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Turkey Threatens To Expel Ambassadors; Movie Set Tragedy; Obama Campaigns For Key Democrats; U.S. Capitol Insurrection; FDA Advises On COVID-19 Vaccines For Kids; U.K. Prime Minister Urges Vaccinations As COVID-19 Cases Surge; California Extreme Weather; One Week To COP26 Climate Summit; Climate Change Fueling Humanitarian Disasters. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired October 24, 2021 - 04:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to all of you watching us here, in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, a wonderful mom and wife, whose career behind the camera was about to take off, Halyna Hutchins remembered after she was killed on a movie set.

Plus, actor Richard Gere could soon take the stand at a trial in Italy that prevented a ship from docking and migrants stranded at sea.

And former President Barack Obama back on the campaign trail. We'll share his message for Republicans, just ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: Our top story, hundreds of mourners gathered in New Mexico to honor slain cinematographer Halyna Hutchins at a candlelight vigil. Many of the mourners were members of the television and film industry.

Police say Hutchins was killed, Thursday, when actor Alec Baldwin unknowingly fired a live round from what was supposed to be a prop gun. CNN's Lucy Kafanov has more from that vigil in Albuquerque.


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.

KAVANAUGH: 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.


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

He also said a bright, striking fierce mother was killed and Alec Baldwin's life is forever ruined. We've seen the photos of Alec Baldwin appearing distraught over the death of Halyna Hutchins and although the shooting was an accident, one legal analyst says that he may face legal liability over the tragedy since he was a producer of the film.



NEAMA RAHMANI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR AND PRESIDENT OF WEST COAST TRIAL LAWYERS: 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.


BRUNHUBER: Baldwin tweeted shortly after the shooting that he's fully cooperating with police.

Actor Richard Gere is among the witnesses listed in a trial involving Italy's foreign interior minister Matteo Salvini. He's 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

Salvini denies the claim. The right-leaning politician attacked the seriousness of the allegations due to the presence of Gere on the witness list. The actor 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.


BRUNHUBER: For more on this, let's bring in Barbie Nadeau in Rome.

As we just heard there, Salvini is using Gere's celebrity presence as a stick to beat his accusers with. So what's Gere expected to testify to, exactly?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a really interesting case. And I'm sure no one outside of Italy would even be following it, had it not been for this development with Richard Gere as a star witness.

But Mr. Gere actually went onto the ship when it was being held off the coast of Lampedusa. It was there for 19 days under incredibly difficult conditions. And he brought food and water to the people who were on the ship. And he's going to be one of the few people who can actually testify about the conditions onboard that ship.

And he says that those people needed, you know, needed a better place to stay, needed to have better conditions and needed to disembark. Now Salvini argues that, because this was a Spanish NGO and a Spanish ship, that it should have taken those migrants to Spain rather than to try to disembark in Italy.

He says this trial, if it's to be held, should be under Spanish jurisdiction, not under Italian jurisdiction. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: All right.

So how strong a case do prosecutors have?

I'm wondering if experts think there's a good chance Salvini could actually be convicted here?

NADEAU: Well, you know, a lot of the legal experts that I've spoken to have said that kidnapping is sort of a peculiar charge to lodge against him. He was interior minister at the time. He was, for all practical purposes, just doing his job.

But it is going to call attention to the plight of the migrants. And those who are sympathetic to Salvini and Salvini's blocking of migrants when they were trying to come into Italy, those people will say, listen, this is a good spotlight here.

Why was a Spanish ship trying to disembark 147 people on Italian soil?

So it depends on which side of the migration argument you're on. But you know, the fact that Richard Gere is part of this is going to make an argument that is being heard all over the world, not just in Italy.

BRUNHUBER: All right. We'll be following this with interest. Barbie Nadeau in Rome, thanks so much.

The fate of a jailed businessman is the latest flashpoint 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.

Osman Kavala 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.


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.


BRUNHUBER: "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 joins us now from Istanbul.

