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Hala Gorani Tonight
Biden Heads To G20 To Discuss Energy Prices And Supply Chain Woes; Facebook's CEO Unveils The Metaverse; France Detains A British Vessel; COVID-19 And Climate Top Of G20 Agenda; Biden Tries To Get Framework For Climate Initiatives Passed Before Going Overseas; Cheap Antidepressant May Help Treat COVID-19; Interview With Tsai Ing-wen, President Of Taiwan, On Chinese-Thai Relations. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired October 28, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. The U.S. president is on his way to the G-20 in Rome and
then COP26 with his credibility right on the line back in Washington as his own party races to reach a deal on his agenda. Then this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ZUCKERBERG, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, FACEBOOK: Let's start by exploring what different kinds of meta verse experience could feel like,
starting with the most important experience of all -- connecting with people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Mark Zuckerberg unveils the Metaverse. But its CEO walking around in a digital world won't solve Facebook's many problems, we'll cover that.
And later, tension in the English Channel. The U.K. and France at odds over fishing rights post-Brexit. A major day for Joe Biden's presidency both in
the U.S. and abroad. The president making one more push for his landmark agenda in Congress, delaying his flight to Europe for crucial summits.
He is now finally in the air with two bills that Mr. Biden says will determine his presidency. Those bills hanging in the balance this evening.
Here's what Democrats have been trying to agree on for months. There's the bipartisan infrastructure package worth around $1 trillion. House lawmakers
in the progressive wing of the party have staked their support for it on a separate wider social safety net package worth $1.75 trillion, that's about
half of the original price tag when the bill was first proposed by the president. Why? Because of a razor-thin majority in the Senate, Democrats
need all senators to approve it.
With two hold-outs remaining and the house speaker pushing for a vote on the infrastructure bill today, the stakes are high. Mr. Biden acknowledged
the challenges before he flew to Europe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We spent hours and hours and hours over months and months working on this. No one got everything they
wanted, including me. But that's what compromise is. That's consensus. And that's what I ran on. I've long said, compromise and consensus are the only
way to get big things done in a democracy. Important things done for the country. I know it's hard. I know how deeply people feel about the things
that they fight for. But this framework includes historic investments on our nation and our people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: President Joe Biden there earlier at the White House. So Arlette Saenz is at the White House and the president has such a slim majority in
both houses that he needs really all Democrats on board, and there are some hold-outs. So, will these bills pass?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the question that remains to be answered. And President Biden was hoping that, that
last-minute sales pitch he made this morning to house Democrats could help push his economic agenda across the finish line. The president spent some
time up on Capitol Hill talking directly to house Democrats about the importance, not just of that bipartisan infrastructure proposal, but also
that larger economic spending package that right now is still under intense negotiation.
Now, the president unveiled a framework of where he believes the two parties are. The various interests of the Democratic Party where he
believes that, that plan stands as he jetted off for Europe. And he here at the White House, talked about some of the proposals that he was touting as
historic, things like universal pre-k, also these $555 billion in climate investments, the largest climate investment in U.S. history from Congress
if it were to pass. But take a listen to a bit of what the president was touting as he left for Europe a bit earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We're going to expand services for seniors so families can get help from well-trained, well-paid professionals to help them take care of their
parents at home. We're going to make sure that all families earning less than $300,000 a year will pay no more than 7 percent of their income for
child care. And for a family making $100,000 a year, that will save them more than $5,000 in child care. They're going to make sure that every 3 and
4-year-old child in America go to high quality pre-school.
We also make investments in higher education by increasing Pell Grants to help students from lower income families attend community colleges and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAENZ: But even as the president was touting some of those efforts that made it into the framework, there are still plenty of plans of his economic
agenda that are not making it into the plan. Things like that free two-year community college, also, paid family leave. That is something that was
scrapped from the plan last night, and has really frustrated many Democrats up on Capitol Hill. But even as the president is presenting this framework,
he doesn't exactly have agreement from all of those lawmakers that he needs to move forward.
Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, those two moderate key hold-out senators still not saying that they are fully behind this plan.
You also have progressives up on Capitol Hill who are insisting and holding firm that they will not vote on that bipartisan infrastructure proposal
unless there is a vote on the larger package in tandem. One thing that lawmakers are working towards right now is trying to get some actual text
to go along with this framework, hoping that, that might prod some of these lawmakers along.
