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tv   CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield  CNN  November 28, 2021 12:00pm-1:00pm PST

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hello and thanks for joining me. i'm paula reid in washington in this weekend for fredericka whitfield. now as a number of one industries confirming cases of the new omicron variant klum, scientists are scrambling to learn what that could mean in the weeks and months to come. some fear another devastating blow in the course of this
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pandemic but others indicate the early signs are not as bad as it appears. >> is this making people for ill? there's some anecdotal from physicians in south africa that this could be causing mild illness. >> i think there's good reasons to think it will probably be okay, but we need to know the real answers to, that and that's going to take two or three weeks. >> with me now, nada nashir in london and david mckenzie and joe johns at the white house and nick neri at the atlanta airport. >> nada, i want to start with you. new cases of the variant are being reported and the real consensus is we won't know what we're dealing with for a few weeks so what is the response in europe right now? >> reporter: absolutely, paula. we're seeing that sense that there is some time needed before
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we know the full details of the this variant and as we see more cases being confirmed in the uk and here. we've had the third case confirmed here today and, of course, the third case in germany against other countries across europe. there is a sense of urgency there, the european union countries and the uk really fell under pressure with the alpha variant and delta variant and as we move into winter there is a concern that health care sectors will be put under pressure. the question is how virulent will this new variant be and whether or not it's more transmissible and, of course, its impact on vaccine efficacy, but we heard today from the european commission president today saying although there is a severance urgency right now, we do need that time to really look into this new variant. take a listen. ch. >> we are now in a race against time. why that? because we know not all about this variant, but it is a variant of concern, and the
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scientists and manufacturer need two to three weeks to have a full picture about the quality of the mutations of this omicron variant. >> now while there is still time needed to really get that full picture as mentioned, there is still a sense of urgency in the european union and uk, and some measures have come into force to really stem the spread of this variant. the most, of course, are the travel restrictions that the uk and european union both implementing travel restrictions on southern african nations expanding them today and there are tougher measures on the border in the uk. the uk have called for pcr tests being taken by day two of arrival and quarantine until the test results are received as well as mandatory face conversation in shops and on public transport. really those travel restrictions are the key right now. there is a sense that they want to stop this spread from the beginning, and we heard from the house secretary in the uk just a few days ago saying that there really needs to be an emphasis
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on taking action at the earliest stage possible. it has drawn backlash from countries in the soften african region and the w.h.o. who has warned against hasty travel restrictions. paula? >> the south african president gave a public address earl. ier. us a report, some people have suggested earlier in the country that they are not exactly feeling the gratitude for identifying this and instead feel like they have been punished. what's his message today? >> well, paula, you know, ram bosa, the president of south africa, is generally quite a diplomatic leader. he doesn't call people out by name. that very different. just a short time ago in addressing the nation in south africa calling out countries one by one including the united states saying the travel restrictions and ban are unfair and have very little scientific basis. take a listen. >> now these restrictions are completely unjustified and
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unfairly discriminate against our country and ourch southern african sister countriesch the prohibition of travel is not informed by science nor will it be effective in preventing the spread this variant. >> he said that in fact from his point of view that these bans only will hurt the economies, in fact will devastate the economies in this region and help -- won't help stop the spread of this variant in any meaningful way. that reflects what the w.h.o. who a few hours ago put out a statement from the head of the w.h.o. in africa saying there would be only limited impact because in layman's terms the horse has already bolted. just because we know that the virus is present, the variant is present here in south africa because of strong veins, where it's been confirmed doesn't reflect where it is, of course, and it could be all over the
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continent and likely in europe much more extensively than it's being confirm right now, but despite the calls from south africa. countries keep being added to the list including morocco, angola and just a few minutes ago rwanda in east africa announcing they are not necessarily going to feel african solidarity immediately banning citizens from this region going there. paula? >> well, joe, president biden arrived back at the white house a short time ago. he's getting briefed on the new variant sometime today. we did hear from him very briefly a short time ago, but we see other world leaders giving addresses. do we expect to hear from the president today? >> well, i think only the president knows right now, paula, but what i can tell you is the president on his way back here from his long weekend in nantucket stopped at joint base andrews as is the custom, and he was asked by a reporter whether
