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U.S. President Joe Biden to Convene Virtual COVID-19 Summit; Afghan Refugees Make Tough Journey to Turkey; U.S. Pulls Funding for Iron Dome Defense System from Bill; U.S. Homeland Security Releasing Some Haitians into the U.S.; Lava Flows Fourth Day on La Palma Island; U.S. Investors Watch for Fed's Highly Anticipated Statement. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired September 22, 2021 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To fight this pandemic, we need a collective act of silence and political will.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): President Biden set to announce the U.S. will donate millions more vaccine doses to the world, as he calls on
global leaders to help him tackle the global pandemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).
ANDERSON (voice-over): These Afghan refugees are looking for a new home but the doors are shut, it seems. Nobody wants them. We follow their
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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ANDERSON (voice-over): And two continents away, thousands of Haitian migrants have reached the U.S. border and found little welcome. They're
being sent home on deportation flights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: It's 6:00 pm Here in Abu Dhabi. I'm Becky Anderson. Welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD from the Middle East broadcasting hub.
U.S. President Joe Biden calling on world leaders to fight COVID-19 in what he calls a decisive decade for our world. Next hour, he's expected to
convene a virtual summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, going on right now in New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON (voice-over): This is the death toll from COVID-19 in the U.S., it has surpassed the number of Americans who died during the 1918 flu
pandemic. There are more than 678,000 people.
With this terrible number in mind, Mr. Biden calling on the international community to respond to these four ambitions: improving vaccine equity,
solving the global oxygen supply shortage and making therapeutics and personal protective equipment more available.
He also wants to see the establishment of a sustainable health security financing mechanism and aligning around targets tracking progress and
supporting one another in fulfilling commitments.
Meanwhile, we're being reminded no one is immune from the virus and its destructive power. We've learned the Brazilian health minister in the
United States for the UNGA has tested positive for COVID-19. More on his condition and the political implications later in the show.
First off, though, let's get you to the White House. Jeremy Diamond is live for you on what is this virtual summit and a call by President Biden to get
world leaders on board with beating this global pandemic.
What do we know at this stage about what he's set to announce?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We know the big announcement we'll hear from the president today in about an hour is that
the United States is committing to purchasing -- has purchased 500 million additional doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine and those doses will be
donated over the course of 2022, by September of 2022.
That is on top of 500 million doses President Biden pledged to donate earlier this summer before the G7 summit. Similarly, just as when the
president announced the initial 500 million doses he was purchasing to donate to the rest of the world, he's also going to be calling once again
on other nations to do their part and to increase their commitment to donate more doses to the rest of the world.
But all of this is coming at a time when we know this global effort to vaccinate the poorest countries in the world has really been lagging far
behind schedule. Fewer than 10 percent of the population of the poorest countries of the world have been fully vaccinated.
That is happening through this global partnership called COVAX, a partnership between the World Health Organization and other nonprofit
The United States has been the biggest donor to this global effort with 160 million doses shipped so far from the United States to other countries
around the world. But even despite that figure, we're seeing this global vaccination effort far behind schedule.
So this is going to be a call to action in many ways by the President of the United States, bringing together many of these nonprofit groups working
on this, the COVAX initiative as well as other wealthy countries around the world, as the president calls on them to do more, as well.
ANDERSON: Jeremy Diamond is at the White House. That summit hosted by Joe Biden in the next hour.
There is a government that wants a seat at the table at the General Assembly in New York this week and it's the Afghan Taliban. They've
nominated spokesman Suhail Shaheen to represent Afghanistan at the world body. The Taliban said the former Afghan government's U.N. ambassador no
longer represents the country.
The U.N. credentials committee is considering the Taliban's request, though it's highly unlikely any action will be taken during what is this week of
Afghanistan's future under Taliban rule, particularly the rights of women and girls, a major topic. And today foreign ministers from the U.S., U.K.,
France, China and Russia are meeting with the U.N. secretary general to discuss ways to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a terrorist haven.
