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U.S. VP Kamala Harris Leaves Blunt Message To Migrants; Mexico's President Projected To Lose Grip On Congress; Presidential Race In Peru Remains Too Close To Call; Hospital Beds Shortage For Severe Patients In Okinawa; FDA Approves Controversial Alzheimer's Drug; Amazon Founder To Become First Billionaire Space Traveler. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired June 8, 2021 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM. Hello. I'm John Vause. Ahead this hour, do not come, do not come. On her first international trip is U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris leaving a very blunt message to migrants heading north hoping to reach the United States.

Deep state, stolen votes corrupt election at the feet of the Israeli Prime Minister echoes the defeated U.S. President chapter and verse. Could that lead to an insurrection similar to the one in Washington last January? And an expert committee advised the FDA last year there was not enough evidence to show potential new Alzheimer's drug was effective. On Monday, the FDA approved it anyway.

Two Latin American countries are at a political crossroads just as Kamala Harris makes her first trip to the region as U.S. Vice President. In Peru, the counting continues in a vote-by-vote battle for the presidency, with a razor-thin margin separating the two candidates on extreme ends of the political spectrum.

And in Mexico, a poll showing by the ruling coalition in Sunday's midterm elections will likely mean president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, falling short of the super majority in parliament needed to approve changes to the Constitution. The vote was marred by months of violence.

We'll have more on that and the U.S. Vice President's visit to Mexico in just a moment, but let's start in Peru, where the presidential race remains too close to call. Stefano Pozzebon is live in Bogota, Colombia with the very latest. Stefano.

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, John. We've seen that more than 24 hours after the polling stations closed down in Lima, Peru, and across the country, it's still too tight a race to call a definitive winner, with more than 95 percent of the votes counted so far to two candidates are separated by less than half a percentage point.

We're really talking about several thousands of votes in an election that were more than 15 million votes were cast. And we have already seen that some frustration, John, is kicking in in the two camps, in the two candidates' team.

With Keiko Fujimori who is the right-wing candidate, who is currently sitting in second, but again, we're saying it's too early to say who's going to come up on top at the end of the contest. But Keiko Fujimori has started some accusations saying that the irregularities taking -- were taking place in the vote. It's still expected that the counting will take place in the next few days. We'll take time for the situation to clarify.

Meanwhile, millions of Peruvians and millions of Latin Americans look at Lima to see what's going to happen really at this country in a crossroad, John.

VAUSE: Stefano, thank you. Stefano Pozzebon there live with the very latest. Well, voters in Mexico have delivered a blow to President Obrador in midterm elections. Preliminary results show his party losing 50 parliamentary suits and losing its outright majority in the lower house, and now relying on coalition parties to hold power.

The ruling coalition also fell short of winning a super majority, which will prevent the president from passing major reforms or approving changes to the Constitution. Final results are expected next week.

We're waiting for word that the U.S. Vice President, Kamala Harris, has arrived in Mexico. There, she will meet with President Lopez Obrador in the coming hours. That follows a visit to Guatemala on Monday. And then she issued a very blunt, a very clear message to migrants looking to make a dangerous journey to the U.S. border. Do not come. CNN's Matt Rivers reports now from Mexico City.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the first leg of her first foreign trip is now over and Vice President Kamala Harris is now here in Mexico for the second leg. She will spend today talking to top Mexican officials, including Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. She spent the day on Monday in Guatemala, talking to that country's president and others about the stated reason for this trip.


Which, according to the Vice President's office, it's a fact-finding mission to try and figure out how best to fundamentally address the root causes of migration. Why so many migrants have been headed to the U.S. southern border as of late. And, of course, we know what some of those issues are. It's violence.

It's poverty. And it's also the systemic corruption that plagues governments across this region, with Vice President Harris announcing that a new taskforce will be created to try and ease some of those corruption issues that have led, in many cases, directly to so many migrants headed north.

Those are going to be the similar topics of conversation that she has here in Mexico, because it's not just migrants from El Salvador and Guatemala and Honduras going to the U.S., there are also a large number of Mexicans that have been migrating to the U.S. as of late. We heard from the Mexican President on Monday morning at a press conference.

