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Military Seizes Power In Apparent Coup In Guinea; Trump-Era Ban Keeps Some Chinese Students Out Of U.S.; Biden To Visit All Three 9/11 Attack Sites Saturday. Aired 2-3aET

Aired September 06, 2021 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: Hi to all of our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Thanks for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow live in Atlanta.

So, coming up on CNN, airlines are beginning to fly out of Kabul. Not just short domestic flights to parts of Afghanistan, but the Taliban allowing much needed humanitarian aid to also enter the country.

And the White House weighs in on the confusion over COVID booster shots and why it might take just a little longer for that third dose to get into arms.

And Denmark lifting restrictions as it declares victory over coronavirus. How did they do it? Vaccinations.

Great to have you along with me this hour and we're certainly following new developments out of Afghanistan where the Taliban are now claiming to have "completely conquered the Panjshir province in northern Afghanistan." The only region to remain out of their control.

But that claim is being denied by the National Resistance Front. A spokesperson told CNN, resistance forces are still in strategic positions across the valley and are continuing to fight. Well, I want to head straight to Kabul where journalist, Ben Farmer, is standing by for us. Ben, hi. Good to speak to you. What more do we know about the situation in Panjshir?

BEN FARMER, JOURNALIST (via telephone): Well, we know that the Taliban released statements about 90 minutes ago saying that they claim complete control. They said that the valley which -- where they've been trying to invade for 5 days now. They said that it had been completely conquered.

That is contested by the opposition forces. The opposition forces say they are still (inaudible) still controlling some strategic positions and they say that they are also controlling several side valleys. But we know that the opposition forces are in trouble. They are in difficulty. And last night, they released a statement calling for a cease-fire and calling for the resumption of peace talks with the Taliban. CURNOW: And what also are we -- we are also monitoring another

developing story that -- the flights have opened up from Kabul airport. Give us -- give us an indication of the significant of this and who is flying in and out?

FARMER (via telephone): So, the airport has resumed flights to domestic destinations. There are flights currently to the cities of Kandahar, Herat, and Mazar-i-Sharif. There are also eight flights coming in which is crucial because the country is facing a terrible humanitarian crisis.

As yet, there are no commercial international flights coming in and the difficulty with those flights as damage to the airport and a lack of personnel, air traffic control personnel. At the moment, we understand that there are no -- there is no radar operating, which means that it's almost impossible for flights, commercial flights to come in.

But it's a priority for the international community, and indeed, for the Taliban to get the airport back up running. And we're expecting strenuous efforts to be made to try and get it running in the coming days.

CURNOW: You're there on the ground in Kabul. Can you just give us a sense of what it is like at the moment, in particular, also, for women? Because we understand that the Taliban has, indeed, started to crack down on women's rights where you are.

FARMER: I have to say it's a very strange mood in the city. It's quiet -- much quieter than I'm used to. And it feels slightly tensed. There are signs of returning normality, but at certainly, not back to normal yet. And one of those signs of things are not back to normal is indeed what you've mentioned. That there are very few women on the streets.

I talked to lots of professional women and a lot of them are staying inside (ph). They don't know how they are going to be treated on the streets and are preferring to stay home until things are clearer.

CURNOW: Ben Farmer, live in Kabul. Thank you very much for your reporting. Really appreciate it.

So, nearly a week after that last U.S. flight left Kabul, there are concerns about just how many Americans are still trying to get out of the country. The White House chief of staff says the administration believes there are around 100 still in the country. Take a listen.


RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We are going to find ways to get them, the ones that want to leave, to get them out of Afghanistan. We know that many of them have family members, many of them want to stay, but the ones that want to leave we're going to get them out.



CURNOW: Klain also touted the massive airlift from Kabul that helped evacuate 124,000 people. The White House vows to keep working to get more Afghans who helped the U.S. out of the country.

