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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Niger's Military Junta Hit With New Regional Sanctions; House GOP Lay Groundwork For Fall Impeachment Inquiry; ESPN Jumps Into Sports Gambling With $2 Billion Deal. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 09, 2023 - 05:30   ET



STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN AFRICA SENIOR EDITOR: And food has been limited. He says he's been reduced to eating only nonperishable foods and everything perishable is finished because there's no electricity. So it sounds like very dire conditions that President Bazoum is currently being held in.

I mean, he has been in contact with the outside world. He wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post, for example, and has had calls with some world leaders. So he hasn't been entirely cut off but it seems that the junta are holding him captive and he has said he's a hostage and, seemingly, in very dire conditions.

And this adds to the growing frustrations from the -- from the U.S. and other partners about the junta's hardening stance and their refusal to come to the negotiating table.

Here is U.S. State Department's Matthew Miller.


MATTHEW MILLER, SPOKESMAN, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: I think it's very unfortunate and it is in keeping with the message that we heard from them yesterday when acting deputy secretary Nuland presented options for a diplomatic path forward and a negotiated process going forward. And they were not willing to take that path at this time. We're going to keep trying, again fully recognizing how difficult that path is.


BUSARI: So, Rahel, more talks are expected. The military intervention that was threatened remains very much present but the partners -- the ECOWAS heads of state are preferring to go for a diplomatic option. So a lot hinges on the talks that will happen tomorrow in Niger's capital of Bucha where the ECOWAS chiefs will gather to discuss the path going forward -- Rahel.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN ANCHOR: Certainly, a lot to watch here. Stephanie Busari live for us in Lagos. Thank you, Stephanie.

All right, now to Iran where women are still pushing back against veiling laws even as the government there increases punishments on those who defy the rules. This comes nearly a year after Mahsa Amini's death -- the woman killed while in custody of the morality police.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iran's brave women are fighting for their freedom with everyday acts of defiance like this -- out on the streets without the mandatory hijab. This recent video appeared to show a woman harassed and called a criminal for refusing to cover up. "The days of being afraid of you are over," she says.

Nearly a year after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Jina Amini in the custody of the so-called morality police, the uprising sparked by her death may have been crushed by a bloody crackdown, but not the will of those standing up for their most basic of rights. Countless women have been defying the clerical establishment, choosing not to wear the compulsory hijab.

And now the regime is lashing out with a campaign of renewed repression, announcing the return of morality police patrols.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

KARADSHEH (voice-over): "Being a woman in Iran is now harder than ever because of all the attention. Our privacy and safety is a wish. You should always be worried and careful about police."

This young woman, we're not identifying for her safety, spoke to us from inside Iran. "The morality police are mostly in metro stations and sometimes on the streets. They warn you if you disobey they take video or photos. And normal people who are still on the government's side work like paparazzi."

And that's not all. Authorities are considering a draconian new bill that would make failure to abide by the strict Islamic dress code a more severe offense with unprecedently harsh penalties, including five to 10-year jail sentences and fines of more than $8,000. This may be just a warning to intimidate those who dare to dissent.

But an intensified crackdown has been well underway. This chilling video released by a group affiliated with the security apparatus captures some of their terrifying tactics. Facial recognition technology purportedly being used to identify and threaten unveiled women.

Cameras are everywhere. Thousands have had their cars confiscated, according to Amnesty International, and women without a veil are being denied access to education and public services.

Perhaps even more disturbing is courts have been imposing degrading punishments on women, including counseling sessions for, quote, "anti- social behavior," cleaning government buildings, and washing corpses in morgues.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language). KARADSHEH (voice-over): "I couldn't believe the mortuary punishment until I saw some judgment papers with my own eyes, which was washing corpses for a month."

KARADSHEH (on camera): Are you and other women around you scared when you're out in public?


KARADSHEH (voice-over): "The first days were scary but with time, the courage inside everyone grows and now, no one is scared. People were just waiting for a spark and that happened last year. We keep going for the kids who were murdered during the protests."