So Arwa, allies warning it's not in Turkey's interest here.

So what's behind this move?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, for one, Turkey, especially President Erdogan is really smarting after those 10 ambassadors issued that joint statement, calling for Osman Kavala's release, once again viewing this as the West trying to meddle in Turkey's affairs, trying to impede its judicial system, which President Erdogan continues to say is an independent system.

But when we hear those statements from some European countries, talking about how serious the situation is, that also goes to the fact that this is not just some sort of diplomatic spat.

One also has to remember that the European Union is Turkey's largest trade partner, meaning that Turkey is heavily economically reliant on it. And that is especially of potential concern right now, given the shambles that Turkey's economy is in and the losses that the lira has suffered.

The detention of Osman Kavala has been a stress point for some time now. The European Court of Human Rights did, in fact, declare that Turkey should release Kavala. And Turkey, in theory, should have to abide by that order, because it is a member of the Council for Europe. But Turkey has not. And what European countries will say, what human

rights groups will say, what opposition voices will say is that, you know, the detention of Osman Kavala is part of this ongoing government's effort to try to stem voices of dissent and opposition.

But to declare 10 ambassadors, Western ambassadors, all at once, in one fell swoop, potentially persona non grata is a very big possible step forward in terms of escalating this situation. And at this stage, it does look as if Turkey does have more to lose if the situation does, in fact, escalate further, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Thanks so much, Arwa Damon in Istanbul, appreciate it.

President Obama makes a rare personal appearance on the campaign trail. Still ahead, what the former president told voters as he drummed up votes.

And the hunt for votes days before Virginia's gubernatorial election. Why that race could be a barometer for the entire nation. Stay with us






BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you've got good ideas, people will flock to your ideas. But that's not what they try to do. Instead you're trying to rig elections because the truth is people disagree with your ideas.

And when that doesn't work, you start fabricating lies and conspiracy theories about the last election, the one you didn't win. That's not how democracy is supposed to work.


BRUNHUBER: That was former U.S. President Barack Obama, campaigning on Saturday for Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe and later for New Jersey's Democratic governor, Phil Murphy.

Both races on November 2nd are seen as must-wins for Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterms. The states are reliably blue but many voters are weary of divisive politics, as well as the pandemic. So Obama reminded Democratic voters what was at stake. With more on that, here's CNN's Athena Jones.


ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. President Obama hitting the campaign trail again on Saturday, campaigning in Virginia and New Jersey, the only two states that have governors' races this year. Both of these races are being viewed as a harbinger of what Democrats may face in 2022.

And, of course, Democrats are hoping to keep both of these statehouses in the blue column. The focus of the New Jersey event was on early in- person voting, which is being allowed for the first time in New Jersey.

For years, people had been able to early vote by mail but now they can do so in person. So President Obama coming out to urge people to turn out, to show up, to tell their friends and neighbors to vote for Phil Murphy and make him the first Democratic governor to win reelection since the late 1970s.

As we heard the president do in Virginia, we also saw him in New Jersey, try to tie Murphy's Republican opponent to president Trump. He slammed Jack Ciattarelli for speaking at a Stop the Steal rally. Here's some of what he said.


OBAMA: When you've got a candidate who spoke at a Stop the Steal rally, you can bet he's not going to be a champion of democracy.

Apparently, Phil's opponent says, well, he didn't know it was a rally to overturn the results of the last election. Didn't know it.

Brother, come on. When you're standing in front of a sign that says Stop the Steal and there's a guy in the crowd waving a Confederate flag, you know this isn't a neighborhood barbecue. You know it's not a League of Women Voters rally. Come on. Come on, man.


JONES: So there you have President Obama trying to tie Jack Ciattarelli, Murphy's opponent, to president Trump, who is not nearly as popular in New Jersey as he is in other parts of the country.


JONES: Bottom line here, though, this is all about turnout. This event was held in Newark. Newark is in the heart of Essex County. Essex County is a Democratic stronghold in New Jersey. It has the most Democrats registered of any of the counties here.

