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CNN International: Tech Titans Gather in Senate for AI Forum; Ramaswamy Vows to Reduce Size of U.S. Federal Government; Morgues in Libya Overwhelmed as Death Toll Tops 6,000; Morocco Accepts Offers of Support from Several Countries; Plan to Dislodge Grounded Cruise Ship at Hight Tide Fails. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 14, 2023 - 04:30   ET



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

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is defending his decision to order an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. That's despite not having the full backing of all House Republicans. The inquiry will look into whether the President financially benefited from his son Hunter's business dealings.

The United Auto Workers Union is preparing to strike at targeted individual U.S. auto plants if contract agreements are not reached by late Thursday night. This would be the union's first ever simultaneous strike against each of Detroit's big three automakers.

Many of the top Titans of tech gathered at a Senate hearing -- in a Senate hearing room on Wednesday to talk with Senators about how to regulate artificial intelligence. But there was little consensus on exactly how to do it. And as Brian Fung explains, some Senators questioned why Congress is even taking regulatory advice from the very companies they need to regulate.


BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: There's broad agreement that government should have some role in regulating AI, but there is still no consensus on how. That's the big take away from a day long summit on Capitol Hill involving some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world.

In the meeting, Bill Gates spoke of how AI could help end world hunger. Others talked about its potential to cure cancer. Elon Musk said the meeting, quote, may go down in history as being very important for the future of civilization.

But questions are still swirling about how the U.S. might approach AI regulation. Does the U.S. need a new federal agency to regulate AI? What about bans on AI and political advertising? How soon could Congress come up with a comprehensive bill? Many of these questions are still unresolved after Gates, Musk and others like Mark Zuckerberg, descended on Washington to offer their views.

Meanwhile, officials in the meeting from the entertainment industry and labor and civil rights groups, called for protecting workers, writers and minorities from some of the harms that AI could cause.

Senators coming out of the meeting said most everyone agreed the United States should remain a leader in AI development while also trying to protect people. But outside of the meeting room, some lawmakers took issue with how the sessions were closed to the public. Senator Josh Hawley called the event a, quote, cocktail party for the tech industry, and he sharply criticized what he said was an opportunity for big tech monopolists to lobby for the regulations they might prefer.

That critique was bipartisan, with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats, expressing a similar view. Still, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who hosted the event, defended the closed-door approach by saying, it allowed lawmakers to hear from key stakeholders in a, quote, unvarnished way. How that gets reflected in U.S. policy, though, is still very much unclear.

Brian Fung, CNN Washington.


FOSTER: Well, never mind. Donald Trump's current dominance in the polls amongst Republican voters. Florida Governor and Republican challenger Ron DeSantis says a felony conviction would probably make Trump unelectable. Here's what he told CBS News.


RON DESANTIS, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I didn't think even before all this that the President should -- the former President should have run again. I mean, I think that there's just certain -- there's too many voters who he's a deal breaker for them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, Nikki Haley says Americans won't vote for a convicted criminal. Do you agree with that?

DESANTIS: I think the chance of getting elected president after being convicted of a felony is as close to zero as you can get.


FOSTER: Vivek Ramaswamy is working hard to keep his name in the news with less than two weeks to go before the next Republican presidential debate. Now he's detailing his plans to dissolve federal agencies, including the FBI and Department of Education, and for thousands of federal workers to be fired. CNN's Eva McKend has the details.


VIVEK RAMASWAMY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE; We're going to get a lot of pushback to this speech, I have no doubt about it. EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy vowing to go further than Donald Trump in reducing the size of the federal government.

RAMASWAMY: This vision is not an original vision. Excellent presidents from Reagan to Trump have spoken to the same ideal, and I give credit to Donald Trump for taking more steps than have been taken in a generation.

MCKEND (voice-over): During his 2016 campaign for the White House, Trump made a rallying cry out of cutting the federal bureaucracy.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is time to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.


