Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Turkey Threatens To Expel Ambassadors; Movie Set Tragedy; One Week To COP26 Climate Summit; Iranian Governor Slapped On Stage; Russia's COVID-19 Surge; Ecuadoran Olympic Sprinter Killed; Nicaragua Opposition Crackdown; Haiti Kidnapping; Hurricane Rick Nears Mexican Coast. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired October 24, 2021 - 02:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A warm welcome to viewers around the world. I'm Paula Newton.

Ahead of CNN NEWSROOM, a jailed businessmen is the latest flashpoint between Turkey and its NATO allies. We're live in Istanbul, with the latest.

New details about the timeline surrounding the tragic death of a movie crew member, accidentally shot to death, by actor, Alec Baldwin.

And, only a third of Russians are vaccinated against the coronavirus. How health care workers, in one Siberian hospital, are coping with the outbreak.


NEWTON: A new feud is brewing between Turkey and its NATO allies. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to expel 10 ambassadors and that includes envoys from U.S., Canada and France.

They're calling for the release of jailed business man Osman Kavala. He has been held without a conviction since 2017. He was acquitted on charges stemming from a protest eight years ago. But that verdict was overturned and he now faces charges for alleged involvement in the 2016 failed coup. Here is Mr. Erdogan defending his crackdown.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): You cannot dare to come to the Turkish foreign ministry and give orders here. I give the necessary order to our foreign minister and say what must be done. These 10 ambassadors must be declared persona non grata at once. We will sort it out immediately.


NEWTON: Germany is one of those European countries calling for his release. Its foreign office had a relatively staid response to Turkey's threat, saying it's taking note of statements by Mr. Erdogan and consulting with the other countries involved.

But Berlin's ambassador to the U.K. went a heck of a lot further, tweeting this.

"Turkey to declare 10 ambassadors persona non grata had to deal with Turkey and difficult bilateral relations in the past. This is unprecedented. To move against U.S., Germany and others in this way cannot be in Turkey's interests. Let us not forget a NATO partner."

CNN's Arwa Damon, following the story for, us from Istanbul.

Arwa, good to see you. Mr. Erdogan, would be expecting that kind of reaction from a European ally. He may have even in fact been inviting it.

What is the endgame here?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The endgame, Paula, is quite difficult to determine. It must be said, especially over the last few years, a lot of Turkey's reactions have to the certain degree been considered, by especially European and Western countries, irrational.

Erdogan most certainly, upping the ante in ordering these 10 ambassadors to be persona non grata, literally saying you are not welcome here.

Yes, to NATO, allies as well. This is the backstory, Paula. This is something that has been ongoing for a while. Kavala was initially, first detained back in October of 2017. Those charges were stemming from the 2013 protests.

These massive protests started out in central Istanbul, over Erdogan's government back then, wanting to transform a park into a commercial center. Very quickly, they swelled to encompass a number of other grievances that Turkey's population had with the way, with the country was being governed.

They then went on to spread to the vast majority of the country. Those protests, back then, it really aggravated the Turkish government. Kavala initially, being accused of being involved in those, he was tried, acquitted and that was overturned.

Hours after he released he had other charges brought coupled with charges against other individuals. These, ones in that case, were related to the 2016 failed coup.


DAMON: The Turkish government says, he was, somehow, implicit in that as well. When it comes to what human rights organizations say, this is systematic of Turkey's growing progression with autocratic rules, something that is quite notorious, must be said, for jailing those of opposition and journalists.

European countries for quite some time, have been calling for Kavala's release. Remember Turkey that is a member of the European Council. It does need to adhere to decisions that are taken by the European Court of Human Rights. That court has called for Kavala's release. And it did a few years ago.

So what happens now?

Europe can decide to suspend Turkey's membership on the European Council or suspend its voting rights. In terms of the status of these 10 diplomats, it must be said, in one fell swoop, that are expected to be officially declared persona non grata, by the foreign ministry, given that they have received that order from President Erdogan.

If those orders do come down, if they are officially notified, those respective countries can either withdraw their ambassadors or replace them. But at this stage, yet, another escalation between Turkey and the West.

NEWTON: It will be interesting to see what these countries do to what Erdogan has now said is his red line. Arwa Damon, appreciate that update.

Italy's former interior minister, lashing out the start of his trial, over his role in blocking a ship of migrants, from docking. Matteo Salvini is accused of kidnapping 147 migrants, in 2019 after he denied their ship permission to disembark in Italy.

