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5,300 Plus Presumed Dead As Ruptured Dams Worsen Disaster; Tech Moguls On The Hill To Discuss AI Promise, Peril; Memo: Military Promotions Being Held Up By GOP Sen. Tuberville Would Take Hundreds Of Hours To Process Individually. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired September 13, 2023 - 13:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: -- disagree. We'll have more on this ahead on CNN News Central.


KEILAR: An urgent call going out to the international community today to help Libya deal with its humanitarian crisis. That's a crisis that is now worsening tremendously after catastrophic flooding ruptured two dams. Authorities say there are -- authority say that there are more than 6,000 people who are presumed dead at this point in time, with another 10,000 still missing.


The eastern city of Derna has been hit with the worst of this. These are satellite images showing the city before and after the flash flooding. You can see it there. Entire neighborhoods wiped out, homes washed into the Mediterranean Sea. Emergency teams are sifting through debris. They are looking for survivors. This is really tough work. Officials say that morgues are overwhelmed and some areas are now resorting to mass burials.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is following the latest developments for us. Ben, Libya's government is divided between factions in the east and the west. That is obviously going to complicate the aid and the response here.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. In addition to the fact that basically since 2011, first, with the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, and then by the Civil War between the east and the west, that simply the maintenance said basic civil servants -- services have been largely ignored.

And therefore this is the consequence, this disaster happens. And the authorities in the eastern part of the country where Derna is simply aren't equipped to deal with this disaster. What we're seeing is and hearing accounts of just bodies strewn all over this city, covered with blankets. But it's hot still in that part of the country.

And doctors are concerned about the outbreak of disease as a result of all these dead bodies. Hundreds, it looks like thousands of bodies in the street. Now it's also hard to get assistance to the town because many of the bridges and the roads leading to Derna have been washed away. And because of the political divisions, for instance, Algeria has shipped emergency relief supplies not to the eastern part of the country, but to Tripoli, which is more than a thousand kilometers away.

And therefore there's a desperate appeal by the authorities there for the world to help. But the response has been fairly meager. The United States announcing it's donating a million dollars in assistance, Britain a million pounds. But the depth of need there is much, much greater than that. Brianna?

KEILAR: It is. These are awful pictures to see what folks there are going through. Ben, thank you so much for that report. And if you need more information about how you can help you see what's happening here in these Libya flood relief efforts, you can go to Jim?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Now to Morocco, where in addition to all the lives lost, countless historic sites were also destroyed, damaged or threatened by last Friday's quake. Before and after pictures tell that story of destruction. Marrakesh's crown jewel, the famous Koutoubia Mosque, shook violently during the quake. But the 12th century structure and its 77 meters minaret remained standing throughout the weekend. It's just amazing to see that happen.

The Karbish (ph) Mosque was almost entirely destroyed. Its minaret collapsed, leaving just a stump of bricks and rubble as you can see there, again, the before and after photos tell the story. The 900- year-old walls of Marrakesh were battered by the quake leaving visible cracks and crumbling portions. The imposing rose colored fortifications stretched for several miles around the historic Medina district.

Finally, this from the village of Tinmal, the Tinmal Mosque is a prime example of 12th century architecture, it's 1000 years old. The mosque boasting intricate brickwork archways, carved motifs. The building was severely damaged, its walls and towers now lying in ruins. Again, of course, the biggest cost, Boris, is lives. But so much history went up in dust.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Yes. Still ahead on CNN News Central, putting their heads together on artificial intelligence, some of the most influential people in tech joining lawmakers for an unprecedented meeting on the perils and promise of AI. Could Congress soon try to regulate that fast moving industry? Stay with us. We're back in just moments.


SANCHEZ: A high stakes meeting on Capitol Hill today on the tremendous power and potential peril of artificial intelligence. A bipartisan group of senators is meeting with tech industry titans, including CEOs from Microsoft, Meta, Google, X, and the company behind ChatGPT, OpenAI. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling it a, quote, conversation never before seen in Congress.

But the forum does have its critics. Republican Senator Josh Hawley calling it a, quote, giant cocktail party. And Democratic Senator Dick Blumenthal says it is unproductive. Listen.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), CHAIR, PRIVACY, TECHNOLOGY & THE LAW SUBCMTE.: This forum is not designed to produce legislation. Our Subcommittee will produce legislation. My goal is not a informal behind closed doors discussion. It's new laws. Not bills, but laws.


SANCHEZ: Meantime, we just heard from the owner of the app formerly known as Twitter here's, Elon Musk, right after the hearing.


ELON MUSK, OWNER, X (FORMERLY TWITTER) & TESLA CEO: It was very civilized discussion, actually, among some of the smartest people in the world. So I thought Senator Schumer did a great service to humanity here, along with the support of the rest of the Senate. And I think will -- I think something good will come of this.



SANCHEZ: Joining us now, CNN media analyst and senior media reporter for Axios, Sara Fischer. So, Sara, what more are you learning about this conversation between tech CEOs and senators?

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Yes, well, I've been texting folks, Boris, both on the Congress side and on the tech side. And there seems to be a mutual agreement that this was optimistic, that this was quasi productive. There has been some naysayers, like Senator Richard Blumenthal, who have said, look, this is a closed door hearing. There's no legislation being debated. What's the point?

