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Tropical Storm Ian Moves Toward Florida; Ukraine Reports New Drone Attack on Odessa; Election in Italy Could Move Country Far Right; Mainland China Continues Restrictions for Travelers; Super Typhoon Noru Approaches Northern Philippines; Mahsa Amini's Death Sparks Protests beyond Iran; Cubans to Vote on Same-Sex Marriage; Authors and Libraries Targeted in Culture Wars; NASA's DART Mission Prepares for an Asteroid Collision. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired September 25, 2022 - 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 all around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber.

Ahead this hour, across Florida people are preparing for Ian to arrive. The massive storm system could make landfall as a major hurricane.

In the Philippines, evacuations are underway as a super typhoon heads for the country's main island. We will go to the CNN Weather Center for the latest on both storms.

And Italians are turning out for what could be a historic vote. We're live in Rome with details.

And later we will take a closer look at the movement to ban certain books in schools and libraries across the U.S. What can be done to fight the bans, that's coming up.


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

BRUNHUBER: We begin in the Atlantic Basin, where tropical storm Ian continues to strengthen, fueled by warm energizing waters off the Caribbean. The latest forecast shows it growing to a category 4 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico before slamming into Florida. Now it would be the first major hurricane to hit the state in four years.

President Biden has declared a federal emergency in the state. Florida governor Ron DeSantis declaring a state of emergency as well. And residents from the Florida Panhandle to the Florida Keys are being urged to prepare for storm surge, hurricane force winds and heavy rain. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR TERESA HEITMANN, NAPLES, FLORIDA: This is the calm before the storm. I've seen lines at the gas stations and the natural gas, propane. They're taking it serious. And I encourage those that are not, to always take a storm seriously, because you can never estimate where that storm might turn.

And we need to be prepared.




BRUNHUBER: One week after hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico, residents are getting help from dozens of out of state troopers. More than 100 law enforcement officers from New York and New Jersey flew to the island to help with recovery efforts and more will be deployed in the coming weeks.

More than 800,000 customers, 53 percent of island residents, still don't have power; over a million residents, 80 percent, have running water at least.

In Canada, Fiona's hurricane force winds ripped through the Eastern Seaboard, destroying homes and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of people. Here is a look at some of the damage. Just devastating there.

Authorities in Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency for this town amid multiple electrical fires, residential flooding and washouts. Prime minister Justin Trudeau says troops will be deployed to the region to assist in damage assessment and cleanup.

More people in Russia are openly saying no to president Vladimir Putin's partial mobilization, refusing to go to war in Ukraine and, in some cases, fighting back. Have a look at this.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Video out of Siberia purports to show crowds, with officials trying to put draftees on buses.

All this as Putin signs new laws, hoping to boost the ranks of his military. The laws make it easier for foreigners in the military to apply for Russian citizenship and impose tougher penalties for those who refuse to go fight and disobey orders.


BRUNHUBER: Police are also stepping up a crackdown on protests against the mobilization. An independent monitoring group says close to 1,500 people have been detained in recent days. Russia's military is trying to put its own spin on things, showing

conscripts being given weapons. But Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is making a direct appeal to Russian conscripts, urging them to dodge the draft because the alternative in Ukraine is far worse.

For more Ben Wedeman joins us from Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Ben, another message from Zelenskyy aimed for Russian audience, this time to its soldiers.

How is it likely to be received?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's hard to say, Kim. But certainly the message is interesting.

He's telling the soldiers to either desert and surrender to the Ukrainians, in which case the Ukrainian authorities will not only not divulge the circumstances of their surrender but if they are -- in the event of a prisoner exchange, if those Russian prisoners do not want to be returned to Russia, Ukraine will accommodate.

He called on those serving in the ranks to sabotage or interfere or pass information to the Ukrainians.

And, you know, there is -- this sort of psychological warfare has been going on for a while.

In fact, I received the other day a message on my Ukrainian phone, saying, "Soldier of the Russian Federation, you are fulfilling a criminal order. You will die. Surrender to captivity."

So there is a pretty constant drumbeat by the Ukrainians trying to undermine the morale of the Russian soldiers serving here in Ukraine. Kim.

BRUNHUBER: That's fascinating, Ben. So then, on the war front, we're hearing about drone strikes in Odessa.

What more can you tell us about this?

WEDEMAN: What's interesting about these drone strikes is Ukrainian officials believe most are Iranian-supplied drones and some are kamikaze drones. Odessa is pretty far from the front lines. So they clearly have a fairly decent range.

