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Quest Means Business
Social Media Companies Slammed Over Racist Abuse; President Macron Says France May Have To Look At Mandatory Vaccines; Cuban President Claims Us Policies Provoked Unrest; Virgin Galactic Stock Down After Post-Launch Sec Filing; Space Tourism In Focus After Successful Virgin Galactic Flight; Analysts Expect Virgin Galactic Tickets To Run $500K. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired July 12, 2021 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: The Dow Jones is pushing 35,000 in the final hour of trade. Never closed above that level. Those are the markets
and these are the main events -- we are at 34,975 as it settles in the final seconds of trading.
Social media companies are told to up their game after England's black footballers are subject to shameful racist abuse.
Also this hour, Emmanuel Macron says France may have to look at mandatory vaccines for all French citizens.
And Joe Biden calls for an end to the economic suffering in Cuba after a weekend of protests.
Live from London, it is Monday, July the 12th. I'm Hala Gorani, in for Richard and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
Good evening. Tonight, the beautiful game is showing its ugly side. The British Prime Minister, Prince William, and football authorities all
condemned racist abuse aimed at English players. Three who missed their penalties in Sunday's European championship final against Italy have been
particularly targeted on social media. The companies running those platforms are once again facing calls for more action.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the England team manager, Gareth Southgate had strong words for the trolls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: To those who have been directing racist abuse at some of the players, I say, shame on you, and I hope you'll
crawl back under the rock from which you emerged.
GARETH SOUTHGATE, ENGLAND TEAM MANAGER: For some of them to be abused is unforgivable, really. I know a lot of that has come from abroad, you know,
people that track those things have been able to explain that, but not all of it, and it's just not what we stand for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Not all of it. Certainly not all of it. Salma Abdelaziz is live in London. Marcus Rashford's mural was defaced in Manchester and other players
got a lot of abuse online, on Instagram and Twitter as well. How bad did it get?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: It's absolutely horrific, Hala. I mean, these are really vile and disgusting remarks, remarks we both simply do not
want to repeat or even look at on our air. But this did not exist in a vacuum, Hala.
Let's start with what Twitter says they did. They say they've had to remove a thousand tweets. They've had to suspend several accounts for engaging in
this racist online abuse. I want to point out that Saka is only 19 years old, facing this really awful, horrific racist abuse online at just 19
The Metropolitan Police says it is investigating as well this racist abuse online. And, of course, the governing bodies, the sport's governing bodies
calling for greater action from social media companies. But again, let's take a step back because in all honesty, we did expect this to happen when
the team lost. This is not the first time that these players have received racist abuse online.
What is new here is the England team itself, Hala. They were trying to make a change and I'll tell you why.
Britain right now is in a moment of racial reckoning in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, in the wake of COVID-19, in the wake of all of
these changes that have happened over the last year including of course, Brexit.
This government campaigners will tell you has taken the wrong side of history. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's administration refused to condemn
people who were booing the players for taking the knee in support of the anti-racism movement. This is an administration that's also denied that
systemic racism exists in the U.K. They've essentially refused to have the conversation, and that's what activists will tell you.
They'll say, this has created an environment, a culture in which people think it is okay to come out with this language, and we also have a
question of definition here, Hala. I think there is an issue of understanding that people think saying a bad word is racist, but they may
not understand the systems, the institutions that are behind that racist behavior.
So, obviously, entering into this cultural war with this team, the England team, who made it their mission really to have a more inclusive, a more
tolerant, a more diverse understanding of what nationalism means. In many ways it's the opposite of what you'd expect of England fans who have long
been accused of intolerance, and they entered in this with their eyes wide open.
In a way, us, having this conversation is the progress they would hope for.
GORANI: All right, Salma Abdelaziz, thanks very much.
The British Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden is threatening to take action against social media companies. He tweeted, quote: "The companies need to
up their game in addressing racist abuse and if they fail to, our new Online Safety Bill will hold them to account with fines of up to 10 percent
of global revenue."
