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Puerto Rico Devastation; Trump's Cabinet and Private Planes; Independence Vote Complicates War on ISIS. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 29, 2017 - 00:00   ET


[00:00:11] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour --

Distribution breakdown -- thousands of containers with desperately needed supplies left sitting for days while millions across Puerto Rico face a growing humanitarian crisis.

The leadership (ph) effect: Trump's cabinet and private planes flying high on the taxpayers' dime. But there could be political turbulence ahead.

Also this hour, players link arms for Thursday night football but no one takes a knee as the national anthem controversy continues.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

So close yet so far. Much of what Puerto Ricans need right now to recover from Hurricane Maria -- food, water, fuel, medicine, construction material is in country right on their doorstep but going nowhere. At the port of San Juan, nine days after the storm much of that aid isn't being moved because of a shortage of truck drivers as well as fuel.


JOSE AYALA, CROWLEY PUERTO RICO SERVICES: Right now, right now there's a person in need of medicine. That right now babies children don't have a bottle of water. And it's here. It's in Puerto Rico.


VAUSE: Even for trucks which make it out of the port, roads clogged with debris making it difficult or simply impossible to navigate. Many bridges have been washed out by floods.

Progress though is being made. U.S. emergency officials say some food, water and other aid is reaching the hardest hit areas. In some cases airlifted in because of blocked roads. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been tasked with rebuilding the island's power grid. The next priority is to get fuel to gas stations. Forty-four of Puerto Rico's 69 hospitals are now operational after receiving fuel for emergency generators and the fuel distribution system is now up and running.

The power is also back on at the San Juan International Airport, that means air conditioning as well as electricity for other vital operations.

And coming Friday acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke is expected to travel to Puerto Rico. U.S. President Donald Trump will visit next week.

Well, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says as conditions gradually improve so the will deliveries of vital supplies to those hard hit areas.

But right now, Puerto Rico's battered infrastructure makes reaching those areas especially difficult.


BROCK LONG, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: We can only shove so much through the airports that were not operational. There were -- you can only shove so much through the shipping ports that were not operational.

Once we get to it the islands we've established regional distribution sites. We're also doing airlifts to the remote locations.

The roadway system is gone in many places. So it's not just possible to pick up the supplies and move it forward. That last mile is a coordinated sequence process to be able to get it to the points of distribution.


VAUSE: Well, despite all the bureaucratic statements this community continues to suffer and some residents are especially vulnerable. People with chronic illnesses just can't get the medicines they need to survive and doctors are up against a bureaucracy as CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta found out when he visited one emergency shelter.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is 62-year- old Josefina Alvarez's reality. "LoOK at what happened to us," she pleads. "Nobody is taking caring of us."

For two weeks, Miss Alvarez has been here in a shelter, an hour outside of San Juan but may as well be on a different island all together. And like thousands of others, she's become really sick.

DR. ASTRID MORALES, VOLUNTEER: We have no hospital to get her because all the emergencies are closed because we have no electricity. And we have no place to get here. She's getting more complicated. GUPTA: Dr. Astrid Morales, a volunteer at the shelter, has tried

everything to get Alvarez to a hospital.

The ambulance you saw just left --

MORALES: Yes, because they have no authorization from their bosses to --

GUPTA: That seems ridiculous.

MORALES: Tell me about it.

GUPTA: I mean we're in the middle of a disaster, in the middle of a crisis and you're waiting for paperwork?


GUPTA: This is a very treatable problem under any other circumstance.

MORALES: Yes, sure.

GUPTA: Get her to the hospital and put an IV.

MORALES: Probably a few hours of IV antibiotics and then she can go home.

GUPTA: What happens if she doesn't get this?

[00:05:00] MORALES: Well, she might get her infection to the blood and get complicated with sepsis and even death.

GUPTA: There's no communication anywhere here. So we give her our satellite phone to try and call for help.

Puerto Rico's secretary of health finds a hospital for Alvarez but then the same problem. How to get her there?

We can take the patient. I'm a doctor. We can take the patient ourselves. I mean I know time is of the essence here. The health secretary is there.

MORALES: Well, he already accept the patient.

GUPTA: Yes. We can do that.