Now, those comments coming as one Republican lawmaker claims the Taliban are preventing some U.S. citizens and Afghan allies from flying out of Afghanistan. Susan Malveaux has the details from Washington. Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN U.S NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alarmist language. A dire warning from a top Republican congressman, Michael McCaul. He is the top Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, saying that American citizens are on the ground being held by the Taliban and that they are not able to get on these flights. That they are in a desperate situation saying he's getting this information from classified briefings. And he is describing it as something that is similar to a near hostage situation.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): We have six airplanes at Mashar-i-Sharif airport. Six airplanes with American citizens on them, as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands, right now. They -- we have -- the state has cleared these flights and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport.


MALVEUX: Because of the specific nature of McCaul's claims, CNN has reached out to various governmental agencies and entities to help amplify, clarify, or even confirm what he is saying here. And while the State Department says it cannot confirm the details, the specifics of this situation.

They did put out a statement here saying, "We understand the concern that many people are feeling as they try to facilitate further charter and other passage out of Afghanistan. However, we do not have personnel on the ground, we do not have air assets in the country, we do not control the air space, whether over Afghanistan or elsewhere in the region. Given these constraints, we also do not have a reliable means to confirm the basic details of chartered flights, including who may organizing them, the number of U.S. citizens and other priority groups on board."

CNN has reached out to Ascend (ph). It is a nonprofit group like many of these groups that are trying to get American citizens out of Kabul, out of the airport. They say that, yes, there are some that are being held there, and that the Taliban is not allowing for these planes to leave.

A spokesperson from the State Department, however, reiterating that they will hold the Taliban accountable to the commitment that they made, that American citizens, as well as allies, will be able to leave the country freely. But, of course, all, right now, is very uncertain. Susan Malveaux, CNN, at the capitol. CURNOW: We are getting a new look at the desperate efforts to rescue victims of the remnants of Hurricane Ida when the rain and floods hit the northeast last week. I want to show you this New York police officer, wading into chest deep water to investigate report of people inside a flooded basement.

With stuffed animals and toys bobbing in filthy water, the officers were blocked by locked doors, and also, live electricity. It's a difficult video to watch because the firefighters then brought in specialized equipment and discovered the bodies of three people. All of them had drowned.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana, there are still widespread power outages amid scorching temperatures in the wake of Hurricane Ida. Nadia Romero reports now from hard-hit Kenner. Nadia?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Hundreds of thousands of people across Louisiana still without power more than one week after the storm. And no power means no air conditioning and what has become a hot, sweltering moment for the state of Louisiana, especially down here in Kenner. We're right next to New Orleans.

If you take a look behind me, this is what the street looks like in this neighborhood. This power line, down. This power pole, another one, another and it just keeps going on and on down the street. The neighbors say they felt barricaded inside their homes, trapped inside because of the downed power lines.

So, they had to get in their cars and drive across their neighbors lawns just to get out of the neighborhood. One woman tells me that there's a bit of a silver lining when it comes to this storm and it regards her mother.


EMILY ENCARLADE, KENNER RESIDENT WITHOUT POWER: My mom, thank God, well, I say thank God, but she passed from COVID in March of 2020. So, I'm just thankful that she was not here to witness any of this because she would have been so miserable right now. She really would have.

ROMERO (on camera): I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. It's one storm after another for your family, it seems like.

ENCARLADE: It seems.


ENCARLADE: I mean, but this is -- this is the nature of the beast. If you live here in southeastern Louisiana, you can expect this sort of thing to happen on a regular basis. That's the crazy part.


ROMERO: Now, the area's power company says that this particular city should have its power back on by September 8th, which is Wednesday. But people in the neighborhood are not very hopeful or optimistic that they will meet that deadline. Nadia Romero, CNN, Kennner, Louisiana.

CURNOW: Thanks Nadia for that. So just ahead on CNN, COVID boosters are in the spotlight as the target date for proposed U.S. rollouts nears.


We'll also find out who will be at the front of the line and who may have to wait.

Plus, Denmark says that it has COVID under control and will soon lift all restrictions. Up next, I talked to an expert about how they did it and whether the virus will stage a comeback.


CURNOW: Much of the U.S. is struggling to get the recent surge of new coronavirus cases, under control. And as you can see from this map here, many, many states are still, are seeing spikes driven by the delta variant, which of course, is highly transmissible.

