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U.S. COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations Down but Not Gone; Weak U.S. Jobs Report; Biden and Xi to Hold Virtual Meeting by Year End; Biden Refuses Executive Privilege for Trump Records; Romanian Hospitals Struggle with Numbers of COVID-19 Patients; Supply Chain Chaos; Search for Brian Laundrie Approaches Fourth Week; Journalists Win 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired October 09, 2021 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A possible turning point: for the first time in months, the U.S. has seen a downward trend in coronavirus cases. We'll find out what that could mean.

Vowing to pursue reunification, the Chinese president commemorates an anniversary with strong rhetoric on Taiwan.

Plus, if it seems like things are higher in price or hard to find that's because they are. We'll look at the supply chain chaos that's causing it.

Welcome to all of you here in the United States, Canada and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: Encouraging developments in the U.S. Critical numbers for COVID-19, like cases, deaths and hospitalizations, seem to be trending downward. There's been an unprecedented demand for COVID booster shots in recent days.

More than 7 million people have gotten an extra dose of vaccine so far. It's now outpacing the number of people getting their first and second shots. And experts warn the pandemic is far from over. CNN's Amara Walker has more.


AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is good reason to be cautiously optimistic.

ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, M.D., FORMER HHS ASSISTANT SECRETARY: We have certainly turned a corner. Cases are down about 50 percent from the peak. We have passed the peak of delta infection and hospitalization and deaths are trailing off. These are very, very good signs.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: In the next three to four weeks, I think you'll see the surge having outlived its life.

WALKER: But health officials trust America is not out of the woods just yet.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: It's not a reason for us to take our foot off the accelerator or to relax our guard so to speak. We have to continue getting people vaccinated.

WALKER: While former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb predicted this may be the last surge. One health expert disagrees.

OSTERHOLM: I disagree with Scott. In the spring, when he said we won't have any cases in the summer either. So I'm one of those who believe because we still have 65 million Americans who have not yet been vaccinated who could be. This surge is over, obviously, on the way down but we're going to have more surges in the future.

WALKER: Nationwide, hospitalizations are down, with fewer than 70,000 hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and the current daily average of new coronavirus infections has dropped below 100,000.

However, vaccination rates continue to slow. The average number of people starting the vaccination process has dropped. More than 40 percent over the past two months according to CDC data. And when it comes to vaccination rates among children eligible for the shots --

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR VACCINE DEVELOPMENT, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Only 33 percent of the 12- to 17-year-olds were given the COVID-19 vaccine here in the South, most of the Southern states compared to 80 percent in the Northeast.

So once again you have this geographic divide, where parents are holding back on vaccinating their adolescents. And I have to believe they'll probably hold back on vaccinating their younger kids as well.

WALKER: More shots in arms could come soon. The FDA and CDC's advisory committees will meet in the coming weeks to discuss boosters for the Moderna and J&J vaccines.

And on October 26, the FDA's committee will meet again to consider the Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old. If the committee recommended that the shot and the FDA OK's it, a panel of CDC advisers will decide whether to recommend a vaccine for this age group. The panel is scheduled to meet on November 2nd and 3rd.

Keep in mind, only when the CDC has recommended the vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years old, can shots go into arms?

Judging by the timeline, very unlikely that these children will have the vaccination by Halloween.

We're also learning that children have similar risks as adults do when contracting the pandemic. This is according to a new study in "JAMA Pediatrics." Early on in the pandemic, it was believed that adults were more affected. This study suggests that children play a similar role in transmitting the virus -- in Atlanta, Amara Walker, CNN.


BRUNHUBER: The pandemic is blamed for lower-than-expected jobs numbers released Friday. Chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins has more on the data and President Biden's reaction.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A big economic miss as the American recovery hits a roadblock.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The jobs numbers also remind us that we have important work ahead of us and important investments we need to make.


COLLINS: U.S. employers adding 194,000 jobs in September. Well below the half a million that economists were expecting.

BIDEN: We're actually making real progress. Maybe it doesn't seem fast enough. I would like to see it faster and we're going to make it faster.

COLLINS: President Biden pinning it on the delta variant that peaked in September.

