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Storm Warnings for South; Trump Threatens to Exclude Canada; New U.S. Commander Takes Over Afghanistan; Sonic Attacks on U.S. Diplomats; Embattled Cardinal Faces Protests. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 3, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Over Everglades National Park. And I even saw, on the Doppler, a wind gust to 65 miles per hour about 20 minutes ago.

Now, the forecast is still for it to move right toward New Orleans, maybe Bay St. Louis, that area, Slidell, but so far this model and the model output has not done very well on the speed and intensity of the storm. Great on the direction, but this could be a hurricane before it makes landfall. Right now the forecast is 60 and the wind speeds somewhere could be plus or minus 20 percent. Let's hope for minus 20 percent. But that may not be likely. This is very warm water. This storm is out there all by itself and it's headed toward the northwest at about 16 miles per hour moving over that warm water.

Now, this makes landfall in 40 hours. So not a lot of time to get bigger, not probably a big, intense hurricane, but certainly that potential is there for something stronger than 60. We'll keep you updated.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, please do. Our viewers are watching intently.

Thank you, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, President Trump again threatening to exclude Canada from a new free trade agreement. The president tweeting, in part, there is no political necessity to keep Canada in a new NAFTA deal. If we don't make a fair deal for the U.S. after decades of abuse, Canada will be out.

The U.S. imposed deadline came and went Friday with no new deal. Talks are set to resume this week.

So joining us now is "Washington Post" columnist and CNN global affairs analyst Max Boot.

Max, happy Labor Day.


AVLON: Max. CAMEROTA: How did Canada become the trade enemy of the U.S.?

BOOT: You know, that's a great question, Alisyn. I keep asking myself, what does Donald Trump have against Canada because, you know, he talks as if Canada were our great enemy and Russia were our ally. I mean this is a bizarre world where I think part of it, I suspect, relates to, he does not like Justin Trudeau, who is younger, handsomer, more beloved by the liberal elites than Donald Trump. So for whatever -- what is going on there, he clearly has a beef against Canada, which ignores the fact that Canada is our top trade partner, is our top market for exports. And, by the way, he never mentions this, we have a trade surplus with Canada. He's aggrieved at all these other countries that are running trade surpluses with the United States. Well, we have a trade surplus with Canada.

AVLON: To your point, there was a quote from Bruce Heyman, the former U.S. ambassador to Canada, this Friday. It was pretty extraordinary.

BOOT: Yes.

AVLON: He said the definition of insanity is how the president has been treating Canada all this time. This is our best trading partner in the world.

BOOT: Right.

AVLON: The definition of insanity.

BOOT: And it's not just our best trading partner. This is one of our closest allies in the world. You would never know from the way that Donald Trump talks that American and Canadian troops have been battling side by side for a century. Canadians landed alongside Americans on D-day. They are incredibly close cooperators in counterterrorism and intelligence. And they fought with us in Afghanistan. He never has any appreciation for the fact that these are our brothers and sisters and allies. He treats them as an enemy. It doesn't make any sense.

CAMEROTA: OK. So then, given that that one makes no sense, explain the ever-changing relationship with Mexico. Friend or foe?

BOOT: Trump is confused and I think I'm confused because obviously he -- most of the time he stigmatizes Mexican-Americans, he calls them out as being the source of all crime and all evil in the United States, which is just flatly false. He promised to build a wall that Mexico would pay for, which Mexico is never going to pay for. But now, all of a sudden, very briefly, he loves Mexico again because Mexico kind of colluded with him in reaching this non-deal on trade, an agreement on principle, and he claims that he will then submit that as a U.S.-Mexico trade agreement and thereby he won't have to do anything with NAFTA. He can negate NAFTA.

