Return to Transcripts main page
Reporting Indicates White House Chief Of Staff Ron Klain Expected To Step Down In Coming Weeks; Woman Barricading Herself Inside Daytona Beach Hospital Room After Shooting Her Terminally Ill Husband; Russian Troops Continually Attack Ukrainian Positions In Bakhmut Area Of Ukraine; Three Active Duty Marines Arrested In Connection With January 6th Capitol Riot; Alec Baldwin Intends To Finish Movie "Rust" Despite Facing Involuntary Manslaughter Charges For Shooting Death Of Crewmember; Suspect In Murders Of Four University Of Idaho Students Reportedly Followed All Three Female Victims On Instagram And Repeatedly Messaged One; Peru Closes Machu Picchu Site Amid Growing Anti-Government Protests; New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Announces Resignation; Millions Across World Celebrating Lunar New Year; Tech Companies Such As Google And Amazon Announce Tens Of Thousands Of Layoffs; World's Largest Toad Discovered In Australia. Aired 2-3p ET.
Aired January 21, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: "The New York Times" reporting just moments ago that Chief of Staff Ron Klain is expected to step down in the coming weeks. There has not been a successor that's been identified just yet according to "The New York Times," and that announcement of replacement likely would not come until after the State of the Union address.
But Ron Klain has really been one of the president's closest advisers since the start of this administration. And really there has been very little turnover when it comes to the senior staff at the White House. So this would mark a pretty big shift.
Now, Klain has overseen a host of issues and accomplishments for this White House, including navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic, getting infrastructure passed up on Capitol Hill, as well as one of the largest investments in climate change initiatives that was passed earlier in the fall.
But this would certainly mark a big moment of change for the White House, as President Biden is entering his final two years of office, and potentially launching another re-election bid. Ron Klain has worked with Biden for a very long time, dating back to his time in the Senate, also as vice president, and advising his campaign from the outside back in 2020.
CNN has reached out to the White House for comment on this and has yet to receive comments specifically. But "The New York Times" today is reporting on a very significant development as they say the White House chief of staff Ron Klain is expected to step down in the coming weeks. FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: So Arlette, is anything being said
about the timing? Is he stepping down, does it have anything to do with the recent classified documents, handling of from the White House? Is it instead, as "The New York Times" is reporting, that it's a grueling -- it has been a very grueling pace, and that may be a contributing factor? But is anyone else commenting on either of those scenarios?
SAENZ: Not specifically at this moment. But really, these chief of staff jobs, they do often have turnover. It is very rare that you have someone stay all four years of a presidency as chief of staff. These people are working around the clock, and certainly there have been very grueling and trying moments for this administration, as well.
You think of things like the withdrawal from Afghanistan being one of them, now dealing with that classified documents situation dating back to President Biden's time as vice president. But we are still waiting to learn more exactly about when this departure will be.
"The New York Times" indicates a likely replacement would not be announced until after the State of the Union address, which is February 7th.
WHITFIELD: All right, Arlette Saenz, Rehoboth Beach, keep us posted. Thanks so much.
Here's another breaking story that we continue to follow, this one out of Florida where police say a woman is barricading herself inside a Daytona Beach hospital room after shooting her husband who is terminally ill. This according to police.
CNN affiliate WESH is reporting that officers were dispatched to AdventHealth Hospital over reports of a person shot, and police are asking for people to remain clear of the area. CNN has reached out to hospital staff, some of whom are currently on lockdown inside the hospital, and the status of the woman's husband, unclear at this time.
Joining me right now is CNN's national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. Juliette, good to see you. So what is happening likely in that hospital right now to, of course, reach out to the suspected shooter while maintaining safety for patients and staff?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, that's right. So this is just -- this is not your typical active shooter. Obviously, she -- not defending her decision, she goes in there, the husband is terminally ill, she has shot at him. We don't know his status. But she does not appear to be a threat to anyone else. So this isn't your more typical situation where you would want the lockdown to protect potentially other victims.
So this is more like a hostage situation. They are going try to get her to come out unharmed. And they're just protecting the rest of the employees, and, of course, the other patients there. This is probably one of your hardest situations to fortify against.
