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At This Hour

Gas Prices Hit New Record High $4.42 A Gallon; Wildfire Destroys At Least 20 Homes In Southern California; Scientists Unveil First Image Of Black Hole At Center Of Our Galaxy; Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 12, 2022 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Her mother's tragic death saying that her mom died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She also said that the family is speaking out about this to try and shine a light on mental illness. Listen to this.


ASHLEY JUDD, ACTRESS: It lies, it's savage and, you know, my mother -- our mother couldn't hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers. I mean, that is the level of a catastrophe of what was going on inside of her.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Lisa France joins me now with more on this. Lisa, what else did Ashley Judd say? It was a very emotional interview, understandably so.

LISA FRANCE, CNN SENIOR ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Tough to watch, very emotional. She explained that the family deputized her to go public with this information because they feared that it would get out in the public arena some other way. So they wanted to be able to control the information of how her mother had died. She also revealed that she was the person who found her mom after the incident. So in addition to grieving, she's also dealing with the trauma of having discovered her mother.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. That's really remarkable to see her even -- able to speak out about it as she did today. But even right afterwards at -- with her mother was being inducted into the Hall of Fame. It was really remarkable. It's good to see you, Lisa, thank you for bringing us that.


BOLDUAN: And if you -- if you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, or you're worried about a loved one, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available to you around the clock. You can see the number there on your screen. It's 800-273-8255.

Still ahead for us, gas prices, they've hit a new record high. And why the President is now warning Democrats that inflation is going to "scare the living hell out of everybody." That's next.



BOLDUAN: Gas prices hit a new record high today, AAA reporting that the nationwide average for a gallon of regular gas is $4.42. Just one sign again of the inflation crisis that is now President Biden's top domestic priority but it also has him on defense pushing back against criticism of how he's handling this and he's targeting Republicans.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right now the majority of Republican friends just see things differently. They don't want to solve oppression -- inflation by lowering the cost. They want to solve it by raising taxes and lowering your income. Now, you think I'm making this up. If I didn't see the actual document, I think you're -- I was making it up. I would think is good. A good thing when American families have more money in their pockets.


BOLDUAN: Joining me now for more on this is Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley. It's good to see you, Congressman. Thank you for coming in. I got let to get to Bill's talk about this inflation crisis. Biden, also speaking about inflation at the Chicago fundraiser last night said the following. We can't let this happen, guys. It's going to be hard. It's going to be hard because inflation is going to scare the living hell out of everybody.

Beyond the actual negative impacts of inflation, Congressman, the fact that he is saying that it is going to scare people so much, he's acknowledging it as a political problem, is he right?

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY, (D-IL): Oh, absolutely. Look, it's a real-life problem. My constituents are suffering along with everyone else and we need to act immediately so I think the President's right, I think there's things we can do right now to help the American people.

BOLDUAN: And you think that you can actually change -- I mean, he is -- President Biden has put forth a plan, but you think there's the actual change that Democrats can do to show results to bring down inflation in time for the midterms?

QUIGLEY: Yes. What are the primary drivers of inflation is energy cost. Right now, we're seeing record profits by oil companies, and most of them are not increasing production at a time when it's so critical to addressing the inflation issue. But also the war issue in Ukraine. We're trying to help wean the E.U. off of the $800 million a day they're sending to Putin's war machine. That only happens when we help send them additional oil added to that inflationary pressure. They have to step up as well.

BOLDUAN: Do you think it also then sends a mixed message when the Interior Department just canceled those oil and gas leases that are getting high -- just this morning, or just in -- just in the last 24 hours getting -- facing big criticism from you know oil lobbyists?

QUIGLEY: Yes. There are 9,000 leases that they currently have access to on public lands that they're not using. In order for them to start using those, they would have had to start some time ago. They can up production now on the wells they have, they simply aren't going to because their first priority is to their shareholders, not the American people, and not to the war interest of pushing back against Putin.

BOLDUAN: Let's also talk about the war in Ukraine because this is part of this inflation discussion. And you know, the Director of National Intelligence, she now says that she believes Putin's calculation there involves the U.S. economy here. Let me play what she said.


AVRIL HAINES, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Putin most likely also judges that Russia has a greater ability and willingness to endure challenges than his adversaries and he is probably counting on U.S. and E.U. resolve to weaken as food shortages, inflation, and energy prices get worse.



BOLDUAN: What do you make of that assessment that the U.S. -- that Putin's assessment that the U.S. can't take the economic pain nearly as long as Russia can?

