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Mordaunt And Sunak Officially In Race To Be Next PM; Calls For General Election Grow As Truss Resign As PM; Zelenskyy Denies Russian Claim Ukraine May Use Dirty Bomb; Rolling Blackouts In Ukraine Amid Infrastructure Attacks; U.S. Veteran Held For Three Months Before Prisoner Exchange; Anti-Government Protesters Remain In Streets Across Country. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 24, 2022 - 01:00   ET




LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to all of our viewers watching from around the world. I'm Laila Harrak ahead on CNN Newsroom.

Boris Johnson ruling out a political comeback at least for now after bowing out in the race for British prime minister. We're live in London with the latest. Plus, millions of Ukrainians could be facing a long dark winter after Russian attacks on critical infrastructure. Russia is using energy as a weapon of war. And protests in Iran triggering solidarity rallies around the world and it doesn't seem they'll be letting up anytime soon.

We could find out within hours who will become Britain's new prime minister. The country's third in a matter of weeks while the ruling Conservative Party will announce which candidates have reached the necessary 100 nominations and whether a vote will follow to determine the next leader of the party and the new prime minister.

One thing is clear, Boris Johnson not in the running. The former leader announced he would not be moving forward even though he claims he has enough support. Mr. Johnson's announcement came hours after Britain's former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak officially entered the race. Mr. Sunak narrowly lost the last leadership contest to Liz Truss, who announced she was stepping down on Thursday. House of Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt is also a contender.

CNN Scott McLean is following developments for you and joins us now live from outside 10 Downing Street. Scott, another quiet day in politics in the U.K. Tell us what led to Mr. Boris Johnson's pulling out of the toy leadership contest.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Laila. Yes, Boris Johnson had never actually formally declared himself as a candidate in this race. And yet, he flew back from his Caribbean vacation to start working the phones to try to get his supporters on board. And he did manage to get some pretty high-profile support from the Defense Secretary, from the foreign secretary. from other former Cabinet secretaries as well. He says, as you mentioned, that he had passed the threshold of more than 100 MPs supporting him. He also says that he could have won this race and gotten into Downing Street on Friday. But this is him, quoting from his statement. "Of course -- over the course of the last days, I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do. You can't govern effectively unless you have united party in parliament. Therefore, I am afraid the best thing is that I do not allow my nomination to go forward and commit my support to whoever succeeds. I believe I have much to offer, but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time."

So clearly leaving the door open there for a possible leadership run in the future. He also mentioned conversations between the other two candidates, Penny Mordaunt, leader of the Commons and Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor. The British press is reporting that Johnson was hoping to convince one of them to stand down in exchange for a job in his Cabinet or perhaps vice versa.

Rishi Sunak now considered the front runner widely, the only one, reportedly, with the support of 100 MPs is also credited with Boris Johnson's downfall. And there's plenty of bad blood between his supporters and Johnson. So he had a pretty conciliatory message to Boris Johnson to perhaps bury the hatchet saying, "Boris Johnson delivered Brexit and the great vaccine rollout. He led our country through some of the toughest challenges we have ever faced, and then took on Putin in his barbaric war in Ukraine. We will always be grateful to him for that.

Although he has decided not to run for Prime Minister again, I truly hope he continues to contribute to public life. You can bet that Penny Mordaunt now is pretty eager to win over some of those Boris Johnson supporters. The British press is framing her as sort of the unity candidate between those warring camps, someone who could perhaps unite the party and move them forward.

Right now, though, she doesn't actually have the support of 100 MPs. If she does reach that threshold, there will be a further vote this afternoon between the MPs and at that stage if now their candidate opts to drop out of the race, then we will be letting the membership of the Conservative Party have their say through an online vote.


If Rishi Sunak is the only candidate with 100 MPs actually backing in and this will be essentially, Laila, somewhat of a coronation and he will start on the job today in less than eight hours from now. But one thing to keep in mind is that Rishi Sunak doesn't necessarily come into this job without his own share of baggage.

He has been dogged by scandal in the latter part of his time as the British Chancellor, has the tax status of his wife saving her millions and British taxes was a controversial topic in this country, as was the fact that he held U.S. residency, a green card up until late last year. And of course, he was also fined for parties during the time that this country was under lockdown, Laila.

HARRAK: All right. And I just want to ask you in terms of if Mr. Sunak does become Prime Minister, what does he inherit?

MCLEAN: He inherits an absolute mess right now. The public finances of this country are not in great shape. Inflation is through the roof. You have people whose mortgages are going to get a heck of a lot more expensive because of rising interest rates if they have not already. There's also a massive hole in the British budget that the current chancellor Jeremy Hunt has warned, needs to be filled with some pretty eye wateringly difficult decisions.

