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Sudan's Prime Minister Under House Arrest; United Kingdom Focuses on Vaccination Drive; A Memorial Offered to Halyna Hutchins; President Biden Not Giving Up on His Agenda; Israel Designating Six Groups as Terrorist Organization; Tens of Millions of Filthy, Used Medical Gloves Imported into the United States; Some Asia-Pacific Countries Reopen Despite Rising Cases; Bad News for Facebook; Massive Storm Blasts Parts of Western United States. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired October 25, 2021 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): A warm welcome to our viewers here in the United States, and all around the world. I'm Paula Newton.
Straight ahead here on CNN Newsroom, COVID vaccines could become available to children ages 5 to 11 when we expect emergency authorization. We'll have more on that.
A CNN exclusive used or substandard PPE being sold by the millions to the U.S. from other countries. What's being done about it?
Plus, the director of the film where a cinematographer was accidentally shot and killed describes the final moments to authorities.
And we begin with breaking news and fast-moving developments out of Sudan where in just the last hour we've learned Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is under house arrest by military forces. The ministry of information also says Hamdok is asking people to turn out in the streets to quote, "defend their revolution."
Developments are already drawing reaction with one special envoy saying from the U.S. saying, they are deeply alarmed by these latest reports.
We get the latest now from CNN's Larry Madowo standing by in Nairobi. And I also understand that we've confirmed that the military has stormed the state broadcaster and is now detaining employees there. What more do we know, Larry?
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's the latest line we just heard, Paula. That the military forces have entered the building that houses the state TV in Sudan as is detaining workers. This would be a precursor in the usual events when coups happen that there is a precursor to an announcement. Again, we do not know what is happening. We are not characterizing
this as a coup or even an attempted coup at this stage. We are reporting what we are seeing right now which is that the Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and some government ministers and the civilian side have been arrested by military forces. And the minister of information is saying that he is calling on the people to occupy the streets to defend the revolution.
There was an attempted coup incident last month, this has led to some conditions and has led to a wide split between the civilian elements and the transitional government and the military. And in recent days we've seen protests on both sides in support of the civilian transition -- the government and also support of the military.
And this now appears to be the latest development in this Democratic transition, Paula, now hanging in the balance in Sudan.
I spoke to Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok the last month a day after that attempted coup and he was almost nonchalant about he says this is -- this comes to the territory. When he took this job, he knew that this might happen. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABDALLA HAMDOK, SUDANESE PRIME MINISTER: The more we are improving some successes. The all forces are extremely nervous. They are always having the dream of coming back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADOWO (on camera): He blamed the attempted coup on forces loyal to the former president, Omar al-Bashir who was ousted after popular protest in 2019. The Sudanese Professional Association this umbrella body that represents labor unions, other smaller organizations have called once again for civil disobedience, asked people to go into the streets to put up roadblocks and to make sure that they are defending the gains that have been presented.
Also, now the prime minister himself according to the information ministry is calling for people to occupy the streets and need to make it clear that there is a split in the government. So, we are hearing statements from the culture ministry from the information ministry and there were likely be statements from other people who are allied to the military transition who are favorable to what is going on right now.
We do know, Paula, that the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, has been in Khartoum meeting with Prime Minister Hamdok meeting with the military leaders. And as recently as yesterday he met with the Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok for the third time in two days.
And he has put out a statement saying he was deeply disturbed by what is alleged military takeover and calling for just a return to their normal order of things that's a return -- that is the flow of a military transition as they're trying -- rather a transition that they are trying to get to a complete civilian rule which is supposed to happen in another year or two.
NEWTON: Yes, it's clear that the United States had already been concerned about the fragility of that transitional government.
Larry, I know you'll bring us more information as soon as you have it. I appreciate it.
Now a potential game-changer in America's fight against COVID-19 could be just days away. FDA advisers will meet Tuesday to discuss whether to approve Pfizer's COVID vaccine for kids as young as five. CDC advisers will weigh in a week later. If both groups give the green light, 28 million children could be eligible for their first shot within the next few weeks.
CNN's Nadia Romero has a closer look at the timeline, and what comes next in this approval process.
NADIA ROMERO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, tomorrow, on Tuesday FDA vaccine advisers will meet with Pfizer to talk about their vaccine to be used on kids who are ages 5 through 11. Now,
Pfizer's last trial, they said they had about 2,300 participants and there was not a single case of myocarditis. It was the inflammation of the heart muscle.
