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Japan's New PM Reappoints Finance Minister; Pew World Poll: U.S. World Reputation Shredded; No. 1 Chess Champ Ranks No. 10 In Fantasy Football. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 16, 2020 - 02:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Ahead this hour, Hurricane Sally has stalled but the outer bands are already hammering the U.S. Gulf Coast. Officials warning of historic life-threatening flooding.

During a televised town hall, voters confront the U.S. president, demanding to know why he downplayed the threat from the coronavirus.

And steady as she goes as Japan's parliament elects a new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga is expected to continue with the policies of Shinzo Abe.


VAUSE: At this hour, the latest forecast has Hurricane Sally gaining strength, now category 2, inching towards the U.S. Gulf Coast. It's already shaping up to be one of the busiest hurricane seasons ever in the Atlantic. An average year would see 6 hurricanes. Sally is number 7.

We are now reaching the peak of the season and there's still 2 and a half months to go. Over 100,000 people have already lost electricity across the region. Experts feel the slow moving storm could break historic flooding and some areas could see months of rain in just days. Polo Sandoval is live from Mobile, Alabama.

As this storm makes 2 miles an hour movement towards the coast, are you noticing an uptick in the rain or weather?

What's it like at the moment?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You can actually outwalk the storm. That's how slow it is. That's why we have seen conditions slowly deteriorate. And in the last hour, the winds have picked up and that would make sense as they upgraded it to a category 2 storm.

As we look over the Mobile River, the water certainly looks a lot rougher. This empties out into an estuary, Mobile Bay, that then empties out into the Gulf of Mexico. The concern here is that the storm surge we hear a lot about, which the forecast did drop a little bit but it still remains a threat, pushes all the salt water inland so the fresh water falling and draining and may not have a place to go.

And that is fueling those flooding concerns that people have been talking about for the last 48 hours. And they will be talking about that for the next 24 hours as the storm slowly makes its way to the Gulf Coast.

According to the latest forecast by the National Hurricane Center, it's expected to make landfall tomorrow afternoon just east of where we are, closer to the Florida Panhandle.

But that doesn't mean the focus is just on that as we have discussed. It's extending from the Mississippi-Alabama state line and extending all the way to Florida. And that's where a lot of people have been affected.

Here in Alabama, we see about 20,000 power outages, a number that officials expect to increase as the rain continues to come down.

You've been in these conditions before. The changes happen just like that, as the bands continue to slowly sweep closer to land. But the conditions are certainly deteriorating, not just here in Alabama but in neighboring states as well. Back to you.

VAUSE: It seems like you can have the high winds that sweep across the region and bring damage and destruction by the high intensity and these other ones move slowly and dump a huge amount of rain.

When Sally does make landfall, how long are they expecting it to hover over that region, dumping rain?

SANDOVAL: What people say is, as they continue to watch weather reports here, it could be about a day that they have to deal with this. The storm isn't expected to make landfall east of us until later this afternoon.

And so the concern here is that the storm, as you put it, there is potential for it to just sort of hang around here for some time, dumping large amounts of rain. This is a region that, according to many residents, does flood easily.

This storm, though it's a category 2 for now, is not necessarily a wind event, although we certainly feel that. It's more of a rain event.

VAUSE: Polo Sandoval, thank you live in Mobile, Alabama.



VAUSE: Donald Trump's latest attempt to gaslight the American public about the coronavirus didn't work out so well. He took part in a town hall on Tuesday and made false statements with hiccups causing a lot of confusion. The event was branded as a conversation with undecided voters but many

of the questions he faced were outright hostile.


QUESTION: Why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low income families and minority communities?

TRUMP: Well, I didn't downplay it, I actually, in many ways up-played in terms of action.


VAUSE: He did downplay it. He downplayed it for months. We learned last week from one of the interview he did with journalist Bob Woodward that the decision to do so was deliberate.


TRUMP: I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic.


VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) actually was happening could have reduced the staggering U.S. death toll now approaching 200,000.

