don't sell essential goods can't open quite yet.

But people are still out there on what's a beautiful day down there in Melbourne celebrating. Here's what some people had to say.


UNKNOWN: It's fantastic, it's been such a long time since we've been able to do that.

UNKNOWN: I've been sort of separated from what I do for so long, it's super nice to be back today. And it's a sunny day, so it's perfect.


WATSON: Now even more good news for the people of Victoria, today state premier Daniel Andrews announcing that as of the 1st of November, it's going to open up its airport in Melbourne to the rest of the world, opening its international border, meaning that Australians, residents and their families around the world will be able to travel into Melbourne without having to do quarantine.

That's if their double dose vaccinated. That follows Sydney and making the same move. But we're going to be in a strange situation here in Australia, Paula, where we have people coming into the country through airports in Sydney and in Melbourne where vaccination rates are high but they are not able to travel to other Australian states where vaccination rates are lower.

Those state governments wanting to keep their borders closed for a little longer to give their populations a chance to catch up with the vaccination rates, Paula. NEWTON: Yes. And hopefully, they'll be some incentive for those areas

to start catching up with those vaccinations. Angus Watson, I appreciate the update there from Australia, thank you.

Now China is also reporting dozens of new local COVID cases. And this comes amid concerns of a wider outbreak across 10 provinces as parts of northern China are bracing for more restrictions. Chinese state media is reporting more than 50 percent of flights and a dozen railroads have now been suspended in northern and northwestern regions of China.

Now this all comes less than four months, four months before Beijing is set to host the Winter Olympics.

For more on this, we go to CNN's Steven Jiang who is joining us from Beijing, that Olympic event certainly focusing the mind. I mean, Steven, look, I'll put it another way, right? It is not an exaggeration to say there are more COVID cases within a 10-mile radius of where I'm sitting right now than there are in all of China.

And yet every time they treat this like it's a national emergency. What's happening this time especially as the cases rise?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, you've seen those measures, Paula, because this is probably the only country now in the world that sticks to the zero COVID policy. And of course, you mentioned some of the major events, next Wednesday will mark the 100-day countdown to the Winter Olympics.

And after that, in early November, the communist party will hold a major leadership meeting here in Beijing. And that's why I think you've seen officials across the country are really trying to air on the side of over caution. Especially given this top down power structure and already of course we are seeing in the last few hours, a new development here in this city in Beijing that officials say they had detected four additional new cases, prompting them to lock down another residential neighborhood and starting another round of mass testing and extensive contact tracing.

Now all of this is because the concern right now is these latest conservative cases. They still haven't been able to pinpoint its origin, and also, it's continued to spread. This of course is why we are seeing pictures of people really standing in the freezing temperature and lining up to get tested across the country.

And also poses two questions, one, how officials are going to strike a balance between continuing this virus and also maintaining economic and social activities at a time when the economy is already facing heavy headwinds.


And the other question of course is the effectiveness or the efficacy of Chinese vaccines. Because this cluster started when people from Shanghai and across the country two or seven -- or seven of them were tested positive even though they were fully vaccinated and tested negative before departing their hometown.

All of this of course at a time when a country has been touting its high rate of vaccination with some officials even promising that when this rate reaches 85 percent early next year, this country may be ready to reopen its borders. Now of course this latest outbreak really pouring cold water on that prospect. Paula.

NEWTON: Yes. And you wonder how long it's going to be before we start hearing about China perhaps, allowing for boosters.

Steven Jiang, I appreciate the update.

Now the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has officially signed off on using the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for booster shots. The agency also endorsed using boosters interchangeably.

So, this is the so-called mix and match approach authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And that means any of the three approved boosters can be given regardless of that first dose that you received. Now a member of the FDA's vaccine advisory board spoke to CNN after the decision. Take a listen.


PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINES ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Basically, what they're saying is if you're over 65 you clearly benefit from the booster dose, independent of which vaccine you've gotten. If you are between 50 and 64 and you have the kind of medical condition that puts you at high risk of severe COVID, then you too likely benefit from a booster dose.