But President Biden certainly had been hoping he could head to Europe with this legislative win, some type of deal cemented. Right now, it still seems
like that is up in the air. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told her members not to embarrass the president when he lands in Europe without any
type of vote. So these are constantly changing dynamics up on Capitol Hill as Democrats are still working towards whether they can reach agreements on
the president's economic agenda.
GORANI: So very briefly, when will we know if this is a success or a failure for the president?
SAENZ: I mean, I think we -- it's really an hour-by-hour basis on whether these lawmakers are going to come together on this. Right now, House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi still seems to be holding firm on wanting a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure proposal. Progressives are sticking firm,
saying that, that cannot happen.
So it's really -- it's really unknown when exactly this will all be laid out. The White House says that regardless, the president will still be able
to tout some of the efforts that they've been making while he is abroad over the course of the next week. But certainly, the president's mind, even
as he's handling those foreign matters, will also be here back home.
GORANI: Yes, absolutely, because he's headed to Rome and then he'll go to Glasgow for COP26, and all of this drama unfolding domestically, there's a
lot on his plate. Thanks so much, Arlette Saenz is live at the White House. While the domestic agenda remains on Joe Biden's mind, he will quickly have
to shift focus to some big international challenge as he begins his second foreign trip. We'll discuss what to expect during one of his first stops,
the G-20 Summit in Rome, and Bill Weir will also join me to discuss the climate component of the spending bill, a little more than half a trillion
Now, forget the internet as you know it. The next generation of technology will allow you to connect with others in a 3D immersive environment that
will revolutionize every aspect of your life. At least, that's the vision of Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Today, he's unveiling plans for the
Metaverse. He says it sounds like science fiction but could be main stream in just five years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZUCKERBERG: The next platform and medium will be even more immersive and embodied internet where you're in the experience, not just looking at it.
And we call this the Metaverse. And you're going to be able to do almost anything you can imagine. Get together with friends and family, work,
learn, play, shop, create, as well as entirely new categories that don't really fit how we think about computers or phones today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, the event is still going on. We haven't yet heard the big announcement everyone is expecting. Facebook, one of the most familiar
names on the planet could be rebranding, could be reorganizing its business. Let's bring in our chief media correspondent Brian Stelter. It
was an interesting backdrop. It was like this kind of trendy home with mid century furniture and Mark Zuckerberg trying to appear sort of relaxed and,
you know, in this new immersive environment. What exactly is he trying to sell this time?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I think he's painting a new version of virtual reality, and insisting that this time, it really is
going to change the world. Even if the headsets we have to wear are kind of bulky and annoying at first. The technology, he says, the hardware is going
to keep getting better, keep getting more advanced, and there's going to be more and more reasons why you're going to want to live part of the time in
this virtual space.
But it occurs to me how as we watch this presentation from Mark Zuckerberg, we've seen other billionaires fly off to space. Jeff Bezos and others
rocketing off of the planet. What Zuckerberg is doing is a little different. He's trying to create his own virtual world, a virtual planet
where he can zoom off to when the news is so bad in the real world. And he did acknowledge briefly the Facebook Papers, the revelations about what the
company knows about the damage done by its platform.
He said at the very beginning, we live for what we're building, and while we make mistakes, we keep living and moving forward. This is very much Mark
Zuckerberg trying to pivot his company away from what we think of as the blue Facebook site where you can post messages and talk to friends, but
also come across toxic, polarizing content. Move away from that, move away even from Instagram, and move towards this new Metaverse concept. And by
the way, many other companies are also working on versions of the Metaverse, this melding of real life and virtual life where you can
interact. But Facebook is staking its claim, saying it's going to spend more than $10 billion a year to build out this virtual world that feels
more and more like real life.
GORANI: So with all these negative headlines about Facebook, is this an attempt to move away from that brand, that platform? And if so, what
happens to the old Facebook that we all know?
STELTER: Right, i think that's a fair assessment. He's been working on this for a while. He's trying to move away from the kind of the classic
experience of Facebook as a social network and move it into a social world where you can interact with your Facebook friends but in these fancy rooms
that you're seeing on the screen, they all look beautiful, they all look wonderful. There are some practical questions, however, whether people want
to wear those headsets or wear the other hardware that are required, even if they're just basically glasses.
People really want to strap those on and be a part of this. But he is emphasizing this is about commerce, it's about communication, it's about
ways to connect. You could imagine some really interesting practical uses. Imagine being able to go to a theme park and feeling like you're actually
on a roller coaster, but doing it all from home. There are interesting practical examples of this, and he is continuing to present them now as he
tries to get developers on board to help build the Metaverse. It's going to be a multi-year project.