Another weird moment from the town hall came when Trump apparently tried to argue for herd immunity. But that's not quite how it came out. He also repeated the fanciful suggestion that the virus might just go away.


TRUMP: It would go away without the vaccine, George. But it's going to go away, a lot faster.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: It would go away without a vaccine?

TRUMP: Sure, over a period of time. You will develop like a herd mentality.


VAUSE: The vast majority of medical experts warn herd immunity is not an effective strategy. It could lead to millions of people dying. Like a bad penny, it just keeps coming back. President Trump once again cast doubt on whether people should be wearing face masks.


TRUMP: Now, there is -- by the way, a lot of people don't want to wear masks. There are a lot of people think that masks are not good. And there are a lot of people that, as an example --

(CROSSTALK) STEPHANOPOULOS: Who were those people?

TRUMP: I'll tell you those people are. Waiters come over and serve you and they have a mask. I saw the other day when they were serving me. They are playing with the mask. I'm not blaming them. I'm just saying what happens. They're playing with a mask and so the mask is over and they are touching it and then they are touching the plate and that can't be good.


VAUSE: This all comes the same day as Bob Woodward's book "Rage" was released. During numerous taped interviews, we learned Trump knew early on just how easily transmissible the virus actually is, how deadly it can be. During an April interview Trump even refers to it as the plague.


TRUMP: This thing is a killer if it gets you. If you are the wrong person, you don't have a chance.



TRUMP: A friend of mine died. A great real estate developer from Manhattan.

WOODWARD: Listen, students of mine, I teach a journalism seminar. They have written me that have had it. And one of the women said she had it. They said she was cured and they kept coming back with new symptoms, strange things happening, she had intense headaches --

TRUMP: What happened?

WOODWARD: She is in agony. And they are telling her, oh, you're cured now. You're over it. You've said it. This is a scourge.

TRUMP: It is the plague.

WOODWARD: It is the plague.

TRUMP: And Bob, it is so easily transmittable. You wouldn't even believe it.


TRUMP: You can be in the room. I was in the White House a couple of days ago, a meeting of 10 people in the Oval Office and a guy sneezed, innocently. Not a horrible sneeze. The entire room bailed out, including me, by the way.


VAUSE: From the World Health Organization, a forecast that a return to pre-COVID life may not happen until 2022. The group's chief science officer warned social distancing and wearing masks will be necessary until at least 60 percent to 70 percent of the world's population is immunized.

Meanwhile, a study from New York's Mt. Sinai Hospital found some evidence that infusion of convalescent plasma may help severely ill coronavirus patients survive.

India now has the fastest rate of infection in the world. It's topped 5 million confirmed cases.

And British prime minister Boris Johnson will face questions from lawmakers on Wednesday about his handling of the pandemic amid anger over the testing shortage and backlog.

France is currently struggling to contain a new surge of infections. More than 800 clusters are under investigation. Here is CNN's Melissa Bell.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the young driving the newest wave of COVID-19, French officials say. Now they are passing it on to their older relatives. This dramatization by health authorities meant as a warning of how France's rising numbers are now beginning to lead to a strain on hospitals.

Like this one in Bordeaux, one of France's hotspots. The head of the ICU says it is now nearing capacity with very little known about its longer term ability to cope.

DR. OLIVIER JOANNES-BOYAU, BORDEAUX UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Second wave is probably less high, with less patients that arrive at the same moment but unfortunately, probably more prolonged.

BELL: For the doctors and nurses on the front line, it's about dealing with a virus that is here to stay. This hospital is preparing for the arrival of more COVID-19 patients but unlike last spring, will continue to treat other emergencies as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The University Hospital will be dealing with those two populations and that is what makes the situation harder. It's also going to be harder than last time, because this wave, I think, will grow progressively and then last over time.

BELL: But as he shows us around the ICU, Dr. Joannes-Boyau says that at least now lot more is known. The use of steroids and specially adapted ventilators that can now avoid contamination mean that this time, intubations are down 50 percent since the spring he says.

But intubation is dangerous and intubation is painful and it's a last resort.

