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Hala Gorani Tonight

Gang Seeks $17 Million for Abducted Missionaries in Haiti; Germany Blames Belarus for Directing Waves of Migrants Towards its Border; North Korea Launches a Ballistic Missile from a Submarine; North Korea May Have Launched New Missile from Submarine; Myanmar Junta Releases Hundreds of Political Prisoners; Maduro Accuses U.S. of "Kidnapping" Financier with "Malice"; Small Countries Develop Their Own Space Programs. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired October 19, 2021 - 14:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. A $17 million ransom request to release those kidnapped in

Haiti. Will the demands be met? We'll have the latest from the country's capital. Then Germany blames Belarus for directing waves of migrants

towards its borders. And it's telling the country's president to stop, but will Europe's last dictator listen?

And later, a show of power from North Korea as the country reportedly launches a ballistic missile from a submarine. More on that and the

implications of this act coming up this hour. We start with Haiti, $17 million, that is reportedly the price for freedom for kidnapped foreign

missionaries in the country. The country's Justice Minister tells CNN gangsters who abducted the 16 Americans and one Canadian are demanding a

million dollars each, a person, for their release -- remember, there are five children in the group.

A source says the hostages are safe and talks with the kidnappers are underway, but it is far from clear whether any ransom will actually be

paid. Matt Rivers begins our coverage in Port-au-Prince.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A desperate call for help as seen in a WhatsApp message obtained by CNN. The message, reportedly from

one of the 17 missionaries kidnapped in Haiti. It reads, "please pray for us. We're being harassed, kidnapped currently. They have control of our

vehicle with about 15 Americans right now, ladies, men and children." He then says they're near Ganthier, the place a source in Haiti security

forces confirms is where the group was abducted, 12 adults along with five children according to Christian Aid Ministries.

And we're learning more about the gang who may be behind the crime. Our source saying it's the 400 Mawozo gang, one of and if not the most powerful

in the country. Its dozens of members with a distinct hallmark, kidnapping. Nearly a year ago, the gang's alleged leader said, "me, I work, I'm a

gangster. I carry weapons. While I'm in a gang, I have guns, I don't carry weapons to terrorize. Carrying weapons doesn't make me a gangster or a


(on camera): Several miles down that road there is where our source in the Haitian security forces says this kidnapping was carried out. And in a more

normal situation, we would drive several miles down that road and go see exactly where this took place. But following the advice of both our Haitian

producer and our security team, we're not going to go any further than this because they say it's not safe. Down that road is the suburb of Pro-des-

Bouquets which is essentially completely controlled by the 400 Mawozo gang, the gang that authorities say carried out this kidnapping.

(voice-over): That gang and others have terrorized Haiti for years with kidnappings exploding since January, according to a human rights nonprofit

based in Port-au-Prince. Foreigners get the attention, but it's ordinary Haitians that are the vast majority of kidnapping victims data from the

organization shows. This man says kidnappings here have been happening for so long, why did no one talk about it then? Why is the world making such a

big deal about foreigners? It's because they're more important. On Monday, Haitians across the capital region took advantage of the renewed attention

by staying home.

Schools and businesses and transport services shut down, normally packed Port-au-Prince streets, empty. It was a quiet form of protest, people

demanding safety and security from a government in turmoil. "Nobody is safe", says this man, "even normal people going out to buy food get

kidnapped. It's even worse for someone in a car. There is so much fear in the country, even people living outside the country are afraid to come

back." Matt Rivers, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


GORANI: So investigative teams from the U.S. and Canada are in Haiti to help with the search. Let's get more now on Washington's response to this

crisis. I'm joined by U.S. security correspondent Kylie Atwood. So, what is the U.S.' role in all of this?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, we know that the U.S. is actively engaged here. The State Department has said that they

are coordinating the efforts. We know that there's an FBI presence on the ground in Haiti, of course, as well as a State Department presence. They

are working to secure the release of these Americans and get them home safely. Now, the White House has said that President Biden has been updated

on the situation and he continues to receive updates.


But the State Department isn't going a whole lot further with regard to exactly what things look like right now. If they know exactly where these

Americans are, if they are in touch with gang members, if they are going to take any action to make sure that these Americans get home, even though we

know they're actively working on it. Now, we're learning more from the Haitian side, of course. Our sources telling us that the Haitians are

saying that this gang is demanding $1 million for every single of those 17 individuals that were kidnapped.

