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Official Death Toll Over 1,000 After Earthquake Devastates Morocco; President Biden Attends G-20 Summit In India But Chinese President Xi Jinping Does Not; Manhunt Continues For Escaped Convict In Pennsylvania; Judge Rejects Former Trump Chief Of Staff Mark Meadows's Request To Move His Georgia Election Subversion Case To Federal Court; Entire Fulton County Special Grand Jury Report Shows Recommendations To Indict GOP Senator Lindsey Graham And Former Senators David Perdue And Kelly Loeffler; College Entrance Exam Popular Among Christian Schools To Be Used For College Admissions In Florida; FAA Taking Steps To Reduce Near Misses At Airports; Tennis Star Coco Gauff To Play In U.S. Open Finals. Aired 10-11a ET.

Aired September 09, 2023 - 10:00   ET




AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It is Saturday, September 9th. I'm Amara Walker.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. You are in the CNN Newsroom.

WALKER: We begin this morning with the news out of Morocco of a devastating earthquake. The official death toll has risen to 1,037 deaths after a powerful magnitude 6.8 quake.

BLACKWELL: The strongest to hit the North African nation in more than a century. It struck late last night, centered in the mountains surrounding Marrakesh, you know that's a tourist destination. The World Health Organization says more than 300,000 people in that city were affected. Officials say there are more than 1,000 confirmed injuries, too, and with the sun up now, there is a race to reach victims in the most affected areas. But officials say rescue teams are struggling to get to those places.

WALKER: CNN's Ben Wedeman joining us now. And Ben, rescue efforts are under way, but there is a concern this morning about aftershocks, especially knowing that Morocco's infrastructure is not built for these kinds of large quakes.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This isn't considered a quake zone, in fact. And one of the problems is that this earthquake, which happened at 13 minutes after 11:00 p.m. on Friday, really the epicenter was 45 miles southwest of Marrakesh in the high Atlas Mountains. I have been up there. There are lots of remote villages, very traditional. Some of the architecture just is not designed to resist this sort of, this kind of earthquake. So as you said, the death toll at this point has reached 1,037, with

721 critically injured people, and those numbers are expected to increase as the rescue effort picks up pace. One of the problems is they simply don't have enough manpower and equipment to go to all of these remote communities high up in the mountains. Now, and of course, the problem is there have been more than a dozen aftershocks since this took place. Many people simply spent the night outside for fear of another strong earthquake that we saw bringing houses tumbling down.

In fact, if you listen to some of the -- or read some of accounts of people who survived this quake, it is terrifying. For instance, CNN was able to get in touch with one woman by the name of Fatima who lives a remote village. She said I barely had a chance to grab the children and run out before I saw my house collapsing in front of my eyes. The neighbor's house also collapsed and there are two dead people under the rubble. Now, CNN spoke to her a couple of hours ago. At the time, no rescue workers had arrived in that village.

Now, there has been an outpouring of assistance, so we've seen, for instance, that France is mobilizing firefighters to be sent to Morocco. The United Arab Emirates has opened what it has called an air bridge to send in supplies and rescue workers. Israel as well as also the Palestinians. Turkey says that they're going to assemble a team of more than 250 people with 1,000 tents to try to help out in this disaster. And even Algeria, which cut its ties with Morocco last year, says it's now going to open its airspace to allow all of this assistance to fly into Morocco.

But time is of the essence. Anybody who has covered earthquakes knows that you have 24 to 48 hours to really rescue those people who are still alive under the rubble. And after that, the situation becomes ever more difficult when it comes to finding survivors in these circumstances. Amara, Victor?

WALKER: Ben Wedeman, appreciate it, thanks.

Joining us is Tom Saintfiet. He's the head coach of the national soccer team of Gambia. His team is in Marrakesh for the next round of the Africa cup. Tom, first off, tell us what you were when the earthquake hit and what you experienced.

TOM SAINTFIET, HEAD COACH, GAMBIA NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM: Yes, it was just around 11:00 in the evening, and I arrived in my room a few minutes earlier to go to bed, sitting on my bed.