That was a concern previously but Pfizer says right now their latest data shows 90 percent effective, their COVID vaccine for kids of that age group. Listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci talk about a timeline for just how soon kids could get vaccinated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: So, if all goes well and we get the regulatory approval and the recommendation from the CDC, it's entirely possible, if not very likely, that vaccines will be available for children from 5 to 11 within the first week or two of November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMERO (on camera): So, first things first, FDA vaccine advisers must recommend the vaccine for emergency use authorization. Then, it heads to the CDC before it could potentially be found at your pediatrician's office.
Nadia Romero, CNN Atlanta.
NEWTON: Dr. Chris Pernell is an American College of Preventative Medicine fellow. And she joins me now from Short Hills, New Jersey. She is also a public health physician. Good to talk to you and, again, we are filled with questions on minds of so many now. Are those vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11.
I want you to listen now to the CDC director talking about what they have put in place here in the United States to make sure those kids get those vaccines. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: We have done a huge amount of hard work over the last 10 months, education, communication, providing information, getting vaccines to really convenient places, trusted messengers. Making sure those vaccines are in pediatricians' offices and children's hospitals where they're -- and pharmacies where parents trust -- trust vaccines being given.
And so, we're doing absolutely all of that hard work now, and we have that hard work to come for both our children, as well as our parents and for the 64 million people who have yet to roll up the sleeves themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON (on camera): So, you listen to Dr. Walensky there say that, look, the strategy for this will be different. They are not doing mass vaccination. They want people to be able to trust the vaccine. Yet, surveys in the U.S., Canada, Europe, all show significant vaccine hesitancy among parents even if they, themselves, have received the vaccine. What are you saying to parents?
CHRIS PERNELL, AMERICAN COLLEGE OF PREVENTIVE MEDICINE: Thanks, Paula. That's a very good question. So, if we look at the data from the recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll that showed about one-third of parents of children who were in the 5 to 11-year-old group, they were pretty eager and ready to get their children vaccinated.
But another third, were in that wait-and-see category. Just like when we had adults that were in that wait-and-see category, what moves the needle for those folks is empathy, science that is plain spoken, that people can understand that the safety and the efficacy outweigh any potential risk.
And I think we need to talk about how this is helpful for the family, as a whole, protecting the family as a whole. And I believe parents will be able to convert, so to say, into the decision journey to get their children vaccinated.
NEWTON: Right and you seem to be indicating it will just take more time. I hear you. I hear you on that.
NEWTON: Now, on boosters, certainly, a lot of people are eligible for them now in the United States. Not so much in other parts of the world. But from what we're seeing of the research, should we all be prepared to be lining up from that booster about six months after our last shot? What is the research telling us?
PERNELL: You know, what I tell people about boosters, think about it this way. We know that the vaccines that are currently available in the U.S. and even more broadly are effective against severe disease. So, what's severe disease? They are effective against hospitalization. They are effective against perhaps an ICU say, in the worst outcome, death.
Where we see some waning immunity is how folks are susceptible to mild infection. So, if you are of the general-adult population, a booster would just give you even further gold-standard protection. Now, if you are 65 years or older, if you have chronic-health conditions, if you live in a congregate setting or you work in an occupation that has a certain exposure risk, yes, you should be thinking about the boosters differently from the general-adult population.
PERNELL: That risk is compounded.
NEWTON: Right. And -- and quickly, leading into that issue, if someone got Pfizer or someone got Moderna, should you be looking for a different shot? Is it true that the research is telling us that that might be better protection?
PERNELL: This is fascinating.
PERNELL: I think the most important thing that vaccinated people should think about is access and availability. What is accessible to you? And what can you get in a timely fashion?
Now, if you had Johnson & Johnson, it's a little bit different. The -- the advice for those are go out and get a second dose of Johnson & Johnson. But if you have access to Pfizer and Moderna, those vaccines seem to produce a more robust immune or antibody response. So, I would encourage those people to have that conversation with their healthcare professional.
NEWTON: But if I hear you correctly, if you get a different dose of a different vaccine, it could give you better protection?
PERNELL: It could. That's what the -- that's what the NIH study showed us and so that's quite fascinating.
