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No Jabs, No Going Outside; Skepticism Led to More Deaths; WTA CEO Not Mincing Words; Belarus Clean Its Hands from the Border Crisis; Transmission Rate Of COVID Is Rising In Israel; India To Repeal Controversial Farming Laws; Abortion Rights In Columbia; Farmers Scramble To Save Livelihoods After Flooding; Biden Hosts Mexican, Canadian Leaders At White House; Shohei Ohtani Wins American League MVP; Australians Use Algae To Pull CO2 From Brewing Process. Aired 3- 4a ET

Aired November 19, 2021 - 03:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Targeting the unvaccinated, countries across Europe cracking down on those who refused to get the coronavirus vaccine amid a new surge of infections.

Scrapping controversial farm laws, the Indian prime minister reverses course after a more than year of violent protests.

Plus, making history. For the second time ever, a Japanese player is named MVP in American baseball. We'll introduce to Shohei Ohtani.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. I appreciate your company. This is CNN Newsroom.

UNKNOWN: Live from CNN center, this is CNN Newsroom with Michael Holmes.

HOLMES: With the European Union now the epicenter of the global pandemic unvaccinated Europeans are being hit with tough new laws to keep them out of public places. The German parliament says that only those who are fully vaccinated, or recently recovered from COVID will be permitted at public gatherings like sporting events, or concerts.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the measures are necessary because spiking infections among the unvaccinated are threatening to overwhelm hospitals.


ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): The situation is highly dramatic and it will be very important that action is taken quickly. That actions taken consistently. That controls are improved.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES (on camera): On Monday, parts of Austria impose lockdowns on people who are not vaccinated. And Greece, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are all planning similar restrictions to encourage people to get the shots.

Let's get you live to Paris, and CNN's Jim Bittermann for the very latest. So, looking at these moves by Germany, strong moves on the unvaccinated, as we've said. We've seen another European nation, too. Do you think this sort of targeting, if you like, of the unvaccinated is going to be the norm going forward?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I think, Michael, there's a learning curve here that is going on. And I think that basically governments have understood that in some ways they can limit the spread of the coronavirus by attacking it on a geographic or professional, or sectoral basis.

And that's exactly what the Germans are doing with their lockdown. Which is not all over the country, or at the same time. It's a -- it depends on the geographic area that people are in. But it is also by profession, by sector. And that kind of thing.

So, I think we'll see that thing going on. Here in France, in fact, President Macron said yesterday to a regionally newspaper. That in fact, there is not going to be any further action taken, at least for the moment. He extoled the virtues of the health pass, which he in fact instigated. Saying that it has proved very effective. Sort of limiting the spread of the virus.

So, I think here anyway, they are for the moment they're not taking any action. But elsewhere it could be quite dramatic, I think over the coming days. Michael?

HOLMES: Yes. And I guess the thing, Jim, is, is it going to work? I mean, the vaccination rate is the issue. I mean, you got a lot of countries, Germany is one, with rates in the 60 percent rate range. And they are having surges. But then countries like Spain and Portugal are in the 80 percent range of vaccine -- vaccinated people. So, what are the chances these other countries are going to be able to up their rates?

BITTERMANN: Well, that's one of the things that Macron says here in France about this health pass. Is that right after it was installed, the fact is that the vaccination rates skyrocketed? People really went out of their way to get vaccinated. So, it can -- that kind of thing can help.

And I think probably the limitations of kind of activities people can engage in, and will certainly engage encourage them to get vaccinated is an easier way than having to be tested all the time. But in any case, we'll just have to see what happens and how people react to these dramatic measures that are being taken.

And you know, the vaccination rate seems to at least limit the spread. Although, you know, there's breakthrough cases too. And so, some people who are even vaccinated are still coming up with COVID, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, indeed. The COVID pass seems to work there in France. Jim Bittermann, good to see you, my friend. Thank you.

All right. Vaccine skepticism taking a tragic toll in much of Eastern Europe. It is especially acute in Romania, which has the second lowest vaccination rate in the E.U. and one of the highest mortality rates in the world. Something sadly evident in the hospitals and the morgues across the country.

For more on this let's bring in CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman joining me now live from Bucharest in Romania.


And hesitancy there seems to be worse in Eastern Europe. Why is that, Ben? And what's the situation there specifically in Romania?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, Romania is something of a cautionary tale for the rest of the world. Its campaign program started off well enough in December of last year. But since then, has fallen victim to a deadly combination of misinformation, superstition and political grandstanding. As a result, every day now hundreds of people are dying from the disease.


WEDEMAN (voice over): There is a jarring finality about deaths from COVID-19 in Bucharest University Hospital. Workers Nell coffin shut spraying them with disinfectant.

