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CNN This Morning

More Than 2,000 People Dead After Morocco Earthquake; Nations Extend Sympathy And Offer To Help Morocco; Morocco Football Team Donates Blood After Earthquake; U.S. Seeks To Bolster Vietnam Ties Amid Tensions With China; WH: Biden Helped Restore U.S.' Global Leadership Role At G20; Escaped PA Inmate Changed His Appearance. In Iowa, Trump and DeSantis Court Football Fans; Confirmation of Next Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman at Risk Amid Tuberville's Hold on Military Nominations; Interview with Military Spouse and Secure Our Families Initiative Communications Director Kate Marsh Lord; Mission to Mars; MOXIE Experiment by NASA Completed and Successfully Generated Oxygen on Mars; Interview with Astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi. Aired 7- 8a ET

Aired September 10, 2023 - 07:00   ET



COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: And Dany Garcia, co-owners of the XFL on their league, which is developing a safer style of play that the NFL is considering. It's called "Hard Hits: Can Football Be Safe?" That's tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

It's not Victor Blackwell, but you do get an hour of the second best looking bald dude on our air, this guy.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: I would say you guys are a tie.


WALKER: No, you take the cake, you take the cake fully.

BLACKWELL: I'm kidding, I'm kidding.

WALKER: One vote --


WALKER: -- from him.

BLACKWELL: All right, all right, all right.

WALKER: A really relevant issue though. Thanks for bringing that to us. We'll be tuning in, Coy.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Coy.

WIRE: All right, thanks.

BLACKWELL: The next hour of CNN This Morning starts right now.

Good morning and welcome to CNN This Morning, I'm Victor Blackwell.

WALKER: And I'm Amara Walker. Thank you so much for sharing a part of your morning with us. Another aftershock in Morocco. The death toll climbs to more than 2,000 people after a powerful 6.8 magnitude quake rocked the country. We're going to have the latest on the search and rescue efforts.

BLACKWELL: Pennsylvania authorities confirm a new sighting of escaped inmate Danelo Cavalcante. We'll tell you what we're learning about how he has changed his appearance.

WALKER: All eyes on Iowa. Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Governor Ron DeSantis crisscrossed paths in the Hawkeye State. We're going to have the latest from the campaign trail.

BLACKWELL: We begin this morning with the reports of a 3.9 aftershock in Morocco now two days after Friday's major earthquake in that African nation, North Africa there. More than 2,000 people have been killed. Nearly 2,000 have been injured in this 6. 8 magnitude quake. It is the country's deadliest earthquake in decades. Those numbers are expected to rise as rescuers dig through the rubble.

WALKER: But relief efforts are arriving slowly to some of the most remote areas. Drone footage showing the scope of the damage. You can see it there while some rescue efforts are underway. Entire villages are have been flattened. Homes and buildings are piles of clay and rubble.

Earlier, a person was pulled from under a collapsed building and then carried away to safety. As you'd imagine, it was a moment of celebration. And for a second night, thousands of people slept in the streets of Marrakech. Many have no home to return to or facing the threat of aftershocks. They are just too afraid to sleep in those damaged buildings.


FATIMA SAMIR, MARRAKECH RESIDENT (through translator): I left my son and daughter at home. I was terrified when I saw the house is shaking violently, almost as if in a nightmare. I rushed back home, gathered our clothes and blankets, and prepared to sleep outside. We have lost nine people that I know of, including a family member and her newborn on Savara (ph) Street.


BLACKWELL: CNN's Nada Bashir is in Marrakech. She joins us live now. Nada, what are you seeing there?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, this is a country that is in mourning now. We've heard from the palace here in Morocco. They have called for mosques across the country to hold funeral prayers right now, at around 12 noon, in honor of those who have died as a result of this earthquake. And you mentioned there the aftershocks that people have experienced. There's still a real sense of fear amongst those across the country, particularly around the epicenter where there is a feeling of apprehension. And certainly people are still very wary.

You mentioned that people sleeping out at night on the streets, and that is all, of course, as a result of that fear that their homes simply aren't safe, that they could perhaps collapse as a result of earlier damage or could face the consequences of a more powerful aftershock.

