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Hala Gorani Tonight
Biden To Address Global Supply Bottlenecks Today; Energy Prices Spike After Lockdown; U.S. Eases Border Restrictions; U.S. To Ease Travel Restrictions With Canada And Mexico; Rapidly Advancing Lava From La Palma Forces Hundreds More Evacuations; Israeli Aid Group Helps Rescue Dozens Of Afghans; Resistance To Myanmar Junta Increasingly Violent; Shatner And Crew Lift Off In Historic Space Trip. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired October 13, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN HOST: And hello, everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm Cyril Vanier in for Hala Gorani. Tonight, global supply bottlenecks
threatening empty shelves and holiday chaos. The U.S. president expected to address it this hour. And an energy crunch two. Warnings that we're not
investing in green energy fast enough. We'll explain how these macro issues impact your bottom line. And later, restrictions easing. The fully-
vaccinated will soon be able to cross North America's land borders once again.
So, as the global economy struggles to recover from the pandemic, the world is now facing two crises and many are feeling the pinch. The first, a
global supply chain bottleneck, ports across the world so congested that containers are piling high. And that's in part due to a lack of truck
drivers to transport the goods. The result for businesses and consumers, rising prices and a struggle to get some of the necessities. There's also a
warning that this will get worse before it gets better.
U.S. President Biden is set to address these issues any moment. We will bring you that live when it happens. On top of that crisis, there's also
a global energy crunch. Europe is bearing the brunt of it with soaring prices and a lack of fuel in some parts. The European Commission and the
International Energy Agency both pushing renewable energy as the long-term solution. We'll have more on that in a moment. But first, let's focus on
the supply chain issues. I want to bring in CNN reporters Matt Egan in New York and Stephen Collinson from Washington D.C. on the pressure President
Biden is facing.
Stephen, this is a tricky one for the White House because this is mostly a private sector issue. So how much leverage does the U.S. president actually
have on this?
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, that's true. The president's leverage is very limited in certain respects, but a president
can still bring people together as he's doing today. Union leaders, managers of the port system, trucking firms, to bring them together. It
still matters when a president gets on a phone with somebody and tries to move things along so he can show that he's convening and trying to seek
solutions. And you know, the impact of this crisis is so severe that it's incumbent upon the president who gets all the problems that no one else can
solve on his desk because it's helping to stoke inflation.
You talked about shortages in the shops, especially heading into Christmas. You know, it's cutting growth for supply chain crunch, which leads to
problems with jobs numbers as we saw last week. So, this is not just a logistical issue for the president. It's hugely political. There are a
number of post-pandemic crisis that are weighing on his own political prospects, especially as well of Democrats heading into Midterm elections
next year. So the president doesn't just have to try and fix the problem. He has to show voters that he cares. He understands the kind of issues
they're facing, and that is one of the reasons why he's taking this so seriously and he's going to go on television and talk about it.
VANIER: Matt, I am just seeing your latest reporting, the business leaders, some business leaders, but you're about to tell us more about
this, are now calling on the U.S. President to potentially call in the National Guard.
MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, that's right. We are -- we are dealing with what could only be described as a nightmare situation with the supply
chain. We're talking about this epic port congestion, shortage of truck drivers and sometimes trucks, and a shortage of components and raw
materials, you know, including computer chips, which is a huge deal. And so in the meeting with the Biden administration today, we've heard that
business leaders, they're calling for the administration to go further than what has already been announced.
They've said that they're going to try to move to 24/7 operation at the port of Los Angeles, which is a big deal. And they're trying to encourage
retailers, including Target and Wal-Mart to move to a 24/7 operations. But business leaders want them to go further. And so the Consumer Brands
Association, which is a trade group that represents Campbell's Soup and Coca-Cola and Kellogg's, they said during this meeting, there was a call
for the Biden administration to consider using the National Guard to address some of these supply chain issues.
It would be a targeted use of the National Guard, and you know, we have seen similar steps taken elsewhere in Massachusetts, I think the National
Guard was called up to address a shortage of school van drivers, and in the United Kingdom, there was these shortage of truck drivers that were causing
gas stations to run dry, and so they were talking about using, you know, military members to address that. So, I think all this underscores the
severity of the crisis and why they're moving so urgently to address it right now.
VANIER: But Matt, just want to make sure I follow. What would the National Guard be doing? Are we -- are we talking just driving the freight around?
