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CNN International: Rain, Snowfall, Raise Concerns of Flooding, Mudslides in California; Trump, DeSantis Lead Republicans in New CNN Poll; Clashes Erupt as Police Try to Arrest Ex-Prime Minister Iran Khan; NASA and SpaceX Send Experiments and Supplies to ISS. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired March 15, 2023 - 04:30   ET




JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A group recommending college campus officers also support as ban on military style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines for civilian use.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The irony is not lost on law enforcement, the very politicians who say they support the police and are against crime are the same politicians who deny us responsible gun reform legislation.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): President Biden reiterated his calls for gun reform during a visit Tuesday near the scene of January's mass shooting in Monterey Park, California where a gunman slaughtered 11 before taking his own life.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am determined once again to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Let's finish the job. Ban assault weapons. Ban them again, due it now. Enough. Do something.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): But with major reform legislation on hold, it remains up to the police to continually prepare for the day that they may have to risk their own lives to stop a gunman.

ROBERT LUNA, LOS ANGELES SHERIFF: We don't want to happen, statistics tell us that it will happen. But here we sit ready to respond to anything that may come our way anywhere we're called.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Josh Campbell, CNN, Los Angeles.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: For the first time the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a national drinking water standard for so-called forever chemicals known as PFAS. Under the proposed limits, water systems would have to monitor for six specific chemicals and notify the public about PFAS levels. NOBILO: The chemicals linger in the environment and the human body,

can cause serious problems like cancer, obesity, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, decreased fertility and liver damage. The EPA director says that if it's implemented the new rule will save lives and reduce illnesses.

The state of Ohio has filed a lawsuit in federal court against railroad company Norfolk Southern. The lawsuit alleges that the company violated state environmental laws when one of its trains derailed in East Palestine last month unleashing toxic chemicals into the community.

FOSTER: The state's attorney general says the lawsuit will hold Norfolk Southern accountable.


DAVE YOST, OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL: This derailment was entirely avoidable. And I'm concerned that Norfolk Southern may be putting profits for their own company above the health and safety of the cities and communities that they operate in.


NOBILO: Students at Wellesley College in Massachusetts have voted in favor of opening admission to all nonbinary and transgender applicants. The school says that it has no plans to revisit admission at an all woman's college and the referendum is nonbinding. The private liberal arts school was founded in 1870 and now has about 2,300 students. It is notable alumni include Hillary Clinton and first female U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

FOSTER: The first presidential primary almost a year away, but a new CNN poll is giving us a glimpse at who's leading the pack among Republican voters, that is next.

NOBILO: Plus, heavy rain and snowfall in California is raising concerns about flooding and mudslides in the state. We'll have a report from Monterey County.



NOBILO: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Bianca Nobilo.

FOSTER: I'm Max Foster. If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date with our top stories this hour.

The White House says officials are working to ensure the U.S. drone allegedly hit by a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea doesn't get in the wrong hands. Pentagon and White House officials call the actions of the Russian pilots reckless but Russia denies hitting the drone.

And in the coming hours the Federal Aviation Administration will host a meeting to address the dangerous close calls between aircraft at several U.S. airports. The meeting comes after another close call was reported at Reagan National Airport outside Washington last week.

NOBILO: The storm in California is bringing heavy rain and snowfall raising concerns of possible floods and mudslides in some parts of the state. Meanwhile repairs continue on the breached levee which was the cause of so much flooding in Monterey County. And CNN's Veronica Miracle reports.


VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the 11th atmospheric river to hit California, about 30 million people are under a flood threat. We're in Monterey County, one of the hardest hit communities that has experience flooding over the last couple of days. And thousands of people here remain without a home tonight. The shelter is at capacity. Many of their homes are unlivable potentially for months according to the local sheriff here.

And if you can believe it, the flooding has actually receded an incredible amount over the last 24 hours. This entire street could only be navigated by boat as of yesterday, but today a lot of that has moved out to the ocean relieving some of the pressure on this community. But there is a lot of cleanup and a lot of people impacted. Here is what the local sheriff had to say.

SHERIFF TINA NIETO, MONTEREY COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: There is approximately 2,000 plus people that we've evacuated out of Pajaro, that includes one school, two mobile home parks and over 800 homes. We are still using high water vehicles to do rescues for people that finally want to leave their homes in different areas mostly the Pajaro area. Pajaro at this time, we've done over 239 rescues in Pajaro by both boat and high water vehicles.

MIRACLE: The wind is really picking up here and that is the next big concern for the state. Because the ground is so saturated that trees could topple, power lines could topple and it could creative an entirely new set of issues.

