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Kremlin Critic Alexei Navalny Moved To Prison Hospital; Russia Building Up Troops On Border With Ukraine; Super League Uproar; Jury Begins Deliberations In George Floyd Murder Trial; Thailand Grapples With Third Wave Of COVID-19; NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Flies On Mars. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired April 20, 2021 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, Alexei Navalny moved to a prison hospital. The Russian opposition leader said to be close to death after a 3-week long hunger strike.

Let the football wars begin, 12 of the most historic clubs in the world declared their support for the new super league. UEFA and FIFA preparing for a legal fight.

A nation on edge, as the jury in Minneapolis deliberates over charging Derek Chauvin with the murder of George Floyd.


VAUSE: With Alexei Navalny's life said to be hanging by a thread, the opposition leader has now been transferred to a hospital, after a 3- week long hunger strike which Navalny began in protest because he claimed he was not receiving adequate medical attention.

From the U.S. to the E.U., there have been warnings to the Kremlin that, if Navalny dies, Russia will be held responsible and there will be consequences. Russian authorities say Navalny has now been put on vitamin therapy. He's in a satisfactory condition. We have more now from CNN senior correspondent Sam Kiley.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cries of pain caused by poisoning.

An attempt to silence Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, permanently. It failed. Today he languishes in a penal colony hospital in his homeland. Again, his staff say close to death. Others must now speak for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see that a big fragile patient with an extremely high pain syndrome, with deterioration of leg and arm function, with extremely elevated levels of potassium, that might cause fatal arrhythmia or fatal heart block.

KILEY (voice-over): With 20 days into hunger strike over his demands of independent medical attention, the international protests of his failing health have been led by the U.S.

JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We have communicated to the Russian government that what happens to Mr. Navalny, in their custody is their responsibility and they will be held accountable by the international community.

KILEY (voice-over): Barely recovered from the nerve agent attack that nearly killed him, Navalny returned to Russia from Germany in January, where he was detained for violating the terms of his probation, in a years old fraud case, which he said, was politically motivated. Then predictably, sentenced and imprisoned.

KILEY: Is there an element here that he is seeking martyrdom?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, of course, not. He is just doing what he has to do, because he had to return because he didn't know anything wrong. He was not given the medical treatment. He used the hunger strike route as a last resort but still as a legitimate political instrument, a legitimate tool of the political fight.

KILEY (voice-over): Breaking down the walls of political power around the Kremlin will take much more.

KILEY: Any hopes that Alexei Navalny might have displacing Vladimir Putin from that building behind me remain pretty remote. Approval ratings for him are at 19 percent; for Putin they are about 64 percent. There are also concerns within this movement, that efforts being made here in Moscow to prescribe it as an extremist organization could snuff it out completely.

KILEY (voice-over): Meanwhile, the pro-democracy movement plans mass demonstrations on Wednesday against Putin and in support of Navalny, a man that the Kremlin is keen to dismiss as insignificant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He believes like a hooligan, absolutely, he trying to violate every rule that has been established. His (INAUDIBLE) all of that is to attract attention.

KILEY (voice-over): Whatever the outcomes for Navalny and his movement inside Russia, beyond its borders.


KILEY (voice-over): It's the next move of Vladimir Putin that will receive the most attention -- Sam Kiley, CNN, Moscow.


VAUSE: Bill Taylor served twice as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine 2006- 2009, returning for 6 months in 2019, when he challenged then president Donald Trump's decision to try to withhold military aid from Ukraine. Right now he is the vice president at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Ambassador Taylor, thank you so much for being with us.

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: John, thank you, it's a pleasure to be here.

VAUSE: Last, week along with new U.S. sanctions on Russia, President Joe Biden dangled out the possibility of a summit with Vladimir Putin.

Given Navalny's current health condition right now, should that summit, even in its current vague terms, still be on the table?

TAYLOR: I think on the table is the right way to think about it. The Russians know, certainly the Kremlin knows that if Alexei Navalny were to die in the care of the Russian government or if the Russian government were to direct a further invasion in Ukraine, then the summit would clearly be off. The summit will clearly be off.

