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Albuterol Shortage Could Worsen After A Drugmaker Shuts Down; CDC: Congenital Syphilis Rates Up About 700 Percent In Past 10 Years; Land Meant For Veterans Leased To Prep School And UCLA; Ja Morant Suspended By Grizzlies After Appearing To Flash Gun On Live Stream. 6- 7a ET

Aired March 05, 2023 - 06:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. It is a new week, Sunday, March 5th. Thank you so much for waking up with us especially you, Paula. I am Amara Walker.

PAULA REID, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Paula Reid in for Boris Sanchez. And I am thrilled to be back with you today, Amara.

WALKER: Yes, thanks for coming back. I am glad that we didn't scare you away. Good to see you this morning.

Well, we are following two top stories this morning. A solemn moment expected today in Alabama. President Biden will visit Selma to mark an important moment in civil rights history, the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

REID: And a raucous welcome for former President Trump. The Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland facing a slew of investigations. The twice impeached Republican promised a reckoning with Democrats and establishment Republicans.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In 2016 I declared, I am your voice. Today I add, I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution. I am your retribution.


WALKER: A lot to get to this morning. Let's begin with Priscilla Alvarez in Wilmington, Delaware, with the president. Good morning to you, Priscilla. This is President Biden's third trip to Selma but his first as president. So, what are we expecting to see today?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: That's right. And it's going to underscore voting rights. Remember, this was a march that happened in 1965. As you said, he is marking the 58th anniversary and it was a march in where police attacked voting rights activists and that's really what he is going to focus on today. The White House said that he wants to commemorate this event and really underscore that we should not erase history. He is also expected to talk about voting rights being integral to economic justice and civil rights for Black Americans. He is not only going to provide remarks but is also going to walk across the bridge as is typically done on this anniversary.

But, as you mentioned, this is not his first time. It is his third. But it is his first time as president. And this is a moment in which he is going to commemorate and one where two years ago in 2021 he signed the executive order for promoting access to voting. So, all of those themes are expected to be tied into this event when he goes later this afternoon to provide those remarks, Amara.

REID: And right now, of course, Priscilla, as you know, a lot of questions about whether if and when Biden will run for re-election. So, what is he trying to accomplish today?

ALVAREZ: Well, of course, he has a lot of support among Black Americans. This is a constituency that helped him in the presidential election before. But the other aspect of this is that he has an executive order that I mentioned and there are parts of it that voting rights activists say need to be worked on and need to happen before the next election if he leaves office.

And so, that's part of what's going to happen today. And what voting rights activists are urging the administration to continue to work on, especially when congressional action just seems less likely given the fact that the House is controlled by Republicans.

So, it's a mix of speaking to his constituency part of who helped buoy him to the presidency, but also putting an emphasis on voting rights at a time where the executive action is the most likely action on this front.

REID: Priscilla Alvarez, thank you. And former President Trump vowing to stay in the 2024 race for president even if he's indicted, telling reports he wouldn't even think about leaving. And Trump taking center stage on the last night of the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.

WALKER: Yes, headlining that conference and before an adoring crowd declaring his run, excuse me, as the final battle and using the speech to take veiled jabs at some of those Republican opponents. Here is CNN's Kristen Holmes with more.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Amara and Paula. Well, former President Trump talking to a very enthusiastic crowd here at CPAC. He painted somewhat of a fatalistic picture of the 2024 elections saying that he needed to win, that the people knew he needed to win and he took on the establishment. He talked about obliterating the deep state but he also went after Republicans in particular.


Take a listen.


TRUMP: We're not going back to people that want to destroy our great Social Security system, even some in our own party, I wonder who that might be, that want to raise the minimum age of Social Security to 70, 75 or even 80 in some cases, and that are out to cut Medicare to a level that it will no longer be recognizable.


HOLMES: Now, that was a thinly veiled jab at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who while he was in Congress did say that he supported changes to those programs like Social Security and Medicare. We know that Donald Trump has already started to take on DeSantis. Of course, DeSantis himself has not entered the presidential race but he is seen as Trump's most formidable opponent should he decide to do so.

And it was very clear here as we were walking around CPAC for several days that this had really become the Trump show. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was not here. Former Vice President Mike Pence also not here. They notably skipped the events.

