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UN To Hold Aid Conference In Several Hours; Taliban To Allow Women To Attend Universities; Manchin Pushing To Trim $3.5 Trillion Domestic Spending Plan. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 13, 2021 - 02:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Hi. Welcome to our viewers here in United States and all around the world. Thanks for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow. So, coming up on the show, North Korea has says it has successfully tested long range cruise missiles. What we're learning about its new weapon.

It's back to the classroom for many students in New York City, all while some schools struggle with a surge in COVID cases.

And, a stunning finish at the U.S. Open. Novak Djokovic, hid bid to win all four grand slam tournaments in the same year, fails.

We begin in North Korea in what appears to be a show of strength. State media reporting that North Korea has now successfully test fired new and strategic long range cruise missiles. According to report, the missiles tested over the weekend flew 1,500 kilometers before hitting their targets and falling into water. Both South Korea and the U.S. say they are looking into these claims.

South Korea's top nuclear envoy is set to discuss North Korea during a meeting Monday with U.S. and Japanese officials. Well, let's go straight to the region. Paula Hancocks is standing by for us in Seoul. What more can you tell us? Hi, Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Robyn. Well, this was another early morning wake up for those in the region. It's not as significant as it would have been if it were a ballistic missile. So, this is the type of missile that is not violating U.N. Security Council resolutions. So technically, North Korea didn't break any rules, but clearly, it still going to be something that everyone in the region and in Washington watches very closely.

The fact that North Korea is saying that this is a new strategic weapon. We know that in the military parade they had back in January and also one back in October of last year, they did showcase some new weaponry, some new weapons that experts have consistently said at some point they will have to test.

So, they're looking at these weapons very closely assuming that this could well have been the case. But it is something that Japan, for example, the cabinet secretary there has said that they are very concerned about. The U.S. and South Korea, which you say, say they're looking into the claims.

Although South Korea does say that they know there were at least two cruise missiles earlier in the year that have been tested by North Korea and they didn't announce them. South Korea says they don't announce all of the cruise missiles that they see them testing.

So, certainly, it is going to be a concern, but it's -- it could be a lot worse. We knew that something was coming given that Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North Korean leader had said just last month that there was going to be repercussions for the U.S. and South Korea carrying out their joint military drills.

These are drill which Pyongyang had wanted to be canceled. They always infuriate the North Koreans and this presumably is in keeping with that, of Kim Yo-jong saying that they were going to face a more serious security threat.

Just one point to make though, Robyn, King Jong-un himself does not appear to have been there so, that does lessen the significance of this if the North Korean leader is not front and center. And it was also on page two of the Rodong Shinmun. This is the state-run newspaper. It wasn't splashed across the front page, which it would be, if it was a more significant missile.

CURNOW: Always good to get that context. Paula Hancocks in Seoul. Appreciate

it. Thanks, Paula.

Now, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is welcoming a last-minute deal with Iran that will allow inspectors to maintain nuclear monitoring equipment inside the country. Now, that development came as the IAEA director general, Rafael Grossi, met with the head of Iran's atomic energy organization for talks in Tehran.

Iran had previously threatened to prevent inspectors from reviewing nuclear footage at nuclear sites until there was an agreement to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal. Now, Grossi is hailing Sunday's agreement as a very concrete result for both sides.


RAFAEL GROSSI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENRGY AGENCY: The important, indispensable work that Iran and the IAEA have to carry out together require reinforcement and most of all, requires that we get to know each other.


CURNOW: Well, under the deal, the IAEA will be able to service equipment for nuclear monitoring, which includes cameras and replace their memory cards.

Now, the new vaccine mandate announced by U.S. President Joe Biden re meeting with both praise and criticism. But many in the medical community say the bottom line is they are necessary.


While the U.S. vaccination rate has been ticking up, many health experts say it really hasn't been fast enough. The vaccine mandates will help push those numbers higher.


VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Number one, the data tells us that these requirements work to increase vaccinations. Number two, a lot of businesses are actually relieved that these are going into place and we've heard a lot of feedback from the business roundtable and others that this will help create safer work places.


CURNOW: Well, in the coming hours, students in the largest U.S. school districts will get to do something they haven't done in more than a year, full time, in-person learning resumes at schools across New York City. It's coming as the delta variant is driving COVID surges across the country. Polo Sandoval has now more on what they're doing to mitigate the risk. Polo?


