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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Two Key Justices Appear Open To Texas Abortion Law Challenge; South Africa's Economy Still Heavily Dependent On Coal; World Leaders Commit To Reverse Deforestation By 2030. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 02, 2021 - 05:30   ET




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

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

Voters across the country head to the polls today for an off-year election. Virginians are choosing a governor. Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin running neck-and-neck. This race could offer insights on the 2022 midterms when the balance of power in Congress is on the line.

JARRETT: A gamechanger for parents. CDC advisers are set to vote later today on the use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in children five to 11 years old. If the CDC signs off the White House expects to have shots in children's arms by next week.

ROMANS: Screentime for U.S. tweens and teens doubled during the pandemic. Researchers found young people averaged nearly eight hours a day on their devices once stay-at-home orders started. More screentime was also linked to greater stress among teens.

JARRETT: Opening statements begin today in the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, the armed teenager who killed two people during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year. A jury of 20 with just one person of color was seated yesterday. Rittenhouse, who is now 18 years old, faces five felonies, including homicide.

ROMANS: Investigators say a nuclear-powered U.S. submarine that struck an object in contested waters in the South China Sea last month hit an uncharted underwater mountain. Several crew members were injured on the USS Connecticut and the sub had to be repaired in Guam.

JARRETT: Real estate heir Robert Durst, accused of killing his wife back in 1982, has now been indicted by a grand jury in New York. Her body was never found and Durst has maintained his innocence. In September, Durst was found guilty of first-degree murder for shooting and killing his best friend Susan Berman in 2000 at her Beverly Hills home. ROMANS: Beth Robinson confirmed by the Senate as the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court -- to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That makes her the first out lesbian to serve on any federal circuit court. Only two Republicans voted in her favor. Robinson has served as an associate justice on the Vermont Supreme Court since 2011.

JARRETT: Game six of the World Series tonight in Houston. The Astros trying to stave off elimination for the second-straight game. Luis Garcia sets the start -- gets the start for the Astros on a three- day's rest. Max Fried takes the mound for the Braves.

ROMANS: All right. We are waiting for President Biden to speak at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. The president set to deliver remarks about the U.S. plan to preserve global forests at the action on forests and land use event. You can see -- there's the shot there. We're going to bring you -- the speech to you when he takes the podium.

JARRETT: The U.S. Supreme Court appears willing to let Texas' strict anti-abortion law be challenged. Key here, not whether the law should be struck down but who should get the right to sue over it. Now, two conservatives on the court seem at least open to hearing arguments from abortion providers who say that six-week ban violates the Constitution.

CNN's Jessica Schneider reports for us.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Laura and Christine, almost three hours of arguments on two separate but related cases where it seems that two of the conservative justices might be in play to side with the abortion providers. Justice Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh zeroed in on possible problems with the way the Texas abortion law is structured.

Justice Barrett saying the law was written in a way that prevents providers from mounting a full constitutional defense. That's because if abortion providers are sued, under the law, they actually can't claim that the Texas law is unconstitutional as a defense.

Justice Kavanaugh asking well, if Texas can ban abortions, what's to stop other states from enacting similar laws that thwart other constitutionally protected rights?

JUSTICE BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. SUPREME COURT: It could be free speech rights, it could be free exercise of religion rights, it could Second Amendment rights. If this position is accepted here, the theory of the amicus brief is that it can be easily replicated in other states that disfavor other constitutional rights.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): SB 8 has been in effect for two months now and the Supreme Court declined to block the law when it first took effect. But now that they've heard arguments on the merits of the case -- whether abortion providers or the Justice Department can even challenge the law -- the justices could act fairly quickly here. They fast-tracked hearing these arguments and they could issue a decision within weeks.

If they rule for the abortion providers to proceed with their lawsuit or DOJ, which is a little bit more of a stretch given what we heard during the arguments, the case would then go back to the lower courts and that's where the law could potentially then be blocked -- Laura and Christine.


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

As we wait for President Biden, a jarring reminder of how some nations are having a hard time kicking habits that make the climate crisis worse. Top of the list, coal.

CNN's David McKenzie live in Johannesburg. David, you went deep in South Africa's coal mines. What'd you see there?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, what we saw is a country really dependent on coal and South Africa is one of the world's, per capita, biggest polluters.

