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EARLY START

Hurricane Dorian Bearing Down on Florida; James Mattis Takes Swipe at Trump; Queen Approves Suspension of Parliament Over Brexit Deal. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 29, 2019 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:30:55] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking this morning, 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 kids of service members overseas.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

BRIGGS: Sign me up for that class.

WALKER: That's what I mean.

BRIGGS: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

WALKER: I'm Amara Walker, in for Christine Romans. 31 minutes past the hour right here in New York. And we begin with breaking news.

Hurricane Dorian intensifying rapidly as it heads straight for Florida. Wind speeds doubling over 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 showed Dorian shifting slightly west.

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

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

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

Let's get right to meteorologist Pedram Javaheri at the CNN Weather Center.

And still a big question mark as to where the storm is going to make landfall.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, and when as well. We've seen the timing, Amara, slowed down quite a bit in the past 24 or so hours. Initially it looked like a Saturday landfall. Then moved into Sunday. Now pushing late into Monday. So really quite a bit of uncertainties in the long-term track of this particular storm system. But what we do know strengthening is almost a certainty here over the next several days. And unfortunately, it's going to enter an area that's really favorable for rapid strengthening as we've seen not just in the past 24 hours but potentially inside the next couple of days as well.

Very symmetrical, very organized system here in the past few hours. Of course it skirted just to the east of Puerto Rico avoiding those mountains that rise over 4,000 feet high. So you put that together, that's excellent news for Puerto Rico, but for portions of the eastern United States that really doesn't bode well when it comes to the organization of the storm this early in the game. And notice, by the time we get towards this evening and this afternoon, we're talking about a category system in the works and then of course it traverses towards much warmer waters.

Water temperatures across this region of the Bahamas and just north of it sit right around 85 degrees Fahrenheit with, by the way, the temps that are required for a hurricane to form are right around 82. So this thing is going to be fueling on tremendous warmth as it approaches land. And of course you take a look at the track, a pretty significant spread between the northern tip of that cone to the southern tip of that cone, stretching from 500 miles and really important to note this storm system is not just destined for portions of central Florida. It certainly could be a Carolina storm, it could be a Georgia storm.

[04:35:03] In fact some models take it well into portions of coastal Georgia. And of course if this pushes through portions of Florida, it easily can clear back into the Gulf of Mexico and be a Gulf Coast state storm whether it be for Louisiana or Mississippi or, say, even on to portions of the panhandle.

So look at this spread between the models. From the American model, bringing it to the shores sometime around the late overnight hours -- evening hours and overnight hours of Monday to the north, while the European model pushes it towards southern Florida. Both of them come in as a very strong hurricane category 3 system. But again, the spread of where it makes landfall really make this is a dangerous storm for a lot of people that are really having to be on alert now as we approach a holiday weekend with the storm of this magnitude.

BRIGGS: All right, Pedram. Thank you so much. We'll check back with you next hour.

On the phone with us right now, Pete Gomez, assistant fire chief and emergency manager for the city of Miami.

Thanks for being with us so bright and early, sir. What are preparations at this point? Still Thursday, this thing not expected until Monday.

PETE GOMEZ, ASSISTANT FIRE CHIEF AND EMERGENCY MANAGER, MIAMI, FLORIDA: Yes, it's --you know, it's one of those difficult decisions, but we're taking it very seriously. We've got all departments starting to get ready and start working on the plan. There's prewritten plans that we have so that if this hurricane were to come this way, we feel pretty confide

nt that we're going to experience some tropical storm winds anyways based on the projections of where the storm is going and where the wind swap is, and where we sit within that cone of uncertainty.

So we are getting the message out to all our department directors to go ahead and start preparing for landfall of this hurricane to have some impact in the Miami area.

WALKER: Yes, unfortunately, we know, Pete, that Florida is very experienced with these kinds of storms. I guess, it could be good and bad thing, especially with some people getting complacent. But tell us more about these plans and your biggest concerns. I understand that you're having a meeting in the coming hours at 10:00 with city officials. What are the biggest concerns you all will be discussing?

GOMEZ: Well, you know, we definitely learned from Irma. And we have some concerns throughout the whole city. Number one is, obviously, everybody's life safety. So our flooding issue and it's going to get exacerbated because of king tide. So we're concerned about the flooding that's taking place, although we have generated powered pumps throughout the city. It's always a concern when you have the flooding and you get the surge so that's always a concern. And obviously the wind is going to be a concern. We got -- we got cranes all over the city because the city continues

to grow. And during Irma, we had two cranes come down so that is concern. So we got to stand on top of this thing. We're going to have our code enforcement folks go out there and visit all these construction sites and make sure things are tied town, make sure the developers understand the hazards associated with everything they have on the site.