BIDEN: Today's report is based on a survey that was taken during the week of September 13th when COVID cases were averaging more than 150,000 per day. Since then, we've seen a daily cases fall by more than one-third.

COLLINS: The president highlighting a drop in the unemployment rate.

BIDEN: For the first time since March of 2020, the American unemployment rate is below 5 percent.

COLLINS: But the drop from 5.2 percent to 4.8 percent could be in part because some people are leaving the work force entirely. As Biden's labor secretary struggled to explain why many jobs are going unfilled even after the enhanced jobless benefits came to an end.

MARTY WALSH, LABOR SECRETARY: Two months ago everybody was asking about the $300 keeping people out of work. The $300 now is gone. We didn't see that growth there.

COLLINS: The latest figures adding to the White House's headache as they face concerns about inflation, a worker shortage and oil and gas prices at their highest levels since 2014.

WALSH: What we're seeing I think in a lot of cases is, one, the pandemic is wreaking havoc and fear on people as far as going back to work.

COLLINS: Democrats are still battling it out on Capitol Hill but the president said the jobs report makes the case for trillions in new spending and tax cuts.

BIDEN: America still is the largest economy in the world. We still have the most productive workers and the most innovative minds in the world. But we risk losing our edge as a nation if we don't move.

COLLINS: And President Biden and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell did speak on Friday. That came the same time that MNL sent a letter to the president that Republicans are not going to assist Democrats in lifting the debt ceiling.

Given the fix they put in place now to avoid a government default, something that would be unprecedented for the United States, it's just a temporary fix, not a long-term one -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


BRUNHUBER: Chinese state media reports that Washington and Beijing are now negotiating the trade tariffs and sanctions that currently exists between the world's two largest economies.

U.S. trade representative and the Chinese vice premier met virtually on Friday to discuss the details. During that meeting the Chinese official reportedly argued to have U.S. tariffs and sanctions removed. The U.S. said it raised concerns over Chinese trade practices seen as harmful to American workers.

China is demanding answers from the U.S. about an incident involving a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine in the South China Sea last week. CNN Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann has more on the rising tensions between the two countries.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: What's important about this story is not only the accident with a nuclear powered submarine but also the context in which it happens.

On Saturday, the U.S.S. Connecticut, a Seawolf class nuclear powered submarine, was operating in the South China Sea, when it hit an underwater object. It's unclear at this time what that object is. There were a number of sailors injured; though none were life- threatening injuries.

The sub was able to make its way to Guam, where it will undergo repairs and an investigation as to what happens and what went wrong. The key is where this happened.

The U.S. specifically simply said it happened in international waters of the Indo-Pacific region. But we've learned from Defense officials that it happened in the South China Sea. The U.S. says that's international waters, mostly under international

law. But China claims most of the South China Sea as its sovereign territorial waters. And that's where the friction comes in, in this disputed piece of water.

And it's not just that there was a submarine there. There's also the U.S., the U.K. and other nations, doing what is essentially a multinational show of force against China, led by the U.K.'s Carrier Strike Group 21. They were just operating around the South China Sea as well.

It's a show of force against China, as we see more aggressive actions from the Chinese against Taiwan. We saw, not only on the day of the accident, when the Chinese flew more than 30 military aircraft into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone, but also a couple of days later, when they flew more than 50 aircraft into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone.

In fact, earlier this week, the Taiwanese defense minister said that China could try to make a move on taking over Taiwan by 2025, even though they would have to pay a price to do so.

And that's also part of the friction around Beijing-Washington relations. National security adviser Jake Sullivan just met with a high ranking Chinese official, trying to set up a virtual meeting between President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping.


LIEBERMANN: Even if that was successful, to ensure stability, there is still this underlying tension around Taiwan and the South China Sea -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, at the Pentagon.


BRUNHUBER: After days of China's flexing its military muscle against Taiwan and ratcheting up tensions across the region, the Chinese president says China is committed to peaceful reunification with Taiwan.

Taipei rejected the overture but Xi Jinping said he views reunification with Taiwan as inevitable and said supporters of independence are on the wrong side of history. President Xi made the remarks in a speech commemorating the Chinese revolution of 1911, celebrating the birth of modern China. CNN's Ivan Watson joins us more from Hong Kong on President Xi's speech.