Prosecutors say that left the migrants stranded at sea, putting their lives at risk, a claim, Salvini denies. The right-leaning politician, attacking the seriousness of the allegations due to the presence of American actor, Richard Gere, on the witness list. Gere visited the migrants on board, while they waited off the coast of Italy.


MATTEO SALVINI, ITALIAN INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): Being put on trial for just doing my duty is surreal. I'm sorry for that. Richard Gere will come, now you tell me how serious is a trial where Richard Gere comes from Hollywood to testify on how bad I am.

I hope it lasts as short as possible because there are more important things to take care of.


NEWTON: CNN contributor Barbie Nadeau is in Rome.

This is quite a case, especially when you look at the details of the allegations against him. How closely is this being watched in Italy?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's being watched closely. It has brought the migrant issue back to the forefront. It used to be, before the pandemic, this was a headline here. The number of migrants coming across the sea so far this year, in 2021, almost 49,000 people, most of them rescued by NGO ships, at the center of this particular story.

Salvini was interior minister at the time and he said this was this duty. This a Spanish ship with the NGO Open Arms. The migrants had been rescued, trying to make it from Libya across the, sea and he stopped them.

He said the migrants should've gone to Spain, it was a Spanish ship. Richard Gere, who is a humanitarian, who spends time on issues on this, brought, food and, water to the migrants, as they waited for 19 days, under incredibly terrible conditions out there. It was very hot. They didn't have supplies. There were a lot of people on a ship that didn't have the capacity, places to sleep like, things like that.

He brought attention to it, in 2019. Now if he comes to this trial, in person, we don't know if he will be testifying by video link or if he will intend in person, in Palermo, where the trial takes place, that will bring a lot of attention to an issue that so many people have forgotten, here Paula.

He is one of the few people who, can actually, testify to the conditions on that ship. He was an outsider who went to the ship. He's not part of the NGO crew, not part of the Italian officials, so he is a crucial element to the prosecution's case, that, they say Salvini kept these people in, terrible conditions, and made them suffer. Paula?

NEWTON: Obviously, will be asked his opinion, were their lives at risk. Barbie Nadeau, appreciate it.

Now mourners paid tribute Saturday to the movie crew member, who was accidentally shot to death, by actor Alex Baldwin. These are images from a memorial in Albuquerque in New Mexico, honoring Halyna Hutchins. Police say, she was killed, Thursday, when Baldwin unknowingly fired a live round, from what was supposed to be a prop gun.


NEWTON: CNN's Lucy Kafanov, with more for us. She was at the vigil, speaking to people mourning Hutchins. She has new details on the crucial timeline, leading up to her death.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: People have gathered here in downtown Albuquerque to mourn the passing of Halyna Hutchins, just 42 years old, a rising star in the film industry, whose life was cut so tragically short.

A lot of the people here are part of the industry. This vigil, in fact, was organized by the union representing film and television employees. So a lot of folks know, firsthand, what happens on film sets.

And so many here are affected by this one death, because this is a close-knit community where people know one another. They are brothers and sisters. As one location manager told us, who is very much impacted by this tragic killing, even though she wasn't on set, she knew almost everyone in the room, she says. Take a listen. REBECCA STAIR, FILM LOCATION MANAGER: I just hope this talking does

something and I hope my talking with you gets amplified and we get the changes that we need for a safe set. I'm sure you know we were about to strike this past Monday for safer conditions. And if the world didn't believe us about what was going on, maybe they believe us now.

KAFANOV: People should be able to go home after performing their job.

STAIR: Yes. The child should have a mother.

KAFANOV: Again, a lot of unanswered questions. So far, we've been some getting new details from an affidavit that's been released about the evidence that was gathered on that location and a little bit of the rough timeline.

We understand, the head armorer, the person in charge of prop weapons, on any film set, placed three weapons on a tray, outside of a structure where, on Thursday, Alec Baldwin and the rest of the film crew were rehearsing or filming.

We understand that the assistant director picked up one of the prop weapons, walked it inside the structure, handing it to Mr. Baldwin, shouting, "cold gun," which, in the industry, means it should not have had any live rounds.

Unfortunately, something terrible followed. We understand, according to the affidavit, Mr. Baldwin fired the weapon and that is when the fatal shooting took place.

Alec Baldwin was wearing Western style clothing. This was for, again, for an 1880s period piece film. Police say the clothing appeared to be stained with blood. They confiscated that as part of their investigation.