And instead, it was a who's who of MAGA world, including a number of speakers like Don Jr. and Matt Gaetz, all who supported Trump in 2024. But it did also show the deepening divide in the Republican Party and just how ugly this primary is expected to get, Amara and Paula.

WALKER: Kristen Holmes, thank you for that. Joining me now to discuss all this is Daniel Strauss, senior political correspondent for "The New Republic." Good morning to you, Daniel. Thank you so much for getting up early for us. So, what are your big takeaways especially from last night in this speech from the former president?

DANIEL STRAUSS, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW REPUBLIC: I mean, first, let's set the scene here. It is Trump country now and that didn't used to be the case. A few years ago, CPAC used to be Rand Paul country. But now this is very much a Trump fest. And I think that is a big reason why we didn't see two of the likely or declared presidential candidates at this event.

But I think the most remarkable comment that he made in his speech was that he would stay in the race regardless of whether he faces any kind of indictment. This really shows that former President Trump sees his candidacy as sort of a shield against any kind of prosecution in the coming months despite the number of investigations against him.

It's also telling that he used the speech to needle Ron DeSantis not by name on Social Security and Medicare. DeSantis isn't even in the race yet, but Trump has already devoted a fair amount of time and attention to the Florida governor. And this shows just how serious a candidate DeSantis would be if he became an official candidate in the race.

What's telling here overall is that this is going to be a divided primary. This is going to be a large primary. Trump has failed to totally scare any other candidates away from jumping in, and that is pretty clear in the speech he gave.

WALKER: So, when you look at the CPAC attendees who were pulled, and again you mentioned this is Trump country, CPAC is not what it used to be, you know, many years ago, but among the attendees who were surveyed they said that their first choice for the 2024 GOP nominee, 62 percent said that they would prefer Trump. But this isn't exactly reflective of how the Republican Party feels, right? I mean, this is a party that is divided when it comes to its allegiance to Trump and the way forward.

STRAUSS: Yes, that's true. But you also have to remember that this point in any presidential cycle candidates aren't really focused on general electorates or really their party electorate. They are interested in activists. And that's who comes to CPAC, activists.

And the fact that Trump is leading these polls shows that he has the most support among the activist community that really buoys and propels candidates early in the race. So, it is telling but it isn't reflective of who is going to vote in the end.

WALKER: And, you know, back to his speech. I mean, it was nearly two hours. And, you know, we heard a lot of the same themes that, you know, he pounded, you know, in 2016. You know, this angry, you know, talk about, you know, the deep state, fear mongering. Is that going to, I don't know, resonate again?

STRAUSS: These are his greatest hits, I guess. It's something that I think we are going to see in the coming weeks and months. There has been a visible fraying of support for Trump among the Republican grassroots, but still it's telling that he can go to CPAC and he is the main event and the headliner.

But I have heard over the coming -- over the past weeks and months the phrase like time to move on, time for something new among Republican strategists in reference to Trump, and that really is an indicator that there is an interest to some extent in something different and something other than Trump.


WALKER: How much should the likes of Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo take away from their reception? Really was lukewarm to them, to their speeches, and also to their presence. I mean, what does this portend for them, especially for Nikki Haley who has announced her run and Mike Pompeo seems to be intent on jumping in the race as well?

STRAUSS: I mean, it's pretty clear that they both have an uphill battle in terms of name recognition. Neither would-be candidate or candidate is extremely well known. Neither is in elective office right now and has the benefits that come with it. So, in the coming weeks and months I think we're going to see efforts if Pompeo gets in the race and by Haley to really differentiate themselves and highlight their candidacies among the GOP field.

WALKER: You know, the lurch to the right, also, you know, on display, quite noticeable at this CPAC convention. And political commentator Michael Knowles told the audiences, for the good of society transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely. And then you have some, you know, might argue that this is outside the mainstream perhaps of Republican policy. But do you see this as kind of, you know, a sign of the platform, you know, that the Republicans are going to prioritize, especially when it comes to culture wars and identity politics?

STRAUSS: I do just because this is a common theme among all of the candidates and would-be candidates. And again right now this is the time in the presidential cycle where candidates are wooing activists. And the fact that they keep bringing up these cultural war topics and these discussions about threats in the classroom, threats about transgenderism, I think it tells you that what their analytics, their polling shows is that this resonates with the activist base of the party. So, at least for the next few months this is what they are going be talking about.

WALKER: That's for sure. Daniel Strauss, appreciate you joining us this morning. Thanks for the conversation.