And as the debate about the rollout of booster shots continues, the idea (ph) is certainly, is gaining traction with U.S. health officials, thanks to data coming from Israel. Infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, spoke to Jim Acosta on Sunday about the boosters and why they are so important.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We need the boost because, ultimately, it may turn out, Jim, that the ultimate proper immunization regimen is a three-dose regiment. Remember, we made it a two-dose regiment. We were dealing with an emergent situation. We needed to get those vaccines out because they were life-saving.


And in fact, they have been life-saving. What we are observing now, not only here in the United States, but in other countries including Israel and the U.K. that the durability of the protection tends to wane particularly in the context of the delta variant.


CURNOW: So we are just a couple of weeks away from the White House's initial proposed rollout of those booster shots. But a large group of fully vaccinated Americans may still have to wait a little bit longer before they roll up their sleeve, as Arlette Saenz reports.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House insists no COVID-19 booster shots will be administered without the approval of the FDA and the CDC even as the Biden administration has been targeting a September 20th timeframe for rolling out those shots.

That plan may now need to be limited as officials are saying they don't have enough data relating to the Moderna vaccine. Approval for the Pfizer vaccine for that third booster shot does appear to be in progress and proceeding as planned.

But, it's Moderna that may need to take a few more weeks to receive approval. But White House chief of staff, Ron Klain insisted that this is all guided by the science, even as he now would not put a timeframe for when those booster shots would go out. Take a listen.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Did he get ahead of the science by setting that specific date for boosters before all the date was in?

RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No Dana. I think what we said was that we would be ready as of the 20th, which was the projection we were given from the senior science team, as to when the FDA would clear the boosters. I want to be absolutely clear. No one is going to get boosters, until the FDA says they are approved, until the CDC advisory committee makes a recommendation.

BASH: How will you make that decision? Will you 100 percent follow the science?

KLAIN: A hundred percent.


SAENZ: Now, while Pfizer may be ready for that September 20th timeframe, the Moderna shot may take a few weeks later. And officials have also said they are still studying whether you could possibly mix and match these booster shot vaccines. So, someone who had initially received Moderna might be able to receive Pfizer as their booster shot.

But those studies are still a few weeks away from being completed. This all comes as there is a real sense of urgency within the Biden administration as other variants of COVID-19 are taking hold, as well as a high transmission case rate throughout the country.

President Biden is also expected to speak about his COVID-19 response a little bit later in the week as they are trying to get a handle of not just on containing the virus, but also getting those booster shots out to Americans. Arlette Saenz, CNN, traveling with the president in Wilmington, Delaware.

CURNOW: Thanks Arlette for that. Now, the FDA is also set to receive a briefing from Israel about its vaccine booster rollout later on this month. The country was one of the first to begin offering a third dose of the vaccine early last month. Officials say the booster shots have certainly helped slower rise in severe illness caused by the delta variant.

On Saturday, Israel reported its lowest daily case count in three weeks. And the country's COVID czar also says another round of booster shots could also be coming soon. And Denmark will soon be lifting all COVID restrictions, thanks to the

nation's high vaccination rate. Officials say, 80 percent of Denmark's population aged 12 and older is fully vaccinated. Starting September 10th, there will be no mask mandate, COVID passports or limits on public gatherings.

Well, here to discuss further is Soren Paludan. He's the professor at Aarhus University in Denmark. Soren, hi. Good to see you. So, Denmark declaring COVID under control, is this just all about vaccines? How did you do it?

SOREN RIIS PALUDAN, PROFESSOR, AARHUS UNIVERSITY: Yes, I think it's basically driven by the high compliance with the vaccination program. That is the main reason why we have so few cases and so low number of deaths in the country now.

CURNOW: And why -- and why -- why will there be no mask mandates and any sort of restrictions? Is there not a concern that they will then create the opportunity for there to be a resurgence?

PALUDAN: Basically, the mask requirement has not been in place for quite some time and that has not led to high number of cases. I guess to me the key word seen from today's perspective, is that we are now trying to learn to co-exist, if you like, I mean, with the virus because we all know that the virus is not going to go away, and with this high compliance with the vaccination program, we think this is the right time to now, I mean, see how it works, if you like, without any restrictions.

