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New Day

Anger over Chicago Canceling Schools; Michelle Obama Wades into 2022 Politics; U.S. and Russia Talks Underway; Raiders Punch Playoff Ticket. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 10, 2022 - 06:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, classes in Chicago Public Schools canceled for the fourth straight day. A standoff between the Chicago Teachers Union and city officials is dragging on as Covid cases do rise there. Angry parents, though, rising up.

Adrienne Broaddus live in Chicago.

The fourth day in a row. Kids caught in the middle here, Adrienne.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, they absolutely are caught in the middle, and so are their parents. Negotiations took place over the weekend. But, still, here we are, Monday morning, no learning plan for nearly 340,000 students. There was some bending, but we haven't seen a breakthrough.

Let's begin with what members of the union and the city disagree on. The main point of contention boils down to remote learning. That's what the city's mayor, Lori Lightfoot, is saying. The mayor alleges members of the union want a district-wide shutdown if there's a surge in Covid cases. And school officials with CPS, as well as the mayor, say they categorically reject this. The mayor says they've offered a counter, which would trigger a school by school or a case by case metric system.

Now, let's talk about some areas where they have agreed. Members of the Chicago Teachers Union have asked for better testing, more masks. And that's something the city and members of the union agree on.

But the negotiations will continue today. And, here we are, the fourth straight day, students in Chicago Public Schools aren't in the classroom.


BERMAN: Parents infuriated at this point.

Adrienne Broaddus, thank you very much.

Michelle Obama's new push to get out the vote ahead of the midterms. And the brother of fallen Officer Brian Sicknick speaking out for the first time on the insurrection that claimed his brother's life just one year ago.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And rescue efforts are underway after a dramatic video in Brazil captured a cliff collapsing on several tourists' boats, killing people 10 people and injuring dozens more. Where the investigation stands ahead.



KEILAR: Former First Lady Michelle Obama has a message for Americans ahead of this year's midterm elections. We've got to vote like the future of our democracy depends on it. That is what she is saying in a letter titled, fight for our vote. This was published as an ad in "The New York Times." Mrs. Obama and her voting rights organization, When We All Vote, called on Americans to continue engaging in democracy amid an historic attack on voting rights.

And joining us now to talk about this is Bakari sellers, CNN political commentator, and also, and we're going to talk about this in a moment, an author -- an author.


KEILAR: But an author of a new children's book, "Who Are Your People?" It's a delightful book. We'll talk about that, as I said, in a moment.

OK, but, Bakari, I mean, bringing in the big guns here, Michelle Obama. What does this signify to you?

SELLERS: Well, it's necessary. And one of the things that Democrats are trying to figure out and most people who find themselves on the side of democracy is, how they're going to come -- overcome some of the obstruction that we have in our own party from Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, and how are we going to make progress when you don't have any changes, when you don't have any adaptations to the voting rights law.

And so one of the things that he former first lady says, which many people are saying is, it takes action. And that action means that we have to register voters. And what I want people to understand is that we're not just talking about registering voters in New York, Massachusetts and California, but we need to go to Mississippi.


We need to go to Jackson, Mississippi, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in Albany, Georgia, in Charlotte, North Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, throughout the south, make sure that you're registering millions of voters or hundreds of thousands of voters, and that can change the dynamic and overcome any laws that are regressive.

BERMAN: Is this less about the who is asking for it, Bakari, and more about the what she is asking for here? Because this is all about what is actually being produced here. It only matters if people are being registered.

SELLERS: No, I can't -- I can't necessarily agree with you because any time Michelle Obama speaks, it's the who. And the reason being is because she doesn't speak often. The individuals in our party who have that level of gravitas, not just -- I mean, listen, this cuts across party lines. When Barack Obama and Michelle Obama speak, especially after the last four years of Donald Trump and kind of the malaise that we're in now with the resurgence of the virus, inflation, et cetera, then Barack Obama and Michelle Obama cut through that. And we all know that Michelle Obama is the most popular Obama anyway.

And so, in this case, it's about the who, but the what is also very powerful because we're talking about an action item and we're talking about something that everybody can do, which is get out and register voters.

KEILAR: All right, so I mentioned your book, your new book, Bakari, which I have. And I read their -- mine's at home because I read it to my kids. I read a lot of kids' books, Bakari, and this one is so special. I just want to tell you that I opened it up. I opened up the envelope, read the book, and it is an incredibly beautiful message and also the illustrations.