EGAN: Well, it's a good question. I think that the idea -- and again, this is just an idea, it's -- and these are preliminary discussions. You know,
we haven't heard back from the White House yet on whether or not this is something they're even open to considering. But the idea would be to use
National Guard members to address some of these bottlenecks wherever they emerge, whether it's, you know, getting some of the containers off of
container ships, which has been a huge issue. It's one of the reasons why we've seen dozens and dozens of containers, container ships stacked up
outside of the ports of L.A. and Long Beach, or getting containers out of, you know, the shipyards and onto trucks.
So I guess the idea here would be to try to alleviate the broader problem, which is this worker shortage. And that is something that is really
significant. You know, there are a near-record number of job openings in the United States. This is a particularly severe issue when it comes to
entry level work and of record number of Americans quit their job in August. But you know, big picture, using the National Guard would only be a
Band-Aid. It wouldn't really get to the longer-term and more systemic issue, which again is a shortage of workers.
VANIER: Right. On the worker shortage, the main question is why these jobs not finding takers? We're going to address that a little later on. Matt
Egan, thank you so much, Stephen Collinson in D.C., thank you both. At the same time, the global supply chain under pressure. We're also seeing an
energy supply crunch affecting some of the world's major producers, China and India, and raising prices here in Europe and the U.S. as well. The
International Energy Agency chief spoke to CNN's Julia Chatterley about what needs to be done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: There's a danger here that we under-invest in the fossil fuels and we don't invest enough in the
renewable fuels and then we have significantly higher price bytes in the short-term because we simply don't have enough energy.
FATIH BIROL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, IEA: It is a great risk here. If we don't invest in clean energy options, we may well see more turbulence in the
energy markets in terms of price spikes. It's a very clear message coming from our report, the very fact that a new global energy economy is
emerging. There is no way to return, and we can make this transition smoother if we invest more in clean energy options.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: CNN business correspondent Clare Sebastian joins me from New York. Clare, talk to us about potentially competing interests here and competing
priorities. How do you balance them? The need to transition toward green energy with the massive investment that, that requires on the one hand, but
also the need to address the here and now, and to keep economies running in the meantime.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Cyril, I think we're seeing very acutely what can happen at the collision of these interests at
the moment. On the one hand, people are raising their climate targets, on the other hand, we're seeing countries like China firing up coal power
plants because there's such a shortage in energy. The IEA has tackled this in great detail in their report, they dedicated an entire chapter to how to
manage the transition. And there are a number of different things you can do, they say that clear communication is important, governments need to
articulate their long-term plans.
There needs to be even a short-term investment to manage the impact on people of short-term price volatility, which is pretty much inevitable, you
know, in normal times. Commodity prices are cyclical, but when you're talking about an energy transition, perhaps even more so, and crucially so,
they need to invest in reducing demand for fossil fuels. We're not just talking about things like wind and solar panels, we need things like
electrification. We've done it a lot with cars. That technology is out there, but it needs to expand to other areas of the economy, things like
industry that are at the moment extremely dependent on fossil fuels. So, it's really about trying to bring down that demand in the medium to long
VANIER: So, Clare, European countries have been particularly badly hit by the surge in energy prices, and one of the priorities obviously for
European member states is protecting vulnerable consumers first and foremost. People who are really going to struggle to pay their energy bills
right now, and this Winter, throughout the Winter. The EU Commission has addressed the crisis, they did so today. What did they say?
SEBASTIAN: Yes, so, this is really exactly what we were just talking about, Cyril. It's sort of a dual approach that they published today,
short-term measures and long-term investment in clean energy.
I want to be clear, the IEA says today that the current price volatility, that the extreme rises that we're seeing is not because of the transition
to clean energy, but it is a wake-up call, said one EU commissioner today, of what could happen and how they need to be prepared. So, what they're
doing, their plan, which has yet to be approved by ministers, is short-term measures to really shield households from the impact of these higher energy
prices. Everything from vouchers and help with paying bills to lower tax rates and things like that. Things that can be scaled up and down with the
seasons and with the need for this.
And of course, combining with that an accelerated approach to investment in clean energy, to provide a sustainable long-term solution, and crucially to
provide greater energy independence for Europe, which is of course heavily dependent on Russia at the moment for natural gas, and that is -- that is
causing -- that is causing great concern given that Russia has been criticized for using the current crisis for its own political gains in
fast-tracking approval of pipelines. That President Putin, he did deny that today.
VANIER: All right, Clare Sebastian in New York, thank you very much. This conversation will continue with CNN's global economic analyst right after
the break. Still to come tonight, it first surfaced at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, but now, American diplomats are complaining of a mysterious illness
consistent with Havana syndrome, this time in Bogota, Colombia. Plus, England players take a knee at Tuesday's World Cup qualifying football
match, and then chaos in the stands. We'll have analysis on that when we come back.
