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Members Of U.K. Royal Family Hold Vigils Over Body Of Queen Elizabeth II; Mourners Line Up For Hours To View Body Of Queen Elizabeth II Lying In State; Republican Governors Of Southern States Continue Transporting Migrants To Sanctuary Cites; Success Of Counteroffensive Of Ukrainian Forces Against Russian Military Prompt Pro-War Russian Citizens To Call For Resignation Of President Putin; Republican Arizona Senate Candidate Blake Master Faces Criticism For Extreme Positions Taken During Primary; Images From James Webb Telescope Capture Birth Of Stars; New Samples From Mars Show Basic Materials Of Organic Life; Typhoon Merbok Hits Parts Of Alaska. Aired 2-3p ET.
Aired September 17, 2022 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Fair warning. Thank you so much, Allison.
All right, and our hearts are broken to have to share this with you, but we want to take a moment to remember a prominent Georgia attorney, Page Pate, who died in a tragic incident last Sunday. And Page was a regular on CNN, a frequent guest, legal analyst right here on this show. Officials say Page Pate died after being swept out into a rip current off the coast of St. Simons Island in Georgia. Page's law firm praised him and said he was a founding member of the Georgia Innocence Project. And of course, we praise him. He was always a brilliant mind when on this show and throughout the network, bringing his very astute analysis to so many prominent legal cases. Friends and family will be gathering to remember him at a memorial service today. The 55-year-old leaves behind a wife and two sons. Page Pate, we'll always remember him for being a great friend of this show.
All right, hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
Right now, a heartfelt tribute to Queen Elizabeth II is underway in London. Thousands pouring into Westminster Hall to say a final farewell to their monarch. In the last hour we saw the queen's eight grandchildren holding a vigil as she lies in state. The royal family also greeting world leaders as they arrive today ahead of the queen's funeral, which is Monday.
Let's go straight to London right now. CNN's Max Foster, Richard Quest, and Anna Stewart are following this historic event. Max, to you first. This vigil, with the queen's grandchildren, it was only about 15 minutes. But wow, even with that brevity, you felt such love being exuded from these family members, from these young men and women who were paying the greatest homage to their grandmother. MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, something they all
wanted to do. Obviously for William and Harry, more practice at this sort of thing. But for the others, not so much, with the whole world watching, particularly young Viscount Severn. He's only 14 years old. He's Prince Edward's son. So Prince Edward and wife Sophie were there on the balcony overlooking all of this. The other members of the family weren't there, but they were there to support their young children.
And I think it was a very powerful moment because these are all children that have their own relationships with the queen. They didn't have to do this. I think we have learnt from the past that when William and Harry walked behind Diana's coffin, there was a lot of pressure on that moment. Would they have done that if it now and they had the choice? Probably not. But this is something all those children wanted to do.
And then the public filing by watching them, extraordinary situation. But allowing, really, the public to share with the family this grief. That's the whole idea of this entire setup. But also, an extraordinary moment, Fredricka, for members of the public who have you queueing for hours and then had that window, 15 minutes, where all the children were there, the grandchildren were there. I thought it was quite extraordinary. Harry wearing a uniform, special dispensation from the king. That was something that he would have been very happy with. I think it's a one-off, but I think it's just another element of how extraordinary this moment was.
WHITFIELD: And Richard, your thoughts on the vigil, the symbolism and all that is meant by it?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: I think the thing that struck me, obviously, the moment, if you will, that these were not only prince and princesses and royal children, but they were also grieving children for their grandmother. We heard that in Beatrice and Eugenie's letter to dear granny that they read, that they released beforehand.
But the other point is, look at the picture here, and you start to see the next iteration of the royal family, in a sense. Here you have Prince William, now the Prince of Wales, at the front. He's the oldest, obviously, but the most senior in that sense. But he's leading the way. So precedent now says he's at the front. And you follow behind in order of precedence of where you stand in terms of the throne, how far you are in the line of succession. So William, along with his father, has taken on more burdens of monarchy, what Charles calls the weight of history.
