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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

U.S. Capitol Fenced Off Again Ahead Of Right-Wing Rally Saturday; Afghan Women Fear For Their Lives As Taliban Exert Control; Bleak Economic Outlook For Retail and Hospitality. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 16, 2021 - 05:30   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Gloria Satterfield was the Murdaugh family housekeeper for more than two decades before she died in 2018 after an alleged trip-and-fall accident at the Murdaugh home. This story just gets more bizarre by the day.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It really does at every twist.

All right, an Afghan woman in hiding from the Taliban says she doesn't fear death; she just wants it to be quick. CNN is live in Kabul with her incredible story, next.


ROMANS: Good morning, everyone. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. About 33 minutes past the hour here in New York, and it's time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.

The U.S. and the U.K. are helping Australia acquire nuclear submarines in a new pushback against China, part of a new partnership among the three countries on cyber issues and defense. President Biden says the arrangement will allow Australia to address threats in the Indo- Pacific region.

JARRETT: A perfect liftoff for SpaceX's all-civilian Inspiration 4 crew. They plan to conduct experiments involving the impact of space flight on the human body. The mission was funded by 38-year-old billionaire Jared Isaacman, who donated the remaining three seats.

ROMANS: That was something.

All right. Boston's mayoral race set to make history. Democratic candidates Michelle We and Annissa Essaibi George advanced from the city's preliminary election on Tuesday. They will face off in November's general election, marking the first time a person of color will be elected Boston's mayor.

JARRETT: The Biden White House offering to answer any questions rapper Nicki Minaj might have about the COVID vaccines. The singer- songwriter also prompting the health minister of Trinidad and Tobago to push back on some unfounded claims she's been making about vaccine side effects -- mainly, after she claimed her cousin's friend experienced testicular swelling and impotence from the shot.

ROMANS: Oh, the old 'my cousin's friend's brother' said story.

All right. Actress Allison Mack starting a three-year prison sentence early for her involvement with the cult Nxivm. Mack was sentenced in June for racketeering and conspiracy after pleading guilty to charges that she manipulated and coerced women into sex with the cult leader, Keith Raniere.


JARRETT: Instagram says it's working on body image issues after the "The Wall Street Journal" revealed internal research showing the site has a toxic effect on teen girls. Investigators at Facebook, which owns Instagram, reportedly found the social media app can damage a user's mental health. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was made aware of the findings last year.

All right, now to this. U.S. Capitol Police bracing for this Saturday's "Justice for J6" rally, hoping to be better prepared this time around. Fencing reinstalled overnight around the Capitol. U.S. Capitol Police also requesting help from the National Guard. The rally's stated goal here, to support the people charged in connection with the riots on January sixth.

ROMANS: Authorities are also concerned about more violence and believe at least some rallygoers will be armed. At least one Democratic lawmaker is calling on his GOP colleagues to step up.


REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Republican leaders have to dissuade their supporters from coming to this rally. Last time, on January sixth, they did -- they did just the opposite. This time, I hope they do the right thing.

Hundreds have yet to be arrested, and of those who were arrested, numerous prosecutions have not unfolded. When you don't do that, you don't hold people accountable and they think they got away with it, and you invite more of this type of behavior.


JARRETT: Joining us now, CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. Juliette, good morning to you.


JARRETT: A new CNN poll shows 56 percent of Americans think that democracy is under attack. But I wonder what does that signal to you because people might think that democracy is under attack for different reasons, right? The right thinks that democracy is under attack because Biden is in the White House. Democrats may think democracy is under attack because of all of the rollbacks to voting rights that we're seeing --


JARRETT: -- across the country.

So perhaps it actually shows that we're more polarized.

KAYYEM: That's exactly right. I think that poll is absorbing the sentiment from both the right of the fraud, the big lie, as well as the left, which is the sort of real attacks on voting rights and also the fear of violence by the right whenever there's an election.

I mean, let's just look at California's recall election this week. No evidence of any voter fraud but the narrative that was created by the GOP well before the votes were counted now is something that is now part of the discussion, right -- that we're now having to talk about it.

