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Category One Dorian Sideswipes Carolinas; Entire Towns Wiped Out in Dorian-Ravaged Bahamas; Former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe Dead; WaPo: Trump Personally Altered Hurricane Dorian Map; British Parliament to Vote on Early Election Motion Next Week. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 6, 2019 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: But Congress wanted to make sure there was debts relief for student loan debtors, right, who meet certain qualifications.


But the education department has not been following through.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: More than a trillion a half dollars in federal student debt loan today.



Thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great weekend.

For our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.


ROMANS: DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Hurricane Dorian now closer than ever to the U.S. coastline, lashing the Carolinas and spawning at least two dozen tornadoes.




BRIGGS: Hundreds remain missing as the death toll from Hurricane Dorian climbs in the Bahamas.

ROMANS: Breaking overnight, Zimbabwe's hero-turned-tyrant, Robert Mugabe, has died.

BRIGG: Plus, "The Washington Post" says it has solved sharpiegate. Guess who altered the infamous weather map with his favorite marker?

Good morning, everyone. Happy Friday. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, September 6th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Let's begin this morning with the breaking news. Hurricane Dorian creeping slowly north, just off the Carolina coast, trailing a path of destruction. In just the last few hours, it has now weakened to a category one. It has five deaths attributed to it in the U.S.

Dorian's high winds and lightning strikes leaving more than 293,000 customers in North and South Carolina without power.

CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam is for us in Charleston, South Carolina, live this morning.

And, Derek, I mean, you've been walking around the streets there. You can see the evidence of the wind damage and the storm surge, at least for Charleston though not as bad as feared.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, fortunately, Christine. Residents of this area can breathe a collective sigh of relief, because they were spared the worst from Hurricane Dorian. We are in historic downtown Charleston, the quintessential area of this particular city.

And just driving around assessing the damage, we've seen awnings ripped off of buildings, we've seen downed power lines, we have seen trees toppled over but this vulnerable coastal city knows how to handle large storms like this. They know they're susceptible to flooding and storm surge so they've boarded up some of the local businesses and homes across this area.

We managed to talk to the mayor of Charleston yesterday before he went on "NEW DAY" speaking with our colleague John Berman and he mentioned to me that this city really knows how to prepare for storms of this magnitude. But, of course, the big threat was the storm surge that really wasn't quite realized in this city alone. It was more the wind threat that brought down some of the damage that we've been noticing in this region.

But, really, a far cry from what has taken place in North Carolina as the outer rain bands spun up tornadoes. We know over two dozen have been reported and that has caused quite a bit of damage across that area as well. So, spared a direct hit here in Charleston. But we think about what is taking place right now with land falling hurricane in North Carolina.

Back to you.

ROMANS: All right. So glad you're there. Thank you so much for that and stay safe. Thank you.

BRIGGS: The big question, of course, is where is Dorian headed next?

Meteorologist Allison Chinchar standing by live in the CNN Weather Center with the latest. We've got that 5:00 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.

Any changes?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Not really. Nothing major. I think one of the things we were kind of waiting to see is whether or not they would call landfall. Just over here, this extreme portion of North Carolina, portion of the eye wall did cross over, but not the center of the storm.

So, again, it's still headed now up towards Hatteras, meaning the center of circulation is. So, again, we'll have to keep a close eye on whether or not that becomes the location of a technical landfall. I think everyone is breathing a little bit of a sigh of relief, too, knowing that overnight, we dropped down to a category one. Winds now sustained at 90 miles an hour. So, at least any of the subsequent cities that get hit, the conditions will be a little bit less in terms of wind speed compared to some of the ones that were hit yesterday and the day before.

Here's a look at the radar, very heavy rain moving into portions of Morehead City, as well as Cedar Island, that will head off to the north, up towards Hatteras, as we get to the next hour or two.

Overall, here's a look at the wide scope of this region. We still have the concern for these outer bands bringing potential tornadoes and water spouts. So, we just have a tornado watch here for a couple of counties, in North Carolina and Virginia, at least for the next two hours. Again, this is going to be a big deal in addition to the flood threat still.

Look at the flash flood warnings and flood watches in effect again for multiple states here as the storm continues to slide up the east. We've had over 20 tornado reports in just the last couple of days from this storm alone and unfortunately, Christine, this is likely going to continue at least for the rest of the day today.