But it's really his focus now. So, as a lot of reporters and investors and investigators are looking into the past, looking into the abuse of his
platform, he is frankly, Zuckerberg is out there building a brand new one. And the speculation of course, is there will be a new name, maybe a new
structure, maybe even a new CEO for Facebook so Zuckerberg can really focus on this instead.
GORANI: Well, because that was the expectation for today. But this -- I understand, this, not call, but this presentation is still --
STELTER: Yes --
GORANI: Going on?
STELTER: Yes, it's still going on, and then he's really trying to sell developers on it, trying to get people on board to help him build this.
We'll see if there actually is a new name announced later today. But it is striking that he is spending so much time talking about this new plan, at
the same time, reporters are digging into these papers every single day, and Frances Haugen is speaking to lawmakers in Europe and the U.S. about
how to reform the existing site, the old site, the classic Facebook while they try to build a new version.
GORANI: Just one last very quick clip from Zuckerberg.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you've got to see what we're checking out. There's an artist going around SoHo hiding AR pieces for people to find.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three-D street art, that's cool.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Send that link to us so we can all look at it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is stunning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, that is something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's awesome, wow --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love the movement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: I mean, I'm no techie, but it --
STELTER: Yes --
GORANI: It was the -- but I mean, just very basic AI and augmented reality stuff --
STELTER: Right --
GORANI: Is still In its infancy.
STELTER: Yes, look, there's --
GORANI: What he's presenting is something that is so much more sophisticated than that, and out of the reach of pretty much everybody
unless you're a professional developer, coder --
STELTER: Yes --
GORANI: Working in that environment.
STELTER: I think that's fair to say --
GORANI: So that's a bet -- it's a bet really into the very distant future or am I wrong?
STELTER: No, he's acknowledging in this presentation, this is years away and that's why he's trying to pivot a lot of the company in this direction
and spending billions and billions of dollars in order to make it happen more quickly. But virtual reality has been talked about for decades, there
were gaming versions of this 20, 30 years ago, I do think though we are getting closer to a day where a Zoom call, for example, or you know, a
FaceTime call that we have on our phones, we can get to a point where that actually does feel more immersive.
Where you can actually see people's facial expressions and hopefully the cell service won't fall apart in the middle of it. You know, there are
actually real valuable uses, potentially, of this technology. But right now, it is still a ways away and Zuckerberg is trying to, you know, what he
did 20 years ago. He's trying to reinvent the world again, but I think he's doing it from a place where he has very little trust. He has a trust
deficit. Facebook has a trust deficit. That's the issue going forward for the company.
GORANI: And you mentioned the billion person mark. He did that with Facebook and did hit that target. Thanks very much, Brian Stelter --
STELTER: Thanks --
GORANI: We'll let you get back to listening to that presentation. And we'll see if any more news comes out of it. Thank you. As with most post-
divorce disagreements, heated emotions can get the better of even the coolest heads.
And the latest spat between the U.K. and France appears no different. Today, France detained a British fishing boat as well as announcing that it
will close nearly all of its ports to trawlers from Britain. Since Brexit, the neighboring nations have argued persistently over fishing rights. In
just the last few minutes, the U.K. has summoned the French ambassador over the latest incident. CNN's Melissa Bell is in Paris for us this evening.
So, this U.K. fishing boat is still detained by the French tonight?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Hala, and this war of words continues. That statement that you mentioned from a Downing Street
spokesman announcing that the French ambassador was to be summoned to explain herself before British authorities, also regretting what he
described as a confrontational language that has consistently been used by Paris over the course of the last few days. Here's a look at what kicked
this all off just yesterday, Hala.
BELL (voice-over): This is the British fishing boat seized by the French on Wednesday. One of two that was stopped and fined as part of tightened
controls by the French in the English Channel. Amid a war of words over fishing rights that has lasted for months.
CLEMENT BEAUNE, EUROPEAN AFFAIRS MINISTER, FRANCE (through translator): We need to use the language of force since that seems to be the only thing the
British government understands.
BELL: Back in May, French fishermen protested just off the Channel islands, many angry, if not being given the licenses they need to fish in
British waters. The U.K. government says it's granted 98 percent of European license applications. But according to the French government,
French boats, fishing in coastal waters, have been disproportionately affected.
GABRIEL ATTAL, SPOKESMAN, FRENCH GOVERNMENT (through translator): What we see today is that almost 50 percent of the licenses to which we are
entitled are missing. The situation is unacceptable, and I am saying clearly, our patience is reaching its limits today.