And we know from sheriffs, authorities have been combing every inch of that location, that films set. They've been interviewing witnesses, gathering electronic material, any film of iPhones, iPads, anything that can help them piece together, exactly, what took place that fateful Thursday afternoon -- Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Albuquerque, New Mexico.



NEWTON: For more on the legal fallout from this tragedy we want to bring in Neama Rahmani. He is a former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers and he joins me now from Los Angeles.

It's good to have you weigh in on this. Everybody understands this was a tragic accident. But even so, do authorities have to look at the fact that there may be some criminal liability and charges are possible?

NEAMA RAHMANI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR AND PRESIDENT OF WEST COAST TRIAL LAWYERS: No question, Paula. Even tragic accidents can give rise to criminal liability, when there is gross negligence or criminal negligence.

That is how you get manslaughter charges. So if Baldwin, the armorer or the assistant director or any or all of those people were involved with the loading of that prop gun, with a live round, that rises to the level of criminal negligence and is grounds for manslaughter charges, in New Mexico.

NEWTON: Manslaughter is a serious charge.

RAHMANI: No question. It's just short of murder. Obviously, if there is actual intent, if whoever loaded that prop gun with a live round, intended for Baldwin to use it and to shoot it, then, they may even get first degree murder charges. That is premeditation. I don't think we are there yet. But manslaughter is a certainly real possibility.

NEWTON: What has been disturbing is the information from some working on this movie, that they were dissatisfied about safety protocols.

When you hear that, on a legal level, what is the production company's responsibility?

RAHMANI: When you hear about lack of safety and so forth, that is a civil matter. Generally, that's simple negligence that precautions were not in place. For there to be criminal charges, you need more than that.

You need intent, mens rea, a guilty mind. So if there's was just a lack of safety precautions, it is certainly not something that anyone condones. You are looking at civil liability or a wrongful death lawsuit there.


NEWTON: But, in terms of the actual company itself, you are saying, actually, they would need to see the actions of the individuals involved?

Beyond, that you're looking at civil liability, not criminal responsibility.

RAHMANI: Generally speaking, it is very hard to charge an entity criminally. Criminal prosecution will focus on the actual individuals, who were involved in arming this weapon and loading the live round.

NEWTON: We have seen, obviously, heartbreaking photos of Alec Baldwin, distraught. Uncomprehending of how this could have, possibly, happened. Yet, as producer of the film, he, also, could be held legally responsible in some way, right?

RAHMANI: No question. As an employer, he is responsible for the actions of his employees, in the course and scope of the employment. We're talking about civil liability there. What's important, if you look at that search warrant, that affidavit in support of the search warrant, law enforcement, specifically, said that when Baldwin was handed the weapon, the assistant director said, "cold gun."

Baldwin's reaction, afterward, is all consistent with someone who did not know the gun was loaded. That is why, I think, he will avoid criminal liability, ultimately. But civilly, another story altogether. He will be responsible for the actions of his employees in loading that weapon civilly.

NEWTON: Before I let you go, the search warrant was wide-ranging. I think it surprised some of us that a search warrant even had to be issued.

Are we wrong?

It seems to me that they would've already been on the crime scene and had access to everything that they wanted, in terms of evidence.

RAHMANI: That's generally the most prudent course of action if you're in law enforcement. You don't want to rely on folks cooperating. You want to make sure you go to a judge, you get that search warrant signed off so you can seize all the weapons, test everything and any other evidence is not destroyed or disappeared.

So you want to lock in that evidence right away. So it is prudent that law enforcement went to prosecutors and they went to a judge there, in New Mexico, to get a search warrant right away.

NEWTON: Yes, and from that search warrant, we found out already some facts of the case. Neama Rahmani, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

RAHMANI: Thanks for having me, appreciate it.


NEWTON: Now safety measures on film sets can make a difference, as you can imagine, between, life and death. CNN spoke to a firearms instructor and we asked him to break down those protocols and what they should look like. Here's what he had to say.


BEN SIMMONS, FIREARMS INSTRUCTOR: usually you would try and avoid using a real gun with blank ammunition if -- unless you have to. And it would be a discussion between those in charge on set, between the director, the actor and the stunt coordinator, if there is one. The armorer, who is the person who's providing the guns and responsible for safety.

You have a discussion and a rehearsal about where the gun will be pointing. And you rehearse the actor through it, so the actor would be able to point the gun in the right direction at the time.

