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CNN International: Storms Downs Trees, Flood Communities in California; Presidential Candidate Bukele Takes Early Lead in El Salvador Election; Senegal Police, Protesters Clash After President Delays Vote; Pregnant Women in Gaza Suffering as Hostilities Escalate. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired February 05, 2024 - 04:30   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Max Foster. If you're just joining us, here are some of our top stories today.

U.S. Republican Congressman Steve Scalise is vowing that the bipartisan border bill will not get a vote in the House, even if it passes through the Senate. As House Majority Leader, he sets the floor schedule.

A diplomatic source tells CNN that the U.N. Security Council is expected to discuss the U.S. and U.K. airstrikes in the Middle East later today. Russia called for the meeting, saying the strikes were a, quote, blatant act of U.S.-British aggression against sovereign states.

A Michigan jury will begin deliberations today in the manslaughter trial against Jennifer Crumbley. Her teenage son killed four people in a school shooting in 2021. She and her husband are the first parents in the U.S. to be charged in connection with a school shooting committed by their child. Her husband goes on trial next month.

In the U.S., thousands in California are without power right now after a huge storm system brought heavy rain and strong winds. Some cities are reissuing evacuation orders for low-lying areas.

Meanwhile, California's governor has declared a state of emergency in nearly 15 percent of its counties. And the National Weather Service says flash flood warnings are in effect for parts of Los Angeles and its surrounding areas. City officials are urging residents to get off the roads.


KAREN BASS, LOS ANGELES MAYOR: Let me be clear. This storm is a serious weather event. This has the potential to be a historic storm, severe winds, thunderstorms and even brief tornadoes.


For more, we go to CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis with the very latest. And people being warned very clearly, aren't they, to stay in if they can.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Max, absolutely. It can't be overstated. Just how powerful this storm system is. This atmospheric river, this long stretch of moisture, which is pushing that moisture onshore. It's got a lot of moisture associated with it. So, because it's slow moving, it's going to be very heavy rainfall. It bumps into the mountains. We're going to see heavy mountain snowfall, could be measuring in feet.

And we have already seen a number of high-water rescues down trees, down power lines. There's difficult travel in a lot of these Southern California communities from Malibu to Calabasas. A lot of the roads have some debris flows on them where you see the burn scars. Yes, we go back to 2020 when we had these large fires. What the water will run off and produce these rock slides and mud slides.

An area all the way from Malibu to Los Angeles to Thousand Oaks to Calabasas. More than 4 million people under a risk of flash flooding. We've already seen that.


And the potential for mud slides. This is going to be a 24-to-48-hour event. It's going to be relentless. We can't overstate just how potentially devastating this could be. Not just to property and maybe some neighborhoods. But to actual people who are trying to flee maybe some of these flood waters.

We've already seen how Cal Fire has helped people with some of these water rescues. It is a very dangerous situation. Please keep it here on CNN. We'll continue to bring you updates. Meteorologist Allison Chinchar will be here in the 5 o'clock hour Eastern Time. Back to you, Max.

FOSTER: OK, thank you, Karen.

I mean, just look at that video. Firefighters driving through blazes in Chile. As that nation battles historic wildfires. At least 112 people have died and a state of emergency has been declared. Tens of thousands of acres burning.

Chile's president says if any of these fires were set intentionally, the criminals will pay.


GABRIEL BORIC, CHILEAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It's hard to think there are so horrible and heartless people who could be able to inflict so much pain. But if these people exist, we will search them. We will find them. And they will have to face not only the entire society's rejection, but also the law.


FOSTER: The votes from El Salvador's election are being counted. But preliminary results show the country's strongman president has taken a commanding lead. Nayib Bukele claimed victory hours ago. He's faced little organized opposition in the race, really. And he's extremely high in the approval ratings, due in part to his crackdown on violence and criminal gangs.

He's defending his record after rights groups accused his government of detaining and torturing innocent people. He compared the mass arrests to chemotherapy to cure the, quote, cancer of the gangs. And he's responding to critics who say he's anti-democratic.


NAYIB BUKELE, SALVADORAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): They say that Salvadorans are oppressed, that Salvadorans don't want the emergency measures, that Salvadorans are afraid of the government. Let God tell the journalists to accompany us on this night of total freedom and total security here in the safest country of the Western Hemisphere.

Don't be scared of me. I'm just a politician, an official. Believe in the Salvadoran people.