For the most part, young healthy people are protected against severe disease. I mean, what's been amazing about these vaccines, whether it's Moderna or Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson is the protection against severe disease has really held up. It's held up for all age groups, it's held up for Delta, but I think that for those two groups that I just mentioned a booster dose, I clearly would be a value.


NEWTON (on camera): Now to a bizarre and absolutely heartbreaking story, a cinematographer has been shot and killed and a director injured on the set of actor Alec Baldwin's latest film "Rust." Now police say they were shot with a prop gun. The 60-year -- 68-year-old actor was holding at the time.

Now Baldwin, you can see him there, clearly distraught after hearing the news. Now we should note he is also producing the movie, which is being filmed in New Mexico. Investigators say the director of photography, Alina Hutchins she died from her injuries. An investigation is now underway. No charges have yet been filed. We will continue to follow this story and bring you updates as we have them.

Now Britain's Queen Elizabeth is back at Windsor Castle in good spirits after spending a night in hospital. Buckingham Palace says the 95-year-old returned home Thursday afternoon after undergoing preliminary investigations, they said on Wednesday.

Now a palace source says the overnight stay was more for practical reasons and the queen has now return to work. This comes after she canceled a trip to Northern Ireland on the advice of her doctor.

A Haitian gang leader is threatening to kill the 17 members of a missionary group he's holding hostage. Wilson Joseph posted a video Thursday, saying the hostages will be killed if it doesn't get what he wants. The U.S. State Department officials says the video seems to be authentic.

Haitian officials said the kidnappers are demanding $1 million per hostage. Officials also say the gang provided evidence Thursday that the hostages are still alive. They belong to the U.S. based group Christian Aid Ministries and five of them are children.

You are watching CNN Newsroom. Ahead for us, stuck at the airport and targeted by the Taliban, a former interpreter's mission to get his family out of Afghanistan.

Then a series of bold moves by the Russian president, is he fueling tension abroad to distract from a crisis at home.



NEWTON (on camera): Joe Biden says Democrats are close to a deal on infrastructure in his sweeping social agenda. Now in a CNN town hall, the U.S. president admitted a number of his proposals could be cut back or scrapped altogether. But he says he's confident lawmakers can pay for the package without increasing crucial corporate tax rates as originally planned.

Mr. Biden spoke candidly about the moderate Democrat senators holding out from some of his priorities. He says West Virginia's Joe Manchin is quote, "not a bad guy." And he offered this assessment of Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: First of all, she is smart as a devil, number one. Number two, she's very supportive of the environmental agenda in my legislation, very supportive. She is supportive of almost all the things I mentioned relating to everything from a family care to all those issues. Where she's not supportive is she says she will not raise a single penny in taxes on the corporate side and or on wealthy people. Period.

And so that's where it sort of, breaks down. There's a few other issues it breaks down on.


NEWTON (on camera): Now not everyone shares Mr. Biden's optimism including political analyst from Loyola Marymount University, Michael Genovese. I asked him how the president staled domestic agenda also could hurt him internationally.


MICHAEL GENOVESE, PRESIDENT OF GLOBAL POLICY INSTITUTE, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: He admitted that there are few things that were on his original list that are going to be taken off. It looks like free community college is off the list. It looks like taxing the rich is off the list. It looks like climate spending is off the list.

And so, for progressives, the news from that town hall was bad news. I mean, they've lost a lot of the things that we they were treasuring. For moderates it's probably good news. But you mentioned the international implications. Biden will not be going to Europe with his package passed.

And so, he'll go to Europe somewhat weakened and somewhat rickety. Especially given that he's not going to be able to tout climate change as a big issue. And he's not going to be able to sort of cite his own political clout in America. He'll be there looking weak.


NEWTON (on camera): And another footnote on this, a crucial in that town hall, Mr. Biden said the U.S. was committed to coming to Taiwan's defense if it came under attack from China.

Now to Afghanistan, the U.S. State Department says nearly 400 Americans are still in the country and almost half want to leave. Two sources say the admission came in a called congressional staff Thursday. That number is much higher than previous estimates.

Meantime, one former interpreter who worked with U.S. forces is recounting the harrowing ordeal to get his own family out.

CNN's Alex Marquardt has the story.