Ivan, what struck you the most about what he said?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think the tone and much of the message has been part of Beijing's position for generations, which is that it believes Taiwan to be a breakaway region of its own territory.

It denies it any sovereignty and insists that it must be reunited under Beijing's rule. Even though there was no time when the Communist Party was in power in Beijing, that it actually controlled Taiwan.

He was saying this is inevitable. It's going to happen. And he proposed doing it under the "One Country, Two Systems" formula, which was applied to Hong Kong, when it was handed over to Britain to Chinese rule, with an agreement that Hong Kong would enjoy autonomy and democratic freedoms for 50 years under international treaties.

I think Hong Kong would argue that that agreement was ripped up over the course of the last 1.5 years, when Beijing pushed for the crushing of organized political opposition and free press, in the city, over the course of the last year.

Xi Jinping also had a stark warning for foreign supporters of Taiwan, saying that they are basically messing with China's internal matters and they need to respect China's territorial integrity and national security issues -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right.

So what's been the response from Taiwan then?

WATSON: Well, this message from Xi Jinping, the speech came on the eve of Taiwan's own national day holiday, which, of course, is something that Beijing does not recognize.

Taiwan's president's office put out a statement saying that public opinion there rejects the "One Country, Two Systems" formula, using the crackdown in Hong Kong over the last year, as an example for why and insisting that Taiwan defend its own democracy and freedom.

There's another statement that came from the Taiwan mainland affairs council that said, quote, "The future of the island rests in the hands of its population of 23 million people," and urged Beijing to avoid a policy of "intrusion, harassment and destruction" and to focus instead on "peace, parity, democracy and dialogue."

So the disagreement on both sides of the Taiwan Strait continues. Taiwan with its population of 23 million people and system of democratic governance; China, a behemoth of 1.4 billion people, where dissent is very promptly and quickly crushed. And censorship is part of the way the country is governed-- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Thanks so much. Ivan Watson in Hong Kong.

Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, defying Congress; a Trump ally is refusing to cooperate with the committee investigating the Capitol insurrection. We'll have the panel's response after the break.

Plus, a suicide bomb tears through a mosque, killing scores of people, raising even more doubts about the future of Afghanistan.



[05:15:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)

BRUNHUBER: There are new developments in the investigation into the Capitol insurrection. U.S. President Joe Biden has denied Donald Trump's request to shield documents from a House committee investigating the January 6th riot.

The former president has written his own letter to the National Archives in attempts to keep dozens of documents under wraps. And one Trump ally is refusing to cooperate. Sara Murray explains.


SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Steve Bannon defying a subpoena from the January 6 Committee, answering a call from Donald Trump who's urging ally to derail congressional investigators.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: The anxiety, the hand-wringing, the pearl-clutching is the Democratic Party's fear of the return of Trump. That's all these committees are. That's what they're trying to.

MURRAY: A day after the subpoena deadline for Bannon, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former Trump aide Dan Scavino and Kash Patel, former chief of staff to acting defense secretary of at the time, the House committee says some of the men have been responsive.

While Mr. Meadows and Mr. Patel are so far engaging with the Select Committee, Mr. Bannon has indicated he will try to hide behind privileges of the former president, according to a statement, adding, "They must accept Trump's direction and honor his invocation of executive privilege."

Trump has publicly slammed inquiries into January 6th, comparing it to the earlier Russia investigation.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats they made it up, it was a hoax and now they're doing it again with the January 6. OK, they're doing it again.

MURRAY (voice-over): And on Thursday, a lawyer for the former president instructed subpoena targets not to comply with congressional requests.

According to the letters from Trump's attorney obtained by CNN, Scavino, Patel and Meadows were instructed to withhold documents and testimony concerning their official duties. Bannon was instructed to withhold anything concerning privilege material.

Democrats are fighting back. The White House today telling the National Archives to share relevant documents with the committee and refusing to assert privilege.

