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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

State Courts Take Action On Abortion In Wake Of Roe V. Wade Ruling; NYT: TikTok Amplifies Misleading Information And Falsehoods; China Is Seeding Clouds To Counter Devastating Drought. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 18, 2022 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Courts in three states are making significant moves on abortion in the wake of the legal turbulence caused by the Supreme Court overturning Roe versus Wade.

The South Carolina Supreme Court temporarily blocking enforcement of the state's 6-week abortion ban. In North Carolina, a federal judge reinstated a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, excepting cases of medical emergencies. And in Florida, a judge denied a 16-year-old girl's request for an abortion without the consent of her legal guardian. The judge denied the girl a waiver, finding she had not established she was sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy.

Joining me to discuss, Caroline Kitchener, national political reporter for The Washington Post. And what struck me is that the judge found she wasn't mature enough to make a decision on abortion. How could she be mature enough to have a baby and to continue on as a parent?

I mean, how -- this is -- this is a very unique situation, obviously, but this is a young woman who is parentless, doesn't have a job, is still in school. Has said that the boyfriend or the father of the baby can't support her financially. She went at 10 weeks to get permission for this and at least now is in legal turmoil over it.

CAROLINE KITCHENER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST (via Webex by Cisco): Absolutely. I mean, the first thing to know is that these parental consent laws are not new to a post-Roe world. Thirty-six states have some kind of parental consent for minors.

What's really striking about this one is just the way that it's written as not sufficiently mature enough which, of course, leads to the question that you raised -- you know, how can you be sufficiently mature to raise a child if you're not sufficiently mature to have an abortion? So I think that has really -- has really ignited something in a -- in a lot of people who just don't understand how that could be the case.

ROMANS: Yes, it's just such a tragic -- it's just a tragic story all around.

You just got back from Tennessee where abortions are ending next week. Tell us about your reporting there. How are women there preparing for life without this option?

KITCHENER: What I saw in that clinic yesterday was really desperation. I met a woman from Louisiana who had gone all the way to Tennessee, a woman from Mississippi. They were all rushing to get in before the deadline -- before next week when abortion will no longer be legal there.


And one thing that was really striking was one of these patients -- she just came out in tears because she was, they told her, one day beyond the 6-week mark. Because Tennessee, like several other states, already has a restrictive 6-week ban in place, so she wasn't going to be able to get her abortion that day. And she was looking at that abortion map and thinking oh my God, you know, where do I go next?


We're now six weeks past the Dobbs decision. Tell us, I guess, what you've learned about this new reality for so many women across America. You talk about looking at a map and trying to figure out where am I going to go. How far am I going to have to go?

KITCHENER: I think what's really striking to me is just how fast everything is changing. You had these series of court cases, laws were blocked-unblocked, but now we're really very swiftly moving toward these vast, vast abortion deserts. Right now, it's 13 states where abortion is banned or mostly banned. And you have people like the women that I met from Mississippi, from Louisiana who are looking at 10-hour drives and just thinking to themselves there's no way.

And I think one thing that's really struck me is that these women are saying well, you know, I guess I might as well have the baby. They can't get the money together. They are not able to pay for a hotel. And they're thinking well, you know, I guess I'll just go through with it.

ROMANS: And that is, of course, exactly what abortion opponents wanted, right? They wanted to put up those barriers --

KITCHENER: Obviously.

ROMANS: -- so that -- to protect what they would say was the life of the child. So many of these states, though, have the least amount of support for women and children through education and other resources. That's sort of one of the sad ironies that there isn't really that safety net once you -- once -- you know, the life is created, the life -- the baby is born. Where is the -- where is the government response to help them? That's a piece of this still missing in so many of these states.

Caroline Kitchener of The Washington Post, thank you so much. Nice to see you this morning.

KITCHENER: Thanks for having me.