There will be various checks that the armorer would do to make sure the gun was clear and to make sure the right ammunition was being used. When a gun is being handed, from person to person, generally, what should happen is the gun should be checked, each time. So those are the safety rules that are normally brought into place on sets. (END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: "Rust" cast member, Hayes Hargrove told CNN he had no direct knowledge of the events that led to Halyna Hutchins' death but said movie sets are, quote, "by nature dangerous environments."

He also said "A bright, talented, striking, fierce mother was killed and Alec Baldwin's life is forever ruined."

Meantime, Dave Halls, the assistant director on the film set was the subject of complaints over safety, during two other productions in 2019. That's according to Maggie Gold, a prop maker and licensed pyrotechnician who worked with Halls.

She says the complaints included disregard for safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics used during the filming of Hulu's "Into the Dark." In a statement to CNN, Gold said, "The only reason the crew was made aware of a weapons presence was because the assistant prop master demanded they acknowledge and announce the situation each day."

There are reports of other safety protocol violations and allegations even of sexual misconduct against Halls himself. He has not yet responded to CNN's request for comment about Gold's allegations against him.

Just days before the COP26 climate summit, in Scotland, one of the world's largest polluters makes a bold announcement on achieving its own, net zero, emissions. Those details, ahead.

Plus the majestic snowy peaks of Kilimanjaro now melting at an alarming rate.


NEWTON: The outsize impact climate change is having on Africa. That, when we return.




NEWTON: We are one week out from the U.N.'s COP26 climate summit, a major gathering of world leaders aimed at tackling climate change. And one of the world's largest energy suppliers and polluters is now making a bold new promise.

Saudi Arabia has set a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2060. The crown prince made the announcement Saturday at the Saudi green initiative in Riyadh, that is ahead of the Glasgow conference. Take a look.


MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN, SAUDI CROWN PRINCE (through translator): I announce today that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia aims to reach net zero in the year 2060, through the carbon circular economy approach, in line with its development plans and enabling its economic diversification and in accordance with the dynamic baseline.

While preserving and reinforcing the kingdom's leading role in the security and stability of global energy markets.


NEWTON: The Saudi state run Aramco oil company produces more carbon dioxide emissions than any other, nearly 60 billion tons pumped into the atmosphere over the past 50 years. On Saturday, its chief executive said the company's commitment to net zero emissions would require global cooperation.


AMIN NASSER, CEO, ARAMCO: Our investments are not going to be enough. The rest of the world need to make the right investment now. Otherwise, you will end up with a global economic crisis.


NEWTON: Britain's Prince Charles delivered a keynote address at the Saudi event. Speaking by video, he warned of a, quote, "dangerously narrow window" to tackle the climate crisis and said it was imperative the upcoming COP26 summit lead to concrete actions.


CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES: The experts are telling policymakers that COP26 must pursue ambitious, nationally determined contributions, that have clear baselines and net zero by 2050.

We simply must heed this message and, above all, consider the kind of future existence that we are bequeathing to our grandchildren and their children's children.


NEWTON: World leaders will have an aggressive agenda at the Glasgow summit. They will aim to finalize rules of the Paris agreement, collectively raise $100 billion a year to finance climate projects, speed up collaborations among governments, businesses and people.


NEWTON: Also to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and protect areas that are already at risk or are already suffering from the effects of climate change.

I spoke about this with Helen Mountford of World Resources Institute. She said, even oil producing states, like Saudi Arabia, are waking up to the reality of the climate crisis. As well, the glowing market for alternative energy. Take a listen.


HELEN MOUNTFORD, VICE PRESIDENT FOR CLIMATE AND ECONOMICS, WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE: I think what we're seeing around the world is actually governments, business leaders, academics, civil societies are all waking up to the climate crisis. The fact that things are changing, that we have this very narrow window to actually make the shifts that we need to do.

But we're also starting to see the markets are simply moving. So interestingly, I mean, as we move toward more electric vehicles around the world, much faster than anyone thought possible, you know, 3-4 years ago. It's really taking off.

And as we do that, the demand for oil is going to be shifting. It's going to be going down. Similarly, as we go to renewable energies, we're going to need much less demand for fossil fuels.

So I think we're seeing a wakeup in the markets, in the finance sector, which is also leading to some of these countries and some of these leaders realizing, they need to shift themselves and they cannot continue to rely on the old economy.


NEWTON: Helen Mountford there of the World Resources Institute, speaking to, us earlier.

For Africa, the fallout from global warming will be catastrophic. That is according to a new U.N. report. The continent generates less than 5 percent of the world's greenhouse emissions. Yet, its people and economies, will suffer greatly, if climate change gets worse. CNN's Eleni Giokos, with details.