Now, of course, there has been a relief effort that is ongoing. It has proven quite difficult over the last to get to some of those areas impacted most. And we're here in Marrakech, about 45 miles away from the epicenter in the Atlas Mountains. You can see behind me some of the destruction that has occurred in this city.

We are 45 miles away, but some of the areas that have hard -- that have been hardest hit have seen villages nearly entirely flattened by this earthquake. And the death toll is continuing to rise. At least 2,000 people killed so far, and at least around 1,400 in a critical condition. So as you can imagine, that death toll is expected to continue climbing, settling. That is the concern now.

But of course, the Moroccan government is taking the lead on that response effort. It has been difficult to get to some of those more remote areas hardest hit by the earthquake because of damage to the roads, because of how remote these areas are. They are in the foothills of the Atlas Mountain.

So there has been some delay on that front. But the Moroccan military is taking the lead on the response effort. Of course, that rescue effort is still ongoing. There is still hope for survivors in those areas hardest hit, where many are still buried beneath the rubble off their homes. That is, of course, a key priority.


But we have seen an outpouring of support from the international community. Not only condolences being shared, but pledges of physical support as well. We've heard from the U.N. coordinator from Morocco here in the country saying that they are standing by ready to offer whatever support is requested by the Moroccan government.

This is a process that is going to take days if not weeks. And of course when it comes to the rebuild of effort, it could be much, much longer. Victor, Amara?

WALKER: Nada, I am curious quickly just to hear about your impressions as -- you know, we know you just got there on the ground and seeing some of that video and the challenges that some of these crews are up against. I mean, the mud and the clay, the rubble seems extremely dense and thick and you saw that man with the pick, I mean, trying to break through and it's not budging. They're up against a lot especially when it comes to the infrastructure and the type of rubble that they have to dig through, correct? BASHIR: Yes, absolutely. And this is really a race against time. The pressure is on to rescue survivors from beneath the rubble. We've heard from eyewitnesses describing people searching with their bare hands for their own loved ones and then certainly, this is -- there is a sense of really frantic pressure now in those parts of the hardest hit.

But, of course, the military is taking the lead. We have seen that response from the authorities here leading that search and rescue effort. This will be ongoing for some time, but of course, the conditions make things quite difficult. It is very hot here in Morocco. It is difficult to get to these remote areas and there isn't a lot of time, but of course, there's no telling how long this rescue effort could go on for.

I mean, you remember just a couple of months ago, we were on the ground in Turkey when an earthquake hit there, and we were all astonished to see that research and rescue effort going on for over two weeks, survivors being pulled out. So there are suddenly questions around the extent of the damage, the extent of the death toll, and whether there are still survivors. But that is certainly the key priority right now.

WALKER: Yes, we know there's not a lot of void spaces as we heard from people who know the infrastructure there well, because a lot of these buildings are made from mud and clay.

Appreciate your reporting, Nada Bashir. Thank you.

Now, tourists are describing their experiences from Friday's quake. Carmen Moreno, she's a humanitarian worker, and she arrived in Morocco for a vacation moments before the earthquake struck. And here she is describing what happened.


CARMEN MORENO, VACATIONING IN MARRAKECH: All of a sudden, we were arriving at the airport and we felt this. And honestly, at the beginning, I didn't think it was an earthquake. I thought maybe it's just a plane crashing or something because we were at the parking lot of the airport in an open space, thanks God. That's why we were lucky and safe.

But then I heard this people screaming and the lights were all off inside the infrastructure of the airport and the building. The words is yet to come, I think, because we don't know what can happen. Maybe the -- there won't be any more tremors, but there is the risk of collapsing.

We need engineers and specialists to check the building and to measure the impact. And I'm not sure they have the capacity especially in this poor neighborhoods. So it's really risky that they go back home and we can't expect more casualty like this.

So that's why people are staying on the streets because -- or either they cannot come back, or they already lost everything, but even if their homes are still there and not demolished or not devastated by this, it's still risky to come back. So it's an uncertainty that I think it's really terrifying.