BELL: The retaliatory measures announced by the French government on Thursday will come into effect next week, preventing British fishing boats
from all floating produce at nearly all French ports, but also seeing extra customs checks on all goods heading to or from the United Kingdom, and that
could mean the sorts of freight congestion that we last saw just before Brexit came into effect.
GEORGE EUSTICE, SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT, BRITAIN: The measures being threatened do not appear to be compatible with the trade in cooperation
agreement or why the international law, and if carried through, will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response.
BELL: Brexit may be a done deal, but the fallout means there is no sign of calm waters on the horizon.
BELL: Hala, you were quite right to point out a moment ago that we've been talking about fishing rights in the English Channel for absolutely years
now, partly because pro Brexiteers had placed it at the center of their campaign, you'll remember, several years ago. Now, that was all about
access, protecting the British fishing industry. What the French are doing now is turning this into the much wider question of access that, that
British fishing industry has to European markets.
It is 80 percent of what is caught by British fishermen, that is exported, much of it through France. So, unless this is resolved before Tuesday, it
could mean some pretty big complications around the Channel tunnel, which could be even greater that we're likely to see at French ports, Hala.
GORANI: So, what type -- what type of complications are we talking about here?
BELL: Well, the European Union, the European Commission has sort of picked up the mantle of being a neutral arbiter in this. So, they have also
pointed out that they believe that Paris should get the fishing licenses it has requested. European Commission hoping that it is going to try and de-
escalate this row. The French prime minister also saying at the end of today that he also hoped this row would be de-escalated. But the fact of
the summons by the British government of the French ambassador to London does suggest that there is more heat to come from this story yet.
And that, this may lead to some sort of compromise being found. But you're right. This is about a messy Brexit and a messy divorce, and the fact that
it is very difficult after a divorce to be friends, Hala.
GORANI: It sure is. Thanks very much, Melissa Bell live in Paris. Still to come, the sheriff investigating that shooting on the Alec Baldwin movie set
names exactly the crew members that he is focusing on. We have a live report from the scene. Plus, health experts are always looking for ways to
keep coronavirus patients out of the hospital. A new study involving anti- depressants of all things, is showing promise. That's ahead.
GORANI: A local sheriff says the investigation into last week's deadly shooting on a movie set is now focusing on the film's assistant director
and the armorer responsible for weapons on the set. But he also says no one has been cleared of blame including the actor, Alec Baldwin who was using a
prop gun when it discharged, killing the film's cinematographer. The assistant director has already told investigators he did not fully check
the weapon to see if it was loaded prior to handing it to Baldwin. Josh Campbell is in Santa Fe following the investigation and has more. Josh?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala, we're learning new details about the status of this investigation, the scope is now narrowing. The
sheriff telling the "Today Show" today that there are now two people that are the focus. The assistant director and the head armorer. These were the
people that were responsible for ensuring the safety of firearms on the set of this movie. Of course, this movie was a western style movie involving
shoot-out scenes, so their role, very important. But we're learning that investigators are looking at them as possibly responsible for this deadly
shooting as they were the ones who handed that firearm to Alec Baldwin.
Now, there are still a lot of questions about how live ammunition made its way on to the set of that movie. In most movies you'll have dummy rounds,
inert rounds that are fake. But here, the sheriff saying that those were suspected live rounds, a projectile firing out of that weapon, striking the
cinematographer, that leading to her death. I spoke to the district attorney, that's the chief prosecutor here in this area for the state. She
gave us some insight into what she will be looking at as she tries to determine whether to bring criminal charges. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMPBELL: Do you feel any pressure on you to actually charge someone here?
MARK CARMACK-ALTWIES, SANTA FE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I know that there is pressure out there. I do not feel that pressure. I will not make my
decision based on that pressure. The decision will be based on the law and the evidence, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMPBELL: And she went on to say the things she will be looking for, Hala, is how that live ammunition made its way on to the set. That will be her
key focal point.
GORANI: Yes, because we've heard from many prop masters and experts who handle guns on movie sets, that you're not even supposed to have live
rounds on a movie set, let alone in a loaded gun, prop or otherwise.
CAMPBELL: Exactly, and that is the question. There had been some reports that perhaps some of the crew members on the set of this movie were taking
the actual firearms to use in the production out for target practice prior to that incident. So of course, that leading to this question about whether
they possibly forgot or failed to remove live ammunition as they brought it back to that set. But what's so interesting is that the sheriff said
yesterday that they seized hundreds of pieces of evidence in their investigation, including over 500 rounds.