Tell us about this, "Who Are Your People?"

SELLERS: Well, where I'm from down south, we always start off, whenever you're in someone's living room or you meet someone on the street, the first thing they ask you, who are your people? That's how they get to know you. They try to -- try to figure out what stock you come from and where are you from.

And so I wanted to write a book where my kids and kids around the country could see themselves in it. I wanted them to be able to see that level of representation. And then I wanted them to be proud of where they come from. And I wanted them to be proud of who their people are.

And so, during this time where we're having these very tough conversations about race and other things, I think this is a book that teaches empathy and it teaches pride. And I've been a -- I've written a book before, but I'm most excited about this project I'm working on right now.

BERMAN: I don't want to give away the ending, but I'm going to give away the ending, Bakari, here, because I really did love this. And the last page you ask, so, what will you dream and how will you change the world? I just love the fact that you left readers and their parents, kids and parents, with that question, that challenge, actually.

SELLERS: Yes, I hope that, as you're reading this -- and I hope that parents think about it, too, when they are asking their children this question, maybe they will dream big dreams. And, you know, the imagery is after Sadie and Stokely And when you look at the last page, you see that she, Brianna, is the president of the United States, and he is an astronaut. And I think that, as we go through this, we have to re- dedicate ourselves to dreaming with our eyes open. And I think that where we are now, if we teach our kids to dream, we will be in a much better place than we are today.

BERMAN: Can I just say, happy late birthday to Stokely and Sadie.


BERMAN: Three.

SELLERS: Three. They wore us out. They danced for four hours on Saturday. So, I am -- I am exhausted. Their mother is exhausted. Shout out to my wife for putting on an amazing birthday party.

But, you know, we take birthdays very seriously around our parts because with Sadie's health issues, we treat every single year as a blessing.

KEILAR: It is.

And, look, this book is a blessing. I have never -- like I said, I've read a lot of kids books. I haven't seen anything like this. And I think it's a really important contribution to a child's library that you've put together here. It's really special, Bakari. Thank you.

SELLERS: No, thank you guys for the opportunity. And I hope -- it's on sale tomorrow, so I hope people preorder it and go out and get it and just give it a chance. So, thank you guys for talking about it this morning. I'm very proud of it

KEILAR: Yes, look, I'm going to take a couple copies to my kids' school. I think other kids really need to see it.

So, Bakari, again, thanks. Great to see you.

SELLERS: Always good.

KEILAR: And, up next, it was the video seen around the world. We're learning so much about the Afghan baby given to American soldiers during the chaotic evacuation. So, what happened, and where is he now?

BERMAN: And U.S.-Russia talks underway in Geneva at this moment in what could be the most precarious moment for European security since the end of the Cold War. Russian troops on the border of Ukraine. Any progress to report? We're live from Geneva and Moscow.



KEILAR: A baby who was handed to a U.S. soldier at the Kabul airport as thousands attempted to evacuate Afghanistan has been found and reunited with his family. The infant was reportedly taken in by a 29- year-old taxi driver who found the baby crying on the ground on the other side of the wall. Now, the child's parents handed him to the soldier in desperation, fearing their two-month-old infant would get crushed in the crowd. They never thought it would have taken this long to be reunited with him. The baby is now with his grandfather in Kabul as the family tries to reunite him with his parents who are now in the U.S.

BERMAN: Happening now, critical face-to-face talks underway between U.S. and Russian officials in Geneva. It comes as the U.S. and NATO raise concerns about Russia's presence on its border of Ukraine, all while attempting to broker some kind of diplomatic solution.

CNN's Alex Marquardt live in Geneva with the latest here.


And, Alex, I have read people calling this the most tenuous, tense moment in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: John, these talks absolutely are critical, aimed at deterring any sort of Russian military incursion into Ukraine. These talks here in Geneva between the U.S. and Russia have been taking place for just about four hours' time over at the U.S. mission in Geneva.

Now, there are a number of things that are on the table. There are a number of things that are not on the table. The U.S. says it's coming in with a sense of realism because they have been dealing with Russia for so long on European security issues. But the Russians have said that they are disappointed with the signals that they have been hearing from D.C. ahead of these talks. And the U.S. has said that they don't expect to come out with these talks with any sort of concrete breakthrough. And that is in part because the stuff that Russia wants to talk about is not necessarily what the U.S. wants to talk about or consider. And that includes the membership of Ukraine in NATO, as well as NATO presence in eastern Europe.