NEWTON: Yes, it is. I don't have a lot of time left but we are all seeing the statistics. People who are fully vaccinated are still ending up in hospital. We can't ignore that data. It's just not in our -- you know, we are starting to get worried. A lot of people who are fully vaccinated are starting to get worried. What should we do?
PERNELL: I want to help people through that information. So, no vaccine is 100 percent effective. The vaccines that we have available to us are very effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalization. Have you seen breakthrough cases? Yes. But you are seeing those breakthrough cases, primarily, in the older-adult population because their immune systems are waning at that point.
And that's where a booster is going to be very critical for that group and population. Otherwise, if you're doing those multilayered mitigation strategies, wearing your mask indoors, not being around -- in crowded places with people that you're not quite sure what their exposure risk has been, then you should feel very protected. So, I want us to manage that information. Those vaccines are holding up quite well.
NEWTON: Yes. And the important point you made, the mitigation strategies, unfortunately, we have to keep them up. We -- we have to leave it there but, Dr. Chris Pernell, a lot of good information in there for everyone. I appreciate it.
PERNELL: Thank you.
NEWTON: Now COVID numbers are climbing across much of Europe as restrictions are lifted and falling temperatures drive more people indoors. In the U.K. the government is resisting calls for stricter COVID rules even as experts warn that the latest surge could prove devastating.
For more, we want to bring in CNN's Salma Abdelaziz, she's been covering all of this for us from London. You know, I have to remind you, Salma, you lived it, right? Britain has been here before. Doing too little, doing it too late. So, why the reluctance now to at least put in some kind of mitigation? You know, mask mandates, capacity limits, even maybe vaccine mandates?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, Paula, I think the first answer to that from a government official would be it's a question of strategy. So, you have those who represent the medical community, the National Health Service, doctors and nurses across this country saying we need a change in social behavior.
As you said, mandating masks, encouraging people to work from home, potentially introducing COVID passports when necessary. But the prime minister -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his administration say the issue is not behavioral, the issue is one of vaccinations.
And so, their focus, their drive and Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a call to arms this weekend around this is to get more people vaccinated. And there are three key categories here. The first is the very young. Twelve to 15-year-olds can now get vaccinated across this country. The government wants to see them vaccinated as soon as possible.
So, you are seeing a great push to have the very young get their jabs in their arms. The second, you just heard from your expert there in your last interview, waning immunity among those who are vulnerable or those who are older. That's what the great call to arms was this weekend. People over 50. People who have medical issues, health conditions, are considered vulnerable need to go out for a booster shot. That's what the authorities say.
And finally, that last category, it's a small one. But those who are adults who remain unvaccinated and the authorities here say that by increasing those vaccination rates, everyone can carry on with normal life as it is. And I would say beyond the strategy here, Paula, there is another
issue. And that is, the government's word. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said over and over, again, that when lockdown was lifted, it was cautious but irreversible. So, he is still trying to stick to that, Paula.
NEWTON: Yes, actually no one wants to see go into a lockdown. It is more about other European countries that have gotten higher vaccination rates, and have more mitigation strategies in place. OK. Salma, we will leave it there. Thanks so much. I appreciate it.
Now, mourners paid tribute to the movie crew member who was accidentally shot to death by actor Alec Baldwin. Now, these are images from a memorial Sunday in Burbank, California, honoring Halyna Hutchins. Police say she was killed last week when Baldwin, unknowingly, fired a live round from a gun.
Now, CNN has obtained new photos of Baldwin meeting with Hutchins' husband Matthew and 9-year-old son after the shooting. In one image, you can see the actor embracing Matthew. Baldwin has said his heart is breaking for the family, and he's fully cooperating as police investigate.
We are also learning more about the moments leading up to Hutchins' tragic death. The "Rust" director told authorities Baldwin was practicing drawing his gun for a scene when the weapon actually discharged. And he said cameras were not rolling when the tragedy occurred.
CNN's Lucy Kafanov has more on the investigation.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, authorities are still conducting their investigation. We know they spent the weekend combing every inch of that Bonanza Creek Ranch, the set of the film "Rust" where this tragic shooting took place on Thursday.
But we are getting some new details about the assistant director, David Halls. The affidavit names him as someone who picked up one of the prop weapons, who walked it inside the structure where the crew was doing their filming that Thursday. Handing that prop gun to Alec Baldwin while shouting cold gun, which should have meant no live rounds.
