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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Democrats Consider Trimming Infrastructure Bill As Frustration Grows; Report Shows Carbon Emissions Rising Globally Despite Clean Energy Surge; Newly Released Audio Reveals Calls In College Admissions Scam. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 13, 2021 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The FDA denied R.J. Reynolds permission to sell flavored products, which have been addictive for teens.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: California's Alisal Fire has grown to more than 13,000 acres in Santa Barbara County. It's forced closure of the heavily traveled 101 Freeway -- 101 Freeway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Amtrak lines have also shut down. PG&E is warning of power shutoffs tomorrow because weather conditions could spark new fires.

ROMANS: And this week, the Biden administration will attempt to convince the Supreme Court to reinstate the death penalty for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. A federal appeals court in Boston ruled last year that the trial judge made a mistake by excluding evidence and Tsarnaev's death sentence was thrown out.

JARRETT: A rare sight in the U.K. Queen Elizabeth using a walking stick as she attended a military service Monday at Westminster Abbey. It's believed to be the first time the 95-year-old queen has used a walking aid for comfort at a major public event.

ROMANS: More people witnessing the spectacular Northern Lights. A geomagnetic storm Monday caused the Aurora Borealis to light up the sky at lower latitudes. The dazzling display is expected to be visible in the U.S. from New England down to Washington.



WILLIAM SHATNER, 90-YEAR-OLD ACTOR SET TO BE OLDEST PERSON TO TRAVEL TO SPACE: I am, all this time later, being a few thousand feet closer to the moon that you are.


JARRETT: Beam me up, Bezos. Actor William Shatner, the OG Captain Kirk, is set to launch this morning on a Blue Origin flight to the edge of space. The 90-year-old Shatner will be the oldest person to travel to space ever. It's the second mission for Jeff Bezos whose company with space tourists on board. Liftoff is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. eastern.

ROMANS: All right, a record number of Americans are quitting their jobs. The pandemic has completely changed how people think about their family, their safety, and their employment. A record 4.3 million people quit in August. Nearly three percent of the workforce quit -- the highest quit rate since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began to report this statistic in late 2000.

Americans are looking for better pay, better working conditions, and more flexible working arrangements. Some are, though, just retiring early. Others have eldercare and childcare responsibilities in this pandemic.

Leading the quitters, restaurant, hotel, and retail employees. Eight hundred ninety-two thousand workers in food and accommodations quit in the month; 721,000 employees in retail. Workers in state and local government and education also quit by the thousands.

All this just showing COVID broke the jobs market and fixing it won't be quick or easy.

Data also shows the worker shortage was even worse over the summer. Job openings in July revised to a record 11 million. In August, that number still 10.4 million job openings.

JARRETT: Is the thought that they will take a job with better pay and better benefits, or that they'll stay out of the market for a little while?

ROMANS: In some cases, these are people who are staying out of the market for a little while. So far, we've seen wages rising and it has not been enough to lure some of these people, especially in leisure and hospitality.

We also know, both by the data and anecdotally, that a lot of people in those sectors that are really quitting a lot -- they're retraining to other things. Tech, finance, higher-paid jobs with more, kind of, stable, full-time work; not cobbling together part-time jobs at restaurants.

JARRETT: As you always say, this is -- the entire pandemic has reshaped how people think about --

ROMANS: It really has.

JARRETT: -- what a job means for them and their lives and their family.

All right, to politics now. Less than three weeks until Election Day and a tough month for President Biden is looming over Democratic campaigns. Democrats had been excited that a well-liked president and a popular agenda moving through Congress could help propel the party. But now, they're worried that a trying few months could hurt candidates like Terry McAuliffe, the party's nominee for governor of Virginia in a bellwether election. ROMANS: The old saying goes "all politics is local," but the ad wars

in the Virginia -- in Virginia show a national focus. People are seeing less about state and local taxes; they're seeing more about schools and national debates on curriculum and mask mandates, and topics like reproductive freedom, even though there's no current challenge to abortion rights in Virginia.

JARRETT: For now, voters in key races are already sending in ballots as Democrats in Washington, D.C. remain embroiled in a chaotic and messy negotiation over a pair of infrastructure bills. The likelihood is dwindling that Democrats will actually be able to work out their differences before these elections and allow Democrats to run on President Biden's achievements.

CNN's Phil Mattingly has more on all of this.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Christine and Laura, now comes the hard part. And if you've been watching Capitol Hill, if you've been watching the White House over the course of the last several weeks -- even several months -- you might be pausing and saying wait, wasn't that the hard part? And the answer is that pales in comparison to what Democrats are facing right now.

