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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Police Unions Battle With Cities And States Over Vaccination; WSJ: Haitian Gang Demands $17 Million Ransom For Missionaries; North Korea Launches Ballistic Missile From Sea. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 19, 2021 - 05:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good Tuesday morning, everyone. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It is Tuesday. I'm Christine Romans -- 31 -- almost 32 minutes past the hour. Time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.

Former President Donald Trump filing a lawsuit against the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. He's also suing the National Archives to keep records from his presidency secret by claiming executive privilege.

JARRETT: President Biden holding on to hope for his economic agenda with two critical meetings this afternoon -- one with House progressives, the other with moderates. Vice President Harris and Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen will also attend both meetings.

ROMANS: The Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to block a six-week abortion ban in Texas while legal challenges play out. The DOJ argues the ban is unconstitutional and will cause irreparable injury to thousands of Texas women. The court wants a response from Texas by Thursday.

JARRETT: A 7-foot statue of Thomas Jefferson will be removed from the New York City Council's chambers. The city's Public Design Commission voted unanimously to relocate the statue. It's a result of a two- decade effort by councilmembers, prompted by Jefferson's history enslaving people.

ROMANS: The family of Elijah McClain settling a civil rights lawsuit with the city of Aurora, Colorado. McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, died in 2019 days after a violent confrontation with police. He was placed in a chokehold and injected with ketamine.

JARRETT: Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. will go on trial for alleged sex abuse on February first in New York City. He faces three counts of forceable touching and sexual abuse involving three different women. Gooding has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

ROMANS: The top U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalildad (sic), is stepping down -- Khalilzad, rather, stepping down. It comes almost two months after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal and Taliban takeover of the country. Secretary of State Blinken says he'll be replaced by Thomas West, who previously served as deputy special representative for Afghanistan.

JARRETT: To COVID now. The FDA is poised to approve mix-and-match booster shots as soon as this week. That's according to "The New York Times." And a new study shows recipients of the J&J single-dose shot who then later received a Moderna booster saw their antibody levels rise 76-fold in 15 days, whereas it only rose 4-fold with a second J&J dose.

Let's bring in Dr. Chris Pernell, a public health physician and fellow at the American College of Preventive Medicine, to help us dig through it all. Dr. Pernell --


JARRETT: -- thank you.

So, Doctor, if mixing --


JARRETT: -- and matching these vaccine boosters -- it's one of the hot topics right now. If it actually makes your first -- or second shot, I should say, more effective, should we all just be running out and getting a different brand for our third shot when our time comes?

PERNELL: Morning.

This is fascinating developments. This is good science happening in real time.

What we actually see from the NIH study is real-world practicality, meaning that if you were inoculated with Moderna or Pfizer, most likely you can go ahead and get a Moderna or Pfizer booster as part of your third dose in the series. But if there is an issue of a shortage of one brand versus another and you had either mRNA vaccine, know that it's safe and effective to get boosted with the vaccine of a different brand.


The most important finding I think from this study and what will be most encouraging are for those who were inoculated with J&J. The opportunity to get an mRNA vaccine, especially with Moderna where we saw that 76-fold rise in the level antibodies -- that means that your protection is durable and that means that your protection is gold standard.

JARRETT: Is there any downside in getting the -- a different shot? I know we're only supposed to ask you three questions here but I'm curious just for family and friends. Should -- is there any downside to getting a different -- a different brand for your third shot? PERNELL: No. We don't see anything --



PERNELL: -- in the data that suggests that there is a downside. So you should feel safe and you should feel comfortable getting a shot of a different brand.

JARRETT: Good to know.

ROMANS: And you talk about good science in real time. It feels like we're living in two Americas here, right? One where we're weighing all this new information and we're talking about our boosters, and another where misinformation and disinformation are still reigning.

And a case in point, the Centner Academy in Miami. It's a private school. Remember, it made headlines earlier this year because the school told teachers they would not be allowed to return to the classroom if they got the vaccine. They required their teachers to be unvaccinated. Now they're telling parents if you get your child vaccinated you've got to keep them home for 30 days.

