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Cleanup Underway Oil Spill Hits California Coast; Shaheen Kills 3 In Oman Before Downgrading To Tropical Storm; Haitian Migrants Attempt Trek From South America To U.S. Aired 2-3aET

Aired October 04, 2021 - 02:00   ET




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

Just ahead, the U.S. appears to be turning a corner with COVID, but experts say now is not the time to get complacent.

Japan elects its 100th prime minister. High on the agenda, tackling the pandemic and the economy. We are live in Tokyo.

And efforts are underway this hour to contain a massive oil spill off California's coast threatening local wildlife.

Good to have you with us. Well, top health experts are warning Americans not to let their guard down when it comes to COVID. It comes as new cases and hospitalizations are on the decline nationwide. But experts say that trend might not last if Americans get too complacent.

Already, the toll the virus has taken on the U.S. is staggering. On Friday, the country topped 700,000 COVID deaths and Dr. Anthony Fauci tells CNN many of those could have been prevented.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Many of those deaths were unavoidable, but many, many are avoidable, were avoidable, and will in the future be avoidable. The number itself is staggering. You're absolutely correct. But hopefully that will then spur us to realize that we do have interventions in the form of a vaccine to prevent infections, to prevent severe disease, to prevent death.


CHURCH: New York City seems to be heeding his advice. Starting today, public school employees who have not been vaccinated won't be allowed back in the door. Instead, they are facing months of unpaid leave. The policy, faces some legal challenges, but last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined a request to block it from taking effect. We are also learning new details about a potential new treatment for COVID-19. Merck's antiviral COVID pill shows promising results during trials. And the FDA could review those findings soon. But Dr. Fauci says it's still no substitute for getting vaccinated. CNN's Polo Sandoval explains.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The United States may be turning the corner when it comes to its latest COVID surge, but in order to keep the hospitalization and infection numbers down, more people need to get vaccinated. That's the word from the nation's top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who's also a chief medical adviser to President Biden, over the weekend as the United States surpassed 700,000 deaths.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that still more needs to be done in terms of vaccination efforts. The latest CDC numbers showing that about 56 percent of Americans are fully protected right now against the virus through a vaccine. He also expressed some concern that with the -- a promise of a new COVID treatment, a new oral anti-viral. And many of those unvaccinated Americans may simply choose to bypass getting unvaccinated. Fauci is saying that is not a good idea.


FAUCI: It is never okay to get infected. You know, you heard the numbers. It decreased the risk of this pill did of hospitalizations and death by 50 percent. You know the way to decrease the risk by 100 percent, don't get infected in the first place.


SANDOVAL: Merck and Ridgeback Therapeutics, the maker of that anti- viral says that their product can potentially cut the risk of COVID deaths and hospitalizations by nearly half. Those companies say that they plan to submit their product for emergency use authorization to the FDA as soon as possible. Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.

CHURCH: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez is a board certified internal medicine specialist and viral researcher. He joins me now. Thank you doctor for talking with us and for all that you do.


CHURCH: So, we are starting to see COVID infections, hospitalizations, and deaths coming down although we are still losing far too many Americans each day to this virus. But does this signal the beginning of the end of this pandemic, do you think or do we have to be a little more cautious?

RODRIGUEZ: I absolutely think it does not signal the beginning of the end of this pandemic. We may be in the middle of it. What it signals is that we are now on the downswing here of this latest surge, this delta surge.

[02:05:00] But we're still getting over 100,000 infections a day. And right now, the tide is higher than it was a year ago. So if we get an increase in the winter, you know, it could be very bad. Obviously, more people have been vaccinated, but like we have spoken before, we can't get over confident.

Every time we do and we put our guard down, we just sort of let the tiger in the door and we get another surge with another variant. So, yes, things are better, but they're far from over.