And I think that those two sides are sort of both -- at least they agree on the sense that elections, which were once sacrosanct, to a certain extent -- that when the A.P. said here's who won, we all sort of said OK, that's a fair fight. Now the issue of fairness has become at play and the worry is that some people will use violence because they feel like something's been taken away from them.

ROMANS: It's just so sad. I mean, America has --


ROMANS: -- some of the securest elections in the --

KAYYEM: Exactly.

ROMANS: -- entire world. These state -- these state offices that run these elections work so hard --


ROMANS: -- and these elected officials who -- I mean, hundreds of thousands of people who are involved in elections. I mean, we are the envy of the world, except if you live here and believe the big lie.


ROMANS: All right. So we've got fencing --

KAYYEM: That's exactly right.

ROMANS: I know, it's just -- it's frustrating.

You know, with fencing back up at the Capitol, Juliette, ahead of this weekend's rally to support the January sixth rioters, to be fair, this is a rally to support people who are accused of -- who we watched assault law enforcement, assault police officers, assault democracy. It's sad to see the fencing go back up but is it -- is it necessary? What does that say about where we are?

KAYYEM: I think it -- I think it is and I think it's necessary as a sort of -- sort of pre-show of force to try to disrupt anyone who's thinking of any -- shenanigans is a nice word for it. But any violence or any disruption.

So in some ways, the battle, if you want to say, between people who support terrorists and insurrectionists because that's what this rally is about. And law enforcement has already begun, with law enforcement now saying look, our eyes are wide open this time. We're not going to be stopped by a White House from deploying resources.

And this show of force is a way of disruption and to make sure that things are aligned. Because as we were saying just a minute ago, the issue of how Republicans are trying to change voting laws is very, very different than supporters of Donald Trump and MAGA and the big lie -- are using violence and the threat of violence. That is a terrorism tactic and it must be stopped early so that -- so that we don't live in a democracy in which people who lose feel like they have a right to be violent. I mean, it's just -- it's -- the third rail has been touched.

JARRETT: OK. But, Juliette, your -- explain to me how you're supposed to decouple those right now --


JARRETT: -- given that that's sort of -- the big lie was sort of the initial spark in 2020.


JARRETT: But the through-line is there. We saw it this week in California with Larry Elder --


JARRETT: -- even though he lost to Gov. --

KAYYEM: Right.

JARRETT: -- Newsom. The threads are still there.


And so, how is law enforcement supposed --

KAYYEM: Right.

JARRETT: -- to deal with that threat even if it's overtly political when, in fact, the violence is so obvious and the -- and the threat is real?

KAYYEM: Yes. So, it's such a great question and I'm at the 'all of the above' phase of things right now.


KAYYEM: So I do think that there's a role for law enforcement. There's a role for these prosecutions to -- because they make potential recruits realize that this is for real -- that no one's going to save them. That these people are actually going to jail.

There's disruptions. You know, there's been a lot of plea agreements, so we're learning more about these terrorist organizations.

And then -- you know, then there's the sort of larger ideological challenge we have, which is that a large majority of the party of the GOP embraces the big lie and also, the potential -- you know, the potential violence that comes with it.

That is going to be fought out through every local election that you -- that you see and responsible Republicans eventually winning primaries. And that's the challenge for the party right now. They can't win primaries unless they embrace this stuff.

JARRETT: Yes, but there's such a distrust of institutions --



JARRETT: -- fundamentally among those --


JARRETT: -- who believe that they should go back to the scene of the crime to support those --

KAYYEM: Right.

JARRETT: -- who harmed law enforcement. It's just --


JARRETT: -- sort of -- it's an amazing state of affairs we find ourselves in.


ROMANS: Inside out.


ROMANS: The inside out world of --

KAYYEM: All of -- all of the above. I mean, no messing -- I'm in the no messing around phase of things right now.

JARRETT: I like it. Juliette Kayyem unleashed this morning. Thank you.

ROMANS: Thank you. Nice to see you. KAYYEM: Bye -- see you later. Good morning.


All right, 41 minutes past the hour.

