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EARLY START

Florida Braces for Hurricane Dorian; Pro-Democracy Activists Arrested in Hong Kong; Backlash Against U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 30, 2019 - 04:30   ET

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


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[04:30:23] GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Be prepared. And so, if you're anywhere on that east coast of Florida, you know, you want to have food, water, medicine, for up to seven days.

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DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A state of emergency across Florida. Hurricane Dorian gaining strength. It could be the strongest storm to hit the East Coast since 1992.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, the Iowa caucus could be in for radical change. Why it may no longer be the first state to vote.

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ALEX TREBEK, HOST, "JEOPARDY!": I've gone through a lot of chemotherapy and, thankfully, that is now over. I'm on the mend, and that's all I can hope for right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: What is remarkable? Alex Trebek, healthy and back at work, months after a grim diagnosis. What a wonderful story to start our weekend.

WALKER: Yes.

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

WALKER: I'm Amara Walker, in for Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour right here in New York.

And we begin with breaking news. Florida on heightened alert. Bracing for what could be the most powerful hurricane to slam into its east coast in nearly three decades. Dorian is expected to make landfall as a category four storm on Monday. Overnight, the hurricane strengthened to category two. Wind speeds increasing to 105 miles per hour.

BRIGGS: This will be the fourth year in a row for Florida getting hit by a hurricane. That hasn't happened since the 1940s. At this hour, every county in the state of Florida is under a state of emergency.

The state of emergency has also been declared in Georgia. The storm packs a lethal combination of open seas and high tide.

Derek Van Dam tracking Dorian from the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta.

All the ingredients seen there, Derek, for this thing to continue to strengthen and grow. Good morning.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Not what we want to see heading into the Labor Day weekend, that's is for sure. There have been some clear trends that have appeared overnight. Even though the exact track, four and five days out, is still uncertain. A lot of variability with the model consensus, overnight what we started to see is a southerly shift and a timing coming together, with both the European and the American models that we use.

So, we are looking for a landfalling hurricane late Monday into the early morning hours of Tuesday of next week, according to the best models that we have available to us. This is something we haven't seen in the past 36 hours, this agreement between the models. So we of course want to see this because it gives us more direction, more indications of what to expect and where to expect it. So we are putting more of southern Florida in play here with that particular agreement in the models.

This is the latest from the National Hurricane Center. 105 mile-per- hour sustained winds. Still a category two. It is forecast to strengthen and strengthen quickly over the next 24, 48 hours and then dramatically slow down as it approaches the Florida peninsula. Where it goes from there, running parallel with the east coast, moving across the peninsula, into the warm ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico, all cards are on the table.

One thing is for sure, as it slows down, this will magnify the threats across Florida for some of the highest population densities that we have available on the East Coast. And to make matters worse, we're also coinciding the arrival of this storm with king tides, the abnormally high tides that occur in the spring and the fall months. And of course, we've got significant wave heights with an oncoming category four hurricane that could make matters worse.

So, the good news is here that we do have the potential for some ideas here to at least keep this going, so you got the potential to have your hurricane preparedness kit available to you and know your evacuation routes if you live in the state of Florida.

Dave, Amara, back to you.

WALKER: All right. Derek, thank you for that.

Well, it is all hands-on-deck in Florida. 2500 National Guard members have been activated, 1500 more are on standby. The state has 819,000 gallons of water and 1.8 million meals ready for distribution. Another 200,000 gallons of water are on the way. The University of Miami and the University of Central Florida among the colleges closing for varying periods of time today into next week.

BRIGGS: Many local school districts are also closing early or delaying classes, and the college football game between Florida State and Boise State scheduled for Saturday night in Jacksonville will be moved to Tallahassee. County health departments are busy preparing resources for the elderly and disabled. And businesses that rely on the Labor Day weekend as a major revenue generator now have a very big financial gap to fill.

[04:35:06] Leyla Santiago has more from Port Canaveral.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amara, Dave, every single person that I have asked, what is your biggest concern, they say a direct hit. Now, they're quick to say it's still a little bit early, but they are monitoring, keeping a close eye on where Hurricane Dorian is headed. And that's for a lot of people, you know, it's because they still remember Hurricane Irma and the damage that came with it. So, they are taking this seriously and they are already taking precautions, getting prepared.