CHURCH: Exactly. So we can be cautiously optimistic, perhaps. And now, of course, there is word that Merck has put out or certainly prepared this antiviral pill that will stop COVID in its tracks and could be available by Christmas. Could, we don't know the timing exactly. Maybe even before that. And there are two other COVID pills on the horizon.

Dr. Anthony Fauci calls this a game-changer. Do you agree and do you worry thought that those who refuse to get vaccinated now would just fall back on this pill once it's available?

RODRIGUEZ: I'm afraid that yes, that will happen. That people think that this is a cure. It is not a cure. Dr. Fauci and I both come from the HIV arena a couple of decades ago where we've done research in that. And this is similar to that.

These are medications that can control the worsening of the virus once you have it. It is not a cure. So, the Merck study showed that if you start getting, you know, the beginnings of COVID and it's proven to be COVID, if you treat it within five days, you could decrease the risk of going to the hospital or dying by 50 percent.

That's very significant. But nothing, nothing takes the place of preventing of getting infected, which is what a vaccine does. So, is it a game-changer? It absolutely might be. Is it the cure? It absolutely is not.

CHURCH: Right. Number one, get vaccinated.


CHURCH: And then, of course, we should have this pill available as a backup there after the fact. So, doctor, California Governor Newsom says his state will become the first state to add the COVID-19 vaccination to immunizations required for in-person school attendance. Do you think this could signal what will happen in other states, maybe not now, but in the weeks and months ahead?

RODRIGUEZ: I truly hope so. And people really need to just look at this for what it is, which is a life-threatening pandemic. We require vaccinations against measles, against mumps. This is deadlier than that. So, I don't think this impedes anybody's freedom. We need to be objective of what it does.

It allows you the freedom to live longer, to live a natural life, especially if you are a child, to be able to congregate with other children. To have fun, to go to the playground. So, this doesn't impede freedom. In my view, this gives freedom. And I hope that it is implemented in other states.

CHURCH: And doctor, with mandates like this, we know of course that some people who oppose getting vaccinated will seek exemptions. How big a threat do you think religious and health exemptions pose when it comes to trying to end this pandemic or are we talking about a very small number here do you think?

RODRIGUEZ: I think we're talking about a small number. At the end of the day, people who don't want to get vaccinated, will not get vaccinated. People will quit their jobs not to get vaccinated, but if you look for example at what's happening in some of the major airlines, I was just reading and got towards some statistics today, one of the major airlines 0.0 or 0.4 percent, only 0.4 percent of the people employed of the 67,000 people employed by a major airline refused to get vaccinated.

I think when the rubber hits the road, most people want to stay healthy, most people want to keep their jobs, and most people want to get the economy moving. And that's what getting vaccinated will allow us to do.

CHURCH: Yes. We have learned, of course, that mandates do work. We're seeing it. We're seeing in these various companies. Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, thank you so much for joining us.

RODRIGUEZ: My pleasure.

CHURCH: U.S. President Joe Biden has a busy week ahead. In the coming hours, he will speak about the need to raise the debt ceiling to prevent the U.S. from defaulting for the first time in history. He's also getting ready to rally support for his multi-trillion dollar legislative agenda. CNN's Arlette Saenz has the details.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden will hit the road this week to promote his economic agenda, which he is still hoping to get across the finish line. The president will travel to Howell, Michigan where he will promote the bipartisan infrastructure proposal and also that more sweeping economic agenda, which would expand the social safety net in this country.

Both of those measures currently remains stalled in Congress as moderates and progressives, remain at odds over the two measures.


The president is also expected to host Democrats here at the White House to get those negotiations going again. But there has been frustration voiced but some Democrats in the party, particularly moderates who are frustrated the bipartisan infrastructure bill did not get a vote last week. But the White House says that there needs to be some give and take in the negotiations. Take a listen.


People will be disappointed. People will not get everything they want. That is the art of legislating, but the goal here is to get both bills, and we're going to fight until we get both bills. And that's the statement from the president. Human infrastructure is important and physical infrastructure is important. So, we're going to do both.


