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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Ransomware Poses Escalating Threat to U.S. Infrastructure; Jobs Market Recovery Slowly Picks Up Steam; Violent Weekend in U.S. Leaves 4 Dead, 25 Hurt in Mass Shootings. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 07, 2021 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: All right, good morning, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, we are live this morning in Jerusalem, Mexico City, London and the White House. This is EARLY START, this Monday morning, I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: And I'm Laura Jarrett, it's Monday, June 7th, it's 5:00 a.m. here in New York after more than a year of battling one silent killer, another is now threatening America's way of life and there's no vaccines in sight for this one. Hackers targeting basic necessities, food, fuel, water, hospitals, transportation, they have become a grave national security threat, and they're putting civilians on the front lines.


ADRIAN LAUF, COMPUTER SCIENCE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE: People are paying these ransoms, everything from hospital networks to large pipelines are paying these ransoms and that gives it a green light for others to kind of follow and to follow along and have the same targets.


JARRETT: Compared by the FBI director to 9/11, the hackers are hitting soft targets in America's infrastructure, vulnerable as it struggles to recover from this pandemic.

ROMANS: The effects on the economy are enormous. Hackers are now able to disrupt key supply chains while most of their targets don't have the resources to combat the threat. The Biden administration now confronting the implications including what it would take to wake the country up to the seriousness of what's happening. CNN's Natasha Bertrand has more.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The White House does view this as a significant national security threat and the president does intend to bring up the ransomware attacks with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he meets with him in Geneva for their summit later this month. And that's because so many of these ransomware groups that have taken responsibility for these attacks and that the U.S. Intelligence community has fingered in these attacks have been located in Russia.

We're also going to see a big push by the White House to get these companies that are in control of so many critical infrastructure sectors in this country to lock down their networks because of course the ransomware attackers have been able to exploit certain vulnerabilities in their networks, allowing them to then extort these companies and shut down key sectors across the country.

Actually, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm warned that adversaries could actually shut down the power grid if they want to in a pretty stark comment to our Jake Tapper. Take a listen.


JAKE TAPPER, HOST, THE LEAD: Do you think that adversaries of the United States have the capability right now to shut down the power grid?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, SECRETARY OF ENERGY: Yes, they do. I mean, I think that there are very malign actors who are trying even as we speak. There are thousands of attacks on all aspects of the energy sector and the private sector generally. I mean, the meat plant, for example, we -- it's happening all the time.


BERTRAND: So the White House did send out a letter to private companies urging them to lock down their networks, take certain steps to protect themselves because when these ransomware attacks do happen on these private companies that control so much of critical infrastructure in this country, it does affect the entire country and certain sectors are completely shut down as a result as we saw with the Colonial Pipeline attack and the attack on JBS; the meat supply.

So, while they are encouraging companies to protect themselves, they are also telling them do not pay these ransoms because in doing so, you are essentially incentivizing future attacks, Laura and Christine?

ROMANS: Modern day piracy with big implications on the economy. Natasha, thank you for that. Is America ready to go back to work? America's labor market is slowly getting back on track, 559,000 jobs were added back in May, doubled the pace from disappointing April. Vaccinations and reopenings are fuelling a roaring post-COVID economy, but there are still a lot of work to do. The economy is still down 7.6 million jobs since the pandemic began. The pandemic caused a huge rethinking in the American jobs market, both before the pandemic, the consumer experience depended on an army of low wage workers working two or more part-time jobs to stitch together full-time work.

Now, some employers complain they can't find workers, thanks to unprecedented financial support from Washington, millions of workers aren't inclined to rush back to quote-unquote "normal". Childcare, school, health concerns and other family responsibilities are keeping others on the side lines even as the economy roars back healing in the labor market, it's going to take more time. JARRETT: But it also seems like there are sort of a mismatch, right? So, employers say they can't find workers, but the workers say they can't find jobs.