[05:20:00] MURRAY (voice-over): And the January 6 committee said they will enforce their subpoenas even if that means holding witnesses like Bannon in criminal contempt.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Ultimately, our goal is compliance here. Our goal is to get to the truth and to produce a report that tells the American public exactly what happened on January 5th and January 6th and the events leading up to that.

MURRAY (voice-over): And while legal experts say Bannon's privilege claims are unlikely to succeed, particularly since he's a private citizen, who was fired from his White House role in 2017, subpoena fights can take time, maybe more time than the committee has.

MURRAY: And we are hearing now from the former president about that document fight with the National Archives. He said he's going to try to exert executive privilege over a handful of documents that the Biden White House was prepared to hand over to a congressional committee.

So another court fight could be ahead -- Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: Officials say the United States and Mexico have worked out the framework on a new security agreement. It would replace an old pact to fight drug trafficking and organized crime.

U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken says the updated plan aims to tackle the root causes of security concerns. The countries plan to invest in public health and address the impact of drug use. The deal would target smuggling, human trafficking and arms trafficking across the border. It would also pursue criminal networks and how they are financed.

A U.S. delegation is set to meet with senior Taliban representatives in Doha this weekend. It will be the first meeting of its kind since the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of August. U.S. officials say they'll focus on safe passage out of the country for Afghans, Americans and other foreign nationals.

A State Department official says the U.S. also intends to push the Taliban to, quote, "respect the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls."

At least 46 people are dead after a third explosion in Afghanistan this week. The suicide blast tore through a Shia mosque in the city of Kunduz. More than 140 others were injured.

ISIS-K later claimed responsibility, saying a suicide bomber blew himself up in the crowd of worshippers. CNN's Clarissa Ward looks at what the growing violence means for the Taliban as they try to rule the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Taliban's whole appeal to people here is the promise that they can provide security. After decades of war, they have, essentially, put themselves on a platform to say, we are the ones who can bring about an end to the fighting.

So when you have these sorts of terror attacks, the likes of which we've seen, over just the past few days, hitting soft targets, mosques, innocent people, the bombing today in Kunduz attacking a Shiite mosque, that is exactly the sort of ugly, sectarian violence that Afghans have become all too accustomed too but are also deeply sick of.

And so can the Taliban get a grip on the situation?

Can they try to contain the threat, posed by ISIS-K?

We have just seen that ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for this attack and one can only assume they will continue to try to hit these soft targets.

The Taliban spent years being an insurgency; now they're the ones in charge and they're having to grapple with an insurgency. And they see for themselves it presents a number of challenges.


BRUNHUBER: A mysterious syndrome that is sickening diplomats and spies has been given legal recognition by the U.S. president. Joe Biden signed an act, giving victims of the so-called Havana syndrome, better access to medical care.

It is not known what the cause of this condition is, which has sometimes resulted in brain trauma. One theory has blamed Russia, suggesting it could be directing microwave energy from devices but that remains unproven. The White House press secretary saying, a major investigation, is underway.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We, of course, are determined to get to the bottom as quickly as possible of the attribution and cause, of these incidents. The intelligence community in the lead on that.

They launched a large-scale investigation into the potential causes. They're actively examining a range of hypotheses but they have not made a determination about the cause of these incidents or who is responsible.


Cases have been reported by the U.S. at numerous locations around the globe, including last month, when an intelligence officer showed symptoms on a trip to India. The list dates back to 2016, where the first case of the syndrome was reported at the U.S. embassy in Havana. In some parts of the world, the Delta-driven COVID surge shows some

signs of easing but not in Romania, where some of the lowest vaccination numbers in the E.U., hospitals and health care workers are struggling to keep up with the rising number of cases.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Like a war. That is how the staff in one hospital in Romania described conditions, as they treat the surge of COVID-19 patients, overwhelming the country's health care system.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Who can remember how many?

In the hundreds. Last night, we had 20 ambulances waiting outside and we had nowhere to put them. And this was the solution.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): A makeshift tent is set up outside the main entrance, where exhausted workers treat the sick. There aren't enough ICU beds inside or anywhere in the country, the government said earlier this week.

