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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Japan's Ground Troops Hold First Military Drills In Years; Families Of Missing Black Men Plead For More Accountability; Biden Administration Making Major Changes To Afghan Resettlement Program. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 25, 2021 - 05:30   ET




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

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, I'm Christine Romans. Thirty-two minutes past the hour -- time for our top stories to keep an eye on this Monday.

New details this morning about what happened on the set of the movie "Rust." Actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing drawing his prop gun when it fired, killing the cinematographer and injuring the director. Authorities are still trying to figure out how a gun that was not supposed to be loaded ended up with what apparently was live ammunition.

JARRETT: Nearly 120,000 customers are without power in California after heavy rains from a bomb cyclone storm system. A state of emergency was declared in Sausalito near San Francisco due to damage and power outages. The intense rain triggering a landslide -- look at that -- that has buried California's Highway 70 in both directions.

ROMANS: Flash flood watches in effect tonight through Tuesday afternoon in the northeast. Twenty-three million people from southern Connecticut to the Jersey shore are affected and could see four to six inches of rain. Damaging hail and high winds are also predicted from Washington, D.C. to as far south as Georgia.


JAMES MICHAEL TYLER, ACTOR, "FRIENDS": I was going to offer you my apartment.

JENNIFER ANISTON, ACTRESS, "FRIENDS": Why? Where are you going?

TYLER: I don't know.


JARRETT: Actor James Michael Tyler, best known for his recurring role as Gunther on "FRIENDS," has died after a battle with prostate cancer. James Michael Tyler was 59 years old.

ROMANS: All right. Chaos outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last night as anti-vax protesters breached the barricades ahead of the Nets' home opener. So, Nets guard Kyrie Irving not playing because he is refusing to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and defying the city's mandate. Arena staff and police got the crowd under control quickly and the game went on as scheduled.


ALBERTO MALDONADO, BROOKLYN NETS PROTESTER: I support Kyrie because it is a personal choice. If Kyrie wants to do that it's his body, his choice. Selfishly, do I want him with the Brooklyn Nets? Of course, as well as millions of other fans.

He's good for the NBA. He's got a lot of talent and brings a lot to the table. Obviously, they look like they miss him. But at the end of the day, it's more than basketball.


ROMANS: Irving has been defending his beliefs on Instagram. And it is his choice -- and because he made that choice, now he --

JARRETT: He has the repercussions of that choice.

ROMANS: The repercussions are he can't play at the Nets' home stadium.

All right, it's being called the great resignation. Millions of people are quitting their jobs as companies struggle to hire workers and keep up with demand. A recent survey from the National Association of Business Economics found nearly half of U.S. companies report a shortage of skilled workers last quarter. That is up quite a bit from the second quarter.


The pandemic has completely changed how people think about their family, their safety, their jobs. Americans are looking for better pay, better working conditions, more flexible working arrangements. And in some cases, they simply are home with elderly family members and children.

Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen told Jake Tapper Americans, at the same time, are feeling good about their ability to find another job.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: It's good, I think, to see wages begin to rise, especially for those Americans who had the most insecure jobs and the lowest wages. And to see some improvement there is something that we should be pleased with.


ROMANS: Yellen said she expects labor supply to increase as the country moves beyond the pandemic.

Tens of millions of dirty medical gloves are being cleaned and made to look new again at several factories in Thailand, and a new CNN investigation reveals some of them are reaching U.S. markets. One industry expert says federal authorities are only now beginning to grasp the enormous scope of this problem.

Prices for PPE have skyrocketed, of course, during the pandemic, and shady companies are taking advantage.

Concerns growing about China on several fronts. Russian and Chinese warships conducting their first-ever joint patrol in the western Pacific, a clear show of force as the U.S. tries to assert power in the Indo-Pacific region.

In Japan, the minister of defense says China is currently the biggest threat to its national security.