ELENI GIOKOS, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elephants roam the African plain against the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro. Breathtaking images that are disappearing before our eyes.

The mountain's few glaciers are melting at a rate higher than the global average. Scientists say they could be gone within 2 decades.

PETTEN TABLAS, WMO SECRETARY-GENERAL: You can see that there's been major loss of the sea ice area and also sea ice mass and if the current trends continue, we won't see any glaciers in Africa in 2040s.

GIOKOS (voice-over): A new report from the U.N. World Meteorological Organization points to Africa's disproportionate vulnerability when it comes to climate change. Finding that 118 million extremely poor people on the continent, threatened by intensifying effects of the warming planet.

The U.N. climate agency warns, if measures are not put in place right now, many Africans will be exposed to further severe droughts, floods and extreme heat by 2030. The study draws attention to Africa's increased, food security, poverty and displacement, last year brought on by the climate crisis and impacts of the COVID pandemic.

And, even though the continent accounts for just 4 percent of global emissions, climate change could have dire consequences for the economy.

JEAN-PAUL ADAM, U.N. ECONOMIC COMMISSIONER FOR AFRICA: Not only the impact of climate change, it is costing African economies an average of 5 percent of their GDP. If warming continues at the rates projected in the report, these costs would increase, exponentially, within the next decade.

GIOKOS (voice-over): The WMO, partnering with other agencies, to publish the report. It is coming ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, next weekend. The authors of the report, finding that investing in climate adaptation to mitigate the crisis, would cost $30 billion to $50 billion , each years, over the next decade.

They say it is a small price to pay, compared to the even higher costs of the disaster relief, not to mention, the irreversible damage the climate crisis will likely cause if nothing is done -- Eleni Giokos, CNN.


A quick programming note, CNN will have extensive coverage of the COP26 climate change in Scotland from November 1st-12th. For the latest climate news, on COP26, head to

There is much more to come, here on CNN NEWSROOM. Why the U.K. prime minister is saying it is more important than ever for eligible Britons to get COVID vaccines.

And surging COVID cases in Russia, pushing one Serbian hospital to the brink. We take you inside, after the break.





NEWTON: Welcome back to our viewers, here in the United States and around the world. I'm Paula Newton and you are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

When you hear a politician has received a slap in the face, you assume that people are saying it is figurative, right?

Not in the case of one governor in Iran. Take a look at this.


NEWTON (voice-over): That man walked up to the governor and smacked him during a speech on Saturday. Now security guards quickly risked the man away and attackers were upset, saying that they received a COVID vaccine from a male doctor, not a female one. The, governor later, said the man will have to face legal consequences.


NEWTON: COVID cases are surging in the U.K., and prime minister Boris Johnson encourages more people to get vaccinated. The U.K. is now averaging more than 45,000 new cases a day, some of the highest numbers since July.

The health secretary warned this week the daily cases could in fact top 100,000 in the coming months. Some health experts have called on the government to reinstate stricter COVID rules.

Mr. Johnson says a new lockdown is not in the cards. Instead, Downing Street has ramped up calls for vaccinations and booster shots. One doctor says most of the cases, his colleagues see now, are among the young and unvaccinated.


DR. ABHI MANTGANI, PHYSICIAN: The good thing is that because of the significant number of people being vaccinated, it will not be turning out to be hospital admissions.

But if you ask my professional colleagues in the hospital, they will tell you that the people who are going to the hospital are younger people who are unvaccinated. So the vast majority of the people who have been admitted to the hospital are unvaccinated and a younger population.

Twelve months ago, it was we were all popular for older people, vulnerable people. Now it is the unvaccinated younger people, who are becoming the ones at risk.


NEWTON: It is now easier for fully vaccinated travelers to enter England. As of Sunday morning, they can use a cheaper lateral flow test instead of a more expensive PCR version.

The new rule applies to fully vaccinated people and most people under 18 years old, coming from non-red list countries. Now just 7 countries, all in Latin America, are still on the U.K.'s red travel list.


NEWTON: Russia reported 1,100 deaths on Sunday, the highest number yet. New cases also hit a record high. Less than a third of Russians are fully vaccinated and some of the country's most remote regions are in a desperate situation growing more dire. CNN's Kim Brunhuber with that.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An ICU, full of patients, in prone positions. Doctors, pulling 24-hour shifts. Dismal conditions, in this hospital in Siberia and one that could've been avoided, if some patients, sick with COVID 19, had been vaccinated.

