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Anti-Vax Mob Swarms NBA Arena in Protest Over Kyrie Irving; Doctors Often Unaware of Antibody Treatments for Early COVID; White Supremacists on Trial for Charlottesville Rally; Coup Underway in Sudan; Global Superpower Race to Develop Hypersonic Weapons; China Pulls Boston Celtics Games Over Enes Kanter's Remarks. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired October 25, 2021 - 06:30   ET



ALEX SCHIFFER, BROOKLYN NETS BEAT WRITER, THE ATHLETIC: Who were still a pretty good team without Ben Simmons, which is their own mess of sorts, and I mean Charlotte's still a pretty good team. You know, they have LaMelo Ball. They have some veterans. They enhance their offs (ph) in the off season. They did better than t hey were expected to last year because of LaMelo, so I don't think I'm surprised they're one and two. You know, they have some more winnable games coming up starting tonight, and if this persists for maybe a week or so then I'd start to lean toward the idea of maybe this is becoming a distraction and affecting their performance.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY HOST: I will say my executive producer, Eric Hall, is a Charlotte's fan and was yelling in my ear during my question and your answer that I was asking a bad question, that the Hornets are a good team and how dare I? Alex, thank you for being with us this morning. Look, we may be talking tomorrow morning. As you said, they play again and we'll see what happens.

SCHIFFER: Yes. Thank you guys. Charlotte's still a playoff team. It wasn't a bad question.


BERMAN: Thanks.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY HOST: All right, we have some more signs this morning that the U.S. is headed in the right direction on the pandemic, so that is some very good news. Hospitalizations are at their lowest since early August. COVID cases are also declining, but there are still tens of thousands of new cases every day. Tens of thousands, and we have some new CNN reporting on an early COVID treatment that while available is not getting to patients who actually need it.

CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, joining us with details. This is really alarming if you're a patient. You want to know that you have all of the options to get better. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. This treatment is called monoclonal antibodies, and it's not just a treatment for early COVID-19. It is the only treatment that's been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but we have talked to many patients, many doctors, folks in many hospitals, and they say that doctors too often don't even know that this treatment is available.

I want to introduce you to one of those patients. Her name is Mayra Arana (ph). She is a mom and a wife. She lives in California, and she is a leukemia survivor. She is still being treated after her leukemia, so she's immune compromised. She got COVID. She called her family doctor, and the family doctor never mentioned that monoclonal antibodies existed. It is only by chance that she happened to call her oncologist and her oncologist mentioned it. By Mayra (ph) got very sick, got the antibodies, and has recovered quite nicely. Of course, that's just one person, but studies show that antibodies are highly, highly effective if you get them to a patient early on in their disease course.

So let's take a look at who antibodies are for because there are essentially three different groups. So there are people like Mayra (ph) who are in the first 10 days of COVID, and if they are over the age of 65 or immune compromised like Mayra (ph) or even if they're just overweight they are eligible or can be eligible for antibodies.

It can be also - antibodies can also be used to prevent infection after exposure. So for certain people if you've been exposed to COVID your doctor could give you antibodies. And the third group is immune compromised people. Even if they haven't been exposed to COVID there is a way to get Regeneron, which is one of the makers of the antibodies, if your vaccine didn't work. If you're immune compromised and your vaccine seems to not to have worked, didn't give you antibodies, there is a way to get antibodies from Regeneron.

Now when we spoke to experts about why this is happening, they essentially said, look, there's been an issue communicating the very existence of these drugs to doctors, and in addition they can be a little bit difficult to give. You have to give an intravenous line or you have to give shots, and the hospitals need to set up for it.

Some hospitals like the Mayo Clinic and Ochsner in Louisiana, they took it upon themselves. They set up large-scale operations to give monoclonal antibodies, but Brianna, we spoke to some hospitals and some healthcare systems that just aren't giving them at all or giving it just to a few patients a day even when they had cases raging in their communities. Brianna -

KEILAR: Well that is a shame that it could have made the difference. Hopefully going forward it can. Elizabeth, thank you for that.

White Supremacists returning to Charlottesville, but this time organizers of the Unite the Right Rally are on trial. It starts today, and we're going to have a preview.

BERMAN: Barack Obama on the campaign trail stirring the hornets nest. What he calls the obsession driving Republicans.



Beginning today, the federal trial for the organizers of the deadly 2017 Unite the Right Protest in Charlottesville, Virginia. Nine people say they suffered physical harm and emotional distress from the rally which left a counter protestor dead, and dozens more injured when a man intentionally drove his car into a crowd.

CNN's Jason Carroll live in Charlottesville with a preview. Hard to believe it was four years ago, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Four years ago. Incredible. Jury selection actually gets underway today. That's expected to last a couple days. Basically what's at the heart of the plaintiffs' civil case is there. Basically plaintiffs' attorneys are going to try and prove that White Nationalists conspired to cause violence that day.


Chilling images from the night four years ago in Charlottesville, Virginia where hundreds of Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists gathered for a Unite the Right rally. White Nationalists chanted anti-Semitic slogans during the march which ended in violence and death.