Many like her say this is not just about the hijab; this is about standing up to tyranny and they're not backing down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

KARADSHEH (voice-over): "Most people believe in freedom now because they've tasted it. We know about the punishments but we know everything has a cost and if this is the cost of freedom we're ready to pay for that. I'm sure we will see Iran breathing again one day."

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.


SOLOMON: And time for quick hits across the globe now.

South Korea relocating about 37,000 teenage scouts at the World Scout Jamboree. That's after multiple issues, including an approaching typhoon and extreme heat that made hundreds of people sick.

Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan has been disqualified from running for office for five years. Khan was sentenced to three years in prison after a corruption trial last week. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

And President Biden told reporters last night that he plans to visit Vietnam, quote, "shortly." The White House has not revealed any details but his administration wants to counter China's influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

And coming up for us, two people are dead and tens of thousands are without power after severe storms hit the East Coast. And House Republicans moving closer toward a Biden impeachment. What they are alleging ahead.



SOLOMON: Welcome back, and here is today's fast-forward lookahead.

President Biden is waking up in New Mexico today where he's expected to talk about his Inflation Reduction Act and clean energy policies. This evening, he will attend a campaign reception in Utah.

Former Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs is set to be sentenced today on the charge of vehicular manslaughter for a fatal DUI crash. This happened in 2021. He could receive up to a decade behind bars.

And we could learn more later today about the winning Mega Millions ticket sold in Florida. A single ticket sold at a Publix grocery store in Neptune Beach matched all six numbers for the largest jackpot in the game's history. We do know the winning numbers were from a quick pick.

I'm trying to think about if I have any family in Florida. I don't think that I do. But any Florida viewers -- you know, hit us up.

All right. More than 80,000 people are still without power this morning after ferocious storms pummeled the eastern U.S., killing at least two people.

A pair of tornadoes and widespread flooding in Massachusetts really created havoc in multiple communities. Some areas saw up to seven inches of rain. The water submerging cars, as we can see in this video here. In Maryland, downed electrical poles left 47 people trapped in their vehicles for hours until power lines could be de-energized. And Indiana residents still digging out from tornado damage.

Let's get to meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Derek, a lot of severe weather on the forecast. What can we expect today?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS CERTIFIED BROADCAST METEOROLOGIST: Yes, another day, another round of severe storms anticipated -- this time, not along the East Coast but across the mid-Mississippi River Valley, Rahel. This is where we have our greatest probability of severe storms. So if you're in places like Memphis to Nashville and perhaps into Little Rock, this is an area that has what is considered a level three of five from the Storm Prediction Center.

And look at what they've detailed here. Very large hail, damaging winds, and an isolated tornado as well. The greatest probability of a tornado right where you see this yellow shading. So, southern Missouri into western sections of Tennessee, including the Memphis metropolitan region. It's got a five percent probability of tornadic activity.

This, on the heels of the active weather that occurred yesterday. There were 13 reports of tornadoes -- a few across the eastern Front Range of Colorado.

But a couple of tornadoes reported in Massachusetts as well. They also saw heavy rainfall. You saw some of the video of the flooding taking place in the state as well. Over half a foot of rain fell in some locations there, including the Lawrence region of Massachusetts.

So here's the latest radar. Fairly quiet along the Eastern Seaboard for now. This is the round of thunderstorms that's going to continue to roll south and east. As it does so, we currently have a thunderstorm watch until 6:00 a.m. Eastern time for Wichita and the Central Kansas area. That's where we're focusing this morning but it moves east through the day.

Back to you.

SOLOMON: All right, Derek Van Dam. Thank you.

VAN DAM: All right.

SOLOMON: Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy has remained insistent that House Republicans are still gathering evidence and remain undecided whether to open a formal impeachment inquiry against President Biden.

CNN's Lauren Fox has more.


LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): While House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has gone to great lengths to make it clear that he's not announcing just yet that House Republicans would open an impeachment inquiry, over the past several weeks he has tiptoed closer and closer. And behind the scenes, many Republicans believe this is now inevitable, with one senior Republican telling my colleagues, quote, "Once the barn doors are open, so to speak, the horses are out."

But one of the key concerns is whether or not House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is going to be able to convince his conference to get behind this. That's because usually, when you would open an impeachment inquiry you would need to have a vote of the full House of Representatives. Assuming no Democrats vote yes, you're going to need to make sure that Republicans are largely united.

And there's still some work to do with some swing district Republicans, including Don Bacon, who spoke to my colleagues for this story saying, quote, "Did the president commit high crimes and misdemeanors? The committees need to do more digging to clarify this. There's tons of smoke, but let's verify what is beneath it all."

And despite the fact that House Republicans, for months, have been investigating whether there are any direct links between Hunter Biden and his father, there still is no direct evidence.


So one of the key questions, of course, from Republicans is whether or not opening an impeachment inquiry gives them more power to get documents and witnesses, or whether it may be too premature. But again, behind the scenes, a number of Republicans telling my colleagues that they now view this as a foregone conclusion that eventually, and as soon as this fall, there could be an announcement that an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden is going to move forward in the House.

For CNN on Capitol Hill, I'm Lauren Fox.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SOLOMON: And there is growing backlash in Israel after the country's finance minister announced on Monday the freeze of around $53 million. The money had been earmarked for Arab municipalities and educational programs in East Jerusalem.

I want to bring in Elliott Gotkine. He joins us from Jerusalem. So, Elliott, first, I mean, is this a done deal? And two, what were the reasons behind this freeze?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rahel, the first point I would make is that this isn't necessarily a done deal. This, by the Finance Ministry's assertion to the country -- it could still be overturned. It could even be challenged in the courts. And what he's actually done is two things.

First of all, there's a five-year program which is designed to help residents of East Jerusalem. There's an aspect of that which is meant to help those residents improve their Hebrew, learn Hebrew, boost their Hebrew to a level that would enable them to study at Hebrew University. That program as a whole is worth hundreds of millions of shekels -- hundreds of millions of dollars over five years.

And as another part, which is money destined for Arab municipalities. And this is part of a kind of leveling-up program to help poorer municipalities kind of have similar resources to those which are wealthier. And after doing all the sums, they worked out that Arab municipalities still had a shortfall, so more money was set aside. This is the 50+ million dollars per year that was set aside.

And what the finance minister is saying is look, it's not fair that this money should go to Arab municipalities and not poorer Jewish ones. He says that this money was only set aside in order to placate what Mansour Abbas, who is from the Islamic Ra'am Party and was in the previous government.

And finally, he says this money could find its way into criminal organizations and terrorist groups. And that, he says, is why he's doing it -- Rahel.

SOLOMON: Eliott Gotkine live for us there in Jerusalem. Elliott, thank you.

All right, coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" Ohio voters reject issue one. What that means for right-to-lifers.

And next, right here for us, Aaron Rodgers getting rave reviews for the first episode of "HARD KNOCKS." We'll discuss, coming up.



SOLOMON: Welcome back.

Ever travel abroad and you don't know the local language? Well, the solution could be just a screen away. CNN's Marc Stewart brings us the story.


MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Tokyo's busy Seibu-Shinjuku Station it's a steady surge of trains, travelers, and, at times, the need for translation.

PETINA HORCHER (PH), TRAVELER: I was actually really nervous coming because I heard people here don't speak English.

STEWART (voice-over): Now, a potential solution in this nondescript window, using voice translation technology.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, I want to go to Matsumoto Station.

STEWART (voice-over): Users simply ask a question in their native language. It appears on the screen and then immediately translated into Japanese for the staff to read.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

STEWART (voice-over): The response is then translated back to the user's original language.


STEWART (voice-over): The system is now on a test run. We asked travelers, including Petima Horcher, to try it out.

STEWART (on camera): And you thought the translation was pretty spot on?

HORCHER: Spot on. Spot on. It is exactly what I said was on the screen.