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was from this quite Virginia cul-de-sac that Fahim Masoud, a lieutenant in the National Guard orchestrated a dangerous evacuation halfway around the world in Afghanistan.

FAHIM MASOUD, ILLINOIS NATIONAL GUARD INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: It was incredibly difficult. It was, I mean, I cannot tell you how many challenges, security challenges you had to go through.

MARQUARDT: The mission could not have been more personal. Masoud's family was desperately trying to get out. Lieutenant Masoud is an intelligence officer in the Illinois National Guard. He became a U.S. citizen after serving as an Afghan interpreter for American troops, and then moving to the U.S.

His family stayed in Afghanistan. As the Taliban took over, his parents and siblings needed to escape, their connection to him making them targets for the Taliban. Masoud's family headed to the Kabul airport like thousands of others, just as an ISIS suicide bomber attacked killing almost 200 people including U.S. Troops. [03:20:05]

MASOUD: I thought they had definitely been killed immediately. I mean, I went into a panic and started calling my sisters.

MARQUARDT: They were OK nearby on a bus sent by the CIA. They waited at a gas station as Masoud, helped by CIA contact inside tried to find another way for them into the airport.

MASOUD: A lot of my family members have worked for the U.S. government in the last 20 years in Afghanistan. I thought the process would be a lot easier than it was.

MARQUARDT: Masoud was desperate. He was cold calling everyone he could think of.

MASOUD: I reached out to very, very senior government officials, senators, congressmen and women. A number of U.S. military generals including General Milley, including General McConville.

MARQUARDT: Who you didn't know?

MASOUD: Who I did not know. And here is the most junior officer in United States army reaching out to the senior, senior government officials.

MARQUARDT: His efforts underscoring the chaos, and now the widespread criticism that the Biden administration has not done enough to evacuate the families of Afghan American troops.

REP. MIKE MCCAUL (R-TX): If you look at prioritizing, of course, any American citizen but certainly family members of the United States military should be of the highest priority.

MARQUARDT: Congressman Michael McCaul believes there are around 100 family members of Afghan American troops like Masoud, still in Afghanistan.

MCCAUL: Our embassy is not there anymore. We have no military on the ground. And if we have to rely on the Taliban to get them out, that's not a good assurance.

MARQUARDT: Masoud's calls worked. His family was directed to a secret CIA control gate at the airport. But a State Department official refused to let them pass as Masoud, a former CIA official and the National Guard colonel all pleaded on the phone.

MASOUD: I told him look, this family is a special. I have a special case. And when he said, everybody is special. I said, you have to hear me, you have to know who I am and where I come from.

MARQUARDT: Masoud managed to convince the official. His family was through. Escorted to a waiting C-17. His sister's worried face turned to joy. They were on the way to the United States.

MASOUD: I broke down and I said, I just can't believe that so many people came together for so many hours, for so many -- essentially for so many days to make this happen.


MARQUARDT: Masoud told us that he will never be the same again after going through that ordeal to get his family out. Really the message that he was driving home was that the official channels were not working. They were overwhelmed. He had to do this himself with his own connections like so many others.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

NEWTON: Such a familiar story for so many. A group of U.S. veterans retired diplomats and intelligence officers have now come together to form an informal network to help Afghan allies leave the country.

The New York Times reports they've now helped nearly 70 people leave Afghanistan since August. But they say hundreds more are at risk. My next guest has been taking part in their efforts.

Kael Weston is a former U.S. State Department official who served nearly three years in Afghanistan in Kohistan and Helmand provinces. He's also the author of the book, "The Mirror Test: America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Thank you for your time.

I mean, can you give us an update on what it's been like for you in the last few weeks trying to get Afghans to safety? And for lack of a better term, are you and the people that you're working with doing this kind of in a freelance way? Are you receiving any help from the U.S. government?

KAEL WESTON, FORMER U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think freelance is a good way to put it with a lot of passion and quite a bit of experience behind us. We've got a lot of veterans that worked with the State Department, a lot of marines and there's this informal network really around the country that got together.

We're doing the best we can from behind computer screens and keyboards. Of course, with technology we've got of our Afghan friends and allies who are able to reach out to us and that's what they've been doing for the last two months. But it's been frustrating, of course because there's no way to rewrite what we all saw in August which was truly a human tragedy in Kabul.