And so Rishi Sunak will be the man tasked with actually making those decisions. But he is the one who has warned throughout his previous leadership run over the summer that these would be tough choices and things would not be easy. He criticized his opponent Liz Truss for her plan to cut taxes at a time when there's a huge hole in the public finances.

And so his plan is given all the spending that happened over the course of the pandemic. He wants to get this country back on solid footing financially before he even thinks about going anywhere near a tax cut, Laila.

HARRAK: All right, Scott McLean live outside 10 Downing Street in London. Thanks so much.

Now the last time that Britain held a general election was in 2019. But after Johnson's term ended in scandal and Truss' short premiership, calls are now growing for a new general election. CNN's Anna Stewart went to a car boot sale and spoke with some Britons about the political crisis.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Gravy boats and biscuit tins, this is a typical British car boot sale. Much like the American garage sale or the French flea market, it's an opportunity to sell unwanted items and buy something old. One person's trash is another person's treasure.

(on-camera): Now the great thing about British car boots sell isn't just what's for sale, it's what's the topic of conversation for the week.

(voice-over) Today, that's an easy one. Another Prime Minister has resigned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The leader one is --

STEWART (voice-over): Liz Truss?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes, I don't even remember her name.

STEWART (voice-over): Given Liz Truss was only Prime Minister for six weeks, she may not be well remembered. But her impact on the pound and the economy at large maybe. Some have ideas of who should come next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boris Johnson in the wings, no, thank you. Rishi Sunak, he knows where he's at. He's a calm character. He -- so, obviously, I'm supporting him.

STEWART (voice-over): Others aren't social.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why they can't be any worse than what we've had coming in. You know, they can't be any worse than what we've had.

STEWART (on-camera): Do you think at this stage we should have a general election?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Got to have one other way. I mean, this is a joke. You know, it's a total joke. We're the laughingstock with Europe, and probably the rest of the world. Yes, I mean --

STEWART (voice-over): An opinion shared by many.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone seems to think that the best thing to do is to have a general election but the politicians seem to keep faffing about trying to keep the power in their own hands which is understandable from their point of view, but not necessarily from the people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: General election now so that people can actually say what they want.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, like we can't keep on having like thousands of from Prime Ministers that have voted in by like, a such a small group of people. I feel like a bigger voice is needed.


STEWART (voice-over): The last four prime ministers have resigned. It sounds like a broken record. The Conservative Party is running short on Truss and possibly time with growing calls for snap election.

Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


HARRAK: Ukraine is denying Moscow's unsupported allegation that it's preparing to use a so-called dirty bomb on its own territory. Such a device contains radioactive material but is far less powerful than actual nuclear bombs. Russia's Defense Minister made the claim during calls with his western counterparts including the U.S. Defense Secretary. But Ukrainian says it's an attempt by Moscow to escalate the war.



VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing. Russia has already prepared all this. I believe that now the world should react in the toughest possible way. If Russia has prepared another round of raising stakes, and another escalating step, it must see now preemptively and before it's any new dirt that the world will not swallow that.


HARRAK: Well, meantime, Russia appears to be losing more ground in the Kherson region. Ukraine says some Russian troops are pulling back from their positions near strategic river there. While despite the setbacks, Russia is continuing its aggressive assault on Ukrainian infrastructure. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Russians are continuing to hit Ukraine's national critical infrastructure, especially the power infrastructure here in this country. The authorities in Kyiv are saying that right now there are over 1 million people who remain without power after the strikes that the Russians have conducted and continue to conduct.

One of the other things that they're also doing is that they're hitting towns, especially in the south of the country. On Sunday, the authorities in Mykolaiv said that that town was hit by two Russian missiles, the type was S-300. Those normally missiles that are used to shoot down airplanes, but the Russians are using those against ground targets, which makes them very, very inaccurate and obviously also increases the chances of civilian casualties. Ukrainian authorities are saying that five people were injured in those strikes.

Also, some pretty troubling words coming from Russia, as defense minister on a call with the French defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said that he feared that there could be what he called an uncontrolled escalation of the war here in Ukraine. He also accused Kyiv of plotting to use what he calls a dirty bomb in the conflict. The Ukrainians obviously very much rejected that.

They are saying that they're obviously part of the nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, and also, of course, do not possess any sort of nuclear weapons. The French for their part have rejected any sort of escalation. Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister also holding talks with his British counterpart and his U.S. counterpart as well.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Dnipro, Ukraine.