BRIGGS: OK. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

ROMANS: All right. The grim scene, sobering outlook in the Bahamas, officials raising the official death toll from Hurricane Dorian to 30. With thousands still missing, they know the number will rise. Body bags, coolers, morticians now being transported to Abaco and other hard hit areas.

Our Patrick Oppmann has been. Here's on the ground in the Bahamas with more.


OPPMANN: Dave and Christine, we are in the small town of High Rock on Grand Bahama Island -- or what I should say was the town of High Rock.

Look at the devastation here. This was the local town hospital -- the clinic -- and it's gone, beaten down to the ground by Hurricane Dorian's category five winds.

We are only about an hour from Freeport but it is another world. The destruction here is just a different level. There are people that say that the Abacos received the worst of the damage but if you just venture a little bit further -- places that people have not gone in Grand Bahama Island -- you see damage that's every bit as bad and perhaps even worse.

This whole town is gone. There are about 300 people who live there and every house, every car, every structure has some damage and many, if not most, are totally destroyed.

This was a police station. Hurricane Dorian knocked down the concrete wall, took off the roof, and next door, the one-cell jail for this town is wide open. If anybody was inside they're not there anymore.

The question now is, will towns like this recover and rebuild or simply cease to exist?

Dave and Christine?


BRIGGS: Patrick Oppmann, thanks.

Breaking overnight: Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe, has died at the age of 95. His passing was announced by the office of the current president. Mugabe was an icon of the African liberation movement of the '70s and '80s, but his complicated legacy includes transforming into an authoritarian strongman in the later years.

International correspondent Farai Sevenzo live for us in Nairobi, Kenya, with that complicated legacy.

Farai, good morning.


You're absolutely right. It's a complicated legacy. I mean, here is a man who was known the length and breath of the African continent as a liberator. He put his life on the line, spent ten years in jail. His son from his first marriage died, wasn't allowed to bury him.

And he continued to try and rid (ph) his people of the yoke of colonialism and apartheid. And, of course, he's also remembered for a great many achievements in the issue of Zimbabwe. He's educating Zimbabwe with the highest literacy levels in Africa.

But then came the complete change. Just after four years after becoming prime minister, he made himself executive president. And from then on, election after election in that southern African country was marked by violence, and there was a real hunger and grip of control.

And, of course, and the latter years of his rule, he saw no difference really between his family, including his wife grace, and himself and executive presidency and the country of Zimbabwe. He was handing out land to his cronies and his wife, and that, of course, led the Zimbabwean army to topple him.

But at the moment, everybody knows that a 95-year-old man is supposed to die, and as Zimbabweans start reflecting on that complicated legacy, of what he gave them and what he denied them -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes, and the economic crisis there may be his legacy.

Farai Sevenzo, live for us this morning, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. About 3 1/2 hours to the big event, the August jobs report, 8:30 a.m. today. The labor market likely slowed a little bit, amid a summer low, and escalating trade war with China. We'll know for sure when this report comes out.

Here's what economists are estimating, 158,000 jobs added. The unemployment rate steady at 3.7 percent.

This is what I'll be looking for in this report: manufacturing. America's manufacturing powerhouse stumbled, an important report on factory activity contracting for the first time in three years. What does that mean about factory jobs?

The very sector President Trump sought to favor with his tariffs and tough talk is shrinking, because of the higher cost of tariffs and slowing global growth. That sector has only added 7,000 jobs per month on average this year, compared with 22,000 last year. New jobs in manufacturing are expected to drop to just 8,000. That's half of what they were in July.

Now, investors will also focus on wages, wage growth. Economists expect average hourly earnings likely dipped a little bit. A higher than expected number could cast doubt on expectations the Fed will cut interest rates again this month.


So, a lot in this report for people to parse, especially amid all of this concern about manufacturing and the trade war.

BRIGGS: And even an optimistic view would suggest China is months away if not six months or a year.

ROMANS: You know, I mean, at this rate, progress with China is about getting deputies together to talk about talking at the higher level. That is what's considered success here.

BRIGGS: Long way off.

Ahead, a new revelation about that altered weather map the president showed off in the Oval Office, new but not entirely surprising details are next.



BRIGGS: "The Washington Post" reporting that it was President Trump who personally altered a Hurricane Dorian weather map with a sharpie to make it look like Alabama had been in danger. The White House has been trying to clean up this mess by attacking the media and releasing alternative hurricane maps. Administration officials even crafted a 225-word statement defending the president's fabrications. Their boss can't seem to move on.

