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Biden Meets With A.G., Local Leaders On Reducing Gun Violence; London Metropolitan Police Investigate Several England Players Racially Abused After Euro 2020 Loss; Space Tourism Raises Climate Questions; FDA Investigates Possibility J&J Vaccine Raises Risk Of Rare Autoimmune Syndrome. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 12, 2021 - 14:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: President Biden is meeting right now with Attorney General Merrick Garland and local leaders to discuss a plan to reduce crime and gun violence.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We recognize that we have to come together to fulfill the first responsibility of a democracy. That's keep each other safe.

That's what the American people are looking for when it comes to reducing violent crime and gun violence. And I think this group is illustrative of what we need to get -- put together.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Gun violence is surging across the United States. Listen to this. This weekend alone, more than 360 shootings were reported in the U.S. And 125 people were shot and killed.

The gun violence epidemic is creating a huge problem for police departments and city leaders.

CNN chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, is with us now.

This meeting is going on. The president says he has a plan to deal with the growing crisis of gun violence. What do you know about it?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, really, what he talked about there at the beginning of this meeting as they convened these officials here at the White House was the way that the federal government, they believe, can help these local communities try to address it themselves, and the levers that they can pull when it comes to that.

And it is acknowledgment that, of course, the numbers that you just cited, that this is an issue.

And so what President Biden is talking about in the room with those officials today is how they can help them take these steps.

And there are measures that you have heard them talk about repeatedly here at the White House. Nothing really new coming out today when you hear from President Biden and from his top aides on what they're trying to achieve out of this.

Things like they've pushed encouraging these local jurisdictions to use coronavirus relief funds to staff up police departments, pay police officers overtime, things like that.

But when it comes to what they can actually do on a bigger federal level, it seems pretty limited, given, of course, we've seen on Capitol Hill the president's calls for gun control legislation have gone unheeded.

There's very little appetite for any kind of bipartisan gun control bill that would come out of any of these discussions that we've seen happen on Capitol Hill.

So they're taking these steps by saying, look, we are talking about this, at least, we are convening these people here at the White House.

It is really notable that Eric Adams, the Democratic mayoral candidate, is someone who was invited by the White House to this meeting.

Not just because, of course, he is in New York and is a former police chief, but because he is a very tough-on-crime Democrat who has pushed back on those progressive calls to defund the police.

Saying that is not the route that we should be taking to combat things like this gun violence that we have seen, and citing those numbers that you just did there, Victor.

And it's also an acknowledgment from the White House that that could politically be an issue for them as Republicans try to portray Biden as soft on crime.


They are trying to use meetings like this one today to push back, even though the actual idea of any federal major significant effort like legislation here seems really unlikely at this point.

CAMEROTA: Kaitlan Collins, thank you.

So, as Kaitlyn mentioned, the winner of the New York City Democratic mayoral primary, retired NYPD Captain Eric Adams, is at the meeting right now. And he's going to join us in the next hour to discuss his solution to the rising crime, and much, much more.

BLACKWELL: Racist abuse aimed at three black soccer players is under investigation after England lost to Italy in a game watched by fans around the world. We'll tell you more about that.


BLACKWELL: London Metropolitan Police is now investigating what they describe as unacceptable racist abuse of three members of England's football team on social media.

Three black players are being attacked for missing penalty kicks in the final game with Italy, and the abuse expands beyond online.

CAMEROTA: Yes, a mural of Marcus Rashford was vandalized after the game. Fans, though, as you can see, are now covering the damage with hearts and messages calling him a hero.

There's widespread condemnation of the racist attacks, including from Prince William, who says he is, quote, "sickened by it."

BLACKWELL: CNN "World Sport" contributor, Darren Lewis, is with us now live from London.

Darren, thank you for being with us.

Unfortunately, the sport is not new or this racial abuse is not new to the sport. But what now is the association doing about it?

DARREN LEWIS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there isn't much they can do, Victor.

