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Senate Democrats Passed Landmark Legislation in the Senate; Ceasefire in Gaza; Stretch Vaccine Supply for Monkeypox; Ukraine Atomic Plant Attacked Again; Four Cargo Ships Depart from Ukraine. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 08, 2022 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching "CNN Newsroom" and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, a historic win for the Biden administration, Senate Democrats finally passed the landmark legislation they have chased for more than a year. Details on what it could mean for the upcoming midterms.

Israeli forces and Gaza militants have reached a cease-fire. We are live in southern Israel to see whether or not it's holding. And the growing outbreak of monkeypox in the United States has thousands scrambling for vaccines. We look at whether a new strategy is needed.

Good to have you with us. So, breathing new life into U.S. President Joe Biden's domestic agenda after the Senate passed the Democrat's climate, health care, and tax package officially known as the Inflation Reduction Act. And as Melanie Zanona reports, it was no easy task to get all Democrats on board.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Democrats are on the verge of a massive victory with less than 100 days before the midterm elections. The Senate voted on Sunday along party lines to approve a sweeping economic package. And this vote came after a marathon voting session that began Saturday evening and lasted into the next day.

And this bill includes a number of key Democratic priorities. It includes a historic investment of nearly $370 billion for the climate. It would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. It would extend expiring Obamacare health subsidies. And it would impose a 15 percent corporate minimum tax.

Now, it wasn't always an easy route to get here. At multiple points throughout the negotiation, it looked like the talks had broken down entirely. And even up into the very last minute, it was a lot of work to keep the entire Democratic caucus on board. Here's what Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had to say about it.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): It has been a long, tough, and winding road. We did it without a single vote to spare. To do something with 50 votes is rough. To do small things with 50 votes is rough. To pass such a major piece of legislation with only 50 votes and intransigent Republican minority, a caucus running from Bernie Sanders to Joe Manchin, wow.


ZANONA: Now the bill heads to the House where we are expecting a vote on Friday. And we have already heard from a number of key House Democrats that they are supporting this bill, even though the bill does not include some key tax provisions that they previously were demanding. So, this is a pretty clear sign that this bill is likely to pass and head to Joe Biden's desk by the end of this week. Melanie Zanona, CNN, Capitol Hill.

CHURCHL: David Gergen is a CNN senior political analyst and former adviser to four U.S. citizens and I spoke with him earlier to get his take on the Democrat's bill and what it means for Joe Biden. Take a listen


DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Joe Biden has been on a rollercoaster here for the last several months, in fact, for much of his political life. You know, he's down, then he's up, and then he goes sharply down, then he comes back up. It is very striking to watch. And yes, it could be a game-changer. I think it's too early to tell for sure.

It's always important -- it's important to remember that when big things happen, especially good news happens, sometimes what happens is not a leading indicator, it's a lagging indicator. And you heard, but it takes weeks if not months sometimes for changes, especially in the economic sphere to work their way through the system so that a president gets credit for it.

It takes -- usually when things are bright for a president economically, it takes 3 to 6 months for the president to realize those assets, political assets. So, Biden has had a terrible, terrible lead into this, but he got a terrific run here in the last few weeks, some would say one of the most important significant runs since Lyndon Johnson was president and swept through with so many legislative initiatives.


But he still got high inflation and the country is still not reconciled. The latest poll we had -- it is too early to get really good polls about responding obviously to what just happened on this bill. But we did have a nice couple of days, a poll coming out from ABC. He was down to 37 percent approval. That's really, really low. So, he's got a lot to come back from, but for Democratic Party, this is a (inaudible) shot of adrenaline. Just what they've been looking for to become more competitive.


CHURCH: And do stay with us. We will have more of that interview with David Gergen the next hour.

A truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad is holding for now in Gaza after an escalation in tensions over the weekend. The two sides agreed to a cease-fire two days after Israel launched what it called preemptive strikes on Islamic Jihad targets. Before that development on Sunday, Palestinian militants launched rockets towards Jerusalem following Israeli airstrikes in Gaza overnight.

Israeli officials say a leader of Islamic Jihad's operations in southern Gaza was killed in an airstrike on a building in Rafah close to the border with Egypt. He was the second militant commander killed in the Israeli operation. Palestinian officials say at least 44 militants and civilians have been killed including 15 children.

