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New Day

Final Pitch to Voters in Virginia; Supreme Court Takes up Abortion Ban; Some NYC Fire Companies Shut Down over Staffing Shortages; Southwest Pilot Investigated; Climate Refugees Flee Rising Tides in Africa. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 01, 2021 - 06:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: It is election day eve in Virginia and Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe are making their final pitch to voters. The race for governor is close. It is too close to call. McAuliffe is the Democrat. He's been trying to tie his Republican opponent to Donald Trump. Then Youngkin is insisting he will not be part of a Trump tele-rally in Virginia later today.


GLENN YOUNGKIN (R), VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, so, I haven't been involved in that. My -- my -- the teams are talking I'm sure. I've been out campaigning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sure they would love to have you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you -- would you like to be there.

YOUNGKIN: I'm answer you in a second. I've been out campaigning. I'm not going to be engaged in the tele-townhall. But we have more people helping us than you can possibly believe. This is about unity.


KEILAR: Let's go now to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. She is in Arlington, Virginia, in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.

This is a nail biter here, Sunlen.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, Brianna. And the Donald Trump factor has, frankly, always loomed large in this race and especially today, on election eve, with this planned Trump tele-townhall for Glenn Youngkin. Now, over the weekend, as you heard there, you saw Glenn Youngkin really try to keep Trump again at arm's length, insisting that he's not participating in this townhall with Trump, insisting that he had no part in the planning. But all of this just plays right into the hand and the strategy of

Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who has really tried to cast Youngkin as a proxy for Donald Trump. And he continued over the weekend to capitalize on this news of Trump's appearance at that tele-townhall tonight. Here he is over the weekend.


TERRY MCAULIFFE (D) VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Tomorrow we're going to have a little teleconference. I guess old Donald Trump is finally going to visit here. So, Trump wants to win here so he can announce for president 2024. That's the stakes of this election. He's trying to get himself off the mat. He wants to win here Tuesday, and Wednesday Donald Trump announces he's running in 2024. Are we going to allow that to go on here?



SERFATY: Now, early voting here in Virginia wrapped up over the weekend. So, today, for both these candidates, it's all about driving towards election day tomorrow, getting people out to vote. Between them they have eight events, Brianna, across the state. Certainly this race is extremely, extremely tight. And this race certainly has national implications for both parties going forward.


KEILAR: Yes, so much hanging in the balance here.


Sunlen, thank you for that.

Election night in America, as you heard Sunlen say there, the stakes are high in this race for governor in both Virginia and also New Jersey. And who will be victorious in the fight to lead New York City? Special live coverage starting tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. on CNN.

It is a major week at the Supreme Court. Hear which cases the justices will hear that are going to impact all Americans. We are live outside the court.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And a terrifying incident on a train in Tokyo. An attacker in a Joker costume injures 17 people.



BERMAN: In just a few hours, the Supreme Court will hear argument on the controversial Texas abortion law. This is the country's strictest measure which effectively bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.

CNN's Jessica Schneider outside the Supreme Court with the latest.

The decision even to hear this case today interesting in and of itself, Jessica.


You know, this is a case, though, that won't directly address the fate of Roe v. Wade. Instead, it will address a crucially important question here about this Texas abortion law that allows private citizens, as opposed to state officials, to enforce the law. The question being, can anyone even challenge this law?

The Justice Department and abortion providers have mounted several legal challenges to it, all in the hopes that the Supreme Court will give them the green light to proceed to eventually get this law blocked.


SCHNEIDER (voice over): Two months after nearly all abortions in the state of Texas stopped, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. Protests erupted after the law, known as SB-8, took effect September 1st.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, this bill is designed to scare us.

SCHNEIDER: And when the conservative justices on the Supreme Court refused to block the law the first time the case came before them, the three liberal justices, plus Chief Justice John Roberts, wrote forceful dissents.

Justice Stephen Breyer minced no words on the decision in an interview with CNN weeks later.


SCHNEIDER: Now, the court will confront the question of whether abortion providers or the federal government even have the power to sue to stop the Texas law. It bans abortions after cardiac activity is detected in the fetus, which is typically only about six weeks into a pregnancy, often before a woman knows she's pregnant. And it makes no exceptions for rape or incest, only medical emergencies.

But the law can only be enforced by private citizens, meaning anyone anywhere in the country can sue medical professionals who provide abortions and anyone who assists in an abortion. Even an Uber driver who might provide transportation.