JOANNES-BOYAU: Yes. Intubation increase the risk of (inaudible). Sometimes we don't have a choice and we have to intubate the patient and ventilate the patient, because he's not able to use the oxygen that we bring to him.

BELL: So doctors are better at dealing with COVID-19 but that doesn't mean they are not worried.

JOANNES-BOYAU: The major problem is to keep the wave really, really low. If the wave grow up a lot, we will face a large number of patients with COVID that will come and we will not be able to treat and to manage all of the patients.

BELL: With capacity fast approaching and the hospitals in France's hotspots, it's a question of the system's ability to cope that is once again being posed, let's dramatically but no less urgently -- Melissa Bell, CNN.


VAUSE: Still to come, let's make a deal. Israel officially normalizes relations with 2 Arab countries. There is an expected rush of more historic moments to come but not for the Palestinians.





VAUSE: No evidence of social distancing at the White House as President Trump welcomed Israel's prime minister and foreign ministers from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Benjamin Netanyahu signed agreements with both countries to normalize relations. All sides are predicting this is the start of a new era of peace in the Middle East.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: The blessings of the peace we make today will be enormous, first, because this peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states and, ultimately, it can end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all.


VAUSE: Sam Kiley is live in Abu Dhabi with more on this.

It is significant. It is historic. There's a lot of symbolism in all of this. But in a practical sense, it seems like it's an arms deal.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, I think it's partly an arms deal with, perhaps, with the suggestion that the UAE will be able to buy the F-35 Stealth Fighter jet bomber in order to boost its already swollen armories when it comes to defending itself, ultimately, against Iran. A lot of this is about, in the short term, Iran. It's about making

sure that there is an alliance now between some Sunni Arab monarchies and Israel, all of whom perceive Iran to be a profoundly destabilizing force across the Middle East.

In that context, this might look rather cynical and short-term, especially given that the Palestinians have described this normalization process as a betrayal. The Emiratis in particular would say -- and this was backed up by the Bahrain foreign minister in his speech, they are still committed to a 2 state solution and an independent Palestinian state living in peace next to Israel and committed to a viable one with its capital in Jerusalem.

If that remains the case and they are not simply paying lip service to this idea, then, ultimately, having relations with the Jewish state, something that has been unconscionable in many parts the Arab world, apart from Jordan and Egypt for many decades, gives the Arabs a level of influence that they would otherwise not have.

The Palestinians don't agree. Many analysts I have spoken to say this is a pretty cynical move from the Gulf states, who have never been preoccupied by the fate of the Palestinians. They want to move on and they want access to the military technology, surveillance technology, energy, intellectual energy that Israel has.

And as far as the Israelis are concerned, they have plenty of money to invest.


KILEY: But significantly, Benjamin Netanyahu kept referring to what he called a circle of peace, a circle of friendship. These countries never have had any kind of war ever. There is no peace to establish with Israel.

But it reassured Israel to not feel paranoid in the Arab world, not that they are in danger of being driven into the sea and wiped off the face of the planet, might conceivably, ultimately, be one that is predisposed to being more flexible when it comes to the Palestinians.

That is certainly the hope in the Gulf; whether it translates into reality will be evident over the next few years.

VAUSE: The UAE has a $23 billion defense budget. Israel is number 7 when it comes to exporting weapons around the world. What we have now is talk that Saudi Arabia could be considering a similar normalization of relations with Israel.

What do we know about the chances of that actually happening?

If it does, that seems game over. Then the region, the Arab region will just follow with what the Saudis do.


KILEY: That's the ultimate prize, from the Israeli perspective. I think the Saudis, in all probability, will wait and see which other nations, perhaps Oman, other elements within the Gulf -- it will be interesting to see what Qatar does, for example -- which in the past has had overt relations or attempted relations on a trade level with Israel in the past.

The Saudis did allow this El Al flight, the first ever commercial flight between Israel and the UAE, to fly through Saudi airspace. There have been long-standing contacts in a covert way between the Saudis and the Israelis.

They are trying in Saudi Arabia to advance their economy and their social and political culture forward in a manageable way. I think -- and this is not because they necessarily don't want to -- but because they are the supreme prize in normalization, they are probably going to be the last of this batch to sign up.

