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Marty Walsh is Interviewed about the Spending Bill and Supply Chain; Antoinette Jones and Jimmy Lawson are Interviewed about Julius Jones; FDA Authorizes Boosters; Leroy Chiao is Interviewed about the James Webb Space Telescope. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 19, 2021 - 08:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What is the environment care about whether its union workers building electric cars?

MARTY WALSH, LABOR SECRETARY: Well, I think this is one way of keeping some of these plants out in the country open and moving forward. I was at GM last week with the -- actually earlier this week with the president. We were out there and they were creating new jobs, building electric vehicles. We -- we -- the president drove in a Hummer. They're both (INAUDIBLE). But he was talking about keeping those jobs here in the United States of America. That's one of the reasons.

And, quite honestly, there's members of Congress that are insisting upon this, that they want to see this tax credit in there.

BERMAN: But just to be clear, Tesla, I think, produces their cars in the United States with not union workers. So why should you get a tax credit for a Chevy Volt but not a Tesla?

WALSH: Again, some of the congressional delegation, in different parts of the country, were pushing for this. This is something that's important for them, important for their districts. They want to make sure they keep their -- the manufacturing plants in their districts and that's what they want to do.

BERMAN: I want to talk about the supply chain for a moment here. Obviously it's been an issue over the last several weeks, several months, trying to get goods to people who want them. And there's a lot of demand out there.

What signs, if any, are you seeing that some of these -- these bottlenecks might be broken?

WALSH: Well, I think one of the things that -- the president talked as well the other day about this -- is that many of the companies, Costco and some of the big box company stores, have said there's plenty of supply for the Christmas season. And certainly we still have some issues out on the West Coast. We're getting -- getting the ships into the port.

I'm actually going to the West Coast after Thanksgiving to meet with the companies. We're focusing on really making sure that we get these supply chain moving here in the United States of America. We're working with the ports. I think the ports have gone to 24 hours now, 24/7. We're working to think about how we get more trucking companies and more truckers in particular there and working with warehouse workers to get more warehouse workers.

So, certainly this is an impact and, you know, kind of a result of a pandemic and what the pandemic has done. Just another -- another victim of the pandemic, if you will. But I feel confident we'll be able to move and get the supply chain moving.

On the East Coast, you know, I visited the Port of Philadelphia. I visited the port down in South Carolina. They seem to be, obviously, less product, if you will, overall, coming to those ports. But those ports are operating at a good -- a good pace.

BERMAN: Secretary, if I can, I want to ask you a matter of parochial interest.

Boston, the city where you were mayor for a long time, just inaugurated its first elected woman and its first elected minority ever as mayor, Michelle Wu. What's the significance of that moment, do you think, for your city?

WALSH: Yes, it's a big moment for Boston. You know, I think that it's a history-making moment. I'm very -- you know, I talked to the new mayor and congratulated her. It really shows that, you know, Boston is one of the last cities in America to not have a male white mayor. And it's the first time in our history. And it's significant progress, I guess you could say, in the city of Boston.

And, you know, Michelle's been on the city council for eight years now before this. She's done a good job there. And she's going to do a nice job as mayor of Boston.

BERMAN: Secretary Marty Walsh, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

WALSH: Thank you.

BERMAN: Now, here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: Now, House set to vote on BBB.

1:00 p.m. ET, White House press briefing.

3:15 p.m. ET, Biden pardons turkeys.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hours before he was set to be executed, the governor of Oklahoma commuted the sentence of death row inmate Julius Jones. His sister and friend will be joining us next.



KEILAR: Just four hours before Julius Jones was scheduled to be executed, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt commuted his sentence, reducing it to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jones was scheduled to be executed for a 1999 murder that he says he did not commit.

And joining me now are Julius Jones' sister, Antoinette Jones, and his lifelong best friend, Jimmy Lawson.

Antoinette and Jimmy, I mean, Jimmy, your smile says it all. But I just wish that you would share with us how you felt when you got the news, and how you are feeling right now.


ANTOINETTE JONES, SISTER OF JULIUS JONES: I was elated. I was overjoyed. But I also understand that, you know, we still have to get his freedom. Now it's his freedom. But we were -- we were overjoyed.

KEILAR: Jimmy?

JIMMY LAWSON, LIFELONG BEST FRIEND OF JULIUS JONES: Ecstatic. You know, when you think about what we've been through in 22 years to get to this point yesterday, and to be able to save his life, you know, that gave us an opportunity for Mamma Jones to take that boulder off her shoulders, not have to worry about not having to hug a son or, you know, all the stuff that you couldn't do if someone is not alive. So yesterday was an amazing feeling. You know, when you think about how close we came to the finish line, it's just like, it's unbelievable. I mean I'm still sitting on cloud nine right now.