Anguish echoes from the next room. A woman sees her loved one for the very last time.

This is Bucharest's biggest hospital. The morgue has a capacity for 15 bodies. But within the last 24 hours alone 41 people have died. The overflow ends up here in the corridor.

Every day more COVID dead are wielding to the morgue. Nurse Claudiu Ionita is close to the breaking point.

"And they keep coming, they keep coming," he says. We are working for nothing. We can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And dark is Romania's tunnel. The country is in its fourth wave of COVID, its worst yet. The death toll from the coronavirus hit a record level this month. Intensive care are strained to the limits.

Hospital director Catalin Cirstoiu tries to put the death toll in perspective.

CATALIN CIRSTOIU, MANAGER, BUCHAREST'S UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: In Romania, each day we have 400 patients who are dead. You know, 400 people, it's a huge number, it's a community. It's a village. You know? WEDEMAN: Romania has one of Europe's lowest vaccination rates against

the disease. There are no lines at this Bucharest vaccination center. Medics say, they struggle against fakes news, suspicion, and superstition.

There are a lot of doctors, myself included that worked with COVID patients, and we are trying to tell people that this disease actually exists.

WEDEMAN: Parliament member Diana Sosoaca has even tried to physically block people from entering vaccination centers.

"If you love your children," she says, "stop the vaccinations. Don't kill them."

The vaccines have been extensively tested in children and proven to be safe and effective. But she and others have sent wild rumors and magical thinking swirling through social media.

Colonel Valeriu Gheorghita, a doctor, runs the country's vaccination program.

VALERIU GHEORGHITA, HEAD OF ROMANIA'S VACCINATION CAMPAIGN: We have, unfortunately, hundreds of dead each day. So, this is the reality. And more than 90 percent of the patients who died were unvaccinated patients.

WEDEMAN: Nearly 36 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. In rural areas, however, it's half that. The village of Bosanci is an hour flight from Bucharest and a world away. Religion hold sway here. Many put more faith in God than science. Village Mayor and Pentecostals pastor, Neculai Miron refuses to be vaccinated.

"We are not against the vaccine," he insists, "but we do want to verify it. To be reassured because there have been many side effects, and we don't think the vaccines components are very safe. It's not a safe vaccine."

Experts say the vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing severe disease and death from COVID-19. And just down the road, Dr. Daniela Afadaroaie has vaccinated 10 people on this day.

"No," she tells me. "We haven't seen any side effects in any patients we've vaccinated."

In the county seat of Suceava fresh graves in the cemetery stark evidence of a recent surge and death. Every day in Romania, a village is dying.



WEDEMAN (on camera): And the number of dead is basically plateaued at around 300. But the number is consistent. And the doctors we have spoken here say they are worried that, perhaps we are coming out of the fourth wave. And they are bracing for the fifth. Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Sad, sad stuff. Ben Wedeman there in Romania, thank you.

Well, as demands grow louder for Chinese officials to reveal the whereabouts of tennis star Peng Shuai, the response from Beijing, silence pretty much. Peng vanished two weeks ago after accusing a former vice premier of sexual assault.

U.S. tennis champion Serena Williams is among the latest to call for a investigation, tweeting quote, "I am devastated and shock to hear about the news of my peer Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated. And we must not stay silent."

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins me now live from Hong Kong to talk more about this. So, what then do we know about Peng Shuai, where she is. And the level of concern for it, too, which seems to be growing.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. A level of concern for her internationally is quite high. But a ministry of foreign affairs briefing just wrapped in Beijing in the last few minutes. And again, we are hearing no comments. The ministry of foreign affairs declining to comment on the case of Peng Shuai because it is not a diplomatic issue.

Meanwhile, the Women's Tennis Association is taking a firm stand. We heard from the CEO and the chairman of the WTA who spoke to CNN. He said that he is trying to make contact with the Chinese tennis star. That he has very deep and strong concerns for her. And that the WTA is willing to give up its very lucrative business in China if Peng Shuai is not safe, and if there is no proper investigation into her allegations.

Of course, Peng Shuai is the sporting icon. The two-time doubles champion winner. She won at Wimbledon, the French Open, bringing these trophies back to China. It was in November the 2nd, you know, just a couple of weeks ago when she made that explosive accusation against a very powerful man, Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier, accusing him of forcing her to have sex with him.

That accusation was made on her verified Weibo post, a social media in China. Shortly after it was taken down. And she has not been heard from, not seen publicly ever since. Concern has been growing especially among members of the international tennis community and the WTA.

Again, the WTA saying that he is willing to put their business in China on the line for her. Listen to this.