Of course, we know what followed according to the affidavit. Alec Baldwin shot the weapon. As a result, Halyna Hutchins, the 42-year-old director of cinematography killed. The director, Joel Souza, 48 years old, wounded in the shoulder.
Now, sources do tell CNN that David Halls was accused of things like, quote, "disregard for safety protocols and weapon pyrotechnics. Fire lanes and exits being consistently blocked. Also, instances of inappropriate sexual behavior and at least two productions that were filmed back in 2019." Now, one pyrotechnician who worked with Halls told CNN -- and I quote -- "the only reason the crew was made aware of weapons presence was because the assistant prop master demanded Dave acknowledge and announce the situation each day."
She said that he consistently failed to announce the presence of the firearm to the crew. That's a pretty usual safety procedure for most film sets. You announce the presence of a weapon, whether it's a prop or not. Another crew member told CNN that when Halls did hold these safety meetings, they were short and they were dismissive.
She said that he told crew members that guns would be the same as the production always used. And questioned why they'd have to hold those meetings in the first place. CNN did reach out to David Halls for comment. No reply, as of yet.
Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
NEWTON: There is more to come here on CNN Newsroom, including a look at a busy week ahead for U.S. President Joe Biden as his agenda faces a critical congressional vote.
NEWTON (on camera): Well, that is something to behold. The raw power of mother nature on Spain's Canary Islands. This was the scene just a short time ago. Plumes of lava shooting into the night's sky. This is the scene right now more than a month after it began erupting parts of the La Palma volcano's main cone have now collapsed.
Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate, as well. Now, Spain's prime minister has promised to speed up aid to the hard-hit fishing and farming communities there.
U.S. President Joe Biden will start the week focused on rallying public support for his bipartisan infrastructure deal ahead of a critical congressional vote. Now, he'll appear in New Jersey in the coming hours to promote his build back better agenda. Democratic leaders hope to vote on the bill this week.
Arlette Saenz has more.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: President Biden is hoping Democrats can seal the deal on his infrastructure and sweeping economic agenda as he prepares to head abroad later in the week. Democratic leaders struck an optimistic tone over the weekend. And sources say they are hoping to hold a vote on that bipartisan infrastructure plan on Wednesday or Thursday.
In order for that to happen they would also like to see an agreement on the larger social safety spending bill in order to get progressives onboard with that bipartisan plan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told our colleague, Jake Tapper, she believes an agreement is in sight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We've 90 percent of the bill agreed to and written. We just have some of the last decisions to be made. It is less than we had -- was projected to begin with. But it's still bigger than anything we have ever done in the -- in terms of addressing the needs of America's working families.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: By the time he leaves for Europe, do you think you'll have a deal by Thursday or Friday?
PELOSI: No, I think -- I think we're pretty much there now.
TAPPER: You think you have a deal now?
PELOSI: Well, we're almost there. We just -- it's just the language of -- of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAENZ (on camera): Now, one big question is what the size of this bill will be? And sources say that Senator Joe Manchin, one of those holdouts, told Democratic leaders he is open to a $1.75 trillion price tag. That is higher than his initial holdout for 1.5 trillion. And a bit closer to what President Biden has been floating in $1.9 trillion over the course of the last few weeks.
Now, President Biden hosted Senator Manchin and also Senate Majority Leader Schumer at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, to talk about these negotiations and the White House says that those conversations were productive.
Another outstanding question is how exactly to pay for this. Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona had been opposed to the corporate tax hikes and Democratic leaders have acknowledged that will not be a part of this proposal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying that they are considering a wealth and billionaire's tax in order to make up for some of those pay for.
Now, President Biden is hitting the road on Monday traveling to Newark, New Jersey, to sell the components of his plan. But he's really hoping that Democrats will be onboard this week, as he is looking for a legislative win to take with him as he travels abroad.
Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House.
NEWTON: A delegation from Israel is set to travel to Washington this week. A senior-Israeli official tells CNN they plan to brief U.S. officials on its decision to designate six Palestinian civil society groups as terror organizations.
CNN's Hadas Gold has been following these developments, and joins us now live from Jerusalem. And, you know, this designation has really puzzled many. Has Israel offered any justification? And is there any indication that the U.S. and other allies are going to push back here? HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Paula, this has puzzled many and
it caused an uproar because some of these organizations are some of the most well-established Palestinian civil society organizations in the West Bank. Some of them represent women, children, agricultural workers, prisoners.
