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Problems Mount Amid Democratic Stalemate on Biden's Agenda; Tensions Escalate Between Taiwan and Mainland China; Texas Group Persuades Vaccine Skeptics to Get First Dose; Rapidly Advancing Lava Forces Hundreds to Evacuate; England-Hungary Match Marred Crowd Violence. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 13, 2021 - 04:30   ET




ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, everyone. I'm Isa Soares. If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date with our top stories this hour.

Officials have declared Gabby Petito's death a homicide by strangulation. Authorities are still searching for her fiancee Brian Laundrie.

And Americans are quitting job at a record rate. 4.3 million people left their jobs in August, that's according to the Labor Department, is the highest rate since late 2000.

Now, the U.S. House gave final approval to a measure that temporarily raises the nation's debt limit. The vote came down along party lines with Republicans voting no. They think Democrats should take sole responsibility for raising the debt limit. The Democrats argue more money is needed to pay for the Trump administration's tax cuts as well as spending programs. The short-term fix will end in December, teeing up another fight to avoid a potential financial crisis.

Well, the nation's debt limit is just one of the many mounting issues facing President Joe Biden. From the pandemic to rising gas prices as well as supply chain disruptions. But perhaps most frustrating is Democratic stalemate over his domestic agenda, and here's how the White House is handling all of this. Take a listen.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We don't get too glum around here. Even if things look challenging, our view and his view is that he was elected to continue to press forward and address the challenges the American people are facing.


SOARES: Well, and Democrats will now have to decide how to address key priorities as they try to shrink the size of a social policy bill amid opposition from some inside the party. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed her disappointment and said important decisions will have to be made in the next few days.



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: I'm very disappointed that we're not going with the original $3.5 trillion which was very transformative. Well, let me just say that $3.5 trillion, we were doing everything well. So, not a question of now we're doing it well because it's less money. But the fact is that if there is fewer dollars to spend, there are choices to be made.


SOARES: Well, CNN political commentator Van Jones said there is still time for Mr. Biden and the Democrats to get back on the right track.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He's doing a lot of good stuff. The problem is that he put himself in a position where he made big bold claims about the rest of the agenda. You think this great stuff that we did is good? It's nothing. Wait until the summer when you're going to get all this other stuff. Then he steps on a rake, then he slips on a banana peel and then he falls downstairs with some marbles and now people are looking at him in a negative light.

Now, can they recover? Yes, they can recover. If this time next year if gas prices have come down, if cases are going down, jobs going up, you're going to be in a different situation. But right now, the Democratic Party is looking over the edge of a cliff and there's a lot of fear and concern. You're not seeing that strong Joe Biden leadership I think people were expecting to get stuff done.


SOARES: Thanks to Van Jones putting it into context for us. Well meantime, House Democrats are pressing ahead with their investigation into the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The January 6th committee says it will see criminal charges against Trump allies who evade their subpoenas and try to drag out the process. Democrats want it done before next year's midterm elections when they risk losing control of Congress. Take a listen.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We're not messing around. If people don't show up, if people don't provide the documents they're compelled to, we intend to take up criminal contempt and defer to the Justice Department and we expect that it will be prosecuted. That unlike the last administration, no one is above the law and so we intend to move quickly.


SOARES: Now, mainland China says military exercises in the Taiwan Strait are necessary to, quote, defend national sovereignty. These come amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Taipei and hours after Pentagon called the mainland's actions toward Taiwan destabilizing.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We do remain concerned by the PRC's provocative military activity. We are urging Beijing to cease this military diplomatic and economic pressure and the coercion against Taiwan. We have an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and that's why we're going to continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining sufficient self-defense capability.


SOARES: Well, CNN's Will Ripley is following developments and has more on the strained relations between mainland China and Taiwan.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Forceful words from the head of the world's largest one-party state. China's president saying a reunification of China and Taiwan, quote, will definitely be achieved. Taiwan's president firing back, pledging not to bow to pressure. This as the island shows its military might days after Taiwan's defense ministry said nearly 150 Chinese war planes flew over four days in its air defense zone.

Tensions between the two governments may be reaching a boiling point, but they've been brewing for decades. In a complex relationship that began with war. In 1949, the previous Chinese government fled to Taiwan after a brutal civil war with the communists. Those communists set up what is now the People's Republic of China. Both sides claim they were the true authority of the island.

Then came decades of hostility. With no travel, trade, or even communication between the two sides. In the 1990s, relations between Beijing and Taipei began to thaw. Authorities put aside the issue of sovereignty in favor of more economic and cultural cooperation. Still, China insisted Taiwan was a breakaway province that must eventually be reunited with the mainland, even if that means by force.