International diplomatic editor Nic Robertson connecting us from Kabul.
Who have you been speaking to?
What have they been telling you?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Becky, I've been with speaking with Anas Haqqani, the brother of the interior minister. And
I think you remember the Haqqani family are really the sort of most powerful group within the Taliban, certainly militarily.
It seems to be emerging so politically. When you speak with Anas Haqqani, you understand what is happening inside the Taliban's mindset, particularly
toward the international community and this idea that Suhail Shaheen has been nominated as ambassador to the United Nations.
Anas Haqqani this puts the diplomatic ball in the international community's court. It is the Taliban saying, we want to have diplomatic relations with
you. This is our move and now you need to respond.
What do we know from the international community?
We know the U.N. today has issued $45 million emergency funding for Afghans for medical assistance, Becky.
ANDERSON: Does it, though, put the ball in the court of the international community?
You know, most nations have made it absolutely clear that unless the Taliban run an inclusive government, which they are not doing at present,
and unless they, you know, provide rights for women and girls, which is unclear at this point, they will not get any leverage going forward.
So we see this request from the Taliban for U.N. recognition and a seat at the table.
Are they likely to get it at this point?
ROBERTSON: That's not clear. I think what is clear from Kabul -- and, again, I go back to the interview, Becky -- from U.S. President Joe Biden
yesterday, he made it clear women's issue was the number one important issue for him, the rights and political and economic and social and all of
The Taliban two days ago announced new members of their government. They work for the Taliban and said it was showing inclusivity. And people in the
city think it is somewhat window dressing. But it's the women's issue.
That was the issue they asked Anas Haqqani about.
I said, look, to get those international assets unfrozen, are you willing to comprise on the issue of women?
And he said no. This is a cultural issue for us. We cannot change the views of the population here on this particular issue of women. We have our own
So even if standing by what the Taliban believe in means they don't get those international assets unfrozen, that is a path he's willing -- he says
the Taliban government is willing to go down.
So I think that's the answer there, Becky. Quite simply, there are some compromises on women's issues they will not cross. He did say they'll have
a new constitution. He did say that will address women's issues. But I don't think we should look for any significant changes in that, as far as
we know from our conversation today, when it happens.
ANDERSON: Fascinating. Nic Robertson in Kabul for you.
The fighting in Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover caused millions to flee their homes. Some heading to Turkey, hoping to eventually reach
Europe. In response, Ankara beefed up the border security. CNN's Arwa Damon talked with those who made into the country and are seeing what happens
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Up in the darkness on the side of a steep hill, dozens of mostly Afghan refugees are
picking their way through the thorny, rocky slopes.
DAMON (voice-over): They just crossed the Iranian border into Eastern Turkey. The handful of Turkish security forces we are with are scattered
below being guided by others manning a thermal camera.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
DAMON: They're telling to go left into the front (ph).
DAMON (voice-over): Turkey doesn't want the refugees here. And their final destination, Europe, doesn't want them there.
The shots are blanks, intended to scare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
DAMON (voice-over): There's a small group of Afghans; it's over. And yet, despite the grueling journey, the sudden evaporation of his dreams, one of
the young men realizes I'm struggling with the slippery descent and insists on helping.
He's an athletic student, a sprinter. Another in the group, a pro mixed martial arts fighter. They don't want to appear on camera. They say it
would break their parents' hearts to see them captured.
It was dark, so dark. Zainab (ph), who we met a few days earlier in a deportation center, remembers.
It was her son, Emir (ph), just 10 years old who kept them going.
DAMON: What were you thinking when, you know, you were going through all of this?
And you were pulling your dad and carrying the bag?
"I was just thinking that we have to reach a country that is safe," he responds.
DAMON: You're very brave.
"It was for my future," his sister Sara (ph), said. "I can't study in Afghanistan."
Zainab doesn't want her daughter to be robbed of her right to learn, not the way she was 20 plus years ago.