NEWTON: Give us a sense of what you've been dealing with and some of the communication that you've from some of the people that have been reaching out to you now.

WESTON: Yes. As you mentioned, I spent almost three years, half that time on the eastern edge of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And luckily my linguists who sat next to me in a Humvee when a car bomb exploded and that's quite an exclamation point in your brain when it happens. He got out but his family has not yet gotten out.

So, just a couple hours before this interview, he and I are trading e- mails about how to get his family out. But luckily, he did get out. But of course, he's very concerned about them.


And then you've got a network of marines that I'm working with at least every day are trying to find informal networks to get Afghans out. Because of course, the ability of the U.S. government right now to get people out is very limited.

NEWTON: You say that their ability is limited and yet, we've heard anecdotally that people like you, groups like yours that have banded together have been able to get people out. It's taken a lot longer and quite frankly, the Afghans themselves have to take so many more risks. What do you believe they're owed by the U.S. government?

WESTON: Yes, we made a promise and I think that promise goes from the very top of our government down to the corporal on the ground. I think that's why it's important to get out. It is, you know, are we good for our word? I spent seven years in two wars and what I used to say to the Afghans and the Iraqis is I always keep the promises I make, which is why I don't make very many promises.

So, that still holds true for me. And I think it holds true for a lot of our military that when you're in a place like Helmand or eastern Afghanistan, you survive because of the Afghan allies that you have to your left and to your right. So, I don't think this is over for any of us.

I think that our government will start to get its act together, hopefully in a more coherent professional way. And then I think you'll get a lot of these private organizations maybe U.N., non- governmental organizations to help out as well. But it really is about keeping promise that will translate into whether people survive or not.

NEWTON: And that's the key point whether people survive or not. It may sound callous, but many Americans will say, we just can't save everyone.

WESTON: Well we can save a heck of a lot more than we have so far. So, war teaches you that sometimes you only have bad options. But I think there's a moral dimension of the longest war in American history. I teach marines right now and the title of the course that I teach is home front is war fronts, the civilian experience in war. And the whole goal there is actually convey what it's like when you don't get to redeploy away from a war zone.

And that's the status of the Afghans right now. They've had decades of war and while we had hope that the situation is stabilized, we left -- we too many abandoned, I'll be blunt. I usually try to be diplomatic but I think abandonment is the right word.

NEWTON: And do you think the Biden administration let them down?

WESTON: You know -- the toughest job in the world is in that Oval Office and I'm rooting for all of our presidents. I never want to see the United States do things that lead to kids falling off of the C-17 aircraft. But I'm also a fact base realistic person. And I think we need to own up to what can still be done. And I think

there are very few positions in the world like the presidency of the United States to make things work, and I'm hopeful that the American people won't do the easy thing and look at the other way because 20 years of war-built relationships that matter. And actually, the Afghans that we're trying to get out saved American lives.

NEWTON: Well, we thank you for your perspective, especially at a time when, you know, Afghanistan is not in the headlines the way it was. And it's important to know that people are still waiting to get out of Afghanistan and feel that their lives are in danger.

Kael Weston, thanks again.

WESTON: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.

NEWTON: Now just days after Russia broke off ties with NATO, a warning from the Kremlin. A Russian deputy foreign minister told state media that if Ukraine is allowed to join NATO, Russia will retaliate.

President Biden Vladimir Putin added on Thursday that the military aid Ukraine is getting from western powers already poses a threat to Moscow. Those announcements follow a series of puzzling foreign policy moves by President Putin.

CNN's Sam Kiley explains.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): He's refused to attend the global climate conference. He's cut communication with NATO. He's accused of strangling Europe's natural gas supplies. And of snubbing the G20 summit. Is Vladimir Putin a Russian bear lashing out? Or a wily arctic fox, spreading the blame?

Sky rocketing European gas prices are up over 500 percent this year. Putin says that's not Russia's fault. And it's easily fixed if Europe allowed gas to flow to Germany down Russia's new pipeline Nord Stream 2.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Of course, if we could increase deliveries through this route, this would substantially ease tension on the European energy market.