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he'd be putting any more travel restrictions in place in addition to those restrictions already in place and going into effect on monday on several soften countries including south africa and botswana. the president said he eastbound meeting with his medical team and then he'd have more to say. the question, of course, whether the mr. president have more to say today. you can sort of add that to the long list of questions that have developed over the thanksgiving weekend, including whether the omicron variant is in the united states right now, and there are slightly different answers to that with a little bit of nuance. listen. >> do you think it's already here in the united states? >> i -- we have no evidence that it is, so i'm on the fence about that. we will find out because cdc is looking at tens of thousands of viral isolets every week. >> we have a pretty good
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surveillance system but as you know when there's a virus that has already gone to multiple countries. inevitably it will be here and the question is will we be prepared for it? and the preparation that we have ongoing for what we're doing now for the delta variant just needs to be revved up. >> and as you can see the white house is taking a very cautious approach to this. certainly they were cause a little bit flat-footed with the delta variant and clear that the administration doesn't want that to happen again. paula, back to you. >> nick, much has been made of the travel bans in response to this variant. the u.s. travel ban, of course, has not gone into effect, but what have you been seeing down there at the atlanta airport today? obviously one of the busy travel days and you're in one of the busiest hubs in the world. >> that's right, and also this is a hub for delta which is continuing their flights to south africa despite the travel restrictions that go into effect on monday, and we've been asking passengers here like the walkers. come on in here, guys. a big holiday for you because last year you weren't able to
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travel. you're traveling now this year. what do you think so far of the airport? >> it's been great. actually we've had a pretty good opportunity to get through very quickly. there wasn't a big prediction -- we haven't gotten to tsa through but on the way in it was very smooth. >> earlier this morning it was 40 minutes. long lines and only about 11 minutes so far. we've been talking a lot here today about omicron, the new strain of covid-19. you guys said you were aware of this. how did it factor in at all knowing that delta is based here and continuing flights, and do you think that there's any potential that omicron is already here in the united states? >> i wouldn't doubt if it isn't, but just having the confidence of being vaccinated and following the cdc guidelines. pretty confident. >> yeah, no pause for you guys this morning as you're getting red to go back to st. louis knowing that you're going to be flying out and around a lot of crowds. >> i'm not saying we weren't a little skeptical, right, but we're double masked and we've been vaccinated and also had the
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booster so we're doing the best that we can. as you said based on the cdc guidance, to again, do the best that we can and also see family. >> you're smart because you're a doctor. >> yeah. thank you so much to the walkers. really appreciate you taking time with cnn. >> varying perspectives. we heard earlier from some travellers who weren't even aware of the strain and said even if they were it wouldn't have factored in to their decision to travel tailed. people saying they really have to get back home. a lot of college students are going back and starting back to school on monday and, of course, these lines here getting a little smooth err as the night carries on. i'm sure travelers are grateful to see that as they show up here at the world's busiest airport. >> thanks so much for your reporting. and with me now dr. william schaffer, professor of infectious diseases at vanderbilt medical services. i want to get your assessment based on what we know so far. the early indications is that this variant is highly
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transmissible and the early indications are in terms of symptoms it's not as severe so what is your assessment at this point? >> so, paula, you've got it right on the nose. it's early days so let's not draw conclusions, but the things that we're concerned about is that this variant has had a large number, about 50 mutations, and -- and one of the things we're concerned about is is it more contagious, and it does appear to spread fairly rapidly, but we need more information. does it make you more severely ill? no, we're not quite so concerned about that, but the third thing that has us more concerned, namely, will be at least in part be able to evade the current protection of our vaccines and for all of that information we'll need more laboratory work. it will will take a couple of weeks, maybe even three weeks before we get full answers
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n.meantime what we have right here right now is the delta variant, and we have a lot of people who still are not vaccinated against this delta variant which is spreading as we speak, right here in the united states. >> it's true. moderna's chief medical officer told me he sees cause for concern in the sheer number of variants that this strain has. do you share the same concern? >> of course. that's why the world health organization has said omicron is not just a var yafnt interest but one of concern could. it spread more widely? would we have to reconfigure our vaccine in order to keep up with it? all of those things are on the table. not conclusively yet but we're waiting for more information. this is a wile virus. >> many experts say that getting your booster shot is one thing
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you can do now to try to protect yourself from this, quote, wile virus. do you think this argument will push people who haven't been rushing to get their above thor? >> well, i think there are lots of people who should get their booster, right, they are eligible. we have a lot of children to vaccinate age 5 and older and then there's about, if you can imagine this, 60 million adults in the united states that haven't gotten their first dose yet. we need to persuade our friends and neighbors to get vaccinated not only to protect us, not only against delta, but my anticipation is these vaccines will protect against omicron and some protection is better than none at all. >> thanks. >> i want to play some sound from dr. scott gotlieb this