STEVE SIMON, CHAIRMAN & CEO, WOMEN'S TENNIS ASSOCIATION: We are at a crossroads with our relationship obviously with our -- with China and operating our business over there. There is no question about it. There is too many times in our world today when we get into issues like this, that we let business, politics, money dictate what's right and what's wrong.


LU STOUT (on camera): And the WTA has very significant business interest in China. In fact, its Asia-Pacific headquarters is in Beijing. And many observers have said this kind of forceful statement that we heard earlier today from the head of the WTA is something that we have not heard from before other sporting organizations or even certain governments. Back to you.

HOLMES: Yes. And Kristie, you've got President Biden now saying that he is considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Is concern over Peng strengthening calls to boycott the games. What's China saying about that?

LU STOUT: Yes, it absolutely is. Because of the growing concern over Peng Shuai that has cast this long shadow over the IOC and how it's responded to questions about human rights allegations against China. But the IOC has long held view that their sports and there is politics and human rights and they are two separate things. And that when the Olympic Games begin, the focus is only at the elect athleticism and the sport.

But given the outcry about the whereabouts and the safety of Peng Shuai and the hash tag where is Peng Shuai. That has been going viral for a couple of days now. That is really challenging that notion. The IOC has issued a statement, a very interesting worded one.

Let's bring it up for you. The IOC stating this. Quote. Let's bring it up. "Experience shows that quiet diplomacy offers the best opportunity to find a solution for questions of such nature. This explains why the IOC will not comment any further at this stage."

Using the words quote, "quiet diplomacy" there, which, quite frankly, Michael, is a just a rather elaborate way of saying no comment. Back to you.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly. Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong following this important story for us. Thanks, Kristie.

LU STOUT: You got it.

HOLMES: We'll take a quick break. When we come back this hour, a CNN exclusive. The foreign minister of Belarus dressing the migrant crisis.



VLADIMIR MAKEI, BELARUS MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: It's a lie, it's an absolute lie. Belarus has shown the dark side of the European democracy.


HOLMES (on camera): The border crossings has been cleared, but the crisis is far from over. We will be right back.


HOLMES: Welcome back. The huge crowds of migrants gathered at the border crossing between Belarus and Poland are gone now, moved to a giant warehouse nearby. But the crisis, well, that's far from over.

Belarus has flown hundreds of people back to Iraq, but other migrants are still hoping for refuge in Germany. E.U. leaders blaming Belarus for orchestrating the crisis in retaliation for sanctions put on the Lukashenko government. But the Belarusian foreign minister, well, he says that's a lie. He spoke exclusively with CNN's Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At the airport in Minsk, the first repatriation flight waits to board. The passengers, mostl Iraqi Kurds didn't make it to Europe but at least their ordeal is at an end. This is the nightmare they left behind.

Officials confirmed, this forest camp on the Polish border is now is empty. The shocking images of desperate migrants languishing in the cold here have left a mark. And now, for the first time CNN is able to hold a senior Belarusian official to account.

VLADIMIR MAKEI, BELARUS MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: And to see how they suffer, it's very difficult for a normal human being. We are not interested in having the situation here in Belarus.

CHANCE: But you say you don't want to see these things, but you are accused, Belarus is accused of orchestrating this whole crisis. Of encouraging these migrants to come here, and of directing them towards that border. You created these scenes.

MAKEI: Yes, we have heard a lot of accusations towards Belarus. This is a false assessment of the situation.

CHANCE: Also false, according to the foreign minister, U.S., and European allegations that Russia, which recently flew the strategic bomber flights over Belarus in support is really behind the crisis, encouraging its ally to distract the west while preparing military plans elsewhere in Ukraine.

MAKEI: As we got to this migrant crisis, I can definitely say that Russia has nothing to do with it.

CHANCE: But it was President Putin he tells me who set up telephone calls between the German and Belarusian leaders this week, helping to defuse the crisis.


And it needed defusing. This was the scene when angry migrants tried to force their way into Europe past Polish border guards. The refusal of Belarus to intervene fueled rumors that they encouraged these attacks.

The European Union says that Belarus has created this crisis to punish them in revenge for the sanctions that the E.U. has imposed against Belarus for its -- for its crackdown on the opposition. How do you answer that allegation?

MAKEI: It's a -- it's a lie. It's an absolute lie. Belarus has shown that that dark side of the European democracy. And you've seen yourself what was happening -- what happened at the border within the last two or three days.

CHANCE: It has shown the strength of European unity, too. But now remaining migrants in Belarus are being housed in this giant heated warehouse back from the volatile border. But with Europe refusing to back down, it's Belarus that must now keep them or send them home.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Minsk.