For its part, Facebook said, quote: "No one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere. We don't want it on Instagram." Instagram is owned
by Facebook and the players have accounts on that platform. Both Facebook and Twitter say they took swift action though just a few hours ago, I went
on the Instagram pages of some of these players and some of that racist stuff is still up there.
Shaka Hislop is a former football player who represented England at youth level before playing for Trinidad and Tobago at senior international level.
He later founded the Show Racism the Red Card Charity. He joins us from Boston, Massachusetts, via Skype.
So, you are really the perfect voice for us today, the perfect guest to shed light on really what needs to be done because, I guess the first
question I have is, why is this still such an issue in football, do you think?
SHAKA HISLOP, HONORARY PRESIDENT, SHOW RACISM THE RED CARD: It has been an issue because of the popularity of the game and because while we use the
game to address these issues, to highlight so much of what black players and the black community continues to endure in our society today, it has
been allowed to fester.
And as much as you hear Boris Johnson's response to the racist abuse that these players have received, keep in mind that he saw no issue with the
booing of those players when they took the knee in a call for equality. So, he had absolutely no issue in continuing to politicize their call for equal
rights, the calls for the Black Lives Matter movement.
And so, after you add fuel to a fire, you can't then take a step back and be surprised that that fire spreads.
GORANI: What is really sad is that when those players missed their penalty kicks yesterday, I think most everyone thought, "Here we go. The flood
gates will open. The racist abuse will start." And we were all right, so this wasn't a surprise.
HISLOP: No, it wasn't a surprise, and while it wasn't, I also have to pay particular credit to Marcus Rashford, to Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.
Saka, 19 years old, knowing exactly as you just said, Hala, that if they missed, if England didn't go on to win that penalty shootout, they would be
singled out, and they would be abused.
Yet, they stepped up in the most difficult of circumstances. The three crucial kicks that they had to do in the shootout and they put themselves
forward despite knowing that. I can't think of anything braver I've ever seen in a football field. And while we continue to -- and rightly so, we
continue to highlight and criticize the abuse that they received, let's not forget the bravery that they showed in putting themselves forward in the
manner that they did.
GORANI: Is any aspect of this getting better? I mean, it's obviously not solved. We saw the racist -- the appalling racist abuse online. The Marcus
Rashford mural defaced in Manchester and other things.
I guess, the BLM movement, the taking the knee movement that started in the U.S. that spread to other sports outside the U.S., is anything kind of
inching toward at least more awareness?
HISLOP: Certainly, without question and we see that in the work we do. I'm a firm believer that we have made progress towards racial equality, towards
equality of our genders, regardless of how you worship or how you love.
But at the same time, history has shown and through these big moments where we take a stand back. I just don't feel that we have been prepared enough
in anticipation of those moments, of those stumbles to our progress.
We have to have a political will and a social recognizing that these things happened. Be prepared for it, and respond to it and continuing what will,
again, be slow but steady progress.
GORANI: So what should happen now to get us to a place of -- an even better place, do you think, in the sport of football, in terms of racism?
HISLOP: I certainly hope that media companies take their responsibility far more strongly and that government enacts action that will see them do so.
I was in a meeting earlier this year, the Department of Media Culture and Sport where this was discussed. It's an issue. It's an ongoing issue that
has to be addressed. Similarly, we have to rally around, and for all the negative that we've witnessed over the last 24 hours, there is immense
positive in the communities that we share.
HISLOP: Us, as a campaign have not be able to thrive without the support of the broader spectrum of our communities and societies today. Those are the
ones that we'll have to call on. Those are the ones will have to step up now in terms of moving us past this ugly issue in our history because we
are better than that, and now is the moment for us to show that.
GORANI: This is related to something you said in your first answer. One member of the England squad has just criticized the British Home Secretary
for her rhetoric around the issue after Priti Patel said she found the racist abuse disgusting. This is the response from Tyrone Mings. He says,
"You don't get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labeling our anti-racism message as gesture politics and then pretend to be
disgusted when the very thing we're campaigning against happens."
