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NEW DAY SATURDAY

Latest on Hurricane Dorian; Dorian Now Category 4, Possibly Headed for Florida; Police React to Hong Kong Protests; President Trump Goes to Camp David, Monitors Hurricane Status; Illinois Governor Pardons Deported Army Vet; Trump and Border Wall; Details of Death of Los Angeles Angels Pitcher Released; Report Released on Effects of Marijuana on Adolescents and Fetuses; Actress Valerie Harper Has Died. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired August 31, 2019 - 06:00   ET

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


[06:00:00]

ANNOUNCER: This is "New Day Weekend" with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Good Saturday morning to you. We're starting with Hurricane Dorian. The National Hurricane Center says it is now an extremely dangerous category-four hurricane capable of causing catastrophic damage.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: Right now it's churning in the Atlantic with sustained wind speeds of more than 140 miles per hour; parts of the Bahamas bracing for a direct hit, extreme flooding, life-threatening storm surge, all possible.

BLACKWELL: Now all of Florida is under a State of Emergency, but as of 5:00 a.m., the National Hurricane Center says Florida may not take a direct hit. However, much of Florida is in the cone of uncertainty, meaning landfall is still possible anywhere along the Florida east coast.

PAUL: The governor is telling everyone in the state take Hurricane Dorian seriously. A lot of people have already boarded up as officials tell residents to be prepared with at least seven days of supplies.

BLACKWELL: And we're covering this hurricane from every angle. CNN has crews stretched out across the coast. Let's start, though, with CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar in the CNN Weather Center. Allison, so the track has changed a bit. What do we know right now?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right, so the latest information that we have from the National Hurricane Center, winds are still at 140 miles per hour. Again, that is a category four major hurricane. The movement has changed a little bit. It has started to speed up ever so slightly. It's moving west/northwest at about 12 miles per hour, still heading toward the Bahamas, still heading toward Florida at this point in time. The ultimate question becomes where does it go in the next few days.

One thing to note, we saw a rapid intensification cycle with this particular storm in the last 24 hours. One of the most impressive things is take a look at this eyewall. Not only is it incredibly symmetric, but it's also very large. You can actually see the water through this satellite imagery right here underneath that eye. That just goes to show how large of an eyewall that we're actually dealing with.

The track, yes, overall in the last couple of runs has shifted a little bit farther to the east. It does not take Florida out of the cone and I cannot emphasize that enough. This does not mean that Florida is in the clear. Even if hypothetically it does just hover the East Coast and doesn't necessarily make a true landfall over Florida, it's going to get close enough that you're still likely going to have hurricane-force winds up and down the coast, very heavy rainfall, and yes, even the potential for some power outages. We all know it doesn't take much to knock power out so people still need to be prepared even if the power does go out.

Here's a look at the models. Again more of them are starting to shift a little bit farther to the east. Now a landfall likely, maybe perhaps more possible in places like South or North Carolina. Here's why -- this high-pressure system off to the east, this had been what's steering this storm for the most part the last few days. It's going to start to break down. A new high-pressure system from the central U.S. is going to start to shift to the east. Because of that, the storm is going to have to slide in between the two. We just don't know exactly when it's going to make that turn to the north. That will be key. If it takes a little bit longer, it will end up having a direct landfall on Florida.

The odd thing is how eerily similar the new forecast track is to Hurricane Matthew from back in 2016. The yellow line is Matthew, the red line is Dorian. Again, look at how closely they align. Matthew, Victor and Christi, ended up making landfall in South Carolina but brushed just along the east coast of Florida. But it was still one of the costliest storms to ever hit Florida's east side, because of how close it got. One thing to note, Matthew was a much weaker storm than Dorian is right now.

PAUL: Wow. All right, Allison, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

I want to go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's in west Palm Beach this morning. So Brian, I know you're not feeling any effects there, but boy, I know people there are really nervous.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They certainly are Christi and Victor and that dynamic really played out overnight and all day yesterday and Thursday. This is one of those scenes that people here just hate to see in these areas. The bag over the handle, the sign saying "Diesel gas only". We're told this gas station ran out of regular unleaded, and then even premium unleaded at about 12:30, 1:00 overnight. So this was one of those places that had those really long lines yesterday, this WaWa gas station here in Palm Springs, Florida.