Certainly the authorities, the officials we have spoken to here in the Emirates, would say that's game over. They would say that's an opportunity for the Palestinians. But I have to say that is certainly not how the Palestinians see it.

VAUSE: Sam Kiley, thank you with some good insight from Abu Dhabi.

Six people have been arrested over a fire which destroyed the Moria migrant camp in Greece. Before the fire, it was the largest migrant camp in Europe, sheltering about 13,000 people. CNN's Nic Robertson is in Athens, Greece, this hour.

This camp fire, it's putting focus on the migrant crisis in Greece.

What is happening?

How is Europe responding?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The Greeks really feel that this is a potential watershed moment with the European Union. The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, visited yesterday and expressed his support for the migrants but also for the people of Lesbos and said it was a moment when the European Union needs to come together with Greece to help solve this, quoting rhetoric from a couple centuries ago about Europeans getting over their differences on issues.

He said he wasn't going to paper over the migrant issue. This is a pan-European issue. It is something the Greek prime minister here hopes is correct. He believes the European Union is going to step up in a more significant way and help fund a migrant reception facility in Lesbos.

He himself says that the camp in Lesbos' overcrowded nature was a feature of the past. It doesn't belong today. It's something of the past.

So the hope here in Greece is that there will be greater E.U. support. And signals from Angela Merkel that Germany will take in a number of migrants from the camp. The obvious concern in the background is that the fire being

attributed to migrants in the camp stimulates European countries to take migrants out of camps in Greece then the concerns would be clear, that more attempts like this might be tried.

So that's a concern. But this has galvanized and focused, elements within the E.U., to help out.


ROBERTSON: But the E.U. has been slow to move on this issue and over the past few years, very divided on the issue and there are nations who are just absolutely not going to partake in solving this problem, certainly as far as taking in migrants, John.

VAUSE: Nic Robertson, thank you live in Athens.

The effects of the historic wildfires on America's West Coast are now spreading way beyond the region. Seen from space, smoke from the fires are streaming across the country, reaching the skies of New York, even forcing flight cancellations.

Scores of, fires are still raging, parts of the region suffering the worst air quality on the planet; 36 people have died. Authorities are bracing for that number to rise.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny seems to be recovering in that Berlin hospital, posting a picture of himself on Instagram. The Kremlin critic says he can't do anything but is able to breathe on his own.

Navalny became violently ill after drinking tea at an airport in Siberia last month. German doctors say he was poisoned with a nerve agent called Novichok, developed by the Soviets. Russia denies any involvement.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. When we come back, more on the newly appointed prime minister of Japan, from a man who knows the previous prime minister better than most.




VAUSE: Welcome back. I'm John Vause.

In the coming hours, Yoshihide Suga will be sworn in as Japan's new prime minister. Both houses of Parliament approved the former chief cabinet secretary and close aide to Shinzo Abe. This happened a short time ago.

Joining us now live from Tokyo is Tomohiko Taniguchi, the former special adviser to the former prime minister, Shinzo Abe. Mr. Taniguchi, thank you for being with us. We now have a case where

Japan's longest serving prime minister is being replaced by Japan's longest serving cabinet secretary. These 2 have spent years working together, rising through politics together. There are no plans for major policy changes.

Does that mean that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will actually continue with Abe's much more robust defense strategy, including ballistic missiles?

TOMOHIKO TANIGUCHI, FORMER ABE SPECIAL ADVISER: Mr. Suga represents continuity and consistency, for sure, because, as you pointed out, he has spent the same amount of time with Prime Minister Abe at the center of Japanese politics.

He has said on defense and foreign policies he will continue the course laid out by Shinzo Abe but he will focus first and foremost on COVID-19, as he has pledged a number of times during the campaign period.


VAUSE: We'll get to the economy in a moment. But are there concerns that if Japan goes down this road of a more robust defense posture, it could spark some kind of arms race in the region?