What's your reaction to that tweet?
HISLOP: Tyrone is absolutely right, and it speaks to the call of black footballers, it speaks to the call of the black community.
Many in the black community say that we love this country, but at times the country does not love us back. And that's what I see -- we have seen play
out in real time in the last 24 hours. As I mentioned, three players stepping up in the most difficult of circumstances knowing exactly what
await them if they missed, and it's a very real possibility in this game.
We've seen it. We've been there. We've lived it, albeit not all to the same level. And you see the response where, despite fans cheering for this team,
supporting a team that represents the best of us and every ethnicity of us, then all of a sudden, when things don't go well, you see how quickly it
ends. And that, for me, is disheartening, but it's also telling.
GORANI: And last one, I mean, it is a shame because the England team reached the final, first time in, you know, over half a century, as we
heard many times.
HISLOP: Fifty-five years.
GORANI: So, we should have been celebrating that. We should have been celebrating the beautiful game of football, which really actually unites
the world in one big single event, right? And this has really overshadowed it. It's quite a shame.
HISLOP: It has overshadowed it for now. I'm a guy -- my glass is perpetually half full.
GORANI: Good for you.
HISLOP: So, regardless of how we feel -- regardless of how we feel in this moment, regardless of what we've seen over the last 24 hours, I think the
best of us always shines through. We'll get through this. We'll be better for it, somehow, even if it doesn't feel so right now.
GORANI: Well, from your lips to God's ears, as they say, and it is true that we saw many, many supportive messages on social media and from
officials, et cetera. So, hopefully it will get better.
Shaka Hislop, thanks very much, joining us from Boston.
When we come back, the French President addresses the nation as one of Europe's hardest hit countries faces a potential fourth COVID wave. We'll
have a live report from Paris.
GORANI: France is making it mandatory for healthcare workers to get vaccinated for COVID. In a televised speech a short time ago, President
Macron warned the country is in a race against the clock when it comes to the delta variant, and he said, vaccination is key.
He suggested France may need to consider mandatory vaccinations for all French citizens.
Melissa Bell joins me live from Paris with more on what the President said -- Melissa.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Hala, this was also about encouraging people outside the healthcare system. First of all, as you say,
that controversial announcement that all healthcare workers should be vaccinated. It has proven controversial here in France, Hala, with people
being -- a debate that's gone on for some time.
The idea is also to encourage ordinary French people to go and get vaccinated because countries like France are facing that wall now. They've
gone beyond the point where those who race to get vaccinated have and are now facing vaccine hesitancy in trying to encourage people to go.
So here in France, for instance, he has announced that essentially that COVID Pass, the healthcare pass to show that either you've been fully
vaccinated or PCR negative, that was mandatory for instance for French people to go and travel elsewhere in Europe. It's going to become mandatory
here in France to allow you to get into restaurants, bars, shows, theaters, anything that's fun, basically.
And perhaps crucially, Hala, those PCR tests will -- which have been free until now will need to be paid for from this fall.
So, lots of stuff there to try and encourage those who haven't yet done it to get vaccinated again, because they want to stay ahead of the spread,
crucially of that delta variant. We expect it to represent 90 percent of new cases here in France by the end of August -- Hala.
GORANI: So, the POLITICO Paris correspondent, Rym Momtaz tweeted that Macron just announced that over the next few months, proof of vaccination
will become required to go to a restaurant. So as a result, Doctolib, which apparently monitors how many people sign up for COVID vaccinations said
17,000 new sign-ups per minute for the COVID vaccine.
BELL: That's right, Hala. Essentially this is an application that allows you to book your medical appointment; 17,000 appointments being booked per
minute they announced. Simply an indication of how seriously suddenly the prospect of having to pay for those PCR tests to do anything fun has
GORANI: But also, you know, you can't go to a restaurant in the next few months possibly if you're not vaccinated. I guess, it is restaurants and
also train rides might be not available -- not made available to people who aren't vaccinated.
