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Trump Flies to California, Gets Briefed About the Wildfires; Southern Louisiana Hurricane Watch; Trump Held Indoor Rally; Bahrain Joins UAE to Re-establish Relations with Israel; OPEC Celebrates 60 Years. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 14, 2020 - 02:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN HOST: Millions of acres burned, buildings reduced to rubble, and thick clouds of ash choking the air as dozens of major wildfires rage in the western United States.

Yet another tropical storm, barreling towards the U.S. Gulf Coast and evacuations ordered, once again in Louisiana.

And Tiktok may have found a U.S. partner to appease President Trump, but it's not Microsoft as many had expected.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, I am Paula Newton. "CNN Newsroom" starts right now.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with officials in California in the hours ahead on those record wildfires. Nearly 100 blazes are burning at this hour right across the western United States. More than 4.5 million acres in several of those states burning.

Thirty-three people are now confirmed dead. That number could rise as searchers get into more communities. Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, will address the fires later from Delaware.

These are the region's worst wildfires on record. And we are just at the start of the peak fire season. CNN's Paul Vercammen is in southern California where tensions are high and resources stretched way too thin.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The foothills, northeast of Los Angeles, Arcadia, this is the bobcat fire. It's burned 33,000 acres, and if you look behind, they are trying to dose these flames right now with water drops from helicopters.

The air is so bad, not only is it unhealthy beyond belief, polluted up and down the West Coast, but they cannot fly the retardant dropping planes or the super scoopers from Canada that can drop huge volumes of water and then go ahead and reload with water in let's say a reservoir, at the ocean or a river.

So, they are going to make a stand right here because this is the most important flank of the bobcat fire. And they are also asking for some mandatory evacuations in these neighborhoods and here is why. They want to be able to move fire equipment, especially engines, up and down the streets. And neighbors seem to understand this.

So you're obviously not under the mandatory evacuation order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I understand why they do that. They just don't want people in the way when the power goes off or when they have to shut off the gas. You know, you don't really want to be at your house anyways.

VERCAMMEN: And on these western wildfires, 30,000 firefighters spread out to battle these blazes. And normally, they have quite a few more firefighters on each of these lines, but there are so many of these fires burning at once, some hundred major fires right now, that they say the system is just taxed and they just have to spread things out, marshal their resources carefully, and do the best they can.

So, right, now here in the foothills of Los Angeles, this fire has been burning for more than a week. Residents say, in some ways, they feel helpless, but they are grateful for the job that the firefighters are doing to keep this out of their neighborhoods. Reporting from Arcadia, I am Paul Vercammen. Now back to you.

NEWTON: Andrew Phelps, the director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, he joins me now from Beaverton. Mr. Phelps, I honestly cannot imagine what your day is like, but given all of the days you have gone through, today, was there good news about how far you guys could get with containing some of these fires?

ANDREW PHELPS, DIRECTOR, OREGON OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Yes. The firefighters that have been working really around the clock for the last week on many of these fires. We're able to make more progress today, some of the evacuation levels have been lowered.

Weather has cooperated in terms of temperature. We've seen lower temperatures and we've seen higher humidities, which all aids in the firefighting effort.

However, that temperature is meant that the smoke is lingering making it much more difficult for us to get aircraft off the ground to have an aerial firefight which is really what we're going to need to be effective and to fully contain these fires.

NEWTON: And so tell me a little bit about that because I know this has been a problem. It's been a problem you guys haven't been able to even get back to communities that have already been devastated because of the smoke. Do you see a break in the weather, significant in the next day or two to be able to do that?

PHELPS: We do see a significant improvement over the next 24 to 48 hours. We've got rain in the forecast over many of the burn areas.


That's going to be helpful, but quite frankly, because this was such a wind driven event, cut down power lines, downed dangerous trees, it's going to be some time before we can start really making progress and getting folks back into these communities that have been evacuated and really to get search teams back into the areas to begin looking for victims.

NEWTON: You know, we heard so much about the fact that there are people missing still. I mean, how many communities are you trying to get back into and how important is it that you get in there as soon as possible?

PHELPS: There are dozens of communities that need to be searched and assessed for damage. Primarily, we're looking at four major areas of concern that had the most fast moving fires, and the most impacts to residential communities in particular.