VANIER: The energy crunch and supply chain bottleneck that we spoke about earlier are both hampering the global economic recovery. So, I want to
bring in CNN's global economic analyst Rana Foroohar from New York. Rana, how did we get here, number one, and what is your level of concern at what
you're seeing right now with these twin crises?
RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: So, let me just say the concerns are high for the short term. Midterm to long-term, I think that
there's going to be some things that could buffer inflation, I'll get to that in a minute. But in terms of how we got here, one of the problems is
that we have countries because of COVID that are going through recessions and recoveries in different cycles. And that's creating a lot of pressure
and a lot of discontinuity in the global economy. So China, for example, recovered pretty early.
That's where the virus hit first. Their energy demand then really picked up. That helped to push global energy prices up. At the same time, there
were changes in the energy environment. There were rules on drilling, you know, as we start to shift to cleaner fuels and clean energy, so that's
sort of a perfect storm. At the other end of the spectrum, you have the U.S. trying to really push forward a consumer recovery with stimulus
payments, but we got a lot of recovery. We've had huge increases in home prices, in rentals, in food prices. So a lot of this stuff is happening for
good reasons, but it's happening altogether at a time that makes it very tricky and could end up causing some stagflation a lot than 1970s.
VANIER: So, would it be fair, based on what you're telling us, to describe this as growing pains of the post-COVID lockdown economic recovery?
FOROOHAR: It depends. I am hopeful that this will be a few months of serious inflation. I think that you've seen so much adoption of technology
following the pandemic -- you know, companies are automating so much. We're doing so much more from home. People are moving in different patterns. And
I think a lot of that still has to settle out. And so, I'm not willing to say we're suddenly back in the '70s and we're going to be there for a
decade. That said, we're at a very tricky policy moment. I mean, the supply chain shortages you're seeing are related to COVID, but we're also in the
middle of a trade paradigm shift.
The U.S. and Europe potentially and China are going in different directions. That's going to create more regionalization, ultimately, it
could be good for resilience. In the short term, could mean more inflation.
VANIER: What about worker shortages? Because that's something we're seeing in the U.S. now. I mean, the here and now of worker shortages in the U.S.
is they're not finding enough truck drivers to drive the freight out to, you know, the rest of the real economy. The stores, the warehouses, et
cetera. We also saw a shortage of truck drivers in the U.K., the hospitality sector in multiple countries is struggling to hire the workers
that it had to lay off or let go during the COVID pandemic. What -- how come these jobs are not finding takers?
FOROOHAR: So, it's a great question, and it's interesting you mentioned the U.S. and the U.K. And these are the two economies that more than any
other developed countries tend to when there's a bust, lay people off and then try and rehire quickly once things, you know, get back to normal.
That's the Anglo-American style of capitalism. It's really good when things are good. But when you have a big bust, it's hard to get people back in the
work force. It takes time. Also the sectors that you're seeing having trouble are those that were hit hardest during the pandemic.
Restaurants, leisure, hospitality, these things were just shut down overnight, and now to pick right back up, it takes time. And there are
going to be growing pains. I think in the U.S., with schools starting back up, with stimulus running out, and with people -- excuse me, children going
back to school and women potentially going back to work, you could see a little bit of easing of pressures there.
VANIER: So, you mentioned the U.S. and the U.K., but countries like France, for instance, which have a significant safety net and which have --
FOROOHAR: Yes --
VANIER: Avoided many layoffs are also seeing their businesses struggle to recruit, especially in the hospitality sector. It seems there's just a
reassessment of parts of the work force on what they want to do in life, and whether they really want to do these hard jobs that are not always well
paying jobs, often low-paying jobs as it is.
FOROOHAR: Absolutely --
VANIER: I mean, do you see that impacting the economy long-term is my question?
FOROOHAR: It's a fascinating trend and it's a fascinating question. I do think millennial workers in particular who frankly, you know, came up at a
time and came into the workforce post-great financial crisis, high levels of unemployment, having to take jobs that are not that great, benefits are
not that great, even in places like France, as they were a generation or two ago. Yes, I do think that there's kind of an existential crisis going
on, and I know that labor unions are really trying to work this for all it's worth because we've had this period of rising wages. You have suddenly
a little bit of power on the labor side.
And it's going to be interesting to see how that plays out. A lot of the jobs that are growing fastest, things like healthcare, education, those are
hard to do with automation. So, it could be that labor is going to be in favor in a way that it hasn't been for decades.