FOSTER: Police and protesters clashed in Senegal on Sunday, a day after the country's president announced he would postpone a vote for his replacement. Pro-democracy demonstrators set up barricades in the capital city, Dakar, and police responded with tear gas. Protesters say they fear democracy is at stake.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are only defending ourselves. He meddles with the constitution. He meddles with the newspapers. He meddles with the population. He does everything he can to put us in a difficult position. I say it, and I repeat it once again. We are not fighting for a simple cause. We are fighting for freedom.


FOSTER: Meanwhile, in Namibia, former vice president Nangolo Mbumba has been sworn in as the country's new leader, just hours after President Hage Geingob died whilst receiving treatment for cancer.

Joining us now is CNN's Larry Madowo in Nairobi. Just explain to us what this difference means.

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A big weekend for democracy in Africa highlights the progress but also the challenges.

Starting in Namibia, which is winning a lot of praise today for a peaceful transition just hours after Dr. Hage Geingob died of cancer in the capital. His vice president is sworn in as the president, and he immediately assured the country and the world that he will not run for office when Dr. Geingob's term ends. He intends to not stand in that election in November. He's 82, the median age in Namibia is only 21, so he recognizes that he's not quite the person to take that country forward. That helps reassure a lot of people. But also, the fact that this peaceful transition happened and the constitutional order of the country stood is something that a lot of people across the continent are making notice of.

And especially in light of the other developments Saturday from Senegal, where President Macky Sall shocked the nation and the world by postponing the election with just three weeks to go. There's some background here. Here's how President Macky Sall framed this decision.


MACKY SALL, SENEGAL'S PRESIDENT (through translator): For my part, my solemn undertaking not to stand in the presidential election remains unchanged. I will initiate an open national dialogue to create the conditions for free, transparent and inclusive elections in a Senegal that is at peace and reconciled.



MADOWO: How he will create those conditions is not clear. This is why you see people on the streets Sunday protesting that decision. Senegalese are very proud of the two-term limits. They're very proud of their democracy. It's one of the most stable democracies in West Africa, maybe in all of Africa. And so, they see President Sall's decision. Some opposition leaders are calling it a constitutional coup. And that is why you're seeing this concern from the economic community of West African states, from the African Union, both calling for dialogue and a new date to be set as soon as possible.

And joining those calls, the European Union, the United States, France, all saying this is of concern because Senegal has set a good standard over the past few decades of being able to have peaceful transitions. That is why they leaned on President Macky Sall not to run again when he intended to do so.

Part of the background here is that the Constitutional Council last month excluded some key opposition figures from the election. Some of them are in jail. Some of them are not on that poll. That led to some disquiet. So, President Macky Sall appears to have legitimate reasons for that, but it's not been well received in the country, and for good reason -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Larry, thank you.

Still to come, surprise announcements, special performances. Historic moments. We'll have the unexpected highlights from the Grammy's.


FOSTER: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken scheduled to arrive in Saudi Arabia in the coming hours. The State Department says Blinken will focus on efforts to reach an agreement in the Israel-Hamas war during talks with leaders in the region. A U.S. official says he'll push for a hostage deal and humanitarian pause in the fighting.

Meanwhile, the situation in Gaza is especially dire for pregnant women. The World Health Organization says at least 15 percent are likely to experience pregnancy or birth-related complications. And as most hospitals have been destroyed in Israeli strikes, many women are having to give birth in shelters, tents, even amid the rubble. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has more.



JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Born into this world, all alone, no parents by her side.

And stranger's touch for the baby with no name delivered by C-section last month to a mother already gone, fatally injured in an explosion. She's been in an incubator since, stable now, but still fragile, doctors say.

She's one of the nearly 20,000 born into this ward. Every 10 minutes, a baby is born in Gaza, the U.N. says. Gaza is where the blessings of life are now a curse.

Umm Yazan is five months pregnant. Like most Gazans, her family is homeless. This the toilets of a school turned shelter is where they live.

This is our life in the toilets, Umm Yazan says. We lay our mattresses and sleep here.

Umm Yazan and her husband can hardly feed their children. There's not enough for their unborn child.

I'm in my fifth month craving foods, but there's no food, no flower, nothing, she says. She's not had her iron supplements, not even a checkup in months.

We wanted to check if there's a heartbeat, but there are no hospitals. They're only dealing with emergencies, she says. There are no scans to see if the baby's alive or not. Life is nonexistent for pregnant women.

Gaza's few remaining hospitals are overwhelmed with a seemingly endless flood of war casualties. There's no chance of carrying out routine care. And the estimated 50,000 pregnant women and their unborn babies are left out in the cold.