Jackson County, which is down near the Oregon-California border, Lane County which is near Eugene, Oregon or (inaudible) east of Eugene, Oregon. Where I am here in Salem, Oregon, we had a big fire that has impacted a lot Marion County.

And then in the Portland metro area we have the riverside fire that impacted a number of areas of Clackamas County. So, those are the four main areas where we're hoping to get search teams in later this week.

NEWTON: When you look at communities like Estacada for instance, I mean, I know they were on edge. Do you think containment has worked? I mean, are you hopeful?

PHELPS: Cautiously optimistic I guess would be the term that I would use. Fire can be so unpredictable. All it takes is a couple of hours of a stiff breeze that's heading in the wrong direction, and fires can certainly take a turn for the worse, which is why we are still managing this as a life safety event, and we're still working to keep folks out of those areas and we have thousands of homes still under that level three evacuation.

NEWTON: Yes. And you know, Estacada, just to give one example of what one town is going through, you know, everyone evacuated from there, and, yet now sitting in shelters or with relatives in the state wondering, will I have a home to go back to? How stressful has this been for everyone?

PHELPS: Disasters like this are always anxiety inducing especially for those who have been displaced from their homes. I need to commend the folks that are supporting those who have evacuated, all the professional staff and volunteers of the Red Cross, other voluntary organizations that have come in to support the shelters.

And our state, local and federal government partners have been incredible with lending support to folks while they are in that shelter orevacuated from their homes. We do know it's going to be a long term recovery effort to get folks back on their feet, especially those whose homes were most severely impacted.

NEWTON: Yes. It really is a tribute to the people of Oregon that, you know, call out went for donations and some communities actually said - had to say stop sending, we've got enough now. Listen, you got your hands full. Thanks so much for the updates.

So many people really hoping for good weather and that should get all that good weather that you need, which is in the form of rain, no wind, low temperatures. We'll keep our fingers crossed. Appreciate it.

PHELPS: Thanks so much, Paula.

NEWTON: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is watching the fire closely for us, of course. And again, they need that turn in the weather.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: They do. Mother Nature always has the upper hand of these wildfires, Paula, especially when you were talking about fires that are of this size, this magnitude, and the longevity of course, in recent weeks.

And you will notice about 70 percent of the western United States, in its entirety, underneath drought conditions at this hour. So, any rainfall we get certainly going to help the firefighting efforts. You will notice about 100 large active fires across the western United States as well.

And this massive area of high pressure had been firmly in place. In fact, look into this. And we haven't seen rainfall in at least three weeks across some of these areas, and even then, it was just minimal rainfall.

And of course, with this particular set up, you'll notice the air quality concerns unhealthy, very unhealthy up towards hazardous. Easily, the poorest air quality across anywhere of the major cities around the world I looked into.

New Delhi, typically notorious for poor air quality, guess what. It is worse in Seattle than in New Delhi and you'll see a perspective of what typically a September day looks like where this was yesterday in 2019 on the left versus on the right, yesterday in 2020.

And of course, the scenes out of the Emerald City as they choke underneath an incredible amount of haze and smoke. And just the danger of this particulate matters, Paula, when you look at this, there are about 2.5 microns in diameter, which is roughly 25 or so times smaller than the average diameter of a human hair.

So, if you think about all these in the air, of course, if you breathe this for a prolonged period, it becomes a very, very dangerous situation. Which is why it's good news that some rain at least in the forecast in the coming couple of days, Paula.

NEWTON: Yes. And it's not the only thing you're following. I mean, there is dangerous weathers also threatening the U.S. Gulf Coast. Tropical Storm Sally is expected to strengthen and could make landfall Tuesday morning near New Orleans.

Get this, a Category 2 hurricane. It is packing maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour and parts of coastal Louisiana are under mandatory evacuation orders as Sally could bring hurricane-force winds and life-threatening storm surge to the region. [02:10:03]

I mean, Pedram, this is the last news that Louisiana needs, especially given they are still recovering from the last storm.

JAVAHERI: That's right. It was Laura a few weeks ago that made landfall in southwestern Louisiana. This particular storm threatening southeastern Louisiana.

In fact, the 2:00 a.m. advisory coming in from the National Hurricane Center, shifting the track a little farther towards the east, potentially putting Mississippi more in the direct line of impact. But regardless, this is a storm system, as you noted, Paula. It is going to strengthen rather quickly here in the next couple of days.