BLACKWELL: And so you'll understand why relief organizations and governmental agencies are working now to send more supplies to Morocco. Last hour, we heard from a representative of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and she laid out the massive efforts ahead.


MEY AL SAYEGH, INTL. FED. OF THE RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES: So far, we don't have a clear picture on the severity of injuries, but our volunteers are saying that there are a lot of people still under the rubble and not of -- they are not able to reach to most of them. So this needs collaboration with the public authorities to be able to get the injured from under the rubble.

Until now, the picture is not very clear, but as the operation unfolds, we will have a clear idea on the situation. But as we know from other disasters all over the world, and we have the recent earthquake in Syria and Turkey, we know that there will be severe injuries and that people need very urgent support to get them under the rubble.


But as we know that the capacity of the national society cannot respond alone to like a disaster with this magnitude. After we continue the rescue and the search of efforts, people need food, people need water. As you know, that the water pipelines are now damaged, the electricity cutoffs, the roads are blocked so people need first the basic needs and they need shelter and they are traumatized.

Basically psychosocial support is very much needed and these are the basic needs we have witnessed in many disasters before and also medical mobile clinics would also be helpful to provide services for the affected people.


WALKER: All right. Well, the Moroccan National Football team has been stepping up by donating blood for the victims there. The Atlas Lions were scheduled to play Liberia in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match yesterday, but that game was postponed, of course, due to this powerful quake and the damage it left behind.

Players are urging others to do what they can to help. In a post on Instagram, one player wrote, "We are living in difficult times and our thoughts are all with the injured and the families of the victims."

BLACKWELL: Well, this morning's aftershock is a reminder of the dangers facing, of course, the rescue workers and the people who live there in those damaged buildings across Marrakech and outside the city.

WALKER: Yes. CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar, she is joining us now with more. Allison?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, so it's going to be subsequent aftershocks. It's also going to be the intense heat that's in the forecast over the next couple of days. So let's kind of break this down. Here was the location of the original quake. The magnitude 6.8 just to the southwest of Marrakech. The depth was 11 miles, which in geological terms is incredibly shallow for this particular area.

Again, just 19 minutes after that initial quake, they had a 9 magnitude aftershock. Remember, those buildings, those homes are going to be structurally compromised after the initial quake, so it wouldn't take much to cause extra damage.

It was felt nearby countries of Algeria and Portugal, and then on Sunday morning they had a secondary aftershock, a 3.9. And again, same thing at 3.9 may not sound like much, but it is strong enough to cause subsequent damage, especially for those buildings or parts of buildings and walls that are barely hanging on from the initial quake.

Now for all of the search and recovery operations that are expected to go on likely for the next few days, the forecast is going to be hot, albeit dry. We are not looking at rain in the forecast, but high on Monday of 91, Tuesday barely below 90, back up to 90 again by Wednesday. Again, there is some rain around the area. You're looking at tropical storm Margo off to the West, but it's expected to stay well away and at least keep conditions dry in the next couple of days.

WALKER: All right, Allison Chinchar, appreciate it. Thank you.

And learn how you can help victims of the Morocco earthquake at or text Morocco to 707070 to donate.

BLACKWELL: Next hour, we expect to hear remarks directly from President Biden. He's wrapping up his swing through the Indo-Pacific region. It's become central to the White House's attempts to counter the influences of China and Russia in that part of the world.

Guys, are we looking at live pictures right now? OK. So these are pictures from just a moment ago.

WALKER: Joining us now from Hanoi is CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond. Hi there, Jeremy. The President's trip to Vietnam coming just right after wrapping the G20 summit in New Delhi. Biden's focus is strengthening ties in the region, right? So what steps is the administration taking to achieve that goal?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no doubt about it. And you really have to look at this trip in the sequence of a series of visits and meetings that President Biden has held over the last several months. And it is a part of this kind of overarching strategy as it relates to China.