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a return to class about 18 months in the making. For the first time since the pandemic interrupted in-person teaching, New York City's roughly one million public school students are physically returning to the classroom.

KEVIN JACOBS, HISTORY TEACHER: We'll be as safe as we can be.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Kevin Jacobs who teaches history and coaches soccer at a high school in Manhattan has been anxiously waiting to welcome back his ninth graders.

JACOBS: It's going to be a change from what it's been, but I'm really excited to see students again. Zoom was not a great way to teach and I think for the kids, it wasn't a great way to learn.



UNKNOWN: Good, good, good.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): It's Meisha Porter's her first year at the helm as the head of New York City's public schools. As chancellor, she and her department have been working to reassure both parents --

PORTER: Have a great year and we're here for you.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): -- and staff at schools are as safe as they can be in this pandemic era of teaching. With no student vaccinate mandate in place, New York school officials are seeking consent to randomly COVID test unvaccinated students on a biweekly basis.

PORTER: We're testing our students, a 10 percent of our population every two weeks. And we are also having all of our faculty be vaccinated. And so, you know, I think doing those two things together is going to really continue to like build that level of protection around our students who are not eligible to be vaccinated.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The testing, part of a multi-layer approach, New York City public schools are touting their PPE supplies, cleaning procedures and improved ventilation. At least two HEPA air purifiers in every classroom across the board says Chancellor Porter.

And starting this week, hundreds of district sites are offering vaccines to eligible students and staff. About 74 percent of faculty received at least one shot according to Porter. The remainder have until September 27th to get theirs.

PORTER: I'm the greatest cheerleader to get everyone vaccinated because it's not only about coming back to work and getting kids to school. Study is super important and it's so important for our community, but this is a moment where we're talking about the public safety of the entire community.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): As students head back to class, inspectors head on to the streets enforcing New York City's new proof of vaccination requirement for indoor dining, gyms and entertainment venues. The first such requirement in the country. Monday will also mark the first day all New York City municipal workers are required to get vaccinated or subject themselves to weekly COVID testing.


SANDOVAL (on camera): And ahead of that September 27th deadline, we've learned that an independent arbitrator has ruled in favor of a local teacher's union that said that any teacher that decides not to get vaccinated and has a documented exemption based on religious reasons or for medical reasons, that they should be offered a non- classroom environment assignment. The local department of education telling CNN that they will be working with those employees to make sure they can make that accomodation. Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.

CURNOW: And a new COVID outbreak in southeastern China was likely caused by a traveler from Singapore. That's according to local officials. And they believe the traveler sparked the outbreak despite spending three weeks in isolation before testing positive.

China reported 49 new cases on Monday and areas where the virus has been detected are starting to lockdown. Well, let's go straight to Hong Kong. Kristie Lu Stout joins me with more on the story. I think what's so troubling is just how long this person was isolated for, three weeks and still apparently spread the virus.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He followed all of the pandemic protocols and yet, according to Chinese officials, they are saying he is the origin of this latest outbreak. In China, the cases of COVID-19 are on the rise once again. Thanks to this fresh outbreak in Fujian province, on Monday, China reported 49 new cases of COVID-19 of which 22 are locally transmitted and experts have identified the virus as the highly infectious delta variant.

The epicenter is a city called Putian. It's located in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian. According to state-run media, they say that the first cases involved students who were primary school students. They say that the origin was a father of one of the students who had recently traveled back from Singapore on August 4th. That's well over a month ago.


He said, as we mentioned just then, you know, all the pandemic protocols -- he did two weeks quarantine followed by seven days home monitoring. He tested negative for COVID-19 nine times during 21 days of quarantine and yet he tested positive on Friday.

Now, officials in Putian are not taking any chances. They have told residents they are not to leave unless it's absolutely necessary. Schools have been suspended, public venues like cinemas, museums, libraries have been closed, and people there are being urged to work from home. Robyn?

CURNOW: And what else do we know about restrictions in Australia and New Zealand?

LU STOUT: Well, it's interesting, Robyn, because in Australia, we're starting to see restrictions ease there. You know, starting today in Sydney, which has been under this very punishing lockdown since June, some residents in Sydney starting today are now allowed to go outside for an unlimited amount of time, in groups of five, provided that all adults have been fully inoculated.