The stores have started to limit the amount of water that people can buy. We've seen waste management making the rounds, making sure that they are picking up any debris that could be dangerous should winds pick up around here. Today, we expect two truckloads of sand to come into Cocoa Beach, so that residents can make their own bags to help protect their property.

Now, the other aspect of this is we're coming up on a long weekend here. So, businesses were really depending on more tourists being here. I talked to one hotel manager who told us that she's had a whole bunch of cancellations already. Here's what else she had to say.

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SANTIAGO: How much have -- will you lose here?

DEBRA GREEN, GENERAL MANAGER, INTERNATIONAL PALM HOTEL: This hotel, in excess of $120,000.

SANTIAGO: For this hurricane?

GREEN: Yes, for this hurricane. Two days in August, and then September, 1st of September, Sunday, Monday, another 50,000 to 60,000.

SANTIAGO: Yes.

GREEN: It's costly to the whole area.

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SANTIAGO: And we are at Port Canaveral. Yesterday, they had two cruise ships here. Today, they expect three cruise ships here. But already the port is saying, after that, you're likely to see a bit of an adjustment in the itinerary. Of course, we are here, as well, tracking the storm, along with the

people, waiting to see what decisions will be made as Dorian makes its way to Florida -- Amara, Dave.

BRIGGS: OK, Leyla, thanks.

Breaking overnight, a move that could radically change the Iowa caucuses. The "Des Moines Register" first to report that Democratic National Committee will reject Iowa's plan to hold virtual caucuses because of the potential for hacking. In February, party officials in the state proposed the idea of virtual voting after years of complaints the process makes it impossible for people who can't show up on caucus night. A February "Des Moines Register" poll suggested the virtual caucuses could expand participation by nearly a third.

WALKER: But now the future of Iowa's first-in-the-nation status could be in question if Iowa can't come up with a plan for people to vote that's different from a primary. The Iowa caucuses are just five months away, and the campaigns and the party are facing a rapidly shrinking window to adjust their strategies.

BRIGGS: Questions are being raised about a moving but apparently false war story Joe Biden has been sharing on the campaign trail. Here is the former vice president describing his interaction with a war hero in Afghanistan during a campaign stop last Friday in New Hampshire.

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JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This guy climbed down a ravine, carried this guy up on his back under fire, and the general wanted me to pin the Silver Star on him. He stood his attention, I went to pin him, he said, sir, I don't want the damn thing. Do not pin it on me, sir. Please, sir. Do not do that. He died. He died.

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BRIGGS: But as the "Washington Post" put it, quote, "In the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, location, the heroic act, type of medal, military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong." That's all. Biden spoke to the "Post" last night about the story pushing back hard but again with inconsistencies.

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BIDEN: What is the gaffe when I said there was a young man I tried to pin a medal on, and he said, I don't want it, sir. He died. He died. He died. It was a young man. My recollection was that, in fact, pulled a colleague of his out of a burning Humvee, and he risked his life doing it, and the young man died, that he tried to save.

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WALKER: Biden's running -- excuse me -- running series of gaffes appears to be catching up to him as he acknowledged in South Carolina last night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: One school psychologist for every 1500 to 1700 children. I don't want to set an exact number because the press will say Biden is losing his mind. He didn't remember.

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WALKER: Now for the record, Army Staff Sergeant Chad Workman tells the "Post" he did tell the vice president that he didn't feel like he deserved the medal at the time.

Fierce pushback from several states over the proposed multi-billion- dollar settlement with the makers of a drug that helped fuel the opioid epidemic. "The Wall Street Journal" says attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts don't believe the $12 billion price tag being discussed with Purdue Pharma goes far enough.

[04:40:08] Negotiations are still ongoing with the company and its owners, the Sackler family. Two thousand cities, counties and tribal lands are suing the company. A trial is set to begin in October.

BRIGGS: The opioid crisis has killed nearly 400,000 people since 1999. Purdue is widely blamed for sparking the opioid crisis. Introducing Oxycontin in 1996, with aggressive marketing. This week, a judge in Oklahoma ordered pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its role in that state's opioid crisis.

President Trump is defending his trade war from China amid fears from his own party about its impact on the economy. With new tariffs between the two countries just days away, Senator Pat Toomey, an outspoken critic of Trump's tariffs, told "Politico," quote, "There is no question trade uncertainty is contributing to the slowdown." Trump responded in an interview with FOX New Radio Thursday.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So what does Pat Toomey want me to do? Does he want me to say, let me put my hands up, China, continue to rip us off?