MCKEND (voice-over): Now, Ramaswamy, who is attempting to seize the label of political outsider, is making the case he would be the presidential hopeful best able to accomplish that task.

RAMASWAMY: I do think it takes an outsider who has, if I may say, complete and total disregard for the norms of Washington, D.C. And I'm guilty as charged on that.

MCKEND (voice-over): Speaking at a Trump aligned think tank in Washington, Ramaswamy unveiling his proposal to eliminate at least five major government agencies, including the Department of Education, the FBI, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It's part of a push by the political newcomer to reduce the federal workforce by 75 percent.

RAMASWAMY: The people who we elect to run the government ought to be the ones who actually run the government, not the managerial bureaucracy in three letter government agencies.

MCKEND (voice-over): Past Republican presidents have proposed sweeping cuts to the federal government only to encounter significant obstacles. Ronald Reagan called for eliminating the Departments of Education and Energy, but both agencies still exist.

NORMAN ORNSTEIN, RESIDENT SCHOLAR, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Presidents can't just willy-nilly fire a million employees, abolish agencies and do it without involvement by Congress. And frankly, no Congress would go along with a crazy plan like this.

MCKEND (voice-over): Trump has said he wants to move the Department of Education responsibilities to the states. And Ron DeSantis has discussed closing agencies, too, the IRS and Departments of Commerce, Energy and Education. But Ramaswamy goes further.

RAMASWAMY: Do we want incremental reform or do we want revolution?

MCKEND: This marks another radical policy proposal from the 38-year- old Ohio entrepreneur. Who has shaken up the political field with pronouncements like raising the voting age to 25 and eliminating automatic citizenship to American born children of undocumented immigrants. Running to the right of his opponents, Ramaswami is convinced, if elected, his latest plan can survive legal challenges, given the current makeup of the Supreme Court.

In Washington, Eva McKend, CNN.


FOSTER: Senate Republican Mitt Romney is calling for a new generation of leaders as he announces he'll not run for reelection next year.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I considered my age and the fact that at the end of the second term I would be in my mid-80s and I think it's time for guys like me to get out of the way and have people in the next generation step forward.


FOSTER: Romney, who's 76, has been one of the former President Donald Trump's few outspoken Republican critics. In his announcement on Wednesday, the Utah Senator criticized both Trump and President Joe Biden for failing to provide solutions to critical issues such as the rising debt -- national debt and climate change as well.

The Seattle Police Department's Office of Police Accountability is investigating comments made by an officer recorded on his body camera. Officer Daniel Auderer was discussing a woman killed after being struck by a police vehicle responding to a call at high speed. His part of that tape.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But she is dead.

OFFICER DANIEL AUDERER: (LAUGHS) Yeah. No, it's a regular person.


AUDERER: Yeah, just write a check. Just (LAUGHS) yeah, $11,000. she was 26 anyway, She had limited value.


FOSTER: 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula was walking in a crosswalk when she was hit by the police car in January. Co-chairs for the Seattle Community Police Commission called the comments, quote, heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive. A conservative radio station claims to have obtained a statement Auderer gave to the Office of Police Accountability, saying he was mocking what a lawyer for the city might say about the case.

Auderer's Vice President of the Seattle Police Officers Union. CNN has reached out to the officer and the Union for comment.

The death toll from catastrophic flooding is on the rise in eastern Libya, and now authorities are facing a new threat. Details next on CNN NEWSROOM.



FOSTER: Time is running out in eastern Libya to find survivors from the catastrophic flooding, which has now claimed more than 6,000 lives. Search and rescue crews from around the world are arriving to help with the grim task of recovering bodies. The UN estimates more than 30,000 people have been displaced. Many of the images and the stories from the region are absolutely horrifying and graphic. Hospitals are too overwhelmed to treat all the victims. Morgues are overflowing and there's no access to clean water or sanitation. All of this is leading to fears that waterborne diseases will start to spread, making the disaster even worse.