So a shelter in place order has been lifted in the town of Springfield, Ohio, following a train derailment, another one on Saturday afternoon.

REID: Twenty cars came off the tracks. No injuries were reported. And this is, of course, the second time a Norfolk Southern train has derailed in the state in just last month. The driver who witnessed the crash described what he saw to CNN affiliate WKEF.


SHAWN HEATON, WITNESSED TRAIN DERAILMENT: I was watching it and people are just sitting there and you could kind of see it like off the tracks, kicking up gravel and stuff. But then once the cars started coming off and going sideways and collapsing on each other, it was just time to go. And that's when I take off and you just kind of see everybody going backwards down the road and getting out of there.


REID: Terrifying, especially given what the state has been through. Now, officials say the train was not carrying any toxic materials and there is no risk to public health. Norfolk Southern teams are expected to be on site soon to begin the cleanup.

WALKER: All right. This morning multiple states in the northeast are digging out from yesterday's heavy snowfall and winter weather that caused at least 13 deaths now. Over the last two days the storm system battered parts of the south and midwest with major flooding and hurricane-force winds capable of toppling tractor-trailers.

REID: In Kentucky video captured the moments a delivery man narrowly escaped being hit by a falling tree. That was a close call. More than 250,000 people are still without power in Kentucky and the state's governor says it could be days before electricity is restored to some customers. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): Utility partners are working quickly to restore services but this may take some time. This is very significant, widespread damage throughout Kentucky. It is multiple utility providers that are working and it's going to take at least days to get power up in some places.


REID: Meteorologist Allison Chinchar has been tracking the weather for us. Allison, what's the latest?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, the good news, especially for those folks in Kentucky, today is going to be full of sunshine which will help the cleanup process. And the same thing for a lot of other states. The difference is going to be in the western half of the country.

We have got a series of low pressure systems here that are going to be causing some problems for a lot of states. In fact, take a look. You have got numerous locations under winter weather advisories and even winter storm warnings really focused over the next 48 hours which is where we get the bulk of our rain and snow. Right now you have them in a couple of spots. We've got some snow in the high plains areas of Utah and Idaho and then some pretty heavy rain pushing across the Sierra Nevada.


Now, here is a look, too. We also have the focus of not just the snow, but also the wind. You have got wind advisories, high wind warnings and even red flag warnings indicating this area is not just going to be windy but very dry and that could increase the potential for some wildfires there.

But even the other areas. You are talking wind gusts up around that 50 to 60 miles per hour. Once you get into the higher elevations it could even be higher than that. So, certainly something to keep a close eye on.

Here is a look at the next wave as we go through the next 24 hours. Again, very heavy snowfall across Oregon as well as northern and central California. That begins to spread eastward into some of the other states and will continue even as we head into the early upcoming week.

REID: Allison Chinchar, thank you. And still to come this morning, the battle for Bakhmut. The Ukrainian forces fight to hold the line despite intense attacks from Russian forces. We will have the latest.

WALKER: Plus, better late than never. Homeless veterans finally get keys to new homes in Los Angeles years after land that was committed for that purpose ended up being leased out for a private school, college athletic facilities and much more.



WALKER: Turning now to Russia's war on Ukraine. Ukrainian forces say they are holding the front line in the battle for the city of Bakhmut despite intense attacks from Russian forces.

REID: Russia has spent months trying to capture Bakhmut. Ukraine says its forces remain in control of the city, but the Russian mercenary group Wagner claims Bakhmut is nearly surrounded.

WALKER: CNN correspondent Melissa Bell joining us now live from Kyiv. Melissa, yes, give us the latest on the battle for Bakhmut.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the time being it continues despite the extraordinary loss of life. And not just on the Ukrainian side, on the Russian as well. What we have been hearing from the deputy mayor of Bakhmut this morning and he is outside of Bakhmut, they've had to go, it's 4,500 civilians left inside, but the administration as it was has had to leave the town center. And what he was explaining is that it is another day of hell in the town. It is mortar strikes, artillery strikes.

The Russians he says throwing everything they have at leveling this town and targeting multi story buildings, any residential buildings they can find in an attempt to try and weaken the Ukrainian resolve to hold on to it. Four and a half thousand civilians, that is the estimated number of civilians still inside. Although, the deputy mayor points out that there are two districts of downtown that are completely without communication.

