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Hurricane Sally To Flash Flood Gulf Coast; Further Reveals In Woodward Tapes; Middle East Agreement Not Regional Peace Accord; Suga To Follow In Shinzo's Footsteps; Hurricane Sally Grows into Category 2 as it Nears Landfall; Authorities Brace for More Wildfire Deaths; Racial Tensions with Law Enforcement Remain High; More than 25 percent of U.S. Gulf Oil Output Shut Down; Mexico Holds Presidential Plane Lottery. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 16, 2020 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Wherever you are around the world, thanks for being with us this hour. I'm John Vause and coming up on CNN NEWSROOM.

A disaster in slow motion. Hurricane Sally creeping towards the U.S. Gulf Coast. Officials warning of extreme life-threatening flash flooding.

The art of the deal. How the U.S. president has used smoke and mirrors to talk up the U.S. brokered agreement between the UAE and Bahrain and the Israelis.

And meet Japan's new prime minister. A man described as almost a carbon copy of the old prime minister, Shinzo Abe.

One of the busiest hurricane seasons ever in the Atlantic is not done yet. At this hour, a giant rainmaker, Hurricane Sally, is barely moving as it takes aim at the U.S. Gulf Coast.

An average year would see six hurricanes, Sally is number seven. And we're only now reaching the peak of the season with two and-a-half months to go.

Sally is inching towards landfall. That slow movement increasing the chance of historic and threatening flooding. Some areas could see months of rain in just days.

In parts of Alabama, roads are already underwater and to the south in Florida the National Guard is ready for search and rescues.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is following the storm from the CNN weather center.

First, live to CNN's Polo Sandoval in Mobile, Alabama -- I'll get this right one day.

OK. So Polo, let's just start with the forecast. Because a few hours ago, they were expecting this slight turn towards the northeast. Has that actually had any impact where you are?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has when it comes to the rain, John.

And one thing is to have the storms that basically sweep through the region and move on but another thing is for it to simply just linger. Or at least slowly crawl towards the coastline, and then slowly make its way out of here.

So the result is just all the rain that's projected not just for Alabama but parts of Mississippi and also neighboring Florida panhandle as well.

We're actually next to a river that eventually empties out into the Mobile Bay, it empties out into the Gulf of Mexico. And, of course, a lot of the concern is for some of those bodies of water.

Because you have this storm that's bringing in a surge of about a meter and a half and then combine all the water that's coming down. So the result could be some serious freshwater flooding in some of these communities in those three states that we mentioned.

What's a big concern right now is what we're going to see in the hours ahead, really overnight.

Yes, we are seeing those winds. But when we see those forecasts that project for a possible weakness of the winds, really a lot of the focus remains on that flooding.

And then finally, you're going to have, obviously, saturated soil in and around the area so the other concern that I've heard from Mobile officials here, from Mobile officials, is that you could see some of these -- multiple trees uprooting using potential damage not just for property but also obviously people's lives.

So that's one of the main reasons why authorities are recommending people simply stay indoors.

And I have to tell you, John, we are seeing that most people are hunkering down, we're not seeing those folks that typically venture out hoping to capture a photo.

Obviously, much of this is that this going to be an overnight so we'll have to see if people continue to heed those warnings after sunrise.

Because, again, the rain is just beginning to really fall in some parts of the southeast and the worst is still ahead for millions of people in the southeastern United States.

VAUSE: And Polo, we have these forecasts which say -- I think you touched on this. By the end of the week, parts of Alabama will see 30 inches of rain, that's about 75 centimeters in and of itself.

Is the advice now, whether, hide from the wind and run from the rain?

SANDOVAL: It sure is. And remember, the wind may not be a huge concern for many people -- yes, of course, there's always that concern about downed power lines and sort of -- we've already seen about 20,000 people in the dark here in Alabama alone and that number's certainly going to rise.

But it's really more than rain. And that old advice of turn around and don't drown, it's something that certainly applies here. Especially as we go into the night, especially as you see that potential for some of these rivers and nearby estuaries to flood and for those water levels to increase.

But, as you point out, you have months of rain that we'll be getting in just about a day or two. And the end result is, of course, potential catastrophic flooding.

Not just here in Alabama but also in those neighboring states as well.

Remember, a lot of the warnings right now they're extending from about the mouth of the Mississippi, or at least southern Mississippi, all the way to the Florida panhandle where they've already seen plenty of rain and more still to come.


VAUSE: Four minutes past midnight. Polo Sandoval there live for us in Mobile, Alabama. Thank you for that. We appreciate it.

Let's go to meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri. So, Pedram, the last report we had this storm -- correct me if I'm wrong here, OK -- was about 50 miles southeast of mobile, Alabama moving at two miles per hour.

Do the math. It's what 25 hours away from landfall? How did I get that wrong?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you're right. If it keeps the same trajectory, that certainly could be the case. Some of these models are showing that to be the case.

And, John, since we last spoke the National Hurricane Center giving us a new advisory here, increasing the storm to a category two. So as close as it is to land here, strengthening still taking place.