CNN Senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman has reported extensively from Libya throughout his years at CNN, and the warning his report does contain that graphic content.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The bodies are everywhere. Dozens, dozens of the dead covered in blankets awaiting identification and burial. The dead number in the thousands, but so far no one really knows how many were taken by storm Daniel.

Survivors are finding more and more bodies. Rescue workers and volunteers have retrieved the body of a boy wrapped in a blanket and prepared to put him in a body bag. His father arrives, overcome with emotion. Doctors fear that so many left dead in the open could lead to an outbreak of disease.

We aren't able to identify all the bodies and bury them, says this woman identified as Dr. Eisha. We want to provide a humane place. Freezers where loved ones can then identify them.

Access to Derna remains difficult. The flood destroyed many of the roads and bridges leading to the city. This port in eastern Libya has been transformed into a wasteland of mud, rubble and ruin. The raging waters that tore through the city spared no one and nothing.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.



FOSTER: Help is slowly making its way to survivors and hard-hit mountain villages after Friday's devastating earthquake in Morocco, as the death toll approaches 3,000. The U.S. Agency for International Development is the latest to pledge assist, saying it will provide an initial $1 million in humanitarian support to Morocco and a sent an assessment team to the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATT MILLER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: The United States Agency for International Development has deployed a small assessment team to Morocco to liaise with local responders assessing the situation and identifying humanitarian needs. And second, that we are exchanging specialized technical expertise through the United States Geological Survey.


FOSTER: CNN's, Larry Madowo following developments and joins us live now from Nairobi. And we're still covering this story because so much attention is also going, obviously, justifiably to Libya. But the challenge in Morocco is still enormous.

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is enormous because the most affected regions were in the High Atlas Mountains, which are not easy to get to. That's even in the best of times. But right now, after the earthquake on Friday night, some of the roads are damaged because of landslides. There's been some aftershocks which have damaged even more homes. So that makes it extremely difficult to reach all these people.

And in the absence of a bigger international effort to help them, the government has stepped in, but also neighbors have stepped in to help other neighbors. A lot of other Moroccans from parts of the country have been in big convoys, hired trucks and brought food and water and temporary shelter, which has been necessary even as the search and rescue operations continue.

We're now past the 72-hour deadline when the chances of finding survivors is most likely. But the search and rescue has not been entirely called off, especially south of Marrakesh, the tourist town where some of the worst damage has been seen. For some of these other villages, whose homes essentially were flattened -- because they're not made of the most sturdy materials -- they're now thinking about the rebuilding effort, and it's not going to be an easy job.


SAIDA OUCHI, VILLAGE RESIDENT (through translator): We've gone back to the time of our ancestors. We just want a bit of cement and earth to rebuild our houses ourselves. I just want two bedrooms and the kitchen, that's all.


MADOWO: He's thinking of the most basic tools just to try and rebuild their life because they know the government support may be coming, but it could be a long way off. The UN estimates about 300,000 people were affected by this. So getting help to all of them could be a long time off. Considering that Morocco only accepted international aid from a small number of countries, from Britain, from Qatar, from Spain and from the UAE, even though many more countries that have the capacity and the funding to do so, such as the U.S. and France have offered support. So far, the Moroccan Government has not accepted it. The explanation a few days ago was that it could be counterproductive, but if they saw that there would be a need, they could go back and ask for more for more countries.

FOSTER: OK, Larry, thank you for the update from Nairobi.

Now a cruise ship stuck in the mud -- literally off Greenland -- has to wait until Friday for a possible rescue. We'll tell you how the passengers are doing after the break.



FOSTER: More than 200 passengers and crew remained stranded on a cruise ship off the coast of Greenland. The ship has been struck -- stuck there since running aground on Monday. Attempts to dislodge the ship on Wednesday failed. To make matters worse, at least three passengers have tested positive for COVID-19. Here's what one passenger had to say about that.