As you can see over here, they pretty much cleaned out right here. They are expecting a tanker truck to come shortly, but they don't know exactly when. We've got a 7-11 gas station over there that closed down long before this place ran out of gas and other gas stations here have run out as well. The governor of Florida said that about half the gas stations in Miami were out of gas as of about midday yesterday.

So you know, again, the evacuation dynamic and now the changing forecast could change all of this in the next few hours, but people here still felt like they had to make a run on gas in case they were given that mandatory evacuation order changing forecast could change changing forecast could change all of this in the next few hours, but people here still felt like they had to make a run on gas in case they were given that mandatory evacuation order that was going to be expected to be issued maybe tomorrow morning.

[06:05:00]

Now it's not going to be so clear. I did ask the general manager here, Larry Peck, about what motivated people to make that run on gas relatively early in the process.

LARRY PECK, GENERAL MANAGER GAS STATION: I think because of the seriousness of the storm, I see this happening a lot sooner so I have a feeling going into closer to the storm like Sunday and Monday, I have a feeling it's going to be a lot smoother because I believe everyone's taking this so serious as they should. They're coming here now and being proactive instead of waiting until the last minute.

TODD: Now the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, said because of the incredible demand over the last couple of days and possibly today, as well, they've had to change the logistics for tanker trucks to get them to these places. He says they have gas, but they have too much demand, making the capacity very limited to get the gas from the ports to the station. So they've had to change the logistics, escort some tanker trucks along the highways with police escorts, things like that. To give a sense of the run on gas over the past couple of days, that gentleman we talked to, Larry Peck, said on an average day about 1,700 people buy gas at this station. He thinks that that more than tripled over the past couple of days. Christi, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Wow. Brian Todd for us there. Thank you so much Brian.

Florida's space coast is preparing for whatever Dorian may bring. We've seen the shifting forecast and cone.

PAUL: Yes we have but at Kennedy Space Center spokesman said NASA's mobile launch platform is being moved inside regardless. It's their only platform available for the space launch system and obviously they don't want the hurricane or anything from it to damage it.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Nick Valencia is on Florida's space coast at Cocoa Beach. Nick, what are they doing to prepare there?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well you know there's a lot of uncertainty regarding this storm, Victor. On Wednesday when we first got out here, we'd expected landfall to be sometime Sunday night into early Monday morning but with this latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center it seems that Florida may be spared from a direct hit. But here where we are in Cocoa Beach it took a little bit more of a serious turn last night. We got a call in our hotel room about a mandatory evacuation for parts of Brevard County. That includes the Kennedy Space Center as well as the south beaches of Merit Island.

Residents here in and around this area are expected to evacuate by 8:00 a.m. on Sunday. And you know in driving around and getting into this area yesterday, we did see some of those that were already taking the precautions very seriously; people starting to board up their windows, doors, businesses, homes, things like that. They're also staging linemen around the state in case power lines go down. And while the state -- the latest advisory shows the state is not going to take a direct hit, Hurricane Dorian is expected to grind up the coast. It's going to cause miserable conditions especially for everyone along the eastern coast of Florida. There doesn't appear to be that panic just yet. Residents here though definitely guarded. Victor, Christi.

PAUL: Yes, I think everybody is just on edge because we don't know the exact trajectory yet. And that's -- they don't know what to expect and don't know fully what to do. Nick Valencia, take good care there, you and the crew. Thank you so much.

VALENCIA: Thanks, Christi.

BLACKWELL: Breaking overnight, at least ten teens are hurt in a shooting after a high school football game in Alabama.

PAUL: They were at a Friday night game obviously between LeFlore and Williamson High Schools and somebody just started shooting. The police chief says that it's not clear if there was a fight before the shooting started. But CNN affiliate WKRG reports five of the teens are in critical but not life-threatening condition. One victim had a seizure apparently during all of this. Another individual injured his hand while he was trying to get out of the way. Two people are in custody. They're being questioned by police now.

BLACKWELL: The autopsy report for a pro baseball player who died in his hotel room this summer is in. What caused his death and why his family says a Los Angeles employee is responsible.