Now, we know authorities have said that they will not ease lockdowns entirely until 70 percent of adults all those over the age of 16 presumably have been fully inoculated. And we know right now, about 41 percent of the population above the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated in Australia.

But, it's a different story in New Zealand, which is still sticking by this zero COVID strategy. Earlier today, New Zealand reported 33 new cases of the virus, all of which, coming from its largest city, Auckland. There was a cabinet meeting earlier today where they decided, yes, they will continue with that level for high-level lockdown in the city of Auckland under level four.

It means residents cannot go outside unless they need to procure the essentials like medicine or to get vaccinated or to get food or do some limited exercise outside in their neighborhood. But, you know, that lockdown will remain in place until September 21st. The rest of the country in New Zealand under a level two lockdown. As for the inoculation rate in New Zealand, only one-third of the population has been fully vaccinated there. Back to you Robyn.

CURNOW: Okay. Thanks for all those updates there. Live in Hong Kong, Kristie Lu Stout. Appreciate it. LU STOUT: You got it.

CURNOW: So, South Africa will start to ease some COVID restrictions with infection rates beginning to fall there. The country has been battling a devastating third wave and is one of the worst hit in Africa in terms of reported cases and deaths.

But even with cases falling in most provinces, President Cyril Ramaphosa is urging South Africans to get vaccinated, saying there are enough doses for everyone. But, less than 15 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.


CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA: With more than 5.5 billion vaccine doses having been administered worldwide so far, however, our continent is still right at the bottom of the vaccination experience. But it is just beginning to pick up against all the odds that we've been facing as a continent.


CURNOW: Meantime, the World Health Organization projects that the COVAX vaccine sharing program will provide nearly 25 percent fewer vaccines this year compared to earlier forecasts. While more than a billion shots will be made available through December, countries on this map shown in light green must now figure out how to vaccinate their people with a diminished supply.

The majority of this countries in need are in Africa. The WHO is now asking rich countries to hold off on vaccine boosters until, at least the end of the year so others get a chance to have their first dose.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: There has been a lot of talk about vaccine equity, but too little action. High income countries have promised to donate more than $1 billion, but less than 15 percent of those dollars had been materialized. Manufacturers have promised to prioritize COVAX and low income countries. We don't want any more promises. We just want the vaccine.


CURNOW: Well for more on this, I'm joined by Dr. Githinji Gitahi, global CEO of Amref Health Africa. Good to see you doctor. Thank you very much for joining us. So you heard both of those leaders there. Africa, we know has received I think about 158 million COVID vaccine doses so far, but only about 3 percent of the population of the entire continent is vaccinated. Why is that?

GITHINJI GITAHI, GLOBAL CEO, AMREF HEALTH AFRICA: Well, it's a complex issue because actually what Dr. Tedros is saying that, well, Africa was, you know, was waiting -- has been waiting to get vaccines from three sources. One from the COVAX facility, which is WHO and the global vaccine alliance, Gavi. And also through the African Union in this direct negotiations with some of the manufacturers.

None of those had materialized to actually deliver adequate volumes to go above the 3 percent vaccination. So it a supply challenge. Basically a supply challenge. That's what it is.


CURNOW: And so, is it not as just simple as saying wealthier nations are hoarding, they mustn't give a booster. This needs to be shared more. It is more complicated when you talk about, say for example, India not following through with its COVAX promises. That is also -- had a huge impact, hasn't?

GITAHI: No, it has had. You see, when you look at the COVAX facility that was actually projected to deliver adequate volumes to Africa, the COVAX supply itself has been affected by multiple challenges. And the biggest of them all is actually rich countries that are holding more than 80 to 90 percent of all the projected doses that are meant to be manufactured.

And they are holding them through options, through advanced market commitments, and they know that they are holding them just in case they need a side booster or just in case there is vaccines or that one doesn't work well. And this presents a problem because they are holding even if African countries wanted to buy.

There are no doses to buy because obviously the second problem is that some of them, the projected doses like in India and (inaudible) by new manufacturers have not come through because of the challenges of getting them in India. Lots of delays in approval, authorization, delays in manufacturing.

But the biggest problem by far and rather blame must be put squarely, is rich countries. The G7, the G20, hoarding doses that they do not need and we are asking can they release the opposition in the queue so that those doses can be delivered to Africa and other places that need them urgently, to protect elderly people, health workers. This is where the blame must be put on squarely.

