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CNN International: Storm Downs Trees, Floods Communities in California; U.S. Senators Unveil Bipartisan Border Deal; U.S. Secretary of State Blinken Heading to Middle East; Fans Angered After Lionel Messi Sits Out Hong Kong Friendly. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired February 05, 2024 - 04:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an all-hands-on deck effort.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a little bit more scared this time. You know, the warnings, you know, we had a order to evacuate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone is doing their part to ensure the safety of all Californians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This bill is vital, vital to America's future interests. And we fix the border problem in this bill.

TAYLOR SWIFT, SINGER: My brand-new album comes out April 19th. It's called The Tortured Poets Department.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London. This is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us from around the world and the U.S. I'm Max Foster. Bianca off today. It is Monday. It's February the 5th, 9 a.m. here in London, 1 a.m. in Southern California, where hundreds of thousands of people are without power after a storm lashed California with heavy rain and strong wind.

Some cities reissuing evacuation orders for low lying areas. And at least one regional airport says it's shut down because its airfield is flooded. This was a scene on Sunday in central California. As water levels continue to rise at this creek in the city of Santa Barbara. California's governor has declared a state of emergency in nearly 15 percent of its counties.

Here's what else we know right now. Evacuation orders are in place for several counties across the state. We've learned the number of people still without power has dropped to more than 700,000. Hundreds of flights have already been displayed -- or delayed or canceled and 40 million people under flood watches, which are still in effect. CNN's Amy Kiley has the details on the storm.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since the storm is so wide, it's really hitting the entire state of California.

AMY KILEY, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): An atmospheric river that started yesterday continues pounding the West Coast today. It could cause life threatening floods and mudslides.

For Los Angeles, it's one of the most dramatic weather days in recent memory, according to the National Weather Service.

KAREN BASS, LOS ANGELES MAYOR: Los Angeles is not used to weather events like this.

KILEY (voice-over): In part of L.A., fire scars are causing evacuations since they increase the risk of mudslides. Elsewhere in the city --

BASS: Our priority is for Angelenos to be informed and to stay home.

KILEY (voice-over): Southern California is under a state of emergency declaration. Various areas throughout that region are dealing with evacuations. The PGA is canceling the rest of its tournament in Pebble Beach. And winter weather alerts are in effect for parts of Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Arizona.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have crews in the mountains here in Nevada that are dealing with the snow and ice up there.

KILEY (voice-over): I'm Amy Kiley reporting.


FOSTER: Well, for more, let's go to a meteorologist, Karen Maginnis. Obviously, as we were saying there, this area is used to extreme weather. But even this is surprising people.

KAREN MAGINNIS CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is extraordinary. All night long, my producer, Rob Shackelford, and I have been looking at all the reports coming out of California. All the way from the Bay Area and to some of the Central Valleys and into Southern California. One right after the other.

One report of high-water rescues reports of debris flows, of roads closed, of heavy flooding, potential for heavy flooding, heavy mountain snowfall. The impacts of this are so widespread and cannot be underestimated.

What you're looking at is Southern California. Here's Los Angeles. Here's Malibu, Griffith Park, also Calabasas included in this red shaded area. This is where we have a flood warning, flash flood warning, a very dangerous situation.

It is extremely dangerous for first responders who have to respond to people who perhaps feel it necessary to go out in these flooded conditions, the high winds that are being reported. Just that tiny area, more than 4 million people are impacted. And this goes until 9 o'clock in the morning local time.

And we've only just begun to see this atmospheric river really grab a hold of much of California. A lot of that moisture moving in is fairly warm, but there's a lot of it. So, for the next 24 to 48 hours, this area is going to be inundated with heavy rainfall totals.


One that I looked at earlier this evening indicated that Pasadena over the next 24 to 48 hours could see about 10 inches of rainfall. That's not including what we saw just with last week's atmospheric river.

Now what you're looking at here, a down tree over a highway. This is in Marin County. That's on the North Bay area. They had tremendous winds.

The last time that we saw a storm system, just off the coast of north central California, that's where the storm system is essentially located. We haven't seen anything this powerful since January of 2010. This is an image coming out of just to about 25 miles to the south of San Luis Obispo.

This gentleman finds his minivan stuck in these rising floodwaters. And we have California Fire, which has set out a ladder for him to escape these rising floodwaters.

All right, this is going into Monday. What about the risk for severe weather then? Yes, still impacting southern California with almost relentless rainfall. There may only be a few handful of days throughout the year where we see this high risk of excessive rainfall. And, yes, this includes that southern California region, Ventura County, Los Angeles County, some of the areas that we will see the greatest impact, perhaps, but then sliding towards the east.

But even though those are a handful of areas or days, about 83 percent of the flood damage occurs on just those few days. I'm actually back coming up in just about another 25 minutes or so and bring you another update regarding this atmospheric weather situation over the next several days.