VANIER: Your level of concern -- last question, on the energy crisis that we're seeing? I mean, in Europe, electricity prices are 200 percent higher
than they were on average in 2019.
FOROOHAR: Yes, absolutely blinking red on European energy. I think it is going to be a very frightening Winter for Europe. And you know, we haven't
even talked about the geopolitics of this. You have Russia now moving gas through Ukraine, not dealing with the Ukraine anymore, going straight into
Germany. That is a very interesting not only factor in inflation, but potentially a geopolitical issue if Russia starts to try and, you know, cut
off European energy supplies for any reason, as it has done in the past.
VANIER: Rana Foroohar, CNN's global economic analyst, thank you so much for joining us on the show today. Now, U.S. officials in Colombia have
reported experiencing symptoms consistent with a mysterious illness known as Havana Syndrome. Now, sources tell CNN, some cases were so severe, they
required medical evacuation out of the country. CNN's Kylie Atwood is at the State Department with details. Kylie, what more are you learning?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, we've learned that there are more than a dozen U.S. officials and their family members
who have reported symptoms consistent with Havana Syndrome. And just to remind folks what Havana Syndrome is. It's this mysterious illness that
U.S. officials, diplomats and U.S. Intelligence officers around the world have been affected by. They are saying that they are coming down with
symptoms like nausea, extremely bad headaches, some of them have memory loss. I even spoke with one person who had traumatic brain injury as a
result of one of these incidents.
Now, this started in Havana, Cuba, in 2016, but the number of incidents that had been reported around the globe have just been growing and growing.
And now that there are these reported suspected incidents that happened in Colombia, there's a lot of questions about the fact that there are cases
that are emerging while top Biden administration officials are planning international travel or on international travel to the country where these
cases are coming up. So we had the former -- the CIA director traveling just last month, and while he was on a trip in India, there was a reported
case of Havana Syndrome among one of the people on his team.
It happened when the Vice President Kamala Harris went to Vietnam, there were some incidents around the time of her travel. And Secretary of State
Tony Blinken is expected to go to Colombia in a few days here, and now, there are these reported incidents that have happened over the last few
weeks. So it's just raising some eyebrows, particularly when we don't know exactly what is causing this or exactly who is causing this.
VANIER: Well, that was going to be my question. I mean, this started a couple of years ago in Cuba. Since then, it's been -- it's been diagnosed,
it's been observed in multiple countries. How has this remained such a mystery? Do we still have no clue who is behind this?
ATWOOD: Well, when you privately talk to former U.S. officials, former Intelligence officers, they point their finger to Russia. They believe it's
Russia. But formally, the U.S. government has not said that they believe specifically any one or any one group is behind this. There is an
investigation going on. It's led by the office of the director of National Intelligence, and the CIA. They are using the whole host of Intelligence
capabilities that they have to really probe this and figure out what is going on here. We know that the State Department is also involved in that
investigation, of course, because a lot of U.S. diplomats have been impacted.
But we really aren't a whole lot closer to knowing, you know, what this is, even though it's been going on for, as you said, a few years now.
VANIER: All right. Kylie Atwood at the State Department, thank you very much for your reporting today. And Tuesday's World Cup qualifying match in
London between Hungary and England took a nasty turn when fighting broke out between visiting fans and police. Now, English players took a knee
ahead of the kickoff, then some Hungarian fans started booing and clashing with police inside Wembley Stadium. Here it is. Police arrested one fan for
a racially-aggravated offense. CNN "WORD SPORT" contributor Darren Lewis joins me now. Darren, your reaction to this.
You have been on CNN so many times talking about this issue, racism in football. And I am not sure whether we're making any progress on this.
DARREN LEWIS, CNN WORLD SPORT CONTRIBUTOR: No, we're not. And I don't want to sugar coat this, Cyril, because you know where I stand. FIFA, the world
governing body of football, they have issued a statement today insisting they're firm and resolute in matters such as these. We can see the footage
of the lawlessness at Wembley Stadium last night. They also claim, Cyril, that they take a zero tolerance approach. They don't. They are weak. They
are weak and spineless, and that's the reason why football fans feel empowered to behave with the kind of impunity, the lawlessness, and the
defiance, the open defiance that we saw last night at Wembley and that we saw in the game between Poland and Albania.
To be clear, strong condemnation means nothing. Now, the claim that FIFA reject violence means nothing. They need to take action, but their action
is never enough. And that's the reason why I fear that we will still see scenes like last night again, and that you and I will be talking again.
VANIER: What -- so what does strong action look like?