And the first moments I thought someone was bouncing on my door very heavily, then a very short, I thought it was a plane crash because we are located very close to an airport, and the planes fly very low over our hotel. But after three or four seconds I noticed it was an earthquake, and the walls were shaking, things were falling down from the ceiling, and the floor was moving, and it was really terrible. I went immediately on the ground near my bed, took some pillows on my body, and I was waiting. And to be honest, it took a very long period, I know it was about 30 seconds, but it was a feeling of it was hours.

BLACKWELL: Tom, I assume that the pictures we're seeing, you sent us, these are of the hotel, they don't appear to be the worst of the damage, but for those listening on radio and for those that aren't depicted in picture, describe the damage around you in that hotel.

SAINTFIET: Yes, these are only the pictures from the hotel. We didn't leave the hotel yet. We are in a top quality hotel, but we were forced to sleep after that at night, the whole team, all the players, all of the guests in the hotel, we were surrounded around the pool, on the beach chairs, and we slept on the floor, in the grass the whole night. And we didn't sleep that much because the security in the hotel was not as secure. We also didn't know there would be aftershocks. There are some cracks in the ceilings, in the walls, a lot of things fell down. But naturally, this hotel is quite good, constructed, compared to some other buildings in the city, so that helped with our lives, but it wasn't comfortable.

WALKER: Can you tell me how many aftershocks you experienced since the earthquake hit and what that's been like?

SAINTFIET: Yes, to be honest, only one. And it was -- I experienced only one, and it was shortly after the first one. The first one was really the most terrible one, and when it was the second one, we were already running in the direction of the gates, and some people were already standing at the pool and outside it. The aftershock was not so bad because the first shock was what really caused us the most fear and was really a very, very terrible feeling.

BLACKWELL: Tom, you said you haven't left the hotel. Is that because you are fearful of what is outside of the hotel, or are you being asked not to leave the building?

SAINTFIET: For both, I have to say no. We are here on a mission, we have officially tomorrow evening, at 8:00, a very important soccer game. We play against Congo the last qualifying game to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations. You can compare it to the Gold Cup. We are in the running to qualify. We need to throw all out weight into qualifying. Congo needs to win against us. So it is a very important game. We are in a selection of 23 soccer players and around 15 to 20 staff members. And we are here to focus on that game. We have to perform. And the reason that we don't go out is we plan to stick together, we plan to stay of one mindset, both physically but also mentally, to be prepared to play for this game. And it was quite tough. So we are not really looking around with what is going on. Later tonight, we have to go for a training session, and probably we will see then more about the city and the damage caused by the earthquake.

BLACKWELL: So at this point, and I just want to confirm, despite more than 1,000 people killed in that country, it's your understanding that that soccer match is going to go on as scheduled?

SAINTFIET: Yes, it's, for me, not understandable idea, but Morocco played today at home against Liberia. They postponed that match. They will not play, which is fully understandable because of the loss of many people. But our game against Congo and we play in Marrakesh in Morocco because our stadium in Gambia was not ready to be played in, so we played outside. Our game, we have confirmation that we are obliged to play that game.

WALKER: Wow. All right, well, thanks for keeping us posted, and we're glad that you guys are doing OK. Tom Saintfiet, thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Let's go to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar now. The aftershocks, there have been more of them since we spoke with you last. Tell us about them.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: All right, so well, let's start with the beginning. We know the original quake was a magnitude 6.8 at a depth of about 11 miles. For geological standards, that is considered extremely shallow. Now, after that main quake, just 19 minutes after, that gentleman spoke of it, they had the first aftershock, a 4.9 magnitude. And 4.9 may not sound like that much.


But after having had the 6.8, keep in mind, you're going to have a lot of buildings, a lot of the homes that are now structurally compromised, so even something like a 4.9 can cause subsequent damage. And it was felt, the original quake was felt as far away as neighboring countries of Algeria and Portugal. But again, to show you how rare it is for this region to experience such large quakes, just since 1900, there have only been maybe a handful of quakes at a magnitude 5.0 or higher. So again, it is very rare in this area.

Now, we had the original quake at a 6.8, one since aftershock of 4.9. We do anticipate more. Here is the thing. In some earthquakes, you get multiple aftershocks within the first few hours. In other earthquakes, it can take hours before you start to get more of those aftershocks. So we really don't know how long it is going to be before there could be another. Would there be multiple in a row? Each earthquake is different. But on average, statistically speaking, there could be one, an aftershock of at least a 5.8. There could be 10 or so aftershocks of at least a 4.8. And there could be possibly as many as 100 that could be in that 3.8 or above range. And even, say, a 4.2, a 4.5, even though is a much smaller number, it could still cause a tremendous amount of additional damage just because those buildings, especially the older ones, Victor and Amara, have already been structurally compromised by the initial quake.