In just the last few months, we have seen President Biden welcome a Filipino leader to the White House for the first time in over a decade. He has hosted the Indian Prime Minister for a state dinner. He has hosted a Camp David Summit for the Japanese and South Korean -- his Japanese and South Korean counterparts.

All of that, all of those countries are China's neighbors. And today, we have President Biden on the doorstep of China here in Vietnam to elevate another key partnership, and that is the U.S.-Vietnamese relationship. And what we're expecting to hear today from President Biden and Vietnam's general secretary is elevating that relationship to the highest tier of Vietnam's diplomatic relations, the comprehensive strategic partnership, which would essentially put the United States on par with Vietnam's other comprehensive strategic partners like China and Russia.


And it very much reflects what we're seeing in the region, including from Vietnam, which is an increasing wariness about China's military and economic aggression in the region, the heavy handed way with which they throw their weight in this region.

Now, China has really been a quiet focus of so much of this trip, because also at the G20, in New Delhi, President Xi was not there. But nonetheless, President Biden very much using that as an opportunity to try and reach out to the developing world to show the developing world that he believes the U.S. is the more reliable partner.

And so we're seeing really this kind of game between these two big powers in the region, an attempt to counterbalance China's military and economic might in the region. Now, President Biden is going to face a whole lot of other questions I expect at this news conference in just the next couple of hours.

We also saw that during this G20 summit, a lot of criticism that there was not more strong condemnation of Russia, and its war of aggression in Ukraine. And so President Biden will likely face questions about that, why he ultimately agreed to the language that was issued in that joint leader statement at the G20.

And of course, there are political matters. We are heading into an election season and President Biden currently facing some of his lowest job approval numbers of his presidency. So a whole lot of ground to cover here. It's not every day that we have a full news conference with the President. And so I expect there will be a lot of questions on a whole range of topics.

BLACKWELL: Certainly. Jeremy Diamond for us there in Hanoi. Thank you.

Still ahead, police say a convicted killer who escaped from a Pennsylvania prison more than a week ago has been spotted overnight. We have the latest on the search.

Plus, former President Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis were two of the Republican hopefuls who were courting voters in Iowa over the weekend at one of the biggest college football games of the season. WALKER: And NASA completes the first experiment to produce oxygen on Mars. What it could mean for the future of space exploration?



BLACKWELL: There are new details in the search for escape Pennsylvania inmate convicted killer Danelo Cavalcante. Police say the fugitive was spotted last night in the northern Chester County area near Phoenixville and that Cavalcante has changed his appearance.

He's now clean shaven, was last seen wearing a yellow, a green-hooded sweatshirt, a black baseball cap, green prison pants and a white shoes. The police also say he may be in an unknown vehicle, possibly a white vehicle.

Joining us now is CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem. Juliette, good to have you this morning on short notice as we got this news in. Thanks for getting up getting with us. Let me ask you first about the change in appearance. This is something that as we have covered these over the years, that is inevitable if you're out for a while.

You want to look different as these surveillance pictures and the video pops up. Does it change the ability to capture this man? Does it make it any harder?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It will make it harder just because people would might be looking for the image that they saw of him in prison versus what he looks like now, but law enforcement will -- if they have images of what it looks like or at least they can do drawings of it, they'll get that out.

And the changing of the image is obvious because every camera is looking for him. And it's not just surveillance cameras, the kind of things that are picking up his presence in more rural areas or parklands. It is also the iPhone which is going to -- people are going to be able to -- if they see him take a picture of him.

So his one tool to evade capture, or at least delay it is going to be what we see now and what's expected, which is he'll change his appearance to look like something that he's not, which is just average person walking the streets.

BLACKWELL: He also, according to this, could possibly be in an unknown vehicle. Maybe the vehicle is white.


BLACKWELL: I mean, what do you do now? You -- are you -- are they setting up stop -- checkpoints, I should say, how does this change the search area?

KAYYEM: Yes. So, the car is interesting, because if he does have access to a vehicle, then you're sort of wondering why is he staying around the area. And so, one thing is to protect anyone that he might be focused on. We have to be clear, he's a very, very dangerous man who may not be thinking rationally.

