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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Reeling From Surprise Losses, Democrats See Warning For 2022; Effort To Phase Out Fossil Fuels Gains Momentum At COP26; Pentagon: China Rapidly Expanding Its Nuclear Arsenal. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 04, 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 31 minutes past the hour this Thursday morning -- time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.

CNN projects a narrow win by almost one point for New Jersey's Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy against Republican Jack Ciattarelli. Murphy's slim margin of victory is raising some red flags for Democrats in what was recently considered a bright blue state. He's also the first Democratic governor to win reelection since 1977.

JARRETT: Ford is the first of the big three U.S. automakers to mandate COVID vaccines for workers in the United States. The company announcing a vaccine mandate for its 32,000 salaried U.S. employees effective December eighth.

ROMANS: The weather service is warning of a top 10 coastal flooding event in parts of the Carolinas today through Saturday. Higher than normal tides and a developing storm will drive the water level to eight feet -- major flood stage -- in Charleston. That's the highest level since Hurricane Irma in 2017.

JARRETT: It's the first known case of a drone targeting the power grid. A new bulletin from federal law enforcement says a drone that crashed near a Pennsylvania power substation last year was likely meant to damage or disrupt that equipment. Who was flying the drone, still a mystery.

ROMANS: Former Las Vegas Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs was driving 156 miles an hour just seconds before rear-ending another car, killing the driver. Prosecutors also say his alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit in Nevada. Ruggs, who was released by the Raiders, faces felony DUI charges.

JARRETT: A 9-year-old girl is being credited with saving her family from carbon monoxide poisoning. Jayline Barbosa Brandao found her parents incapacitated after they used a borrowed generator in their home. Jayline grabbed her father's phone to call 911 but saw that it was locked.


JAYLINE BARBOSA BRANDOA, 9-YEAR-OLD HERO: So, I unlocked it by using my dad's face.


JARRETT: Just incredible. The family, thankfully, survived thanks to her.

ROMANS: That's a smart little girl.

All right. Reeling from a serious blow in Virginia and what could have been a GOP victory in New Jersey, Democrats scrambling to address the quality-of-life issues that plagued their candidates. The party's setback showed voters clearly unhappy with the handling of the ongoing pandemic, they're angry about soaring prices and empty shelves at stores, and they're concerned about what they think -- what they think is happening in schools.

JARRETT: Headline after headline suggests Democrats are getting a wake-up call with a year to go before midterm elections that could cost them power in both chambers and hamstring President Biden even further.

Speaking about former Gov. Terry McAuliffe's loss in Virginia, an adviser to the president says Democrats need to do more than just run against former President Trump.

It's time for three questions in three minutes. Let's bring in CNN senior politics writer Zach Wolf.

ROMANS: Hi, Zach.

JARRETT: Zach, good morning.


JARRETT: So, there's no other way to put it. Tuesday was ugly for Democrats. A lot of soul searching, a lot of hand wringing happening, and a lot of finger-pointing.

But some immediate action was taken yesterday when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi I think surprised everyone and added paid leave back into the social spending bill. It was something that was overwhelmingly popular -- something that Democrats had caught a lot of heat for, for gutting.


What do you make of all this?

WOLF: Well, a couple of things. I think it does help them sort of transmit to voters that they are trying to do these sort of kitchen table things that clearly got people out to vote in Virginia and New Jersey. They're worried about their quality of life, how the economy is going -- things like that. Adding in paid family leave, I suppose, could address that perception out in the country that they're not doing much.

It also is a -- is a -- is part of a pressure campaign on one person, Joe Manchin, the senator from West Virginia, to get him to essentially change his mind about paid family leave. And I guess what they're thinking is that they satisfied progressives in the House by putting it back in and then send it back over to the Senate. And the Senate then -- Manchin has to insist on stripping it out. So, there's like a -- there's the kind of ugly Washington sausage-making aspect of it, too.

ROMANS: Let's talk about Virginia. Do you think it provided a blueprint for other Republican candidates who want to move away from Trump? I mean, Glenn Youngkin was not -- I mean, Trump supported him. He was careful about how he --


ROMANS: -- treated Trump. Or was Virginia unique, you think?