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BRIGGS: Trump also said talks with China are continuing and repeated his belief that China wants to make a deal. While Senate Republican worries about the economic tariffs are rising, they aren't new, but most lawmakers don't want to overtly challenge Trump's trade war because they agree with the administration's concerns about unfair Chinese trade practices, in particular intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers.

WALKER: Breaking overnight, two high-profile pro-democracy activists arrested by Hong Kong police and now a new report says China rejected a request from Hong Kong to withdraw the extradition bill that sparked months of protests.

CNN's Paula Hancocks live in Hong Kong with more on this.

I mean, this is only going to enflame the anger that we've been seeing on the streets for months now.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Amara, this was a Reuters report that we're seeing, saying that the Chief Executive Carrie Lam of Hong Kong actually did suggest to Beijing, to the government there, that they should accept one of the demands, one of the five demands the protesters wanted, had to be met. That is, the complete withdrawal of this controversial extradition bill. Now potentially that could have calmed things down just a few months ago. But according to this Reuters report, the government in Beijing refused saying don't give in to any of the protesters' demands.

Now we've reached out to both the Hong Kong and the Chinese governments to find out whether or not this is accurate. But if it is the case, we did hear from one pro-government official here in Hong Kong, speaking on a condition of anonymity, that there was frustration with Carrie Lam. There was frustration that they couldn't at least hold up that extradition bill, which they thought might defuse the situation somewhat.

Now as you said, there's also been a crackdown, Amara, of a number of very prominent pro-democracy activists, Joshua Wong, who's really become one of the faces of this movement, certainly back in 2014. It's the fifth time that he's been arrested by police. We also understand that at least one pro-democracy lawmaker has been arrested as well ahead of what we were expecting to be a very busy weekend.

There was going to be a massive protest on Saturday. The police have said they're not going to approve that protest, even though it was by a group that's generally quite peaceful, so they have called off the protest. But it does not mean there will be no one on the streets. We are still expecting many people to be out -- Amara.

WALKER: Yes, clearly not the end of it. Paula Hancocks, appreciate it, live for us there in Hong Kong.

BRIGGS: Continue to watch.

Ahead, Downing Street says it will meet frequently with the European Union ahead of a possible no-deal Brexit. Does it matter if parliament is sidelined?

CNN live in London with the latest.

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[04:48:16] BRIGGS: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson facing legal challenges to this plan to suspend parliament ahead of a no-deal Brexit, one of the court cases being decided in Edinburgh, Scotland.

CNN's Hadas Gold live at 10 Downing Street in London with the latest. Good morning, Hadas.

HADAS GOLD, CNN MONEY, POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave. Boris Johnson, the prime minister, saying last night that they plan to send negotiators to meet with E.U. officials twice a week in order to sort of up the tempo with negotiations. This seems to be a message to perhaps wavering conservative members of Boris Johnson's own party that they are trying to do everything they can to get some sort of E.U. deal on the table.

So that's one scenario. They somehow get a new deal and everybody votes on it and then Brexit happens with the deal. But there are several other scenarios that could easily play out. Things that are happening sort of all at the same time here. One thing is that the opposition Labor Party said that starting on Tuesday, they're going to be introducing legislation in parliament they hope will stop a no-deal Brexit.

The question, though, is if they will have enough support in parliament and if they will have enough time. Because of the suspension of parliament, which is the longest suspension that we've had here in several decades, it's not clear whether there will be enough time even to get the bills through.

The other scenario is that we just crashed into a no-deal Brexit and that's sort of the inevitable right now. Of course, there are those legal challenges that you mentioned. There's actually several court cases being worked out, one in England, one in Scotland and one in Northern Ireland.

Now the Scottish court case, they're seeking an injunction to stop the suspension of parliament, we should get a decision on that actually in the next few minutes at 10:00 a.m. local. We'll see what that could mean then for the suspension of parliament, whether that will stop that completely or whether that would really change the calculus here.

There's a lot of things moving at the same time here. A lot of action happening in parliament especially next week. We're seeing the battle lines being drawn between all the different parties and we're actually seeing some of the opposition parties all starting to band together.