PAUL: Also, he served two tours in Afghanistan but was deported to Mexico after 7 1/2 years in prison for a nonviolent drug offense. Why the U.S. Army veteran is now possibly coming home.

BLACKWELL: Also, an Arkansas woman drowning in her car calls 911 desperately for help. But newly released audio reveals that the 911 dispatcher is anything but comforting.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not going to die. It's OK. I know the water level is high...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't breathe...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:10:00] PAUL: We have breaking news we want to bring you. As you look at these pictures here out of Hong Kong, police pushing back protesters with water cannons this morning. You can see just the immense crowds and hear some of those cannons going off there. These are loaded with blue dye apparently. This is happening after firebombs were thrown in the direction of police.

BLACKWELL: Will Ripley is there on the scene. Will, give us an idea, we can see you wearing the mask now as the teargas has been deployed. Give us an idea of the scope of the crowd. We need some context on scale compared to what we've seen and what you're seeing around you now.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that blue dye that Christi just mentioned by the way so that police can later identify the protesters who were sprayed and perhaps arrest them and charge them for this, one of several illegal gatherings that have sprung up across Hong Kong.

Remember, there was supposed to be a legal protest today to mark the fifth anniversary that Mainland China said the people in Hong Kong can't vote for their leaders that their leaders have to be handpicked by China and there was supposed to be a demonstration, maybe a million people.

The police canceled the permit. They said they're not allowed to do it. What we're seeing out here instead are these young people -- we'll show over the bridge there. We're outside the legislative council building. They have built a barricade off in the distance there where you see those flashing lights. Those are Hong Kong riot police preparing to possibly move into disperse this group. I would say there's easily over 1,000 people out here, relatively small compared to the large numbers that we see. But large enough group to shut down this major road in Admiralty in the heart of Hong Kong; one of the most busy streets that this city has now completely ground to a halt once again for the 13th consecutive weekend of protests.

[06:15:00]

These protesters are pointing lasers at the government buildings and the police officers who are stationed inside. What is remarkable, Victor and Christi is that all of this is unfolding, there's a Chinese flag waving on that building right behind me there, that's the People's Liberation Army garrison. That's where the Chinese army has thousands of soldiers in Hong Kong right now, including thousands more that arrived here in the early morning hours is what Beijing describes as a troop rotation. So you have Chinese soldiers inside those walls, Hong Kong riot police down the street, and on this side, protesters with gas masks like this gearing up for yet another night of fighting here on the streets of Hong Kong.

BLACKWELL: All right. Will Ripley, stay safe there in Hong Kong. We'll check back throughout the morning. Thank you.

PAUL: Thanks, Will.

So think about this, 22 minutes. That's how long a newspaper delivery woman in Arkansas pleaded for help as floodwaters started swallowing her SUV.

BLACKWELL: So the recording of her 911 call reveals a dispatcher that Fort Smith police are calling callous, uncaring. Here's part of the 911 call and a warning, it is upsetting.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

DEBRA STEVENS, VICTIM: Please, Please help me. I don't want to die.

DISPATCHER: You're not going to die. Hold on for a minute.

STEVENS: Well I need - I'm scared. I'm sorry.

DISPATCHER: I understand that you are scared, but there's nothing I can do sitting in a chair. So you're going to have to hold on, and I'm going to send you somebody. OK? You're not going to die, I don't know why you are freaking out. It's OK. I know the water level is high.

STEVENS: I'm scared.

DISPATCHER: I understand that but you freaking out is doing nothing but losing your oxygen up in there so calm down.

STEVENS: When are they going to be here?

DISPATCHER: As soon as they get there.

(END VIDEO)

PAUL: That interaction, it actually gets more disturbing as the call goes on. We should point out that Debra Stevens says, you hear her saying "I'm scared, I've never had anything like this happen to me before." The dispatcher says, "This will teach you next time don't drive in the water." About 15 minutes into that call, the dispatcher starts taking other calls. Police say they received several calls from stranded passengers due to flooding and Debra Stevens says, "I'm going to die." The dispatcher says, "Miss Debbie, you're breathing just fine because you're screaming at me so calm down. I know you're scared. Hold on for me." Stevens is not heard again. That dispatcher says, "Miss Debbie, Miss Debbie, oh, my God, she sounds like she's under water now." Rescuers did finally reach Steven's SUV 58 minutes after the end of that call. They couldn't revive her. The interim police chief had this reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