TANIGUCHI: The Japanese budget is sizable enough. If it were one nation's GDP, that's bigger than Turkey's or Saudi Arabia's. But 73 percent of the budget is fixed for entitlement subsidies for the regional government and the cost to pay back Japanese government bond obligations.

So you're basically talking about 27 percent, the rest of the budget is just 27 percent. That should cover all sorts of things from education, scientific research, and certainly defense.

But there is certain limit, of course, for Japan to pursue its defense buildup.

VAUSE: OK. Well, on the issue of the economy, Japan like every other major country is deep in an economic recession.

This seems to be the one area where the new prime minister may have to move away from Abenomics and maybe try a new approach, especially for monetary policy. The Bank of Japan seems to be out of ammunition right now.

TANIGUCHI: It's going to be extremely difficult for Bank of Japan, Japanese Central Bank, to choose pretty much a different strategy when the Federal Reserve of the United States has made it clear that it will continue the path that it has taken so far.

And another thing that you should take into consideration is that Yoshihide Suga, Mr. Suga, the new prime minister, has according to the rumor chosen a finance minister as the previous finance minister who has served the Abe administration as long as -- for quite some time, as actually a long period of time as Suga.

So to appoint the same individual as finance minister is meant to show to the rest of the world that monetary policy, financial policy, will remain unchanged.

VAUSE: We've heard a lot of reporting about Prime Minister Suga's personal story. The son of strawberry farmers who rose to political power.

The news outlet, though, "The Daily Beast" has a different take. Here's part of it.

"... the real Suga is no country bumpkin. He is an information junkie, a control freak, loyal to his boss to a fault, ruthless, vindictive, and never forgets a favor or a slight."

Politics all around the world can be a blood sport at times. Would you say that, though, is a fair assessment of the new man in charge?

TANIGUCHI: Mr. Suga wakes up at five o'clock each and every morning, without break for 365 days a year, and seven years and eight months. Think about it.

And then he flip-flops all newspapers, all magazines every day between five and six. If one calls it information junkie, maybe he is. But he is certainly a self made person.

And he came back from a very rural part of Japan and built his career on his own and by himself. In that sense, he distinguishes himself from other politicians.

VAUSE: In a country known for working hard, he seems to be the hardest worker. What do we know about Mr. Abe's plans from this point on? What will he do?

TANIGUCHI: Ulcerative colitis, a special kind of colitis, is a chronic disease. And Shinzo Abe has to give good care to the chronic disease.

And he will concentrate his attention for some time to regain his health. And I think it'll take months.

VAUSE: Mr. Taniguchi, former special advisor to former prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Thank you, sir, for being with us. We really appreciate it.

TANIGUCHI: You're welcome. Thank you very much.

VAUSE: President Trump, defensive about his handling of the pandemic in the United States.

And a new survey on how he's viewed around the world for that response will not improve his mood.

[02:35:00] Louisville, Kentucky has agreed to pay a record settlement of $12

million to the family of Breonna Taylor, the young woman fatally shot by police as they mistakenly stormed her apartment in March.

Taylor's death led to months of protest across the United States as part of the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality.

The city admitted to no wrongdoing but did agree to institute sweeping police reforms, all part of the settlement.

Taylor's family will continue to push for criminal charges against the police officers involved.


TAMIKA PALMER, BREONNA TAYLOR'S MOTHER: As significant as today is, it's only the beginning of getting full justice for Breonna. It's time to move forward with the criminal charges because she deserves that and much more.

Her beautiful spirit and personality is working through all of us on the ground. So please continue to say her name.


VAUSE: Perhaps reality is best seen from a distance. When it comes to handling the coronavirus pandemic, the world sees the U.S. president as less trustworthy than China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin.

A Pew Research survey of people in 13 countries finds the reputation of the U.S. has plummeted.

CNN's Isa Soares has details.


ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As more American lives are lost every day, President Trump continues to defend his handling of COVID-19.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I took tremendous steps and saved probably two or two and-a-half million lives by doing what we did early.


SOARES: Internationally, however, the world doesn't share his self appraisal.