Melissa, thanks so much. We'll talk more about this later, I'm sure.
Cuba's President is blaming anti-government protests across the island on the hardships caused by U.S. sanctions.
[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS]
GORANI: Demonstrators have taken to the streets in cities across Cuba. It's a pretty rare sight in the country. Miguel Diaz-Canel says American
sanctions have caused an economic downturn and this is what's fueling all of this.
Protesters say they are angry over their government's handling of the COVID pandemic. Cuba's economy has been hit hard because of tourism revenue lost
and U.S. sanctions are making it all worse.
In a statement, the American President, Joe Biden said, "We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic
grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering that they have been subjected to."
Patrick Oppmann joins me live from Havana with more. So this is, what, desperate -- this is rare. It's a rare sight. So people seem quite
desperate and angry. Angry enough to go out in large numbers.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And that's what we heard again and again yesterday. People saying they were not afraid, which is not
the usual way of things here where any kind of anti-government protest can get you locked up, and people are very hushed in their criticism, usually
of the government.
That all changed on Sunday. It was kind of rolling protests. In one small city close to Havana, people there were just upset that they had gone
through a week of blackouts and so, they took to the streets and then because Cubans just in the last few years have gotten internet on the
phones, people across the island saw it and then suddenly like dominos, town after town, some of them small little villages that I've driven
through and I couldn't believe that people there would go out and let their neighbors know and of course, officials know that they were angry at the
But people said they really had nothing left to lose. We've seen an increase of people taking to the seas, Hala, to try to get to the United
States on rickety boats. We've seen people waiting for hours in line to buy that last packet of chicken or bottle of milk before they run out, which is
a daily occurrence.
And people say that both the U.S. sanctions, the government mismanagement, and probably above all else, the impacts of the pandemic have really made
their lives unlivable and they are voicing their anger in a way that they never have before.
GORANI: And how is the government reacting?
OPPMANN: Well, the government, the President this morning called everyone who protested criminals and says that they are in the pocket of the United
States, but that would mean that the people across Cuba in cities and towns, thousands, if not more, who are part of some kind of opposition or
part of some U.S. plot. I think most of the people that we spoke to yesterday just seemed frustrated.
Of course, there are people who are full-time dissidents, but they don't seem to be controlling this or managing this; no one really seems to. And
as we experienced an internet blackout right now throughout much of Cuba, it's impossible to know if more protests are going on or if people are
being arrested or what is happening.
The government says that the streets are peaceful. But, of course, it's just impossible to know because people are now unable to upload the images
that we were seeing yesterday.
GORANI: So they've cut the internet?
OPPMANN: The stunning images of thousands of people.
GORANI: They've cut the internet?
OPPMANN: Yes, yes, that -- yes, that is something they've done previously here when there's been much smaller civil disturbances and there a number
of companies outside of Cuba that track this kind of thing and they say, the Cuban government is blocking people's access to social media.
People I contact regularly, people that are friends of mine that I work with, I've not been able to reach them today, even just on a simple phone
call because the government controls all communications here and they are making it very hard for anybody to connect, including ourselves.
We fought with the technical difficulties all day long and many people in towns and villages that had protests yesterday are simply incommunicado
right now. We don't know how long this will last for.
GORANI: All right, well, they don't want people uploading pictures and video. Thanks very much, Patrick Oppmann.
South Africa's President is sharply condemning what he is calling violence rarely seen in the country's recent history.
South Africa has been rocked by deadly unrest after protests against the imprisonment of the former President Jacob Zuma turned violent. Officials
have deployed the military in efforts to quell the violence. Here's President Cyril Ramaphosa moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: I address you this evening, South Africans, with a heavy heart. Over the past few days and nights, there have
been acts of public violence of the kind rarely seen in the history of our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And David McKenzie is in Johannesburg. Is the police in control of all of this?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, no, they're not in control of the situation. And it was quite striking, as Cyril Ramaphosa was making that
address in those very severe tones, local media was playing looting of a mall in Durbin on the coastline live as he said that they will crack down
on the protesters, that they would arrest those responsible and they'll deploy the military.
