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Punxsutawney Phil's Prediction: Early Spring; Biden Visits Michigan Amid Tensions With Arab-Americans; California Agrees To $2B Settlement For Pandemic Learning Loss. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 02, 2024 - 07:30   ET


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Of course, more winter, early spring.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm here to break really important news. The most important news of the day, there was no shadow.

HILL: Wow!

MATTINGLY: There's no shadow. Punxsutawney Phil has predicted an early spring. He does this prediction every single year.

I have no idea why just how accurate is it for the most well-known groundhog in America, where we go to the man who knows all the things. CNN senior data analyst and known groundhog skeptic, we share that, Harry Enten is with us now.

That's aggressive.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: It's very aggressive, but it's true. Is Punxsutawney a fraud?

MATTINGLY: Show your work, Harry.

ENTEN: Show my work, unlike you. Let's take a look at the accuracy rate. Punxsutawney Phil's accuracy rate in predicting a short or long winter, 39 percent correct.

HILL: Yikes!

ENTEN: -- since 1877.

You'd be better off flipping a coin. So, I am here to tell you that this groundhog has pulled one over on the American people. He's trying to go out there, trying to proclaim himself some sort of an expert, when in fact he is not.

Now you said he didn't see a shadow that is really bizarre because if we look at Phil's predictions, they're usually biased. He sees his shadow too much, winter for six more weeks, six or more weeks, 108 times, an early spring, only 20 times.

So, we my friends witness history today. Punxsutawney Phil decided to go against the grain. He, in fact, did not see a shadow. He's calling for an early spring. Normally, he does. But the fact as we've talked about in slide number one, is I don't really give a flying hoot what the groundhog says, because that guy doesn't know what he's talking about.

MATTINGLY: Man, you walk me right up to the brink there.

HILL: I know, I thought he was going to go there.

MATTINGLY: I was a little nervous, man.

HILL: I was thinking, well, we're cable, so these things happen.


HILL: Maybe he's going with this spring because he also saw what Elmo said and he knew people maybe wanted spring.

ENTEN: Oh, that's nice.

HILL: Right? You know, looking on the bright side there, glass half full, Harry, try it. Let's look at some of the other predictions because he's not the only game in town.

ENTEN: He's not the only game in town. So if we look at other predictors, so there are other groundhogs who predict the weather as well.

So look, we have Essex Ed, who also predicts the Super Bowl. So I'm going to be very interested whether or not --

HILL: Multitasker.

ENTEN: There you go, whether he picks the Chiefs or the 49ers.

There's Milltown Mel, who unfortunately passed away in 2022, and hasn't been replaced. Folks, I -- no, I don't want to ruin anything for you, but there hasn't in fact been a groundhog. That's been alive since the late 19th century. They actually do replace them.

Find a little note. There was also Staten Island Chuck.

HILL: Oh, yeah.

ENTEN: Groundhogs who died after being dropped by New York City mayors. There's been won by Bill de Blasio, zero by the others.

MATTINGLY: Allegedly.

ENTEN: Allegedly, allegedly. We don't want to necessarily claim anything right here, but one by Bill De Blasio. So the fact is these groundhogs always do get replaced. Some get replaced a little quicker than others.

MATTINGLY: This was a journey. This was a journey that I enjoy.

ENTEN: I'm here for you. I like to do the Phil thing. We got you, we got Phil --


MATTINGLY: We've got a lot of Phils on this team. It's very confusing.


HILL: Yeah.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. Who's your favorite Phil?

ENTEN: This is tough. My cousin Phil, my cousin Phil.


HILL: Nice cop-out.

MATTINGLY: There you go.

HILL: Well done, Harry. Well done.

ENTEN: Thank you.

HILL: All right. In Michigan, on the heels of a key endorsement, President Biden meeting with another group of protesters -- met rather by another group of protesters angry with his handling of the Israel- Hamas war. Congressman Dan Kildee represents Michigan. He joins us next.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We now have in large part because of you, an organized labor, the strongest economy in a whole damn world! We do!


MATTINGLY: As President Biden pressing his case backed up by economic numbers, at least on the top line, a little bit of a victory lap yesterday with union members in Michigan after the United Autoworkers officially endorsed him over Donald Trump. But his visit to the critical battleground state also served as a reminder of a growing political concern -- a slipping support among Arab and Muslim Americans.

