Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Zuckerberg Breaks Silence After Whistleblower Testimony; Diplomats To Discuss "Responsibly Managing Competition"; Taiwan Defense Minister: China Capable Of Mounting Full-Scale Invasion By 2025. Aired 12-1a EST

Aired October 06, 2021 - 00:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (on camera): Hello, I'm John Vause. Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM.

From allegations, users are willfully put in danger in pursuit of profits to causing deadly violence in Myanmar and Ethiopia. Testimony from the Facebook whistleblower reveals the company's far-reaching and dangerous impact around the world.

Its monetary policies, Zimbabwe could be proud of, minting a trillion- dollar coin to end the standoff over the U.S. debt ceiling.

And for five of the inspirational young women from Afghanistan's robotic team, the embodiment of everything the Taliban despises, a new life begins in Mexico.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with John Vause.

VAUSE After avoiding the public spotlight for weeks amid growing controversy, fueled by damaging allegations from a whistleblower, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has broken his silence, rejecting almost everything Frances Haugen told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday, especially accusations that Facebook put profit over people and covered up internal research, which proved its family of apps caused serious harm.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote, "Many of the claims don't make any sense. If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry-leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place? If we didn't care about fighting harmful content, then why would we employ so many more people dedicated to this than any other company in our space -- even ones larger than us?"

CNN's Brian Stelter has more now on Frances Haugen's testimony before Congress.


FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: The only way we can move forward and heal Facebook is we first have to admit the truth. BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And the truth according to Frances Haugen, is that the social media giant is hiding what it really knows about its impact on its users, including the spread of misinformation.

HAUGEN: Facebook likes to paint that these issues are really complicated. Facebook prioritize that content on the system, the re- shares over the impacts to misinformation, hate speech, or violence, incitement.

STELTER: Haugen testifying to the Senate about what the company did and did not do to confront the spread of misinformation leading up to the 2020 election and beyond.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): On "60 Minutes", you said that Facebook implemented safeguards to reduce misinformation ahead of the 2020 election, but turned off those safeguards right after the election. And you know that the interaction occurred, January 6th.

Do you think that Facebook turned off the safeguards because they weren't costing the company money because it was reducing profit?

HAUGEN: Facebook, changed those safety defaults in the run-up to the election because they knew they were dangerous. And, because they wanted that growth back, they wanted the acceleration on the platform back after the election, they return to their original defaults.

And the fact that they had to break the glass on January 6th, and turn them back on, I think that's deeply problematic.

STELTER: Another big focus of the hearing, how Facebook and its other social media apps, including Instagram, negatively impact kids.

HAUGEN: Kids who are bullied on Instagram, the bullying follows them home. It follows them into their bedrooms. The last thing they see before they go to bed at night is someone being cruel to them. Or the first thing they see in the morning is someone being cruel to them.

STELTER: Senator Richard Blumenthal calling the revelations jaw- dropping and comparing Facebook to big tobacco.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): It is documented proof that Facebook knows its products can be addictive and toxic to children. And it's not just that they made money again, it's that they valued their profit more than the pain that they cause to children and their families.

STELTER: The word addiction coming up over and over again during the testimony.

HAUGEN: Just like cigarettes, teenagers don't have good self- regulation. They say explicitly, I feel bad when I use Instagram and yet I can't stop. We need to protect the kids.

STELTER: In a tweet, Facebook responding, saying Haugen didn't actually work on these issues directly. She was a product manager tackling misinformation, and had no direct reports, and never attended a decision-point meeting.

But Haugen brought receipts, research from inside Facebook, documenting the damage being done.

HAUGEN: There are organizational problems.

STELTER: And during all this, where was Mark Zuckerberg? Senators called out his absence. And quipped that he was sailing, referring to his recent uploads to Facebook and Instagram.

BLUMENTHAL: Rather than taking responsibility, and showing leadership. Mr. Zuckerberg is going sailing.


VAUSE Ryan Patel is a senior fellow at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. He is with us this hour from Los Angeles. It's been a while, Ryan. Thank you for being with us.


RYAN PATEL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, my pleasure, John.

VAUSE OK, so, it's been smooth sailing for a while now for Zuckerberg. So, what I did there.

PATEL: I did.

VAUSE: But now the European Parliament is talking regulation and oversight. One lawmaker who negotiates new rules for online platforms says the revelations from the whistleblower "underscores just how important it is that we do not let the large tech companies regulate themselves. They are simply not capable of lifting that responsibility."

