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Police Hunt for Suspects in Florida Banquet Hall Attack; Democrats Block Texas Voting Bill with Walkout; Biden Shifts Focus to U.S. Infrastructure Plan; Osaka Out at the French Open; Israel PM's Rivals Finalizing Coalition Deal in Effort to Oust Him; China Will Allow Couples to Have Three Children; Volcanologists Warns Seismic Activity Persists in DRC. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired June 1, 2021 - 01:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: A manhunt in Miami after another mass shooting in the U.S. And the city's police chief has an ominous warning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be a long, hot, bloody summer.


HOLMES: A restrictive voting bill is being defeated in Texas, but the state's governor is vowing to not give up, and is threatening lawmakers pay.

And, the world number two is out in the French Open not from her performance on the clay but out of her own concerns about her mental health.


SERENA WILLIAMS, TENNIS PRO PLAYER: I feel for Naomi, I feel like I can give her a hug, because I know what it is like.


HOLMES: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


HOLMES: Welcome, everyone.

Police in South Florida maybe closer to cracking the murder case after this weekend's deadly shooting outside of a Miami area banquet hall. Two people were killed, at least 20 hurt, when these gunman opened fire, on a crowd, at a concert venue. The attackers, as you see, jumping out of this SUV, fleeing seconds later. Officials say they did find the vehicle, and it was in a canal. And

there is a hunt for suspects, and they warned, the summer could be much worse.

Violent crime is surging in Miami-Dade County, with this year's homicide numbers, already matching the total for all of 2020.

CNN Leyla Santiago with more.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Newly-released surveillance video shows three individual jumping out of an SUV with assault rifles and handguns, before opening fire into a crowded banquet hall near Hialeah, Florida, just after midnight Sunday.

The three get back into their car and take off less than 10 seconds later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a total of 23 people who were shot, two were deceased on scene.

SANTIAGO: All three of the shooters still at large.

DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MAYOR OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: We need your help. We need information. We need you to come forward if you have information to help us solve these crimes.

SANTIAGO: Miami-Dade Police found the SUV they say the suspects are driving Sunday morning. It was submerged in the Biscayne canal approximately 9 miles from where the shooting occurred. The vehicle was reported stolen on May 15th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruining families.

SANTIAGO: High emotions, for those left behind.

CLAYTON DILLARD JR., FATHER OF VICTIM: You all killed my kid. You must burn!

SANTIAGO: Clayton Dillard Jr. lost his son, Clayton Dillard III, in that shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the pain that affects our community right there right before you.

MARCUS LEMONIS, CEO, CAMPING WORLD: I just want to try to do my part.

SANTIAGO: Miami community leader, TV host and Camping World CEO, Marcus Lemonis, has pledged $100,000 reward for anyone with information that helps lead to the arrest of those responsible.

Separately, Crime Stoppers and the Miami ATF are offering a $30,000 reward.

LEVINE CAVA: We will bring all those responsible for these heinous crimes to justice, and we will work together to break this cycle of violence.

SANTIAGO: Miami-Dade County determined to get this cycle of gun violence in their city under control.

MORRIS COPELAND, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY CHIEF COMMUNITY SERVICES OFFICER: We're investing in our young people, particularly those that have been disinvested in and disenfranchised from the process, left behind. None of them are born with AK-47s in their hands. None of them are born killers.


SANTIAGO (on camera): An investigator tells us, a lot of the stems from an ongoing rivalry between two groups, even the back and forth on social media, playing a role here. Here at the hospital, we are still seeing family members coming, and going, just hoping that their loved ones will be okay.

In Miami, Leyla Santiago, CNN.

HOLMES: Matthew Littman is the executive director of 97 Percent Gun Reform. He joins me from now Los Angeles.

Good to see you, Matthew.

There has been a surge of gun purchases in the U.S., already awash in guns, and in almost routine but horrific shootings and deaths. Two hundred and thirty-nine mass shootings so far in 2021. The Miami police chief, predicted a long hot summer of bloodiness, given the rate of gun violence.

Do you think he's right?

MATTHEW LITTMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, 97 PERCENT: Well, Michael, this year has been terrible so far. And last year was the worst year on record. So, every year, it seems to get worse.


