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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

NASA To Unveil Stunning Images From Webb Space Telescope Today; Yosemite Washburn Fire Spreads To 2,720 Acres, 22% Contained; Condoleezza Rice Becomes Part-Owner Of Denver Broncos. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 12, 2022 - 05:30   ET



SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is really another sign of Ukrainian escalation in this part of the country. They are trying to target Russian supply lines.

They are also having some success in taking back actual territory near to the city of Kherson -- one village only about 20 miles or so outside of Kherson as those front lines creep forward. And remember, Kherson is the place where the Russians have been in control there -- firmly in control since the early days of war. And they've really tried to integrate it into the Russian system since May, Erica.

People in this city have been able to apply for Russian citizenship. And, of course, the Russian ruble is also used as legal tender there.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, important to note as well.

Scott, appreciate it. Thank you.

Still to come here, the former secretary of state who is now part- owner of an NFL team.

And up next, our first-ever close-up look at faraway galaxies. What does it tell us? Is there life out there?



HILL: Get ready for a new view of the universe. A little bit later this morning, NASA will unveil the first collection of images from the James Webb Space Telescope that was launched last Christmas. The Webb Observatory is the most powerful telescope ever launched into space. It has the ability to peer more deeply into the universe and into its past than any before.

The president and vice president unveiled a preview image at a White House event yesterday. Take a look.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now we enter a new phase of scientific discovery. Building on the legacy of Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope allows us to see deeper into space than ever before and in stunning clarity.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These images are going to remind the world that America can do big things and remind the American people, especially our children, that there's nothing beyond our capacity.


HILL: Joining us now, Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York. It's great to have you with us this morning.

It's a really cool image but put it in perspective for us. What are we seeing there? Why is this preview image of what we're hoping to learn -- why is it so significant?

MICHIO KAKU, PROFESSOR OF THEORETICAL PHYSICS, CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK (via Skype): Well, even children ask the question -- mommy, daddy, where is the farthest star? Well, you're looking at a photograph now of some of the farthest stars that we can see with a space telescope 100 times more powerful than the aging Hubble Space Telescope.

This is spectacular. It's a time machine. The Webb Space Telescope allows us to peer back through time right after the big bang itself. Some of the stars in this picture date back 13 billion years into the past, giving us a whole new way of looking at the universe.

HILL: So, as we look back 13 billion years -- that's pretty far back -- what do we learn from that?

KAKU: Well, we begin to understand the expanding universe. The fact that about 13.8 billion years ago there was this cosmic explosion that gave birth to everything we see around us. So in other words, the Webb Space Telescope is a time machine, which gives us the life history of stars and the universe itself.

We can see photographs of stars being born --

HILL: Yes.

KAKU: -- stars aging, and stars eventually dying. And we see in some sense our own fate. We see our own fate when our solar system was just like the solar systems we see here.

And just remember that every dot -- every dot in this photograph is a galaxy -- a galaxy of maybe 100 billion stars. So many stars are you looking at, trillions.

HILL: Wow.

KAKU: Trillions of stars with trillions of planets. And to assume that we are the only intelligent species in the universe I think is an exaggeration. HILL: So as we think about that -- I love seeing the excitement on your face, by the way, as you're talking about all of this because it really gets me excited. I know this was just a preview photo as we mentioned. Those Webb photos coming later today.

What else do you expect that they will reveal and even perhaps confirm?

KAKU: Well, we expect to get photographs of exoplanets. Realize that we've discovered about 5,000 planets going around other stars but we very rarely ever have a photograph of them. The Webb Space Telescope is so powerful that it may be able to give us pictures of these distant planets and maybe even tell us whether they have an atmosphere, whether they have oxygen, or that they have oceans, and whether or not they have conditions that are compatible with life as we know it.

So this is a game changer. We're able to peer into domains that were forbidden to us because the Hubble Space Telescope was too blurry and not precise enough. But that's where the Webb Telescope comes in. It can see into the infrared range, which the Hubble Space Telescope could not. And so, it will fill many of the gaps left over from the Hubble Space Telescope.

HILL: It's pretty remarkable. A lot more to come today with those photos. We'll have to go through those with you as well, professor. Thanks for being here this morning.

KAKU: Um-hum, my pleasure.

HILL: Record heat baking the state of Texas and record power consumption to go along with it. It could mean rolling blackouts for the state. It's been 100 degrees in Dallas every day since July 3.

Meteorologist Gene Norman joining us now with the forecast. I mean, this map of dark red temperatures across the country, I feel like it keeps getting worse.