HOLMES (on camera): And CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson joins me now live in London. Repatriations to Iraq underway, Germany says it won't be bullied into taking those who remain in Belarus. What happens to them? What is next on all of this?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Look, I think this is only one part of an ongoing saga between Belarus and the European Union. What happened to those migrants who are caught up at this moment the indications are that Iraq at least is offering to take back all of those who want to come back.

The Polish prime minister spoke with the Iraqi prime minister and he vowed to that he'd do everything he could to help those people get back who want to get back. But there will, inevitably, be some people who want to stay because they feel that come this far, they have nothing to go back to.

They are too many dangers. They believe at home and perhaps their last remaining money to get back to Belarus because it's so close to Europe who are therefore not prepared to give up. And I think at the moment, it appears as if that's their responsibility for them, and how to manage them is going to land with the government in Minsk, with Alexander Lukashenko, the president.

And I think the indications are when they were sort of touted by the Belarusian side, idea that Germany would take so many thousand, and Belarus would send the others back. That, you know, what awaits them is a very, very, difficult situation in Belarus. And potentially being told that you must leave. But again, this is up in the air at the moment.

HOLMES: Yes. I'm curious, your thoughts on, you know, has this exposed failing in the E.U.'s own migrant policies, you had Poland pushing migrants back? That, for example, is being criticized for being contrary to humanitarian norms. How is European policy being exposed in some ways? ROBERTSON: Well, there are -- their arguments would be made within

the European Union that one of the efforts of Lukashenko, an autocrat who doesn't follow Democratic policies who had an election last year, won it by all accounts fraudulently, although he would deny it. He's not recognized as a legitimate president of Belarus by the European Union.

They would say that this is, the Europeans would say that this was a manipulation. This is an abnormal situation, and you have an autocrat who is trying to pick at the good values of democracies, which is helping people and trying to show that in fact, what is happening that the European Union isn't holding up its own values.

I think you heard a whiff of that there in what the foreign minister said as well. So, this is a position that democracies around the world find themselves in under pressure from autocracies. There's political gain at home for Lukashenko if he can pull off this sort of this manipulation of the situation that's happening.

But fundamentally, what the European Union and political leaders are saying is very simply this is not a normal situation. These are not normal migrants who happen to have arrived at the border and are trying to claim political asylum.

This has been a manipulation from allowing so many migrant -- so many migrants to get visas to get into Belarus and then helping them get to the border. Fueling the notion that they might be able to cross the border. Helping them out to a degree in the forest.

I mean, giving these migrants access and permission to do things which Belarusian citizens don't have. That's the manipulation that the European Union has.


And for that reason, they are saying this is not a normal situation. And that puts them in this position of having an autocrat questioning their democratic values. And that's their goodness of the situation.

HOLMES: Yes. Great analysis. Nic Robertson in London, thank you so much.

Quick break here on the program. When we come back, after months of declining COVID cases, Israel a cause for concern perhaps. Coming up on CNN Newsroom, why the virus transmission rate is causing health experts to worry about what might be ahead.

Plus, India's government back tails on controversial farming laws that have led to months of protest. But why some farmers unions are still taking a wait and see approach. We'll be right back.


HOLMES (on camera): And welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN Newsroom. Western Europe once again the epicenter of the global pandemic due in

large part to the many unvaccinated people getting infected. Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Greece among the European Union nation now taking aim at unvaccinated people with new rules to keep them away from public events.

The German parliament has announced that only the fully vaccinated or those recently recovered from COVID will be allowed into public venues.

Earlier this week, parts of Austria imposed lockdowns on unvaccinated people. And in Israel, the transmission rate of the coronavirus reaching its highest level in about two months. The R rate, as it's called is now at 0.97, meaning in simple terms, every 10 people infected with COVID will infect another 9.7 other people. Now that's prompting experts to worry that there could be a new spike in infections coming perhaps.

For more on that, let's bring in CNN's Hadas Gold in Jerusalem for us.

Yes, it's interesting, because Israel, Hadas, offered boosters early and deaths plunge. How are the Israeli numbers being interpreted?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Michael, Israel is often seen as sort of a glimpse into the future for coronavirus because they have been so far ahead in terms of offering vaccinations, and the booster campaigns which started a few months ago and initially the data was very encouraging. The cases were plummeting.

But in -- but the R rate is at the highest it's been in two months. And actually, just in the past hour or so, the Israeli health ministry has updated their data and now it does say that the R rate is at one. And that is the number that health experts are so worried about. Is when that R rate reaches one and starts going above it.


However, health experts still say it's too early to say whether this is a new wave. And that's because the daily -- the seven-day average is still lower than it was at its peak. It's kind of fluctuating around 430, 440, still creeping up a little bit compared to the last two months. Also, the number of serious cases is still as lower.