Well, journalist Elliott Gotkine joins us now from southern Israel. And Elliott, what is the latest on where things stand with this cease- fire?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rosemary, the cease-fire is holding. It's held now for some nine hours since about midnight local time. It was meant to go into effect at 11:30 pm local time, but there were still a handful of rockets fired from the Gaza strip towards Israel between half past 11 and midnight.

But as I say, so far, for the past nine hours, it has held. And from Israel's perspective it is in a sense mission accomplished. The whole point of this operation it says, was to restore calm and security to the communities surrounding the Gaza strip. They've taken out the top two senior commanders of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza strip. They have attacked tunnels, rocket launchers, workshops, and other targets.

And at the same time, despite more than 1,100 rockets being fired towards Israel by Islamic Jihad, there was no major damage and no casualties on the Israeli side. That said, from Islamic Jihad's perspective, they can point to the fact that they were able to launch these rockets, that they were able to send people scurrying into bomb shelters in Tel Aviv. I had to go into my own bomb shelter in Tel Aviv for the first time yesterday evening for example.

Their rockets were reaching towards Jerusalem as well. And although their two senior commanders are no longer standing, Islamic Jihad as an organization lives to fight another day. And I don't think that anyone is under any illusions that that day will at some point come, perhaps not only with Islamic Jihad, but with a much larger and much more powerful Hamas, which of course runs the Gaza strip. Never mind even the other main Iranian proxy Hezbollah on the other side of the Lebanese border, Rosemary

CHURCH: Alright. Elliott Gotkine joining us there with the very latest. Many thanks. Well, U.S. President Joe Biden is praising the cease-fire. In a

statement, he called the deaths in Gaza a tragedy, whether they were the result of Israeli strikes or Islamic Jihad rockets that reportedly fell inside Gaza. He added, "My administration supports a timely and thorough investigation into all of these reports and we also call on all parties to fully implement the cease-fire, and to ensure fuel and humanitarian supplies are flowing into Gaza as the fighting subsides."

The former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says the CDC needs to expand its definition of monkeypox so more people can get tested for the virus. Speaking with CBS on Sunday, Dr. Scot Gottlieb noted the virus had clearly expanded outside the most at risk groups and said the time for more testing is now.


SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER COMMISSIONER, U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: I think if we're going to contain this and make sure that it doesn't spread more broadly in the population, we need to start testing more broadly. We have the capacity to do it. Right now, CDC has the capacity to conduct about 80,000 tests a week. They're doing about 8000. So, they can broaden this substantially by changing the case definition and recommending that more doctors be testing more patients looking for this infection in the community.


CHURCH: More than 28,000 monkeypox infections have been reported worldwide and about 7,500 of those are in the United States. New York has seen the most cases in the country with almost 1,900 reported so far. And for more, I'm joined by a professor Ann Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at UCLA. Thank you so much for being with us.



CHURCH: I'll get to the testing in just a moment, but I wanted to go to this because due to limited monkeypox a vaccine supplies, health officials are deciding whether to allow a new monkeypox vaccination strategy to go ahead which would inject just one fifth of the current dose into the skin instead of a full dose into underlying fat in order to stretch current vaccines supplies.

But there are, of course, concerns. This approach has not been sufficiently studied and not enough health care workers know exactly how to do this. So, what's your reaction to this plan to stretch supplies without compromising efficacy?

RIMOIN: Rosemary, I think that this is a really good idea. You know, we know how to do this. We've done this before for other vaccines. We've done this for yellow fever. We've done this in the past four flu vaccines, for a variety of different vaccines, and done -- a few that (inaudible) how to use fractional doses using smaller doses. They can still stimulate the immune responses to be able to get -- to illicit the kind of protection that you need.

Being able to give this dose intradermally, so, instead of subcutaneously will likely give a stronger immune response, and then you'll be able to sort -- make the doses smaller. Of course, this is going to be tested. We're going to need to make sure that this actually works well. So, this will have to go through some hoops, but if this does work for this vaccine, it will be an excellent way to be able to stretch a very limited supply of vaccine.

CHURCH: And, professor, why weren't enough bulk vaccine stocks for monkeypox processed into vials and how long might it take to get enough vaccine supplies to all those in need?

RIMOIN: Well, you know, I think that the, you know, the issue is that we have two vaccines that are available and the ACAM2000 vaccine, the live vaccine does have a lot of side effects which are difficult to be able to manage when trying to mass administer a vaccine. This (inaudible) vaccine is much more easily tolerated and -- but the problem is, it's a two-dose vaccine.