Most people who have had others in hospitals or sort of hospice care know it at some stage you're either badged if you're a family member, you're assumed to be safe. So a lot of the security that we see at hospitals is to stop the stranger, right, stop the person with the gun.
This is likely a situation, especially if her husband was in long-term care with a terminal illness that she was known to hospital personnel and hospital security. And that is just very hard to demand all of those people also get additionally searched. But we'll find out what precautions were taken or was there any suspicion that she was thinking of doing this.
WHITFIELD: So when you say it might be treated like a hostage situation, what does that mean in terms of how officers approach the situation? Is there -- is the mission negotiations, trying to penetrate the door, the room somehow safely, at the same time have some sort of communication, use of the phone there? Give us some of the steps.
KAYYEM: Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. So this is -- so one, we don't know the situation other than where the husband is in terms was he shot dead, or could he be helped with hospital care. We also don't know if he was alone in the room. So all of these questions will be known to the hospital right now, and obviously to law enforcement.
They are going to be reaching out to her and very likely have family members trying to reach out to her to talk to her. This is now a relatively secure facility, and so they're probably near the door, trying -- especially because they want her not to harm herself, or obviously they want to get to the husband and to try to save his life, if that's still feasible. And so this is now exactly what you said, this is now trying to bring her back from the situation she is in safely, and then let the legal proceeding begin after that.
There is no reason that this needs to turn more violent. You have an individual woman with a gun now secure behind locked doors. And I would suspect that hopefully that this ends peacefully, and that then the hospital will be able to continue with its work.
WHITFIELD: Yes, terrible situation. Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much.
KAYYEM: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: We'll check back with you as we learn more, as well.
Now to Ukraine where military officials say Russian troops are not relenting in their attacks on Ukrainian positions in the Bakhmut area. Fighting there has raged for months, and Ukrainian officials estimate only 10 percent of the prewar population remains. CNN's Ben Wedeman is there. So Ben, Russia has claimed victory in that area, but the fighting continues. Where do things stand?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the Russians have claimed that they've taken the town of Soledar, and by what we've seen that seems to be the case. So now they're trying to encircle Bakhmut. We were just there yesterday, and what we saw and heard is that the fighting is intense, and that intense fighting is leaving its marks on the troops.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
WEDEMAN: They've been through the valley of the shadow of death. Most but not all made it out of the valley alive, but not unscathed. On this stretch of road overlooking the battles for Bakhmut and Soledar, it's just safe enough to deliver the wounded to medics. Strewn along the road, a bloodstained stretcher, a discarded, bloodied flak jacket.
These troops are just back from the front at Soledar. They took wounded. They were facing Wagner fighters. They say those fighters were attacking in waves. Now they're going back to safer ground.
The combat they saw was intense. "There were regular troops," says this soldier, "and in front of them just meat, convicts in packs on drugs without armor, without helmets. For them life has no value."
Down in the killing fields, the shelling goes on without letup. For the medics, there is no rest. "Sometimes the martyrs don't give us any breathing space," Anatoly, a medic, tells me. "We have many casualties from shrapnel, and when the snipers come, then they're many dead and wounded."
Troops transfer a fallen comrade from their armored car to a van. Here the shadow of death hangs heavy.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WEDEMAN (on camera): Now, Ukrainian officials do not give out casualty numbers, so it's not at all clear what they are. But what we saw from that spot we were at is that they are taking serious casualties. In fact, German intelligence has put out a report suggesting that every day the number of casualties among Ukrainian forces are triple digit. Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ben Wedeman in Ukraine, thank you so much.
Three active-duty U.S. Marines have been arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, and one is being accused of supporting a second civil war. Let's bring in now CNN's Jeremy Herb. So Jeremy, how did these Marines end up on the FBI radar?
JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, Fred, that's right. The arrests this week of these three Marines, it's a good reminder that it's been two years since the January 6th attack on the Capitol, and federal investigators are still looking to track down everyone who went inside the Capitol and breached those walls that day. Now these three Marines, Corporal Micah Coomer, Sergeant Joshua Abate and Sergeant Dodge Dale Hellonen, they are facing charges, including disorderly conduct in a Capitol building. And we learned from court filings just how these Marines were found,
including one, Micah Coomer, who posted photos to his Instagram. He included with them the caption that he was, quote, "glad to be a part of history."