He says that some of those are the inert rounds. But he also said that he suspects that there was live ammunition inside that cache of ammo. That has
all been sent to the FBI's laboratory in Virginia for analysis, again to help them determine how much of this live ammo was on set and who was
GORANI: Josh Campbell, live in Santa Fe Thanks so much. Still to come, leaders of the world's top 20 economies are gathering in Rome for the first
face-to-face G-20 Summit in two years. We'll go there live.
GORANI: All right, breaking news. We just heard the big announcement from Mark Zuckerberg's virtual reality event. Facebook has a new name. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZUCKERBERG: We just announced that we are making a fundamental change to our company. We're now looking at and reporting on our business as two
different segments. One for our family of apps and one for our work on future platforms. And as part of this, it is time for us to adopt a new
company brand to encompass everything that we do. To reflect who we are and what we hope to build. I am proud to announce that starting today, our
company is now Meta.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Zuckerberg says the company is officially rebranding and reorganizing as you just heard him say there, to better reflect its
expanding ventures into what he calls the Metaverse. So those brands, those platforms altogether become Meta. All right, COVID and climate are expected
to be top of the agenda this weekend when the leaders of the world's top 20 economies meet in Rome or at least most of them. The G-20 is set to convene
Saturday, it's its first face-to-face gathering in two years. COVID chased everyone away last year with the leaders meeting virtually instead.
Russia's Vladimir Putin, China's Xi Jinping, and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico are not attending this year because of their COVID crises
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
GORANI: Our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is covering the G20 and he joins me now live.
So what is the big hope for this face-to-face gathering considering Xi Jinping and Putin are not present?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I think the big hope if you're in the developing world is that the G20 leaders, these are the
leaders from, they represent 60 percent of the population and 80 percent of the world's GDP, do what they say they would do with COVID over the past
year, which is reach out to the developing world and really help it get to the same place that they're at in terms of vaccine distribution, access to
COVID testing, all these hugely important things.
The world is so connected. These powerful economic nations cannot progress forward unless they bring the developing world with them.
But when you look at what has been said before, what might be achieved this time, there is a sort of a reality gap there.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Rome is ready but some invitees are not: President Putin of Russia to be a no-show; President Xi of China, too;
Mexico's PM AMLO, ditto. Can't come to Rome, they say, because of COVID issues at home.
Last year's G20 in Riyadh, pandemic restrictions kept everyone away.
ROBERTSON: Rome was supposed to be different, the first face-to-face for G20 leaders since Japan hosted the summit June 2019. But now, rather than a
meeting of big rivals, it could be a lot less frosty; even so, it won't be an easy ride.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): COVID topics, specifically vaccine inequality, along with climate change will dominate. Equality for women and support for
small and medium businesses will also be on the agenda. At stake, too, the reputation for these world leaders' summits for delivering on what they
A year ago G20 leaders promised to use their wealth to help poorer nations get vaccines. Since then, Russia, China, the U.S. and others have shipped
vaccines to developing nations. But summit rhetoric then and since has become detached from ground reality.
The UK's former PM, one among many, calling on today's leaders to match words with action.
GORDON BROWN, WHO AMBASADDOR, GLOBAL HEALTH FINANCING: Boris Johnson promised at the G7 that he was going to vaccinate the whole world. But
since then, so little has happened.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): The G20 nations have deep pockets, accounting for 80 percent of the world's GDP, many facing increasing pressure to give
vaccines to the developing world now, ahead of booster shots at home.
ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: It's allowing variants to develop and run wild, condemning the world to millions more deaths and
prolonging an economic slowdown that would cost trillions of dollars.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): COVID is a hot topic on Rome's streets, too. There is anger with the government's handling of the crisis, Europe's strictest
vaccine to work policy.
ROBERTSON: bringing the pandemic under control and ending economic uncertainty will no doubt help focus leaders' minds here.
But absent Presidents Xi and Putin physically at the table, speeding a joined-up COVID solution seems a stretch.
ROBERTSON: So there really is that sort of hope, that expectation, that pressure on these leaders. But they're all coming here with a whole host of
different issues, many of them you've been covering on the show.
The tensions between France and President Biden over the submarine deal with Australia; the tensions with the British and French over fishing; the
pullout, the rapid pullout of the United States from Afghanistan, which really did not go down well with many allies.
