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FAA Investigates Close Call Between Two Planes; CNN Projects Lightfoot Won't Return As Chicago Mayor With Vallas And Johnson Advancing To Runoff; CBP: 14,700 Pounds Of Fentanyl Seized In 2022; Politico: We Have A Real UFO Problem, And It Is Not Balloons; Scientists: Antarctic Sea Ice Hits Records Low. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired February 28, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: According to Flight Radar 24, the two planes came within 565 feet of each other. Here's the air traffic control recording.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JETBLUE PILOT (voice-over): Clear to land 4 right, JetBlue 206.
CONTROLLER (voice-over): JetBlue 206 go around.
JETBLUE PILOT (voice-over): Runaway heading up to -- say again the altitude.
CONTROLLER (voice-over): 3,000.
JETBLUE PILOT (voice-over): Three thousand. JetBlue 206.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: I like the calm there. This scare in Boston was just a day after a close call between two commercial planes in Burbank, California. And a few weeks ago, you will remember in Honolulu, a United Airlines 777 jet crossed a runway as a smaller cargo plane was landing. And then days before that, an American Airlines flight at JFK crossed in front of a Delta plane trying to take off. And then there is the near miss in Austin where a FedEx plane almost landed on top of a Southwest flight.
I want to bring in our aviation expert, David Soucie, who always tries to make me feel better about these things. But David --
CAMEROTA: -- I'm starting to think these are not all anomalies. It's starting to feel like there's one of these a week that we report on.
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST, AVIATION EXPERT: It seems like they are a lot more often and that's only because they are more often right now. If you look at the traffic that's going on in Boston right now, Boston had 12,000 flights in January 2021, but now has come over to up to 29,000 in January 2023. So, it's nearly three times as much traffic, and they're spacing the airplanes a lot closer together to try to get them out faster.
This particular one, Alisyn, you need to feel more comfortable about this one because this was a mistake that was made by the pilot and it was caught by air traffic control, which is their job. So, they were able to catch it.
CAMEROTA: Okay. I guess I -- I guess that makes me feel better. The mistake by the pilot doesn't make me feel that great. But why is there so much more traffic? Why are they having three times as many planes as they used to?
SOUCIE: Well, it's just the demand. There's more demand. There are more flights. More people traveling. I think it's after COVID. Post- COVID, everybody is back in the idea that they can just go fly now. So, every flight I've been on has been completely packed, just the last few months for sure, and they're just getting more and more packed.
So, the only way that the airspace system can handle more flights, full flights, is by getting them off the runway faster. So, they just keep getting them off the runway faster.
So, they need to slow these things down and get back to what is a sensible rate when we talk about departures. And it may delay it. It may be where you can't get the flights that you want to have at this point. But they have to do something about trying to slow the system down.
CAMEROTA: But David, one last question before I bring in the panel, is this -- are we back at the same amount of flights we were pre-COVID or is it even more than that?
SOUCIE: It's actually exceeding what we were pre-COVID. I know that that was an issue for the airlines for a long time. But Boston is specifically, if we look at pre-COVID, they were up around 24,000, but now up around 29,000, just for Boston specifically. So, we have exceeded what we did before as far as the number of seats and the number of passengers moving.
CAMEROTA: Okay. Stick around with us, if you will, David, because we will have more questions. Joining the conversation, we have business whiz and "Axios' reporter Erica Pandey, former Senate candidate Joe Pinion, and two of our favorite talkers, LZ Granderson and John Avlon.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Really?
CAMEROTA: Yes, it's so true. Erica, welcome. So, this one is a little different, as David was just saying. This was a private plane and it was pilot error. I don't know why I'm supposed to feel better about that, but don't private planes have to follow the same rules or I guess not?
ERICA PANDEY, REPORTER, AXIOS: I mean, I would guess so, right? I think the big thing here is that as flyers, as consumers, you and I just don't know what's going on. All we see is a story like this every week, and we're seeing more and more of them, right, as people are trying to break back into travel after COVID. I didn't even know that there are more flights now than before COVID.
All I know is the FAA is definitely, you know, understaffed, underfunded. That has been reported. The budget in 2022 was $18.5 billion for the FAA, which is actually less than it was in 2004, adjusted for inflation. So, with more flights, you know, we probably need better technology, we're in the 2020s, but why is the budget less than it was in 2004?
CAMEROTA: That's a great question. John, you know, there was a big infrastructure bill that passed. Is that supposed to be helping with some of the stuff?