WALKER: Yes, that's obviously a big concern. Allison Chinchar, thank you.

President Biden is in India right now for the G-20 summit, a major meeting of global leaders. Biden has already met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and there is a lot more on his agenda today, including discussions about climate change, debt relief for developing nations, and of course, the continued support for Ukraine.

It is also notable who is not at the summit. This is the first G-20 summit that Chinese President Xi Jinping has chosen not to attend since he took power. Also not there, Russian President Vladimir Putin. The absence of Biden's two chief global rivals provides an opportunity for the president to make a more affirmative case for American investment during the summit. CNN's Ivan Watson is live there in New Delhi. Ivan, we hear that the president has commented on President Xi's absence. What did he say?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, before the summit, he said he was disappointed that the Chinese leader would not be here, and he was asked again about this during the summit. Take a listen to his answer.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Biden, has President Xi's absence impacted the summit?

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It would be nice to have him here.


WATSON: So you have it there. Now, the Chinese government never gave an explanation for why Xi Jinping did not attend this G-20 summit for the first time since he took power nearly a decade ago. So there was some real concern that the assembled leaders here would not be able to come to some kind of consensus.

Well, in fact, the G-20 was able to announce a joint statement, and one of the first issues on the agenda was the war in Ukraine. It stopped short of condemning Russia. It didn't even really mention Russia by name. But it did go on to say that all countries should refrain from use of force to try to acquire territory from another country, that the threat of nuclear weapons is inadmissible, and going on to say that the impact of the war in Ukraine are really hurting the global economy, particularly poorer countries. And that's been one of the themes of this summit is trying to help poorer countries. And there Biden stepped forward announcing that he was calling for $20 billion worth of additional investment to the World Bank to try to help poorer economies. He also announced the launch of a new ambitious project, an economic corridor linking India to the Middle East to Europe. And that was attended by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

One final point, the G-20 has invited a new member, the African Union, so it technically would be the G-21 going forward from now. Victor and Amara?

BLACKWELL: Ivan Watson for us in New Delhi, thank you.

Hurricane Lee has weakened to a category three storm this morning, but the east coast could still feel the impact of dangerous surf and rip currents from the system. This is over the Atlantic, of course, over the weekend. Now, this storm has sustained maximum winds of 115 miles per hour right now. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are already feeling the effects. It's slowly moving just north of the area. And despite the temporary weakening, forecasters are warning that Lee could strengthen back again to a category four by Monday.


WALKER: Still ahead, a growing number of reported sightings, we're on day 10 now, after a convicted killer escaped from a Pennsylvania prison.

BLACKWELL: And it is a big day for American tennis star Coco Gauff. Can she secure her first Grand Slam title at Arthur Ashe stadium this afternoon?


BLACKWELL: Police say there were two confirmed sightings of escaped fugitive Danelo Cavalcante Friday, and now nearly 400 law enforcement officers are assisting with the search. The manhunt for this convicted killer in Pennsylvania intensified on its 10th day.

WALKER: With a growing number of sightings, police have narrowed in on a botanical garden a few miles from the prison. Guests were asked to leave and the entire venue closed, as police swarmed the gardens Thursday. But they still do not have the killer. CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval is following the latest from Chester County. We keep hearing about more and more sightings. What is the latest?


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And what really matters here is just the latest search, or at least the latest sightings. And according to Pennsylvania state police, there were two confirmed sightings yesterday. So what that tells investigators and the nearly 400 men and women that have been searching in terms of law enforcement, is that they believe that this 34-year-old escaped convicted killer is still contained in this perimeter zone, and that's really why the latest sightings are just critical, because it continues to re-energize those efforts that authorities have now entered day 10 in their search for Danelo Cavalcante, I should mention.

Just for some perspective, this is a heavily wooded area that you'll find about 40 miles west of the city of Philadelphia. It is a mix of arms, obviously a lot of woods, but also residences. And this is more than just your typical subdivision. These are properties that sit on large swaths of land surrounded by various outbuildings. And each one of those buildings presents a potential opportunity for the 34-year- old man to hide.

