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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

NYT: Houston Police Chief Warned Travis Scott About Crowd Concerns As Music Festival Kills Eight; U.S. Reopening to Vaccinated International Travelers; Court Blocks Biden Vaccines Mandate. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired November 08, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: A deadly stampede at a concert in Houston, now a criminal investigation. And a new report that rapper Travis Scott was warned about crowd control.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: For the first time in almost two years, the United States open to international travelers. Vaccinations required.

JARRETT: And the White House is standing by a vaccine mandate for up to 100 million workers after a federal court put it on hold. Hello there, everyone, It is Monday, November 8th, it's 5:00 a.m. here in New York, thanks so much for getting an early start with us, I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, we have reports this morning from Houston, London, Delaware and Istanbul. And we begin overnight though with breaking news in that tragic stampede that killed eight people at a concert in Texas. "The New York Times" reports the Houston police chief visited rapper Travis Scott in his trailer before the show to discuss concerns about the crowd, fearing that thousands of devoted fans might be difficult to control. A source tells the "Times", the chief told Scott, he was worried.

JARRETT: Yes, that's right, they actually know each other personally. And a criminal investigation is now underway, 50,000 people including a scores of young fans were there Friday excited for live music again after the event was canceled last year during the pandemic, of course. Then within 15 minutes of the rapper starting his set, the crowd began to crush towards the front of the stage.


REESE BLUDAU, EYEWITNESS, ASTROWORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL: Once Travis Scott came out, about 45 minutes before his set is when I knew things were getting a little bit edgier, I mean, it was definitely getting pretty tight. And I knew anyone who was a smaller person was going to be definitely struggling to breathe and just maintain their space.

It was definitely chaos. In about midway through is when I really started to notice some circles forming, giving CPR erratically. And I saw a lot of distraught faces and it was definitely a very scary time.


JARRETT: Now, it's not clear what Travis Scott could actually see from the stage or whether he was even aware of the tragedy unfolding before him. Reports suggest at times though, he paused during the concert seeming to acknowledge that something was off, like when the ambulance showed up. He continued though to perform for nearly 40 minutes after the first reports of injuries. This plus crowd control problems at the same event back in 2019 have the rapper under intense scrutiny this morning.

ROMANS: All right, the first lawsuit has already been filed by a concert goer. It claims Travis Scott, Live Nation, concert promoters Score More an others failed to properly plan and conduct their concert in a safe manner. Rosa Flores has more for us from Houston.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, Christine, this is a concert crowd stampede or crowd compression that is now a criminal investigation. This after the Houston Police Department announced that a security officer on scene felt a prick in his neck. He went unconscious. He was administered Narcan and he was revived. Now, he's not the only one who was administered Narcan at the scene.

Now as for the time line, according to authorities on Friday at about 9:15, the crowd started to compress towards the stage. Well, by 9:38, authorities say that this had turned into a mass casualty event with one officer describing the scene as seeing multiple people on the ground needing medical attention, some of them in cardiac arrest.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When Travis actually performed, everyone was pushing to the front, you had no room to walk, someone as tiny as me, and I'm 5'2", 6 foot tall people like in front of me, like they will not let me through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never seen nothing like this before. Never, ever. It was one of the craziest experiences of my life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've always been towards the front towards a concert, and, yes, it gets tight, but I've never ever been feeling like I'm going to pass out. I never saw people collapsing. I definitely never saw anybody die.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gearing the ages now, 14 to 27 and two of them being 21 and myself being 21, I just feel immense sadness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It could have been me, it could have been anyone that we were with, and it could have been someone that was close to us, and especially that young of an age, like how could that even happen?


FLORES: Other individuals saying that they were more towards the back. They left not even realizing that this had turned into a tragedy. Now Live Nation, the Astroworld Festival and Travis Scott issuing statements, saying that they are heartbroken and that they are cooperating with the authorities. Take a listen.


TRAVIS SCOTT, AMERICAN RAPPER: My fans really mean the world to me, and I always just really want to leave them with a positive experience.


And any time I can make out, you know, anything that's going on, you know, I'd stop the show and, you know, help them get the help they need, you know? I could just never imagine the severity of the situation.


FLORES: Eight people died between the ages of 14 and 27. Here are some of their names, 21-year-old Franco Patino, 27-year-old Danish Baig, 16-year-old Brianna Rodriguez and John Hilgert; he was a 9th grader at Memorial High School here in Houston. Now, this investigation continues as all of the families of those who have died will want answers. Laura, Christine?

