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Florida Seniors Struggle To Recover from Storm Damage; Former Chinese Leader Removed From Communist Party Ceremony; Iran Threatens Legal Action Against America For Stoking Protests; NASA Assembles Team Of Experts To Gather Data On UFOs. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired October 23, 2022 - 06:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Buenos dias. Good morning. It's your NEW DAY. I'm Boris Sanchez.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Boris. I'm Amara Walker. In the dark, intensified attacks by Russia leave more than a half a million people without power in Ukraine and this morning there are no signs that the attacks are letting up. We'll have the latest.

SANCHEZ: Plus, full speed ahead on student debt relief. The White House doubling down against the legal challenges facing a signature program for the Biden administration. What it means for millions across the country.

WALKER: And a shooting at a hospital in Dallas leaves two people dead. We're going to have the latest on the investigation and tell you what we know about the suspect.

SANCHEZ: And NASA getting ready to launch a new study on UFOs. What could their research reveal? We'll talk about that ahead.

WALKER: It is the start of a new week. Happy Sunday, everyone. It is October 23rd. Thank you so much for waking up with us. We are awake, right, Boris? How are you doing?

SANCHEZ: We're awake. We're getting there. Warming up. Warming up.

WALKER: We are warming up. That's right.

SANCHEZ: Great to be with you, Amara. We're following several developing stories this morning. First, a wave of Russian attacks.

Attacks focused on Ukraine's electrical grid that has left more than 1.5 million people in the dark this morning as officials scramble to restore power. More than a third of Ukraine's power infrastructure has already been destroyed in earlier strikes but this latest round has raised major fears that Ukraine could be in for a deadly winter, struggling with electricity and heating.

WALKER: And Russian forces continue to hit civilian targets. In the northeast a kindergarten was damaged after the Sumy region was hit nearly 150 times by rocket attacks yesterday. Let's go straight to CNN's senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen who is on the scene live in Dnipro, Ukraine. Fred, let's first talk about the energy infrastructure and how much of Ukraine's power grid is still operational?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're saying that it's definitely a very difficult situation. As you guys already mentioned right now, the Ukrainians are saying that about 1.5 million people here in this country are without power as their services are trying to restore that power as fast as possible.

I spoke to a senior Ukrainian official last week, and he told me, look, when the strikes happen they do have forces out and they go there quickly and repair things. But as long as the strikes continue to happen, in many cases it's too dangerous for them to work and sometimes it just tends to be overwhelming. In fact, just last night, again, after those massive strikes that happened on Saturday the Ukrainians are saying that they took down 16 of those Iranian Kamikaze drones, the Shahed-136, just this past night. Of course, those mostly used to attack that energy infrastructure.

So certainly it's still very much going on. There are a lot of people who are without power right now and there's also a lot of power rationing that's going on in many cities around Ukraine where the government is saying, look, people really need to use as little electricity as possible right now because they're in such a crunch at the moment to make sure they can get the power to as many people as possible. The main power outages that we're seeing in Ukraine right now after those big attacks yesterday are in the west of the country, but certainly the situation where I am further to the east is very little better than it is in other parts of Ukraine, guys.

WALKER: Yes, definitely attack on the civilians, a very difficult time. Frederik Pleitgen, appreciate your reporting. Thank you very much from Dnipro, Ukraine.

Well, the White House is encouraging people who are eligible for student loan debt relief to keep applying online.

SANCHEZ: Yes. That's even after a federal appeals court put a temporary hold on the program. Several Republican-led states you might remember are suing to stop the government from canceling those loans. Let's bring in CNN's Jasmine Wright who joins us now. Jasmine, the program was scheduled to begin today but it faces an uncertain future.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Boris. This Sunday was when the White House identified was the first day that some borrowers could start to see their debt canceled. Obviously, that's not going to happen, as the Court of Appeals has given the White House until Monday, which is tomorrow, to respond to that hold and then those states who brought the challenge have until Tuesday to respond to the White House, fully pushing the White House's timeline for folks to have relief closer and closer to the midterm elections just under three weeks now.

[06:05:10] Now the White House has encouraged people to continue to apply, really reaffirming that they are not backing down from this issue. Instead, they are moving forward. Now secretary of education, Miguel Cardona, he was really forceful in an op-ed that was published in "USA Today" yesterday, really slamming the Republicans for what he called hypocritical or basically outlining as hypocritical actions.