And as Polo kind of referred to here, this is not going to be a wind- driven storm. Of course, it has sat there for several days, it has ushered in quite a bit of water onto the coastal communities as far as storm surge is concerned. But you've got to look at storm movement.

And historically speaking, they're inversely related to the amount of rainfall they produce. Meaning the slower they go, the higher the rainfall total.

John, you noted about three kilometers is what it's moving currently. Ten is kind of the baseline here, the low end that we typically show that brings upwards of 700 millimeters of rainfall.

This storm, we wish, was moving at least at 10 kilometers per hour. But there it is right now. The eye wall kind of encroaching right on

the coastal communities there, around the Mobile Bay area.

But the concern is that it is not moving northward and that's why we think this could take another, say, eight to ten maybe 24 hours depending on how much it kind of wobbles along this coast before it moves ashore somewhere say Destin and/or Pensacola.

And again, notice the amount of rainfall already that has come down in the last 24 or so hours when this has been offshore. About 20 inches offshore. On land, 400 to almost 500 millimeters there as well.

And really cannot understate the power of water and the force behind it as well.

Just 15 centimeters of moving water can sweep you off of your feet. Move that up to 60 centimeters, it can lift your vehicle. Move that downstream, water is the number one killer of tropical systems, not the wind speed.

That's also very important to note.

And then you think about the power behind water. At just 11 kilometers per hour, it exert the same amount of force as the winds do in an EF5 tornado. So 300 kilometer per hour winds equivalent to force that water puts on you at 11 kilometers per hour.

It really is mind-numbing when you think about the force of water and the amount of water in motion here as it moves overland in the next few hours.

And again, we think landfall hopefully sometime on Wednesday. And then gradually pushes through portions of the southeast.

If the current track stands, John, could even see tropical storm force winds here outside of CNN center on Thursday.

But again, the track has been all over the place, so I wouldn't count on anything at this point. But we have the Gulf Coast taking the brunt of it.

VAUSE: Yes. Just be prepared, I guess. This seems a replay of Hurricane Harvey which hit Houston back in -- was it 2017?

JAVAHERI: Sixty of rainfall in that case. Yes.

VAUSE: Yes. And a whole lot of damage. OK, Pedram. Next hour, we'll see you then. Thank you.

The U.S. president is attempting some revisionist history when it comes to the coronavirus response.

During an "ABC Town Hall" filled with falsehoods and confusion, he claimed that he took strong action even up played the danger of the virus. Whatever that means. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I didn't downplay it, I actually -- in many ways, I up played it in terms of action.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You did not admit to it yourself --

TRUMP: My action was very strong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Saying that you --

TRUMP: Yes. Because what I did was with China, I put a ban on. With Europe, I put a ban on.

And we would have lost thousands more people had I not put the ban on. So that was called action. Not with the mouth, but in actual fact.

We did a very, very good job when we put that ban on. Whether you call it talent or luck, it was very important. So we saved a lot of lives when we did that.


VAUSE: The U.S. death toll will hit 200,000 in the coming days. President Trump has frequently issued false and misleading information throughout the pandemic, ignoring the advice from his senior medical experts.

He himself even admitted to journalist Bob Woodward that he deliberately downplayed the virus.

And yet, in newly obtained audio from an April interview, Trump calls COVID-19 the plague.


TRUMP (VOICE OVER): This thing is a killer if it gets you. If you're the wrong person, you don't have a chance.


TRUMP: Like a friend of mine died. Very -- great real estate developer from Manhattan. He died yesterday.

WOODWARD: Yes, I know. Look -- listen, students of mine, I teach a journalism seminar have written me, have had it. And one of the women said she had it, they said she was cured and they kept coming back with new symptoms, strange things happened, she had intense headaches.

TRUMP: So what happened?

WOODWARD: She's in agony. And they're telling her, oh, you're cured now. You're over it. So this -- I mean, you've said it.

TRUMP: So this rips you apart. WOODWARD: This is a scourge and --

TRUMP: It is the plague.

WOODWARD: It is the plague. And the dis --

TRUMP: And Bob, it's so easily transmissible, you wouldn't even believe it.


WOODWARD: I know. It's --

TRUMP: I mean -- you can be in the room. I was in the White House a couple of days ago, a meeting of ten people in the Oval Office and a guy sneezed, innocently, not a horrible --


TRUMP: -- just a sneeze. The entire room bailed out, OK. Including me, by the way.


VAUSE: During that Town Hall, President Trump once again made the fancible suggestion the virus might just go away without a vaccine.

And he appeared to argue for herd immunity. He called it herd mentality.

Meantime, the number of infections in the U.S. now exceeds 6.6 million. More details now from CNN's Erica Hill.


ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: America is at a crossroads.


DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: We need to stay on message about the science, and talk about what the science tells us.


HILL: Science that is reportedly being stifled at the highest levels by politics.


BILL GATES, CO-CHAIRMAN, GATES FOUNDATION: What we saw with the completely bungled plasma statements that when you start pressuring people to say optimistic things, they go completely off the rails. And so the FDA lost a lot of credibility there.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL: New evidence the virus can linger. Nine-year old, Eli Lipman

and his father still battling symptoms after six months.