A similar sentiment in the U.S. And well, Frances Haugen essentially told Congress what needs to be done. She drew a map, you know, show where all the bodies are buried. But can Democrats and Republicans actually work together, not just agree there is a problem but find a solution?

PATEL: Well, the solution is creating another kind of agency because the system right now does not work, john. I mean, the Internet and obviously social media has really, you know laws and regulations has not kept up with it, and we are using it as much as we can over the last four years on how you get information.

And I think part of what she was talking about is how do you really have an ability to hold Facebook accountable? Right?

She talked about algorithms. And just to kind of really basic for the audience, algorithms kind of work and if it starts to go viral, people liking and commenting it, and then Facebook saying, well, we -- we're going to let it go. Well, someone needs to step in and be accountable for that and for that data. So, I think that it's great to see Republicans and Democrats come to on a single cause here. But it's more than coming together is actually creating solutions that will stand and be able to hold the tech giants accountable.

VAUSE But yes, and part of his response, Zuckerberg wrote that, you know, "We have advocated for updated Internet regulations for several years now. I have testified in Congress multiple times, and ask them to update these regulations."

But as you mentioned, Haugen is talking about a whole new outside regulatory agency, which has access to those closely guarded algorithms. Yes, that's a trade secret.

This is a whole different universe to what Zuckerberg talked about, right?

PATEL: 100 percent. And you and I actually covered, if you remember, the first time when the data scandal broke out. I remember you telling me, well, Mark's not going to respond or wants to respond. And now he's responding. But you just said, there isn't teeth to what he is saying.

He doesn't want to give up the transparency behind the data. Because not only is this secret sauce, and I understand that there's patented behind it. But really, then you're really held that transparency data that privacy is out and open for everyone to hold and see.

And I think really what stood out to me in this conversation. And I'm, you know, I guess I'm glad that Mark responded, but I am going to expect Facebook to do more here over the next couple of weeks, because we're talking about kids, you know, that they had the research that one in three teens -- like teen girls was making their lives worse to that fact. I think that was what was in the research.

That is going to catch almost every headline. And I know there's other things in there. But that to me is something that Facebook needs to get in front of immediately.

VAUSE: Yes, that's the sort of the real damaging allegation out of a whole bunch of damaging allegations.

But Zuckerberg also had this response to the argument that, you know, "we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, advertisers consistently tell us they don't want their ads next to harmful or angry content."

Ads kind of true to a point, but an ad seen by 20 million angry people is worth a lot more than an ad seen by 20, mild and contented souls.

Well, you know why he's -- you know why this is touchy? Right? When you call somebody, hey, you're doing profit over your consumer base, no matter what kind of business you run. That is, you don't want to be called that, even if -- even if in some cases, maybe it's true. I mean, it damages the whole community and profile. And, you know, Facebook has gone through many different scandals, you know. You and I have covered them and been part of it. And not to say this will be the last one.

But I don't know, John. I really feel that this needs to have more behind it. It's great to see that E.U. pick up on it. I think the E.U. is going to have more of a harder hammer for Facebook to do this. But this is only a start of a conversation, unfortunately.

I don't -- there is so much more to be had. It's -- this is a step. We're not even close to the end of how to solving this.

VAUSE: Oh, it's only the beginning of, of the end of the beginning.

Frances Haugen actually stated before Congress while the most succinct and clear explanations for why Facebook needs to be regulated. Listen to this.


HAUGEN: Facebook should not get a free pass on choices it makes to prioritize growth, and virality, and reactiveness over public safety. They shouldn't get a free pass on that because they're paying for their profits right now with our safety.


VAUSE: Otherwise, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all the rest of them may be free to join, but there is a cost for using.

PATEL: Yes. Yes, I mean, I think it's interesting the rhetoric coming out of this and that even from the European Parliament that you mentioned, big tech, is it not allowed to continue to regulate itself? I think we're getting to that question and point.

Who is allowed? Are they not capable, you know, simply capable, as you mentioned, to do this? But then the question becomes, there's no alternative and choices in the tech market to a certain degree even though there is the social platforms.


PATEL: And so, I think you're going to see a lot of different things. I think disruption, I think one thing that didn't get brought up that I do want to mention is really about data transparency, right?