But it's not that simple because NAFTA is a congressionally ratified treaty. He can't just tear it up. And he doesn't really have a deal with Mexico. This is like his non-deals with North Korea, his non-deal with the European Union. He loves to announce these great agreements where none of the details have actually been worked out. And so he doesn't really have a deal with Mexico, but he's basically using Mexico as a cajole right now to beat up Canada and to try to extract concessions from Canada by saying, hey, look, Mexico agreed to us on some of these things. Why don't you Canadians get on board before the train picks up speed.

AVLON: I'd say strange bedfellows, but apparently one thing that's actually creating some urgency on the part of Trump is the fact that we have -- Mexico has a new president coming in, AMLO, Obrador, and he's afraid that if he can't get this deal done, Pena Nieto (ph), that he's going to have to renegotiate the whole deal. So, I mean, it -- you know, the Obrador campaigned as a populist. Trump and he have had some oddly luke warm words.

BOOT: Yes.

AVLON: Do you think that the president can force this through and then how does he think that he can just bypass Congress given that it was ratified by Congress in the first place?

BOOT: There are so many questions here, John, and so few answers. I mean it's really hard to know what Trump is thinking. I mean he seems to rule best or most effectively by executive fiat. I mean so he discovers these executive powers, like he loves pardoning people. He loves tearing up agreements -- executive agreements, like the U.S.- Iran nuclear deal. He could -- he could tear that up because that was not ratified.

[08:35:08] But this is actually a congressionally ratified treaty and this is one issue on which Republicans are actually pushing back against Trump, one of those rare issues, because NAFTA is actually pretty popular with the Republican base because all these states across the country --

AVLON: Some of the base, yes.

BOOT: Yes, a lot of these farm states, especially Canada, is a top market. So all these Republican senators are not eager to see him tear up NAFTA. And so I think it would be very hard for him to do that. And I would discount a lot of the hot air that we've heard recently about, oh, we've reached a deal with Mexico and Canada has to come along. I think the negotiations are still in -- still going on. And as you suggest, the negotiating environment may change once you have this more leftist president who actually takes office in Mexico City.

AVLON: True.

CAMEROTA: Max, let's move on to Afghanistan.

BOOT: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Long -- America's longest running war.

BOOT: Right.

CAMEROTA: A new commander is about to step in and there seems to be a lot of talk on the U.S. side that it's time to stop the fighting. It's time to stop all of this. And that the Taliban is receptive and possibly open to this. So what's the next move?

BOOT: I don't see a lot of evidence, unfortunately, Alisyn, that the Taliban are actually interested in peace negotiations. Who is talking about peace negotiations? We are. Our commanders are talking about it.

CAMEROTA: But our commanders are saying they believe that there are many in the Taliban who are open to it.

BOOT: Yes. They've been saying that for about 17 years, Alisyn. I've been going to Afghanistan, covering the war pretty closely for a long time. This is all stuff we've heard before. There's very little evidence to back it up. I mean their big evidence right now is that the Taliban agreed to a three-day truce in June, but that truce was quickly ended and then the Taliban stepped up their attacks, killing hundreds of Afghan security forces all across the country.

So just listen to what's being said here. The Taliban are not asking for peace. The U.S. keeps talking about peace. And what's happening on the ground is that the Taliban are actually making gains. They are not losing.

Typically you can have successful peace negotiations in an internal conflict like this one when the insurgents have been defeated. That's what happened in Colombia, for example, where after about 50 years the FARC was actually defeated.


BOOT: The Taliban have not been defeated, so they have no reason to sue (ph) for peace. And it's, in fact, our will that's breaking, not theirs.

AVLON: Absolutely stunning.

CAMEROTA: Max Boot, thank you very much.

BOOT: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks for being here.

AVLON: Thanks, Max.

Coming up, mysterious brain injuries suffered by American diplomats in Cuba. Scientists have a new theory about what may have caused them harm, next.


[08:41:29] AVLON: More than a year after a rash of bizarre sonic attacks impacted nearly two dozen American diplomats in Cuba, a senior U.S. official now says a microwave weapon may have targeted U.S. diplomats.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann live in Havana with more. Patrick.


