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Stark Warning From U.S. Airlines on 5G Rollout; U.S. Senate Set to Vote on Voting Rights Legislation; Updated CDC Isolation Guidelines Still Face Debate; Rabbi Held Hostage Leads Special Healing Service; U.S., Allies Say Ukraine Ban From NATO is Nonstarter; More Tournaments May Bar Djokovic Over Vaccination Status. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired January 18, 2022 - 04:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and right around the world. I'm Isa Soares in London. Just ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the newest issue that could impact your safety in the sky.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we're going to have 5G. We're going to have the best 5G in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kudos to the airlines. They're the ones that finally yelled loudly enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The passengers will be safe, but it will be really damaging to customers.


SOARES: U.S. airlines warn of catastrophic disruptions as America's telecom giants prepare to roll out their 5G service in the next 24 hours.

Just days after a horrifying hours-long standoff, the Texas rabbi held hostage by a British gunman leads a healing service at his synagogue.

And blanketed by volcanic debris and cut off from the rest of the world. We'll show you the scale of the devastation in Tonga.

ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Isa Soares.

SOARES: Welcome to the show, everyone. It is Tuesday, January 18th. And we begin with a stark warning from top U.S. airlines about 5G service. Now, they say AT&T and Verizon's planned rollout that's happening on Wednesday could lead to a, quote, catastrophic aviation crisis in less than 36 hours.

Now, a letter to the Biden administration asks for a delay in the rollout. The Federal Aviation Administration warns potential interference could affect airline instruments. Restrictions could ground flights stranding passengers as well as of course cargo.

The letter goes on to say: To be blunt, the nation's commerce will grind to a halt.

well, late on Monday, United Airlines underscored the warning, saying the rollout could negatively affect more than a million United passengers. Thousands of flights and goods and cargo traveling through 40 major airports every year. Now, United also warned 5G signals near runways could interfere with safety equipment pilots use for takeoffs and landings really in bad weather. It said, we won't compromise on safety, full stop -- as you can see there.

Well, AT&T, CNN's parent company, and Verizon declined to comment. Let's get more on the story. Ryan Patel is a senior fellow at the Drucker School Of Management at Claremont Graduate University in California, a well-known face here on the show. And he joins us from Los Angeles. Ryan, great to see you. Look, let's start with this pretty stark warning and pretty stark language from the airline industry. Break it down so our viewers understand right around the world. How real is this fear here?

RYAN PATEL, SENIOR FELLOW, CLAREMONT GRADUATE UNIVERSITY: Well, the fear really -- and I want to say this first. There's safety, and in the fear that they're talking about is really the disruption. So should the FAA, you know, they move forward with 5G with Verizon and AT&T, there's going to be some planes that these airlines are not going to be able to use. The FAA has only gone through 45 percent of the airplanes that they've approved.

So, what does that mean? That means airlines are going to have to find more airplanes. Guess what? They don't have that. That means less routes, less money, huge disruption, and cancellations and obviously bottom line for the airlines, will cause a longer road to recovery.

SOARES: So really what we're talking about here is operational disruption, so passengers, shipping, even I suspect, Ryan, here. supply chain. So, what do they want to see? A delay in this rollout because we've been here before.

PATEL: We have. They would like to have a delay. AT&T and Verizon's CEOs last month made it very clear this was the last delay that they were going to do with their own stark statement last time that they weren't going to -- they're going to do whatever necessary to move forward. And so, that's why we're at this impasse right now.

SOARES: So, what do these telecommunications companies say in response, of course, to this?

PATEL: Well, I mean part of this is -- you know, they've got many reasons. Let me rephrase it. They've got 60-plus billion reasons of dollars that AT&T and Verizon has to make sure that works. And they've, obviously, been over a year at this, they've given the deadlines last December to push forward. They say that really the safety reasons is what they're trying to attack, and look at Europe and France and say, well, 5G, it works.


Right now, this past week is really about negotiating that two-mile radius around major airports. And I think that's what's being discussed at this very moment, of how hard are those instruments that are going to move forward for both of these companies. But that is what both those companies, telecom companies, are putting their hat on is really about moving forward.

SOARES: You know, but us here on the other side of the Atlantic, I mean, C band, 5G has been deployed really in some 40 countries, and correct me if I'm wrong, but we haven't seen any aviation interference issues in these countries. Is there any evidence, Ryan, to suggest this has been a problem here, that we just simply haven't heard of?

PATEL: No, I think obviously the telecom companies have been using the European as a case study that there hasn't been a problem. I think the language over the last delay was really about what size of frequency. And I think there was some concessions made about moving a little bit lower around -- ability around that. But I think what you're seeing with this, you know, letter and memo going out right now from the airlines is the realization that this deadline's here and it's not going to get delayed. This is why we're seeing this right now.