HARRAK: When power is in short supply, any light will do to read at night. Like many people in Ukraine, this father and son in Kharkiv have had to change their daily routines to either conserve energy or at times live without it.


ANDRYI OVCHARENKO, SALES MANAGER (through translation): We live this way because of the frequent strikes by the Russian Federation on Ukraine. Almost every day, electricity is cut off. Therefore, sometimes we have no water for two, four or even six hours a day. We can't work even remotely.


HARRAK: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns it could be a dark winter ahead with Russian missiles and drones targeting the country's electricity and heating networks. Ukraine says more than 1.5 million energy subscribers were without power over the weekend.

Mr. Zelenskyy says many missiles were shot down before they did damage. But some are obviously getting through. On Wednesday, the Ukrainian President said the attacks have destroyed more than a third of Ukraine's energy infrastructure. But if Russia's attacks are meant to break Ukrainian resolve, and may be having the opposite effect as people come together to help those in need.

World Central Kitchen workers delivered hot meals to maternity hospital in Mykolaiv, that was without power on Saturday. One doctor said it was a lifeline because even in the darkness, they still had patients to care for.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): It's the first day when we have no electricity. We can't cook but we need to feed the maternity house, mothers, newborns. The lunches help a lot. It saves us.


HARRAK: More on the energy crisis plaguing Ukraine, I want to bring in Amy Jaffe, a Research Professor and Managing Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tufts University. She joins me now from San Diego, California. A very good day Professor. It's so good to have you with us.

The energy situation in Ukraine very critical. Ukrainian authorities now are telling their people to prepare for blackouts, brace for the worst, energy being used as a weapon of war. What action if any, can Ukraine take?

AMY MYERS JAFFE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, TUFTS UNIVERSITY CLIMATE POLICY LAB: Well, I mean, they're going to have to do some rationing of energy. Of course, they're trying to do emergency repairs. They've lost something like 30 to 40 percent of all the electricity facilities in the country that generate electricity and distributed. So very dire time.


And going into the winter in a country where it's not unusual to see, you know, 20 below degrees Fahrenheit. So very, very concerning for the population and in the parts of the country where electricity has been cut off.

HARRAK: Exactly. Because when you lose energy at this time of the year with freezing conditions expected, as you alluded to, what does that mean for a country the size of Ukraine, and for the people?

JAFFE: This is the worst sort of energy war, we've -- I think we've ever seen where we're talking about the intense pressure on the Ukrainian population by trying to cut off energy in the wintertime. And, of course, then it's extending to other countries when we talk about the Russian natural gas cut offs. So we're seeing just a lot of pressure on different governments coming from this energy war.

And of course, no one spared because, you know, you have some globalized impacts on the price of oil or the price of natural gas. And so, but the people who are worst hit, of course, are Ukraine, because in this last go round, Russia has absolutely targeted energy facilities in Ukraine to put the population under pressure.

HARRAK: The ripple effects are indeed very wide. But want to talk first some more about the impact that this is having on Ukraine's economy?

JAFFE: Well, one of the things that's a little unusual is actually Ukraine was an exporter of electricity. They had excess capacity to generate electricity, they have -- actually they home to Europe's largest nuclear plant, which now, of course, is being militarily contested. Russia has occupied it, but it's being run by the local Ukrainian technicians. So a lot at stake.

And so now Ukraine does not have the revenue that it had before from exporting its electricity. It has deep concerns about there being a nuclear accident at this sort of contested nuclear plant. And then on top of that, you have a population that's suffering in different parts of the country where the electricity system has been bombed, where people have no way to stay warm. And of course, the more we get toward winter, the worse it's going to be.

HARRAK: Are you surprised that Ukraine and its allies don't seem to be better prepared for this scenario, or made any plans, it seems on the surface of it to safeguard critical energy infrastructure, like the power grid, like heating plans? Is there a way to protect energy infrastructure?

JAFFE: Just as the war was starting, government officials in Europe, in Ukraine did work very conscientiously to disconnect Ukraine from the Russian electricity grid, and connect it to Europe. And so that's helping a lot. But, you know, in a war, if you're not having full, I mean, think of how big a country Ukraine is, you know, if you're not having air superiority, it's very difficult to protect critical infrastructure from bombing attacks.

And of course, the Russians are specifically targeting energy infrastructure in Ukraine. So that has made it really very difficult. The most prepared thing the Ukrainians can do at this point, is to make sure that they're getting as much aid as possible and mobilizing as many technicians as possible to repair everything, you know, as fast as possible after it gets attacked.

HARRAK: Professor, in conclusion, if we wind in our aperture now, for a second, how do you see this very moment? You know, with energy at the center of this war and the ripple effects across the globe, many countries now grappling with energy security.