This does not seem like science. This seems just like insanity to me.

PERNELL: Foolishness. That's the first word that comes to mind.

Look, families need to get their information from reputable public health institutions and agencies -- the CDC, the World Health Organization, and other academic universities publishing data around these vaccines.

The vaccines do not contain a weakened or live virus, hence there is no shedding that occurs with either the mRNA vaccines or the Johnson & Johnson viral vector vaccine. It's just not true.

And it's really unfortunate that in an environment of education that we had administrators peddling something that is not rooted in the science. So I caution parents. Get your advice, get your information from reputable, credible sources.

ROMANS: Yes. I almost hate to give that school any publicity because it is such a fringe position. But it's a reminder to all of our viewers, really, that there is this dangerous element still in the pandemic.

JARRETT: Well, and speaking of misinformation and disinformation, we sadly, of course, learned of the passing of Gen. Colin Powell yesterday. He died of COVID complications we were told. But he was also 84 years old. He had cancer, he had Parkinson's.

But that didn't stop several people from turning this into an argument to show why the vaccine isn't effective even though in my mind this shows precisely why we all need to get vaccinated to protect those around us who are perhaps immunocompromised and can't mount an effective response to these vaccines.

PERNELL: Your point is spot on. It's really unfortunate, despicable, and disgraceful that we have anti-science opportunists looking to scapegoat a brave man and to scapegoat what we know is otherwise false.

And let me make this clear for everyone. The vaccines are proven to be safe and effective. If you have an underlying medical condition such as multiple myeloma that impacts the plasma cells -- the very cells responsible for creating antibodies -- all vaccines are traditionally less effective in those persons.

And as you stated, he is of older age. We know that when they are breakthrough infections and, unfortunately, fatalities in those who are fully vaccinated, it happens in that older group.

JARRETT: Yes, and we should point out just how rare that is.

PERNELL: Very rare.

JARRETT: I mean, we're talking very, very minuscule numbers here.

ROMANS: But there will be millions of people who will watch this on another network and will see the misinformation and believe it.

JARRETT: But they were prone to believe that misinformation --

ROMANS: True, true.

JARRETT: -- anyway. So anything that fits into the --

ROMANS: I know.

JARRETT: -- narrative is just --

PERNELL: But we can't let up with the truth.

JARRETT: Exactly. And thank you, Doctor, for always bringing it to us here to EARLY START. We appreciate it.

ROMANS: Dr. Pernell, nice to see you. Thank you so much.

PERNELL: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right.

As vaccination deadlines pass for public employees across the country, police unions are now locked in a battle with cities and states over department vaccine mandates.

In Washington State, officials say more than 90 percent of state patrol employees are vaccinated. More than 90 percent -- that's important. But there are some officers who have quit rather than comply with the state employee mandate and even posted videos of themselves signing off the job.


SGT. RICHARD THOMPSON, WASHINGTON STATE PATROL, COWLITZ COUNTY: Due to my personal choice to take a moral stand against -- for medical freedom and personal choice, I will be signing out of service for the last time today after nearly 17 years of serving the citizens in the state of Washington. It has been my honor and privilege to work alongside all of you.



JARRETT: And it's not just Washington. In Massachusetts, the State Police Association claims the department is 600 troopers below a safe and manageable level because of the state's vaccine mandate. And that's just one of the many places, as Christine mentioned, where officers are being placed on leave or choosing to resign because they refuse to get vaccinated.

CNN's Alexandra Field has the latest.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Christine, Laura, all across the country cities are at odds with powerful police unions over vaccine mandates.

In Chicago, we're learning that more than a third of police officers have defied the city's vaccine mandate by failing to report their vaccination status.

The city will take a number of steps to bring some 4,500 officers into compliance before there are any firings. Those steps could include no- pay status. For those who are in compliance -- those who did report their status, the majority are vaccinated. Those who aren't will have to opt into twice-weekly testing.