Keep in mind that this is as the president's poll numbers are dropping, gas prices are skyrocketing, supply chain issues are causing problems throughout not just the country but the world. All of that happening at once as Democrats try and hammer out some kind of path forward.


Now, here's the reality. The proposal the president put on the table, supported by progressive Democrats, at $3.5 trillion dollars for that economic and climate package -- that is simply too high to have the votes to pass in the U.S. Senate.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying at one point perhaps they could do with fewer programs very well. Then coming back on Tuesday and saying perhaps they'd tweak the duration of some of the programs, keeping the wide scope and scale of what's been laid out. That decision is a critical decision when you look at the scale of what the president has put on the table.

From the White House perspective, their view right now despite how hard it seems, keep their heads down and keep pushing along. Take a listen.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We don't get too glum around here even if things look challenging. Our view and his view is that he was elected to continue to press forward and address the challenges the American people are facing.

MATTINGLY (on camera): And guys, officials I've spoken to say that very much mirrors where the president is on this issue. But it's the president that has a critical role in the days ahead.

Democrats on Capitol Hill are urging the White House to have the president set a more firm line, particularly with the two moderate Democratic senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have caused much of the consternation over the course of the last several weeks as they have been clear that what progressives want -- a core group of progressives in the House -- simply is too high and too much for what they're willing to accept.

But there's no question about the fact that the time is now to make those decisions -- guys.


ROMANS: All right, Phil. Thanks so much for that.

A big part of the president's agenda, of course, is addressing the climate crisis. Despite growing momentum for green energy, the world is headed in the wrong direction. A new report shows the second- largest carbon emissions jump on record this year -- a big spike after the pandemic slowed everything last year.

Our Jim Bittermann reports from Paris.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): That report from the International Energy Agency here in Paris this morning indicates that the world's addiction to hydrocarbons is proving hard to break.

The IEA's "World Energy Outlook" -- published just ahead of the COP26 climate conference beginning at the end of this month in Glasgow, Scotland -- shows clearly that after oil demand went through a pandemic slowdown, it has quite dramatically taken off again. The agency also suggests that more aggressive climate action is needed.

As the IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol put it, government needs to resolve this at COP26 by giving a clear and unmistakable signal that they are committed to rapidly scaling up to clean and resilient technologies in the future.

And the report also had a warning to oil-producing nations that because of the switch to renewables, oil consumption could soon peak. More than 50 countries and the European Union have pledged to meet net-zero emissions targets and if -- and this is a big if -- if they live up to those commitments, the IEA predicts that demand for fossil fuels will peak just four years from now.

Even so, by 2050, the world will still be using 75 million barrels of oil per day -- only down a quarter for what the demand is today -- Christine, Laura.


JARRETT: Jim, thank you for that. Speaking of emissions, California is set to become the first state to ban gas-powered lawn equipment starting next July. It's all part of an effort to reduce air pollution. The California Air Resources Board says just one hour of gas leaf blower use is equal to driving 1,100 miles, and running a gas lawnmower for the same period equates to roughly a 300-mile drive. The goal is to cut emissions from small gas- powered engines to zero by 2035.

ROMANS: All right, to Operation Varsity Blues. Newly-released phone calls reveal the man behind that 2019 college admissions scandal, Rick Singer, bluntly discussing his scheme with some parents who paid to get their kids into college.

Prosecutors entered audio from more than a dozen phone calls and meetings in the trial of two parents, John Wilson and Gamal Abdelaziz.


GORDON CAPLAN, CHARGED IN COLLEGE ADMISSIONS SCANDAL: Rick, look, I really do appreciate this. I come off as a little direct.

RICK SINGER, ORGANIZED AND SOLD FRAUDULENT COLLEGE ADMISSIONS: No, you can be direct because this is about --

CAPLAN: I'm just trying to get to the bottom of it quickly.

SINGER: Yes, this --

CAPLAN: Look, if there is a way to get her what we need to get her on testing -- she is not a good test taker -- and it's $75,000 -- and you're telling me you can get that done -- consider that a done deal with us.

SINGER: I agree -- totally agree.

What has happened is all the wealthy families have figured out that if I get my kid tested and they get extended time, they can do better on the test. So, most of these kids don't even have issues but they're getting time. The playing field is not fair.

CAPLAN: No, it's not. I mean, this is -- let's be honest. It feels a little weird but --

SINGER: I know it does. I know it does. But when she gets the score and we have choices, you're going to be saying OK, I'll take all my kids and we're going to do the same thing.


CAPLAN: Yes, I will.


JARRETT: Gordon Caplan, who you heard there, pleaded guilty to fraud conspiracy charges back in 2019 and was sentenced to one month in prison. Meanwhile, Wilson and Abdelaziz were found guilty on all counts by a jury on Friday, making them the first parents involved in this scam to be found guilty by a jury.