So he may be after some of the witnesses who testified against him in the murder of his ex-girlfriend. So that's going to be a primary concern. And then, of course, just looking for the vehicle in this identification, why is he staying relatively close to the area. It may be that he's worried about getting on highways where he might be more easily identified and wants to stay as we've seen in some of these fugitive cases, sort of -- in more rural of Parkland areas.

They've got lots of assets looking for him now. Lots of people, lots of drones, lots of helicopters. I'm surprised it's taken this long. So he's good at what he's doing. But I don't think it will be forever. I -- it's hard to hide out. He needs (INAUDIBLE), he needs water, he needs food. He needs to remain hidden.

BLACKWELL: Would you say you're surprised that it's taken this long? This is someone who has --


BLACKWELL: -- hidden out in, as we learned yesterday, in the jungle of Brazil. I wonder --


BLACKWELL: -- what variable is it that you believe may be falling short here that take that -- is requiring this search to take more than a week now?

KAYYEM: It just -- it may just be he is good at evasion worse than someone who's only had sort of lived in an urban environment or only been in cars and taxis. So he's -- he has a skill that is making it easier for him but it can't last forever.

I mean, in other words, first of all, this is not the Brazilian, you know, rain forest that areas in it around the prison let alone within Pennsylvania are heavily traffic in most area. They can -- they're accessible by drones, they're accessible by helicopters.


So this is just a matter of getting more surveillance out there. More man and woman power to try to catch him which we're seeing at this stage. So he's one man. He's not, you know, he's not, you know, he's not like he doesn't have mysterious powers at some stage. The basic necessities of life, we're going to draw him out. And at that stage, you hope that he is captured or at least identified, which is what we're seeing now.

BLACKWELL: And I am being wrapped, but I want to put these surveillance pictures back up --


BLACKWELL: -- because it looks like --


BLACKWELL: -- he's not only on a porch somewhere. It looks like you're looking into the camera, that he knows he's being photographed here.

KAYYEM: Yes. Yes. There's only one way out at this stage and he may know it. I mean, if you look back at the crime he committed, this is in front of children, I mean, you know, this is someone who is going to essentially mock his way to his own death, likely. They may capture him alive. But this is someone who's not afraid of violence or being surrounded by violence.

He certainly knew it when he tried to escape that that was very likely. And now he seems to be high on the hunt, as we say. I mean, he is definitely trolling to the extent he can law enforcement by the (INAUDIBLE) homes. He is not -- and he's not -- he's not leaving the area.


KAYYEM: So how this ends? We don't know. But it is behavior of someone who wants this to end, let we just, you know, in a way that is going to keep him in the news.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it --

KAYYEM: So that's what -- and that's what where we are.

BLACKWELL: It just seems kind of productive. You're going to change your appearance to go and find a camera and look right into it, especially when you know so many people are looking for you. Juliette Kayyem again, thanks so much.

WALKER: All right, still ahead, tennis fans at the U.S. Open celebrate Coco Gauff's first career Grand Slam victory at the U.S. Open's women's final.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kudos to Coco, she just got better and better since Wimbledon. A plus, A plus. This is outstanding.




VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Headlines now, Coco Gauff takes the U.S. Open by storm. She a Grand Slam champion now for the first time. 19-year-old American teenager pulled off an incredible rally from one set down against second seed Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka. All of it in front of excited home crowd in New York. Gauff turned pro at 14, graduated high school virtually in Paris last year. AMARA WALKER, CNN NEW DAY WEEKEND ANCHOR: Hurricane Lee is still churning in the Atlantic with sustained winds of 105 miles per hour. Even though Lee is a category 2 storm right now, forecasters predict it could restrengthen in the coming days. It's expected to move well north of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, but as it continues north over the next couple of days those areas, along with the eastern coast of the U.S., can expect dangerous surf conditions and life-threatening rip currents.

Turning now to the presidential race, Former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis crossed paths in Iowa Saturday at the Iowa state football game.