QUIGLEY: Well, it's a worldwide effort. I mean, what he is raising is a very real concern if the resolve weakens. So as I said, right now, we're -- the E.U. is spending $800 million a day to Putin and his using that against us it's part of that resolve on their energy dependence.

At the same time, the ports are closed and wheat is not going to get out of there, creating another worldwide shortage that affects everyone and adds to inflationary pressures. All the more reason for us to be as United ever working with the E.U. and NATO, expanding NATO at this time, letting Putin know that resolve isn't weakening if that vote this week, when which we had a record $40 billion of additional aid going to Ukraine isn't enough. We need to do more.

BOLDUAN: You have been very outspoken about this war, arguing from early on, I look back at our last conversation that the U.S. needs to do much more. And you told me the last time the U.S. need to stop quibbling is one thing you've said. And in a speech just this week, I was struck by something you said. You said. When are we -- when are we going to stop worrying so much about Putin's red lines and start creating our own? What do you mean by that?

QUIGLEY: Look, I was quoting two -- paraphrasing two former NATO Supreme Commanders that were saying this, what we do, ought to depend on who we are as a country, remembering those that gave their last full measure of devotion in the Second World War to be this kind of attack back against autocrats and fascists. So I think we need to remind ourselves of that. Be resolved. I will say that when we talked last, we were funding Ukraine for an insurgency, right? That --


QUIGLEY: We were sending them stingers, we were sending them javelins, you know protecting them if this was a two or three-year war of insurgency. Well, now we see they have a chance to win and we're finally sending over that which they need, the heavy armor, the anti- drones, the drones, the ammunition that they need. So I think we're catching up there. It took us a while. And now it's our job to make sure that they continue to get these resources and the supplies get where they need to get as soon as possible.

BOLDUAN: And let's see if the rare area of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill which is Ukraine funding if that continues, and how long. It's good to see you, Congressman, thank you for coming in.

QUIGLEY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. Homes, going up in flames as a fast-moving wildfire sweeps through Southern California. We're going to have a live report from the scene. I mean, the pictures are just horrifying. That's next.

But there's also this. Scientists unveiling the first picture of what the black hole at the center of our galaxy looks like. More on this incredible image next.



BOLDUAN: At this hour. A wildfire is tearing through a Los Angeles suburb forcing more and more evacuations. Just look at these pictures. Winds, as usual, fanning the flames quickly engulfing homes in its path. CNN's Natasha Chen is live in Orange County, California. Natasha, what have you been seeing?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it is very heartbreaking to look at. These are multimillion-dollar homes in this neighborhood of Laguna Niguel, completely burned. And what we heard yesterday from fire crews was how the embers jumped quickly from palm tree to palm tree to attics.

I want to point out just one thing that we noticed as the sun came up here at this property, this looks to be a flagpole and a burned flag, just an example of some of the pieces of people's lives that we're seeing here. Now they are in the middle of a press conference at a different location right now and we are hearing that currently, the fire is burning at 200 acres. They do not have a containment number yet.

One firefighter yesterday was injured and taken to a local hospital and 900 homes are currently under evacuation. Here's a little bit more from the Orange County Fire Authority about their efforts right now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPT. SEAN DORAN, ORANGE COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY: The fire is currently being under investigation right now. We have fire investigators out working at this time. We want to thank the citizens of the community with their rapid evacuations. We made the evacuation order and they immediately respond to that order, got out of harm's way which allowed us to get our resources in there and start engaging in a firefight.


CHEN: I talked to one person who lives on the streets, his home is OK, but he told me they had just 15 minutes yesterday to gather their belongings and get out. He said he'd never seen flames come this close to their neighborhood before. And, of course, the fire chief yesterday attributes this quick spread to climate change saying that 5, 10 years ago, they would have been able to stamp out that early small fire much more quickly, Kate.

BOLDUAN: 15 minutes to get out of their homes. I mean that is no time at all when you think about it. It's good to see you, Natasha. Thank you for that.

Let's go to Texas now where authorities there are looking for a gunman, who say -- who they say shot three Korean women at a Dallas hair salon. And police are releasing this image of the attacker as he fled the scene. CNN's Ed Lavandera has more on this for us from Dallas. Ed, what more are you learning?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. Well, yesterday afternoon, Dallas police say that a lone gunman walked into the Hair World Salon here in Dallas, yelled something unintelligible, Dallas police say they're still trying to figure out exactly what was said, but then started opening fire.