AVLON: Twenty-five billion dollars-worth the help on the way, allegedly. And look, I think that obviously can address a couple of fundamental issues. One, a lot of the technology is old. That's a problem. Two, we got a capacity issue.
And, you know, as David was saying earlier, this is partly about the demand. But that also means we're going have to increase the supply of runways, of airports regionally in other places. But that money has been allocated and part the problem is that.
None of that is going to take away human error, burned-out pilots, folks being distracted, and that seems to be the cause in some of these near misses.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. Great point. Joe, I mean, we do know that. There have been strikes at airlines. We have picketing pilots and flight attendants, and they are feeling overworked.
JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: Look, I think, to your point, obviously, we know that more money would help, but you also have to build a bridge to the future that you seek.
So, whether you're talking about people who want to reimagine policing, whether you're talking about individuals who want to deal with the diminished infrastructure that we have for airplanes or the overworked pilots, what is the plan to make sure that people don't end up in a fiery casket on the runway?
AVLON: Jesus, fiery casket.
CAMEROTA: I appreciate that because this --
PINION: I just think, again, in this country, no one ever seems to care and take things seriously until people die. And so, this airline industry that has been subsidized by the American taxpayer, their greatest innovation is making sure that you can pay more money to carry your own bag.
At some point, we have to ask the hard question, when are you going to prioritize the safety and security of the people that quite literally entrusting their family --
AVLON: Sounding like a Democrat, Joe. I don't know.
PINION: I think it's just commonsense. I think at the end of the day --
AVLON: I agree.
PINION: -- look, I think Republicans and Democrats want to make sure they don't blow up on their way to grandma's house.
AVLON: I agree. You know what? We can all get together on that.
LZ GRADERSON, OP-ED COLUMNIST, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Always grandma's house.
AVLON: What about grandpa's house?
GRANDERSON: What about grandpa's house?
PINION: The house also belongs to grandma, whether grandpa still lives there or not. That is the truth.
CAMEROTA: I think the other point that Joe makes is that yes, we do a good job of being reactive instead of proactive in the sense (ph).
GRANDERSON: Yes, but that is our culture about almost everything, our medical system. Look at our bridges and roads. We know from the American Society of Civil Engineers that much of our infrastructure is in much disarray and needs attention. And we've known that not for five years --
CAMEROTA: But we're doing that now, right? Isn't this going to change now?
GRANDERSON: It' starting to change, but the warning signs have been happening for decades, literally decades. They've been saying these bridges need to be repaired, this needs to be worked on the FAA. I just read a story that the IRS is still using technology from, like, 1950s and that they're understaffed.
AVLON: That's strategic on the part of some people. But I think the flow through in all of what we're seeing here is that too often in America, we wait for crisis to solve a problem, even when the evidence is staring us in our face, and we cannot and should not do that when it comes to airline safety. It has been over a decade since a major disaster, thank God. We should not have to wait for one.
CAMEROTA: So, David, understaffed and underfunded. That does not sound good. And so, is that taking its toll or is it the crumbling system that needs updating?
SOUCIE: No, I think it's a little bit of both. But we have these plateaus of technology that we've had in the FAA, and we talk about this new big budget that has come through from the FAA. But that doesn't mean that that money is actually appropriated.
This is an important point to make. Just because the said, hey, you're going to get $25 billion this year for this and this, it doesn't mean that money is actually given to the FAA. I used to go to Congress and plead for money every year when I was with the FAA about 15 years ago.
And when we would do that, they would say, yeah, this is great, I don't want to be the congressman that turns this down because I don't want to be the one standing there and saying we had a crash because of me. So, they will say, yeah, let's get this money out there. And then they do and they sign those bills. But when it comes time to actually appropriate that money and put it into the right pockets, that's where it all falls apart. And that's where we need to have some focus.
And this goes back to having an FAA administrative that's in the seat more than just two years or three years or four years. They need to be there for the entire infrastructure development. They need to get an administrator that they can keep in there and is not just some kind of political appointment. They need someone who really has the backing behind them to make sure that these programs go through, all the way through, and don't just get dropped.
CAMEROTA: Yeah, you make an excellent point. Stick around, everybody. Thank you all for that perspective.
Next, we've got more on our breaking news, our breaking political news tonight, CNN projects that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will not return for a second term. The challengers, Paul Vallas, a longtime public schools' chief, and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, will advance to an April runoff.