And the whole goal is to make sure those people vote early, in person, on Election Day. Either way, they want to make sure they get to the polls -- Athena Jones, CNN, New York.


BRUNHUBER: And candidates in Virginia are starting to make final pitches to voters with just over a week left before the gubernatorial election. Recent polls show Democrat Terry McAuliffe in a neck and neck race with Republican Glenn Youngkin. The race could be a litmus test of voters' mood ahead of next year's congressional election. McAuliffe's message is this, Youngkin is a clone of former president

Donald Trump.


TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Glenn Youngkin is not a reasonable Republican. I call him Donald Trump in khakis.

Do we want a lap dog to Donald Trump to be our governor here in the Commonwealth?

No, we don't.


BRUNHUBER: Youngkin's response is that he and McAuliffe are the only people vying to lead Virginia, not anyone else.


GLENN YOUNGKIN (R-VA), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Friends, America needs us right now. I get more text and phone calls and emails from parents all over this great nation saying, Glenn, stand up for our children, too. Stand up for our children, too. Our children can't wait.


BRUNHUBER: House lawmakers are gearing up for their interview with the critical Trump administration official about the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Jeffrey Clark was a Justice Department official at the time of the insurrection. He pushed baseless election fraud claims and floated plans to give certain states backing to undermine the vote results.

His testimony next week could be pivotal for Democrats, as they try to uncover what former president Trump, Republicans in Congress and his advisers did and said behind closed doors about overturning the election before January 6th. As CNN's Marshall Cohen reports, investigators are also looking to follow the money trail behind the attack.


MARSHALL COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nearly 10 months after the January 6th insurrection, the investigation continues, both in Congress and in the courts.

House Democrats are moving full speed ahead with their Select Committee. They are zeroing in on the money trail, the finances behind those Stop the Steal rallies that fueled the Big Lie last year and all the way up to January 6th.

And the House of Representatives, in a bipartisan vote, held Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt for defying a subpoena and they now want the Justice Department to bring a criminal indictment. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors have charged more than 650 of the

rioters. One couple from Kentucky was just sentenced a few days ago to pay $10,000 in fines for their role in storming the Capitol.

The judge in that case said that he was getting threats and threatening messages from Trump supporters, who still believe the Big Lie. He said the rioters that have been downplaying and whitewashing the attack are inspiring these continued threats.

One rioter, who is part of that group of people that are staying defiant, Micajah Jackson, he was charged with four misdemeanors. He pleaded not guilty. He was released but he was told to stay away from the Proud Boys because of his ties to the far-right group.

He spoke at a political rally in Phoenix last month that was attended by more than a dozen members of the Proud Boys. His lawyer said that he didn't know they would be there and that he's complying with the conditions of his release. But, regardless, take a listen to what he had to say at that event.


MICAJAH JACKSON, CONVICTED CAPITOL RIOTER: On January 6, the radical U.S. government weaponized the FBI, the Capitol Police, D.C. Police, Antifa, BLM and Democratic activists to set up a coup against patriotic Americans like myself and hundreds and thousands of others that are still being persecuted, watched and heard.

And that's disgusting. That is KGB stuff right there going on.


COHEN: Obviously those are ridiculous and false conspiracy theories. Prosecutors could use that material against him in court to make the case that he's not sorry for what he did and that, if he is convicted, he should deserve a harsher punishment.

That's something they've done in other cases; use rioters' words against them -- Marshall Cohen, CNN, Washington.



BRUNHUBER: West Virginia's governor says he would welcome with open arms conservative Maryland counties, looking to leave that state and join his. A handful of Republican lawmakers in three counties are asking West Virginia's top Republican legislators to at least consider the idea.

Maryland as a whole went pretty solidly for President Biden in 2020 and Democrats control both U.S. Senate seats, seven of eight U.S. House seats and both chambers of the state legislature.