CNN's Blake Essig got rare access to Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force as it conducts this big nationwide military drill. He is live for us in Tokyo this morning. Blake, this drill is the first of its kind in, what, 30 years?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Laura and Christine, it's significant. Generally speaking, a country holding a military drill isn't unusual. But in the case of Japan holding a massive nationwide exercise with about 100,000 personnel, 20,000 vehicles, and 120 aircraft taking part is a sign that the pacifist nation is perhaps changing course.

And in the Indo-Pacific region, where peace and stability are hard to come by, preparing for a potential conflict is now a top priority.


ESSIG (voice-over): This is the closest members of Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force have ever come to fighting a war.

ESSIG (on camera): You can hear the sound of simulated gunfire starting to erupt just as the enemy is starting to make its way down that hillside.

ESSIG (voice-over): Established in 1954, the Force has never experienced actual combat. So, for now, this is as real as it gets.

ESSIG (on camera): Instead of live ammunition, troops and tanks are armed with simulation weapons that fire lasers. They'll know if they've been hit because of the sensors lining their uniforms, and the vehicles that will let them know if they've been injured or killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (speaking foreign language): Help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (speaking foreign language): Are you alright?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (speaking foreign language): No, I'm not. ESSIG (voice-over): This man was just hit by a simulated mortar, which severely injured his right leg. Even though it isn't real, these unscripted war games that are a departure from Japan's post-World War II pacifism, have never been more important.

YUICHI TOGASHI, COMMANDING GENERAL OF 2ND DIVISION, GSDF (through translator): The most important thing is to demonstrate the combat power we have as a unit. We have planned and prepared for this drill for a long time. However, there is room to improve our skills. I hope everyone understands that we train ourselves day and night to protect our country and do our best.

ESSIG (voice-over): Ongoing security threats from neighboring countries like North Korea, Russia, and China make drills like this even more urgent, especially amid concerns that Japan could get drawn into a conflict over Taiwan.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You all recognize the imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term.

ESSIG (voice-over): A region that's instead been growing more hostile in recent years. In fact, GSDF officials say Japan's national security environment is the worst it's been since shortly after the end of World War II more than 70 years ago.

TOGASHI (through translator): Given that the current security environment surrounding Japan is extremely severe, we, the Self- Defense Forces, are required to enhance the effectiveness of operations.

ESSIG (voice-over): To that end, Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force is holding its largest drill in nearly 30 years, focused on operational readiness in case the country is forced to defend itself.

ESSIG (on camera): From above looking down on the battlefield below, the camouflaged troops and equipment are hard to see. That's because they easily blend in with the thick, forest-like terrain that surrounds them. This is what war could look like if it breaks out in Japan's southern islands.

ESSIG (voice-over): And if it does, commanding Gen. Yuichi Togashi says the GSDF will be ready.


ESSIG: Now, just this past week, at the same time that Japan was holding their defensive combat drill, as you mentioned, Russia and China held a joint naval patrol involving about 10 warships that encircled Japan. The two navies navigated through international waters, passing through narrow straits in northern and southern Japan, as well as traveling down the nation's eastern coast. A provocative voyage creating more tension in an already extremely tense region -- Christine.

[05:40:09] ROMANS: Right. All right, Blake, excellent access. Thanks for bringing us that report. Nice to see you -- Laura.

JARRETT: In Virginia, a civil trial begins today against some of the organizers of that deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville back in 2017. Nine people have filed suit alleging physical harm and emotional distress from that day. Heather Heyer, a counter-protester, was killed when a man rammed his car into the crowd.

A jury will now decide whether two dozen white supremacists, including some of the more notorious faces in this movement, like Richard Spencer, engaged in a conspiracy. The defense team is expected to argue that their violent rhetoric was protected by the First Amendment.

Well, there are nearly 90,000 active missing persons cases currently in the United States. Many of them are Black men whose families are pleading for more attention, more resources, and accountability from police.

Senior writer on race and equality, Nicquel Terry Ellis, joins us now. Nicquel, it's so nice to have you this morning. I'm so glad you've been following this issue so closely. What are you hearing from the families about this?

NICQUEL TERRY ELLIS, CNN SENIOR WRITER, RACE AND EQUALITY: Laura, the families of missing black and brown people are frustrated that their cases are not being put in the spotlight or getting the attention that they believe that these cases deserve. They're also concerned that police may not be taking their cases seriously.