Among those groups was James Alex Fields now serving two life sentences. He was convicted on state charges including murder and federal hate crime charges for deliberately driving his car into counter protestors. He injured more than two dozen people and killed one, 32-year-old Heather Heyer. But some argue there is still more justice to be served.


AMY SPITALNICK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INTEGRITY FIRST FOR AMERICA: These defendants orchestrated the violence, came to Charlottesville to engage in the violence, and then celebrated the violence as a victory for their movement.

CARROLL: Amy Spitalnick is Executive Director of Integrity First for America. It's a nonprofit organization behind a civil suit underway in federal court. Nine plaintiffs who were injured four years ago are suing the organizers of the rally for monetary damages, alleging individuals and organizations that conspired to plan, promote, and carry out the violent events in Charlottesville.

Conspired is key as lawyers will be relying on a 150-year-old law known as the Klu Klux Klan Act. The law empowers victims of racial violence and civil rights violations to sue for damages if they can prove a conspiracy.

Plaintiffs say there is plenty of evidence showing conspiracy, including memes some of the defendants shared on social media ahead of the rally showing a car hitting protestors.

SPITALNICK: The mountain of evidence in this case makes crystal clear that it was planned meticulously.

CARROLL: Fields is one of 24 defendants named in the civil suit. The defendants include a number of hate groups such as the National Socialist Movement, a Neo-Nazi group. An attorney representing that group says the plaintiffs' case is based on emotion and vengeance, but not evidence. Saying, "plaintiffs have yet to produce a single piece of evidence to support their claim of a conspiracy to commit violence in Charlottesville. If not for the fact that the defendants are mostly White Supremacists, the suit would have been dismissed years ago."

Defendants argue they're protected by the First Amendment, that they were exercising their rights to free speech and assembly, but some legal experts say that will be tough to prove in this case.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: But when that protest turns into really, you know, an assault upon people of color, an assault upon members of the Jewish community, an assault upon people who really are just counter protesting and exercising their rights, you've gone too far.


CARROLL: And John, expecting to be some very tense and emotional moments in court when testimony gets underway. Again, nine plaintiffs will be testifying, including some of those who were injured that day. On the flipside of that you're going to have a number of White Nationalists who will also be here in court giving their side of what happened. John -

BERMAN: I expect it to be very emotional, Jason, reliving those moments of pain and hate. Appreciate you being there. Thank you.

So the hypersonic setback for the United States in the arms race with China and Russia, what is this technology that has arms experts so concerned?

KEILAR: And growing tensions between China and the NBA over comments made by Boston Celtic Center Enes Kanter.



BERMAN: There is breaking news. There's a military coup underway in Sudan. The country's prime minister said to be under house arrest, being held by military forces. Let's get the latest from CNN's Larry Madowo.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Larry Madowo in Nairobi, watching the democratic transition in neighboring Sudan hang in the balance just a month after a failed coup attempt. The Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, and most civilian members of the

transitional government have been arrested by the military according to the Information Ministry. There are protests in the streets lighting fires and barricading some roads. The internet has been shut down, and the main airport in Khartoum has been closed.

The U.S. is among international actors condemning reports of a military takeover in the country.


BERMAN: Obviously watching that very closely. Our appreciation to Larry.

KEILAR: The U.S. suffering a setback in the arms race with China and Russia after an unsuccessful test as it tries to develop a hypersonic glide vehicle. This setback comes as China reportedly successfully tested similar technology back in August.

So what exactly is this technology that world superpowers are trying to develop? Joining us now to explain is CNN Pentagon Correspondent Oren Liebermann. Tell us about this. It's fascinating.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, hypersonics is where we're seeing a race between the U.S., China, Russia, and others to develop new and different types of hypersonic weapons. Put simply, a hypersonic weapon is anything that goes faster than mach 5, which is about 4,000 miles an hour, more than a mile a second, but it can also be much faster than that.

We're talking about mach 25, which is closer to 20,000 miles and hour, which is about 5.5 miles a second. ICBMs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, are a type of hypersonic weapon. They travel in high- arching, parabolic trajectories. Once you detect the launch and a few parameters about it, the speed, the altitude, you know where it's going. You can detect and defend against and ICBM.

This is technology that the superpowers already have, but the race is one to develop different types of hypersonic weapons like hypersonic cruise missiles. These can travel at far lower trajectories. Making them more difficult to detect and defend against, and allowing them to evade missile defense systems that are designed to track generally ballistic missiles.

And unlike ballistic missiles, which have predictable trajectories, hypersonic cruise missiles can maneuver, making them even harder to defend against. Hypersonic cruise missiles can either be powered by a rocker to an air-breathing engine known as a scramjet. Again, because they fly low and at high speed they're difficult to spot and shoot down.

There's also a hypersonic glide vehicle, and this is where the recent tests focused. This uses a rocket booster to accelerate to hypersonic speeds. The glide vehicle then separates from the rocket and glides towards its target at tremendous speed, using the momentum it's already built up. [06:50:00]

China tested a type of hypersonic glide vehicle late this summer according to the "Financial Times" called a fractional orbital bombardment system or FOBS. It uses a rocket to get the weapon into low-Earth orbit, then it drops off the hypersonic glide vehicle and that speeds towards its target.