So, no, they're not in control, and this is a very tense moment for South Africa and a true test of the leadership of Ramaphosa.
GORANI: And what if this continues? What happens? What will the reaction be? Because the looting, we saw this in your report, it's out of control.
MCKENZIE: Well, Hala, the immediate impact will be that all of these livelihoods and these -- the economy already on the brink in South Africa
because of COVID-19 lockdowns will be destroyed.
MCKENZIE: I've been speaking to people around the country particularly in KwaZulu-Natal Province and here in Gauteng where you know, private security
and ordinary citizens are acting in a way like vigilantes trying to protect their livelihoods.
Ramaphosa warned that if this continues, they could see food insecurity in the country. There could be an issue with medicines to be distributed. Of
huge concern is as the ramping up of vaccinations happen in this country and just 24 hours ago, Ramaphosa was addressing the nation on that, several
vaccine sites were stopped today from distributing these vaccines right as South Africa is in this brutal third wave of COVID-19.
So, it's a whole confluence of forces that are absolutely moving this country to a crisis point -- Hala.
GORANI: And the military? Is there involvement from the military at this stage?
MCKENZIE: So, earlier today, they announced the military would be deployed. They had gone to several sites in Gauteng, but then rapidly had left those
sites. I had not seen any evidence of them on the streets as of this afternoon local time or evening.
But Ramaphosa again, Hala, said would deploy the military to help the South African police who are very thin on the ground. At one point, we saw three
policemen with rubber bullets trying to hold off looters at a mall south of Johannesburg and they really had very little success in that.
So it's kind of -- people acting with impunity throughout the country and into the evening today in South Africa -- Hala.
GORANI: All right, David McKenzie, thank you very much.
Richard Branson says he has been working his entire life to enjoy the weightlessness of space. His company, Virgin Galactic now has plans to make
that an everyday experience, though it will cost you.
GORANI: Virgin Galactic shares are tumbling one day after launching its founder into sub orbital space. After that achievement, the company
revealed its plan to sell $500 million in new stock. The filing sent existing shares down some 15 percent, a plunge that briefly halted trading
in New York. It's still up 80 percent year to date.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five, three, two, one, release, release, release. Clean release. Ignition.
Good rocket motor burn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Sunday's hour-long flight was delayed 90 minutes because of bad weather. Richard Branson and crew experienced about four minutes of
weightlessness total. He said from space that the moment was -- that moment was the culmination of a lifetime's worth of work. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, VIRGIN GALACTIC: I was once a child with a dream, looking up to the stars. Now, I'm an adult in a spaceship with lots of
other wonderful adults looking down to a beautiful, beautiful earth. For the next generation of dreamers, if we can do this, just imagine what you
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Virgin Galactic will take down your contact info if you're interested in going on a space flight. Its chief executive says the company
aims to operate at least one per day. Virgin Galactic hasn't said much about the requirements except that it would offer tailored training. Blue
Origin has mentioned physical criteria. Blue Origin is Jeff Bezos. SpaceX expects crew members to be physically and psychologically fit. That's Elon
Blue Origin auctioned off a ticket on its first flight for nearly $30 million. Analysts think Virgin Galactic will be able to charge half a
million. NASA's private astronaut pricing guidelines are 10 million a week for crew time, mission planning and coms. It's a rich man and woman's
pastime. Nicholas Schmidle is the author of Test Gods, Virgin Galactic and The Making of a Modern Astronaut. And he's a writer for The New Yorker. And
he joins me now live.
Hi, Nicholas Schmidle. What were your thoughts when you saw that Richard Branson blast off into space?
NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE, THE NEW YORKER WRITTER: I mean, a huge day for him, a huge day for the company. You know, I remember when I first arrived at
Virgin Galactic to start reporting the story in November of 2014, that ship that you saw yesterday, I was just looking at some old pictures. It was --
it was a husk of a -- of a piece of scaffolding, it looked like, you know, it was like green and gray sitting up on scaffolding, it was nothing.
And so to have, you know, watch them put together this spaceship and put it to the test program, yes, it's a huge day for them. And genuinely, long
before Richard Branson became a billionaire he genuinely had a space dream. The billion dollars with a however many billion dollars has certainly
helped him realize that dream. But it is -- it is -- it is the culmination of a lifelong dream. And it's been a really trying 17 years of trying to
And that that story of Virgin Galactic sort of the trials and tribulations and the tragedies, the triumphs along the way is a pretty spectacular
GORANI: So the cynics will call this a billionaires' race, a vanity project. Is it?
SCHMIDLE: So, yes. I mean, it's all of the above. It's -- it is a billion, you know, the ticket price is not going to come down anywhere near -- the
ticket price is not going to get down to being a transatlantic business class ticket for decades maybe, like it's never -- it's not going to be
affordable. This notion of them democratizing space sounds really great. But this is -- this is going to be a rich man and woman's game for quite
And you can hear, you know, that it's a -- it's an incredible moment to listen to them up in space as they're experiencing weightlessness. But you
-- that giddiness, you know, it sort of -- it just gives -- it just sort of gives evidence to the fact that this is, you know, this is a -- this is a
joy ride. Now, I will say, however, that it's also inspirational and, you know, I entered this project personally, being kind of, you know, being a
And seven years on, you know, the project -- my exposure to and interaction with the program in some ways changed me. And, you know, it did cause -- it
did sort of help --
GORANI: How did it change you? How?
SCHMIDLE: It made me revise sort of what's important in life. You know, I was out there with these -- there was -- it's a refuge. That hangar in the
middle of the Mojave Desert before they moved to New Mexico. It's this refuge of men and women trying to do something bigger than themselves.
SCHMIDLE: It's a political -- and particularly for the, you know, the past several years the United States, it's, you know, it's isolated from kind of
the bitterness and nastiness and I would go out there and just feel like I was -- I was removed from what was sort of going on. For better or worse,
maybe this is the tone deafness, right? Of what they're doing at the moment, but feeling like I was removed from what was going on in the rest
of the country.
And it caused me to kind of think about, you know, what is the role model that I want to be setting for my kids as I'm watching. you know, I was I'm
thinking about the test pilots and their relationships with their kids. And, yeah, I mean, it had a pretty profound effect on me.
GORANI: But it used to be that the space program was a government program. And so it belonged to everybody. It was tax money paying for it, and it was
a project that everybody owned a little piece of. Now, it's become Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson and Elon Musk, and is that it? Is space
exploration privatized now for good?
SCHMIDLE: Well, that's so -- I mean, there are different -- all of -- there are so many different little mini space races right now and different mini
space competitions and various space explorations. I mean, NASA has ceded the low -- the easy stuff, in some ways. The -- NASA isn't interested in
space tourism, they're, you know, they essentially said to the private companies. If you want to take people to the edge of space, that's fine.
We're going to build helicopters to explore Mars. And so, that's what NASA is interested in right now. Now, there could come a time sooner than later
in which Elon Musk's SpaceX company is able to do some of those things. I mean, their rockets are -- every bit as powerful as anything that the U.S.
government is producing right now. And so, you know, that -- there could be kind of -- they could be under threat.
You know, what NASA is doing could become under threat from SpaceX, but NASA doesn't fear Virgin Galactic at this point right now. It's not -- it's
not a threat to anything they're doing.