And the bill provides incentive to sue, authorizing payouts to $10,000 to the plaintiff. And even if they lose, they don't have to pay back attorney's fees for the other side.

Because state officials aren't the ones enforcing the law, leaving it instead to private citizens to sue, the Supreme Court will have to decide, can the lawsuits from the DOJ and abortion provider Whole Woman's Health even proceed? STEVE VLADECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: In one sense, they're not a referendum on Roe versus Wade. This is not the big abortion case that so many folks are waiting for one way or the other. But the irony is that in some ways it's more, it's bigger. It's a referendum on how our legal system works.

SCHNEIDER: Because, arguably, if Texas can practically outlaw abortion, other states can too.

VLADECK: The basic question the court is going to have to answer on Monday is whether Texas is going to get away with it? And they may not confront that question directly. But if the providers can't challenge SB-8 and if the federal government can't challenge SB-8, then the court would be impulsively (ph) saying, yes, states, here is a road map for frustrating the enforcement of whichever constitutional rights happen to be unpopular in your state.

SCHNEIDER: Now the fear is, if the Supreme Court decides that no one can fight the Texas law in its current form, it will open the door to other states passing similar laws to effectively end abortions. The impact of the law has already been immense. Planned Parenthood has submitted to the Supreme Court dozens of accounts from Texas women facing hardship. One unnamed woman learned she was pregnant the day the law went into effect at a scheduled visit to get birth control. She couldn't get an ultrasound for another week and a half. That's when doctors detected a heartbeat, making it impossible for her to get an abortion in Texas. She called SB-8 inhumane and heartbreaking.

Other women are traveling hundreds of miles to obtain abortions. Planned Parenthood said clinics in Oklahoma saw 133 percent increase in patients from Texas in the months after the law took effect.

JACQUELINE AYERS, VICE PRESIDENT, GOVERNMENT RELATIONS AND PUBLIC POLICY, PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION: The patients are telling us that SB-8 is doing exactly what it was intended to do, and that is that it is making people feel shamed, it is making people having to make really difficult decisions about their lives and, ultimately, there should not be a state in this country where you're not able to access your constitutional right.


SCHNEIDER: And this uniquely designed Texas abortion bill has already provided a blueprint to other states. In fact, lawmakers in Florida have introduced a similar bill. Lawmakers -- Republican lawmakers in at least four other states say they plan to.

But, John, legal experts say that if Texas or other states can essentially outlaw abortion by leaving it to private citizens to sue, then other states could essentially outlaw other constitutionally protected rights, like gun rights.

And, of course, gun rights will also be at the center focus of the Supreme Court this week. The court will hear a case on the Second Amendment on Wednesday. John, it will be the first time in more than a decade that this court will address gun rights. [06:45:03]


BERMAN: Yes, it is a really big week and it all starts today. You can hear the arguments. You can't see them. There's no cameras in the Supreme Court. Isn't necessary a great idea. But we can hear those arguments later today.

Jessica Schneider, thank you very much.

So, some New York City fire companies, not fire houses but fire companies, shut down over staff shortages. What will happen later today when a vaccine mandate goes into effect.

KEILAR: Plus, an airline pilot getting political. Why Southwest Airlines is investigating what he said over the intercom about President Biden.


BERMAN: New this morning, thousands of firefighters on a collision course with New York City and its vaccine mandate which goes into effect today for all public workers.


CNN's Polo Sandoval live with the latest.



We just heard from members of the FDNY Firefighters Association making the last-minute plea to the city to basically hold off on the enforcement of that mandate that will require all NY City employees have at least one shot of a COVID vaccine by later today, actually by -- in just about an hour.

Basically what the Firefighters Association is asking for two things, asking that the city continue with its testing program that allows firefighters to simply test out of that requirement that -- obviously, that requirement would be no more now that a vaccine would actually be required, and asking for more time for some of the more seasoned members of the department to actually make some decisions, some critical decisions as to whether or not they want to remain with the fire department here in New York.

But, ultimately, when you hear from members of the unit here, there is a concern that that could potentially leave -- lead to an interruption in service. The city, for its part, saying that that is absolutely not the case. They haven't seen that the last couple of days and they don't expect that.