KILEY: The Europeans have been slow to adopt the pipeline, fearing dependence on Russian gas. Russia closed its diplomatic mission to NATO on Monday. Officially in response to NATO's expulsion of eight of its diplomats whom NATO accused of spying --



SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): -- Russia closed its diplomatic mission to NATO on Monday officially in response to NATO's expulsion of eight of its diplomats whom NATO accused of spying earlier this month.

But Putin is also reacting to tensions in the Black Sea and NATO must lean into alliances in Eastern Europe which he sees as Russia's back garden.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We did not come to the suburbs of Washington or New York to conduct drills they came to us and conducted them at our borders. How should we react to this?

KILEY: Russian troops illegally occupied territory in neighboring Georgia and Ukraine.

LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: United States will continue to provide assistance to enhance the maritime capacities. Not only Ukraine but also Georgia, Romania, and Bulgaria. We have long understood the importance of cooperation and unity among allies in partners to deter Russian aggression.

KILEY: Not perhaps an incentive for Putin to play nice at the G-20 and the global COP26 climate summits.

DMITRI TRENIN, DIRECTOR, CAMEGIE MOSCOW CENTER: This is a positive message to those who are inviting him. If he decides that he would rather have a video conference with a certain group of people that also tells you something.

KILEY: Raising tensions abroad may be a useful way for Putin to distract attention from the critical COVID crisis at home, where death tolls are breaking records daily. Putin has ordered all Russians off work for a week at the end of this month and Moscow will face tight restrictions on movements next week. Russia's vaccination program still hasn't reached about two-thirds of the Russian population. That it seems is the fault of Russians.

PUTIN: Unfortunately we see the dangerous consequences of the low level of vaccination in our country.

KILEY: But as winter approaches and Russia suffers international isolation, many Russians may begin to tire of their leaders snarls.

Sam Kiley, CNN, Moscow.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Torrential rains are killing hundreds of people in Northern India and Nepal, after the break the latest from the CNN Weather Center and what's behind the (inaudible). And new reports layout why climate change poses a threat to national security, financial stability.


NEWTON: At least 200 people are dead after torrential rains and flooding hit Northern India and Nepal. Crops were destroyed, bridges and homes collapsed and washed away by massive landslides. It comes amid an unusually long monsoon season that experts blame on climate change.

CNN's Vedika Sud, reports.



VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER (voice over): Rescues with their hands interlocked, trying to fend off the (inaudible) of water in the streets of this Northern Indian town. They are creating a human chain to evacuate the stranded people. Unseasonal torrential rains have been pounding Northern India and Nepal for days, killing and injuring hundreds of people.

In the state of Uttarakhand, heavy rains caused landslides and left not just homes but people's livelihoods underwater.

FATIMA, AFFECTED VILLAGER (through translator): We have nothing left, our television, refrigerator, washing machine, clothes, groceries, everything was washed away. Our beds are also destroyed and the house and flooring have also developed cracks.

SUD: The downfall has destroyed crops and blocked roads disrupting the lives of locals and tourists alike during one of India's festive months.

PUSHKAR SINGH DHAM, CHIEF MINISTER (through translator): We are trying everything possible to provide and supplied necessities for those affected. Our government is with the flood hit victims. The farmers have faced losses so we are trying to assess that and provide compensation as soon as possible.

SUD: Similar scenes unfolding in neighboring Nepal, where the entire airports, including tarmac and runways are flooded. Nepal began receiving heavy rainfall on Monday after a low pressure system developed over Northern India which brought in moisture from the Bay of Bengal causing heavy rainfall over the region.

And villages waterlogged homes mean people don't have a place to sleep. With some dragging their beds out to dry areas. Farmers are trying to salvage what they can from submerged patty fields, but losses are mounting. Monsoon rains usually only last until September but experts say the longer monsoon season can be tied to climate change.

Vedika Sud, CNN, New Delhi.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NEWTON: I'll bring in our meteorologist, Derek Van Dam. I mean, the

pictures there are just stunning. Does there seem that relief is finally on top for them?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Look, it's slowly starting to retreat, Paula. And we can call that delay at the end of the tunnel but, of course, it's a saturated environment, more rain on top of that very wet ground, means the potential for flooding still exists.