I think that's probably the biggest concept that it's not easy to regulate. But if you can let researchers or an external group to examine the internal data, I assure you, changes will happen if that occurs.

VAUSE: Yes. That's the -- that's one of the keys here too. The data, which they don't want people to know is true with big tobacco, and it's true with Facebook as well. Nothing's changed just the kind of the product.

Ryan, thank you. Ryan Patel, there. Appreciate it.

PATEL: Thanks, John. Always great.

VAUSE: Well, the latest effort to try and repair relations between Washington and Paris or the U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, meeting with the French president and foreign minister on Tuesday.

France was left outraged after Australia pulled out of a $66 billion contract to buy French submarines after joining a new trilateral defense agreement with the U.S. and U.K.

Resentment over the sub snub was evident when a journalist told Blinken, France expected better of him and the Biden administration.


ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE (through translator): We should have done better in terms of communication. This is what President Biden and President Macron said to each other when they spoke a few weeks ago. But above all, we sometimes tend to take for granted a relationship as important and as deep as the one between France and the United States.


VAUSE: And orcas could be one topic in the day ahead in Switzerland when U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan meets with China's top diplomat. Both sides they want to improve communication between the world's biggest and second-biggest economies.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout live in Hong Kong with more on this meeting. Communication is one thing but that doesn't seem to be the only problem these two countries have?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, there is a host of very contentious issues between the U.S. and China right now. But it has been confirmed by the ministry of foreign affairs and the White House that the U.S. National Security adviser will be meeting with China's top diplomat in Zurich, Switzerland today at a time of high tension and deepening rivalry between these two countries.

And this will be the first face-to-face meeting between Jake Sullivan and Yang Jiechi since that strategic dialogue in March in Alaska, which erupted into these scenes of confrontation that were all caught on camera.

Now, today's meeting in Zurich, it comes after the Biden administration revealed its long-awaited review of his U.S.-China trade policy. We heard from Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative saying that the United States is seeking frank dialogue with China, and will not roll out additional tariffs. At the Global Times, the Chinese state-run tabloid said that China is welcoming more talks but is not afraid of drawn-out conflict.

And I want you to take a close look at this statement from an op-ed in the Global Times. We'll bring it up for you seeing this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT (voice-over): "We will adhere to the consistent manner of not making concessions on principle, based on doing our own thing, and not being afraid of any contest, including a protracted one." Now, the Zurich meeting also comes during a time of high tension over Taiwan.


LU STOUT (on camera): In recent days, China has been carrying out an unprecedented number of incursions by its air force into Taiwan's air defense zone.

And U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to abide by a Taiwan agreement. This is a statement that has puzzled many China observers this day.

Apparently, he's making reference to the One-China policy. This is a long-standing policy held by Washington, D.C. to officially recognize Beijing over Taipei, but a lot of confusion about what that means and exactly when those comments took place. You know, look, there has been a lot of flurry of diplomatic activity between U.S. and China since Joe Biden has entered office. Very little progress, though, has been achieved. Back to you.

VAUSE: With regards to Taiwan, we're now hearing from the defense minister saying that mainland China could be capable of mounting an invasion in what? The next four years or so, which is significant?

LU STOUT: Very significant. These comments took place earlier today at a press conference in Taiwan by the defense chief of Taiwan, saying that China was capable of a "full-scale" invasion of Taiwan by 2025.

The Taiwan defense chief also adding that, "We will make preparations militarily."

Now, we know that the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, has also been sounding the alarm. In fact, she has just written an op-ed that is coming up in the upcoming issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, and we have an excerpt of it. We'll bring it up for you.

LU STOUT (voice-over): In which Tsai Ing-wen says this, "As countries increasingly recognize the threat that the Chinese Communist Party poses, they should understand the value of working with Taiwan. They should remember that if Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic alliance system. It would signal that in today's global contest of values, authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy."


LU STOUT (on camera): Now, China claims Taiwan has its own territory, which it could take by force if necessary. Taiwan says it is an independent country that will assert itself the United States has decried the recent incursions into Taiwan's air defense zone by China in recent days. The U.S. State Department has said that its commitment to Taiwan is "rock solid", John.

VAUSE: Kristie Lu Stout with all details there live for us from Hong Kong. Thank you.

Well, the son of late Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos will run for president in next year's election.


VAUSE (voice-over): Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., known as Bongbong is the fourth politician hoping to succeed Rodrigo Duterte, who cannot seek reelection.