You can't even believe what's happening here. I mean she's -- there's no power, there's no water. She's a diabetic. She doesn't have insulin. She has an infection that could threaten her life. No ambulance will take her to the hospital.

That's what's happening here.

It's OK. Right here.

MORALES: She wants to sit from here.


Move the wheelchair up please.

There's nothing about this that makes sense. I mean loOK what we're doing here. We're transporting a patient. This is not an ambulance but it's the only thing that we really have right now to get her to the care that she needs.

There are probably thousands of patients who are in similar shelters with no power, no water, no medications, no way out. There are probably thousands more who are still in their homes. They haven't been able to get to a shelter.

So she's just one example of what's happening here. We've been (inaudible) a bit. So we're trying to get her into the triage area.

OK, one more. Watch out. Watch out.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN -- Luisa, Puerto Rico.


VAUSE: Well, like so many other celebrities from Puerto Rico Kamar delos Reyes who is a celebrity. He was born in Puerto Rico. He's been on television as well as movies. And he's using that fame in a way to highlight the humanitarian crisis on the island.

He visited Puerto Rico just a few days ago to check on his family. He delivered much needed supplies as well. Here's a clip he posted on social media about what was heart wrenching return home.


KAMAR DELOS REYES, ACTOR: I made it to Puerto Rico. I made it to Ponce. My family is -- my family made it through Hurricane Maria. They're all good physically. Most are traumatized by the experience. It's bad here. The island's in complete devastation.


VAUSE: And Kamar joins us here now with more on the situation in Puerto Rico. Thank you for coming in.

DELOS REYES: Thank you for having me.

VAUSE: Listening to the rest of the clip we only played about 18 seconds of it but there's much more to it. When I listened to it you seemed almost stunned when you were describing the conditions that your family were living in; and not just your family but millions of others in Puerto Rico.

Were you sort of really taken aback when you got there? Was it sort of worse than you thought it was going to be?

DELOS REYES: I'm still shell-shocked. It's like a war zone. It's really kind of difficult to put into words. VAUSE: Your family is living in that right now like so many other


DELOS REYES: Yes. Without water, without power, with very little food. The only way to get any of that is to stand in very, very long lines. And I'm talking thousand of people. And if you're lucky enough to get to the front of that line and actually receive some fuel or cash or food --

VAUSE: And that's how your family is surviving essentially going to these emergency centers to receive whatever FEMA or, you know --

DELOS REYES: Where my family is from which is Ponce, I traveled these roads up until yesterday, everyday twice a day from San Juan to Ponce, I didn't see one FEMA truck. I didn't see any convoys. I didn't see any supplies being delivered to the south central part of the island.

You know we -- my focus right now is trying to get to whoever I need to get to, to try and open Mercedita airport -- international airport in Ponce.

I don't know what's going on there. I don't know what the situation is there. But I would think that by opening up that tarmac we would have a little --

VAUSE: So where are the supplies coming from.

DELOS REYES: -- accessibility.

You know, right now, you know, when the supermarket opens up there's food. There's food but, you know, you have to stand in line to get inside that supermarket. It's usually about a two hour wait. And then when you get inside there's usually --

VAUSE: There's not much.

DELOS REYES: Well, there's no water. There's no water. I experienced that first hand. You know, I went into a supermarket, I waited two hours to get water for my mom.

[00:10:03] VAUSE: She's 85.

DELOS REYES: She's 84. Yes. She's 84.

And you know, my mom is half blind, partially deaf, you know. She's 84. She can't stand in those lines. I mean it's impossible.

VAUSE: You really wanted her to leave with you. But she refused.

DELOS REYES: I went there to rescue my mom. That was my intent. I had that with -- you know, I was like a racehorse with blinders on. That's what I was going there to do to get my mom.

VAUSE: She wouldn't leave.

DELOS REYES: She wouldn't leave. VAUSE: Why?

DELOS REYES: That's her island --


DELOS REYES: -- you know. And there's a lot of Puerto Ricans like that. And I can see why. I mean they love being there. They're resilient and they're faithful and they're God-loving and God-fearing people who --

VAUSE: They're being tested.

DELOS REYES: Yes, they're being tested. But they believe that the United States of America is coming to save them because they're American.

VAUSE: With that in mind the acting homeland security head Elaine Duke was specifically asked by reporters if she was satisfied with the federal government's response to this disaster. Listen to what she said


ELAINE DUKE, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I really would appreciate any support that we get. I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane.