Protesters gathered outside a Biden event in the Detroit area angry with his handling of the war in Gaza, demonstrations like this. They've been routine and repeated and at Biden events.

And CNN has learned security was tight around the president just because of those concerns. Michigan is home to one of the largest Arab-American populations in

the country. They helped him carry the state four years ago, 146,000 Muslim Americans turned out to vote in 2020. And in heavily Arab American counties, more than two thirds of them voted for Biden. He won Michigan by just 155,000 votes, but many of those supporters in 2020 now see him or say that he is complicit in the deaths of innocent Palestinians and will not vote for him.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: By taking this stand, do you wonder if it will help elect Donald Trump?

ADAM ABUSALAH, CAMPAIGNED FOR BIDEN IN 2020: It probably will. We have seen four years of Trump. We have seen for years of Biden, and people don't really see a difference between their presidencies.


MATTINGLY: Joining us now is a Democrat from Michigan, Congressman Dan Kildee. He spoke to the president last month, urged him to visit the state repeatedly.

And, Congressman, there's a very good reason for that. One, it's part of the vaunted blue wall. It is a state that went heavily Democratic in the midterms, but has trended away from Democrats, at least in public polling. But it's also one with a very dynamic kind of community of voters, right? You have union workers, you have young voters in the college towns, and you have sizable Arab-American population.

Well, you just heard there that they will stay home, that they won't vote for President Biden. Do you think that will hold?

REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): Well, I think it's a challenge for us that we have to address and I have been one who was encouraged the president to sit down with the Arab American community, with the leaders of the Arab American community here in Michigan and consider their views when determining U.S. policy regarding the conflict in the Middle East.

I am one who believes that there's no military solution and that a ceasefire is the proper approach. So I do share many of the views of the Arab American community here in Michigan. But I think the more important thing is that the president sit down and listen to what they have to say and consider those thoughts when crafting policy on this particular issue.

I -- I don't think it's a good idea for Democrats to view this question in sort of raw political terms as it relates to the election. For the Arab American community that I represent, this is about much more than an election. It's about fundamental question of the human rights of the Palestinian people. And I think that ought to be front and center the conversation.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. It's an important point. It also is not a monolithic community. I want to make that as clear as I possibly can. When you talk to community leaders in your district is -- their

threshold, it has to be a call for a ceasefire?


Is it just sit down and listen, is it figure out some way to implement some policy change even if you're not going to have a ceasefire, what do they -- what would be -- enough sounds crass, that's not what I mean. What do they want to see that would bring them back into the fold?

KILDEE: Well, I think the immediate issue is to stop the indiscriminate bombings of civilian areas. And I know that there's been some modification in the approach, but there's no question that there's a disproportionate amount of civilian casualties in this battle, and that's the immediate need, stop that. Do what we can to stop them, get to the negotiating table.

But I think in the long term, what I generally here is that the U.S. needs to assert a stronger position on behalf of the Palestinian people, pursuing a two-state solution, putting those issues, you know, on the front of the conversation, making that as important as the obvious right that Israel has to defend itself against aggression.

And I think their concern, which I happen to share is that U.S. policy has not been balanced in that sense and I think we need to get to that.

MATTINGLY: I've spoken to White House officials and say, look, we hear the concerns, we are having meetings at the White House. We are -- or were meeting with community leaders, or asking to meet with community leaders.

Do you think they're doing enough right now?

KILDEE: Well, I'd like them to do more. I would like president, you know, it's up to them to decide how they want to handle this, but to not view it as a political question, not view it as it needs to be resolved between the Arab American community and the Biden campaign, this is a question the Arab American community has in Michigan, with the administration itself.

And, you know, Joe Biden is an empathetic individual. He's an empathetic president. He's a person who I think can absorb that knowledge, that information I think be a better position to act by listening to those communities.

I know he does. I'm not trying to suggest he doesn't.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, I'd say.

KILDEE: But I think its really important in this moment for the Arab American community have that opportunity.

MATTINGLY: We saw the president with UAW leader of Shawn Fain, UAW just endorsed the president and the same week that he did the Teamsters met with former President Trump.

I'm interested. There was a split. I think very clearly in 2016 where leadership was versus where rank and file was. Shawn Fain is a very different kind of leader from the UAW, and I think he's got some successes to back that up.