They started to evacuate them on the 27th of February, he says. At the height of the evacuations there were five to 600 a day managing to get out of the town. They are down to five to 10 a day. And that tells you something about the desperate plight of the civilians trapped inside. It is partly because those access routes, the ones that are so crucial to Ukrainian supply, have been badly hit these last few days. So, some civilians managing to get out but many still trapped and really what is a picture of hell, Amara.

REID: And Ukraine is already looking toward rebuilding. It is planning to use seized Russian assets to do it. What can you tell us?

BELL: That's right, Paula. What we have been hearing is from the deputy prime minister of Ukraine this morning, who was been holding a press conference in Lviv where leaders are gathered to talk about war crimes in this war. But he's also been speaking to the potential reconstruction of Ukraine and saying that Ukraine has announced that it has seized $460 million worth of Russian assets from banks that were in the country and that it's going to use those funds towards the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Of course, that is just part of the many billions that have been pledged by the outside world, the United States, of course, with 1.1 billion specifically aimed at helping the country rebuild its energy sector but also the billion promised by the European Union. So, Ukraine even as it continues to fight this war and try and keep pressure on Russian troops at those various flashpoints, including Bakhmut, looking very much to how it's going to rebuild its economy afterwards. And I think that is an important point in terms of morale for the country as it tries to get past these terrible first few weeks.

WALKER: Yes. Melissa Bell, really appreciate you being there on the ground for us. Thank you very much. And sources tell CNN the U.S. is trying to determine how long it could take to train Ukrainian pilots to fly an F-16 fighter jet. As you know, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine has been campaigning publicly for these F-16 jets for some time now.

Now, two pilots are currently being evaluated in Tucson, Arizona, on flight simulators and officials are looking at how much training would be required to fly military aircraft, including the F-16.

REID: In a statement to reporters, official describe the exchange as a -- quote -- "familiarization event" and part of the ongoing military to military dialogue with Ukraine. And as the war in Ukraine drags on opponents of President Vladimir Putin face a risky decision. Do they challenge the Kremlin and speak out against the war?

WALKER: Will Putin's critics face danger, even death for speaking out? Details from CNN's senior international correspondent Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It takes a certain type of bravery to stand up to the Kremlin. Across the country police using arrests and beatings to crush dissent against the Ukraine war. Some anti-war protesters even drafted into the army in a cruel punishment for pacifism.


Political opposition always a risky business in Putin's Russia is now essentially outlawed. With prominent opposition leaders like Ilya Yashin recently sentenced to 8 1/2 years in jail for criticizing the conflict. This will all end soon, he shouts in defiance. But there is little real reason for optimism.

This was Vladimir Kara-Murza, another leading Russian opposition figure in Moscow back in 2015 after surviving a suspected poisoning at the hands of Kremlin agents. He was allegedly poisoned again in 2017 and survived that, too, only to be imprisoned last April on charges ranging from disobeying the police to treason. The price of silence, Kara-Murza wrote from jail, was simply unacceptable.

But the price of speaking out against Putin's Russia is extraordinarily high, too. Case in point, the former president of Georgia, a country lost to brief war with Russia in 2008.

MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, FORMER PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA (through translator): My small nation we will never give up freedom, will never give a square mile. CHANCE (voice-over): Two years ago Mikheil Saakashvili was imprisoned in Georgia in what his supporters say were trumped up charges. Now this one-time Putin foe is at death's door, allegedly poisoned, too, and accusing Moscow of orchestrating his plight. The Kremlin rejects the allegation but his family are adamant.

EDUARD SAAKASHVILI, SON OF FORMER GEORGIAN PRESIDENT MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI: To put somebody in this state after just a year of imprisonment, that was unexpected.

CHANCE (voice-over): But for years Kremlin critics have been ruthlessly silenced, like Anna Politkovskaya, Russia's most prominent investigative journalist until she was gunned down in her Moscow apartment building in 2006. Or Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian FSB agent, poisoned in London in the same year with a radioactive isotope.

2018, a former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in Britain using a potent nerve agent. They survived. Three years before, Russia's leading opposition figure Boris Nemtsov was shot dead within sight of the Kremlin.

Of course, the Kremlin denies any connection to any crime. But exiled, jailed, poisoned or killed is how so many of Putin's critics seem to end.

Matthew Chance, CNN, London.


