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Baby Formula Shortage in U.S. Growing More Severe; Senate Votes on Abortion Rights Bill; New Leadership Appeals for Kherson to Become Part of Russia; Ukraine to Stop Transporting Some Russian Gas to Europe; Passenger with No Flight Experience Lands Plane. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 11, 2022 - 15:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: New developments in America's baby formula shortage. Formula maker Abbott Nutrition says its Michigan plant could be back up and running in the next two weeks if federal regulators allow it. And that means its formula could be back on store shelves in six to eight weeks. But that's a long time away. In the meantime, empty shelves across the country are leaving many parents in a panic.


COURTNEY HOUSTON, MOTHER: It's terrifying. It's terrifying when that's the only true source of nutrition that your baby gets. Because it would get to the point when you get to a store and you almost cry.


CAMEROTA: Laura Modi is the CEO of Bobbie, that's a company that makes baby formula. She joins us now. Laura, great to have you here. You heard that mom, how scared she is. I mean, we keep hearing from all sorts of parents how frightened they are. I've read that some are resorting to having to water down the formula to stretch it farther. So, how big of a problem is that? And what are you hearing of parents doing?

LAURA MODI, CEO, BOBBIE: I mean, it's a problem. It's not just a problem. It's a crisis. And it's a crisis that's only getting worse. And to understand what is happening, you really just need to look at the industry. Which is the shortage we are seeing today, it's inextricably tied to the fact there is market concentration on this. When two formula companies own the majority of the market and one of them has a recall, we should not be questioning how do we continue to feed babies.

CAMEROTA: I mean, obviously, this is on some level, a boon for your business. I know that this isn't necessarily what you wanted. But you have your demand for your product has increased exponentially, but you say it's not like you can flip a switch and just create more formula. Why not?

MODI: Yes, I mean, that's right. There is tension between safety and speed. And for an essential good like infant formula, there's zero room for short cuts. You need to make sure that you're balancing both perfectly. And when you look at the manufacturing capacity today, we're already at maximum runs. We can't push it any further. We made the decision as a company, which now in hindsight was an easy one to say, we need to prioritize our current customers while stopping our growth.

CAMEROTA: Senator Mitt Romney has written a letter about all of this. And he thinks it's such a crisis he's written to the FDA and USDA. I'll just read the second half of it.

He says: I'm deeply concerned about the apparent lack of an effective mitigation strategy and urge both agencies to move as fast as possible to safely resolve this situation.


Do you think the federal government can do more?

MODI: Look, to underscore this, yes, this is a crisis. We have to do more. And this is far greater than any one company or any one agency within the government. We have to come together to figure this out. That is the only solution. But there's the short term and there's the long term. And I think in the short term, we need to look beyond even the U.S. and we need to be able to put some in flexibilities to say, what are we doing to get more formula into this country to feed babies. In the long term, we need to make sure we're finding solutions so we're not in this crisis again.

CAMEROTA: In the meantime, what's the solution for parents? What should parents be doing right now? I mean, I've just read all of the testimonials from moms who have driven miles and miles to find empty store shelves. Their babies are crying. Some of them for whatever reason have dietary needs where they need a specific type of formula. They can't find it. I mean, their babies are starving.

MODI: Look, speaking as a mother, first and foremost, it is scary. And frankly, it's unacceptable. But watching some of the behaviors that are happening, we have to remain calm. We cannot have rationing. We cannot have theft. We have not have mothers making homemade formulas in their kitchen. They need to consult with their pediatrician. And while it may not seem ideal to make the switch, it is really the only solution right now.

CAMEROTA: Laura Modi, thank you very much. We appreciate you coming on again. Your company is called Bobbie, and we will see if we can get the formula on the store shelves soon, thank you.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: All right, breaking news the vote on the abortions rights bill is happening right now in the Senate. Vice President Kamala Harris is there in the chamber. She will preside over the vote. Now this is expected to fail. We'll bring you more on the results as soon as we know it.

All right, officials are assessing the damage after Russian missiles struck Sloviansk today. The city has been the main focus of Russian forces since they shifted the strategy to hone in on eastern Ukraine. We are live there, next.