And this is why authorities have really been clamping down on this particular zone. We're actually just on the northern edge. This is one of the many roadblocks that you will find in and around the area. Authorities still believe that he is in there, and that's why this morning, again, as we get started with day 10 of the search, they're confident that they will eventually find him. Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens with the Pennsylvania state police yesterday was asked, is there a point when they scale back and call the search off? And he made very clear to reporters yesterday that that is certainly not in the plans. If anything, they've actually increased numbers yesterday.

And that perimeter shifted on Thursday. We do hope to get an update potentially today, but at this point the very latest information, two confirmed sightings per Pennsylvania state police in the area that has been searched for the last couple of days now. Guys?

WALKER: And Cavalcante still not in custody. That is just incredible how he has been able to elude police. Polo Sandoval, thank you.

Joining me now is former FBI agent and senior profiler Marry Ellen O'Toole. Appreciate you joining us this morning. What are your thoughts on this? We're hearing about two more confirmed sightings of Cavalcante Friday, bringing the total to at least 10. How do you explain how he hasn't been caught yet despite being spotted on surveillance and by people so many times?

MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, DIRECTOR, FORENSIC SCIENCE PROGRAM AT GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: I think that there are a number of reasons why he hasn't been apprehended. Number one, he doesn't want to be. And that's important. But number two, because of the area, it is very wooded, as your reporter described, and that makes it very challenging for the law enforcement officers who are there to be able to look for him.

But I do think one of their goals, law enforcement goals, is to interfere significantly with his ability to sustain himself. Here's what I mean by that. It is likely that they are putting up additional cameras, which is why we're getting more sightings. It's also likely that, and most probable, that they have maps of all kinds in the command center, and they are focusing on physical structures where he could go for sustenance, for food and water and to sleep.

So he does not have access to the kind of technology that law enforcement does. So they're slowly trying to cut off his ability to sustain himself. At the same time, they do have the responsibility to protect the public. So it's not a fast answer to this. But they will, I think at the end, they're going to be able to apprehend him.

WALKER: Right. And of course, the question is, how will all of this end. But in terms of planning, how much planning do you think went into this, to be on the lam for this long? And do you expect that Cavalcante is possibly getting help?

O'TOOLE: So two very good questions. And I would answer the first question about the amount of planning. I would say he thought about it ahead of time, but in terms of actually planning, having bags, bringing food with him, that didn't happen. And this is someone that just based on his personality tends to be more impulsive and less structured in how he plans out crimes, and they're unrealistic. It's a matter of time he will be apprehended.

And I think that because of his being so desperate, we have to think in terms of the level of desperate that he is, and that's on a continuum. So it continued to, he continues to demonstrate the fact that he doesn't want to give up, because he could turn himself in. And that's a sign that he continues to be desperate, and that makes him dangerous.

WALKER: Right. He has nothing to lose at this point, right. And while you were saying this, we were showing video of Cavalcante crab walking between two walls. It is just incredibly how easy it makes it look to climb, to get up that high.

There was speculation when he first escaped that he would flee to Mexico, but clearly authorities believe he is still in an eight-to-ten square mile radius.


Does it surprise you that he hasn't left the area around the prison? He obviously had to resort to plan b, it seems like.

O'TOOLE: Well, the question that you had earlier is connected, and it's really a good one, is it likely that he is getting help. And I would say no, he's very dangerous. People don't want to put themselves on the line to help them because certainly they will be prosecuted, and they will probably go to prison.

So he's really on his own. And the more that this is publicized, the more he continues to be on his own, which is why he didn't make his way down to Brazil. That's not an easy feat. So that is a sign that he didn't plan ahead. That's, to me, an indicator that he is highly impulsive, and he is really kind of facing the reality of his own decision to leave the prison. But it also indicates that he's desperate. He doesn't want to go back in. If he does go back, his life in prison without the possibility of parole. And again, as long as he has sustenance, that desperation makes him dangerous.

WALKER: How much does his mindset and his, I guess, resolve play a role in surviving all this?