BLACKWELL: Trump and DeSantis attended tailgates before the game to try to score some points with voters. DeSantis commented on Former President Trump's ongoing legal troubles while touting his own efforts to visit all 99 counties in Iowa. CNN's Kyung Lah has details.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Amara and Victor, here in Ames, Iowa, the day is all about Iowa football. But for the presidential candidates running in this first in the nation caucus state, it is a political opportunity. Both Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis came to the game. They both sat inside. DeSantis with the crowd sitting beside Iowa's popular Republican Governor. Donald Trump sat in a stadium box. But I want you to take a look as the former president exited the stadium.




LAH: You can hear the crowd chanting and loudly applauding. This is an image that the Trump campaign certainly wants Iowa voters to see ahead of going inside. Trump and DeSantis both were tailgating. Donald Trump stopping at a tailgate party hosted by a fraternity. He flipped burgers and signed footballs, even tossing some footballs around. Ron DeSantis trying to do very much the same, gin up the same sort of excitement, tailgating as well. And what he did though is to focus on the number of political visits he has made to this state, eight in total. Far more than Donald Trump. He pointed out to reporters, also saying, he has visited more than half of Iowa's 99 counties.


REP. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm actually starting to hear a lot of people saying, because you're showing up, I'm supporting you, because that's the way you've got to it. Iowans don't want the campaign to be about the past or to be about the candidates' issues. They want it to be about their future and the future of this country. And that's what I represent.


LAH: More than 60,000 people were at this game. This rivalry game between Iowa and Iowa State. Students saying, sure, they enjoyed the spectacle, but they were far more interested in football. And as far as the results of the football game, Iowa topped Iowa State 20 to 13. Victor, Amara.

WALKER: Kyung Lah, thank you.

And still to come, a political standoff with major implications. We'll discuss how Senator Tuberville's hold on military nominations is putting the confirmation of the nation's highest ranking military officer at risk.



WALKER: In less than a month, the nation's top ranking military officer Joints Chief Chairman Mark Milley will retire, which means Congress has only a few more weeks to confirm General Charles Quinton Brown Jr., who was nominated to be Milley's replacement. But GOP Senator Tommy Tuberville says, he won't budge in holding up military nominations. Here is what he told our Manu Raju earlier this week.


SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): You know, I'm not budging. I already told them that.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But there are several nominees that are major nominees that could be held up by this, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Are you willing to see that position be vacant if this is not resolved by the end of the month?


TUBERVILLE: Well, General Milley won't leave, but they will bring him individually. Milley went individually anyway.

RAJU: Yes, they're not. They're -- the Democrats are indicating that they're not so then --

TUBERVILLE: Milley is going to have to work overtime then.


WALKER: OK. Well, Tuberville has delayed the confirmations of more than 300 top military nominees over his opposition to the Pentagon's policy of reimbursing service members and their families who have to travel to receive abortion care.

Joining us now is Kate Marsh Lord. She is a military spouse. She's also the communications director for the Secure Our Families Initiative, a nonpartisan group of military spouses that advocates for military families, particularly on issues on foreign policy and national security. Kate, really appreciate you joining us this morning. First off, I just want to hear your reaction as you have been watching this play out politically.

KATE MARSH LORD, MILITARY SPOUSE AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, SECURE OUR FAMILIES INITIATIVE: Right. Well, thank you very much for having me. It's a shame even that we have to use the word politically when we're talking about a military process. The Senate has historically approved these nominations unanimously, bipartisan. And so, the fact that Tuberville is injecting his personal politics into a very apolitical process is really disheartening.

WALKER: What are you hearing from military families? You know, because obviously, all of this uncertainty must be impacting everyday decisions that they have to make for their families, whether or not to take a job or move.

LORD: Yes, absolutely. Military moves and military family lifestyle is difficult under the most normal and best circumstances. My family moved this summer. And it uproots your entire life. We have to plan where our kids are going to go to school. What activities they're going to join. For spouses like myself, we have to plan our next career move.