Marcos has pledged to bring unifying leadership to help the country overcome the COVID pandemic. The 64-year-old has been involved in politics since his family returned from exile in the early 1990s. His father was overthrown in a popular uprising in 1986.


VAUSE (on camera): Still to come, a pipeline pulled like a bowstring.

VAUSE (voice-over): New details what caused a massive oil leak and ecological disaster off the coast of Southern California?

Also, the world's coral reefs disappearing faster than you think. What it means for the planet. And what may be a small silver lining? That's next.


VAUSE (on camera): The massive oil spill off the coast of Southern California may have been caused by a ship's anchor rupturing an oil pipeline.

VAUSE (voice-over): According to the owners of the pipeline, a 1200 meter section has essentially been pulled like a bowstring.

Investigators are looking into the timeline here with a number of agencies receiving reports of oil sheens in odor on Friday night. The pipeline operator did not notify authorities until Saturday morning.

A new study from the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network sheds new light on the toll, climate change has had on coral reefs globally. Data shows for it -- from 14 percent of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed between 2009 to 2018. That's more than all the living coral in the Great Barrier Reef just off Australia.

The report blames not only rising sea temperatures which have caused coral bleaching, but increased levels of acidity in the oceans, marine pollution, as well as overfishing.

Joining me now, Madhavi Colton, executive director of the Coral Reef Alliance. VAUSE (on camera): Thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: OK. So, what's the timeframe here? If nothing is done, and coral continues to die at this rate that we're seeing, how long before there's no coral left alive?

COLTON: It's a great question, John. And so, scientists around the world estimate that all coral reefs will be acutely threatened by climate change by the middle of the century, because that's the time when we think bleaching events are likely to happen annually.

But what actually happens to the coral reefs themselves is still a matter of some investigation.


I've been leading research over these past few years that show that corals can actually adapt to cope with a warmer world. So, we may not be looking at the loss of all coral reef ecosystems as quickly as you might think.

VAUSE: There was a recent study, I think about June last year, which looked at three different scenarios here for carbon emissions. There was a low scenario, medium and high.

VAUSE (voice-over): "Under the medium and high scenarios, the majority of coral reefs are no longer growing by the end of the century. Instead, they'll be eroding. Even under the lowest-emission future, coral growth rates would still be reduced by 76 percent."

VAUSE (on camera): That does sort of indicate that unless we had this low carbon future -- with low carbon emissions, coral could be doomed.

COLTON: It's true that we need to definitely get our emissions and climate change under control. And that requires coordinated international global effort. And there's a lot of opportunities now this month for leaders to step up and set new targets for ocean protections and climate change.

Those studies that show that it's doom and gloom, it's kind of over for coral reefs, frequently don't include the evolutionary responses that corals can have to climate change.

And there's a lot of increasing evidence that corals can actually adapt to deal with a warmer world. And when you incorporate that adaptive response into models, it shows that corals can actually thrive through some of those lower emissions scenarios.

But at the higher emission scenarios, it is going to be really tough for coral reefs and most ecosystems on this planet to survive.

VAUSE: And climate change is obviously the big factor in all this, but there's also overfishing, there is marine pollution, there is coastal development. I guess, you know, some of those problems easier to fix than others, right?

COLTON: Well, yes, I guess so. When I think about what's stressing out coral reefs around the world, I've entered into two categories, what's happening globally, with our emissions, with climate change, and what's happening locally, which is the scale at which a human interacts with a reef.

And you're right that at a local scale, we can actually do really effective conservation that includes local communities. So, those people that rely on coral reefs can continue to rely on coral reefs into the future.

And you can read about efforts to control water pollution, overfishing, things like that on our web site,

VAUSE: Nice plug on that one. Very quickly, what happens to a world that does not have coral, or where coral is basically struggling to survive?

COLTON: So, coral reefs are the most bio-diverse ecosystem on the planet. They provide food and income for about a billion people globally. And just from tourism alone, there were $36 billion per year.

So, the loss of coral reefs isn't just a biodiversity crisis. It's also a human -- humanitarian and economic crisis.

VAUSE: Madhavi Colton, thank you so much for being with us. What was that web site again?

COLTON: Thanks for having me, John.

VAUSE: OK. OK, take care. Thank you.