I wish I could tell you about the raft of measures that they're trying to bring in place to see -- to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

But the truth is that it's the responsibility of the social media companies. And there simply doesn't appear to be a will with the social media companies to address the issue.

Football people here in England and even in the wider society have been calling on social media companies to do far more for a sustained period of time, and the help simply hasn't come.

The abuse that the players had yesterday, I would suggest, is a symptom of something much bigger in this country here in the U.K.

I saw Nick Robertson's report about the post-Brexit tensions. There have been tensions in this country ever since Brexit.

There have been divisions in this country ever since the election of a prime minister who has used racially offensive language.

We are a divided nation. Even the response to the mural that was defaced, featuring Marcus Rashford, kind of sums up the division in this country.

Some people find it acceptable to use racially offensive language towards black men. But other people say, no, we're not going to accept it, we're going to push back against it, we're going to show our support and our love.

We are a divided country. This is not about football.

CAMEROTA: And, Darren, we can relate in the U.S. We know those same tensions are happening here.

But I think that you make a great point. It's multifaceted, particularly the social media aspect of it.

People can say all sorts of hideous, racist stuff anonymously --


CAMEROTA: -- under the cover, the veneer of social media, that they would never say to someone's face.

And so, I don't know how police are supposed to police that, though the Metropolitan Police say they'll try.

But to your point, social media companies need to figure that out.

LEWIS: They do, indeed. And they have had a lot of time to do it but they keep coming up with the same responses. We have removed 1,000 pieces of hate speech. That's not good enough.

If you can remove the president of the United States from social media, you can remove racist abuse.

If you can stop COVID misinformation appearing on social media, you can deal with abuse directed at men and women on the basis of the color of their skin.

We should not be having this conversation, guys, in 2021. It's ridiculous. Your viewers must think it's ridiculous.

But it is a sad reality, because, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have seen division. And we have seen that division stoked by people in leadership. That's why we are where we are.

And that, unfortunately, is why so many people on both sides of the Atlantic, I would suggest, feel empowered to say the kind of thing that black -- young, black men in this country are facing right now.

CAMEROTA: Yes, Darren Lewis, thank you for the reporting on that.

It's just sickening. And I think that obviously, it helps every time, you know, a Prince William or Prince Harry, from here, or some sort of big figure speaks out. But it doesn't seem to be quelling the problem.

BLACKWELL: No, no, I don't think it is quelling the problem. But I think you made a good point that we know on this side of the Atlantic exactly what that is.

And Darren's point, that there's an overlap between what we're seeing in football and what we're seeing politically there, and the Brexit, that there's a strain that continues from one to another.

And it's so interesting how deep voices are online when you won't show your face, that they won't say that in-person.

CAMEROTA: For sure.

BLACKWELL: There's a lot of bass in voices online.

CAMEROTA: All right, meanwhile, billionaire, Richard Branson, beat billionaire, Jeff Bezos, in the race to space. What does that mean for the rest of us? And for planet earth? If space is now open for business, how does that affect the climate crisis we're all experiencing?


BLACKWELL: But there's also this new original series here on CNN that takes you back 3,000 years that we want you to know about, through six epic battles for the most coveted city in the world. It's a conflict that has been centuries in the making.

"JERUSALEM: CITY OF FAITH AND FURY" premieres Sunday night at 10:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.


CAMEROTA: So, it is fun to watch billionaires try to beat each other into space, but at what cost to the rest of us?

On Sunday, Richard Branson, of Virgin Galactic, traveled to the edge of space. He seemed to enjoy it a lot.


Fellow billionaire, Jeff Bezos, will launch his own space flight next week.

BLACKWELL: But this billionaire race to space suggests that we should ask this important question.

With all the troubles on earth right now, from a pandemic to the wildfires, all we're seeing the results of impact of climate, what's the value of spending so much money and fossil fuel to put rich people into space? Good question.

Let's now go to science and nature writer, Shannon Stirone.