Now this is by no means the only effort of its kind. There is a campaign to get a sizable chunk of Oregon and even some of Northern California to become part of a greater Idaho.

Supporters in Oregon say their state refuses to protect its citizens from the rioting seen in Portland and other law and order issues. Idaho, on the other hand, stands more for what they see as American values.


MIKE MCCARTER, PRESIDENT, "GREATER IDAHO": It's not a vote to start a new state. It is just the beginning process of asking Oregon to let Oregon's rural counties go and asking Idaho, would you allow us to become part of your state.


BRUNHUBER: So earlier, I spoke with Juliet Musso, a vice dean at the University of Southern California's Price School of Public Policy and an expert on secession and I asked her whether these efforts have a chance of working or is it local politicians sending a message to their base?

Here she is.


JULIET MUSSO, VICE DEAN, PRICE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Any of these secession measures has to be approved by legislatures in both states and by the U.S. Congress.

And it's a little bit of a paradox, actually, because, if you seek to leave an area where there's a dominant ideology that doesn't suit you, it's unlikely that you're going to be allowed to leave.

But I do think that -- it is, I think, to some extent, political signaling, politicians kind of being able to find yet another way to speak to their base, to show that they're connected to them in a way and maybe to sort of rile up a little bit of, you know, political resentment.


BRUNHUBER: So you can see more of that interview coming up in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.

All right.

So when you hear a politician received a slap in the face, you, logically, assume that they're speaking figuratively, right?

Not in the case of one governor in Iran. It was literal. Take a look.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Unbelievable. That man, walking up to the governor and smacking him during a speech on Saturday. Security guards, quickly, whisked the man away. An Iranian news agency, said the attacker was upset because his wife

received a COVID vaccine from a male doctor, not a female one.

The governor, later, said that the men will have to face legal consequences.


BRUNHUBER: Still ahead this hour, COVID-19 cases are soaring in the U.K. But the government says a new lockdown isn't in the cards. We're live in London with the latest coming up.

Plus, surging COVID cases in Russia are pushing one Siberian hospital to the brink. We'll take you inside after the break. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: 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 11 years old. FDA and CDC advisers will discuss the issue over the next two weeks, meaning some 28 million children 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.


BRUNHUBER: COVID cases are surging in the U.K. and the prime minister is encouraging more people to get the vaccine. U.K. is now averaging more than 45,000 new cases a day, some of the highest numbers since July.

But so far, the government says it won't reinstate stricter COVID rules. Instead, it's ramping up the push for vaccinations and booster shots. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen joins us from London. So Fred, while the prime minister is pushing vaccines and boosters to

fight this surge, there's more and more pressure on his government to get in place a plan B and reimpose restrictions.

What more can you tell us?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, Kim. That pressure is coming first and foremost from the medical community, not just from the National Health Service but from the British Medical Association. And both of those groups are saying they believe that, you know, what we've been talking about, the plan B is something that needs to be enacted as fast as possible.

They say there's already pressure on the National Health Service, there's already operations that are having to be postponed because there simply isn't enough staff on hand to take care of the actual operations and also, of course, dealing with patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19. So it is a real problem.

And as you said, the British government is saying that, at this point in time, they have no plans to enact that plan B. Prime minister Boris Johnson came out on Thursday and he said that he believed that, yes, the numbers are rising.

But he said he still believed it was within the parameters of what they've been expecting, given the measures that they have right now.

One of the things he did yesterday, and I think it was very important, is he did what they call here a call to arms, which is essentially people putting out their arms and getting their jabs.

And what the British government essentially trying to do is vaccinate their way out of this. Of course, the vaccination campaign in the United Kingdom was extremely successful early on. But it's been somewhat stuttering, as of recently.

And what they're trying to do right now is a massive booster shot campaign, where they're now calling out all over 50-year olds and people who are in danger of getting severe COVID, out to get booster shots.

Then also they are saying, look, anybody who hasn't got an vaccine yet should do so immediately.

