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Russian Media: At Least 9 Dead in School Shooting in Kazan, Russia; President Biden Looks to Cut Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal; Republicans Prepare to Face Off Over Cheney's Future; Second Was of COVID-19 Devastates Indian Village; Olympics Chief's Trip to Japan Postponed. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 11, 2021 - 04:30   ET



FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Apparently when that school shooting started it was the time that lessons were going on at that school. There's reports of obviously children fleeing that school, some of them possibly even jumping from windows to try and escape that shooting.

As you can imagine, a lot of people very distraught. The authorities on the scene fairly quickly. Right now they say that there's about 21 ambulances that are involved and as you say, Rosemary, at least nine people have been killed, eight students and one teacher. But of course, as you can imagine as is always the case in the early stages of events, tragic events like this one that those numbers could indeed still change as the authorities are trying to come to terms with what is happening there in the town of Kazan -- Rosemary.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and this is distressing, but also unusual. We are not used to hearing about school shootings across Russia.

PLEITGEN: Well you're absolutely right. It's certainly something that is very rare, in fact, there was one incident in the Kerch that happened in 2018 where then I believe it was an 18-year-old opened fire inside a college. That of course is something that obviously made gigantic headlines not just here in Russia but internationally. But it is absolutely the case that these are certainly not events that happen with the kind of frequency that, for instance, you would see mass shootings happen in the United States.

And so, therefore, obviously this is something that communities like this are very distraught about, places like Kazan which is -- it's a very wealthy town, fairly quiet town. But certainly one that does not usually see or hasn't in a very long time seen an event like what we've seen this morning.

The authorities -- as I've said -- the head of the Tatarstan region is already on the scene there. And one of the other things that the Russian authorities have said that they are doing is they're strengthening -- as they put it -- security not just in schools around the Kazan area but in all learning institutions and obviously, limiting the access to those learning institutions as well, as the state and the authorities here deal with this very unusual situation.

We can see there on our screens right now, some of those police special forces who apparently were inside the school. We're seeing this first video. You can see also the shattered glass there actually what seems to be the front entrance to that school as those authorities there very much on the scene trying to come to terms with this -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. We will of course continue to follow this and bring our viewers all the details as they come into us. Fred Pleitgen, many thanks. Bringing us that breaking news update from Moscow.

Well, this week could be make or break for a top priority on U.S. President Joe Biden's agenda. He will be meeting with leaders from both parties in an effort to reach a deal on infrastructure. CNN's Phil Mattingly has more on what we can expect.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: For President Biden's legislative agenda this is a crucial week. Obviously, one piece of that legislative agenda, perhaps a physical infrastructure b. Ill is what he is targeting for bipartisan negotiations. Negotiations that will really kick off in earnest throughout the course of this week. On Monday hosting two key Democratic Senators including Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the linchpin of the very, very narrow Senate majority that Democrats have at this moment.

But it's the meetings later in the week that I think the president is very focused on. And in those meetings both he and his team are making clear he is open to potential compromises. Take a listen to what White House press secretary Jen Psaki told me.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He is quite open, as is evidenced by the fact that he invited Senator Caputo and a group of members to meet with him in the White House later this week. He's very open to having a discussion about where we can find agreement, where we can move forward. And he has been encouraged by the spirit in which Senator Capito and other Republican colleagues are engaging with him.

MATTINGLY: Now the meeting on Wednesday will be with the top four congressional leaders, it's likely to address a range of issues. But certainly infrastructure spending will be one of those. And then the meeting Thursday, that is the meeting everybody has their eye on.

Keep in mind, President Biden has put a $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal on the table. Republicans, and it's a small group of Senate Republicans, they've countered with a $568 billion proposal. Obviously pretty significant gap there but one that both parties think can actually be closed. Stash from the White House and Senator showing more capital, the leader of that group has been exchanging proposals over the course of the last 10 or 11 days. The president has spoken about by phone with Senator Capito and Senator Capito will be leading a group of six Republicans in that oval office meeting on Thursday.