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morning. >> i think it's very punitive and we could have accomplished a lot of what we're speaking by perhaps increasing requirements on travelers by asking that they have a negative pcr test and that they test positive. this is the kind of thing that could buy us a couple of weeks. we're punishing south africa for doing the right thing and telling other nations, that you know, who want to sequence strains that they find, that we're giving them real disincentive do that because if they turn over new variants this is what will happen. that is bad step i think from a policy standpoint. >> do you agree that these restrictions are counterproductive in that way, sort of appear to punish people who identify these variants? >> well, we just have to face the facts. with these respiratory viruses that are so contagious, the travel restrictions are not very restrictive. in fact, they are very, very
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porous. they may buy us a little bit of time but they are not really very effective and they do have substantial downsides economically for the country to which there is a restriction and as dr. gotlieb said those are the countries that did the wonderful laboratory work finding omicron and providing that information to the world scientific community so it's a little like no good deed goes unpunished. >> dr. williams, thank you so much for being with us. >> my pleasure. >> still to come. a pivotal week for the supreme court as they take up mississippi 15-woke abortion ban with chief justice john roberts and where his legal track record might go with this one. they give 'em their money back.
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our clients come to us with complicated situations that occur in their lives. for them it's the biggest milestone, the biggest accomplishment, the sale of a business, or an important event for their family. for them, it's the first and only time. we have seen this literally thousands of times, in thousands of iterations. ♪ ♪ i am vince lumia, head of field management at morgan stanley. whether that's retirement, paying for their children's college education, or their son or daughter getting married, our financial advisors need to make sure that they are making objective decisions, every step along the way. every time you hit a milestone, an anniversary, a life event, the emotions will run high. making sure that you have somebody,
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a direct challenge to "roe v. wade" as the mississippi law would ban most abortions after 15 weeks pregnancy. a cnn legal analyst and supreme court biographer and the author of "the chief, the life in touch length times of chief justice john roberts" and she joins us now. joan, thank you so much for being with us. now you wrote in your great piece today for that roberts represents more than just one vote among nine. as chief he steers the discussion. if he's in the majority he also assigns the opinion that will speak for the court. so fair to say, i mean, he is pivotal here? >> he is, paula, and it's great to be with you this afternoon. he is more than just one vote because he starts the conversation in the private meetings. he'll start the oral arguments on wednesday when for the first time since 1992 "roe v. wade" is under a very serious challenge here. and john roberts has a real
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history with "roe v. wade." as you know, paula, he was part of the reagan and first bush administrations that argued strongly to then the supreme court saying please, overturn roe but that was then and this is now. he's no longer an advocate. he's trying to steer this court perhaps towards reversal of r o', but in his mind he's also the institutional integrity of this supreme court and the notion of adhering to precedent. 1973 is when "roe v. wade" was first decide, and in 1992 is when the court affirmed the essential holding of roe" and what's at stake here is a question -- the question for the justices in this mississippi case is can a state ban abortion before viability? and that is before the fetus is able to live outside of the mother? and that viability cutoff line,
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fire wall, if you will, is exactly what the court said was in place in 1973 and 1992, so if the justices decide that mississippi can ban abortions after a 15 weeks, then that will be a reversal of a central part of roe. viable right now, paula, is estimate at 22 to 24 weeks of development, of pregnancy. so that's -- that would be critical. that is the core of roe and the question that they are going to face. one thing that i'm sure many of our viewers are thinking about, you know, is we're talking about mississippi which will be argued on wednesday, but it was just about a month ago that the justices heard arguments in the big texas abortion case, and that involved a six-week ban on abortions that is still in place in texas right now, and that's because the justices have not blocked that, even though what's at issue in that lawsuit and
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what the justices heard oral arguments on was a discreet procedural position. >> some people believe roberts may have tipped his hand on this issue the first time the texas abortion law went up to the court when he dissented when the court allowed that law to stand, so are people reading too much into that initial pass of the texas abortion law? >> that's a great question. that goes what was at stake when the texas law took effect. the question then, it was so shrewd of what the texas legislature did here. it wanted to ban abortion, but it also did not want to have an immediate challenge up at the supreme court, so they wrote a law in a way that essentially tried to shield texas officials from lawsuit by saying that private citizens cone force that law. any private citizen who flew of someone who assisted in an abortion from the physician to someone who actually even drove
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a woman to an abortion clinic could be -- could be sued and any private citizen who won that case could win at least $10,000 in damages, so -- so texas tried to turn over enforcement of that law and responsibility for that law to private citizens and it argued before the supreme court that texas officials could not be sued at all, and that's what really got john roberts, and he said, look this, law is so unprecedented. it's i ever respective of what constitutional right is at issue here, the right to abortion. i respective of that, state lawmakers should not be able to shield themselves in this way so he wanted the -- the full majority to at least postpone the effect of that texas law while its validity was assessed is so that's why he dissent the then, paula. now we have a much more straightforward question on should "roe v. wade" survive?