DANNY BAKER, FORT SMITH INTERIM POLICE CHIEF: I completely understand the disgust and the concern that we all have. I understand that listening to a person going through the panic that Ms. Stevens was in those final moments of her life, we would all hope that we would get a little bit better response than perhaps what she was given. I don't want us interacting with anybody in that way whether it's a life-and-death situation or not. Absolutely no criminal -- we've looked at that. She did nothing criminally wrong. I'm not even going to go so far as -- she violated policy. (END VIDEO)

PAUL: Police say the dispatcher had turned in her two weeks' notice, and this call came in on her last shift.

BLACKWELL: The Governor of Illinois has issued a pardon for a U.S. Army veteran deported to Mexico. Miguel Perez, Jr. served two tours in Afghanistan, but his application for citizenship was denied because he served 7 and a half years in prison for a nonviolent drug offense.

PAUL: Reporter Liz Nagy from CNN affiliate WLS in Chicago walks us through this.

LIZ NAGY, ABC CHICAGO CORRESPONDENT: It's a new day for Miguel Perez, Jr.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

EMMA LOZANO, ACTIVIST: This gives us hope that we're closer than ever to bring him home.

(END VIDEO)

NAGY : A late afternoon phone call from Governor Pritzker answered the prayer the Perez family has had on repeat for years.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

ESPERANZA PEREZ, MOTHER OF DEPORTED VET: Sometimes I'm very angry. I say, God, you know but when -- when I know it's not my time, it's your time, but when?

(END VIDEO)

NAGY: On speaker phone from Mexico, you can hear the relief in Perez, Jr.'s voice.

(BEGIN AUDIO)

MIGUEL PEREZ, JR., DEPORTED VET: There's no words to express what I feel. I'm just excited. I've been crying. I've been laughing. I've been all over the place.

(END AUDIO)

NAGY: He was born in Mexico but grew Miguel Perez, Jr. grew up here on Chicago's northwest side with the promise of citizenship. He served two tours in Afghanistan, then a 7 1/2-year prison sentence for a felony drug conviction. In March, 2018, I.C.E. agents immediately swept Perez Jr. into custody with swift deportation orders.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

CHRIS BERGIN, ATTORNEY: They put him on a bridge on the walkway to Mexico in his prison clothes with a plastic bag of some of his stuff. That's what they do to a decorated military veteran. (END VIDEO)

[06:20:00]

NAGY: Since then Perez, Jr. says he's lived a second sentence.

(BEGIN AUDIO)

M. PEREZ, JR.: I wouldn't want to compare it to being a prisoner of war but it's something like it because being away from my family and everything that I love, my community, my home, is like being trapped in a foreign place.

(END AUDIO)

BLACKWELL: Our thanks to our affiliate WLSN, Liz Nagy there for the report. Now you do not have to be a U.S. citizen to enlist in the military, however you but must be a permanent resident with a green card.

PAUL: So the Justice Department says they're hoping a criminal investigation into a series of suspicious deaths at a V.A. hospital in West Virginia.

BLACKWELL: The Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia, has been under scrutiny over the deaths of 11 patients. A source familiar with the investigation says federal investigators included the FBI have been probing the deaths for more than a year and have met with families of potential victims. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin says a person of interest has been identified, but the -- in the case but is no longer at the facility.

PAUL: So coming up, President Trump monitoring Hurricane Dorian. Some people noticing he's largely surrounded by several acting officials including an acting FEMA administrator. How does that play into the response? We'll talk about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:25:00]

BLACKWELL: All right, let's talk about Hurricane Dorian, still a powerful category four. There's a shift in the trajectory this morning that we got just moments ago. It's not expected to make landfall in Florida, but in the Carolinas instead.

PAUL: Yes, Florida is, though, still, as you can see by this map, in the cone of uncertainty which means landfall is still possible there, and the state has declared an emergency. Several counties have issued mandatory evacuation orders already. You can see by that map what we're talking about. We know Florida officials are telling residents get your water, get your gas, have cash because if you lose power, you can't get cash.

BLACKWELL: ATMs go down. PAUL: ATMs go down. You can't use a credit card if you need

something, and if you can even get to something. Those are the guidelines coming from officials this morning.