It's also impacting airports like San Francisco International Airport has had about 33 percent of their flights delayed. In terms of rainfall, that issue has moved from Northern California now to Southern California which has recently experienced a lot of wildfires. And so there are concerns of flooding and mudslides down south.

Veronica Miracle, CNN, Pajaro, California.


FOSTER: And in the coming hours a federal judge in Texas is set to hold a hearing in a major medication abortion case. He'll be considering a request for a preliminary injunction sought by antiabortion doctors and medical associations. There asking him to block the FDA's approval of a drug used to terminate pregnancies. If the judge grants the request to block access to the drug nationwide, it could make the pills harder to obtain even in states where medication abortion is legal.

NOBILO: A new CNN poll shows that Donald Trump in a virtual dead heat with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis amongst potential Republican presidential candidates. 40 percent of Republican and Republican leaning independents say that they favor Trump. 36 percent prefer DeSantis. Mike Pence and Nikki Haley are 6 percent support.


FOSTER: Among the qualities Republican voters are looking for, 87 percent say sharpness and stamina. 59 percent want someone who will keep Social Security and Medicare, 54 percent want a candidate who they describe as anti-WOKE.

NOBILO: It's interesting as well because Ron DeSantis's position on Ukraine I think is about to be further scrutinized and he says it isn't in the U.S.'s vital interest to continue with aid. And obviously, he has a military background. So, it will be interesting how much shapes his fate.

FOSTER: WOKE is definitely the word of the campaign as well as now the Republican side.

NOBILO: Yes, well be culture wars seem to do well with political parties on the right in Western liberal democracies.

U.S. Congressman George Santos has filed paperwork formally declaring his candidacy for 2024 even as he faces investigations into his finances. Santos's move on Tuesday comes after a demand from the Federal Election Commission that he declare his intentions after he crossed a fundraising threshold. How does he crossed the threshold given all the scandal?

FOSTER: He's resilient.

NOBILO: Certainly.

FOSTER: But the declaration doesn't mean the scandal-plagued lawmaker has to run. Santos who has lied extensively about everything from his resume to his family background. Being urged by some fellow Republicans not to seek re-election. That's a surprise.

NOBILO: In Pakistan we are seeing teargas, clashes and dozens of people hurt as police try to arrest the former prime minister. We're live in Islamabad just ahead.


FOSTER: The death toll from cyclone Freddy has jumped to at least 190 in southern Malawi. One of the longest lasting tropical storms ever reported, hit a township especially hard.

NOBILO: People there are using shovels and their bare hands to look for survives trapped under the mud and debris. Meanwhile be Malawi weather service warns that a threat from damaging winds and heavy flooding remains very high. FOSTER: A dramatic standoff unfolding at the home of Pakistan's former

Prime Minister Imran Kahn and it's turned violent.


NOBILO: Khan is resisting arrest after failing to appear in court on corruption charges. Police have been firing tear gas onto the ground of his Lahore property, while his supporters try to protect him. An official says that dozens have been hurt in the clashes that erupted on Tuesday. There were also protests in major cities across Pakistan.

FOSTER: Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote last April. He's accused of illegally buying and selling gifts from foreign dignitaries. He says the charges are trumped up and meant to keep him out of the general election.

NOBILO: CNN Sophia Saifi interviewed Kahn on Tuesday and she's covering all of this for us live from Islamabad. Sophia, great to have you on the program. So obviously, two very different sides of the story here. Kahn alleging that this potential arrest is part of a plan to try and prohibit him from participating in this upcoming election. Obviously the government say they are just following the orders of the court. Whose version of events is more credible?

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Bianca, we've have been getting a lot of different narratives. I spoke to Kahn yesterday. You know, he made his case for why he was going to be ready to go under arrest. He also said that while I was speaking to him yesterday -- let's have a listen to what Kahn said while he was under siege by police in his residence in Lahore.


IMRAN KHAN, FORMER PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: Well, I'm all mentally prepared to spend the night in a cell or I don't know how many nights. I'm convinced they're going to arrest me because the number of police, you would think it is the biggest terrorist hiding in this house.

So, the determination is there. And you know, my only worry is I'm telling my workers that they must remain peaceful, the protest should be peaceful. My worry is that if this gets violent, then they would use that pretext of violence to get out of the election.

SAIFI: Police are at the gate. Do you think they're going to manhandle you? Are you going to be dragged out? Or are you going to finish this interview, wrap up everything, walk out and give up -- give yourself up to the police? Is that what's going to happen?