The technology itself isn't new. The Soviets tested and developed a FOBS system back I the 60s and 70s, but they decided there were different ways, more efficient ways to carry out such and attack. This type of weapon flies below an ICBM but above a hypersonic cruise missile.

The concerns over such a system remain the same. A FOBS attack can come over the South Pole when U.S. missile defense arrays generally point the other directions, and the weapon can be launched with very little warning since it can simply be dropped out of orbit with very little notice.

There is also a concern that if China is developing this type of technology it is looking at the option of a first strike option, and that as the - as President Joe Biden and the White House consider a no first use policy when it comes to the nuclear weapons and during the nuclear posture review.

The Government Accountability Office says they're tracking about 70 different attempts and programs to develop hypersonic weapons and related technology. Brianna, that gives you an idea of how much a priority this is for the government and for the Pentagon up there with cyber capabilities and artificial intelligence as the types of weapons that can define and shape the battlefield of the future.

KEILAR: Yes, it's fascinating. It's also terrifying. Oren, thank you so much for explaining that so well for us.

BERMAN: Developing this morning, China pulling the broadcast of the Boston Celtics season opening game after Center Enes Kanter criticized Beijing for its treatment of Tibet and called President Xi a dictator.

David Culver live in Shanghai this morning, and David, you know, you covered the last near schism between the NBA and China in 2019. There's a difference in how Chinese officials and state media are handling it this time. What are you noticing now?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORREPONDENT: There really is, John, and as you well know criticism does not go over well here, and generally there is what they have self described to be a wolf warrior approach. That's an aggressive counterattack to any sort of critique, especially of the leadership, but this time, yes. They're going a different way, and you can't help but think that while they're still using this more subtle censorship they're doing it a bit quieter, and this perhaps is how they're going to react to the outspoken athletes that come here for the Olympics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) Chinese basketball fans logging on to watch Sunday night's Boston Celtics game seeing black. The team's past games also pulled from the video site of Chinese tech giant, Tencent, which paid $1.5 billion to stream NBA games in China.

A swift censorship following star player, Enes Kanter's blunt criticisms of the most powerful Chinese leader in decades and his policies.

ENES KANTER, CENTER, BOSTON CELTICS: Brutal dictator of China, Xi Jinping, I have a message for you and your henchmen.

CULVER: Kanter first calling for freedom for the people of Tibet, an internationally recognized autonomous region within the People's Republic of China.

KANTER: The Chinese dictatorship is erasing Tibetan identity and culture.

CULVER: Then doubling down over the weekend, the Muslim athlete calling out China on another human rights matter.

KANTER: All of us must spread the word and call on the Chinese government for Uyghur people.

CULVER: CNN's covered extensively allegations of widespread abuse targeting the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities living in China's far western Xinjiang region. Beijing has called its actions counterterrorism against Islamic extremists. Kanter, who hails from Turkey, echoed the U.S. and other countries, labeling it as genocide.

Inevitably, nationalistic backlash followed with social media posts within China slamming Kanter and the Celtics, reminiscent of the 2019 controversy sparked buy the then general manager of the Houston Rockets who tweeted his support of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. That in turn led to a temporary pullout of sponsors and partners and a blackout of NBA games in China, costing the league hundreds of millions of dollars according to league leadership.

The NBA has not yet commented on this latest incident, but it's yet another reminder for multinational businesses a lucrative Chinese market is now a minefield with increasingly nationalists Chinese consumers.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Kanter was "trying to get attention" and that his remarks "were not worth refuting." But instead of attacking Kanter aggressively and putting on the full court press in state media like we saw during the Houston Rockets controversy, Chinese authorities are going with a different play, quietly censoring mentions of this latest episode online and trying to move on.

As athletes from all over the globe prepare to descend on China for the Winter Olympics in a little over there months, some of them may call out Beijing on a range of issues from Xinjiang to Tibet to Hong Kong to Taiwan.


China's more muted response to Kanter so far perhaps an indication that officials know all too well the whole world is closely watching how they handle the fallout when sports and politics clash.


And no doubt, John, the world will be watching very closely for the upcoming Olympics, and you can't help but think that there are going to be a lot of criticisms. You have a range of issues that folks are going to talk about, and there have been calls for boycott, but there are some groups saying, no, don't boycott it. Use that to raise awareness. How China responds, it may be strategic in that they don't really react at all, hope that is passes and people move on.

BERMAN: David Culver, that's a fascinating report. I hadn't thought to connect the reaction to Enes Kanter to the Olympics, but it's an astute observation there and may a sign of what is to come. Thank you so much for that.

CULVER: Thanks, John.

BERMAM: So chilling new witness accounts of the deadly film set shooting involving Alec Baldwin, including what the actor was doing in the moments before the tragedy, where he was pointing the gun, and what could be the final words of the cinematographer who was killed.

KEILAR: And President Biden apparently on the verge of a legacy- defining moment after a meeting with Senator Joe Manchin.