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Hurricane Dorian May Hit U.S. Mainland as Cat 3 Hurricane; Trump Continues to Target Puerto Rico in Twitter Tirade; No More Automatic Citizenship for Some Military Kids; Fierce Backlash After Britain's Suspension of Parliament. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 29, 2019 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:25] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, there's a new track for Hurricane Dorian. Why the entire state of Florida should be on alert for a major hurricane.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: And another move to keep immigrants out. This time the White House is targeting the children of service members overseas.

BRIGGS: Anger boiling over as the Queen gets dragged into the Brexit mess. What it means with the clock ticking toward a no-deal Brexit.


MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, ACTOR: All right, all right, all right. How you doing?


WALKER: And the actor is now the professor. Oscar-winning Matthew McConaughey is going back to school and we will tell you where.

Hello, everyone, and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I am Amara Walker in for Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Nice to see you. Good morning.

WALKER: Thank you.

BRIGGS: Good morning, too, everyone. I'm Dave Briggs. It is Thursday, August 29th. 4:00 a.m. in New York, 4:00 a.m. and in south Florida.

That's where we begin this morning with breaking news. Hurricane Dorian intensifying rapidly as it heads straight for Florida. Wind speeds doubling with the last 24 hours. Dorian is now forecast to hit the U.S. mainland as a major category 3 hurricane on Labor Day. The storm's latest track shows Dorian shifting slightly west.

Why does that matter? Well, it's heading for the central part of Florida, not just sideswiping the coast. With no major land in its path, Dorian is expected to continue strengthening. Governor Ron DeSantis now declaring a state of emergency.

WALKER: Overnight Dorian pounded the U.S. Virgin Islands with heavy rain. These first images from St. Thomas show a good deal of debris, downed trees and damaged roofs with winds reaching 111 miles an hour.


ANNE BEQUETTE, ST. JOHN, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS RESIDENT: Thank God it's over, but it was a lot stronger than anyone really had anticipated for here. It was just intense. You know, nobody really expected that and still a little rattled and frazzled in dealing with my flooded apartment.


WALKER: At the height of the storm, about 25,000 power outages were reported in St. Croix. All of those customers have now been restored.

For Puerto Rico, a much needed near miss. FEMA was prepared with over 3,000 people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, territories still recovering from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

BRIGGS: Right now in Florida, they are bracing for a direct hit. Residents stocking up on water and other emergency supplies. Long lines are forming at gas stations ahead of the storm.

Let's get right to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri live for us in the CNN Weather Center.

Good morning, my friend.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning, Dave. You know, this storm system has really defied all odds when it comes to the last 24 hours. It has rapidly intensified to category one storm. Of course it has kind of taken the path of least resistance as well, avoiding a lot of these islands that had large mountains and with that being the case, has maintained intensity of a category 1 hurricane. Unfortunately, it's going to begin to move into not only very favorable environments but also the open sea here where we do have potential here for significant growth over the next couple of days.

So, radar imagery, very organized, very symmetrical for a storm system that has moved across some of these islands in the past 24 or so hours. But give it the next day, 24 or so to 36 hours and we're talking about potentially a category 2 hurricane at this point sitting north of the Turks and Caicos Islands. That would be by later on tonight into early tomorrow. And then once we approach Friday into Saturday, our model suggests the storm has the potential to strengthen even more up to category 3 system as it approaches somewhere toward the southern southeastern corner of the United States.

And the reason I want to really emphasize that is that people see this and kind of put their target right across central Florida. Models have suggested anything as far north as southern Georgia to even potentially skirting the Florida Keys and entering the Gulf of Mexico. So really important to note the margin of error with this storm system has been significant in recent days. It has shifted to some 200 miles in the last two days alone and the margin of error for a storm five days out is exactly that, 200 miles as well.

So this could really end up in any location from the coast of the Carolinas, even so far to southern areas of Florida. Notice the American model brings it somewhere around the evening hours, overnight potentially, even Monday there, into northern Florida or southern Georgia, anywhere from Savannah out there toward Jacksonville. While the European model, historically this particularly model has been more accurate, brings the storm system in also on Monday overnight now and into portions of southern Florida.

[04:05:10] So a significant spread of some 500 miles between the storms and the models right now. So really important to note to not just target central Florida as an area of landfall. In fact you look at a couple of storms that have originated from the same spot, Amara, from a couple of years ago, of course we're talking about Maria and Irma, all of them starting exactly where Dorian is at this hour. And notice the variability in those tracks one going well to the west then south, another one skirting well to the north. So this storm system certainly will meander quite a bit here in the next couple of days.