I want to read you some of it. He said, "These same Republican attorneys general and officials, however, didn't file lawsuits when $58.5 billion in pandemic relief loans were forgiven for their state's business owners. They didn't oppose $2 trillion in tax cuts to the highest earning businesses and individuals as part of the Trump tax giveaway. And they didn't complain when Republican members of Congress got millions of dollars for their own Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven by the federal government last year. It is only when relief is going to working and middle-class Americans that these elected officials have a problem."

So again, from the White House here, no sign that they are backing down, despite this temporary hold, as they believe that this issue galvanizes voters, particularly young voters, and young Black voters, ahead of the midterm elections. Boris, Amara.

SANCHEZ: Yes, Jasmine, this is going to be a big part of that midterm messaging for the White House. Jasmine Wright, thank you so much for the reporting.

WALKER: And with less than three weeks until Election Day, early voters are turning out in pretty big numbers as candidates across the country are making their closing pitch.

SANCHEZ: And one of the most closely watched races this year is in Pennsylvania, where Republican Mehmet Oz is gaining on Democrat John Fetterman in a bare-knuckle race that could ultimately determine the balance of power in the Senate. CNN's Dan Merica has more.

DAN MERICA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Amara and Boris. John Fetterman held an event here in key Chester County on Saturday night. He spoke at length on stage with Senator Amy Klobuchar. It is a unique event for Fetterman who, as you noted, had a stroke in May, returned to the campaign trail in June, has mostly headlined rallies where he had a stump speech, you know, litany of things he wanted to hit.

This was a different kind of event. He was up there. He did not have necessarily notes, did not have issues he wanted to hit and was kind of led in the conversation by Klobuchar. Fetterman did acknowledge he used closed captioning technology which allowed him to read what Klobuchar was saying as she spoke. Now why does that matter? Everything right now in Pennsylvania is pointing to the debate on Tuesday between Oz and Fetterman.

That debate is going to be key because of the Oz attacks on Fetterman's health and closed captioning technology will be used at that debate. That's why in many ways this event was almost a dry run for the debate. Now Fetterman and Klobuchar spoke on a number of issues including abortion, the economy, their personal backgrounds, but one of the fieriest moments came on crime when Fetterman really unleashed on how the Oz campaign has hit him repeatedly on crime. Take a listen to what he said.


JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: He literally doesn't have a plan. Other than to talk and that's been a hallmark of his campaign. Just not any plans, just cheap photo ops or just empty kinds of arguments.


MERICA: Now, guys, it's not happenstance that we're here in Chester County, a collar county around Philadelphia. This was a critical county to delivering the White House to Joe Biden in 2020. It helped deliver Democrats the House in 2018. But as recently as 2012, this county voted for a Republican presidential nominee in Mitt Romney.

That is why Fetterman is here. He and his aides know this is going to be a critical county if they are going to defeat Oz in November. Hanging over all of this is the fact that polls have tightened of late. They have closed -- since over the summer when Fetterman had a double-digit lead. They're now neck and neck here in Pennsylvania between Oz and Fetterman and that just ratchets up the tension as we head into the debate on Tuesday.

SANCHEZ: Dan Merica, thank you so much for that. Let's talk about that race and some other pivotal political stories now with CNN political analyst and managing editor at Axios, Margaret Talev. Good morning, Margaret. Great to see you bright and early at the start of this week.


SANCHEZ: Of course. There's a new series of polls showing that race in Pennsylvania as much tighter than it was when John Fetterman had a double-digit lead earlier this summer. Do you think Democrats should be panicking in Pennsylvania?

TALEV: Panicking is probably a strong word, but they should definitely be uncomfortable and they are. And you're beginning to see sort of pulling out of all of the stops. Former President Obama now on the air in Pennsylvania with an ad.


There's a few things going on, Boris. One is just that nationally the race is tightening and the momentum appears to be back with Republicans. It looks like abortion sort of peaked early as an issue that was back in June. It hasn't sustained itself. It has never quite caught up with inflation as a driving issue. Some of the arguments about crime have picked up steam.