CAMEROTA: Breaking political news tonight, CNN projects that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot loses her bid for a second term. Paul Vallas, a longtime public schools' chief, and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson will now advance to an April runoff.
Nine candidates who are on the ballot for mayor, but none, none more than 50% of the vote, so Vallas and Johnson will now face off. Lightfoot found herself with few allies in her bid for a second term and a host of powerful interests aligned against here. The police and teachers' union backed other candidates. Mayor Lightfoot conceding tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: As we all know, in life, in the end, you don't always win every battle, but you never regret taking on the powerful and bringing in the light.
To my friends across the country and my fellow mayors, never fear being brave and bold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Okay. So, how did the issues of crime, education, and COVID play out in this election? Let's talk about it and bring back the panel. John, I was just reading that Lori Lightfoot is the first incumbent mayor in Chicago to lose after one term in 40 years.
CAMEROTA: So, why? What happened here?
AVLON: It's a stunning rebuke to her leadership. She seems to have come in third in this sort of nonpartisan open primary they have. But look, I think crime has not gotten better on her watch. That was a big part of her selling point. She was coming in as a prosecutor. COVID. Obviously, a lot of controversies, inevitably, for big city mayors.
But also, a persistent perception of weakness and alienating a lot of key constituencies, from progressives to, as you said, the two candidates who would advance that runoff in April. One was endorsed by the police union, the other endorsed by the teachers' union, which is particularly powerful in Chicago.
So, this is being set up as a pretty massive test between the strength of two unions in a city that is still not really gotten its mojo back where it needs to be.
CAMEROTA: Let's start with crime. I think we have the 2022 year-end report. And murder -- I don't know if we have it. But violent crime -- well, murder and shootings actually, believe it or not, ended down. Eighteen percent for murders. Shootings, down eight percent. But all the other ones are up: sexual assault, robbery, aggravated battery, burglary, theft, vehicle theft and, of course, crime. All your opponents have to do is say that people feel scared and that resonates with voters.
PANDEY: Yeah. You're seeing it in other cities, too, right? In New York, crime is a top issue for voters. Republicans running on crime and public safety were able to flip House seats. In San Francisco, voters ousted Chesa Boudin after a public safety kind of debate over that. So, same has happened in Chicago.
What really stuns me, though, is just how -- how much of a flip this was. I mean, in 2019, she won all 50 wards (ph) of Chicago. She got 75% of the vote, I think. And tonight, I think the numbers are 16.4%. I mean, this is crazy.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. And also, in 2019, Joe, there was this 11-day strike from the teachers.
CAMEROTA: And so, teachers' unions did not -- they soured on Mayor Lightfoot.
PINION: I think they were hopefully getting away from a kind of politicking by virtue signaling to actually politics for substantive results for the people. I think in Chicago, it is a state of emergency. It should be declared as much by the president, by the governor of that state. We've got more children shot by criminals, and then we have people who have died nationwide, children, from COVID.
You look at the reading rates, they are abysmal. Fourteen percent of Black children are reading at proficient levels in 11th grade. Fourteen percent in translation. Over 80% of the children that are Black that live in the city of Chicago cannot read at grade level. It is child abuse.
So, any way you want to slice it, from the people who are unsafe, walking the streets, who are basically living in a cocoon of fear in their own living room, Chicago needs new leadership.
And I think that, hopefully, at this particular point in time, people can come together across political persuasion to say, I don't care who you want to lead, but the brand of leadership that is being provided in Chicago and other major cities in this injunction point in America is just insufficient and unacceptable.
GRANDERSON: I just think she did not find a group to support her. Everything you just mentioned, I agree with. Having lived to Chicago for years, having grown up in Detroit with family members in Chicago and driven back and forth for years, everything you just said has always been part of Chicago.
The difference is that the mayor has always been able to find a group of constituents who will always show up for them, and this mayor was not able to find that group.
PINION: I would add that she -- because she made it such an integral part of her campaign --
GRANDERSON: They all do.
PINION: Yes and no.
GRANDERSON: Rahm Emanuel gave beautiful speeches about what he was going to do for this, what he was going to do that, and he got in. You know what he did? He closed a whole bunch of schools in a Black district. Right?
GRANDERSON: And then the next thing you know, the progressive who got him in didn't like him. But he was smart enough to know, I need to make sure I take care of the rich people from north side of the city because they are the ones who are going to fund my campaign and make sure I have enough in my coffers to run for reelection. And that's exactly what happened.