And you remember initially when the story first broke, many people felt that sonic weapons had been used against these diplomats because they described strange sounds and a beam of energy hitting them. But as the investigation has continued, researchers who have been involved in trying to figure out what happened here say that they now are looking at microwave weapons. These are weapons that shoot a very strong beam of electromagnetic energy. And they're much more portable, so that they feel that it's more likely they could have been used in the attack.

It is just a theory though. There's been no evidence to show that these weapons or any weapons were actually used. The researchers say when they look at the brain scans of these diplomats, both here and ones who were affected apparently in China, they can see that they experienced a concussion, but they never actually experienced any physical trauma.

So it really is a medical mystery. It's had a huge effect on operations here, diplomatic operations in Cuba. A lot of diplomats have been recalled and the State Department says it's still not safe to send them or their families back. The Cuban government says they found no evidence of any kind that any attacks took place.

CAMEROTA: So mysterious, Patrick. Thank you very much for the update from there.

Well, priceless artifacts dating back centuries have been destroyed in an inferno in Brazil. The fire consuming a 200-year-old museum in Rio de Janeiro. The museum housed 20 million artifacts, including mummified skeletons, Egyptian artifacts and the largest meteorite ever found in Brazil. This same building used to be the home of the royal family. So far, no reports of injuries or word of what caused this fire.

AVLON: The end of the summer family vacation ending in tragedy in northern Wisconsin after a kayak capsized on Lake Superior killing a father and three young children. The accident left the mother, Cari Mews, as the lone survivor. A spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard says strong wind and waves tipped the craft over Thursday, knocking all five into the open water. All five of them were wearing life jackets. Mews was able to send her sister a 911 text, but the message did not arrive for five hours due to lack of cell service in the area.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, that is horrible.

AVLON: Terrible.

CAMEROTA: Well, angry Catholic parishioners targeting a cardinal as he spoke from the pulpit on Sunday. So you will hear from one of them, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:48:14] CAMEROTA: Catholic parishioners protested at a mass on Sunday as the embattled cardinal, Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, spoke from the pulpit. Here is one moment during Sunday's services.


CARDINAL DONALD WUERL, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: We need -- we need to hold close in our prayers and our loyalty our Holy Father, Pope Francis. Increasingly it's clear that he is the object of considerable animosity.


WUERL: At each mass, we pray for him by name.


CAMEROTA: At that same time, there was this silent protest. Mary Challinor stood in the choir loft, arms crossed, with her back turned to the cardinal as he spoke. And she joins us now.

Mary, good morning.


CAMEROTA: So, as I understand it, you didn't go to church on Sunday intending to protest. So what happened while you were there?

CHALLINOR: Um, I didn't know the cardinal would be installing our new pastor. And when he began the mass, he said he would be speaking about the crises in the church at the end of the mass.

So the mass proceed as normal, and then at the end he went over to the lectern to speak about the crises. And that's when I decided that I would protest silently by turning my back.

I have come from a family where we have protested things in the church for a long time. When I was a little girl, I walked out of the shrine with my father, holding his hand to protest the birth control encyclical. I feel as a Catholic that I have a right to make a respectful protest, and that's what I did.

[08:50:07] CAMEROTA: Yes, no, it's fascinating to hear about and read about your family history because you're a devout Catholic from a devout Catholic family, but you also feel that it is your right to protest policy. And so what message were you trying to send by turning around silently to the cardinal?

CHALLINOR: I was trying to send a message that I, just speaking for myself, do not approve of the way the church has handled this scandal for the last 16 years. And I think that the church could use some more transparency in the way they have dealt with this and in the light of the findings in the Pennsylvania grand jury report it seemed more than ever important to say we want to hear about the facts from the church and not from a grand jury.

CAMEROTA: Do you want Cardinal Wuerl to resign?

CHALLINOR: I want to begin by saying that the accusations in the grand jury report may well not be true. He may be absolved of all those charges.