DAMON: So you went to a secret school, one of the secret underground schools?
DAMON (voice-over): "It was under a house," she says. "The door would stay shut so no one would know girls were there."
She's broken in more ways than she can put into words. They all are. She doesn't know how long they will be here. Turkey halted deportations to
Afghanistan after Kabul fell. Some of those who evade capture hide out in small ravines, waiting for their payment to smugglers to come through so
they can move on to the next leg.
DAMON: So you were in the military?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, in Afghanistan.
DAMON (voice-over): He was part of a local anti-Taliban unit. He sent his wife and three children into hiding after receiving threatening phone
calls. He left them behind so they can be reunited in a better place, one day, someday, suffering through the humiliation of waiting out here.
Many of those we spoke to said it took them numerous attempts just to get across the border into Turkey. Turkey has been beefing up its border
security, doubling the number of guard towers, infrared cameras and motion sensors with Europe's support.
Turkey is pushing refugees back, at times forcefully and violently. The day after crossing the border, the captured refugees we met have already been
forced back into Iraq. They said they're now hiding from thieves.
But nothing will stop those that have nothing left but broken promises.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). We don't have homes. We don't have a country. (INAUDIBLE).
DAMON (voice-over): A question that should echo throughout America's halls of power, whose policies failed the Afghan people and lead to this -- Arwa
Damon, CNN, Turkey.
ANDERSON: Heartbreaking stories there.
One country they have left behind, CNN's Nic Robertson takes us into a former U.S. air base in Afghanistan and a notorious prison that was
abandoned and now in the hands of the Taliban. His report is online as is the other news related to Afghanistan, cnn.com. Or get it on the CNN app.
Cleanup is underway after a rare, powerful earthquake rocked Australia, damaging businesses and power lines in Melbourne. There are no reports of
serious injuries. The 5.9 magnitude quake is one of the strongest to hit Australia in decades.
Can the Iron Dome defense systems defend Israel from Washington politics?
We'll take a look at why the U.S. is holding back aid.
And in the wake of a catastrophic COVID crisis at home, Brazil's health minister announces he has tested positive at the U.N. General Assembly.
ANDERSON: And the U.S. said it will release some Haitians into America, despite claims they would be immediately expelled. We're live at the U.S.-
Mexico border to get the latest on what is the burgeoning migrant crisis there.
ANDERSON: Not much can penetrate Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, except for one thing: Washington's pursestrings; $1 billion in aid
to the Iron Dome was pulled at the last minute from the latest U.S. funding bill.
This after a group of Democrats protested its inclusion. Israel's foreign minister in Washington for meetings called it a, quote, "technical
postponement." He said he's gotten assurances from Democrats that funding is on the way. Oren Liebermann is at the Pentagon with the details.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: This comes at critical time, the debate over Iron Dome funding. But not a critical time for Israel; it's
a critical time for the United States. Israel, in the long run, probably doesn't have anything to worry about it. It will almost certainly getting
the funding and we'll see why for a moment.
Where it started: Democrats in the House tried to introduce legislation, a bill that would suspend the debt limit and avoid a government shut down.
Obviously major priorities for them.
But in this bill, they included $1 billion for Israel's Iron Dome aerial defense system. Progressives opposed it, saying they wouldn't vote for it.
And the Democrats need their votes to get it through, unless that $1 billion was stripped out.
In the end, that's what happened. The Democrats pulled the $1 billion and Steny Hoyer, one of the Democratic leaders in the House, said he'll pass it
at a later time on its own. The reason in this case Israel doesn't have too much to worry about, it retains pretty overwhelming bipartisan support when
dealing with specifically with Israel issues.
That's despite the last four years, where former prime minister Netanyahu clearly and closely aligned with Republicans and former president Donald
Trump. A senior Israeli official told me it was part of his job to make sure that Israel had overwhelming support, more than 80 votes in the
Senate, more than 350 votes in the House.