So, in order to be able to get enough of, you know, the adequate immune response, you know, it really needs a lot more. So, you know, why we were not ahead of the game, you know, I can't answer that question, but here we are, we need to be moving as quickly as we can to get as many doses out there, a lot of people who are at risk right now, and if the sooner we can get people vaccinated the better off we'll be.

CHURCH: And right now, the monkeypox outbreak is almost entirely limited to men who have sex with men, although five cases involving children have been reported. And that's why former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb says the CDC needs to broaden its case definition for monkeypox testing in more segments of the U.S. population and test more. Do you agree with him on that?

RIMOIN: I definitely agree with Scott Gottlieb. I think that the issue here is we just don't have enough situational awareness to know how many people actually are infected with monkeypox. Yes, it's absolutely true that right now we are seeing the vast majority of cases are in sexual networks of men who have sex with men.

But, you know, all of these communities are overlapping. There are certainly more cases out there and we will see more cases spilling over into other communities just as we see more cases occurring. How do we actually learn who is at risk? We need to test. And so therefore, the more testing is available, the better it is.

Dr. Gottlieb is correct. What we need to do is we need to expand the clinical case definition so that more people get tested, that clinicians actually think to test people when they see an atypical case of a rash illness. And the sooner we do this, the better we are going to be because we are really going to understand what the true burden of infection is here.

CHURCH: Anne Rimoin, many thanks for joining us, as always.

RIMOIN: My pleasure.

CHURCH: Still to come, fears of a nuclear disaster arising in Ukraine after explosions shake Europe's largest nuclear power plant for a second day. The details right after the break.

Plus, Taiwan's foreign minister speaks to CNN. What he makes of the threat posed by China's military as it conducts military exercises near the island. We're back with that and more in just a moment.



CHURCH: Ukraine is accusing Russia of nuclear terror after explosion shook Europe's largest nuclear power plant for a second day in a row. Ukraine says Russian shells damaged three radiation detectors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

It came just a day after an attack that prompted warnings of a nuclear disaster from the U.N.'s watchdog. Russia blames Ukraine for the strikes. Concerns about the plant have been growing since Russian forces seized it in March. And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is urging a stronger response from allies.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: There is no such nation in the world that could feel safe when a terrorist state fired at a nuclear plant. God forbid, something irreparable happens and no one will stop the wind that will spread the radioactive contamination. Therefore, a principled response of the international community to these Russian attacks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe is needed now.


CHURCH: Mr. Zelenskyy also warned that future negotiations with Russia could be in jeopardy if officials in occupied areas hold referendums on joining Russia. Last month, U.S. officials warned Russia could be planning sham votes to annex occupied territory in Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and the eastern Donbas region.

Well, for more, we want to bring in CNN's Nic Robertson. He joins us live from Kramatorsk. Good to see you, Nic. So, what is the latest on those new strikes on the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia?


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the U.N., its watchdog, the IAEA, the director general says that he would like to get immediate access as soon as possible so they can see and have an understanding of what's happening. But it seems to be an unrealistic expectation at the moment while the country is in the middle of war, while Russia appears to have put heavy armaments very close to some of the most potentially dangerous elements of that nuclear power plant, the spent fuel rods where some of those impacts happened over the weekend.

Ukraine on one side of the river, Russian forces dug in at that power plant and it's going to be a point of contention. It certainly a place where Russia can try to seek to avoid being ousted out of because of the danger of shelling it. And Ukraine is accusing Russia of damaging the plant through shelling -- Russia with a counter accusation.

But I don't think there is a quick resolution going to come there. Further east here in the Donetsk region here in Kramatorsk, the sirens are going off right now. In the distance we can hear a number of loud impacts that is just absolutely normal for here.

And about 40, 50 minutes' drive away, we went into the forest there to see the very front lines where the Ukrainian forces are holding out against Russia trying to follow up with and on the ground advance behind these missile barrages that are coming in here.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Deep in the woods of Ukraine's eastern front, troops dig in. Trenches here are life savers.

UNKNOWN: We are here where the fighting is fierce. We took our portion of shelling here and some of our comrades were injured.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): The faces of the troops here tell a story that words cannot. This is tough duty. Five days at the front, 10 days resting here nearby. They joke about living like hobbits, underground, away from the shelling.

(On camera): When Ukrainian officials talk about the HIMARS rocket systems and the M777 artillery helping hold their line, these are the lines they are talking about.

(Voice-over): And these other soldiers with the hard fight to make sure it does hold. He says, we hold the line, it is humid, it rains, shells hit us all the time, but we hold the defense. There is no other way.