Now time is of the essence here. Progressives both the House and the Senate have made clear to the White House that they are ready to move on without Republicans now. They believe every minute that's wasted is a minute that they can't move forward on President Biden's broader $4 trillion agenda.

President Biden, aides tell me, has made clear he wants to give this a shot. He believes there is a pathway there for a smaller bill and do the rest of the agenda later, likely with Democrats only.


But that first piece, whether or not there is a bipartisan path forward, look, there is agreement that there needs to be significant spending on roads and bridges and ports, waterways. How to pay for it, though, pretty significant disagreement. President Biden has put corporate tax increases on the table to pay for his proposal. Republicans have made clear there is no such tax increase they are willing to agree to. Instead they want user fees, perhaps an increase of the gas tax, something the Biden administration has made clear is a nonstarter for them. So how they actually square that, that is an very open question and probably the question that needs to get ironed out over the course of the next several days.

Again, the window very narrow at this point in time but both sides that I am talking to at this moment believe there is at least a shot they can get something done. Just have to wait and see throughout the course of this week.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: It's said to be a midweek showdown on Capitol Hill. Republicans getting ready to vote on the future of Liz Cheney. That decision is scheduled for Wednesday. The third ranking House Republican has divided party opinion with her outspoken criticism of former President Donald Trump. Now the voices looking to replace her are growing louder. Ryan Nobles has the latest.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republicans are preparing for their ongoing intraparty squabble to become a showdown. As soon as Wednesday, House Republicans are prepared to oust Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney as their conference chair.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We need a conference that's united. That's why we need a conference chair that is delivering that message day in and day out.

NOBLES (voice-over): House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appears to be leading the charge. And for the first time, he has come out publicly in support of Cheney's potential replacement, New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS: Do you support Elise Stefanik for that job?

MCCARTHY: Yes, I do.

NOBLES (voice-over): In a letter to his colleagues on Monday, McCarthy told Republicans to, quote, anticipate a vote on Cheney Wednesday, and said that, while the GOP is a, quote, "big tent" party, that all members are elected to represent their constituents as they see fit, but our leadership team cannot afford to be distracted by the important work we were elected to do and the shared goals we hope to achieve.

McCarthy isn't alone. Steve Scalise, the House GOP whip and second most powerful House Republican, has also endorsed Stefanik. But while the outcome appears to be inevitable, Cheney and her allies are unwilling to go down without a fight.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): She's being run out for one thing, her consistency. She said the same exact thing that Kevin McCarthy said on January 6, which is, Donald Trump is responsible.

NOBLES (voice-over): Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a Trump critic, warning his colleagues that siding with the former president and his big lie about the November election will have long-term consequences, a sentiment echoed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): It just bothers me that you have to swear fealty to the dear leader, or you get kicked out of the party. It just doesn't make any sense.

NOBLES (voice-over): But, while Hogan, Kinzinger and Cheney continue to challenge Trump's grip on the GOP, it is clear that they are on the losing side of this war. Rank-and-file Republicans and the party's elected leaders continue to retreat behind Trump, convinced he provides their best chance to win. And that means continuing to endorse the big lie.

REP. JIM BANKS (R-IN): I have very serious concerns with how the election was conducted. I objected on January 6. I will never -- I will never apologize for that.

NOBLES (voice-over): And undermining the election results and, by extension, faith in America's electoral system is an ongoing issue, with a private company conducting a fourth audit of the 2020 results in Arizona, this despite no evidence of fraud, a project Stefanik has endorsed.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): I fully support the audit in Arizona. We want transparency and answers for the American people.