When it comes to Israel-specific issues, Israel is still likely to have that, which is why when it's introduced on its own, which is the plan, and
an assurance that Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid said he got, Israel will have the support of $1 billion in Iron Dome funding.
ANDERSON: Has Israel spelled out the consequences, were they not to get this billion-dollar Iron Dome aid?
LIEBERMANN: I'm sure some have warned of the risks of not approving Iron Dome aid at some point. But it's not in the interests of the higher levels
of the Israeli government, the prime minister or the foreign minister to complain about this.
LIEBERMANN: They have gotten assurances it will come through.
Second, everyone on both sides is fully aware of what Iron Dome does. It's a purely defensive system; in 11 days of fighting in May, it intercepted
more than 1,200 rockets coming from Gaza. They're rockets about to hit civilian areas.
So there is certainly plenty of criticism of the occupation of the West Bank, the policies toward Gaza. But on a purely defensive system, Israel
will have the overwhelming support to get the money to keep it running. It was a joint project between Israel and the U.S. So part of that $1 billion
will come back to the U.S.
ANDERSON: Yes. There was much talk, of course, during the last Israel- Palestinian conflict back in May of the withdrawing of the support by at least the sort of cohort of Democrats, that being the progressives.
What you're saying at this point is, despite that noise, there is not enough -- there is still enough support that, frankly, it will go through?
That's the bottom line?
LIEBERMANN: Exactly. The progressives are able to make demands on Israel when it comes to matters that have to be passed along party lines. That's
where they have the leverage.
But when it comes to something that has bipartisan support, like support for Israel, when it's specifically that issue, if it's introduced
separately, they don't have the numbers to stop this from going through.
And that's what Israel knows. That's what U.S. Democrats know. It's going through, even if it was included and had to be pulled from this last-minute
essentially resolution and bill to keep the government open and running.
ANDERSON: Yes. Fascinating. Thank you. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon.
A troubling development at the United Nations General Assembly. We'll get back to New York. Brazil's health minister has tested positive for COVID-19
and will isolate in New York for 14 days. CNN Brasil was the first to report this.
He had been attending the U.N. meeting with the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who said he refused, of course, to get vaccinated. Shasta
Darlington is in Sao Paulo.
Clearly the news from the Brazilian health minister making an awful lot of news.
Are other officials such as Brazil's president, for example, taking precautions, at this point?
Do we know?
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, what we know is the other members of the Brazilian delegation tested nothing for
the virus. He told CNN Brasil he was asymptomatic.
We have to wait awhile to see if anyone eventually tests positive. Some of the participants have cancelled their participation in U.N. meetings due to
the risk of infecting other members.
He was in the U.N. assembly hall yesterday during Bolsonaro's opening speech. And even after the news broke that his health minister had tested
positive, Bolsonaro posted a video of himself on social media last night, greeting and shaking the hands of supporters in New York without wearing a
So we aren't seeing a whole lot of change in attitude there. Actually earlier this week, he came under fire for responding to protesters in New
York with an obscene gesture, a video of him rolling by protesters, making that gesture.
Here in Brazil, the health agency and Visa (ph) has recommended that the delegates self-isolate on the return to the country. But it's not clear if
those recommendations will be followed yet.
As we know Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the virus. Even yesterday he criticized vaccine mandates. He doesn't wear masks. He
was fully vaccinated with the Chinese-made vaccine. In fact, in Brazil, after many delays in the vaccine rollout, things have started to look up
The virus seems relatively under control. Nearly 40 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. Over 66 percent of the population has
received at least one shot. New cases and new deaths have been steadily dropping. This is all good news for Brazil.
But this doesn't mean we will actually see delegates following the advice of their own health agency.
ANDERSON: Shasta Darlington in Sao Paulo, thank you.
Coming up, a rush to get out of the path of this massive lava flow on the Canary Islands as scientists notice an increase in explosive activity
overnight. The latest on that is coming up.
ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi.
