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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Hard-Hit Louisiana Residents Struggle To Survive After Hurricane Ida; Biden Declares End To America's "Forever War" In Afghanistan; McCarthy Threatens Telecoms That Cooperate With January 6 Panel. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 01, 2021 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, this is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's just about 31 minutes past the hour here in New York and it's time to keep an eye -- time to look at our top stories that we're keeping an eye on today.

In Texas, nearly all abortions are banned as of this morning. A new state law with an unprecedented enforcement mechanism here allowing private citizens to sue anyone suspected of helping a woman get an abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected. The U.S. Supreme Court failed to rule on an emergency request to block the law overnight but the justices could still put it on hold.

ROMANS: A long road to recovery for Gulf Coast residents hit by Hurricane Ida. Some families are scrambling to stock up on food and gas as supplies dwindle. Louisiana now facing scorching heat and power outages.

JARRETT: President Biden and Ukrainian President Zelensky are set to meet this afternoon in the Oval Office. The White House says the president will affirm U.S. support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

ROMANS: A search and rescue underway after a U.S. Navy helicopter crashed off the coast of San Diego. Officials say one crew member has been rescued, five others still unaccounted for. The chopper was conducting routine operations when it went down.

JARRETT: Social Security will have to cut benefits by 2034 if Congress doesn't address a long-term funding shortfall. That's one year sooner than reported last year. The pandemic and drop in unemployment rates are to blame.

ROMANS: And this week's Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Tennessee has been canceled because of intense rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Eighty thousand people were expected but organizers say they're unable to make the event happen safely. Of course, the event was canceled last year due to COVID.

JARRETT: And for some of the millions struggling to recover from Hurricane Ida there is heartbreak this morning as they return to see what is left of their homes. This is some of what people in Lafourche Parish came home to see -- near-total destruction. What was inside their homes now strewn everywhere.

ROMANS: Some of the first aerial images show the extensive damage and flooding in Golden Meadow, Chauvin, and Jean Lafitte, Louisiana, including a bridge in Jean Lafitte that was washed away by floodwaters. The New Orleans airport could reopen for some flights today, allowing help to arrive.

CNN's Brian Todd on the ground for us this morning in New Orleans.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Christine and Laura, we're in the Algiers neighborhood in southern New Orleans on the west bank of the Mississippi River, an area hit very hard by Hurricane Ida.

Take a look at this. This massive tree here slammed into this house right here, and also into the house next door. We went to both houses and knocked on the doors to see if anyone was there and needed help. We got no response. It's possible that they weren't home. But you get a look here at the level of damage that some of the homes here have experienced.

And this is a low-income, working-class neighborhood. People here -- a lot of them don't have the resources to leave and go other places. Now they're struggling with getting the resources to actually just survive on a day-to-day basis.

We've talked to neighbors here -- interviewed some of them. They're struggling to get food and water. They have had to cope with a lack of electricity. They're trying to figure out how they're going to get gasoline.

Earlier, we were at a food and water distribution center -- a makeshift one that had been set up just about several blocks from here in the neighborhood of Algiers where people lined up in their cars and on foot for hours and hours just to get one single meal and maybe a bottle of water for themselves and maybe for one other loved one.

We talked to some people in that line about what they were going through.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no more food. The water is tasting kind of funny. I don't know what's going on with the water.

But my roof has caved. My furniture is all messed up. I had to get rid of my furniture. I'm out of water.

TODD: And so, while people in New Orleans and in the outside areas are struggling just to get those basic amenities to survive, we are getting an update from the mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, who said that based on an assessment from the Entergy Corporation that runs the power into New Orleans they do believe that they're going to have some measure of electricity -- some transmission of power into the city by Wednesday afternoon or Wednesday evening.


She said that does not mean that all the lights are going to go on in the city. But based on an assessment from Entergy, they think they're going to be able to give some transmission into the city by Wednesday afternoon or Wednesday evening -- Christine, Laura.


ROMANS: All right, Brian. Thank you so much for that.

Out of gas, out of power. Many gas stations have long lines of frustrated motorists in the wake of Hurricane Ida.

As of 7:00 p.m. central time, almost half the gas stations in Baton Rouge out of gas. Didn't have any gas. Forty-four percent without gas in New Orleans. That's according to the fuel tracker Gas Buddy. Now, those are stations out of gas. Others -- other stations have gas but they don't have power to pump it.