And I do believe -- here is a classic picture there, right the way back to the two at the back, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, Princess Anne's children, who were deliberately not given royal titles so that they could have a more normal life. And Zara Tindall has gone on record as saying we are very grateful that our parents didn't saddle us with these royal titles. WHITFIELD: Wow, that is striking. And, Max, the funeral is scheduled
for Monday. But we're still 48 hours away. What is going to fill these next two days?
FOSTER: I think the rest of this now, this is, I think, the last sort of really poignant family moment this weekend ahead of the funeral, I think really what we have got now is all of the heads of state arriving. I would expect them, including President Biden, to go and visit the coffin, pay his respects there. There's a condolence book the heads of state are signing as well. They are really flooding in. Then they have got a big reception tomorrow night here at Buckingham Palace. Working royals will be there. And I think that will be a quite profound moment that really emphasizes what a global figure the queen was, the longest serving head of state in the world who was revered by heads of state, whatever their politics, because she never got involved in politics. I think that's really what we're going to be seeing over the rest of this weekend. But this was the last poignant moment I think for the family that we will see publicly until that very, very poignant funeral service on Monday and the follow-up internment at Windsor.
WHITFIELD: Right, so it's really more like a day-and-a-half away, because it is dinner time there right now.
So, Richard, what do you view will be said of the queen, that all of these world leaders are descending on London to pay their respects. While they won't have speaking -- moments to speak during the ceremony, but some will speak afterwards. But I wonder what, if your view, it says about the queen that people from all walks, and then particularly heads of state from all parts of the world will be there. It will be a huge security undertaking. But it seems like it says such a big, strong message about all that are coming to pay their last respects to the queen.
QUEST: It is of a size and scale commensurate with the role that her majesty had in the world. After 70 odd years, everybody -- she had been at the top table. She'd had prime ministers, as we know, going back to Churchill. But what I think is interesting is the speed with which everybody said they were going. So when asked was he going, President Biden said, you bet I'm going. Of course I'm going.
WHITFIELD: Even though he didn't have an invitation yet.
QUEST: Yes, absolutely, because he knew, he knew that as the official representative of the United States it was absolutely imperative that the U.S. be represented at the highest level. And you're seeing it in Japan where the new emperor, who rarely leaves the country and almost never does sort of funeral duty, if you will, is coming across -- is now in London to be at the funeral. The president of Germany, obviously, Macron, and you have the commonwealth leaders. Now, here you have governor generals, which are the queen's representatives, and you have prime ministers of Australia, New Zealand, Canada.
What it says, as I say, it is indicative that the Queen reigned supreme as being, if you will, the most famous -- one of the most famous women in the world. And I will go further, Fred. She was probably the most famous woman in the world for the longest period than anybody else.
WHITFIELD: Yes, and certainly the most photographed as well of the world. All hail to the queen for another at least one-and-a-half days, right? Richard Quest, Max Foster, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
All right, let's turn now to CNN royal historian Kate Williams. Kate, your impressions of this day? I mean, each day is eclipsed by yet another incredible moment. And we just witnessed it inside the last hour right here live.
KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Reporter: Yes, Fred. Wasn't it significant?
WILLIAMS: We saw the royal grandchildren there outside, doing the vigil around the coffin. And we saw the royal children doing their vigil last night. And then it was the royal grandchildren there for 15, 20 minutes just outside the coffin with the public filing past. And what an incredibly moving moment to see Prince William at the head, Prince Harry at the base, and Prince Harry and William leading off the rest of their cousins.
It was in birth order. It was in succession order. So you have Harry, William, and then Eugenie and Beatrice, and then the Viscount Severn and Lady Louise, and then Zara and Peter Phillips behind because as Princess Anne's children they are at the bottom of the line of succession because women, until 2013, were pushed to the bottom.
And there's a really moving image of the children coming, the grandchildren coming to commemorate their grandmother alongside Beatrice and Eugenie wo gave out this really wonderful statement earlier, saying that you will never know because you're you the impact that you had on us and the rest of your world. And it was the greatest honor our lives to be your granddaughters. And really, really, this is both a moment of mourning for a private family, and also their recognition of her role as head of state, that Richard was just talking about this great role, this huge, longest reigning monarch.