Well, climate protesters tried to disrupt a Louis Vuitton fashion show in Paris, Tuesday, but they ended up causing just a minor interruption. A few demonstrators jumped on the catwalk with banners and signs protesting the impact of excessive consumption on the environment.

Security removed them fairly quickly. They say Louis Vuitton was targeted because their business pushes to a fast and constant production of high-end goods.

Still to come, Democrats are scrambling to find a workaround to prevent a U.S. default as Republicans refuse to compromise and help raise the debt limit. But some say a very special coin -- very, very special coin could be the solution to the debt limit. That's coming up next.



VAUSE: Wherever you are around the world, welcome back. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Democrats are scrambling to find ways to suspend the debt limit and avoid an unprecedented U.S. default. Republicans are playing blatant politics right now, demanding Democrats raise the limit through a complicated process that will require a specific figure for the new debt ceiling.

That would then become a major campaign issue in next year's midterm elections. With the projected October 18th deadline looming, warnings of default are growing louder.


GARY GENSLER, CHAIRMAN, UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION: We'd have significant volatility in the markets and we'd see some breakages in the system.

If that were to go into default, we'd be in for the some of the greatest challenges we've seen in our financial sector. We'd be in very uncharted waters. The uncertainties abound around this.


VAUSE: Meantime, sources say the U.S. President Joe Biden is ready to compromise part of his social safety net package to win over moderate Democrats CNN's. Manu Raju has our report.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Now, Democrats on Capitol Hill are still trying to sort through major divisions on Joe Biden's economic package. On one side, the left that want a massive multi-trillion dollar bill, something close to $3 trillion.

They're willing to come down for $3.5 trillion, their initial ask, but not too much further.

RAJU (voice-over): Then, you have people like Joe Manchin, people in the middle who want $1.5 trillion. But are now sitting there willing to go up, but not nearly as high as the moderate as a progressive want.

Earlier on Tuesday, I asked Joe Manchin, if he's open to going to where Joe Biden is privately proposing anywhere from $1.9 to $2.2 trillion, and he indicated he's not ruling this out.

But there's just so many policy differences that they have to sort through exactly what to cut, how to deal with issues of means-testing to limit the eligibility of key social programs in this bill. How to deal with climate change? One issue that divides Joe Manchin with the progressives.

And it's important because they need to get all 50 Democrats on board in the Senate. They have just a three-vote margin in the House. The Democrats do so -- there's virtually no margin for error.

Now, at the same time, Democrats are still struggling about the way forward about avoiding a potential debt default by next week. RAJU (on camera): Because Republicans are refusing to raise the national debt limit. They are not supplying the votes needed. Democrats, as a result, are looking at a whole wide range of options to try to circumvent Republicans, but it's still unclear exactly how that will be resolved.

But October 18, the deadline, the major deadline facing the United States to the potential of a debt default, is real. It could be the first ever at the two sides can't reach an agreement. And the Democrats who run Congress can't figure out a way forward in the days ahead.

Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

VAUSE: The U.S. Treasury Secretary says it's utterly essential for Congress to lift the debit limit -- debt limit, I should say ahead of October 18th. Janet Yellen though opposes one idea which has been put forward has made a comeback, it's minting a trillion-dollar platinum coin to resolve the stalemate.

That is a legal loophole which allows this to happen. Treasury can mint platinum coins at any denomination it chooses, usually for special occasions, you know, like (INAUDIBLE) day, not prevent the government from defaulting day.

Rana Foroohar is with us again. She is CNN's global economic analysts and an associate editor at the Financial Times.

VAUSE (on camera): She's here to talk trillion-dollar coins, debt ceilings, and economic turmoil. It's becoming Wednesday's with Rana. Good to see you again.


VAUSE: OK, so, this is the third time the trillion-dollar coin idea has made a comeback since 2010. While the White House is rolled it out, there are some serious economists whose thinking has evolved. One being Paul Krugman of the New York Times.


VAUSE (voice-over): A years back, he dismissed the whole thing, but now he writes, "Go ahead, Democrats. Do whatever it takes to get through this. Gimmickry in the defense of sanity -- and in an important sense, democracy -- is no vice."


You know, this ridiculous idea of a trillion-dollar coin keeps coming back because of the ridiculous actions of the Republicans in the Senate, who refuse to raise the ridiculous debt ceiling.