WALKER: A remarkable reporting there by Matthew Chance, thank you for that. Turning now to North Korea which is objecting to the latest U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises. Pyongyang is even calling on the United Nations to urge them to stop.

REID: The United States and South Korea carried out their fourth air drill of 2023 on Friday. The exercise involved U.S. long range bombers as well as South Korean fighter jets. And the two countries announced another 10 days of large-scale exercises taking place next week.

WALKER: And according to state -- Korean state media, North Korean official say the recent military actions are inflaming the situation on the Korean Peninsula and irresponsibly raising the level of confrontation.

REID: And teams from the IAEA could be in Iran within the next few days reinstalling equipment to monitor nuclear capabilities. This development came out of a meeting between the Iranian president and the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.

WALKER: At a news conference IAEA director general Rafael Grossi said Iran will allow -- quote --"concrete" access to people of interest and more sites where your uranium is being enriched. Now, Grossi says Iran will also assist in an investigation of uranium particles found at undeclared sites in the country. Grossi called the updates -- quote -- "steps in the right direction" but added there is more work to be done.

REID: And coming up, there are growing concerns over an albuterol shortage nationwide. Now, some doctors fear a recent supplier shutdown may strain hospitals.


REID: Concern is mounting around an ongoing shortage of medicine that's often used to treat people with breathing problems.

WALKER: Yes, the drug albuterol has been on the FDA shortages list since October, and some doctors are worried that the recent shutdown of a major supplier could cause strain on hospitals. CNN Health Reporter Jacqueline Howard has more.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER (on camera): A shortage of albuterol liquid is unlikely to get worse. Now, this is the medicine commonly used for people with breathing problems like asthma and COPD, and it has been in short supply since last summer. Now, one of the major manufacturers of the drug Akorn Operating Company has suddenly shut down. And health systems are bracing themselves for a possible surge in patients with breathing problems who have limited access to the medicine that they need.

And the manufacturer that shut down was the only company to make a certain bottle form of albuterol that's stable and children's hospitals. We'll be watching this closely and the impact that it might have on patients and hospitals. Back to you.

WALKER: Yes, it's quite concerning. Jacqueline Howard, thank you.

And rates of congenital syphilis are skyrocketing here in the U.S. In just the past 10 years, listen to this, they've increased by about 700 percent.

REID: Mothers unaware that they're infected or passing the sexually transmitted disease to their child during pregnancy. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has more.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we're losing a lot of men to venereal disease, colonel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. You can see for yourself.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): World War II government health campaigns like these warn us soldiers about the dangers of syphilis. It took decades but eventually, there was success. This 1999 report showing syphilis cases dramatically reduced with cases plummeting from record lows. But now, syphilis rates are back up again. Preliminary CDC data showing a 68 percent increase in cases from 2017 to 2021.

Venus Johnson is one of the youngest victims. Her mother passed syphilis onto her during pregnancy.

DANAE JOHNSON, VENUS' GRANDMOTHER: I thought my grandchild was going to die before she even had a chance to live.

COHEN: Danae Johnson, Venus's grandmother, says Venus' mother felt sick when she was about five months pregnant.

JOHNSON: I took her to the hospital and they just sent her away.

COHEN: She says the syphilis was caught and treated just two weeks before delivery.

JOHNSON: Good girl.

COHEN: But by that time, Venus' lungs had already been permanently damaged. Now, she gets sick often, had RSV last fall, and was on a ventilator in the hospital for a month. Other children born with syphilis have suffered liver problems so even become deaf or blind. Congenital syphilis rates have increased about 700 percent in the past 10 years. In 2021, more than 2600 babies born with the infection, more than 200 of them died. Part of the problem, success decades ago with getting syphilis rates down.

DR. BOBBIE MCDONALD, U.S. CENTERS OF DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Syphilis and congenital syphilis are things that many doctors have not seen in their careers. And so, it's so important for people and for providers to be aware of the fact that syphilis has returned.

COHEN: Venus's illness, other babies deaths, could have been prevented with one of the oldest and cheapest of drugs, Penicillin.

MCDONALD: It's something that we really should be able to eliminate in this country because we have the ability to screen and properly treat everyone.

COHEN: So now a fight from 80 years ago --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we could have discovered the condition of the mothers before the fifth month of pregnancy, we could have treated them and the children would have been born perfectly healthy.

COHEN: That fight is back again. A disease that was once on its way to being eliminated in the U.S. has returned.