LEWIS: Well, FIFA opened a disciplinary case against both Hungary and England as hosts of course of last night's World Cup qualifier. But the
facts are these, the conduct of Hungary's supporters has already seen games involving their country forced to be played behind closed doors as a
punishment. Has it worked? No. If you look at English clubs during the 1980s, when they caused chaos and destruction in European club
competitions, they were banned. And that forced them to take a long, hard look at themselves and they cleaned up their act.
For me, Cyril, they -- we have reached a point already where fans must be forced to realize the consequences of their actions. We don't just see it
in terms of violence, we see it in terms of racism and sexism and homophobia, and we have been here too many times to keep having the same
conversation, and that for me is why you've got to take action. When countries are removed from competitions, when the clubs are removed from
competitions, then you will start to see an upturn in the conduct of their supporters.
VANIER: You have described FIFA; the world governing body of football as failing to take action, as not being up to the task. Why is it that FIFA
can't do it when American sports leagues are taking decisive action? I mean, this week, we saw the firing of the Las Vegas Raiders coach for
homophobic, racist language that he used in e-mails. So, some will say it came too late, sure, but there has been decisive action and same with other
U.S. sports leagues.
LEWIS: My concern is that they're guided by lawyers and people who basically say, look, if you ban this team, that country, and they take
legal action, they take legal recourse and find a way to get themselves reinstated, that's humiliating for you. Do you want the optics of that? And
that for me is the reason why they are too scared to take the kind of action that will not just protect other supporters. You saw the footage
just there, but also protect players. There is footage of one of the Poland players being struck by objects after he celebrates his goal scored last
night. Is that acceptable?
Should players going to work be forced to run the gauntlet of fans who are hurling objects from the stands? I don't think so. I think it's shameful
and I think we -- it needs action, but I don't think we will see action because what the authorities do and what they've always done with this kind
of thing is talk.
VANIER: Darren Lewis, all right, thank you very much. I don't know what to say. As you said, the likelihood is that you and I, you and other CNN
anchors will end up having a conversation similar to this one probably before long. So I'm not too sure what the conclusion is, but Darren, thank
you for coming on. We'll have it again when it's necessary to have it again. Thank you.
All right, still to come tonight, the U.S. is reopening its borders in the north and south, as coronavirus numbers continue to trend in a good
direction. So, we'll have reports from Canada and Mexico on that. Plus, health experts say blood samples in the Chinese city of Wuhan could tell us
vital information about how the coronavirus pandemic started, but will we be able to believe the test results? Stay with us.
VANIER: Mexico's president is welcoming the news that the U.S. will reopen its borders to visitors from Canada and Mexico after an almost 19-month
Starting early next month, fully vaccinated travelers will be allowed to cross U.S. land borders and, by January, vaccinations will be required for
all visitors, even for essential travel. We have reports from both Canada and Mexico. Let's start with CNN's Paula Newton in Ottawa.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: A lot of relief here in Canada with the Biden administration finally relenting and opening its land
borders to Canadians.
I have to tell you, it isn't just here in Canada but in all of the cross- border communities from Washington state to Maine, those cities and towns that relied on that cross-border traffic, they are also breathing easier
today. Now Canadians will be allowed in, in early November, but there is the issue of having to be fully vaccinated.
And the issue is what does that constitute for Canadians?
Many Canadians, more than 1 in 10, either have AstraZeneca or have a mixed dose. They might have AstraZeneca with Pfizer or Moderna. They're still
awaiting news from the CDC as to whether or not those Canadians will be considered fully vaccinated.
But there is still a great sense of anticipation. Now that the border will be open, both sides, Americans were already let into Canada through the
land border in August -- Paula Newton, CNN, Ottawa.
VANIER: And CNN's Rafael Romo joins us from Mexico City.
There are plenty of people for whom going back and forth across the border is a way of life. That's been suspended for a 1.5 years.
So what's the reaction in Mexico?
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Yes, it's a very good point. Families with relatives on both sides of the border could not be happier.
Closing the border more than 18 months ago meant people belonging even to the same family were separated by the pandemic. And businesses on both the
American and Mexican sides have taken a big hit.
According to officials, the reopening is thanks to a joint effort by Mexico and the United States to improve vaccination levels. Mexico's health
department announced Tuesday that 75 percent of the country's adult population, nearly 67 million people, have received at least one dose of
any of the different coronavirus vaccines.
And according to health authorities, vaccination levels are as high as 95 percent in places like here in the capital. President Andres Manuel Lopez
Obrador reacted to the announcement of the border reopening, saying it was the result of hard work made by the governments of both his country and the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (through translator): We're going to have normality at our northern border. Mexico's made many
efforts and procedures with the United States government.