JAFFE: Well, you know, we all thought we were sort of past energy security, people used the term energy abundance, but this is really the most serious energy war we have experienced maybe since the world wars, World War I and World War II. So it affects everybody. Of course, the impacts in Europe are much worse, and we're coming to the wintertime, some preparations have been made. Germany, for example, has built up very adequate stocks of natural gas to get through this particular winter. People are hoping for a mild winter. But, you know, the sort of war it's not just bombing the facilities in Ukraine, we also have to worry about cyberattacks. We have an aggressive OPEC that has actually cut production instead of keeping more oil in the market to help the global economy.

So, you know, all in all, it's been a very challenging a period of time energy wise, and I don't think we've seen the end of it yet.

HARRAK: Professor Amy Jaffe, thank you very much for sharing your expertise with us.

JAFFE: Thank you for having me.


HARRAK: Well after Russia's invasion, people from around the world volunteer to help defend Ukraine on the battlefield. Some Americans were among them while on the left, if you will see here is U.S. Army veteran, Alex Drueke. He was captured in June along with another American while fighting near Kharkiv. It was held for more than three months and released in a prisoner swamp in September.

Drueke spoke earlier with Pam Brown, he talked about his experience in captivity, and why he volunteered.


ALEX DRUEKE, U.S. ARMY VETERAN CAPTURED IN UKRAINE: I felt compelled to go. You know, like everyone I saw what was happening in Ukraine, I saw just the horrible things that were happening with the invasion. And I really felt like I had some skills and some knowledge, some experiences with the military that that could be of help. So I wanted to go over and help however I could.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. as you know, warned Americans not to go fight and Ukraine, you did any way. And then the U.S. had to spend resources to get you back. I'm curious, what do you say to those who say you shouldn't have gone in the first place and put yourself in harm's way like that, risk putting your life in harm's way with Russian forces?

DRUEKE: I understand their viewpoint, and I am appreciative of everything the U.S. government did to get us released. I realized that they didn't necessarily have to do that. But I have no regrets. I would do it all over again. It was -- it's something that I really felt I needed to do.

BROWN: You were in Russian captivity for many days. I mean, that must have been horrifying. Can you tell us a little bit about what you went through?

DRUEKE: They tortured us. They violated I think every single human right that exists, you know. It was physical torture, mental torture, psychological torture, incredibly poor diet, dirty drinking water, unsanitary conditions. It was horrible.

BROWN: Tell -- could you give us any more details about the kind of torture that the physical torture the mental torture that they put you through, because I think for people watching this, you know, we hear about this, right? We hear about this, but you actually went through it yourself?

DRUEKE: Yes, I mean, there was -- there were a lot of beatings. They just pulled us out of the cell and beat us for no reason sometimes. They -- one morning they woke us up at around 3:00 a.m., put me in a tent and just beat me a crack for my ribs. I was electrocuted several times. Not just -- I mean, we were tased several times as well, but basically hooked up to a car battery and electrocuted multiple times.


HARRAK: And that was U.S. Army veteran Alex Drueke talking to CNN's Pam Brown.

Email servers at Iran's civil nuclear agency breached in a hacking attack. More on that after the break, along with the latest on the anti-government protests. We'll have a live report.

And also ahead, this is what it looked like when Roslyn wore to shore in Mexico. We'll update you on the storm that hit the country as a powerful hurricane.



HARRAK: Iranian women confront government paramilitary forces at a university outside Tehran Sunday. In this video from the pro-reform outlet Iran wire, protests took place at multiple schools across the country. This Iran wire video shows high school students marching in a Kurdish city, angry demonstrations over the death of Mahsa Amini while she was in the custody of the morality police have persisted for weeks and have evolved into protests against Iranian government itself.

Anna Coren joins us now live from Hong Kong with more on all these developments. Anna, there's been no lit up in Iran nationwide unrest.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, there hasn't, Laila. we are now entering the sixth week of these protests. And we have to remember that the government is responding with a bloody and violent crackdown. We know there have been this and the internationalist said more than 20 children have died, let alone the women and men who have have died over the past six weeks.

But these protesters are not being deterred. They certainly are not, you know hiding in their homes, they are taken to the streets. This is playing out at schools, at universities. We know that there are businesses that are joining in on these protests. Nationwide strikes are happening in factories. Shops are getting on board as well, in an effort to obviously show their opposition to this government.

But as one resident I spoke to a short time ago in Tehran said this is a culmination of 40 years of suppression. So yes, you have these girls out there protesting against the hijab, the treatment of other Iranians, the detainment of other Iranians but this is more than then just you know personal freedoms. This is about pay ,this is about living conditions. This is about security.