You know, during this summit a lot of talk will be made, a lot of pledges will be made, but it's the political practical financing for developing countries that is critical to actually end the climate crisis. The U.S., U.K., and Europe are in advanced negotiations with South Africa to give potentially billions of dollars to move them away from coal, but it will be a difficult task.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): Treacherous steps into the blackness with illegal minors.

MCKENZIE (on camera): So we're going deep into this mine. It's a disused mine. But coal is so important in this country that even the old mines -- people will go down like this in dangerous conditions and get what they can.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): What Anthony Bonginkosi can get -- just $3.00 for a bag of coal to support his grandmother and sister.

Here they work with little ventilation or light. If they get trapped no one will come to help.

ANTHONY BONGINKOSI, ARTISANAL MINOR: We have lost a lot of them with the collapse of the mine; others with the gases that kill and the (INAUDIBLE).

MCKENZIE (on camera): So it's dangerous work?

BONGINKOSI: Yes, yes. When you inhale that gas, you walk 50 steps or 10 steps you just collapse. You become weaker. MCKENZIE (on camera): So why do you still do it?

BONGINKOSI: I don't have a choice because I have to save my hunger. And not only me, those who follow me. I may die alone here but what about those who are depending on me?

MCKENZIE (voice-over): South Africa is a country dependent on coal with hundreds of thousands of jobs linked to these mines and its monopoly power utility and shaky economy almost entirely anchored on coal-fired plants.

Eskom is one of Africa's biggest polluters but it's all relative.

MCKENZIE (on camera): South Africa has contributed very little historically to emissions that have caused climate change. Why move away from coal at all?

ANDRE DE RUYTER, GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE, ESKOM: You know, there's this saying that the stone age didn't end because of a lack of stone. So I'm convinced that given current technological trends the coal age won't end because of a lack of coal.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): To avoid a climate catastrophe, climate scientists say the renewable age needs to be pushed by the entire world -- even by countries like South Africa that contributes around just one percent of annual emissions globally.

MARCUS NEMADODZI, GENERAL MANAGER, KOMATI: Eskom has made a decision not anymore.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): To commit to the transition, Eskom says it will shut down aging coal plants like Komati.

MCKENZIE (on camera): What will it mean when the last monitor goes off, for you?

NEMADODZI: Well, it's sad and also an opportunity, so I will be ready when that happens.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): But the move to renewables takes time and costs money -- $50 billion to $60 billion in South Africa alone, says Eskom.

NEMADODZI: So this will become useless.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): So, rich countries will need to finance the transition as part of their climate commitments despite Eskom's mountains of debt and history of corruption allegations.

RUYTER: I think it's not only realistic, it's imperative. If you look at the position that South Africa, unfortunately, occupies given our size, for South Africa to be the 12th-largest carbon emitter in the world, we, I think are a poster child of what needs to be done in order to transition away from coal to more sustainable forms of electricity generation.

MCKENZIE (on camera): They are saying that maybe South Africa needs to stop using coal --



MCKENZIE (on camera): -- because of climate change.


MCKENZIE (on camera): What do you think about that?

BONGINSKOSI: Sure, sure. What can I say about that? It makes me scared just because of we have a lot of people who depend on the coal, so we can't live without it. (END VIDEOTAPE)

MCKENZIE: Well, just how much will this transition cost? Up to $50 billion to $60 billion in South Africa alone. And that will need money, of course, and commitment -- political commitment over several years, including from the U.S. Now, whether that commitment lasts through the next election in the U.S., that all depends on politics, and that is difficult here. Ten, 15-year type agreements need to be locked in --


MCKENZIE: -- for the world to combat climate change -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, David. Thank you so much for that. Nice to see you this morning.

Forty minutes past the hour. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning.

Looking at markets around the world, not blockbuster moves. Asian shares closed lower. Shanghai down about one percent. Europe has opened mixed. On Wall Street, stock index futures are barely moving, just down slightly here.

All three major averages kicked off the month with record highs. Stocks closed at records thanks to strong corporate earnings. Companies are managing well through all of this despite supply chain snags and rising prices. They have reported solid customer demand and that's good news for the economic recovery.

The latest, AVIS. Sales are double what they were one year ago as demand for rental cars returns and actually booms. The stock is up more than 380 percent this year.


ROMANS: Today, we get earnings from Lyft, Pfizer, and Under Armour, among others.