Many of them document what they say are human rights abuses not only they say are caused by the Israeli occupation but also by the Palestinian authority and Hamas. But the Israeli defense ministry said on Friday that after a lengthy investigation, they determined that all six -- and I am quoting here -- "constitute a network of organizations active undercover on the international front -- front on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine also known as PFLP."
Now, the PFLP is a group that is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. They are behind a series of high-profiling -- high-profile hijackings and attacks from the 1960s. But they -- the defense ministry is accusing these groups of working with PFLP members helping fundraise for them.
But this designation is causing a huge uproar, and it will present a direct challenge to these organizations' funders, many of whom are European countries because by continuing to work with these organizations, these European countries could be accused of funding terrorism.
Now, the Palestinian authority called these designations unhinged, fallacious, and libelous slander. Listen to what the director of one of these organizations Al-Haq had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWAN JABARIN, DIRECTOR, AL-HAQ (through translator): This is clearly a political decision and a continuation of an Israeli campaign that has been taking place for more than a decade targeting Palestinian organizations with the aim of silencing and frightening them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLD (on camera): Now, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued a joint statement saying that this -- these designations are part of an attempt by Israel to muzzle human rights monitoring and punish those who criticize Israel's, they say, repressive rule over Palestinian.
Several members of the U.S. House of Representatives have also denounced the move and as you noted, an Israeli official telling me that an Israeli delegation will be traveling to Washington this week to further brief people in Washington about reasonings behind these designations, Paula.
NEWTON: And we will wait to get an update from you to see how that goes this week. Hadas Gold for us in Jerusalem. I appreciate it.
Still to come, a CNN investigation reveals how soiled surgical gloves are being repackaged and, yes, finding their way into the U.S. medical supply. Our exclusive report, next.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, to a CNN exclusive, we learned millions of substandard, sometimes used medical gloves have made their way into the U.S. supply chain, possibly putting patients and health workers at risk, and shipments of these gloves continued for months despite multiple warnings.
CNN's Scott McLean joins us now from London. Scott, you've been following the story. I have to say, when I saw the headline of this exclusive, I didn't even want to read it. I didn't want to believe that this could actually happen.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yeah, it's pretty shocking, Paula. Look, a lot of businessmen lost a lot of money buying substandard and used nitrile medical gloves from Asia. But the real victims, obviously, are anyone who may have actually used them.
We focused on one specific Thai company that shipped well over 100 million gloves to the U.S. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. In an industry that is so rife with fraud and scams that one expert calls it the most dangerous commodity on earth.
MCLEAN (voice-over): This rundown industrial area on the outskirts of Bangkok is the hub of a new trade that is making a few people very rich while putting millions of others at risk. These are bags of discarded medical gloves, many filthy dirty, confiscated by the Thai Food and Drug Administration in December.
It says they are part of a global supply chain aimed at countries worldwide desperate to buy medical-grade nitrile gloves amid a worldwide shortage that would take years to ease.
One of the customers, who thought he was buying the real thing, was Florida-based businessman Tarek Kirschen.
TAREK KIRSCHEN, CEO, V12 HEALTH: We started getting phone calls from clients completely upset and, you know, yelling and screaming at us.
MCLEAN (voice-over): Kirschen was one of many customers of a Thai company called "Paddy the Room Trading Company."
KIRSCHEN: These were reused gloves. They were washed, recycled. We don't know what they were, where they came from. Some of them were dirty. Some of them had blood stains.
MCLEAN (voice-over): Kirschen says he sent the gloves to landfill and notified the U.S. FDA in February. But this is just one case. In the middle of a pandemic, "Paddy the Room" had plenty of willing buyers. The U.S. continued allowing the shipments into the country, according to import records examined by CNN. Louis Ziskin's Company was another looking to cash in on the lucrative business.
MCLEAN (on camera): You guys were seeing dollar signs.
LOUIS ZISKIN, CEO, AIRQUEEN: Yeah, 100%. We saw dollar signs. We also saw we had legitimate medical customers who were literally begging for this stuff.