We do know that Daniel Robinson went missing in June in an Arizona desert. His father has been out in Arizona for several weeks looking for his son. He assembled his own volunteer search team to help look for Daniel when he felt that police were not being aggressive enough in their investigation.

Jelani Day -- his body was found last month in a river in Illinois. His mother came out last week pleading for the FBI to get involved into the investigation of her son's death, just hoping to get more answers because she believes that police in Illinois have failed her.

JARRETT: And Nicquel, the FBI data on this is pretty glaring and it shows sort of the disproportionate rates among black and brown people who go missing. And part of the argument from the -- from families I've talked to is that predators go after black men and women knowing that the response is going to be different, right? Knowing that they are not going to be looked for with the same amount of vigor.

What do you hear from folks in law enforcement about this? What's the response?

ELLIS: Yes. So, I think it's important for us to know what the FBI data shows, Laura. We do know that black Americans make up 35 percent of missing persons reports, but only 13 percent of the U.S. population. White Americans, meanwhile, make up 54 percent of missing persons reports and 76 percent of the population.

So, I think that it still kind of remains unclear exactly why the cases of black Americans do not receive the same level of attention as the cases of white Americans.

Given this disparity, a lot of black families do feel that they deserve more attention placed on their cases, both in the media and by police. They've seen how Gabby Petito's case has been in the spotlight for the last several weeks and they want that same attention. They want their stories to be told and they want police to simply take their cases seriously.

And I think you also mentioned that there is also a disparity with missing black men. I spoke with the CEO of an organization called the Black and Missing Foundation. She tells me that she has seen a 50 percent increase in cases of missing black men since August. That accounted for about 24 cases of missing black men.

That's also unclear why we're seeing more cases of missing black men. She is seeing some similarities in those cases where the abandoned vehicle of the missing man is found while their whereabouts remain a mystery.

So, I think we have families and advocates who are just begging for some equality here in how these cases are treated overall.

JARRETT: Well, part of what you are doing right now is trying to right the ship on that reporting, and I thank you for bringing some light to this issue. I really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

We'll be right back.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

The Biden administration is launching a major new refugee program. It's designed to help resettle more than 55,000 Afghan evacuees.

Let's bring in CNN's Priscilla Alvarez. Priscilla, good morning. So, what are these big changes from the White House?


This is a change that will allow veterans with ties to Afghan evacuees, as well as others, to bring them into their communities, find them permanent housing, and serve as a support network, which ultimately allows greater flexibility in terms of where evacuees can go. And as some veterans told me, likely contributing to their success in the U.S. by pairing them with people that have their lived experiences.

So, here is how this is going to go. Groups of five people will be able to apply for a so-called sponsor circle. They will go through background checks, commit to fundraising, set up a welcome plan for families and evacuees. If they are approved, they'll then secure housing, help evacuees enroll their kids in school, and serve as a support network in the community. Now, the housing component is really important here because there is a housing crunch and it is has been difficult to find housing for evacuees as they get off bases.

I spoke to former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell about this. He is the point person for the Afghan resettlement effort for this administration. Here's what he had to say about the housing.



JACK MARKELL, FORMER DELAWARE GOVERNOR, WHITE House AFGHAN REFUGEE COORDINATOR: Though the housing issue is a challenging one for sure, every American knows that housing is expensive and in short supply. We have been very fortunate that a number of organizations like Airbnb have stepped up. And these sponsorship circles, because they're so rooted in their communities, will have the advantage of knowing those communities and finding additional housing opportunities.


ALVAREZ: Now, these sponsor circles are dependent on people applying and getting folks set up. But ultimately, they hope it will allow for folks to connect with one another, to use that support that people say they want to provide, and find that housing for them -- Laura.

JARRETT: Priscilla, thank you so much -- appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this Monday morning.

Looking at markets around the world, a mixed performance in Asia; a mixed opening in Europe. And on Wall Street, stock index futures barely moving here right now.