ELI LIPMAN, NINE YEAR OLD RECOVERING FROM COVID-19: It is a big deal. It will hurt. You just got to face the truth.


HILL: The truth is this virus is still spreading.

The average number of new cases reported each day is down significantly from late July when it topped 70,000. Yet, the more than 34,000 cases added Monday are still above the early peak back in April.


DR. WILLIAM HASELTINE, PROFESSOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: You can't relax with this thing, it's relentless.


HILL: In East Atlantic, home to Michigan State, a mandatory quarantine order for 30 houses, most of them fraternity and sorority houses.


LINDA VAIL, HEALTH OFFICER, INGHAM COUNTY, MICHIGAN: If we can't get this in control -- and we are still dealing with really poor control of the first wave, that when the second wave comes, that we may be looking at lockdowns and things like that again.


HILL: There are some positive signs. New cases over the past week holding steady in 20 states, those in yellow. And down in 21, the states in green.

Among those seeing an uptick, nearly all of New England.


GOVERNOR NED LAMONT (D-CONN): We need a little more leverage when people are breaking the rules.


HILL: Connecticut's governor announcing fines for those organizing or attending gatherings with more than 25 people inside, 100 outdoors. And for anyone ignoring the state's mask mandate.

HILL: In Nevada, the company that hosted this tightly packed indoor rally for President Trump slapped with a $3,000 fine for violating state restrictions on gatherings.


DON AHERN, OWNER, XTREME MANUFACTURING: My goal was to continue the great American traditions of the right to assemble.


HILL: Houston's Lakewood mega church will resume in-person services next month.


JOEL OSTEEN, PASTOR, LAKEWOOD CHURCH, HOUSTON, TEXAS: It just felt like the right time.


HILL: Capping attendance at 25 percent, or 4,200 people.


OSTEEN: If we look up in a couple of weeks and things aren't going well and children aren't doing well in school then we will make the changes.


HILL: In Denver, the National Western Stock Show which attracts as many as 700,000 people is off the calendar for now.


PAUL ANDREWS, PRESIDENT & CEO, NATIONAL WESTERN STOCK SHOW: The responsible decision was to postpone the stock show one year to January of 2022.


HILL: 2022. A date that feels very far away.

Erica Hill. CNN, New York.


VAUSE: There's a new prime minister in Japan. And Yoshihide Suga is promising he'll be Abe 2.0. More on that in a moment.

Plus the new agreement between Israel and two Arab neighbors.

We'll take a look at Donald Trump, the art of the deal and how it works in international diplomacy.


[01:15:00] VAUSE: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appears to be

recovering in a Berlin hospital, posting this picture on Instagram of himself with his family.

The Kremlin critic says he can hardly do anything but he is able to breathe on his own.

Navalny became violently ill after drinking tea at an airport in Siberia last month. German doctors say he was poisoned with a nerve agent called novichok that was developed during the Soviet Era.

Russia denies any involvement.

The Trump Administration calls it the dawn of a new Middle East -- and that would be hyperbolic.

The agreement normalizing relations between Israel and two Arab Gulf countries, the UAE and Bahrain is historic and significant.

But in practice, it seems to formalize what was already informally in place as well as presenting a united security front to Iran.

What it does not achieve is any movement towards any of the generations long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

CNN's Alex Marquardt reports.


ALEX MARQUARDT, SNR. INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Almost three decades since Israel last signed a peace deal with an Arab neighbor today it signed diplomatic agreements with two.


TRUMP: These agreements will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.


MARQUARDT: Joining President Trump, the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and the tiny island kingdom of Bahrain along with the Israeli prime minister.

Signing the so-called Abraham Accords.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: Let us rise above any political divide. For long after the pandemic has gone, the peace we make today will endure.


MARQUARDT: It is without question a historic turning point for the political landscape of the Middle East. One that will see the establishment of normalized ties for Israel with more of the Arab world. Where it has long been seen as an enemy.

Ties that will now include embassies, direct travel, security partnerships and increased business relations.


ABDULLATIF BIN RASHID AL-ZAYANI, FOREIGN MINISTER OF BAHRAIN: For too long the Middle East has been set back by conflict and mistrust.

Now I'm convinced we have the opportunity to change that.


MARQUARDT: Until today, Israel only had diplomatic relations with two Arab countries, Jordan and Egypt. Now with the UAE and Bahrain, that number doubles. And others are expected to soon follow.


TRUMP: we'll have at least five or six countries coming along very quickly.


MARQUARDT: The actual details of the deals are still very much unclear. Though we do know that the alliance against Iran is now stronger.

The UAE could now be allowed to buy advanced American F-35 jets, something Israel has opposed surrounding countries acquiring.

And Israel is expected to halt plans to annex Palestinian land in the West Bank that would be part of a future state. At least for now.

The Palestinians have called today's agreements a betrayal. The peace effort with them, led by Jared Kushner, failed.

Now they could find much of the Arab world moving on. Kushner and the president saying today they expect the Palestinians to re-engage.


JARED KUSHNER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: The Palestinians have an offer on the table. At some point when they decide that they want to live better lives, I believe that they'll engage.

But we can't want peace for them and for their people more than they want it for themselves.