And also I think they really are keen to acknowledge the crowds out here, the lines and lines of people, 24-hour queues of people who wish to go and pay their respects to her majesty. I've been there chatting to them, and they are in really good spirits. But they really are, they really want to show how much she means to them and how much they're grateful for her devotion of all of these years.
WHITFIELD: And what is the statement, in your view, that is being made that the king would give this special dispensation so that Prince Harry would be in uniform for this moment? And who knows what happens over the next couple of days, but particularly today.
WILLIAMS: Yes, Prince Harry is in uniform. It's this special dispensation. The argument is that after you've left the forces in this country you don't wear the uniform anymore. And as Prince Harry, his honorary military title such as colonel in chief, which the queen was of the grenadier guards, the honorary military titles that he had are removed, then therefore he cannot wear a military uniform.
But I do think, what I have seen is a real ground swell in the public. Lots of them have been saying, people have been talking about it on the tube and when I'm walking around, people saying I feel that Harry served in Afghanistan. He was on the front lines. He should be allowed to wear his uniform. And that's what I've heard members of the public saying. And I think that that's perhaps what the king was thinking of here. This is important to him and to Harry.
WHITFIELD: And what do you think is going to transpire over the next day-and-a-half before Monday's funeral?
WILLIAMS: Yes, well, the next day-and-a-half will see the end of the public queue, 6:30 on Monday morning is the last chance for members of the public to pay their respects in London to Queen Elizabeth II. There will be another chance in Windsor briefly after she arrives on Monday, and then is lowered into the royal vault.
But what we are going to see, really, is the preparations for this big moment, this state funeral. We haven't seen a state funeral of a monarch since the king, her father, in 1952. And the greatest we have in terms of heads of state was Edward VII, her great grandfather, who had 70 representatives in countries across the world. Now we are looking at probably 300 if not more. London is a city which is hosting the biggest global event which reflects how she was the most traveled queen. She traveled 42 times around the world and had such a diplomatic role. And will that be repeated? Let's see.
WHITFIELD: Wow, beautiful point. Kate Williams, thank you so much. Max Foster, Richard Quest with us earlier as well, thanks to all of you.
Coming up, the battle over immigration in this country intensifying after two Republican governors bussed and flew migrants into other cities. What those governors are saying now and how the White House is responding.
Plus, new breath-taking images from the James Webb telescope revealing new secrets about our solar system.
WHITFIELD: The political battle over immigration is heating up as some Republican governors vow to send more migrants to northern cities run by Democrats. New York City's mayor says they are prepared to add dozens of additional emergency shelters to deal with the surge. He also said they are looking at the legality of using cruise ships for temporary housing.
CNN's Athena Jones joining me live now from New York. So Athena, what else did Mayor Eric Adams say about the city's efforts? ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. This is really
interest. His whole point is that we have to consider a myriad of options. This was an interview he gave, an exclusive interview he gave to the local CBS affiliate, WCBS, saying that cruise ships are being considered for temporary housing. So he says that he thinks that in the past this is something that has been considered before, but they really have to look into it.
He also said the city is looking at opening up probably another 38 additional emergency shelters. But they can't do that overnight, so they have to come up with solutions. In the meantime, he said they are considering cruise ships. So we'll have to wait and see what happens with that, whether that will be allowed. But this is the scrambling that these so called liberal cities or blue cities are having to deal with as these red state governors send migrants up unexpectedly and without coordination. We know that on Martha's Vineyard, those 50 migrants who arrived a couple of days ago on Wednesday have been ferried over to Joint Base Cape Cod, which is going to be used as an emergency shelter to give them wraparound services. It's the same kind of stuff being offered to them in New York, mental and medical evaluations, access to vaccines, access to legal help.
But the big issue here is the lack of coordination. Listen to one of the lawyers who was on the ground helping folks who had arrived in Martha's Vineyard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL SELF, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: They were lied to again and again, and fraudulently induced to board the planes.