CURNOW: If vaccines were to arrive in large numbers, if this were to happen, would there be the capacity to distribute and administer them because we already know that countries such as South Sudan, Malawi, Congo, and Nigeria all had to either destroy or pass on shipments of vaccine because expiries have run out. How concerned are you also about capacity building along with these vaccine donations? Does that also need to be part of the plan?

GITAHI: You see, Africa delivered vaccines for all its (inaudible) children.

CURNOW: Exactly, a lot.

GITAHI: Yes. It delivers a lot of vaccines to (inaudible) children. So, capacity to vaccinate exist. The challenge we are having, in fact, if you look at the doses in Africa and you look at how many of the doses administered and how many have been destroyed, we are doing far more better than the U.S., you know.

Africa has only had maybe half million doses expire across the continent which is less than 1 percent of the doses that we've been given. We've had over 15 million doses, you know, I'm not being used in the U.S. So, Africa has capacity to administer. The challenge now is not capacity, is not hesitancy. We must remove those from the headlines.

The headline is that Africa is waiting for doses. The African people are queuing and have been to health facilities. There are people are queuing from 6:00 a.m. in the morning waiting to get a dose, and then they run out before they can get their time in the queue and they have to go home, then go to another facility, queue tomorrow.

So the challenge is not capacity. The challenge is rich countries are holding the doses that are needed in Africa to vaccinate the people and save their lives. This is where the issue is.

CURNOW: Dr. Githinji Gitahi, thank you very much for bringing us your perspective. Really grateful to have your expertise on the show. Thank you very much.

GITAHI: Thank you.

CURNOW: Important message. Thank you.

So, still to come, how Novak Djokovic fell short of making tennis history on Sunday's U.S. Open final.



CURNOW: Let's talk about sport. Novak Djokovic's historic bid to win all four major tennis tournaments in the same year was shut down by Daniil Medvedev. The number two ranked Medvedev cruised to a straight set victory to defeat number one ranked Djokovic at the U.S. Open in New York on Sunday.

The last men's tennis player to win a calendar grand slam was back in 1969, and of course that was Rod Laver. Well, Patrick Snell joins us now with more on what has been quite a fantastic weekend of tennis either way you look at it. I mean, really, what a show both men put on today.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORTS: Yes, absolutely, Robyn, and you're quite right. You know, Emma Raducanu's historic triumph on the women side of things, and now huge, huge plaudits goes to the 25-year-old from Moscow. Daniil Medvedev, a first grand slam crown for him at the U.S. Open.

And Robyn, here's what's really significant as well. It shattered the history making hopes and aspirations of a highly emotional Novak Djokovic. This was all, I have to say at the end, surprisingly straightforward. Djokovic, failing to hit the heights here at Flushing Meadows. A straight sets triumph from Medvedev helping to erase memories of his 2019 defeat in the final that year to Rafael Nadal. It was a magnificent display from the Russian, I tell you. And his win denying the top rank Serbian, not just a men's record 21st grand slam crown, but also the chance, as you had just said, Robyn, to become the first man to complete the calendar year slam.

That's a sweep of all four majors since the great Rod Laver. The elated Russian then revealing Sunday was a very special day for other reasons, as well. Take a listen.


DANIIL MEDVEDEV, U.S. OPEN WINNER: It's the third anniversary for me and my wife today. And, you know, during the tournament I couldn't think of a present or anything so then when I went in the final, after semis, I though, okay, if I lose I need to find a present fast. And when I won, when I won, the only thing I thought, well, if I lose I have no time to have a present, so I have to win this match. I love you, Dasha (ph) and I mean, thanks a lot.


SNELL: Meantime, congrats of course, to Medvedev, but I do have to mention, look at this. The emotions here of Djokovic for whom there was so much at stake, wasn't there, throughout this whole two weeks there in the Big Apple. And these images tell their own very powerful story. You can see the sense of the occasion there, the weight of history and how it all may have just impacted on him.


The 34-year-old, fighting back the tears, coming off at five sets semifinal victory over Germany's Alexander Zverev. No laughing, lacking his usual zest and energy at times. I think that's fair to say. Yet, he really does have so much to be proud of this year. Then came this very powerful and poignant words from him. Take a listen.