MCLEAN (voice-over): Ziskin's company, AirQueen, paid "Paddy the Room" more than $2.7 million for 400,000 boxes of medical-grade nitrile gloves, reassured by glowing inspection reports purportedly carried out by a reputable third party. But that inspection company tells CNN those reports were forged.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Open them up.
MCLEAN (voice-over): The shipment was independently inspected when it arrived in Los Angeles. Most of the gloves were actually lower quality latex or vinyl packed into nitrile boxes. Many others were very clearly soiled and secondhand.
MCLEAN (on camera): Not fit for use in a hospital.
ZISKIN: Not fit for use by anybody.
MCLEAN (voice-over): Ziskin's shipments sat for months in an L. A. warehouse, so we sent an expert and our camera to see for ourselves.
Douglas Stein has spent 30 years importing PPE from Asia and has been tracking fraud and scams in then nitrile glove industry since the pandemic began.
DOUGLAS STEIN, TRACKS FRAUD AND SCAMS IN NITRILE GLOVE INDUSTRY (voice-over): You can see the way it's packed. They're just clumps, like somebody just took handfuls and stuffed them in the box. These were washed, definitely. This one is completely brown and discolored. This is nitrile but you can tell it's been through a washer and a dryer. And it has changed color due to the heat.
MCLEAN (voice-over): This shipment of counterfeit, soiled gloves came in fake boxes of the legitimate Thai brand, Sri Trang, which says it has nothing to do with "Paddy the Room".
Kirschin's gloves were branded SkyMed, company the Thai FDA says it is -- quote -- "for sure fake."
ZISKIN: To me, the fact that these companies were never blacklisted is shocking.
MCLEAN (on camera): Emails provided to CNN show that back in February, his company did inform U.S. Customs and Border Protection that "Paddy the Room" was sending substandard and used medical gloves to the U.S. Yet import records show that 28 containers, totaling more than 80 million gloves, were imported to the U.S. from that same company after Ziskin's warning was sent. It's unclear where most ended up or if they have been used in a medical setting.
The Department of Homeland Security is investigating "Paddy the Room," but acknowledged to CNN that fake medical products do reach the U.S.
MIKE ROSE, SPECIAL AGENT, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY INVESTIGATION: I think all of us would love to get to a point that not a single counterfeit dangerous good entered the U.S.
MCLEAN (voice-over): In March, Ziskin's company also informed the FDA, which that same month acknowledged that "Paddy the Room" was using fake safety documents for its shipments. The FDA did not alert concerns about "Paddy the Room" until August, five months after they were tipped off. It would not comment on the ongoing investigation.
But in any case, so desperate was the need for PPE that some of the normal checks on imported nitrile gloves have been temporarily waved.
STEIN: There was just no other answer. That opened the floodgates for all the nefarious behavior.
MCLEAN (voice-over): The FDA told CNN that to help ensure the U.S. has enough gloves during the pandemic, it does not intend to object to the distribution and use of patient examination gloves that lack full safety paperwork as long as they meet standards and don't create an undue risk.
In reality, there are no routine checks on gloves arriving into the U.S. unless a company has been flagged. CNN attempted to reach out to "Paddy the Room" and its partner company but they did not respond to questions. The Thai FDA raided "Paddy the Room" in December last year but did not succeed in shutting it down.
MCLEAN (on camera): How can that happen?
SUPATTRA BOONSERM, DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL, THAI FDA (through translator): They just kept moving around and created a new fake company. Once being shut down, they would move to another location.
MCLEAN (voice-over): It's not just Thailand that has a problem. Law enforcement officials say similar scams are common throughout Asia.
MCLEAN (on camera): Now, two other companies told CNN they've also received unusable gloves from "Paddy the Room," but that is just company. And the truth is we don't know how many fake or used medical gloves have entered the U.S. during the pandemic.
Now, Louis Ziskin went to Thailand to try to get his money back but was charged with assault and kidnapping after a confrontation with a glove salesman. When Thai police produced no evidence against him, he was allowed to leave the country, though Thai police tell CNN their investigation is not closed. As for all those gloves in the L. A. warehouse, well, they were finally seized by federal authorities, though, five months after Ziskin first raised the alarm. Paula?
NEWTON: And still, as you point out, 80 million gloves going into the United States after this was flagged and the company still essentially operating in Thailand.
Scott, I really appreciate this exclusive report.
MCLEAN: You bet.