And we're also learning that the Justice Minister said that basically this gang keeps these folks in a place, we don't know exactly where that is.

They have been warned not to harm those that they have kidnapped. They have been warned that there could be consequences if they do so, but there's

really no way to know if those -- this gang is going to abide by those warnings.

GORANI: All right, Kylie Atwood, thanks very much for the update from the State Department. The abductions highlight what's become an unbearable

situation for many Haitians, never feeling secure in their own country, on their own streets, becoming prey to these powerful gangs, suffering from

complete lawlessness in certain parts. Emmanuela Douyon recently addressed the U.N. Security Council describing those deadly kidnappings and gangs

massacring civilians with impunity. She's a Haitian activist and executive director of POLICITE; she's currently in Boston, Massachusetts, there are

concerns about her own safety.

Emmanuela, thanks for being with us. The Justice Ministry is telling our reporter in Haiti they have a general sense of where these Americans and

one Canadian are being held. Do authorities there have any power to go into some of these areas to try to rescue these people?

EMMANUELA DOUYON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, POLICITE: Thank you for having me. I don't think they have even tried to go where those people are kidnapped to

-- so I don't know if it's because they do not have the power or they do not want to, because like -- there have been so many kidnapping cases and

they never try to rescue anyone. Like most cases, people had to pay ransom or in some cases we don't know what happened but they freed -- the people

were freed. And it's hard to tell whether they do not have the means to go there, but we're sure that they know where the people are.

We know where they go with most people that are kidnapped, like when they release those people, they testify, they say where they were held, and we

know how it works. We know like what gangs are operating in the capital -- they have like enough information. Why --

GORANI: But this --

DOUYON: Don't they go there?


DOUYON: Why don't they tackle them? We're not sure why?

GORANI: Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt, but I mean this just really --

DOUYON: It's OK --

GORANI: Paints a picture of a country that is disintegrating, where police are afraid to go into some areas, where the government after having

suffered a huge crisis a few months ago with the assassination of the president just doesn't seem to have the power to go about the daily

business of a government. Is that how you would describe Haiti right now?

DOUYON: I would say that there is no political will to fight and security, and even the international community in Haiti, the international partners,

they act like there is no security problem. They are pushing for election. Imagine how we can have election in a country where they can kidnap 17

foreigners so easily, and even the U.N., they were saying that gangs federated and it was like a good thing. It doesn't make any sense, but this

is how they're treating this gang and security, deterioration of security situation. We know that there are 162 armed gangs in Haiti.

We know that most of them operate in the capital, in the --

GORANI: Yes --

DOUYON: West Department, but we do not know what's the plan to solve the problem, and we've been waiting for so long. And I'm glad that we're

finally talking about it, but it happened daily. People have been kidnapped on their way to work, on their way to church, even in their own homes in

some cases. It's not the first time and it's only because --

GORANI: Emmanuela?


GORANI: I was going to say to your point, we have -- I learned today that the number of kidnappings between 2020 and 2021 in the first nine months of

the year basically tripled. We have a graphic to show our viewers this. We went from 231 kidnappings recorded in the first nine months of 2020 to 638

kidnappings recorded in the first nine months of 2021. Why such a jump? What is going on?

DOUYON: There are many reasons why it's happening like this. First of all, impunity. They haven't arrested anyone like -- or if they did maybe it's

someone at random.


The gangs' leaders, we know who they are, they give press conference, and they haven't arrested none of them based on kidnapping charges. Therefore,

there is such an impunity. They can do what they want. They know that they do not risk anything. Like the cause -- the opportunity cause of kidnapping

someone for a gang is like zero. They can do it, have a ransom, they do not risk going to jail, they do not risk being killed by the police. It's the

police -- some police officer got killed like recently trying to stop a kidnapping. We're used to that, but we're not used to gang members being

killed or arrested while they're trying to kidnap people.

In a country like this where gang members have ties to some politician in some case, like we have human rights reports outlining this -- highlighting

this. In some -- in a situation like this, it's not surprising that they keep operating like this. And families who care for their loved one almost

always end up paying the ransom. It's on the credit --

GORANI: Yes, well, and what you highlight there is corruption, and it's something that your organization tries to fight against. I know you're in

Boston because you've had credible threats to your life made, and I don't blame you for taking them seriously. If you look at transparency

international's index for 2020, Haiti, it ranks 170th out of 180 countries. And when you describe corruption where there can be some -- sometimes

conversations, connections, even cooperation between gangs and politicians. I guess my question is how do you even begin to solve this problem for your


DOUYON: I think one way to begin to solve it is to give an example of what can happen to someone if they are involved in whether corruption or any

other type of crime. Because for years they've killed journalists, they've killed activists, recently they killed the president, and still no justice.