So really as he says this is all now festering up to the surface hence you are seeing these protests right across the country. And yes, the government responds will crack down and and people will dissipate for a few days and then they they return. Interestingly he said that these clashes will take place during the day between the police and protesters.

And then at night, it's something that particularly in Tehran in these urban areas, where people will take to their homes in these high rises and chant death to the dictator, death to Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader. Now, obviously, authorities don't know where this is coming from but because of the anonymity if you like of nightfall but he said this is what they are hearing on the streets of Tehran basically every single night, Laila.

HARRAK: Anna Coren live in Hong Kong. Thank you so much.

Now we have new details on author Salman Rushdie's injuries from a stabbing attack in New York State in August. Rushdie's literary agent told a Spanish newspaper his client has lost sight in one eye, and one of his hands is incapacitated. Andrew Wylie says the author also has about 15 more wounds in his chest and torso. Rushdie's attacker has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges.

Still ahead, China's Xi Jinping begins a third term as leader. How his extended rule could impact the country and the rest of the world?



HARRAK: Welcome back to all of our viewers around the world. I'm Laila Harrak. And you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

In China, Xi Jinping has begun a norm-breaking third term as the country's leader. And he stacked the ruling body with loyalists, tightening his grip on everything from the economy to foreign policy.

CNN's Selina Wang reports.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're all the boss' men. China's new top leaders have one thing in common, they're Xi Jinping's closest allies. Xi has ripped up the playbook, re-crowned for a third term.

XI JINPING, CHINESE LEADER (through translator): I wish to thank the whole party sincerely for the trust you have placed in us. WANG: Appointing four new men in the seven-person politburo standing committee, the apex of power. The top men after Xi is Li Qiang, the Shanghai party chief and expected to be the next premier.

Here he is back in April, getting shouted at by angry Shanghai residents. He oversaw the city's draconian two-month lockdown. Residents struggled to get enough food and medical care. Fights broke out between residents and COVID workers. Rare protests erupted.

But in Xi's China --


WANG: The current premier, Li Keqiang is retiring from party leadership. He's seen as an economic liberal and not so close to Xi. In fact, he's a protegee of former top leader Hu Jintao, who was publicly humiliated at the closing ceremony of the Party Congress.

The 79 year old Hu is seated there next to Xi Jinping. After several confusing moments, he fled out of the room, escorted by two men. He appeared reluctant to leave. On his way out, he said something to Xi and patted the shoulder of Li Keqiang.

Chinese state media later said it was because of health reasons.

SHIH: I am not a believer of the pure health explanation. And it seemed like he sat down in a pretty stable manner. And then suddenly, he was asked to leave. I'm not sure if he whispered something, said something to Xi Jinping.

WANG: Regardless, it was a symbolic moment. Out with Hu and the collective leadership of his era. While Xi Jinping is all about one man rule and those closest to him all men.

For the first time in at least 25 years, there's zero women in the 24- member politburo, the second most powerful group in party hierarchy.

Since Xi took power, he's purged rivals, crushed dissent, reasserted Communist Party control over every aspect of China. He's only expected to double down on his iron rule in his third term and beyond.

Xi's next five years may see more tense U.S. China relations, more intimidation of Taiwan, with the world dealing with an ever more authoritarian and aggressive China.

Selina Wang, CNN -- Hong Kong.



HARRAK: Let's get you more now from CNN's Steven Jiang in Beijing and Will Ripley in Taiwan.

Steven, does this now mean that Mr. Xi is untouchable? STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Well Laila, it certainly

appears to be the case. But that kind of absolute hold on power is not without its risk. As you look at his new line up as Selina was saying there -- the number two ranked Li Qiang and the number six ranked Ding Xuexiang -- they are expected to become the next premier and executive vice premier, basically the two men who will be in charge of the world's second largest economy.

But when you look at the resume, they have something in common. They have both served as Xi's secretary, and Ding is actually still Xi's chief of staff now but they both lack national level policy making and governance experience.

So that's why there's a lot of concern not only in China, but around the world, because they are going to take charge at a time when there's a global recession on the economy. When this economy is facing heavy headwinds. And a large part of that is due to their boss' strict zero COVID policy. And they're unlikely to do anything to change that.

And Li Qiang in particular, as again Selina mentioned, gained notoriety for his mishandling of the Shanghai lockdown. So that's probably one reason we have seen the Hong Kong stock market, for example, plummet during early trading on Monday, Laila.

HARRAK: So, what is the main challenge now facing China's new leadership team?