And then, of course, between like Fetterman and Oz you've seen two things. Oz moving away from Donald Trump, which has helped him in the general election race, and to the attention on Fetterman, both on questions about, you know, has he recovered from the stroke, but also about his past record and his positions toward crime.

Republicans semi successfully now making an argument that liberal or progressive attitudes toward crime have enabled crime rates to get worse. At least, that's the argument. And so, all of that is coming to play in these closing weeks.

SANCHEZ: Fetterman and Oz will meet for their first and their only debate later this week. What are you going to watch for?

TALEV: I think everybody will be watching for Fetterman's responsiveness to questions and -- look, whether it's fair or not, and there's been a big debate about this in medical as well as political circles, advocates saying, hey, there's nothing wrong with using closed captioning. People shouldn't treat this like anything more than a health challenge that there's technology to work around.

But I think voters will be watching that and we'll also see like how fast each of them are in responding to criticisms. And I think this event has been building for a long time because Fetterman had postponed until now this debate and so it's made the stakes much higher in those closing days.

SANCHEZ: And how well do you think Fetterman's campaign has responded to that line of attack from critics that his health is a question?

TALEV: I mean, I think because Mehmet Oz is a doctor, a TV doctor, but a doctor, Fetterman has -- and his campaign strategy has been to say why is a doctor not treating this like a medical issue? The question is whether that issue -- whether that answer is going to resonate with voters and how many -- I mean, like it's two things. Voters will be paying to this. If Fetterman stumbles it could be a problem for him.

The challenge with debates and you're seeing this play out this cycle, is that, you know, campaigns have real questions about whether debates can help a candidate. I think in this case if Fetterman emerges strong from this debate it unquestionably will help him. The question is just, will it help him enough to counteract the tide?

But Pennsylvania went for Biden. And don't forget Pennsylvania went for Obama strongly in his two elections. Trump did win Pennsylvania the first time around, but by really narrow margin.

Abortion rights actually really do matter in Pennsylvania, more than in many states, and so it is really a close race. It really is. There are probably a couple Democratic contests that are closer. This would be a flip for Democrats if they won it.

So it's just hard to say exactly how things fall within the margin of error. It's hard to predict what's going to happen. That's why the next few days matter so much. And I think it's why you're seeing Obama now focusing on Pennsylvania, just anything to turn out those base and younger voters of color, independent voters across the state.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and Republicans are also pulling out all the stops. The NRSC just committed nearly a million bucks in ad spending for Oz. How critical is this race for Republican hopes to retake the Senate? TALEV: Well, certainly Republicans don't want to be losing control of

any states while they're trying to pick up control of other states, you know? And so, there is just a handful of states, Pennsylvania is one of them, that Republicans want to hold. Georgia is one they're trying to flip. Nevada increasingly looking like a target for Republicans to flip. They thought New Hampshire at one point. New Hampshire seems to be receding and Republican money moving out of New Hampshire going back into those other states, into Georgia, into Nevada, into Pennsylvania.

There's one more state we haven't talked about, North Carolina, has been thought of for a while now as a sleeper state, but these are areas that Republicans have to protect if they have a real vision to flip the Senate. They're increasingly hopeful they have one state. If they lose Pennsylvania, they need two states.

So it's really a numbers game now. It's just a handful of races. Republicans have mathematically an easier road. They need to flip one to switch party control. So if there's five on the map and they need to flip one, the math suggests that's easier for them, but which one is it going to be and can they hold Pennsylvania?


SANCHEZ: Yes, these races getting more and more intense as we get closer. Margaret Talev, always appreciate your perspective.

TALEV: Thanks, Boris.

WALKER: All right. Still ahead, a suspect is in custody after two people are killed in a Dallas hospital. We're going to tell you what we know about the investigation and the suspect.

It took a lifetime to build and a day to wash it all away. We're going to show you how some senior citizens are coming to the grim reality that they may never be able to rebuild after Hurricane Ian.


WALKER: So two hospital employees are dead after a shooting at Methodist Dallas Medical Center in Texas.

SANCHEZ: Police say the shooting happened inside the hospital late Saturday morning. An officer opened fire on the suspect, 30-year-old Nestor Hernandez, injuring him. He was apparently taken into custody and transported to another hospital for treatment.