Especially into the southwestern portions of the Indian subcontinent, as well as, the extreme northern sections that border Nepal. Now the loss of life is absolutely tragic. But we have to talk about what this means for their agricultural community. Considering that roughly 50 percent of the population of India is employed in the agricultural industry. About 250 million farmers which accounts for about 20 percent of India's GDP.

This is simply just a story of too much rain in too short of a time, and that lead to scenes like this. This is coming out of Northern India and you can see how that is impacting peoples commute. India, of course, the second largest global population in terms of country size. And when we rely so much on the monsoon for our rain, in fact about 90 percent of the annual rainfall in India occurs with this monsoon.

They usually last through the end of September but we're talking now the middle of October. We either have too much rain or too little rain. So we either have water shortages or damages to infrastructure, agriculture, and unfortunately in this particular incidents the loss of life.

Look at these rainfall totals. In excess of 200 millimeters in some locations in the India Meteorological Department highlighted on Saturday, another chance of heavy rainfall leading to localized flash flooding across the northern portions of the continent, and then, still into the state of Corolla, where the retreating southwest monsoon continues to bring that influx of moisture from the two surrounding oceans across this area, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

You can see how that is producing rainfall totals they're in excess of 100 millimeters over the next three days. So, a very active three-day weather forecast for this particular region. As the retreats of the southwest monsoon continues its march southward over the coming days, we still have to look for that heavy rainfall potential going forward through the rest of this week and into early parts of next week. Paula?

NEWTON: We appreciate the update, Derek. And we'll continue to keep an eye on it. I appreciate that.

Now, the Biden administration is warning the consequences of climate change will be far reaching and create problems for every country. That's one of the key takeaways from a series of new reports released Thursday that examined current and future threats to the United States. Now, the studies cover how climate change will drive migration and

could even cause another financial crisis. The intelligence assessment also points to geopolitical flash points and risks to national security.


It identifies -- this is interesting, 11 countries in the category of acute risk. Marked here in yellow. They include Afghanistan, Columbia, Guatemala, India, for all the reasons we just explained, India, Iraq Myanmar, and North Korea. Now these reports come just 10 days before President Biden will attend the U.N. Climate Conference known as COP26 in Scotland.

Now he's trying to bring ironclad commitments to the summit, of course, Biden is, but has been running into all sorts of domestic opposition. CNN's chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir, brings us the big picture. .


BILL WEIR, CNN'S CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (ON CAMERA): The first acknowledgment that climate change is a so-called threat multiplier came from the U.S. Naval War College over 30 years ago. But now for the first time ever, all 18 elements of the U.S. security apparatus have put out a consensus report saying this will be a game-changer when it comes to national security.

At the top of their concerns is migration, climate migration. What happens if the 80 million people in the Nile Delta run out of arable land and freshwater and have to go north into Europe? What happens when the glaciers in the Himalayas stopped providing enough freshwater for both Pakistan and India?

Here in Charleston, South Carolina, it's so real, they are planning for a billion dollar seawall and they're completely rezoning this historic city to deal with the realities but the politics in Washington continue to whistle past this graveyard.

Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan that spent about $350 billion a year including a big carrot and stick program for big utilities, to move away from planet cooking fuels and into renewable resources like solar and wind, but Senators like Joe Manchin say that's too expensive.

In the meantime they approved a $750 billion a year budget for the Pentagon, 10 billion more than they ask for going forward there. Of course, all of this comes as we count down the days to COP26 that is the conference of parties who signed on to the Paris Agreement, that's happening in Glasgow, we're all nations are expected to come with even more ambitious promises than they made a few years back. But so far, Joe Biden's ambitions are falling short in the halls of Congress.

Bill Weir, CNN, Charleston, South Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NEWTON: CNN intelligence and security analyst, Robert Baer, joins me

now he is also a former CIA operative. This is not light reading, Bob, and some will be tempted to say that, you know, climate issues is certainly climate is an issue but is it a national security issue? What has changed on that in the last few years?

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST (on camera): Well, it's global warming to be certain. And there's also an ability for the CIA and DIA to measure, for instance, Fossil Aquifers. The Arabian Aquifer is going dry and could go dry within the next 10 to 15 years. So, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, simply do not have the water to sustain themselves.