JIANG: I think there are many. But the one thing, the one clear message out of this party congress is now Xi's governing philosophy will be further strengthened in every aspect of the party's daily work.

One of his favorite phrases, the fighting spear (ph), has now been written into the party constitution. So, that applies not only to the military, but also to other policy areas as well notably foreign policy.

So, it's very likely we are going to see more and more increasingly assertive and aggressive Chinese diplomats around the world really trading their fire on anyone who dares to question their government. So that does not bode well for anyone who was hoping to see some calming of tensions between China and the west, particularly with the United States.

And one notable thing here, Laila, is the current foreign minister, Wang Yi, who is often seen as the epitome of that doctrine, he got elevated into the 24-member politburo despite being 69 years old, Laila.

HARRAK: Will, in Taipei, how is Taiwan preparing in the event of a crisis?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the fact that United States is now talking about a timeline potentially much sooner than what people have been speaking about for years, you know, potentially months or one or two years, not ten or 20 there is an added urgency for the Taiwanese military to complete its modernization.

They really are in the process of kind of going from the old school kind of military that they fought against, you know, the People's Republic of China in the civil war more than 70 years ago, to now this new sort of asymmetric defense capability, more missiles, more inexpensive weapons, and unconventional tactics that could repel a much larger fighting force.

So you actually have them conducting regular military exercise. Just last week on Penghu (ph) Island, they did a simulation of Chinese warships and warplanes, heading to the island after conducting an invasion of the main island. And they were on the shores, essentially, training how to repel off the Chinese navy and air force.

They've also -- there've been talks about extending military service here from four months currently, which is compulsory, to one year. They continue to buy weapons from the U.S. at a pace that we have not seen until the Trump administration kind of greenlighted new and much larger defensive weapons to be sold to Taiwan. Just a $1.1 billion weapon sale approved in September by the Biden administration.

And in terms of civilian preparations you have -- there are apps that people are encouraged to download showing the locations of air raid shelters which are, you know, located across this self-governed democracy because of the fact that they did constantly live, and they have lived for decades with the threat of a possible war, a possible invasion from China because Beijing has claimed this self governing island as its own for more than 70 years but the communist rulers in Beijing have never once controlled it.

You even have civilians taking emergency response training courses. Their popularity has been growing and really been growing since August. So it's in recent months that the mood here on the ground has changed.

I have currently noticed in conversations with people who might have told me six months ago or a year ago that they didn't think there was any chance that China was going to do anything.

Those same people are now saying they do have a feeling that maybe something is come. It's starting to feel more real for people here in Taiwan.

And of course, the big question, and certainly the U.S. President Joe Biden has kind of reassured some by saying that the United States would come to Taiwan's defense if China were to unilaterally invade. That is also, you know, reflected in opinion polls of Americans conducted by the Pew Research Foundation, when you talk about, you know, basically American concerns when it comes to China, when it comes to Xi Jinping.


RIPLEY: You know, his third term is as much of a concern for Americans as some of these other, you know, major issues, including you know, the partnership between China and Russia, China's military power, and the tensions between China and Taiwan ranking third with, you know, a number of Americans.

You're talking like 82 percent either finding the situation very serious, or somewhat serious. And so, Americans are getting more of knowledge about what's happening here in Taiwan. And of course, the hope among the leadership here is that like-minded democracies will, when the time comes, if and when the time comes, be ready to come to Taiwan's defense. This much smaller island against an extremely well- equipped and larger military.

But Ukraine is certainly giving people here a lot of hope, Laila. Anything is possible.

HARRAK: Anything is possible, Will Ripley reporting in Taipei, Steven Jiang in Beijing. Thank you both.

Well, just one week now before voters go to the polls in Brazil for a runoff that will determine their next president. It's a contest of right versus left between incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and former president Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva. But both candidates are speaking out against a politician charged with the attempted murder of federal officers on Sunday.

Journalist Stefano Pozzebon reports.


STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: On Sunday, scenes of concern out of Brazil as a former congressman opened fire and denotated a grenade against the federal police agents that were approaching his house to serve him with an arrest mandate, according to our affiliate, CNN Brazil.

Roberto Jefferson of (INAUDIBLE), a small town in the north of the state of Rio de Janeiro, was already serving a house arrest sentence. But in recent days, he allegedly made use of social media to attack a supreme court judge, a violation of his house arrest terms.

On Sunday morning, the supreme court ruled that Jefferson violated the terms, and ordered federal police to serve him with a prison sentence, according to CNN Brazil.