But I want to pull up a few graphs here to show really how to illustrate, how this is really a pandemic of the unvaccinated, even beyond the booster campaign. The first graph I want to pull up is the positive cases in Israel over the past three months. You can see that increase in early fall and then it started to go down as the booster shot started to be distributed.

That light blue line is the people who are completely unvaccinated. The light green line is the people who had been vaccinated with two doses and the dark green line the people who are considered fully vaccinated which is either people who had received two doses in the last six months or those who have received their booster doses. And you can really you can see how it had that big jump in the early

fall, where there was thousands of positive cases a day to today where there are a few hundred positive cases today. Now there are way fewer cases but the vast, vast majority of them are coming from the unvaccinated. Yesterday there were 459 positive cases, 360 of them were among the completely unvaccinated.

Now, I want to pull up another graph. This shows the serious cases and this is where you see even starker differences between the unvaccinated and the vaccinated. You can see this is over the past month. And serious cases are declining for all the groups and that is because of the booster dose campaign. How even people who are unvaccinated are benefiting from the reduction of cases in the population writ large.

But of the 131 people or so who are seriously ill in the hospital right now, 110 of them are completely unvaccinated. So, experts are watching this new numbers very closely and they're hoping that as this country rolls out the vaccination campaign for the five to 11-year- olds next week that will help tempt down these numbers, Michael.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): All right, Hadas Gold there in Jerusalem for us, thank you so much.

Alright. Let's go to Oxford, England now, that's where we find Dr. Sian Griffiths, she is an Emeritus professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and was chairwoman of Hong Kong's inquiry into the 2003 SARS epidemic. Great to have you doctor. Now, let's talk about Israel, first of all this decline in new cases, plateauing somewhat. They're rate however is increasing. Trends in Israel have often been ahead of the much of the rest of the world. What are your concerns about those numbers?

SIAN GRIFFITHS, EMERITUS PROFESSOR, CHINESE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: Good morning, Michael, thank you for having me. The concern is that the level has not started to go up in Israel but that the decline has slowed. As you say, we often look to Israel because they are the first to get vaccination rates high. They were first to start the boosters and so the surge in Israel is very important.

I think that you have to be somewhat careful in interpreting and our number alone. And I think it's a warning sign. If you think of the numbers there are in the hundreds. If you look across to Europe, they are in the tens of thousands. Nearly 60,000 cases in Germany yesterday recorded.

So, you're talking about a different scale, but you're talking about perhaps that there might be an uplift. So, I think that you would know what is going on in Israel but really focus on getting the unvaccinated in Europe vaccinated. Because that must be the key to controlling this next phase of the pandemic. Along with other control measures that are being brought into different countries.

HOLMES: yeah, and the important part there is that you make a good point, you know, another record case numbers day for Germany. Ireland has been breaking records, Czech Republic, and Slovakia. And it's interesting yet, Spain and Portugal, they have vaccination rates of 80 percent and 88 percent respectively. They are not having the same level of surge. What does that tell you about the vaccination level that a country needs in order to control the virus?

GRIFFITHS: Well, the vaccination rates in Spain and Portugal are up in the 80s. And they of course are very tuned into the risks as they were hit very hard by the first wave particularly in Spain. So, I think that the key message here is you need your population to be vaccinated. Particularly those at risk.

Because if you look at any intensive care unit, what you find is that the majority of COVID patients are unvaccinated. So, there is a big drive across Europe, I think across the world, I think in the U.S. as well to get people who have had two doses to get their third boosters. That is definitely the drive here in the U.K.

Along with ensuring vulnerable groups who perhaps got mixed messages initially such as pregnant women ensuring that they get the vaccine. And so it is a matter of vaccination and as you said in Israel, they'll be starting to vaccinate children next week. We need to learn from that.

But we have also started in the U.K. to give one shots to over 12 year olds. In the U.S. children are being vaccinated. So, I think -- and the reason for that is that the polls for infection is actually in younger people. And in the U.K. last week, we found that the highest rates were in the younger five to 11 year olds which is (inaudible).


HOLMES: And that is where a lot of the spread is coming. Yeah, the United States of course still stuck at less than 60 percent fully vaccinated.


HOLMES: Is it inevitable that European surge is going to hit the U.S. as well, it's coming?

GRIFFITHS: Well, if you don't get the population. I think the message for me universally is that if you don't vaccinate your population, get the population rates high enough to actually control the virus then there is a sorts of inevitability that you will get the spread. Particularly because the Delta variant is much more infectious than the previous variance.