And part of that is then if they are going to move forward, and this is the realization now, Isa, is that there is going to be disruption. There is going to be money lost. And let's just state, the airlines just got through the recovery of holiday season, and they weren't happy with all the cancellation flights that happened there.

SOARES: So, very quickly yes, or no? Do you think they'll budge? Do you think the telecommunications companies will budge here -- Ryan?

PATEL: I think they're going to have to make a concession somewhere to push this delay or some kind of acceleration down the road. I don't see them giving in for no reason.

SOARES: Ryan Patel, I appreciate you taking the time to speak to us and for staying up for us. It's 1:00 in the morning in Los Angeles. Great to see you, Ryan. Thanks very much.

PATEL: Good to be with you, Isa.

SOARES: Thank you.

Now, in the coming hours, the U.S. Senate is set to vote on really an important voting rights bill, which appears to be doomed. Vice President Kamala Harris urged Senators to pass the new legislation saying Americans freedoms to vote are under attack and lawmakers must fight back. Have a listen.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is time for the United States Senate to do its job. We must not be complacent or complicit. We must not give up, and we must not give in.


SOARES: Well, on the anniversary of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, his granddaughter and family appeared in Washington demanding the Senate pass new laws to protect voting rights. And if they really wanted to honor King's work, they must stand on the right side of history.


MARTIN LUTHER KING III, SON OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: History will be watching what happens tomorrow. Black and brown Americans will be watching what happens tomorrow. In 50 years, students will read about what happens tomorrow and know whether our leaders had the integrity to do the right thing. If you can deliver an infrastructure bill for bridges, you can deliver voting rights for Americans. If you do not, there's no bridge in this nation that can hold the weight of that failure.


And 19 states currently -- as you can see there -- have laws restricting voting rights, which means Democrats have some major obstacles really to overcome. CNN's Phil Mattingly has the details now from the White House for you.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, for President Biden, Vice President Harris, the effort to keep pressure on Senate Democrats as they move towards a vote on a sweeping voting reform bill has continued. They used the Martin Luther King commemoration, that day of service to some degree, to try and keep the focus on voting rights, to try to keep the focus on at least two Democrats in the U.S. Senate who are very clearly not willing to change Senate rules in order to move a sweeping voting bill forward. This was how the president framed the choice.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Where do we stand? Whose side are we on? Will we stand against voter suppression? Yes, or no? Will we stand against election subversion? Yes, or no? Will we stand up for an America where everyone is guaranteed the full protections and the full promise of this nation? Yes, or no? I know where I stand. It's time for every elected official in America to make it clear where they stand.

MATTINGLY: While Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer has made clear the vote will be happening on that bill this week, likely a vote to try and change Senate rules will as well. The reality is this. Neither will move forward. Every single Republican in the Senate is opposed. The Democrats won't have the 60 votes to move the bill forward through traditional Senate procedure, and at least two Democrats are opposed to changing Senate rules, Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. Meaning Democrats don't have a way around the filibuster.

So, the question will eventually become what's next? There is no question about it. Advocates are extraordinarily frustrated, not just with those two Senate Democrats but also with the White House.


They feel like the White House took too long to go all in on this effort. They haven't put enough behind this effort.

But White House officials have been abundantly clear now for months. You and I have spoken to them about this about this issue. They knew where their Senators stood on the filibuster. They knew despite all 50 Democrats supporting these sweeping voting rights bills that they did not have the votes to actually advance them in the Senate. The What they may have is bipartisan votes in the Senate to move smaller measures forward, particularly related to election subversion.

But the White House has not tried to move towards that pathway yet. They've made clear they don't believe those efforts are any substitute for the broader efforts Democrats and advocates are pushing for. But they need something, and clearly with what the president -- former president has done with the big lie and trying to subvert the free and fair elections back in 2020, Republicans also acknowledge, at least some of them, that something is likely necessary on several fronts, either protecting election officials or shifting or codifying the very clear rules of the road when it comes to the electoral count act. The law at the center of the January 6th attack on the Capitol.

Those efforts are under way. House Democrats have efforts as well as a bipartisan group in the United States Senate. Now the White House has not endorsed any of those efforts at this point in time, making very clear their push is on the bill that will be coming to the Senate floor this week. That push will fail. White House officials know that. Then they have to decide what's next. There are potential pathways forward on other options. They just need to decide whether to take those options.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


SOARES: Thank you, Phil. Well, concern over attacks by Houthi rebels on the United Arab Emirates has pushed all prices to a near seven-year high. Now, supply shortages and fears about disruption to demand from the Omicron variant have also forced prices high -- as you can see there. Brent crude is up 1.5 percent. The WTI crude hovering roughly around the same amount. We'll keep on top of those numbers for you.