And potentially, within 24 hours, the steering environment just gives up on it. So essentially it puts on the parking brakes and could sit here from Monday night, through Tuesday, potentially. Maybe on Tuesday it moves over portions of Louisiana and Mississippi.

And that is why there is a significant risk here for heavy rainfall. This could very well be the most destructive storm system when it comes to the amount of water it brings down across portions of the United States all season because we expect as much as 15 to 20 inches of rain to come down just because of the very slow progression that's forecast with the storm, by the time we get to tomorrow night, and eventually into Tuesday morning.

And that is exactly when you look at here. When you see storm systems that are moving say 3, 4, 5 miles per hour. Typically, they drop down 20 plus inches of rainfall. It is that forward speed of a storm that decreases the amount of rainfall because of course it moves away rapidly.

And of course, with any storm, especially a Category 2, if it gets there, storm surge forecasts are upwards of 11 feet or essentially the top of a first story home, anywhere along the coastal regions of the Gulf Coast. So, this is going to be a very, very dangerous storm as it approaches within the next 24 hours, Paula.

NEWTON: Yes, and we'll be keeping a close eye on it. Pedram, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

President Trump is once again putting politics before science. He has held another campaign rally that experts say is a huge health risk because this one was actually indoors. Plus, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is heading to Washington to celebrate a historic agreements with two Arab gulf nations. We'll have details, when we come back.



NEWTON: With nearly 200,000 Americans dead from coronavirus, President Trump has held yet another indoor campaign event. Now, just a few hours ago, he rallied thousands of supporters in Henderson, Nevada outside Las Vegas, ignoring warnings about social distancing. And also violating the state's ban on gatherings of 50 people or more.

Now, many in the crowd, you can see them right there, not social distancing, not wearing masks. A CNN medical analyst predicts people will die as a consequence of this gathering. The Trump camp's last indoor rally back in June led to a surge in local virus cases.

Meantime, new coronavirus infections are spiking throughout Europe. Over the weekend, France reported more than 10,000 new cases for the first time. The French government has enacted new measures to try and avoid another lockdown.

In the coming hours, new limits meantime on social gatherings go into effect in England, banning groups of six or more people. The U.K. reported more than 3,300 new infections on Sunday alone.

Italy, meantime, reopen schools this week after holding off a second wave of infections. Students will return to classrooms and missing their familiar bench style desks in favor of new seating that allows for strict social distancing.

And Israel will enter a second lockdown on Friday after a surge in new cases. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the lockdown is a necessary step and restrictions will ease once there is a decline in the infection rate.

New Zealand is extending its restrictions after reporting one new case of the virus. The country has seen just under 1,800 infections during the entire pandemic, that's according to Johns Hopkins University. Of course, far fewer than some countries are reporting in just one day. Journalist Angus Watson is in Sydney Australia with more.

ANGUS WATSON, JOURNALIST: Paula, compared to other countries, New Zealand does not have very many cases of coronavirus all. Just one new case was added to their tally today. And that person was already in isolation.

Just two added yesterday, and in fact, over the past two weeks, they have done 100,000 tests and found just 36 cases, all in the larger city of Auckland, on the north island of New Zealand, where a cluster has developed of community transmission, which ended that amazing run of over 100 days without a case of community transmission in New Zealand at all.

Now, the government has acted quickly to try to stamp out coronavirus. It wants to be a place where coronavirus does not exist. It almost got there of course. So, it got there for a period of time and it wants to get back.

So, Jacinda Ardern said today that a level 2.5 stricture that's in place in Auckland now will go for at least another week. The rest of the country is at this level two strictures. That will go for at least another week as well where people can go about their business relatively normally. However, there are some restrictions on the amount of people that can go to social gatherings in Auckland and go to restaurants and events around the country as well.

So, she is hoping that the country can go back to some sort of normal over the next week. We will see if that will be possible. And that will, of course, allow for the election to go to ahead next month.

So, politically, Jacinda Ardern is taking a big stake on this elimination method, wanting to get New Zealand back to that place that it was where coronavirus was almost a thing of the past, Paula.

NEWTON: Angus, thank you so much for that. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on his way to Washington ahead of Tuesday's White House signing ceremony that will solidify the recent normalization agreements between Israel and both Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Now, the historic deals are making many optimistic about the future. The Emirati minister of state for international cooperation says it is a step in the right direction.