There are two kinds of Iranian drones being used; there is the Shahed- 136, which the Russians have renamed, and then there's the Mohajer-6. They fly at fairly low altitude so it's difficult for Ukrainian defenses to pick them up.

They've hit Odessa a variety of times, including the navy headquarters there. And recently they struck an administrative building in the heart of Odessa three times. And there have been fatalities as a result.

Now the Ukrainians, angry that Iran has sold these drones to Russia, has revoked the accreditation of the Iranian ambassador in Kyiv --


WEDEMAN: -- and ordered a reduction of the Iranian diplomatic staff there. Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Interesting. Now amidst all of this, Ukrainians are now returning to their homes and villages. You've been visiting with some of them.

What are they finding when they go back?

WEDEMAN: Well, many of them are finding that their homes are in an utter shambles and they're trying to sort of put them back together. But it's going to be a very difficult task.

Now yesterday we were in a city which, theoretically, has been liberated by the Ukrainians. But there's still a lot of active fighting going on. The soldiers in that town told us that there is still Russian soldiers behind Ukrainian lines, some too afraid to surrender, others still actively involved in combat.

We were sort of in the city center yesterday, when a car showed up with a trailer full of bread for local inhabitants. And as they were picking up the bread, there were explosions nearby. In fact, we believe a Russian cluster munition exploded just a couple blocks away from us.

So some of these towns, even though technically the Ukrainians are in control, they are so close to the Russian front lines they're very, very unsafe. Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Ben Wedeman, always appreciate the reporting out there. Thank you so much.

Russia's foreign minister is trying to deflect criticism of the war by painting Western adversaries as the real aggressors.

Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly, Sergey Lavrov claimed that the West was trying to destroy Russia and remove it from the world map. He fired back at nations like the U.S. for imposing sanctions on his country. Still he said Russia is open to negotiating with them about Ukraine but only if they take the first steps.

And two former prisoners of war are back home in the U.S. after more than three months in the hands of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Huynh arrived in Alabama on Saturday.

They were part of a prisoner swap that included several other international volunteers who fought for Ukraine. The families of the two Americans are overjoyed to have them back.


DIANNA SHAW, ALEXANDER DRUEKE'S AUNT: The last couple of days clearly it's been a blur. So we are excited to get them home, catch our breath and start to process everything we've been through.

DANA BLACK, MOTHER OF ANDY TAI HUYNH'S FIANCEE: Excitement, shock. I think we're so -- most of us are in a little bit of shock because it came so suddenly and so unexpectedly but thrilled.

I mean, what do you say when your child is happy?

That's all you want in life. And they're coming home. I'm going to get my boy back and I'm going to see my girl smiling. She hasn't done enough smiling for the past three months.


BRUNHUBER: The families also say the two volunteers have no regrets about fighting for Ukraine, despite their captivity.

South Korea calls Pyongyang's latest ballistic missile launch, quote, "a significant provocative action," harming peace and safety on the Korean Peninsula and has called on South Korea to, quote, "immediately" stop.

Kim Jong-un's regime filed a short-range ballistic missile off the east coast off the Korean Peninsula on Sunday. North Korea has conducted at least 19 missile launches this year. This latest one comes just ahead of planned military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea and a visit to the region by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.

A critical parliamentary election in Italy is now underway. It's one that could see history made but at the cost of another European party labeled as far right coming to power. We will have a live report from Rome next.

And travel to Asia will soon get easier. Find out where COVID restrictions are being lifted when we come back. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Voting is underway across Italy, a contest that could see the country turn hard to the Right. The snap election was called after the collapse of former prime minister Draghi's coalition earlier this year and comes as the country face has deepening political and economic crises.

If Giorgia Meloni's right wing coalition wins, she would become Italy's first female prime minister. Joining me from Rome is Barbie Nadeau.

How engaged are voters in what looks to be a critical election? BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a critical election. We've been talking to a lot of people and we've seen women say they'd like to see a female prime minister, we've seen women say anyone but Giorgia Meloni.

There is concern about how this affects greater Europe, especially with regard to the war in Ukraine. And because the far right parties of Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, the anchors of the coalition that was pulling ahead, are divided on how they see sanctions against Russia going on and Europe in general.