Now, once you can find the gas expect higher prices. Virtually all of the Gulf of Mexico's oil production is still offline and at least nine refineries are shut down. Now, how much of a price increase and for how long? Well, that's going to depend on how long production remains offline.

Of course, higher gas prices doesn't capture the real cost of this historic storm. Millions have been displaced or without power and now, residents in the southeast are preparing for flash flooding.

JARRETT: President Biden declaring an end to America's "Forever War" in Afghanistan. He is defiant in his defense of the U.S. withdrawal but acknowledging the criticism that came with the war's chaotic ending. The president rejects the notion that he abandoned Americans and vulnerable Afghans while layout out his national security vision and his plan to tackle the next generation of challenges.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fundamental obligation of a president, in my opinion, is to defend and protect America, not against threats of 2001 but against the threats of 2021 and tomorrow. And there's nothing China or Russia would rather have -- would want more in this competition than the United States to be bogged down another decade in Afghanistan.


ROMANS: Let's bring in CNN political analyst Josh Rogin. And, Josh, this is a seismic shift in geopolitics. Lay out for us the new balance of power. JOSH ROGIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, AUTHOR, "CHAOS UNDER HEAVEN", COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, that's right. The United States may have withdrawn from the battlefield in Afghanistan but the struggle for power and influence there is ongoing. And the void is being filled by a number of actors, including terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and the Haqqani group coming from Pakistan, including China and Russia, including Iran and Turkey.

And all of that has implications not just for what happens inside of Afghanistan but for what happens in the region and around the world as well.

We know from past history that for the Jihadists, victory equals recruitment. We know that when they have a country, that country can become a safe haven for attacks in other places in the world. And we know that Afghanistan is still a place where empires go to secure minerals and strategic advantage.

So the game in Afghanistan is afoot. The U.S. won't be as much of a part of it, but pretty much every other country in the world is still playing.

JARRETT: Josh, the president obviously wants to project this evacuation as a tremendous success. You see that in the messaging here. But you've noted before more than 100 government-sponsored journalists and their families have still been left behind, not to mention Afghan allies -- people who helped the soldiers who were there stay safe.

Isn't that where the focus is, really, right now?

ROGIN: I think a lot of people think it should be the focus. I mean, no doubt, the evacuation over the last two weeks of 120,000 mostly Afghan citizens was an amazing feat, OK? And no doubt that many, many lives were saved.

At the same time, thousands of Afghans who were promised to be saved were left behind, and that was something that President Biden had promised not to do. Now, the State Department says that the mission continues. The State Department says that they'll use diplomacy.

But I've talked to many of the people on the ground -- people who worked for U.S. government media, people who worked for U.S. aid, the National Endowment for Democracy, the American University in Afghanistan, and many, many other organizations -- and they're scared and they're hiding. And the Taliban are going door-to-door hunting them, taking retribution on anyone who worked for the West.

So, at the same time that we could be proud of our military and our government for getting so many people out of this situation as we withdrew, the thousands that are left behind are in fear for their lives. And our obligation to them continues in getting them out of there know it's going to be really, really difficult.

ROMANS: And there are going to be a lot of people who are going to have to live in a Taliban Afghanistan and what is the -- I mean, they're terrified. I mean, first, you're talking about the physical security -- the going door-to-door. I mean, I was talking to a family with family members still in Afghanistan. They're terrified of the physical security.


But then next comes famine. I mean, they're worried about food, and money, and a financial collapse. The U.N. is warning of a humanitarian crisis -- 18 million people in need.

I mean, what does the future look like for Afghans who have to build an Afghanistan under Taliban rule, or live in an Afghanistan under Taliban rule?

ROGIN: Right. I mean, you're exactly right, Christine.

After decades of war, the country's economy is devastated. Their number one export right now is opium, OK? Their number one import is arms and that's a huge problem. And now they have all of the same challenges of global warming and economic devastation that other people are facing.

That'll take huge amounts of American and international aid. And how do we get that aid in there when the Taliban is running the country without making sure the Taliban doesn't take it all? That's another big problem.

So we can't just withdraw from Afghanistan and think everything is going to be OK. It's going to take the entire world and more and more money, and more and more food, and more and more assistance to make sure that these people avoid the worst outcomes.

They're going to suffer now. They're going to live under a Taliban regime. It's going to be brutal. But hopefully, they don't have to starve at the same time. That's up to us.