And those of you just waking up really may want to conserve that orange juice in your refrigerator because prices unfortunately, are climbing. Citrus production in Florida has taken a hit. The U.S. Agricultural Department says there's been a 3 percent drop in the state's orange crop and that can mean the smallest harvest really in decades and more expensive orange juice on the shelves of course.

Now, the U.S. surgeon general says some areas that were first hit hard by the Omicron variant are starting to see the situation improve. That's good news. But he warns much of the country still has really a ways to go, and the next few weeks will be tough. As you can see there on your screen, 20 states are still seeing cases decline compared to the week prior while others are seeing rising or holding steady.

The CDC says people with COVID-19 can end isolation after five days if they don't have symptoms and should wear a mask around others for at least five more days. The CDC advises avoiding being around people at high risk and links to a page with conditions that make people likely to become severely ill from COVID. More than 80 percent of Americans have at least one condition listed. That is according to analysis. Health experts are weighing in on the guidance. Have a listen.


DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: The CDC is in a challenging position because there's so many people infected right now, and the vast majority of them are not isolating at all. So, CDC is trying to find guidance that people will do, that will reduce transmission. I think five days is when people are most contagious, so that's critical. Beyond that, I think it's essential that people wear high-quality masks and avoid high-risk situations. We're trying to walk a fine line here.

DR. TOM FRIEDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, RESOLVE TO SAVE LIVES: They're not talking about passing someone on the street or being in the supermarket next to someone. They're talking about going over to someone's house. They're talking about socializing with someone at length, someone who you may have a prolonged period of sharing enclosed air with. And this is an example of CDC needing to communicate better.

My view is that their isolation and quarantine guidance was generally right, but failing to explain it clearly, explain the choices that were made, why they were made, what the judgments were, what the science is -- that has led to a vacuum when people are making kind of pot shot criticisms at the CDC.


SOARES: Well, that's in the United States. In Israel, early data now suggests a fourth COVID vaccine dose can boost antibodies to even higher levels, but it may not be enough to protect against possible breakthrough infections caused by the Omicron variant. Now, meantime, Moderna says it should have data available on its Omicron-specific vaccine soon and looks to share the information with regulators, we're being told, by March.


In the state of Virginia, newly inaugurated Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin is moving fast to set new COVID priorities for the state. And that includes signing an executive action that effectively stops mask mandates in public schools and puts the decision in parent's hands instead. But he's already running into opposition with several school districts in Democratic-leaning areas saying they will defy his new order.

Now a U.S. federal appeals court is sending a lawsuit challenging Texas controversial abortion law to the state's Supreme Court in the latest setback for abortion clinics. The Texas law essentially bans abortion after the first six weeks, before most women have any inkling in fact that they are pregnant. It's been in effect since September of last year, setting off, as you remember, those widespread protests.

Now to Colleyville, Texas, where a rabbi who escaped a hostage situation at is synagogue held a special healing service on Monday in the wake, of course, of that horrifying ordeal. Listen to what he told his congregation.


RABBI CHARLIE CYTRON-WALKER, CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL: Thank God, thank God. It could have been so much worse. And I am overflowing, truly overflowing with gratitude.


SOARES: Now his message comes, of course, as the FBI and U.S. Homeland Security are warning that faith-based communities will likely remain targets for violence with a threat made worse by a divided society and the global pandemic. Meantime, the congregation who escaped Saturday's hostage standoff credits all an active shooter survival course for helping them get out safely.


JEFFREY COHEN, V.P. BOARD OF TRUSTEES, CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL: Training that we had -- really, I should say a course. It wasn't really training -- that in an active shooter, that's what saved our lives. Because it taught me to be aware of my surroundings, to know where the exits are, and then the rest of that is run, hide, fight.


SOARES: Meanwhile, the brother of the hostage taker told "The New York Times" he was a deeply troubled man and had grown distant from his family in the recent years. We'll have much more ahead, of course, on the investigation and how the hostages pulled off their escape. We'll have more on that later this hour.

In the meantime, the U.K. says it's planning to send anti-tank weapons to Ukraine to help it defend against a possible Russian invasion. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators arrive in Kiev on Monday -- as you can see there -- discussing tougher sanctions on Russia and more military aid for Ukraine, but diplomatic efforts meant to avert a crisis haven't ended yet. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports for us from Moscow.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Isa. Well certainly, looks as though the Russians are continuing to pile the pressure on the U.S. and on its NATO allies as well. The Russian foreign minister, he said that Russia wants answers soon in written form from the United States as to Russia's security demands that the Russians, of course, made in those security talks with the U.S. that happened in Geneva last week. Now, at the core of what the Russians want, there is, of course, the

fact that they want written guarantees there will be no further NATO expansion. They also said they want some troops withdrawn from eastern European NATO countries. Probably the most important demand is that the Russians want written guarantees that Ukraine will never become a NATO member.