Without giving many details, he said he does expect to sign some deals with Vice President Harris, including deals about development and migration. He didn't say much more than that. But we're certainly going to be paying very close attention to see how these meetings today here in Mexico play out. Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City,

VAUSE: Eric Farnsworth is Vice President of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society who's also a Senior Advisor to the White House Special Envoy for the Americas during the Clinton administration. Eric, thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: OK. The U.S. Vice President clearly has two very distinct messages aimed not just at Guatemala and Mexico, but we're seeing much of the region. And this is when it comes to illegal immigration. First, stay at home because there's some good news on the way. Here she is.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The power of hope, the ability that each of our governments has to give people a sense that help is on the way.


VAUSE: She went on to talk about help in the form of investment and job creation. Governments are there to listen, they can respond to people's needs. But then she also had the bad news. Here she is again.


HARRIS: I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border, do not come.


VAUSE: And again, she went on to talk about the enforcement of the border by your border officials, their border patrol officials, that sort of stuff. So does either statement carry any credibility right now within the region?

FARNSWORTH: Well, I think they both carry certain credibility, but it remains to be seen how they'll be implemented, for sure. Look, the -- I think she's also talking to a couple different audiences. The "don't come" message is clearly directed toward intending migrants in Central America.

But it's also intended for a U.S.-based audience, which may be concerned that, you know, the United States may not have its borders completely under control and so it's looking for some reassurance that the administration is sensitive to those issues. But also in terms of the positive news that help is on the way,

indeed, I think the United States and the Biden administration in particular is looking for specific ways to help build economies, particularly in Central America, that will help create jobs that will encourage people to stay home in their own countries. So it's not just a bifurcated message, but it's also intended for a couple different audiences.

VAUSE: Well, the Vice President's next talk will be Mexico City. The Mexico News Daily has an opinion piece in the form of a letter to Vice President Harris. Part of it reads this. "You have arrived in Mexico in the aftermath of the largest and possibly most critical midterm elections in Mexico's history.

Although the votes are still being counted by the Independent National Electoral Institute, whatever the outcome, dark clouds are stalking a country already at a crossroads. Post electoral conflict is looming.

Given that assessment after the weekend vote, which saw the ruling party lose its simple majority and the governing coalition fall short of a super majority in the lower house, it would seem President Obrador's political challenge is set to significantly increase. So where does that leave the vice president who wants more help for Mexico to deal with immigration?

FARNSWORTH: Well, yes, absolutely. That's a pretty dramatic message that you just read, but clearly, the timing of this visit is complicated right after the elections of Sunday. Look, the President of Mexico has a very ambitious plan to transform, as he calls it, Mexico, both socially and politically and economically.

And he's now got three years to do it. He's got less of a congressional majority. And a number of folks are breathing a sigh of relief, because they believe that that might limit his ability to make fundamental changes to change the institutionality of Mexico.

But the reality remains that there's some pretty controversial issues that remain on the table. And the President has taken steps to try to reform the judiciary and talk about the central bank. Traditionally very independent institutions in Mexico.


And this is -- has caused some worry among some observers, so one would assume that the Vice President, behind closed doors, will be talking to President Lopez Obrador about some of these issues and encouraging a very open and transparent path for Mexico.

VAUSE: The official death toll from COVID-19 was recently raised significantly upwards in Mexico. The election was seen partially as somewhat of a referendum on the government's response, which has been fairly widely criticized. It was a similar situation in Peru, the official COVID death toll recently more than doubled, now has the highest fatality rate in the world, also had a presidential election over the weekend, too close to call. Here's the far left candidate who has pulled ahead slightly in the official count. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We mobilize, we participate openly, without fear, without hatred, without Words. I believe that in Peru, there are no more undecided people, no more inclinations. Above all, there is Peru. Long live Peru, long live democracy.


VAUSE: It would seem he's right in one sense that this is a country where there are no undecideds anymore, that this is very deeply divided country.

FARNSWORTH: It's terribly divided. It's almost divided 50/50 straight down the middle. And it's not just in terms of support this one candidate or the other, but it's also geographically divided. It's divided on class, it's divided on race. Peru has always had these sorts of social cleavages, but this election has really brought them to the fore. And neither candidate is the perfect candidate, one is from the far left, one is from a scion of a failed previous president who's now in jail for human rights abuses.