CURNOW: What are the lessons other countries can learn from Denmark here?

PALUDAN: I think, firstly of all, it's very difficult to translate one to one between countries, but I think what people should look at in Denmark is, I mean, what happens, basically. I guess many people would have a worst-case scenario thinking that this is going to go very wrong.


But, I think they -- we are going to learn in Denmark that we are actually able to keep this under control and we will not see a high rise in death. And other important thing, I would say, is that in Denmark, the focus is not so much on the number of cases because now they are mainly among the younger ones. It's mainly on the number of hospitalized and death. And, on that parameter, Denmark is doing really well.

CURNOW: We are reporting, obviously, that Israel is talking about booster shots and perhaps even another booster shot. The U.S. preparing to roll out booster shots, a lot of reporting on breakthrough infections. What does -- where does Denmark stand on that?

PALUDAN: So, we also offering a third jab now to specific groups, particularly the elderly and specific patient groups. And I think that is a, I mean, a key part of our strategy because obviously we are approaching winter here in Denmark and immunity may wane, as we heard you reported just before among specific patient groups. So, part of our, I mean, lifting all the restrictions is that we will offer a third jab to specific patient groups.

CURNOW: And are you concerned but new variants?

PALUDAN: I mean, globally speaking, I'm concerned about as to whether they would do originate in Denmark. I'm not --

CURNOW: No, not originate, but more -- obviously changing the plans. Do you feel like variants could threaten what appears to be a situation that is under control right now?

PALUDAN: I think no one can exclude that and the things politicians have sort of, I mean, keeping the door open that if they change, of course, I mean, they will change the regulations obviously. But I mean, as for now, I am not too concerned. We have seen variants, obviously, but we have not really seen any variants which significantly can evade immunity.

CURNOW: And what are Danes saying about this?

PALUDAN: I think Danes are generally happy with the situations and I see very few people actually being concerned which, of course, you put (inaudible) would be the case. But since we have so lower number of cases over the summer, I think people are generally happy to go back to -- live a normal life.

CURNOW: Soren, really appreciate you joining us live there from Aarhus. Soren Paludan, thank you.

SO Mexican students began heading back to class last week despite surge in COVID cases there. The government have promised the return would be safe but many parents aren't so sure. Rafael Romo reports from Mexico City.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first, time in 17 months, these Mexican students are going back to school in person. Other than blessings and hugs, their return is far from normal. Upon arrival, their hands are sanitized and their temperature checked. Parents seem anxious.

We're in the middle of a pandemic. The highest peak, as far as I know. It was not an easy decision. We hope the school has taken the right measures, this father said. Asked how she felt about going back to school, the 7-year-old could only utter one word. Excited, she said.

I'm afraid of getting infected, and getting my whole family infected. That is my fear, this student said.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in July that classes would resume at the end of August, rain or shine, pandemic or not.

There are no major risks for children or teenagers, the president said. We can have good control and the pandemic should not be an excuse to keep schools closed.

More than 25 million elementary and middle school students were supposed to resume classes in person in Mexico on August 30th. In the end, less than half showed up. According to figures from the Mexican government, only 45 percent of students showed up on day one and 52 percent of schools actually managed to open.

(On camera): Were Mexican schools, teachers, students ready to go back to school given that the country is still in the middle of the pandemic?

PABLO CLARK, SENIOR RESEARCHER, MEXICAN INSTITUTE FOR COMPETITIVENESS: Unfortunately, most schools are probably not ready to welcome students back in a safe and efficient manner.

ROMO (voice-over): Pablo Clark analyzed Mexico's education system preparedness for reopening and what he found was that some schools didn't even meet the minimum requirements for a safe return.

CLARK: When parents go to their schools and actually talk to their teachers and to their principals, they realize that there are no conditions to put in practice the guidelines that are coming from the federal government. They see that their schools do not have adequate infrastructure. They do not have access to running water.


ROMO (voice-over): Members of a powerful teachers union blocked the president's access to an event in Chiapas recently as a protest for what they consider a lack of guarantees for the safe return to the classroom. The president's answer?

ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (through translation): I won't be blackmailed.