CAMEROTA: So, we are keeping our eyes on the Senate floor right now. That's where the vote is under way on the Abortion Rights Bill. This vote is expected to fall short of the 60-vote threshold needed. And we did see Vice President Harris on the floor moments ago. But we will let you know more as soon as the results come in and we know more.

BLACKWELL: All right, Ukrainians say they are retaking territory from the Russians, specifically, in the Kharkiv area -- Ukraine's largest city in the east. There's drone video we have here that captures the destruction of a Russian tank in that area. A senior interior ministry official said the Russians are also very worried about Ukraine's counteroffensive, to the north of Kharkiv. At the same time, to the south, this newly installed government of Kherson just asked to become part of Russia.

CAMEROTA: So, Kherson was the first major city taken by Vladimir Putin's forces. And in response, an adviser to Ukraine's President Zelenskyy said, quote, the invaders may ask to join even Mars or Jupiter. The Ukrainian army will liberate Kherson, no matter what games with words they play.

Let's go to the anchor of "OUTFRONT," Erin Burnett. She's in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv. So, Erin, the people in Kherson we understand are going to be given Russian passports?

ERIN BURNETT CNN ANCHOR, OUTFRONT: Right, I mean they're just going to plow ahead with this. I mean, you know, you quoted the Ukrainian official there, you can ask to order -- to join mars or Jupiter and you'll see what happened. President Zelenskyy today, here in Ukraine, also made it clear that Ukraine's not moving from any territory that is Ukrainian. They are not going to see this in any way, shape or form.

But the leader of Kherson saying we're not going to bother with a referendum, we're just going to join the Russian Federation and were going to issue Russian passports to anyone who wants one here and that you are now a citizen of the Russian Federation. But obviously, completely contested by Ukraine and it's going to be -- will continue to be part of the fight that you see.

You know, one interesting thing, I do want to say, as part of this as you were showing some of that drone footage. You know, amazing to see so much by drone and how important drones have been here. You know, I was talking to a man whose house had been destroyed. And he said the Russians who were in his house were waiting and waiting for the Ukrainians to come. And they didn't. Instead, their drones came. And the Russians didn't know what to do. And their commanders said they'll give them extra cigarettes if they could shoot those drones down, they would get a bonus in cigarettes because the drones have been so effective. And when you look at this footage now, it is just important to

emphasize, from every side, and we talked to Ukrainians and we hear what the Russians were saying, what a crucial role they are playing in this war -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Erin let's go to the east now in the Donbas region. What do you know about the Russian missiles that hit Sloviansk?

BURNETT: So, Sloviansk is a very important town strategically, Victor. It's very important for the Russians and sort of a major front for them. Right now, we understand that two missiles hit there. The mayor of the town says they're trying to currently assessing the damage. They don't believe there's any casualties yet, but they're not sure. So, there's a lot of unknown about this, but what you can take away it, is those missiles are hitting and this is now a very important strategic city for the Russians as they try to advance south in Donbas.

CAMEROTA: Erin, what have you been learning about the gas transport operations from Russia. So, Ukraine had been allowing them but now we understand they've been disrupted.


What happened there?

BURNETT: You know, one of the great ironies about the whole situation of Europe's complete reliance on Russia for gas, is that putting aside the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which was not yet operational. All that gas was coming through Ukraine. So, so far in the war, it's amazing to consider that all of that gas that we've been talking, was Russia able to send it, and is Europe going to pay for it, is Europe going to sanction it? Has all been going under Ukraine without disruption until now. And now, there's a big dispute over what's causing it. It was a 25 percent drop in gas supplies coming through.

Obviously, it's warmer now so there's not an immediate crisis. But this is significant. It could affect European gas storage. And the Ukrainians are saying it's because of the Russians. The Russians and Gazprom are saying that it isn't. So obviously, expect this to be resolved. But it is the first time that you've seen these crucial pipelines that run underneath this company actually become involved. And in that sense, it's very significant to watch.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it sounds like it. Erin Barnett, thank you very much for all the reporting.