NOVAK DJOKOVIC, U.S. OPEN RUNNER-UP: I would like to say that tonight, even though I have not won the match, my heart is filled with joy and I'm the happiest man alive because you guys made me feel very special in the court.


You guys have touched my soul. I've never felt -- I've never felt like this in New York. Honestly, I've never felt like this. I love you guys. Thank you so much for the support. Everything goes back tonight for me. I love you and I'll see you soon. Thank you.


SNELL: Half a words as I say, Robyn, not to be his weekend. Congrats to Medvedev, but it really has been a compelling two weeks of tennis, I'm sure. We're all agreed on that. Back to you.

CURNOW: We are totally agreed on that. Patrick Snell, good to see you my friend and thanks for bringing us all the latest on that. Okay, so you are watching CNN. An announcement from the Taliban on women's education. What they say female students can expect. We have a live report about this, next.



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Welcome back to all of our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Live in Atlanta, I'm Robyn Curnow. It is 30 minutes past the hour exactly. So the United Nations will hold an aid conference for Afghanistan in a few hours' time with the goal of raising $600 million.

The UN is warning of a humanitarian crisis after the Taliban takeover effectively shut off billions of dollars in foreign donations. Meantime, Qatar's Foreign Minister held talks with Afghanistan's Taliban leaders on Sunday. He called on the Taliban to involve all Afghan parties in national reconciliation.

And the Taliban's new Higher Education Minister says women will be allowed to study in universities, but they'll be segregated by gender and will be taught by female teachers wherever possible. I want to talk about all of this with Ivan Watson. Ivan, hi. First of all, though, I do want you to just talk us through about the Afghan Air Force pilots and what happened to them as Kabul fell.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There - there was very dramatic kind of exodus of Afghan Air Force helicopters and planes to neighboring countries, like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan of Air Force personnel, the pilots and the aircraft. And so now we've learned from multiple sources that a charter plane from Uzbekistan traveled on Sunday down to the United Arab Emirates carrying 175 out of some 465 Afghan Air Force personnel out of Uzbekistan.

It is just a fraction of the much larger number of people. Most of these individuals were told by a retired U.S. General who was a commander training the Afghan Air Force, are applicants for Special Immigrant Visas to the U.S. There are also an estimated 175 Afghan Air Force personnel that fled to Tajikistan. So this process of people continuing to flee the region, it is still ongoing.

We do not yet know about what's going to happen with some 40 helicopters and fixed wing planes that those pilots flew to Uzbekistan, we don't know what will happen to those. But I'm sure the new Taliban government in Kabul would like to get their hands on those valuable helicopters and planes. Robyn.

CURNOW: Fascinating story, just an indication of the desperation on all levels across society. And I do want to talk also about that headline I mentioned about woman, obviously huge concern about women's rights. And we really are now getting more and more indications on the kind of segregation and hardships that women are going to face, particularly when it comes to education.

WATSON: Yes, we've heard from the new Taliban Education Minister who I might add, was slapped with sanctions years ago by the European Union. He is now the Education Minister, and he was explaining that women will be allowed to get university education, but they will have to be in segregated classrooms, take a listen.


MAWLAVI ABDUL BAQI HAQQANI, AFGHANISTAN ACTING MINISTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION (through translator): When there is really a need, men can also teach women when accordance with Shariah, they - female students should observe the veil. And there is a need for a curtain in the classroom, so that the teacher can teach the students and by using some facilities, such as TV screens, or other modern devices.


WATSON: A couple of takeaways from this, Robyn, I mean, when the Taliban was last in power, a little bit more than 20 years ago, women, girls were barred from any education whatsoever. So here you have an apparent concession coming from this Taliban minister. Another interesting one is that he's saying that there can be virtual learning, which is also quite a change.

20 years ago, the Taliban would arrest people if they had satellite dishes, or TV screens. That said, Afghan women girls have been enjoying access to education for two decades. And this is going to be a dramatic step backwards when there have been women's rights protests in recent days and weeks. There have been acts of violence to disperse those gatherings.

And the journalists themselves who have covered those protests, we have learned firsthand to have been viciously beaten they claim while being taken into Taliban custody. So it's a very mixed bag and quite ominous in some cases, when it comes to human rights and women's rights moving forward.