MARQUARDT: It was lost on no one at the White House that there is an election coming up. And there is a fear among several Gulf Arab countries that a Biden victory would mean more diplomatic outreach from the U.S. to Iran.

So now one of the big questions is whether Saudi Arabia, which is of course Iran's sworn enemy, will also normalize its ties with Israel.

Alex Marquardt. CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Nicholas Burns is back with us this hour. He served in the George W. Bush as under secretary of state. Currently he's an adviser on foreign policy to the Biden campaign.


Ambassador Burns, thank you for coming back.

NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Thanks so much, John. Glad to be with you.

VAUSE: OK. I want you to listen to President Trump on Tuesday on how he sees these normalization agreements.

Here he is.


TRUMP: We've made tremendous strides. And this is peace in the Middle East without blood all over the sand. I say it.

Right now it's been blood all over the sand for decades and decades and decades. That's all they do is they fight and kill people and nobody gets anything.

And this is strong peace. Really strong peace.


VAUSE: Correct me if I'm wrong but the UAE has never fired a shot in anger at Israel, they already share intelligence.

As for Bahrain, the first Israeli delegation arrived there 26 years ago. Two years ago, Bahrain recognized Israel's right to exist. These are not exactly sworn enemies.

So is this a peace deal on an arms deal?

BURNS: It's not a peace deal but I think it's a positive development, certainly for Israel and I think certainly for the United States. We've always wanted to see Israel released its isolation in the region.

And it's positive that these two countries, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, come forward to recognize Israel and to deal with it. But as you, say they really have been dealing with each other behind the scenes for a good decade or more.

In the intelligence realm, in politics and in their opposition, each of them, to what the Iranians are doing to destabilize the Middle East. And one thing about President Trump -- it's not peace in the Middle East. Not when you have raging civil wars in Lebanon and in Syria and Iraq and Yemen and Libya. And certainly not peace when the Palestinians are completely left out.

And President Trump didn't really mention them today, he's done nothing for them. He's been, I think, the most anti-Palestinian president that we have had in 72 years since the modern Middle East went up in flames.

And the Palestinians have a right to their own state and they have a right to be respected. And I think that's the weakness of the Trump approach.

VAUSE: I'm just curious. Because the details on these agreements still seem to be kind of vague in some ways.

But if you look at it, what they're looking at here is increase in economic activity between these three countries through trade and economic growth, that kind of stuff. That could act as a counterweight to China's economic lifeline to Iran.

There's also the possibility of a similar agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia. If that happened, that would be very significant.

But overall, it seems this is all about formalizing what have been informal relations.

BURNS: Well, it is formalizing it. The symbolism's important. These countries are now officially recognizing Israel and establishing full diplomatic relationships. That's important in international diplomacy.

I don't think that Bahrain would've taken this step had they not had the quiet support of Saudi Arabia.

And you're right, Jonathan, to say the really big step will be if Saudi Arabia ends its isolation from Israel and accepts Israel as a peer. I don't know if they're going to do that anytime soon, not when the current king is on the throne.

And I think the Palestinian issue is still a reality. Maybe not the overriding reality, an issue it was for decades in the Middle East and the Arab world. It's still a big problem for these Arab countries and it's a problem for Israel. The Palestinians live right there in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

And if Israel continues to ignore them and think that there can be no progress in negotiations, that's not a positive, long-term strategy for the Israelis.

VAUSE: Well, in Donald Trump's universe, there is no such thing as a Palestinian problem. That too will be solved soon.

Here he is.


TRUMP (VOICE OVER): "The Palestinians will ultimately come in too. And you're going to have peace in the Middle East without being stupid and shooting everybody and killing everybody and having blood all over the sand."


VAUSE: There we go again with the blood on the sand.

The definition of smoke and mirrors is the "embellishing of the truth of a situation with misleading or irrelevant information."

It also seems to be the definition of the Trump doctrine, and not just when it comes to the Palestinians.

BURNS: Well, here you have the Palestinian people who have been left out in the cold, the conditions in the West Bank with the roadblocks, the military occupation, are really quite extraordinarily difficult for the average Palestinian.

The conditions in Gaza are arguably be worse in terms of how crowded it is, the lack of humanitarian support, the poor leadership of Hamas.

And of course, you have to pinpoint the fact that the Palestinians are fundamentally divided. That's a big part of the problem.

But for the president to say the Palestinians are going to join this soon, there is absolutely no evidence of that. In fact, there's lots of evidence to the contrary.

VAUSE: Yes. If you look at the world's greatest deal maker, that is Donald Trump. All these deals that we've seen over the last four years whether it's the failed Palestinian peace plan or a trade deal with China or the Trump Putin relationship, it's all, in many ways, just smoke and mirrors.

We had the failed meetings with Kim Jong-un and the nuclear negotiations in North Korea.


This is an administration which just likes the headline and the photo op but doesn't want to do the hard work.

BURNS: There is some evidence for that. Certainly, I think he was right, President Trump, to try diplomacy with Kim Jong-un. But then he was very inconsistent in what he asked of Kim and what his expectations were.