In Taiwan, two parties began to form. One that was more aligned with the People's Republic of China. Another in favor of complete independence. In 2016, the pro-independence party nominee Tsai Ing-wen was elected president of Taiwan. Since then, relations started to deteriorate again. China started using its massive economic power against the much smaller democratic island of about 24 million people.

In 2018 they pressured international companies to consider Taiwan part of China and threatened to crackdown on the business of anyone that didn't comply. Meanwhile, the U.S. which has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan showed commitment to the island's defense, and to preserving peace in the western Pacific.

[04:40:00] That has been incensing Beijing which believes Taiwan has no right to its own diplomacy.

In the past China had stopped short of a full-scale military invasion, but every Chinese leader since the current government's founder Mao Zedong, has vowed to take control of Taiwan. Now, with China's President Xi Jinping renewing his vows to bring the two together. Taiwan's fate hangs in the balance.

Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


SOARES: Now, the U.S. is set to ease some of its COVID travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico. Starting early next month fully vaccinated travelers will be allowed to cross U.S. land borders for nonessential visits. By January, vaccinations will be required for all visitors, even for essential travel.

Now I want to take you to Texas where the governor has banned vaccine mandates. But despite that institutional obstacle, a group there is managing to win over some vaccine skeptics. CNN's Miguel Marquez has the story for you.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ceferino Cantu (ph) considered getting vaccinated for months. Finally, he is taking the plunge. Now, more worried about the virus than vaccine side effects.

The coronavirus is more dangerous, he says, because it can affect everything, even your mental capacity.

The 63-year-old retired laborer is diabetic, has high blood pressure, and no health insurance. Getting the shot in his arm? Not easy.

SYLVIA AGUILAR, EL MILAGRO CLINIC, ELIGIBILITY COORDINATOR: He would always tell me I'll be back. I'll come back. I'm not ready.

MARQUEZ: And this was over how long?

AGUILAR: I guess, about -- I talked to him about three, four months ago.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): A familiar problem here at McAllen's El Milagro Clinic, vaccinating those needing it most. HHS estimates about half the unvaccinated are willing to get it, like 55-year-old horse-race trainer Juan Manuel Salinas.

I wanted to see the reaction of other people before I got it, he says. If they were OK, then I'd do it, too. He was tough to convince, and his daughter works at the clinic.

BREE SALINAS, EL MILAGRO CLINIC, FINANCIAL MANAGER: He had all the resource. I was like do you need me to go pick you up. We do it for free here at the clinic. He's like yeah, I'll go, I'll go.

MARQUEZ: And he never did?

SALINAS: Never did.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Her long effort finally paying off, and hope for more success ahead. The El Milagro Clinic is now getting help from Project Finish Line.

JOE AGOADA, FOUNDER PROJECT FINISH LINE AND CEO, SOSTENTO INC.: What we hope to achieve is to get vaccine access to those that may be on the fence. I call them the unvaccinated but willing.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Project Finish Line now working with free and charitable clinics, like El Milagro, in 16 states providing money for pop-up vaccinations in rural places like Eunice, Texas. Phone lines for community outreach, even helping organize free rides provided by Uber.

AGOADA: We hear individuals who take the bus to and from work every day and they cannot take a day off from work so they really need help with actually that transportation barrier.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): He says transportation, translation, and a trusted source of vaccine information are the biggest barriers. Above all, persistence and lots of patience for those on the frontline.

MARISOL RESENDEZ, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EL MILAGRO CLINIC: It gets to the point that staff thinks that they're sounding like a broken record. They will come around. There's a lot of people that are willing, just don't have the tools, the information, and the resources.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Miguel Marquez, CNN, McAllen, Texas.


SOARES: Still ahead right here on the show, it seems like one threat after another for people in La Palma. Now three rivers of lava are endangering lives there. We'll have the latest in a live report next. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.



SOARES: It is daybreak now in Spain, and they may allow officials to assess the lava damage in the Canary Islands. You can see there thousands of people in La Palma are wondering if and when they'll be able to return home. Authorities are now tracking three main lava flows from the volcano, one of which is moving quickly toward the Atlantic Ocean. If molten lava, of course, reaches the sea, that creates the danger of chemical reactions and toxic gas. Lava is also advancing on a neighborhood, forcing hundreds more evacuations.

Al Goodman joins me now from Madrid. And Al, you and I have gone from speaking just yesterday about lockdown to now evacuation. Paint us a picture of what you're hearing in La Palma.

AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: Hi, Isa. It's the northern flow of the lava that's causing the problems right now. It's running the most fluid, it's the hottest. That's what prompted the evacuation order for 700 to 800 people on Tuesday afternoon. Authorities said for them to leave their homes, take their pets, take their property deeds, but leave. That brings to 6,700 people who have been evacuated since the eruptions began three weeks ago here on the island. And that's on an island of 80,000 people.

It's the northern flow of lava that also caused that fire at the cement factory on Monday that prompted a lockdown of 3,000 people for about a day. When that was lifted, the evacuation order came in. The authorities trying to stay a step ahead of the lava on this island that's accustomed to these volcanos. And so far, there have been no reported deaths or serious injuries on La Palma, which is one of the smaller of Spain's Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Here in Madrid, the Spanish government has earmarked and approved already about $260 million in aid to rebuild La Palma, homes, businesses, highways, but none of that can get going, Isa, until the eruption stops and the lava stops flowing -- Isa.

SOARES: And that we just don't know how long it will last. It's been going three weeks. So, I know you keep us on top of that. Al Goodman for us in Madrid. Thanks very much, Al, good to see you.

Still to come right here on the show, South Korea's "Squid Game " is taking the world by storm, becoming the biggest ever series launched for Netflix. Hear what the company is saying about the show's success. That is next.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Today's top shot is this beauty, the Aurora Borealis. But the northern lights aren't so northern this week. That's thanks to a geomagnetic storm that's capturing the Auroras much further south than usual. These pictures are from St. Paul, Canada, that millions more people around the world will have a chance to see the light show. Officials in the U.K. say it's possible to see the phenomenon really across most of Scotland and possibly northern England and Northern Ireland -- clouds permitting, of course. In North America, the Aurora was spotted as far south as New York state, North Dakota, and Washington state. Look at that, just really beautiful. And if you haven't seen the lights yet, don't worry, you'll have another chance to catch them later today. Really stunning.

Now, England's men's football team is now one step closer to next year's football club. But the match was tarnished by fans clashing with riot police in the stands. World Sport's Patrick Snell has our minute in sports -- Patrick.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Isa, we thank you. And we're going to start with the fallout from those ugly scenes playing out at two World Cup qualifiers Tuesday night. The crowd trampled a man at the England/Hungary game at Wembley. This ahead of kickoff, some among the visiting support booing as the England players taking the lead and protest racial injustice. Hungary supporters then clashing with stewards and police with one fan arresting for a racially aggravated offense there.

And meantime, really concerning scenes, too, the Albania, Poland Group, I qualify, which at one point had to be stopped due to the crowd trouble in Tirana last night after Poland had taken the lead. Albanian fans threw water bottles onto the field of play aimed at the Polish players. Match was suspended for around 20 minutes before resuming, 1-0 Poland.

Here in the U.S. fans of the Houston Astros have come to shout about after their team book their spots in the American League championship series, a fifth straight season, too, after a huge win over the Chicago White Sox 10-1.

In Atlanta, meantime, Freddie Freeman, the hero of the Atlanta Braves with a solo homerun to break the 4-4 tie. But with the A's against Milwaukee, the Braves win it 5-4, advancing to the National League championship series for a second straight season. Isa, with that, right back to you.

SOARES: Thank you very much.

Now, move over, "Bridgeton," "Tiger King" and one of my favorites, "Queens Gambit," South Korea's "Squid Game" is now officially the biggest series launch ever for Netflix. The streaming service says more than 110 million subscribers have watched the survival drama since its debut last month. The nine-episode series is number one on Netflix bringing top 10 lists in 94 countries. And Netflix says the series success shows there is a global market for foreign language production.


MINYOUNG KIM, VP OF CONTENT FOR ASIA-PACIFIC, Netflix: So, we have 205 million members globally, which means this 111 million more than half of our subscribers globally have loved and enjoyed the "Squid Game." We have slowly realized that a global content doesn't have to be only in English. It can come from anywhere around the world, and we are seeing proof with "Squid Game" that the sky is the limit and a great content and great story can come from anywhere.


SOARES: Well, I haven't watched it. I'll have to really catch it to see what the hype really is all about.

Thank you very much for watching. I'm Isa Soares. Get in touch with me on Twitter @IsaCNN. Tell us what you liked about the show. Tell me if you've watched "Squid Games", what you think of it.

Early start with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett is up next. They'll have much more for us on the global supply chain crunch that we've seen not only in the U.K., but also critically in the United States. How it is impacting the United States and the impact that has of course on the consumer prices and inflation. Do stay right here with CNN. I shall see you tomorrow. Bye-bye.