NEWTON (on camera): Now, COVID cases are rising in the Asia-Pacific region and despite the outbreaks, some places are getting ready to welcome visitors while other countries have tried reopening with mixes results.
NEWTON (voice-over): Time for wash and a once over before Qantas planes start flying again on international routes carrying eligible passengers on November 1st. Maintenance crews are preparing for the return of flights between Sydney and cities like Los Angeles and London in just a week with flights from Melbourne opening soon afterward. A chance to get back in the skies for this aircraft which operated only on limited cargo and repatriation runs during the pandemic.
UNKNOWN: We've been doing one day a week instead of seven days a week, so there's quite a bit, these things like making sure the tires, the brakes are ready, doing some lubrication.
NEWTON (voice-over): Qantas canceled regular international flights in March of last year after Australia applied strict COVID restrictions, stopping citizens from exiting without special permission and requiring two weeks of quarantine to re-enter the country.
But Sydney and Melbourne are lifting those requirements after reaching their vaccination goals and will finally allow fully vaccinated Australian citizens, residents and their families to travel again with no quarantine period.
NEWTON (voice-over): Officials say the return of tourists will be announced at a later date.
SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Australia is ready for takeoff. You can see it all around us. You can see the staff readying themselves. The ground crew have been doing the work they need to do, the maintenance teams, and we are ready for takeoff.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Good morning.
NEWTON (voice-over): A cautious reopening that many countries in the Asia-Pacific region are testing out. Singapore recently expanded its travel lanes, allowing more vaccinated passengers from designated nations to come and go without quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19.
ANDREA MULLENS, PASSENGER FROM AMSTERDAM: That's perfect, yes. It's really convenient. She can go to school right away after getting the results, of course.
NEWTON (voice-over): At the beginning of the month, Thailand will open its doors to visitors from 46 countries and territories, up from a previous plan of just 10, if they arrive by air, have been fully vaccinated, and have a document to show they are virus-free before departure and after arrival.
Malaysia is also considering opening a travel bubble in parts of the country for vaccinated international visitors in the coming weeks. But in Bali, a grand reopening for some foreign tourists hasn't gone so smoothly. So far, there have not been many takers. Government rules still require people to quarantine at a hotel for five days. And international flights aren't picking up like the locals who depend on tourism had hoped.
This taxi driver says, we are really destitute. When it comes to our money, there is no income, he says. We are hoping tourists can come here, but not one has.
China so far is sticking to its zero COVID policy. Its borders are still closed to most foreigners with mandated quarantines in force. Strict rules remain in place. When the country hosts the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, it has already set, most international spectators will not be allowed to attend.
NEWTON (on camera): Still to come here, another former employee speaking out about Facebook's policies. I will speak with an expert about what options the social media giant has to try and fix the issue.
NEWTON: Investors are awaiting the latest earnings report from Facebook. It is in the coming hours and it comes as the social media giant faces allegations of putting profit before safety.
In a new internal memo obtained by CNN, Facebook's VP of global affairs warns employees to brace for even more bad press. This as another whistleblower steps forward, supporting allegations made by former Facebook employee, Frances Haugen.
Haugen told the U.S. Senate that Facebook values making profits over the safety of its users as well as allowing dangerous and illegal activities to occur in group pages. Those are claims that Facebook rejects. She is set to speak for the British parliament in the coming hours.
Theresa Payton is the CEO of Fortalice Solutions and she joins me now from Charlotte, North Carolina. She is also a cybersecurity expert and former Bush administration CIO.
Thank you for joining us on what will be a momentous week to come for Facebook. I know we've said that before, but, really, some of the criticisms continue to mount. And now, there are so much more evidence to back that up. I know you've been looking at this for quite some time. What would you tell people about where we are right now in terms of this being perhaps a turning point in our engagement with Facebook?
THERESA PAYTON, CEO, FORTALICE SOLUTIONS: Yeah, I do hope this ends up being a turning point. We've had sort of the warnings in the past and Facebook says, we will do better, people assume they will, and sort of things goes back to business as usual.
But this feels different this time. You have multiple employees, on employee boards, and those messages being leaked without concerns. You've got two whistleblowers now, and now the Hill is really trying to get to the bottom of, how do you govern Facebook, how do you spot and stop misinformation and disinformation campaigns, and what duty of care do you have for the people who use your platform to make sure that they're not being duped into these misinformation campaigns?