And all of these families, more than 300, their lives have been put on hold because of Senator Tuberville. Some folks have moved out of one house and have to pay out of their own pocket to move on to the next place so kids could start the school year. Other families are maintaining two households. Some folks are living out of hotels. It's really, really unfair. And he is causing damage and punishing the absolute wrong people in this circumstance.

WALKER: And there are, you know, real practical consequences to such a holdup, right? I mean, secretaries from three branches of the U.S. military, they went on the offensive this week. They wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" and a part of it reads like this. Senators have many legislative and oversight tools to show their opposition to a specific policy. But placing a blanket hold on all general and flag officer nominees who has -- who as apolitical officials have been exempt from hold process is unfair to these military leaders and their families. And it is putting our national security at risk.

Again, the hold putting our national security at risk, Kate. Preventing many posts from around the world being filled with these experienced leaders, right? What do you say to that?

LORD: Absolutely. The idea that this isn't impacting our national security or the operations of our military is just unbelievable. It's an untenable position for Tuberville to hold. Leaders are being forced to do multiple positions or stay on beyond their expected retirement date. And it really is causing a ripple down effect for all of the folks that work for them. It's truly unfair and it's -- to use military leaders and their families as pawns in his political battle is just absolutely inappropriate.

WALKER: If Senator Tuberville watching now, what would your message be to him?

LORD: I would just ask him to please listen to the people who do this every day. He's claimed he doesn't know what leaders in the Pentagon do. He's a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I'm sure they would be happy to help him. Show him every day. And if he won't listen to those people who have literally dedicated decades to service to our country, listen to the military families when we're telling you how this is impacting us and how it's just really impacting the spouses, families, and the entire unit. Military is a family business. Those sorts of things will have a real impact, not only on national security, but on recruitment and retention.

WALKER: Military is a family business. You are right. Kate Marsh Lord, appreciate you and all your efforts. Thank you so much for your time.

BLACKWELL: Following 9/11 activists says they fight Congress to ensure that thousands of terminally ill first responders get the health care they deserve. "No Responders Left Behind" airs tonight. Here is a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most Americans don't think they have the right to go to Washington, D.C., and call out a member of congress because they don't think it's legal. They don't think that they are going to get anywhere. They don't think that it's going to make a difference. But, yet, if you are passionate about something, you can march your fat lazy ass to D.C. and get in someone's grill. And listen, it's not about special interest and money. It's about human life.



BLACKWELL: "No Responders Left Behind" airs tonight at 9:00 right here on CNN. We'll be back.


BLACKWELL: Producing oxygen on another planet clearly a key innovation that would bring us another step closer to life beyond Earth. Now, this cube, it didn't look like much, but it could help people explore Mars in the future. It's called Moxie. I'm going to try to go through this. It stands for Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment. We should have kept it at Moxie.

WALKER: Moxie sounds better. But hey, you sounded incredible as you read that.


WALKER: It takes oxygen out of Mars' atmosphere and then supplies breathable air. And just days ago, it made its final test run on NASA's Perseverance rover.

Joining us now is astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi. He is a visiting professor at George Mason University.


He's also the author of "A Quantum Life: My Unlikely Journey from the Street to the Stars." Hakeem, it's always great to see you. That is pretty cool. I know it just happened in a small box, but that's a huge step. Tell us why.

HAKEEM OLUSEYI, ASTROPHYSICIST: Good morning. Thank you so much for having me. You know, this is one of those things where we had our science fiction, we had our scientific aspirations. Oh, let's go terraform a planet. Let's go there. We can use the atmosphere or the regolith, what we would call soil here on Earth, to produce our old oxygen that we could then breathe and use as fuel.

Well, now, we've illustrated that you can actually do that in real- time, right? So, having an idea that the technology is possible is a very different thing from doing it. Now, it's been done. And the reason why it's important is because if we are going to send humans to Mars, they need to have a way back. And so, you can't take the fuel with you. If you can make it there out of local materials, that would be great. And oxygen is the oxidizer that's used with oxygen fuel. And people are going to need to be able to breathe.

There are many more problems with going to Mars, but at least the problem of oxygen now has been illustrated to be feasible.