REEM AL HASHIMY, UAE MINISTER OF STATE FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: It's an indication that we are keen on a new narrative.


A narrative of hope and a narrative of prosperity where you have dialog, where you have debate. And certainly doing all of that by still keeping the Palestinian cause front and center, their right to statehood and their right for a dignified life.

And in the United Arab Emirates, we believe very strongly in our ability and in our opportunity to try shape something positive for our region. And here is a step in doing that.


NEWTON: CNN's Oren Liebermann explains how significant the agreements are and how they reshaping alliances right across the Middle East.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been 26 years since the last peace agreement between Israel and an Arab nation, that being Israel and Jordan. And now, two within a month. First Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and then Israel and Bahrain, just recently.

These are major foreign policy accomplishments for President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to be touted at the White House ceremony on Tuesday, as both leaders look to distract from problems they are dealing with at home.

As for Bahrain and the UAE, Israel has made it clear it wants to work as quickly as possible in terms of establishing diplomatic missions and embassies, coming to agreements, and finalizing those agreements for normalization, and beginning direct flights.

One of the key questions with Bahrain, will there be a wide scale protests? Although it is a Sunni Muslim kingdom, it is a majority Shia population and one that could view this normalization agreement with Israel very unfavorably. Will there be protests? We will certainly look to see.

Notably, another country in the gulf, Oman, praise the agreement between Israel and Bahrain, suggesting perhaps Oman might be next when it comes to normalizing ties with Israel. We know that's what Trump's senior advisor, Jared Kushner, was looking to do as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when they were in the region, try to build a momentum of Israel and the UAE.

They did so with Bahrain and all of that will be celebrated at the White House on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Netanyahu, jetting off to that signing ceremony right after announcing that Israel would be going to a second general lockdown because of surging coronavirus cases. Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.

NEWTON: Now, as the world's oil market try and cope with the unprecedented collapse in demand due to the pandemic, OPEC is now marking its 60th anniversary. And the organization secretary general insists it has not outgrown its usefulness.

John Defterios is in Abu Dhabi with more on OPEC's history. You know more than most, John, having covered it for a better part of three decades that look - never count OPEC out. And it is quite a colorful history.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, certainly is, Paula. But I have to say, COVID-19 kind of fits into the biggest challenge it's faced during those six decades. No doubt about it because we had demand collapse in April and May by nearly a third.

And this is a group that usually adjust production 800,000 to a 1 million barrels a day of the total 100 million that is consumed by the world. This time, it was 10 times that amount. And they're going to continue to cut until 2022.

Not at that level, but still, unprecedented in terms of the cuts. That is the scourge of, if you will, COVID-19. Here is the secretary general, Mohammed Barkindo, about the downturn we have seen and how do they recover.


MOHAMMED SANUSI BARKINDO, OPEC SECRETARY GENERAL: The global economy continue to witness some anemic recovery, if you like. What we are witnessing, despite the unprecedented amount of stimulus packages around the world, north of $20 trillion, about the fifth of the global economy. The economy recover is not at the pace that we projected.

DEFTERIOS: Would you say, secretary general, that it will take until 2023 to get back up to where we were in 2019? That is the word I got from the shale producers in the Permian Basin. BARKINDO: We are not that pessimistic here in OPEC. We foresee a

strong rebound in 2021 and the first half of 2021, with numbers ranging around 7 million to 8 million barrels a day (inaudible) on the GDP growth rate of about 4.7 going higher.

DEFTERIOS: This is your 60th anniversary and many are asking the question, what is the relevance of OPEC? But let's just take the last five years, if you were not at play, during three major corrections.

BARKINDO: As an organization, we have survived 60 years of highs and lows. We had our own good and bad times, but what we have witnessed in the last five years including the current one, totally were unprecedented.


However, we have proven again, once again, that the world needs this organization and we have seen in 2016 December when we reached out to partners in the non-OPEC, who came on board to sign the declaration of corporation, that was historic.

The mechanism of the declaration of cooperation with all the partners onboard rose to the challenge in April and in June to respond to the impart (ph) of this virus on the global economy.


DEFTERIOS: And that was encouraged by Donald Trump, of course, who kind of leaned on OPEC in the past, not to cut too much to raise prices, but this time to add oil back on to the market because of the COVID-19 threat, of course. And then they had to cut back in such a dramatic way, Paula.

