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Coup Supporters Rally On Niger's Independence Day; U.S. Sailors Arrested For Sending China Sensitive Information; Woman Sues Ozempic and Mounjaro For Failing To Warn About Stomach Issues. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 04, 2023 - 05:30   ET




AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: The political crisis in West Africa's Niger is intensifying this morning. Pro-military supporters turned out in force for the country's Independence Day on Thursday protesting the recent sanctions against their country. The regional and international pressure has increased against coup leaders pushing for a return to democracy.

CNN's Stephanie Busari joining us now from Lagos, Nigeria. Hi, Stephanie.

You know, we're also finally hearing from the ousted president. In a Washington Post op-ed he says, quote, "If this coup succeeds it will have devastating consequences for the country and the entire world."

Bring us up to speed on the latest, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN AFRICA SENIOR EDITOR: Amara, a crucial deadline is looming this weekend.

The regional body here known as the ECOWAS has given the nation's military ruler until Sunday to reinstate President Bazoum or else they have threatened military action. And there's a very real threat that could go ahead as latest attempts at diplomacy have failed in the past hour. A delegate -- a delegation that ECOWAS sent to Niger has returned -- has left the country, we're hearing, without even seeing the military ruler. So it's looking very likely that troops will be deployed to Niger on Sunday when this deadline expires.

And what people are saying here -- what people are telling me is that ECOWAS does not want to be seen as weak. They want to show that they are going to be very tough against coup leaders and people who oust democratically-elected rulers.

Don't forget, Niger is bordered by Mali and Burkina Faso, just two of five countries who have also pushed out -- taken over power by force.

And so, this is a very fragile region. There are real fears here that a region that's already beset by extremism from al Qaeda, from ISIS, from Boko Harem will now face a very real prospect of combat in this country. And Mali and Burkina Faso have already said that if this military action happens it will be a declaration of war, Amara.

WALKER: Very concerning and precarious situation there. Stephanie Busari, thank you.

Turning now to Lebanon where it is a day of nationwide mourning as thousands gather to pay respects and remember those killed in 2020 after a massive explosion rocked Beirut's port. Two hundred-twenty people died on that day and more than 6,500 people were injured. Officials said it was caused by a fire in a warehouse that had stockpiled volatile ammonium nitrate.

CNN's Tamara Qiblawi joining us now from London. Hi, there, Tamara. It's now three years later. Where does the investigation stand?

TAMARA QIBLAWI, CNN SENIOR MIDDLE EAST PRODUCER: Well, in short, Amara, the investigation is frozen. Three years on, the people of Lebanon have no answers -- no closure about the blast that laid waste to large parts of the Lebanese capital. Now, for the third year, people are pouring into the streets demanding answers and demanding justice, and also protesting a stunning obstruction of justice that has happened in Lebanon.

There is a frozen, as I said, investigation that has prosecuted several members of the Lebanese political elite. The Lebanese political elite, in turn, has filed many petitions to freeze this investigation and they have largely succeeded in that. However, the Lebanese protesters and the relatives of the deceased have not given up. Instead, the conversation today is about taking the pursuit of justice elsewhere.


There is a demand overwhelmingly from leading lawyers, from leading civil society groups for a U.N. fact-finding mission. There have been no steps in that direction and at the moment, as it stands, we are none the wiser.

WALKER: Yes, frustrating to say the least. Tamara, thank you for your reporting.

Quick hits now around the globe right now.

At least 14 people are injured in South Korea after a man drove his car into pedestrians, then went on a stabbing spree near a Seoul subway station. Police say the suspect is in custody.

Saudi Arabia extending cuts to oil production for another month as U.S. gas hits a nine-month high -- a move that threatens to drive prices up even further. This comes as the Biden administration tries to tame inflation.

The U.S. military is deciding whether to put armed troops on commercial ships in the Strait of Hormuz in a bid to stop Iranian seizures, but experts say it can also escalate tensions.

Just ahead, a grand jury in Georgia will consider another Trump indictment even as his legal cases pile up. And hashtag #darknessretreat. Why Aaron Rodgers went viral during lights out in Canton, Ohio.



WALKER: Here is today's fast-forward lookahead.

Today, the Fulton County, Georgia grand jury that will consider whether to charge Donald Trump meets a few hours from now. Roads will be closed around the courthouse starting Monday in preparation for a decision.

The July jobs report comes out today. Economists expect 200,000 jobs added and unemployment holding steady as the economy shows resilience despite rapidly rising interest rates.

And the WNBA's all-time leading scorer reaches another milestone in her amazing career.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hi, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Hey, Amara. Good morning to you.

So, Diana Taurasi -- I mean, what else can you say? She's just amazing. Forty-one years old in her 19th season, but she's still out there just dominating.