ROMO (voice-over): By the end of May, Mexico was one of only 23 countries around the world that still kept it schools closed due to the pandemic.

(On camera): Many of the parents we talked to here at the capitol were still hesitant to allow their children to go back to school because they didn't feel conditions for a safe return were met. But in the end, many decided to still send them back because they were afraid of the long term academic impact to their children after 17 months away from the classroom. Rafael Romo, CNN, Mexico City.


CURNOW: Thanks Rafael for that story. So still to come, Guinea's military announces the constitution is dissolved in an apparent coup. A look at the implications for the region.


CURNOW: Welcome back to over viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Thanks for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow. Its 29 minutes past the hour.

There is political upheaval in the West African nation of Guinea after the adviser to President Alpha Conde confirmed his arrest in apparent coup.


As you can see here, hundreds of people celebrating in the streets of the capitol on Sunday.


UNKNOWN (through translation): The joy is at its maximum, my brother. Look around. It's like that all over the territory. The Guinean people are free



CURNOW: The president's location is unclear, but he can be seen in a video posted on social media. CNN cannot independently verify its authenticity.


So I want to go now straight to Johannesburg, David McKenzie is standing by with more on the implications of this coup and what it means. David?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. You know, early in the morning on Sunday in the capital Conakry, you had those dramatic scenes unfolding mostly in the Kowloon District, which is Robyn, where many of those government buildings and the presidential palace are held.

Heavy - light arms fire and heavy weapons fire heard by witnesses that CNN spoke to. And then you had that extraordinary video showing the President, 83-year old Alpha Conde surrounded by what appears to be special forces of the Guinean Military. He looks dazed, somewhat confused, and then shepherded out of his location to an unknown location.

Now, the leaders of the apparent coup are the special forces that seems Mamady Doumbouya, who was a former French Foreign legionnaire, as well as a Military Special Forces commander that was trained by the U.S. in previous years. And not that there's any connection there specifically.

But while you saw those cheering crowds on the streets of Conakry, it is very tense time right now, the relatively calm, this nation has had a disputed election last year, which Conde won and widespread allegations of fraud. He's also accused of corruption, particularly in the mining sector, but the regional powers and the African Union certainly condemning this coup for what it is, which is a forcible transfer of power, it seems. Robyn? CURNOW: Yes, let's talk about what happens next, how countries particularly in the region, are reacting and the implications for security?

MCKENZIE: Well, I think the key body to look at right now is ECOWAS, the West African regional bloc, they have in the past been quite forthright, and at times aggressive dealing with transfers of power, but they've been -- coups like this. There've been a cascade of coups and apparent coups in recent months in Mali and Chad and now a Guinea that provides a real test for them.

They are asking for a return to quote a constitutional order what happens next, on the ground, this group of soldiers that have appeared to have taken over the country at this stage and put out a pretty ominous call saying that all government officials and politicians are required. They called it invited to a meeting to happen in the coming hours in Conakry, as they are exiting power. Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, thanks so much for that update there, David McKenzie, appreciate it. So after leaving the U.S. at the start of the Pandemic, a Chinese researcher can't get back into the States to complete his studies. Why he says he's a victim of Donald Trump's policies.



CURNOW: A Trump-era ban on visas aimed at Chinese nationals is still causing problems for students trying to get back into the U.S. Now the policy targeted people suspected of being spies for the Chinese Military. And now those students are warning it may drive a bigger wedge between the two countries. David Culver reports. David?


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heightened tensions between the U.S. and China striking at higher education forcing some Chinese graduate and post grad students to halt their studies in the U.S., their academic futures left in limbo.

DENNIS HU, CHINESE STUDENT UNABLE TO GET BACK TO THE U.S.: And my research is kind of disrupted.

CULVER: Dennis Hu, one of them. He flew to Shanghai in January 2020, along with his friend and lab mate Matthew Jagielski, who aimed to renew his visa and introduce to Jagielski to his family and the Chinese culture. But while Jagielski, an American returned to the U.S., Hu was delayed in going back to their university in Boston, first by the outbreak, several attempts to return failed.

Then came a new policy under President Trump.