But there is an incentive for the Kremlin to do the best they can for Navalny and to refrain from invading Ukraine. Just standing down those 100,000 troops that they have on the border. So on the table is the right way to think about it.

VAUSE: At Monday's White House briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki dodged that question of the summit. She did however repeat this warning of consequences for Russia, in the event of Navalny's death. This is what she said, here she is.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're not going to telegraph our punches. If Mr. Navalny dies, well, there will be consequences to the Russian government. And we reserve those options. But in the interim our directive is, of course, continuing to call for, push for his release and reiterate our view that he must be treated humanely.


VAUSE: It is "not telegraphing our punches" diplomatic speak for we haven't really been able to decide what to do?

If they have decided, the key is to (INAUDIBLE) consequences, will those at least get the Kremlin's attention, what will they look like?

TAYLOR: So the consequences, we've already talked about some of them. No U.S. president would meet with Mr. Putin if he had just invaded Ukraine or if he had allowed Navalny to die on his watch.

It sounds, like the Russians have moved Navalny into a hospital finally. He has been very, very sick and he's been treated very poorly without any kind of treatment. So maybe it is getting through to the Russians that they have a responsibility for Navalny.

Maybe this threat of consequences for either Navalny's death or an invasion of Ukraine, it could be having an effect.

VAUSE: You talk about the Russian troop buildup, which is happening -- continues to take place on the Ukraine border, also inside occupied Crimea. That has not slowed, last week they were talking about 80,000 Russian troops there. That number now according to the E.U. foreign policy chief, more than 100,000.

This is what he said on Monday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They cannot tell you where they have come, from but it is my reference here, the highest military deployment of Russian army in Ukrainian borders ever. It's clear that it's a matter of concern, that when you deploy a lot of troops, (INAUDIBLE).


VAUSE: This border territory is a piece of real estate that you know very well and most analysts believe a large-scale invasion of Ukraine by Moscow is not on the cards.

What are the possibility of limited escalations and what do you think is the game plan here by Moscow?

TAYLOR: John, we remember that the last time the Russians massed this size of force, over 100,000 troops, was in 2014. And they invaded, they invaded Crimea. They invaded Ukraine, and then a little bit later on they invaded Donbas. And I've been to both. I've been to Crimean and Donbas, I know this area.

That might have been triggered by Mr. Putin's concern that Ukraine was kind of slipping to the West, slipping out of his control. He might have a similar concern today. President Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, has taken some serious steps to distance himself from Russia.

He has sanctioned some pro-Russian oligarchs. He has shut down pro Russian TV stations, he made it clear that he would like to join NATO. And this could be something that prompts a dramatic action.


TAYLOR: If it does and if Mr. Putin were to go into Ukraine again, it would be a major turning point in European history and Russia would further isolate itself.

Economic sanctions, like they don't have right now, worse than they have now; political condemnation; isolation from the international community. This would be a major, major event in European history. It caught us by surprise in 2014; maybe it shouldn't have but it did. It won't catch us by surprise this time.

VAUSE: Bill Taylor, thanks so much for being with us, appreciate it.

TAYLOR: Thank you John. VAUSE: That tit-for-tat diplomatic row between Russia and Czech

Republic escalated on Monday, with Moscow expelling 20 Czech diplomats. That's 2 more than the 18 Russian envoys ordered to leave the Czech Republic.

Czech officials accuse Russian intelligence agents of a botched operation in 2014 which killed two Czech national. Police are searching for the same 2 men who have been linked to the Novichok poisoning 3 years ago in the United Kingdom.

The much talked about long expected football super league has arrived with a thud, that the football's governing body, UEFA, has described the 12 founding clubs as shameless and, says the breakaway super league is anything but.

He's accusing the owners of those clubs of holding football hostage to fill pockets that are already so full they can't hold much else. The super league is planning midweek matches and given the caliber of the clubs which will be playing, it would basically gut Europe's prestigious and popular Champions League.