NOBLES: And once again it seems that the person whose voice is the most important in this controversy over Liz Cheney's future is the former President Donald Trump. And he once again put out a statement on Monday reiterating his support for Elise Stefanik to replace Cheney. And he seemed to be addressing some of the concerns over Stefanik's voting record and those who say that she is not conservative enough. Trump saying she is right on the issues in his mind when it comes to things like immigration and on gun rights. Once again making it clear that Stefanik is his choice and one of the big reasons why it looks as soon as Wednesday Liz Cheney will be out of the job as House Conference chair.

Ryan Nobles, CNN on Capitol Hill.


CHURCH: India's second wave of the pandemic hit cities hard, but small towns and villages are also suffering. We will have the latest figures and a live report from New Delhi.



CHURCH: In India, the official number of new coronavirus cases has dipped for the second consecutive day, but the human catastrophe is far from over. And more than half of India's states and union territories remain under complete lockdown.

Sam Kiley is tracking all of this live for us from New Delhi, he joins us now. So Sam, how reliable are these numbers and what might they signal as India tries to bring this virus under control?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as far as we understand it in terms of the numbers, Rosemary, they're not especially reliable, they're pretty unreliable worldwide, though, aren't they? They reflect really the capacity of a nation to test and the vigor with which they test. There's no random testing of the population so there is no accurate figure as to the numbers of people per head of population that are carrying the COVID virus, not in India, not anywhere.

But there has been a slight decline over the weekend, I think that can be largely attributed to lack of testing and reporting, a slight increase in the number of deaths. There's no indication yet that this second wave of the COVID pandemic that's been so crippling is coming to an end or even beginning to decline. And indeed there's some evidence that it's actually spreading, particularly in the south of India and particularly into rural areas, which is where I recently returned from the state of Gujarat. This is our report.


KILEY (voice over): It's the injustice of a disease that strikes at random that Girjashankar finds hardest to bear. He insists that he hasn't cheated anyone in this life, at 70, no one would speak ill of him. A lifelong potter every household knows him. "I haven't had a single bad habit like cigarettes or tobacco or anything. I'm 70. I've never had a row with anyone. So why is this happening to me," he pleads?


For the local pharmacist Jeetu, it's too much. He's done what he can to help but dozens have died here in the last month. And Girjashankar has been ill for three weeks. This is Jeetu home. Most in this Gujarati village in India's west are farmers enjoying fertile soil and plentiful livestock.

When the wave of India's second pandemic engulfed India's teaming cities, people in the rural areas were not spared.

With no village doctor or medics and the shortage of hospital beds in faraway cities, many here relies on Jeetu's experience as a pharmacist. He sourced oxygen prescribed drugs. "There's no one here, no health center, no doctor, no nurse. There are no facilities in this village. So, then, I tackled it in the way I saw fit."

KILEY: Does that make you angry?

KILEY (voice-over): "I got very angry but what can one do, we've got no solutions," he says.

Dinesh says he tried to get his father Jivraj into full hospitals, but they were full. His father was diagnosed as a severe COVID patient. Jivraj has seen the devastation of his village, yet his fear is no longer death, it's that COVID will destroy his family.

His daughter has COVID, and his wife, too. She is struggling to breathe on their veranda under the eyes of Hindu deities. Their home is not far from the village crematorium, which is where volunteer efforts shift from Jeetu to Girjashankar. Until today, he's been cremating people almost constantly. Now he clears up their remains. He's brought extra wood for what he fears is coming. In the village there are homes which have lost up to three people. Uncle, son, mother. He's kept careful records.

KILEY: So just a last month he tells me -- and this is the list of them -- he's burned 90 people. In an average year, he burns 30 over 12 months. Ninety in one.

Vessels are ready for families to carry the ashes of their dead. Urns made by Girjashankar the potter before he fell ill to a disease which has taken so many of his neighbors.