It's a very eurosceptic potential here. What happens in Italy at the end of today, voting ends at 11:00 tonight, will not just affect Rome and not just affect Italy, it will affect Brussels and the wider Europe as well, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: And when we talk about sort of a far right party, I mean, you talked about Europe.

But for Italy itself, what kind of policies would they bring in, assuming they win?

NADEAU: Well, you know, they are going to have a very strong anti- immigration policy; that's something they campaigned on. They will try to solve the problems of the economic crisis that's been looming in this country since even before the pandemic but certainly after the pandemic.

Their platform was very cohesive. A lot of the reason they are polling strongly is because the opposition didn't put together a program that convinced the people enough.


NADEAU: A lot of the people we talked to were not voting for the opposition; they were voting against. If they were not voting for Meloni, they were voting against her today.

BRUNHUBER: All right, Barbie Nadeau, thank you so much.

Here in the U.S., Republicans who stand up Donald Trump and his supporters often find themselves with little future in the party. And that's true with Liz Cheney, who lost her primary race to a Trump- backed opponent.

Cheney, a harsh critic of the former president, says her focus is to ensure Trump never comes near the Oval Office again. Here she is.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I'm going to make sure Donald Trump -- I'm going to make sure he's not the nominee. And if he is the nominee, I won't be a Republican.


Thank you.


BRUNHUBER: Now there is no shortage of Republicans who would like to run for president in 2024 but they are all facing the same major obstacle. No one knows what Donald Trump will do. And as Republican senator Ted Cruz noted on Saturday, everything hinges on that issue. Here he is.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): There are some Republicans who are beating their chest and running around saying, I'm running no matter what, it doesn't matter what Trump does. That's utter garbage. They are all lying. It does matter. You are not tethered to reality if you think it doesn't make a difference whether he chooses to run or not.

I will tell you this, if he doesn't run, everybody runs; 2016 we had 17 Republican candidates. I think this time around on the over-under I would take the over, I think we will have 20 or more.


BRUNHUBER: That was senator Ted Cruz speaking yesterday at an event in Texas.

For the second time in six weeks, the CEO of Pfizer has tested positive for COVID-19. Albert Bourla says he's feeling well and doesn't have any symptoms. He's received four doses of the vaccine and has been waiting to take an updated booster shot. He cautioned that the virus is still with us, despite the progress we have made so far.

While much of Europe appears to be emerging from the pandemic, a few areas could be on the verge of another wave. In England and Wales, the seven-day average of new cases has risen by 13 percent after falling for nearly two months.

Now the exact cause of this latest outbreak is unclear but experts say the virus may have spread in schools during last week's royal funeral services or as a result of new transmissible variants. They also believe the U.S. will follow the U.K.'s trajectory, just as it has in the past.

It's a different story in Japan and other parts of Asia. They are removing COVID restrictions and reopening to tourists, as they try to revive their economies. Michael Holmes has the story.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Soon these streets of Tokyo could be filled with more visitors to the city, as Japan and many other places in Asia lift many of their remaining COVID-19 restrictions; in some cases, in place for more than 2.5 years.

As of October 11, Japan will fully open to all tourists, not just those on guided tours or people who booked through registered travel agencies, who started trickling in over the summer. It's a sigh of relief for businesses, who rely on the income generated by the visitors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Even until now, I felt the atmosphere in the streets was a bit sad and lonely. But the fact that tourists can come will make it more cheerful and fun. I can't wait for everyone to arrive.

HOLMES (voice-over): Across Asia, coronavirus measures are being relaxed if not dropped to keep up with other countries who have already reopened with the hope of reviving economies battered by the pandemic.

The kingdom of Bhutan welcomed back a handful of tourists on Friday, the first in more than two years. But that's now an even more expensive trip for visitors, who will be charged a fee of $200 per night per person instead of the $65 fee in place for three decades.

Taiwan also following the trend by ending its mandatory COVID-19 quarantine for international travelers in mid-October.

And as of Monday, people arriving in Hong Kong will no longer have to undergo mandatory hotel quarantines, although they will have to self- monitor for three days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was pretty happy because now my family can visit me and like, you know, that -- I haven't seen them in so long. So it would be great for them to come and visit finally.

HOLMES (voice-over): It's been a slow, staggered reopening for some Asian countries. But with the increased vaccination rates and lower numbers of deaths and hospitalizations from COVID, the price of isolation just became too steep.

There is one major exception, mainland China, which still has district quarantine requirements for incoming travelers, including one week of hotel quarantine and three days of home observation.