CURNOW: Yes, thanks very much. Ivan Watson. Of course, Ivan has reported from Afghanistan for many, many years. Appreciate your perspective. Thanks, Ivan.

Coming up, we are tracking a typhoon that's headed toward Shanghai. It is already battering part of the Philippines and Taiwan, as you can see from this SAT image, but it's not through yet details from the World Weather Center. That's next.



CURNOW: We are tracking a typhoon as it makes its way toward Shanghai. Preparations as you can see here already started in anticipation of heavy, heavy rain and flash flooding from the storm. Now, if this typhoon remains at typhoon strength, this will be the first time since 1985 that a typhoon has hit the city. Over the weekend the storm battered the Philippines as a super typhoon before skipping over Taiwan. Joining me now is Pedram Javaheri. Pedram, hi, talk us through what folks in Shanghai are expecting here.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Robyn, as you noted, this was one of the two strongest storms we've seen on our planet all year, getting to 240 kilometers per hour, about 150 miles per hour winds there. So this was a menacing storm and still retaining category 2 equivalent status as it pushes close to one of the most densely populated corners of our planet.

And just looking into flight awareness, cancellations of airlines across this portion of the world and would you believe it, of the top 10 most disrupted airports in the world, every single one of them in the top 10 is in eastern China and certainly been impacted here. As you'd imagine with a system of this magnitude pushing very close to a lot of people.

You'll notice rainfall amounts, generally about say 90 to 230 millimeters which sits at around three to about 10 inches, that has come down across portions of Taiwan and Taiwan really took the brunt of the storm system. It skirted just on the eastern shores, Taiwan, home to some of the highest density of tall mountains anywhere in the world, in fact some 200 mountains rise to 3000 meters or about 10,000 feet, so speaks to the elevation gain across this mountain that really breaks systems apart.

So that allowed the wind speeds to weaken. Unfortunately, that doesn't take much in the way of rainfall out of the picture. Especially if you're tuned in across portions of eastern China, Shanghai, in particular, we're talking about a storm of 100 mile per hour winds sustained again, category 2 equivalent gets very close to land and the concern is this is the most populous city in all China with 26 million people and it takes a very slow trend over the next several days.

Temperatures into the upper 70s, low 80s, 27 to 28 degrees celsius, but the rainfall is really going to be what's concerning in this region as the system goes as slow as three to five miles per hour each of the next three days before it makes that sharp right turn and has towards the Korean Peninsula.


So we think this area could see as much as say 30 inches of rainfall before it's all said and done. And that's going to be really a major concern. 20 plus possible, just east of Shanghai and certainly higher totals across a very lower lying area here with the storm. So this is certainly a story we'll follow over the next couple of days. Robyn.

CURNOW: OK. Thanks for keeping us posted. Pedram Javaheri, thanks so much. So in Paris, the iconic Arc de Triomphe is getting a temporary makeover. Take a look at this 25,000 square meters of fabric and 3000 meters of rope are being draped around the arch. It's a tribute to the late artists Christo, who along with his wife and artistic partner was best known, of course, for wrapping up landmarks and natural features in fabrics. Christo actually started plans for this project in the 1960s. It'll be finished this week and stay up through early October. Well, thanks so much for joining us. World Sport is next for all of our international viewers. For everybody else here in North America, I'll be right back with more news.


CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow live in Atlanta. You are watching CNN. A newly declassified document is shedding more light on the FBI is investigation into support given to the 911 attackers and their ties to Saudi nationals living in the U.S. at the time. Alex Marquardt has a closer look at what the report reveals and also what it doesn't. Alex.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: The FBI has released the first of what will be a series of declassified documents from the FBI investigation into how 911 happened. The declassified memo that was released late on the 20th anniversary of the attacks on Saturday provides a more detailed look at the behavior of Saudi Arabia nationals connected to two of the 911 hijackers, but it does not provide any stronger evidence of the awareness or the direction of the 911 plot at the highest levels of the Saudi government or royal family.

The 16-page document is heavily redacted and much of it is a summary of an interview with an unnamed Saudi national who was interviewed in 2015 by the FBI when applying for U.S. citizenship. That person, the report says had worked at the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles and was in regular contact with other Saudi citizens who provided or who are suspected of providing significant logistical support to the first two hijackers to arrive in the U.S. in Los Angeles.