[04:50:04] But again, the question is, do they have enough support? And do they have enough time to stop this no-deal Brexit -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Keep us up to date about that 10:00 a.m. decision. What a hot mess there in the U.K.

Thank you, Hadas Gold, live for us.

WALKER: All right. Vaping among teens is on the rise and now the leading manufacturer is under federal scrutiny. CNN Business has the details next.

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BRIGGS: A woman who claims she was forced to give birth alone in a jail cell is now suing the city of Denver. Diana Sanchez says her pleas for help during five hours of labor were ignored by deputies and nurses. [04:55:06] Surveillance video released by her lawyer shows Sanchez

crying out in pain before she pulls off her pants and delivers a baby boy. The federal lawsuit alleges jail officials cruelly chose convenience over compassion. An internal investigation by the Denver Sheriff's Department cleared deputies of any wrongdoing. The department says it can't comment further because of the lawsuit.

WALKER: That video is hard to watch.

Twenty-eight Massachusetts communities are facing a critical risk level for an eastern equine encephalitis. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. It can be fatal in humans. 37 more communities, I should say, 160 communities, are at a high or moderate risk. State health officials say four people have had confirmed cases of the virus this year. Communities facing the highest risk include Holliston, Medfield, Brookfield, and Grandy.

BRIGGS: A top seed falls in a major upset at the U.S. Open.

The fourth seed and defending Wimbledon champion Simona Halep stunned by American Taylor Townsend. The 23-year-old Townsend, the 116th ranked qualifier from Atlanta, had never won a set against Halep in three previous meetings. And another American, Coco Gauff, into the third round, after a thrilling win Thursday. The 15-year-old, the youngest woman to make it this far at the Open since Anna Kournikova in 1996, and up next for Gauff is a showdown with the defending champ and world number one Naomi Osaka Saturday night.

WALKER: Exciting.

"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek is back at work five months after being diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. In a video message promoting the show's 36th season, Trebek says he has completed his cancer treatment and it's going to be a good year.

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TREBEK: I've gone through a lot of chemotherapy and, thankfully, that is now over. I'm on the mend, and that's all I can hope for right now.

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WALKER: Well, Trebek is now taping episodes for the new season of "Jeopardy!" which premieres September 9th.

BRIGGS: 4:57, a check on CNN Business this morning. Global markets reacting to China's Commerce Ministry, which says China is willing to solve the trade problems with the, quote, "calm attitude." Asian markets closed mixed. European stocks are cautiously higher. Wall Street futures pointed to a positive open. Stocks rallied Thursday. The best day for all three major averages in about two weeks. Still, stocks are on track for the second worst month of the year.

In other trade news, the goods trade deficit fell 2.5 percent in July as the U.S. imported fewer items. President Trump has been trying to narrow the trade deficit by imposing tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, as well as a variety of Chinese-made goods. The new tariffs on China would hit more consumer items like bikes and shoes.

The commercial real estate market is flashing a warning sign as recession fears grow. New data shows for the first time in seven years overseas investors sold more office buildings and retail space than they purchased. Direct purchases totaled $21.3 billion in the first half of the year, down more than 40 percent. This comes after overseas investing in commercial real estate hit near record levels last year. No single reason was responsible for the pullback, though it's worth noting China slid to number nine on the rankings. It was fourth last year.

Pressure is mounting against Juul. "The Wall Street Journal" reports the FTC is investigating whether Juul used deceptive marketing to appeal to minors. Many blame the e-cigarette startup for the rise in vaping among teens. Juul says it never targeted products to minors and that they're made for adult cigarette smokers. The spokesman told "The Wall Street Journal" that it stopped using paid influencers last year. The Food and Drug Administration and several state attorneys general are also looking into Juul's marketing practices.

Thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great weekend. For our U.S. viewers EARLY START continues right now.

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DESANTIS: Be prepared. And so, if you're anywhere on that east coast of Florida, you know, you want to have food, water, medicine, for up to seven days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: A state of emergency across Florida. Hurricane Dorian gaining strength overnight. And a new update from the National Hurricane center moments away.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, the Iowa caucus could be in for radical change. Why it may no longer be the first state to vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TREBEK: I've gone through a lot of chemotherapy and, thankfully, that is now over. I'm on the mend, and that's all I can hope for right now.

[05:00:00]