OLGA KAUROVA, DEPUTY CHIEF DOCTOR, BYSK HOSPITAL NUMBER 2 (through translator): We do have some vaccinated patients. It happens. But they rarely reach the ICU unit. If they do, those patients have other conditions. Mostly all of our patients, in the ICU, are unvaccinated.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): The health care workers at this hospital, 3,000 kilometers from Moscow, say this outbreak of the coronavirus is more severe, affecting the young and the old. They have had to call in additional staff, some newly graduated from medical school, to meet the demand.

MAKSIM GUBERIN, TRAINEE DOCTOR, BYSK HOSPITAL NUMBER 2 (through translator): I, personally, have around 45 to 50 patients. Doctors cannot avoid getting sick too. They become sick and some cannot bear the load.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Vaccination rates in Russia are low with only about 30 percent of people fully vaccinated and across the country there is widespread distrust of the vaccine.

In the town the hospital serves, local media reporting an additional morgue had to be opened. And the mayor's office is trying to expand the cemetery but not even these stark realities are convincing enough to change some minds.

This man says, "We are scared but we're still not getting vaccinated."

This one says, "I've been traveling for work for two years, without wearing a mask and never got sick."

Misconceptions about vaccines and social distancing are driving up the number of cases in the country and the daily number of deaths from COVID-19 has reached record highs, for several days in a row.

Earlier this week, president Vladimir Putin ordering a nationwide period of nonworking days beginning October 30th to try to lower transmission rates across the country. Officials say more restrictions could be added if people don't get vaccinated, measures that are too late to help patients back at this overwhelmed hospital in Siberia, where the virus and the deadly misinformation helping to fuel it are still surging -- Kim Brunhuber, CNN.


NEWTON: China, in the meantime, reported more than 3 dozen new COVID cases on Friday, with the 2022 Winter Olympic Games now, less than 4 months away. State media reports authorities conducted a massive screening across Beijing, after cases were discovered there. Officials are telling residents not to leave unless absolutely necessary.

India has reached a new milestone, delivering more than 1 billion vaccine doses. But there are still millions of people who have yet to receive a single vaccine dose. Only 30 percent of adults in India are fully vaccinated.

U.S. COVID vaccination numbers are inching up ever so slowly. As of Saturday, over 57 percent of Americans were fully vaccinated. That is just half a percentage point higher than this time last week.

But those numbers could go up, significantly, in the coming weeks. If Pfizer's vaccine is approved for children 5 to 11years old. FDA and CDC advisers, will discuss the issue over the next two weeks, meaning, some 28 million children, potentially, could be eligible for the vaccine. That could be a big relief, for many parents.


ANDY SLAVITT, SENIOR ADVISER, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM: We know that 6 billion kids have had COVID-19. Over 1 million in the last six weeks. They can get, it they can spread it.

There was -- there have been thousands and thousands, to tens of thousands of kids hospitalized. So I think it is great news for families. But of course, talk to your pediatrician, if you have got questions.


NEWTON: Outrage and sadness in Ecuador following the murder of an Olympic athlete. What investigators are saying about the crime. That is after the break.

Plus, a U.S. based missionary group is struggling to come to terms with the kidnapping of its members in Haiti. They're coping with the crisis but it hasn't been easy.





NEWTON: Shock and outrage, in Ecuador, after a beloved Olympic sprinter, Alex Quinonez, was fatally shot. Now police are investigating the shooting, which took place Friday, in the coastal city of Guayaquil.

Another man, killed in the same location but they aren't sure whether the 2 deaths are not connected. The 32-year old is considered one of the best sprinters in Ecuador's history.

The most wanted drug trafficker in Colombia has been captured in a joint operation with the military Colombian police say, they apprehended the leader of the Clan del Golfo drug cartel. Colombia's president calls it the hardest blow that drug trafficking has suffered in this century. Journalist Stefano Pozzebon has the latest, from Bogota.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Colombia's security forces, announcing the capture of Dairo Antonio Usuga, a powerful drug trafficker, also known by his alias Otoniel. He is a leader of the Clan del Golfo drug cartel.

The Colombian president, says to the nation, in a televised speech, planned by the chief of staff of the army's forces. And Duque compared the capture of Otoniel to the fall, of Pablo Escobar, in the 1990s, saying, Otoniel was the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.