So neither candidate is probably the first choice of a lot of people and they're just trying to pick the better bad choice in their estimation. But the reality is, whoever is declared the winner in Peru is going to have a real challenge in front of him or her, a Congress where they don't control the direction that's very divided population, as we've just talked about, that's clearly not supportive, at least 50 percent.

And some really big problems that Peru has to address coming out of COVID, an economy that has to recover, and some real challenges in terms of social development. So this is a country that's going to probably go through a continued rough patch for a bit of time.

VAUSE: Eric Farnsworth, we covered a lot of territory in a very short amount of time. Thank you very much for being with us. We appreciate it.

FARNSWORTH: Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: Well, Benjamin Netanyahu's hopes of remaining Israel's Prime Minister have been kept alive for a few more days, the Speaker of the Knesset. On Monday year, Yariv Lavin made the formal announcement that the centrist leader, Yair Lapid, formed a coalition government, but he did not set a date for a confidence vote.

By law, it must be held by next Monday. The coalition between Lapid and right-wing leader, Naftali Bennett, includes eight parties from across the political spectrum. There's a racist slim majority of just one in Parliament. And now Netanyahu has a few more days, it seems, to convince at least one elected member of the coalition to defect. Here's more now from CNN's Oren Liebermann.


the balance of power in Israel, one pressuring a member of Knesset to scuttle the coalition set to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, another urging him to support the government and unity. Monday evening, the Speaker of the Knesset, A Netanyahu ally, announced the new coalition, but refused to set a date for its swearing in.


YOHANAN PLESNER, PRESIDENT, ISRAEL DEMOCRACY INSTITUTE: This is something that is in contradiction to Israeli tradition, that once the government is ready to be sworn in, it is done as soon as possible. And I hope that we will return to those democratic traditions.


LIEBERMANN: On Sunday. Naftali Bennett, the man set to be Israel's next leader, called for an orderly transition of power, asking Netanyahu not to leave scorched earth behind him. "This is not a catastrophe. This is not a disaster. It is a change of government, an ordinary unusual event in any democratic country. The system in the State of Israel is not a monarchy. No one has a monopoly on power."

But Netanyahu is not going quietly, promising to topple this government quickly, in language that echoes former President Donald Trump.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We're witnessing the biggest election fraud in the history of the country. That is why people feel cheated, and rightly so.


LIEBERMANN: The head of the country's Internal Security Agency warned over the weekend of incitement that could lead to violence. Just one day later, a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, comparing the mission of Bennett and one of his partners to suicide bombers.


MAY GOLAN (through translator): there is a world of difference, but they're like terrorists who no longer believe in anything who go out on their suicide mission. And even if they know that it's a death sentence, it doesn't matter to them.


LIEBERMANN: Given the charged political environment, police have denied permission for the provocative Flag March to go through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem this week. Nevertheless, some right-wing members of Knesset, including the woman who made those comments comparing leaders of the prospective new government to terrorists, have vowed to do it anyway this Thursday. [00:15:06]

In Petah Tikva, Oren Liebermann, CNN.


VAUSE: Dov Waxman is a Professor and Chair of Israel Studies at UCLA and it's great to have you with us this hour, Don. So thank you for the time.


VAUSE: OK. Well, from the leaders of the would-be coalition government again on Monday an appeal for calm, directed at Netanyahu's supporters. Listen to this.


YAIR LAPID, YESH ATID PARTY LEADER: (through translator): I would like to send a message to Benjamin Netanyahu's supporters, I know that the establishment of the unity government is a big crisis for you, but you will learn that this government is not formed against you. It will work for you. It will respect you. It is yours, too.


VAUSE: While at the same time Benjamin Netanyahu is following the Trump post-election strategy, right down to using the same words, it seems. The Israeli Times has this translation from Hebrew part of a television interview by Netanyahu. He said the deep state is deep within this government. Bennett, as in Naftali Bennett, is holding a fire sale on the country. Netanyahu claimed that the coalition was coming together only because votes had been stolen from writing given to the left.