They were told there was a surprise present for them, and that there would be jobs and housing waiting for them when they arrived. This was obviously a sadistic lie. Not only did those responsible for this stunt know that there was no housing and no employment awaiting the migrants, they also very intentionally chose not to call ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And that lawyer went on to say that some of those migrants have hearings, immigration proceedings that they have to appear in front of as soon as Monday in places as far away as San Antonio or Tacoma, Washington. So they say, look, the uproar and the scrambling that these moves by these Governor DeSantis and the like have caused, that's exactly the real point. But the real problem is that these are vulnerable people who are lawfully present. They have been processed. They are waiting to have a determination made about whether they will be able to have asylum, and they are being treated cruelly. Fred?
WHITFIELD: Athena Jones in New York, thanks so much.
Coming up, as Ukrainians regain ground, more evidence of Russian brutality discovered in the newly liberated towns. We'll take you live to Ukraine next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: Just days after Ukrainian forces recaptured much of the Kharkiv region, Ukrainian officials say the newly liberated areas are now being heavily shelled by Russian artillery. And it follows the disturbing discovery of a mass burial site in the eastern city of Izyum. Ukrainian authorities say they have found at least 440 graves, and that some of the bodies show signs of torture. CNN's Ben Wedeman joining us now from Ukraine. So Ben, what more are you learning about Ukraine's efforts to retake more territory?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, the Ukrainians are gradually taking more territory in the Kharkiv region, but not at quite the pace they were over the last two weeks. We understand that Russian forces are trying to dig new defensive lines in those few areas in this region that they still control.
Now, the governor of the Kharkiv region says his top priority at the moment in the liberated areas is to provide basic services. We're talking about water, heating, and electricity, which simply aren't functioning in that 8,000-square-kilometer area. That's more than 3,000 square miles. Now, efforts continue to exhume bodies at that mass burial site outside Izyum. And today Ukrainian officials were showing journalists in Izyum what they say were Russian prisons complete with torture rooms.
Now, the Russians continue, as you said, to bombard this area. In fact, here in the city of Kharkiv, a Russian missile slammed into an industrial site early today. And in fact, in a nearby town, a Russian artillery barrage, according to Ukrainian officials, killed an 11- year-old girl. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: So horrific. So now, the U.N. atomic agency says the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is reconnected to the national grid. What more can you tell us about that?
WEDEMAN: Yes. The main line from the national grid to the power plant has been repaired. Yesterday, Russian forces allowed 25 trucks from Ukraine's state nuclear power company to bring badly needed spare parts and fuel. But Rafael Grossi, who is the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency says the situation there remains precarious given that this is Europe's largest nuclear power plant in an active war zone.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ben Wedeman, thank you so much. Of course, that noise we're hearing is the rainfall that's happening in the middle of that live shot.
All right, Russia's recent battlefield losses in Ukraine have enraged some of Putin's own citizens, including pro-war activists. CNN's Matthew Chance has more on the growing tide of criticism and how it may impact Putin and the war.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ukraine's gains here set to dramatic music by their own troops, is increasingly Putin's loss. Russia's stunning military setbacks stirring broad public criticism at home, which shocked military hardliners voicing anger and dozens of elected local Russian politicians, too, signing an official petition, authored by this local chancellor demanding President Putin be impeached. Russians have offered to pay his fines for speaking out, even to hide him, he told me, as the Kremlin tries to put him in jail.
DMITRY PALYUGA, RUSSIAN LOCAL DEPUTY: Obviously, the Russian army is being destroyed right now. So we'll lose people, we'll lose weapons, and we'll lose our ability to defend.
CHANCE: And that fact that the Russian army is suffering these setbacks, that is fueling anger, isn't it? Not just amongst liberal aspects of Russian society, but also amongst hardliners as well. They're furious.
PALYUGA: Yes. Actually, pro-war activists, they now really feel betrayed. And there is a point where both liberal group of people and that pro-war group of people can have the same goal.
CHANCE: Unlike these early antiwar protesters in Moscow back in February, hardliners complain of Russia being too soft on Ukraine and sending woefully underprepared troops into battle. But it's the heavy price Russia is paying where there may be common cause, and why another counselor has filed a second petition calling for Putin to resign. The Kremlin's strongman, she told me, is depriving Russians of a future.