The Clan del Golfo is one of Colombia's largest drug cartels. They are responsible for moving tons of cocaine out of Colombia toward Mexico and the United States. In recent years this cartel has also been accused of profiting from the flow of migrants across the border between Colombia and Panama.

Otoniel was arguably Colombia's most wanted man, since the end of the civil war here, in 2016 -- for CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.


NEWTON: The U.S. is accusing Nicaragua of a sham election and setting up what it, called an authoritarian dynasty in that nation. The accusation, coming after president Daniel Ortega locked up dozens of political opponents, ahead of next month's vote.

They include seven presidential hopefuls and a former foreign minister, whose son is the creator of the Netflix hit "Riverdale." As Isa Soares reports, he and his sister are afraid, they may never see their father again.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Was denied permission to leave the country and my passport was retained."

Those were the last words Francisco Aguirre-Sacasa exchanged with his children, Georgie and Roberto in the United States on July 27, words that shook them to their core.

ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA, SON OF FRANCISCO AGUIRRE-SACASA: They took my father out of the car and that's the last time my mom saw him until, you know, a month later, when he was in jail in Managua in federal prison.

SOARES (voice-over): And that's the last time anyone has seen Francisco Aguirre-Sacasa as a free man. A doting grandfather with a love for life.


SOARES (voice-over): But also a D.C. man at heart.

Now at 77, the former Nicaraguan foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S. remains behind bars in the notorious El Chipote prison for allegedly committing acts of conspiracy and treason under a law passed last year, empowering the government of Daniel Ortega to lock up opposing voices as coup plotters and traitors to the nation.

DANIEL ORTEGA, NICARAGUA PRESIDENT (through translator): Criminals who have attacked the country.

SOARES (voice-over): Charges that Georgie and Roberto, the creator of the hit series "Riverdale," say are simply baseless.

R. AGUIRRE-SACASA: And nothing concrete has been said or given to anyone who's working with my father, on our father's case. So it's Kafkaesque.

SOARES: I have in my hand here, the government's report on what they say is the evidence against Francisco. Now I can't show you it, for further my source could face reprisals but I can tell you this. There's no real evidence here.

What it does indicate is that he's been arrested simply for speaking his mind. For instance, the government cites as evidence online videos where Francisca describes U.S. sanctions against the Ortega regime as extraordinary and important.

R. AGUIRRE-SACASA: It's outrageous what's happening, you know, in the United States' backyard -- as we like to say about Central America. Our father sadly, was caught up in those -- in that machinery.

SOARES (voice-over): This very machinery has, according to Human Rights Watch, arrested 37 opposition leaders and critics since May, many of whom says the watchdog group are facing human rights violations and abuses.

The State Department says Nicaragua's presidential election next month has lost all credibility. And while the E.U. and the U.S. have already imposed some sanctions, Latin American expert Christopher Sabatini says the Biden administration can and should do more.

CHRISTOPHER SABATINI, SENIOR FELLOW, CHATHAM HOUSE: If the U.S. cannot act on this egregious case of human rights abuses within its own sphere of influence, it really sends a very strong signal, not just in Nicaragua and not just in Cuba and Venezuela but to other aspiring autocrats throughout the hemisphere and of course, globally.

SOARES (voice-over): For Georgie and Roberto, this isn't political. It's personal.

R. AGUIRRE-SACASA: I think my biggest fear is that one day we're going to get a phone call from someone in Nicaragua that says that our father died in jail.

GEORGIE AGUIRRE-SACASA, DAUGHTER OF FRANCISCO AGUIRRE-SACASA: So here we are speaking up for those that don't have a voice right now, hoping that our efforts afford us the opportunity to see him again -- Isa Soares, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NEWTON: CNN has reached out to the Nicaraguan government but has not received a reply.

A U.S. based missionary group says the kidnapping of its members in Haiti is taking an emotional troll on the rest of the organization; 17 members of Christian Aid Ministries are being held by a notorious gang, that made kidnappings its signature crime.

Its leader, threatening to kill the hostages, unless he receives $17 million in ransom. Matt Rivers, bringing us up to date.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has now been more than one week since 17 missionaries who were a mission trip here to Haiti were kidnapped by gang members just east of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, where we are right now.

And for family members of those kidnapping victims, going through this horrific tragedy, this is obviously a very difficult time for them. We did get an updated statement from Christian Aid Ministries, which is that group that those missionaries were working on behalf of here in Haiti. They sent out an updated statement, late on Saturday evening.