Justice hasn't been served. And if we want to give incentive for people to do the right thing and if we want to make it clear that we are prosecuting

crime, we are fighting corruption and gang members, therefore, we need the police, those who are involved in this. I wrote a report on the state of

corruption in Haiti, and I was really shocked and sad to notice that no one actually faced any charge based on corruption for the past years.

And everyone is claiming that they are fighting corruption in Haiti. We should begin there and then we need to strengthen the police, give them

more resources and training. Some people are calling for U.S. troops in Haiti. This is not the solution. We've tried it before. We've had the U.N.

sending troops, it didn't work --

GORANI: Yes --

DOUYON: We need to have a police that can actually do its job, and it is by giving them resources and more training.

GORANI: Right, adequate pay, training, resources. I mean, it's a problem - -

DOUYON: Exactly --

GORANI: We've seen in so many countries around the world where corruption is the first illness that then produces so many more. Thank you, Emmanuela

Douyon joining us from Boston. We really appreciate having you on the program this evening.

DOUYON: Thank you, thank you for --

GORANI: Now to a refugee and migrant crisis, we're calling it a crisis. It's manufactured, it has to be said, it's manufactured by one country and

one man. It is brewing at the European Union's doorstep. Poland has almost doubled the number of soldiers on its border with Belarus. Polish officials

say this is to cope with the record number of crossing attempts which show no sign of stopping. The German foreign minister is squarely accusing

Belarus of fuelling the crisis and has threatened what he calls hurtful sanctions. Fred Pleitgen, who's reported extensively from Belarus and

Poland in that region, is following developments for us this evening.

So, the Germans are basically saying that the Belarusian leader is unleashing these waves of migrants to put pressure on the EU, right?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly what they're saying, Hala. They're calling it state-sponsored human

trafficking. And they are essentially saying -- and these are the exact words pretty much of the German foreign minister before a meeting of the

European Union foreign ministers yesterday. He said that essentially he believes that right now Alexander Lukashenko is the head of what he calls

that state-sponsored human trafficking ring as he put it.

As the situation gets more dire there on the border between Belarus and Poland, the Poles are saying that this year alone, there were some 21,000

illegal attempts to cross the border into the European Union from Belarus. Obviously, all this fuelled by Alexander Lukashenko.


And more and more of the people who are managing to come through are ending up in Germany, and that's putting a strain on that country as well. We saw

that firsthand. Here is what we saw.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Trapped and desperate between Belarus and Poland, refugees begging for passage to Germany. And while many are stopped, an

increasing number are now making it to Germany, to this refugee center in the town of Eisenhuttenstadt, seventeen-year-old Gino just arrived from

Iraq via Belarus with her mother and sister and says Belarusian authorities even drove them to the border.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They put us in a truck and then they took us to the other border. They cut it and they told us to walk.

PLEITGEN: They cut the border?


PLEITGEN: So there was a wire and they cut the wire?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they cut the wire.

PLEITGEN: OK. The EU accuses strong man Alexander Lukashenko of state- organized human trafficking, luring refugees to Belarus and sending them across the border, a claim Lukashenko denies. Poland says it has sealed its

border with barbed wire and will even build a wall. Refugees are often trapped between the two sides for days and shoved back and forth. This

woman from Syria tells me the group she was part of slept under trees and ran out of food and water.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were five days later, we drink water from the -- from the floor -- on the floor, we don't have anything.

PLEITGEN: You drank water from puddles?


PLEITGEN: Few of the refugees stay in Poland, most try to move on to Germany. The Brandenburg state government says they also say they've gone

from 200 new arrivals in all of August to almost 200 every day now.

OLAF JANSEN, BRANDENBURG IMMIGRATION AUTHORITY: We increased the capacity here and we, of course, also sped up all of the administrative procedures.

Without compromising security and health checks.

PLEITGEN: Poland says the situation at its border with Belarus remains tense, and the interior minister of the German state with the highest

refugee influx tells me he wants the EU to get tough on Lukashenko.

"It's a question of tough international diplomacy", he says. "We as Europe cannot allow Belarus to do something like this. From my point of view, we

could also involve Russia, all diplomatic channels need to be used." But few believe solutions will come quickly. The folks at this refugee shelter

say they are already preparing for more arrivals and already clearing additional space.