GENE NORMAN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Exactly right, Erica. You know, they say everything's bigger in Texas, including the heat waves.

San Antonio hit 107 yesterday, one of over a dozen places that had records. And 107, by the way, ties their hottest July day ever.


Another day of record heat is likely in Texas. The heat does extend up into Arkansas and stays into northwest Louisiana as well. Heat indexes there could be between 110 and 112 degrees. It will feel like 106 in Little Rock this afternoon. It will feel like 104 in Dallas. San Antonio again making another run for another record.

Further out west, more heat advisories for sections of Montana, Northern California, Nevada, and sections of Oregon, and an excessive heat warning in and around the Salt Lake City area. Elsewhere, a cold front pushing off to the east -- that will bring

some welcome relief in the way of storms. We're already starting to see some of them form already near St. Louis and just south of Kansas City. But they should be rumbling into the Big Apple later on today.

Before they get there, 90 degrees in New York City -- same temperature, ironically, as Portland. Down in Phoenix, 111 after hitting 115 yesterday. Chicago not looking too bad -- 87 degrees.

So, some folks getting some relief, Erica, but not in Texas.

HILL: Yes, definitely not, Gene. Appreciate it -- thank you.

Not a lot of relief in sight either for the Washburn Fire. This is one we've been following closely at Yosemite National Park. It's now burned over 2,700 acres and it's just 22% contained as of this morning.

It's the eastern portion of that fire causing the most concern. That is where those giant sequoia trees are.

CNN's Nick Watt has more.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 500 firefighters on the ground battling to save 500 ancient trees, setting controlled backfires destroying brush and dead wood that would be fuel for the flames. Also, support from the air.

A sprinkler system is now in place to protect Grizzly Giant, more than 200 feet tall and more than 2,000 years old.

We're trying to give it some preventive first aid, really, and make sure that when the fire -- if the fire comes over here that this tree is protected.

WATT (voice-over): These ancient trees are designed to survive fires. They've survived many in their time. But officials are fretting over the intensity of these blazes we're now seeing in the Sierra Nevada. Extreme drought and high temperatures are creating dry, flammable fuel.

This blaze more than doubled in size in just 24 hours over the weekend.

SCOTT GEDIMAN, CHIEF PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK: Right now, the fire is within, you know, about a -- you know, between a mile or two.

WATT (voice-over): The historic Wawona Hotel and the surrounding community now evacuated. The south entrance to the park is closed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's kind of hard right now. You feel afraid for the people in the town. I'm just heartbroken about the trees. WATT (voice-over): There is cautious optimism in this fight. Over the last few years, fire teams cleared the brush and fuel around Mariposa Grove -- that helps. So does the damage left behind by previous fire -- so-called burn scars that will hopefully slow the spread of this one and help save these trees that were here maybe a couple of thousand years before Columbus ever set foot in the Americas.

WATT (on camera): So these giant trees were basically built to withstand fire. In fact, they need it. They need the heat to pop their seed cones. But as our climate warms and changes, the concern is that these trees will not be able to withstand the much more intense blazes that we are seeing now here in California.

Good news? We do hear that the fire is now at least partially contained, so we hope -- we think that for now, at least, these giant sequoias are safe -- well, from this fire, anyways.

Nick Watt, CNN, just outside Yosemite National Park, California.


HILL: And our thanks to Nick there.

Just ahead on NEW DAY, the moment an avalanche almost buried a man alive. But first, the Emmy nominations coming your way in just a couple of hours. We have a look at the early favorites next.




Clip from HBO's Succession.


HILL: The nominees for the 74th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards set to be announced this morning. And with strong contenders in nearly every category, this year is expected to have some especially tight races for T.V.'s highest honor.

Lots of eyes on Succession, which swept the 2020 awards. Other shows with strong chances for a nod, Squid Game, Stranger Things, Ozark, and Better Call Saul.


Clip from Better Call Saul.


HILL: For best actor in a drama, the ongoing battle between Kendall and Logan Roy expected to continue at the Emmys, but both Jeremy Cox and Brian Cox likely to represent Succession.

It will also be the final chance for Emmy voters to reward Sterling K. Brown for his run on This Is Us.


Clip from NBC's This Is Us.


HILL: When it comes to best comedy, experts predicting possible nods for Abbott Elementary, Hacks, and Ted Lasso.


Clip from Ted Lasso.


HILL: Meeting up with the Diamond Dogs.