HU: First I think, it's a policy discrimination based on nationality.

DONALD J. TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To suspend the entry -- CULVER: Hu is referring to proclamation 10043. In May 2020 Trump block Chinese graduate students and post-grad researchers that came mostly from eight Chinese universities with suspected Chinese Military ties. The policy singled out those studying in STEM fields or science, technology, engineering and math framed as part of national security.

ERIC FISH, AUTHOR, CHINA'S MILLENNIALS: THE WANT GENERATION: There certainly is espionage that goes on in U.S. universities from China. There have been cases in the past where students have been used for espionage purposes. This policy though, is very sweeping, it's very arbitrary.

CULVER: It's estimated there are as many as 5000 Chinese students now kept from re-entering the U.S.. In response to CNN, the U.S. State Department said in part that the United States welcomes international students and stated that the policy is intentionally narrowly targeted, affecting less than 2 percent of those applying for the student and Exchange Visitor visas, stressing that the proclamation is intended to protect both the integrity of the U.S. research enterprise and U.S. national security interests.

But some experts fear the policy could worsen U.S.-China relations for generations to come.

FISH: I think when you get to a more fundamental level, this has been really alienating to a lot of the young Chinese who are most predisposed to be amiable towards the United States in the first place.

CULVER: Students like Hu, now desperate to return to the U.S. His research focuses on using social media data to assess bias in the public domain.

MATTHEW JAGIELSKI, DENNIS HU'S LAB MATE: I definitely don't get the impression that his - his research is a like military sensitive thing. I also, you know, don't get the impression that he is a person who is trying to sneak it in or anything.

HU: It just hurt me with those like accusation or labeling of Chinese spy.

CULVER: It is concerning enough for Chinese officials to raise the issue of student visa restrictions in recent high level talks with their U.S. counterparts, calling it unfair treatment. But in the U.S. there are American Graduate students likewise kept from reentering China

WALEED KHAN, U.S. STUDENT UNABLE TO GET BACK TO CHINA: And I was essentially meant to graduate this year 2021.

CULVER: Waleed Khan and his brother lived in Shanghai up until the outbreak, the medical student thought it'd be a brief hiatus and then he'd be back to finish his sixth and final year. Instead, the brothers are left waiting in their LA area home.

KHAN: We want to return. We are proactive, we want to abide by the guidelines. But we need guidelines to abide by.

CULVER: China keeping most international students including Americans from returning based on COVID-19 restrictions, but Khan thinks there's more to that.

KHAN: I do believe that having that American passport is making things difficult because of the political conflict between U.S. and China. Feel like we may be caught in the crossfire.


CULVER: Back in China, Hu is part of a group pushing the Biden Administration to revoke the Trump proclamation, even trying to raise funds to launch a lawsuit against the U.S. government.

HU: Trying my best to be positive. Even the reality might, might not always be good.

CULVER: David Culver, CNN, Shanghai.


CURNOW: Now, thanks for joining us here on CNN. If you're an international viewer, I'm going to hand you over to the good folks at World Sport. Enjoy that. For all of our viewers here in the U.S. and Canada, I will be right back with more news. Stick around for that.



CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow. Let's talk about some U.S. politics now. The President Joe Biden has a lot on his plate this month. The President and the First Lady plan to visit all three September 11 attack sites around the country on Saturday. It comes as Mr. Biden faces intense scrutiny for that chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Meantime, The White House says it will wait for full CDC and FDA approval before COVID booster shots are available to the public and initial announcement had said those shots would be available by the 20th of September. Now the president is also blaming the new surge in COVID cases for the disappointing jobs numbers.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no question that delta Variant is why today's job report isn't stronger. I know people were looking and I was hoping for a higher number.


CURNOW: Mr. Biden also visited Louisiana to see the damage left by Hurricane Ida and pledged up to $100 million in direct assistance to the state. For more on what's ahead in the coming week for the U.S. president I want to bring in my next guest Michael Genovese, Political Analyst and President of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University. Michael, hi, good to see you. So, a look ahead for the week, the White House focusing on the 20-year anniversary of the 911 attacks. How critical is the President's messaging ahead of this somber anniversary.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, 911 has been the defining event for the United States for the past 20 years. It's hijacked our foreign policy. We've reshaped our foreign policy in the wake of the attack. And we've violated our own values. He needs to say that at from this point on, we're going to reconnect with our values, we are going to behave like a real superpower. We're not going to be distracted by the small, shiny objects.