Dallas police said that Hernandez is currently on parole for aggravated robbery and that he was wearing an ankle monitoring at the time of the shooting. So far police have not determined a motive in this case.

Meantime, public safety is the priority as New York officials roll out their new strategy to clamp down on subway crime which includes added police officers and more enhanced surveillance.

WALKER: New York Governor Kathy Hochul has plenty at stake politically with less than two weeks until the gubernatorial election. CNN's Gloria Pazmino has the details.

GLORIA PAZMINO: Amara, Boris, the number of violent incidents that have taken place in the city's transit system in the last year has significantly increased. And Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams are getting together to announce a plan to address public safety on the city subways. They say that they are going to be surging the system with additional MTA and NYPD officers.

The governor said that she will be deploying additional security guards to stand guard at the turnstile like the ones you see here behind me, all of this in an effort to make sure that riders are feeling safe when they are riding the subways.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): We want to have a more significant presence, visible presence. People want to see that there's an officer there when they need help. It's also an incredible deterrent.

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D-NY): More inpatient treatment for people with severe mental illnesses. This is a real issue above ground and below ground, and more personnel dedicated to getting those who shouldn't be on the subway off the subway.


PAZMINO: Now the NYPD will be adding about 1,200 more overtime shifts and 300 stations will be patrolled during peak hours. Now there's also an important mental health component in this plan. The mayor acknowledged that many of the incidents that have taken place have involved a person who has a history of mental illness. This is something that advocates and other lawmakers have been pointing to in the last year or so, saying that there needs to be more resources for the mentally ill.

So to that end the mayor and the governor announcing a plan to increase the number of psychiatric beds that are available so that those who are in need of mental health intervention and treatment can be referred, removed off the system and connected to treatment. Amara and Boris.

SANCHEZ: Gloria, thank you so much. There is more aid on the way to those hardest hit by Hurricane Ian, but for Florida's seniors help paying for insurance deductibles may not be enough. Hear some of their stories coming up in just a few minutes.



SANCHEZ: Three weeks after Hurricane Ian hit southwest Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is announcing relief for some of those hit the hardest. Five million dollars is going to be awarded to those with low to moderate incomes in six of the counties most impacted by the storm. That money is meant to help people pay insurance deductibles.

WALKER: Now the governor mentioned seniors as a group set to get this assistance. And as you would imagine it's been quite a difficult recovery for older Floridians since some have lost homes that they bought for retirement. CNN's Gabe Cohen talked to several survivors about what's next for them.


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

COHEN (on camera): Here's your truck?

COHEN (voice-over): -- Johnnie Glisson is still sleeping in his pickup truck.

JOHNNIE GLISSON, HURRICANE IAN SURVIVOR: I just play with my guitar and read my Bible, and it's all good.

COHEN: The storm flooded his house outside Fort Myers. There is little left beyond this damp couch on cinder blocks 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: It breaks your heart. It breaks your heart.

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

GLISSON: I'm not leaving.

COHEN (on camera): Do you know how you're going to afford to rebuild?

GLISSON: We had 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 didn't tidy up for you.

COHEN (voice-over): Lisa Needham's 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 can't 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 friend's R.V., expecting the rebuild could cost as much as $80,000 and take months, at least.

COHEN (on camera): 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 (voice-over): 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: Seventy-seven-year-old Toby Freeman is in Buffalo, New York where his daughter Krista (ph) 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 funds to help them find a home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to take care of my family. I wouldn't have it any other way.

ALICE JOHNSON, HURRICANE IAN SURVIVOR: Maybe we can keep the sheets.

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

Was that a difficult decision?

JOHNSON: 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.


WALKER: You can't underestimate the toughness of having to rebuild especially at that stage in life. Gosh, what a difficult situation.

All right, still ahead this morning, it is the youngest of voices, now the loudest in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini. How the Gen Zers are pushing back against the regime and how the regime is using old tactics to try to silence them.



WALKER: New this morning, Chinese leader Xi Jinping cementing power with an unprecedented third term in office and naming a top ruling team that is of course packed with his most loyal allies.

SANCHEZ: Meantime, we have new video to share with you have a rare unscripted moment in what is usually a highly choreographed ceremony in China. This is the so far unexplained moment that Hu Jintao, the former top leader of China, was approached by security personnel, then led out of the room by the arm right out of the Communist Party's closing ceremony.