ROMANS: All right, Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens ordered by a federal judge to pay damages to two Ohio counties hit hard by the opioid crisis. The three companies must pay a combined $650 million over the next 15 years -- $306 million going to Lake County, $344 million going to Trumbull County. All three chains were found liable last November for their role in the opioid epidemic.

A potential anecdote to our devastating droughts -- seeding the clouds to make it rain. And how TikTok is fueling misinformation ahead of the midterm elections.



ROMANS: Drastic changes are coming to the CDC. Director-Dr. Rochelle Walensky acknowledged ongoing criticism that the agency fell short responding to the coronavirus pandemic. She now says the CDC will overhaul its operations to remake the culture and restore public trust.

The changes include internal staffing moves and steps to speed up data releases. After a one-month external review of the agency, the key recommendations include sharing scientific findings faster, making policy easier to understand, and prioritizing public health communications.

The fast-growing social media platform TikTok has become an incubator of false and misleading information. Researchers who track online misinformation telling The New York Times just ahead of the fall midterm elections, TikTok's algorithm is amplifying inaccurate claims about voter fraud, the way it previously fueled viral dance fads.

Let's bring in New York Times misinformation reporter Tiffany Hsu. Good morning. So nice to see you.

You've reported on misinformation -- the spread of it on TikTok from around the globe. Now, here -- it's here in the U.S. What are you seeing?

TIFFANY HSU, MISINFORMATION REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES (via Webex by Cisco): So, there's all sorts of misinformation on TikTok, like any other social platform. There's misinformation about COVID-19, about Uvalde, about gender and sexuality.

But ahead of the midterms, political misinformation is especially concerning. You've got hashtags like #stopthestealll with three l's, #r1ggedelection with a 1 instead of a "i." TikTok disables these hashtags but new ones pop up and they garner hundreds of thousands of views.

There are conspiracy theories about the January 6 hearings, about how there's an army of IRS agents who are going to kill middle-class taxpayers, about how monkeypox is a ploy to limit in-person voting. I mean, none of this is true.

But if you're a young person and you're just developing your political identity, you're a fan of an influencer who is pushing ideology who is sponsored and they're not being forced to disclose, you haven't been trained to fact-check the kind of like lateral read across the internet, how would you know any better?

ROMANS: Yes, and people are spending so much time on TikTok. I have three little kids. My middle son was actually showing me some TikTok videos about Kamala Harris that were completely untrue and manipulated just the other day, and that was -- you know, that kind of stuff. I mean, I don't understand the algorithm and why he even got that or that came into his particular feed, but it was -- it was -- it was alarming.

And I wonder how does TikTok address this misinformation problem? Because these are videos, right, so it's not like text. It's different -- it's a different -- the moderating must be -- must be different here.

HSU: I mean, it's difficult. And across the board, the researchers I've talked to said that TikTok is definitely trying to address the problem. They've removed hundreds of thousands of problematic election videos after 2020. They try to block the fake content.


They've partnered with several fact-checking organizations. They're shutting down problematic search terms. They're directing users to election information hubs.

The problems that researchers say it's just enough. The filters are too easy to get around.

Just like Facebook and Twitter, what these researchers are saying is that there's too much pressure at TikTok on human moderators. They're over-stressed. They're being forced to work long hours. They're often watching multiple videos at the same time, sometimes in languages that they don't even understand. TikTok has a live video feature that's incredibly difficult to moderate and filter.

They're not as open about their recommendation algorithm and the other inner-workings of the company as they probably could be to help research kind of figure out ways to better tamp down on this information.

ROMANS: You know, social media is just -- it's a minefield, you know -- the balance of free speech and moderating the troublesome or incorrect information. But TikTok is new because we didn't -- in 2018, 2020 -- I mean, this is going to be the first time I think in the U.S. this has been a factor in an election.

HSU: Yes. I mean, TikTok, to this day, likes to call itself an entertainment platform. It was known for attracting young people who went on to look at dance videos that went viral. There was definitely political content on the platform in 2020 but increasingly, as the audience kind of broadens in ages, there are people who are realizing that there's definitely an audience there who want to talk about elections, who want to talk about voting.