And the third sort of pillar of that vaccination strategy is also children as young as 12 years old, where they're saying that you can get at least a single jab. That's really the strategy of the government.

They seem very loath at this point in time for any more strict measures, even as the medical community here is calling on things like mask mandates, for instance, possible vaccination passports and of course, physical distancing as well, Kim.

[04:35:00] BRUNHUBER: And meanwhile, England is hoping to give a huge boost to tourism by now accepting a cheaper COVID test for some incoming tourists. So take us through that decision.

PLEITGEN: They certainly are, the lateral flow test. One of the things you have to do now -- and I know because I've just gone through this process -- is when you come to England, to the United Kingdom, what you do is you should be fully vaccinated but, on day two, you need to take a PCR test.

And in the future or starting today, actually, the government has said a cheaper test, the lateral flow test, which is essentially a self- test that you can do, that is now sufficient for people to come into this country.

That obviously should make coming here to the U.K. and to England, should make it a lot easier than it was before, because you don't have to book a PCR test. And one of the things that you had to do when you came here, before this new rule was in place, you had to have proof that you had booked that PCR test to get on your flight.

So that should make it a lot easier for travelers but, in the current situation, of course, there's a lot of people, who believe that could be quite a difficult decision as well.

BRUNHUBER: Absolutely. Fred Pleitgen in London, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Russia is seeing a record number of COVID deaths with nearly 1,100 new deaths reported on Saturday, the highest number yet. New cases have also hit a record high.

Meanwhile, less than a third of Russians have been fully vaccinated. In some of the country's most remote regions, that's making an already desperate situation even more dire.


BRUNHUBER (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.


BRUNHUBER: Parts of the western United States are hunkering down, as yet another strong storm system approaches. We'll have the latest from the CNN Weather Center after the break. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Flood warnings are posted for parts of northern California currently suffering from extreme drought. Extreme weather could include something called a bomb cyclone and that's the third round in a series of strong storms.


BRUNHUBER: So for more on that link between extreme weather and climate change, let's bring in Maarten Van Aalst. He's the director of the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre, one of thousands that will be heading to Glasgow to attend the upcoming climate change conference and he joins us from Netherlands.

Thank you so much for being here. Appreciate it.


BRUNHUBER: When most of us think climate change, we don't necessarily associate it with the Red Cross. But with the growing number of extreme climate events, unfortunately, the Red Cross is playing a growing role in helping folks after these disasters hit, including several here in the U.S., like those floods on the East Coast.

So give us the big picture about what your teams have been dealing with around the world on the front lines of the climate crisis.

MAARTEN VAN AALST, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS/RED CRESCENT CLIMATE CENTRE: Thank you. Yes, this is, indeed, our daily reality now. We're seeing it in our disaster statistics, globally. But particularly, people at the front lines of the climate crisis are facing it every day.

In some of these cases, we can really pinpoint the climate fingerprint very scientifically. For instance, that terrible heat wave that hit the northwestern U.S. and Canada was impossible without climate change.

And the European floods that killed over 200 people in Germany and Belgium were up to nine times more likely. In many more other cases, we don't have the precise scientific numbers.

But for anyone experiencing this, as a disaster manager, it's very clear that things are changing and it's particularly the extremes as well as the surprises that are hitting us.

BRUNHUBER: So you will be there, as I said, in Glasgow, for COP26.

So what message are you hoping to send?

What are you telling world leaders?

VAN AALST: Well, I think there's two things. One is climate change is already hitting us badly now. And it's hitting us everywhere. It's the richest countries but actually, that pattern that I was describing for the U.S. and Europe, take those same extremes in vulnerable countries and the effects are even worse.

So we're very concerned about what's happening already now. And we need to avoid that problem from getting further out of hand by reducing emissions rapidly while at the same time acknowledging that we need to be prepared for these worse extremes. And that's preparing everywhere but of course, especially in the most vulnerable communities.