And what then happens is they needs desalinization which adds more carbon dioxide to the air and gets worse or you look at climate failure in Central America, el Salvador, Honduras and it's a fairly accurate prediction, I think if we can have a lot of confidence the next 70 years, it will be uninhabitable for those countries and the people that lived there.

Tens of millions of people live there are going to have to go somewhere. And so that's why they're looking at immigration. And then there are big parts of China and Tibet that are going to fight over water.

You know, how it's going to come apart at what speed nobody knows but I don't think this kind of report is alarmist at all. And let's not forget that throughout the history of humanity, whenever the climate fails, civilization collapses. It's happened, you know, 1177 B.C. and I can go right up through the dates and that's just a fact.

NEWTON: Absolutely. So, let's get to the point that some of these reports are the first of their kind, its coming just before the climate meeting. And yet why do we still get the feeling that there isn't and urgency there? That even countries like the United States and China will not be coming to the table with enough?

BAER: We simply don't have alternate energy sources. We have no way to take carbon emissions out of the air. You've got population growth which is still continuing. It's slowing down. And there's not much we can do about. There's no immediate solution.

So the Chinese simply can't turn off their coal plants and survive economically, so they're just ignoring it. I mean, it's really a short term survival everybody's looking at.


But in the long term things are very dire. When you look at the Senator from West Virginia, he just doesn't even believe in global warming apparently. So you go on, and on, and on and you have a very -- the right wing in the United States, the GOP, doesn't accept global warming. And that's, you know, half of Congress almost.

So no one knows what to do about it. It's the people, the scientists, and using empirical data are scared. And I'm scared for looking at civilizations that have come apart. Again, Syria, the civil war was started there by failing aquifers. People moving into -- I worked in Syria for years and I've watched this happen, and they moved in and the civil war starts and tens of millions of people are killed in these wars. So yes it is coming. And I think anybody who denies it is sticking their head in the sand.

NEWTON: Yeah, and Senator you mentioned Joe Manchin, of course, who right now seems to be holding up certain pieces of the Biden agenda. Those pieces specifically being a lot to do with climate change. I want to talk to you thought about that Southern Border again of the United States.

Could that make -- could this convince many more people that this is a clear and present danger? I mean according to the report, a lot of those countries in jeopardy and yet we've even seen it in the last calendar year in the United States. That they have had more migration to their Southern Border because of climate issues.

BAER: It's because of climate. You know, the coffee crop failing in Central America. People can't make a living. They have to come somewhere. They are desperate. They're coming here. And the question is what do we do about it? There's only so much water, you know, in the United States. And we've got the Great Lakes, of course. But in general the problem frankly is the mass immigration like this fuels right-wing politics. Don't even think about the right or wrong of it, it just does. It always has inhumanity.

It is in Italy. It is in France. It is in United States. And politically this is what worries me. It's going to inflame passions in this country. And you know, that's the history of mankind. It's got nothing to do with the Americans, or the French, or the Germans, or anybody else. It's the way people react to mass migration.

NEWTON: Well, it's true that all of us could use, you know, some deeper understanding of what's at work here and try to get some solutions. We'll wait in the coming weeks, Bob, just to see if we do get anything more of that climate meeting. I appreciate your time.

BAER: Thank you, Paula.

NEWTON: Japan is holding its largest military drills in decades. CNN gets rear access as the country prepares for future conflict with growing tensions throughout the region.


NEWTON: Japan is rushing to boost its military readiness as tensions in the region grow. And in addition to getting more warplanes, ships, and submarines, Japan self-defense forces are also stepping up their ground drills. Blake Essig reports.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the closest

members of Japan's ground self-defense force have ever come to fighting a war.

You can hear the sound of simulated gunfire. The enemy is starting to make its way down that hillside.

Established in 1954, the force has never experience actual combat. So for now this is as real as it gets.

Instead of a live ammunition, troops and tanks are armed with simulation weapons that fire lasers. They'll know if they've been hit because of the sensors wind in their uniforms and the vehicles. It will let them know if they've been injured or killed.