There have been many meetings with the goal of achieving the reopening of the border and, at the same time, we decided to vaccinate in the border
areas to help bring about this agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMO: And let's remember that three top U.S. officials, including secretary of state Antony Blinken, attorney general Merrick Garland and
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met with the president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, here in Mexico City on Friday.
The meeting was about a new bilateral security agreement but there were other issues discussed as well. The Mexican government announced last month
that more than 3.8 million people who live in 45 cities on six different states along the U.S. border had been vaccinated.
ROMO: Mexican foreign minister says improved vaccination levels meant a faster border reopening and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had
pushed since mid-September for a full reopening of the border, given the improved vaccination levels.
And, Cyril, American border towns were also pushing for a reopening because they have lost millions of dollars in the more than 18 months they haven't
had any Mexican shoppers spending in their businesses -- Cyril, back to you.
VANIER: All right, Rafael Romo, reporting live from Mexico City. We appreciate it.
Countries are learning to live with the pandemic, opening borders and businesses to a new normal but there are still so many unanswered questions
about how this whole pandemic began.
And China may be holding the key inside tens of thousands of blood bank samples. And officials say they're about to start testing them. Nick Paton
Walsh has this exclusive report.
WILL RIPLEY(?), CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ground zero for the illness sparking global unease.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is likely a brand new viral pneumonia.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): It is perhaps the last publicly known clue to where coronavirus came from. But
will the world ever learn the truth of what it says? Tens of thousands of tiny blood samples taken in Wuhan in the last months of 2019 are still
stored in a hospital there.
MAUREEN MILLER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EPIDEMIOLOGIST: The samples from the blood bank absolutely will contain vital clues.
DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: They could potentially be very revelatory.
YANZHONG HUANG, PROFESSOR, SETON HALL UNIVERSITY: This is the closest to the word (ph) we've seen of real time samples.
WALSH: The samples might reveal when and even where antibodies against the virus first appeared in humans in October or November two years ago. China
says they had to be kept for legal reasons for two years in case
of lawsuits over the blood transfusions they are from. But now, that limit is almost up for the key months at the end of 2019. And a Chinese official
confirmed to CNN that China is preparing to test them. Echoing a promise from July when they said they would share the results.
Related institutions from the Chinese side, he says, also express that once they have the results, they will deliver them to both the Chinese and
foreign expert teams.
The samples come from the disposable tubes that carry donor blood into the donor bag and it's something that WHO team said earlier this year they
wanted to examine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you found the origins of the coronavirus?
WALSH: They could contain vital detailed information.
HUANG: Might also help us to follow the trajectory of the spread of the virus, you know, by tracking the individuals who may carry the virus.
SCHAFFNER: And you would like to go back to find out exactly during which month this virus started to leave fingerprints in the human population in
MILLER: It is common practice to de-identify the samples. So, you could strip it down to basic demographics, age, gender, neighborhood where they
lived, all of those data will be available.
WALSH: (on-camera): But the same problem emerges again, it will be China and China alone, doing the testing and reporting their results. The U.S.'
recent report into the origins of the coronavirus and statements from allies have all demanded greater transparency from China.
But now, this key data is being examined a full two years later. And there's no plan as it stands for outsiders like the WHO to be allowed in on
HUANG: In order to make it convincing and credible the results, I mean, ideally, you want to involve, you know, the WHO and all the foreign
MILLER: I'm not completely certain that China has not done this testing and has not shared the results.
SCHAFFNER: What we always say is trust but verify. It truly would be better if the Chinese scientists would permit external scientists to be
with them to collaborate to do this all together.
WALSH (voice-over): But instead, this vital remaining clue risks being mired in recriminations and uncertainty again -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN,
VANIER: Still to come tonight, an Israeli humanitarian aid group is helping Afghans flee their country. How a billionaire, journalists,
activists and a new Israeli ally are helping pull off the daring evacuations. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER (voice-over): No relief in sight for thousands of residents evacuated from their homes on La Palma in the Canary Islands. As Spain's
prime minister visited the scene on Wednesday and said eruptions from the volcano will likely continue for the time being.
Authorities are now tracking three main lava flows; one of them forced the evacuation of hundreds more people on Tuesday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: And turning now to Afghanistan, where we're learning about a daring rescue operation by an Israeli aid group to help dozens of Afghans
escape their embattled country. Hadas Gold reports.
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A group of 125 Afghans, female police officers, judges, activists, even professional cyclist and their
families. Trying to find a way out by land or by air. Staying in secret safe houses along with way, for some new passports made by Afghan diplomats
abroad transferred into the country.