Now, as people are gathering again in public places, we're going to see more of these mass shootings, it's inevitable. You are saying, there is this big rise in gun sales, there are about 400 million guns awash in the United States, right? People have about 40 percent of the United States owns a gun. So, it's mostly -- not everyone has a gun, but some people have several guns, and people seem to be using these guns as a way to communicate in a way that's killing people.

HOLMES: Yeah, that's an interesting way of putting it.

Yes, no, I was reading, too, that research data shows around a fifth of all Americans who bought guns last year were first-time gun owners. And also, there was one week in spring where at least 1.2 million background checks were carried out, 1.2 million in a week. That was a record.

Why do you think this surge? LITTMAN: So, the surge has been going on for a while, and this is

about a year and a half. It even started before COVID, where we're seeing a big rise and gun sales. Now what we're seeing is a lot of first-time gun buyers are black people, or Latinos. They are leading the surge in gun purchasing, and Michael, it is crazy to say it, but it's like an arms race amongst people. It's like how we used to have the United States and Russia building new nuclear weapons.

Now, it's Bob and Michael getting new guns. And people are doing it because they feel that the United States is a very individualistic society, and people feel a need to protect themselves. So, 99.9 percent of the people, Michael, very good gun owners, very few people making a big difference when they're not.

HOLMES: It certainly does. You only need a few bad people if they're incredibly well-armed. I mean, you touched on this, and it's worth revisiting. There are 393 million civilian own guns the U.S., that's according to the Small Arms Survey, a reputable one. That's one for every man, woman, and child, or 67 million left over.

People watching around the world, often ask, what is it with Americans, and guns? Not just the guns per se, but the types, and the power of the weapons. As you pointed out, the numbers that some people own. Why is it?

LITTMAN: Well, we do have this very individualistic society, and America has the Second Amendment, which is the right to own a gun. So, people have been owning guns in the United States for quite a long time. Now, many of those guns are extremely deadly, but really, Michael, the significant issue here is that there is 42,500 deaths with a gun in 2020; 23,000 of those are suicides.

So, very often, people would use a handgun to kill themselves. If you are going to try to kill yourself with a handgun, you're going to succeed. If you try it any other way to kill yourself, you may not. So, we talked a lot, Michael, about all these big mass shootings with different types of guns, but really, suicides make up the vast majority of gun deaths in the United States.

HOLMES: That is a very good point. One thing I wanted to ask you, the vast majority of Americans, I mean, the vast majority, including gun owners, and Republicans, want at least some change in the loss, like universal background checks.

With support like that, you would think politicians would carry out the wishes of their constituents, but it is not the case. Why the lack of political will to act on things that everyone seems to want?

LITTMAN: Thank you for the chance to promote our organization, which is called 97 Percent, because that's the number in the U.S. that favored background checks, Michael. If you had a survey of people who liked pizza, it would be less than 97 percent. There is nothing that gets 97 percent of the public behind it.

Yet, as you say, we don't have universal background checks, and it's crazy. The reason why is because you have small states, that have just as equal a say as big states in the Senate. So, for example, if a senator from Alabama decides he doesn't one legislation on guns, he has just as much of a say as a senator from New York, or Massachusetts, which are much more populated. It's not based on population, in terms of the vote when it comes to legislation.

So, while almost everyone wants something, unless you get from those specific states, you're not getting it, and that's where we are today.

There's something called red flag laws. That is also over 80 percent in popularity. Universal background checks are favored by gun owners by huge majorities. It's ridiculous. It's a very basic thing, it's ridiculous that we don't have it.

HOLMES: Yeah. Meanwhile, the country almost becomes numb to mass shooting after mass shooting. It's extraordinary.

I got to leave it there. Matthew Littman, always good to see you. Thanks so much.

LITTMAN: Thank you.

HOLMES: Now, the battle lines are drawn between Democrats and Republicans in Texas over one of the most restrictive bills on voting access in the country.

Democrats blocked the measure with a dramatic walk out from the Texas House late on Sunday.



TONY TINDERHOLT, TEXAS HOUSE REPUBLICAN: Am I seeing that we don't have quorum? Essentially, it looks to me, like the Democrats have left the House floor.


HOLMES: That left Republicans without enough lawmakers to vote. Texas is part of a national push by the Republican-led state to pass laws that limit voting options.