COHEN (on camera): One of the reasons why syphilis rates are going up, is that when they were going down, there was less money spent, less vigilant, fewer screening programs to test people for syphilis. Back to you.

WALKER: Oh, gosh, that is so worrying. Thank you so much, Elizabeth.

Up next, several homeless veterans in Los Angeles are finally receiving keys to a place to call home. This is more than six years after the Veterans Affairs Administration promised to house them, but many are still living on the streets.



REID: This week, a handful of homeless veterans in Los Angeles receive keys to permanent homes. It comes more than six years after the Veterans Affairs Administration promised to house 1200 homeless vets on hundreds of acres in LA, land that was always supposed to be used for this purpose.

WALKER: But instead, it ended up being leased out for a prep school, college athletic facilities, parking lots, and much more. CNN Nick Watt has been following the story to find out why hundreds of other veterans are still living on the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.

NICK WATTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): This is progress, a beautiful new home for veterans who did not have one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stainless steel appliances, cabinetry, full refrigerator, full bathroom, again, this is for one person, maybe two if you pick a partner. It's about 600 square feet. This would get to about 450 on average.

WATTS: The goal --

STEVE PECK, FOUNDER AND CEO, U.S. VETS: Is that any veteran who wants to come in out of the cold, there'll be a place for him or her.

WATTS: Their own room.

This is nicer than a lot of hotels, a lot nicer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it is. This is a forever home.

WATTS: Plus, all this.

PECK: The whole concept is to create a healthy environment to move them forward.

WATTS: Right.

A half step in the right direction, one veteran told me.

ROB REYNOLDS, VETERAN AND ACTIVIST: It's great that they're opening one building, but they still owe us over 1000 units of housing for all these veterans.

WATTS: In November, we met Joshua Pettit, an unhoused Iraq war vet.

JOSHUA PETTIT, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: Build us housing. They can send us to war, we can get these problems, and you're not going to deal with us? No, no.

WATTS: Are you moving in this week and why?

PETTIT: Age and money.

WATTS: Because for that building, you got to be what, 62?

PETTIT: 62, yes.

WATT: So, you make too much money on your disability benefits to be allowed to move in.

PETTIT: From the V.A. Yes, I make too much money from the V.A. to live at the V.A.

WATTS: He hopes to get a spot in another building soon.

PETTIT: Nobody's telling us nothing except oh, another delay, oh, another delay, oh, not until next month.

WATTS: As of today. 57 veterans live here in permanent homes provided by the V.A. Once, there were thousands. This land, nearly 400 acres, was gifted in the 1880s largely by one of Christine Barrie's relatives.

CHRISTINE BARRIE, RELATIVES GIFTED THE LAND: It wasn't given to anybody but veterans for a home.

WATTS: But over the years, veterans were moved out the VA, focused on the hospital. The land was leased for parking lots, oil drilling, UCLA's baseball field.

PETTIT: It's upsetting. They show a more importance on baseball stadiums than us.


WATTS: And the exclusive Brentwood School's lovely sports facilities. This land was mismanaged.

Where did all that money go?


WATTS: In 2016, after settling a lawsuit, the VA agreed that 1200 units would be built for homeless vets by the best case. Timeline, they should all be open by now but just 113 are ready for moving.

Do we know when we're going to hit that 1200?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're on track to be able to do this intended 12 years.

REYNOLDS: That's completely unacceptable to reach that 1200 marker. You can go around L.A. High-rise apartments go up all the time. It does not take 10 years to build 1200 units of housing. WATTS: But the developers have to raise the money. The VA only pays

for the utilities. The Department of Veterans Affairs has failed miserably, read an LA Times editorial in December after another lawsuit was filed demanding the VA has 3500 homeless vets all around this crumbling campus and obey the law and tear up the leases for the likes of Brentwood School.

And you're one of the plaintiffs in that lawsuit.


WATTS: Has anything happened?


WATTS: The VA has until Monday to respond. They told CNN, during 2022, the VA provided 13 101 permanent housing placements to formerly homeless veterans in Los Angeles. Despite that progress, there is still work to do. There is. Those Brentwood School facilities are still here, and a few 1000 vets are still living homeless on the streets of LA. And people die on the students.


REID: Incredible reporting. Well, still ahead, March Madness is officially underway as teams start punching their tickets to the NCAA tournament and three more tickets are up for grabs today.