This almost a perfect storm not just for OPEC but the industry itself, where at the beginning of the energy transition at the same time, more investment going into solar and wind. In fact, of about $1.3 trillion invested over the last year in the energy market.

About half is going to renewables. And having said that, OPEC still have the view that by midcentury here, that 20 percent of overall global energy demand will come from the renewable sector.

But you have others that have just put out reports like BEP suggesting that it could be as high as two-thirds by 2050. So, we don't know how fast that transition is going to take, but it is a huge challenge, also with COVID-19 in the mix.

NEWTON: Yes. And a lot of it will depend on how governments decide they're going to come back from this pandemic and whether that does include an aggressive green plan. John Deftarios, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Now, with the deadline from President Trump looming, there are developments in the push to buy Tiktok's U.S. operation. We will have details ahead.



YO-YO MA, CELLIST: -- moves the air that touches our skin. And that's a degree of comfort that we can give.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: A source tells CNN that TikTok, and Oracle will become U.S. business partners though the exact nature of the agreement is still unclear.

Now that word came Sunday just after Microsoft said it would not buy TikTok's U.S. operations from its Chinese owner, ByteDance.

Selina Wang joins us now live from Hong Kong with more on the story.

And already a lot of confusion just surrounding what this deal entails and if it's going to satisfy a lot of people who have been keeping track of this over the last few weeks.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, there are many stakeholders here, one of them being the Trump Administration.

And I want to note up at the top that Oracle is one of few Silicon Valley companies that has publicly supported Trump.

Larry Ellison had hosted a fund-raiser for Trump, its CEO had served on Trump's transition team. So worth noting that.

But this deal is going to have to go through the committee on foreign investments in the U.S, this is the national security review panel. And experts have told me that ByteDance will likely need to agree to a number of conditions here.

So ByteDance may be able to maintain a board seat in TikTok, it may be able to keep some of its shares but there will likely be limitations placed on ByteDance's relationship with TikTok, especially when it comes to area of sensitive national security concerns.

It is, however, Paula, a surprise for many that Microsoft had lost its bid for TikTok. It was seen by many as a more logical contender.

It has deeper pockets, it has more expertise in consumer technology.

We don't know what exactly what the structure of this deal would look like with Oracle but a source has told me that they will be seen more as business partners, Oracle and ByteDance, rather than Oracle being this parent company with full control.

And the big win here for Oracle is that it's going to get a huge customer for its cloud computing business.

And Paula, let's look at the Trump side as one part of this equation but, of course, we also have to consider the Chinese side. China recently updated its export rules to essentially mean that

ByteDance would need to get permission from the Chinese government in order to sell off TikTok.

So there's still a lot of factors here that we have yet to get to know about in order to say that deal has been successful.

And now the broader context here, of course, is that TikTok is just the latest company to be caught in the crosshairs between rising U.S. China relations.

Trump has really targeted TikTok amid his broader escalation of anti- China rhetoric leading up to his elections in November.

NEWTON: Yes. This is really going to be one to watch over the coming days. Selina, thanks. Appreciate it.

Now Japan's ruling party has been voting on its next leader, who's then expected to be prime minister. And the results are in.

A live report coming up.




NEWTON: You are watching live pictures in at this hour from Tokyo. Japan's ruling party has picked its next leader who is now poised to become prime minister.

And yes, no big surprise. Yoshihide Suga has won.

He was a favorite as well as outgoing prime minister Shinzo Abe's right-hand man. Mr. Abe, Japan's longest serving leader since the end of World War II,

is stepping down due to poor health.

Our Will Ripley has been watching it all unfold. And Will, no surprise.

But still, what's at stake here in Japan is really what comes next? Especially given all the challenges ahead.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yoshihide Suga is probably the person who knows Shinzo Abe's -- ins and outs of his policy, of how he operates his office the most.

Because he has been, as you said, his chief cabinet secretary, his right hand man for nearly eight years. The entirety of Abe's record- setting term as Japan's longest serving prime minister.

So he knows what to do with the job. He will be essentially a continuation of many of Shinzo Abe's policies. Now whether or not that is good or bad for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party depends on how the public perceives its new prime minister, although he will not officially be named prime minister until a vote on Wednesday.