But the former congressman, who served as an ally of current President Jair Bolsonaro while he was in congress, refused to follow the agent and attacked them with firearms, injuring two of them. The incident took place less than a week before the second round of the Brazilian presidential election between Bolsonaro and former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

And at a moment where political polarization in Brazil is the highest it's been in years, according to a recent poll, the two candidates are separated by only less than five percentage points.

Both Bolsonaro and Lula condemned Jefferson for his conduct. And Jefferson agreed to surrender and was finally detained on Sunday night, only after hours of tense negotiations. And according to our affiliate, CNN Brazil, he's now being charged with attempted murder. For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.


HARRAK: Still ahead, Roslyn slams into the Pacific Coast with triple digit speeds. We'll have the latest on the storm that made landfall in Mexico as a dangerous hurricane.

Plus, almost a month after Hurricane Ian struck Florida, some senior residents are still trying to pick up the pieces of their lives. We'll have the report in just a few minutes.



HARRAK: The owner of the Gold Gym Fitness Studios and five others are feared dead after a private plane apparently crashed off Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast. The country's minister of public security tweeted that two bodies have been found but they have not been publicly identified.

Rainer Schaller is the founder and CEO of RSG Group, which includes Gold's Gym. He was traveling with his partner, and two minors.

Hurricane Roslyn roared ashore in west central Mexico on Sunday. Roslyn had sustained winds of more than 190 kilometers an hour when it hit the shoreline. At least two deaths have been reported in Mexico.

Since then, the storm has broken up over the mountains. Some of Roslyn's heavy rains left a thick coating of mud behind, which emergency services and even children pitch into try to clean up with hand shovels.

Well, it's been three weeks now since Hurricane Ian hit southwest Florida. Many people in the area still don't have power, water, or sewer services back.

While, thousands of survivors are only at the start of a long road to recovery, it's even more difficult for older Floridians, some of whom have lost homes they bought for retirement.

CNN's Gabe Cohen has the story.


GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More than three weeks after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's your truck.

COHEN: Johnnie Glisson is still sleeping in his pick up truck.

JOHNNIE GLISSON, HURRICANE IAN SURVIVOR: I just -- play with my guitar, read my bible. It's all good. COHEN: The storm flooded his house outside Fort Myers. There is little

left beyond this damp couch on cinder, where he rests his back after long days of cleanup.

GLISSON: It helps me feel like this is still home. And it's my home. So, probably more of a symbol than anything that says that I'm here and it's coming back.

COHEN: The 74-year-old bought this home for retirement.

GLISSON: Breaks your heart, breaks your heart.

COHEN: As he picks up the pieces, he says he has no insurance to help.

GLISSON: I'm not leaving.

COHEN: Do you know how you're going to afford to rebuild?

GLISSON: We have FEMA out there, and so I'm hoping to get some help there.

COHEN: A sprawl of destruction lines so many streets in southwest Florida. The remnants of wrecked homes, waiting to be hauled away. Thousands of Floridians are just starting their recovery, and relief groups say seniors were hit especially hard.

ROB GAUDET, CAJUN NAVY: Florida is where people come to retire. There's a large elderly population that really are facing their darkest hours.

LISA NEEDHAM, HURRICANE IAN SURVIVOR: I'm sorry I did not tidy up for you.

COHEN: Lisa Needham's (ph) home in Arcadia is gutted down to the studs.

NEEDHAM: The water level was up to here.

COHEN: The items that made this house a home are piled by the curb.

NEEDHAM: I cannot replace that. The house is a house, but those things, I still have the memory, though. So it's ok.

COHEN: The 62-year-old and her boyfriend are living in their friends RV, expecting the rebuild could cost as much as $80,000 and take months, at least.

Have you thought about relocating?

NEEDHAM: No, this is what I wanted. This is what I always wanted. So, I'm going to stick with it.

COHEN: They have flood insurance, but don't know how much they'll get back. Lisa retired last year. Now, she says she may have to go back to work.

NEEDHAM: To put out that kind of money would be very tough on me right now.

COHEN: The storm displaced thousands of Floridians. Few had flood insurance and rebuilding isn't an option for everyone.

TOBY FREEMAN, HURRICANE IAN SURVIVOR: I'm going to be stuck here for a while, if not forever.

COHEN: 77-year-old Toby Freeman is in Buffalo New York, where his daughter Krista lives, after he says seven feet of water wrecked his home. His wife, Karen, is still recovering in a rehab center in Florida.

FREEMAN: The only thing I got out of that house was the clothing on my back. And I had to throw it away.

COHEN: They say they have little savings and no insurance, so they're moving to Buffalo. Krista is dipping into her retirement fund to help them find a home.

KRISTA: I have to take care of my family. I would not have it any other way.