And, you know, we want to make sure that people are taking care of their own neighborhoods and they're taking care of their houses, cutting down limbs and cutting down trees, picking up everything around their houses that can be projectiles in one of these storms. So we're going to be getting that message out. Hopefully our department directors are going to be speaking to all their individuals within their jurisdictions and making sure that they are prepared personally so that if they go on call during this storm, everybody is going to have their own homes taken care of so that we can dedicate all our efforts to the protection of the citizens.

BRIGGS: And to that point, this is no new drill for the people of Florida. Seven category 3 or greater hurricanes have hit the state of Florida just since 2004. Does that make it more difficult to convince people of the seriousness of these storms? Or are they more receptive to the message?

GOMEZ: It's a little bit of both. You know, I feel good when I see these stories of the supermarkets and, you know, the Lowe's and Home Depots, all the activities taking place which tells me people are taking it seriously and they're getting out there. But I'm also a member of one of the 28 National Urban Search and Rescue Teams, (INAUDIBLE), too, and I've deployed to a bunch of these hurricanes, Katrina in Mississippi, Katrina, Louisiana, last year, you know, Hurricane Mike on the panhandle.

And one of the interesting stories I always tell is when we go to these deployments and we see the devastation and we speak to the people that didn't evacuate, you know, it's a similar story. It's like I lived through hurricane such and such. And I survived. It wasn't that big a deal. I thought this one wasn't going to be that bad. So that apathy, let's call it, is pretty prevalent in different areas and with different people, so I hope people take into consideration the power of these hurricanes.

[04:40:01] So that's always a concern. That people don't take it serious. So, you know, people that are in these evacuation zones are going to be prone to flooding. We want to make sure that they understand that they are going to have to make efforts to get out of town or get inland to a safer location because hurricanes -- Mother Nature is relentless on us. And we've seen that in the past. So I hope that message is sent strong and clearly to our citizenry.

WALKER: Yes. I've lived in Miami for many years and I remember talking to residents before a storm and it was always that same mindset. Look, I have been through so many big storms. I survived Hurricane Andrew.

BRIGGS: Right.

WALKER: You know, I should just hunker down here and I'll be fine.

BRIGGS: We saw that with Michael.

WALKER: Exactly. All right. Pete Gomez, appreciate you joining us, sir. Thank you. Good luck to you all.

Well, 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: Former Defense secretary James Mattis taking a not-so-subtle jab at President Trump and his leadership. And when his successor at the Defense Department was asked about it, he had very little to say.

Here's Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It was a dire warning from former Defense secretary James Mattis. He wrote in "The Wall Street Journal," "We are dividing into hostile tribes cheering against each other, fueled by emotion and a mutual disdain that jeopardizes our future."

This came on the very same day that the current Defense secretary Mark Esper and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, another four-star Marine and friend of Mattis, came out for a Pentagon press conference for the first time in a year. Both men said they wanted to have a good relationship with the media, so they were coming out to answer questions.

But one of the things Dunford did not want to talk about is what Mattis had written. He was adamant that he would not talk about politics, that he would not talk ever in uniform or retired about President Trump and how he performs as commander-in-chief.

This is one of the big issues in the military right now. If there is so much political churn in the country, how is it affecting the troops? And the big question is whether this era is now fundamentally changing the character of the U.S. Military and how it relates to U.S. society.

Dunford and Esper were adamant that in their view there is no place for politics in the ranks -- Dave, Amara.

BRIGGS: Not a guy, James Mattis, who was eager to speak out, but clearly concerned about the political environment. These are some serious words. And the fact it was in "The Wall Street Journal" I think means a lot.

WALKER: Yes.

BRIGGS: He wanted a specific portion of this country to read those words.

WALKER: You're right. The fact that he spoke does say a lot.

BRIGGS: Yes.

WALKER: All right. Coming up next, a teenager who watched videos of mass shootings facing charges after guns were found in his dorm.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:47:44] WALKER: Chants of "Stop the Coup" after the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked the Queen Elizabeth to suspend parliament. Many feel it is an attempt to silent Brexit critics in the weeks leading up to a no-deal breakup with the European Union. The Queen has agreed to the request which puts her in an unusual position she typically stays above the political fray.

CNN's Max Foster live in London at 10 Downing Street with more, actually at our London bureau.

I mean, the fact that the Queen agreed to suspend parliament, I mean, that's what is usual, because if she said no, then that would have been unusual. But tell us more about this move because it is quite bold by Boris Johnson to suspend parliament because he's trying to basically narrow the window so his critics cannot avoid a no-deal Brexit.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, fundamentally, un-democratic as critics are saying because he's not allowing parliament to have as much debate time effectively as they would have had if he hadn't called for the suspension. And he did it so very, very quietly. He sent up some counsellors to the Queen's holiday home so she could approve the suspension of parliament, which reduces the amount of days that the parliament will be sitting next month ahead of the date of Brexit, which is October 31st.