KSENIA THORSTROM, RUSSIAN LOCAL DEPUTY: Russians are becoming poorer. They are not welcome anywhere. And there is less facilities, supplies. Russia doesn't really produce anything itself. And I don't know what future can be for the country which is isolated.
CHANCE: Can you talk to me about what impact that lack of a future is having on people that you speak to?
THORSTROM: Well, it is quite depressive now, a very depressive atmosphere in Russia. And the frustration, feeling fear, anger, shame.
CHANCE: The Kremlin insists the mood of the people is still with the Russian president. The growing criticism at home and abroad may at least threaten to take the swagger out of Putin's step.
Matthew Chance, CNN, London.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WHITFIELD: All right, all next week, meet the changemakers and dream- makers as our own journalists shine a light on those who inspire them. "Champions for Change" next week right here on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Join us for "Champions for Change."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, girls, come on, keep your knees up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As CNN journalists shine a light on those who inspire them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a huge commitment and sacrifice and generosity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The changemakers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love it so much, man. It comes down to everybody playing their role the right way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The dream makers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to make a difference in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to get better.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Always. Always.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a champion for change because he's actually making the change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Champions for Change" all next week on CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: A New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate said he's changing his mind about Donald Trump's election fraud claims. Don Bolduc won the Republican nomination on Tuesday after months campaigning on false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from the former president. But then two days after his win, he told FOX News that he's, quote, done a lot of research, and after speaking with New Hampshire voters, is changing his position.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIG. GEN. DON BOLDUC (RET), U.S. ARMY: I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying THAT Trump won the election, and damnit, I stand by my words.
I have come to the conclusion, and I want to be definitive on this. The election was not stolen. Was there fraud? Yes. President Biden is the legitimate president of this country. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Bolduc's political opponent, Democrat Senator Maggie Hassan's campaign is dismissing his move as a political ploy.
And then to Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters, he's attempting to pivot to the center on key issues in an effort to reel in independent voters and unseat Democrat Mark Kelly. Here's CNN's Kyung Lah.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please join me in welcoming Blake Masters.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Arizona Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters pledges he is paving a path for the new political right.
BLAKE MASTERS, (R) RUNNING FOR U.S. SENATE IN ARIZONA: Who is ready to beat Mark Kelly?
LAH: But first, Masters needs Arizona voters like Jon Cain to get behind him.
JON CAIN, REGISTERED REPUBLICAN: If he doesn't turn his head around, he is going to lose the election.
LAH: Are you concerned about him?
CAIN: Absolutely. He runs an ad on TV and then at the end it says, independent for Arizona. I said, what?
LAH: It's the general election pivot, trying to appeal to independents who make up roughly a third of registered voters in Arizona.
MASTERS: They have made a whole party out of just dividing people.
LAH: In this speech, Masters focuses on the border, inflation, and crime.
MASTERS: Republicans have a plan to make our families safe again, to make this country prosperous again, and to make everybody free again. Does that sound extreme it you?
LAH: But the edgy rhetoric and imagery that marked his primary was missing. The primary candidate who doubted the 2020 election results --
MASTERS: I think Trump won in 2020.
LAH: -- and downplayed the January 6th insurrection -- MASTERS: It wasn't a coup. It wasn't an insurrection. This was
LAH: -- didn't mention Donald Trump in this room.
MASTERS: I am pro-life and I'm proud to be pro-life. I will never run away from that.
MASTERS: Thank you.
LAH: But he has altered his campaign website, scrubbing strict anti- abortion language, and he's backed off from this primary position --
MASTERS: Maybe we should privatize Social Security, private retirement accounts. Get the government out of it.
LAH: -- to this in the general election.
MASTERS: I don't want to privatize it. They, you know, that was probably a misstatement by me.
I'm saying the same stuff I said in the primary. The Democrats have failed. They have delivered nothing but chaos and pain. We are pushing back. We have got a beautiful America first agenda. I was proud to campaign on that for more than a year, and that's exactly what I'm campaigning on now.
LAH: So you're saying the message is exactly the same as it was before the primary?
MASTERS: Asked and answered.
LAH: The Senate leadership fund, the super PAC to help elect Republicans, canceled $8 million in planned ad spending to boost Masters this month.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blake Masters, too dangerous for Arizona.