BLACKWELL: Now Dorian is expected to pass through the northern Bahamas tomorrow into early Monday. The Bahamas' prime minister, he has a strong warning.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

HUBERT MINNIS, BAHAMAS PRIME MINISTER: Do not put your life and those of your loved ones at unnecessary risk. I urge you do not be foolish and try to brave out this hurricane.

(END VIDEO)

BLACKWELL: President Trump is at Camp David this weekend monitoring Hurricane Dorian instead of traveling to Poland as planned. He will attend a briefing at FEMA headquarters in Washington on Sunday afternoon.

PAUL: Now as he prepares to deal with this, it's being called this monster storm, he's surrounded largely by several acting officials including an acting FEMA administrator, Peter Gaynor. CNN White House reporter Jeremy Diamond joining us live. I know that there are some concerns, Peter, about the lack of actual appointed, confirmed leaders in place and the experience to really navigate what might be coming with this storm.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, that's absolutely right. Look, the president headed off to Camp David yesterday evening where he says that he's going to be monitoring a hurricane that he has already described as a monster storm. He's described that Camp David as a control center where he'll have FEMA officials and other experts at his side. But what he will not have at his side are Senate confirmed officials at the heads of the two -- the agency and the department most responsible for disaster relief.

The president does not currently have a Senate-confirmed FEMA administrator, and that is since February when the previous administrator, Brock Long, resigned. The head of the Department of Homeland Security is Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan and that stems from Kirstjen Nielsen's resignation back in February. Now while the president has nominated a head of FEMA that the Senate has not yet acted on, he has not yet nominated a new Secretary of Homeland Security. And the president just yesterday asked about this situation once again reiterating that he likes the word "acting," he likes the flexibility that acting officials do indeed, afford him. The president is monitoring this hurricane, and with that he suggested that the hurricane is going to be hitting dead center a couple of days ago. It wasn't entirely clear what the president was saying when he said dead center until perhaps when he was asked yesterday about his property at Mar-A-Lago.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How concerned are you about Mar-A-Lago being in the hurricane's path?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I haven't even thought about it until the question was just broached a little while ago. Yeah, it looked like Mar-A-Lago's dead center. But look, Mar-A-Lago can handle itself. That's a very powerful place. The thing I'm worried about is the state of Florida.

(END VIDEO)

DIAMOND: Now, Mar-A-Lago is just one of several Trump properties along the east coast of Florida that could potentially be in the storm's path. But as the president looks for developments on the storm's path and where exactly it is going to make landfall, the president will be leaving Camp David on Sunday to head back to Washington where he'll get a briefing at FEMA headquarters and that's where we expect the president will be providing some updates on the situation. Back to you guys.

PAUL: Jeremy Diamond, not Peter, how gracious that man is. I called him Peter because we were talking about the...

DIAMOND: Peter Gaynor.

PAUL: ... FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor.

DIAMOND: I got you.

PAUL: I apologize for that. Jeremy, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: We've been called I can't tell you how many names over the years. I've been called Trevor. I'm not going to tell you which correspondent did that. But it's happened.

All right, the Trump Administration is moving forward with its plans to use military funds to construct the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

[06:30:00]

In July, the Supreme Court cleared the way for the White House to divert billions of dollars earmarked for fighting the war on drugs. That's specifically what was listed there, to fund the construction of the wall. Now more than $3 billion will be diverted from the military construction funds and it's unclear which military projects will be impacted by the decision. Of course that's pending the signature of Mark Esper, the Defense Secretary. Joining me now, Errol Lewis, CNN political commentator, host of the "You Decide" podcast. Errol, welcome back.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Victor.

BLACKWELL: So there are some who suggest that, you know, the president is -- is focused on the wall especially so much more now. There was reporting last week that he was offering pardons potentially for people to break the law to get this wall built. He focused on it because as there are concerning signals about the economy, that this promise is especially important to his base. What do you think? Do you believe that? Where else would his base go?

LOUIS: Well, that's an interesting question. Where else will they go? And the answer to that, Victor, which is the problem that this administration is facing, is they might stay home. They might be sufficiently disenchanted about the president's failure to deliver on a signature promise. I mean there's the economy and there's building the wall and you could pick a third thing but those will be the issues that this president runs for re-election on. His base very much wants that wall.