FOSTER: OK, good stuff. Karen, thank you so much.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he'll take the first procedural step today in a highly anticipated border bill. The measure could be dramatically changed -- or it could change dramatically U.S. immigration law for the first time in decades, really. Here's a look at some of the key points.

The one hundred $118 billion bipartisan package would empower the U.S. to significantly restrict illegal migrant crossings at the southern border. It also raises the standard of proof to pass an initial asylum screening while shortening asylum processing from years to months. It preserves the president's authority to designate humanitarian parole on a case-by-case basis and authorizes an additional 250,000 immigrant visas.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: This bill is vital, vital to America's future interests. Ukraine would be run over by -- if we don't get aid in this bill. Israel needs to defend itself against Hamas with the aid in this bill. Palestinian civilians need food to prevent them from starvation. That is in this bill. And we fix the border problem in this bill.


FOSTER: Well, House Speaker Mike Johnson says it'll be dead on arrival, calling it too weak. That's been echoed by former president and Republican front runner Donald Trump.

But Democrats in the House are stressing it deserves a vote.


REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS (D-MA): If it passes the Senate. It would be unconscionable for Speaker Johnson not to put it forward in the House to let Americans see where their duly elected representatives stand on some of the most momentous issues of the time. Not just border security, but also support for Israel, support for Taiwan, support for Ukraine fighting on the front lines of the free world. That deserves a vote.


FOSTER: Well, some early tweets are giving us a sense of the opposition that the bill is facing. House Republican conference chair Elise Stefanik called it an absolute nonstarter and referred to it as the Joe Biden/Chuck Schumer open border bill.

She says it'll further incentivize thousands of migrants to cross the border. And even though the deal is bipartisan, some Senate Republicans are speaking out against it. Senator Mike Lee is calling the proposal asinine.

U.S. President Joe Biden says he strongly supports the bill, but he didn't mention it during a campaign stop in Vegas, focusing more on his opponent, Donald Trump.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just think back to the mess Donald Trump left this country in. The pandemic was raging. The economy was reeling. Look how far we've come because of you.


FOSTER: More now from CNN's Priscilla Alvarez, who's following Mr. Biden on the campaign trail.


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: President Joe Biden brought his general election argument to Nevada on Sunday as he tried to draw a connection between his administration's accomplishments and what voters are feeling in this state. Of course, it's an important state as the president stares down November, one that he only narrowly won in 2020. And especially important as polls show a close contest nationally between President Biden and his Republican opponent.


Of course, all of this happening as news broke of a deal that was struck in the Senate that would address the U.S.-Mexico border.

Only minutes before the White House releasing a statement saying the following, quote: For too long, going back decades, the immigration system has been broken. It's time to fix it.

It goes on to say: Now we've reached an agreement on a bipartisan national security deal that includes the toughest and fairest set of border reforms in decades. I strongly support it.

Now, of course, White House officials had been involved in these ongoing talks to make major border policy changes. They include in this deal, for example, a new emergency authority that would give the president the ability to shut down the border if certain metrics are met, while also expediting the asylum process.

Now, all of this is still up for debate, and the Senate leader, Chuck Schumer, plans to set up a floor vote this week. But already, House Speaker Mike Johnson is coming out against it, saying that even if it were to reach the House, it would already be dead on arrival, meaning that the future of this deal is still very much up in the air.

Priscilla Alvarez, traveling with the president, CNN.


FOSTER: While the U.S. president was rallying supporters in Nevada, Nikki Haley campaigned in her home state, South Carolina, saying she's the Republican Party's best bet against Mr. Biden in the general election.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Trump lost in 18. He lost in 2020. He lost in 2022. How many times do we have to lose before we realize there's something wrong with that picture? You've got to acknowledge the fact he can't win a general election. So, you can vote for him all day long and he can come out of this primary, but he won't win a general.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FOSTER: South Carolina will hold its Republican primary at the end of February. A recent Monmouth University Washington Post poll showed her trailing Trump by 26 points.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on his way to the Middle East, where tensions are high after U.S. strikes in the region. This will be Blinken's fifth visit there since the October 7th Hamas attacks in Israel.

Meanwhile, two U.S. defense officials tell CNN that the airstrikes in Syria and Iraq destroyed or damaged 84 of its 85 targets. And a preliminary battle damage assessment indicates no Iranians were killed.

U.S. Central Command released this video of the weekend's U.S. strikes in Yemen. The U.S. strikes and the Israel-Hamas war are expected to be the big topics under discussion during Blinken's visit to the Middle East. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is in Tel Aviv with more on the trip.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's certainly no shortage of issues for the secretary of state to address as he spends the next four days in this region. It comes against the backdrop of U.S. strikes against key Iranian proxies in Iraq, Syria, as well as Yemen, and also against the backdrop of major progress over the last couple of weeks towards working towards that next hostage release deal. That hostage release deal will be a major priority for the secretary of state as he visits not only Israel, but also Doha, Qatar, as well as Cairo, Egypt.