SAENZ: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set an end of month deadline to get that bipartisan infrastructure bill passed, but the White House so far has resisted putting a timeline for when they want to see these two measures pass. Instead, the president is saying he's going to work like hell to ensure that they do, but acknowledging that it could take a bit more time. Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: A Facebook whistleblower is speaking out publicly accusing the company of placing profit over public good. During an interview with "60 Minutes," Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager said, the social media giant knows its platforms are used to spread hate, violence, and misinformation.

And she says Instagram, which Facebook acquired in 2012 makes eating disorders and thoughts of suicide worse in teenage girls. And, it's hiding all of this damning evidence in order to protect its profits. Here's more from the "60 Minutes" report.


SCOTT PELLEY, CBS HOST: One of the Facebook internal studies that you found talks about how Instagram harms teenage girls.


PELLEY: One study says 13.5 percent of teen girls say Instagram makes thoughts of suicide worse. Seventeen percent of teen girls say Instagram makes eating disorders worse.

HAUGEN: And what's super tragic is Facebook's own research says, as these young women begin to consume this eating disorder content, they get more and more depressed and it actually makes them use the app more. And so they end up in this feedback cycle where they hate their bodies more and more.

Facebook's own research says, it is not just that Instagram is dangerous for teenagers that it harms teenagers. It's that it is distinctly worse than other forms of social media.

PELLEY: Facebook said just last week it would postpone plans to create an Instagram for younger children. Last month, Haugen's lawyers filed at least eight complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission which enforces the law in financial markets. The complaints compared the internal research with the company's public face. Often, that of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, here, testifying remotely to Congress last March. MARK ZCKERBERG, CEO OF FACEBOOK: -- we remove content that could lead

to imminent real world harm. We've built an unprecedented third-party fact checking program. The system isn't perfect, but it's the best approach that we've found to address misinformation in line with our country's values.


CHURCH: Facebook released a statement about the report you just watched. It says, "On Sunday, CBS "60 Minutes" ran a segment that used select company materials to tell a misleading story about the research we do to improve our products. The segment also disregards the significant investments we make to keep people safe on our platform and seeks to impugn the motivations of our company."

Well, just ahead here on CNN, Japan has a new prime minister and is already facing challenges at home and across the region. We've got a live report from Tokyo. Back in just a moment.



CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, Japan has a new prime minister after a special session of parliament that concluded just a short time ago. Fumio Kishida takes the reins of the world's third largest economy while navigating the coronavirus pandemic and regional challenges like North Korea.

The 64-year-old Kishida emerged as the winner of a hotly contested party leadership election last week. Selena Wang joins us now live from Tokyo. Good to see you, Selina. So, Japan's new prime minister has a multitude of challenges ahead of him. How is he expected to guide the country through the pandemic and some fairly serious economic issues?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, Kishida campaigned on narrowing the income gap and spending billions to boost the Japanese economy that has been hard hit by the pandemic. And one of his key concerns domestically is keeping COVID-19 cases low. Japan has dealt with several surges in COVID-19 cases and only finally are they starting to come out of this long lasting state of emergency and slowly lift these restrictions.

And on foreign policy, as you referenced, he deals with growing risk from North Korea and China. Like his predecessors, he is expected to be in support to boosting U.S.-Japan alliances and working with allies to serve as a bulwark against China. And I've been speaking to the business community here and they are really going to be closely scrutinizing how he balances deep economic ties with China and the growing concerns around Beijing's military assertiveness.

I spoke to the CEO of Suntory, who was an economic adviser to the outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and this is what he had to say about Kishida.


TAKESHI NIINAMI, CEO, SUNTORY: There are so many complicated issues and that he is not the strongest leader in the ruling party of LDP. So, I'm so concerned about the revolving the prime minister sister (ph).