They still chant it at -- as far as I can tell -- every single rally that he has; all of his re-election rallies. You know, he's -- he has not built, by the way, a single new mile of wall or of fencing. They've up until now been able to reconstruct some existing barriers, but you know, this court case was critical. There's going to continue to be a legal fight, by the way, we should mention. He knows that the clock is running out and that if he -- he wants to be able to pretend to have met the promise he made on day one of his -- the announcement of his campaign in 2015, he's going to have to get something done.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the former Vice President Joe Biden rejecting criticism about a story that he's been telling. He's either conflating several true stories or telling one false story depending upon which perspective from which you look at this. He's done things like this before. Is this problematic politically for him? The polls would suggest not.

LOUIS: No, that's right. I mean look. It's kind of baked in with what you get with Joe Biden for one thing. Also, we have experience, we know that there are successful candidates including President Reagan comes to mind. I remember all throughout my youth watching as President Reagan was caught in one false memory after another and I think the verdict of the voters in that case, as will probably be true with Joe Biden, is that the accuracy of the details doesn't matter as much as the overall story.

So when Ronald Reagan would go around saying that his unit was personally on site at the liberation of Nazi concentration camps when, in fact, he was in California. The unit that was processing the film that was coming back from the liberation of concentration camps, you know, it didn't mean it didn't happen. It didn't mean he didn't care and so I think the public kind of let that go. I think you're going to find that with Joe Biden. He got the name of the service wrong. He got the date wrong. The title that he had at the time was probably inaccurate. Those inaccuracies don't take away from the power of the story that he's trying to tell. I think voters will probably understand that. It will be difficult, however, I think for him Victor to make the argument that one reason he should be president is that he gets all of the details right in a way that the incumbent President Donald Trump does not.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it also depends upon how often this happens throughout the rest of the campaign. But when you're running against -- if he's the nominee -- the president who at this point has 12,000-plus false and misleading statements according to the "Washington Post," it may be hard for voters to say I'm going with -- with President Trump because Joe Biden's making these mistakes.

LOUIS: Well, although I would caution you, remember, four years ago no matter what outrageous thing candidate Trump did, people would turn around and say, but her emails -- you know, so the question of sort of false equivalency might be -- might come into play if that is an issue. Or voters might have to decide, you know, assuming Joe Biden is the nominee, they might have to decide we've got two candidates who really kind of fudge on the facts a lot.

BLACKWELL: All right. Errol Louis, good to have you.

LOUIS: Thanks, Victor.

PAUL: Well we are getting the autopsy for the pro-baseball player found dead in his hotel room over the summer. His family says the Los Angeles Angels are to blame.

BLACKWELL: And be sure to tune in for an unprecedented CNN Democratic Presidential Town Hall event on the climate crisis, Wednesday beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:35:00]

BLACKWELL:> The Los Angeles Angels pitcher who was found dead in his hotel room earlier this summer died of an overdose. That's according to officials.

PAUL: CNN sports correspondent Carolyn Manno is live from New York this morning with the latest. What are we hearing about this? Carolyn, good morning.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi and Victor, the Skaggs family is blaming at least partly the Angel's organization here. Tyler Skaggs found dead at a Hilton Hotel in Southlake, Texas, back on July 1st. His medical examiner now saying that the 27-year-old died choking on his own vomit with alcohol and opioids in his system. His death has been ruled an accident. The Skaggs family is looking for answers as to who could have been involved in supplying the drugs. They did release a statement which says that it is completely out of character for someone who works so hard to become a Major League baseball player and had a very promising future in the game he loved so much to behave this way.

They said, "We were shocked to learn that it may involve an employee of the Los Angeles Angels." The family has hired an attorney. The Angels tell CNN they are cooperating fully with the investigation. In the meantime, moving to the U.S. Open if we can, Serena Williams in pursuit of a record 24th grand slam title. She impressed in the third round of the tournament against Karolina Muchova on Friday afternoon. Williams starting the match down 3-2 before finding her form. She rattled off seven straight games against Muchova, winning in straight sets.