Last night, Taurasi, yet another milestone becoming the first WNBA player ever to reach 10,000 career points. How incredible is that feat? Well, no other WNBA player even has 7,500 points. Taurasi -- a big night, scoring 42 -- the first 40-point game for her since 2010.

The Mercury would beat the Dream easily 91-71.

Here is Taurasi after her big night.


DIANA TAURASI, WNBA ALL-TIME LEADING SCORER: When you do something you love and you obsess with it, you just always want to push the limits, and sometimes pushing the limits have gotten me in trouble. But I just love the game. I just put everything into it. And to have a night like this in front of our fans and people that I've known for a long time that have really helped me get here, it couldn't have been any better.


SCHOLES: All right. Elsewhere, the college football realignment news continues to not be good for the Pac-12. According to multiple reports, Arizona is expected to soon announce a move to the Big 12. The Wildcats would be the second Pac-12 school to announce its departure for the Big 12 in a week, joining Colorado. And with USC and UCLA going to the Big 10, that leaves the Pac-12 with just eight schools. The news gets even worse for the conference as the Big 10 also has

started to explore adding Oregon and Washington.

All right, to baseball where Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani pitched four shutout innings against the Mariners last night before finger cramps forced him off the mound. But he stayed in the game as a designated hitter and delivered in the eighth inning a Major League- leading 40th home run of the season. Ohtani -- he still has a chance to threaten the American League season single home run record of 62, but he's slightly behind Aaron Judge's pace.

In the end, though, Ohtani's homer went to waste after Seattle's Cade Marlowe launched a grand slam in the ninth inning to win that game for Seattle 5-3.

All right. And finally, football is officially back. The NFL preseason kicking off with the Browns and the Jets in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio. And as the teams were getting ready for the fourth quarter the lights on one side of the stadium completely went out, leaving Aaron Rodgers there in the dark. So instead of the quarterback's four-day darkness retreat this delay only lasted about 20 minutes.

The Jets then go on to lose that one 21-16. Funny seeing Aaron Rodgers there in the dark.

But, Amara, good to have football back. We now have football every single week until February.

WALKER: And a lot of people excited, including you, my friend. Andy, thank you very much.

SCHOLES: All right.

WALKER: All right.

Coming up on CNN, what's next for former President Trump after this arrest in a third criminal case? And next, right here, two U.S. Navy sailors arrested and accused of sharing sensitive information with China.



WALKER: Two U.S. Navy sailors have been arrested, accused of sending sensitive U.S. military information to Chinese intelligence officers.

CNN's Jenn Sullivan has more.


JENN SULLIVAN, CNN JOURNALIST (voice-over): A serious breach of national security. That's how federal officials are describing alleged espionage by two U.S. Navy sailors. MATTHEW OLSEN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT'S

NATIONAL SECURITY DIVISION: We stand ready to hold accountable those who would betray the public trust.

SULLIVAN (voice-over): Twenty-two-year-old Jinchao Wei and 26-year-old Wenheng Zhao are accused of passing along national defense information to Chinese intelligence in exchange for money.

RANDY GROSSMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA: When a soldier or sailor chooses cash over country and hands over national defense information in an ultimate act of betrayal, we have to be ready to act.

SULLIVAN (voice-over): Speaking at a press conference Thursday in San Diego, federal officials outlined details about the charges. Wei, who became a U.S. citizen in 2022, is alleged to have sent documents, photos, videos, and technical manuals to China. And Zhao was accused of providing sensitive U.S. military information, including operational plans for a major military exercise.

STACEY MOY, SPECIAL AGENT, FBI SAN DIEGO FIELD OFFICE: We will not tolerate any attempts to undermine the sanctity and democratic freedoms of this great nation.

SULLIVAN (voice-over): This is just the latest case of possible spying tactics by China. Earlier this year, the U.S. accused the Chinese government of using a surveillance balloon to capture imagery on U.S. military sites.

Following this recent incident, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy accused the U.S. government of hyping cases of espionage and said this is a "groundless slander and smear of China."


The incident putting further pressure on an already strained relationship.

I'm Jenn Sullivan reporting.


WALKER: All right, let's bring in Shawn Turner, former director of communication for U.S. national intelligence. Shawn, good morning. Thank you so much for joining us.

So based on what we know about these two defendants -- these two sailors and their positions and what kind of information they had access to -- I mean, what concerns you the most? And how will the Chinese government use this information?

SHAWN TURNER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATION, U.S. NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS PROFESSOR, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY (via Webex by Cisco): Sure. Good morning, Amara. Thanks for having me. Well, I think we've seen a few of these cases over the past couple of years but this case is one that does concern me a little more. Because while it's classic Chinese tradecraft, what people need to understand is that you don't have to have a lot of information in order to form a picture for intelligence agencies like the Chinese.

What concerns me is that these individuals may have been lower-ranking individuals in the Navy. They provided information that helps the Chinese government paint a picture.