JARRETT: Josh Rogin, thank you so much. Appreciate you getting up for us.

ROMANS: Always great to see you, Josh -- thanks.

JARRETT: We'll be right back.

ROGIN: Any time.



ROMANS: After another late contentious school board meeting in Florida, Volusia Public Schools became the latest to implement a district-wide mask mandate. That is in defiance of an order by the governor banning mask mandates in schools.

Now, 13 counties in Florida defying Ron DeSantis. Both Broward and Alachua counties are moving forward with mask mandates and that's despite the governor giving them financial penalties -- holding back pay.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a school district, it is more trauma that's being caused on the district.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For us, this is not about politics. This is truly about a pandemic.


JARRETT: These meetings have descended into shouting matches -- even physical fights between parents and kids in schools.

But ultimately, this is about a safe return to the classroom for our children. The American Academy of Pediatrics says last week there were more than 200,000 new childhood virus cases. That is a five-fold increase in the past month alone.

ROMANS: An average of 330 children were admitted to hospitals every day last week. I want to say that again. Three hundred thirty children admitted to hospitals every day last week.

Pennsylvania is seeing a 300 percent increase in virus cases among school-aged children. That state is requiring masks in K through 12 schools, early learning, and childhood settings beginning Tuesday.

And I'm so surprised. I've been listening to some of these school board meetings and it's -- the common denominator is the misinformation among the parents.


ROMANS: The parents, with great confidence, standing up in front of a microphone --


ROMANS: -- and saying something they read on Facebook that's absolutely outlandish, and really believing they are doing the best for their children when they're not.

JARRETT: Well, the remnants of Hurricane Ida causing major damage across the eastern U.S. One person is missing in Hurley, Virginia where torrential rains triggered landslides and flooding.

There's now a tornado watch for Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and the surrounding area, and a high risk for flash floods in the northeast.

Here is meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine and Laura. Yes, we're watching what is left of tropical depression Ida as it

works its way across portions of the Ohio Valley and eventually into the northeast by later on this afternoon and this evening. And a tremendous amount of rainfall in store for you around parts of the northeast here. Upwards of 70 million Americans dealing with the flood alerts that are widespread in this region.

And this storm system really goes out with a bang. In fact, you notice the excessive rainfall risk here as high as it gets -- a four out of four.

That includes, again, some of the major metro cities in and around Philly on into New York City for rainfall. That could be two to three inches, pockets of maybe five to six inches possible into southern portions of Pennsylvania. And even some severe weather to be had on the back side of this as well.

So here's the coverage of the excessive rainfall. Again, flooding almost going to be imminent across some of these regions.

And then you take a look at this. That is a level three for severe weather. Even a 10 percent chance of a tornado possible across an area in and around parts of the Delmarva in southern New Jersey -- about a 25-mile distance or so from areas around Washington, D.C. That gives us that kind of coverage area where tornadoes are possible.

So certainly, an active day across a large area of the northeast -- guys.


JARRETT: Pedram, thank you for that.

In Washington, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is threatening cell phone and social media companies that want to cooperate with the January 6 Select Committee. McCarthy claims they would be breaking the law by turning over private information. That's a dispute.

The committee wants the phone records of some pro-Trump lawmakers and Trump family members preserved here.

ROMANS: Sources say the panel believes they played some role in the "Stop the Steal" rally before the deadly insurrection. So far, the list includes Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Florida's Matt Gaetz, and Mo Brooks of Alabama.

A committee spokesman said McCarthy's threat won't deter their efforts.

JARRETT: Texas lawmakers giving final approval to a bill that makes it harder to vote. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign this measure. He says it will ensure election integrity in Texas.

The legislation here would cut back early voting hours, ban drive-thru and 24-hour voting options, and adds I.D. requirements for mail-in voting, and empowers partisan poll watchers. So far this year, 18 states have enacted new laws that make it harder

for you to vote.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Looking at markets around the world to start a new trading month of September, big gains in Asian shares, and Europe has opened higher as well -- a one percent gain in the CAC quarante in Paris.


On Wall Street, stock index futures -- they are also moving higher here. For the end of the month, though, it was a whimper after days of record highs. The Dow, yesterday, fell 39 points. The S&P and the Nasdaq also slipped just a bit.

But let's look at the month. August was another solid month. The S&P added another three percent, seven higher months in a row. The S&P 500 is up -- get this -- 20 percent this year.