And now there is another variant of the Delta. And that just shows that things are changing all of the time. It's still not fully understood. It would appear that it could be -- it's more likely to be asymptomatic. Which you could say is a good thing because people may not know they have got it. But it's also a bad thing because then it spreads without people knowing they're spreading it, particularly to vulnerable people.

HOLMES: Right. The European nations are calling what is happening in the 4th and 5th wave of what is happening, the fourth and fifth wave and so on. But it really feels like it's been one wave with a few minor reprieves. I mean, what are your fears about winter in the northern hemisphere?

GRIFFITHS: I think that in winter we always see a rise in respiratory infections. And this year, unfortunately, there is so much COVID still around but we could easily as we all -- you know, I think, it's colder, you come inside, you close the windows, you don't ventilate as well. There is a greater risk of spread.

That is why it's really important not just to get vaccinated and rely on vaccinations but also to remember about wearing masks in crowded places. To abide by any public health guidance that is given. Remember that is really important as well as getting vaccination.

HOLMES: Dr. Sian Griffiths, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time.

GRIFFITHS: Thank you, thank you.

HOLMES: In India, Farmers Unions are reacting with caution after an apparent victory in the standoff with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On Friday he announced three controversial farming laws will be repealed. Now those rules led to some of the largest protests India has ever seen. Farmers had been rallying against them since last year. And some of those protests have turned deadly.

Vedika Sud joins me now from New Delhi to talk more about this highly controversial bill. The opposition was fierce. Why has the Prime Minister made this move and why now?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER (on camera): Important question there, Michael. We have to remember that two farmer dominant states go to polls early next year, the states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Now, Punjab is known as the bread basket of India. That is where a lot of farmers live and they earned the income from the farms and selling their products from these farms.

Now the Indian Prime Minister realizes that to win the hearts of farmers who have been protesting for almost a year against these three controversial agriculture laws. There is no way out but to repeal these laws and that's what he's done today. This was a rare move because you barely see the Modi dispensation going back on a policy. They've only done this once in the past in the year 2015 with the land acquisition bill. This is the second time it's happened.

So, the Indian Prime Minister today reach out on (inaudible) day today is the birth anniversary of the Sikh founder. And a lot of people follow this religion in Punjab. And that is the day he's made this announcement. He is also pinned to them to stop the protests. Let's just listen in to what the Indian Prime Minister had to say.


NARENDRA MODI, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA (through translator): Today I am requesting all of our protesting farmers. Today is the holy day of (inaudible) festival. Please return to your homes, returned year farms, return to your families. Let's start a new beginning.


SUD: But farmer leaders are being very cautious. They have said that they will not stop these protests around Delhi and its borders and other north Indian regions until these laws are completely withdrawn in parliament. Parliament resumes later this month.

They are also very clear that when it comes to the MSP, which is the Minimum Support Price. The price guaranteed by the government to farmers for their crops to their legal and government assurance on that they will keep protesting. So, a lot of political amnesty that this is a tiny intervention by the Prime Minister who's trying to move the biggest voting bloc in India which comes from farmers, Michael.

HOLMES: So, Vedika, very briefly, what is next?

SUD: Well, we have to see how this plays out in parliament, Michael. As of now, the Indian Prime Minister has assured that he is withdrawing these three controversial bills. Will they be replaced with other versions? We don't know yet. That is something that farmer leaders are also very cautious about.


Are they going to give a guarantee on the MSP, the Minimum Support Prices? That is another big question. Because these protesters were all said to even walk to parliament to carry out a protest to parliament on the 29th of this month. That is when the parliament resumes.

So, we have to wait and watch and see. But the assurances come from none other than the Indian Prime Minister. He is trying to like I said, woo these farmers ahead of the crucial elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Will he be presenting a different version is the question that only time will be able to answer.

HOLMES: All right, Vedika, thanks for the report. Vedika Sud there in New Delhi for us.

Well, Columbia's constitutional court has delayed its ruling on whether to fully decriminalize abortion. That move coming as four of the judges voted to remove one of their colleagues after he commented about a case in a magazine interview. It is now unclear when the court will make its ruling.

Abortion rights vary wildly from country to country. On that map there you see now, you can see countries in green that allow abortions upon request. Typically within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. While countries in dark red prohibit abortion altogether. 19 million women who live in those countries with these tight restrictions, that's according for the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Well, roads buried by mudslides, entire towns underwater. Now farmers trying to save their livelihood. All of this after a massive flooding in Western Canada. We will have a report after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Well, for the first time in five years the so-called three amigos are back together. U.S. President Joe Biden, welcoming the Mexican and Canadian leaders to the White House in an annual meeting shunned by former President Donald Trump.