HOLMES (voice-over): But a draft policy document released by China's ministry of culture and tourism suggests foreign tourists might be allowed to visit border sites as part of group tours. No dates were given. And it is unclear if those visitors will be subjected to the same quarantine requirements -- Michael Holmes, CNN.


BRUNHUBER: People all across the Philippines are bracing as super typhoon Noru takes aim.

Plus Iran says more than 1,000 people have been arrested in the worst civil unrest in years. And the Tehran government is doing all it can to make sure the world doesn't see the brutal crackdown underway. A live report just ahead. Stay with us. (MUSIC PLAYING)



BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

We've been tracking dangerous and deadly tropical systems in the Atlantic. Right now super typhoon Noru is gaining strength and bearing down on the Philippines. Local weather officials warm storm surge and high waves may cause life-threatening flooding.



BRUNHUBER: Turning now to Iran, where social media sites have gone dark amid a ruthless crackdown on anti-government protesters. Have a look.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): More than 1,000 people have reportedly been arrested in recent days, including journalists. It's all part of the government's attempt to choke off video and information at a time of unprecedented political unrest.


BRUNHUBER: That anger and discontent is resonating far beyond Iran's borders. Rallies have sprung up around the world.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): This was the scene in Saturday in London where thousands voiced their support for Iranians now struggling to be heard in their own country. All of this was precipitated by the tragic death of a young Iranian woman in the custody of Iran's morality police.

We may never know why Mahsa Amini was arrested for violating the dress code or how she died. The Iranian government claims she died of natural causes and her death is being investigated.

But that explanation has done little to quiet the outrage we're seeing around the world.


BRUNHUBER: Salma Abdelaziz joins us from London.

The extent of the protests might be surprising, considering how repressive the regime is. What's the latest?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's important to note is you begin to understand how threatened the Iranian government is by the scope and scale of these demonstrations by looking at its reaction.

Take that internet blackout; millions of Iranians have had no access to the internet for days. The United States accusing Iran of being afraid of its own people. You can understand why this is so worrying.

First of all, the international community struggles to track what's actually happening on the ground. We know dozens of people have been killed. But it's extremely difficult to get a sense of the death toll, to get a sense of the extent and the brutality of this track.

We also know that hundreds of people have been arrested but, again, it's very difficult to ascertain information.


ABDELAZIZ: And it means for those protesters on the ground there's a sense of isolation, a sense of fear, it is difficult to coordinate, it is difficult to communicate, it is difficult to see videos out of the country, although we continue to see those social media videos come out.

This internet blackout is really a cause for concern. And there is a historical -- a few years ago, if you will, in 2019, when there was an internet blackout in Iran, hundreds of people were believed to be killed. So it's a very ominous sign that this is happening and one that the United States, for example, is taking very seriously.

The U.S. imposed new sanctions on the morality police last week. But what the U.S. Treasury Department did as well is they issued a general license.

What this will allow some internet firms, software firms, including someone like Elon Musk, who has access to satellite internet, is to try to expand those internet services on the ground for Iranians still trying to demonstrate, still trying to protest, still trying to share information.

Now it's unclear how effective this will be, how much it gives access to Iranians on the ground. But it's that fear of what's happening behind the blackout without the eyes of the international community on the ground, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Plenty of international support for those protesters. Salma, as you say, a very volatile situation.

The question is what happens next?

ABDELAZIZ: I think if you look historically at what the Iranian government does when it faces dissent, when it faces protests and demonstrations, it's very, very clear. It brutally cracks down. It uses deadly force. It deploys security forces on the ground and that's what we're seeing right now.

And it continues to do that. That's what we saw in the green movement in 2009, in fuel protests in 2019. The Iranian government continues to do that, continues to use that brute force until it suppresses, until it squashes (sic) dissent.

That has yet to work so far. So that's what's so worrying, is that these tactics will only increase, the violence will only be ramped up until -- the Iranian government itself has said -- it gets control of the streets again, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: We will keep following this important story. Thanks so much for bringing this to us, Salma Abdelaziz in London.

Cubans go to the polls today to vote on a measure that would legalize same-sex marriage. But the new family code is facing strong opposition, as Patrick Oppmann reports.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anari (ph) and Jeni (ph) start getting married. It's a symbolic ceremony as same-sex unions are not legal in Cuba -- at least not yet.