In Baltimore, the police union is telling its members, according to "The Baltimore Sun," not to disclose their status, citing a lack of communication between city officials and the bargaining unit.

And in Seattle where a mandate has gone into effect, the mayor's office is saying that 98 percent of officers are now in compliance, up from 82 percent just a few days ago.

The latest rush of vaccine mandates targets some 66 million people who have chosen not to get the shot just yet. That, as the U.S. marks a major milestone. Some two-thirds of eligible people in this country are now fully vaccinated. And as a result, Laura and Christine, we are seeing that deaths and new cases are trending down, along with hospitalizations at the lowest levels they've been in almost three months -- Christine, Laura.


JARRETT: Alexandra Field, thank you for that. Breaking overnight, the Haitian gang believed to be responsible for

the kidnappings of 17 missionaries is now demanding a $17 million ransom for their release. That's according to new reporting from "The Wall Street Journal." Sixteen of the captives are Americans from the Ohio-based Christian Aid Missionaries; five of them children.

Authorities believe the 400 Mazowo gang abducted the missionaries at gunpoint after they visited an orphanage last weekend.

CNN's Joe Johns is live on the ground in Port-au-Prince for us. Joe, what's the very latest? Bring us up to speed here.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's sort of break down that $17 million figure. We've got 17 people who were taken off the roads here just three days ago on Saturday outside of Port-au- Prince. And $17 million then would be $1 million each for every man, woman, and child that these kidnappers -- a group called 400 Mazowo -- took off the roads -- and that's the number they're demanding.

Also, you have to report that with a caveat that in negotiations -- even negotiations with criminals -- numbers are subject to change. And we know also that this group and some of the other groups that have been conducting these kidnappings in Haiti from time to time over the last many years -- they have asked for much less -- sometimes $20,000 here and $20,000 there. So we don't know what that final number will be.

Also important to say that we do know from the reporting of "The Wall Street Journal" and others that the FBI -- the Federal Bureau of Investigation -- on the ground here in Haiti and actively involved in these negotiations. That, of course, because United States citizens are involved.

So those are the headlines from Haiti at this point. One of the big problems is it's very difficult to determine how long negotiations like this are going to go on. We know that the sun is coming up now in Haiti after the third night of this ordeal for those 17 individuals. It could be weeks, it could be months, authorities say. We just don't know.

Big picture here in Haiti, people on the ground are sick and tired of these kidnappings. There's a nationwide strike demanding more security and an end to them.

Back to you.

JARRETT: All right, Joe Johns. Thank you so much for being on the ground for us there in Haiti.

We'll be right back.



JARRETT: Welcome back This morning, day two of jury selection in the trial of three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery. All three have pleaded not guilty to these charges and claim that Travis McMichael killed Arbery in self-defense after a confrontation.

Aware the prosecutors will likely claim that the men were instead motivated by racism, the defense team is trying to pick a jury most sympathetic to their clients' claims. On Monday, defense counsel asked potential jurors whether they considered the Confederate flag to be a quote "racist symbol" given that Travis McMichael has an image of the flag on his vanity license plate.

Arbery's mother has some concerns about the jury's fairness but says she is hopeful.


WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ABERBERY'S MOTHER: I have my concerns. They took over 600 days to get to this day. But with that being said, this is the same community that elected D.A. Jackie Johnson out of office. This is the same community that stood outside today as I entered the courtroom rallying for justice for Ahmaud. So I do feel confident that we will have success in this.


JARRETT: Jury selection in the case could take up to two weeks.


All right, turning overseas now. Overnight, North Korea fired off at least one ballistic missile from its eastern coast, prompting a swift outcry from Japan and South Korea. The U.S. also condemned the missile launch but says it doesn't pose any immediate threat to U.S. personnel or allies.

CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us live from Seoul. Paula, good morning. What is South Korea saying about this launch?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, what we're hearing from the Joint Chiefs of Staff here is that they believe it was one ballistic missile and they believe it appears to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile. This is a technology that we know that North Korea has been working on for some time. Earlier this year, they unveiled what appeared to be a new submarine-launched ballistic missile.

And certainly, what we've been seeing in recent weeks is whatever North Korea has showcased recently, they now appear to be testing. We've already seen a flurry of new weapons testing, which has been condemned across the board from the U.S., from South Korea, and also from Japan.

Now, Japan, at this point, say they believe it may have been two ballistic missiles. Not clear why there is a difference in number there. But the fact is it's ballistic missile technology, which is against the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Now, North Korea is saying that South Korea is hypocritical considering the fact that South Korea has been carrying out its own weapons and missile launches in recent weeks.

And also, the timing is key. We know that the U.S., the Japanese, and the South Korean intelligence chiefs are here in Seoul meeting at this point, talking about North Korea -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Paula Hancocks. Thank you so much for that reporting.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this Tuesday morning. Looking at markets around the world you can see Asian shares closed higher and -- wow, Europe has opened very narrowly mixed here. On Wall Street, stock index futures leaning up a little bit.

It was a mixed day on Monday. The Dow fell just 36 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were higher.

Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble reporting their earnings before the opening bell. Netflix reports after markets close.

Ships stacked up as far as the eye can see. A record backlog at North America's biggest container port. Two hundred thousand shipping containers are gridlocked because the pandemic disrupted the supply chain.

Here is Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka.


GENE SEROKA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PORT OF LOS ANGELES: We've got about two weeks' worth of work sitting at anchor right now. There's product that needs to get out there in super-fast speed. Think about the toys, the other Christmas products, and parts and components for factories. Then there's other product that's been ordered just in case.


ROMANS: There's a pretty good chance that the items on your holiday shopping list are somewhere out there, outside the port.

This backlog is contributing to higher prices for just about everything and easing it is critical ahead of the holidays.

Last week, President Biden announced the Port of Los Angeles would move to a 24/7 schedule. While that eased some congestion, Seroka said officials are not expecting to see the import market strengthen until February 2022.


AC/DC, ROCK BAND: Singing "Back in Black."

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: All right, live music is back and that is great news for concert promoter Live Nation. Live Nation's stock is up nearly 40 percent this year as people become vaccinated and they head out to concerts across the country.

Superstars like Harry Styles and BTS are already back on tour, while Billie Eilish and The Weeknd have concerts planned for next year. I think Coldplay tickets go on sale today for their new tour. Many artists have extended tours into 2023 and 2024 to meet the pent-up demand.

Live Nation still expected to post a loss for 2020.

JARRETT: Who do you want to see the most?

ROMANS: Well, my son -- I promised him Coldplay tickets like three years ago, right? So, I mean, probably -- we'll see.

JARRETT: I love your -- it's just about catering to the kids.

ROMANS: It is true. I have no choice.

JARRETT: My son doesn't get a say yet because he's too young, so my vote is Beyonce. I'm holding out for her.

ROMANS: All right, good. I'd go to that. I'd go to that with you.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

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



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. On this new day, the January 6 investigation at a moment of confrontation. Congress cracking down on Trump allies defying subpoenas, and a legal faceoff between Biden and Trump that could reach the Supreme Court.

And, are actual meetings signs of actual progress? Democrats at odds over key aspects of the domestic agenda -- they get in the same room. New reporting on how close they moved together.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And breaking right now, the violent gang that kidnapped 16 American missionaries has made its demands and we're going to take you live to Haiti.

And a college football coach making $3 million a year fired for refusing to get the vaccine.

BERMAN: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Tuesday, October 19th.

And this morning, a moment of confrontation -- legal confrontation. In a few hours, a House committee will decide whether to hold Trump ally Steven Bannon in contempt for defying its subpoena and refer the matter to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution.

This sets in motion a process which really hasn't been used in decades.