His major problem, President Trump, on the global stage is that he's abandoned our allies, our NATO allies. He's been an extraordinary difficult ally with South Korea, another one of our treaty allies in East Asia.

And I certainly found in watching our really accomplished presidents and secretaries of state over the last 30 or 40 years, the most successful were the ones who worked with other countries, especially our democratic allies and they used that leverage that comes from an alliance like NATO for common purpose.

The president prefers to act alone in the world. And we've really seen how difficult it is, and the shortcomings if you try to do everything yourself.

He hasn't really accomplished much in foreign policy. In fact, I say he's weakened us by being too soft on Putin, too accommodating to the Chinese government certainly and he hasn't been tough enough where he needs to be tough, specifically in North Korea.

VAUSE: Nicholas Burns, we're out of time. But it's great to have you with you. We really appreciate it. Thank you.

BURNS: Thanks very much.

VAUSE: And now to Tokyo, where Yoshihide Suga will become or has become Japan's next prime minister.

Both houses of parliament approved the former chief cabinet secretary and close aide to Shinzo Abe just a short while ago.

CNN's Will Ripley following developments from hong Kong.

Not exactly a cliff hanger of an election. It was pretty much in the bag, right?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He was elected as the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, the LDP, earlier this week. And it was basically a formality for the vote to go to the full parliament because the LDP has a majority there.

So he is the prime minister, and he has the job.

This is not somebody like Shinzo Abe and other previous prime ministers who come from a political dynasty, Abe was a third generation prime minister.

Suga's the son of a strawberry farmer and a school teacher. He worked at a cardboard factory and at the SkiGI -- fish market as he was working his way through school and getting his start in politics.

And he has risen through the ranks of domestic politics in Japan.

So he knows how things operate on the domestic level. And he's also probably more familiar than anybody else with the policies of the Abe administration because he was helping to shape those policies, helping to orchestrate behind the scenes.

And that may be the reason why, even though he's not associated with any of the leading political factions within the Japanese Diet, which is their parliament, he still had the support and backing of all of them. Because they see him as somebody who can get the job done. Question, though, John. Does he have that star power, that charisma

that he will need to win over the Japanese people and carry the LDP's message in a way that Shinzo Abe has struggled with in recent months.

He was really accused of being out of touch with the lives of everyday Japanese during the pandemic.

Could Suga's everyman background be a benefit to him? I think time will tell. And a lot is going to hinge on how things go with the economy, how things go with eye-popping levels of government debt -- of course, the COVID-19 pandemic and Tokyo 2020.

VAUSE: And, Will, we know that Shinzo Abe had this push to change the Japanese constitution for a more aggressive defense policy.

What is interesting though. You talk about the family business, Abe's son is set to become defense minister, right?

RIPLEY: That's right. And again, this is just a continuation from a family that has created a long line of Japanese leaders.

This is why Shinzo Abe arguably was made for the job, a job that he held longer than any other prime minister in Post War Japan.

It was extraordinary to have a prime minister for seven and a half years.

Given the fact that before Abe, including his own first term, it was like every year was a revolving door and somebody new. I think the Japanese people I think the Japanese people now see the benefit of having a leader who's around for a longer period of time .

Because Abe was able to build alliances internationally. With Donald Trump, for example. He was supposed to meet with Xi Jinping in Tokyo before the pandemic shut everything down.

And he has forged relationships with a lot of people in a lot of different parts of the world that have benefited Japan globally.

Suga was by his side during those moments but will he be able to continue on the international part of the job?

Because I think there's no question he's very qualified domestically.

VAUSE: Well, I guess we'll see in the coming months and years if he lasts that long.

Will, thank you. Will Ripley in Hong Kong.


Still to come, intense winds and torrential rain. Hurricane Sally inching towards landfall already pounding the U.S. Gulf Coast.

We will speak with the emergency agency about the response. That's in a moment. Also right now officials count at least 87 major wildfires raging on the U.S. West Coast. The impact is being felt all the way to the East Coast.


VAUSE: Right now, the U.S. Gulf Coast is bracing for another hurricane in what's already been a busy storm season. Hurricane Sally now a dangerous Category 2 is crawling towards landfall with intense wind and torrential rain.

The storm is moving at about three kilometers an hour, and experts warn some areas could now see months of rain in just two days, meaning potentially life-threatening flooding.

Already, tens of thousands of people have lost power. Damage is being reported throughout the region.

Mike Evans is the deputy director of Mobile County's emergency management agency. He is with us this hour on the line.

Mr. Evans, thank you for taking the time to be with us. If you look at the latest forecast, what are you expecting now from Sally in terms of the intensity of the winds and the rain in the coming hours and days?

MIKE EVANS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, MOBILE COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (via telephone): Good morning, John. Thank you for having me.

We actually just got an update from our National Weather Service office here in Mobile. And Sally has intensified. They just informed us that it strengthened to a Category 2. So it is still moving very slowly. And it's moving at a north-northeast movement at about two miles per hour. So strengthening, moving slowly, and we are just bracing for impact down here on the Gulf Coast.