On Sunday, Cuba is due to hold a long awaited referendum to overhaul the more than four decades-old family code that, if passed, for the first time would allow gay and lesbian couples to legally wed and adopt children.

"I believe we are all equal in terms of rights, options, possibilities," she says, "and in terms of being a citizen and expressing that citizenship, I don't think we are less than the rest of society."

It's been a long struggle for LGBTQ rights in Cuba. At the beginning of Fidel Castro's revolution, gay people were sent alongside others deemed by the new government to be undesirables to toil in the work camps.

Slowly, there's been growing official acceptance for gays, lesbians and transgender people in Cuba. Raul Castro's daughter has been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights and sponsors a parade against homophobia.

The new tolerance, though, has had limits. In 2018, Cuban lawmakers removed language authorizing same-sex unions from a proposed new constitution amid fears that voters would reject it.

Many in Cuba's evangelical community say they will vote no on the new family code.

The growing influence of the evangelical church in Cuba is one of the reasons it has taken so long to legalize gay marriage here. People like the ones in this church have opposed the government's measures in a way that is rarely seen in Cuba.

And Cubans from other parts of society could join them in voting no.

"It's not just Christians," this pastor says, "there are Communists who are not in agreement, materialistic people not in agreement. A lot of people who believe in different things that don't agree with the changes they want to make with the new family code."

But other people of faith embrace the idea of legalized same-sex marriage. This church in Cuba is one of only a handful conducting same-sex marriages, encouraging parishioners to vote for the new family code.

"I have faith that love will win," she says. "If it's a yes or a no, it's the same. We tell our community, no one can take away your value, who you are."


OPPMANN (voice-over): Anari (ph) and Jeni (ph) say if the family code passes, they will also hold a civil wedding. But no matter what takes place with the vote, they say the long journey to achieving true equality is only just beginning -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Matanzas.


BRUNHUBER: A new report finds a big increase in the number of books being banned in schools across the U.S. We will look at the types of books being targeted and why. That's coming up. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: Libraries, educators and book lovers in general across America are marking the end of Banned Book Week. For 40 years, the occasion has celebrated the freedom to read but it also highlights those works labeled as dangerous, obscene or otherwise needed to be restricted.

Even classics like "The Great Gatsby" or "The Catcher in the Rye" can run afoul of self-appointed censors.

This year it's taken on significance amid the culture wars that have become the hallmark of the country's divided political landscape. In many school board meetings nationwide, parents are demanding that certain books be taken out of classrooms and libraries.

Books dealing with LGBTQ+ issues and race are the most frequent targets. While this is often associated with conservative groups, most U.S. states have seen efforts to ban books to some degree.


BRUNHUBER: Nadine Farid Johnson is the managing director of PEN America Washington and Free Expression Programs and joins me from Washington.

Thanks so much for being here with us. So take us through what you have seen this year in terms of the sheer number of books banned and what types of books are being targeted.

NADINE FARID JOHNSON, PEN AMERICA WASHINGTON AND FREE EXPRESSION PROGRAMS: Yes. Thank you so much, Kim, I really appreciate you having us on. What we have seen this year is a truly remarkable increase in banned books across U.S. school districts.


JOHNSON: PEN America did a report that followed book banning from July 2021 through June 2022. And what we found was over 2,500 different instances of book bans, which were in 138 school districts across 32 states.

So it's not an isolated indent; this is happening in several different areas all across the U.S. You mentioned the trends. What we are seeing is actually a pretty clear-cut trend toward different types of books that are being targeted.

Of the books that are being challenged and targeted for removal, the vast majority have protagonists of color or address issues of race and racism. Or they address issues of LGBTQ identity or have protagonists who identify as LGBTQ.

Another 4 percent or so actually address or reflect religious traditions that are a minority in the U.S., including Judaism and Islam and other faith traditions.

BRUNHUBER: And it's not just schools that are being targeted but libraries as well. So looking at who is behind the bans, your report suggests most aren't from concerned parents per se but advocacy organizations. Take us through what you found.

JOHNSON: That's exactly right. This is not simply an instance of many parents who are interested in what's happening with their kids, looking into the kid's backpack, maybe hearing something at dinner, wanting to talk about what you read or learned today.

It really is a coordinated movement all across the U.S. Our reporting uncovered that there are at least 50 different national groups which lay claim to affiliations across the U.S., that number in the hundreds.