However, I still think that he should resign. I think he should step aside, I think is a better way to say it, as a sign of support for a radical change in the way the church deals with this problem.

I think the church needs to turn over the adjudication of this to lay men and women. And I think if the cardinal sacrifices his position of privilege and does so unjustly because he was found to be completely absolved of the charges, then I think that is a question of injustice.

But there is a lot of injustice in this situation. And you can ask the victims about that.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And we have. We have heard from them and their heartbreaking stories.

What do you want to see from Pope Francis?

CHALLINOR: I want to see from Pope Francis action. I completely endorse his wanting to be sorry for what happened and for asking for forgiveness, but I am not seeing him walk the walk. I am not seeing actions. And it's actions that I am wanting from both Pope Francis and from the hierarchy here in the United States.

CAMEROTA: And, last, what did you think of that man who had the more vocal outburst of protest during Sunday's mass where he said something to the effect of shame on you? Is that effective?

CHALLINOR: You know, I think everyone needs to protest in the way they feel morally OK, you know? I think he has every right to do that. He has every right to walk out of the church.

I personally did not choose that form of protest. I -- and I heard him say that. I was -- obviously I was there. But my feeling is that standing with my faith community, staying in the church and making a statement about my being part of this church and protesting what is being done for me is more important.

CAMEROTA: And I would say that the image of you that we've all seen is also quite effective. Mary Challinor, thank you very much for sharing your position with us.

CHALLINOR: You're welcome.

AVLON: Powerful stuff.

And "The Good Stuff" is next.

CAMEROTA: But, first, Ruth Bader Ginsburg featured in a new CNN film that airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. Here's a little preview. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm proud to nominate this path- breaking attorney, advocate and judge to be the 107th justice to the United States Supreme Court.

JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT: We may be in trying times, but think how it was in those days. The judges didn't think sex discrimination existed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruth knew what she was doing in laying the foundation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To put women on the same plane as men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The goal was equality and civil rights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ruth Bader Ginsburg quite literally changed the way the world is for American women.

GINSBURG: What has become of me could happen only in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's become such a rock star.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is really the closest thing to a superhero I know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is known to fans, the world over, as the notorious RBG.

GINSBURG: All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.



[08:58:31] AVLON: Time for "The Good Stuff."

People in north Texas coming together to help a teenager whose legally blind. Shia Busby (ph) was told she would never see clearly again when she was diagnosed with a rare disease that caused part of her retina to deteriorate. So a fundraiser was set up to help her get special $10,000 glasses that help her see.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every donation that came in, I'm telling you, I've had tears going like crazy because this is the good stuff.



CAMEROTA: Way to brand it perfectly for us. We agree. Look at this. AVLON: Incredible. I mean, those are $10,000 glasses. Shia's (ph)

dream came true. She got the glasses and now she's able to see clearly for the first time in two years.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It hasn't fully sunk in yet because it's just -- it's kind of a miracle.


AVLON: Kind of a miracle.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, it is a miracle. The generosity of people is always so impressive and heartwarming on this Labor Day. Thank you for spending part of it with us.

AVLON: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: And, John, thank you for celebrating Labor Day by working.

AVLON: It's the least I could do, but it's always a joy to spend it with you and really culminate this weekend and more of memorializing and appreciating John McCain being buried yesterday. It really is sort of a reset maybe for our politics, certainly for your country, and that's what Labor Day's supposed to.

CAMEROTA: I like -- listen, I like your idealism about this. And you were at his funeral, so you felt it, I think, more acutely than some of us who just watched it on TV. But, obviously, we've been hopeful in the past that there would be a reset. Let's hope this time it's true.

[09:00:11] AVLON: Keep hope alive.

CAMEROTA: OK, see you tomorrow, John.

AVLON: Happy Labor Day.

CAMEROTA: See all of you tomorrow.

Time for CNN "NEWSROOM" with