It's all based, of course, on former President Donald Trump's lies that the 2020 election was, somehow, stolen from him. Of course, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud at all. Republican Governor Greg Abbott says he will bring the bill back in a special session at some point. Texas Democrats say they're not giving up.


CHRIS TURNER, TEXAS HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIRMAN: And Senate Bill 7 was the worst of the worst. So, we were determined to kill this bill, in any way we could. Some Republican leader in this country is going to have to say, you know, what enough is enough. This is nonsense. This is based on a lie. And maybe Governor Abbott will reach that realization here in Texas. If he doesn't, and he calls a special session to pass those special legislation, we're going to fight him in every step of the way. We're going to fight Republicans every step of the way.


HOLMES: CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, told me last hour that there is no mistake in -- mistaking the objective of the Texas bill, and that is to make it harder for people who support Democrats to vote.


RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This Texas bill, Michael, as the package suggested, really, is a gauntlet thrown down, directly in front of congressional Democrats. It is as precisely targeted as any voter suppression bill we have seen at Democratic constituencies, particularly, Harris County, the fourth largest county in the country, where Houston is. Three hundred thousand more people voted in Harris County, in 2020, than 2016.

You think that would be a cause for celebration, but instead, the Republican-controlled legislature has, directly, and specifically, band many of the innovations, 24-hour voting, drive-through voting, that the county used to expand turnout in this last election.

So, what Texas Democrats are saying is we have done all we can to try to prevent this, literally, they were saying today that now it is in your hands Congress, and the White House. I think that is an accurate assessment of the situation.


HOLMES: Ron Brownstein there.

Now, Monday was Memorial Day in the United States, and President Joe Biden paid his respects at Arlington National Cemetery with a passionate and personal speech. It came, also, with a serious warning. In the days ahead, he will shift from reflection to pushing a critical agenda forward.

CNN's Phil Mattingly explains.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Remember their sacrifice, their valor, and their grace.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For President Biden, a deeply personal day of remembrance. Memorial Day always a heavy moment for any commander and, particularly poignant for a president clinging tightly to the memory of his son.

BIDEN: I always feel Beau close to me on Memorial Day.

MATTINGLY: An Iraq War veteran who died of brain cancer six years ago.

BIDEN: Yesterday marked the anniversary of his death and it's a hard time, hard time of year for me and our family, just like it is for so many of you. And can hurt to remember, but the hurt is how we feel and how we heal.

MATTINGLY: Reflecting on true sacrifice, Biden drew attention to all of those who gave everything for their country.

BIDEN: Our freedom and a freedom of innumerable others has been secured by young men and women who answered the call of history and gave everything in the service of an idea, the idea of America.

MATTINGLY: Using it to underscore his long-held view of the stakes of this moment.

BIDEN: Democracy itself is in peril, here at home and around the world. What we do now, what we do now, how we honor the memory of the fallen will determine whether or not democracy will long endure.

MATTINGLY: And the responsibility that requires from all Americans.

BIDEN: Demonstration thrives when the infrastructure of democracy is strong.

MATTINGLY: Turning from the infrastructure of democracy to the infrastructure of the country itself in a crucial week, and a tough road ahead for Biden's investment plan.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Just a week from tomorrow, we need a clear direction.

MATTINGLY: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg setting a clear deadline with Republicans as ongoing negotiations inch forward, telling Jake Tapper --

BUTTIGIEG: The president keeps saying inaction is not an option and time is not unlimited here.

MATTINGLY: Negotiations to this point still leave two sides far apart, including on top line costs with the White House sitting at $1.7 trillion, and Republicans at $928 billion.


But only a fraction of that representing new spending.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the lead GOP negotiator, set to speak with Biden this week, expressing optimism for a potential outcome and trust in Biden's intentions.

SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-WV): I think we're building blocks towards a really good, solid infrastructure package that has bipartisan support.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MATTINGLY (on camera): And President Biden faces a careful balancing act going into this week. The reality for the White House is if they leave, those talks with Republicans too soon without a deal, moderate Democrats who made very clear their preferred pathway is for a bipartisan agreement may not join them when they need every single Democratic vote, particularly in the United States Senate.

However, if they stay in the talks too long, there's a chance the window starts to close on the rest of their sweeping economic agenda. It's trying to thread a needle here, White House officials are keenly aware of the dynamics, but also making clear, don't necessarily think there's going to be a massive agreement between Republicans and Democrats, because the bar, as one White House official told me, at this point is so low, maybe a smaller scale deal could come to fruition.