We need to reclaim the rule of law and democracy and we need to get rid of Guantanamo. And all of these kind of paraphernalia that was built up with Democrats and Republicans over the last 20 years. We have not comported ourselves in this war very well and Joe Biden has a chance to basically push a restart button.

CURNOW: Well, he sees Afghanistan and leaving Afghanistan is one of those - one of those issues. It's been three weeks since Kabul fell. What's the political fallout from that pretty chaotic withdrawal.

GENOVESE: I think there are three truisms that apply here. And I think there's very little that one could doubt about these three things. The first is that we lost Afghanistan a long time before Joe Biden became president. Second, whoever was president, when we pulled out of Afghanistan, there was going to be chaos. But the third thing, and this is right on Biden's lap, is that they handled it very poorly. And that was a surprise.

These are experienced hands. Joe Biden's the grown up. We all thought that they would know what they were going to - what they were doing, that they were going to have a plan. Everything seemed to collapse around him. And so there obviously will be some fallout. It's early. It's not yet an albatross around his neck. But if there is a domino effect, if this is one of a series of negative stories, you could have a tremendous impact and bring the Biden Administration to its knees.

CURNOW: Let's talk about domestic issues. The Texas abortion ruling has certainly put that issue front and center on the domestic political landscape and the future of women's rights in the U.S. in the midst of these culture wars. Where does the President - how does he navigate this?

GENOVESE: With great difficulty, this is a hot potato, the Supreme Court would be better off leaving it where it is because what you're going to do is stir up a hornet's nest. 50 years of Roe versus Wade. And that may not be the ideal situation, but it is the law of the land. And we've been doing it for 50 years.

To overturn it, which is what a lot of people want to do and what it seems like a majority of the conservatives on the Supreme Court want to do, it's going to open a political hornet's nest that will just reinvigorate all of the cultural divisions, all of the hyper partisanship, and it will animate behavior by both the right and the left, that will reconfigure the way we practice politics going into the midterms.

I'm not sure who this helps more than Democrats or the Republicans. I think it hurts both sides.

CURNOW: What is the president's approval rating? I think I checked last time I checked, it was about 43 percent. What does that mean? What is the - what - It's pretty low for this president. What is it indicating? And where's he taking hits? Is it COVID? Is it Afghanistan? Is it hurricane Ida? Is it - you know, where are we in terms of the way Americans are viewing him?

GENOVESE: The answer is yes to all of the things you mentioned, the President is held responsible for everything including the weather. But - but polling is a snapshot. It's a snapshot of today. And polling results are a function of events, events that people see and can feel and it's been a bad run for President Biden. The pullout in Afghanistan was botched, COVID has been untamed and it continues to increase even though we know that we have the vaccine that can end this problem.


The economy is starting to slip a little bit. So the question for Biden is, at what point does the narrative change from Biden's a pretty good guy doing a pretty good job to the job's too big for him. If the narrative does change, it could be very well cemented in the heads of people. And it's hard -- it's going to be hard to change that. I mean, he inherited a mess. He's had to clean up the Augean stables left by Donald Trump.

But at some point, and at some point fairly soon, those problems that he inherited won't be Trump's, they will be Biden's and when he has to take ownership of them. That's when the people will start looking with a hard view and say, is he up to the job?

Right now his polling is in the low 40 percent range. You know, it's not going to be stuck there. It could go up. It could go down. It will be events based.

CURNOW: Michael Genovese, always good to speak to you. Thanks so much for joining us.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

CURNOW: When the remnants of Hurricane Ida swept through the Northeast U.S. last week, the devastation left behind was certainly catastrophic. Pola Sandoval is in New York and following the pace of recovery in one of the hardest hit areas. Polo?