Most of the anger and the outrage is coming from the fans.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just the legal head (ph) That's what happened to college, which means so much to our Liverpool (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE) It's all for money, greed. And that's all I'll say about it..

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's one of the saddest days in football.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: English football has been destroyed, rest in peace. We give it to the world and it's been taken away from us by greed, contempt, American owners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will kill the game, it will totally kill the game. I'm not interested in a European super league.


VAUSE: The next step now will be what penalty clubs and players could face for joining the breakaway league. "WORLD SPORT"s Patrick Snell, following this for us.

On the one hand you got the super league, seems they may have a ton of money, on the other there is the place of national teams and I guess the future of football.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, there's so much that's at stake here. This is the hot button that is rocking the beautiful game of football, there's no question about that. Emotions are running very high indeed. We just heard from those fans there, fans, John. They are the very lifeblood of the sport, the fans who, over the years have had their voice. Boy, are they speaking out about this now, big time. Hark back to the

league's United Liverpool fixture that took place in the Premier League on Monday, fans protesting outside the Allen Road ground there in Yorkshire, making themselves heard. That certainly getting a lot of traction.

Then how about this video as well from on the pitch, the players too. The Leeds United players wearing T-shirts as they warmed up with the words, "earn it," on the front. Leads, I should point out, not one of the club that will be participating the super league.

As I said, tensions and the fans having their say, emotions running very high indeed. It seems everyone has got an opinion on this and rightly so. It's a huge story for us here at CNN "WORLD SPORT" as well, we're tracking it every step of the way.

On Monday night in Spain, this is significant, John. We have the Real Madrid president, he's also the first chairman of the super league, saying on Spanish TV, that he feels completely sure that Real and other super league clubs won't be thrown out of the season's Champions League as a result. Highly significant, given the ongoing speculation on just that.

Or indeed in Madrid's case, La Liga as well. On Monday, we did get the views of the president of European football's governing body, and I can tell you the UEFA supremo certainly not holding, back brandishing plans as you said in your intro, for the super league as shameless. That word you mentioned, very, very much resonating.

Also homing what he cites as an apparent level of mistrust, when he spoke earlier with CNN sports contributor, Darren Lewis. Take a listen.


ALEKSANDER CETERIN, UEFA PRESIDENT: It's very hard to believe that somebody looks into your eyes 20 times and says everything is fine. It's all a lie, knowing that he's lying. It's really hard to understand, I was surprised, I said before that I was a criminal lawyer for years and I met many tricky people that I represented. But I've never seen something like that.


CETERIN: Ethics doesn't exist in this group.


SNELL: The president of UEFA then, you can see what I mean, John, when I say emotions are running high. They most certainly are. We are going to have a lot more of that interview on CNN "WORLD SPORT" coming your way in about 30 minutes from right now and do you hope you'll join me and our viewers live for that, John back to you.

VAUSE: Wouldn't miss it, Patrick. Thank you. Patrick Snell, live for us with the very latest, a lot more to see. Still to come on CNN, with the jury now considering the fate of former

police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with the murder of George Floyd, an entire nation is bracing for their decision.

Also, for the first time in decades, a Castro is not the leader of Cuba.

What will actually change in the Communist country?

Details in a moment.




VAUSE: The fate of former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, now in the hands of 12 jurors. The landmark case centers on whether the jury believes that Chauvin killed George Floyd with excessive and unreasonable force by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes or whether Floyd died as a result of drug use and underlying health issue.

The trial has forced a national debate on race and policing, in a country with a troubled history of police brutality. During closing arguments on Monday, both sides had one last chance to argue their case to the jury.


STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first. When you saw that video, it is exactly that. You can believe your eyes. It is exactly what you believed, it is exactly what you saw with your eyes, exactly what you knew.

It is what you felt in your gut. It is what you now know in your heart. This wasn't policing. This was a murder.