You see at one moment he nods to the current leader Xi who was sitting next to. He tries to speak to him on the way out but Xi just nods. Some high drama at the ceremony.

WALKER: Yes, what was going on there and what was said? CNN's Selina Wang is in Hong Kong for us. Yes, Selena, what happened there? What do we know?

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, I mean, stuff like this just doesn't happen during the party congress. This is a once-in-every-five-year meeting, as Boris said, this is meticulously planned, it is highly scripted. That's why this was such a bizarre and astonishing moment.

And if you take a look at that video again, the man seated next to Xi Jinping, that is China's former top leader Hu Jintao. There are several confusing moments. In the close up, he appears to be very reluctant to leave and then he is led out. Now, he also appears to say something to Xi Jinping. We don't know what. And then he pats the shoulder of the Premier Li Keqiang.

After this, there was a firestorm of speculation overseas. And Chinese state media later said, look, this was because of health reasons. But I've been talking to several experts who say they don't buy that explanation, especially because of the timing here. This dramatic moment happened after journalists were allowed in the room, and that's why all of this is caught on camera.

But regardless of the explanation here, this is a highly symbolic moment. It is the physical manifestation of the exit of a man, of a leader who represented an era of collective rule. Xi Jinping, he's all about one man rule. At the Party congress earlier today, we saw him get formally reanointed for that unprecedented third term as a country supreme leader, General Secretary of the Communist Party, and then we got the big reveal of who his closest advisors are. And they're all his closest allies. They're all Xi Jinping loyalists. So, we've seen him even further consolidate his near absolute power.

So, what does this mean? This means that in his third term and the next five years and beyond that, because potentially he's being set up as ruler for life, he's going to further increase his iron-clad authoritarian rule. So, expect more tensions with the U.S., more intimidation of Taiwan. The reality is the world is dealing with a more confident and aggressive China.

WALKER: Yes, as you may recall, I think it was back in 2018 when President Xi removed the two-term limit on the presidency, basically allowing him to be president for life. And yes, I'm just -- I'm glad we talked about that moment. It can't be good when you're just escorted like that out of the Congress unexpectedly.

Selina Wang, thank you so much from Hong Kong.

Anti-government protests gripping Iran today, more than a month after a 22-year-old woman died in the custody of so-called morality police. It is their job to enforce strict dress codes for women like wearing the compulsory headscarf. And new video shared with CNN which we cannot independently verify, appears to show stores shuttered in a large area of the country as workers strike over individual freedoms in the Islamic Republic.


Meantime, the Iranian government now accusing the U.S. and its allies of stoking unrest and fomenting anti-government anger, an accusation that has been reiterated many times before.

Joining us now is Assal Rad. She is the research director at the National Iranian American Council. She is also the author of State of Resistance: Politics, Culture, and Identity in Modern Iran. I really appreciate you getting up for us early this morning.

Assal, first off, just give us a sense of where the protest stands right now. I mean, are they still gaining steam?

ASSAL RAD, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, NATIONAL IRANIAN AMERICAN COUNCIL: They're certainly still going, especially at universities, especially amongst students, what these protests started, as was sparked obviously by the killing of Mahsa Jina Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman for her -- you know, her alleged inappropriate wearing of her hijab.

But of course, those protests have manifested from a women-centered movement around women's rights to something that goes to the core of the system. You hear chants of death of the dictator, death of Khamenei himself who is Iran's supreme leader. And the youth aspect of these protests can't be understated. The fact that you have this new generation of Iranians that have come to the political scene at least, Gen Zers, people in their late teens and early 20s, who are really leading these protests.

And that's why we're seeing so much of it occur on university campuses where you see young people. But the addition of strikes and the labor movement that, by the way, predates what we're seeing right now. There have been ongoing labor protests and strikes in Iran for several years. Human Rights Watch was reporting on them earlier this year. But if they're combined with these protests, that really leads to -- that will help sustain a movement.

WALKER: Yes, I mean, it's fascinating, Assal, that we're seeing the younger generation really driving these anti-government protests, because usually, you would think that this age group would be disaffected, at least when it comes to, you know, "politics of their country." And the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps says that the average age people being arrested is what, just 15 years old. Why are we seeing this wave of young people? Is it less fear, the fact that they don't have any relation to what happened in 1979, with the Iran Revolution?