WALKER: So clearly it's a strong storm. What we don't know is where exactly it's going to make landfall. As you said, a big margin of error.

All right, Pedram Javaheri, thank you very much for that.

Now as Dorian barrels toward Puerto Rico, President Trump displayed a stunning lack of empathy, tweeting this, "Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is broken and their politicians are either incompetent or corrupt. And by the way, I'm the best thing that's ever happened to Puerto Rico." Remember nearly 3,000 Puerto Ricans were killed by Hurricane Maria.

BRIGGS: President Trump continuing the tweet storm while vowing "FEMA and all others are ready and willing to do a great job. When they do, let them know it and give them a big thank you. Not like last time. That includes the incompetent mayor of San Juan."

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz firing back at the president demanding he be quiet and get out of the way.


MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: My hope is that the president really keeps his mouth shut and lets the people that are doing the work do the work that needs to be done to save lives.


BRIGGS: Mayor Cruz went on to tell CNN she is not going to concern herself with President Trump's behavior nor his lack of understanding. She described his conduct as ludicrous.

WALKER: Children of some U.S. service members living abroad will no longer automatically become American citizens. A new Trump administration policy appears to affect children of naturalized U.S. citizens serving in the Armed Forces, but who have not lived in the U.S. for a required period of time. About 100 children a year will be affected.

Many U.S. government employees and service members are temporarily assigned to posts overseas for extended periods and their children were previously considered to be living in and outside of the U.S. for the purpose of eventually gaining citizenship.

BRIGGS: A potential economic downturn has President Trump rattled and looking for wins he can spin to voters. According to sources, the president and his economic team are often at odds in searching for ways to prevent market anxiety from spilling into the 2020 election. A new Quinnipiac poll yesterday shows for the first time more voters under President Trump say the national economy is getting worse than getting better and that could explain why the president is pushing harder than ever to get a border wall built, tweeting, quote, "The wall is going up very fast despite total obstruction by Democrats in Congress and elsewhere."

WALKER: Well, that claim is patently false. There has not been a single new mile of wall built since the president took office. Customs and Border Protection has replaced existing barriers that were deteriorating.

President Trump is now holding regular meetings with aides demanding to know why more wall has not been built and CNN has confirmed a "Washington Post" report that Mr. Trump recently told subordinates he would pardon them if they committed illegal acts to get the wall built by 2020.

BRIGGS: Lackluster fundraising coupled with a poor showing in the polls leading Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to drop out of the Democratic presidential race. Gillibrand ran as a champion for women, but her message failed to catch on. She says she's proud of her team and what they accomplished adding, let's go beat Donald Trump and take back the Senate. Gillibrand's decision coming after she failed to qualify for the third Democratic primary debate. She had spent millions on advertising to find a way in. Twenty Democrats are still, though, in the race.

WALKER: So how would you feel if this were coming at you?

BRIGGS: Not good.

WALKER: You think?

BRIGGS: Whoa. A volcanic eruption in Italy sends people running and boating in this case for their lives.


[04:14:18] BRIGGS: Chants of "Stop the Coup" after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked the Queen Elizabeth to suspend parliament. Many feel it's an attempt to silence Brexit critics in the weeks leading up to a no-deal breakup with the European Union. Now the Queen has agreed to the request which puts her in the unusual position of being right in the middle of this political fray.

CNN's Max Foster live in London with more.

Max, good morning to you. What is the reaction to the move by Boris Johnson?

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're learning a bit more today actually, Dave. About the process of events yesterday. This was all very much under wraps until the prime minister announced it. It turns out he sent up some pretty counsellors to the Queen's holiday home in Scotland, where they got approval from her for the suspension of parliament.

[04:15:05] We then had opposition leaders appealing to her effectively saying, don't prove this. It's all been done already. So this is very much Boris Johnson and his team keeping the opposition on the back foot. So effectively, what we've ended up with is a situation where parliament will be suspended next month. They would have less time to come up with a plan to oppose a no-deal Brexit at the end of October.

They are furious about that, so today is really about the response. We've got campaigners saying they are taking the government to court to try to get an injunction against this move. We've also got parliamentarians saying they're going to start a process next week to try to block a no-deal Brexit. So it's become very tense.