Am I announcing that correctly?



STIRONE: But you're close.

BLACKWELL: Stirone. I want to get it right.

Shannon Stirone, thanks for being here.

Her article, "Space Billionaires, Please Read the Room," recently appeared in "The Atlantic."

First, I love the title.

Second, you're not excited about this space race. Why not?

STIRONE: I'm excited for the implications it could have for suburbanal science but it's an ego race between two rich guys. It's being marketed through the veil that it will help humanity when it's really not.

CAMEROTA: Is it having a big environmental cost to the rest of us? Aren't they promising carbon offsets and promising to do the right thing for the environment, or are they just kidding all of us?

STIRONE: I think, while they have both donated significantly to climate change, I think, to the contrary, they're actions on earth have shown they care too much about the climate crisis.

I think doing this space race between the global pandemic and the climate crisis shows how much they really care, which is they don't.

BLACKWELL: The impact on the climate is an important element here. Jeff Bezos has pledged $10 billion on climate efforts. You're right, it's not really clear what that money will go to.

I also want you to listen to what Richard Branson said after returning this weekend.


RICHARD BRANSON, CEO & FOUNDER, VIRGIN GALACTIC: I mean, I will now spend, and I promise, I will now spend the next -- I'm an optimistic -- the next 30 years of my life, you know, doing everything I can to protect the species on this beautiful earth.

To, you know, work on climate change issues, to work on trying to stop the degradation of our rain forests.

Just all the things that are going the wrong way, just to do everything we can to make them go the right way.


BLACKWELL: We have to forgive him a bit. He's a bit jittery. He just came back --

CAMEROTA: From space.

BLACKWELL: -- from the edge of space.

But what's that work for you? What do you think about what you heard there?

STIRONE: I want to believe him. I think that's part of the benefit, or if not the biggest benefit of sending him into space.

Particularly these flights is giving them the perspective of how fragile and previous this earth is.

And if they can come back and be excited to want to change things, that's the best thing we can hope for.

I hope that he backs up his words with actions.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we do, too. Because he had what is called the overview effect, which is when, apparently -- you know, astronauts have had it also.

When you get that new perspective on the earth, sometimes you see that we are all in it together. And some have reported that they do see how delicate our planet is from space. And they do come back changed.

And so I want to believe Richard Branson, too, because he has the money to be able to help in all sorts of ways.

But 2021 feels a little late to be awakened to this.

STIRONE: It does feel a little bit late. It's not too late. We should make that clear that we still have time to make meaningful change in a climate crisis. They have enough money to really help us.

But you're right that it takes 0- he's in his 70s - until going into space to see the value of helping humankind.

You know, it's not too late. But it definitely makes me question the follow through. The same with Jeff Bezos.

CAMEROTA: I'm sure Richard Branson has done some philanthropic things.

BLACKWELL: Yes, he has.

CAMEROTA: I hope. I haven't done a deep dive into all of the things he's done. So I'm sure he does try to help humankind.


CAMEROTA: But I don't want us all to have to go to space to realize the delicacy of earth.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Because we ain't going to make it there.


BLACKWELL: I mean, we can't afford there to be inspired, to care.

Shannon Stirone, thank you so much for being with us.

Again, I love it. "Billionaires, Read the Room."

STIRONE: Thank you.


CAMEROTA: OK, we have breaking news just in about he Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the risk of a rare immune disorder. We'll tell the latest from the CDC, next.


BLACKWELL: Top of the hour now. Good to be with you. I'm Victor Blackwell.

CAMEROTA: I'm Alisyn Camerota.

We begin with breaking news on one of the COVID vaccines. CNN has confirmed that the FDA is investigating the possibility that the one- dose Johnson & Johnson shot raises the risk of a rare autoimmune disease.

CNN senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, joins us now.

What have you learned?


DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, we have gotten a statement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC and FDA take in reports when something doesn't go quite right after vaccination.

And sometimes those reports mean nothing.