It is truly what we are seeing, an organized coordinated movement and effort. And what's really critical about this is what this does, this effort to implement and to enforce these practices, it is putting in the hands of a few parents and citizens the ability to deny access to content for students, not only in their areas but in other areas as well.

BRUNHUBER: The goal, according to some writers -- they called it the new illiteracy -- you know, specifically about the lives, history, experiences of marginalized people. Talk to me about what effect you think this will have long term in the communities where the momentum behind these bans is strong.

JOHNSON: I think it's actually not only in those communities but really beyond that, because the effect in the immediate communities will be as we expect: a lack of access to literature, a lack of access to understanding viewpoints that may differ from those people in the communities and also a real dearth of exposure for different people about differing viewpoints, differing identities.

But the effect is actually quite strong elsewhere as well, because what this does is it sends a chilling message to educators, to librarians and to students that certain perspectives, certain ideas are off limits. And that truly has a demonstrably negative effect on democracy.

BRUNHUBER: Looking at what's behind this, I mean, historically book banning seems to peak during times of societal change, especially when the status quo is being challenged.

Is that what you're seeing now?

JOHNSON: This is certainly not isolated. One of the other trends that PEN America has been tracking is this trend of what we call educational gag orders, legislative attempts to regulate school curricula, to say certain topics are off limits.

I think we are certainly seeing here a movement to try to control something. And it could be based in a lack of understanding. It could be based in fear; it could be based in a concern about other viewpoints being raised. But the bottom line is that it actually is harmful. And it is really against what our democracy stands for.

BRUNHUBER: Let's end here with solutions. We've seen a few innovative efforts to try to fight the bans or get around them.

So what works and what more do you think needs to be done?

JOHNSON: So in the communities where people are interested in this, I would say, it comes down to three things: learn, speak and report. Learn about book bans. Obviously PEN America has a number of fantastic resources for people to access.

There are other incredible groups doing this work as well. And I encourage people to learn what is happening and keep abreast of new efforts at censorship and new threats to free expression.

The second is to speak out; speak out in your communities. Let people know your opinions and bring others together to speak out with you as well.

And the third is to report. If you recognize that a book ban is happening or understand that there is to be -- there is some threat that is brewing, report it.

BRUNHUBER: There you go. It's a vital issue.

[04:50:00] BRUNHUBER: And I really appreciate you coming on to speak about this. Nadine Farid Johnson, thank you so much.

JOHNSON: Thank you so much.


BRUNHUBER: Just ahead, it's been the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters but this time it's really happening. NASA will try to change the path of an asteroid in space. More on that next. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test, known as DART, sounds like the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters. But the test scheduled to happen on Monday is very real. The goal is to try to knock an asteroid from its current path. Now there's no danger from this asteroid but the mission is a test run for a future one that might be dangerous.

Earlier I spoke with Monisha Ravisetti, a science writer, about NASA's goal with DART. Here is part of our conversation.


BRUNHUBER: I understand that that little asteroid that they are planning to hit is about the size of two football fields, a relatively tiny target.

How hard is it going to be to actually hit it?

MONISHA RAVISETTI, SCIENCE WRITER: So I mean, when you consider the size of the asteroid and then, you know, the spacecraft.


RAVISETTI: Comparatively, the spacecraft is just a little ant traveling to a giant mountain maybe --


BRUNHUBER: Like the size of a bus, is that right?

RAVISETTI: Yes, it's about -- it's about like five -- so the solar panels are about 8 meters long. It is five by six by eight. It is not like huge. When you consider the size of this asteroid, it's very, very small.

And NASA actually -- I'm not sure if you saw -- they released the footage of what they expect the impact to look like it. And it really looks like a little prick leaving a plume of dust in space. So I don't expect the size to be much of an issue. BRUNHUBER: Any chance that we will actually cause the problem that

we're trying to avoid, that we might redirect it into Earth?

Or we might break it up into pieces that might shower the Earth with damaging debris?

RAVISETTI: Yes, I don't think so. I mean, I think also -- like in addition to the fact that this is not going to be headed toward Earth preimpact, post impact, the calculations do not suspect that it's going to.

You know, also the trajectory of the smaller orbit that it's going to be changing, it's just like a hairline. It's so slight that it's almost indiscernible and there's going to be a lot of algorithms that will go into decoding whether or not it actually worked.


BRUNHUBER: You can see my full conversation with Monisha Ravisetti during the next hour.

I'm Kim Brunhuber, I will be back in just a moment with more CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment. Please stay with us.