LIS, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: I don't think it's spreading. I think it's been contained. There are a few people that are a bit sort of wheezy and coughing and you sort of try and avoid them. But I don't particularly think it's spreading. I think, you know, the crew's doing a great job. People who have COVID have been confined and most people have been vaccinated, you know, three, four, five times.


FOSTER: Passengers are remaining pretty upbeat for the time being, at least, despite some items becoming more scarce as they await rescue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some point, Lis. The biggest worry is going to be that you're going to run out of alcohol.

LIS: That is the biggest concern I have. However, I had swimming lessons before I came and I'm a good swimmer, so look out. I could be swimming back to Iceland.


FOSTER: CNN's Anna Stewart has more details on what the officials plan to do.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: It's been stuck off the east coast of Greenland since Monday, sitting on a bed of sand and mud, according to the Danish Armed Forces.

Initial attempts by the cruise ship to refloat itself at high tide have failed, as did a tug from a fishing research vessel owned by Greenland on Wednesday. Help is on the way, but it could take a while. According to Denmark's Joint Arctic Command, a Royal Danish Naval Ship is en route, but it is taking time. It hits some bad weather and currently it's expected to arrive on Friday evening. Troops from a Danish military dog sled patrol are also in the area in the event of an emergency. They actually boarded the vessel on Tuesday and said everyone was doing well.

The Australian crew's operator of the ship, Aurora Expeditions, released a statement saying:

All passengers, the Expedition team and crew on board are safe and well. Importantly, there is no immediate danger to themselves, the vessel or the surrounding environment.

Hopefully, that continues. An extended stop at the coast of Greenland wasn't the plan but perhaps passengers can enjoy the luxury cruise ships, hot tubs, its gym, its spa and the views don't look too bad either.

Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


FOSTER: Aaron Rodgers may be down for the rest of the NFL season, but he's not out for good. The New York Jets quarterback posted a thank you message on Instagram after his Achilles injury, which was on Monday night. Of course he says, the night is darkest before the dawn, and I shall rise yet again.

The 39-year-old was playing in his first game with the Jets after 18 seasons with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers says he's completely heartbroken after his injury but touched by the outpouring of love and support.


To Major League Baseball now, where the playoffs are just a few weeks away. And the Atlanta Braves were the first team to win a division so far this season. They did it with a four to one win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night. It's the sixth consecutive National League East title for the Braves. The Braves won the World Series in 2021 when they beat the Houston Astros.

And in the stories the in the spotlight this hour. After three years, a stolen, banged off painting has been returned. Although with some new scars. The painting, called Spring Garden, was on loan to a small museum near Amsterdam when thieves grabbed it during a COVID lockdown. The director of the museum that owns the painting says it was scratched. But can be restored. The painting is worth nearly $6.5 million dollars. It was returned on Monday to Arthur Brand, a detective known as the Indiana Jones of the Art World, and it came in a blue IKEA bag.

Now, if you've ever wanted to own a Picasso masterpiece and you have a spare 100 million bucks lying around. Well, now might be your chance. Because Sotheby's in New York is putting this 1932 oil painting up for auction in November. Considered one of Picasso's finest, it depicts Mary-Therese Walter, the painters 17-year-old mistress and muse, wearing a watch. And $100 million is actually a modest estimate. Apparently, Sotheby's believes it could fetch more than 120 million. And you never know when it comes down to the bidding.

Finally, lawmakers in Mexico are left wondering whether we're not alone after an unusual Congressional hearing that is. Politicians viewed two alleged non-human bodies on Tuesday, each with elongated heads and only three fingers on each hand. Researchers told Congress their bodies were recovered in Peru in 2017 but are supposedly centuries old. They say the mummies DNA does not match human beings. The event was Mexico's first public hearing on Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena, or UAPs. Make up your own mind.

Thanks for joining me here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster in London. "EARLY START: is next on CNN with Kasie.