We know that the Egyptians and the Qataris have been key mediators, and he is coming as Hamas has been reviewing this broad framework proposal that Israel, the United States, Egypt, and Qatar have agreed to and presented to Hamas. And so, it's very possible that Hamas's response to that proposal could come while the secretary of state is in the region.

But there's no question that he will also be focused on trying to provide the counterbalance to what we saw over the weekend, and that is that U.S. military response strikes against Iranian proxies in Iraq, Syria, as well as Yemen, trying to balance that military response, which the United States views as necessary, with a similar diplomatic approach to try and prevent these conflicts in the region from spiraling out of control into an all-out regional war, in particular as the United States has made clear that it does not want and it is not seeking a war with Iran.

But beyond the short-term, immediate challenges that the secretary of state will face, he is still keeping his eye on the ball on the longer-term problems in the region. Now, beyond those critical, immediate issues, the secretary of state also looking longer-term as well, and that's why he's starting off this trip in Saudi Arabia as he tries to push forward this notion of Saudi-Israel normalization as part of a broader effort to try and turn this conflict between Israel and Hamas into a potential opportunity to establish a new normal in the region, to try and create a pathway for a Palestinian state. That is very much where the United States is focused at the moment as it looks longer-term.

But, of course, it faces major challenges, nowhere more perhaps than right here in Israel, where the Israeli prime minister has repeatedly made clear that he is opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state. That will be a major diplomatic challenge for the secretary of state to confront in this region this week.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Tel Aviv.



FOSTER: Well, Elliott's with us for more on the situation. Because many visits by Blinken to that, to Israel, obviously in recent months. What specifically do you think he wants this time?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: I suppose he's got four broad objectives, Max, on this, what is his fifth trip since the Hamas terrorist attacks of October the 7th. One is to try to ensure that what is already a very hot war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the slightly less warmer wars that are going on across the region, particularly on the border between Israel and Lebanon, that they don't spiral into hotter wars as well.

And, in fact, just over the weekend, Israel is saying that it's hit more than 3,400 Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon and more than 50 Hezbollah targets in Syria, as it says it tries to disrupt the flow of arms to Iran's proxies over there.

So that's still bubbling away. In fact, just this morning, seeing video from the IDF showing them taking out Hezbollah observation posts, they said.

The other three main objectives are all related to the hostages. Now, we were talking last week about that framework agreement between Israel and Hamas, that there would be a couple of phases with a six- week pause, starting with Israeli hostages, released for about three times the number of Palestinian prisoners, and then other phases with the IDF soldiers released and also bodies that Hamas either took into the Gaza Strip or from people that it killed inside the Gaza Strip.

And the other issues are related to those because Blinken also wants to try to facilitate a humanitarian pause or some kind of ceasefire and also get more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. But those are generally predicated on whether a hostage deal can be done.

And we know that all parties are still trying to get that across the line. But we also hear from Hamas. It seems that they are insisting that there will be no hostage deal unless Israel not only ceases fire, but also withdraws from the Gaza Strip entirely.

And we've got Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that there will not be a deal done at any cost and Israel won't release thousands of terrorists. So that actually seems to be at a bit of an impasse right now. And, you know, it's possible that Secretary Blinken, after what, his fifth trip, when he goes back to the United States, he may go back empty handed.

FOSTER: And pressure, obviously, in the U.S. to deliver something when he goes back, particularly in an election year. So, it's getting increasingly difficult for the Americans. The less progress there is, particularly in relation to hostages.

GOTKINE: Very much so. And it's not lost on the Biden administration. You know, he was just in Michigan, wasn't he? Which has a very big Arab American constituent of voters there. And he's been losing a lot of support among that constituency because of the U.S. support for Israel in its war against Hamas.

And, of course, we saw those sanctions on four settlers last week, which perhaps was seen in some quarters to be a bit of a try to regain some of that support among Arab-Americans. But certainly, as long as -- the longer this war goes on and certainly if it escalates, then that could spell more trouble for President Biden as he seeks re- election.

FOSTER: OK, Elliott, thank you.

Ukraine's president says his country needs a leadership reset. Volodymyr Zelenskyy has admitted to an Italian media outlet that he is looking beyond just changes in the military command.

He's also considering replacing a series of state leaders. The president stressed he had something serious in mind but did not elaborate on who may be out of a job. For now, Zelenskyy is deciding on whether to dismiss his army chief following the failed counteroffensive in eastern Ukraine.

Still to come, Namibia has sworn in a new leader after the death of its president. We'll have a live report from the region just ahead.