But obviously, this is a crucial week, and this is a week to Brian administration wants answers, one way or another, about these talks with Republicans.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


HOLMES: We'll take a quick break here on CNN NEWSROOM.

When we come back, a stunning withdrawal from Roland-Garros by the world's number two tennis player. Why she's taking time away from the sport in the prime of her career.

Plus, international athletes have begun to arrive in Japan for the Tokyo Games. But with the country battling a 4th COVID wave, there is a lot of questions about whether Japan is ready to play host.

We'll be right back.



HOLMES: Shocking move by tennis star, Naomi Osaka, announcing she is withdrawing from the French Open.

Now, this comes after she was fined $15,000 for skipping a news conference after her first match. Osaka had said she -- last week, that she wouldn't participate in media events, citing mental health concerns.

In a statement on Twitter, she says, in part, that the move is the best thing for the tournament, the other players, and her well-being.

Joining me now from "CNN WORLD SPORT" is our Patrick Snell.

So, Patrick, let's start with how her life changed after winning the first major, and also changed what was expected of her.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPOT: Yeah, very right, Michael, spot on.

The demands placed on her now, life-changing. There's no question about that. The victory in 2018 at the U.S. open in New York, over childhood idol, Serena Williams, first of today Grand Slam titles, life hasn't been the same for her since. Everybody seemingly wants a piece of her, almost as if she has no right to privacy.

And this is her way of making her own, powerful statement of intent. You know, that first ever career, major that in itself, had it spinning off as well, overshadowed by the Serena Williams row by the chair umpire. You know, this is a naturally quiet person, and naturally reserved person. Yet she has adapted. We've seen huge change in her, in her personality, over the last 18 months in particular.

Now, I recall her return to Tokyo 2018 after winning her first slam. It was an easy, wasn't it? It was the body language, as she walked out to a bunch of reporters there in Tokyo. She has had to grow up fast since then. She was 20 at the time.

Then, the courageous stands who seen in the fight most recently against social injustice, wearing a mask to represent the 7 victims on route to her 2nd U.S. Open title last year. A different world for her, she's a different person now. She's got a massive following on social media as well.

And this is her way of handling things right now, Michael.

HOLMES: Yeah, might it be a factor in pulling out of the French Open? That this isn't really a tournament she's done particularly well in. It kind -- it makes it easier to step back right?

SNELL: You know, giving that some thought, and so, it's a valid point, in so much that I've heard it out there. But I think there is much more to it this than that situation. There's no question, this is a tournament she struggled and relatively speaking. Her best performance to date was getting to round 3 in 2016, 2018, and two years ago as well.

She won her first round comfortably on Sunday at the start of this year's French Open. As I said, there's far more at stake at play here right now. This is Osaka, using her platform once again, potentially to very powerful effect down the line.

The big question, of course, will it lead to change? Will other players follow suit? She intimated in that statement, on Monday, that she may well have, potentially, gone about it a different way.

I just want to pick up quickly, Michael, before I hand back to you, on something that resonated to me from what she said on Monday. It's, quote: I'm going to in take some time away from the court, now but when the time is right, I really want to work with a tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press, and the fans.

So, things in play there. When is she coming back to the sport, and what's the big picture here? What is the endgame for her? What changes will she precipitate? We shall see. It's fascinating. And I applaud her courage, Michael.

HOLMES: I do too. She's having issues. She's facing up to them. She started a conversation that, perhaps, needs to be had.

Patrick, good to see you, my friend. Thanks for that, Patrick Snell.

Fifty days and counting until the start of the Tokyo Olympics, and with nine Japanese prefectures, including Tokyo, still under a state of emergency for the next three weeks, the pressure is mounting on Japan to get its COVID outbreak under control. Olympians have already begun to make their way to Japan for the upcoming games.

The Australia women softball team, the Aussie Spirit, has flown into Narita, and getting into their digs now.


They're among the first international athletes to travel to the games since the pandemic forced its delay.

Japanese media reports spectators may be required to have a negative test in order to attend the games, but at least there may be people going.

CNN's Blake Essig is in Tokyo, covering the countdown to the Olympics for us.