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: In this case, the totality of the circumstances that were known to a reasonable police officer, in the precise moment the force was used, demonstrates this was an authorized use of force.


VAUSE: The jury will resume deliberations in the coming hours but in the meantime this is a Minneapolis and in fact, much of the country, now bracing for protests and the possibility that a not guilty verdict will bring anger and chaos.

With us now, CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin, in Los Angeles.

Thank you for being with, us it's been a long time.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good to see you John. VAUSE: We have the entire country, now bracing for this verdict.

During the closing argument, the prosecution made the point, the police are not on trial here. Listen to this.


NELSON: So again a reasonable officer, based on the totality of these circumstances, is going to take all of this information and all of these policies, all of these trainings and a reasonable officer, at that point, would conclude that the amount of force that was being used by Officers King and Land, was insufficient.


NELSON: Was not enough use of force, to overpower Mr. Floyd's resistance to getting into the car.


VAUSE: That was not the right sound bite, that was actually the defense arguing about reasonable police action.

Do we have the correct sound bite from the prosecution talking about the fact that it's not the police who are facing trial here?

Can we roll that?


SCHLEICHER: This case is called the State of Minnesota versus Derek Chauvin. This case is not called the State of Minnesota versus the police. It is not. Make no mistake. This is not a prosecution of the police. It is a prosecution of the defendant. There is nothing worse for good police than the bad police.


VAUSE: That may be true for that courtroom but the big picture is, the police really are on trial here.

In that courtroom, why did the prosecution want the jury to bring their deliberations back to the actions of the one former police officer, Derek Chauvin?

MARTIN: It's important to, on for a few reasons. One thing we know is that when voir dire, when the jurors were asked questions about their beliefs, their values, some of the jurors responded, they have very fond feelings about police. Police departments and police as a profession.

So what the prosecution wanted to do was ensure that the defendant, in this, case Derek Chauvin, was the focal point of this case and that those jurors, who think fondly of police, did not feel like this, was somehow, an indictment of all police departments, of good police officers or on the police as a profession. VAUSE: We just heard from the defense, who had put this argument

forward about a reasonable police officer. What would a reasonable police officer do. How that decision would be impacted by events leading up to Derek Chauvin's actions. And, they actually made this argument that not enough force had been used against George Floyd before Chauvin, actually, got involved.

Much of the defense's case is kind of a lame argument. In terms of trial strategy, defense can play out for holdouts on the jury. It one argued, it could be enough to make that work, for a hung jury.

MARTIN: You are, right John. Sometimes, a defense strategy is not enough to get an acquittal but is to connect with one or two jurors, who will advocate for that defense position, during deliberations and, therefore, hang the jury resulting in a mistrial.

I think the problem here is that the defense use the word "reasonable officer." Someone counted at 118 times. But you could say that but reason is not where you say, it is what you do.

When you take into account what was done, the evidence presented by the prosecution, I do not think that the defense argument, that anything that Derek Chauvin did, particularly when you get to the 9 minutes and 29 seconds, will be considered reasonable by the jury.

VAUSE: There are 3 charges here. There is second-degree unintentional murder, 3rd degree murder, and 2nd degree manslaughter. They all revolve around this question of intent.

So purely from a legal point of view, if the prosecution made the case here for all 3 charges, would you be surprised if he is not convicted of all 3?

What are you expecting?

MARTIN: I'd be surprised. I think the prosecution put on, overwhelmingly, a persuasive and compelling case, on all 3 of the charges. Keep in mind, it is not intent to kill George Floyd. The second degree murder charge requires intent to commit an assault.

The 3rd degree murder charge does not require an intent to, again, kill Mr. Floyd. It requires a culpable negligence, combined with the depraved mind. I think when you look at the evidence, when you look at those 9 minutes and 29 seconds, particularly the 3 minutes or so, where Mr. Floyd is no longer responsive, when he has no pulse, when he is not breathing, when he is clearly not resisting and you still have the knee on the neck, I think that is the critical time period that there is not going to be any explanation.