BRUNHUBER: So as this is being discussed here in the U.S., Democrats are scrambling to come to an agreement on President Biden's social spending bill. But it looks like the boldest and toughest measures to tackle the climate crisis may not make it into the final bill.

So from a global perspective, what will it say if the U.S. comes to Glasgow without delivering on a meaningful commitment to climate change? VAN AALST: Well, the U.S. is obviously a very important player. So I am still hopeful that there is some progress to be made there. Of course, the United States is also not the only country. So we rely on all countries to do their part. And that means being much more ambitious than we've been so far.

So the United States need to step up further but others do, as well. We still have a chance to keep global warming from rising above that 1.5 degrees Celsius total rise, since we started emitting all of these greenhouse gases.

And it sounds like an abstract number but what science shows increasingly is, the further we go beyond that 1.5 degrees limit, the more -- the risk that we're already facing today will, indeed, get out of hand.

I was speaking to some of my colleagues in the Maldives, for instance, who were already experienced with the current shift in climate. They just know, beyond 1.5 degrees, their corals will be gone, which means their fisheries will be gone, so they have no food they're getting from the ocean right now.

Their tourism will also be gone and, more importantly, their islands won't grow along with the rising sea levels. So they're really fearing for a future where that will not be reached.

We can still keep that warming from rising beyond 1.5 degrees but we have to make that transition on the energy side really, really quickly. So I'm hopeful that America will come around but that has to be the same for other countries.

BRUNHUBER: When we talk about climate change, we talk about world leaders and politicians and so on. But it's increasingly literally hitting people where they live. So, you know, it's striking how few people are prepared. And you talked about preparedness for this.

So how should individuals, you know, as well as parents, homeowners, people like this, how should they be preparing and maybe changing the way they live or where they live to prepare for what's happening?

VAN AALST: Well, historically, sadly, we haven't always been great dealing even with the disasters that we had in the past. So we tend to think, you know, something that is high impact but low frequency won't happen to me and it's, you know, I'll just take the risk.

That is getting increasingly risky, because the risks are rising. So I think everyone needs to take into account what's happening and think about what that means for our policies and how we vote in elections but also what we do in our own neighborhood and even in our own household.

And that often also means -- I mean, it's partly decisions you make yourself. If you're in the Netherlands, for instance.

[04:50:00] VAN AALST: Europe was the most deadly disaster in the last few years in the globe. I foresee disasters with this because of heat waves. So I can make choices about the amount of greenery in my own garden and in my own neighborhood.

But also, when the heat waves arrives, I can call on my elderly neighbor and make sure she has had her six glasses of water today, because it's often very preventable if we take the right measures when these extremes hit us. But we have to know what may be coming, prepare for it and do the right thing when it's there.

BRUNHUBER: Great advice. Thank you so much, Maarten Van Aalst, director of the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre, thank you so much for being with us.

VAN AALST: Thank you very much.


BRUNHUBER: So one week before the start of that major climate summit in Scotland, Prince Charles issued an urgent plea for action, saying there's a dangerously narrow window to address the climate crisis. We'll bring you the details coming up. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: As we mentioned, we're one week out from the U.N.'s COP26 climate summit, a major gathering of world leaders, aimed at tackling climate change. The U.S. will be well represented.

Not only will President Biden attend, he's bringing a delegation of more than a dozen cabinet members and officials. The agenda for this year's summit is ambitious.


BRUNHUBER: And the British prime minister, presiding over the conference, admits it will be a heavy lift. He said the Paris climate talks of 2015 were much easier by comparison, because much of the nitty-gritty details had been postponed until now.

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.


BRUNHUBER: 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, keep within that global warming limit, this is crucial now, of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

And of course, protect areas that are already at risk or are already suffering from the effects of climate change.

And one quick programming note. CNN will have extensive coverage of the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, from November 1st through the 12th. And for all the lathe climate news and COP26 developments, you can head to

That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. I will be back in just a moment with more news. Please do stay with us.