NEWTON (on camera): Yeah, and they've been incredibly harmful, some claim. That includes, as you are saying, one of the things that has bipartisan support in the United States, that Facebook needs some kind of regulation.
And yet we have had people say that, look, Facebook says it needs regulation as well. They are just being disingenuous about that. Listen to Senator Richard Blumenthal now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): What we're hearing from Facebook is platitudes and bromides. When it says it wants regulation, at the same time, it is fighting that regulation tooth and nail, day and night with armies of lawyers, millions of dollars in lobbying. So, I must say, Facebook saying it wants regulation is the height of disingenuousness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON (on camera): Not holding back there, Theresa. I mean, what do you think? Because Facebook has been incredibly clear about the fact that they want the government to step in.
PAYTON: Yes. My concern is we need to be careful what we wish for here because oftentimes, legislation prevents newcomers from standing up here before they're even popular and truly profitable. It is incredibly expensive to meet new types of regulations. Facebook has probably the best position to actually be able to afford new regulations. And then the other thing I would say is why don't you lead the way? Facebook has an incredible army of data scientists and programmers that are really some of the best and the brightest in the world. Why don't you lead the way and show us what an ethical framework, a third- party governance group really truly could do.
The problem is the underpinning of Facebook, which is built to give you and I more of what we came for and basically, it wants us to stay engaged. Whether it's Facebook or Instagram or WhatsApp, it wants us to stay engaged on that platform. Sadly, engagement that is positive has less interaction than engagement that is negative. Typically, the negative content gets more play, which means more ad revenue.
NEWTON: Theresa Payton, thank you so much. There are some really good insights there. I appreciate the fact that you are positive about the fact that we can change the way things are.
NEWTON: I appreciate it.
PAYTON: Thank you.
NEWTON: And we will be right back in a moment with more news.
NEWTON: A massive storm is wreaking havoc in parts of the western United States. More than 110,000 power outages are still being reported in California. Meantime, heavy rain is still slamming the region combined with snow in those higher mountain elevations.
Joining me now is meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, who is following it all. These storms just won't quit.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, this is the third one coming in since Wednesday, Paula, and it's absolutely the truth here. We think by later on, Monday morning, eventually Monday afternoon, conditions finally begin to improve across parts of California. But in some of these areas, we are seeing 10% to even 20% of their annual rains come down just in a matter of the last couple of days here.
We're talking five, to some areas getting up to 10 inches of rainfall. These are just 24-hour observations, really the height of the storm taking place into the overnight hours of Sunday into Monday before it all (INAUDIBLE). Notice state capital there, Sacramento comes in with almost five inches.
JAVAHERI: Sacramento had not seen rainfalls since St. Patrick's Day, until it started raining just a couple of days ago. You will notice, much of the northern half of the states here, underneath widespread coverage of flood alerts, including flood warnings, meaning flooding is imminent or occurring. These are precisely the areas where we had the fire zones in place there from the Caldor Fire up towards the Dixie Fire. Of course, these are the high-risk zones because we've had so much of the landscape charred. Almost two million acres of land is consumed this summer because of the wildfire activities.
So, a lot of the soot, the sand, the dirt, all of this that has been really charred and scorched underneath extreme heat, now becoming really a primary threat here for debris floats, which is what we've seen take place.
And the winds, as you noted, Paula, have been so strong. The power outages have been widespread as well, up to almost 70 miles per hour. So, we are taking near hurricane force in some of these higher elevations. Over 100,000 customers, just in California, are without power.
You kind of broaden up the perspective, Washington State is seeing their own wind event take place. And parts of the Midwest are also dealing with the storm system that, initially impacted California. So, all together, over 230,000 customers without power.
But what is in the Midwestern United States? We've had some severe weather here. As many as 12 reports of tornadoes across the region as this massive line of activity, which was Thursday storm in California, now arriving into the Midwestern U.S. And Paula, eventually, this system will be a nor'easter into portions of New England here over the next 24 to 36 hours. Lots of weather to be had in the U.S.
NEWTON: Absolutely. I saw those tornado warnings come through. I hope everyone there is keeping safe. Pedram, thanks so much. I appreciate it.
And I am Paula Newton. I want to thank you for your company. The news continues right here on CNN with Isa Soares. She will be back right after the break.