PLEITGEN: And just tonight, Hala, the German Interior Minister, he was really part of that as well, and he offered to put more federal police

officers into that area between Germany and Poland, not just obviously trying to help secure borders there, to check documents there, but also to

actually house more of the new arrivals that are now making it to Germany having come through Poland, and of course, across that border between

Poland and Belarus. Hala.

GORANI: This is just such a cynical game using people, human beings as pawns. What is Belarus trying to achieve here?

PLEITGEN: Well, essentially the European Union believes that what Alexander Lukashenko is trying to do, Belarus is trying to do is

retaliation for some of the sanctions that have been levied against Belarus. Obviously, a lot of those sanctions in return for when Alexander

Lukashenko's government or his Air Force forced that Ryanair plane to land to try and get his hands on an activist who remains, of course, right now

in Belarus. And the European Union had some sanctions against the Belarusian state, against Alexander Lukashenko and some people around him,

and the European Union believes that he is trying to essentially blackmail them to lift some of those sanctions.

Now, the European Union of course will -- says will not cave into that pressure. The Polish government for its part says it wants to build a wall

to try and keep people out. That's also led to some criticism within the European Union as well. And you were mentioning, I think it's important the

sanctions that the German foreign minister was talking about, he's not only talking about sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko, but also against

airlines that are flying people to Belarus.

The Germans believe, the Europeans believe knowing that a lot of the people are going to try and get across the border. There are now direct flights

for instance from Middle Eastern destinations to places like Grodno in Belarus and there's very few people in the European Union who believe that

there's a lot of Middle Eastern tourists who want to go to Grodno. Hala?

GORANI: Right, well, understandable. Thanks very much, Fred Pleitgen. Still to come, grief is still raw in Nigeria a whole year after police

opened fire on peaceful protesters. Authorities are not giving us any answers. What CNN knows about the deadly shooting one year on is next. And

the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region takes an alarming turn. The U.N. says children were killed in Monday's airstrikes on the region's capital.

We'll take a closer look. Stay with us.



GORANI: Well, the tragedy continues in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The U.N. says three children were killed and one person was hurt in a Monday

airstrike on the region's capital. A second airstrike there reportedly wounded nine people and damaged homes and a hotel. Larry Madowo is

following the story for us. Larry.

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, it's not surprising that the Ethiopian government initially denied having carried out these airstrikes

in Mek'ele in the north of the country. This is the same cycle we have seen throughout this conflict since November when it began. Eye witnesses told

CNN Monday that they had civilian casualties and now the United Nations is actually confirming what many in the region already knew.


JENS LAERKE, SPOKESPERSON, UNOCHA (through translator): Local health workers in hospital in Mek'ele on the ground confirmed to us that three

children were killed and one person injured in the airstrike on the outskirts of Mek'ele yesterday morning local time. A second airstrike in

Mek'ele town reportedly injured nine people and caused damage to houses and a nearby hotel. So that was later in the day.


MADOWO: Hala, the last time that Mek'ele was hit by airstrikes similar to this was in November last year, the beginning of this conflict. As we are

coming up on the first anniversary of this operation in Tigray, it has spilled over into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar. The United

States, the European Union, the United Nations, many other international partners have been calling for a cessation of hostilities in that region.

They've been calling for access for humanitarian workers and for an investigation into atrocities that have been carried out here.

The United Nations says that at least 400,000 people are in famine-like conditions. Let's not forget that this conflict has already killed

thousands of people, hundreds of thousands have been displaced and it appears to be getting worse, not better. Hala?

GORANI: Thank you, Larry Madowo. It's been one year since Nigerian military and police officers opened fire with live ammo on peaceful

protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos. Several people were killed by live bullets, but we still have very few official answers on just what

happened. A judicial hearing which was supposed to release the findings of its investigation into the shootings today, well, it said the report isn't

quite ready. Stephanie Busari tells us what we've learned about the shooting from video and witnesses and a warning, there are many distressing

and graphic images in this report.




STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN SUPERVISING EDITOR, AFRICA (voice-over): It was a night of peaceful protest ended in bloodshed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are killing everything!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were peaceful. They came and start shooting at us.