We didn't hear it from Derek Chauvin, we didn't hear it from many of the defense witnesses and I don't think jurors, using their common sense and believing what they saw, are going to be able to exonerate Derek Chauvin for that time period, where he remained on the neck of a non responsive George Floyd.

VAUSE: If there is a guilty verdict for one of the lesser charges and not on the more serious ones, what are the options for the prosecution?

MARTIN: Prosecution's case is over. At this point, the prosecution, if they get guilty on, say, the manslaughter charge or 3rd degree murder charge, we should keep in mind, those still carry significant jail time. The manslaughter is 10 years, the 3rd degree murder is 25.

So from a prosecution standpoint, they would have gotten what they wanted out of this, which is accountability. That is what this case is really about. There was justice for George Floyd but accountability, as it relates to this particular police officer.

VAUSE: Just wanted to know if that lesser charge would be enough.


VAUSE: And the hundreds of thousands of protesters who are waiting to hear what this verdict is, in the coming days and coming hours. Areva, thank you, Areva Martin in Los Angeles.

MARTIN: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: The wildfire at Cape Town's Table Mountain National Park is contained more than 24 hours after it began.


VAUSE (voice-over): Winds reached up to 25 kilometers an hour, spreading the flames and keeping water bombing helicopters grounded. The fire gutted a historic reading room at the University of Cape Town library.

Private homes and historic structures also damaged. A suspect is under arrest after confessing to setting one fire. Officials are investigating whether he was responsible for the first fire close to the university.


VAUSE: It is the end of a six-decade long Castro era in Cuba, not the end of the Castro ideology. The new leader of Cuba's ruling Communist Party, president Miguel Diaz-Canel, is emphasizing continuity, as a new generation takes over. But he faces dissent and economic challenges as Patrick Oppmann, reports.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Already president of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel is also the first head of the island's powerful Communist Party since the revolution to not be named Castro.

He was chosen, on Monday, as the first secretary in a closed-door congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the only political party allowed on the island. After Raul Castro said, he was retiring, if not completely ending his influence.

"You will be consulted on the most important strategic decisions affecting our nation," Diaz-Canel said of his predecessor. At 61, Diaz-Canel is far younger than the 80- and 90-year-olds, who fought alongside Fidel Castro.

Since the revolution, they have occupied most of the top positions in Cuba. U.S. officials, who have met Diaz-Canel, say that while he is less likely to lecture about the evils of imperialism than the Castros, he is a firm believer in the system they created.

JEFF FLAKE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Really, to move on and to enact the kind of reforms that Cuba will need to enact, they need to move well beyond the Castros.

OPPMANN (voice-over): While few expect younger officials like Diaz- Canel, who was handpicked by Raul Castro, to deviate from the party line, the symbolism of a Cuba without the Castros officially in charge is striking.

OPPMANN: Most Cubans were born after the 1959 revolution and, until recently, have only known Castro at the helm of their country. This famous family has impacted Cuba so deeply, is beginning to let go of power but the question is whether the Castro revolution can survive without them.

OPPMANN (voice-over): Despite the injection of new blood at the top, the Cuban government is struggling to adapt to the times. Critics on the island using increased internet access to show, what they say, is growing poverty and injustice.

An economy, ravaged by COVID, leading to longer and longer lines for food. The Trump administration, placing some of the toughest sanctions on Cuba in decades, which, President Biden, so far, appears reluctant to lift. As he announced his retirement, Raul Castro said he was leaving power but not giving up his fight.

"I will continue soldiering on, as one more revolutionary combatant," he says, "ready to make my modest contribution until the end of my life.'

But Castro will turn 90 in June. The age his brother Fidel was, when he died. In eastern Cuba, Castro has already built a tomb for himself, next to the grave of his wife, who died in 2007.

Cuba's future is uncertain. But the era of the Castros' uninterrupted, long rule, is coming to an end -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


VAUSE: After a record-breaking 1 million cases in 5 days, parts of India now under lockdown. More on a desperate shortage of oxygen and hospital beds.