GOLD: These now former police officers, their identities hidden over safety concerns, described part of their ordeal while in hiding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We were hiding at the location with other 120 people. But the location was discovered by Taliban.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We studied for 18 years and we helped with a recruitment of women to the police ranks. Our aim was to
improve the potential of women and increase their numbers in the ranks of the security forces. In general, we worked very hard for Afghanistan. But
now this opportunity has been taken away from us.
GOLD: The already treacherous journey made even more dangerous because of the nationality of the rescuers. For Israeli NGO IsraAID, it was the second
evacuation out of Afghanistan in a month. Led by Yotam Polizer, who coordinated the rescues from a neighboring country. IsraAID had never
before undertaking such an ambitious rescue operation.
YOTAM POLIZER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ISRAAID: The way it all came together was very -- was not -- like was not planned. It was all kind of an
emergency response. After a very stressful couple of days of trying to cross through different places, including some very intense situations
where group was surrounded by Talibans, we decided that the only way out is actually a flight through the northern airport in Afghanistan through
GOLD: But negotiating with the Taliban to leave Afghanistan was only part of the battle. They needed a neighboring country, which we've been asked
not to name to transit through. And a third country with a group could be held before ultimate resettlement. A patchwork group of activists, wealthy
donors and more pulled every string possible.
POLIZER: People who, who were able to just pick up the phone and call this president or call this Prime Minister and influence them immediately to
open their border.
GOLD: The first group extricated by IsraAID made up a female cyclist and members of a robotics team ended up in the UAE. Something that may not have
even been possible just a few years ago. An Emirati Foreign Ministry Spokesperson celebrated their arrival and the joint operation with the
Israelis on Twitter.
GOLD: How did the Abraham accord affect your ability to work with the Emiratis?
POLIZER: I think it's absolutely affected. I mean, there's no way that we could do it before. And for them, there was a very special partnership.
They really appreciated the fact that he was like the first joint humanitarian mission. And in a lot of our conversations with really high
level government officials, they said that they want to do much more of that.
GOLD: None of these rescues could happen without some serious financial support much of which came from an anonymous Family Foundation and Canadian
Israeli billionaire Sylvan Adams. An avid cyclist, Adams felt drawn in particular to his fellow two wheelers.
SYLVAN ADAMS, FINANCIAL SUPPORTER: So many people but specifically women who have been given a taste of freedom and openness including riding your
bike and today will be at best persecuted and possibly lose their lives simply for riding their bicycles.
GOLD: And as a Jew, he says it's his duty to help where he can.
ADAMS: We have the -- this ancient cultural imperative. It's my obligation to try to practice Tikkun Olam, improving our world. So I get involved in
situations where I know, I'm blessed to be able to help.
GOLD: After a five-day journey, the second group made it to Albania. Well, there'll be hosted until resettlement. Hadas Gold, CNN, Tel Aviv.
(END VIDEOTAPE) VANIER: For the first time, Myanmar's ousted president is speaking
publicly about the first moments of the February coup. Win Myint was testifying Tuesday alongside Aung San Suu Kyi in their joint trial on
He said the military tried to force him to resign hours before the takeover and told the court that they told him to resign due to ill health. His
attorney told reporters the president turned down their proposal, saying that he was in good health and the officers warned him the denial would
cause him harm.
But the president told them he would rather die than consent.
Meantime, the opposition to the military is ongoing and the tactics have moved far beyond peaceful protests. Ivan Watson reports.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eight months after the military overthrew Myanmar's elected government,
resistance to the dictatorship has grown increasingly violent.
The opposition waging a campaign of bombings, assassinations and infrastructure sabotage. Destroying cell phone towers, for example,
apparently belonging to a telecommunications company partly owned by the Myanmar military.
WATSON (on camera): Have you yourself planted any bombs?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, a couple of times.
WATSON (voice-over): This man who asked not to be identified, once organized peaceful anti-military protests but now calls himself a guerrilla
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It used to be holding protest signboards. Now it's about using explosives, sometimes even using guns, for our own safety.
WATSON (voice-over): In fact, when I first interviewed him in March, he rejected violence.
WATSON (on camera): Do you support violent attacks on the military?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all.
WATSON (voice-over): For weeks, after the February first coup, opposition demonstrators staged colorful peaceful protests. But the military cracked
down hard, shooting at protesters by day, arresting them in their homes at night. As the death toll swells to estimates of more than 1,100, the once
peaceful protester says he embraced armed resistance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm no longer the same person I was before, just about six months ago. And I think that that applies for everyone in this country.