This man was just hit by a simulated mortar which severely injured his right leg. Even though it isn't real, these unscripted wargames that our departure from Japan's post World War II pacifism have never been more important.

YUICHI TOGASHI, COMMANDING GENERAL (through translator): The most important thing is to demonstrate the combat power we have as a unit. We have planned and prepared for this drill for a long time. However, there is room to improve our skills. I hope everyone understands that we trained ourselves day and night to protect our country and do our best.

ESSIG: Ongoing security threats from neighboring countries like North Korea, Russia, and China make drills like this even more urgent. Especially amid concerns that Japan could get drawn into a conflict over Taiwan.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We all recognize the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo- Pacific over the long term.

ESSIG: A region that's instead been growing more hostile in recent years. In fact GSTF officials say, Japan's national security environment is the worst it's been since shortly after the end of World War II more than 70 years ago.

TOGASHI (through translator): Given that the current security environment surrounding Japan is extremely severe, we the self-defense forces are required to enhance the effectiveness of operations.

ESSIG: To that end, Japan's ground self-defense force is holding its largest drill in nearly 30 years. Focused on operational readiness in case the country is forced to defend itself.

From above, looking down on the battlefield below the camouflage troops and equipment are hard to see. That's because they easily blend in with the thick forest like terrain that surrounds them. This is what war could look like if it breaks out in Japan's southern islands.

And if it does, Commanding General Yuichi Togashi says, the GSTF will be ready. Blake Essig, CNN, Oita, Japan.


NEWTON: Still ahead on "CNN Newsroom," China calls a flagrant foul on the Boston Celtics after critical comments from one of its players.


NEWTON: fresh trouble for the NBA in China. Fans are angry after some harsh criticism from a Boston Celtics player, Enes Kanter called Xi Jinping a brutal dictator and said Tibetan people's rights and freedoms are quote, "nonexistent."

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is live in Hong Kong. You know, you don't have to explain to many people as to why that would be controversial. China's reaction, you know, trying to limit NBA broadcast may not be surprising but China remembers the second largest market for the NBA outside of the United States. How are fans reacting?


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and the NBA can't afford another controversy. And yet it has happened. A big backlash in China after Kanter's remarks criticizing the Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as, China's treatment of Tibet.

That it was on Thursday when Enes Kanter posted a nearly three-minute long video on social media expressing support for the Free Tibet Movement. In it you could see him wearing a black and white t-shirt with an image of Dalai Lama. That is of course the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet.

In a tweet, he calls the Chinese President Xi Jinping quote, "a brutal dictator." In the message he says that the basic rights and freedoms of the Tibetan people are nonexistent. And that prompted a very, very angry response on social media.

You have the Boston Celtics fan base on Sina Weibo, which has some over 600,000 fans and followers issuing an angry statement. Let's bring it up to you. The administrator of that fan page writing this, quote, "Any information on the team will cease to appear on this Weibo. Any behavior that undermines the harmony of the nation and the dignity of the motherland, we resolutely resist -- exclamation point," unquote.

Now on Thursday, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also weighed in on Kanter's comments saying that he said those comments to attract attention to himself. The MOFA spokesman also added this.


WANG WENBIN, CHINESE MOFA SPOKESMAN (through translator): We welcome all friends from various countries who are unbiased and uphold an objective stance to visit Tibet. At the same time, we will never accept the tags that discredit Tibet's development and progress.


LU STOUT: OK, now, I should add that the Boston Celtics highlights are actually as of this afternoon available and can be seen online in China. They're available for example on the Tencent NBA website. But this controversy comes two years after those controversial comments made by the former general manager of the Houston Rockets, when he expressed support for the democracy movement in Hong Kong.

On the back of that, CCTV the mammoth state broadcaster of China stopped broadcasting all NBA games. Kanter's comments also come on the back of the Olympic torch, touching down in Beijing on Wednesday. And the head of the Beijing Winter Games that took place in February already calls for a boycott on China over Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Back to you.

NEWTON: And Kristie, I know you're continuing to follow the story. I appreciate it. And I am Paula Newton, I want to thank you for your company. Isa Soares picks up from me here. We'll have more "CNN Newsroom" in a moment.