Now, the U.S. and other NATO allies have said that that demand is, of course, a non-starter. And they've also said there would be a high price to pay if there was a further invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. Of course, the U.S. said that tens of thousands of Russian troops are amassing close to the borders with Ukraine.

The Russians now also saying that they're going to hold military drills together with the Belarusian military in February, large scale drills. And one of the things they also said yesterday is that they're already holding sniper drills. Those are going on in what's called the southern military district. That's also an area that is very close to Ukraine.

Now, all this comes as the German foreign minister has arrived here in Moscow for talks with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. The Germans also, of course, saying that there would be a big price to pay if Russia did further invade Ukraine. The same time that German foreign minister also saying, she is looking for de-escalation -- Isa.

SOARES: Thank you very much, Fred Pleitgen there for us in Moscow.

Now, we are less than three weeks into 2022 and North Korea has already launched four missile tests this year. Japan says two ballistic missiles were fired three minutes apart on Monday. Pyongyang claims they were tactical-guided missiles that hit their precise targets. There were two tests last week and one the week before that.


Well, in response, the U.S. announced more sanctions on North Korea, but it's also sanctioning select Russians who are accused of backing North Korea's missile program.

You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still ahead right here on the show, tennis star Novak Djokovic facing an uncertain future days after being barred from the Australian Open because of his vaccination status, another grand slam event could be set to do the same.

Plus, Boris Johnson is reportedly planning a new push to save his job. Details on the British Prime Minister's plan to appease his conservative base. Those stories after a very short break.


SOARES: Now tennis star Novak Djokovic could be facing even more bad news just days after losing his bid to defend his title at the Australian open. We are learning is slot in other tournaments could also be in jeopardy over his vaccination status. Spain's Prime Minister saying on Monday, Djokovic will need to comply with local health rules to compete at the Madrid Open which is happening in April.


And it's looking even less likely he'll be able to defend his title at the French Open in May. France is poised to enact a new law requiring proof of vaccination to enter most public spaces -- places, including sports arenas. France's sports ministry telling CNN there will be no exceptions for professional athletes. Right now, Djokovic is back in his native Serbia after being deported from Australia over the weekend.

And the new rules in France come as the country is facing an alarming rise in severe COVID cases. On Monday, officials reported the largest one-day jump in COVID-related hospital admissions in more than a year.

Let's get more on the story. CNN's Melissa Bell joins me live from Paris. And Melissa, I suspect that the government will be hoping that the vaccine legislation will help reduce the current level of hospitalizations. Are the French on board with this new legislation?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you'll remember that at the turn of the year speaking to newspaper Emmanuel Macron controversially said that his hope was now to piss off the unvaccinated. And that appears -- he appears to have succeeded in doing. We have seen angry protests now two Saturdays in a row and angry debate in France's Parliament. Which has meant that legislation that was due to come in on Saturday, that would have turned France's health pass, which allows you to get into so many public venues and talking here, Isa, about restaurants, bars, cafes, some long-distance train journeys, cinemas, theaters.

Until now you could PCR test your way out of it. So, you provided a health pass that allowed you into these places. Either you've been vaccinated it showed or you've shown to be PCR negative. That will no longer be the case from January 21st. Although it's now past its fairly tedious and laborious parliamentary journey, this bill will now go -- this piece of legislation now goes to France's highest court. Which will deem whether or not it is constitutional. And that is because more than 60 French lawmakers in the assembly, the lower house and more than 60 in the upper house, the senate, have opposed themselves to it, referred it to that constitutional court.

If it passes that step, that health pass becomes a vaccine pass. That means that you have to have been vaccinated to get into any of those areas. And, yes, you're quite right, that does apply even to Novak Djokovic. We've reached out to France's health ministry whose explained that because it is public places like cafes, restaurants, but also sports arenas. He will not be able to PCR test his way out of it when -- if he tries to come France for the French Open to defend his title. It'll be easier to get to the Madrid Open since Spain still allows a PCR test in lieu of vaccination. France from January 21st, in theory, Isa, will not.

SOARES: We shall see what he does. Melissa Bell for us in Paris. Thanks very much, Melissa. And of course, we'll have much more on the Omicron variant in about 20

minutes time or so and take you to China where authorities are scrapping Olympic ticket sales after detecting a single case of the Omicron variant.

And still to come right here on the show, new video captures the final moments of the Texas synagogue standoff. Plus, the rabbi held captive details his harrowing experience.

And many streets in the U.S. look like this on Monday and more snow could be coming. We'll have details on which areas will be hit by more winter weather.