All right, let's talk turkey, folks. Inflation is your uninvited guest for the holidays. Turkey prices are down slightly from last year, based on the most recent inflation data, but they're going to go up. They are estimated to hit a record high of $1.36 a pound this holiday season and that's almost 22 bucks for a 16-pound turkey.

Your sides, like potatoes and biscuits, and vegetables, and apples for your pie -- those are all up since last Thanksgiving. Three and 1/2 percent higher for potatoes, up nearly eight percent for those apples.

We're not talking maybe shortages here but you might want to be flexible with the menu. The National Grocers Association says there's plenty of food in the supply chain but customers should secure those must-haves sooner rather than later to make sure you have the favorites on your holiday table.

Ag economists are saying -- grocery store chains are saying you should be doing your shopping now.

Supplies of just about everything are stretched as consumers shake off their COVID wariness and spend money again. Retail labor shortages, higher shipping costs, and a buckled supply chain mean higher prices.

And driving over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house is going to cost about 38 percent more this year because of the surge in gas prices. The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.40.

Sticker shock, yes, but context here. The American Farm Bureau notes your Thanksgiving meal last year -- that was the cheapest in a decade because so many of us did not gather.

I've been looking at all the turkey --


ROMANS: -- talking turkey. There could be some shortages. And what I mean is everybody at the same time going out two days before Thanksgiving to buy a turkey. There could be some big turkeys. Maybe it won't be the size you want.

So plan now, honestly. Don't everybody be going out the door at the last minute.

JARRETT: But who's putting their turkey in the freezer?

ROMANS: I'm going to -- I am.

JARRETT: Are you, really?

ROMANS: I have been working on this story for two days. Look it -- Dean is, too. Go get your turkey today.

JARRETT: All right.

ROMANS: You're welcome, America.

JARRETT: You heard it here first.

ROMANS: We'll be right back.



JARRETT: All right. President Biden has just arrived at this COP26 climate summit. As we wait to hear from him let's bring in CNN chief climate correspondent Bill Weir. Bill, nice to have you again this morning as we wait to hear from the president.


JARRETT: The tone of day one was bleak to put it frankly. Listen to this and then I want to get your thoughts.


BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: It's one minute to midnight on that doom's day clock and we need to act now.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: We are digging our own graves.

EMMANUAL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): Too many of us make commitments here and then sign deals that do exactly the opposite.

PRINCE CHARLES: But we have to put ourselves on what might be called a war-like footing.

URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Put a price on carbon. Nature cannot pay that price anymore.

NARENDRA MODI, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA (through translator): By 2070, India will achieve the target of net-zero.

QUEEN ELIZABETH II: This is a duty I am especially happy to discharge as the impact of the environment on human progress was a subject close to the heart of my dear late husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.


JARRETT: So, Bill, India says they'll be net-zero by 2070. I guess that's great in 49 years from now, but will there be any progress that makes an immediate impact on the climate crisis happening right now?

WEIR: Well, that is a fantastic question. That's what we're hoping to figure out. The Paris accords -- it came down to the wire at the end of two weeks before the world came together and made bold -- you know, bold promises.

But even with those current predictions -- even if they stay on track to meet Paris, we would still hit around 2.7 degrees Celsius warming. And just for a perspective, at 1.5 we lost 70 percent of the world's coral reefs. At 2.0 we lose all of them. And three is unlivable. So, it is bleak -- the tone here -- because the situation is bleak

from the scientists. They've been screaming for years now about where we're headed.

But, big announcement today in terms of a super-pollutant that is 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. That is methane, better known as natural gas. You can't see it; you can't smell it.

But we have an infrared camera that shows you this stuff pumping out of the Permian oil basin in Texas. Enough of this natural gas leaks to heat seven million homes in Texas for a year. It's so cheap they just flare it. They burn it coming out of the pipe oftentimes.


So now, the Biden administration is announcing the EPA is going to crack down on that. They're going to try to force big oil companies to both monitor and fix, and repair, and capture all of that methane, which actually would make those companies money because it is a -- it is a fuel source.

The EPA estimates it would cut 41 million tons. That's as much as all the carbon dioxide emitted by all the cars in America a couple of years ago.

So if that sticks -- but the Supreme Court has just agreed to hear a case, really, that challenges the EPA's right to regulate greenhouse gases. So this will, of course, play out in Congress and the courts because we live in a giant, messy democracy.