STEWART (on camera): How many languages can this system translate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

STEWART (on camera): It supports 12 languages.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We're told the number of foreign visitors to Japan is growing. The screen was introduced so staff and customers can communicate smoothly face-to-face.

STEWART (on camera): There are certainly apps for your phone which could translate but this system is simultaneous and it's face-to-face.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fact that it was at the same time. The fact that it really understood what I was saying.

STEWART (voice-over): While the system isn't always perfect, this technology is quickly improving.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Research in the field of natural language processing and artificial intelligence is progressing very rapidly, so these systems are getting better and better. And I hope that they will be used not only in stations but also in other places in the future.

STEWART (voice-over): The manufacturer of the board hopes that could include airports, sporting events, and hospitals -- part of an effort to make sure everyone is understood no matter language they speak.

Marc Stewart, CNN, Tokyo.


SOLOMON: All right, Marc. Thank you.

ESPN, meantime, jumping into sports gambling, signing a $2 billion deal with a casino company.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, this sounds like a pretty big deal.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It is a huge deal in the sports world, Rahel. Gambling -- you know, mainstream these days. And ESPN will now not only talk about the games but also it's going to have an avenue to take your bets. ESPN partnering with PENN National Gaming on a $2 billion deal to create ESPN Bet.

So, PENN had previously been a partner with Barstool Sports but as a part of this new deal ended that partnership by selling 100 percent of the company back to founder Dave Portnoy. Now, PENN is licensed to run Sportsbook in 16 states as of now. ESPN Bet is going to launch this fall.

All right, to baseball. The American League-leading Orioles hosting the Astros. Houston down three in the top of the ninth, bases loaded for Kyle Tucker. He gets ahold of this 100-mile-per-hour Felix Bautista fastball and sends it over the right field fence for a grand slam to take the lead. Astros fans in attendance just going crazy, and little fans having a moment they will never forget there in Baltimore. The Astros won that one in an amazing comeback 7-6.


All right. And finally, "HARD KNOCKS" debuted on our sister network HBO last night. New Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- he stole the show. Rodgers said he was excited about meeting the iconic documentary's narrator, Liev Schreiber, so he was almost starstruck when Schreiber arrived at training camp in a helicopter. And Rodgers introduced himself right away and then tried to get everyone else to do the same thing.


LIEV SCHREIBER, NARRATOR, HBO'S "HARD KNOCKS": Full disclosure. I wanted to drive but the producers thought a helicopter might be more dramatic. I should have ironed my shirt.


RODGERS: Where's the gun?

BOYLE: What?

RODGERS: Where's the gun?


RODGERS: You guys want to say hi? Go say hi. Go say hi.


RODGERS: You're talking to the voice of God. Why don't you say hi? (Bleep). He's nervous. He wants to, you know, meet people.


SCHOLES: Yes, and "HARD KNOCKS" with Aaron Rodgers and the Jets should be lots of fun, Rahel. We're going to get a new episode every Tuesday throughout the preseason.

SOLOMON: Yes, it's always fun to see stars get starstruck at other stars.

Andy Scholes, great to see you.

SCHOLES: All right.

SOLOMON: Thank you.

All right, now time for our top of the morning -- the top TV shows streaming now.


Clip from Netflix "HEARTSTOPPER."


SOLOMON: Season two of "HEARTSTOPPER" is number one on Rotten Tomatoes' most popular list.

And here is number two.


Clip from Disney+ "SECRET INVASION."


SOLOMON: Samuel L. Jackson in Marvel's "SECRET INVASION."

Here's number three.




SOLOMON: "ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING," season three, is out right now.

I feel really out of touch because I don't watch any of those shows. I probably better.

I'm Rahel Solomon. Thanks for joining us this morning. And coming up next on "CNN THIS MORNING," the potential new indictment against Donald Trump. Where it is and what it looks like. And a judge sentences Tory Lanez, a Canadian rapper who shot Megan Thee Stallion. Have a great day.