Also, tightening pandemic restrictions in Thailand, as the country deals with a third wave.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: The rate of vaccinations was picked up, so, too, the rate of infections. With confirmed cases of COVID-19, worldwide, rising for the eighth week. The World Health Organization says more than 5.2 million cases were reported globally in the last seven days. That's the most in one week. With an alarming rise among younger adults, deaths have increased, as well, for a fifth straight week.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: It took nine months to reach one million days, four months, to reach two million, and three months to reach three million deaths. We have the tools to bring this pandemic under control in a matter of months, if we apply them consistently and equitably.


VAUSE: Meantime, environmental activist Greta Thunberg has donated $120,000 to support COVAX and equitable access to vaccines. Right now, India's capital is under lockdown as the country sees a terrifying surge in cases. Delhi is joining at least 13 other states imposing restrictions and curfews, as well as lockdowns.

The healthcare system is starting to crumble, the shortage of ICU beds, as well as oxygen and key medical supplies, and now, England is adding India to its travel ban list from Friday. This comes after India reported more than a million new cases in just five days. Healthcare experts say the situation is now dire.


RAMANAN LAXMINARAYAN, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR DISEASE DYNAMICS, ECONOMICS & POLICY: Things are out of control. There's no oxygen. A hospital bed is hard to find. It's impossible to get a test. You have to wait over a week and pretty much, every system that could break down in the healthcare system has broken down.

So, what we're seeing is a situation that was created by complacency, and this is exactly the sort of surge one might have expected a year ago but was averted because of a massive lockdown.


VAUSE: The Indian government is now planning to approve rollouts for the COVID vaccine for May 1.

Meantime, Thailand is also struggling with another wave of infections. Cases dipped slightly on Monday after days of record highs. Strict new measures are now in place.

CNN's Paula Hancocks, live in Bangkok with the very latest. It appears those measures are taking some effect.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. Yes, the numbers are still above 1,000 per day, which is what we've been seeing. A few days have been record numbers, as well. Now of course, it is all relative. We are nowhere near as bad here in Thailand as some other countries around the world. But for this country, this is the worst outbreak they have had since the pandemic began.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): It's one of Thailand's most popular festivals, Songkran, for the new year, better known as the water festival, where you are almost guaranteed to get soaked the second you walk outside.

It was canceled for a second year running last week. The country is now starting the new year gripped by record numbers of new coronavirus cases.

(on camera): Considering this latest outbreak in Bangkok started within the entertainment district, and inevitably, it is streets like this one that have shut down first. All bars, all nightclubs, all massage parlors have been ordered to shut.

(voice-over): Kho San Road, known as Backpacker Central, used to see the vast majority of business from foreign tourists. Local say they've been struggling to get by for a year. And now, this latest outbreak has sparked a mass testing campaign in the neighborhood, and businesses have been forced to close once again.

YADA POMPETRUMPA, STREET VENDOR SPOKESWOMAN (through translator): One hundred and fifty percent of businesses have closed down, but once the country has opened up, they may come back. The only problem is, we haven't seen a solid plan for opening up the country.


HANCOCKS: The plans at this point are more focused on dealing with the immediate health crisis, as hospital beds fill up. Field hospitals, to ease the strain, and house asymptomatic patients. Positive cases are not allowed to shelter at home.

(on camera): This gives us some idea of just how bad officials here in Thailand fear that this latest outbreak could get. This sporting arena, just on the outskirts of Bangkok, can hold up to about 500 COVID patients. And this is being replicated across the country. They have, at this point, more than 20,000 extra field hospital beds.

ASWIN KWANMUANG, BANGKOK GOVERNOR (through translator): I think it will gradually get better, as is we put plans in place, but we need cooperation from the public.

HANCOCKS: Officials are concerned that the latest outbreak could jeopardize plans to open up at least some of its borders to foreign tourists in a few months.