O'TOOLE: It plays a big role. So there's the mental capacity to continue to deal with this circumstance, and then can his body support it. So if you look at his ability from a physical standpoint, he's enduring the heat, the bugs, he may have suffered some kind of injury, the hunger, the fatigue. So that is tearing down his body.

The second thing is the mental commitment. And that's where the desperation comes in. So we know right now that in spite of the likely negative impact on his body based on the last 10 days, he has not still given himself up. So that need to be desperate and to get away from law enforcement continues. And that's what law enforcement is doing, they are trying to cut off his sustenance to force him to come out of the woods, or force him to settle down in one location, so that they can apprehend him.

WALKER: Mary Ellen O'Toole, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Still ahead, a troubling sign for Donald Trump. A federal judge rejects former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows's bid to move his Georgia criminal case to federal court.



WALKER: A federal judge has turned down former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows's bid to move his Georgia case to federal court, a ruling Meadows has appealed.

BLACKWELL: A judge found the allegations against Meadows on election subversion charges were largely related to political activities and not to Meadows's role as White House chief of staff. CNN's Paula Reid has details.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Amara and Victor. It is interesting, in this opinion, the judge notes, this was a low standard, but still, Meadows was not able to meet it. Meadows's attorneys have insisted that everything that he did in furtherance of this alleged conspiracy, it was all part of his job as the chief of staff at the White House. And they insist that this should be removed to federal court where they hoped they could use federal laws that offer protections and some immunity for federal employees to get the whole thing dismissed.

But here, a judge concluded that what Meadows was doing, these eight alleged acts and in furtherance of the conspiracy that are included in that indictment, that they were political activities. Interestingly, the judge uses Meadows own testimony against him, citing his testimony where he couldn't even define the limits of his authority as a chief of staff, and also noting that the lawyers on that infamous call with the secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, those weren't government lawyers. Those were campaign lawyers.

So again, his lawyers hoping they could get this removed to federal court, but unsuccessful in convincing this judge that these were official duties. Instead, the judge concluding that these were political activities.

And this is not a good sign for other defendants who are hoping to try this as well. Meadows was the first of five defendants hoping to remove their cases to federal court. And I've spoken to sources in the case, lawyers representing defendants who told me they are not even going to file their challenge until they were able to see what happened with Meadows, because they believe Meadows has the strongest chance of being successful here. And they've told me, look, if Meadows isn't going to be successful, we may not even try. Officially, the judge says his ruling has no impact on other individuals, each case will be decided on its own. It's not a good sign for them.

The former president Trump, he is in a different situation, has a slightly different set of facts, but this also is not a good sign for him and his attorneys, who have signaled he too will try get his case removed to federal court. Amara, Victor?

WALKER: Paula, thank you.

In the meantime, the entire Fulton County special grand jury report was released on Friday. The unredacted report provides new insight into the 2020 election subversion investigation in Georgia.

BLACKWELL: It shows the panel wanted to indict 39 people in this racketeering case. CNN's Evan Perez has more on the special grand jury report. EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Amara, the

special grand jury in Fulton County investigating the 2020 presidential election in Georgia recommended charges against Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former GOP Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia. The grand jury report released Friday shows that the panel recommended criminal charges against 39 people in all.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis ended up charging 19 of them, including former President Trump. Willis did not bring charges against Graham and the two former Georgia lawmakers when she returned an indictment last month. The senators have denied any wrongdoing related to the election.


Graham appeared before the special grand jury last year, and he made phone calls to Georgia state officials pushing for them to find enough fraud in the state. Graham continues to defend the calls. Loeffler said in a statement that she has no regrets. Special grand juries in Georgia make recommendations, and their findings are not binding on prosecutors. Victor, Amara?

BLACKWELL: Evan, thank you.

Jeremy Saland, former Manhattan prosecutor, is with me now. Jeremy, good to see you. So let's start here. Graham, Perdue, Loeffler, former national security adviser Michael Flynn recommended for charges by the special grand jury. What potentially could have informed the D.A.'s decision to forgo those, to not charge, or seek charges, against those four?