Do you think that divide changes this time or have you seen evidence that rank and file will be more likely to follow the endorsement?

KILDEE: I think there is, first of all, the rank and file saw what four years of Donald Trump actually meant for them. He didn't bring back manufacturing jobs. Joe Biden has.

Donald Trump would not be supportive of a union strike for a fair wage. Joe Biden was.

The fact that President Biden came to the picket lines and stood with the UAW at their moment of truth, help them deliver precedent and contract. No matter what the political stripe of a UAW member is, they're getting a big wage increase and Joe Biden stood with them to get that. And that will translate.

MATTINGLY: Last one before I let you go, we spoke late fall in 2016, I think probably in the speakers lobby as we often did, and I could tell you felt something was off. I don't think anybody could predict exactly how that election is going to go. But I think he felt it on the ground. He felt it from your people on the ground.

What do you feel right now about the state?

KILDEE: I think there's a lot of anxiety here. I do think at the end of the day, the difference between 2016 and 2024 will be, that people know what a Biden presidency looks like, and it means to them, and then know what a Trump presidency looks like. And I think it'll make -- it'll make all the difference come November of 2024. I think the folks here in Michigan will come home to Joe Biden and will deliver Michigan for him.

MATTINGLY: Congressman Dan Kildee, always appreciate your time, sir. Thank you.

KILDEE: Thanks, Phil.

HILL: Well, in just a few hours, President Biden will head to Delaware for the dignified transfer of three American soldiers killed in Jordan.

MATTINGLY: And a multibillion dollar settlement in California over pandemic learning loss. Why some families are still pessimistic despite a legal win?



KELLY R, PLAINTIFF: Yes. WATT: I sensed a slight tinge of doubt.

KELLY R: It hasn't happened yet.




HILL: California has agreed to a $2 billion settlement for struggling students over COVID pandemic learning losses. The payout comes after parents and community groups sued the state, demanding more resources be used to help kids who were underserved during school closures during the pandemic.

CNN's Nick Watt has more.


WATT: With this settlement, you know, you're not -- no one's cutting you a check.


WATT: You're not getting any money.

KELLY R: I have not but I'm hoping that the kids will benefit. All kids will benefit from this.

WATT: Kelly R still struggling to help her kids catch up in math is among the parents, teachers, kids, and community groups who sued California and won a settlement. The state just agreed to spend $2 billion on tutors, extended school days, mental health support, and more for kids who suffered most during remote learning, predominantly low income Black and Latino kids, who are now not bouncing back as fast as kids in whiter more affluent districts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most pressing crisis in America today is what happened to kids during COVID, and hopefully this settlement will be a model for 49 others states.

WATT: During COVID, Kelly's kids at least had a parent who tried her best and some Internet.

KELLY R: Their computers were glitchy. So then that's when I would have to at that point, go over some of their lessons with them, while I'm working from home.

WATT: In California, around 10,000 schools were closed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were between 800,000 to a million kids who had no digital access whatsoever. What does that mean? It doesn't mean they got bad education means they got no education.

WATT: School age kids were among those at lowest risk of serious illness from COVID-19, but suffered a lot from the restrictions to stem the spread.


PROF. THOMAS KANE, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: We're asking poor kids to pay for the public health measures that were meant to benefit us all.

WATT: Professor Thomas Kane and colleagues at Harvard, Stanford, and Dartmouth found many more affluent kids have already regained a lot of the learning they lost during COVID. But --

KANE: In some places like here in Massachusetts, the high poverty districts did the opposite of catching up last year. They actually lost additional ground.

WATT: Some they fear might never catch up, given what was lost during COVID and systemic educational inequities that existed long before wed ever heard of COVID-19.

As a white guy, I've always kind of, you know, assumed possibly rightly that my kids are going to get a fair shake. But as a Black parent, do you feel differently than you are at a disadvantage?

KELLY R: We are at a dis -- and that's one of them major reasons why I felt like this was important because we cannot continue to let things like does happen and let our kids fall short. I'm hopeful that this will make a huge impact.

WATT: You say you're hopeful?


WATT: I sensed a slight tinge of doubt.

KELLY R: It hasn't happened yet. So I could just be helpful in the -- until it happens.

WATT: Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles


HILL: And well be watching.