WESTON SHOWALTER, SPOKESPERSON, CHRISTIAN AID MINISTRIES: Today, marks one week since our workers and loved ones were kidnapped in Haiti. This group is still being held hostage. It has been a week of many tears and thousands, if not millions, of prayers. RIVERS: Christian Aid Ministries actually sharing some quotes from a

few family members, unnamed family members, of these kidnapping victims.

SHOWALTER: We are interested in the salvation of these men and we love them. As a family, we are giving forgiveness to these men. We are not holding anything against them.

RIVERS: Meanwhile, as we look ahead to the beginning part of the week here in Port-au-Prince, we're going to get a reminder just how difficult life is right now for the people who live in this country.

There's going to be a general strike by a number of different groups, everything from transportation workers to ordinary businesses. Basically, we're expecting the capital city of Port-au-Prince to largely shut down on Monday and perhaps even on Tuesday and going into the week.

It is a form of protest, basically, against not only the overall security situation here in Haiti which has made daily life so dangerous, especially with this kidnapping, but also, specifically about the fuel shortage.

There is a massive fuel shortage right now in the capital region here.


RIVERS: And that is affecting daily life in a number of different ways, driving up consumer prices and making getting around that much harder.

And that is affecting the country that is already dealing with so much poverty. And so, this protest, this general strike as it's being called here in Port-au-Prince, is designed to highlight some of those issues, that ordinary Haitians are dealing with -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


NEWTON: The water crisis in Michigan; when we come, back a town where the water is too dangerous to drink.

Plus, a hurricane is heading to the Mexican coast. What to expect from CNN's Weather Center. That is ahead.




NEWTON: Residents in a small town in Michigan are experiencing a water crisis. This, week the city of Benton Harbor declared a state of emergency due to contaminated water. People there say the water has been unsafe, for years. But many, now rely on bottled water for everyday uses, things like cooking and bathing, CNN's Miguel Marquez, is there.



MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Courtney Sherrod and her family of five go through a lot of bottled water.


MARQUEZ (on camera): A week?

SHERROD: I have three children and a big husband at home.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): She says they sometimes go to the gym in the next town over just for a shower.

SHERROD: My children had to go to school the next day so we went to the "Y" and made sure everybody took showers at the "Y" the night before so that they could go to school.

MARQUEZ (on camera): The "Y" is in a different town?

SHERROD: It's in St. Joe.


SHERROD: Where the water is clean and they pay lower water bills than us. MARQUEZ (voice-over): Benton Harbor, population 10,000, the latest high-profile American town dealing with lead in the water.

TONY SMITH, BENTON HARBOR RESIDENT: I'm really concerned about it because I've heard the danger of it. So we want to stay away from it as much as you can.

MARQUEZ (on camera): What do you use bottled water for?

SMITH: Drinking, cooking and brushing your teeth.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Since 2018, samples of water taken from hundreds of homes here have shown lead above the federal threshold of 15 parts per billion gallons of water. REV. EDWARD PINKNEY, PRESIDENT & CEO, BENTON HARBOR COMMUNITY WATER

COUNCIL: Nobody, nobody should have water that they can't drink that they have to pay for it. Nobody should have contaminated water.

This is America. This should not be happening. To any community.

MARQUEZ: But Benton Harbor isn't alone. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, estimates some 22 million Americans, most in the Midwest and northeast, may be getting their drinking water, at least in part, from lead pipes.

DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA, PEDIATRIC PUBLIC HEALTH INITIATIVE: They are concentrated in these older communities which also are disproportionately where we have more vulnerable populations, people who are poorer and predominantly people of color.

MARQUEZ: Michigan's Democratic governor signed an executive directive to expedite the replacement of lead pipes, asking for more money from the state legislature.

The Republican-led state legislature, so far, has responded by opening an investigation into the governor's response to the water crisis.

None of it building confidence for those who live here.

(on camera): The governor says they have a plan. They'll replace all the lead pipes in 18 months. Do you believe it?



SHERROD: Nothing has happened all this time. So why should I believe -- does Flint have new water pipes?

MARQUEZ: They're still working on it.

SHERROD: OK. There you go.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Miguel Marquez, CNN, Benton Harbor, Michigan.


NEWTON: A hurricane is heading toward the southern coast of Mexico.


NEWTON: The National Hurricane Center saying, it could intensify to a major storm, prior to landfall, late Sunday or early Monday. There are fears that heavy rain and storm surge could cause coastal flooding.


NEWTON: I am Paula Newton, thank you for your company and I'll be back with more CNN NEWSROOM after a short break.