The trio discussed COVID-19 disruptions in the supply chain and Trump era trade policies. One major sticking point the U.S. and Canada disagree on propose tax credits for American made electric vehicles which candidate claims could violate the North American trade agreement.

The Canadian province of British Columbia meanwhile reeling from heavy flooding that has left the entire towns inundated. Floods and landslides are creating bottlenecks for the movement of goods from Vancouver, Canada's largest port.

As Paula Newton reports some farmers are fighting to save their livelihoods.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Using motorboats, canoes, and jet skis, farmers in the Canadian province of British Columbia scramble to rescue cattle stranded in frigid waters. A desperate rush to pull them to safety. They are surrounded by floodwaters as far as the eye can see. Highways, homes, farmland all submerged in water.


In just two days a month's worth of rain has fallen on this area, triggering mudslides, isolating mountain towns, and devastating communities where agriculture is the lifeblood.

HENRY BRAUN, ABBOTSFORD, BRITISH COLUMBIA MAYOR: Well this is a disaster. The farmers are very adaptive to dealing with the situations and figuring out how to do things. But we need to get some more help.

NEWTON: For days dramatic rescues pluck people from the deluge of mudslides and flooding, harrowing scenes like this one playing out on roads and bridges.

TYLER RICHARD, LOCAL RESIDENT: This area here was absolutely chaotic yesterday. Absolutely everything was underwater, the street was flooded out, there are motorboats flying around in the park. It is just completely unreal.

NEWTON: The province now in a state of emergency. Canada's Prime Minister promises hundreds of armed forces are to help with evacuations, supplies and more.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER, CANADA: We will continue to work closely with the province with indigenous leaders, with community leaders to make sure that we're doing everything we can to support the people of British Columbia through this incredibly difficult time.

UNKNOWN: He's going to make it.

NEWTON: The floods came less than five months after another weather related catastrophe wreaked havoc in British Colombia. In late June, a record setting heat wave fueled devastating wildfires, scorching land and temporarily displacing thousands. The whiplash of extreme weather events are clear impact signs to say of climate change.

UNKNOWN: It is the year I think that climate change has begun to bite deep and hard in Canada. It's a reality for millions of Canadians.

NEWTON: At a North American summit in Washington leaders pointed to the devastation as more evidence of the need for action.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And we're both keeping our minds close to the families affected by the storms flooding in British Columbia area and the Pacific Northwest. But one of the things we spent time on is on our global agenda, climate change. We spent a lot of time dealing with that. And we're on the same page as to the need for us to move on it and get the rest of the world to move.

NEWTON: As increasingly extreme weather takes another deadly blow for those living through its impacts, help and action can't come soon enough.

Paula Newton, CNN.


HOLMES: And let's bring in meteorologist, Derek Van Dam, with the very latest. What are you seeing, Derek?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Yeah, Michael, you heard Paula say, a weather whiplash. This has got the fingerprints of climate change written all over it. Just 140 days ago, we were breaking record high temperatures over British Columbia and in the same exact location, we are now setting daily record rainfall totals.

Just on Sunday, 100 millimeters of rain fell in Abbotsford, Canada. This is in Southern British Columbia where some of the most devastating flooding actually occurred. And that shattered what was the previous 24 hour rainfall record there of just under 50 millimeters.

And again, you go back in calendar, about 140 days previous to this and we were talking about temperatures at their all-time record highs for portions of British Columbia and Canada as a whole. Now this is interesting. This image courtesy of NASA's earth observatory satellites and you can see that the dark shading of red, here is Vancouver Island, this is Southern British Columbia. That dark shading of red, just in the 24-hour period accumulated over 100 millimeters of rain.

This is all thanks to a phenomenon known as the atmospheric river. We discussed these quite frequently. This time of year, in fact November is the wettest time of the month. But some studies are suggesting with climate change and atmospheric rivers by the end of the century, there will be a higher frequency and a higher intensity of this rainfall rate associated with these atmospheric rivers.

We have a brief low in the precipitation at the moment for those hardest hit areas but there is yet another atmospheric river that is set at the point of along the West Coast of North America by early parts of next week. Michael?

HOLMES: Alright. I appreciate a look ahead there. Derek Van Dam, thanks, Derek.

Coming up here on "CNN Newsroom," Shohei Ohtani, capping off a historic season with a MVP award. A live report from Tokyo on how his native Japan is celebrating there. We will be right back.



HOLMES: Well, for just the second time in Major League Baseball history, a player from Japan has won the most valuable player award. Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels gaining all 31st place votes after a historic season for him. The 27-year-old superstar drew comparisons to Babe Ruth for his greatness us both a pitcher and a hitter this season.