The federal investigators also tracked down his Instagram messages that he sent after January 6th in which he said, quote, "Everything in this country is corrupt. We honestly need a fresh restart. I'm waiting for the boogaloo." "What's a boogaloo?" the associate he'd written to asked. "Civil war 2," Coomer replied.
That's a reference A rallying cry used among some far-right groups. Another of the three that were arrested, Joshua Abate, he was discovered because he admitted during an interview for security clearance that he had gone into the Capitol on January 6th along with two of his friends. He said during that interview after he saw the riot was being portrayed negatively, he decided not to say anything about it.
Now, according to court filings, these three marines, they went into the Capitol and into the rotunda, and they took a photo with a MAGA hat of one of the statues there. We should also note that these three men, they have not yet entered a plea when it comes to their conduct.
The Marines said in a statement to CNN that they are cooperating with authorities in this investigation, and they are aware of those three -- the allegations against those three marines. Fred?
WHITFIELD: All right, Jeremy Herb, thank you so much.
Still to come, Alec Baldwin's reaction to the announcement that he will be charged in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the movie set of "Rust." And we have new information about the future of the film.
Plus, we have more details about the actions of the man accused of killing four Idaho University students.
WHITFIELD: "Avengers" star Jeremy Renner says he broke more than 30 bones in the New Year's Day accident that sent him to the hospital for more than two weeks. This morning Renner posted an Instagram photo with the caption "Morning workouts, resolutions all changed this particular new year's, spawned from tragedy for my entire family and quickly focused into uniting actionable love.
I want to thank everyone for their messages and thoughtfulness for my family and I. Much love and appreciation to you all. These 30-plus broken bones will mend, grow stronger, just like the love and bond with family and friends deepens. Love and blessings to you all."
Renner was injured by a snowplow while clearing a driveway near his Nevada home, leaving him with blunt chest trauma and orthopedic injuries according to his publicist. And in the 911 call from the incident, Renner is heard in the background moaning in pain as an unidentified caller speaks to the operator. And some information in the call has been redacted by the Truckee Meadows Fire and Rescue. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How's he doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shallow breaths. A lot of pain. He's conscious.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got him covered in blankets. His head is covered. He'll be drifting off --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he starting to drift off interest sleep?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Stay awake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Renner is recovering at home after undergoing two surgeries now. We all wish him the best and a speedy recovery.
Just a day after involuntary manslaughter charges were announced against actor Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, we're learning the film "Rust" is still in production and will be completed. On Friday, Baldwin did not speak to reporters about the charges against him for the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
CNN's Gloria Pazmino is with us now. Gloria, what now?
GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not only is "Rust" planning on completing its production, but sources tell us that Alec Baldwin will continue to star in the lead role in that film, Fred. And as you see Alec there going into his Manhattan home yesterday, avoiding questions from reporters a day after these charges were announced.
Now we have a long legal road ahead. Both Baldwin and the armorer who have been charged still have to have a pretrial, preliminary hearings to determine if there is enough probable cause to go to trial. Now we are expecting Baldwin and his lawyers to put up a fight.
In fact, we have an idea of how Baldwin sees what happened during this tragic incident because we heard from him directly back in August. My colleague Chloe Melas spoke to him. This was his reaction then and his explanation about the responsibility that he bears in this incident. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: My job is not to concentrate on whether the gun is safe. We have people there for that.
They're not going to charge anybody, in my mind. Criminal charges are things you avoid unless you know you can make a case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAZMINO: Now he has been accused of failing to perform safety procedures that according to the district attorney would have prevented this incident from happening. We know that the armorer was also charged.
And we expect Baldwin's legal team to fight the charges. We are seeing video there from the scene shortly after the incident. Of course, a very tragic event, what happened here. Someone did end up dying. Of course, that gun did have live ammunition in it, and it was fired into the director of the movie. So we are expecting to hear from Baldwin directly, but we know that for now he appears committed to completing that film. Fred?