Here's Kaitlan Collins.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine and Dave, we are now on day six of the president refusing to drop his false claim that Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian, a claim that he made on Sunday but is continuing to make now, even in the face of several meteorologists saying that the president was not accurate when he made that claim.

The president is going to great lengths to claim he was right, even having his Homeland Security adviser -- this person, Rear Admiral Peter Brown -- issue a statement defending the president's remarks from last Sunday when he made that claim where, in this statement that is pretty extraordinary for the White House to issue, Brown said that the president was briefed in an update on Hurricane Dorian on Sunday and that that briefing included, quote, "The possibility of tropical storm-force winds in southeastern Alabama.

Of course, all of the models of that time on Sunday show otherwise, yet the president is continuing to make this claim and clearly seems to be sensitive to this idea that his claim could be wrong.

So wrong, in fact, that my colleagues, Jeff Zeleny and Jake Tapper, are reporting that on -- the president, on Thursday afternoon, summoned the Fox News White House reporter to the Oval Office after he had been criticized on air for making the claim about Alabama, that the president told the Fox News reporters he was correct.

He even, according to an internal e-mail that my colleagues saw, said he just wanted some acknowledgment that his claim about Alabama was correct, even if at the point that the president had tweeted it on Sunday it was no longer the case.

Clearly, we are seeing the president not wanting to drop this despite several people saying that the president should essentially just move on from it. Instead, he is doubling down on this, Christine and Dave.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you for that, Kaitlan, at the White House.

British parliament now set to debate and vote again next week on whether to hold an early election. The vote more likely to pass this time because a major objection from the leader of the opposition is expected to be removed today. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying he'd rather be dead in a ditch than ask the E.U. for another Brexit extension as he suffers another blow. His own brother abruptly resigning from politics.

CNN's Anna Stewart live in London outside parliament.

It has been quite a week.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: This week has been extraordinary. I know we say that a lot with Brexit, but honestly, parliament got back on Tuesday from summer break and we have had an onslaught of events.

Now, to just take you through some of them, the big one really was this bill to block a no deal Brexit, a huge defeat for the government, really ties the hands. It essentially means that Boris Johnson will be forced to ask for an extension to the Brexit to the E.U. and he just doesn't want to do it. He said, as you said, he'd rather be dead in a ditch.

And following that, it was the expulsion of 21 MPs from the prime minister's own party. There was the defection of another and as you said this, this happened. The prime minister's very own brother resigning not just as minister but also as a politician altogether, just not being able to agree on the stance for the country.

And now, we look ahead to a general election. Now, we know there will be one. All parties want one, but none of them can agree yet on when that will be. There will be another vote on Monday. The government wants to put it to parliament once again. They need a 2/3 majority.

It's not clear whether they will have it. Some things have changed. Yes, this bill to block a no deal Brexit may get some opposition mps on board but certainly it's unlikely to get to first. Many MPs in parliament want to ask for that E.U. extension before they agree to anything else.

Meanwhile, the prime minister is already in election campaign mode. Yesterday, he was in Yorkshire talking about police recruits. He's recruiting 21,000 new policemen. Also today, he's in Scotland.

So plenty to watch in the days to come. The week is over but the politics and the craziness, I'm afraid, isn't -- Christine.

ROMANS: Probably.

All right. Thank you so much for that. Anna Stewart for us in London this morning.

BRIGGS: It's the latest on whose political scene is a bigger mess.


BRIGGS: Ahead, an American woman accused of human trafficking in Philippines. How police say she tried to smuggle a baby out of the country.


ROMANS: Twenty-five minutes past the hour.

An American woman charged with human trafficking in the Philippines.

Filipino investigators say 43-year-old Jennifer Talbot tried to smuggle a 6-day-old baby girl out of the country by hiding her in a shoulder bag. Talbot was able to pass through the immigration counter at Manila airport but then was intercepted at the boarding gate by airline personnel.


She was trying to board a Delta flight to the United States.

Investigators are not releasing a possible motive.


FIREFIGHTER: Water. Water. Water!


BRIGGS: The Tenaja Fire threatening lives and homes in Riverside County, California. It has burned over 2,000 acres and is only 10 percent contained. Two structures have sustained damage and more than 1,200 homes have been evacuated.

The heavy smoke also raising health concerns. Classes are canceled today in the entire Marietta Valley School District as police continue going door to door ordering people to leave. The cause of the fire is not known.

ROMANS: Five fatalities. Hundreds of thousands of homes without power. The latest on the destructive force of Hurricane Dorian, ahead.