Serena is on to the round of 16 at the U.S. Open for the 18th consecutive time. She will face Petra Martic tomorrow. It is the 15- year-old, Coco Gauff who is generating the most buzz at Fleshing Meadows. I can tell you it was standing room only for Gauff's doubles match win yesterday. Tennis fans loco for Coco, doing whatever they could just to get a glimpse of her in doubles. Tonight Coco faces her toughest competition yet in singles, reigning champion, Naomi Osaka just 21 years old herself. The eyes of the tennis world will be on this match, even Serena's.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

SERENA WILLIAMS, 23-TIME GRAND SLAM WINNER: I think it's super exciting tennis. Coco obviously is much, much younger than Naomi if you could say that because Naomi is incredibly young but it's shocking to say that Coco is about six years younger so I definitely think it's the future of women's tennis and I - I'm really excited to just be a fan girl and kind of watch.

(END VIDEO)

[06:40:00]

MANNO: If you add Coco's and Naomi's ages together, they would still be younger than Serena. A testament to all of them for sure.

In the meantime, college football back in full throttle this weekend and that means upsets and wild finished. Football fans got both in Reno. Check this out. Nevada and Perdue tied with three seconds left, Nevada calls on a walkon, a true freshman kicker, Brandon Talton, his first college game ever and he drills a 56 yard game-winning fieldgoal. The Wolf Pack storming back from 14 down in the 4th against Perdue beating the Boilermakers by 3; a great moment there and if that wasn't good enough, Talton, awarded a scholarship after the game for his performance so a great way to kick of his college campaign.

PAUL: After the game?

MANNO: Absolutely. Absolutely.

BLACKWELL: That is real exuberance right there when you see them run across that field.

PAUL: That's the kind of stuff that just makes you smile.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: Those moments. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: All right, if you're pregnant and smoking pot, the surgeon general says this, "This ain't your mother's marijuana." That's a quote from the surgeon general. We'll explain why today's pot is more dangerous for users especially for pregnant women.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO) DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: So why does this matter? Well the science tells us the higher the THC delivery, the higher the risk.

[06:45:00]

We've seen an increase in emergency department visits for psychosis, overdose, and accidental ingestions. And nearly one in five people who begin marijuana use during adolescence become addicted.

(END VIDEO)

PAUL: So in today's "Health Check," you heard the surgeon general there warning pregnant women about use about you and youth about the risks of smoking marijuana, particularly people who want to have babies. Joining us now with details, CNN Health and Wellness writer Jacqueline Howard. So I'm wondering what prompted this warning.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH AND WELLNESS WRITER: So this advisory is really in response to a recent uptick that we've seen in pregnant women and in youth using marijuana. So we know that in 2002 about 3 percent of pregnant women said that they used marijuana during pregnancy and that percentage rose to 7 percent in 2017. Now it's still a small percentage, but that uptick is really what sparked this advisory here. Then among young people, we know that about 38 percent of high school students say that they've used marijuana and those numbers are rising. Now it looks like the Surgeon General is really putting his foot down. He's saying that no amount of marijuana use is safe during pregnancy and he's adding that no amount is safe during adolescence.

PAUL: OK, so what -- beyond that, what exactly is he saying regarding the warnings in regards to pregnancy?

HOWARD: Well, his response to this is that, look, we still don't really have that much research on how this can impact fetal development. We know that there is an impact when it comes to using marijuana during pregnancy on the development of the fetus, and we don't really have much more information. And that's why this is a big concern. On top of that, the surgeon general, as we just saw, mentioned how THC is becoming more and more potent. We're seeing more high amounts and that THC can impact the development of a fetus, and it can impact brain development in adolescents. Again, that's what's really sparking this advisory here. It's the first surgeon general's advisory that we've seen on marijuana since 1982.

PAUL: I was going to say the timing is interesting.

HOWARD: The timing is interesting. That's what makes it a big deal. Again, it is in response to this recent uptick that we're seeing here.

PAUL: All right. Jacqueline, thank you so much.

HOWARD: Thank you.

PAUL: Appreciate the update. BLACKWELL: Hollywood has lost an iconic actress. Coming up we take a

look at the life of Valerie Harper, TV's Rhoda Morgenstern.