WANG: The big question, Rosemary, is just how long-lasting Kishida's leadership is going to be prior to the leadership of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who was Japan's longest serving prime minister. The country turned their six prime ministers in six years. And, Rosemary, Kishida wasn't the popular pick. As prime minister, the public viewed him, many of them as this boring bureaucrat, and he struggled to shake off that image. So the big question is, is he going to shore up that support later own or is he going to maintain that lackluster public support, Rosemary?

CHURCH: We should see of course, won't we? We'll keep a very close eye on it. I know you shall do that. Selina Wang joining us live from Tokyo. Many thanks.

Well, North Korea has reopened communications with South Korea after cutting ties earlier this year. South Korea confirms the north responded on a hotline early Monday morning just a week after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to restore the communication links.

CNN's Paula Hancocks joins me now from Seoul with the very latest. Good to see you, Paula. So, how significant is this move and how long might these lines of communications remain open given what has happened in the past?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, the hotlines have been troubled in the past. It's certainly a case to be made to say that North Korea uses them to show that displeasure for South Korea when they're doing they don't appreciate. Back in June of last year, they cut those hotlines. They also blew up the liaison office between North and South Korea because they weren't happy about a propaganda blimps being flown over into North Korea.

And then they did briefly reconnect those hotlines in July of this year but that only lasted a matter of days really because North Korea was angry about the U.S. and South Korea holding joint military drills, which always annoys the, but this time, they actually cut those hotlines once again to show their displeasure.

So, it's not known, frankly at this, point how long these hotlines might be open for. We know that the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un himself last week said that he entertained the idea of re-establishing them. That has been done this Monday morning. And we heard from the South Korean side exactly what the South Korean official who was on the phone said.

And he said, "It's been a while and I'm glad that the communication line has been restored like this. I hope that the inter-Korean relations can develop into a new era as the communication line has been restored." And we heard from Kim Jong-un last week and other North Korean officials have all been saying that it's really up to the South Korean side to change their ways, saying that they need to abandon "double standards and delusion" for criticizing North Korea in what it calls its self-justified self-defense testing.

Now, we have seen an uptick in testing from North Korea. There's no doubt about it in recent weeks. Just last, week there was a hypersonic missile tested. Also, an anti-aircraft missile, and before that there were what Pyongyang calls strategic cruise missiles tested.

But what North Korea is saying is that South Korea is doing a similar level of testing. We have certainly seen South Korea increase its testing of missiles in recent months. And they are saying to North Korea don't criticize us. If you don't, then potentially the relationships will get better.

Relations between the two countries even alluding to the fact that there could be another summit between North and South Korea. But Pyongyang making it very clear that it's up to Seoul to change its ways and to act in a way that Pyongyang thinks is suitable, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. We'll continue to monitor this story and see where it will go. Paula Hancocks, bringing us up to date live from Seoul. Appreciate it.

Well, the Taliban senior spokesman says an operation late Sunday in Kabul completely destroyed an ISIS cell and killed all the members in it. And that came just hours after an explosion outside a mosque where senior Taliban leaders gathered for a funeral. CNN's Clarissa Ward has the latest from inside Afghanistan.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the most significant explosion that we have seen here in Kabul for quite some time now, certainly since that horrific airport blast at the end of August. We believe that it was targeting senior Taliban leadership who were attending the funeral prayers of the group spokesperson mother.

Now, we don't know exactly how many Taliban leaders may or may not have been killed or injured in that attack. They are being quite tightlipped about that. At the scene, journalist who try to gain access were pushed back ostensibly for security measures.

And we also don't yet know who is in fact responsible. The obvious candidate would certainly be ISIS-K. They were behind the airport bombing that I mentioned previously, but they have also claimed responsibility for a number of smaller scale attacks particularly in the city of Jalalabad.


So the question now becomes how much of a challenge is the Taliban going to face if ISIS-K does claim responsibility and if they continue to wage an insurgency against this new foundering government. Clarissa Ward, CNN, Kabul. CHURCH: California may have a new environmental disaster on a town

after an oil spill near Los Angeles. What we're learning about an investigation into that spill, coming up.