Here for more is Blake Essig, joining me now live from Tokyo, Japan. Must be pretty pleased with their lad.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): You know, Michael, everybody here is incredibly excited. Shohei Ohtani, the unicorn of Major League Baseball is changing what many thought was possible. Not only here in Japan but around the world. Ohtani as you said is now the second Japanese born player to win the American League MVP, Seattle Mariners legend, Ichiro Suzuki did it in 2001.

But what Shohei Ohtani was able to do this year was just different. He had 46 home runs, had a 100 runs batted in, stole 26 bases and was one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball. In sports as in life it is often difficult to appreciate greatness when it is happening in the moment. But make no mistake about it, Shohei Ohtani is great.


ESSIG (voice over): There are a lot of great baseball players. But few of the ability to break down barriers, change what people think is possible and inspire quite like Japan's Shohei Ohtani.

UNKNOWN: He just enjoys it. He enjoys playing ball.

ESSIG: On the mound and at the plate, he is almost larger than life. And the fans, they just can't get enough of Japan's two sorted superstar. From artwork displaying Ohtani as an actual superhero to this music video. His worldwide following is enormous. UNKNOWN: To me, Shohei, he is like alien. He is like super. Super

being from somewhere. You know, not from this earth.

ESSIG: Although his extraterrestrial origins are debatable.


ESSIG: (Inaudible), who lives in Ohtani's terrestrial hometown of (Inaudible) City says, his access on and off the field is fun to watch.

UNKNOWN (through translator): We are so proud of his MVP title here in his hometown. He's not just a professional baseball player he's a two sword player. Doing something that nobody has ever tried before.

ESSIG: That of course isn't exactly true but unless you were around more than 100 years ago it's probably new to you. This bat, jersey and signature on display at just Japan's baseball of fame belong to Babe Ruth. Arguably the greatest baseball player of all-time, and the only other true two-way player in baseball history to pitch and hit throughout a single season.

HIRONOBU KANNO, SHOHEI OHTANI SUPERSTARS (through translator): I feel humbled that I'm even compared to Babe Ruth. He was not just a player that put up big numbers and that is what makes him especially amazing. It is rare to become an athlete that is remembered forever.

ESSIG: A comparison that Hall of Fame curator, Uta Inowe, says will likely follow Ohtani throughout his career.

UNKNOWN (through translator): Many Japanese people are paying attention to Ohtani. His game results our broadcast on TV every day. And even people who aren't interested in baseball are paying attention to him. He shows how big of an impact he is having in Japan.

ESSIG: While Shohei Ohtani isn't in shrine in Japan's baseball hall of fame just yet, exhibits like this with game used items from his early playing days already lined the halls.


UNKNOWN (through translator): We've got his old uniform, gloves, a bat, and spikes on display.

ESSIG: And as Ohtani continues to rack up stats, records wins, and awards. This collection and his legend will only continue to grow.


ESSIG (on camera): Now for Ohtani moving forward, the big question will be, can he stay healthy? And can he continue to operate as the two sorted player as he's known here in Japan? And if he can do that, Michael, ShowTime Shohei Ohtani could go down as one of the best baseball players to ever play the game.

HOLMES: Excellent stuff there, good for him. You've been doing this for a few hour now, are you ever going to get that song out of your head?

ESSIG: Never. Michael, I will tell you, never, it is stuck. My photographer and I, we've been talking about this. It is ingrained in our brains and it will never leave. I'm sure you feel the same way after even seeing it once.

HOLMES: I've heard it twice now and it's stuck with me. Blake Essig, thank you so much. You can have a few bars on the way out.

Right now, imagine fighting climate change simply by drinking a pint of beer. Well, a brewery in Australia is using a greener way to produce the subs that does just that. Young Henry's brewery in Sydney captures the carbon dioxide produced by fermenting hops and feeds it to micro algae. When the algae reproduce, the greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming is turned into oxygen. Experts say the algae absorbs the carbon dioxide after 400 times more efficiently than a trees in nature. These huge tanks each produces much oxygen as two hectares of bush land.


OSCAR MCMAHON, YOUNG HENRY'S COFOUNDER: As an urban carbon sequestration and oxygen producing solution it is mind-blowing. We could knock down our whole site and plant trees and those trees it would take years before they did the same amount of carbon sequestration and oxygen creation as those two bio reactors. But we can start them up within a week and they are creating oxygen.


HOLMES: Well, I'm all for it. I'll take part in that. Thanks for spending part of you day with me. I'm Michael Holmes, you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @HolmesCNN. Isa Soares, up next, as "CNN Newsroom" continues in a moment. I'll see you tomorrow.