AVLON: But Rahm also was tough in a way that -- this is a city that was famously built by the daily machine. It was famously known as the city that worked. I think that is what has been lost in Chicago right now.
It is notable that this runoff is going to be someone who worked for Mayor Daley, the son. Ran the school system against somebody who has really gotten the strong backing of the teachers' union. That's a pretty epic fight, particularly, to Joe's point, in a city where union politics and (INAUDIBLE) education are so pivotal, often polarizing, but the outcomes are evident.
GRANDERSON: Do you know who else -- what else he was? Really corrupt. He was really corrupt.
AVLON: Oh, yeah.
GRANDERSON: This angel came down and stay in Chicago --
AVLON: No, no, no. There is nothing angelic about Richard M. Daley, but --
GRANDERSON: He knew who to take care of. That is my point. He knew --
AVLON: By the way, one of the greatest columnists of all time, Mike Royco's column (INAUDIBLE) for Richard Daley, go read it, it's great.
CAMEROTA: Corrupt but effective.
CAMEROTA: Yeah, got it. Thank you all very much for that.
Next, we are going to talk about how to protect children from two of the biggest threats to their life that are out there. We will explain.
CAMEROTA: The House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing today on immigration and border security. One Michigan mother gave emotional testimony about losing two sons to fatal fentanyl overdoses in 2020, as she begged lawmakers to do something to stop deadly drugs from flowing over the U.S.-Mexico border. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REBECCA KIESSLING, LOST SONS TO FENTANYL OVERDOSES: I had heard of the opioid epidemic. I thought, you know, people are getting prescription drugs and getting addicted and then getting it on the streets and that it affects their ability to work.
I did not know that people were dying. I did not know that my boys were taking anything that could kill them. They did not think that they were either. They thought that they were safe with pills.
Now, if we had Chinese troops lining up along our southern border with weapons aimed at our people, with weapons of mass destruction aimed at our cities, you darn well know you would do something about it!
We have a weather balloon from China going across our country, nobody died, and everybody is freaking out about it.
But 100,000 die every year and nothing is being done. Not enough is being done. Numbers are going up, not down. And you talk about children being taken away from their parents? My children were taken away from me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: And also, faith. Back with me is Erica Pandey, Joe Pinion, LZ Granderson, and John Avlon. Erica, this is awful. I mean, she lost two sons to fentanyl. And what is happening, as we all know, is that kids don't know they are taking fentanyl. They think they are taking something else because these are not labeled as fentanyl.
So, her sons, I believe, thought they were taking Percocet. And that is, obviously, not as deadly as fentanyl. And there is something like 15,000 pounds of fentanyl last year that Customs and Border Protection seized. What is the answer here?
PANDEY: So, let's focus on that stat for a second. Fifteen thousand pounds seized last year, that is enough to kill every single person in this country. So, the scale of this problem is enormous. There have already been 42 pounds seized this year.
And this isn't migrants who are traveling -- migrants or asylum seekers who are traveling into this country on foot between ports of entry. This isn't coming from those people. This is coming in tractor- trailers across legal ports of entry. That is where all these drugs are being ceased.
And I think these problems are getting conflated. And it is very important to think of these as two distinct issues. And, you know, the solutions to the drug smuggling problem isn't about asylum seekers or migrants. It is about these high-tech scanners that look inside these trucks and can find, you know, all these --
CAMEROTA: We don't have enough of those, you're saying? PANDEY: Yeah, exactly.
CAMEROTA: Like we are just undermanned at the border?
PANDEY: Right. So, experts say that we need more tech. We don't need more handling and (INAUDIBLE) about migrants and asylum seekers.
PINION: I think experts say both. Obviously, we know we need more high- tech scanners. I think that even going back to 9/11, there has been a misallocation between where the breaches are at our border and where the resources are need.
But I think, again, yes, you need to have more scanners, but let's be very clear, we've had 1.2 million people who have crossed our border and gotten away since Joseph Robinette Biden placed his hand on --
CAMEROTA: (INAUDIBLE) gotten away? I mean --
PINION: Those are the gotaways, right? We are talking about -- that's different from the actual encounters, right? But if we are talking about the people who have gotten away --
CAMEROTA: Are you talking about people who have never shown up again for court or people who have a court -- an upcoming court date?
PINION: I'm talking about gotaways. I'm talking about people that we know. Every single month, there are people that we know are evading capture. We don't know who they are. We don't know where they are coming from. We don't know what they have on their person.