CHURCH: A potential ecological disaster is unfolding off the coast of southern California. Thousands of barrels of oil have poured into the ocean after a leak in a pipeline discovered on Saturday. Coast Guard officials say more than 3,100 gallons or nearly 12,000 liters of the oil has been recovered from the water.

Divers have been inspecting a stretch of pipeline hoping to find the exact source of the spill. Officials now say the leak appears to have stopped, but the threat areas near Los Angeles is not over yet. Well, CNN's Natasha Chen is on the scene in Huntington Beach with more on cleanup efforts.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The recovery and cleanup efforts will take quite some time. We have watched as boats drag the boom up and down the coast, trying to collect that oil. So far, we've been told of one oiled Ruddy duck that's receiving veterinary care.



NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And reports of other wildlife washing up with oil on them are being investigated. People here at Huntington Beach also found tar balls on the bottoms of their feet and skin and Orange County public health officials say that could be causing some skin irritation.

Health officials on Sunday also said they would issue an advisory especially for people with respiratory illnesses, warning that the products evaporating from the oil spill could also create irritation for the eyes, nose and throat, potentially even vomiting or dizziness. The bottom line is people should stay away from the water and away from the shoreline.

KATRINA FOLEY, BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: I was there for a few hours today. And even during that time, I started to feel a little bit of my throat hurt. And - and you can feel the vapor in the air. I saw what I'll describe as little pancake clusters of oil along the shoreline. And I've described it as something like an egg yolk, if you push it, it kind of spreads out. And so we don't want people to disturb those little clusters so that the cleanup can be more easily maintained.

CHEN: The parent company responsible is Amplify Energy. Their CEO said Sunday they will do everything in their power to make this a quick recovery. The spill happened about four and a half miles offshore from a pipeline that connects from a processing platform to the shore. Divers were in place Sunday evening to try and investigate at the potential source site what might have caused the leak. The National Transportation Safety Board also sent investigators to help figure out what occurred. Natasha Chen, CNN, Huntington Beach, California.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: And for more on this, we want to turn to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. So Pedram, what are you seeing in terms of where all of this oil is going?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEREOLOGIST: You know, Rosemary, and certainly the elements will play a role here as far as the currents in the ocean, the winds offshore and onshore here that could kind of move the oil. And it's really important to note, as you see some of these images from Newport Beach, from Huntington Beach where we've seen the tar now arrive on the coast. Important to note, this is very different than what we saw in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico with the BP oil spill, because that was crude, that was raw crude oil that had spilled and that is far more dense.

This being post production oil, it's a little bit less dense, it certainly can spread a lot easier and more rapidly. And the concern is it's lighter consistency as well. So again, the spreading becomes a little more prevalent, because of the consistency of this. But we know the estimates put at roughly 8300 acres of coverage as far as the spill size is which happens to be larger than the city of Santa Monica. So kind of gives you a sense of scale of a large area we're talking here just offshore.

Take you off the coast of Southern California because there are some 23 oil rigs that are generally between say four to 10 miles offshore and right along the post portion of the region there in the areas that are about nine or so miles offshore is where we have the oil rig that's titled Elly and all the names here start with a letter E and kind of look at the polygons with about nine miles offshore and you kind of see where we are here with the oil rig in question.

And the pipelines are indicated by the red lines and that northern most red line that is actually the red line that is about 17 mile stretch that originates from Elly ends up somewhere near portions of Long Beach and it's along that pipeline where we've had a breach take place and then officials saying they've been able to now stop the spread, at least drop the additional leak of this into the ocean but we know some 130,000 gallons still out there.

But 400,000 gallons occurred a spill there in 1990 and the largest one we've seen Rosemary was a 1969 spill in this area that was 3 million gallons. Of course, certainly an ecological challenge here for the life - marine life across this region.