Plans were being made to open up the island of Phuket in July, but it's a plan that relies almost entirely on vaccination. In Thailand, that process is slow.

With a death toll around 100, the need to secure doses was less acute than elsewhere. But now, in the midst of its worst outbreak yet, the government finds itself lower down the priority list in a world desperately short on vaccines.


HANCOCKS: Officials are now discussing the possibility of having COVID patients recover at home, if they're asymptomatic, or if they don't have severe symptoms, to try and free up more hospital beds.

It's something we've seen in other countries across Asia, including South Korea. And they've also got another idea, which they have started, called hospi-tels, which are basically hotels which double up as hospitals. So again, for asymptomatic patients, they don't have to take up a hospital bed, which would be far better used by someone with severe symptoms -- John.

VAUSE: Paula, thank you. Paula Hancocks, live for us in Bangkok.

Well, after downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic, Mexico's president will receive his first dose of a COVID vaccine on Tuesday. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will be injected with the AstraZeneca shot to help build public confidence in the vaccine.

Mexico has continued using AstraZeneca, despite reported risks of rare blood clots.

Coming up, a Wright brothers moment on the red planet. NASA's Ingenuity helicopter takes flight on Mars. How they did it, and what's next, when we come back.


VAUSE: A fatal crash involving a driverless Tesla is under investigation in Texas. Police say both victims were passengers. The driver's seat, they say, was empty.

The 2019 Model S appeared to go off the road after a curve, hit some trees at speed. Preliminary (ph) reports say the crash sparked a fire in the batteries. It kept reigniting and took four hours to put out.


Tesla CEO Elon Musk has tweeted the autopilot feature on the car was not enabled. He says that's based on data logs which have been recovered.

Well, an historic moment for NASA engineers. They're calling it a dream come true. On Monday, NASA's Ingenuity helicopter lifted off on the Martian surface and flew. Short and sweet, but it flew.

NASA will raise the bar on Ingenuity's next flight, fully expecting the little guy will crash up there sometimes.

CNN's Michael Holmes has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MIMI AUNG, INGENUITY PROJECT MANAGER, NASA: We can now say that human beings have flown a rover craft on another planet.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): It's the little helicopter with a very big mission. NASA's mini chopper, named Ingenuity, became the first aircraft to achieve powered, controlled flight on another planet.

AUNG: Beyond this first flight, over the next coming days, we have up to four flights planned and increasingly difficult flights, challenging flights. And we are going to continually push all the way to limit of this roto-craft.

HOLMES: A short hop that is the culmination of many hits and misses. Ingenuity has so far survived the frigid Martian nights after separating from the Perseverance rover, relying on its solar-powered batteries to fire up internal heaters.

But an initial spin test of its rotors delayed a scheduled flight attempt due to problems with the timer.

NASA says the helicopter later successfully completed the test, spinning its blades at 2,400 revolutions per minute, the speed it needs to take off.

Scientists say having a bird's-eye view of the terrain could revolutionize the way we study new planets.

MICHAEL WATKINS, DIRECTOR, JET PROPULSION LABORATORY, NASA: What the Ingenuity team has done is given us the third dimension. They freed us from the surface now forever in planetary exploration, so that we can now make a combination, of course, of driving on the surface and doing reconnaissance on inaccessible places for a rover.

HOLMES: Flying on the red planet presented some difficult engineering challenges, because of the low gravity of Mars and an atmosphere that is 1 percent the density of Earth's.

NASA engineers sent along a good luck charm. Attached to Ingenuity is a piece of fabric from the wing of the Wright brothers' Flyer, which carried the first powered controlled flight on Earth.

Michael Holmes, CNN.


VAUSE: Well, for the first time, an Asian superhero will have the lead in a Marvel movie. "Shang Chi" will feature Chinese-born Canadian actor Simu Liu as the master of Kung Fu.



(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: "Shang Chi," one of several films Marvel plans to release in theaters before the end of the year. The Disney-owned company is looking to make up for multiple delays which have been caused by the pandemic.

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