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and we know that he has voted against abortion rights in the past. most recently though in 2020, he voted for abortion rights precedent just because it was precedent, so he comes to this case with some mixed signals and probably a lot of ambivalence here, paula, because he has opposed abortion rights but he also knows how politically charged everything is right now and how much of the court's institution is at stake, and it will be a very fine line he starts to walk. and, you know, we both have now been talking about texas, and i do think there is some sign here from this court that a majority has allowed that texas ban to be in place for nearly three months now which means women in texas do not have a right to an abortion which the supreme court previously said that they should have at this point, so that's -- that's a signal that maybe the -- the ground under roe
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truly is crumbling right now. >> joan, thank you so much. i encourage everyone to go out and check out your excellent analysis on the website. thank you. >> thanks. thank you, paula. still ahead, a week after the parade tragedy in wisconsin, a moment of silence today in waukesha. how the city is honoring the victims. she took new mucinex instasoothe sore throat lozenges. show your sore throat who's boss. new mucinex instasoothe. works in seconds, lasts for hours. - [female narrator] they line up by the thousands. each one with a story that breaks your heart. like ravette... every step, brought her pain. their only hope: mercy ships. the largest floating civilian hospital in the world. bringing free surgeries to people who have no other hope. $19 a month will help provide urgently needed surgery for so many still suffering. so don't wait, call the number on your screen. or donate at
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it's been one week since a driver killed six people including an will-year-old child at a christmas parade in waukesha, wisconsin and today a planned moment of silence in that city and a warning that outsiders may explode the
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tragedy for political purposes. for more let's bring in cnn's natasha chen. natasha, seems pretty sad that they would have to issue a warning like this of people trying to take advantage of this tragedy? >> reporter: yeah, paula, it's not clear what the two wisconsin senators were describe when they released the statement, but it is quite a statement to have both a democrat and a republican talk about this together. we're talking about democrat tammy baldwin, republican ron johnson, and here's a part of statement that they wrote. it has come to our attention that outside individuals or groups may attempt to exploit the tragedy that occurred last sunday in waukesha for their own political purposes. as the u.s. senators representing wisconsin, one from each political party, we are askingin' considering such action to cease and desist. now, we don't have a whole lot of other clues about what they are talking about except that they did say that they have full confidence in the local official and that -- that person should
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be afforded the respected support they deserve in undertaking the responsibilities of this case, so we are waiting to hear more details from their offices on that. we are about a couple of hours away from that moment of silence that you talked about, the mayor of waukesha also asking for people to light blue lights to remember the six people killed and really to show support in the community for still so many recovering. as you may recall, exactly a week ago, this suv crashed into this crowded christmas parade killing six and injuring about 60 or more people. some of those injured are still in the children's hospital, children's wisconsin. there are eight of them, in fact. the hospital says four remain in serious condition, two in fair condition and two in good condition. one young lady, 11-year-old girl joslyn torres is still in the icu, and her mother has been posting really incredibly
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emotional updates about her daughter on social media talking about the fact that she is suffering from a broken pelvis, skull fracture as well as linda douglassrations on her lungs. she described how her daughter was quite literally hit by the car with the grill marks on her chest and that she's undergoing so much treatment right now under great care from the medical providers, but really just asking the community for support as her daughter needs this time to just sit back and heal, so this city truly still reeling from the shock of having such a joyous event disrupted by someone that we are told by police was actually fleeing another incident. so still looking into exactly what that person, that driver was doing right before and why he drove through this festive event. paula? >> natasha, thank you for that report.