BLACKWELL: All right. Favorite story of the day here. This is remarkable. This midair disaster that was averted in South Florida.


AMERICAN 1845: Did you say passengers landed the airplane?

TOWER: That's correct.

AMERICAN 1845: Oh my God. Great job.

TOWER: No flying experience.


CAMEROTA: That's right, a passenger with no flying experience made an incredible landing. So, up next, the air traffic controller who helped him tells us how they pulled off.



BLACKWELL: Live look at the Senate floor here where that vote is happening right now on the Abortion Rights Bill. This vote is expected to fall short of the 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster. Vice President Harris was on the floor moments ago. Listen, we're going to continue watch this and bring you the results as soon as we know it.

CAMEROTA: OK, so Victor, in the meantime, have you ever imagined what you would do if your pilot of the plane was incapacitated and you had to land the plane?

BLACKWELL: No, I never imagined that.

CAMEROTA: I do it all the time.



BLACKWELL: No. I say a prayer for the pilot and hope we make it safely. So, listen, this actually happened to a passenger on a single engine plane off the coast of Florida. He had to figure out how to safely land the plane himself. Step one, get some help from air traffic control.


PASSENGER: I've got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent, and I have no idea how to fly the airplane but maintain at 9100.

TOWER: Caravan 333LD, Roger. What's your position?

PASSENGER: I have no idea. I see the coast of Florida in front of me and I have no idea.

TOWER: What was the situation with the pilot?

PASSENGER: He is incoherent. He is out.

TOWER: 3LD, Roger. Try to hold the wings level and see if you can start descending for me, pushed forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate.


BLACKWELL: What's my position? Sir, I am in the air, I would like to be on the ground. CNN aviation correspondent Pete Muntean is here with more reaction from the air traffic controller who also happens to be a flight instructor. This is just unbelievable. I'm glad it happened, but remarkable that this happened.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Incredible and so lucky, Victor and Alisyn, and very fortuitous. You know, imagine the drama, not only in the plane but also in the air traffic control facility tasked with guiding this passenger turned pilot back to the ground. You know, thankfully at this ATC facility in Florida they knew just the man for the job -- although he was on break. They brought him back in.

His name Robert Morgan, a 20 year veteran air traffic controller, also a certificated flight instructor with about 1,200 hours of flight experience. But he had not flown this exact kind of airplane before -- a Cessna Caravan, a private turboprop seats as many as about 13 people. So, he pulled up a photo of the instrument panel of the Cessna Caravan and guided this passenger-turned-pilot, to the ground step by step. Listen to this interview he did earlier on CNN today.


ROBERT MORGAN, HELPED PASSENGER LAND PLANE AFTER PILOT FELL ILL: I tried to keep him calm. He was really calm. He just said, hey, I just know how to fly. I don't know how to stop this thing if I get it on the runway. I said, don't worry about it. We'll take it one step at a time.

In the air as long as they make small control movements, is usually a lot of people can fly the plane OK. But you know, like someone had mentioned earlier, landing's the tricky part. And he had a little bounce on the landing but you couldn't ask for anything better. He was very thankful. And my whole facility was really happy. You know, they counted me as the hero but in my eyes, he was the hero.



MUNTEAN: I can tell you, Victor and Alisyn, as a pilot and a flight instructor, typically it takes about 20 hours of instruction to teach somebody to land well enough so they could make their first solo fight. This essentially turned into a first solo flight without the instructor in the airplane, never having to step inside in the first place. Pretty incredible.

BLACKWELL: Incredible, indeed. Pete Muntean, thanks for bringing us the story.

All right, CNN is learning new details about the highly anticipated January 6th hearings that will begin in just a few weeks. Who is on the witness list and what topics are on the table. We've got details ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit edition is trying something new in its latest issue. For the first time in the magazine's 58 year history, it's showcasing a model with a c-section scar.


The spread features Kelly Hughes. She's a model and mother whose baby was delivered via c-section three years ago. This is part of the brand's effort to shift cultural and societal narratives about women's bodies, especially around motherhood. It's interesting, I don't think I've never seen that, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Love it. Love the step forward.

"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.