ROMANS: All right, New York plans to appeal a judge's ruling allowing healthcare workers to take religious exemptions from the state's coronavirus vaccine mandate. About 92 percent of hospital staff had been vaccinated by the September 27th deadline.

Worth noting, no leader of any major religion has backed avoiding vaccination. However, the Archbishop of the U.S. military -- contradicting the Pope, himself -- now says he does not believe soldiers should be required to be vaccinated.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this Wednesday morning. Looking at markets around the world, you can see a mixed performance in Asia. And Europe has opened narrowly mixed, although German shares are bouncing about three-quarters of one percent. On Wall Street, stock index futures, right now, leaning higher.

It was a lower close Wednesday. Investors still dealing with these rising oil prices. And the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, slashed its growth forecast for the U.S., in part because of disruptions in the global supply chain. The Dow fell 117 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also finished down.

It's a busy day for investors. We've got earnings from JPMorgan Chase and Delta, and a big inflation report for September on tap. Inflation eased a bit in August, coming down from a 13-year high. Still, prices, as you know, are uncomfortably steep compared to before the pandemic.

Speaking of higher prices, the housing market has been on fire since the pandemic began. Goldman Sachs says -- get this -- record-high prices haven't come yet. The bank estimates home prices will climb another 16 percent by the end of next year.

Goldman suggested that homes remain relatively affordable because of low mortgage rates, but strong demand and ongoing low inventory means high prices and making homeownership out of reach for many first-time buyers.

All right, any working mother can attest to trying to do it all, and it can seem, frankly, impossible. The president and CEO of the investment firm TIAA, Thasunda Brown Duckett, says she tries to live her life like a well-diversified portfolio.


THASUNDA BROWN DUCKETT, PRESIDENT AND CEO, TIAA: Work-life balance is a lie. You know, the "S" on the chest wasn't Superwoman, it was spit. Just like the stock market, it will have its volatility. You give yourself permission to recalibrate. So, on any given minute I may not be the best mom, but over time I'm a

really good mother. On any given day I may not feel like I am operating at my best as a CEO but over time, I think I'm a pretty good leader.


ROMANS: All right. Duckett is one of just two Black women running a Fortune 500 company and she is number 10 on Fortune's most powerful woman list for 2021.

JARRETT: It turns out an aspirin a day may not keep the doctor away. It's been a drug used by millions of people to prevent a heart attack or stroke, but new information shows the risks could outweigh the rewards.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has more on this.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Christine, Laura, a government task force is considering new recommendations about whether or not people should be taking a daily aspirin.

Here's the bottom line. A daily aspirin can possibly be lifesaving for some people. It can help prevent a heart attack or help prevent a stroke. But for other people, it can make them much more likely to bleed, and that's bad.

So, here's what the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is thinking about recommending.

The draft recommendation from the task force says if you've already had a heart attack or a stroke and your doctor says take a daily aspirin, keep taking a daily aspirin. That's so important.

But, if you haven't had a heart attack or a stroke ever and you're over age 60, do not take a daily aspirin. Because in this age group it's especially prone to making people bleed too much.

And, if you've never had a heart or a stroke and you're age 40 to 59, talk to your doctor about whether or not you ought to be taking a daily aspiring.

What your doctor decides is really going to depend on your individual health history. For example, if you're in your 40s or 50s but you're at a very high risk for a heart attack or a stroke, it is possible your doctor may tell you to take a daily aspirin.

Now, as I said, these are just draft recommendations. We won't know for a while what the final recommendation is -- Christine, Laura.


ROMANS: All right, Elizabeth. Thank you so much. Staying on your health, synthetic chemicals found in hundreds of everyday consumer products may be contributing to more than 100,000 premature deaths every year in the U.S. among people age 55 to 64. According to a new study, people with the highest level of phthalates had a greater risk of death from any cause, costing the U.S. up to $47 billion a year in lost productivity. Phthalates are found in things like food storage containers, shampoo, makeup, perfume, and children's toys.

Michigan ramping up its response to lead poisoning in the city of Benton Harbor. The families in the majority-Black city have had unsafe tap water coming into their homes. The state will offer free lead blood tests for children and home inspections for anyone who shows signs of lead in their systems.

These issues echo what happened 160 miles to the east in Flint, Michigan. The water there had dangerous levels of lead after the city used the Flint River as a water source.

JARRETT: All right, let's get a little sports. The NFL Players Association is demanding the release of all emails reviewed during an investigation into workplace misconduct at the Washington football team.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hi, Andy.



So, it was in those emails from that investigation that showed Jon Gruden used racist, misogynistic, and anti-gay language, which led to his resignation.