WOLF: You know, I was thinking about this a lot yesterday and the takeaway that I got from it is the Republicans win when they get rid of Trump. They embraced him in California and they lost.


WOLF: They got rid of him in Virginia and they won.

And I'm not talking about the deep south here. This is a place -- places where he's really strong and where he's a huge motivator. But when they're trying to win over moderate suburban voters -- the people who sway elections -- when they distance themselves from him, they do better.

Now, are Republicans going to learn that message or that lesson? Are they going to take that message? I think that's very much up in the air. But it certainly -- I think Glenn Youngkin distanced himself from Trump and won, and that is a very simple thing that Republicans could take away from this.

JARRETT: Zach, one of the other takeaways from your newsletter is that Tuesday shows the system -- this project that we call American democracy -- is actually working. Yet, the same day the Republicans shut down the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, something that's meant to actually help people exercise their rights, they're touting this election day wins at full volume. Not a peep about voter fraud. Apparently, voter fraud only happens when Democrats win.

In your mind does this just show it's all situational?

WOLF: I think it is all situational and certainly, Trump would probably be talking about fraud in wherever if they had lost. And let's see what happens in New Jersey now that -- now that Gov. Murphy has pulled ahead there. Will they -- will they gin up some election conspiracy. But I do think that the issue sort of gets back to convincing people. You win elections by convincing people, not by changing the rules -- and they did that in Virginia.

JARRETT: Yes. I mean, that's -- part of the problem is that you don't have to actually make it harder to vote; you could just do better.


JARRETT: You can just run a better campaign which, clearly, Youngkin did.

All right, Zach Wolf --

WOLF: He did (ph).

JARRETT: -- thanks so much -- appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right, another headwind for Democrats -- inflation, with Americans paying more for just about everything. The Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen says despite rising prices everywhere you look, inflation is nowhere near the spike of the 1970s.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: We did see in the 1970s a series of supply shocks became a longer-run problem -- a self-fulling prophecy, as you say. And that partly occurred because policymakers weren't trusted by the public to deal effectively with inflation. But I certainly see no evidence that that's the case now.


ROMANS: She is still sticking to that outlook that later next year these price rises will begin to cool off.

Despite her outlook, the pain is real right now for folks. Gas prices are up substantially since pandemic lows and are now at 7-year highs. And Bank of America predicts they'll keep rising. B of A expects the oil market that drives gas prices could spike by almost 50 percent by next June. Prices at the pump and concerns about inflation have contributed to a worsening view of the American economy.

JARRETT: And another blow to climate efforts. New data shows carbon pollution this year has bounced back to almost pre-pandemic levels. The amount of planet-heating gas released in 2020 fell by more than five percent as the pandemic forced countries to lock down -- more people at home.

The news comes during a historic climate summit in Scotland where the push to phase out fossil fuels is gaining momentum.

CNN's Phil Black is live in Edinburgh with more. Phil, good morning.



The British government is keen to show here today that it is making real progress convincing countries to give up burning coal for electricity. So, in its words, it says it's organized a coalition of 190 countries and organizations committing to phasing out coal-fired electricity and ending investments in new coal projects.

There are some obvious points here that critics point to -- notably, the big coal users aren't included, like the U.S. and China. And this does only cover coal; not the burning of other fossil fuels.

But the British government's point is that this sets the world on a path to a specific point in the future where coal will be a thing of the past. It believes that this is a momentous turning point taken together with other recent agreements dropped in the opening days of this conference, covering specific issues like deforestation, methane, low carbon steel. It all adds up to a guarded sense of optimism about what can be achieved here over the total 2-week period.

We know that these deals together will not add up to the ultimate goal, which is restricting global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, but analysts say it puts the world on a clear, irreversible path to a low-carbon future. The only question is how quickly can the world get there? Will it be fast enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change -- Laura.

JARRETT: Phil Black, thank you so much for your reporting.

ROMANS: All right.

Those backups at the world's busiest ports are hurting more than just your holiday shopping list. Look at this. NASA's Earth Observatory released maps showing the concentration of toxins over three weeks in October. Scientists say the data suggests those ships -- the increased number of ships at those ports at least partly to blame.