VAUSE: And Mike, while you are talking, it's 33 minutes past midnight there in Mobile, Alabama and we're looking at live pictures from where you are. We can see the wind which is, you know, really hammering those trees in the shot there. When you've been out, when you've had a look around, how would you describe the intensity of the effects already, at this early stage?

EVANS: Yes. So we've -- especially our extreme coastal areas down in Mobile. We have Dauphin Island, which is our barrier island. They've been under the effects since really last night, John.

And tropical storm force winds, you know, all through last night today, they've been experiencing a lot of surge, and also our communities right there on the coast like the city of Bayou La Batre.


EVANS: We have also experienced some pretty good flooding in Mobile Bay along the interstate causeway. They shut the tunnel down, the Bankhead Tunnel, earlier today. So you know, a lot of effects right now in Mobile County. We have about 34,000 residents without power. That's kind of developed over the day and, you know, it's just -- with this thing moving slow, you know, it's just going to continue to cause problems for us.

VAUSE: Yes. When we're talking about a storm surge and potential flash flooding measured, you know, in feet, what exactly do you do to prepare for that?

EVANS: Well, you know, we share our surge maps. You know, we get updated surge maps through FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers on a yearly basis. And we share those with our residents that live in those coastal areas. We also have predetermined evacuation zones.

And what we will do is when we see that surge that's going to become a problem in those areas we invite -- or we actually suggest and even the elected officials can mandate that the citizens need to evacuate to an area with higher ground to just make them safe.

You know, we have an old saying. It's called "run from the water, hide from the wind". So under those surge conditions, when we give those evacuation orders, you know, we are asking them literally to run from the water.

VAUSE: Mike, we thank you for being with us and taking the time to give us that update. And we wish you all the very best for the hours and days ahead.

Mike Evans there.

EVANS: Yes, sir. Thank you.

VAUSE: Take care. Thank you.

Well, the wildfires raging across the West Coast of the U.S. are pushing firefighters beyond exhaustion, and creating the worst air quality on the planet. So far, at least 36 people have died. Authorities are bracing for more fatalities.

CNN's Martin Savidge has the latest.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Oregon, firefighters loading up and heading out, including a lead hot shot team trying to rein in the massive Riverside Fire outside Portland -- one of three dozen blazes burning in the state.

The effects of the historic western wildfire is now spreading far beyond the region. Seen from space, smoke from the fires streaming across the country, reaching the skies of New York. The smoke even forced flight cancellations.

Schools in northern Oregon remain closed as millions shelter in place from smoke-choked air classified a health hazard. SENATOR JEFF MERKLEY, (D-OR): These fires in Oregon, they're

apocalyptic. Going through a couple of towns that had been absolutely incinerated.

SAVIDGE: Oregon's governor says the state is stretched to its limits. Last week, it had 3,000 firefighters. This week, nearly double that number and still more are needed. And in an ominous sign for the first time in its history, Oregon is preparing to use its mobile morgue with a team of 75 forensic specialists.

CAPT. TIM FOX, OREGON STATE POLICE: They will -- take those trailers up and send them in a central location. At this time, we are able to take in any fire victims from all the counties in this facility.

SAVIDGE: With as many as 50 people listed as missing or unaccounted for, the state is bracing for a rising death toll, even after the flames subside.

FOX: What's behind this facility is so that we could give families closure.

SAVIDGE: In neighboring California, where the fires have been even deadlier, the Campos family considers themselves fortunate to be alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a fire coming down to burn all my barn.

SAVIDGE: First trying to fight the flames on their farm before fleeing.

On the outskirts of Los Angeles at the Bobcat Fire, a desperate battle is shaping up between firefighters and flames at the historic Mount Wilson Observatory. The next 24 hours could be decisive.

CAPT. DAVE GILLOTTE, LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: We've got a lot of dirty brush and dirty growth laddered and layered, and so it burns deep down in there and climbs through the trees and then it rolls with the hills. Luckily, we don't have any wind driving the fire right now.

SAVIDGE: Back outside Portland, in the near deserted neighborhoods of Estacada, volunteers deliver food to those refusing to leave.

TONY DIFRANCISCO, ESTACADA RESIDENT: We all had a pretty grim outlook and the fact that the firefighters stopped it is nothing short of amazing. I think it's a miracle.

SAVIDGE: Across Oregon and much of the west, they will need a lot more miracles in the days and weeks to come.


VAUSE: Thanks to Martin Savidge there reporting from Oregon.

Louisville, Kentucky has agreed to pay a record settlement of $12 million to the family of Breonna Taylor, the young woman fatally shot by police as they mistakenly stormed her apartment in March. Taylor's death led to months of protest across the United States. It's all part of the Black Lives Matter movement protesting against police brutality.


VAUSE: The city admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to institute sweeping police reforms -- all part of that settlement. Taylor's family will continue to push for criminal charges against the officers involved.


TAMIKA PALMER, BREONNA TAYLOR'S MOTHER: As significant as today is, it's only the beginning of getting full justice for Breonna. It's time to move forward with the criminal charges, because she deserves that and much more.

Her beautiful spirit and personality is working through all of us on the ground. So please, continue to say her name.