PINION: So, all of these issues are connected. I think, again, the frustration that we have for the American people, the frustrations you hear from that mother, is that this crisis in its totality is not being taken seriously from the actual points of entry to the various points that people are crossing the border.
CAMEROTA: Yeah, I hear you, but I guess my point is, as Erica said, we don't know that they are connected. If they are coming in truck or trailers, why don't we just --
PINION: Because -- because --
CAMEROTA: Isn't that a much easier problem to solve than comprehensive immigration policy, which Congress has not been able to solve for decades?
PINION: Certainly, we can get the scanners tomorrow.
CAMEROTA: Then let's do that.
PINION: But the point is, I think the notion that we are going to ignore the reality that we are finding people who cross the border -- PANDEY: But we don't ignore it. We just don't say they are the same
issue. They are two different issues with two different solutions.
PINION: I think that the reality is to pretend that they are somehow disconnected, I think, actually prevents us from getting to the --
CAMEROTA: Well, I'm just trying to find a solution. So, if one solution is more scanners and having more people scan a tractor trailers, that seems easier than relying on --
PINION: Okay, but I don't hear President Biden standing behind the podium and saying we are going to have more scanners tomorrow.
GRANDERSON: Are you keeping Biden's name like this is a four-year-old issue?
PINION: No. I --
GRANDERSON: This has been going on for much longer than the administration.
CAMEROTA: But fentanyl is getting worse.
GRANDERSON: It's getting worse. But let's go back to the beginning and begin to talk about, okay, how did this problem begin? What was happening then? How did it progress? Was it politicized? Did we try things and they didn't work out? Do we need to tweak them?
I don't want to focus in on one administration because I think what that does is hijack the overall conversation and makes it too partisan. This should not be a partisan conversation.
PINION: I think most people agree it should not be partisan. I think, to my point, perspective is, if you are talking about solutions, what can we do today? Sure, we can buy more scanners. We can also secure the border. We can also make sure that we give the U.S. Customs and Border the support that they have asked for, which is more people on the ground to help them do those things.
I think all of those things happen in tandem. I am not saying that that's Joe -- it didn't happen when Joe Biden put his hand on the bible. Fentanyl was happening back in 2016. Fentanyl was happening in 2015. It is getting worse today.
CAMEROTA: Go ahead, John.
AVLON: Look, I mean, you know, the fentanyl spiked -- you know, it started spiking in 2020 under Trump. It spiked continuously. In fact, in January, they see $4 million worth of fentanyl at the border, seized it at the border through legal points of entry, to your point.
And that's where I think, look, Congress should be able to do comprehensive immigration reform. We all know what needs to be done. So today. They do not have the political will to do it because many politicians, extremes on both sides in particular, would rather demagogue the issue than deal with it.
When it comes to border crossing, Biden spoke extensively about fentanyl in the state of the union this year.
AVLON: This is something that should be way beyond partisan politics. And we know that people try to use it as a partisan weapon, which, frankly, is disrespect to the dead. It breaks your heart when you see that mother crying for her children.
But it is coming through legal ports of entry and that should be dealt with drug interdiction. It's not the same thing as migrants crossing the border. Both are problems with the porous border, but they are fundamentally different natures.
PINION: I think -- look, let's be very clear. We have the border. We have people who are coming here illegally. That has caused a migrant crisis in major cities from California to Florida to New York City. Now, we got the mayor of New York City putting people on buses, sending them up to Canada.
Yes, that is a fundamentally different issue, but the point is that if we are going to sit here and pick and choose how we are going to deal with issues on the border, I think that in and of itself is politicized.
AVLON: So -- but as a Republican, do you encourage your colleagues to pass comprehensive immigration reform?
PINION: Of course. But specificity of language, what this comprehensive immigration reform looks like?
AVLON: Security pathway to citizenship --
PINION: Sure. We have to secure the border, right? It's not my opinion. Senator Chuck Schumer backed on that. Debate stage back in 1998 said that you can't have a serious conversation about securing the border until you actually have secured it, by which now people can take you seriously.
So, it has to start there. And I think that any other conversation is actually disingenuous and prevents people from putting down their partisan blinders and engage in the type of robust --
CAMEROTA: Well, that is not going to solve the fentanyl crisis. In other words, if what we need is to be looking at tractor-trailers that are coming illegally, let's try to solve that one first.