But even now, TikTok is not a great place for an actual politician, for example. Like, Beto O'Rourke has something like 300,000 followers on there but he's not the most popular Beto. It's a -- that's a Mexican social influencer who has like seven million views.

So, a lot of people are getting their political information on TikTok through influencers. They're not required -- or they're not forced to disclose whether or not they are being paid. It's just -- it's difficult to prove that they are.

ROMANS: And the -- oh my God. And the videos are so short and, like, addictive, right? I mean, it just -- the amount of time people spend on this is like mind-boggling.

Tiffany, thank you so much, from The New York Times. Nice to see you. Thanks so much for dropping by.

HSU: Yes.

ROMANS: All right.

A wardrobe malfunction cut short NASA's most recent space endeavor. Two Russian cosmonauts were working on a robotic arm on the International Space Station Wednesday. Because of a problem with the battery pack on one of their space suits they were ordered to drop everything and urgently return to the ISS airlock.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The two cosmonauts, before the decision was made to terminate the spacewalk early, had completed the installation of cameras.


ROMANS: Both cosmonauts were wearing Russian-made Orlan space suits.

We are now just hours away from a high-stakes hearing on the Mar-a- Lago search warrant. Will key evidence be kept secret? And could LeBron James, one day, play beside his son?



ROMANS: All right.

Chinese scientists are using what could be the ultimate silver bullet to try to solve a dangerous drought. They're seeding the clouds to make it rain.

CNN's Kristi Lu Stout live in Hong Kong. Kristi, how does cloud seeding work? KRISTI LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine, it's really interesting. You've got officials in Hubei province who are resorting to cloud seeding to literally make it rain in this desperate attempt to mitigate the effects of this huge heat wave that is baking China right now. And it involves shooting pellets of these silver iodide particles into the clouds to basically induce rainfall.

And this is something that China has been doing for years now, since the 1940s. Also, it did it to clear the airs above the Beijing Olympic Games back in 2008.

And Chinese officials -- they're also using other measures to manage the effects of the record-breaking heat wave. For example, they are shutting down factories. Factories have been suspended for a week in the city of Chongqing. They've also been suspended in the province of Sichuan. And that also involves factories being run by Apple, by Intel, and by Foxconn as well.

For over two months now, China has been battling this record-breaking heat wave. It's issued this red alert warning to over 138 cities and counties across the country, and that is basically warning them that temperatures will soar as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius.

It was just yesterday when Chinese authorities issued this warning. I'll bring it up for you. They said that this is going to be just the worst heat wave on record since the 1960s. They said this, quote, "The heat wave this time is prolonged, wide in scope, and strong in extremity. Taken all signs together, the heat wave in China will continue and its intensity will increase."

Now, I do want to add that China has warned that it is particularly vulnerable. Its temperatures are rising faster compared to the rest of the world. In this earlier statement that was issued by the vice director of China's National Climate Center, they said, "In the future, the increase in regional average temperatures in China will be significantly higher than the world."

So, China, in particular, is feeling, right now, the devastating effects of climate change. Christine, need we be reminded that it was China who cut off climate talks with the United States in protest of the U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's controversial trip --


STOUT: -- to Taiwan a few weeks ago -- yes.

ROMANS: Certainly, human environmental factors but also this -- you know, China is the factory floor to the world. We'll have to watch for power cuts and factory disruptions because of the heat. So it's something that is felt all around the world.


Kristi Lu Stout, thank you.

STOUT: Big time.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

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

Looking at markets around the world, Asian shares closed lower. Europe has opened flat to higher. And on Wall Street, stock index futures this morning also leaning a little bit higher here.

Retail spending held steady in July but it wasn't quite enough to boost stocks. All three major averages falling. The Dow snapped its 5- day winning streak.

Minutes from the Fed's July meeting shows officials are expecting more interest rate hikes to tame inflation.