KHAN: I want a proper warrant of arrest. And I want to see that -- my lawyers want to see the warrant. So far, rather than showing the warrant there's been this tear gas shelling and everyone in this house has been sort of, you know, protecting the face and the nose, eyes. So, look, I'm -- it's a matter of time. I'm convinced they will come and arrest me. I'm prepared for it. How long I stay arrested, I don't know. But I know what the intention is. They want to get me out of the race. They want to get me out of the match so that they can win the elections.


SAIFI (on camera): Max, this is what he had to say. The government has a completely different -- opposing view point of what he said. That's all from here at the moment. The siege continues. Let's wait and see how it unfolds.

NOBILO: Sophia Saifi live in Islamabad, thank you so much. Sorry that you were rudely interrupted by the honking but the story is not going away. So, we'll check back in with you soon.

A new experiment and supplies are on the way to the International Space Station right now. Coming up, what the astronauts hope to study and how it might help those of us back on earth.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five, four, three, two, one, engines full power and liftoff at Sierra 27. Go Falcon, go Dragon.


NOBILO: Image as here from a successful launch of a NASA and SpaceX shipment to the International Space Station. The rockets are carrying new science experiments, crew supplies and other cargo.

FOSTER: Among the experiments, astronauts will be studying 3d heart cells and tissue which could lead to developing more effective cardiac drug combinations. Also aboard is a project from high school students which aim to help astronauts position cameras in the station's modules.

NOBILO: So, I was curious about why they do conduct these kinds of experiments in space. And apparently, it's because microgravity or very weak gravity that they have up there in the space station, helps them to get a different look at organisms. And it just enables them to see things in a different way and test the potential efficacy of drugs and other experiments.

FOSTER: Thank you, Bianca.

FOSTER: Well, you're welcome, Max, anytime.

FOSTER: Meanwhile the James Webb space telescope has captured a rare sight from some 15,000 light-years away. This image shows a star in the Sagittarius constellation on the brink of exploding in a supernova.

NOBILO: That is very pretty.

FOSTER: It's amazing.

NOBILO: The star is about 30 times the mass of our sun and it's surrounded by a halo of gas and dust as the outer layers break off. The cosmic shedding is one of the last stages before the star explodes. Studying remnants like this helps astronomers understand what happened in the early days of the universe. I do like cosmic shedding.

FOSTER: And something we could take away from today.

NOBILO: We hope that you do too.

FOSTER: In grade school most class work involves working on spelling, of course, maybe some arithmetic. But a weekly social studies assignment inspired one fourth grade class in Mississippi to help make history actually.

NOBILO: The kids lobbied to make the blueberry the official state fruit after learning that there wasn't one. With the help of their teachers, they reached out to a local Congresswoman who got the proposal before the legislature. On Monday, the governor signed it into law.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CHILD: Dear Mississippi leaders, I'm a student at Mannsdale Upper Elementary School.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CHILD: Mississippi does not have a state fruit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CHILD: Our class would like to propose to make blueberry our state fruit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: House Bill 1027 designating the state fruit of Mississippi as the blueberry as recommended by this class is now law in the state of Mississippi.



FOSTER: Blueberry balloons and everything. It wasn't just the tasty flavor that inspired the kids fight for the blueberry, it's the major fruit crop of Mississippi with production covering some 2,000 acres in the state.

NOBILO: And you said that you had a personal connection to the blueberry.

FOSTER: Well, we used to go on holidays in Sweden, pick up blueberries in the woods. Really wasn't that great a story.

NOBILO: Max is half Swedish. Also, blueberries are healthy with lots of antioxidants. FOSTER: Yes, I'm a great believer in the blueberry.

NOBILO: OK, good.

Lindsay Lohan has taken to social media to announce that she's expecting her first child. The actress posted with the words "coming soon" and shared that she's quite blessed and excited.

FOSTER: This news comes less than a year after Lohan shared that she had married financier Bader Shammas.

Fresh off a historic World Cup performance, Morocco is hoping to host the tournament in 2030. The country announced on Tuesday they'll partner with Spain and Portugal to make a joint bid for hosting duties.

NOBILO: Coincidentally, Morocco defeated both Spain and Portugal in the knockout stages in Qatar last year. The Atlas Lions went on to become the first African and first Arab country to ever reach a World Cup semifinal.

FOSTER: They were such a big story, weren't they, in the World Cup.

NOBILO: Yes, that was huge. I mean, that was a World Cup like no other in terms of being like the political significance in a historic nature.

FOSTER: Yes, and to have it across Africa and Europe, pretty cool.

NOBILO: Absolutely. Will you be watching?

FOSTER: Definitely. I love the World Cup. Thanks for joining us here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster.

NOBILO: And I'm Bianca Nobilo. "EARLY START" is up next right here and CNN.

FOSTER: We were able to get the recycle Let's kick it to Christine.