According to a new report by the Pew Research Center of thirteen nations, a median of just 15 percent of people believe the U.S. has done a good job handling the crisis.

Even China, where the pandemic began, received better reviews than the U.S.

Pew, which polled over 13,000 people from early June to early August, also found that internationally, the view of the United States overall has plummeted.

In some countries, it's never been lower.

How about President Trump, how do these nations rate him? According to Pew, the median here, 16 percent of all nations surveyed have confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs.

And when compared to other leaders, well, the president doesn't stack up very well behind Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany who the president has criticized in the past received the highest approval rating with a median of 76 percent of those surveyed having confidence in her leadership.

But with less than 50 days until the U.S. election, President Trump's focus likely isn't on how he's perceived internationally. Rather, it's about rallying enough support inside America ahead of the November 3rd poll.

Isa Soares, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Nicholas Burns served as under secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration. He's currently a foreign policy adviser to the biden campaign. He's with us from Westport, Massachusetts.

Ambassador Burns, thanks for taking the time.


VAUSE: This Pew study was interesting. Because it ranked five world leaders in terms of the level of confidence they would do the right thing in world affairs.


German chancellor Angela Merkel has the highest level of trust. That's followed by the French President Emmanuel macron then we have Boris Johnson of the U.K. somewhere in the middle.

What's interesting, Vladimir Putin comes next, then Xi Jinping of China. The least trusted out of those five leaders is Donald J. Trump. It was shocking but not surprising.

And I'm wondering if this says to you that the damage which is currently being done to the international reputation of the United States is, for the most part, being driven by the actions of one man who happens to be the president?

BURNS: I think that's correct. I think this is a devastating portrait of Donald Trump's leadership and what people think of it.

But what could we all expect? Donald Trump took the United States out of the World Health Organization in the middle of a pandemic and withdrew American funding.

He took us out of the Paris Climate Change agreement. We're the only country in the world not part of it -- that's the major global crisis long term.

And at a time of huge numbers of refugees worldwide, he's closed America's doors to refugees.

So people are watching what he's doing, and they don't like what he's doing.

VAUSE: And then there's sort of the real world impact from Trump's failed pandemic response, which is beyond that daily death count.

Here's a headline from the Pew Center as well. "Coronavirus, Trump Chill International Enrollment at U.S. Colleges." That's one example. It's a big deal because it's a big money earner for those colleges.

But what are the other implications here for the United States internationally, especially among allies and the low opinion they now have of the United States?

BURNS: Well, the big implications for the United States are that the allies -- and I'm a former ambassador to NATO -- don't trust the president of the United States because he continually critiques the NATO Alliance and he's been particularly pointed in his criticism of the leader who received the greatest confidence by people around the world in this Pew poll, Angela Merkel.

And our allies are the great power differential between the U.S. and Russia in the transatlantic region but we've never had a president who's been so negative about NATO. And our allies reflect that view in this poll.

VAUSE: When Donald Trump was elected four years ago, many saw that outcome as not being reflective of the country and its values. There was comfort for many world leaders that President Trump was just an aberration.

If he wins a second term will it be not so much an aberration but rather affirmation of the values of this country?

BURNS: Well, it'll say a lot about the country obviously. It'll say a lot about the damage that Donald Trump could do in a second term.

Even John Bolton, the arch conservative former national security adviser to Trump, said publicly a month ago he feared that Trump could take the United States out of NATO, leave NATO, in a second term.

That's one of the reasons -- well, it's one of the many, many reasons I'm supporting Joe Biden. He'd be a much stronger president of the United States, much more unifying president. And frankly, one who knows what he's doing around the world and foreign policy.

VAUSE: It will be a critical election. They say that every time, but this year, I guess, more than most.

Thanks to Ambassador Nicholas Burns.

Now a quick programming note before we go. 1:00 am this Friday London time, 8:00 am in Hong Kong. Watch CNN's Anderson Cooper moderate a Town Hall with the Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden.

You'll see it only on CNN.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Stay with us, please. WORLDSPORT is after the break.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLDSPORT: French football's chief power broker weighing in amid Neymar's allegation he was subjected to a racist slur during Sunday's ill-fated Le Classique. That is just ahead.