CHURCH: It is - it's tragic. Thank you Pedram for keeping a close eye on that. Appreciate it. Oman says Tropical Cyclone Shaheen killed at least three people including a child as it hit the country on Sunday. Shaheen brought heavy rain, powerful winds and waves up to 10 meters or 32 feet high. Shaheen has since been downgraded to a tropical storm. Authorities in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are taking precautions in case of any lingering effects this week. There's much more to come here on CNN Newsroom including a look at the dangers faced by 1000s of migrants as they make the grueling trek from South America to the United States. We'll be back with that in just a moment.



CHURCH: Senior US officials confirmed their commitment to the humane repatriation of migrants during meetings in Port au Prince with Haiti's Prime Minister last week. That pledge will likely be put to the test because 1000s of Haitians are still attempting the dangerous trek to the U.S. from South America. Stefano Pozzebon reports.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Trudging across rivers, up rocky slopes, and through gorges of mud, they cross nearly 100 kilometres of jungle, the terrain as much of a threat as criminal gangs lurking inside. These Haitian migrants are among 1000s in Colombia, continuing a - journey with a singular goal.

The fear is there says Haitian migrant, Francisco but it lasts for a minute or a half an hour, then goes away because you regain motivation to reach the United States. Francisco is following a route 1000s of migrants are taken northwards from Colombia, they begin in Necocli, arrive by boat to Acandi, then cross Colombia's Darien gap jangle towards the Panamanian border.

Most travel three to four days in that stretch of rainforest, partially controlled by criminal groups and traffickers who allegedly rob, rape and assault to some of those passing through, and them toward 1000s of braving the dangerous journey. Many had migrated from Haiti to South America, years earlier. But recently, increasingly strict immigration policies, pandemic impacts, and in some places racism are pushing them out of the countries where they had once settled.

In recent months, easing pandemic travel restrictions has led to a surge in migrant traffic along the treacherous route. It's a continuous dilemma pass from one country to the next. In August, Colombia and Panama agreed 500 migrants could cross through each day but local officials say that quote is too low, leaving 1000s stuck in cities and towns where resources are running out.

JORGE TOBON, NECOCLI, COLUMBIA MAYOR (through translator): The people feel desperate because they can no longer get food. In addition, many migrants are running out of money. Migrants have been more than a month in our municipality. The situation is unbearable and very complicated for us.

POZZEBON: It seems few places in Latin America are well equipped to welcome Haitian refugees, who are among scores of other migrants here also fleeing political upheaval, economic unrest, and violence at home. In recent years, millions have poured across the borders of Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras and elsewhere in the region, while hundreds of 1000s more have arrived from West Africa.

One of them is (inaudible), a chef from Togo who migrated to Chile to work as a gardener. When we first met several weeks ago, Adam (ph) was crossing that same stretch of jungles between Colombia and Panama determined to reach his final destination.

Where in the United States you want to go?



POZZEBON: Georgia? On September 15, Adam (ph) messaged me saying he made it, he had crossed into the United States, but that was the last day heard from him. Since then, he has been unresponsive, what became of his long journey, unclear. Tracing Adam's path, these migrants also facing a certain fate, where they desperately seek a better life, and risk everything in hope they may find this. Stefano Pozzebon, CNN.


CHURCH: And thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. World Sport is up next, for our international viewers. But for everyone else, the news continues after a short break. Do stay with us.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, U.S. President Joe Biden social and environmental policy overhaul is still in limbo. The vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal, which was delayed twice last week has now been pushed back to the end of the month. And progressive Democrats insist it will not pass unless they get the even larger spending bill across the finish line as well. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So if we're not looking at numbers, what about 1.5 like what senator --

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-MI): Well, that's not going to happen? So it's going to be some --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why won't it add up to that number?

JAYAPAL: Because that's too small to get our priorities in. So it's going to be somewhere, you know, between 1.5 and 3.5. And I think the White House is working on that right now.