Their already precarious situation before the war, now dramatically worse. About 40 percent of all pregnancies are now high risk, aid groups say. Miscarriages, stillbirths preterm labor and maternal mortality are much more likely.

For first-time mothers like Hiyam, the excitement is overshadowed by this miserable existence that's now her life, soon to be her baby's. Being pregnant with your first child should be nice. You eat, you rest, you sleep, but I didn't get any of that, Hiyam says. Instead, she's had to flee several times, taking shelter in overcrowded hospitals, walking miles, searching for safety.

After walking for many hours, I was exhausted, she says. The baby was very weak. They told me I should be staying in the hospital but there was no room so I have to leave.

She's now in this tent sleeping on a sand floor.

How will I give birth in war? When I have nothing for the baby. No formula, no diapers. We're in a tent and it's very cold for us. What would life be like for a tiny baby born into these conditions?

It's hell. This burnt-out classroom in what's left of northern Gaza, the only shelter Nujood could find. She barely made it through the bombardment and labor, struggling to keep her newborn healthy, clean and warm.

We want to clean the classroom. But there's no disinfectant, Nujood says. There's no healthcare, no clinics, no vaccination for the baby.

War has separated Nujood from her husband. She's only been able to reach him once when she told him they had a baby girl, Habiba. Nujood's mother spends her days trying to find what she can to feed her daughter.

This is my first grandchild. It's supposed to be happiness", she says. But I couldn't celebrate. I wanted to prepare so many things for her to celebrate her arrival. My precious first granddaughter, she didn't even get the new clothes I bought her.

It's never been harder to be a mother in Gaza. All you can do is hold your baby tight and hope you both survive this nightmare.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.




FOSTER: Well, the 66th Grammy Awards had a little something for everybody, it seems, including, of course, Swifties. Taylor Swift was the biggest winner of the night. She took home the Grammy for Album of the Year for a record fourth time for "Midnights." She's the only artist to win the category that many times, surpassing Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, and even Frank Sinatra.


TAYLOR SWIFT, SINGER/SONGWRITER: I feel this happy when I finish a song, or when I crack the code to a bridge that I love, or when I'm shot listing a music video, or when I'm rehearsing with my dancers, or my band, or getting ready to go to Tokyo to play a show.

For me, the award is the work. All I want to do is keep being able to do this. I love it so much. It makes me so happy.


FOSTER: Well, that wasn't the only delight for her legion of fans. During her acceptance speech for her 13th Grammy, Swift announced her next album, "The Tortured Poets Department," will be released in April.

The Grammy audience gave a standing ovation to the singer Tracey Chapman as well earlier on in the night.


TRACY CHAPMAN, SINGER: You've got a fast car. I want a ticket to anywhere. Maybe we can make a deal. Maybe together we can get somewhere. Anyplace is heaven ...


FOSTER: Chapman and country artist Luke Combs performed her 1988 hit "Fast Car." Combs covered the song last year, hitting number two on the Billboard 100 chart.

The night also featured tributes to artists who died last year. With Stevie Wonder honoring Tony Bennett, Annie Lennox remembering Sinead O'Connor, and Fantasia performing Tina Turner's classic hit Proud Mary.


Now, the Super Bowl is now less than a week ago -- The week away to go. The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs arrived in Vegas on Sunday. The latest betting odds have the 49ers as two-point favorites to win.

Kansas City's star quarterback Patrick Mahomes was first off his team's flight. A win for the Chiefs on Sunday would give Mahomes his third Super Bowl victory.

Mahomes' father was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Patrick Mahomes Sr. was arrested in Tyler, Texas on Saturday. He was released on $10,000 bond. Last week, Mahomes Sr. told CNN that he plans to be in Vegas to watch his son play in the Super Bowl.

One of the NFL's most successful coaches has written a thank-you letter to fans. Bill Belichick led the New England Patriots for 24 years and won six Super Bowls with the team. The 71-year-old Belichick parted ways with the Patriots in January.

In a full-page ad in the Boston Globe published Sunday, he wrote this to Patriots fans. Nowhere in America are pro sports fans as passionate as in New England

and for 24 years, I was blessed to feel your passion and power. I loved coaching here, and together we experienced some amazing moments. Thank you all with respect and admiration.

The PGA Tour has cancelled the final round of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am Tournament in California because of extreme weather. They declared 30- year-old Wyndham Clark the winner of the Shortland Tournament. On Saturday, Clark shot a course record 60 to move into the lead. It's his third career tour win. The final round of play had been originally postponed until Monday, but because of the ongoing severe weather we were talking about earlier on, PGA officials cancelled out of an abundance of caution.

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