WATSON (voice-over): The army general who declared himself Myanmar's ruler calls the insurgents terrorists.
MIN AUNG HLAING, MYANMAR MILITARY CHIEF: Extremists and their supporters chose the act of terrorism instead of doing or solving it in line with the
law, they incited anarchy and committed armed insurrection.
WATSON (voice-over): Military run media claim the opposition carried out more than 2,000 bomb attacks and killed nearly 800 people in the last seven
On September 7th, Myanmar's opposition government in exile endorsed the many small sales of armed resistance that have cropped up calling on them
to attack the military regime.
NYI THUTA, FORMER MYANMAR MILITARY CAPTAIN: This is a war, because our military created war.
WATSON (voice-over): Until February, Nyi Thuta was a captain in the Myanmar military.
WATSON (voice-over): But he says the slaughter of civilians pushed him to defect.
WATSON (on camera): When you see these videos of a bomb exploding next to soldiers, how does that make you feel?
THUTA: I feel sick. But we must fight them, because they are killing our people.
WATSON (voice-over): Now a wanted man, the former officer says he doesn't fight in the streets but instead resists the regime online, n weekly Zoom
calls like this, during which he urges members of the security forces to quit. The urban guerilla fighter I talked to estimates more than 50 people
he knows in the opposition movement have been captured or killed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of my colleagues either are dead or in prison. I'm still lucky to be alive but I don't know when that luck is going to run
WATSON (voice-over): The stakes for these would be revolutionaries could not be higher -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.
VANIER: Great reporting there from Ivan Watson. We'll be right back with more news right after this.
VANIER: The actor who portrayed Captain Kirk in the "Star Trek" franchise made history today; at age 90, William Shatner became the oldest person to
travel to space.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five, four, (INAUDIBLE), two, one.
VANIER (voice-over): Shatner and three crewmates lifted off this morning on Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket. They experienced a new minutes of
weightlessness at the edge of space before the capsule carrying them parachuted to a safe landing in the Texas desert.
Once back on Earth, an emotional Shatner recounted his experience to Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM SHATNER, ACTOR AND ASTRONAUT: What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine. I'm so filled with emotion about what
just happened. I just -- it's extraordinary, extraordinary.
I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don't want to lose it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: CNN's space and defense correspondent Kristin Fisher has been covering the story all day from Van Horn, Texas. Here's what she shared
with Ana Cabrera earlier.
KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE & DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: it's going to be tough for William Shatner to top the monologue that he just delivered from the
desert floor shortly after landing. I mean, that was pure poetry.
And if 2021 is the year that space tourism really takes off, then William Shatner has just become the poster child for what space tourism can do, how
it can change a person. I mean, truly, he just expressed the power of space tourism.
And this is William Shatner, somebody who has had arguably one of the most interesting lives that any human could have, saying that he just had the
most profound experience of his life. And he said that it's something that he wishes every person on the planet could experience.
So I want to ask him about that at this press conference. I also want to talk to Audrey Powers, who was on the mission. She is Blue Origin's vice
president of mission and flight operations. And think about what she just experienced. She spent eight years pouring her heart and soul into this
rocket. She now got to fly on it for the first time.
And not only that, but it was her team, her people who packed those parachutes and send her up into space. So I want to talk to her about that.
And then there's Glen and Chris. Those were Blue Origin's two paying customers. And maybe this isn't an appropriate thing to ask you, but I'm
still dying to know exactly how much they paid for this trip to space and was it worth it?
So far, Blue Origin has not said. But I want to push a little bit and see if they might answer that question.
But I think it's safe to say, Ana, William Shatner certainly experienced that overview effect that so many astronauts talk about today.
VANIER: That was CNN's Kristin Fisher and, breaking news, she just spoke to William Shatner herself. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FISHER: William Shatner, you just made the most compelling case for space tourism that I have ever heard. You said everybody in the world needs to
What do we need to see?
SHATNER: Hang on but it's not tourism. Everybody in the world needs to have the philosophical understanding of what we're doing to Earth. And you
hear this so often, the necessity of cleaning our Earth and stopping right now the apocalypse that's coming our way.
But until you're up there and you see the blackness, the starkness, the ugliness from our point of view -- of course, space is filled with mystery
and all that and cosmos, people who have studied the universe will shudder at what I'm saying -- but in that moment is blackness and death.
And this moment down here, as we look down, was life and nurturing. That's what everybody needs to know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: That just in to us here at CNN, courtesy of Kristin Fisher's reporting in Texas.
Thank you so much for watching tonight. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" up next.