So there are all these background issues, development with Iran on the nuclear talks is another issue. They'll all get talked about in the margins
here as well. But the big central issues -- climate, COVID, equality for the global population -- I think the sense at the moment is, it's not going
to measure up to the real desires and hopes for many.
GORANI: All right, thank you, Nic Robertson.
Speaking of climate, the American president is hoping to show the G20 -- and COP26 in particular -- that America is serious about combating climate
change. He and Democrats on Capitol Hill have just hammered out the framework of new legislation that would invest about $0.5 trillion in new
climate initiatives. You can see the breakdown right here.
GORANI: Hundreds of billions in tax credits for homes and businesses that embrace clean energy; a new civilian climate corps; billions more of direct
investments and clean and advanced technologies. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This framework also makes the most and significant investment to deal with the climate crisis ever,
ever happening, beyond any other advanced nation in the world.
Over a billion metric tons of emission reductions, at least 10 times bigger on climate than any bill that has ever passed before, and enough to
position us for a 50 percent to 52 percent emission reductions by the year 2030.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So the president says this is the biggest climate initiative anyone has ever attempted. Let's turn to our chief climate correspondent,
Bill Weir, in New York.
How much of a difference will this make if it passes?
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, to put it in perspective, it will be the biggest because it will be the first. It's an
awfully low bar. The country has never really passed anything beyond some stuff in Barack Obama's rescue plan when he came in during the Great
It's not what they originally rolled out. It is half the size of the $3.5 trillion super ambitious thing. Critics would say it has a lot of carrots
but no real sticks, incentivizing people, saying we'll give you a break if you go buy an electric car or you winterize your home.
But the real hard yards will be made by telling huge utility companies, you got to stop burning coal or gas. And there will be a price if you keep
Ironically, at the same time, this is all -- all this drama is playing off after whether this will pass today, there is a House oversight hearing with
the CEOs of the biggest oil companies in the world.
And they were hoping Democrats would have a Big Tobacco moment, where they catch them lying under oath about the harm. But they haven't really gotten
that from them. And when they try to pin them down on, OK, what is a fair market solution?
You don't want the government telling you, you can't burn this stuff.
What if we put a price on it?
Which is what the economists say.
How much would you -- what's a fair price for a ton of carbon?
None of them would even commit. So we're so far away, both on the private sector and diplomatically, what the president will certainly bring to
Glasgow. He hopes he has a win at least.
GORANI: Well, on a micro level, if you incentivize people, anecdotally, you see that often works, especially with electric cars in cities. Here in
London you have to pay a really high price just to drive into the city.
An electric car, you don't incur that charge et cetera and it works.
But if the big polluters of our planet are not sanctioned, I guess, punished for polluting, what hope is there really?
WEIR: Sure. We need the same standard for everybody. The sooner humanity stop thinking of Earth as, you know, endless resources and as a life raft,
where we only have a certain amount of oil, gas, coal, clean forests, all these things left and how we use them to transition ourselves, you think
about things in a much different way.
And the advertisements we see from the big oil companies, as they're getting grilled on false advertising for the years, now they're saying it's
not happening; they're saying they're doing all this great stuff, making algae fuel and carbon capture.
When in reality they're spending a tiny, less than half a 1 percent on the actual research, spending much more on the ads you're seeing. So we're now
reaching a point. This COP26, this is 26th major conversation the world has had about this issue.
Where whether or not social licenses eroded when so much of us depend on these things and whether, as you say, incentives to, it just makes more
sense to have a stove that doesn't burn gas inside your home and the technology is there.
It is a matter of getting enough people to do it fast enough to beat the clock we're under, just with the laws of physics and what is already
GORANI: Bill Weir, thank you so much for joining us.
WEIR: You bet.
GORANI: Meantime, China has just submitted its updated plan to cut greenhouse emissions. Critics say it doesn't go far enough. Its central
feature is a pledge to peak its carbon dioxide emissions before the year 2030.
China also says it will reduce its so-called carbon intensity by then by two-thirds, below 2005 levels. And it proposes to reach complete net zero
carbon emissions 30 years after that.
Still to come, how researchers may have found a use for a generic, cheap anti-depressant, that millions of people take, in the fight against
coronavirus. We'll explain after this.
GORANI: A new study finds that a cheap generic anti-depressant drug may reduce serious coronavirus disease and help keep patients out of the
hospital. "The Lancet" published the data from a trial that took place in Brazil. Professor Edward Mills is one of the authors of the study. He joins
me live from Vancouver.
Thanks for being with us.
How was this study conducted?