But he's basically all but a shoo in at this point because he is now the leader of the LDP and the LDP has a majority in parliament.

And there are a lot of challenges facing Suga right now. From Japan's economic issues, the recession as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic itself, and, of course, Tokyo 2020.


He's known in Japan as Uncle Reiwa, "Harmony" was the all important word when Yoshihide Suga had the honor of announcing the name of Japan's next imperial era.

One year later, Shinzo Abe's right-hand man says he's the one most in sync with the outgoing prime minister and the favorite to take his job.


Is there anyone else in Japan right that who knows how to be the prime minister? At least in terms of what you have to do better, than Abe's number two?

KAZUTO SUZUKI, VICE DEAN, HOKKAIDO UNIVERSITY: In terms of experience, no one does. Since Abe's popularity goes up after his announcement of resigning, the members of parliament says OK, let's go with this -- let's ride on this wave, and let's go for Suga.


RIPLEY: Suga has been chief cabinet secretary in the Japanese government since 2012.

He's Abe's surrogate on almost everything from North Korean aggression to stemming the coronavirus.


BRAD GLOSSERMAN, TAMA UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR RULE-MAKING STRATEGIES: And in many ways, a good prime minister is a reflection of an excellent chief cabinet secretary.

The problem is no one knows really who this man is. He's labored behind the scenes and he doesn't presented -- he hasn't yet developed and presented an image to the Japanese public that they're going to be able to rally behind and support.

At this point he looks like a choice that's being pushed upon them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RIPLEY: Suga is something of a political chameleon. Not a part of any of the major factions within the ruling liberal democratic party. He now seems to have the backing of them all.

But Suga's big challenges as prime minister will not be all domestic. Japan has to balance its best ally, the U.S., and its close neighbor, China.


RIPLEY: Given Suga's lack of experience how does Suga maintain then relationships with Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Donald Trump?

SUZUKI: Suga is no one in international politics. And he has to start from scratch.

RIPLEY: What does that mean for Japan?

SUZUKI: It's really damaging because we have gained a lot from the Abe's diplomacy. And because of his long term -- and he's not a revolving door, he has been staying more than seven years. He has been longer than anybody else Merkel in the G7.


He earned it. And I think this is almost impossible to replace it.


RIPLEY: Like most world economies, Japan has taken a massive hit from the coronavirus.

Suga says his steady head will get the country back to work. He'll continue Abenomics's policies of low interest rates and government spending.

But the world's third richest nation was struggling even before the virus. Is Suga the one to turn things around?

One thing that Abe was criticized for during the pandemic was being out of touch, and perhaps it's because he comes from a very elite background.

He was a third generation prime minister, he's a member of an elite political dynasty whereas Suga is -- his dad's a farmer, his mom's a teacher, he commuted two hours to go back and forth to school.

And he even worked odd jobs to get himself through school and get his start rising through the ranks of domestic politics in Japan.

So perhaps that everyman background, Paula, will help him to connect with the Japanese people whose support he will need if he wants to stay prime minister for very long.

NEWTON: Yes. It'll be interesting to see how it informs his new policies and if they're a departure from Shinzo Abe's.

Will Ripley in Hong Kong. Thank you so much. And thank you for joining us.

For our international viewers, WORLDSPORT is up next.

If you're joining us here in the United States, I'll be right back with more news in a moment.



PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLDSPORT: Thiem's time has come. Austrian tennis star, Dominic Thiem, has been crowned U.S. Open champion.

This after a five-set, four hour epic thriller of a men's final on Sunday night in New York City.

This at the conclusion, remember, of the first Slam of the COVID-19 pandemic era.

And the emotion surrounding his vanquished opponent. His friend Alexander Zverev, so very, very moving to all who witnessed it.

We'll get to it all. This match was nerve shredding.

Thiem, the favorite, had no answers early on. His German opponent powering his way to a two sets to love advantage.

But Zverev in his first ever Slam final could not close it out. An astonishing final turned on its head as the Austrian player in his

fourth major final claws his way back from the brink, slumping to the floor there. The fifth and final set going to a tiebreaker.

And then that emotional hug between the pair and Thiem lifts the trophy.

Now the first player to win a Slam from two sets down at the U.S. Open in over seven decades on a truly emotional night in the Big Apple.

CNN SPORT's Carolyn Manno.


CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR: The sun has set on the 2020 U.S. Open here in Queens.

It was a tournament unlike any other. The first Grand Slam since the coronavirus pandemic began, and the virus left an indelible mark here.

Empty stadiums. But also statements on social justice and certainly improbable comebacks, none more so than in the men's singles final.

Dominic Thiem and Sasha Zverev slugging it out in a battle that featured among other things, nerves, nerves and more nerves. There was cramping, there was a little bit of choking and there was a whole lot of heart.

And it was Dominic Thiem, the favorite coming in, and the man who survived a two-set deficit to win it all here.

Thiem coming into the match as the favorite in the men's singles final having played in three previous Slam finals to Sasha Zverev's zero. But in the previous three occasions he was the heavy underdog with nothing to lose.

On Sunday, he was the man to beat, and early on, it showed.

The Austrian played tight, nervous tennis. But once Zverev got within sight of the finish line, suddenly it was he who tightened up.

No man in the Open era had ever come back from a two-set deficit to win this tournament, but Thiem saw an opportunity and made the most of it.

For Sasha Zverev, this will likely be tough to get over. Starting the match so aggressively, getting to the net, relying on his huge serve only to watch it slowly slip away. He had multiple chances.

And then after the match, revealing that he's been dealing with a lot off the court as well. Both of his parents testing positive for coronavirus.


ALEXANDER ZVEREV, U.S. OPEN RUNNER-UP: I want to thank my parents -- sorry. They're always with me in every single tournament I go to.

Unfortunately, my dad and my mother got tested positive before the tournament, and they couldn't have gone with me. Yes.

I miss them but I'm sure they're sitting at home. Even though I'm lost, they're pretty proud.


MANNO: An emotionally drained Zverev after the match here in Queens. And with good reason.

Both players giving everything they had on the court in a match that lasted well over four hours.

It stands to reason that we'll see a lot more from these two over the next decade. Especially with the reign of the Big Three potentially coming to an end sometime over the next couple of years.

We don't dare predict when roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will step away from the game but when they do, tennis should be in good hands with these young stars making a name for themselves on the sports' biggest stage.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SNELL: Emotions running very high indeed. So after near misses in two French Open finals and this year's Australian Open final, Thiem finally a Grand Slam champ and not too long after his big win in New York.

I asked him just what this breakthrough victory means to him.


DOMINIC THIEM, 2020 U.S. OPEN CHAMPION: It was such a huge relief. And there was a lot of pressure in the match, a lot of emotions mentally, physically.

So after four hours, after converting that match point it's just going down on the floor and knowing that I just did it, that I just won the biggest title of my career, that I just achieved one of my biggest goals in life, was a huge, huge feeling.

SNELL: You were cramping, you were limping there by the end. How did your body keep going?

THIEM: I guess the belief today was a little bit stronger than the body.


I haven't cramped for ages, it was the first time I cramped probably in five or six years. And it was also physically tough match; four hours, five sets.

SNELL: What is it like trying to celebrate your first Grand Slam title with no fans there?

THIEM: Yes, it's of course a little bit sad. But we are used to it now because it was since four weeks like that. And I hope that many people celebrated in front of the TV, especially in my home country.

It was strange, fours weeks in the bubble. It was mentally tough, physically tough.

And I hope that well, the pandemic is over soon, and that we are back in normal times.

SNELL: You are playing your close friend, Sasha Zverev, who became so emotional at the end there, fighting back the tears. What was that like for you to witness?

THIEM: With all the happiness, I know how it is to lose such a huge final close on set, for him as well.

Because matches like that don't really deserve a loser. And it's cruel sometimes in tennis that there has to be one.

But I wish him from the bottom of my heart that he wins a big title soon. And I'm pretty sure that he's going to do it.

SNELL: I sense a weight off your shoulders. Did doubt ever creep in?

THIEM: Yes. There's always doubting that after every single final, after every of the three finals I lost, there was doubt. And the same doubts were here today.

Before the match also during the match, what would happen if I go zero four? What happens if I don't take this chance? Will I ever get another chance again?

So there are always doubts. And it's a big, big relief that well, these doubts are gone now.

And finally, how does the sound, Dominic? Dominic Thiem, 2020 U.S. Open champion.

THIEM: Sounds super nice to me. And I'm incredibly happy about it.