RAD: I think it's all of those things. Certainly, the fact that you know, Iranians for many decades have engaged with the system in hopes that they could reform it from within. And that's mostly been the work of millennials, post-revolutionary generation, or those that were much closer to the events of 1979, who endured the war of the 1980s with Iraq.

And so, now, you have -- you know, now you have people who were born long after those events, so they're not as tied to those events. At the same time, and this is true of every Gen Zer in the world, you have a new generation that has come of age with the Internet. They've been raised with social media. So, while Iran is a country that may have been cut off from the world in many years -- for many years, the internet has closed off that gap.

And so, you have young people who are -- they're on Tik Tok, they're on Instagram, they're seeing the world through the internet, and they can juxtapose the world that they live in, in Iran, this closed-off society, with the world that they see outside of that. And I think that combined with their youth, being less risk averse, the fearlessness that we're seeing, the fact that you have acts of civil disobedience that we haven't seen in previous iterations of protests, such as women taking off their hijab, burning their jobs, or just a simple act of civil disobediences that we've seen as you know, a young woman going outside, older woman going outside, doing their normal daily activities, but without their hijab and without abiding by the compulsory attire.

WALKER: It's remarkable. I do have to ask you this before we go, because you know, the Iranian government can downplay these protests as much as they want, but this is in fact the greatest challenge to the Islamic Republic to this government at least since 2009. The anti- government protesters, they want radical change there, right? I mean, they want regime change. What kind of change do you actually see happening, especially when you see on the ground there really isn't an opposition leader that's emerged, right?

RAD: Well, there is -- so far these protests have been leaderless. But I've tried to say this in other places as well. You know, when you look for leadership in Iran, there are leaders in Iran. And unfortunately, many of the people who can take that kind of mental are inside Evin prison. There are activists who have long been on the scene for political rights for social rights. And of course, that's why you see these wider crackdowns taking any form of descents.

And even in these protests, you have mass arrests. You have 12,000 people who have been arrested, you have deadly force being used, nearly 250 people that have been killed. According to rights groups, those numbers are likely higher. So, while the state is going to use every form of oppression to try and squash these protests, I think what you'll see and when you contextualize this in Iran's history, this is a struggle that has gone on for over a century.

Iranians wants a government that serves its people. And they have attempted reform and where this state has refused to reform. They have been forced into a position where now toppling the government is the only option that they see as a viable option. And whether or not the state wants to respond to it, this is what they want, this is what they are calling for, and it is being led by young people.

WALKER: Well, we'll continue to cover this story. Assal Rad, I appreciate you joining us. We'll be right back.

RAD: Thank you.

WALKER: So, tomorrow NASA will begin a highly anticipated independent study to uncover more details about unidentified aerial phenomena. What is that? Well, we know a better as UFOs.


SANCHEZ: That's right. A group of 16 experts, astronomers, biologists, former Pentagon officials, and at least one retired NASA astronaut, Scott Kelly, are going to study unclassified data on UFOs for the next nine months, and then recommend ways that NASA can better use that data.

So, let's discuss with Janet Ivey, the celestial Janet Ivey. She's the president of Explore Mars and the CEO of Janet's Planet. Good morning, Janet. Always great to have you. So, how does NASA go about collecting this data? And then what application does it have? What can be done with it?

JANET IVEY, PRESIDENT, EXPLORE MARS INC: Sure. Now, to be clear, this is unclassified data. So, this will be data that has been garnered from civil agencies, from the public. And there was a report that came out back in 2021 from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence stating they didn't have enough information on at least 143 of 144 accounts of UAPs that have come in since 2004.

So, what they're going to do remember, data is the language of science. It doesn't sound very exciting, but it helps make the unexplainable explainable. So, NASA will take that data. It will look at -- it's like, are these natural occurring phenomena? If they are not, do they have techno signatures, do they have biosignatures? They're looking to make a very concise, clear data collection with some of the best and brightest minds and then take that information and see, you know, does this have applications for national security or air safety, especially as we get ready to launch more and more into outer space.

WALKER: OK, so -- and then what? I mean, they look at this data and there -- are they first trying to -- sorry, I'm trying to make sense of all this. Are they first trying to confirm that, you know, UFO is actually do exist or they're already there?