BUSARI: A CNN investigation last year pieced together what happened when a Nigerian army and later the police opened fire on its own civilians as they

protested police brutality. One year on from the Lekki Toll Gate shootings, the Nigerian authorities have still not taken responsibility for what

happened that night. This woman's son was one of the protesters. She is too afraid to show her face for fear of re-criminations. Here is her son

earlier on the day of the protest, the Lekki Toll Gate clearly visible behind him. When his mother found him early the next morning, he had been

shot in the chest.


BUSARI: She tried to rush him to hospital, but he died in her arms in a car. At her son's grave, his mother said she wants the government to be

honest about what really happened that night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, they're releasing fire.

BUSARI: CNN's original investigation used time stamps, video data and geo- location to analyze hours of footage shot by protesters, tracking the army's movement to the Lekki Toll Gate where protests had been taking place

for nearly two weeks. This video appears to show the army shooting toward the crowd. Here and at the top of your screen here. The Nigerian army's

account of what happened has shifted over time. Initially, they called it fake news and insisted soldiers had only fired blank bullets into the air,

and police denied shooting anyone.

The Nigerian government threatened to sanction CNN for its report. At a judicial hearing, one general said there's no way they would kill their

brothers and sisters, but admitted --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The soldiers would be given both live and blank bullets.

BUSARI: This hearing was set up by the Lagos state government to look into cases of abuse and investigate the toll gate incident. Renewed requests for

comment to the army, police and the federal government have not been answered.

(on camera): It's been a year since people gathered here and at the Lekki Toll Gate to protest against police brutality and corruption. But many

Nigerians believe that the issues that drew protests 12 months ago still persist, and those who were here that night still seeking justice.

(voice-over): D.J. Switch was at the protest and live-streamed much of the evening on her Instagram. A year later she recalls how she thought they

were all going to die.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought it was the end for all of us there. You know, I mean when you sing the national anthem and wave your flag, your

Nigerian flag and the shooting doesn't stop, you only have one thought left in your mind.

BUSARI: Soon after the shooting, DJ Switch said she had to flee Nigeria, afraid for her safety. She hasn't been back since. Do you think justice is

possible for those who lost their lives?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice is there waiting to be done. Young people are asking every day for accountability.

BUSARI: For many of those who witnessed these events and who remain in Nigeria, an atmosphere of intimidation and fear has taken over, leaving

many too scared to step forward and push for answers. Stephanie Busari, CNN, Lagos, Nigeria.


GORANI: And still to come tonight, North Korea may have just launched two ballistic missiles from submarines. Why that would be a major and worrisome

step forward for its military. We'll be right back.




GORANI: North Korea has apparently just fired off at least one short-range ballistic missile and possibly two, raising new alarms over its increasing

military capabilities.

South Korea says the launch came from a navy shipyard in the port city of Sinpo. What analysts find disturbing is that it was launched from the sea;

therefore, possibly from a submarine.

If that is the case, it means Pyongyang is working to extend its strike capability beyond the Korean Peninsula and into the water. This comes a

month after the north launched what it said was a new hypersonic missile. CNN's Will Ripley is in Taipei, Taiwan, for us, gauging reaction to North

Korea's latest missile launch but also gauging its significance.

So what does it mean that possibly a missile was launched from a submarine?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, North Korea, if they actually were able to do this, to actually launch a ballistic missile from one of their

antiquated submarines -- I mean we are not talking about high-tech nuclear- powered subs like the U.S. and soon Australia will have, China as well -- North Korea is way behind in the technology.

They're loud, they're kind of clunky but they can still sneak up on a spot and fire a ballistic missile. If that's what North Korea actually did. Back

in 2019 they published a photo in their state media of this missile rising from the water.

It is a prototype for a submarine-launched ballistic missile launch but it was launched from an underwater platform. So we have to wait to see what

state media will show us. It will probably happen in the next hour or so. We will get an update from KCNA and probably pictures as well.

So putting it in context, it is obviously a -- for a small, impoverished country to have submarine-launched ballistic missiles and to be on the way

to developing hypersonic missiles that can travel five times or more the speed of sound, only China and Russia have them deployed.

And they're so dangerous they can actually basically render missile defense systems obsolete. Like all of the missile defense systems that protect 125

million people in Japan, a hypersonic missile, because it comes in low under the radar and can change direction, it would be able to beat those

missile defense systems.


RIPLEY: So this now submarine-launched ballistic missile test has the Japanese prime minister talking, Hala, about, you know, potentially

striking enemy base capability.