VAUSE: OK. So without getting into the politics here is it a good news story?

DELOS REYES: We knew it was coming.

VAUSE: Maria.

DELOS REYES: We knew Maria was coming. We should have been on the sidelines. We should have been there within the first 48 hours. It's a week. And now we're sending a three-star general to see what's going on with the supplies and the reliefs.

VAUSE: Why do you think it's been a slow response than say what we saw in Texas or Florida?

DELOS REYES: We're a Caribbean island. A lot of people here in the United States don't know that we are American citizens, that we fought in the American Revolution, that, you know, we fought for this country. We have earned -- we have earned that relief, you know, and we should get it.

VAUSE: There are a lot of, you know, Puerto Rican stars and celebrities like yourself that are speaking up. Jennifer Lopez donated a million dollars. She's raising a whole lot more. Just on Thursday we heard from Ricky Martin. He was on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show". And here's what he said.


RICKY MARTIN, SINGER: Right now Puerto Rico is suffering. We were -- we were destroyed by a hurricane and it's been very difficult right now. There is no water. There is no electricity. There is no food. There is no medicine. There is no diesel for the generators that will make the hospital work. People are dying.

So as a Puerto Rican, as American that I am, I'm here to ask for your help.


VAUSE: It's a similar message to yours. You know, apart from the fund-raising aspect here, how important is it that you keep reminding the mainland that yes, these are U.S. citizens and that they are suffering?

DELOS REYES: I keep telling everybody this is a marathon, you know. We've got to put on our big boy, our adult pants. And this is going to be a struggle for a very long time.

VAUSE: Do you think the help will be there in the long term or is that a concern that maybe it won't?

DELOS REYES: I'm hopeful. I'm hopeful because I believe in America. I believe in the system. I believe in the message that we used to send and that we haven't been sending of late.

And this administration has to get on it. And this president has got to start sending a different message about the Puerto Rican people. And that's me being as diplomatic as I could possibly be on air right now.

VAUSE: It's difficult for a lot of people. And I wish you and your family all the very best.

And thank you for coming in --

DELOS REYES: Thank you.

VAUSE: -- and sharing your experience.

DELOS REYES: Thank you -- John. I appreciate it.

VAUSE: And If you would like to help the hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and around the Caribbean, please go to There you can donate to one of the charities which we have vetted so you know the money will get to where it's needed or you can even volunteer your time.

President Trump isn't just defending his administration's hurricane response he's talking it up like this and he tweeted "FEMA and first responders doing a great jot in Puerto Rico. Massive food and water delivered. Docks and electric grid dead. Locals trying really hard to help but many have lost their homes. Military is now on site and I will be there Tuesday. Wish press would treat fairly."

OK. Well, joining us now here in Los Angeles, David Siders is a senior reporter for Politico. David -- let's just be clear this isn't just the media questioning the government's response here. You've got Democrat lawmakers who are demanding an oversight hearing into the response.

[00:14:57] Listen now to General Honore, he was the general in charge of the recovery after Katrina. This is what he said about the government's response so far.


GEN. RUSSEL HONORE: They need to scale up at Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is bigger than Katrina. And if somebody from the Pentagon want to call me or from Northern Command call me. I'll give you the damn numbers because they're in the after action report and the lessons learned. It doesn't loOK like we've learned anything. We are slow.

VAUSE: OK. And lastly, of course, and most importantly all the Puerto Ricans themselves are saying this is, you know, slow, it's clumsy, it's just taking long. Does this politically get into sort of a Katrina moment, if you like, for Donald Trump?

DAVID SIDERS, SENIOR REPORTER, "POLITICO: The tweet today, the "great job" seems close at least to some people are making a comparison to "hell of a job, Brownie". So that's a Katrina moment.

I think what really runs into a problem with or could is the juxtaposition just like we have on the show tonight. Your guest talking about real problems there and next to a tweet like that and to see his administration officials saying things like this is a good news story. Even if the response was good I'm not sure that somebody would call it that if you saw what was going on, on the ground.

VAUSE: It's just incredibly out of touch.

SIDERS: That's right.