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an important reminder of the people recovering from the tragedy including the eight children still in the hospital. it's a jewish tradition of hanging a biblical parchment scroll on the doorway, and for the first time it's attached to the home of the second family. we'll explain the significance of this small control and we'll look ahead to the national lighting of the menorah tonight for the beginning of hannukah. voltaren is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory gel for powerful arthritis pain relief. voltaren, the joy of movement.
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celebrate the juche faith on the first night of hannukah when he's expected to light the first candle of the national menorah. he's the first jewish spouse of a president or vice president and is publicly highlighted tenets of his faith since his wife took office. a professor of history and public affairs at princeton university and also the author of "abraham joshua herschel, a life of radical amazement. he joins me now. julian, this month emoff announced that he and harris affixed a traditional jewish scroll to the vice presidential residence. tell us. what is the significance of this. >> it's symbolically very important. most jewish homes have that on the door. it's to signify that the person and people inside will remember god's commandments and that it's a holy place, your home, and more important it demarcates that it's a jewish home. it's a public demarkation of that, so to have the vice president's family put that on the door is an important
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milestone in american jewish history. >> the message of the season is the potential for the smallest bit of light to push back the darkness. what does that look like as we look back on 2021 and look forward to 2022? >> well, this is a country, it's a world that's looking for light. we have lived through a pandemic. we're still in the middle of a pandemic, and we're trying to find positive signs so that we collectively can move forward, so i think the holiday as much as it has any other year symbolizes what we're aspiring fork not just politically but socially and culturally. >> now shifting now to the pandemic. you wrote in a cnn opinion piece that the administration will need to work quickly to get ahead of the new variant. what exactly will biden need to do differently with omicron after having just dealt with delta and continuing to deal with delta? >> well, some is the same. i mean, the major issue is to continue pushing forward with vaccination and making sure more
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and more americans accept and receive the vaccine. also the same protocols have to be enforced, but more importantly or just as important the president needs to continue to move forward with his legislative agenda and to make sure that the key pillars of the economy are sound, so that as we get through this phase, the recovery can continue. >> and how exactly does he do that given how polarized the country is? i mean, how does he get his message across on how the infrastructure and reconciliation packages will have a positive impact on people's lives? can he actually achieve that ahead of the mid terms? >> there's some limits, and what i write is in a polarized erat best he can do is to create more enthusiasm with democrats and to try to affect the handful of swing voters. the most important is to be the explainer in chief. to be a president who not just says i'm passing this huge bill or trying to pass this huge bill
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but explain what's in it and explain why it will help with everything from the inflationary pressures we feel to the social safety net that so many americans depend on >> you also say despite the economic recovery, we may be a long way off from actually feeling good about the state of our nation. when do you see the country ever feeling good about where we are collectively? >> i think it's going to be a while. it's not just that the pandemic is ongoing. it was traumatic. we lived through the bottom falling out, so i think it's going to take some time to feel confidence in that when people receive good news about the economy or about the effective vaccination, to feel confidence, that that's going to last six, seven months into the future so i think it's just going to take some time for the nation. >> julian, thank you so much. we're back in a moment. >> thank you. uncomfortable period pains. and disruptive muscle aches. you can count on fast, effective relief with motrin.
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it will be a holiday season to remember for one navy veteran who got the surprise of a lifetime. oscar rodriguez was attending a special screening of duane "the rock" johnson's new movie "red the notice" when the rock himself called him down frontance and he learned he'd be getting a one of a kind gift. the rock's own custom ford truck. >> i want to show you something real quick. >> yes. >> i got this car for you. it's a little thing. >> what the heck? >> thank you for your service, brother. enjoy your new -- >> what the heck is that.