The U.S. has said repeatedly that they don't want to talk about Ukraine without Ukraine in the room. They want -- don't want to talk about NATO without NATO in the room. But the -- but Russia clearly wants to deal with the U.S. on those issues.

So what the U.S. is trying to do now is to talk about direct issues between the U.S. and Russia that they can eventually come to some sort of agreement on. That would be missiles in Ukraine, missiles in Europe, the scale and scope of military exercises, both by NATO and by Russia. But the U.S. has said that if the -- if NATO does anything, that that then needs to be reciprocated by Russia.

John, this meeting today here in Geneva is really just the first in a series of meetings that we'll see throughout the course of the week. On Wednesday, the meetings then move on to NATO in Brussels and then on the OSCE, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Thursday. All of this trying to prevent war in Ukraine. And if these talks fail, John, then the U.S. Says that they will be forced to turn to economic sanctions, unprecedented, massive sanctions against Russia in order to make the possibility of going into Ukraine very untenable for them.


BERMAN: All kinds of concerns about diplomatic traps being set by the Russians this week.

Alex Marquardt, we're lucky to have you there. Please keep us posted.

KEILAR: All right, let's get the view now from Moscow on these talks and bring in CNN's Matthew Chance.

You know, Matthew, if you can just give us a sense of how Russia is approaching these talks and, obviously, a little more on what's at stake here.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as Alex was saying, I mean, it looks like these are the kinds of talks that are doomed from the outset with the extraordinary, you know, unacceptable demands, according to western officials, that the Russians have set out as a basis for the discussions. Namely, an end to any expansion of the NATO military alliance, a pull back of weapons from countries in NATO that joined the alliance after the fall of the Soviet Union.

You know, western officials have made it quite clear that that is not something they're prepared to exceed to and not even prepared to discuss. But, you know, I think we have to understand there are areas in the demands that Russia has made to get these talks sort of going that there could be some cooperation on. You know, Alex mentioned the possibility of talks about deploying nuclear capable missiles on the continent of Europe. That's something that Russia wants an agreement on. It's something the United States is prepared to discuss as well.

Things like, you know, the extent and the number of exercises that are taking place by NATO close to the borders or on the borders of Russia. That's something that's up for negotiations as well. As well as the sort of bilateral issues about the number of diplomats in each other's countries. I mean, for instance, there are 120 diplomats in the -- approximately in the U.S. embassy in Moscow right now. There were more than 1,200 not that long ago. And so there are all these areas for possible agreement.

So, I think, from a Russian point of view, they're trying to shake the diplomatic tree, see what falls out, see what concessions that they're going to be able to pick up. It's not necessarily the precursor for an invasion of Ukraine, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. We will certainly be watching what comes out of this. Obviously, a lot of challenges, as you detailed, but perhaps some areas of agreement as well.

Matthew Chance, in Moscow, thanks.

Up next, a final game of the NFL regular season that Hollywood could not script. The Chargers and Raiders forcing the entire city of Pittsburgh to hold its breath until the very last second.

BERMAN: And remembering comedian Bob Saget, his life, legacy and the moments that made us all laugh. We're going to speak to two of his close friends in the comedy community.



KEILAR: The NFL playoff picture is set after a thrilling last weekend of the regular season.

Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report" from Indianapolis, which, by the way, is the site, of course, of tonight's college football national championship game.

Wow, this was quite the game that we were watching yesterday.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes, never seen anything really like this, Brianna. A wild scenario breaking out in the NFL yesterday.

So the winner between the Chargers and the Raiders would make the playoffs. But because the Colts lost to the Jaguars earlier in the day, if the two teams tied, they'd both make it. And it was this close to happening. The Chargers were down by 15 in the fourth quarter, but rallied late, scored two touchdowns with no time on the clock. Justin Herbert found Mike Williams. They would kick the extra point.

So we'd go to overtime and the tie was actually in play. Now, the teams traded field goals and the Raiders had the ball in the final seconds. The Chargers, though, for some reason, called a time out with 38 seconds left while the Raiders were running out the clock.


Instead of taking a knee and both teams making the playoffs, the Raiders got in position and made a 47-yard field goal.