CHURCH: Michael Genovese is a political analyst and the president of the Global Policy Institute at the Loyola Marymount. He joins me now. Good to see you.


CHURCH: So how dangerous is this Democratic infighting between the progressives and the moderates? And what threat could it ultimately pose to President Biden's ambitious agenda, even though he does remain optimistic that both the infrastructure and the social safety net bills will eventually pass?

GENOVESE: Well, this is the big test for President Biden. He sold himself during the campaign as a man who has experience and can work with Congress. So this is the big test. And he's fighting a battle on three different fronts. The first front is against the Republicans, that's lost. So he's not focusing on that the real battle is within the Democratic Party with the democratic infighting.

Moderates want less spending, the progressives want more. Biden has been wavering. And so this is a big test for him. There are two very sweeping proposals. One is the big infrastructure bill. The other is the big family care bill. So it's - it's a - it's a build and a care agenda. He wants to get both of them through. Can he do it? He's got to get at least one, he needs to get two if he's going to maintain his political position.

CHURCH: And for now, at least, the president appears more persuaded by the progressives than the moderates. But could that prove to be Mr. Biden's ultimate downfall and other progressives perhaps overplaying their hand at this juncture and dooming the Biden presidency come to 2022 midterms?

GENOVESE: Well, you're right. Today, or this week, he's with the progressives, ask me tomorrow. The sands are shifting and they're shifting constantly. Biden will move in the direction that will gain him enough votes. And so vote counting is going to be the key here. He needs to close a deal. You know, he's got a reservoir of goodwill still with the American public, but his popularity is declining, he has to prove that he's a winner that he can close the deal.

And if you compare Trump to Biden, Trump knew what Machiavelli was talking about when Machiavelli said that the prince or the leader, it's better to be more feared than loved. People feared Donald Trump, they do not fear Biden. So he has to show the Democrats that he can play hardball instead of just playing the nice, old uncle or the great, great, warm, spirited grandfather. Trump was the angry uncle Biden is the happy grandfather. Biden needs to show that he can get tough as well.

CHURCH: Yes, it'll be interesting to see if he can change at this late stage in his life, though, right? And of course, this infighting is exactly what the Republicans expected the Democrats and they're exploiting it for all it's worth. Why can't the Democratic Party do better at taking advantage of their current position controlling the White House in Congress?

GENOVESE: Well, it's in their DNA. They have a history of once they get into power, having a hard time governing, having a hard time pulling together because all the disparate groups in Democratic party, once they're in power, they say, OK, now we're going to sit at the table and demand that we get what we came for, what we invested in this presidency, what we invested in Congress, and they tend at that point to kind of form the circular firing squad.

But the stakes are really high and they're short term and long term stakes. The short term stakes are Biden's popularity immediately and the 2022 midterm elections. The big stake, though, is the long term, which is the 2024 race and beyond. And Biden has to get the short term wins. But the long term wins are the big things like getting COVID under control, getting the economy going well, getting climate control under some kind of rep and getting immigration reform.

So he's fighting a short term and long term agenda and it's really tough to juggle all those balls in the air at once.

CHURCH: Michael Genovese always great to chat with you on all things political. Appreciate it.

GENOVESE: Thank you so much, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, a huge trove of private financial documents now reveals how the rich and powerful have kept billions of dollars, beyond the reach of taxes, creditors and accountability.


In a project known as the Pandora papers, almost 12 million financial records were obtained by a team of reporters from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, The Washington Post and hundreds more journalists worldwide. Their report includes details on the offshore accounts of more than 130 people listed by Forbes as billionaires and more than 330 politicians and public officials in more than 90 countries and territories.

According to The Washington Post deep dive into it all quote, 'The Pandora papers allow for the most comprehensive accounting to date of a parallel financial universe whose corrosive effects can span generations, draining significant sums from government treasuries, worsening wealth disparities and shielding the riches of those who cheat and steal while impeding authorities and victims in their efforts to find or recover hidden assets.'