JEREMY SALAND, FORMER MANHATTAN PROSECUTOR: The investigation itself, and the decision, or recommendation by that special grand jury, which one of your colleagues correctly noted does not have the power, the ability to vote an indictment, was really telling, because you do not want to go take a case that has that reasonable cause to believe a felony was committed in much lower standard. It can't get really past that part, take that case, present it to a grand jury that can vote an indictment, and then that defendant would have a right to testify, present evidence on his own behalf, and be heard with his counsel try to prove that case beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a dangerous step, just because you can do it doesn't mean you should. And with all the political headwinds here, she did not want to do this and then turn out she is fighting cases where she very well may lose.

BLACKWELL: And 13 of the 16 fake electors were not indicted, three ultimately were. Do you expect that cooperation influenced the decision there? And not just for those 13, but for others potentially who were recommended to receive charges or seeking of charges, and then were not? How much does cooperation play into it?

SALAND: I think there very well could be cooperation, and I think there very well can be further cooperation down the road. I don't think that would be out of the realm of possibilities. As we've discussed before, when you're a fake elector, your response is, hey, I was doing this on behalf of the president, and his people, his attorneys, his campaign staff said this is OK to move forward. That's why I did this. So I think just in their own testimony, if there are co-defendants, that is going to be damning for the, we'll call the people like Meadows and Giuliani and the former president. But formally, they very well may cooperate as well, because, as we know, five years is a long potential sentence, and that would be the minimum potentially on, if they're incarcerated. They don't have to be, but there is a lot of exposure. So it would not shock me if they cooperated.

BLACKWELL: Is it too soon for the people who were not ultimately indicated to breathe the cliche sigh of relief?

SALAND: I think so. And there is certainly a big, despite the bravado we're hearing from some of these people, and the chest padding, I stand by what I did, they're innocent, obviously, because they have not been proven guilty. They haven't even had a case presented to a grand jury that can vote an indictment. But you better believe it's a type moment, because there is still criminal exposure, very much so. And if people start to flip and start to talk, there is evidence yet may yet to be known by D.A. Willis that she can ultimately present to a grand jury. So they're not out of woods. Whether it comes to fruition and there is an indictment, only time will tell.

BLACKWELL: Let's turn to Meadows. And I want to separate this into two questions. So first, Judge Jones has rejected the request from the former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to remove the state case to federal court, related to the election subversion investigation. On Meadows only, his request, what is your view of Judge Jones's finding that it didn't meet the, as said, quite low standard for removal?

SALAND: Yes, that threshold is pretty, pretty nominal. It is damning, it is difficult, for Meadows, it is crushing. But I don't think anybody should really have expected otherwise. I think most people who follow this and try to follow the law, whether you're someone who is really knowledgeable about the law or just learning it as you go, it was in breach. And the judge pointed out, if the endgame here, the goal of affecting this election in the state of Georgia, and even some of the things that Meadows admitted himself were damning and really turned the tide against him, but that is assuming the tide was even for him at some point.

So I'm not remotely surprised, and I think the decision was right. I also believe that this is a sign, even if not directly, to each and every other person who want removal, the president included. And remember, there is an issue about whether the president, or the former president Trump, is actually an officer who can seek that removal regardless.

BLACKWELL: And there is my second question.


See, you anticipated what I was going to ask you and you already gave me the answer early. SALAND: I think I've been working with you for too long.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I think you have. You understood where I was going. Jeremy Saland, I appreciate you getting up, and most folks at home don't know this, but on short notice for us. Thank you so much.

SALAND: Yes, my pleasure.

BLACKWELL: All right.

WALKER: All right, coming up, crews in Turkey are getting ready to try to rescue an American trapped in a cave more than 3,000 feet down under.


BLACKWELL: Top stories now. Turkish officials say an American trapped thousands of feet down in a cave is now medically stable and ready to transport.

WALKER: Mark Dickey is stranded 3,600 feet underground. He got sick with suspected gastrointestinal bleeding while exploring the Morca sinkhole almost a week ago. Dozens of workers have been trying to get him out since then, and because of how deep and narrow that cave is, it will likely take about four days.


BLACKWELL: Nearly a month after devastating wildfires first started on the Hawaiian island of Maui, 66 people are still unaccounted for. Governor Josh Green announced Friday the number continues to drop. The number of those killed is 115. Officials are already making plans to reopen west Maui to visitors and end travel restrictions on October 8th.