But every time it comes back, this idea, it gets to be, you know, taken a little bit more seriously. And it also exposes that question: Are there limitations on how much money the U.S. can print? Are the only limitations, essentially, supplies of paper and ink?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: You know, it's a great question, John, and in some ways, the answer is yes. The only limitation is what we say it is.

But you know, all of that is dependent on the fact that the dollar is the global reserve currency.

You know, what's typically happens when countries print more and more and more money, be it a trillion-dollar coin or lots of paper, is that they have hyperinflation, and they turn into the Weimar Republic. And there's social collapse and wars, and political collapse.

That's not happening. You know, first of all, because we haven't printed that much money yet. But there are worries.

VAUSE: And Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen brought a little bit of sensibility and reality back into this whole trillion-dollar coin conversation. Here she is.


JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: It's really a gimmick, and what's necessary is for Congress to show that the world can count on America paying its debts.


VAUSE: But relying on Congress is never a good idea. So instead of a trillion-dollar coin, why don't they go full Zimbabwe? And let's start printing trillion-dollar banknotes? There we go.

FOROOHAR: I think that needs to be a phrase: "the full Zimbabwe."

VAUSE: The full Zimbabwe. This is a thing. There are some big advantages to being the world's reserve currency. Why not make the most of it? China right now is dealing with the potential collapse of another highly-indebted property developer. The country has huge issues with high real-estate debt over investment. Why can't they print endless R and B to bail out companies considered too big to fail?

FOROOHAR: Well, for starters, you know, China has a lot of the cash reserves on hand and T-bills on hand. I mean, you know, its government is an autocracy. Whatever Beijing says goes. And there's a lot of money in the coffers in headquarters.

Now, you know, there may be some trouble in the provinces. But it's really sort of a different situation than in the U.S.

I have to say, I love hearing Janet Yellen sort of bring everybody back to earth, and -- and push things on Congress. Really, that's the issue here. You know, it's about politicians of both stripes passing the buck, passing the buck, again and again, not just to central bankers, but to economists, to the treasury. You know, it has to stop at some point. Now, I will say that every single time we get down to this brinksmanship, there is some kind of a last-minute situation that -- that results. But this time around, things are going to be very high- stakes.

VAUSE: Yes. And if Biden gets those spending bills through, there will be more money which will be printed, more debt, and you know, all that brings inflation concerns and also real inflation, too, it seems.

So you know, our supply chain issues post-pandemic. Lockdowns the sole driver here. Many say yes.

But Jeremy Siegel (ph) is a Nobel Prize-winning economist, has a different take. He was in Las Vegas at a wealth managers' gathering. "Forbes" reports he said, "The current economic picture is unsustainable, and projected 20 to 25 cent inflation over the next few years, positing that it could come with successive years of 5 to 7 percent annual inflation."

And he specifically blames quantitative easing under Powell (ph). So how and when will we know if he's right the price is up because of all the debt, and it's systemic, or if inflation will ease as life returns to something closer to normal?

FOROOHAR: So, these are great questions, and they're complicated questions.

To be clear, there are some short-term factors in inflation: supply chain backlogs because of COVID are one. Rising wages are another.

I think that some of those things are going to ease, and I also think that there's some deflationary aspects of the economy right now. A lot of technology, a lot of software is being put in place now. There are a lot of jobs that are going to be done by automation that haven't been in the past.

But this notion that, not just under Powell, but for the last 10 years, 20 years, and in some ways 40 years, we've had a climate in America of low rates, easy money, after the financial crisis, certainly, quantitative easing of an unprecedented amount.

And at some point, the piper has to be paid. And that is something that I am worried about. I think that's a legitimate concern. You know, it's one thing for the U.S. to spend, and spend, and spend and keep rates low and lose any kind of price discovery in the market, when we are the only superpower, only game in town, but there are other games in town now. China is on the rise. You know, the Europeans may, at some point, get their act together economically.

And so I think that kind of inflation, Q.E. (ph) driven inflation, is a real risk.


VAUSE: Yes. There are those who believe that inflation will -- the U.S. can inflate its way out of debt, but that's a losing proposition, as well. We may be talking about this next week, right?

FOROOHAR: I look forward to it.

VAUSE: Take care.

FOROOHAR: Take care.

VAUSE: Coming up next, they were the very personification of women's rights. And now, they found new lives and safety far from the lives they've known (ph), misogynistic Taliban rulers of Afghanistan.