KEILAR: You know, Antoinette, you mentioned it there, right, there's another race to run after this finish line, right? I know that, you know, this clemency came with a condition that your brother would never be able to pursue commutation, pardon or parole, which is something different from what the pardon and parole board recommended of life in prison with a possibility of parole.

So what is next in this fight?

JONES: Getting his freedom is next. I'm not a lawyer, but I will refer back to his lawyers to follow -- figure out what are the next process of steps.


So, yes.

KEILAR: You know, you spoke with your brother, Antoinette, yesterday. What did he say?

JONES: He said, first, he loved us. He said, real quick, listen, and he told us he didn't know when he'd be able to use the phone next, but he said to tell -- tell his son that he loved him. Tell everyone that he loved them. He appreciates everybody fighting on his behalf. And that it's not over, we still have to get his freedom. And I said, that's right. So --

KEILAR: Jimmy, what do you think it was that made the difference here? What do you think it was that got Governor Stitt to grant clemency?

LAWSON: I think it was the overwhelming world support. You know, we had other countries submitting letters to Governor Stitt saying that you've got to spare this man's life. So, the whole world was watching yesterday. I think all that played a huge factor for Governor Stitt to say that, you know, hey, everybody's watching. And, most importantly, you know, Governor Stitt is a father. So he probably has some relatability to that, that could be one of his kids. You know, you never know what life will bring. So, I think you saw some compassion and, you know, fortunately, he made the right decision to spare his life.

KEILAR: You know, Antoinette, one of the things that I think struck so many people that were able to interact with your family and also with Julius was just how much faith you had that this -- that you were going to get to this end that you needed to preserve your brother's life. Tell me why. Tell me why you had so much faith.

JONES: My -- it's my relationship with God, you know. Him -- when God told me that Julius shall not, you know, be killed, I was just like, OK, what do I need to do in this, step out on faith, give it all to God, and, excuse me, and so that's kind of what we did.

But it's those prayer vigils that we have every evening at 6:00 at the Oklahoma History Center, they have been a blessing coming down the stretch. And Julius says, I mean, he has sparked a life into the community, as well as the nation, and we got to keep going. We got to keep pressing forward to correct the different ways that has hindered Julius from getting true justice.

KEILAR: Well, Antoinette and Jimmy, I am -- look, I'm just privileged to have this conversation with you today on this day where you have -- you know, you've preserved your brother's life. You both have fought so hard for this. And, obviously, the world heard you.

Thank you for being with us this morning.

JONES: Thank you for having us.

LAWSON: Absolutely. Thank you. Appreciate you having us.

BERMAN: All right, breaking news, the FDA has just authorized both Pfizer and Moderna's Covid-19 booster shots for all adults.

CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta joins us now.

Now, I know the CDC has to sign on still, but, Sanjay, this is a big deal.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Yes, I mean, this is something that I think people have seen them coming for some time based on what the data has been showing, which is basically that the vaccines continue to work really well, but over time, either because of just the passage of time or because of the delta strain in particular, the idea of the protection against people getting sick does seem to wane a bit. That's the real issue here. First started seeing some of this in Israel and now, you know, Pfizer presented a phase three trial, about 10,000 people, showing that that same sort of thing, that effectiveness waning against severe disease in particular.

So, authorization now from the FDA. As you mentioned, the CDC, I think that meeting is going to begin around noon today. So we'll see if there's a formal recommendation there. But this should, you know, basically make any adult eligible for a booster shot.

BERMAN: Including me, which is why I'm paying very close attention to this, Sanjay.

GUPTA: And you.

BERMAN: The data on the protection that the third shot gives you, it's very, very strong against all infection. I understand that the two- dose regiment normally has been giving you solid protection against severe cases. But Dr. Fauci, yesterday, said there's some evidence that hospitalizations are rising among fully vaccinated, the -- older especially, fully vaccinated people who have had two shots.

GUPTA: Yes, I think that that's the critical point is if you look at these vaccines overall and say, what is the real impact of them, it is against protecting against that severe disease. And they, again, have been doing a really good job. But when you start to see some of that fade, so you're seeing vaccinated people, they've been doing everything and some of them still developing severe disease, still, far less likely than unvaccinated people, but when you see those numbers starting to creep up, especially as we're going into the winter, I think that's what's really sort of triggering this authorization now for boosters for all adults.


That's the real -- that's the real impact. And, you know, we're, you know, hundreds of thousands of people have died and those deaths are largely preventable with the booster giving that added level of protection against symptomatic -- severely symptomatic Covid, I think, will be really -- could be really helpful.

BERMAN: Well, I'm in. Going to schedule it soon.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks very much.

GUPTA: John, thank you.

KEILAR: All right, we're keeping our eye here, as you can see, on the House floor. Live pictures there where the House is expected soon to pass the president's huge domestic agenda any minute now. What's going to happen, though, when it reaches the Senate?