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>> get out of here, bro. oh, my god! what? >> you do a lot of good for people, man. you do a lot of good for people. i thought this was your truck, bro. >> it is my truck. now it's your truck. this is my personal truck. it's yours now. >> the actor says he was moved by oscar's life story and how he takes care of his family and vulnerable people in his community, and that navy veteran joins my colleague jim acosta next hour. tonight lisa ling is back with two all-new episodes of "this is life." in the first lisa investigates the native americans during the 1920s oil boom and how the descendants fought to revive
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what was nearly lost forever. here's a preview. >> people were being killed left and right. >> it was terrible. they never knew who was going to be next. >> meg and sean tell me their grandparents feared for their lives. they even hired bodyguards. your family really felt that threat. >> absolutely. >> my grandmother used to have flashbacks in his late 80s. >> she would have nightmares. >> some say it was a bless and some say it was a curse. >> joining us now is the host of "this is life" lisa ling. lisa, thank you so much for joining us. incredible reporting here. tell us what you learned about how this has impacted the osage nation's ability to carry on its traditions and keep legacy of their ancestors alive. >> thanks for having me on, paul ark. this marks the last episode of
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"this is live. "requested and this is about the osage nation and they controlled the land on which the nation now sits, missouri, okay saw, and they ruled this land for more than a millenia. and by the 1800s they were essentially driven off of their land. they ended up settling in a small corner of oklahoma. they negotiated a treaty with the united states for the surface and the sub surface of the land. they were really smart. that land by the early 1900s would become the most oil-rich land in the world worth more than all of the gold rushes combined. but that also made the osage people a target for exploitation and eventually murder. and hardly any of the murders that happened, reportedly hundreds of them, were ever sold and brought to justice. but the few that did resulted in the coming together, essentially, of the federal
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bureau of investigation. >> and we learn that the descendants of these victims, they're still feeling the impacts, struggling to learn what happened to their family members. what are they finding out, what are they discovering? >> well, paula, it's so true. these murders happened about a century ago, but many of the people in osage country, they're looking more closely into some of the deaths of their relatives. and in some cases they are learning that those deaths may not have been coincidental after all. they might not have been as a result of heart disease or heart failure or various ailments that they may have in fact been the products of murder. >> wow, definitely want to watch. i'll be tuning in. but you have a second episode also airing tonight where you're looking into sex crimes in the military? >> that's right. so this season of "this is life," we have devoted it to looking into elements and moments in american history that didn't really make the books but continue to impact us today.
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and in our second episode, which is airing a little late tonight, but hopefully you all stay up to watch. we look at the tailhook scandal that happened in 1991. it was a huge scandal involving the united states navy. and we learned that over the years, despite numerous promises of zero tolerance, that sadly not much has changed in the united states military as it relates to sexual assault. >> wow, lisa ling, we'll definitely be tuning in. thank you so much for your incredible reporting. >> thank you. >> be sure to tune in, the double episode season finale of "this is life" with lisa ling airs tonight starting at 10:00 p.m. only on cnn. thanks for joining me today. i'm paula reid in washington. "cnn newsroom" continues with jim acosta in just a moment. but, first, a startup based in seattle is looking to make greener coffee by taking the coffee bean out of the equation. but, is it good enough to still stand up to a taste test? cnn's rachel crane has this
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week's "mission ahead." >> about two years ago, i was looking for something to do that was better for the planet. and that's when i stumbled across my co-founder who said that he wanted to make coffee without the bean. >> the co-founder and ceo of atomo coffee, a startup based in seattle, washington, that is looking to make coffee without the coffee bean. the company starts off with upcycled date pits sourced from california date farms. >> we created a process where we take these pits, we react them, and we actually load them with new compounds and take them through a roasting process. and when they come out of that process, they actually look and smell like coffee. >> atomo says this process requires 94% water and emits 93% less carbon emission than a conventional cold crew coffee. and since the date pits would otherwise be discarded, there's
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no deforestation involved. alternative coffees are not a new concept, but they want consumers to view its molecular view as real coffee, not an alternative. it's a bold claim to make so we called up a professional barista to put this bean to the test. he is a certified grader, which is an industry certification to say, well, tom is really good at grading and scoring coffee. >> it's actually not as bad as i thought it would be. it tastes like cold brew coffee, but just a bad cold brew coffee perhaps. >> when we first launched, we thought that the real coffee connoisseurs would hate us, honestly. and it's actually been the opposite. it turns out that people that love coffee, they also love the environment and they want to make better choices.
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any minute we hope to have new information about this new highly mutated covid variant known as omicron. president biden is now back at the white house and is being briefed by members of his covid-19 response team along with his chief medical adviser dr. anthony fauci. but as the omicron variant sparks fears of a pandemic setback, a top u.s. health official cautions against panic, telling cnn there's no evidence yet to suggest it would cause more serious illness than previous variants. >> how severe would it be? we have no data so far to suggest that it would be. there's even a bit of a report from south africa that maybe people with this are milder than the usual case, but they're mostly young people who have mild illness anyway so i would say we just don't know. we do think it's more contagious when you look at how rapidly it spread through multiple districts in south africa. it has the earmarks of being able to spread from one person to another. >> today the u.s. and south african health officials are meeting to talk about th


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