But, we start with the COVID-19 impacted NBA playoffs that have been taking place in the Orlando bubble. On an historic night for the sport of basketball too.

The Denver Nuggets looking to be the first team in league history to recover from back to back 3-1 series deficits.

Their game seven of the Western Conference semis against the L.A. Clippers who at one point in the first half had a 12 point advantage.

But the Nuggets Jamal Murray utterly inspired with 40 points on this night, Denver dominating the second half and powering their way to the all important victory, 104 points to 89. As the Colorado franchise seeks to reach the NBA finals for the first time ever.

Serbian star, Nikola Jokic with 16 of his own. The Nuggets do it again, the comeback kings.

Denver through to the Western Conference finals where they will meet LeBron James and the L.A. Lakers. Another Clippers collapse.

Meantime the WNBA beginning its playoffs on Tuesday with the league having dedicated the 2020 season -- this to the memory of Breonna Taylor and the Say Her Name movement which raises awareness for black female victims of police violence.

Now it comes as the City of Louisville in Kentucky agreeing to play $12 million to Taylor's family and to institute sweeping police reforms in a settlement of the family's wrongful death lawsuit.

Now WNBA players have continually been so quick to be proactive, never slow in speaking up in the most powerful of ways. Players wearing warm-up shirts with the words "Black Lives Matter" displayed on the front and "Say Her Name" on the back. But they feel a lot more still needs to be done.


ANGELA MCCOUGHTRY, LAS VEGAS ACES FORWARD: First of all, what is money? Yes, they deserve millions but, first of all, that's not a lot of millions. And then second of all, why aren't they arrested?

What else do we need to do? What else do people need to see?





SYKES: Then that's my reaction. Yes, money is cool but did they charge the cops? And they didn't so our job isn't done.


SNELL: Meantime, to Europe now. Where French football authorities are expected to meet later on today.

This is amid the fallout from the five red cards brandished in Sunday's volatile Paris Saint-Germain Marseilles clash. And the allegation from Brazilian superstar Neymar that he was subjected to a racist slur during that game.

The South American player was one of the five to be sent off after seeing red for striking out at Marseilles Spanish defender Alvaro Gonzalez.

And now against the backdrop of all this, French Football Federation President, Noel Le Graet, has been giving his reaction to that game at the Parc de Princes and the allegation in question.

This was his take on it all on French television.


NOEL LE GRAET, PRESIDENT, FRENCH FOOTBALL FEDERATION (Through Translator): When a black guy scores a goal, the whole stadium is on its feet. This phenomenon of racism in sport and in football, in particular, does not exist at all or barely exists.


SNELL: Well, his comments certain to be scrutinized. We are following all the very latest right throughout this Wednesday and beyond.

All right. Well, fresh from winning the U.S. Open for a second time, Japan's tennis superstar Naomi Osaka shedding more light now on the motivation behind her third Glam Slam title.

Before every match she played at Flushing Meadows, the 22-year-old wearing a mask bearing the name of a victim of racial injustice over here in the United States.

Osaka taking to social media Tuesday.

"All the people who were telling me to keep politics out of sports, which it wasn't political at all, really inspired me to win. You better believe I'm going to try to be on your TV for as long as possible."

From tennis's U.S. Open to golf saw on Thursday the world's leading players with the exception of the injured Brooks Koepka will tee it up at the daunting Winged Foot course in New York.

Now top ranked Dustin Johnson is many people's favorite to land a second career major after his sensational form of late. But there's one rather familiar name we should never, ever discount.

That said, Tiger Woods' form leaving much to be desired right now. The 15-time major champion is yet to finish in the Top 10 of any tournament since the sport returned after being suspended, this due to the global pandemic.

The 44-year-old -- just to reset for you -- he remains three short of Jack Nicklaus' all-time record haul of 18 majors.

And Woods, this is really interesting because he now appears to be accepting the reality of Old Father Time. A reality that all iconic greats have to face.