WALKER: The Supreme Court could make another ruling on abortion at the height of election season. The Department of Justice and the maker of the abortion drug mifepristone are asking the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling. If it goes into effect, that ruling would restrict access to the drug. It wouldn't be available by mail, and only a doctor could prescribe it, and the dosage would triple. These findings mean justices could decide the drug's fate next summer.

BLACKWELL: Let's turn to Florida now and this college admissions controversy. A college entrance exam popular among Christian schools will now be used for college admissions.

WALKER: The board of governors approved the Classic Learning Test at all state public universities. CNN correspondent Carlos Suarez explains how this will impact students.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Amara, students will now be able to take an exam that is used mostly by private religious affiliated colleges and universities to get into public universities like the University of Florida. The governing body for Florida's public universities approved the use of the Classic Learning Test, or CLT, for use in college admissions. One governor opposed, saying the test has not been through an independent peer review.

You are taking a look at a promotional video that was posted on the CLT's website. The CLT test is rooted in what the organization says is a classic education model that focuses on western tradition and texts. An example test found on CLT's website shows one question where students are asked to read and answer questions on John Paul II's "On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering." According to the organization, the CLT is currently accepted by more than 250 colleges and universities in the country, including 13 in Florida. The test does not replace the more widely accepted SAT and ACT.

Now, the classic learning test is the latest chapter in an ongoing fight between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the College Board, that is the organization that administers the SAT and advanced placement classes. Earlier this year the Florida Department of Education blocked a new A.P. course for high school students on African American studies, saying that it violated state law and lacked educational value. The College Board made changes to the course amid the criticism. Victor and Amara?

BLACKWELL: Carlos Suarez, thank you.

Former NFL pro Coy Wire, you've heard of him, dives deep into the issues behind football injuries and how the game is evolving to find new ways to protect the players in a brand new episode of "The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper." It airs tomorrow night at 8:00 on CNN.

WALKER: We're just hours away from crowning a new queen of the court at the U.S. Open. We're going to take you live to New York for a preview.



WALKER: All options are on the stable as the FAA looks to stop the string of close calls between planes during taxiing, takeoffs, and landings.

BLACKWELL: The Biden administration plans to invest more money in aviation safety, and one of the fixes could be better systems inside the cockpit. CNN's aviation correspondent Pete Muntean is in Washington with more. Pete?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Amara, this has been a top priority for the Federal Aviation Administration, addressing these near collisions involving commercial flights that have been unusually high. They're known officially as runway incursions, and the National Transportation Safety Board has initiated seven investigations since the start of the year. There has been an emergency safety summit, bulletins to pilots, bulletins to air traffic controllers.

But now the FAA is asking an industry-led committee to come up with new technology to help avoid more incidents. Here is what the FAA is telling its Investigative Technologies Aviation Rule Making Committee -- recommend in cockpit alerting systems that could show three things, when the aircraft is lined up with something that is not a runway, like a taxi way, when it's aligned with wrong runway, and when where a runway is too short. In its letter the FAA says one serious close call is too many, and every solution should be considered. Amara, Victor?

WALKER: All right, Pete Muntean, thank you. We'll be back after this.



BLACKWELL: After two weeks of the U.S. Open, it comes down to one match this afternoon for the women's title. Carolyn Manno joins us live now from Arthur Ashe stadium in New York with more. We're so excited to see you we joined in.

WALKER: I wanted to say that.

BLACKWELL: I'm sorry.


CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Coco Gauff does this to people. She makes everybody excited. And listen, if she is going to get this thing done today and win her first Grand Slam, she is going to have to have a big first serve. That forehand is going to have to have a lot of depth. She is taking on a player in Aryna Sabalenka that is the biggest hitter in the game, and is going to be the top ranked player in the world. But she's playing with a lot of confidence right now. Coco has retooled her game over this summer, and she says she is not taking this opportunity lightly. Take a listen.


COCO GAUFF, FIVE-TIME WTA WINNER: I do think that I'm giving myself more credit, and it definitely -- speaking things into existence is real. So I've been trying to speak more positively of myself and actually telling myself that I'm a great player. I'm trying to enjoy the moment, but also knowing that I still have more work to do. So that yes, the final is in an incredible achievement, but it is not something that I'm not satisfied with yet.


MANNO: It's the right attitude to have, Victor and Amara. People have been earmarking Coco Gauff for this moment since she was 15 years old, and now the moment has arrived.