VAUSE: A warning, our next report contains images some viewers may find disturbing. It's from an ambush of two L.A. County sheriff's deputies. They were shot multiple times last weekend by an unknown assailant. And after that attack came some tremendous courage.

Sara Sidner has details.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An incredible show of bravery. A 31- year-old L.A. sheriff's deputy profusely bleeding from a bullet to the face is seen helping save her 24-year-old partner. She applies a tourniquet to his bloodied arm and helps him move behind a pillar to avoid taking on more fire. Both have already been shot multiple times.

Surveillance video shows the ambush. A shooter fires into their car while they sit in their vehicle outside a metro stop in Compton.

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES: The female deputy, after getting shot both of them four or five times, with a broken jaw in the face, stepped out, gave a tourniquet to her fellow deputy who had been shot in the head as well, probably saved his life while calling for help.

SIDNER: She and her partner had just become deputies 14 months ago. The mother of a six-year-old is seen here as she proudly graduated from the police academy in 2019. As they are recovering from their injuries at the hospital, a callous call for their death by a gathering of about five people outside the hospital.


SIDNER: The leader of the group that calls itself L.A.'s Africa Town Coalition says he hopes the shooting is in retaliation for the shooting of black and brown people by the LASD, the most recent shooting sparked protests in Compton, when deputies shot Dijon Kizzee for an alleged bicycle violation. The family says Kizzee was shot in the back. An investigation is still underway.

KEVIN WHARTON PRICE, AFRICA TOWN COALITION LOS ANGELES: So if this is the start of retribution then I think this is a very good start.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody is set to go, I assume.

SIDNER: The LASD has faced serious controversy over the years. Its sheriff convicted of lying in 2016 was fire and jailed. There has also been a lawsuit brought accusing deputies of forming a gang inside the department. The most recent accusation and complaint by a deputy, a whistleblower said in a deposition, deputies formed a gang called The Executioners in Compton. He says they sported the same tattoos and used excessive force on suspects.

ART GONZALEZ, FORMER L.A. SHERIFF'S DEPUTY: Me, being a field training officer, you know, I'm a supervisor and I have to report this behavior.

SIDNER: The Sheriff Deputies Union responded to those claims.

RON HERNANDEZ, ASSOCIATION OF LOS ANGELES DEPUTY SHERIFFS: The accusations of there being criminal gangs within the sheriff's department, that's ridiculous.

SIDNER: California Congresswoman Karen Bass responding to the union and the horrific shooting.

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): That was horrific that happened. But that gang issue is one that surfaces in the sheriff's department every few years. And for the union to say that they don't believe that exists, I think is a problem.

SIDNER: But they both agree, even the idea of retaliation like this is sickening.

HERNANDEZ: So the people -- the group that came out here and screamed "we hope you die", that in itself is also pathetic. Maybe not as bad as the guy that actually pulled the trigger, but it's just as bad.

SIDNER: The reward for anyone with information that leads to an arrest in this horrific shooting has now risen to $275,000.

Sara Sidner, CNN -- Linwood, California.


VAUSE: And with that a short break here. You are watching CNN.

Back in a moment.



VAUSE: Apple's newest tech offering seems specifically designed to cash in or make a living in a pandemic a little easier. The new Apple Watch has new help and fitness features, including a blood oxygen monitor, important for detecting COVID-19. Apple's new iPad Air will look like it's iPad Pro models with a new processor chip. Apple One will bundle subscription services like Apple Music, TV Plus, and Arcade, among other things.

Now, Hurricane Sally is having a major impact on U.S. oil output in the Gulf of Mexico.

CNN's John Defterios is in Abu Dhabi with more on the financial implications here. You know, there's nothing like a hurricane to boost the price of oil especially in the U.S. Gulf. This time, it seems especially concerning.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, we have been down this path many times during this hurricane season, right, John? Because of the ferocity of the storms and climate change, of course.

The benefit right now, at least, is that Sally has stalled offshore, so it has not hit the facilities in a major way onshore. But there's a risk of flooding, of course, of 30 inches or 76 centimeters coming on shore here. And that is a big challenge.

The LNG and oil export facilities have to shut down, for example. And offshore, they took the precautions because of what we've experienced over the last 16 years. And it put down 1.5 million barrels a day production. That's better than 10 percent of the daily output.

And this has woken up the oil market, if we take a look here. WE were in the doldrums earlier in the week. And prices on the international benchmark are above $41 a barrel. And we are just a hair below $39 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate.

We saw a Royal Dutch Shell, and Chevron and BP shutter their facilities because of the ferocity of the storms. But the theme throughout the week, even from the International Energy Agency and OPEC is that COVID-19 is coming as a snapback and it's going to kill off demand here in the fourth quarter. Even OPEC was suggesting in the interview I had on Monday that we could see acute uncertainty in 2021, meaning that we could be facing slower times ahead as a result of the pandemic.

VAUSE: And with that in mind, in the United States, there's still this sort of eager anticipation, if you like, of some kind of stimulus or, you know, pandemic aid package out of Washington but where is it? Where are we now?