New evidence, though, on how the Delta variant is affecting the recovery. Consumer confidence in August fell to the lowest levels since back in February 2021 with fears of the virus and rising food and gas prices weighing on the minds of shoppers.

And this report from Adobe Analytics showed online bookings for domestic travel at six of the top 10 U.S. airlines declined in July and the first three weeks of August. So people are booking less travel -- a big reversal from June when it reported domestic flight bookings were nearly back to 2019 levels.

Google pushing back its return to the office again. Employees around the world won't be required to go back to their offices until at least January 2022. This is the second time Google has delayed a full return to office.

Google joins Facebook and Amazon with return-to-work dates in January. Lyft -- it will be February. Others, like Peloton, Apple, and Uber are sticking to plans to reopen in October. But I think you can expect some flexibility there on the return to the office plans.

A year ago you couldn't get away from Zoom. Now, the boom -- it looks like it's starting to fade. Zoom's stock fell more than 15 percent Tuesday morning and is now negative for the year. Reported revenue grew 54 percent from a year ago, but that's down sharply from the whopping 355 percent growth it reported during the height of the pandemic.

As more people return to offices and schools, sales are starting to cool. It's also facing more competition in the online video meeting space.

All right, Jaguars coach Urban Meyer admits a player's vaccination status played a role in deciding who made the cut.

Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Coy.


In the NFL, being late to one meeting or missing one practice in camp due to an injury can be the difference between making the team or not. Teams consider talent, performance -- but this year, head coaches like Urban Meyer are considering whether or not a player is vaccinated.


URBAN MEYER, HEAD COACH, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Everyone was considered. That was part of the production -- you know, let's start talking about this. And then also, is he vaccinated or not. Can I say that was a decision-maker? It was certainly in consideration.


WIRE: Now, the NFL and the NFL Players Association have not agreed to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory, but the league does have stricter protocols, Christine, for unvaccinated players while giving more freedom to those who have been vaccinated.

CNN has reached out to the Players Union for comment. A spokesperson told ESPN that the NFL P.A. will investigate Meyer's comments.

The Boston Red Sox, in the midst of a team-wide COVID outbreak, have another player test positive. All-star shortstop Xander Bogaerts was pulled off the field in the second inning against the Rays last night. Manager Alex Cora says the team didn't receive word of Bogaerts' positive test until after the game had already started.

Bogaerts is the sixth player and eighth member of the team to test positive since Friday.

Not only is Angels' superstar Shohei Ohtani the Major League home run leader and his team's best pitcher, he's also one of the fastest guys on the base path. Six-foot-four, 210-pound All-Star stealing home on a double steal against the Yankees last night. He's a big, graceful man. Ohtani ended up stealing two bases during the game, giving him 22 on the season.

Angels win 6-4 handing the Yankees their fourth-straight loss.

Just days after sending New Yorkers into a frenzy, Mets players Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor are apologizing for the thumbs-down gestures they gave during recent games. At the time, Baez said it was to take a dig back at the fans who were booing them. Now he's apologizing, saying he's committed to winning for the fans.


JAVIER BAEZ, SECOND BASEMAN, NEW YORK METS: I just felt like we were alone. Like, the fans obviously want us to win and like, they pay our salary like everybody says. But like, we want to win, too, and the frustration got to us. And I didn't mean to offend anybody and if I offended anybody we apologize.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WIRE: Well, they apologize and they gave the fans something to cheer about last night, rallying to beat the Marlins in a ninth-inning comeback with Baez scoring the winning run.

But in the wild celebration, Christine, Baez lost one of his earrings. The grounds crew searching for the stud earring. Even team president Sandy Alderson joining in on this treasure hunt. Unfortunately, they only found the back of it, not the diamond.

The game has already been called off today due to rain, so it's going to be a bit muddy in that search. And I'm sure it was not a cubic zirconia, so it's going to --

ROMANS: I'm sure it wasn't. And it's back to the sand for whence it came. That's where it is.

All right, nice to see you. Thank you.

WIRE: You, too.

ROMANS: All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" is next.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Wednesday, September first. Brianna is off. CNN's chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is with me this morning. Great to have you back.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, I just can't believe I'm allowed back.

BERMAN: And we have breaking news once again this morning. Abortions banned in Texas -- almost all of them. Roe versus Wade appears to be in serious jeopardy this morning. This is a huge development that has the potential to affect millions.