In the United States, that's that sort of talk from a defeated president led to the January 6 insurrection in Washington, will the same words from a defeated Israeli Prime Minister have a similar outcome?

WAXMAN: Well, I think there is a real risk of that. And I don't think it can be understated that this kind of rhetoric is something that can encourage some people to take actions into their own hands and to carry out violent attacks either against some of these lawmakers, or even against the Knesset itself against the Israeli Parliament itself. So there is a real risk of this.

And I think we've learned already in the United States that when a politician, and particularly a national leader engages in this kind of rhetoric, what really winds up and excites and angers their followers, that some of them, some of the cringes perhaps, can take matters into their own hands, and that these can lead to very serious threats. So, I think we shouldn't be complacent. I think that the next week before this government is sworn in is a very dangerous week for Israel. VAUSE: So with that in mind, in just the past 24 hours, an opinion piece in the newspaper, Haaretz warned, "Netanyahu is leading and incitement that could end in murder, again." That's a reference to the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. The online edition of Yedioth Ahronot, a major Israeli paper, is also warning, Netanyahu is dragging the whole country into the fire.

And here's part of an opinion piece, which was in the Washington Post. "The violence we saw between Jew and Arab in May could pale next to what we see between Jew and Jew. The grenade that killed a Peace Now protester in 1983 and the bullets fired at Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 could return for a joint concert. At the end of which, the stage itself burst into flames." How does this not end in some kind of violent confrontation?

WAXMAN: Well, part of it might depend upon Netanyahu realizing that his words are really leading to these kinds of threats, death threats that have been made against some of these right-wing lawmakers who are entering this coalition.

And maybe perhaps there'll be -- he will decide to kind of tone down the rhetoric a little bit. A lot of it is going to depend upon what Netanyahu decides to do. If he decides to keep up with this, if he decides to rile his supporters up even further than I fear, there really are real risks.

One thing at least is that this time, unlike before Rabin's assassination in 1995, this time, the Security Services are really taking these threats very seriously. They're issuing protective security details to these lawmakers. And I think there was an awareness, at least, about the dangers of this kind of rhetoric. But it's very worrying.

And it's not just coming from Netanyahu, and it's not just coming from his own supporters, but also from religious Zionist -- leading religious Zionist rabbis, who have also been warning about this government and that could encourage some of their supporters, some of their followers to believe that they, in order to follow God's wishes, if you like, need to do what they believe is necessary to stop this government. So there's a risk of --


WAXMAN: -- somebody deciding to act upon these kind of --

VAUSE: If you read the biographies written about Netanyahu over the years, and even the more recent ones, they speak of Netanyahu in almost a sort of Messianic like view of, you know, Israel's fate is linked directly to his fate. And what is good for Benjamin Netanyahu is good for the State of Israel.

So given that sort of mindset, what are the chances that Netanyahu will actually decide that it is time to try and cool things off or whether he believes that this is good for him, and it's good for Israel? WAXMAN: Well, I think that's true. I think everything as you suggested, he does believe that his fate and the fate of Israel is linked, and not only the fate of Israel and his, but the fate of the entire Jewish people he associates with his own leadership of Israel. And then on top of that, of course, he's also not just fighting for his political future, but also for his personal freedom.


For him, if this government is formed, his chances of getting parliamentary immunity from the corruption cases he faces basically disappear. So he has a lot riding on this not only his own political freedom, but his own personal freedom as well. And in his mind, the future of the State of Israel.

VAUSE: Very quickly, Dov. We're almost out of time here. But the Speaker of the Knesset announced that there was a coalition government but did not set a date for the swearing in, has to be done by next Monday. How unusual is that? Because that may be within the law, but it's not within the traditions and norms, as far as many understand it, that there is only a vote held as soon as possible.

WAXMAN: Yes, that is the democratic norm. It's the established procedure. It's not written down. And, again, this is just one more challenging of democratic norms by Netanyahu and his allies in the Likud Party. I think underscores a large part of the reason why this coalition came into being among these very unlikely parties, because they believe it's not just about getting rid of Netanyahu, but about ultimately safeguarding the future of Israeli democracy.