And we should note CNN has not done its own analysis of the legalities here. And using these financial instruments could be perfectly legal depending on how - on where and how they're used. CNN's Pamela Brown spoke about them with Washington Post investigative foreign correspondent Greg Miller, one of the journalists reporting on the Pandora papers.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Are these offshore accounts legal that you analyzed?

GREG MILLER, FOREIGN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I mean, it depends. So these companies that offer shell companies and so forth, they reside in jurisdictions where they're abiding by the laws of, say, the British Virgin Islands or Cyprus or other places around the world. And you're right to point out that there's not anything necessarily illegal about that.

But it does create a lot of problems, it leads to tax evasion, it - these offshore systems are often exploited by criminals to hide ill- gotten gains, corrupt politicians. And just -- and as you put it at the top of the show, I mean, just the very, very wealthy in moving money and hiding money in ways that the rest of us simply can't or don't tend to do.


CHURCH: According to The Washington Post, quote, offshore financial firms that responded to the ICIJ's and The Post's requests for comment, issued statements asserting their compliance with legal mandates, but declining to answer questions about their clients.

JetBlue Airways is one of the latest major U.S. companies requiring its workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The decision follows the Biden administration's requirement for federal contractors to be vaccinated. It's unclear when JetBlue's mandate will take effect to other carriers.

American and Alaska Airlines recently announced similar rules. Meanwhile, U.S. airlines are still grappling with a surge in unruly passengers. United Airlines says it's now banned more than 700 passengers over their behavior during the pandemic. For Delta Airlines, the number is even higher around 1600.

Well, as those companies move to protect their employees and passengers, an artist in the U.S. is working to remember the lives lost to COVID-19. In America: Remember is a project that overtook the National Mall in Washington and has taken on a life of its own. CNN's Dana Bash has that report.


DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to capture this on camera it's even hard to capture it with your eyes.


BASH: When you're here like you and I are because it's so vast. It goes down.

FIRSTENBERG: To the World War II Memorial now.

BASH: To the World War II Memorial.

Suzanne Firstenberg is the artist behind In America: Remember, a temporary exhibition on the National Mall. Each flag represents an American life lost to COVID-19.

FIRSTENBERG: When I bought flags in June, I bought 630,000 I thought never would we used that many. I've reordered twice.

BASH: Visitors come by not just to observe, but to participate. Volunteers write dedications for loved ones, submitted online.

FIRSTENBERG: One flag, there was a 99-year old who died and the flag reads, he refused a ventilator. He asked that it be used for someone younger.

BASH: When the exhibit opened September 17, there were 670,032 deaths. Since then, 1000s more have died. Each day, she's increased the number to reflect that.

FIRSTENBERG: So I check the numbers every day because it's important that we honor those people whom we just lost the day before.

BASH: And it's a lot of people.

FIRSTENBERG: It's an incredible number of people.


BASH: This weekend that number hit and unthinkable milestones. 700,000 American lives lost to COVID-19.

FIRSTENBERG: There are a lot of flags that say, if only you would have listened, or I wish you'd gotten vaccinated.

BASH: Look at this one here. Dear Mom, Mom, you're a woman of strength, love and kindness that radiated from you. This period around the holidays is the hardest without you.

FIRSTENBERG: What I didn't realize was just how much emotion people would bring to this. You know, I created the art. But they've brought the content, the stories, the sadness. Oftentimes, they'll tell me this is the first time I've had a chance to cry.


CHURCH: Well, Spanish officials are warning a volcano in the Canary Islands is now erupting even more intensely. This volcano on La Palma has been gushing lava for weeks now and the Canary Islands' President says it doesn't look like it's close to ending yet, due to the millions of cubic meters of lava spewing out.

Spain's Prime Minister has pledged more than $238 million in aid to the island. And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more news in just a moment. Do stay with us.