Some spaces only opening up, when someone dies. This man is one of the lucky ones. He's been in the hospital for nearly a month, saying, he's recovered from the virus. The manager at this hospital says over 90 percent of the COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

GEORGICA VIERU, ORTHODOX PRIEST AND COVID-19 PATIENT (through translator): It is a terrible disease. I was one of those who thought the vaccine was not good. But I'm telling you now that it was a mistake on my part, an awful choice.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Romania has the second lowest vaccination rate in the European Union with less than a third of the population fully vaccinated. It recently tightened its virus restrictions after the number of new COVID-19 restrictions, sharply, increased over the past month.

The country's president calling the situation a catastrophe. The manager of one hospital, with patients lining the hallways, says he believes the whole system is near its breaking point.

CATALIN APOSTOLESCU, MANAGER, MATEI BALS HOSPITAL (through translator): We are right at the point of collapse. If the situation goes on like this, in one or two days tops, the health care system will succumb because we already don't have the space for the patients who require hospitalization.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): The country is looking to neighbors like Hungary to divert some cases and ease the strain. But with so many unvaccinated citizens in Romania there could be no break in sight for these weary health care workers.


BRUNHUBER: Prices for some everyday goods are soaring and it's because of a massive global shipping backup.

Why are these full containers sitting idle off the coast of California?

We'll have the answers coming up.

Plus, almost four weeks and counting, that the search for Brian Laundrie has turned up nothing so far. Police say why they focused on this nature reserve in the first place. Stay with us.





And welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

Holiday gift orders could take longer to reach your door this year because of massive supply chain disruptions. Problems from the pandemic have slowed shipping across the world. And now dozens of cargo ships packed with goods are just sitting off the coast of California, waiting to be unloaded. CNN's Kyung Lah has the story.


COMMANDER STEPHEN BOR, U.S. COAST GUARD: This is where we've got a second clear passage.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To understand the problem on the ground, you first need to see it from the air.

BOR: We're flying right over the anchorages just south of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

LAH (voice-over): This is where the global supply chain meets the U.S. economy, says Coast Guard Commander Stephen Bor.

BOR: It's record breaking. It's unprecedented. There are more ships than there are parking spots. We are effectively operating a cell phone waiting lot in the Pacific Ocean.

LAH (voice-over): This bottleneck of container ships, as far as the eye can see, carries more than half the made in Asia items purchased by the American consumer.

BOR: You're looking at all of the electronics. You're looking at all of the hauled goods. You're looking at all of the things that people are looking forward to buy this coming holiday season.

LAH (voice-over): Zero ships usually stay parked here, but on this day, Commander Bor counts 55 in the ports and more drifting further out into the Pacific.

While worst here, the back-up at all West Coast U.S. ports.

LAH: What does that indicate to you about what's happening in the supply chain?

BOR: You know, I think everybody can see that things are slowing down.

LAH (voice-over): Slowing down and piling up at sea and at the ports of entry. This is what happens when a global economy snaps back after the COVID slump of 2020. American consumers are back, buying with force, but the supply chain is struggling to catch up.

MARIO CORDERO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE PORT OF LONG BEACH: We need to have an Amazon state of mind in this industry and by that I mean Amazon changed everything.

LAH (voice-over): While shoppers click 24 hours a day, factories in Asia are still stopping due to COVID. Then in the U.S., national labor shortages and limited work hours. The Port of Long Beach is just now experimenting with around the clock operations.

CORDERO: What this is, is a wake-up call for all of us in this industry to realize you can't operate with the model of yesterday.

LAH (voice-over): The goal: cut the wait time for truck drivers, the next link of the supply chain, moving containers out of the port.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, some days there are five, six hours in the harbor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to wait like six hours.

LAH: Six hours?


RUBEN PONCE, TRUCK DRIVER: I was in there for nine hours.

LAH (voice-over): Nine hours Ruben Ponce lost that he could have been moving merchandise.

PONCE: And then I'm making less money, yes, because I can't do as many rounds.

LAH (voice-over): National data shows there is a truck driver shortage. But Ponce says the problem is even more basic than that.

PONCE: So now the port is backed up; us, we're backed up; the truckers, we're backed up; everyone's backed up. And it's just a big problem.

LAH: So it's like a chain reaction.

PONCE: Exactly. Exactly.