KILEY (on camera): Now Rosemary, Nagendra Modi the Prime Minister of India is under increasing pressure notably from scientists but also opposition politician to announce a nationwide lockdown in a bid to try to break of back of this coronavirus pandemic in its second wave. With epidemiologists also telling us that they've been caught off balance by the scale of it, even their own predictions their own modeling which they warned the government about back in April predicted some 100,000 new infections per day. That figure is now three times that or more with close to 22 million people now infected. And those are the official figures -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: It is a shocking situation. Sam Kiley joining us live from New Delhi, many thanks.

India's COVID catastrophe has spread to neighboring Nepal which set new records for daily cases and deaths on Monday. Nepal reported nearly 9,300 new infections and more than doubled its highest previous death toll. And this comes as the country's Prime Minister called for and then lost a confidence vote plunging Nepal into a political crisis.

In contrast England will begin lifting more COVID-19 restrictions next week. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement on Monday saying infection rates are at their lowest levels since September. Universities can go back to in-person classes and larger groups will be allowed to gather in public. Here is part of the Prime Minister's announcement.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The next Monday you will be able to sit inside a pub and inside a restaurant. You will be able to go to the cinema and children will be able to use indoor play areas. We're reopening hostels, hotels, B&Bs. We will reopen the doors to our theaters, concert halls and business conference centers.


CHURCH: So far one-third of England's adult population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Well still ahead, there are just ten weeks to go until Tokyo's Summer Olympics begin. So why was the International Olympic Committee president delayed an upcoming trip to Japan? We will go live to Tokyo after the break.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well as Japan struggles to deal with a fresh wave of coronavirus cases, a visit by the head of the International Olympic Committee has been postponed. Thomas Bach was set to visit Japan next week. Tokyo 2020 organizers now say the visit will be rearranged. The summer games are set to begin on July 23rd.

So let's get more now from CNN's Selina Wang, she lives in Tokyo. She joins us live from Tokyo I should say. So Selina, what might this canceled visit and fresh wave of COVID cases mean for Japan in terms of hosting the Olympics?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, it is certainly a troubling sign that IOC President Thomas Bach's trip being postponed now that we are just over ten weeks away from the Summer Olympic Games. Organizers say that it's being postponed because the state of emergency here in Japan has now been extended until the end of the month.

But really, this is just the latest COVID related setback for organizers in recent months. You have several test events have been canceled or postponed.

[04:55:00] The torch relay had been canceled or moved off of public streets in several parts of the Japan as well. And even despite these increased COVID restrictions, COVID cases here in Japan continue to rise. And the medical system especially here in Tokyo as well as in Osaka are under strain.

Now Japan in total has recorded nearly 11,000 COVID-19 deaths. Now that is significantly lower than many countries around the world, but the big concern here is how sluggish Japan's vaccine rollout has been. The country has only vaccinated less than 1 percent -- fully vaccinated less than 1 percent of its population, far behind other developed countries. The country has been held back by red tape, vaccine hesitancy and general poor planning.

Despite the COVID restrictions that you've seen the Olympic organizers outline I've spoken to many experts who are fearful that the Olympics could turn into a super spreader event. And Rosemary, you even have athletes becoming increasingly concerned. Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka said she's conflicted about whether the Olympics should go ahead. Take a listen here to what she said at the Italian open.


NAOMI OSAKA, TENNIS PLAYER: I feel like if it's putting people at risk and if it's making people very uncomfortable then it definitely should be a discussion which I think it is.


WANG (on camera): Now, public opposition to the Olympic games still remains very high in Japan. And, in fact, an online petition to cancel the Olympics in just a few days has received more than 300,000 signatures. Meantime, key questions about the games also still remain. For instance, we don't know how many spectators can be in the stands although we do know that international spectators are banned. But Rosemary, despite all of this public opposition the Olympic organizers say they are confident these games will go ahead -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, we'll keep watching to see if that is indeed the case. Selina Wang joining us live from Tokyo, many thanks.

And thank you for your company. I'm Rosemary Church, "EARLY START" is up next. You're watching CNN. Have yourselves a great day.