To another pressing matter for Washington, the list is long at present. This is the crisis on America's southern border. The U.S. Border Patrol
agents, seen on video aggressively confronting migrants, have been placed on administrative duties while this incident is investigated. Results of
that investigation are expected in the coming days.
This as thousands of people, including babies and pregnant women, wait in the searing Texas sun, many sleeping on the ground or surrounded by
garbage. The Department of Homeland Security said it will release some Haitians into the U.S. despite they're saying they are likely to be
Josh Campbell is in Del Rio in Texas.
That is a very odd decision. Certainly many of our viewers will feel that.
What more do we know about the U.S. position at this point and these Haitians, who are likely to be released over the border only to then be
Josh, what is going on?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, so to just describe for you, Becky, the way the immigration policy works is, if someone comes to
the border and they make a claim for asylum, the U.S. government as part of U.S. law will make the determination whether the claim is actually
If the person actually fears for their life. If so, they will actually release them with the summons to go to an immigration judge, where that
processing continues. That's the distinction we're seeing, which kind of runs counter to the hard line that the Biden administration set forth,
saying all the Haitian migrants will be quickly expelled.
We're learning it's not the case. There are many who are and some are allowed to stay here.
I'll show you quickly what the border looks like. Behind me you can see the sea of state trooper vehicles. The state officials here are trying to do
their part to ensure they don't see additional waves of migrants.
As we pan across here to this line, there are hundreds of state troopers that have been brought here to the border. You can see the bridge, this is
the bridge where the Haitian migrants are gathered underneath. At last count, there are still some 8,000 that are waiting processing. Some will be
As I mentioned earlier, some, if they have a righteous claim of asylum, they'll be permitted to stay, pending additional adjudication. The Texas
governor here has been really slamming the Biden administration, saying that the crisis here at the border with these thousands of migrants is
because of federal policy.
So what he's doing is charging his officers here to come to try to protect this state.
CAMPBELL: Again, we're seeing this wall of vehicles, what is being described by the governor as a steel barrier in order to ensure that They
don't see additional waves. That's important because CNN is now reporting that at least 30,000 migrants are currently in the nation of Colombia,
possibly preparing to come here.
I actually asked the governor yesterday if he was concerned about that, about additional waves. He said he certainly is. He said they're not
welcome and he's sending his forces here out again to try to protect this border. His message to these migrants is don't come here to this country.
ANDERSON: As you speak, Josh, we're seeing the most remarkable images, shot by one of our drone operators, live, as you are speaking, of that wall
of vehicles, along the border.
You know, the sort of images that you only get with the new technology, really. This is remarkable stuff.
What of this investigation in the meantime into the images -- these images of Border Patrol on horseback and these Haitian migrants that we saw on the
show yesterday, what do we know about the investigation?
These are these images. They're shocking.
CAMPBELL: Yes. As we pan back to the border, you did see under the bridge, this is where it happened where it happened here at the water, where you
saw the Customs and Border agents encountering some of these migrants.
And some of the video was troubling. The Biden administration said they were troubled. The Department of Homeland Security said they launched an
investigation in order to try to determine what these agents were doing.
We're told those agents on horseback are actually now on administrative duty. They're not being permitted to encounter the migrants. That will
continue. They said they take it seriously.
We've seen this public outcry at seeing the video. You see one of the horses appear to lunge at one of the migrants, who falls back into the
water. That's on the federal side. These are state officials that are here. But the federal agents that are here we have seen some find themselves
under investigation for just those acts we saw on video.
ANDERSON: Yes. Josh is on the border there. Thank you, sir.
Let's get you up to speed on the other stories that are on the radar now.
And in the face of anti-lockdown protests, Australia's trade and tourism minister said the country is on track to reopen its borders by Christmas.
The minister said a key factor is making sure enough people are vaccinated. So far, around 38 percent of Australians have had both shots, with a target
of 80 percent nationally.
Amnesty International said vaccine makers are not sharing with the world. They're not sharing patent rights or giving details on how to make the
vaccines. That would allow developing nations, of course, to set up their own manufacturing.
And the Colombian president is also calling for a fairer distribution of COVID vaccines to help prevent more variants of the virus. During his U.N.
General Assembly address today, he called out the inequities between wealthier nations announcing third booster shots and other countries
struggling to get people their first dose.
Excuse me; that was a speech made yesterday, my mistake.
Lava is gushing out of a volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma for a fourth day. It roared back to life on Sunday for the first time in 50
years. We've been seeing these dramatic and terrifying displays of lava, shooting high into the sky.
That lava has been oozing into homes and roadways and pretty much burning everything in its path. Now about 6,000 people living on the island have
had to evacuate.
Up next on CONNECT THE WORLD, investors waiting to hear if the U.S. Fed will put the brakes on its huge economic stimulus program. Our preview on
that is up next.
And fighter Conor McGregor is known for a pair of powerful arms, as many of his opponents will attest to. As you'll see after the break, those arms
aren't exactly made for baseball. More on that after this.
ANDERSON: Making a statement doesn't get much bigger than the Fed. The U.S. Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates at the all-important
policy statement are due out in about four hours from now.
Investors are keen to see what Jerome Powell say. And weak U.S. job numbers and COVID may keep the U.S. central bank from scaling back its enormous
asset-buying program. It was put in place, of course, to protect the U.S. economy from the pandemic. While the investors await the outcome of the
meeting, Wall Street is trading higher.
Not enormously so but it has been a turbulent week for U.S. stocks. So this is the stability -- Wall Street's attempts at a rebound yesterday fell flat
after what were heavy losses sparked by default fears at Evergrande. That's the Chinese property giant. That's is heavily in debt to the tune of some
It say it will pay interest due on Thursday on one of the bonds. But a much bigger payment, as we understand it, is looming. Let's get to CNN's Clare
Sebastian, who is in New York.
All eyes clearly on what will happen as far as the Fed is concerned. That's what investors are most minded by today.
ANDERSON: Is there any sign, at this point, that the Fed is likely to be turning off the money taps any time soon?
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think most people feel they have to. I mean, it might be slightly delayed. Some of the economic data
has been a bit disappointing over the summer.
These are, don't forget, crisis measures put in, in March of 2020; $120 billion a month in bond purchases by the Federal Reserve. It was done sort
of almost overnight to prevent the economic crisis sparked by COVID-19.
Now there are those pretty uncomfortable with the Fed and this amount of money, given we no longer in a --
SEBASTIAN: -- fundamentals of the U.S. economy are pretty good. The key question for this meeting and the reason is given that back and forth of
the data over the summer is the question of when, right.
When will it start the tapering?
Could it be November?
How will Jerome Powell telegraph it?
That's what, the Fed announcement, much more important than the action itself. It gives the markets time to prepare and to plan for what could be
So we'll be watching for that communication today.
ANDERSON: Very briefly, we talked this time yesterday about China's Evergrande and its what seems like inability at that point to meet some
crucial debt deadlines. I know it said it can meet the first but it's still in hot water at this point. Very briefly explain what is going on.
SEBASTIAN: Yes. So they've said in (INAUDIBLE) stock exchange they'll be able to pay the interest on one sort of domestic bond that amounts to about
$36 million. They said nothing yet about the dollar denominated bond and the interest of more than $80 million that is due on Thursday.
They're definitely not out of the woods but I think that improved slightly sentiment today. The Chinese government has been injecting a lot of money
into the financial system last week and this week and it smacks of building up defenses ahead of a possible event.
ANDERSON: Thank you, Clare.
The first pitch at a U.S. baseball game is usually by a guest, a local luminary of some sort, not, frankly, very memorable. UFC fighter Conor
McGregor changed that at Tuesday's Cubs' game in Chicago.
He threw the ball and not only missed the catcher, he even missed the giant Cub mascot standing behind home plate. Almost impossible to miss.