OK. This is sort of one potential scandal for the administration. The other growing scandal right now is cabinet secretaries and the use of private jets. Health and Human Secretary Tom Price, EPA director Scott Pruitt and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin -- all being caught up in this. Price seems to be in at the deepest.

Politico -- your Web site reporting the total travel of private and military jets by Price is more a million dollars. He's offered to cover the cost of his seat which is about $51,000 -- $52,000. And then he kind of boasted about all of this to Fox News. Listen to this.


TOM PRICE, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: This is unprecedented; never been done to our understanding before by a secretary in spite of the fact that previous administrations have had secretaries that flew an awful lot.


VAUSE: He's saying it's unprecedented that no one has ever done this before. Talk like that doesn't really help at the moment does it?

SIDERS: This is tone deaf. Americans hate this, especially Trump supporters. They were brought up on waste, fraud and abuse and to the extent that there's been polling on Tom Price and his travel, people don't like it.

But that being said I don't think the penetration is all that great on this issue. You don't see in Middle America or even here on the West Coast -- anywhere outside of Washington that this is a huge level of concern.

I think the bigger issue for the administration is that something like this Price scandal gets wrapped up in or talking about taking a knee, the focus on football players next to what's going on in Puerto Rico I think seems like this is an administration that's distracted and can't get its ship together.

VAUSE: You know, cabinet secretaries flying on private jets, you know, on very, very short flights between Washington and Philadelphia I think it was one of them, it's almost a let them eat cake moment while people are struggling in Puerto Rico. Like you say the juxtaposition is not a good loOK.

SIDERS: And it's a thing about optics at this point. I mean if you loOKed at that amount of money, it's budget dust in the grand scheme of things. And you make a -- some people could make an argument that high level public officials should be flying on chartered planes because their time is very available. And we'd rather have this person doing, you know, some policy thing. The fact is he was already on thin ice on the health care failure. So that's a problem for him. And it just doesn't loOK good.

VAUSE: And this is an easy scandal for people to understand, not like the Russia inquiry. It's pretty straightforward, the guy toOK a private jet when he could have taken a commercial flight and it cost thousands of dollars.

But you know, Donald Trump always talked about his plane, you know, the Trump Force One being an extension of his brand. His supporters loved it, you know. It was always him during the campaign. It's a symbol of his prestige and success. Does that sort of translate to his cabinet secretaries as well or do they not get a pass?

SIDERS: I think that had Tom Price had some success on health care, if his stock was high, he was seen as a winner, I'm not sure that Trump would be as furious about this as my colleagues are reporting that he is.

VAUSE: Right. OK. This is another story out of D.C. This involves Jared Kushner, the White House senior adviser and Trump's son-in-law. He failed to tell Senate investigators about a private e-mail account which he'd been using for official business at the White House.

The Senate is very unhappy that they found out by CNN's reporting. So the committee wrote to Kushner to ensure that he has turned over everything including personal e-mail accounts described to the news media as well as all other e-mail accounts, messaging apps or similar communication channels he may have used or that may contain information relevant to our inquiry.

His lawyer says this is no big deal. There's no relevant e-mails or relevant documents in those e-mails. But it does go to a pattern of Kushner's, similar (ph) to, you know, failure to disclose.

SIDERS: And not only that. I think it's two problems for the Trump administration -- for Trump and for Kushner. It goes to that pattern. But then also it recalls the entire 2016 campaign and the chants of lock her up, lock her up.

[00:20:01] These were people who cared very much about from what e- mail account somebody pressed "send". And for them now to be facing this is a bit of an irony that I think a lot of the electorate will find rich to soak up.

VAUSE: There's also the trust factor that the lawyer -- Kushner's lawyer said nothing here. And that remains to be seen.

SIDERS: We'll see. They're investigating.

VAUSE: Exactly.

David -- thank you. Good to see you.

VAUSE: We'll take a short break.

When we come back reports of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's death may be greatly exaggerated. The new evidence which suggests the ISIS leader is still alive.

Also ahead, how the Kurdish independence vote could lead to a setback in the war against ISIS. An exclusive report from northern Iraq in just a moment.


VAUSE: Well, the leader of ISIS appears to have released a new audio message for the first time in almost a year. U.S. intelligence officials have yet to verify its authenticity but they say there is no reason to doubt it's the real deal.