BLACKWELL: So, Moxie is about the size of a microwave, which might be too big to carry around at this point, but portable computers started off at 25 pounds and T.V.s used to have tubes. So, that can be solved. My question is, how close does this put the program to now we have a way for people to breathe on Mars? Are we years out? Decades out?

OLUSEYI: You know, it really -- this is a problem of money more than anything, because what's -- you know, it's -- for example, if you look at our digital cameras and our telephones, right, or in our digital cameras. They're like, oh, five megapixels, 10 megapixels. It always increases. Well, it turns out that the biggest problem technically is to make one pixel, that first pixel. And that's what this experiment represents. It represents that very first feasibility study that shows that it's possible, and it was very efficient in the sense they produced 98 percent pure oxygen.

So, now, it's just a matter of scaling. If you do scale, you're not going to, like, put it in the atmosphere and terraform the planet. You're going to put it in tanks, right? You're going to put it in capsules like Moxie did. So, it -- you know, it's a step but you have to have the will. You have to have a dedicated mission to go there and produce a lot more oxygen than the few foreign half ounces, approximately, that this experiment produced if you want to do it at scale.

WALKER: All right. At least the technology works on a smaller scale. So, you know, let's -- hopefully the future looks bright.


WALKER: Hakeem, on Thursday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report saying NASA's mega moon rocket is unaffordable. We all know that space travel isn't cheap. But if the watchdogs are finding it unaffordable, what does that mean for the future of space exploration?

OLUSEYI: Well, luckily, you know, we've hedged our bets because we now have commercial space companies that -- you know, SpaceX being the most famous, that have their own very large rockets. You know, this kind of thing is all a part of the process, right? You know, when you're a scientist, or you're an engineer, you're working in space, the money comes, the money goes. Things that were on the budget come off and then go back on.

So, you know, something like this really depends, right? Because there is also a political component, you know. If there are Congress persons who, you know, this thing is being built in their district, they're not going to want to see that money leave. So, there's a lot more to it than just the cost that's involved.

And I think space exploration is on solid footing, right? It really is. You know, we've had a -- the 21st century is open just spectacularly with all that we've done. It's continuing. Other nations are doing it. India just had a very successful landing on the moon. They previously went to Mars. So, I don't think space exploration itself is in danger. The only question is which missions, which particular rockets, which particular programs? And things move around.

BLACKWELL: All right. NASA requested $11.2 billion for this program through 2028, in addition to another $11.8 billion spent to develop the initial capabilities. So, $23 billion there. Hakeem Oluseyi, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

OLUSEYI: Thank you.

WALKER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: So, millions of fans are enjoying unforgettable moments at sold-out concerts this summer, but many are catching what -- not catching what Sarah Francis Jones experienced at the Beyonce concert, "The Renaissance" world tour in Los Angeles. She went into labor during the show.

WALKER: Oh, goodness. She says she initially thought it was a false alarm, but it turned out Baby Braxton was on the way. Clearly, a Beyonce lover, already a fan.


And for the Beyonce fans out there, it was when she was performing "Energy." The song she sings where the stadium is supposed to go silent altogether at one point. Sarah says that was the moment when her contractions began.

BLACKWELL: We're guessing baby Braxton wanted to be a part of the mute challenge as well. Look around, everybody on mute and then you laugh in the middle of a mute challenge. It's just two of us and we can't get the mute challenge right. WALKER: This is why you and I did not go to Beyonce together.

BLACKWELL: That's why we didn't go together.

WALKER: Uh-huh.

BLACKWELL: But you know, I was really interested to know which song it was. I'm glad we have that detail now that it's "Energy", because my thought was that it would be "Break My Soul." And there's a break my water joke in there somewhere. We don't know.

WALKER: Did you get contractions while you were at the concert?

BLACKWELL: We've talked about the concert.

WALKER: Yes, we did.

BLACKWELL: It was --

WALKER: Oh, yes. It's a long -- yes.

BLACKWELL: It was a time. Now, the producers saying we can go.

WALKER: Got to go.

BLACKWELL: All right. All right. We'll be back.