PAUL: First, though, we want to talk about a CNN Hero you need to know, Mark Myers. He saved more than 13,000 donkeys, giving them a second chance at life and finding them forever homes.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

MARK MEYERS, DONKEY RESCUER AND CNN HERO: Donkey's speak to my soul.

That lip will come right loose won't it?

Donkeys are like dogs. They are amazing animals that nobody gets. I understand what they're thinking and there's so many donkeys in so many places that need so much help.

There's nothing cuter than a baby donkey.

We're saving them. We're improving their lives. I want to see every donkey find its happiness; its happy place, its peaceful place.

(END VIDEO)

PAUL: I want a donkey now.

BLACKWELL: Do you?

PAUL: See, I do.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: See more of Mark's work at CNNheroes.com. Thank you, Mark, for what you do.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:50:00]

BLACKWELL: The entertainment world is celebrating the life of actress Valerie Harper.

PAUL: The television star gained fame as Rhoda Morgenstern on "Mary Tyler Moore Show" then had her own show after that. She died this week after a long battle with cancer. She was 80 years old. Here's CNN's Stephanie Elam.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She was the girl upstairs, the best friend.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

MARY TYLER MOORE FROM "THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW": Aw! Rhoda!

(END VIDEO) ELAM: As Rhoda Morgenstern, the unforgettable sidekick in the 1970s hit series the "Mary Tyler Moore Show." Born in New York in 1939, Valerie Harper grew up studying ballet and started out as a dancer on Broadway but it was in Los Angeles where she was discovered by a casting agent. Harper was asked to audition for the role as the single girl from New York who landed in Minneapolis on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show." S

(BEGIN VIDEO)

VALERIE HARPER ON "THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW": I'm going crazy with hunger.

MOORE: Eat something.

HARPER: I can't. I got to lose ten pounds by 8:30.

(END VIDEO)

ELAM: She played the funny, imperfect pal to America's sweetheart, Mary Richards. It was a part that would quickly launch her career as an actress. She won three Emmys for her role on "Mary Tyler Moore" before leaving the show in 1974 to star in the spinoff, "Rhoda."

(BEGIN VIDEO)

HARPER: My name is Rhoda Morgenstern, I was born in the Bronx, New York, in December, 1941.

(END VIDEO)

ELAM: Her portrayal of "Rhoda" earned her another Emmy and Golden Globe before sthe series ended in 1978. That year also brought an end to her first marriage to actor Richard Shaw. She married her second husband, Tony Catcciotti, nine years later. During an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, Harper said one of the biggest milestones in her life was meeting Catcciotti.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

HARPER: Having Tony Cacciotti in my life, at my side, at my back, helping me in every way possible and enjoying life with me and traveling and all the things we've done.

(END VIDEO)

ELAM: Together the couple adopted their only child, Christina. She was public about the adoption, speaking to CNN's Larry King about the biological mother in 2000.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

HARPER: We read a note to her from her birth mom. It was -- we sat together and I blessed the woman.

(END VIDEO) [06:55:00]

ELAM: Professionally, she stayed active on stage and in movies. In 1986, Harper headlined in the family sitcom, "Valerie" as Valerie Hogan. She was fired from the series in a salary dispute with NBC at the end of its second season. She won more than a million dollars from the network and production company in the wrongful firing suit which followed. The show which eventually became the "The Hogan Family" continued for years without her.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

HARPER: Mary! Mary!

(END VIDEO)

ELAM: She reunited with Moore in 2000 for "Mary and Rhoda," a TV movie that brought their iconic characters back together again. Behind the scenes, Harper got involved in the Women's Liberation Movement and fought for the Equal Rights Amendment. The Screen Actors Guild member unsuccessfully ran for president of the guild in 2001, losing to fellow actress Melissa Gilbert. In her memoir, "I, Rhoda," the nonsmoker opened up about getting over lung cancer in 2009 but her battle with cancer was long from over. In March, 2013, the TV icon revealed to "People" magazine that while rehearsing for a stage show, she learned she had a rare terminal brain cancer. She received chemotherapy and kept a positive attitude.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

HARPER: Don't go to the funeral, mine or yours or your loved ones, until the day of the funeral because then you miss the life that you have left.

(END VIDEO)

ELAM: Harper leaves behind her husband and a daughter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:00:00]