LAVANDERA: Three women inside the hair salon were wounded. We are told by police that they suffered non-life-threatening injuries. But as we looked inside the business, we could see a pool of blood still on the ground in the waiting area of the hair salon and a shattered mirror from one of the rounds that was fired inside.

Dallas police say that that suspect was carrying a long firearm of some kind. They described the suspect as a black male, 5'7'' to 5'10'', thin build, curly hair, and a beard. And he left the scene in a dark minivan. So they've put out those pictures trying to get the public's help in identifying who this suspect is.

Of course, a crime like this gets a great deal of attention because, in the last few years, we've seen a rash of violent crimes committed against Asian-Americans here across the U.S. Dallas police say at this point, they do not have evidence to suggest that this is a hate crime but it's something they're not ruling out.

This Hair World Salon, Kate, is located in the area of Dallas here where there's a high concentration of small businesses owned by Asian- Americans. Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Ed, thank you so much. That image is out there and the police need your help. Coming up still for us. There's this. A huge discovery we're seeing for the first time what a black hole at the center of our galaxy looks like. The answer is that it could hold. The mystery of it all, that's next.



BOLDUAN: A huge discovery, take a look at this. This fuzzy kind of blurry image, this is what scientists have just revealed, the first image of the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. It is a staggering 4 million times the mass of our Sun.

Joining me right now for more on this is Michio Kaku. He's a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York. Professor, what is your reaction to seeing this first image?

MICHIO KAKU, PROFESSOR OF THEORETICAL PHYSICS, CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK: Well, this is the monster in our own galactic backyard. It is only 26,000 light-years from Earth, a hop, skip, and a jump. And if you want to see the vicinity of it, you can go out tonight. Go out tonight, look in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius, between Scorpio and Sagittarius, you can't see much there but that's where the black hole is.

Now, by rights, it should outshine the moon, like that's the galactic nuclei. But it's all obscured by dark clouds. So this fireball this galactic nuclei at the center of the Milky Way galaxy cannot be seen very well.

BOLDUAN: It's so true.

KAKU: That's kind of a disappointment.

BOLDUAN: I mean I'll take what I can get, I guess. You know, black holes are fascinating. They're mysterious. They're somewhat scary. You know, they're like the basis of so many scary movies that I've seen over the years. The idea that not even light can escape, being eaten by this void is something this kind of blows my mind. Gaining a better understanding of black holes like this, I mean what could it mean for all of us? What answers could it hold?

KAKU: Well, ultimately, it may give us the secret of creation itself because we think that some of the equations that govern the Big Bang are very similar to the equations that govern a black hole. Now, black holes are invisible. So you may say to yourself, what am I looking at if it's invisible? Well, the fireball that you see surrounding everything is hot gas, that's the plasma.

Hot gas is being ejected at the center is black. That's the event horizon. That's where the light itself cannot escape. But the black hole itself is at the very center. And we don't know what that thing looks like, a dead center in that photograph. In fact, there's a Nobel Prize waiting for the person who can figure out what lies at the very center of this photograph.

BOLDUAN: And as I mentioned off the top, astronomers, they estimate that the black hole is 4 million times more massive than our Sun. And it's even still -- it's not the biggest one that has been -- that has been photographed. The sheer size of it, what is it -- does that mean anything?

KAKU: Yes. Well, three years ago, the galaxy M87, its black hole was revealed. It is a thousand times -- a thousand times more massive than our black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. So we call our black hole, a gentle giant. It is a giant but it's gentle. It's not spewing out fireballs or radiation. It's not very active. It's very mild, which I think is good for us. We don't want to have a neighbor that's constantly spoofing us solar flares.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I guess that's what I can take comfort in. That will help my nightmares be a little less of the black hole waiting to eat me. But if it's, as you said, just a hop, skip, and a jump away, it's in the middle of our galaxy, why did it take so long to discover and photograph?

KAKU: Well, the center of our galaxy is covered with dust clouds. You see, the problem is we are in the disk of the Milky Way galaxy. So when we see other galaxies, we can see the true dimensions of their galactic arms and spirals. However, when we look at our own galaxy, we see this tremendous dust cloud, which obscures everything. And as I said, the galactic nuclei should even outshine the moon, but it's all obscured by dust clouds because we are in the center of the disk of the Milky Way galaxy. Sorry about that.

BOLDUAN: I mean amazing. It's good to see you. Thank you for jumping on to help explain this amazing discovery. It's good to see you, Michio.

KAKU: My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. And thank you all so much for being here AT THIS HOUR. I'm Kate Bolduan. INSIDE POLITICS with John King starts right now.