ROMANS: It's absolutely right. And there are some people who just aren't ready to go back yet especially because of disruption of schools --


ROMANS: And family responsibilities --



ROMANS: Also because there are stimulus checks and jobless benefits that have given people breathing space for the first time maybe in their --


ROMANS: Life times --


ROMANS: To rethink what they want to do.

JARRETT: Yes, total rethinking.


JARRETT: All right, more bloodshed across the U.S. this weekend. There have now been 253 mass shootings so far this year, four people were killed and 25 injured in seven mass shootings across the country this weekend. In New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, Fruitport, Michigan, St. Louis, Moriah, North Carolina, and in Chicago, where five people were killed and 40 others were wounded. In Minnesota, a 14-year-old died after being shot at a graduation party.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been here 30 years and nothing like this has ever happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I put -- he put the neighbors --




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, it's a sad day somebody was shot. It has to stop.


ROMANS: There was another shooting in Miami, Florida, where at least one person was killed and two were injured.


FREDDY RAMIREZ, POLICE DIRECTOR, MIAMI-DADE: It just goes to show you the magnitude of this gun violence issue, it doesn't just affect community members, it affects the law enforcement community. So, we all have to band together this, this violence has to stop. This is extremely frustrating, every weekend, it's the same thing and we just got to band together.


ROMANS: Meantime, a federal judge just struck down California's long- time assault weapons Friday, comparing the AR-15 to a Swiss army knife.




Excuse me, because a Swiss army knife was not used. Because it was an AR-15. My daughter was on the third floor. If a Swiss army knife was used, my daughter and most of those other kids and adults would be alive today. And now they say it's common, it's typical. No, you're full of crap, judge, and you're going to lose.


ROMANS: That comparison getting an awful lot of reaction from families --


ROMANS: Who have suffered the loss of gun violence --

JARRETT: And you can understand why? It's not an apples to apples comparison at all, and parts of that bill had actually been in place since 1989, so the state has actually been living with it for quite a long time. Still ahead, the vice president on her first foreign trip this morning, what's on the agenda in Guatemala and why her plane had to take off twice just to get there.



ROMANS: Welcome back. To Israel now, a stark warning from the head of Israel's internal security service. The security chief says the rhetoric against the lawmakers trying to end Benjamin Netanyahu's 12- year reign as Prime Minister, that rhetoric has turned extremely violent and could become lethal. Elliott Gotkine is live in Jerusalem for us. Elliott, that warning, I mean, it echoes the events of January 6th here in the U.S.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, REPORTING FOR CNN: That's right, Christine, and I suppose internationally, the -- that's where -- what it's having echoes of. But in this country, concerns that it's having echoes of November 1995 and the run up to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and far from rating down the rhetorics, some of Netanyahu's allies seem to be ramping it up, one of them comparing the leaders of the right-wing parties prepared to go into this government that opposes Netanyahu comparing them to terrorists and suicide bombers because they've got nowhere else to go. And Netanyahu himself saying -- encouraging people to -- in his words, lay into these right-wing political leaders and asking them to follow their conscious.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL (through translator): The time is late, but not too late. I call you to do the right thing. To do the right thing and vote against the left-wing government. That in any case, I would like to promise that we, my friends and I and Likud will vehemently oppose the establishment of this dangerous government of fraud and surrender. And if God forbid, it is established, we will bring it down very quickly.


GOTKINE: And later today, the speaker of the Knesset who is a Netanyahu loyalist is expected to set the date for the vote, the vote of confidence in this proposed coalition it could be as early as Wednesday. But more realistically, it may be put back late as possible which would be next Monday, June the 14th. Of course, the longer this goes on, the more Netanyahu will feel he has an opportunity to try to undermine it, perhaps pick off wavers in among these right-wing parties, but at the same time, the longer this goes on, so far this proposed coalition has held firm and perhaps, the longer this goes on, they will feel the more likely they are to be able to get this over the line, get the votes in the Knesset and see Netanyahu removed from office for the first time in 12 years.