We'll be right back.



JARRETT: A camera crewmember who used to work on "Rust" before last month's tragic shooting says he's not buying the suggestion that there might have been sabotage on the film set.

The lawyers for Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the film's armorer who was supposed to be in charge of the weapons, says that she thought that she loaded dummy rounds into the gun and suggested those rounds may have been swapped out before Alec Baldwin fatally shot Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer on set.

But now, crew member Lane Luper told CNN's Chris Cuomo he does not believe that theory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LANE LUPER, FORMER A-CAMERA FIRST ASSISTANT, "RUST": If they have any evidence of that they should be talking to the sheriff and not morning television shows. It's dangerous and it's an irresponsible theory to put out on T.V.


JARRETT: Now, Luper, who you just saw there, resigned from the crew one day before the shooting, citing rushed and unsafe conditions. And CNN has learned a second "Rust" crew member also complained of safety concerns on the day before that fatal shooting.

ROMANS: No vaccination, no death benefit. A growing number of employers say if employees don't get the vaccine and then die of COVID, their families could be denied death benefits. The MTA in New York now the highest-profile employer to make this move. Employees who refuse vaccinations already face penalties from higher insurance premiums to losing their jobs.

JARRETT: The Pentagon sounding the alarm on China's nuclear program. In a new report, U.S. officials say China is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal in a bid to surpass U.S. global influence.

Selina Wang is live in Tokyo for us. Selina, China, moments ago, called the Pentagon report full of bias. Tell us more about this.

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, it's no surprise because China has repeatedly accused the U.S. of overhyping the threat posed by its military modernization program.

But Laura, what's really gotten Washington concerned about this Pentagon report is the claim in there that China intends to have at least 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030. That is a dramatic increase from the projections last year.

U.S. officials are also worried about the intent behind this buildup. China maintains this 'no first use' policy when it comes to nuclear weapons, but a senior U.S. official briefing reporters on this report said that China has suggested there are situations in which that would not apply.

And this, of course, comes on top of reports that China tested this hypersonic weapon over the summer and satellite imagery, that CNN has reported on, that shows three suspected silo fields in China where eventually, it could be capable of launching long-range nuclear missiles.

Another key claim from this report is how China's military modernization is deeply intertwined with its goal to match or surpass U.S. global influence and power by 2049.

Take a listen to how U.S. top general Mark Milley put it.


GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We're witnessing -- in my view, we're witnessing one of the largest shifts in global geostrategic power that the world has witnessed, and it only happens once in a while.


WANG: Experts say that part of Beijing's goal here is to deter the U.S. if Beijing decided to use force to take Taiwan. And it also says that if Beijing achieves its 2027 military modernization goals it would give it a large range of options when it comes to Taiwan. It could potentially launch an amphibious invasion or it could conduct a blockade.

But also, really important context here is that even with this expansion, as of now, Beijing still lags far behind the U.S. in terms of numbers. According to the Stockholm International Research Institute -- Peace Research Institute -- China has 350 nuclear warheads in its stockpile. Compare that to 3,750 for the U.S. and Russia's 4,630.

But Laura, China repeating here that the strategy is all just for defense.

JARRETT: Selina Wang, live in Tokyo for us. Thank you so much.

All right, now to this. An urgent directive from U.S. cyber officials warning federal agencies to immediately update systems that are vulnerable to hacking. The sweeping emergency order gives agencies two weeks to set up a process for mitigating the security problem.


The directive follows multiple warnings from U.S. cybersecurity officials that federal defenses are falling short; not keeping pace with cybercriminals and state-sponsored hackers.

ROMANS: All right, it's that time of the morning. Let's get a check on CNN Business this Thursday morning.

Looking at markets around the world, Asian shares closed higher -- a good day there. And Europe has opened up as well. On Wall Street, stock index futures are narrowly mixed here.

It was records -- record highs for stocks across the board again Wednesday, even after the Fed said it would start rolling back its pandemic stimulus. The Dow closed up 104 points. The Nasdaq finished one percent higher.