LAH: At the same time as incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly and allies are pouring millions into ads using Masters' words against him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't trust Blake Masters with our retirement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're incredible Senator Mark Kelly!
LAH: Kelly, one the Senate's most endangered incumbents, has 20 times the amount of cash on hand compared to Masters and vows to continue calling out the contrast between the candidates.
SEN. MARK KELLY (D-AZ): I think it's important that Arizonans know what each of us stand for. And I think that's pretty clear.
I think all elections are about choices. And they are pretty obvious choices.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WHITFIELD: Kyung Lah, thank you so much for that.
Blown away, that's how astronomers are describing these new pictures from the Webb telescope. How the images could provide new insight into the creation of stars and planets.
WHITFIELD: It is truly dazzling. NASA revealing breathtaking infrared pictures of the Orion Nebula courtesy of the James Webb telescope in what is a never before seen look at how stars and planets are created. Here with us now to talk about it, professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester, Adam Frank. He's also the author of the book "Light of the Stars, Alien Worlds and the Fate of Earth." All right, this is out of this world.
WHITFIELD: So yes, this nebula is what, 1,300 lightyears away. And for all of us who are not astrophysicists, why is this so important? Break it down for us.
ADAM FRANK, PROFESSOR OF ASTROPHYSICS, UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER: You know, as they say, that section in "People" magazines about stars are just like us. And this picture sort of shows that stars, they have lifecycles. They're born, they live, and they die. And this is a stellar nursery. What you're seeing here is a picture of stars forming out of this immense cloud of gas and dust. And so what I really want to point out, that ridge that you're seeing, that kind of brown ridge --
FRANK: -- what happens is there's -- yes, what is that? What are you actually looking for? So there's a bunch of stars that you can't see, super massive stars about 33 times the size of the sun, and they are blowing huge winds that are basically creating a cavity in this cloud of gas. So these are stars that just turned on. They were just born. And they are really tearing the cloud apart. but that brown ridge is really like a snowbank, like a plow pushes snow in front of it. So that's a ridge of very dense gas. And where that gas is dense is where a new star is born because it's so dense there. So --
WHITFIELD: It's so colorful. Yes, it's so colorful, it looks like a painting. It looks like abstract artwork. It's just hard to understand what it is that we're seeing. But what more can be learned about these images?
FRANK: This is what -- it's beautiful. As you said, these are cosmic sculptures. On one hand, just the pure beauty of them, that nature makes these shapes that are literally 100 light years across. But there is also so much detail and information. So I have written a bunch of papers, along with others, about the Orion Nebula. And the process of star formation in that ridge, what you are really getting is the details of what that shape looks like, why it looks like that, and how that shape is triggering new stars, the next generation of stars to form in that dense snowplowy ridge.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh, a family of stars. So we also got big news about our closets planetary neighbor, and that would be Mars. The Perseverance rover recently collected samples of organic matter. So what is it telling us about the red planet?
FRANK: Yes, so what's interest about this is it shows you that Mars was once a blue world, right. Right now, we think of Mars as being this dry desert world. But about 4 billion years ago, there was lots of water. So where Perseverance is now, that rover is in the middle of Jezero Crater, which really is Jezero lake. It used to be a lake, almost as large, at least in terms of across, as Lake Ontario near me. And what they are finding is the kind of matter -- it's not proof of life, but it is the kind of matter that life would need to build. It's what we call organic materials, organic like it was part of a biology, but it's the precursor to biology. So it sort of points to the fact it may be a pre-signature, pre-biosignature of the fact that Mars may have once had life on it. So it's like we are gathering the clues one step after the other of the fact that maybe Mars had life.
WHITFIELD: So would that then bring hope that maybe if it's currently in a drought, that it would be cyclical, that there in some way would be an ability to have water again, if that's what that organic matter --
FRANK: Not without us. No, no, not without us. Mars is a really great example of long-term climate change, right, because Mars once was a blue world, it looks like. But then conditions changed and it lost all of its water, or almost all of its water.