LAH (voice-over): Delayed trucks means delays at warehouses, like Canton Food Company in Los Angeles.

CHO KWAN, CEO OF CANTON FOOD COMPANY: I have about eight containers out in the harbor somewhere, are from China and Vietnam.

LAH: Filled with food.

KWAN: Still just waiting.

LAH (voice-over): That means, for this warehouse, empty shelves, with no date to fill them. Basic economics are at play; scarcity drives up prices.

LAH: So it's almost doubled in price.

KWAN: I would say maybe at least 70 percent.

RICARDO MOSQUEDA, RESTAURANT OWNER: The one with cheese is ready.

LAH (voice-over): Prices for ingredients, restaurant owner Ricardo Mosqueda has to pay.

MOSQUEDA: All those different products that you have to substitute, you have to change, now 30 percent more or 50 percent more, 100 percent more.

LAH (voice-over): This La Taqueria brand location operates in a renovated shipping container.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

LAH (voice-over): The supplies Mosqueda needs sit out at sea, in the same metal bins, a cruel irony after barely keeping his restaurant open through the pandemic.

MOSQUEDA: We -- we worry, as far as -- because you don't know what's going to happen. Right? You don't know what's next.

LAH: How long are these ships going to be floating out here?

BOR: I really can't say how long they're going to be like this. I think we're all going to wait and see how long this shakes out.




BRUNHUBER: Professor Chris Tang is the senior associate dean of global initiatives and faculty director at UCLA's Anderson Center for Global Management. He joins me from Los Angeles.

Thank you so much for being here. You know, shortages of lumber, computer chips, paper, higher prices on everything from cars to gas, which is at a seven-year high now, it's really creating a nightmare for consumers right now, many of whom still haven't recovered economically from the pandemic.

So all of these shortages and price increases, why are we experiencing all of this right now?


I think this is the first time we've really experienced a perfect storm. That's formed by four different events, there's a demand surge. There's a supply in capability shortages and there is there's transportation problems and also labor shortages.



TANG: For the demands, actually, you can see, because of COVID, we actually published this, and now actually, the (INAUDIBLE) and yet the supply was not able to catch up.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, you know, the way this is being framed right now, you know, you look on local news. It's buy your Christmas presents now because there's shortages and so on. You talk about this perfect storm. You add back to school, Halloween, year end holiday buying, all of this stuff, it's really creating problems for people.

You know, not just buying presents and stuff but essentials. In the U.K., we saw one in six adults haven't been able to buy essential food items in the last two weeks. I don't want to create a run on toilet paper here.

But is that the type of thing we're going to go through again?

How bad is this going to get before it gets better?

TANG: Well, I think a lot of people are getting a little panicky. But I think this is a short-term problem. Because of the holiday seasons and a lot of retailers last year, during COVID-19, because they have just in time inventory.

Then they realized they don't have enough. They learned from experience. Now, they tried to plan according to just in case. So they are also stocking up.

Consumers stocking up. So there was a demand surge but after the holiday season, the demand will go back to normal. We cannot continue to stock up our toilet paper forever, right?

So I think we just need to hang in there. I think after the holiday season, things will go back to normal.

BRUNHUBER: But there seems to be this discrepancy. Because overall, the U.S. economy is recovering from COVID faster than many people imagined. I believe the total size of the U.S. economy is slightly bigger than before COVID. But the U.S. jobs numbers this week were weak. The take-home pay is

lower than it was in December 2019.

Is that why we don't feel as if things are booming right now?

TANG: Well, there are many things that have happened all at once, I think besides the COVID really affecting all of us and we're still not quite comfortable to travel. And also, we're also not so sure about this future.

Would there be another way of pandemic coming, will there be another variant coming?

So we're still not sure about the future therefore, we don't feel secure right now. I think we just have to learn to cope with this.

BRUNHUBER: You mentioned travel, certainly travel, hospitality, those are sectors that still really haven't bounced back. So here in the U.S., you know, inflation is at the highest it's been in decades. The White House is defending its action on this issue. This is the press secretary yesterday. Let's listen to this.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: One of the biggest issues in the global supply chain is also COVID and the fact that COVID continues to be a threat to supply chains that are happening globally.