Jobless claim numbers are due out later this morning.

The mighty American consumer, though, is holding up in face of -- in the face of months of inflation. July's retail sales headline was flat, but behind that headline evidence the consumer is using savings from lower gas prices to keep spending and making smart decisions.

This is economist Chris Rupkey. He says Americans have paychecks and are still spending them, and maybe holding a -- holding a little back for more cars to come to the dealer lot -- from dealer lots.

From Ian Shepherdson, "In one line, if you're looking for recession, you won't find it here."

The National Retail Federation says consumers are shifting toward the necessities but they are still spending.

And overnight, by the way, gas prices fell again another penny to $3.93 a gallon. That's 64-65 days in a row now of falling gas prices.

All right, some encouraging news for the Little League Baseball player who fell out of his bunk bed, remember, at the World Series.

Coy Wire has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. How is he, Coy?


Twelve-year-old Easton Oliverson is looking pretty good. He was days away from realizing his dream of playing in the Little League World Series when he fell out of his bunk bed in the dorm early Monday morning. Easton's family saying that if he didn't have brain surgery right away he could have died.

Well, they say Easton's progress has brought them tears of joy, posting on Instagram that he's no longer sedated, asking for water. He's been waving to his parents, mouthing the words "I love you."

Oliverson's teammates from Utah wearing "Team Easton" wristbands as all 20 teams paraded into Williamsport stadium yesterday.

Easton also getting love from his favorite player, L.A. Dodgers star Mookie Betts. Here he is.


MOOKIE BETTS, LOS ANGELES DODGERS OUTFIELDER: Hey, Easton, it's Mookie Betts. I just want you to know that we are praying for you and thinking of you, and I hope to see you soon, my man.


WIRE: The league has removed all bunk beds from the dorms. Officials say they didn't have safety rails.

Easton's Snow Canyon squad play their first game tomorrow. They're the first team from Utah to ever make the Little League World Series.

And WNBA Playoffs tipping off last night, starting with a bang. Defending champion Chicago Sky seeing their 6-point lead slip away late to 7-seed New York, thanks to their superstar Sabrina Ionescu muscling her way, leading the way with a game-high 22. And the team rallies around her. Look at this no-look pass from Marine Johannes to Natasha Howard -- nasty.

Don't look now but the Liberty go on a 13-point run to end the game. The Liberty win their first playoff game since 2015, 98-91. Game two of the best-of-three series is Saturday in Chicago.


SABRINA IONESCU, NEW YORK LIBERTY GUARD: Why not us? Everyone counted us out. Everyone didn't think we'd even make it to the playoffs. I think we had a 20 percent chance of getting in and we all used that as fuel to the fire. And why not us? We believe in ourselves.


WIRE: Top-seeded Vegas facing 8-seed Phoenix who are making the playoffs without 8-time All-Star Brittney Griner still detained in a Russian prison, and without superstar Taurasi and Skyler Diggins-Smith last night as well.

It was close for three quarters but the Aces were dealing. Kelsey Plum scoring a game-high 22. Chelsea Gray scoring nine of her 17 in the fourth.

New Vegas coach Becky Hammon, following an 8-year run in the NBA as a San Antonio Spurs assistant, getting her first WNBA Playoff win, 79- 63.

Finally, the Mets calling up prize prospect Brett Baty, and on the very first swing of his MLB career, the 22-year-old cranking a 2-run homer. It's a crucial NL East showdown against the defending champion Braves. His whole family flew in from Texas to see it. Dad ended up crying at some point.

The Mets are winning 9-7. He was -- he was supposed to make his debut Tuesday, Christine, but

missed his flight. Yesterday, he caught a flight and a memory to last a lifetime.

ROMANS: That's so awesome. I always think how much time have those parents spent watching their kid play ball? What a great moment.

WIRE: All those years.

ROMANS: All of that payoff -- wow.

All right, thanks for joining us. Thanks, Coy. I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" starts right now.