And like I said, they're happy to let other people experience space, you know, until the roads get very clogged, and that, you know, at what point
or something, there's so many spaceships up and around there and so many satellites in the sky and it's affecting our experience here on Earth. And
I don't have to worry about that (INAUDIBLE)
GORANI: Exactly. But I'm just wondering, how viable business can this be? I mean, if it's going to cost hundreds of millions, there's a finite number
of people who can afford it. And I presume within that group of people, I mean, if I had $100 million, I'd pay it not to be blasted off into space
personally. So there's a finite number of people who are going to want to go experience weightlessness for three minutes. How is this going to make
SCHMIDLE: Yes, well, so look, I think that's actually no one has asked that question. And, you know, the past couple of days, everyone were so fixated
on the proof of concept, were so fixated on the fact that he went and we're so fixated on this as an adventure story that the business side of this
story, which is how do they turn this into a commercially viable project remains -- in my mind very uncertain.
Because they've got 600 passengers who have paid a deposit of $250,000. If they're flying four passengers, right now they're flying once every three,
you know, they flew last in May of 2021. Before that, they flew last February of 2019. So they're, you know, it's very irregular right now. So
they're talking -- I mean, this notion of daily flights is way, way, way off in the distance. So you have to clear those 600 passengers first then
the next crop is going to come in.
They're going to charge upward, you know, as men as high as a half a million dollars per seat, you're going to have another huge crop of
passengers before -- we're light years away from them being able to kind of turn this out. But yes, you know, whether the stock price gives them --
gives them options, whether they get outside investment, I also find it hard to see and I find it hard to see -- and I find it hard to see for a
couple of reasons.
One is the financial side. The other is the -- is the -- is the risk side, which is right now, the fatality rate for human spaceflight is about three
percent. If Virgin Galactic, if one out of every 30 passengers that goes up Virgin Galactic doesn't come home, there's no way they can -- that --
that's not a business for them. There's -- they can't sustain that. And so, they would have to do what none of the government programs have done so
far, which is to bring that three percent number down to a fraction of one percent.
And the only way they can do that is by flying more and more often. But what's important to know is that while they have one spaceship we saw
yesterday, and well, they have another one that's come out, but it hasn't been, you know, put through a test program yet. They only have one
mothership and it's old. And so that one mothership, if they don't have that mothership to get the spaceship up to altitude, they are sort of
stuck. And so, there's a lot of --
GORANI: Yes. I mean, you still --
SCHMIDLE: -- a lot of questions right now that they haven't --
GORANI: There's still so many questions and we're waiting for Jeff Bezos to do his -- to do his thing. So we'll be -- we'll be following that as well.
Nicholas Schmidle, the author of Test Gods, Virgin Galactic and the Making of a Modern Astronaut. Thanks so much for joining us on CNN. Appreciate it.
GORANI: That's going to do it for this hour. I'll be back at the top of the hour to make a dash for the closing bell.
GORANI: Up next is Connecting Africa.
GORANI: It is the dash to the closing bell and we're just two minutes away. The Dow climbed above 35,000 and is on track for a record close. At first
passed that milestone and intraday trading in May. It's never closed above that mark. The S&P and NASDAQ are also set to close it fresh records.
Building on those set last Friday. You can see we're just five points away from 35 here for the Dow.
Big Banks and Disney are leading the Dow Jones to another record close. Disney's at the -- at the top of Dow 30 after its much anticipated release
of Black Widow. The big banks for giving the Dow a boost as well.
The British culture secretary is threatening to find social media companies if they don't step up against racist abuse online. Three black England
players who missed their penalties in the Euro final on Sunday have been targeted. Earlier on the show I spoke with Shaka Hislop, former footballer
and founder of the Show Racism Red Card Charity. He says the Prime Minister himself has allowed an environment hostile to black players.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAKA HISLOP, HONORARY PRESIDENT, SHOW RACISM THE RED CARD CHARITY: Keep in mind that he saw no issue with the booing of those players. When they took
the knee in a call for equality. He -- so, he had absolutely no issue and continue continuing to politicize. They're called for equal rights, the
cause for the Black Lives Matter movement. And so, after you add fuel to fire, you can then take a step back and be surprised that that fire spread.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In fighting a free vaccine.