Let's start with this. The criticism, and calls for the games to be canceled, that it's been going on for a while. But now you got teams literally starting to arrive or dribble in. I guess that really sends a message of, we're going to do this.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Michael, again, great news for those who are hoping that these games actually do take place in summer and those voices are few and far in between here in Japan.

But other than the South Sudanese track and field team who have been here since before the pandemic began, the softballers from Australia are the first team to arrive, further sending the message that these Olympic Games will go ahead, just as the IOC, and Japanese government have been saying for months.

Now, while the team from Australia has been fully vaccinated, starting today, the vaccine rollout for Japanese athletes is now underway. And currently, there are more than two and a half percent of the Japanese population that's fully vaccinated. And only medical workers and people over the age of 65 are currently eligible to be vaccinated.

Now, the decision to vaccinate athletes ahead of people who may be higher risk is not sitting well with -- not only medical professionals but the regular Japanese public as well. I spoke with an infectious disease specialist recently who told me that holding these Olympic Games, period, is like holding a festival in the middle of a disaster. He said the vaccine shouldn't be given to host an event, instead, they should be given to save lives. Regarding those vaccines, the IOC says that 80 percent of people

inside of the Olympic Village will be vaccinated, but it doesn't include the roughly 78,000 foreign delegates, traveling to Japan for the Games, and at this, point we don't know where they will stay, and whether or not they'll be vaccinated.

But in March, Pfizer did announce that they'll be donating COVID-19 doses to Olympic participants, but so far, only 20 out of 200 countries, and territories, are expected to participate. These are places where the vaccine is already approved for use, and for others, Pfizer is working to establish a central location, where delegations can go to get vaccinated.

But, time is running out, Michael. There are only 52 days to go for the games are set to begin, and it takes five weeks for the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine before you are considered fully vaccinated.

So, it'd be very quite interesting to see how this plays out, with less than 2 months to go.

HOLMES: Yeah. You think they would have sorted out vaccines a little bit earlier.

Blake Essig in Tokyo for us, appreciate it. Good to see you.

All right. Could the Benjamin Netanyahu era in Israeli politics be about to end? He is facing a serious threat, but the fight isn't over. We'll have details, and some analysis, when we come back.

Also, China looking for a baby boom. Why the government in Beijing now says families can have up to three children.



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And a warm welcome back to our viewers joining us all around the world.

I'm Michael Holmes. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Israel's longest serving leader could be about to lose his grip on power. But analysts are warning against counting Benjamin Netanyahu out until the fight is completely over.

The political tide seemed to turn against him when fellow right- winger, Naftali Bennett, threw in with the centrist opposition. But Mr. Netanyahu says this new coalition is committing, quote, "the fraud of the century".

Hadas Gold with the latest from Jerusalem.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): As the opposition parties work to finalize their coalition deals, Israel could be seeing the final few days of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.

His replacement could be his former aide, Naftali Bennett, leader of the small right-wing party called Yamina, whose decision to join the centrist leader Yair Lapid in trying to form a new coalition government, could change the course of Israeli history.

In a speech on Monday, Lapid said that within a week, Israel could be entering a new era, with a new prime minister, promising a working government after two years of political dysfunction.

YAIR LAPID, YESH ATID PARTY LEADER (through translator): If this government is formed, the keyword will be responsibility. To take responsibility. To restore inner calm. Not to blame others. Not to look for enemies. Not to brand anyone who thinks differently than us a traitor who should be killed.

Even if Yesh Atid had 40 seats, this is the government I would form -- right, left, and center -- a unity government.

GOLD (voice over): In Israeli politics, seven days is an eternity where a lot can change. And just a few defectors could cause this coalition to crumble.

And as many political analysts here see Netanyahu as the ultimate political survivor, few are willing to write him off just yet.

(on camera): Hadas Gold, CNN -- Jerusalem.


HOLMES: Natan Sachs is the Center for Middle East policy director at the Brookings Institution. He joins me now from Washington. A good voice on this, a knowledgeable one.

Nothing is ever certain in Israeli politics, and Benjamin Netanyahu, known for his ability to manipulate, maneuver, stay in charge. What is your read of the landscape in the days ahead?

NATAN SACHS, CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST POLICY DIRECTOR, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, as you said, never count Netanyahu out. The man is a master of politics, and really has been the master of politics in Israel for many years.