And deadly wildfires sweep through Chile. We'll have the details on the dangerous conditions firefighters and the public are facing there.

Plus, the hook and the tease leaves football fans crying foul in Hong Kong. The latest on why superstar Lionel Messi sat out the match in a sold-out stadium.



FOSTER: We're a few hours away from the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange. Let's take a look at how the stock futures are doing this morning. As you can see, all the major markets are down slightly in pre-market trading after investor fears were dashed really for the interest rate cuts in the U.S. they were hoping for in the near term.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve Chair is assuring Americans that the U.S. economy is strong. And the time is coming for interest rate cuts. Jerome Powell says the central bank will lower the rates later this year. But it's not likely to happen in March as Wall Street had hoped.


JEROME POWELL, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: I think it's not likely that this committee will reach that level of confidence in time for the March meeting, which is in seven weeks. Almost all, almost all of the 19 participants who sit around this table believe that it will be appropriate in their most likely case for us to cut the federal funds rate this year.


FOSTER: Former U.S. President Donald Trump is giving a glimpse of what his U.S.-China policy will look like if he's back in the White House. In an interview with Fox News, Trump said he would consider imposing a tariff of more than 60 percent on all Chinese imports. As president, Trump had imposed tariffs on Chinese goods in 2018, triggering a tariff war with Beijing. His comments come at a time of high economic and other tensions between the two countries.

Hong Kong's top sport official says the government made repeated requests for Lionel Messi to play in Sunday's match, but he never entered the game. And this was the reaction.

Fans booing when the superstar failed to take the pitch during the match between his Inter-Miami team and a group of local standouts. The Hong Kong government said the event's organizer, Tatler, owes fans an explanation. Tatler expressed extreme disappointment, but denied, knowing that the World Cup champion wouldn't play.

Inter-Miami's coach said Messi and another player sat out with injuries. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout was at the match.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Hong Kong, no show on the pitch for the Argentine football superstar, Lionel Messi, and the fans here are disappointed.


What was initially cheers in the stands here at Hong Kong Stadium turned into jeers, boos, and even chants of, where is Messi? And refund, refund, refund.

Some 40,000 fans here in Hong Kong clamored for the opportunity to see Lionel Messi play with his team Inter-Miami for a pre-season friendly against a Hong Kong squad. This was Inter-Miami's first ever international tour. Its co-owner David Beckham also here adding to the football star power.

But when Lionel Messi failed to get up from the bench, the mood inside the stadium soured, and the fans have been leaving utterly crushed and disappointed. Joining me now is a super fan here in Hong Kong of Lionel Messi,

Christer Leung (ph). A lot of people disappointed tonight. How are you feeling?

CHRISTER LEUNG, LIONEL MESSI FAN: Disappointed, just like everyone is. Yeah, very disappointed. Really wanted to see him play, even for five minutes.

STOUT: Really disappointed. You named your son after Lionel Messi. You paid for the ticket. How much did you pay for your ticket?

LEUNG: Like $2,300. Hong Kong dollars.

STOUT: So that's about $300 U.S. dollars, right?

LEUNG: Yeah, very disappointed. And most people are. It's really -- it started -- I think the disappointment started from yesterday, I think, with the training session. Because that was not cheap either. That was 100 bucks. So then today, you know, we really -- like we saw the signs, right? He wasn't on the substitutes list, actually. And he was dressed in full track suit. Yeah, we were praying for good, but we were expecting the worst, I think, a little bit.

STOUT: Your prayers weren't answered, Christer. I'm so sorry. Thank you for joining us.

LEUNG: Thank you.

STOUT: NOW, the Hong Kong government, they were really hoping that an event like this would turn Hong Kong into a hub for mega events to help drive tourism and help to reboot the economy. But for all the fans that showed up tonight, it was never about the economy. IT'S It was always about the beautiful game. It was about football. It was about seeing their hero, Lionel Messi, on the pitch. But that was a dream that was ultimately denied.

Kristie Lou Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


FOSTER: The other big football headline. We now know where and when the 2026 FIFA World Cup matches will be played. The tournament kicks off in Mexico City. That'll be June the 11th. The next day, Canada is expected to have its first match. That'll be in Toronto. LA will host the first U.S. game at the SoFi Stadium.

LA may be the first U.S. city to host, but it's Dallas that'll host one of the semifinals, with Atlanta being the other. The biggest game, though, the championship final, will be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. And that'll be July the 19th.

And for the first time in its history, this World Cup will feature 48 countries up from the usual 32.

Still to come, this is some of the flooding that people in parts of California are facing. And more severe weather is on its way. The latest on the millions still under threat. That's just ahead.

Plus, pregnant women in Gaza struggling with little access to pre- or post-natal care, as the healthcare system in the enclave is on the brink of collapse. Details just ahead.