In other words, Japan, which has a pacifist constitution and a policy only to have missile defense systems, is talking about missile offense systems

to strike an enemy's base. It is mind-blowing to think how quickly things are changing in this part of the world, the militarization, whether it be

China expanding into the South China Sea, Taiwan investing billions of dollars in American-made weapons.

We saw some at the parade for national day, missiles they've been making, F-16s flying overhead, there's so much hardware. Japan moving missiles and

troops to their islands close to Taiwan in the event of some sort of an escalation, just with all of these planes and these boats.

And everything happening right now in the Indo-Pacific region, there's a growing risk, analysts say, of some sort of miscalculation. In many ways,

it feels like we are kind of in this arms race, especially with this hypersonic and this submarine-launched ballistic missile.

It was just last month South Korea put one of its own missile-ready submarines in the water, Hala.

GORANI: So briefly, what is North Korea trying to achieve here?

Because it is basically a display of strength. It is sort of chest thumping.

What does it want?

RIPLEY: Sanctions lifted, leverage; without going so far as to conduct another nuclear test or to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile,

the United States, I mean North Korea is already so heavily sanctioned, it is really pretty much impossible to squeeze them tighter.

But they want economically to open up. They don't want China's model but they want certainly to be able to have more access, you know, to be able to

sell their coal and their other items and to import more things, mainly from China.

There is a lot of import that happens from China, even, you know, kind of under the table. It really depends on how much the central government is

deliberately watching what goes in and out. North Korea, usually when I have gone in there, I find, even with heavy sanctions, they're doing

surprisingly well.

GORANI: How many times have you been to North Korea?

RIPLEY: Nineteen; it was supposed to be trip number 20 right before the pandemic. Hopefully, at some point, we'll at least get an even number.

GORANI: OK. Well, it is always great to have you there. Hopefully that trip can happen in the foreseeable future. Thanks very much, Will Ripley,

live in Taiwan, where it is 2:37 am .

It is not just North Korea's missile advancements that are triggering concern among America and its Pacific allies, it is China, too. Beijing is

denying a "Financial Times" report it just launched a new hypersonic missile from outer space.

As Oren Liebermann reports from the Pentagon, the worry is U.S. defense systems might not be able to stop a weapon like that.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The soaring tensions between the U.S. and China may have entered a new stratosphere.

For years, the U.S. has been working on hypersonic technology, weapons that can travel more than five times the speed of sound.

It has been a race between the U.S. and China, which may have just taken a major step forward. According to the "Financial Times," China tested a

hypersonic weapon this August, launched from a rocket in space.

The weapon, which glided back to Earth at hypersonic speeds, was capable of carrying nuclear weapons, the "Financial Times" reported. The Pentagon

would not comment on the report. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said officials are concerned with China's pursuit of advanced weaponry.

GEN. LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We watch closely China's development of armament and advanced capabilities and systems that will

only increase tensions in the region.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): China often boasts about its space program. This past weekend, it sent three astronauts to its new space station, showing

off its rapidly advancing civilian space program. But it never said a word about a launch in August until now, calling it a routine test of a


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What is separated from the spacecraft before it returns is its supporting device, which will be burned

up and dissolved as it falls through the atmospheric layer before dropping into the high seas.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said last month in China was developing new weapons with longer range and may have hinted

at this as well.

FRANK KENDALL, U.S. SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE: They have now gone from a few hundred miles to thousands, to literally around the globe. They have

gone from a few high-value assets near China's shores to the second and third island chains and most recently to intercontinental ranges and even

to the potential for global strikes, strikes from space even.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): It is not only the apparent technology the Chinese are developing; it is the intent behind it. U.S. missile defense

systems are designed to face east, west and north, officials say, detecting launches from Russia and others.


TAYLOR FRAVEL, DIRECTOR, MIT SECURITY STUDIES PROGRAM: Rather than flying over the North Pole, which would be the case with a warhead launched atop a

ballistic missile, this particular kind of orbital bombardment could come over the South Pole and evade U.S. defense systems.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): International treaties govern the use of space for peaceful purposes but this raises a more daunting possibility, turning

the final frontier into a potential future battleground.

LIEBERMANN: Even if there's no been official confirmation of this Chinese test by either DOD, State or the White House, this is something the U.S.

was tracking.

If you look at the 2020 China military power report from the Pentagon, the U.S. says China was working a number of different options for its nuclear

force and delivery options, including hypersonic glide vehicles -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, in the Pentagon.


GORANI: Thank you, Oren.