IVEY: You know what --

WALKER: They already have -- they already believe that they do exist.

IVEY: There are many believe they exist. NASA has made a point to say there is no evidence that unidentified aerial phenomena are any, you know, contact from extraterrestrials. This is mainly to say -- and again, we want to see is this, you know, is this -- let's ensure our military safety. Is this spycraft? Is there something else going on that we need to be clear up?

And again, remember, just a couple of weeks ago, we're celebrating World Space Week in space and sustainability. There's lots of space debris. So, figuring some of that out is going to be how do we start mitigating that space debris? What are these things? Can we get a clearer picture. And unfortunately, that is the thing of science, Amara, is that it is like -- it is slow and methodical, and it's like collecting this data, having these best 16th eyes.

They have artificial intelligence practitioners that are also taking in this. So, there are going to be lots of algorithms and data that hopefully will paint a better picture of what has been seen. And they're really -- I think it's a statement, they're taking very seriously, these reports and unclassified reports of things that really truly can't be explained.

SANCHEZ: It's one of those things in the last few years that is sort of unsettling. We focus so much on everything that's been going on here on earth, and the Pentagon just kind of puts out these videos and they're like, yes, we don't know what these are. They might be extraterrestrial life and may not. \

Janet Ivey, we appreciate the perspective walking us through that.

IVEY: All right, always keep looking up.

WALKER: Thanks, Janet.

SANCHEZ: We definitely will. Thanks, Janet.

A quick programming note for you. Don't forget to watch an all-new episode of "STANLEY TUCCI SEARCHING FOR ITALY." It premieres tonight at nine right here on CNN. Stay with us because Coy Wire has your "BLEACHER REPORT" in just a few moments.



SANCHEZ: The World Series matchup could be set by tonight. The Astros and Phillies both just one win away after some impressive performances in these playoffs.

WALKER: Speaking of impressive, Coy Wire is here with us this morning's "BLEACHER REPORT." Hi, Coy!

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Hey, hey! Good morning, lovely people. Good to see you. Those Astros, the Phillies, they are clicking right now. And it's looking like we are headed for an epic World Series. The Astros, they could sweep the Yankees with a win today. There was big miscommunication early in game three, Yankees' Aaron Judge and Harrison Bader. We can see better saying, I got it, I got it. Well, it pops and drops. Judge took blame for it afterwards for what would have been the end of the inning, a third out. Instead, next batter Chad McCormick says see you later. Houston was up two-zip.

335 feet, that's the shortest playoff homerun in five years. New York had just three hits in this game. They're batting 161, the worst average to eight games in MLB history in the playoffs. Houston wins five-zip, looking to make their fourth World Series in six years.

Phillies-Padres now in South Philly, a slug fest. Neither pitcher made it out of the first inning. San Diego had a big lead early but Rhys Hoskins ties it in the fifth with a two-run shot. And then Bryce Harper rolls up and he rolls one into the gap scoring J.T. Realmuto. Harper is pumped. Philly winning 10 to six in the end, a three-one series lead now, looking at take the (INAUDIBLE), the first NL pennant in 13 years.

All right, college football now, Boris' undefeated Syracuse orange putting number five Clemson on the ropes. Cuse's Ja'Had Carter taken DJ Uiagalelei's fumble for 90 yards, Uiagalelei would be benched later in the game. Syracuse was up 21-10 At halftime but here comes Will Shipley and the Tigers. 50 yards for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Orange had a chance late but Garrett Shrader's pass is picked off by RJ. Mickens. Clemson holds on 27-21. But look, Syracuse is still 6-1. They're still going to be ranked in the top 25. I hate to do this to you, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Thank you, Coy.

WIRE: But they're looking good. A lot to be proud of. Keep your head up. The boys are looking good.

SANCHEZ: I've been asking for Syracuse Orange highlights for weeks.

WALKER: You have been. This was customized for you, I think.

SANCHEZ: And this -- Coy, of course, brings up the loss. Listen, they are who we thought they were and we let them off the hook, Coy.

WIRE: You almost had them. Keep the head up, big man.

SANCHEZ: I appreciate it.

WALKER: Coy, thank you so much. The next hour of NEW DAY starts now.