Of course, the shelling gets on your mind, Artim (ph) tells me. His buddy, Vitali (ph) adding, but you get used to it, both set on victory, they say. To get to the very front line, we crossed fields littered with Russian rockets.

(On camera): All these trees here, they're telling us were taken out by shelling.

(Voice-over): Conditions here, very spartan. The Russians less than a mile away. Days here when troops can't leave their bunkers. Russia out guns them five times.

(On camera): This is where the next phase of the war will be won or lost, in trenches like this that stretch for hundreds of miles. Troops like this holding the line against the possible Russian advance.

(Voice-over): We manage, the officer says. We've come here to stop the enemy. We just take it, sit it out, and keep on fighting. An incoming shell, punctuates his fort. More weapons, more armor he says, and it could be us advancing.


(On camera): It feels very much like the trench warfare that we heard about in World War I and World War II. People sitting it out and, in this case, the lines far enough apart that they can't easily shoot at each other with their automatic rifles. But the shelling along those front lines is a very intense and what you get here in cities like this and other towns outlying from here is just this sort of barrage. It will come, you know, at any moment through the day.

There'll be a barrage of heavy fire. It will stop. It will pick up somewhere else. And this just sort of proceeds Russia's effort to push forward and incrementally, incrementally very, very slowly, they're managing to do that. But, as we saw at those lines, they can sit tight, hunker down, and hope that they can hold on until they get more and better weapons from their allies.

CHURCH: Alright, Nic Robertson in Kramatorsk, Ukraine joining us there with that report. Appreciate it.


Well, Ukraine's grain exports are picking up steam. On Sunday, a cargo ship entered a Ukrainian port for the first time since the invasion. Another four ships left Ukraine Sunday, carrying more than 160,000 metric tons of food.

Now, this comes after Turkey and the United Nations helped broker a deal to unlock millions of tons of food supplies stuck at Ukrainian ports since the war began.

A historic moment for Colombia as the country inaugurates its first leftist president. Coming up, a look at the challenges facing Gustavo Pedro as he launches an ambitious agenda to transform Columbia. Back with that in just a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, we are tracking developments in the western Pacific where Chinese military drills have continued for a fifth day near Taiwan. Beijing rolled out the drills on Thursday after promising Taipei would pay a price for hosting U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She made the visit despite warnings from mainland China which considers the self-governing island part of its territory.

Taiwan's foreign minister says he is concerned but not afraid. He spoke to CNN's Will Ripley a short time ago.


JOESPH WU, TAIWAN FOREIGN MINISTER: China has always been threatening Taiwan for years and it's getting more serious in the last few years. And it's always been that way. Whether Speaker Pelosi visit Taiwan or not, the Chinese military threats against Taiwan has always been there.


And that is the fact that we need to deal with.


CHURCH: So let's bring in CNN's Blake Essig in Taipei. Blake, what more are you learning about China's military drills near Taiwan?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, just a few hours ago, we learned that the People's Liberation Army continues to conduct these military drills in the air and at sea around Taiwan. That's according to a video posted on social media by Chinese military. Now, the military in their post also stated that today's drills are focused on anti-submarine warfare and more naval action.

Now, during the first four days of military exercises, Taiwan's defense ministry says that China simulated an attack against the main island of Taiwan involving cyber attacks, a large number of fighter jets and warships operating daily around Taiwan with many entering Taiwan's air defense identification zone, in some crossing the Taiwan Strait median line. Beijing also launched nearly a dozen ballistic missiles, some flying over Taiwan for the first time ever.

And several landing in Japan's exclusive economic zone. But according to military experts, one of the key takeaways from what we saw over the past several days is that China demonstrated that a blockade of Taiwan doesn't necessarily require constant naval presence off shore and that stopping shipping and air traffic can be blocked by the threat of missiles, while China's live fire military exercises continue now for a fifth day.

It is worth noting that there's been a big difference between how the international community has reacted to these drills compared to how people here in Taiwan are reacting while some experts internationally are viewing this as a dress rehearsal for a potential war. Many people here in Taiwan, Rosemary, are just continuing with life as normal. This is they've been dealing with about seven decades plus of constant threat from China. So, this is just almost business as usual for them.

CHURCH: Interesting. And Blake, while the drills are not over yet, so what is expected to happen next?