VAUSE: Dov Waxman, we really appreciate you being with us, your insights, as well. Thank you so much, sir.

WAXMAN: Thank you for having me.

VAUSE: Pleasure. Well, still to come, they stayed safe during the pandemic, enforcing lockdowns and other strict measures. But now, as it all begins to reopen, the so-called zero COVID countries are facing a new dilemma. We'll explain when we come back.


VAUSE: COVID trouble for Japan just six weeks before the Olympics, Okinawa, one of almost a dozen prefectures under a state of emergency, is running out of hospital beds for severely ill patients, this comes just days after a Japanese Olympic Committee member and a medalist itself said the upcoming games had already lost meaning.

CNN's Blake Essig joins us now live from Tokyo. And this issue about the number of hospital beds and the ability to cope with so many people who need treatment is really at the core of a lot of concerns here when it comes to holding the Tokyo games in the first place. So what's the latest there from Okinawa? And what are the officials saying about this?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, it's the main reason that these games have remained deeply unpopular for months. It's the concern of the strain on the medical system, and just the case count in general that even though there has been a state of emergency in place for -- since the end of April, the latest state of emergency, the case count just hasn't been going down fast enough.

Now, these Olympic Games are set to begin in 45 days and Japan is still struggling with a fourth wave of infection, although the COVID- 19 case count across the country has been going down for a few weeks.

The number of patients in critical condition remains high specifically in Okinawa. Yesterday, Okinawa officials reported that ICU hospital bed occupancy rate was at 135 percent. Japan's southern island only has about 65 ICU beds. Meaning nearly two dozen people are being treated without the necessary life-saving medical equipment to help with -- to help treat them.


Now this medical system is already stretched thin but Okinawa officials say that they have secured 100 doctors and nurses from the mainland. They are expected to start arriving immediately to help, as I said, that already stretched thin medical system. Now on the vaccine front, still only about three and a half percent of Japan's entire population has been fully vaccinated.

Roughly 10 percent have received one dose. Japanese athletes competing in the Olympics started being vaccinated last week, although vaccines aren't a requirement to compete. Japan Olympic officials say 95 percent of its athletes will be vaccinated.

As far as the general public is concerned, only medical workers and people over the age of 65 are currently eligible to be vaccinated. And despite the painfully slow rollout to this point, Japan is now doubling down on its efforts to speed up inoculations. In an effort to reduce the burden on local governments later this month, vaccinations will start being offered at select workplaces and universities.

The private sector is also getting involved, big companies like Toyota, SoftBank, and Rakuten are working with local governments and in some cases, offering venues to help achieve effective mass vaccinations in a short time. But, John, for now Tokyo and Okinawa, as well as the other prefectures here in Japan were made under a state of emergency until June 20th.

VAUSE: Blake, thank you. Blake Essig's there in Tokyo with the very latest. Appreciate it. Well, they're among the COVID success stories, countries like Hong Kong and Australia, managing to keep those COVID numbers low, mostly with tight restrictions. But as CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports, vaccinations are the only way to really control this pandemic and the variants that come with it. And that's where there are now growing concerns.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: White picket fences in zero COVID haven, welcome to The Lawn Club, a socially distanced garden party in the heart of Hong Kong's central district, a getaway for those who can't get away. This is definitely refreshing with, you know, COVID and that we can't travel.

Hong Kong is one of many economies across the region that has managed to keep COVID-19 largely at bay. The city, along with Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and others has suffered lower death rates during the pandemic by taking strict measures to eliminate the virus.

Lockdowns, mask mandates, tightened borders, and strict quarantine policies require arrivals to spend weeks in total confinement. Gabriel Leung is one of the region's top disease experts.


GABRIEL LEUNG, DEAN OF MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: I don't think it's viable if you still rely on a lot of Public health and Social measures, including border restrictions, including lockdowns, those are fine, but you cannot do it on a permanent basis.


STOUT: The zero COVID strategy has kept death rates and infection rates low, but Asia's pandemic success stories are facing a new challenge rejoining the rest of the world. Australia has announced borders will remain closed until the middle of 2022.


SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: The reality is we're living this year in a pandemic that's worse than last year.



STOUT: Is zero COVID and keeping the borders sealed a sustainable strategy for Australia?

CATHERIN BENNETT, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, DEAKIN UNIVERSITY: Well, it's not. So not only is it not a full seal because we still have to have freight, we still have people returning home. We're also quite slow in getting to vaccination, so it's actually potentially making us more vulnerable.


STOUT: Experts say the only viable long-term strategy is vaccination. But pandemic success has contributed to hesitancy in the region as zero-COVID haven could only keep the virus away for so long, especially with new variants. Case in point, Taiwan where the virus has slipped in to the airport and sparked a surge in local cases.


LEUNG: We could be facing a worst pandemic in this part of the world that has never really been exposed to the virus on a large scale yet. The Northern Hemisphere summer is a critical, critical period to get everybody vaccinated in order to prepare us for the autumn winter months, which we know is going to give a seasonal kick to the virus. All of these newer variants, which are now predominating where they are spreading and they will come in to our part of the world sooner or later.


STOUT: To pick up the vaccination paste in Hong Kong, the private sector has stepped in with property tycoons holding a lottery offering a brand new $1.4 million apartment for the inoculated with the winning tickets. Asia's walled gardens have managed to avoid mass deaths from COVID-19, but without high vaccination coverage, you can't keep the virus out even if you stay sealed in forever. Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


VAUSE: Well, still to come here, the first drug approved in 20 years to treat Alzheimer's is also coming with a lot of skepticism that it may not deliver. What's promised.


VAUSE: Nearly four times the drugs, almost $45 million in cash, part of a haul made by the Australian federal police in what they call a massive crime bust.


The Australians, who are working with the FBI to decrypt communication between criminal gangs, including plans for mass drug trafficking, gun distribution, plots to kill, all leaning back to the Italian mafia, Asian crime syndicates, and Albanian organized crime. More than 100 arrests have been made.


REECE KERSHAW, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE COMMISSIONER: The ANP's operation on-site, has allowed the A.P. to inflict maximum damage to serious organized crime. With devastating consequences to those who seek to do harm to Australians and Australia's interests.


VAUSE: Australian police expect more arrests, both at home and abroad, more in the story next hour here on CNN.

Well, they say crime does not pay, and that seems to be the case in the United States, at least this time. U.S. officials have recovered millions in cryptocurrency paid s ransom to the hackers, who shot down a key oil pipeline last month.

It turns out the fuel company Colonial Pipeline was working with the FBI all along. Investigators were able to track the payment to a digital wallet used by a criminal hacking group known as DarkSide believed to be working from Russia.

The U.S. Justice Department says more than $2 million in bitcoin was seized, the first ransom seizure made by the department's recently- created digital extortion task force. U.S. regulators have released an experimental new drug to treat early stages of Alzheimer's, the debilitating irreversible brain disease affecting more than six million Americans, at least 30 million people worldwide.

But the drug's approval is controversial. CNN's Brian Todd explains.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It kills more Americans a year, by far, than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Now, a new drug to treat the early stages of Alzheimer's disease is being touted as a great hope by some experts, and is met with skepticism by others. It's called Aducanumab. It will also go by the brand name Aduhelm. It's the first new medication approved for Alzheimer's in almost two decades.

DR. RICHARD ISAACSON, ALZHEIMER'S PREVENTION CLINIC, WEILL CORNELL: The drug is an infusion. It's not a pill. The drug has to be infused in the vein. They go on once a month and take the treatment. And the goal of the drug is to slow down disease progression.

Does it help with memory function? Maybe? But does it cure the disease? No. The goal of this drug is to slow progression towards dementia.

TODD: Alzheimer's expert Dr. Richard Isaacson stresses that, for people who already have moderate or severe Alzheimer's or dementia, this new drug may not work.

The FDA approved aducanumab under its accelerated approval program, which allows some drugs for serious life-threatening illnesses to be used, even if more research is needed. The approval was controversial, because some in the medical community believe there wasn't enough evidence that aducanumab really works.