PROF. EDWARD MILLS, TRIAL AUTHOR: This is part of a large study that is called a platform randomized adapt trial. You might be familiar with that
already from the U.K. recovery trial or the WHO's solidarity trial.
It's multiple arms evaluating multiple interventions. We've included over 4,000 patients and, in this particular analysis, looking at fluvoxamine
versus placebo, we had about 1,500 in that evaluation.
GORANI: So the people who took the fluvoxamine had a lower percentage of hospital admissions than those who took placebo?
MILLS: That's correct. We were looking at early treatment among high risk individuals and we found that, on average, it reduced the need for
hospitalization by about 32 percent.
GORANI: And how do you explain that?
MILLS: We believe that this drug offers anti-inflammatory properties. So we believe that it dampens down the cytokine storm. And for that reason, it
is predominantly an anti-inflammatory and we don't particularly believe it is an antiviral drug.
GORANI: OK, anti-inflammatory meaning it is reducing inflammation in what parts of the body that might become inflamed as a result of a COVID
MILLS: Well, it is important to understand how COVID progresses in individuals. It starts out as a viral disease, causing viral replication.
That stimulates an immune response, often an inflammatory response. That's where people can get very sick.
Eventually, it becomes an immune disease, where the body is attacking itself. And that's why people end up in hospitals and dying. For those
reasons, it is important that an anti-inflammatory drug has a role in preventing that overwhelming inflammatory response.
GORANI: Was this discovered accidentally?
I mean, I imagine -- how did it come about that this trial was even started?
Is this something that was observed in a hospital setting, that people already may be on this drug were doing better?
MILLS: So there had been observational studies, where people have used it off label.
MILLS: But the results of a smaller trial in St. Louis, Missouri, that had been published in a major journal a year beforehand, we felt the need to
take it to a much larger study with clinical endpoints.
GORANI: So what needs to happen now, more trials?
I understand in this, correct me if I'm wrong, but in this group, patients did have a higher hospitalization rate; both groups, placebo and those who
took drug, than in other studies.
I imagine you'll want to test fluvoxamine again and fluoxetine, the generic name of Prozac, which many people will be familiar with, to see if other
SSRIs act the same way.
MILLS: That's correct. It will be interesting to see whether or not it offers a similar treatment benefit across other SSRIs. One of the reasons
for doing a study like this with high-risk populations is it has statistical advantages.
And that's why it was done in South America. You're seeing a lot of trials being done in South America, so those we -- if we did the same trial in
North America or the U.K., for that matter, it would be very difficult to show a treatment benefit from a statistical point of view.
GORANI: We have to go but why not?
Briefly, why wouldn't you be able to do it in North America?
MILLS: You have a quarter of the event rates. So you would need several time more patients in the trial or it would take considerably longer.
GORANI: Got you. Thank you for making that very clear. Professor Edward Mills, one of the authors of this study, joining me from Vancouver, really
appreciate you being on the program.
Still to come, for the first time, Taiwan's president acknowledges a U.S. military training mission that she had kept under wraps. That's an
exclusive interview with CNN -- next.
GORANI: In her first international TV interview in almost two years, Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, talks to CNN exclusively in Taipei as
Beijing steps up its military pressure on the democratic island. Here's Will Ripley with his exclusive interview.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At this temple in Taipei, prayer and politics go hand in hand for Taiwan president Tsai Ing-Wen.
TSAI ING-WEN, TAIWANESE PRESIDENT: Normally when I go to the temple, there are hundreds of people there, well; I will shake hands with each one of
RIPLEY: People are remarkably happy at ease.
TSAI: You have to give them a sense that there's somebody there to take care of them.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Elected in 2016 , Tsai won reelection by a landslide last year on a promise to keep people safe from what she calls a growing
threat across the Taiwan Strait.
RIPLEY: Is Taiwan more safe today than it was when you became president in 2016?
TSAI: If it's a threat from China, is increasing every day.
RIPLEY (voice-over): The mainland's massive military 2 million strong more powerful than ever, China flew 150 war planes near Taiwan in just five days
This democracy of more than 23 million governs separately from the mainland for more than 70 years since the end of China's civil war, still seen as a
breakaway province in the eyes of Beijing's Communist rulers, who have never controlled the island.
China has pressured most of the world to sever formal diplomatic ties with Taipei. Chinese president Xi Jinping says reunification is only a matter of
RIPLEY: Are you interested in speaking with President Xi?
Would you like to have more communication with him?