There may be a lot of water underground. But unless we go and terraform it, what we call terraform by actually doing large-scale planetary engineering, Mars would stay a desert world. But human beings are very ingenious, and maybe over the next centuries or so we could maybe turn Mars into a blue world again after, maybe it would take a millennia of work, but it's possible that we could turn it into a blue world once again.
WHITFIELD: Something tells me that might be one of the objectives as to why there is so much momentum on trying to further explore if now in some way visit, hang out as a visitor, Mars. You never know, right? All things are possible.
FRANK: Yes. If we make it past climate change, if we can get through climate change, then the whole solar system is out there waiting for us, right. When you think about the long-term evolution of human society, thousands of years, it's just the solar system. So we've just got to get through what we're getting through now, and it's all out there waiting for us.
WHITFIELD: Waiting for us. OK, Adam Frank, I hear you. Professor, thank you so much. Good to see you.
FRANK: My pleasure.
WHITFIELD: All right, in this week's "Human Factor," NASCAR's first driver to discuss his autism diagnosis publicly is revving up awareness and acceptance on the track and off. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: For 22-year-old NASCAR driver Armani Williams, this is a sanctuary.
ARMANI WILLIAMS, NASCAR DRIVER: Being in a race car is just sort of my comfort zone.
GUPTA: Williams has autism spectrum disorder. Autism is a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that can affect communication, learning, and social skills, and Armani was diagnosed when he was two-year-old. With the help of speech and occupational therapy, he began to thrive. His parents enrolled him in a class to help him learn how to ride a bike.
DEL WILLIAMS, ARMANI'S FATHER: By the end of the first day, Armani was able to ride the bike. We were really floored. It's bizarre, if I'm being honest, his ability to stay focused and tunnel vision on some things. I think he has a level of concentration that I haven't seen.
GUPTA: His need for speed took off riding go-carts at an amusement park.
ARMANI WILLIAMS: It's just like again and again and again, it became apparent to me that this is something I wanted to do.
GUPTA: Armani started racing competitively when he was e just eight years old. He says his fixation on details and heightened sensitivity helped him zoom to NASCAR's top tiers.
ARMANI WILLIAMS: Because I have autism, you've got to have to almost be like the car. I have that laser-like focus. It just happens in a way that maybe not a lot of people have seen before. Autism can be a strength, not a weakness.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Parts of Alaska are being battered today by what could be the strongest storm to hit the state in over a decade. Check out in this incredible video showing an entire house floating down Snake River before getting stuck in the bridge. You see it right there. The resident who shot this footage tells CNN that flooding from the Typhoon Merbok is so high the home isn't able to float underneath the overpass, as you see right there. The National Weather Service warns some areas haven't seen floodwaters this intense in nearly 50 years.
Let's bring in Allison Chinchar in the Weather Center. So, what is going on there?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and the size of the storm, I think that's really important, too. Look, Alaska is the biggest state we have. So use that in comparison when you show this large swath that the storm has. You're looking at a visible satellite image, and it took three hours last night for it to finally make its way with sunset all the way across the storm, nearly four hours really. So again, it just kind of goes to show you the scope of how widespread this storm is.
We've talked about flooding. That's one of the big concerns. Winds have also been extremely high. We've had several wind reports of 70 to 80-mile-per-hour gusts. But the long-term concern is really the flooding because that's going to continue through the evening and even into early Sunday morning. This is where you have all those coastal flood warnings. And the real concern there, too, is that it's going to take hours before it reseeds. So you're going to have that standing water there for prolonged periods of time, and that's really going to make it difficult for them to clear the areas out.
Another storm system that we're watching, this on the other side is Tropical Storm Fiona, right now really starting to see some of those heavier outer bands begin to push into the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and yes even Puerto Rico starting to see some of their first bands.
Right now, the sustained winds are 60 miles per hour, gusting up to 70. But we anticipate that's actually going to increase in the coming hours. There's some of those outer bands already starting to push across Puerto Rico. The concern is really going to be the rainfall, widespread six to ten inches. But you're going to have some areas on the southern half of Puerto Rico, Fred, that could pick up 15, even as much as 20 inches of rain.
WHITFIELD: Wow, that is extraordinary.