So we've also worked to be by far and away the largest providers of vaccines, knowhow, manufacturing capacity to the world. So we've not only been talking about this since January, we've been working to put in place a range of steps to help address the challenges in the supply chain.


BRUNHUBER: So what can they do?

Have they been doing enough here?

TANG: Well, I think since Biden came into the administration, he's trying to make changes. So there is a review about the supply chain but these things take time.

After we have given up the manufacturing sector for the last 30 years, it's time for us to rethink about the supply chain, to what extent the United States needs to manufacture certain types of products. And other products can be imported.

So I think that they're still going through the process. But getting back to the manufacturing sectors, it will take years.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Well, hopefully things will improve, at least for consumers.

[05:40:00] BRUNHUBER: You say the message is hang on, things will eventually get better. Thank you so much for being with us, Professor Chris Tang, really appreciate it.

TANG: Thank you.


BRUNHUBER: U.S. President Joe Biden is cancelling more Trump-era contracts to build a wall on the border with Mexico. The latest cancellations cover about 44 miles in the Rio Grande and Laredo sectors.

Biden has been chipping away at the contracts since taking office. Building the wall was a key and controversial goal of Trump's presidency.

And President Biden has signed document to raise the U.S. refugee cap; 125,000 refugees will be allowed in the U.S. in fiscal year 2022, which began at the start of the month. And that doubles the previous cap.

Police in Florida are still empty-handed almost four weeks into the search for Brian Laundrie.

Why didn't investigators question him, even though they kept an eye on him, before his disappearance?

That's ahead.

Plus, speaking truth to power, a closer look at two journalists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: A pipeline that's been spilling oil and fouling beaches off Southern California could have been damaged as much as a year ago.

That word from investigators. Officials suspect the pipeline was dragged more than 100 feet by a ship's anchor, eventually causing a crack and the leak. They're now checking ship movements over the past year. More than 3,700 barrels of crude have spilled into the Pacific.

In Florida, the frustrating search for Brian Laundrie is nearing its fourth week. And police have little to show for their efforts. They've been looking in a nature reserve near his family home but only on the word of his parents. And a family lawyer now says they don't plan to help the search anymore. Athena Jones reports.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the search for Gabby Petito's fiance, Brian Laundrie, approaches its fourth week, no police activity visible today at the Carlton Nature Reserve where Laundrie's parents believe he went before disappearing.

Meanwhile, new details emerging about the period after Laundrie returned home in Petito's white van without Petito on September 1st and before Laundrie left his parents' home on September 13th telling them he was headed to the 25,000 acre reserve.

North Port Florida Police now revealing they were watching Laundrie before he left but were limited in what they could do because he had not been charged with a crime.


JOSH TAYLOR, SPOKESPERSON, NORTH PORT POLICE DEPT.: If you talk to a lot of people who have experience in law enforcement, the guy goes for a walk in the Carlton Reserve. He's not wanted for a crime.

I mean, what are we supposed to do?

We're going to go tree to tree following him back through the woods?

I mean, it just wasn't there with the information we had in this case.


JONES (voice-over): Petito's remains were found in Wyoming on September 19th, the coroner ruling it a homicide. Police say they never spoke with Laundrie before he left the home he and Petito shared with his parents. They did not see or speak with him during their visit on September 11th, the day Petito's parents reported her missing.

Authorities visited the home again on September 17, when Laundrie's parents reported him missing but refuse to answer questions about Petito's whereabouts, behavior police described as odd.

Police did not see or speak with Brian during that visit. Police also confirming they do not have the cell phones Laundrie or Petito used during their cross country trip.

CNN previously reported Laundrie bought a new cell phone from an AT&T store in North Port on September 4th and they left it behind on September 13th.

Laundrie has not been charged in connection with Petito's death but he is suspected of using a debit card Petito's family says belonged to her to access over $1,000 after her death. A federal warrant has been issued for his arrest.

In an interview with Fox News that aired Thursday, Petito's family pleading with Laundrie to turn himself in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People want to know how I'm feeling and that's -- I'm feeling -- I'm upset. I want to -- just turn yourself in. That's all I wanted. It's just getting more and more frustrating as days go on.