PINION: To be clear, even if you have more scanners tomorrow, we would stop more fentanyl. And if you save one life, it is worth it. But that does not actually address the overriding issue, which is that we have pharmaceutical warfare coming from the Chinese communist party that no one actually wants to take seriously.
So, yes, we can sit here and nitpick on which party wants to be harder on one particular issue, but at the end of the day, if we are not actually going to engage with what China is doing in a robust manner, then we --
The cartels are at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party. There are chemists down there working with the cartels, right? They're just following the instructions, sometimes, which are written in mandarin.
CAMEROTA: Erica, go ahead.
PANDEY: I just think, like you said, if there is so much of this coming in illegally on vehicles that are -- the biggest vehicles that are on the road, there is a way to stop 84% of the drugs. Fentanyl came in legally through legal ports of entry. And then 16% came in between the ports of entry. These are manned ports of entry. So, there has got to be a quick solution here that does not get into all these debates --
CAMEROTA: Yes. If we have to wait for comprehensive immigration reform to fix this fentanyl problem, we are in trouble.
PANDEY: Forty-two thousand have come in this year already.
GRANDERSON: There's also this flipside, too. We are very focused in on the border. But what about the actual people of this country and having conversation about drug abuse and making sure that we have the proper education in schools so that kids are not tempted to do that?
Remember, it's not just about fentanyl. We have to stand our bulletins to say, hey, don't swallow tide pods. There are all sorts of things in which we have to safeguard our kids against that we did not have to do when we were young.
PINION: I think that's also because we have one school counselor for every 400 children when the recommendation is around 200. So, again, the lack of funding for our students, a lack of infrastructure for our students, the lack of resources being spent on the border and with the Chinese Communist Party, all of it has led to where we are today, which is a mess.
CAMEROTA: Folks, thank you very much. We will be right back.
CAMEROTA: That Chinese balloon that floated across the continental U.S. got a lot of attention. And somehow, it eclipsed other weirder unidentified flying objects.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Whoa! Got it!
(LAUGHTER) UNKNOWN (voice-over): Whoo hoo!
UNKNOWN (voice-over): What the (bleep) is that thing? Did you box a moving target?
UNKNOWN (voice-over): No, I took an auto-track.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Oh, okay.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Oh, my gosh, dude!
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Wow! What is that, man?
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Look at it fly!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Former Navy fighter pilot Ryan Graves has a new article in "Politico" titled, "We have a real UFO problem. And it's not balloons."
He joins me now. Ryan, I'm with you. I mean, you -- you have seen weirder things than a Chinese balloon while you have been in the sky, yes?
RYAN GRAVES, FORMER NAVY FIGHTER PILOT: Certainly. We have seen things that we have not been able to explain as simply a balloon. And as we have been talking about the various objects that have been shot down over the U.S., it has been a pretty clear bifurcation between what we have been calling a Chinese balloon and what these other three objects are.
And while we don't know what they are, the fact of the matter is we should know what is above our head at any given time. Whether it's a national security issue or whether it is a scientific question, we need to figure out what is above our heads.
CAMEROTA: That video that we just showed, was that from your squad?
GRAVES: Yes. That was in 2015 while we were aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida.
We were doing training missions, preparing for our combat appointment. We record (INAUDIBLE) as well as other objects that we are operating in our vicinity on a regular basis. We simply did not know what they were, but we did know that they are safety hazards for our air crew and for our training missions, and we've been looking for the right way to report those issues ever since.
With the Americans for safe airspace, we are going to be pushing legislative action to ensure that sharper policies are in place so that pilots and aviators both in the military and in commercial markets feel comfortable reporting these things, whether -- again, it's a national security issue. We need to pay attention to make sure there are no security gaps or whether there is something unknown. We need to inquire on that.
CAMEROTA: But Ryan, what was that thing?
GRAVES: That's what we are still trying to figure out. What we know is that it was not one of our aircraft that we are operating within the vicinity of. We are fairly certain that it is not a foreign adversary at this point. But it still remains in the unknown bucket.
The primary issue here is that there are enough things that are in that bucket of unknown that the (INAUDIBLE) within the DOD. And various senators and congressmen and congresswomen are looking into this matter from the angle of national security in the way we haven't had before.
With the recent shootdowns, we can see just how serious of an issue it is. Even if they are just balloons, just balloons can still be a national security issue overhead our national security facilities and airspace.