COHEN: Alice and Richard Johnson aren't leaving Florida, but they're moving into their RV full-time. They did not have flood insurance, they say, and a lot of their retirement funds are tied up in this house.

Was that a difficult decision?


ALICE JOHNSON, HURRICANE IAN SURVIVOR: Probably one of the most difficult decisions I've ever made in my life.

COHEN: Alice turns 85 next week, and they want to focus on enjoying life together.

JOHNSON: How many good years do I have left to live? I don't want to spend the next two years rebuilding a house, dealing with contractors, doing work ourselves, going, even picking out furniture, for what, for who, for me?

I think that we would rather sell it and live for the next couple of years.

COHEN: Gabe Cohen, CNN -- Fort Myers Beach, Florida.


HARRAK: Coming up, NASA is looking to explain the unexplainable with an entire team devoted to researching UFOs. Who is on it and what they plan to investigate, that's next on CNN NEWSROOM.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRAK: Scientists, artificial intelligence experts, and a former NASA astronaut will gather on Monday to try and to find an answer to that age old question, is anybody out there?

The independent study of unidentified aerial phenomena, also called UFOs, we'll explore what we know, what we think we know, and what will be needed in the future to analyze data.

CNN's Kristen Fisher explains.


KRISTEN FISHER, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: NASA has announced the team of people that will participate in its study of unidentified aerial phenomena or UAPs, or more commonly referred to as UFOs.

And these people consist of astronomers, astrophysicists, biologists, former Pentagon, Nasa, former Federal Aviation Administration officials, and one very famous former NASA astronaut, Scott Kelly, who of course spent a year in space.

And these 16 people are going to spend the next nine months or so really studying all of the unclassified data on UAPs. And they're also going to be analyzing how the agency can better analyze and handle and catalog all of the data that is coming in on this from civilians and commercial entities as well.

And you know, there are quite a few government entities looking into the issue of UAPs. Congress has been looking into it. The Pentagon as well. So, why NASA? Well, NASA says its job since its creation, really, has been to, you know, try to explain the unexplainable.

And look at these very complicated things up in our skies and space and try to figure out exactly what they are and how they were. So NASA's leadership believes that this fits squarely in their wheel house.

And so, this is something that they will study. It's something that they announced back in July. They have just now announced the team members, which are getting ready to meet. And this study set to begin officially on Monday.

And then, that team is expected to release its findings publicly sometime in mid 2023.

Kristen Fisher, CNN -- Washington.



HARRAK: Dietrich Mateschitz, the owner and co-founder of the Red Bull energy drink empire died on Saturday at the age of 78. Forbes named him Austria's richest person in 2022, with a fortune estimated at some $27.4 billion. He started Red Bull with a Thai business partner back in 1984. The

company sold more than 9.8 billion cans of Red Bull around the world in 2021. He invested heavily in sports, including Formula One racing.

Well, the loss of Mateschitz weighed heavily on the mind of Red Bull team driver Max Verstappen Sunday when he won the U.S. Grand Prix. This was the team's fifth Constructors Cup title, and the first since 2013. Verstappen spoke about the Red Bull owner after the race.


MAX VERSTAPPEN, CHAMPION, U.S. GRAND PRIX: This one is definitely dedicated to Dietrich himself, what he has done for everyone. The only thing we could do today was win. And even though, after the pitstop it was not looking great, I gave it everything out there. And I pushed through to the limits to come back.


HARRAK: Well, the world series is now set. The Philadelphia Phillies will play the Houston Astros starting Friday. The Phillies defeated the San Diego Padres 4 to 3 on Sunday to clinch the National League Crown. Well, the Phillies were behind in the eighth inning when designated hitter Bryce Harper put them in the lead with a 2-run home run.

Harper has been named the most valuable player of the NLCS after racking up eight hits, five RBIs and two home runs. The Phillies will be playing in their first World Series since 2009.

Well, Houston beat the New York Yankees 6 to 5, sweeping them in four games in the American League Championship series. The game was tied in the seventh inning when Astros third baseman Alex Bragman (ph) hit the go ahead run. This will be the Astros' fourth trip to the World Series in the last six seasons.

Now, before we let you go, as Russia's war in Ukraine drags on, many in the battered country are still finding some light in the ever- present darkness of war.

A Ukrainian soldier playing the violin in an underground bomb shelters, sending a powerful message of hope. Those on the frontlines in Ukraine, they're not just soldiers, they're musicians and other talented individuals fighting for the freedom of their homeland.

Thank you so much for spending part of your day with me. I'm Laila Harrak.

Do stay with us. My colleague Rosemary Church will be back with more news in just a moment.