TIGER WOODS, 15-TIME GOLF MAJOR WINNER: It gets harder to win as we all age.

And I think that, when you're in your prime, in your peak years, you have to take advantage of those opportunities . So that when you get to all-time marks, you have the opportunity.

And I think that, whether it's Rafa, it's Fed or it's Serena, they've been so consistent and so dominant for such a long period of time, that's how you get to -- that you can have those all-time marks.

And consistency over a long period of time, it's the hallmark of those records.


SNELL: Day one is Thursday. Well, as we've been reporting here on CNN. Wildfires continuing to rage across the USA's West Coast. All this as well amid the ongoing global pandemic.

Amid the poor air quality, no surprise then the impact being also seen in that part of the country on the Major League Baseball scene.

We can tell you that the two-game series between the San Francisco Giants and the Mariners in Seattle, that was scheduled to start Tuesday night, that had to be postponed. The teams will now go head to head on Wednesday and Thursday instead in San Francisco.

One potentially high-profile football transfer that we are keeping tabs on. Where, if indeed anywhere, will Welsh superstar Gareth Bale end up next? Bale is currently with Spanish giants Real Madrid where he is reportedly out of favor.

The 31-year-old being linked though with the move back to his former club, English Premier League Tottenham on a possible loan deal. Bale was at Spurs for six seasons earlier in his career. Man United also reported keeping tabs on the situation as well.

In part one of our chat with chess great Magnus Carlsen it was all about his quest to be the best of all time.

We'll tell you why the Norwegian's also making all the right moves when it comes to football's Fantasy Premier League.

We'll check it out after the break. Stick around.


SNELL: Welcome back to you. And I love this next feature.

Norway's world champion Magnus Carlsen doesn't just excel at chess, it seems. The 29-year-old has many, many talents including being highly skilled when it comes to fantasy sports.

CNN WORLD SPORT's Don Riddell checked in with Carlsen to find out more.


DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right. So you're also very good at Fantasy Premier League. Out of seven and a half million people you managed to finish tenth.

Magnus, why do you think you're so good that?

MAGNUS CARLSEN, CURRENT WORLD CHESS CHAMPION: I think finishing Top 10 is obviously huge part due to luck but of course, if you're playing well you give yourself a much better chance of being lucky.

For me, it's just an interest. I like watching the games, I like spending a little bit of time to consider what players I'm going to use. I can think logically, and I had a bit of luck. That's it.

RIDDELL: Is it true that you had one of your game's rescheduled so you could watch the end of the season because, I mean, you could've won it?

CARLSEN: Yes, that is true. I will note a few facts though. [02:55:00]

That my opponent, Ding, he was playing from China. So basically we rescheduled it for an early time for me and more convenient time for him.

And the other thing is that the tournament we were playing was basically organized by my own company. So if you can't use your power to do that, I don't know what that power is useful for.

RIDDELL: Quite right. So I gather there is a Grandmaster's League for Fantasy Premier League. Only grandmasters are allowed in, is that true?

CARLSEN: Yes, there is. As a joke, we're making a Grandmaster League. Truth be told, there isn't much competition in the Grandmaster League so they really need to step it up.

RIDDELL: If you could win Fantasy Premier League, if you could win it this season or coming up in the next few years, what do you think would be the bigger achievement? World chess champion or FPL?

CARLSEN: In terms of bigger achievement, of course it's world champion in chess. But in terms of what I would appreciate more, that's a much more difficult question.

But do people expect me to finish Top 10 again? That's going to take an extraordinary amount of luck.

RIDDELL: How many moves can you think ahead in a game of chess? And how many moves ahead might you need to think in Fantasy Premier League?

CARLSEN: Most of the time in chess, you only think a few moves ahead. Unless it's like a very, very small tree of variations.

And I think, to some extent, the same applies in Fantasy. That you should plan a little bit ahead but you should always be very, very flexible when it comes to changing your plans, dependent on the new data that arrives.

RIDDELL: You know sometimes you hear football commentators describing a football match as, like a game of chess. Obviously that's a very tactical, thoughtful battle. Do you think they're fair when they make that comparison?