In the case of the Essex, that's a picture of ship operations. It's a picture of potential weapon systems and a picture of procedures that happen aboard that ship.

In the other case, a little bit of information about military installations is enough to help the Chinese understand how the U.S. military operates and give them advantage as they seek to be competitive with the U.S. government and U.S. military.

WALKER: Yes. I know you talked about this with one of our producers -- how the Chinese have stolen defense-related intellectual property for many years. And what's disturbing is that they have weapon systems that look strikingly like ours.

TURNER: Sure, absolutely. I mean, the Chinese have a long history of using intelligence resources and hacking, and other methods to steal intellectual property not only from defense contractors but also from commercial companies here in the United States.

In fact, if you look at some Chinese weapon systems they bear a striking resemblance to U.S. weapon systems because they take this information and they engage in a process of reverse engineering to try to -- to try to create these weapon systems and really, to match capability with the United States.

And this is all about -- for the Chinese, it's all about that competitive advantage and trying to compete with the United States, and that's what's particularly disturbing about this. Again, it's about taking a little bit of information and seeing if you can understand our capability so that you can match our capability. And that's what's really dangerous about this kind of behavior.

WALKER: And Shawn, why are the Chinese so focused, at least in these two cases, on U.S. Navy vessels and installations?

TURNER: Yes, more so than any other nation-state right now. The Chinese government is trying to build a military capacity that can compete with the United States, particularly as it relates to the South China Sea. When you look at the buildup of the Chinese Navy and the buildup of the ships and vessels -- the capability at sea all around the South China Sea what the Navy is doing is trying to understand where and how they can compete with the United States.

And this really does go back to what was said yesterday in the -- in the press conference. When you look across the spectrum there is no other country that holds more of a military sort of threat or challenge to the United States than the Chinese government.

WALKER: Shawn Turner, appreciate you this morning. Thanks for the conversation.

TURNER: Thanks.

WALKER: A woman in Louisiana suing the makers of the popular diabetes and weight loss drugs Ozempic and Mounjaro. The lawsuit alleges Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly failed to warn of the risks of developing severe gastrointestinal issues. Now those companies are responding.

CNN's Meg Tirrell with more.


MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): So the way medicines like Ozempic work is by mimicking a hormone in the gut known as GLP-1. And this can stimulate the body to release insulin, it can curb hunger, and it can slow the emptying of the food from the stomach.

Now, that's an on-target effect but CNN recently reported the cases of a few patients taking Ozempic and its sister drug, Wegovy, who had severe forms of that slowed stomach emptying called gastroparesis, or stomach paralysis, and their doctors believe that this was caused by the medicines. Now, there has not been a proven link between these medicines and this effect, but the FDA did tell CNN it has received some reports of gastroparesis on these medicines.

Now there is a lawsuit from one woman, separate from the patients that CNN spoke with, claiming that Ozempic and another similar drug called Mounjaro, which is approved for type 2 diabetes, caused her severe stomach problems.


Her legal team writing in a lawsuit, quote, "As a result of using defendant's Ozempic and Mounjaro, plaintiff was caused to suffer from severe gastrointestinal events, and as a result sustained severe and permanent personal injuries, pain, suffering, and emotional distress, and incurred medical expenses."

They are seeking damages and claiming that the companies didn't sufficiently warn about these potential risks.

Now, in the drug's prescribing information, both for Ozempic and for Mounjaro, the companies do note an effect known as delayed gastric emptying -- that sort of slowing of the food from the stomach -- but specifically, to warn that it could affect the absorption of other medications taken at the same time.

Now, CNN did reach out to Both Novo Nordisk, which makes Ozempic, and Eli Lilly, which makes Mounjaro. The companies provided us statements.

Novo Nordisk notes that these medicines have been used to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity for 15 and eight years -- this class of medicines. They note that they have been extensively examined in robust clinical development programs. They also note that this class of drugs are known to cause a delay in gastric emptying as noted in the label of each of our GLP-1 receptor agonist medications. They say patient safety is of utmost importance to Novo Nordisk.

Eli Lilly told us, quote, "Patient safety is Lilly's top priority, and we actively engage in monitoring, evaluating, and reporting safety information for all our medicines."

Now, this is one case from one person at this time. The law firm, though, does suggest more cases could be coming.


WALKER: All right.

Rapper Cardi B will not face charges after throwing a microphone into the crowd at her concert last weekend. Video shows Cardi B performing in Las Vegas when an audience member you see there threw a drink toward her. A concertgoer who claims they got hit by the mic in a report, but police say after a thorough review the case is being closed.

All right, thanks so much for watching EARLY START. I'm Amara Walker. Have a wonderful weekend.

CNN THIS MORNING is next. Former President Trump pleading not guilty again. A look at how all of it played out in court. And California politicians asking Taylor Swift to postpone her sold-out shows in the state. Why the pop star can't just shake it off.