But the point here is that there's now consensus. A real sense of urgency needs to happen in order to get government to regulate AI. Before, we did not have a set of major tech CEOs all sitting around a U shaped table nodding their heads, saying, this is something that needs to get done. Now we have that consensus.

And so I think most folks thought that this meeting was productive, yet we still don't have any sort of real legislation that's pending at the moment.

SANCHEZ: Notably, we didn't see something like this before the explosion of social media. And we've seen myriad issues created by those platforms. So this seems like a productive step, but I'm wondering what specific issues were of concern.

FISCHER: Yes, there's a lot. One is how do you go about regulating AI? Do you create a separate agency, two agencies that are going to oversee it? Do we promote open AI algorithms and systems, or do we want to keep them closed? These are the types of things that lawmakers and committees like Senator Richard Blumenthal and his partner on the Republican side, Josh Hawley, are debating right now.

But to your point about this happening in an era when it didn't happen in social media, two thoughts there. One, a lot of these folks now have experience on Capitol Hill. They're much more willing to come and talk to members of Congress and the Senate because they've done it before. And then, two, I think they've learned their lesson. They did not have a strong hand in shaping regulation in the social media era because they weren't actively participating in it from the start. They ran in fear.

Now, these big tech firms have huge D.C. offices, big numbers of lobbyists on the ground. They're less afraid to go in and get their hands dirty and work to sort of shape some of that legislation.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And notably, some of them have had tenuous interactions with politicians before, so it's kind of refreshing to see them have a, you know, productive dialogue. I am wondering, though, some of them are obviously very invested in the future of AI. Critics argue that there could be a conflict of interest as to what kind of regulations they would want to put in place. Was that brought up at all, do you know?

FISCHER: A little bit. And, you know, this reminds me a lot of the airplane debate. You recall a few years ago when we had a bunch of airplane issues. One of the big concerns was that the airplane lobbies were influencing the FAA because the FAA didn't have the capacity and quite frankly the experience and expertise.

You're seeing a similar thing happen with big tech where congress is leaning on the firms that they seek to regulate to inform them and educate them and to help them shape rules about these firms. That's actually a big problem and a big concern.

In terms of what to expect and what each side wants, today's meeting was so high level, Boris, they didn't really get into the nitty- gritty. They talked about AI being good for things like solving the hunger crisis, solving cancer. You know, they didn't talk about specifics of how they're going to actually create legislation.

SANCHEZ: Really something to keep an eye on because it is the new frontier, artificial intelligence. Sara Fischer, thanks so much for the time. Appreciate it.

FISCHER: Thank you.


SCIUTTO: Seven hundred hours, that is how much floor time it would take the Senate to process the remaining military promotions, which one U.S. senator has stopped in their tracks? We're going to have details just ahead.


And happening right now, the escaped murderer who was caught finally earlier this morning after a two-week manhunt appears to be on the move with law enforcement. We're following the latest stay with CNN News Central.


KEILAR: Nearly 700 hours, a new memo says that's how long it would take for the Senate to individually process and vote on hundreds of military promotions that are outstanding right now. These are promotions that are being blocked by Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. He's placed this blanket hold on nominations as he is protesting the Pentagon's reproductive health travel policies. The pending promotions of military officers continuing to pile up. The number now climbing to over 300. We have Natasha Bertrand with us on this story. Natasha, tell us what you're learning about this memo.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, so this is a memo that was written by the Congressional Research Service in direct request by Senator Jack Reed, who is the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senate Armed Services Committee. And he essentially tasked them with coming up with a number, an estimate on just how long it would take to confirm each one of these nominees individually instead of doing what the Senate has routinely done, which is to take them up and block or in a big group and approve them by unanimous consent just because there are so many of these nominations.


Right now, though, Tommy Tuberville is blocking that process from taking place because he says that he will object to that unanimous consent process. Therefore, he has said that, look, if you really want to confirm these nominees, you can do it one by one. That is the argument that he has made in response to criticism of his hold.

But the Congressional Research Service did this big study. What they say now is that doing that would actually take almost 700 hours. Here's what they said. This total represents approximately 30 days and 17 hours to process all 273 military nominations, assuming the Senate worked 24 hours a day without break or interruption by other business. Alternatively, based on the above assumptions, if the Senate exclusively processed these nominations during eight-hour session days, it would take approximately 89 days to confirm all 273 nominees.

Now, this memo was actually written back in late August, and the number of nominees who have been blocked at this point is now over 300. So it would take even longer for the Senate to take up each individual nominee at this point. And, look, Senate Democrats have said at this point it is not going to happen. This would take all of our time. And they're also not going to take up the most senior military officers up for promotion, because that would send the wrong message to the rank and file. So right now, really still at a standstill. Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes. This is a mess, and it is becoming messier. Natasha, thank you for the latest on that in your reporting. Jim?

SCIUTTO: A potentially dangerous alliance, the leaders of North Korea and Russia edging closer to an arms deal that could have serious consequences for the war in Ukraine. We're going to break down what was said in that meeting and also what could come, next.