But nonetheless, he seems closer than ever to being out of the prime minister's residence which would be a huge thing after 12 consecutive years.

The opposition seems to have a coalition coming together, a very unwieldy, very broad coalition with one main goal, and that is to end Benjamin Netanyahu's reign as prime minister.

HOLMES: And that's the thing, isn't it? You have this, it even sounds ridiculous to say -- you have a center, left-wing, hard right-wing coalition with Arab involvement. You know, it sounds inclusive, but will it be workable in real life? They might be united against Netanyahu, as you say, but will they agree on much else, if and when, they're governing?

SACHS: Well, they disagree on a lot. There're profound differences in ideology on almost every issue. They agree, of course, on getting Netanyahu out of office. But it's a bit more than that.


SACHS: They agree that Israel needs to come back to some kind of governing normalcy after two crazy years with four national elections, with no state budget since 2019, with no functionaries in various different positions, all on behest of Netanyahu's political own goals.

And so, they do have this goal of trying to come together and returning to governance.

And secondly, they're all taking a big risk in forming this coalition. In particular, man who might be the next prime minister, Naftali Bennett, is really losing (ph) his base to do this. That means that he has an interest to try and govern well, and stay in power in this new government.

So they'll try to freeze things, on all the issues they disagree upon, most importantly the Palestinian issue. And then they'll try to move forward on domestic issues, which are less politically contentious that might give them some dividends as a governing coalition.

HOLMES: You mentioned the Palestinians, and Naftali, well to the right of Benjamin Netanyahu especially on the issue of a two-state solution, which is a nonstarter for him. Settlements as well.

What does that mean for any potential, quote-unquote, "process" if Naftali is prime minister? I mean the Palestinians have their own political issues to deal with as well, but is that basically an issue that is just off the table for the foreseeable future?

SACHS: Any major progress on the peace process, as it used to BE called is off the table. Naftali Bennett is openly opposed to the two- state solution. He is hard right. He himself as entrenched (ph) himself that way.

He was one of the leaders of the Settler Council, that represent the settlers in the West Bank. And he is vehemently opposed to any concessions on territory.

But it's important to note, he's not governing alone. He may be the first prime minister, but there will be an alternate prime minister, and they will rotate after two years if the coalition lasts.

They will each have a veto. The alternate prime minister will be Yair Lapid from the center, who is pro two-state solution and quite different. He's not a big leftist, but he is very different from Naftali Bennett.

So where that leaves Israel, in a sense, is in an attempt to freeze that issue, to freeze the Palestinian issue, to wait while Israel deals with other things. But of course, reality doesn't always wait. Israelis may it want it to be frozen, but either reality or the Palestinians themselves may unfreeze the issue and cause a crisis in this government since there is such profound disagreement on the Palestinian issue.

HOLMES: Great analysis. I mean what do you read on, you know, the voters? I mean the people right now, and I've been talking to some people over there, even supporters of the Arab parties, they just want a functioning government. And they're not expecting huge changes either, just stability. Is that your feeling?

SACHS: Yes, more or less. We have a very deeply divided electorate in Israeli. So there is a majority for this government. There is a majority that wants a functioning government, first and foremost after two years. Certainly among the Palestinian citizens of Israel, that's 21 percent of the country.

There are many who want functioning policing. They want budgets. They want things to move forward. And of course, the profound differences between left and right remain. So there are many people who are very unhappy about this as well.

First, Netanyahu almost won these last four elections, and his supporters are, of course, extremely upset about this possibility. And especially, they feel that Bennett who comes, of course, from the hard right, is betraying the right wing by going with the opponents of Netanyahu.

So there's still a lot of division about this. Israel is really a very polarized country. But a period of normalcy, where there is at least a government that can function, that can appoint functionaries, and just pass a budget, a simple as that sounds, this would be a huge step for Israel in many respects even if some important issues -- vaccine (ph) issue, Iran issue, other things will not see any dramatic change.

HOLMES: Natan Sachs, with the Brookings Institution, terrific analysis. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.

SACHS: Thank you very much. It's my pleasure.

HOLMES: Now, China already has a population of more than 1.4 billion people. But the government says, that's not enough or young enough.

State media reports Beijing will start letting couples have up to three children. The latest census figures show a surge in the share of the population over 65. And the booming Chinese economy demands a younger workforce.