REID: NBA superstar Ja Morant has been suspended by his team after flashing what appeared to be a gun during an Instagram live stream.

WALKER: And Carolyn Manno joining us now from New York this morning with the details. Carolyn.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Good morning to you both. Well, Morant is a young superstar. As you know, he's got lucrative endorsement deals and he's now admitting that he is struggling to cope with the pressure of being in the NBA spotlight.

According to a report from ESPN, the 23-year-old was live streaming from inside the club overnight on Friday when he briefly pulled out what looked like a gun. And hours later, the Grizzlies announced that he would be away from the team for at least the next two games. Memphis plays later today against the clippers and Tuesday against the Lakers.

The NBA is also investigating this now, so it's possible that he will face additional punishment. This is the second time this year that he's been the subject of a league investigation. He also apologized in a statement. He said he takes full responsibility for his actions for letting down the city of Memphis and the organization and that he's going to use the time away to get help, as he put it, and to work on learning better methods of dealing with his stress and his overall well-being.

Elsewhere on the court, in sports, the 76ers visiting the Bucks in a battle of the Eastern Conference powers. Milwaukee entering on a 16- game win streak, the longest in the league this season. They were up by as many as 18 late in the third quarter. But Philly stormed all the way back. James Harden would hit a three to bring into within one. He had a game-high at 38. Joel Embiid had 31 including the three that put his team up for good as the Sixers go on to win it by three.

And this year's dance cards already being handed out. Its official. Tennessee Tech looking for its first trip to March Madness in 60 years down to two seconds to go in the Ohio Valley championship. Diante Wood hitting it at the buzzer to force overtime. But the magic would run out there. Southeast Missouri State holding on to win 89 to 82, sending them to March Madness for just a second time in school history.

Two others punting their tickets as well yesterday, including the Tennessee Tech Women's team who are back in the tournament for the first time since 2000. While Fairleigh Dickinson's Me1n are dancing after winning their Northeastern conference semifinal game. That's because their opponent in the final Merrimack is new to the division one, so they aren't eligible to play. Some more dancing today, 10 additional teams, three men's and seven women's punching tournament tickets later on this afternoon.

On the ice, the Bruins continuing their march toward history upending the Rangers four to two yesterday becoming the fastest NHL team ever to reach 100 points in a season. And get this, Boston has won 49 of his first 62 games. That is just incredible. They are on pace to break the records for points and for wins.

And lastly for you this morning, #check out this adorable pup all pumped up for spring training. That is Lyla Verlander, the fur-niece of Mets ace Justin Verlander. Verlander's brother posting this adorable video of Lyla watching Uncle Justin on T.V. very excited for spring training and the regular season.

WALKER: Oh, so sweet. Probably the most excited to fan. Carolyn, good to see you. Thank you so much.

MANNO: You too.

WALKER: All right, coming up, President Biden headed to Alabama today to mark the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday March from Selma to Montgomery. We're going to preview the President's visit next.

First, a quick reminder. The new CNN Original Film Glitch premieres tonight on CNN. Here's a preview.


SCOTT ROGOWSKY, HOST, GLITCH: THE RISE AND FALL OF HQ TRIVIA: So, the founders of Vine were Colin Kroll and Rus Yusupov. Colin Kroll, the engineer, was the big visionary, the one that saw the opportunity for this app and this long-term vision for how social media could change. [06:55:00]

COLIN KROLL, CO-FOUNDER: VINE: We run in easy too. We're written in Python. And we use a slew of open-source technology.

ROGOWSKY: And Ross was product designer and kind of the manager.

RUS YUSUPOV, CO-FOUNDERS, VINE: I was just writing a bit of a bio.

ROGOWSKY: He was the one who could actually make it all happen, get all the pieces moving in the right direction, and make sure the infrastructure was ready so people could share their creativity.

YUSUPOV: If you see me now, tap on your screen. Let me know that you guys are here.


WALKER: And you can catch the new CNN Film The Glitch: The Rise and Fall of HQ Trivia that premieres tonight at 9:00 p.m. on CNN.


WALKER: Hello, everyone. It is Sunday March 5th. I think it might be spring break week for some of you and your children, at least it is for me. Thanks for waking up with us. I'm Amara Walker.

REID: And I'm Paula Reid in for Boris Sanchez. Amara, great to be with you again.