And those scenes you were showing there with the protest very much encapsulate the sense of feeling of remainers, people who want Britain to remain within the European Union. But I have spoken to people on all sides. And even Boris Johnson's father, Stanley Johnson, yesterday was explaining to me that, you know, we've had three and a half years of talk about Brexit. We're not getting anywhere. Parliament keeps blocking it. So Boris Johnson had to get control somehow.

So he can now go to Europe and say, actually, I'm in control of the process. I'm going to leave the European Union unless you give me some sort of deal. So wait to see how the -- how next week really plays out, Dave. But certainly it's become very, very tense here.

BRIGGS: Yes. The scramble will be on next week. Max Foster, live for us in London this morning. Thank you.

WALKER: My goodness. Look at that. A volcanic eruption on an island off the coast of Sicily sending locals and tourists fleeing by land and sea. The Stromboli volcano covering the island with rock and ash, and sending that plume of smoke over a mile into the sky. Firefighters report widespread vegetation fires on the island. This is the second time Stromboli has erupted in less than two months. There's no immediate word of any injuries or major damage.

BRIGGS: All right. 4:17, a check on CNN Business. Markets around the world suffering as trade worries persist. Asian markets all declined. European markets have opened lower. And the bad mood spilling over into the U.S. futures. Stocks finished higher Wednesday as the energy sector got a boost from higher oil prices. Crude oil rose more than 1 percent, thanks to a steep drop in inventories.

The Dow ended the day up 257 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both closed slightly higher, reversing Tuesday's losses. Meanwhile, bond yields continue to slide. The yield curve inversion worsened again and the 30-year treasury yield slipped to a record low under 2 percent as global recession fears grow.

The inverted yield curve has historically been a recession warning sign, but one trader told CNN Business that investors should not overreact saying the yield curve does not become predictive unless it stays there for a long enough time.

WALKER: A lot of jitters on Wall Street.

BRIGGS: Yes. Indeed.

WALKER: Murder suspects on the loose. Police are looking for a couple who overpowered security officers and then escaped.


[04:23:14] BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, a North Carolina college student arrested after guns were discovered in his room. He's charged with threatening a school shooting. Court documents revealed 19-year- old freshman Paul Steber confessed to having a timeline to kill people. The district attorney says Steber had been watching videos of mass shootings and chose college in North Carolina because it would be easier to buy guns. Prosecutors say Steber's plot hinged on to whether or not he was accepted into a fraternity. Around 30 mass shootings have been disrupted since El Paso and Dayton.

WALKER: The manhunt is expanding for a couple police say escaped custody by overpowering two security officers in Utah. Blane and Susan Barksdale are accused of killing a 72-year-old man in Tucson, Arizona, back in April. They were being extradited from New York to Arizona when they escaped Monday night. Investigators say the couple may be traveling through Arizona and they should be considered armed and dangerous.

BRIGGS: A lot of patience and a little luck pays off at least for one Canadian man who won $60 million in the lottery after playing the same numbers for almost 20 years. Edmonton resident Bon Truong won the jackpot on October 26th, 2018. He waited nearly 10 months to claim his prize. He says he felt overwhelmed by the win and wanted to make sure his family was ready for the changes it would bring. Truong says he first plans on buying his family a new home and putting away money to save for their future.

WALKER: And a heartwarming gesture from a football team whose coach is battling cancer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all for you, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Y'all better slow down. I got to breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all for you, coach. It's all for you, coach.


WALKER: During a team meeting, the Lyon College football players learned their offensive coordinator Kris Sweet had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Sweet began getting chemotherapy this month and started losing his hair. So Monday the players showed up in the weight room and shaved their heads.


KRIS SWEET, LYON COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACH: I can't speak enough how special those kids are. How we see them every day that, let's face it, most of the people in town or campus don't see. They are good kids.


WALKER: They sure are. Sweet says he doesn't like attention, but he called this the most touching and emotional moment that he's been through.

BRIGGS: University of Texas at Austin has a new professor.


MCCONAUGHEY: All right, all right, all right. How you doing?



BRIGGS: Matthew McConaughey who graduated from UT in 1993 will be a professor of practice at the Moody College of Communication. McConaughey has been a visiting professor since 2015. He's been co- teaching the script-to-screen film production class, but now his name stands alone on the syllabus. He does have an Academy Award and more than 50 films under his belt. One would imagine a lot of kids trying to sign up for Matthew's class.

WALKER: Including myself. I'm going to go on the Web site and see how I can become a student again.

BRIGGS: I'm in.

WALKER: We are tracking Hurricane Dorian. The path shifting west putting the entire state of Florida on alert. A new update from the National Hurricane Center is just moments away.