If that's the case, it pretty much lays to rest Russia's claim that they most likely killed al Baghdadi in an air strike last May.

The message appears to be recorded recently. It refers to North Korean nuclear threats. The speaker also mocked the U.S. and calls for jihadi attacks worldwide claiming America, Europe and Russia are living in a state of terror. He also insists ISIS remains despite all of the territory it has lost over the past few years.

Well, the Kurds are a major factor behind those ISIS defeats in Iraq and Syria. They've battled the terror group for years but many have wanted independence for much longer than that.

This week they voted overwhelmingly to split with Iraq and that's already having an impact on the war on ISIS.

Our Nima Elbagir brings us this exclusive report from northern Iraq in the ISIS stronghold of Hawija.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The bridge across the (inaudible) river, a bullet-scarred watch tower looms over the remaining few niches of the Kurdish-Peshmerga controlled territory.

This bridge right here, this river -- this was the border between ISIS-held territory and the territory held by the Kurdish forces. It toOK them an entire year with air cover from the U.S.-led coalition just to be able to push ISIS back just another kilometer to the ISIS frontline which is just up there where we're headed.

Major Adnan Maajid (ph) is in charge of this garrison on the outskirts of Kirkuk. As he walks us up to his loOKout perched out towards the front line, it's eerily quiet.

All of this that you can see out there that is still under ISIS control?

ADNAN MAAJID, PESHMERGA FORCES (through translator): All of our intelligence information is that ISIS morale is low. Their fighters are attempting to flee. They are weak in Hawija.

ELBAGIR: This was essentially supposed to be the staging ground for the operation to retake Hawija. But that hasn't happened yet.

[00:25:01] Since the referendum for independence was carried out against the wishes of the Iraqi federal government so much of what pertains to this operation to retake one of ISIS' last remaining strongholds is in flux.

"Shoulder to shoulder with the U.S." reads this commander's patch. At the base American supplied armored vehicles line up against the wall. The Kurdish forces are increasingly trained and supplied by the U.S. but that doesn't mean that they have the United States' support in that bid for independence from Baghdad.

The U.S. State Department has said the referendum has already affected coordination in their bid to dislodge ISIS form its remaining territory and is tensions they say, ISIS is loOKing to exploit. Major Maajid and his men expected the Iraqi army units to arrive on the 26th. Days have passed with no sign of them. They're still waiting and they're growing worried.

An Iraqi armed forces spOKesman tells CNN the Peshmerga were never expected to play a key roll in the push on Hawija. Major Maajid shows us a wall bearing the names of the comrades they lost to ISIS.

His men he says are committed to honoring those sacrifices, committed to the war against ISIS. But these very sacrifices are the reasons they believe they've earned the right to independence and their right to go it alone whatever the rest of the world may think.

Nima Elbagir, CNN -- Kirkuk, Northern Iraq.


VAUSE: Well, after a short break -- Thursday night football in the U.S. and not one player takes a knee. Instead the Packers and Bears, the players they lock arms.

And former NFL player Eric Matthews will join us here to explain where this protest might go from here.


VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

We'll check the headlines this hour.

Nine days after Maria made landfall there is a glimmer of hope for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico. U.S. emergency officials say some federal aid is getting into the countryside but tons of food, water, fuel and medicine remain stuck at the island's main port. That's because of a shortage of truck drivers and lack of diesel fuel and many roads remain unpassable.

U.S. Health Secretary Tom Price says he will repay the government for part of his private plane expenses. Price has racked up more than a million dollars in taxpayer funded private and military flight since he became the Health and Human secretary. The White House says a full review of travel is now under way.

[00:30:06] CNN has learned exclusively White House senior adviser Jared Kushner did not reveal to Senate investigators he has been using a personal email account for official business. President Trump's son-in-law testified back in July.

Intelligence Committee leaders are said to be concerned about whether Kushner was entirely up front with them.

Now to the take a knee protest during the national anthem at the NFL games in the United States. At the start of Thursday's game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears, no player took a knee to protest police brutality and fans seemed mostly ignore a call to link arms in a show of unity.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, join our America, please stand, remove your rats and enjoy a country recording artist Tyler Pharr as he sings our national anthem.

VAUSE (voice-over): So there we have it, both teams, though, did link arms as "The Star-Spangled Banner" was played.