But it was a record day for investors Friday. The Dow hit an all-time high -- it didn't take much to do that either -- closing up 73 points -- 35,677, the new record level. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq down a little bit. Still, all three major averages finished the week higher.

October has a scary reputation on Wall Street but stocks have rocketed higher after a miserable September. Strong earnings reports have overshadowed worries about rising inflation and interest rates. This week, more companies deliver quarterly results. We'll hear from Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, GM, and McDonald's.

It's also a big week for Facebook. Frances Haugen, that whistleblower, testifies before the U.K. Parliament today. Haugen alleges Facebook knows its platform hurts children and sows division in society but failed to take any action to prevent it.

Facebook reports its earnings later today. JARRETT: All right, let's get a little sports in. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady making history, becoming the only player ever to throw 600 touchdown passes. Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Six hundred -- wow.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: That's a lot, Laura. I don't know if anyone's ever going to do that. It's just another week, another milestone for Tom Brady. He's the only quarterback ever to throw 600 and it's probably never going to be matched again -- maybe Patrick Mahomes one day.

But it happened in the first quarter. Brady hits Mike Evans for a touchdown. It put the Bucs up 21-0. Then, Evans gets the 600 ball and goes and gives it to a fan. And when he gets back to the bench, the Bucs staff are like yeah, you just gave away the 600 ball. So, a Bucs staffer then went and found that fan and negotiated to get that ball back.


TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: I don't actually keep too many things, so in that circumstance, I just felt like that might be a good one to keep. He's going to get something nice in return, so we'll get him a helmet or a couple of jerseys or some other stuff. So, it was really cool of him to do that.


SCHOLES: Well, whatever that fan gets for that ball, I don't know if it will be enough because that football was likely worth more than a half-million dollars.

All right, the Bucs beat the Bears 38-3 in that game. And a really cool moment near the end of the game. Brady going to give his hat to 10-year-old Noah Reeb who was holding up a sign that read "Tom Brady helped me beat brain cancer." And, Noah just breaking down in tears after that awesome moment there with Brady.

And guys, Brady said after the game seeing Noah and that sign just really puts everything in perspective for him. But that was definitely a cool moment, Laura.

JARRETT: Oh, definitely. I love it -- so touching.

Andy, thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

JARRETT: All right. "Dune," the science-fiction epic, finishing off a great month for theaters with a strong opening. That movie brought in an estimated $40 million at the U.S. box office over the weekend. It's a notable opening because the movie is also available on HBO Max, WarnerMedia's streaming company. But fans chose to head to the theaters instead of sitting home, actually -- a much-needed boost for movie theaters as they work to rebound from this pandemic. ROMANS: All right. You've been watching our broadcast -- thank you very much. In case you missed it, here is Saturday night's comic treatment of the news.


COLIN JOST, CAST MEMBER, NBC "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": The FDA authorized the mixing and matching of booster shots and vaccines as we enter the just winging it phase. Seriously, when it comes to medication, when has your doctor ever said just mix and match? It's all good. Taste the rainbow.

MICHAEL CHE, CAST MEMBER, NBC "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Walmart announced that members of its Walmart+ subscription service will be able to take advantage of Black Friday sales four hours early. Experts believe it could be the most violent gathering of Walmart shoppers since January sixth.

JOST: Is there anything else that you'd like to take credit for?

JASON SUDEIKIS, ACTOR: Sure, yeah -- Bitcoin. That's all me. I invented vaping. I'm pretty proud of that one. And -- well, you know when you're trying to read an article online and the ad at the top gets real big and it takes up half the screen and no matter how much you scroll it's still there?

JOST: That's a great one. And I just have to ask, what about QAnon? Was that you?


SUDEIKIS: Hey, hey, hey, hey -- no. Those guys are crazy.


ROMANS: OK, you have got to watch that whole Jason Sudeikis as the devil interview. It was very funny. Taking credit for Bitcoin but not taking credit for QAnon because it's too crazy.

JARRETT: I love when old cast members come back.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us, everybody. Have a great rest of your day. I'm Christine Romans.

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