So, there are 650,000 emails which has many, including the NFL Players Association, wondering what else is in those emails. A spokesperson for the union confirming to CNN that they do plan on requesting that the league release the rest of those emails.

In the meantime, the Tampa Bay Bucs removing Gruden from the team's ring of honor. He coached them to a Super Bowl in 2002.

Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers speaking out yesterday, saying what Gruden said has no place in the NFL.


AARON RODGERS, QUARTERBACK, GREEN BAY PACKERS: And, hopefully, we can all, as a league, learn and grow from this. And hopefully, it puts people on notice who have some of those same opinions. Like, hey man, it's time to grow and evolve and change, and connect -- and that (bleep) doesn't fly.


SCHOLES: All right, to the NBA. Kyrie Irving will not be a part of the Brooklyn Nets this season until he can be a full participant. Players for the Nets, Knicks, and Warriors must be vaccinated to play in home games due to local regulations. The Nets GM Sean Marks says Kyrie just playing on the road wasn't going to work.


SEAN MARKS, GENERAL MANAGER, BROOKLYN NETS: Kyrie's made it clear that he has a choice in this matter and it's ultimately going to be up to him what he decides. We respect the fact that he has a choice and he can make his own -- and right to choose. As, again, right now, what's best for the organization is the path that we're taking.


SCHOLES: All right, to baseball where the defending World Series champion Dodgers force a winner-take-all game give against the Giants. Mookie Betts driving in three runs in the 7-2 win in game four.

Game five is tomorrow night at 9:07 eastern on our sister channel TBS. Now, the winner from that series is going to face the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS thanks to Freddie Freeman. The reigning NL MVP breaking a four-all tie in the bottom of the eighth with a home run off the Brewers' Josh Hader. Hader hadn't given up a run since July. Freeman saying after the game that was the coolest moment of his career.

Braves win 5-4 to take the series in four games. They're back in the NLCS for the second-straight season.

The Astros, meanwhile -- they're headed to the American League Championship Series for a fifth-straight season after a huge 10-1 win over the White Sox. Houston joining the Oakland A's as the only American League teams to accomplish five straight.

Now, the Astros are going to face the Red Sox for a shot in the World Series on the line. Game one of that series scheduled for Friday.

And finally, the NHL season is off and running. The Tampa Bay Lightning got to raise their second-straight Stanley Cup championship banner in front of a full-capacity crowd last night. Fans didn't really have much to cheer about after that, though, as the Bolts lost to the Penguins 6-2.

The NHL making its debut on our sister channel TNT tonight with a doubleheader. Rangers and Capitals get things started at 7:30 eastern, followed by the Blackhawks and Avalanche at 10:00.

And guys, the great one, Wayne Gretzky, a part of the "NHL ON TNT" coverage. They're going to have a lot of fun on their new show. Certainly, looking forward to it.

JARRETT: Definitely something to look forward to.

ROMANS: All right, Andy. Thanks so much.

JARRETT: Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

JARRETT: OK, now to this one. A French photographer named Wildlife Photographer of the Year for this underwater image. So, what is it exactly? Mating -- mating by a threatened species of groupers. The mating happens once a year for just about 30 minutes around the full moon in July. Photographer Laurent Ballesta spent 3,000 hours trying to capture it. I hear that it took him five years.

ROMANS: That can -- it's beautiful. It could be anything. I mean, almost like abstract art.

All right. Finally, it was a good hair day for high school seniors in Ladue, Missouri, shaving their locks for a special cause. The event, part of a fundraiser for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which raises money for childhood cancer research.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd grown it out about nine inches -- I want to say 10 inches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To say I'm proud isn't -- you know, just such an understatement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my fourth year donating my hair.


ROMANS: The day had extra meaning for 17-year-old Aidan Dougan. It's a way for him to honor the young sister he lost to cancer.

I love to see kids when they really put their mind to something and really, the awareness of that generation is amazing.


ROMANS: The U.S. will ease travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico. It's a huge boost for business and welcome news for families across the border. It's a big story this morning.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

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



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Wednesday, October 13th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

And we have important breaking news. A huge moment in the pandemic in the United States after 18 months -- long months for millions of Americans with families in Canada or Mexico. The U.S. will reopen its borders to fully vaccinated visitors from those countries starting in early November.

A ban has been in place since the beginning of the pandemic. And this will be a huge lift, not just to families but also for tourism and businesses who have customers near the border.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: This announcement coming just weeks after the White House vowed to lift bans on overseas travelers and as coronavirus numbers continue to trend in a positive direction -- obviously, down. Thirty-eight states declining or holding steady when it comes to hospitalizations. Forty-four states --