CNN's Steven Jiang joining me now from Beijing with more. Yes, a change in policy, but for a pretty important reason.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: That's right, Michael, as you said. When it comes to population, it's really not just about size but also about the structure. And as you have just mentioned, the most important segment of the population, the economists often looking at, of course, is this population segment age from late teens to 59 workforce, people who can, not only more capable of working, but also, spending. These are of course, two of the most important pillars in any major economic growth.


JIANG: And that segment for China, unfortunately, has been in decline. And the latest census result shows that that segment of the Chinese population has now dropped below 900 million and accounting for 63 percent of the total population, down 7 percentage points from just a decade earlier.

So that is really a worrisome trend. And this trend is expected to continue, by many experts, saying this Chinese workforce will peak in just a few short years, and then it's going to start to shrink. And then, shrinking by 5 percent in the next decade.

So, you know, for a long time -- for decades, this breakneck economic growth, we've been talking about China, really was due to the so- called demographic dividend. That is the abundant availability of a young, cheap workforce.

And if now that is -- if that is now fast dissipating, that obviously is a major crisis for the government. And because that could mean not only economic stagnation, but of course, could translate into social instability, or even political crisis.

Remember, the government relies on economic growth for its legitimacy. But also, they need more people not only to join the workforce, but also its military, and security forces.

So all of the reasons really prompted this latest policy announcement in terms of allowing couples to have up to three children, Michael.

HOLMES: Interesting. All right. Steven, thanks for that. Steven Jiang in Beijing, appreciate it.

Now that dangerous volcano in the Congo has not stopped rumbling yet.

Just ahead, CNN flies along with experts monitoring the risk of a second full-blown eruption. We will be right back.



HOLMES: Welcome back.

Now, the danger still has not passed in the Democratic Republic of Congo where that volcano erupted last week. Now, nearly half a million people fled to safety, as Larry Madowo reports now, they still don't know when they can return to the homes that may or may not be standing.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Where deadly lava flowed on Mount Nyiragongo, now relatively harmless a week after one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes erupted.

CNN flew around it with scientists, including a volcanologist, who has studied the mountain since 1995. They need a few more days to determine if the danger is gone.

DARIO TEDESCO, VOLCANOLOGIST: I'm not ruling out the possibility of another eruption. I'm thinking and I'm saying, that the statistically there is very few chances that this can happen.

MADOWO: Tedesco says the last eruption was impossible to predict. Nearby residents, remain on edge.

(on camera): The Congolese city of Goma is surrounded by not one, but two active volcanoes, Mt. Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira. I am in the crater of the second. Any of these could erupt at anytime, bringing death and destruction in their wake.

(voice over): The pain of the first eruption still burns. Immaculate Kavira (ph) returns to where her home used to be.

IMMACULATE KAVIRA, LOCAL RESIDENT: I don't know how I'm going to get another house. Even my entire business got burned in the house.

MADOWO: She is stranded, with six children and no income.

Immaculate registers her loss with the local official but she doesn't think she will get any help to start over.

West of Goma, this choir in (INAUDIBLE) rehearses for Sunday service as normal. But church is already full with a congregation of internally displaced people. They are among the 400,000 that fled.

Without shelter for those evacuated, they ended up wherever they were welcome, even on strangers front porch.

Agnes Milongo worries that too many people, crowded in small spaces, could make them sick.

AGNES MILONGO, LOCAL RESIDENT: We know that cholera is in this area, so it's dangerous. There are limited toilet facilities, and they're not hygienic.

And then we're also afraid that we might get COVID, because we don't even have masks.

MADOWO: A day after CNN spoke to Agnes, she went back home against government advice. Not everyone has a place to return to.

(on camera): Many of the 900 homes that were flattened by the volcanic eruption belonged to some of this community's poorest people. This was one of them. These were their neighbors. All that is left now is a mountain of lava. Their homes are made of tin, or wood, so they were particularly vulnerable. And without insurance, or government support, they might never rebuild.

(voice over): Even with a cycle of natural disasters, disease, and displacement joy and faith are never far in the DRC.

Larry Madowo, CNN -- Goma.


HOLMES: An incredible situation.

Well, Americans marking their first mask-less holiday in more than a year. Crowds making a comeback at airports across the U.S. Why the Memorial Day Weekend could signal a turning point for travelers.