Nikki Haley escalating her attacks on Donald Trump, insisting he is too old and too confused to be president.

MATTINGLY: And could whales, whales hold the key to curbing climate change? Bill Weir is going to join us to discuss how the climate crisis is affecting them and how they might help feed it. We'll explain, next.



MATTINGLY: This Sunday, CNN is taking you to the far corners of the world very special and stunning report on climate change. CNN chief climate correspondent Bill Weir embedded with a team of researchers tracking humpback whales. Why? To uncover how the climate crisis is affecting them and how they might help beat it.

Here's a preview for generations.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For generations, the only way to study whales was to cut up a dead one, but then non-lethal research took hold.

And while this may look evil, one of the biggest breakthroughs is the crossbow bias (ph) developed by R.A.'s (ph) team at UC Santa Cruz to measure everything from stress levels, toxins, to most importantly --


WEIR: -- pregnancy rates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beautiful, perfect classic sample. It's the blubber layer, the skin will be sort of still backup inside this little tip here well put it into that case. You keep it sterile until we get back to the boat to process it.

WEIR: Yeah. You were telling me that the pregnancy rate is a huge indicator, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. Anyone what else what else tells you about a population that's growing or shrinking is how many, how many newborns you're putting into the population each year.

WEIR: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will tell if that was a female and if it is a female, if she's pregnant or not.

WEIR: So first time I've ever seen somebody take a pregnancy test with a crossbow.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, I don't think you get many of those.


WEIR: To be fair, it's really hard to get them to pee on a stick. So --

HILL: You know what? It's fair point.

MATTINGLY: I can see that, yeah.

HILL: Yeah, it is. It definitely is.

Bill Weir once again with the best assignment at the network, he keeps topping himself.

WEIR: I'm so grateful.

HILL: So this is really -- this is about what whales tell us, right? So you said, I know if we save the whales, we all remember the save the whales campaign, we're really saving ourselves.

WEIR: Exactly.

HILL: How?

WEIR: First of all, the humpback is the greatest comeback story and conservation, they were almost wiped into oblivion and now they're in every ocean in the world. They're the most adaptable. There was one of mile from Times Square a couple of years ago, came up the Hudson River right now. That is just human attitudes changing right now.

But how they help us is there the oceans biggest fertilizer pumps? You don't realize it. When I go way down deep and scoop up these nutrients like phosphorous and iron. They can't poop down there. So when they come to the surface for a breath, they defecate and that feeds the bottom of the food chain.

That's phytoplankton blooms there. Phytoplankton creates half of our air. It draws down more carbon. The three Amazon rainforest, and then the whales themselves sequester carbon tons of it. And when they die, they fall to the bottom of the ocean and then it locks it away there.

So there the gardeners of the deep, they bring back fish stocks in enormous ways. And now though, whaling is pretty much gone. Japan still kills about 300 a year. Iceland has one last whaler.

But now it is krill fishing fleets to feed the omega-3 nutraceutical market. It's a pet food and fish food. And so were competing with these whales for their main food supply. And then the sea ice is going away and that's where the krill lives. That's their main food as well.

So, new pressures now, but if we can save them, we absolutely have saved ourselves the process.

MATTINGLY: The importance of following the whole migratory journey.

WEIR: Yeah.


WEIR: Yeah.

MATTINGLY: Again, feels like a junket.


HILL: We applaud your efforts, Bill Weir.

MATTINGLY: It's fascinating, it's important. Explain to people why. WEIR: Well, these are the longest traveling animals on the planet.

One whale named Frodo made a 7,000-mile trip from like across -- from Asia to Mexico. And because they move through all these waters, they, they tell us what's happening in these waters, right?

And so they eat and gorged themselves down in Antarctica than they go up to south America, coast of Columbia and improve there and make babies, and then go back and forth in that. And so they're connecting the oceans.

Whereas beavers are elephants are engineers within little regions, whales are really helping the entire planet. And there's such a vital piece that we didn't realize all they are being harvested for blubber and all of that. And right now, its interesting there are 15 billion miles from now on the voyager spacecrafts, there are golden records that have the hellos of 55 humans, and one humpback whale chosen by Carl Sagan as sort of this romantic bottle into the universe.

And now, AI is moving us closer to understanding whale song.

HILL: How?

WEIR: We may understand the lyrics one of these days to see.