TSAI: But more communication will be helpful. So that would reduce misunderstanding, given our differences, differences in terms of our
political systems. We can sit down and talk about our differences and try to make arrangement so that we'll be able to co-exist peacefully.
RIPLEY: Your predecessor, as you know, did meet with President Xi.
Why do you think that the communication has really gone south since 2016?
TSAI: Well, I think the situation has changed a lot and China's plan towards the region is very different.
RIPLEY (voice-over): That plan includes war threats over Taiwan, clashes with Japan and the East China Sea and militarizing manmade islands in the
South China Sea, posing a direct challenge to seven decades of U.S. military supremacy in the Indo Pacific.
In response, the U.S. ramped up arms sales to Taiwan, selling the island $5 billion in weapons last year. President Tsai confirms exclusively to CNN,
U.S. support goes beyond selling weapons.
RIPLEY: Does that support include sending some U.S. service members to help train Taiwanese troops?
TSAI: Well, yes, we have a wide range of cooperation with the U.S. airing at increasing our defense capability.
RIPLEY: How many U.S. service members are deployed in Taiwan right now?
TSAI: Not as many as people saw.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Defense Department records show the number of U.S. troops in Taiwan increased from 10 in 2018 to 32 earlier this year. The
State Department asked for more Marines to safeguard the unofficial U.S. embassy in Taipei.
Any U.S. military presence in Taiwan, big or small is perceived by Beijing as an act of aggression. State media says, when reports surfaced earlier
this month of U.S. marines training Taiwanese troops, China released this video, a training exercise targeting Taiwan independence and interference
by external forces, like the U.S., a warning for President Joe Biden, who vowed to defend Taiwan at this CNN town hall last week.
RIPLEY: So are you saying that that the United States would come to Taiwan's defense, yes or no, attack?
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, we have a commitment to do that.
RIPLEY (voice-over): The White House later walked back Biden's comments. They seem to contradict the longstanding U.S. policy of strategic
ambiguity, leaving U.S. military involvement in Taiwan an open question.
TSAI: People have different interpretation of what President Biden has said.
RIPLEY: Do you have faith that the United States would defend Taiwan if the mainland were to try to move on Taiwan?
TSAI: I do have faith and, given the long-term relationship that we have with the U.S. and also the support the people of the U.S. as well as the
Congress and the administration, has been very helpful.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Taiwan's defense minister says China could launch a full-scale war by 2025. He says military tensions are the worst in more
than 40 years.
TSAI: We have to expedite our military reform so that we have the ability to defend ourselves and given the size of Taiwan compared to the size of
the PRC developing a symmetric capability is the key for us.
RIPLEY: How prepared is Taiwan today?
TSAI: We are trying to make us stronger in every aspect and increase our military capability and our international support.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Support bolstered her says by Taiwan's critical importance to the global supply chain. The island is a world leader in
semiconductors. Taiwan was Asia's fastest growing economy last year, a fact President Tsai proudly points out over lunch.
TSAI: This is one of my favorite foods.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Despite everything, she appears calm and confident.
RIPLEY: You talked about how really the situation is so complex now.
TSAI: That it is very complex. This is probably the most challenging time for people of Taiwan.
RIPLEY: You read the outside headlines, the most dangerous place on earth.
TSAI: We read these reports as a reminder to us as to what so the threats that were under and we have to get ourselves better prepared, but we're not
panic. We're not anxious because we have gone through so many difficulties in the past.
RIPLEY (voice-over): She says Taiwan's future must be decided by its people, the people who've worked hard over the last 70 years to build the
world's only Chinese-speaking democracy, a democracy under growing threat.
RIPLEY: And that is why President Tsai says they need to be prepared on this island. They need to train. She's the first Taiwanese president in
more than 40 years to confirm the presence of U.S. military trainers on this island. It's been reported before; never publicly confirmed by the
leader of Taiwan.
And later her defense minister, speaking to Taiwan's parliament, also confirmed this is happening, although he made it very clear these U.S.
troops, the small number of them are not based here. But he says they are cooperating and working alongside the Taiwanese military, which faces a
huge task, if you think about it.
One hundred miles away, there is a 2 million-strong army and a whole lot of missiles that are pointed directly at Taipei, this capital, right now, that
could arrive in a matter of minutes if a conflict were to break out.
It would be easy to get overwhelmed. But President Tsai said now is not the time to back down. Now is the time for this island and its people to unite
and show solidarity and strength -- Hala.
GORANI: Thank you very much, Will Ripley with that exclusive interview.
I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching this evening. Do stay with CNN. A quick break and then "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" coming your way.