And many fear that Britain could be heading out of the European Union without a deal. Boris Johnson fundamentally disputes that saying what he wants to do is show he's in control of the process, so he could go to the European capitals and get a better deal on the terms of Britain leaving the European Union. But yes, it's caused all this tension. It has put the Queen in a very difficult position because opposition party members are now saying that she needs to step in in some way and she may be dragged in if there's a vote of confidence now in Boris Johnson as leader of the UK.

She might be asked to sack him which she fundamentally wouldn't want to do. She's built her reputation on staying out of politics. What we're looking for now is a response. There's one very prominent Remain campaigner who is now going to take the government to court. So there's a court process going on. And also next week really up against it, the parliamentarians are going to be trying to find some parliamentary mechanism, Amara, to try to block this very controversial move by the new British prime minister.

[04:50:05] WALKER: Yes. Quite a risky maneuver by Boris Johnson. Let's see if it backfires.

Thanks so much, Max Foster, in London.

BRIGGS: All right. Some CNN Business at 4:50 Eastern Time. Millennials may not be ready for a possible economic downturn. In data first compiled by Axios, several factors are at play here. Millennial homeownership is 8 percentage point lower than previous generations at this age. Student debt is at $1.5 trillion and rising. Just 37 percent of Americans under 35 owned stocks last year versus 55 percent in 2001.

Part of the problem is many millennials graduated college in a rough economy causing them to take lower paying jobs compared to previous generations. Many find themselves stuck living in expensive cities where it's tough to get jobs that pay enough to tackle their loans. A vicious cycle making it difficult to save or invest. And that's having a ripple effect as they put off buying homes, getting married and having kids.

And of course you're seeing a lot of these millennials in a gig economy, balancing two or even three jobs making it more difficult --

WALKER: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- to put away that money.

WALKER: A Colorado couple had the encounter of a lifetime in their own home. We're going to show you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:55:46] WALKER: 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 a college in North Carolina because it would be easier to buy guns. Prosecutors say Steber's plot hinged on whether or not he was accepted into a fraternity. Around 30 mass shootings have been disrupted since El Paso and Dayton.

BRIGGS: Emotions running high at a town hall meeting in St. Louis where residents spoke out about the epidemic of gun violence in the city. At least 12 children have been killed there since April.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We losing too many people, family, and especially these children. So, money and the witness protection program so these families can get some kind of closure, so people can come forward and talk. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Missouri Congressman William Lacy Clay says gun violence is a public emergency and that their community and the nation have reached a tipping point. He urged those in attendance to support his proposed gun legislation that would allow cities to pass gun laws without the approval of their state legislature.

WALKER: A Colorado couple squared off with a mama bear and her two cubs, and guess what? They won. A security camera shows the mother bear opening a screen door and then entering Jon Johnson's home with her cubs. He came face-to-face with the big bear in his kitchen. You can see that she clawed him on his stomach, face and arms as he fought for his life. His girlfriend, George Ann Field, was able to get a bat and hit the mama bear hard at least three times before she fled the home with her cubs.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Actor 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 McConaughey's name stands alone on the syllabus. He does have an Academy Award and more than 50 films under his belt.

Check on CNN Business at 4:58, recession fears and uncertainty uncertainties about trade hitting Asian markets. They saw a slight decline. European markets have opened up a bit. U.S. Futures pointing to a positive open. Stocks finished higher Wednesday even as bond yields continue to slide. The Dow ended the day up 257 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both reversed Tuesday's losses.

U.S.-China trade war is worrying investors and businesses are sending President Trump a warning. 200 footwear companies including Adidas, Nike and Crocs sent a letter to Trump asking him to cancel new tariffs on China. The letter said there is no doubt the tariffs act as hidden taxes paid by American individuals and families. The new tariffs set to go into effect Sunday.

Apple is apologizing for a practice that allowed contractors to listen to Siri recordings and is promising changes. The practice was designed to improve Siri's quality. Now Apple will require users to opt in to having their recordings listened to rather than as a default. And only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to the samples. Apple also said it will no longer keep audio recordings of users' interactions with Siri.

Thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of your day. For our U.S. viewers EARLY START continues right now. There's a new track for Hurricane Dorian. Why the entire state of

Florida should be on alert for a major hurricane.

WALKER: Another move to keep immigrants out. This time the White House is targeting children of service members overseas.

[05:00:00]