CAMEROTA: But these things that you have seen -- and in fact, I should let everybody know, you saw them a lot. This was not just a one-off once in 2015. You saw UFOs often. And these things -- correct me if I am wrong, they do things. They have sort of technology that you all could not identify.
GRAVES: It's not that we were just seeing them up there and then somewhat identifying something in the distance. We are using multitude of sensors on our aircraft and also distribute it across multiple aircraft and different platforms that are detecting these objects within a censored network.
And so, when we then correlate these radar tracks with our infrared camera systems, we are eventually moving in closer to detect them with our eyeballs. We have high confidence in those track files and what we are experiencing.
And what we are experiencing are things that we are really not sure what they are at the end of the day. They are performing a number of behaviors that we don't recognize such as the ability to stay stationary in very high winds with no lifting platform, no surfaces. But also, to maintain speeds of 0.6 to 0.8 miles, which is upwards of 350 knots. And they can do that for many hours on end.
We don't have the ability to do that in our aircraft. We simply do not know who is operating these or what their intent are.
CAMEROTA: I think we have another clip of one from your squadron, of them seeing it, as you said, in high wind and operating differently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Look at that thing, it's rotating!
UNKNOWN (voice-over): My gosh!
UNKNOWN (voice-over): They're all going against the wind. The wind is 120 knots to the west. Look at that thing, dude!
CAMEROTA: And so, when you say that, you know, you want to get to a point where people feel comfortable reporting them, do they not -- do people not feel comfortable reporting these sightings?
GRAVES: They still don't. And I will only speak within the aviation community. But it's a big risk to go out publicly on this topic. At the end of the day, if you are going to highlight yourself, at least in the military aviation community, for something like this, there's very little upside for you.
We are very busy aviators in the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and the Military in general. Very busy just doing their regular job. They are not equipped to go out and do research on these mysterious objects.
On the commercial sector, people work for a very long time in a single career, at a single company, and there is signature away on the medical evaluation to say they are unfit for flying to lose that career. So, there's really just very little motivation to speak publicly about this, especially when it has been communicated by their employers and, historically, that this is a somewhat off topic -- excuse me, off limits topic.
CAMEROTA: Uh-hmm. And last, Ryan, do you have a theory on what these are?
GRAVES: Well, again, I have a theory of what they are not. And I do have a method, I think, of trying to figure out what these are. We know that we can detect these objects. We are starting to recognize as a government and a society that we have an obligation to figure out what these are to ensure safe flying. So, I think we can figure it out. I think that is an answerable question although not quite yet.
CAMEROTA: Ryan Graves, thanks for sharing all this with us. It's really fascinating and, obviously, we do need to get some answers about all of this, that the balloon has exposed. Thanks so much for being here.
GRAVES: It is my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
CAMEROTA: All right, meanwhile, climate scientists are sounding the alarm. Antarctic Sea ice is now at record low levels. So, CNN's chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir, is on his way to the south pole right now, and he is going to give us a firsthand report.
CAMEROTA: Sea ice levels dipping below two million square kilometers for the first time since satellites began monitoring this in 1978. What does that mean? CNN's chief climate correspondent Bill Weir is on his way to Antarctica right now. Bill, what are you finding?
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, greetings from the tip of Patagonia, a beautiful place, sometimes called the end of the world. But we are not talking about sort of the book of revelations g existential end of the world here. We are talking about Antarctica, which is right on the other side of that mountain range. Those mountains are national park here in the Chile-Argentina border. We are going to get on the boat, go around those, across (INAUDIBLE) to Antarctica with some scientists here a couple of days.
But the news today is about how much that place is changing and how much it affects all of us long term. We are talking about sea ice. And just for perspective, in 2014, in the summer, there would be about 7 million square miles of sea ice all around this continent down here at the South Pole. Now, the National Snow and Ice Center out of Colorado confirms it's just over 700,000 square miles.
So, that's a 90% loss in less than a decade. And what is really worrisome is that the big glaciers like plates (ph), this is a glacier, frozen river the size of Florida, which is holding back masses of inland ice, is hanging on by a fingernail.
They sent down robotics that look like sort of a torpedo underneath that ice, the (INAUDIBLE), to take pictures. It is melting in bizarre ways that were never predicted. And if that thing pops, it could create a sea level rise pulse.
Right now, the trend is, though, that all of these signs are pointing towards a world with a very different coastlines than we have grown accustomed to. It's a warning to leaders on the coast to prepare infrastructures, to prepare citizens for what this means.