ROMANS: It is a giant, messy democracy. But that's amazing -- that imagery of that methane and the infrared.

The former president pulled out -- the U.S. out of the Paris accord. The current one -- he's saying he's sorry -- listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I guess I shouldn't apologize, but I do apologize for the fact that the United States in the last administration pulled out of the Paris accords and put us sort of behind the eight ball a little bit.


ROMANS: Bill, what do you make of Biden calling out Trump at this climate summit?

WEIR: I think it was absolutely necessary. That's why he came here with all of his cabinet.

Because historically, the United States has put more sort of planet- cooking pollution into the sea and the sky than the next few nations combined. If you priced it out at $100 a ton for carbon capture, the total bill would be $50 trillion. I mean, that seems like a laughable number but that's where we are in terms of the gap between what the world expects to see the U.S. step up and clean up its own mess.

And so, yes, it was apologies and promises that they're going to quadruple their commitment to a fund that helps developing countries adapt and mitigate going forward. The rich countries promised $100 billion a year years ago. They've yet to pay that tab in any meaningful way, so you hear a lot of frustrations from the smaller countries.

And then this deal with the E.U. to help South Africa, specifically, get off of coal sends a message that the commitment is there.


WEIR: Now, of course, the big messy democracy reference coming back now is they're worried that this could waffle.


WEIR: President George W. Bush backed away from the Kyoto protocols --

ROMANS: That's right.

WEIR: -- many years ago. And then Trump, of course, pulled out of Paris. What happens if the White House swings Republican in a few years? That's the concern.

But they are also pressing the message that 60 percent of the U.S. economy -- big states like California, New Jersey are doing everything they can along the terms of the Paris accords. And that ultimately, the free market may not be moving fast enough to meet the demands of science.

But just as sort of the momentum of moving away from whale oil a century ago and moving away from horses and buggies into automobiles --


WEIR: -- the energy sector is going to get clean. It's just -- it's just the smartest business going forward.

So they're hopeful that momentum, both in the public and private sector, would survive any switch in the White House.

JARRETT: All right, Bill Weir. We'll have to leave it there. Chief climate correspondent. Thanks so much, Bill.

ROMANS: Thanks, Bill.

JARRETT: All right.

The NHL commissioner speaking out for the first time on a former player's allegations of sex abuse by a coach and his team's grossly negligent mishandling of the incident.

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


So, Gary Bettman telling reporters yesterday that he was horrified by the allegations made by former Chicago Blackhawks player Kyle Beach, and he offered an apology.

Beach came forward last week as the plaintiff in a civil lawsuit against the team that accuses former video coach Brad Aldrich of sexual assault in 2010. Beach, who was 20 at the time, said he reported it to Blackhawks management but they ignored it because the team was in the midst of winning a Stanley Cup.

Aldrich resigned from his position in June of 2010 in order to avoid an internal investigation. That's according to an independent report released last week.

In the aftermath, two high-level Blackhawks executives and the team's coach at the time have resigned their NHL positions.

Bettman said the league was not made aware of Beach's allegations in 2010 and that it wasn't until last Monday that he saw the investigation's findings.


GARY BETTMAN, COMMISSIONER, NHL: It was clear that what happened was inappropriate, it was wrong on every level, and it was not handled correctly by the Blackhawks organization. While it's certainly a horrible picture, we have to move forward the best we can doing the things that are right in terms of addressing either what's happened or how we move forward.



SCHOLES: Yes. And guys, Bettman also said that the NHL is going to review harassment policies and set up a network to help people at all levels of hockey to report abuse.

JARRETT: Yes, the commissioner seems to be putting it mildly there, at minimum.


JARRETT: All right, Andy. Thank you so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: All right, EARLY START is off tomorrow for election coverage. The stakes, of course, high in the Virginia governor's race and several mayoral races. Special live coverage starts tonight at 6:00 p.m. on CNN.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. We will see you Thursday. "NEW DAY" is next.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman alongside Brianna Keilar.

On this new day, Election Day in America. What to watch, where to watch, and why voters may be setting the tone for President Biden and the midterms.

Plus, Sen. Joe Manchin flexing his muscle as he threatens to blow off the Democrats' plan to pass two of the president's agenda items this week.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And the unfriendly skies -- they just keep getting unfriendlier. What happened this time on a Delta flight --