One of those who provided that support was Omar Al-Bayoumi, a supposed student suspected of being a Saudi intelligence official Bayoumi offered travel assistance, lodging and financing to the two hijackers. In response to this new report, the 911 Families United group says it quote puts to bed any doubt about Saudi complicity in the attacks.

The victims' families have long pushed for more transparency about the Saudi government's possible role in 911. And President Joe Biden recently ordered the Justice Department to release declassified documents over the next six months. The Saudi government for its part has publicly welcomed the documents release saying they would show that there was no Saudi government involvement. Robyn.


CURNOW: Thanks so much for that, Alex. So President Biden's $3.5 trillion spending bill which would expand the nation's social safety net could be in peril. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin says he won't support the hefty price tag and several moderate Democrats have expressed concerns as well. The sweeping bill includes large scale investments in paid family leave, education, childcare, health care and clean energy.

Manchin says he had considered something smaller, and he wants more time to sort it out with Democratic leaders, including Chuck Schumer.


Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WY): He will not have my vote on 3.5. And Chuck knows that and we've talked about this. We've already put out 5.4 trillion, and we've tried to help Americans in every way we possibly can. And a lot of the help that we put out there is still there, and it's going to run clear until next year. 2022. What's the urgency?

What's the urgency that we have? It's not the same urgency that we have with American rescue plan.


CURNOW: But the author of the bill, Senator Bernie Sanders dismiss Manchin's concern over the price tag. Take a listen.


BERNIE SANDERS, U.S. SENATE INDEPENDENT: No, it is absolutely not acceptable to me. I don't think it's acceptable to the President, for the American people or the overwhelming majority of the people in the Democratic Caucus. Look, we worked with Senator Machin in the past the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. I believe we're going to all sit down and work together and come up with a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.


CURNOW: Well, as Sanders noted there, Democrats want to pass the bill through reconciliation, which requires no Republican votes in Senate. Democratic leaders hope to vote on it later on this month. And sticking with politics, California Governor Gavin Newsom is getting some big name help on this final day of campaigning before Tuesday's recall election.

President Biden himself will join him in Long Beach for one last rally. Newsom has been pushing hard on a simple ballot strategy. He's urging voters to answer only the first question with a resounding no, here's Kyung Lah.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No on the recall. No on the recall.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's been one message from Democrats in California about the recall election from the foot soldiers knocking doors and neighborhoods.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vote no, vote no, that's all you got to do.

LAH: To the ads on TV.


LAH: To Governor Gavin Newsom himself, ignore half the ballots.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Don't even consider the second question.

LAH: Tell me what this is.

But there are two questions on the recall ballot.

Question one is quite simple.

DARRY SRAGOW, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, you either want to keep the governor in office or you want to kick him out.

LAH: More than 50 percent of voters need to decide to keep Newsom on question one for him to survive. Here's what's a potential concern for Democrats. Whether you vote yes or no.

SRAGOW: Question two if you choose to answer it has 46 names front and back and you get to pick one.


LAH: Among the more than 40 colorful challengers on question two, there's a millionaire running ads featuring a bear, a YouTube star running as a Democrat but not backed by his party.

KEVIN PAFFRATH: My name is Kevin Paffrath and I'm running for governor.

LAH: And reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner. Ignore them all says the Democratic governor. Keep it simple. It's Newsom or nothing. Why? This 2003 Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger defeated then Democratic Governor Gray Davis in California his last recall election. Davis wasn't the only high profile democratic choice on the ballot. Then Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante also ran with this slogan.

CRUZ BUSTAMANTE, FORMER CALIFORNIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Vote no on the recall and vote yes on Cruz Bustamante.

LAH: It didn't work and helped usher in a Republican to the governor's mansion and his eventual reelection.


LAH: Not this time. Democrats rallied behind Newsome keeping party backed Democrats off this year's ballot. But that could also backfire warned Sragow.

SRAGOW: This is not the Gavin Newsom party, it's the Democratic Party with no serious viable Democratic candidate on that second question. If the recall wins, we're going to have, we're likely to have a Republican governor.

LAH: Polls show the leading candidate on question two is conservative radio host Larry Elder, but the second question only matters if a majority of voters don't back Newsom. Some Democrats dropping off their ballots are following the Newsom strategy. How many questions on this ballot?


LAH: But not everyone. Elle Choate got lost thinking beyond yes or no. What happened on question two for you.