Some fans joined up. Most stood as they normally would with their hands on their hearts.


VAUSE: Our Ryan Young was at the game in Wisconsin and filed this report.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So all eyes were Green Bay this afternoon. They wanted to see how fans would react to their quarterback who was calling for fans to link arms during the national anthem. That is something that Aaron Ryan (ph) was asked his fans to do.

What we did notice is the players did line up. They did link arms. But a lot of people in the crowd decided not to link arms. In fact, we talked to several people throughout the day with different feelings about the whole protest.

More people understood what was going on with the protest but they didn't feel right necessarily not putting their hand over their chest and saluting the flag. So there was a big conversation back and forth. What we did notice was a lot more people were saying, hey, they get where the players are coming from. They would just like to move back and getting a little closer to just a football game.

They wanted to enjoy themselves, especially on a Thursday night game against their rival, the Bears.

Guys, back to you.


VAUSE: Ryan Young, thank you.

NFL player Eric Matthews joins us from Atlanta.

Thanks for staying up late. So, Eric, are you surprised that most of the fans there decided not to link arms?

The team actually put out a statement, asking for them to do that.

You play for the Packers. You know what the fans are like. And also the fact that no one took a knee during this game. ERIC MATTHEWS, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I'm not surprised. I'm -- fans, they're there to see the game. They're not there getting into being in the middle of politics and all of what's going on.

So the fans, like I said, they're there to see the games. The players, they're still trying to make what's known, what's going on with our president. And said this from the first time, this is not about disrespect into our flags and to our soldiers.

This is about our injustice in our communities. And then, too, toward our president, what he said against NFL players, you know, calling them SOBs. From a president, you know, that just made clear us fired up and want to just take more notice about what's going on in our communities.

It's nothing against our NFL -- against our flag, against our soldiers. My grandfather was -- he was in the World War III (sic). I have a uncle who was in the military for 15 years. I would never disrespect my family in any manner, you know. And I see where these players are coming from.

VAUSE: Well, you know, the Chicago Bears are one of 16 that hasn't had a single player take a knee during all of this.

How (INAUDIBLE), though, is it the (INAUDIBLE) he did, in fact, link arms with the Packers?

Do you see that as a genuine (INAUDIBLE) of unity or just kind of a way to avoid controversy and criticism?

MATTHEWS: And on the linking arms, I think more the knee taking, I think that the linking arms is unity. The players come together and to show that we're not going to let our president just disrespect players.

Now that come in a night, we're American citizens. And therefore our president to come on ask the TV disrespect our players, our Americans in a manner, you know, that's just -- that's not called for from our highest part of our government.

Someone to come on and do something like that.

VAUSE: Also and last four hours (INAUDIBLE) issued a statement and this is a team where a number of players actually took a knee last week. This is part of the statement.

"We may have different values and beliefs but there's one thing we can all agree on. We're a team and we stand together, no matter how divisive some comment and issues can be. Nothing should get in the way of that.

"Starting Sunday, we'll be standing together."

How many teams do you think will following this league by the Broncos and the fact that, you know, other fans linked arms tonight in Green Bay, does it feel like maybe some of the momentum has sort of come out of this protest?

MATTHEWS: I don't think the momentum has died down. You would see -- I think you'll see the whole season players, teams linking arms and just coming as a unity, just to show that this hasn't died and it started last year with Kaepernick taking a knee for one reason on. And justice in our communities, and justice with the police.

And that's the whole reason why this -- and I think the president just fired that up when he made his statement. I don't see it dying down anytime soon. And I hope I don't see it die anytime soon. I hope these NFL players, these after players continue to show that this is going on. This has been going on for years and I'll continue hoping that they show that.

VAUSE: There's been a suggestion out there that Kaepernick has already won this, so at least now America is talking about race and police persecution of African American men, in justice. But it seems that the conversation we're having is, well, who stood up, who linked arms, who took a knee and who didn't.

It seems like the focus has kind of shifted away.

MATTHEWS: Yes, and with the whole thing, it's starting to open up a lot of different things, from race to injustice to NFL. And I think it started where the president started his -- I wish he would have just came to the players, the owners as a president to sit down and discuss what's going on instead of just disrespecting black men, which the NFL is 90 percent of. And that what made this whole thing jump off.