That is when we come back.

And also, Greece puts vaccination efforts into overdrive, in an effort to attract tourists in the coming months. Their plan for a COVID free getaway, when we come back.



HOLMES: Welcome back.

Memorial Day Weekend marked a turning point for pandemic travel in the U.S. With more than 40 percent of Americans now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, airports saw their most holiday travelers since the outbreak began.

A CNN's Pete Muntean reports, it is a stark change from one year ago.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm here at Reagan National Airport which was a ghost town a year ago. But the Transportation Security Administration, just said it screened 1.6 million Americans in airports across the United States on Sunday.

On the same day, back in 2020, TSA screened only 350,000 people nationwide. The U.S. air travel record of the pandemic, set back on Friday when 1.96 million people flew. And now the question is whether or not Monday's numbers will reach the elusive two million passenger mark. A number we have not seen since March of 2020.

People here tell us, they are excited to get out. They feel safe about doing it. They're doing the things they haven't been able to do in more than a year -- go to the beach, go visit family.

Start of a return to normal, but one thing that is still not normal is the fact that you have to wear a mask as mandated by the federal government on all public forms of transportation -- Planes, trains, buses, boats, and also here in the terminals.

Pete Muntean, CNN -- Reagan National Airport.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: Meanwhile, Greece is quickly working to vaccinate as many people as possible before the summer tourist season gets into full swing. The goal is to have COVID free islands in an effort to make travelers feel more confident in booking those trips.

Here is CNN's Sam Kiley.


SAM KILEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Not exactly the modern temple to Aphrodite that Mykonos has a reputation for. The party island is barely waking up, two weeks after the official tourist season was declared open.

Museums are still locked up, many shops shuttered. But others are getting a makeover, while plans to create more than 80 COVID-free islands get underway.

It is the centerpiece of Operation Blue Freedom, the great plan for economic recovery driven by tourism. Before the pandemic, a fifth of the population was employed in the industry which generated 18 percent of GDP.

With U.S. visitors being Greece's biggest spenders, Athens is banking on a summer surge in American visitors. And U.S. airlines are increasing flights to Greece this year for New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Newark and Washington D.C.


KILEY: The key is an aggressive vaccination exhibition campaign to jab every island resident by the end of June so visitors can come if they've been vaccinated themselves, survived infection, or have a negative PCR test.

IRENE ASIMOMITIS, RECEIVED COVID VACCINE: It's a COVID free island. It's a COVID-free island. And we wait all the tourists to arrive in Mykonos to enjoy the beaches, to enjoy the life.

KILEY: Getting that done may rest on ending nationwide regulations, that ban music and crowds.

Iraklis Zisimopoulos is a heart doctor. He also owns several Mykonos nightclubs and hotels. His clients call in with two questions, especially from America.

IRAKLIS ZISIMOPOULOS, SEMEL HOSPITALITY GROUP: First of all, they ask if we are all vaccinated. And secondly, if they can really party in the island like they used to.

KILEY (on camera): Vaccine party.

ZISIMOPOULOS: Yes. That is the magic recipe.

KILEY (voice over): Around 18 percent of Greeks have been fully vaccinated. New COVID cases are falling, and deaths are about 40 per day.

For now though, the clubs are empty. Only cocktail shakers generate any rhythm. Potion from Circe to soften the blues.

Tourists are trickling back, and they're doing their best to enjoy a beach, without decibels of dance music. But with more than half the residents population vaccinated, all eyes are turning to Athens to unleash Dionysus and let the fun begin in July.

VANGELIS SIAFIDAS, CO-OWNER, ALEMAGOU BEACH BAR AND RESTAURANT: Not necessarily that the tourists need to feel that safe in order to come and party and feel safe, you know. because for example, last year people were ready to party. It was hard for us to enforce the rules on them.

But, I think we are all trained now, us, clientele, and the personnel, everyone, so I think that this is going to be a better summer.

KILEY: That is if a Hades (ph) of sound is your thing.

(on camera): There's a lot of talk in Mykonos about how the vibe won't get going until the loud music starts. But for the more mature traveler that can only be a relief.

Sam Kiley, CNN -- Mykonos.


HOLMES: People get all the cool assignments.

Thanks for watching, spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Holmescnn.

More CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment.