Return to Transcripts main page


German Soccer Team Kneels In Solidarity; NFL Anthem Controversy; "Saturday Night Live" Mocks Vice President Mike Pence's NFL Walkout; Harvey Weinstein Ousted By Movie Academy; Ninety Percent Of ISIS Stronghold In Syria Liberated; California Fire Victim Pays It Forward Aired 6-7a

Aired October 15, 2017 - 06:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news, a ranking Democrat now asking DHS to investigate contaminated drinking water in Puerto Rico.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great deal of concern about just how much exposure some residents here might have had to this water.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of the fires that have scorched more than 220,000 acres are finally starting to get under containment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got to get people to understand that this is a dangerous event.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She actually made it through the worse part of the whole fire. Her lungs just kind of gave out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, has been kicked out of the film industry's most elite group.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Men have to speak up right alongside women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I only met Harvey when I was old and Harvey goes for young.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fighting words from former White House strategist, Steve Bannon.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE STRATEGIST: Right now a season of war against a GOP establishment. Nobody can run and hide on this one. These folks are coming for you.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. So grateful to have your company as always here. There is a new wildfire in Northern California and it (inaudible) thousands of new evacuations already. VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: It erupted in Santa Rosa between two other wildfires that have been burning for days adding to the plumes of smoke and ash blanketing parts of that state. The number of people who have been killed now 39. Making it the deadliest in the state's history.

PAUL: More than 200 people have been reported missing and the wind- driven fires have been fast, they have been ruthless, and they are burning anything it seems in its path. Look at some of the damage that people are finding here. Thousands of buildings, including 2,800 homes, are gone.

BLACKWELL: Ryan Young is in Santa Rosa, California. Ryan, the mayor there says there is no cause for alarm. Are firefighters gaining ground in containing this growing fire and give us some context because you've got 39 people dead, and 200 unaccounted for and to hear the mayor say no cause for alarm with the debris and what is left behind you, may leave some people asking questions.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is a very great question, Victor. I can tell you what they are talking about now it seems like everyone sort of knows this fire is coming. I think last Sunday, caught a lot of people by surprise.

In fact, we talked to people who had no clue they were so close a fire. The next thing you know, fighter was on top of their house. There's been a lot of conversations about the warnings and maybe lack of warnings for some people because of maybe cell phone towers are down or they were waiting a little too long or the fire moved too fast.

A lot of questions that will be figured out a little later on. Now everyone is aware so it seems like the evacuation orders are going pretty well in terms of telling people, hey, time to go and get ahead of the fire.

I want to show something here, though. That is the Oakmont neighborhood in the distance over there and I'll paint a picture for you. That is the mountainside that we showed you yesterday. The fire has grown just in the last few hours and that blanket of smoke piling over this area is tremendous.

Talking about the deaths. Yes, 39 people have died here. Unfortunately, there are still 200 people missing. That is the real question about when they will actually to get to go out to some of these homes and see if anyone has died in some of these places.

It is really sad because there are people who are still looking for their loved ones and 8,000 firefighters are still out there fighting this fire. We talked to several different police officers on the way here.

It seemed like they even thought that some of the parts of the city, the fire was advancing so you get this real picture here where even they are saying, wow, this is getting bigger and bigger in some parts. You talk about that merging of fires. It's so different because when you have that fire that spreads because of the wind, you understand at any moment, things can change. Then you add in the fact that this is still an active fire in several different parts of the mountain range, it makes it so difficult to fight it. We saw although a lot of helicopters and airplanes dropping water and supplies on top of that mountain yesterday.

BLACKWELL: All right. Ryan Young, thank you so much there from Santa Rosa, California.

PAUL: I want to bring in meteorologist, Ivan Cabrera, now, I understand, there is some good news here, but there is bad news as well for firefighters. What can you tell them?

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Christi and Victor. Kind of a mixed bag. I think one of the ingredients that we focus on the wind is going to be a big help over the next couple of days. By the way, 17 million Americans in California and parts of Nevada still under a red flag warning that means just high fire dangers will continue and I think maybe what the mayor was eluding to is that containment at least is there.

Half of the fire of the tufts fire is contained as opposed to when we were talking last week, it was zero contained.

[06:05:05] So, these are the red flag warnings that continue in effect throughout the day. The difference will be the wind. Yesterday, we have a couple of fronts moved through and areas of low pressure that kicked up the wind and not a good thing.

But now an area of high pressure moves in on top of you here. That will allow the winds to calm down. The temperatures will be going up but if you ask any firefighter, I have because my brother is one, the wind is the key.

They would rather have low winds than high humidity so we will take that ingredient and push it in here as far as the lower winds, 5, 10, 15 miles an hour maybe at most. I think what we can handle today' we can certainly handle that. The humidity on the lower side. You warm up the temperatures. The humidity drops.

So, that is why the red flag warnings are there primary anywhere from 15 percent to 20 percent humidity. Rain would be great, but we are not getting rain so we will take the lower wind and exactly what we are going to have as we head into the next few days.

A recapping it for you, temperatures not going to be great, 85 to 90. That's very warm. So, a moderate threat there. The wind no longer a big threat. We are not going get these fires going all over the place by any gusty winds, 20, 30, 40 miles per hour.

The humidity is still a problem under 20 percent and we will not have any rainfall there. I think the key and continue to get higher containment with these fires will be that lower wind and that will be with us over the next two to four days. PAUL: All right. Ivan Cabrera, thank you so much for the heads-up there.

BLACKWELL: New this morning after a CNN exclusive report from Puerto Rico, a leading House Democrat has asked the Department of Homeland Security to investigate the water situation on the island after people were found to be drinking water from a hazardous waste site.

PAUL: CNN reached out yesterday to the Department of Homeland Security for comment on Congressman Benny Thompson's request. We did not receive a reply just yet, but here is CNN's Ed Lavandera.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some Puerto Ricans are so desperate to find water here on the island that they started tapping into wells on what is described as a superfund site. An official designation issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Superfund sites exist all over the country and considered some of the most toxic sites and ground areas in the United States. Here in Puerto Rico alone there is 18 of these designated superfund sites. The focus is just on one of them in the town of -- around the town of Dorado, Puerto Rico, west of San Juan, the capital here of this island.

We were with an EPA team as they were taking water samples and as I mentioned, a few days ago reports started emerging that people were lining up at some of these wells getting drinking water or water that was being used to cleaning or other purposes in their homes, in the toilet system, and that sort of thing.

So, a great deal of concern about just how much exposure some residents here might have had to this water and there is now testing being done on these water wells to determine if, at all, this water is, indeed toxic.

Just because the superfund site is around there and toxic chemicals in the ground, EPA officials say it doesn't necessarily mean that those chemicals have reached the water there. But nonetheless, over the course of this next week, they will be testing this water to determine whether or not these wells should be turned off or controlled in some sort of way.

We have seen long lines of people getting into these water wells, using them either for drinking. Some people have told us or as I mentioned, for cleaning purposes around their homes. Just kind of goes to show you just how desperate the situation for many people still remains here in Puerto Rico when it comes to water.

EPA officials say they are really more concerned about long-term exposure to this water that is would require residents to be drinking this water for longer periods of time, months, if not years, for them to see the effects of those toxic chemicals in that water.

But nonetheless, it is still very much a dangerous situation and they are trying to spread the word out there. In the meantime, this really does show how desperate the situation is for many people and EPA officials are urging these residents to stay away from these water wells around the town of Dorado, Puerto Rico, until these test results come back.

So, that work will continue and we are told it will take the better part of this week for a full understanding of exactly what is in that water. Ed Lavandera, CNN, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

BLACKWELL: All right, Ed, thanks.

Disgraced Hollywood Producer Harvey Weinstein has been kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences. That's a group that awards the Oscars.

PAUL: The decision comes after more than a dozen women accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, sexual assault and even rape now. The academy's board of governors released a statement after that decision and it says, in part, "We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues, but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over."

[06:10:03] Now later this hour, CNN senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, is talking to us about Weinstein's future, what he has learned, and what this decision means for Hollywood as they try to move forward.

BLACKWELL: All right. Turning to politics now, he goes from White House chief strategist to declaring war against the president's party. Steve Bannon is aiming at Republicans in Congress who he says are hindering President Trump's agenda.

PAUL: NFL owners are meeting this week to potentially crack down on players who kneel during the national anthem. The issue -- should protests be left off the field? The former NFL player weighs in on a potential new rule that would force players to stand.

BLACKWELL: And Alec Baldwin is back at "Saturday Night Live" to mock President Trump and this last week in the oval office.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are getting rid of everything Obama did! Health care, Iran deal, and we are ripping out all of the vegetables that Mitchell Obama's garden and planting McNuggets, McNuggets.




BANNON: We are going to take them on and stand them down, OK? There's no doubt about that. There is no doubt about that. But there is a time and season for everything and, right now, it's a season of war against a GOP establishment. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: That was former White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, there teeing up what appears to be a looming fight for maybe the soul of the Republican Party.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and in that speech before the Conservative activists yesterday, he called some people out, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was one of them, outgoing Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, another.

Two of the congressional Republicans he called out for in his view not fully supporting the president and undermining the president's agenda.

Joining us now to talk is CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, Errol Louis, and CNN political analyst, historian and professor at Princeton University, Julian Zelizer. Good morning to you, Gentlemen.

First, let's start with this Shakespearean reference to Julius Caesar that came in reference to Mitch McConnell. Let's play that.


BANNON: Up on Capitol Hill, because I've been getting calls. It's like before the Ides of March, right? The only question and this is just an analogy or metaphor or whatever you want to call it. They are just looking to find out who is going to be Brutus to your Julius Caesar. Yes, Mitch, the donors are not happy. They have all left you. We have cut your oxygen off, Mitch, OK?


BLACKWELL: The Julius Caesar reference is interesting, considering all of the complaints coming from the White House and Republicans about the public theater production that had cast the president as Julius Caesar, but let's put that to the side. Errol, first to you. Is Mitch McConnell in real danger here?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't think so. The reality is that the Republican establishment, the swamp, whatever you want to call it, this group that Bannon is trying to make war on is really doing quite well.

I mean, one aspect of the swamp you have Speaker Paul Ryan who has visited 30 states and raised an off-year record amount of money for the Republican Congressional Committee. Close to $73 million and we are just in the ides of October. The year is not even over yet.

So, I think the thing to keep in mind is some of what Bannon said in the clip that you played is simply not true. I mean, this notion of all the funders have walked away from the Republican establishment is simply not true.

You got to keep in mind that the swamp is really sort -- it's got a lot of tentacles and a lot of people who want road paving contracts at the local level and a lot of people want defense contracts at the national level.

A lot of people who have a lot wrapped up in the tax code. These people support the establishment. That's what the establishment is. He may get a couple of wins here and there like what happened in Alabama, but by no means are they on the verge of throwing everybody out in Washington.

BLACKWELL: Yes, of course, that is what is really kind of inflating Bannon right now. Julian, that win over the president, backing Roy Moore over the Senator Luther Strange. One candidate in Alabama where the race was to be as much like Trump as possible is one thing, but the slate of candidates that he is suggesting is a herculean effort, considering they may not have the money, the money may actually look like it did maybe 2 to 3 million versus 30 million as it did in Alabama.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look. The Republican Party is still very strong and by that I mean the, quote/unquote, "establishment." In some ways, it might be stronger with President Trump and the White House in this threat being issued by Bannon.

Meaning a lot of Republicans are not happy with the White House, they are not happy with what Trump is doing to the party. It's not necessarily just going to be a logical battle but a practical battle where the party stands in 2017.

So, I assume a lot of donors and a lot of organizers are willing to double down if ban none really declares this war. I think we are looking at a few seats and I think, more importantly, it's about the energy it's going to consume for Republicans in the coming months. The real victors might be Democrats.

BLACKWELL: So, Errol, the president is 0-1 in this endorsement battle, I guess, with Steve Bannon backing Luther Strange versus Roy Moore and Roy Moore won in the Alabama GOP Senate primary by 10 points or so.

How likely do you think we will see them on the same side, the president backing the anti-establishment candidate? He's already deleted some of the tweets that he sent out backing the loser in the Alabama race.

LOUIS: Sure. We know that President Trump does not want to be anywhere near the vicinity of a loser. We should keep in mind, by the way, that the victory of Roy Moore in Alabama is really kind of being oversold in a lot of ways.

[06:20:10] I mean, Luther Strange came in on the tail end of a sex scandal and that dogged him all the way through to the election that he lost. I mean, he was put in by a governor who had to leave in disgrace in a very high-profile scandal.

So, assuming that that was a bit of a one-off, you've got all kinds of incumbents who have lots of different local situations. If Steve Bannon thinks he has got a combination to sort of unlock victories for all of these insurgents he wants to mount, these insurgencies around the country, good luck to him.

But let's keep in mind, you know, he is making this argument from outside the White House. He lost a pretty important political battle inside the White House and that, in part, because the president can see which way the wind is going and he does not like losers to be at his size, including in this case Steve Bannon.

BLACKWELL: Julian, how much did this war compare to the 2010 Tea Party Movement where remain were a lot of Republicans who were put up who won primaries. You got Rand Paul out of it. Arguably you got Ron Johnson out of it who won.

But then you had Christine O'Donnell and Joe Wilson and you had Sarin Engle who took out Republicans who potentially were competitive in a general but all lost their general election races. What do you see is the comparisons to that era in Republican politics?

ZELIZER: Well, that's an important comparison. That's one that trust-rated Republicans like Karl Rove, who said the GOP keeps putting up candidates who are going to lose for ideological purposes.

I think some of the people who Bannon might back and whoever this machine, maybe it's the Breitbart machine puts its muscle behind won't be winning candidates in general elections. I think this could cost the Republican Party both seats.

But also, ideologically for the ones who want to stave off these competitors to take positions that are really an (inaudible) to a lot of Americans. So, I think the Republicans face huge risks here in terms of losing seats and in terms of where this party is going.

BLACKWELL: Does this sell, Errol, in Nevada in a race against Dean Heller or in Arizona against Jeff Flake, that these candidates who could get backing from Bannon would be plausible winners in a general election?

LOUIS: You know, I think probably what Bannon is really likely to do -- let's think of this as maybe the Breitbart/Robert Mercer machine, is that they are going to try to eke out a win the way they did for Donald Trump by using fairly sophisticated algorithms going to social media and driving up their base.

Getting their number up to an unusually high level, dumping money in at the last minute, and kind of under the radar for reasons that have nothing to do with ideology so much but having a super-efficient turnout mechanism.

I think that is kind of where they are going. Then after the fact that they should win, call it an ideological victory. If you're talking about Nevada or Arizona, those states are turning purple. The Republican Party in those states are very conservative.

But they know they have dot to adapt and that they can't take unreasonable hard line ideological positions. So, Steve Bannon, I think, is going to run a tactical play and if Democrats and mainstream Republicans want to counter it, he has given them the road map on how to do it.

BLACKWELL: All right. Errol Louis and Julian Zelizer, thank you so much.

Later this morning, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson joins Jake Tapper to talk about what is next for the Iran deal. "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

PAUL: NFL team owners are meeting this week and on their agenda, players who kneel during the national anthem. Could the NFL have a solution to this controversy? There's a former player weighing in.

BLACKWELL: And in Iraq, dozens of ISIS fighters have reportedly surrendered in Raqqa.


PAUL: Good to see you on this Sunday morning. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. A full slate of games for the NFL this Sunday morning. The discussion continues surrounding player protests in the NFL and players kneeling during the national anthem.

PAUL: The NFL said on Friday it has no plans to mandate players to stand for the national anthem. Let's talk to CNN sports, Christina Fitzpatrick, for more. Good morning.

KRISTINA FITZPATRICK, CNN SPORTS: Good morning. This weekend the league and the players association, they actually put out a joint statement earlier in the week of another NFL Sunday coming up regarding no changes when it comes to standing for the anthem saying there has been no change in the current policy regarding the anthem.

How to make progress on the important social issues the players have vocalized. This agenda coming together will be discussed at league meetings this week. Commissioner Roger Goodell actually invited the executive director of the players association, Dean Marie Smith to attend the meetings where the protest will be a main topic of conversation.

According to League Spokesman Joe Lockhart, Goodell has a plan to -- player representatives using a NFL as a platform to promote -- at these meetings the owners will be able to review the current policy that doesn't make standing for the anthem mandatory but encourage it for all players.

Ultimately, it sounds like the goal for upon this batters at this meeting this week is not to impose new rules but how the NFL can help create change when it comes to equality in this country. Now it's interesting to know even outside of the country the NFL players protest movement is getting some support. A German soccer team is following in their footsteps. Players took a knee before their game Saturday in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players.

The team said it did it for a quote -- "open-minded world." The team also tweeted an image of players kneeling with their arms linked. Their message the team Hertha Berlin stands for tolerance and responsibility.

Now today's games, Washington will be hosting the 49ers, one of the teams that have always had players kneel. All eyes will be on this Sunday in Washington.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you, Kristina.

PAUL: Thank you.

So let's in bring in Donte Stallworth, CNN contributor, former NFL player who played 10 seasons on six teams. We know -- we have been talking about how these team -- these team owners are going to meet this week. Donte, I'm wondering if you could be in that meeting, if you could sit with them, what would you want to say to them?

DONTE STALLWORTH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I've talked to some players that are actually going to be in this meeting and I think the number one thing to underscore here at the very outset is that the West Virginia State Board of Education versus Barnett in 1943, the Supreme Court essentially ruled that you cannot -- that an employer cannot engage in requiring someone to engage in compulsory patriotism. So I think that's very important and the NFL recognizes that if they do try to enforce any rule that that there will be some type of mutiny by the players.

But more importantly, Kristina hit it right on the head earlier. I think this is more about what both parties can do to move these issues forward and it's not about pigeon holing this issue into only police reform and community police reform. I've heard -- I've heard players talk about how they want to help -- or how they want the NFL to help them use their -- use the NFL's platform to engage in all types of different social issues, whether from specific players I've heard, whether if it's women's rights issues and I've heard specifically working on the gender pay gap for a couple of players.

I've heard other players speak about sex trafficking survivors and CNN has had an exclusive with NFL players that have showed that directly. NFL players have been meeting with lawmakers. They have been meeting with state attorney generals. They have been meeting with police departments going on ride-alongs and going to prisons to visit people to talk to them about their stories to get a better understanding.

This has been going on since last year so the players have been engaging in tangible actions to actually help move the needle forward in society, so it's interesting that a lot of people are condemning what the players are doing but really to understand that these guys have been working at this for a very long time and the culmination of this or I should say at least the beginning of this -- of the culmination of this all is going to take place next week, Tuesday and Wednesday, and the players -- I'm sorry, in the owners meeting in New York next week with Roger Goodell, the commissioner.

BLACKWELL: Donte, have you gotten any heads-up on what the potential solution could be that's coming from Goodell?

STALLWORTH: Yes. So the players -- again, the players have been engaging with Roger for a while, I would say since last year they've been engaging with their owners. And so I think the -- one of the main things that players wanted to have presented to them, an opportunity to be able to express and show issues that they care about on an NFL's platform.

And, again, the whole thing with the players from the very beginning has been about raising awareness and promoting their issues --


STALLWORTH: -- for their -- for their specific causes. So I know that the players are specifically wanting to have the NFL maybe do some things where they could -- we know they have breast cancer month and veterans month, or maybe they could do like a week versus police reform or a week versus prison reform or education and health.

This thing is going to be brought and the NFL players -- I'm actually pretty excited about what they have been able to accomplish up to this point. There have been tangible movements by the players and, again, we will see the culmination of this.

It's not solidified yet but they have been working hard on this and we will see the culmination of this in the weeks to come and I think it's going to be actually from one of the league officials have told me, they said it's going to be, quote, ground breaking and the players don't want to kneel. They really don't. But they feel like they need to push forward these issues.

So the NFL owners and the NFL are asking what can we do to help you promote these issues? What can we do to help you make -- to make you want to stand? So the NFL players have said to them, well, we would like our issues to be able -- to be able to be promoted by the NFL. We need your help and the NFL is answering that and that is -- that is what, in big part, these meetings are about next week.

PAUL: So you mentioned that they don't necessarily want to be kneeling. Has kneeling become so divisive that it needs to shift?


I mean, you mentioned a lot of worthy causes, a lot of things that people care about that, obviously, NFL players care about. What do you see them being able to do to forward that thinking and get away from the kneeling aspect of it perhaps, and getting into what it really means and how -- I mean, have they gotten involved with any charities, with any organizations that can help NFL players further their cause?

STALLWORTH: Yes. Specifically, I personally was with some of the guys when they met with lawmakers, when they went to the ACLU and met with former prisoners who have been caught up in, you know, some of the worst circumstances through a prison system that needs reform. They have done a lot. But as far as the kneeling, I want to always note and this is not really widely known, I don't know why, but the reason why Colin Kaepernick began to kneel, if you remember, he initially was sitting on the bench and he began to kneel because he met with former Green Beret U.S. Army Veteran Nate Boyer who also played college football. And Nate suggested to him -- this former veteran suggested to him, I think kneeling is a sign of respect.

We kneel when our fallen -- when our comrades come home. We kneel very often, you know, towards the flag and we kneel in prayer. So I think you should kneel.

So that -- to me that is one of the biggest misconceptions that people forgot. But again when I say the players don't want to kneel, I mean, they would rather see these issues come to a halt.

PAUL: Right.

STALLWORTH: And so they want to -- they want the NFL to be able to help them to help promote and empower them to help move these issues forward. And I think, again, that you may see later today that none of the 49ers for the first time will not kneel because they feel like the NFL is going to take tangible steps.

So it will be interesting to see what happens today.


PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Which is interesting because the 49ers are now playing the Redskins in Washington. We saw the vice president go to Indianapolis last week. Will there be a member of the cabinet or someone within this administration show up there at FedEx Field for another protest, depending upon what the 49ers and the Redskins do?

Donte Stallworth, thank you so much for with us.

STALLWORTH: Thank you. Appreciate it.

PAUL: Thank you (ph).

So "Saturday Night Live" returned. They had Vice President Mike Pence in their sights for this reason, for walking out of an NFL game last weekend, remember.

BLACKWELL: And Alec Baldwin, as President Trump, took it a step further, and demanded the vice president walk out of a few other places. Watch.


ALEC BALDWIN AS DONALD TRUMP: What about the anthem?


BALDWIN: What are the players doing? Are they acting like little SOBs?

BENNETT: No, they seem to be respectful. Wait. One of them is kneeling.

BALDWIN: Get out of there, Mike. Bail. Ditch it. Haul ass, Mike.

BENNETT: Sir, it's October. They wouldn't have Christmas themed cups yet.

BALDWIN: They would if they respect America, Mike. The cups which say Merry Christmas all year and they would show me as Santa Claus giving all of the children gold because gold is the future of this country. Check the cups, Mike. OK?

BENNETT: The cups say "Pumpkin Spice is back," sir.

BALDWIN: Get out of there right now, Mike. Bail.

BENNETT: We are inside the wedding, Mr. President. Everything seems very respectful.

BALDWIN: What do you see? Walk us through it.

BENNETT: OK. I see the groom. He is waiting patiently at the altar.

And then I see -- uh-oh, there is another groom.

BALDWIN: Get out of there, Mike. Bail. Ditch it.

I know you hate this word. Abort. But abort, Mike. Abort. Vamanos.


PAUL: And there you have it.

BLACKWELL: All right.

Harvey Weinstein kicked out of one of Hollywood's most elite clubs. Some of the biggest names in movie and TV react to his expulsion, next.



BLACKWELL: Well, it is Sunday and we know that millions of people will be watching football.

PAUL: This week's CNN hero is sharing that love of the game with some of kids who can really get into it. Meet Blake Rockwell.


BLAKE ROCKWELL, CNN HERO: When you have a child who is dealing with a life-threatening illness, their treatment protocol might be two, three years and their tanks start to go dry. You a big OU fan?


ROCKWELL: Awesome.

Our game day experiences provide an opportunity for a family to get out as a family, just being there together. And days like this, they really motivate the kids to continue their fight.


PAUL: To see the full VIP, all-access experience that Blake gives to these kids, go to


BLACKWELL: All right. Forty-four minutes after the hour now.

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been kicked out of the group behind the Oscars after now more than a dozen women have accused him of sexual harassment and assault.

PAUL: The board of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences released this statement about the decision.

They say, "The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors met today to discuss the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, and has voted well in excess of the required two-thirds majority to immediately expel him from the Academy. We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over. What's at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society. The Board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify."


BLACKWELL: Here to discuss CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" Brian Stelter.

Brian, this is I believe 90 years, the first time they have done something like this now sets a precedent they're going to have to keep up when they say they won't tolerate sexual predatory behavior and workplace harassment.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And I wonder if there's a few men in Hollywood or maybe more than a few that might be worried about that. But with Weinstein the reaction to this decision has been good riddance.

There has been I think a lot of support for this decision throughout the entertainment industry including even from Harvey's own brother Bob who said he wanted Harvey rejected from the organization. I thought this quote from Kate Winslet was really notable over night. This was from the "Los Angeles Times." Remember Kate Winslet won the Oscar in 2009 for the movie "The Reader" which was backed by Harvey Weinstein but she notably did not support him, did not name him and thank him on the stage.

Here is what she said about that -- quote -- "I remember being told make sure you thank Harvey if you win. And I remember turning around and saying, no, I won't. No, I won't. And it had nothing to do with not being grateful. If people aren't well-behaved, why would I thank him?" She went on to say, "The fact that I'm never going to have to deal with Harvey Weinstein again as long as I live is one of the best things that has ever happened and I'm sure the feeling is universal."

A telling quote there from Kate Winslet, reacting to the news of Weinstein's expulsion from the Academy. Meanwhile SNL took on this topic last night.

You know, there has been talk about Weinstein going to rehab maybe in Europe, maybe in Arizona. It's unclear if he is actually doing it or not. But the show said it shouldn't just be rehab for Weinstein.

Here is what they said on "Weekend Update."


COLIN JOST, ACTOR: Weinstein has been accused of multiple counts of sexual assault is reportedly going to Europe for sex rehab. Somehow, I don't think that is going to help anybody.


He doesn't need sex rehab. He needs a specialized facility where there are no women, no contact with the outside world, metal bars, and it's a prison.




STELTER: A joke but also a pretty serious statement from "Weekend Update" there and as we know there are police investigations going on both in New York and in London to see if there are allegations against Weinstein that could be corroborated that are within the statute of limitations meaning there could be charges in Weinstein's future. We will see about that in the weeks to come.

PAUL: All right. Brian Stelter, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

Listen, Brian is not going anywhere. You can watch him today on "RELIABLE SOURCES" this morning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN. We have some new developments to tell you about in the fight against ISIS. The terrorist group may lose their self-declared capital. We have a live report for you.



BLACKWELL: U.S.-backed forces say 90 percent of the ISIS stronghold in Syria has now been liberated. That is Raqqa we are talking about. More than 200 militants and their families have surrendered in that city.

CNN's senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh joins us live now with the very latest.

Nick, tell us about how long this is expected to go on until the city is fully liberated.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We just don't know really at this point how long it will take and that's for a number of reasons.

Firstly this is an incredibly fluid combat environment where there is minimal or real information coming out from the ground sort of entirely objective and there are many different factors at play here. Yes, how many of these fighters have in fact given themselves up, how many have been allowed to leave? Did they leave as some suggestions may be with their families or other families in toe to provide sort of human shields as they travel away?

Where did they go? Will they get there? Are they facing screening as they come out?

How many other militants did he leave behind? These are all questions no one has really able to answer at the moment. But what is extraordinary is to see this, which many thought would be the final showdown, the most bloody chapter possibly in the fight against ISIS.

It's extraordinary to see negotiations between tribal elders from that particular area of Raqqa and the U.S.-backed SDF, that's the sort of predominantly Kurdish forces doing the fighting against ISIS. It's interesting to see these negotiations yield and surrenders and the evacuation of civilians.

As I say we have no idea of the scale of this at the moment and that's important because if it's big that means we could be possibly days toward the end of this battle for Raqqa but if it's comparatively minor we could still be in for nasty weeks more of fighting but still dramatic changes there in just the last few days.

BLACKWELL: The Syrian army liberated or reportedly liberated the city of Al-Mayadeen on Saturday. Talk about why that is almost here.

WALSH: That is important because it, again, reduces the sort of area in which ISIS can operate inside of Syria. But there's another thing happening here too and that is the Russian and Syrian forces are not far away from where this U.S.-backed forces are operating in Raqqa and there's a large question as to what happens to Raqqa when the fight for against ISIS is over.

Does the regime move in? Who takes control of it? Huge questions for the population there.

They felt so disenfranchised that they actually turned to ISIS, some of them, to try and protect them many years ago. All this in the balance right now but most importantly what does happen to those hundreds of civilians possibly thousands still caught now in the cross fire?

BLACKWELL: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much.

PAUL: Well, a California woman is paying it forward after a show of support when her home burned to the ground. How she decided to return that favor. That's next.



PAUL: I want to say good morning to all of you who may be waking up for us early your time there in San Francisco. The Bay Bridge just about an hour though south from where we are seeing all of these fires. You can see people on the road there.

And we appreciate you waking up with us. That is a beautiful view.

BLACKWELL: It is, indeed.

PAUL: Even in the nighttime.

A California fire victim may have lost her home here but you know what? She still has quite a generous spirit.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Instead of focusing on her loss, Erin Williamson is busy thinking about her neighbors. Earlier this week, Williamson watched as her house burned to the ground on live television.

People immediately started to bring things, the essentials. But Williamson says it was more than her family need so she decided to turn that conference room in her office into a shop of sorts.

And today the doors are open for fire victims to come in and take what they need at no cost.

PAUL: Love it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news, a ranking Democrat now asking DHS to investigate contaminated drinking water in Puerto Rico.

[07:00:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great deal of concern about just how much exposure some residents here might have had to this water.