WHITFIELD: All right, Gloria Pazmino, thanks so much.
And we're also now learning new details on the actions of the suspect accused of killing four Idaho college students in the weeks before the murders. "People" magazine reporting that Bryan Kohberger followed all three of the female victims on Instagram and repeatedly messaged one of them. CNN national correspondent Camila Bernal is following the latest developments for us. So Camila, what more can you tell us about this?
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred. So it's a couple of details that connect Bryan Kohberger to the victims here. And it's important because authorities have not given us a connection between the two parties, essentially. They have not confirmed whether or not Bryan Kohberger knew the victims, whether they had interactions.
And now "People" magazine is saying that, yes, Bryan Kohberger followed at least the three girls on Instagram. They did not follow him back, but they say that they looked at this now-deleted Instagram account, and not only did they see that he was following the victims, but that also he messaged one of the victims repeatedly. She did not answer to these messages. It's unclear if she even saw them or she just chose not to answer these messages.
In addition to all of the Instagram stuff, "People" magazine also talking about the restaurant where the two girls worked at. It is a Greek restaurant in Moscow, Idaho, and they're saying that they spoke to a former employee who says that Bryan Kohberger went to this restaurant at least two times leading up to the killings.
Again, it's unclear if the girls had any interactions with Kohberger at the restaurant, and the restaurant coming out and denying a lot of this, saying that the magazine report is not true. They released a lengthy statement, and I want to read part of it, where they say, "We all decided collectively to support the families and not share anything that could potentially harm the investigation or cause the families more stress." And they're not the only ones that are either choosing or not allowed to speak about all of this. There is a broad and sweeping gag order that does not allow essentially anyone that has close ties to this case to speak publicly about it.
And there are a couple of things to remember here. Bryan Kohberger is expected to go to court in June. It will be the preliminary hearing. He has not yet entered a plea deal, so we'll have to wait and see what he decides to do moving forward. But if there is a trial, one of the biggest pieces of evidence that police have is essentially him being inside the house.
There is a surviving roommate who says that she saw Bryan Kohberger the night of the killings. So it is going to be difficult for Bryan Kohberger. But of course, we'll have to let this entire legal process play out as we will likely not hear from anybody because of this gag order, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Camila Bernal, thanks so much.
Coming up, at least 30 people have been injured as anti-government protests continue in Peru. And hundreds of tourists are now stranded in Machu Picchu after a railway track was vandalized. We'll have the latest.
WHITFIELD: All right, this just into CNN. Peru has closed its famed tourist site Machu Picchu today amid growing anti-government protests in that country. The closure has stranded hundreds of travelers near the iconic tourist attraction. Peru has also declared a state of emergency in multiple regions of the country as fierce clashes between protesters and police continue to erupt.
The weeks' long protest movement has -- was, rather, sparked by the ousting of the former president last month. For more now, let's bring in CNN's Rafael Romo. So Rafael, what is the situation today? Because this has been going on for a while now. Perhaps people thought it had quieted, but it really is a continuation.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: And remember, Fred, it was a little over a month ago that we were talking to American tourists who were trapped, had visited Machu Picchu. A lot of people know Machu Picchu. They know Peru a little bit less. But when you talk about Machu Picchu, a lot of Americans travel there every year. And we were talking about Americans who were trapped then.
Now the situation today is that the site itself has been closed because one of the rail lines connecting tourists to that destination was vandalized. And it -- service has been suspended. So just in the last week, let me tell you what has been happening, and it's been going on day after day after day.
Monday, the protesters mobilized to the capital, Lima. On Tuesday the president called for dialogue, but then it was like nobody heard it because a new wave of protests in Lima happened on Wednesday.
On Thursday, imagine this, Fred, Cusco Airport closes, there were more clashes in Lima, and a historic building in the capital was burned. And today, as we have been talking about, Machu Picchu is closed. There's a total of 417 tourists. Out of those 300 are foreign, and I can only imagine that a good number of them are probably American.
WHITFIELD: Yes, and very worried about where they go next, what's going to take place. Meantime, are there enough police or even military to help respond to what's happening?
ROMO: That's a very good question. On Thursday the president mobilized 12,000 police officers in the capital. In spite of that, we saw all kinds of chaos. I talked about this very famous historic building that was burned. There were more clashes, more than 50 people dead since December 7 when the previous president was ousted. And so the situation keeps on going on and on and on. Peru right now is the closest thing to anarchy this side of the world. And there's no end in sight.
WHITFIELD: And what are the demands?
ROMO: They want the president to resign, but this is a president who has only been in power for a little over a month. They also want the leadership in Congress to go, and they want a new constitution. The president says, listen, if I resign right now, nothing gets solved. And so what she's proposing is elections next year, 2024, in April, which is two years ahead of schedule. That's what she's offering. The protesters say that's too long. We want elections now.
WHITFIELD: Wow, this is incredible. All right, keep us posted on all the developments. Rafael Romo, good to see you, thank you.
WHITFIELD: After nearly six years in office, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she is stepping down. Why she says she doesn't have the energy to seek re-election, next.
WHITFIELD: Bowing out over burnout. In a shocking announcement, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she is stepping down, declaring, in her words, she, quoting now, "no longer has enough in the tank," end quote, after nearly six years in office. CNN's Ivan Watson has more on the mixed reaction across the island nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The most famous politician in New Zealand's history dropped a bombshell at her political party's annual retreat. JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: And so today I'm
announcing that I will not be seeking re-election, and that my term as prime minister will conclude no later than the 7th of February.
WATSON: After five-and-a-half years in office, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she's suffering from burnout.
ARDERN: I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.
WATSON: The announcement stunned members of her Labor Party and drew mixed responses across the island nation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she was an excellent leader and I'm devastated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think her legacy internationally will be good. Locally, her reputation's gone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was awesome. She did everything she could during the pandemic. Kept a lot of people safe. Yes, I think she's going to have a great legacy.
WATSON: Ardern is New Zealand's youngest female prime minister, a leader who gave birth to her daughter Neve during her first full year in office, and then went on to face two once-in-a-generation crises. In 2019, New Zealand's deadliest terror attack. Ardern helped comfort a traumatized country after a white supremacist gunman attacked two mosques in Christchurch, killing 51 people. She then banned military- style semiautomatic weapons like the one used in the attack.
During the first frightening months of the COVID pandemic --
ARDERN: You are not alone. You will hear us and see us daily.
WATSON: Ardern's compassionate leadership prompted a surge in popularity followed by a landslide election victory. But over the last year, post-COVID economic woes have battered the prime minister.
BRYCE EDWARDS, POLITICAL SCIENTIST, VICTORIA UNIVERSITY OF WELLINGTON: I think the real reason Ardern's going is that she's lost popularity. So the opinion polls here have really plummeted for her government and for her personally.
WATSON: Now Ardern no longer faces a potentially difficult re- election campaign. Instead, she plans to focus on her family.
ARDERN: And so to Neve, mom is looking forward to being there when you start school this year. And to Clarke, let's finally get married.
WATSON: Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WHITFIELD: Let's bring in Emma Hinchliffe. She is a senior writer for "Fortune" magazine. So good to see you. Just listening to her honesty, really, of so many things, right, saying, you know what, I'm pooped. I don't have any more in the tank, and also saying what she wants to make time for, her children and now getting married. How do you evaluate all that she shared so publicly, and sometimes a little tearfully. It was hard for her to share, but she did.
EMMA HINCHLIFFE, SENIOR WRITER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Yes. Listening to her share that, you can really see that she's kind of changing what it means to be a woman in a position of leadership. There's so much pressure not to show emotion, not to let people see you sweat.
And she's really up front in saying I don't have enough to do the job anymore. My family is important to me. And there are reasons besides those locally in New Zealand for her to step away at this point.
WHITFIELD: And it's fascinating, too, because perhaps people looked at her, deservingly so, for a long time saying she really was creating a new model, or she was a model of a woman doing it all, being a -- rising to such heights, leading a country, being a mother, becoming a mother for all to see and experience.
And I guess seemingly she was handling it with aplomb, only to now share that at the six-year -- close to a six-year marker that, you know what, I have to acknowledge that this is a little too much even for me. Do you think it, I guess, shares a bigger spotlight on what it is to be a woman working at such a high level, and also giving it her all to her country, to duty, and to family? And it's tough.
HINCHLIFFE: It definitely does. It's kind of easy to forget how big a deal it was when the prime minister gave birth to her first child while she was in office. That was a really big moment in New Zealand and locally. And we saw controversies at that time when she took her baby with her and brought her baby onto the floor of the U.N.
And so, things have really changed since then. Maybe it would be different five years later, but she really has shown that you can choose what's important to you at different points in your life, and at one point that was her job, and that was really important. And now she's making another choice.
WHITFIELD: And if her multitasking and juggling it all made a statement, what is the statement that is being made now with her acknowledging publicly that she doesn't have enough in the tank and that it is time to put her energies elsewhere? Just as she's kind of given herself license to say that, does this now give license perhaps to other women, too, who feel like, I'm not supposed to share that this is hard. I've got to internalize it. Did she just help change things?
HINCHLIFFE: She definitely did, especially globally. In this moment, burnout is something that so many people can relate to, after the past several years, for anyone, let alone a prime minister. And in this economic climate, a lot of people are burned out.
And hearing someone at her level say that and acknowledge that and not shy away from it really does change the game for folks who want to know that they're not alone and that they have other options.
WHITFIELD: What do you think is next for her? Will -- and at what point will the public know what this decision will mean for, I guess, the near future of her life?
HINCHLIFFE: Yes. Obviously, it's up to New Zealanders what's next for her in her home country, but internationally I think a lot of us hope that this isn't the last that we'll see of the prime minister. She made such an impact.
She was the youngest female world leader at 37. She really shone such a spotlight on the power of women's leadership and where women really excel as leaders. So hopefully we'll see more of her in whatever capacity that is, even if it's outside of New Zealand.
WHITFIELD: Emma Hinchliffe, thank you so much. Yes, something tells me even though, even if she may want to go off radar, it's going to be hard, because people are still going to want to know how she's managing post her very public decision. But globally people admire her for so many reasons.
WHITFIELD: Good to see you. Thank you so much.
HINCHLIFFE: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: After three years of pandemic-era travel restrictions, millions of families across the world are celebrating the lunar new year, widely considered the most important festival in the Chinese calendar. CNN's Marc Stewart has details.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This weekend marks the start of the lunar new year here in Hong Kong and across many parts of Asia. Travelers are on the move in many cases to see family members and friends amid months and even years of separation because of the pandemic.
In China, train stations and airports have been busy. By land and on the water, this is described as the largest human migration on earth, with the holiday rush beginning earlier later this month. The holiday comes as Chinese officials say COVID infections have peaked in many parts of the country. Yet there is concern about a COVID spread as testing is required to still enter some countries around the world.
As China begins to reopen to the world, the tourism ministry will now allow tour operators to resume trips overseas beginning next month. The travel packages were put to a halt in January, 2020, amid a first wave of COVID infections.
Marc Stewart, CNN, Hong Kong.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WHITFIELD: And it is now the year of the rabbit. Supposed to be lucky. And it will be.
All right, massive layoffs at Google, maybe not so lucky for them, however. The company announces it's cutting more than 10,000 jobs. What this signals for the rest of corporate America straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: Over the past three months, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook parent Meta have announced plans to cut more than 50,000 employees from their collective ranks. And this comes as countless tech companies have announced that they are making major changes to their employee base. CNN's Clare Duffy joining me to discuss these changes. Clare, what is going on in the tech sector?
CLARE DUFFY, WRITER, CNN BUSINESS: Right, Fred. This is a really significant shift. On Friday Google announced it was laying off more than 12,000 employees, and it's just the latest, as you've said. I think to really understand what's happening in tech right now you have to look back over last two to three years.
At the height of the pandemic, these companies were seeing really unprecedented demand. They were growing so rapidly, their profits were growing. And as a result, these companies were doing really significant hiring. You look at Meta or you look at Amazon, these companies almost doubled their staffs over the last couple of years.
And I think a lot of them thought that this growth was really going to continue unabated. They were investing in new areas and just really expanding really rapidly. And then over the last few months, what you've seen is that high inflation rates, high interest rates, recession fears are taking a hit to both consumer demand and the online advertisers that so many of these big tech companies rely on. And that's really taking a hit to their profits, to their share prices.
And so I think now a lot of these companies are really facing pressure to scale back some of that hiring they did during the pandemic and rethink some of these sort of noncore investments and focus on the highest priority elements of their business to try and turn things around.
WHITFIELD: So might these layoffs spread to other industries?
DUFFY: I think, given the sort of untenable economic situation that we're in right now, it's a big open question. At this point, tech is still a relatively small portion of the economy despite what big companies these are. And the job market remains pretty strong.
But I do think over the next couple of weeks as these tech companies, the tech industry more broadly reports earnings, which are not expected to be very good, most of the tech companies are expected to be growing marginally and, in fact, may be reporting revenue declines in some cases. And so I think it's possible we'll see more tech layoffs over the next couple weeks.
WHITFIELD: But maybe not in Apple? Because apparently, they have not made any announcements of significant layoffs. Why are they so different?
DUFFY: Exactly. Apple is sort of an outlier here. We have yet to hear of any layoffs, although the company has reportedly instituted a hiring freeze. But Apple grew a lot more conservatively during the pandemic than some of its peers. Apple grew its staff from 2019 to 2022 only 20 percent. And again, that's in comparison to an Amazon or a Meta that grew more than 100 percent over the last couple of years.
And so I think that's one of the things that is coming into play here is Apple just was a bit more conservative. And so maybe they don't have quite as many people that they need to lay off at this point, as many investments that they need to scale back. But again, I don't think it's necessarily out of the question. Apple is also expected to grow in a really sort of small rate at this point. So we'll see what happens.
WHITFIELD: All right, I know fingers are crossed everywhere. All right, Clare Duffy, thank you so much.
All right, take a look at this. Rangers in northeastern Australia have stumbled across, they probably tripped over it, in fact, what may be the largest toad on record. No joke. That is huge. The cane toad dubbed "Toadzilla" was found in Conway National Park in Queensland last week when officials were conducting track work.
Toadzilla, who is believed to be female, weighing in at 5.9 pounds, about 0.8 pound heavier than the current world record holder. The Queensland Department of Environment and Science says rangers quickly removed the toad and weighed it before euthanizing it. That last part I don't get. I want the story on why they did they have to do that. All right, well, that's quite the toad.
The department says cane toads were first introduced to Australia in 1935 as a biological control against cane beetles. Instead, they became an invasive species that has had a devastating impact on native wildlife. There's the explanation. The department says Toadzilla has been sent to the Queensland Museum for further analysis. It's hard to get a load of that story. All right, well, we'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: All right, and lastly today, we saved the best for last. A military honor 50 years in the making. This week in San Diego the Navy Secretary presented 97-year-old Royce Williams the Navy Cross, the service's second-highest military honor, for his heroic actions in the Korean War.
In November of 1952, the then-27-year-old was flying a plane like this, the F9F Panther, the U.S. Navy's first jet fighter on, a patrol mission over a northern part of the Korean Peninsula when, much to his surprise, seven Soviet MiG 15 fighter jets showed up heading for three U.S. aircraft carriers in the Sea of Japan.
And then moments later, four of the Soviet planes turned toward Williams and opened fire. But despite being outnumbered and outgunned, the young lieutenant shot down four Soviet MiGs in a 30-minute period, barely making it back to his Navy carrier.
And on the warship's deck, Navy crew counted 263 holes in Williams' plane. And it was in such bad shape that it was pushed off the ship and into the sea. This harrowing tale, though, also lost to the sea -- almost. It was kept secret for 50 years, classified over fears the incident between the U.S. and Soviet aircraft could ignite another world war.
And now more than 70 years after this Korean War aerial battle, the world can finally know of Captain Royce Williams' heroism and valor, a real-life top gun. Thank you, Captain Williams, for your service.
I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thanks so much for being with me today. I'll see you again tomorrow. The CNN Newsroom continues with Jim Acosta right now.