Just come together and let's find out a solution to what's going on and I just want to see that more. Just come to the table and find out what's going on. This -- make a solution about what's happening in America right now.


VAUSE: Sorry to interrupt, but the assumption there is that the -- that the president is genuinely interested in Colin Kaepernick's protest. There are some who've suggested that this is all a deliberate part of a plan by the president as a distraction to divide the country, to appeal to his -- the base of his base and to throw some red meat out there.

MATTHEWS: Yes. And I don't know what the president has -- what he have in mind or what he trying to do. But right now, we have too much going on in our country right now with Puerto Rico right now, is right now 90 percent, what power out, you know, have water, don't have -- we have more concern for it now. We have -- if we think about with Korea right now. We need to be worrying about Korea and Puerto Rico, our -- we just have taxes, our -- just so much we need to be worrying about right now than NFL player, which is a -- to me, is entertainment.

And our president is taking in to our entertainment than more than the political that things that's going on in the world right now.

VAUSE: Yes, there is a lot going on and we certainly do need to -- the politicization of all of this as well.

But thank you so much for coming in.

MATTHEWS: Thank you for having me.

VAUSE: Appreciate it.

We'll take a short break. When we come back, on to Mexico where the death toll has risen again after last week's deadly earthquake. We'll have the very latest on the rescues efforts in a moment.

Also Mexico's quake, a wakeup call for many here in California. We'll tell you how the state's preparing for a possible seismic (INAUDIBLE).




VAUSE: Hope for finding survivors in last week's deadly earthquake is starting to fade as rescuers now begin to slow their search. Officials say efforts are contained to just two sites. At least 343 people were killed when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake rocked Central Mexico, the second major quake to shake the country this month.

President Enrique Pena Nieto says these disasters have tested the country's strength.


ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, PRESIDENT OF Mexico (through translator): During the past three weeks, over 400 people sadly lost their lives and close to 190,000 properties were severely damaged or destroyed because of those disasters.

Despite these painful events, Mexico is united and standing.


VAUSE: Mexico's earthquakes have many in California on edge that a similar disaster could in fact strike right here. California is prone to quakes and experts say the state is long overdue for the big one.

But preparing has been a slow process. CNN's Kyung Lah has details.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is nothing they can do except watch in horror. Across Mexico City, building after building collapsing.


LAH (voice-over): The magnitude 7.1 quake struck.

A chilling reminder for some in California and a race to prepare for Mother Nature's ticking clock.

LAH: You think it's coming?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, statistically, it's coming. If you were playing your cards, time now to fold.

LAH (voice-over): The devastating 6.7 magnitude Northridge quake was 23 years ago and numerous experts warn not enough has been done since then. The U.S. Geological Survey says California is due. The chance the state will be hit by a quake just as powerful in the next 30 years is greater than 99 percent.

A 7.8 magnitude quake along the San Andreas fault will cause an estimated 1,800 deaths, 50,000 serious injuries and $214 billion in damage, crippling the region. The city of Los Angeles is ordering some 14,000 vulnerable buildings be retrofitted. The lifesaving process will take years to finish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see the difference here. This one is made to resist any lateral motion from an earthquake.

LAH: Thicker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's there thicker or heavier.

LAH: What does this column do for the people who are living right above it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This column keeps them alive. Where the building won't collapsed.

LAH (voice-over): Just as important, Mexico's earthquake early alert system, giving people up to a 30-second warning to head to someplace safer, like the square.

While Mexico has it...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's approaching us now.

Earthquake, earthquake.

LAH (voice-over): -- the Cal Tech seismology lab is still developing the U.S. system, rolling out slowly, not because they can't do it but because of a lack of federal funding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you look at the countries that do have this system, they got the will and the message after very important big earthquakes.

LAH (voice-over): On a personal level, Californians are preparing. Earthquake kit sales at the supply store doubled since the Mexico City quake, good news, says Cal Tech. But comprehensive changes lag too slowly for scientists who see what's looming.

LAH: What kind of disaster level are we looking at?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It could be very bad scenario. I honestly don't want to live to see that thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earthquake, earthquake.

LAH (voice-over): Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


VAUSE: Well, on that cheery note, good night, boys and girls.

Well, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. I'll be back with another hour of news from all around the world. You're watching CNN.