ESSIG: Well, Rosemary, you know, it's impossible to know exactly what Chinese leader Xi Jinping is going to do next. In the past, he's made it clear that reunification with Taiwan, you know, it must be fulfilled. So yes, I mean, there's an expectation that China could take even more provocative action moving forward. But it's more likely that what's happening right now that China's going to seize upon this moment to permanently change the status quo around Taiwan.

And that seems to be what's happening according to Chinese state media. From now on China will conduct regular military drills east of Taiwan, the Taiwan Strait median line which is closer to Taiwan than China. And Rosemary, although we don't know what Beijing will do next is fair to say that things likely won't go back to normal even after these drills are over, and these heightened tensions start to die down.

It seems that that could be the new normal, moving forward between Taiwan and China on the Taiwan Strait.

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to our Blake Essig joining us live from Taipei. And we'll be back in just a moment.



CHURCH: An historic moment for Colombia as Gustavo Petro is officially sworn in as the country's first leftist president. In front of cheering supporters, the presidential sash was placed on the 62-year- old in the nation's capital on Sunday. In another history making achievement his running mate Francia Marquez became the first Afro- Colombian to hold executive powers. Well, Mr. Petro won the election in June on an ambitious agenda to tackle Colombia social and economic inequity -- inequality.

Now in office, the leftist president is aiming to revitalize the country and put a stop to rising violence. Stefano Pozzebon has more now from Bogota.

STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The swearing in ceremony on Sunday was delayed several minutes because the new president Gustavo Petro had demanded that this word of South America's independence hero Simon Bolivar was brought to him on stage to signify a new beginning for his country. A sign that things might be different from now on.


POZZEBON (voice over): Gustavo Petro says he's on a mission to transform Colombia.

GUSTAVO PETRO, PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA (through translator): Today, stars are second opportunity. It is time for change.

POZZEBON: The new president will be tackling tough challenges. Six years after historic treaty promised to bring peace to this country. Its implementation has been elusive and the security situation is deteriorating. Hundreds of social leaders have been assassinated, some of them former fighters who abandoned armed struggle as part of that treaty, like the husband of Luz Marina Giraldo.

A former guerilla who fought in the jungle with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC. She is now a politician. Part of a political party that rebels founded after putting down their weapons.

She urges the new president himself a former rebel to do more to reduce political violence and protect former fighters.

LUZ MARINA GIRALDO, COLOMBIAN POLITICAN AND FORMER FARC FIGHTER (through translator): I've been into campaigns, the first one in 2019 they killed my husband. Now, and this is the first time I'm saying it. My brother has disappeared. He vanished in February a few weeks before the election. And to this date we know nothing of him.

POZZEBON: Giraldo says the attacks come from criminal groups who oppose the peace deal, and intend to scare her away from political activity. Last year, the Colombian army arrested a rebel who reached the agreement and returned to armed struggle, accusing him of being the mastermind behind the plot to kill Giraldo's. To tackle security, Petro has appointed a civilian anti-corruption lawyer as defense minister.

But the new president has said that halting the war on drugs is key to ending the violence. Colombia is one of the largest producers of narcotics in the world, and for 30 years has waged a brutal campaign against the cartels. A campaign financed in part by the United States to little effect.

On Friday, a bill was presented to Congress to legalize recreational marijuana. The bill supporters say it's a possible new step towards ending the war on drugs.

GUSTAVO BOLIVAR, COLOMBIAN SENATOR (through translator): Prohibitionism has been a resounding defeat. There are more drugs around now than when Pablo Escobar was alive. More consumers, more production despite thousands of deaths.


The only way to guarantee peace to this country is regulation. Not just to marijuana but of all drugs.

POZZEBON: To regulate the consumption of hard drugs like cocaine, Colombia would have to renegotiate international treaties. But for a country that is constantly associated with narcotics, some experts say even legalizing marijuana could be a first move in changing Colombia's image.

LUIS MERCHAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, FLORA GROWTH: I've been in business for a number of decades now. And, you know, when somebody learns that I'm from Colombia, you always get that ah, that weird look about the war on drugs, for that to turn into actually a source of pride. Yes. I want to go to Colombia because I want to experience the plant there.

POZZEBON (on camera): The economy and mountain inflation represents another test for the new president. Gustavo Petro is asking his fellow Colombians to be patient before his reforms come into effect, but he's adamant. Then in four years time, it will be a new Colombia.

For CNN. This is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.

CHURCH: And thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. For our international viewers. World Sport is up next. And for those of you here in the United States and Canada, I'll be back with more news after a short break. You're watching CNN. Stick around.