JARRETT: Rosa Flores, thank you so much for that. This morning, a big step in the pandemic recovery. The United States is reopening its borders to fully-vaccinated international travelers after 20 months. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is live in London with the very latest. Salma, a lot of happy travelers this morning.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Laura, a very welcome news here. As you said that it's been almost a year and a half since non- Americans could travel to the United States from the EU and the U.K. All of that now changing as long as you are fully vaccinated, you can show that proof of vaccination. World Health Organization approved vaccines of course, and all passengers must have a negative COVID test taken within three days of departure.

But again, this is such a welcome step and it finally gives that reciprocity that European and British officials were looking forward to. Remember, the EU recommended American travelers to come back to the EU. From June, the U.K. has been accepting American travelers since July, so officials here have really been pushing for the resumption of that Trans-Atlantic relationship through travel. And we're hearing from airliners that they are expecting a huge surge.

Delta already telling people to be patient, there could be long lines. United Airlines saying they could see 50 percent more travelers to the U.S., Virgin Atlantic predicting six times as many travelers, so long queues here, but potentially also, there are some concerns, Laura. This is a period in time in which we're seeing a surge of cases across the European region. The World Health Organization has warned that the European region could be the epicenter of the COVID pandemic. This Winter, see as many as half a million deaths due to the virus.

Germany recording some of the highest infection rates that country has seen today. So, a lot of concern about the rise in coronavirus numbers, but again, U.S. travelers, officials across both sides of the Atlantic emphasizing that as long as you have that vaccination status, you're keeping up with all of these restrictions and requirements, this is a virus that we can live with and begin to see families reunite, friends reunite and businesses resume, Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Salma Abdelaziz live in London for us this morning, thank you.

ROMANS: So, a federal appeals court temporarily blocking the Biden administration's vaccine mandate for private employers. Twenty seven states are suing, claiming the new rule is unconstitutional. CNN's Jasmine Wright traveling with the president in Delaware. Good morning Jasmine, nice to see you. The White House not backing down here, saying that these vaccine mandates are the right thing even as states are challenging them.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: You put it perfectly, Christine. The White House is not backing down. And administration officials yesterday took to the Sunday shows taking turns to really defend the rule that applies to private companies with 100 employers or more. Health care workers and certain federal contractors. Remember, the rule states that these folks who fit into the categories either must be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

And over the course of the last few months, since the White House has been really embracing these voluntary mandates, they and the president himself has touted the success they've seen, calling it another tool in their toolkit and trying to get this pandemic under control. They have seen vaccine levels among the private sector rise after putting these voluntary mandates in place. So, they do not want to lose this progress. So, yesterday on "NBC", Chief of Staff Ron Klain said that he was confident that the courts would uphold this rule. Take a listen.


RON KLAIN, CHIEF OF STAFF, WHITE HOUSE: These vaccine requirements have been litigated up and down the courts all over the country. State requirements for example won in Maine, and every single court before this one ruled that they were valid.

VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: The president, the administration wouldn't have put these requirements in place if they didn't think that they were appropriate and necessary, and the administration is certainly prepared to defend them.


WRIGHT: So, Laura, as we heard Murthy said, that, that defense that they're going to start mounting, that starts today as a court gave them until 5:00 p.m. today on Monday to respond. But two things I want to note for you is that, first, the court did not specify whether this was a national stay or whether it's just a plot to those who joined the lawsuit. Meaning that the implications of this case could be profound.


And second, the administration announced that this would take effect on January 4th, but as we all know that there is a buffer time between when you actually get the shots and when you are considered fully- vaccinated. And the amount depends on which vaccine you get. So, time here is not unlimited, but yesterday, Chief of Staff said that he thought that this would be really litigated, well litigated before that January deadline, before it took effect as they hope to kind of get this thing under wraps, get their -- get their arguments in so they can get back to this case and get back to really focusing on how to get the country past the pandemic. Christine --

ROMANS: Yes, and certainly --

WRIGHT: And Laura?

ROMANS: Good news over the weekend, and last week on the economy, you know, they definitely want to get people vaccinated so the economy can really fully get back to normal. Nice to see you, thank you, Jasmine.

JARRETT: Right now, to this story, first on CNN. Defense, health care, education, energy and technology industries all successfully breached by suspected foreign hackers. According to security data shared exclusively with CNN, at least one of those organizations is in the United States. A specific hacker has not been identified here, but the tactics are similar to a suspected Chinese hacking group. The NSA is helping cyber security researchers expose efforts to steal data from sensitive targets just last week. U.S. cyber officials issued sweeping directives for federal agencies to update their security systems.