One of the fiercest competitions, as usual, expected to be best actress in a limited series or T.V. movie. Multiple Oscar winners expected to be pitted against each other. Among the contenders for a nomination, Viola Davis for The First Lady, Julia Garner for Inventing Anna, and Amanda Seyfried for The Dropout.


The nominations will be released at 10 -- 11:30, rather, eastern this morning.

And just hours from now, we are also keeping a close watch on what will be happening in Washington. A Capitol rioter who warned of a possible civil war set to testify in public, live, before the January 6 committee.

But first, Tiger Woods -- is he planning another dramatic return?



HILL: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice now a part-owner of the Denver Broncos. The team announced she officially joined the new ownership group on Monday. Rice joins the group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton and his family, which has agreed to purchase the Broncos for $4.65 billion. Unclear what her role will be in running the team.

Rice, of course, is the daughter of a football coach and, as we know, a big football fan.

Four unvaccinated Phillies players will not be headed to Canada for a series against the Blue Jays. That series starts tonight.

Carolyn Manno is here with this morning's Bleacher Report. So nice to see you, my friend.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, it's nice to see you, too.

You know, you can't require an athlete to take a shot, right, but you can certainly hit them with a shot in the wallet. And that's what we're seeing with a lot of athletes who refuse to get vaccinated.

Canada requires a COVID-19 vaccination for entry and players on the restricted list do not get paid. The Phillies put the players on that list yesterday and the group includes starting third baseman Alec Bohm and 3-time All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto -- excuse me -- whose decision to remain unvaccinated could have cost him more than $260,000.

He told reporters -- yes, it's a pretty big hit in the wallet. But he had COVID a few times with mild symptoms and he added that he doesn't have any regrets when it comes to passing on the vaccine.


J.T. REALMUTO, PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CATCHER: I'm a healthy 31-year- old professional athlete and I just didn't feel the need to get it. I wasn't going to take it just because I was told to, basically. What's money when -- I'm not going to let Canada tell me what I do and don't put in my body for a little bit of money. It's just not worth it.


MANNO: So, not a big price tag for him.

The 150th British Open tees off on Thursday at historic St. Andrews in Scotland. And if that's not exciting enough, the Major marking the return of Tiger Woods. You know, pain in the surgically repaired right leg forcing the 15-time Major winner to withdraw from the PGA Championship in May after just three rounds. He ended up skipping last month's U.S. Open in order to get geared up for this week.

Defending champ Collin Morikawa says he's excited to see the 46-year- old anytime he's on the course.


COLLIN MORIKAWA, 2021 BRITISH OPEN CHAMPION: He is such a competitor that that's what's awesome about him -- like, even though he's gone through everything he's gone through. And I know he's fighting. I talked to him a few months ago about everything he has to do just to walk every day. It's amazing and it just shows you how much grit and determination he wants to have to get back on top and to win another event, and I fully understand why.


MANNO: A lot of fans excited about that.

Just days after clinching a spot in next year's World Cup, the U.S. Women's National Team playing spoiler against Mexico last night. It looked like it was going to finish nil-nil, but in the 89th minute, America's Kristie Mewis fumbling the ball across the goal line for the game winner. That not only eliminates Mexico from the tournament, it also knocks them out of contention for a slot in the World Cup as well.

And I love this story, Erica. The Celtics earning their first Summer League win out in Vegas. Pretty exciting finish here. The team down by one and time running out against the Bucks. And that was Matt Ryan dribbling up the court and then throwing up that one-handed off-the- bounce bank shot. A really good play with less than a second remaining.

Unfortunately, he suffered a bit of an ankle injury in the process as you can see there. He says he's going to be fine.

But the bigger story here is his own journey to get to this point in his career with Boston, from delivery driver to his eventual destination on an NBA roster.


MATT RYAN, BOSTON CELTICS FORWARD: I don't know if you guys heard my story, but I was driving DoorDash a year ago. To be here and to be a part of the Boston Celtics is special -- it's special.


MANNO: You know we root for an underdog, Erica. We love this.

HILL: Oh, yes.

MANNO: And he's the 16th-17th man on the roster. He's a 2-way player for Boston who just -- he's one of these guys that spent hours in the gym alone, putting up threes. You know, had his whole entire career disrupted by COVID. And so, to maybe make the 15-man roster next year and to hit the game-winner in Summer League is just the best.

HILL: Those are --

MANNO: He was a DoorDash driver.

HILL: And with -- like, those are exactly the stories that we love and that we need more of --


HILL: -- especially now.

Thank you. It's such a treat to see you this morning.

Thanks to all of you for joining us today. I'm Erica Hill. Stay tuned -- NEW DAY starts right now.