An Afghan woman who worked to save children from abuse is now in hiding from the Taliban and she's fearing for her life, saying she doesn't fear death; she just wants it to be quick. Taranom Seyedi was beaten two weeks ago after protesting for equal rights in the streets of Afghanistan. She says she and many of her female friends are facing death threats since the Taliban took control of that country.

Nic Robertson is live in Kabul. And Nic, this is one woman's story but it represents what could become the new reality for millions of women in Afghanistan. And just seeing her face and hearing her voice tell the story shows just the remarkable risk she is taking in the Taliban- controlled Afghanistan.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It really does. I mean, she's absolutely in fear for her life to the point that she feels that if the Taliban catches her she'd rather they kill her immediately.

But what she's really afraid of -- she says she's not afraid of actually dying but afraid of being tortured, and that's weighing heavily on her. You sit in the room, you can see that in her eyes. You can -- you can -- you can feel that. She felt that she wanted to stand up and protest for women's rights.

So many other women here, particularly in these urban environments, don't want the Taliban want. The Taliban want to go back to conservative rule, like they have in the countryside, where women are essentially kept indoors, not heard from, don't have a real role in society.

So you have all these women in the country now who are -- who are hiding -- hiding their feels, hiding their emotions.

One women's rights activist we spoke to said everything is at stake now for women. She is perhaps the most -- the sort of most respected for the women's rights activists. She came back from the United States 20 years ago here after being in exile. She said that protests will continue.


MABOUBA SERAJ, FOUNDER, AFGHAN WOMEN'S NETWORK: They want to make problems. They want to raise their voices. They want to start -- you know, they can -- the world is becoming a very small place now.

ROBERTSON: And these are brutal guys with guns who turn them on crowds.

SERAJ: It's true, but for how long? They want to be killing everybody? Is that what they want to do? (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: And that's the question. Are they going to kill everyone? Are they going to kill the women? The problem for women is the Taliban won't even look them in the eye to talk to them. They'd rather talk to the man standing next to them. The women here can't even have a conversation with the Taliban about what they want.

ROMANS: It's just remarkable. Nic, thank you so much, and thank you for bringing us the story of those brave women who want to at least try to make a difference.

We'll be right back.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

In what has been a roaring economy, new concerns about how the Delta variant is holding back consumer spending. Hospitality and retail suffering the most.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has a closer look for us.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): This is Astro. It works at Sergio's Restaurant in Miami.

CARLOS GAZITUA, CEO, SERGIO'S FAMILY RESTAURANT: So our employees, once they saw it and felt it after two hours, they were like wait a minute -- we have something here.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Astro assists human staff here and in five other locations. Astro is not just a novelty, but a necessity.

GAZITUA: Primarily, the robot was to prevent burnout. Having robots be personal assistants to our employees -- not taking away jobs, but helping them.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): That's because hiring in leisure and hospitality was flat last month after clawing back from a record eight million jobs lost, with restaurants and bars losing 42,000 jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The restaurant recovery is now moving in reverse. We still have 90,000 restaurants that are closed permanently or long- term. We're about one million jobs below where we should be before this pandemic.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): At Sergio's, the summer brought in fresh help -- students.

GAZITUA: And unfortunately, those students are gone already.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Leaving restaurants like his facing an intense labor shortage.

GAZITUA: I think it's almost like being stuck in the mud. You take a step forward and you want to take -- you want to move your other foot, but it's very hard.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): In retail, the industry is taking steps backwards. About 1.3 million people quit retail jobs in just June and July. And in August, of the 28,000 lost retail jobs, most of it happened here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what we're dealing with, exactly. Because you're going to run into a hole on the shelf. You're going to run into a longer wait at the checkout or a longer wait at the deli counter.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): He's tried raising wages.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Has it worked?


YURKEVICH (voice-over): And this month, a new staffing challenge. President Biden announced businesses with more than 100 employees would be required to mandate vaccines or weekly testing.

YURKEVICH (on camera): When you hear that initially, as a business owner, what do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get scared -- you do because that's going to make it that much more difficult for us to continue to operate.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, Red Bank, New Jersey.