ROMANS: All right, 11 minutes past the hour this Monday morning. A new approach to war, adversaries using drones to target their enemies. The Iraqi prime minister narrowly survives an attempt on his life.



JARRETT: Welcome back. Iraq's prime minister vowing now to pursue those behind an assassination attempt. Mustafa Al-Kadhimi survived an attack Sunday by drones armed with bombs targeting his Baghdad residence. Let's bring in CNN's Jomana Karadsheh. Jomana, what's the latest here?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, this is one of the most brazen attacks we have ever seen, targeting an Iraqi official. According to the security services in the country, they say at least two drones laden with explosives targeted the residence of the Iraqi Prime Minister early hours on Sunday. The Iraqi government says their forces shot down one of those drones, but a second one struck the residence of the prime minister. He was returning to his home at that point. We've seen images of

substantial damage really, at least, seven members of his security detail were injured. The prime minister escaped unharmed, and as you mentioned, he vowed to bring to justice those who are responsible for the attack, it's unclear how he's going to do that. No one has claimed responsibility for this attack. But the use of drones in these sort of attacks as we have seen in the past and recently, this has always been blamed on these Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq.

They have targeted the green zone in the past, they have targeted U.S. bases in Iraq and in Syria. We have seen statements on Sunday coming from these different Iranian-backed Shia militia groups in Iraq denying any responsibility here and claiming that this was some sort of a foreign plot to implicate them. The Iraqi government says he is investigating the incident, but to put it all into context of what has been going on in Iraq, tensions have been rising for weeks now since the October 10th elections there.

The parties that are representing these Iranian-backed groups performed really badly in the elections. They ended up losing a lot of the seats they had in the previous parliament, they've refused to accept the results of the elections. They've claimed that there was fraud, their supporters have been protesting in Baghdad for weeks now. And on Friday, we saw these protests turn violent as they tried to storm the green zone, clashed with security forces, at least, one protestor was killed.

Militia leaders, the Iranian-backed groups blamed the Iraqi government and the prime minister and they vowed revenge. You know, the government, Laura, has really tried to avoid confrontation with these groups in the past. I mean, at this point, it's going to be a very critical moment for them. They're going to have to deal with this especially with Iraq's democracy here and its constitutional process at stake.

JARRETT: Jomana, thank you for staying on top of this one for us.

ROMANS: All right, commitments at the historic Climate Summit in Glasgow may be too late for parts of Europe that washed away this Summer. CNN is going to take you there ahead.



ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN business this Monday morning. Looking at markets around the world, you can see Asian shares have closed the day mixed here, Europe is open, very narrowly mixed, and the Wall Street stock index futures also mixed. Look, the stock market this week begins at record highs, you can credit that very strong jobs data on Friday. And this important news from Pfizer of a COVID pill. The Dow closed up 203 points, the S&P 500, the Nasdaq also record highs there. The Nasdaq is on a ten-day winning streak.

A welcome sign in the economic recovery, hiring roaring back in October. Companies added back another 531,000 jobs, and look at this, even that Summer lull in hiring because the Delta variant was not as bad as feared. Look at those revisions here. The government revised higher August and September jobs growth, you add those revisions with the October picture, it's something like 700, almost 800,000 new jobs.

It adds to the picture of a booming American economy bouncing back from the pandemic crash. And better news may be ahead, believe it or not. Economists are Moody's and Pantheon Economics expect a million new jobs a month in the months ahead. Key to pulling in workers off the sidelines, wages are rising. They're up almost 5 percent. Key information comes this week on inflation, that's the other important side of the strong economy story.

American Airlines offering flight attendants as much as triple pay during the holidays to avoid mass cancellation. The extra incentive is for flight attendants with perfect attendance through early January. Americans offer coming just days after the airline had to cancel, remember, hundreds of flights, many of them tied to flight attendants staffing shortages.

JARRETT: Still ahead, a strong inflation and COVID exhaustion --

ROMANS: That's right --

JARRETT: As we talk about every day. Taking the focus off a growing economy. How the psychological effect is shifting public sentiment.



ROMANS: Good morning everybody, this is EARLY START, it's Monday, I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett, it's about 29 minutes past the hour here in New York, and it's time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.


BLUDAU: Don't let anybody fall because once somebody falls, it's very hard to get them back up.


JARRETT: Houston police opening a criminal investigation into Friday night's deadly stampede at the Astroworld Music Festival. "The New York Times" reports the Houston police chief visited rapper Travis Scott to warn him about concerns with the crowd before eight people were killed.