The coronavirus pandemic is behind all sorts of shortages around the world, from electronics to medical supplies, even liquor. Well, the latest one to

pop up is turkeys and demand is about to go up pretty drastically for the holidays. CNN's Anna Stewart takes us to a turkey farm in the U.K. to find

out why.


PAUL KELLY, TURKEY FARMER: Our orders now are where we would be on December the 8th because people are making sure they have their turkey

ordered. It is not going to be -- you know, I mean, there will be a shortage of British turkeys.

But it is not going to be -- you know, you don't have to go into the supermarkets and start fighting for your turkey or anything like that.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The British Poultry Association estimates there will be 20 percent fewer British turkeys on

shelves this Christmas due to a 15 percent shortage in the poultry workforce.

STEWART: How much of the labor shortage in the U.K. is due to Brexit, how much is due to the pandemic?

KELLY: There's no doubt that a lot of European workers went home during the pandemic and a lot of them haven't come back, whereas they normally

would have come back.

I think certainly in talking to the guys that come to work for us, they don't see a future here anymore. So they have got to find work near and

there's lots of work out there. It's so they don't have a future here so they're not coming back.

STEWART: What about the government's response we just need to pay this labor force more, we need British people to pluck turkeys and we need to

pay them more?

KELLY: I don't know, around here right now, there's no unemployment.

How can I honestly expect someone to give up their full-time job to come help us for five weeks?

That's totally and utterly unrealistic and there is no unemployment around here. We tried. Like I said, I would dearly love to employ local people. It

would be cheaper for us to employ local people. We wouldn't have the transport or the accommodation to put up, all of the hassle and everything

that goes with that five-week production. So that is just a crazy thing to say.

STEWART (voice-over): Kelly Farms says they're managing to match last year's turkey production but it is the first year in 20 they haven't

increased it.

STEWART: Does this mean the problems we see this Christmas, we will see again this Christmas and the Christmas after?

KELLY: If we do not get a seasonal workers' gig, the turkey production, you will see the U.K. turkey business shrink and shrink and shrink.

STEWART (voice-over): Anna Stewart, CNN.


GORANI: Could be a vegetarian Christmas for some people, not voluntarily.

Still to come tonight, crowds outside the gates of a prison in Myanmar are waiting for their loved ones to be released. Why the military junta decided

to free so many political prisoners right now.





GORANI: Myanmar has freed hundreds of political prisoners. It follows the junta's announcement it would release more than 5,000 people arrested for

protesting against military rule since a coup in February.

So why now?

CNN's Ivan Watson reports.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The military regime in Myanmar says its release of up to 5,600 prisoners is, quote, "to show

humanitarian grounds, bring peace to the people and participate in nation building."

While CNN cannot independently verify all of these prisoners being released, eyewitnesses have confirmed hundreds of detainees were released

from Yangon's notorious Insein prison, where they were met in emotional scenes by loved ones waiting outside the gates.

We haven't been able to get independent verification, particularly from the northwest of the country, where the internet has been cut off, as the

violent unrest in that part of the country has escalated.

Human rights groups, opposition activists are skeptical about the sincerity of the military government's pledges, arguing instead that this is a result

of political pressure and the increasing isolation of the military regime.

It was just last weekend that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, of which Myanmar is a member, it announced that Myanmar would be

excluded from a summit scheduled for the end of the month, due in large part to the consequences of the coup on February 1st, in which the military

overthrew a civilian-elected government.

The general who declared himself ruler of the country gave a speech on Monday, in which he responded to ASEAN, saying, hey, you shouldn't be

criticizing my government. You should be criticizing the opposition groups, who he accused of being terrorists.

He also said that some of the reforms that ASEAN was asking for are non- negotiable.

Some of the sharpest criticism of this government has come from the United Nations' special rapporteur, Tom Andrews, who put out a statement,

welcoming the release of prisoners but also reminding people that none of the thousands of political prisoners who have been detained since February

1st were legally held in the first place.

Going on to say, quote, "Many of those detained to date were tortured, some to death; others were victims of sexual assault, some were infected with

COVID-19 and perished while in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions."

One Myanmar media outlet, GVB, has confirmed three of its journalists have been released. We have not had confirmation of the release of any of the

members of the former overthrown government that had been led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now facing trial on a number of different charges -- Ivan

Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


GORANI: Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro, is accusing the U.S. government of human rights violations. That's because the U.S. extradited a

close Maduro ally, Colombian business man Alex Saab, on charges of money laundering.