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're in one of those Queens neighborhoods that was hit particularly hard by last week's flash flooding, there are multiple residents here in Queens that have told me that they are certainly hoping that the federal government will come through with some kind of financial assistance package that would help them rebuild or in some cases simply repair what they lost during that flash flood flooding.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul actually called on the Biden Administration to expedite the kind of financial assistance not just for local governments, but also for New Yorkers as well, those who have been struggling to rebuild.

In fact, over the weekend, she actually toured some of these neighborhoods and saw firsthand what many of those neighbors are having to deal with now, the governor signing this new disaster declaration, with the president's approval, it would potentially lead the way to some kind of intervention - individual assistance with some of these folks would need to replace some of what they lost.

We did spend some time hearing from some of these folks who said that they are certainly worried that this help may not come. This is Barbara Amarantinis, who turned to a local center here where the city is offering some support. But she says that's still enough. She needs more.

BARBARA AMARANTINIS, QUEENS RESIDENT: I came by here today because I thought I might be able to get assistance. My hot water heater is shot, you can't get a plumber. My boiler also gone. And all we've been told with everyone that's here today is call 311 and file a complaint which I did and was closed out. I don't know what to do. We need financial assistance we need to get back on our feet.

SANDOVAL: Also over the weekend, the NYPD also releasing some very dramatic video that was actually taken on Wednesday during the height of the storm. And in it you can see officers desperately trying to reach an area that had been submerged under water. This was one of those basement cellar apartments that the city is taking a closer look at.

In this particular case, first responders having to pull back until they can actually pump the water out of that out of that living space. And unfortunately once they got in there they recovered three bodies that of a two year old toddler and his parents, Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.


CURNOW: Thanks to Polo for that. So Louisiana is also as you know dealing with the aftermath of this hurricane. Jefferson Parish in particular has suffered, announced imposed a nightly curfew until at least Wednesday as crews attempt to clean up the roads. It could take weeks to fully restore power in the region but a new problem has now emerged. The heat index is hitting the triple digits so let's go to Tyler Mauldin.

Tyler joins me now with more on that it is hot, hot, hot and that is certainly a real issue for people on the ground struggling to get through their days.

TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Monday in the U.S. is Labor Day. And we consider Labor Day the unofficial end to the summer season. Mother Nature has its own timeline. And we're going to see summer like he continued not only today, but as we go through the rest of the week in Southeast Louisiana. The areas hardest hit by Ida.

Heat advisories up for southeastern Louisiana going into Southwestern Mississippi. This does include the city of New Orleans where the heat and humidity will make it feel like it's in the lower 100s at times throughout Monday. Look at New Orleans, that heat index could get up to 97 degrees Monday afternoon.

It could get up to 95 degrees in Morgan city and in Gulfport it could get up to the mid to upper 90s as well. The heat index is what it feels like on your skin your body is not able to cool down efficiently because of the humidity. So the actual thermometer in New Orleans, the next couple of days, that actual reading will be around 85 to 90 degrees, but the humidity will they get feel like it's in the mid to upper 90s and that's extremely dangerous.


That's how you start overheating and you start having heat related illnesses. And considering the fact that so many are without electricity, that means that we don't exactly have that time that AC to really cool down. So do make sure that you stay in the shade you take it easy if you can and drink plenty of water if you're out there.

We're not looking at anything in the way of tropical new shift impacting Louisiana in the next couple of days. But the National Hurricane Center is watching area right off of Central America that could push into the Gulf of Mexico, wrap up into something, possibly a name storm and eventually impact the panhandle of Florida come the end of this week. We're also watching Larry. Larry is a major hurricane, Robyn. Good news is it's a fish storm, it's not going to impact the U.S.

CURNOW: OK, thanks for that update there, Tyler, appreciate it. So now over to the Western U.S. where evacuation orders are being lifted or downgraded for several communities affected by the Caldor fire. Authorities say improved weather conditions in Northern California have also significantly slowed down the growth of this blaze. According to State Fire officials, over the course of nearly three weeks the Caldor fire has burned nearly 250,000 acres and is 43 percent contained.

Well, that wraps up this hour of CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow. I'm going to hand you over to Rosemary Church in just a moment. She picks things up after this break.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.