DEFTERIOS: Yes, it's amazing, right John? Because we have been talking about it for about 45 days. And you think we are just around the corner to a new deal. But we can see in the last 24 hours the differences that exist between Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, Mark Meadows is a former congressman the White House Chief of Staff, the congressional leaders pushing for a $2.2 trillion package. But we've seen more centrist Republicans and Democrats trying to close the divide and the so-called skinny bill of about $1.5 trillion.

But that is not going anywhere. At one point, the market is going to wake up and say, you see the unemployment benefits are there? But where is everything else to kind of stimulate growth? And how long can this continue?

There's a fundamental difference here John, between the parties. The Democrats want to bail out the states and the cities and the pension packages for its law enforcement and the firemen. The Republican Party is saying this is not the responsibility of the federal government.

It's quite a heated debate there.

And finally, we are going to hear from Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve board chairman. His last meeting before the election, not to cut interest rates or not moving on interest rates any higher, but what does this mean on the stimulus package and what else can be done to stimulate growth in 2021?

How concerned are they about the second and perhaps third waves of the COVID-19 crisis. We'll listen to every word from the federal open market committee, as it's called at the Federal Reserve.

Back to you.


VAUSE: John, thank you. John Defterios there for us, as always in Abu Dhabi. Appreciate it.


VAUSE: Well, here's a conundrum. How do you get rid of a wide-bodied Boeing 787? Leather seats, extra trim, king-size bed. That is the problem the president of Mexico has right now. How does he get rid of a plane that he does not want?

More now from CNN's Matt Rivers.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Tuesday, as is tradition in Mexico, a group of kids read out the winning numbers for a lottery, except nothing was normal about this lottery. This is the culmination of the saga of a presidential plane.

It started simple enough. In 2012 Mexico's government bought a roughly $220 million presidential plane. Critics said it was excessive -- be it the leather-bound and extra-wide seats, the king-sized bed or the board room.

Current President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador toured the plane a few weeks ago, and said his predecessors lived like kings. He has never used it and has promised to sell it since taking office in late 2018 to no avail. So it was in January of this year he announced he would raffle off the plane, anybody could simply buy a ticket, win and the wide body Boeing 787 would be all yours.

That prompted questions. For one, where would you park it? And what about the maintenance?

The president said we would offer the winner one or two years of maintenance.

The raffle quickly became a national joke. The hashtag, (INAUDIBLE) "if I won the plane", went viral with memes mocking the contest. So the president changed tactics. The plane raffle would remain, but the prize would not be the plane. Instead, 100 winners would win about a million dollars.

Despite these lines, the government has actually had trouble selling enough tickets to actually be able to pay out the prices that they said they would. In, fact it took them more than 6 months to sell the required amount of tickets.

The government over the summer turned the raffle into a call to help fight the pandemic. Any money that doesn't go to winner, will go to public hospitals.

This ticket buyer says, I'm hoping that this helps the hospitals where so much COVID exists. But the latest sales data shows that there is only about $5 million that won't get paid to the winners or about enough for only a little more than five grand for each public health facility treating COVID patients.

The government did give out roughly 1,000 raffle tickets to each of those hospitals. If they win they can use the money to buy medical supplies. But it's a lottery, not a budget allocation.

Critics have long said the public health system is chronically underfunded and the idea that this raffle can substantively help is absurd, a mere distraction from the government's failings during the coronavirus crisis. Many in the country think that people should have spent their money elsewhere.

This woman says, oh, I don't know. Maybe to people that aren't working right now. They don't have enough money to eat.

The winners of the lottery will be announced in the next few days. Here's hoping that some of the Mexican hospitals entered in the contest can actually win. Meanwhile if you were in the market for a 787, I've got an idea for you.

Matt Rivers, CNN -- Mexico city.


VAUSE: When we come back the new calming and soothing offering from Pepsi. Driftwell -- blackberry, lavender, sweet dreams taking the pep out of Pepsi.



VAUSE: In a world gone mad, Pepsi, the maker of softdrinks high in caffeine and sugar is now offering a sleeping potion to help you calm your nerves and put you to sleep.

All that now from Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Remember the days when Pepsi was supposed to get you all hyped up?


MOOS: Well, this is the pandemic generation. All stress, less sleep. So now Pepsi is introducing something --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: called Driftwell.

MOOS: As in drifting off to sleep.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's called Driftwell.

MOOS: The irony was not lost on Twitter. "Caffeine company now wants to help people sleep". Forget giving folks energy.


MOOS: Now they're giving you tranquility in a can. Blackberry, lavender flavor. Can't sleep because you drank too much Pepsi, try Driftwell. Available online at the end of this year and in stores the beginning of next year. A can of Driftwell contains 200 milligrams of an amino acid shown in limited studies to promote to sleep and reduce stress.

Though the price could induce stress. $18 for a 10-pack.


MOOS: Now, it's Driftwell for those who think I'm too old not to sleep well.

Employees of Pepsi came up with the concept in a competition for the next big idea. Cynics online tried to improve on the name with suggestions like Pepzzz, and Pepsi-coma, and Melatonin Dew.

One skeptic quoted George Carlin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.

MOOS: And to help you get to sleep, there's Driftwell.


MOOS: Come to bed.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. Please stay with us.

I'm John Vause. More news after a short break.