VAUSE: A Russian film crew is now on board the International Space Station. An actress and director will begin filming scenes for a new movie called "Challenge," the dramatic story of a surgeon who travels to space to operate on a dying cosmonaut.

So far, the team finds the experience hard to believe, making the first movie in outer space.


YULIA PERESID, RUSSIAN ACTRESS (through translator): Everything was new to us today. Every 30 seconds brought something entirely new. And we just met the rest of the crew. The cosmonauts and astronauts have been living on board the station for some time now. But I'm still in a dream. I still feel that it's all just a dream and I am asleep.


VAUSE: Long way to go for a very dull script, but they'll spend nearly two weeks filming scenes up there on the space station.

No women represented the progress in their fight for equal rights in Afghanistan more than the members of the robotic team. Smart, determined, independent. But as the Taliban took control of the country, they were forced to flee their homes. Several have now found a safe haven in Mexico, and they spoke with CNN's Matt Rivers.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Just four years ago, the half dozen girls from Afghanistan strode confidently into competition, waving their country's flag. The global robotics competition, held in the U.S., was a chance to show what so many in their country doubted: that girls can accomplish anything.

And accomplish they did, winning an award for, quote, "courageous achievement," given to teens who persevere through trying circumstances.

So much has changed since then.

In a matter of months this year, the Taliban swept back across Afghanistan, toppling city after city, a mortal threat to girls like those on the robotics team: educated, progressive, the exact opposite of how the Taliban believe women should be.

And so five of the original team made the decision to flee in a harrowing journey. They went from Herat, Afghanistan, to Kabul. There, they managed to get out on one of the last commercial flights before the Taliban took the city.

From there, Islamabad, Pakistan, was next, eventually followed by Doha, Qatar, then Frankfort, Germany, and then to Mexico City.

Landing in the Mexican capital, where the government here has allowed them to stay while they figure out what's next. It's here in the city that we got a chance to meet in person.


Safe in Mexico, their first thoughts are, of course, about home and the cruelty of the Taliban regime.

FATEMAH QADERYAN, CAPTAIN, AFGHAN GIRLS ROBOTICS TEAM: The rule of their government is just mockery and an insult to Islam, while Islam is the religion of kindness. We kindly request not only the United States but the entire international community to eradicate the Taliban generation from Afghanistan.

RIVERS: They know that the U.S. has limited options in that regard, after its withdrawal, a terrible situation for those opposed to the Taliban. They also know how lucky they were to get out.

SAGHAR SALEHI, AFGHAN GIRLS ROBOTICS TEAM: It was really hard to, you know, leave all of our beloved ones in Afghanistan, but we are happy that today we are safe, not only because of ourselves, but here we can be the voice of thousands of girls who want to be safe in Afghanistan and who want to continue their education and can -- and make their dreams become true.

RIVERS: A dwindling reality for girls in that country. In the weeks and months after the Taliban took over, their subsequent actions have reaffirmed a return to a society where women are treated as wholly unequal to men.

Still, the team has a message for those left behind.

KAWSAR ROSHAN, AFGHAN GIRLS ROBOTICS TEAM: So my message, and my message to my generation, is that to please don't lose your hope, your spirit, wherever in Afghanistan you are. I know it's difficult, because I'm an Afghan girl, too, and I fully understand you. But please don't lose your spirit. There is always light in the heart of darkness. And just make your dream and follow your dream. And believe that one day your dream will come true, because I experienced that.

RIVERS (on camera): And we asked all the girls, what do you want to do next, both in the near future and in the long-term future. All four girls that we spoke to tell us they do plan on going to college somewhere, hopefully, in the United States, they say.

As for the long-term future, they all have hopes to return to Afghanistan someday.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


VAUSE: Before we go, some advice for teens in the wake of whistleblower testimony which says Facebook is more than aware that Instagram is toxic and addictive, especially for teenage girls.

And it comes from those who know firsthand. A group of teenagers sharing their advice for using the app, telling "The Wall Street Journal," know when to take a break, which can include limits on screen time or even temporarily deleting the app. Everyone over shares. Try under-sharing instead. Live more life offline. Engage with people outside of Instagram. Try to use in-app tools, including limits which can hide comments and message requests from people you don't know. Or hidden word filters, which specify what you find offensive.

Good advice.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. I'll be back at the top of the hour. In the meantime, WORLD SPORT is up next.