ELLE CHOATE, CALIFORNIA VOTER: I had to stand there for 29 minutes and - and decide if I how I was going to vote because it's just an absurd, absurd system.

LAH: Reporters asked the Newsom team if it had any second thoughts about this strategy. The campaign said quote it has zero regrets, saying Democrats have already been down this road before in 2003. And the party saw what happened then. Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


CURNOW: We are tracking Tropical Storm Nicholas as it makes its way through the Gulf of Mexico. A hurricane watch has been issued for parts of Texas as the storm is expected to strengthen before making landfall. I want to go back to Pedram Javaheri. Pedram, hi. Yes, caught you maybe a little bit unawares there, but certainly this storm is not going to be catching anyone unawares. We're - after you've given us a sense of where it's heading. How dangerous do you think it is?

JAVAHERI: You know, it has everything it takes to strengthen In fact, the latest observation from the Hurricane Hunters reconnaissance aircraft, yes showed the storm is strengthening at this hour as it approaches the coast of Texas. The concern is that makes landfall in about 15 hours. But really that is the best news out of all of this because it doesn't give it enough time to strengthen beyond where it currently sits, which is a strong Tropical Storm just shy where you need to be it could be a hurricane, which is 74 miles per hour.

And this is where we are, very warm waters and certainly conducive again to further develop the system. But we do have hurricane watches that have been prompted across South Texas, parts of Houston underneath Tropical Storm watches in this region. And we do expect the system to make landfall sometime Monday afternoon or Monday night and widespread coverage of flood watches, stretchy really from Western areas of Louisiana, all the way into southern Texas, where heavy rainfall is expected but water temperatures climbing into the middle 80s. Again, if this had enough time, it would easily get to Hurricane strength.

And we're fortunate it's not taking its time over this warm water before it makes landfall. So the least amount of concern I think is going to be associated with the winds, there is a storm surge threat that is generally about three to five feet at its highest around the Port O'Connor area, points just to the south around the coastal region of Corpus Christi. That area also could see several feet of storm surge. And notice we're 14 names into our tropical systems here. So we're certainly really beginning to rack up as far as the activity is concerned.

And in line with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Associations forecast trend that had kept kind of the number of forecasts but the concern with the system is going to be the amount of rainfall as much as 15, maybe even 20 inches in a few spots here over the next several days along the coast of Texas even as far inland as Austin, Robyn so certainly going to be a wet go here in a few days.

CURNOW: Yes, it certainly is. Thanks for that. Good to see you. Thanks, Pedram. So Elon Musk's company SpaceX is gearing up to launch the first all civilian mission into orbit with a Falcon Nine rocket like this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one.

CURNOW: The four civilians on the Inspiration4 mission will board the Crew Dragon capsule and make history as early as Wednesday.


JARED ISAACMAN, INSPIRATION4 MISSION COMMANDER: You know, it is the first time that a global superpower hasn't sent people up into orbital space. And I think that should send a message of all the things to come, right? I mean, we know someday in the future 50 or 100 years from now, you're going to have a lunar base at some point, you're going to probably have some sort of a of a Martian colony but you have to start somewhere and I think when you know this mission, you know is complete, people are going to look at it and say, it was the first time you know, everyday people could go to space and --

CURNOW: Well, the inspiration for crew will be led by billionaire Jared Isaacman. He brought the trip from SpaceX with a goal to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children's Hospital. Isaacman will be joined by three others. You can see them here, Hayley Arseneaux will serve as the flight's Medical Officer. She's a physician assistant at St. Jude and a cancer survivor herself.

Air Force Veteran Chris Sembroski will serve as a Mission Specialist on the flight and geoscience professor Sian Proctor will be the Mission Pilot. Keeping with the goal of the flight, Arseneaux plans to make a video call to the children at St. Jude from space.

HAYLEY ARSENEAUX, PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT: You know kids are so visual and I hope that them being able to see me in space really shows them what their future can look like. I'm the first (CNG) patient to go to space, the first pediatric cancer survivor, but I know I'm not going to be the last. The crew will orbit the Earth for three days before splashing down in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida.


CURNOW: And that wraps this hour of CNN Newsroom. I'm Robyn Curnow. Thanks for joining me. I'm going to hand you over to Rosemary Church after this short break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States.