ROMANS: All right, Elliott for us in Jerusalem, thank you so much for that, Laura?

JARRETT: All right, to Vice President Kamala Harris on her first foreign trip south of the border. This morning, she is waking up in Guatemala there to shore up diplomatic ties with Latin America. CNN's Jasmine Wright is live at the White House for us this morning. Jasmine, good morning to you. So, there's always a big question about what more could be done at the border. So far, migration hasn't slowed even though aide has increased. So what is the Vice President's strategy now?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I mean, that's a million- dollar question, Laura. And White House officials told me that they don't yet know exactly what the strategy is going to be. It's underdevelopment and that will be informed by Vice President Harris' time on the ground hearing and seeing those who are impacted. But listen, make no mistake about it, this is a huge test for the vice president, this is her first foray on the international stage as a first woman of color vice president. And it will be a determination in exactly how Americans view her ability to really handle the international stage as someone who frankly likely will run for president down the line.

So, this trip is going to be a pack-filled two days, right? She's going to have bilaterals today with the Guatemala presidential -- meet with community leaders in Guatemala, entrepreneurs, innovators.


Tomorrow, she's in Mexico where she'll have a bilateral with the Mexican president and she will also have community events, meeting with women entrepreneurs and labor leaders in banking, embassy staff in both places. And -- but, you know, the White House is aware of kind of the optics of this, right? They want some short-term results, they know of course, that they want to attack those root causes and the question for her really, is you know, how do they do what President Biden asked them to do? Which is to stem the flow of migration.

And we know that this issue has been kicked down the can from administration to administration to administration. And they have not really had success in doing this. So, obviously, this is going to be a difficult task for Vice President Harris. So, it described a real amount of preparation that the vice president has been doing, calling it meticulous really before she goes on this fact-finding mission during daily briefings. Peppering staff in that prosecutorial way that we have come to know from her, right? Looking to find sources of information on how to tackle this issue not just from government, but from NGOs and private sectors, trying to have a whole approach on how to really lift up this region in a way that hasn't been done before.

And honestly, that hasn't really been successful. Now, one thing that I asked her last week is how was she preparing. She didn't quite answer in a way that you would expect. Take a listen.


WRIGHT: Vice President Harris, have you been practicing your Spanish as you head to the northern triangle?

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, one of my regrets is that I am not fluent in Spanish. And so, I have -- I will have my conversations in English so as not to embarrass myself.


WRIGHT: So, the next two days, Laura, will be really a fact-finding mission for the vice president. But even before she got off to -- she got off to kind of a rocky start when her plane took off from the D.C. area and had to come back after what aides described as the landing gear was not storing. So, out of precaution -- and abundance of precaution they said, that the plane came back and they switched planes and then headed to Guatemala for real this time and made it safely, Laura.

JARRETT: Well, I know you've been doing such great reporting on all that is on her plate. She's got immigration, she's got voting rights, she's got a lot on her shoulders right now. So, I appreciate all your reporting, Jasmine, as usual. Thanks.

ROMANS: All right, 17 minutes past the hour, shoulder-to-shoulder on the lido deck, no vaccine required? A big reversal from a major cruise line and what it means for travelers.



JARRETT: All right, 60 percent of the country, that's people 12 and up, have received at least one vaccine dose now. Bottom line, vaccines work, about 5,000 new coronavirus cases were reported on Sunday, the seven-day average in the U.S. now at 13,000, it still sounds like a lot, but it's actually down 75 percent in just over a month, and yet fewer people now are getting vaccinated. Less than a million a day now on average.

ROMANS: The White House pulling out all the stops to reach the president's vaccination goal of 70 percent by the 4th of July. First lady Jill Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci toured a vaccination center in Harlem, remember what the director of the NIH said last week.


FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NIH: There are 12 states that are already at 70 percent. I worry about the ones that are way below that. And they are sitting ducks for the next outbreak of COVID-19. Think about this as a donation of your own good will to those who are more vulnerable. That's the best hope they have, and that's not going to get there if it's 55 percent of your community that's got immunized.


JARRETT: Meantime, New York State plans to allow vaccinated kids and adults to go mask free at Summer camps. Campers and staff who are not will be encouraged to mask up in higher risk circumstances. EARLY START has the pandemic covered coast-to-coast.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Polo Sandoval in New York City where public schools have announced that they will continue to enforce their mask mandate this despite an announcement over the weekend that was made by the state of New York announcing they're starting today, it intends to allow school districts to wave mask mandates for various schools here, allowing them to implement their own standards according to what makes the most sense. Over the weekend, New York City's public school system making it clear that they intend to continue to enforce universal mask-wearing at least until the end of the school year. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Elizabeth

Cohen. While many people think of COVID-19 as a disease that doesn't really affect young people, there's new data out from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows that adolescence really are affected by this virus. From January through March of this year, 204 of them were hospitalized, 64 ended up in the intensive care unit. Now, if we look from October of last year to April of this year, during that time period, the hospitalization rates from COVID-19 were higher than hospitalization rates for this age group for flu from the past flu seasons.

And of course, if a teenager gets COVID-19, even if they feel perfectly fine, they're still capable of transmitting the virus to other people.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Natasha Chen. On Friday, Royal Caribbean and Cruise Line reversed course, changing its policy to no longer requiring vaccination of passengers departing out of their Texas or Florida ports. This comes amidst the legal battle between the Florida governor and the CDC. The CDC has issued guidance for how cruise ships can safely start sailing again, giving the most latitude to ships where 95 percent of crew and passengers are fully vaccinated.


But Florida has a law banning businesses from requiring proof of vaccination from customers, in fact, fining businesses $5,000 per violation.


ROMANS: I have so many questions about that Royal Caribbean story. First of all, that's just Florida and Texas.

JARRETT: Right --

ROMANS: If you're, you know, taking a cruise to Alaska or the Bahamas, in many of those cases, you're going to be required to be vaccinated. The staff --

JARRETT: Right --

ROMANS: Is going to be required to be vaccinated. But you think about a cruise ship and the early goings of the -- of the coronavirus --


ROMANS: Pandemic, the last place you want to be in an outbreak is on a cruise ship. So, a lot of questions about, will there be a testing protocol? Are they going to allow COVID-positive people on to these ships? I doubt it, because if there is an outbreak on board, they stop, they go back, they quarantine for --

JARRETT: But this is all in response to DeSantis basically --

ROMANS: Yes -- JARRETT: Putting them in a corner and --

ROMANS: Yes --

JARRETT: Threatening the livelihood of their business --

ROMANS: And DeSantis calling the CDC a bureaucracy-virus run amuck. And you know, really kind of --


ROMANS: Taking this culture war against the CDC and vaccinations --

JARRETT: But to say you're pro-business, but then to do something that directly hurt --

ROMANS: And tell businesses how to run their business, right?

JARRETT: Yes. All right, for the first time in over a year, press briefings at the White House will return to 100 percent capacity today. The White House Correspondents Association instituted those socially-distanced briefings to prevent the spread of coronavirus. More than 98 percent of the White House Press Corp reports being fully vaccinated. That is good news.

ROMANS: Employees at Apple are pushing back against a new policy that requires them to return to the office three days a week beginning in early September. That's according to an internal company letter obtained by the news website Deepverge. Instead, workers want a more flexible approach, so anyone who wants to work remotely can do so.

JARRETT: All right, a little programming note for you here tonight, President Obama joins Anderson Cooper for a rare one-on-one about his life post-presidency and "ANDERSON COOPER 360 SPECIAL ON FATHERHOOD, LEADERSHIP AND LEGACY" airs tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.