JONES: The Laundrie family tell CNN they are hopeful Brian is still alive. Petito's family calls Brian the missing piece of the puzzle. They believe he has all the answers to what happened to Gabby Petito -- Athena Jones, CNN, New York.


BRUNHUBER: From persecution to prosecution, the difficulties two journalists have overcome just to tell you the truth. Now they've been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. We'll bring you their stories next. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: A pair of journalists winning this year's Nobel Peace Prize, Maria Ressa from the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov from Russia. Muratov is editor-in-chief of the independent Russian newspaper, "Novaya Gazeta." He dedicated the peace prize to six fellow Russian journalists, who, he says, gave their lives for journalism.

After winning, Muratov speculated how election officials might try to discredit the honor.


DMITRY MURATOV, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "NOVAYA GAZETA" (through translator): Whether we will be declared as foreign agents, after having received a Nobel Prize, I was not given a clear answer to that.

But if yes, it will read as follows on "Novaya Gazeta" website.

"This message was created by the foreign agent and the Nobel Prize winner."


BRUNHUBER: In fact, Russia labeled nine people and three groups as, quote, "foreign agents" just hours after the Nobel announcement. Muratov was not among them but eight others were. Foreign agents in Russia are required to provide detailed financial reports and put warnings on their content.

One of the organizations is Bellingcat, an investigative news site that has worked with CNN in the past.

The group tweeted this, "The goal of designate Bellingcat is likely an attempt to limit the opportunities of Russian media to cite our investigations and circulate our findings to their audiences, further lighting freedom of the press in Russia."

More now on the other Nobel winner. Maria Ressa. She worked here at CNN for 15 years before starting her own digital media company. Will Ripley has more on her fight.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For award-winning journalist Maria Ressa, who has been in the media industry for almost 35 years, being the story was never part of her remit.

But hauled through the Philippines' justice system, accused of libel, alleged tax offenses and violation of foreign ownership rules in media, Ressa has made headlines around the world.

BERIT REISS-ANDERSEN, NORWEGIAN NOBEL COMMITTEE CHAIR: Ms. Ressa and Mr. Muratov are receiving the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and in Russia.

RIPLEY: No headline will be more widely reported or more vindicating for Ressa than Friday's announcement, that she had won this year's Nobel Peace Prize, sharing the award with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov. Representatives for the fight for press freedom everywhere.

MARIA RESSA, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE: Journalists will keep doing those stories and that's what I hope, that's what I hope will give us more power to do this.

RIPLEY: Last year, a judge in the Philippines found the veteran journalist and her former colleague, Reynaldo Santos, who wrote a story guilty of cyber libel. It followed the publication of an article in 2012 on her online news website "Rappler" about a top level judge with links to a business man with an allegedly shady past.

The article was published two years before new libel laws were enacted. Authorities initially dismissed the case but then president Rodrigo Duterte came to power.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The arrest warrant.

RIPLEY: He took exception to Ressa and her company's scrutiny and coverage of his war on drugs where thousands of extra judicial killings took place.


RIPLEY (voice-over): In frequent media attacks, he even went so far as to say that journalists were not exempt from assassination if they did something wrong.

Suddenly, Ressa was facing 11 criminal cases from cyber libel to tax evasion, an attempt Ressa believes to scare and silence her.

The former CNN bureau chief and "Time" Person of the Year for 2018 said she was devastated by what she's always said were trumped-up charges. But Ressa has continued to inspire her colleagues not to give in.

RESSA: I appeal to you, the journalists in this room, the Filipinos who are listening, to protect your rights. We are meant to be a cautionary tale. We are meant to make you afraid, right?

So I appeal again, don't be afraid.

RIPLEY: High-profile human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has represented Ressa as part of her international legal team fighting what she has called a sinister attempt to silence the journalist for exposing corruption and abuse.

Ressa, out on bail as she wins her Nobel Peace Prize, has proven she will not be silenced -- Will Ripley, CNN.


BRUNHUBER: Congratulations to those winners.

And that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. For our international viewers, "EXPO 2020" is next. For those in U.S. and Canada, "NEW DAY WEEKEND" is coming up.