Venezuela swiftly responded this weekend by taking six American oil executives into custody. The so-called Citgo six were under house arrest in

Caracas. The U.S. is demanding their release, calling them political pawns. But president Maduro accuses the U.S. of playing its own games.


NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): The United States government assured the unitary platform that they were not going to

take Alex Saab because that would interfere with dialogue.

Yet they did it. I'm not going to lie. They did it with malice, with criminal spirit. They kidnapped Alex Saab.


MADURO (through translator): They kidnapped him.


GORANI: Still to come, it is not just global powers that are turning their attentions to the heavens. Some small countries have big ambitions in

space. And they're on display in Dubai. We'll take a look.




GORANI: The next frontier is not just for global superpowers and the ultra rich. From Luxembourg to Gabon, smaller countries in the world are looking

to the skies. CNN's Scott McLean has been looking into some new cosmic opportunities on show at the Dubai Expo.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When it comes to space, it seems some of the biggest countries have the most astronomical ambitions.

China just sent its second crew to its newly launched space station; Russians just wrapped shooting the first movie in space; the Americans made

a 90-year-old Hollywood astronaut into a real life one and the Emirates are planning their own colony on Mars.

All of them have been keen to use Expo 2020 to show off their past accomplishments and future plans. But they're hardly the only ones with

goals out there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Asteroids contain valuable resources and maybe one of these days some of you will develop the technologies to extract and use

these resources.

MCLEAN (voice-over): That's the goal of Luxembourg, a state with a population of a city but the space ambitions of a large country.

MCLEAN: Most people can't locate Luxembourg on a map.

Why on Earth does it have its own space agency?

MATHIAS LINK, LUXEMBOURG SPACE AGENCY: Luxembourg has been active in space since many decades. And we started to -- in the 1980s, in the satellite

communications industry. And since then, the space sector in Luxembourg has grown year by year.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Today, Luxembourg has no launchpad and no astronauts. But it is home to some 70 space-related companies, totaling roughly 2

percent of the national economy.

Five years ago, it set out to be a leader in mining resources in space, to refuel satellites or build structures and solar panels, all with materials

found in space.

MCLEAN: You guys are really playing the long game.

LINK: We see that in the next years, we will see resource used on the moon,


LINK: Which is basically driven by all these different plans of both private and public to start to develop the more sustained and terminal

presence on the moon, which is very much going to the exploration.

And then in the second step, we would certainly also try to use resources from asteroids.

MCLEAN: Other small countries are not letting small budgets get in the way. Rwanda just launched its space program earlier this year, not to look

for life on other planets but to improve life here on Earth by using satellites to monitor crops and illegal mining.

And in Gabon, they're using satellite images to protect the forest.

TANGUY GAHOUMA, GENERAL DIRECTOR, GABON SPACE PROGRAM: What we want is that, when a tree is cut, we can see it, you know, on screen. And we can

see if it is legal or illegal. This is very important for us.

MCLEAN: Otherwise, it is difficult to do that.

GAHOUMA: It is impossible, you know. The forest, it is about 23 million hectares and Gabon is about 2 million population. The satellite is the

only way that we can do that now.

MCLEAN (voice-over): But of those 2 million people, about one-third live in poverty.

MCLEAN: A lot of people might be looking from the outside in and thinking, doesn't Gabon have better things to spend its money on?

GAHOUMA: Yes, of course. We hear that a lot of time. But this is because I think that people don't -- cannot understand the vision because, today, for

example, one of the most value for Gabon is forests.

But if tomorrow you cannot prove that your wood is legal, you cannot sell it. We can prove to the world that our wood is legal.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Gabon's space program is growing but it has no plans to send anyone to Mars -- Scott McLean, CNN, Dubai.


GORANI: So you heard there that William Shatner blasted off into space at the age of 90. By the way, he looked amazing.

But making it to 95 apparently isn't that impressive, at least according to Queen Elizabeth. The British monarch, quote, "politely but firmly declined

being named," get this, "oldie of the year" by a British magazine.

In a letter from her public secretary, Queen Elizabeth said she doesn't think she meets the criteria because you are only as old as you feel.

Now despite the rejection, the magazine, "The Oldie," that's the name of the magazine, is keeping the queen as its cover girl -- we should say cover


By the way, should I say that any award that includes the word "oldie" is probably going to be rejected by its intended recipient. Just saying.

Thanks for watching, everybody. I'm Hala Gorani. Not oldie of the year or of the day or of the hour. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" with Paula

Newton is coming up next on CNN.