As for the side effects --

ISAACSON: The biggest risks of this drug is problems with swelling in the brain or even some small bleeding in the brain. One reassuring aspect is that when used carefully and when used with surveillance MRIs, brain scans to make sure that the side effects aren't happening, most people that do develop the side effects actually end up being OK.

TODD (on camera): While this new drug will be available to patients soon, it's not a done deal that it will be available on a long-term basis. The FDA approved this on the grounds that the manufacturer, BioGen, conduct a new trial. If that new trial fails to show that the drug is effective, the FDA could pull it off the market.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: We have new information about a deadly train accident in southern Pakistan on Monday. Rescue services say at least 45 people were killed when an express train crashed into another train, which had derailed just moments earlier.

Carriages on that derailed train were still on the track, the express train traveling in the opposite direction. Prime Minister Imran Khan promised a comprehensive investigation.

We will take a short break. When we come back, the billionaire race to space. Jeff Bezos says he's heading into space next month with his brother. But there's an extra seat there, so it could be yours, if you have the money. Stay with us.


VAUSE: Former U.S. President Barack Obama says he's worried about the state of American democracy, blaming Republicans who he says are being cowed into accepting positions that once would have been unthinkable. Notably like believing the big lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Barack Obama said he never thought some of the dark spirits that began rising within the Republican Party during his tenure would reach into its very core.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we have to worry when one of our major political parties is willing to embrace, a way of thinking about our democracy that would be unrecognizable, unacceptable even five years ago or a decade ago.

When you look at some of the laws that are being passed at the state legislative level. And when that's all done against the back drop of large numbers of Republicans, having been convinced, wrongly, that there was something fishy about the last election, we've got a problem.


VAUSE: Anderson Cooper and Barack Obama talk about fatherhood, leadership and legacy. And you can watch the full one-on-one interview just over an hour from now at 2 p.m. in Hong Kong, at 7 a.m. in London, 10 a.m. in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.


Well, he's already the richest man on earth, and now Jeff Bezos is set to be the first billionaire in space. The founder of Amazon announced Monday he'll be the first human passenger on board his own ship, the New Shepard. So how about that, Elon Musk and Richard Branson?

The brothers Bezos will make this trip together, which means a spare seat for passenger No. 3 is up for grabs. An online auction has bids right now north of $3 million. CNN's Rachel Crane has details.


RACHEL CRANE, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Jeff Bezos has long said he has dreamed of going to space since he was 5 years old, which is one of the reasons he founded his aerospace company, more than 20 years ago.

The company has been working under space tourism vehicle, the New Shepard, which is named after Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space back in 1961.

They've been working on this vehicle for more than six years. Now, this flight is a suborbital flight, meaning the Bezos brothers won't reach escape velocity or orbit the earth like SpaceX's Crew Dragon launches we've recently seen.

But rather, these New Shepard flights go just above the boundary of space. The flights take off vertically from Blue Origin's facility in West Texas in a fully autonomous spacecraft, meaning there will be no pilots on board.

Passengers will be blasted up to three times the speed of sound before the booster detaches and lands at a nearby concrete landing pad. While the passengers go on to reach an apogee of just over 16 miles above the earth, earning them their astronaut wings.

Now, after experiencing a few incredible minutes of weightlessness, the dome-shaped spacecraft will -- will bring passengers back to earth in a parachute landing.

And the whole journey only lasts about 11 minutes, and the company has had 15 consecutive space launches. However, none of them have been manned. So, putting a Bezos, putting his bum in that spacecraft before any other humans have, I mean, it is the ultimate sign of confidence in his team and the system that they have built.

The launch is scheduled for July 20, which happens to be the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, as well as just two weeks after Jeff Bezos steps down from his post as Amazon's CEO.

Now apparently, Blue origin has no ticket sales that are open to the public. nor have they released information regarding pricing. But they've done something really interesting here. They've launched an online option. So that means that a mystery passenger will be on board, with both Mark Bezos and Jeff Bezos, on this historical first spaceflight.

The proceeds of that option will be going towards Blue Origins Foundation Club for the Future.

Back to you.


VAUSE: Rachel Crane, thank you. And thank you for watching this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. WORLD SPORT starts after the break. You're watching CNN.