BERMAN: NASA is on the verge of launching an historic new mission. In just a few weeks, the new James Webb Space Telescope will be rocketed into space, eventually traveling 1 million miles from earth, helping to answer some of humanity's most compelling questions about the creation of the universe and the possibility of life on other planets.


Small things.

Now, the new CNN film, "The Hunt for Planet B," will provide an inside look at this groundbreaking mission.

Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Webb Space Telescope is 100 times more powerful than Hubbell. But telescopes keep getting bigger, because the bigger the telescope, the better the resolution. You know, we wouldn't have built a telescope this big unless we needed to. And you need to build a telescope this big if you want to look at the very dimmest, most earliest galaxies in the universe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The James Webb Telescope is not just a machine built by engineers and scientists to look out to the universe. It's taking humanity on a journey. We're going to enter a completely new part of observation of space, where we have never trod before. And every time we've done this as a species, we've discovered new things.


BERMAN: Joining us now is Leroy Chiao. He is a former Nasa astronaut who commanded the International Space Station.

Dr. Chiao, thanks so much for being with us.

This telescope sounds amazing, like Hubbell on steroids. Tell me exactly what we might learn from this.

LEROY CHIAO, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: Sure. This telescope is very much more powerful than Hubbell. It's primary mirror is about six times the size of Hubbell's. And it's going to be able to look further and deeper into the universe than ever before. And so we're not sure what we're going to find. And, no doubt, we're going to find more exoplanets and be surprised by some of the things that we discover, just like we were with Hubbell after it launched a little over 30 years ago.

BERMAN: And if I'm not mistaken, you know, Hubbell orbits the earth. This is going to actually orbit the sun, right? This is going into much deeper space to get a much deeper look.

If it were up to you, what questions would you want answered? Where would you point it? CHIAO: Well, that's right. Hubbell orbits about 550 kilometers above

the earth. In this case, the James Webb Space Telescope will loiter in a place called Legrange two (ph) point, between the sun and the earth, not between, but of that system. It's actually going to -- the earth is going to be between the sun and the telescope.

And why that's important is because the telescope will be able to get solar power from the sun, but the optics will be pointed towards deep space. Also, its mirror is going to be much cooler. It's going to be cooled down, actively cooled, so that it can explore what we call the infrared region that the Hubbell is unable to do as well. And so it's going to be pointing in different parts of the sun -- the universe. I'm not sure exactly which direction would be most interesting. I'm not even sure the astronomers necessarily know. But you can be sure it's going to be making some fantastic discoveries over the next several decades.

BERMAN: Well, if it was up to me, I want it pointed somewhere where it might find life.

CHIAO: Sure.

BERMAN: So how could it help in that pursuit?

CHIAO: Well, by looking farther into the universe, it will be able to identify more exoplanets and perhaps help identify exoplanets that have conditions that would be suitable for life. And so it wouldn't directly be able to determine without a doubt that there is life on a, b or c planet, but it can tell you about the conditions. We can discover more planets out there, more exoplanets and see if we can find ones that are very -- you know, much more likely to be conducive to life.

BERMAN: Is this something we're going to be able to see the images on a daily basis?

CHIAO: Yes, just like we see on the Hubble. It will be -- you know, we'll be able to see images from the James Webb Space Telescope. You know, not necessarily in real time, but as NASA publishes these photos, I think it's going to be very exciting.

BERMAN: I'm ready. It sounds incredibly cool. And as we both know, the truth is out there.

Dr. Leroy Chiao, thank you so much for being with us.

CHIAO: My pleasure. Thank you.

BERMAN: And don't forget to watch "The Hunt for Planet B." That's tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern on CNN.

KEILAR: The top ten CNN heroes of 2021 have been announced. One of whom will be named the CNN hero of the year by you, our viewers. So, as you vote for a few more weeks, we will be reintroducing each of our top ten. Decades of armed conflict have left Colombia with the largest number

of internally displaced people in the world. When 31-year-old Jennifer Colpas realized so many communities were living without access to electricity and clean water and sanitation services, she started an organization that goes where few others travel and fills the gaps.


JENNIFER COLPAS, CNN HERO: The families that we are working with are living in extreme poverty.

These areas are so remote that there is no even roads to get there.

The communities use candles, gasoline lamps. They were spending a lot of money and the smoke of the lamps were negatively affecting their health.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Oh good, you have the panel here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I hope it works well.

COLPAS: Our mission is to provide access to basic services.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Look, it's already at eight.

COLPAS: My biggest dream for the people that I'm working with is that they wake up not just to survive, but they can take small steps to fulfill their dreams.


KEILAR: Jennifer and her team have helped improve the quality of life for more than 10,000 people.

You can go to right now to vote for her or for another CNN hero for CNN hero of the year, any of your favorite top ten heroes right there.

Here in just moments, the House will be voting on the president's Build Back Better plan. And live coverage is going to continue here in a moment.