But mostly, the top line is that for a long time, people thought the North Pole is melting, the South Pole would be okay. Now, both ends of the planet are heating up in ways that even science would not have predicted a couple of -- even five years ago.
Amazing flock of birds overhead. I'm in heaven down here with all the South American wildlife. And, of course, that's at risk as these ecosystems change down here as well.
And it seems so far away. We are at the bottom of the world. But all of this adds up. Our systems are still connected. The drought stories I was doing in Utah last week about towns -- the fastest-growing metro center in the country is growing so fast that they are not sure how long they can grow, given the lack of water.
The water cycles that are affected by these currents, by these systems, are changing in ways that are going to just freakish blizzard events in Southern California, at the same time as heat waves in the summer is up in British Columbia.
So, this, unfortunately, is the new normal. And the warning is, knowledge is power, preparation is key. The sea level, as we know it, is changing before our eyes. But science is getting in front of this, Alisyn. Hopefully, the leaders, the decision makers are paying attention to what is happening both at the top and at the bottom of our blue marble. Alisyn, I'll send it back to you.
CAMEROTA: Bill, thank you very much. Bill always finishes with some sort of bright spot so that I don't feel existential dread, because he knows --
CAMEROTA: -- that I don't know how he does his job with all that. Check out this map, okay? This shows the top 100 places around the world that are most vulnerable to the climate crisis. And there is a lot of them and a lot of places that we all want to go.
So, let's bring in our panel. Is there a bucket list place that you all have that you are aware of climate change that you want to go too soon before it disappears? Erica?
PANEY: Yeah, I mean, I think of the country my parents are from. My parents are from Nepal. It's right there on those red spots. It has some of the most spectacular trekking in the world with the Himalayas. You've got Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp. To go to these places is becoming more and more dangerous, with ice just falling on people. The length of the season that you can even try to summit at Everest is getting shorter and shorter. So, you are seeing literally traffic jams on Everest of people trying to get to the top.
And then, you know, more locally, Glacier National Park in Montana, CNN reported some of those glaciers have shrunk by 80% in recent years. So, there is just so many places and time is running out.
CAMEROTA: My gosh, that's incredible. Joe Pinion, what's your bucket list place?
PINION: Look, I just haven't been to Fiji. So, I would love to go to there. But, look, I think we have to have a little bit of optimism. I think a lot of people -- as my old friend Bob English, former congressman for South Carolina, I believe in rulers, I believe in thermometers, and I think most Republicans do, too. That's what the Pew Research Center says. So, again, I think we have to have real global communities.
Bill was talking about the interconnectedness of the world. Eighty- seven percent of the emissions we are trying to curb come from our good friends over there in China and also places like India. So, they are from beyond our borders. We need global plans to deal with the fact that this is an interconnected issue.
GRANDERSON: Alisyn, I'm going to be basic as hell.
CAMEROTA: Well --
GRANDERSON: I want to go back to Fire Island. I haven't for about 15 years and it is disappearing.
CAMEROTA: It is?
GRANDERSON: It is.
CAMEROTA: It is island. It's just being --
GRANDERSON: It's just right over here and it's sinking. It's disappearing because of climate change. In fact, there's a couple of traditional LGBTQ hotspots around the country -- no pun intended -- that are disappearing because of climate change. Fire Island happens to be one of them.
CAMEROTA: Okay, I want to go, too.
GRANDERSON: You've never been to Fire Island?
CAMEROTA: No. I go to Provincetown a lot. And I hope that town is not disappearing.
CAMEROTA: Go ahead, John.
AVLON: The whole doom tourism industry seems a little bit --
AVLON: -- grim. I think about where my grandparents were from. You know, Greece, a village in Turkey, Costa Rica, Argentina. Those places that you just can't anticipate how they will be changed and what villages or coastlines existed when they were there won't be available for my kids. And I think that is the stakes that we have got to really focus on and ramp up. I'm glad you mentioned Bob English. He's the kind of guy we need to be tuning more to. That's just -- you know.
CAMEROTA: Mine was Alaska.
CAMEROTA: Yeah, Alaska, because, you know, that's changing, too. But I'm happy to go to any of yours as well. That is great.
PINION: We go to D.C., we get to start crafting policy that make sense, not -- you know.
AVLON: All of it? Should we just do like a junket?
CAMEROTA: Yes. I love that. I would love that. We would love to hear yours as well. You can find me on social media. Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.