SNELL: And our congratulations to him.

As rivalries in French football go, it doesn't get much bigger than Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille.

On Sunday, though, a mass brawl at the Parc de Princes. And amid it all, Brazilian superstar Neymar alleging the ugly stain of racism against an opponent. He was one of five to be sent off in stoppage time.

In a match that had allowed 5,000 fans inside to watch a game that saw Marseille win 1-0, inflicting a second straight defeat on the champs at the start of this new campaign.

Look at this, though. Absolute chaos in the French capital. Punches thrown, kicks aimed in a game that would see 17 cards brandished by the ref.

So much focus as ever on Neymar. And he would see a straight red for his role in it all.

Neymar being given his marching order. A straight red for him.

And afterwards he took to social media.

After the match, Neymar taking, as I say, to his platforms to tweet in part:

"VAR catching my" -- quote -- "aggression is easy. Now I want to see the image of the racist."

The Marseille player in question denying Neymar's allegations.

The latest on this developing story you can be sure. Right through this Monday.

Next up. It's all changed though for NFL superstar Tom Brady. We'll tell you why.

As debuts go, this one proving rather challenging for Tampa Bay's brand-new quarterback.



SNELL: It's a whole new ball game for NFL superstar Tom Brady this season.

The six-time SuperBowl winner and New England Patriots' legend, remember, beginning life with the Tampa Baby Buccaneers Sunday but it would not prove to be a winning start.

Brady on his debut here for the Bucks who are playing the Saints.

And the Saints would go on to win this one, 34 points to 23.

It all looked very promising indeed for him when he scored a touchdown on first drive.

But then a bit of a reality check for him as he would throw two interceptions, including a pick six on this day.

Rather mixed.

Including some more key storylines now. During this League's opening weekend, CNN SPORTS' Andy Scholes.


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: Well, Patrick, the continued fight for social justice is a big part of the NFL's opening week.

And as a part of opening week, the League is playing both the black national anthem which is the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing," and the national anthem, the "Star Spangled Banner," before every game.

And on Sunday afternoon, the teams really were split on how they were handling it.

Eight different teams on Sunday afternoon decided to stay back in the locker room for both anthems while another 16 teams were on the field. Many players were seen taking a knee, raising a fist with some locking arms.

Now here in Jacksonville, the Jaguars remained in the back, in the locker room while the anthems were played while the Colts were out on the field locking arms together with just one person, head coach, Frank Wright, taking a knee.

And in Atlanta meanwhile, quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson speaking before the game. And they decided after kickoff that both teams would take a knee right there on the field to protest social injustice. Now in Minnesota, the Vikings honoring George Floyd before the game

with a video tribute. Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police in May sparking protests across the country.

And his family was on hand at the game and they did not blow the Vikings horn like they always do before the game in honor of Floyd.

Now the game here in Jacksonville was the only one on Sunday in the NFL to allow fans in the stand. They had just over 14,000 come to the game between the Jaguars and the Colts.

If you came to the game you had to wear a mask. You could only take it off if you were eating or drinking. And the fans were sitting in different pods, sections of two, four and six around the stadium to keep a social distance.

We talked to some of those fans. They said they felt like it was like it was safe inside and that they thought the protocols were working.

We've got two more games this NFL opening week on Monday night to wrap it up.

You've got the Broncos hosting the Titans and the New York Giants hosting the Pittsburgh Stealers, Patrick.

Both of those games will once again be played without fans.


SNELL: Andy, we thank you. We just want to leave you with this really powerful image from our top story this Monday.

Two close friends battling it out as Austria's Dominic Thiem becomes the man born in the 1990s to win a Grand Slam title.

Thanks for watching. Stay with CNN.



DR. BRIAN HAINLINE, NCAA CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER: We are moving into very troubled waters right now. It's a very narrow path to get ball sports right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the latest message from the collegiate sports' top doctor when it comes to the pandemic.

So what does that mean for parents and athletes? According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention there are still ways to play safely first.

First, if you're sick, stay home. Wash your hands frequently before, during and after practices and games.

Stay six feet apart. Wear a mask if possible. Bring your own equipment.

The CDC has also put out recommendations for the lowest to highest risk activities for student athletes.

The risk is lower when kids build skills at home or practice with some teammates. But it increases when young athletes compete with other teams in their area or travel to large competitions.