JARRETT: Vanessa, thank you for that.

Well, the U.S. Women's National Team Players Association blasting an equal pay proposal as nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, what's going on here?


So the women's team -- yes, they've been in a fight with the U.S. Soccer Federation over what they consider fair compensation for years now. And the U.S. Soccer Federation announced on Tuesday that it offered identical contract proposals to both the men's and women's teams.

They also offered to work to even the prize money from FIFA for World Cups. The men got $400 million for the 2018 World Cup -- the women, $30 million in 2019. But the union representing the women says it's still not a good deal,

tweeting, "USSF's P.R. stunts and bargaining through the media will not bring us any closer to a fair agreement. In contrast, we are committed to bargaining in good faith to achieve equal pay and the safest working conditions possible. The proposal that USSF made recently to us does neither."

Now, the USSF fired back at the women's team, saying they are trying to make a good deal, and accused the team of their own publicity stunts.

Now, U.S. star Alex Morgan commented on the back-and-forth yesterday.


ALEX MORGAN, 2-TIME WOMEN'S WORLD CUP CHAMPION: Any commitment to equal pay publicly is good. However, we need to look line-by-line at what they're actually providing because if you have equal but it's not even what we got before or to the value that we are, then we still consider that to be not good enough.


SCHOLES: All right, to baseball.

We had a wild game between the Yankees and the Orioles last night. In the top of the second inning, five-foot-eight Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins makes an absolutely amazing catch over the wall to rob Gary Sanchez of a home run. Woo, look at that.

Then in the ninth inning, the Orioles were clinging to a one-run lead with the tying run on third and the winning run on second. The grounds crew came out on the field to get ready for a rain delay, but see the umpire there -- he wasn't having any of it. He's like we're finishing this game -- get out.

Moments later, New York's Brett Gardner steps up and he would deliver a bloop single. Both runners come in to score. The Yankees would get the 4-3 win. New York, right now, clinging to the second wild-card spot in the American League.

All right, finally, a historic hire. Lisa Byington is going to become the first female full-time play-by-play T.V. commentator for professional men's sports team. She's going to be calling the game for the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks this season. Previously, she's done play-by-play for March Madness, the Olympics, WNBA, and college football.

Byington tweeting that she is honored, humbled, and excited for the opportunity and that it's time for this to become normal.

And I'll tell you what, Laura. It's going to be pretty cool to see her on the courtside there calling games for the Bucks all season long.

JARRETT: High time for that to happen.

Thanks, Andy.

ROMANS: All right, Andy with a little sports. Let's do a little business here. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning.

Looking at markets around the world, Asian shares have closed down here. Hong Kong down 1 1/2 percent. Shanghai also down this morning pretty sharply. And then you've got European shares have opened higher.

On Wall Street, stock index futures at this hour, barely moving here. They closed higher Wednesday, the best day for the S&P in two weeks. It was positive economic data they were holding onto there and a rise in crude oil prices boosting energy stocks.

Today, investors checking on the labor market with those weekly jobless claims that come out in less than three hours.

And August retail sales are expected to fall for the third month in a row. You've got a supply crunch. You've got consumer concern over the Delta variant. That's likely hurting those retail sales.

JARRETT: Singer Reba McEntire says she's OK after being rescued from a historic building in Oklahoma. The country music star was touring the 100-year-old building for a project when the stairwell collapsed. Emergency responders put a fire ladder up to the second-floor window to evacuate McEntire and the others trapped inside. Look at that staircase.

One person suffered minor injuries. Everyone else is OK.

ROMANS: She said it was really terrifying because she didn't know what happened to the people on the first floor. She just knew that those stairs collapsed and she was --

JARRETT: Very scary.

ROMANS: -- caught on the second floor. We're glad everybody's OK with only a minor injury.

Thanks for joining us this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. I am Brianna Keilar along with John Berman. And it is Thursday, September 16th.

U.S. Capitol Police are asking the Pentagon for support from the National Guard ahead of a planned right-wing protest at the Capitol on Saturday. Overnight, temporary fencing around the Capitol Square was --