The big news from the Fed in line, it's time to taper and inflation is transitory. The Fed chief said the economy is strong enough for the Fed to scale back monthly asset purchases. Investors were ready for it and it's gradual. The Fed will still be buying billions of bonds for months to come. Interest rates still remain near zero for now.

JARRETT: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reportedly testing positive for COVID-19 after saying he was immunized.

Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report. Coy, this is a big deal.


The reigning NFL MVP will miss Sunday's game against the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes. And now there are new questions about whether Rodgers violated the league's protocols.

In August, Rodgers told reporters he was, quote, "immunized." But according to multiple reports, Rodgers is not vaccinated and he tested positive yesterday.

CNN has not been able to confirm Rodger's vaccination status and requests for a comment from the team and Rodgers' agent were not returned.

The NFL says it will conduct an investigation into whether Rodgers properly followed league protocols and whether he and -- or the team will be subject to any punishment.

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur declined to comment on Rodgers' vaccination status or whether he may have misled people.


MATT LAFLEUR, HEAD COACH, GREEN BAY PACKERS: You guys are trying to in a roundabout way trying to get me to answer whether or not the guy is vaccinated or unvaccinated, and I'm not going to -- I'm not going there. It's a great question for Aaron. I'm not going to comment on it.


WIRE: Rodgers has conducted weekly news conferences and postgame interviews in person and without wearing a mask. Under NFL protocols, unvaccinated players are subject to a $14,000 fine if they refuse to wear a mask or maintain social distancing at team facilities. Repeat violations can lead to a 4-game suspension.

The Hockey Hall of Fame says that it has removed former Chicago Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich's name from the Stanley Cup in the wake of the sexual assault investigation involving a former player. A spokesperson for the Hall of Fame told CNN that Aldrich's name has -- was exed out from the 2010 championship team engraving this past Sunday.

In a letter to the Hall, Blackhawks' owner Rocky Wirtz wrote, quote, "While nothing can undo what he did, leaving his name on the most prestigious trophy in sports seems profoundly wrong."

And the World Series champion Braves receiving a hero's welcome back in Atlanta last night. They won the trophy after beating those Astros in Houston. A parade to honor the team scheduled for tomorrow and schools in the metro area will be closed so kids can take part in the celebration.

It was a huge win for this city and for the sports fans here, Laura, on Tuesday when they won. You could hear fireworks going off. I was sitting in my living room watching and it was -- brought a smile to a former sports -- you know, Atlanta Falcon. Like, we've lost --

JARRETT: For sure.

WIRE: -- the Super Bowl. We've been craving some sort of success for this city and -- so yes, it was a good day.

JARRETT: You needed this, for sure. And I was all ready for you to troll Andy Scholes over that win but alas, we'll have to wait for something else.

WIRE: Oh, it will happen.

JARRETT: All right.

WIRE: It will happen.

JARRETT: Coy, thanks so much -- appreciate it.

WIRE: All right.

JARRETT: All right, "SEX AND THE CITY" fans, ever wonder what it would be like to live in Carrie Bradshaw's apartment? Airbnb is renting a version of Carrie's one-bedroom this month in Chelsea. The cost, just $23, though you do have to pay your own way to New York City.

Guests will be treated to a virtual greeting from Sarah Jessica Parker, herself. And even though this is just a recreated apartment, not the original, it comes complete with a closet full of shoes, a cordless landline -- one that looks like Carrie used -- and a laptop, of course.

It's all ahead of the premiere of HBO Max's new "SEX AND THE CITY" sequel "AND JUST LIKE THAT."

If they throw in some Manolo Blahniks, I might actually be interested in this.

ROMANS: I always thought that apartment was so great, but it was like -- not like any apartment. None of my friends --

JARRETT: Completely --

ROMANS: None of my friends ever had an apartment like that.

JARRETT: Completely not realistic. She was a writer. It never made any sense but I still liked it.

ROMANS: 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 Thursday, November fourth. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

Overnight, CNN projecting that Gov. Phil Murphy has won reelection in New Jersey. He is the first Democratic governor in the state to get reelected in more than 40 years. This was a huge relief for Democrats -- huge. But the race was much, much closer than anticipated, highlighting the new enormous challenges facing Democrats.