They did have -- they did have to take some of these fire companies out of service. That is certainly not to be confused with entire firehouses. But an important distinction is that there are a few of those firehouses that are single-engine houses, like the one that you see behind me. Those are few. And according to authorities with the city of New York, they are basically reshuffling some resources in light of an increase in various sick leave that's been taken by some firefighters to make sure that no call goes unanswered.

Now, when it comes to where first responders are sitting right now in terms of vaccination numbers, just take a look at the very latest figures that were released by the mayor's office showing that a little under 85 percent of the NYPD are already in compliance with this mandate. About 80 percent of New York -- or members of the New York Fire Department also in compliance. So there's certainly, at this point, it's still not clear exactly what the extent of any potential staffing issues could be. But, again, the city assures that there will not be interruptions. But ultimately, though, Berman, that's still about 22,000 city employees that are yet to roll up their sleeve that face being sent home on unpaid leave starting later today.

BERMAN: We'll see how many it is when they are supposed to show up for work in a few hours.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Worthy of note, that 80 percent and 84 percent are actually big jumps, big jumps in the last few days alone.


BERMAN: Polo Sandoval, thank you very much.

KEILAR: Southwest Airlines is launching an internal investigation after a pilot reportedly signed off a message to passengers by saying, let's go, Brandon. Now, that is a phrase that has become conservative code for swearing at President Biden. It actually means f Joe Biden, is what it means.

Pete Muntean with us here on this.

What's going on?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's so interesting here, Brianna, is that these commercial flights have really become this political flashpoint. We've seen these fights onboard in huge numbers by passengers.

In this instance, it's a Southwest Airlines pilot who has used the public address system to sow political discord. It's typically used to calm down passengers. He said this phrase, let's go, Brandon. It means f Joe Biden. This was reported by an Associated Press reporter who was on this flight from Houston to Albuquerque on Friday.

And now Southwest is acknowledging this incident. And it says in a statement, Southwest does not condone employees sharing their political opinions while on the job. Southwest is conducting an internal investigation into the recently reported event and will address the situation directly with any employee involved. It says, while continuing to remind all employees that public expression of political opinions while on duty is unacceptable.

Now, this is not the only incident like this. Just ones that passengers have heard. The United Airlines Pilot Union sent a memo to all of its pilots just last week saying to not use the emergency frequency that pilots use, typically not for screwing around, to say this, let's go, Brandon phrase. They say they sent out this memo because of this. And it says that frequency's not to be used as a political pulpit.

You know, I'm a pilot. I fly a little airplane. I monitor this frequency all the time. You're supposed to listen to. I've heard f-JB, I've heard let's go, Brandon. This is a real problem and it's happening in a place where pilots can only hear, but also now in a place where the passengers can hear too.

KEILAR: And you've heard that on that line --

MUNTEAN: Oh, yes.

KEILAR: From commercial pilots?

MUNTEAN: It's anonymous, so you can't exactly tell. The frequency is 121.5, which is called Guard. And so you're supposed to listen to it all the time. It's for mayday calls. It's for serious stuff.


MUNTEAN: But, yes, I've heard it. So --

KEILAR: You've heard it.

All right, Pete, we'll see -- we'll see what happens here.


KEILAR: Pete Muntean, thank you so much.

It's called the Venice of Africa, but a coastal town in Senegal is paying a big price for the climate crisis. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has this incredible story, next.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Even as the spotlight shines bright on global warming here at the climate summit in Scotland, the impact of the climate crisis is wreaking havoc on coastal communities all around the world. Rising sea levels triggering menacing storm surge and threatening livelihoods and homes along the so-called Venice of Africa.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is joining us live from Saint Louis, Senegal.

Fred, what are you seeing, what are you hearing over there?


Well, all those grim projections that people are talking about at that climate summit, they're all already reality here in western Africa in this town that is a UNESCO world heritage site.

You can see behind me how the buildings here in this coastal region have already been destroyed by storm surges that have been caused by global warming and rising sea levels. Now, there's still people living in those houses knowing full well their buildings could be next. But there's also many who have been displaced in a fishermen community that's being decimated. Here's what we found.


PLEITGEN (voice over): The fishermen's lives have always been tough here in Saint Louis in northern Senegal, fighting for survival on the harsh Atlantic Ocean. Now, because of climate change, the sea that has always provided for their livelihood is destroying their existence.


Sheh Zar (ph) and his family live in what's left of their house, half