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Sports and Politics Collide; GOP Healthcare Bill Spark Protests; War of Words with North Korea Continues; Puerto Ricans Ask Congress' Help. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired September 26, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, HOST, CNN: Taking a knee. More NFL players and owners sending a defiant message to President Donald Trump while the White House denies igniting a culture war.

Plus, North Korea accuses the U.S. of declaring war but the White House says that suggestion is absurd.

And later, Puerto Rico looking like a wasteland after hurricane Maria and in desperate need of help.

Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.

Donald Trump's feud with NFL players doesn't look like it will die down anytime soon. The Dallas Cowboys are the latest team to kneel before the national anthem played during their game with the Arizona Cardinals. Even Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones, who is a major Trump supporter, took a knee.

Last Friday, Mr. Trump said players who don't stand for the anthem should be fired. The Pittsburgh Steelers' Alejandro Villanueva became something of a poster boy after he stood alone on the sidelines during the anthem Sunday. The rest of his team stayed off the field. He says that was not his intention.


ALEJANDRO VILLANUEVA, OFFENSIVE LINEMAN, PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Every single time, you know, I see that picture of me standing by myself, I feel embarrassed to a degree. Because like I said unintentionally I left my teammates behind. It wasn't me stepping forward. I never planned to boycott the plan the Steelers came up with.

I just thought that there would be some middle ground where I could stay in the tunnel. Nobody would see me. And then afterwards I wouldn't just talk do the media like I all the time.


CHURCH: Meanwhile, the White House is trying to frame the issue as a protest against the military and the American flag. But former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the protest last year, says that's not what it's about.


COLIN KAEPERNICK, FORMER NFL QUARTERBACK: The media painted this as I'm anti-American, anti-men and women of the military, and that's not the case at all. No, I realize that men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put their selves in harm's way for my freedom of speech and my freedoms in this country, and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee. So I have the utmost respect for them.


CHURCH: Key members of the White House, including the vice president are coming to Mr. Trump's defense.

CNN's Jim Acosta reports.

JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Critics threw the penalty flag immediately for un-statesmanlike conduct.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespect or flag, to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired!


ACOSTA: But President Trump claims the firestorm he ignited when he slammed NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem was not motivated by race.


TRUMP: This has nothing to do with race. I never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag.


ACOSTA: Yet this morning the president found time to praise NASCAR fans, tweeting, "So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans they won't put up with disrespecting our country or our flag. They said it loud and clear. Nothing to see here, insists the White House.


ACOSTA: Is he trying to wage something of a culture war?

SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Not at all. The president is not talking about race. The president is talking about pride in our country. What you saw yesterday where players and fans of all races joining together as Americans to honor our service members. That's what the president is talking about. That's what his focus is on. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: One GOP adviser to the White House told CNN the president was in fact waging a cultural war, trolling today's pro-athletes as if they were Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is what it is.

ACOSTA: Among Mr. Trump's targets, NBA star Steph Curry. Going to the White House is considered a great honor for championship team. Steph Curry is hesitating. Therefore, invitation is withdrawn. The president's comments provoked a reaction on the field and off. NBA star LeBron James tweeted, "Yu bomb to the president."


LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER: He doesn't understand how many kids, no matter the race, look up to the president of the United States for guidance, for leadership, for words of encouragement.


[03:05:08] ACOSTA: This isn't the first time the president has gone after athletes for kneeling in protest. He did it during the campaign, singling out quarterback Colin Kaepernick.


TRUMP: Number one is this politics, they're finding is a much rougher game than football and more exciting. And honestly we've taken a lot of people away from the NFL. And the other reason is Kaepernick. Kaepernick.



ACOSTA: It's also not the first time the president has been accused of dividing America over the subject of race from Charlottesville.


TRUMP: And you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.



ACOSTA: No fine people in the Nazis.


ACOSTA: To question whether Barack Obama was born in the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: They make these 'birthers' into the worst idiots. Why doesn't

he show his birth certificate?


ACOSTA: With parts of the U.S. reeling from natural disasters and the U.S. tearing down North Korea, the White House insists the president has his priorities in order.


SANDERS: It really doesn't take that long to type out 140 characters, and this president is very capable of doing more than one thing at a time and more than one thing in a day.


ACOSTA: Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: And Scott Lucas joins me now. He is a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham in England. Scott, thanks so much for being with us.

So, President Trump clearly didn't expect to see images of NFL players linking arms with team owners taking a knee to protest injustices in America. How significant is this moment where politics and sports collide?

SCOTT LUCAS, POLITICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Well, I think it's an important symbolic moment on top of others. Remember, we're only six weeks away from Charlottesville, and the perceived failure of Trump to call out white supremacists over the violence. So now you have this counterpoint that with Trump standing away from white supremacists on that issue but then deliberately firing up this issue, which does have racial elements in it.

Last Friday in a speech in my hometown Huntsville, Alabama, and he picked this fight. There was no reason to do this. Colin Kaepernick had effectively been blacklisted and is not playing in the NFL.

But Trump decided to make him a target, and then players responded because they felt they were being challenged over their rights over freedom of speech, as well as their right to be concerned about issues. And owners responded because Trump threatened their pocket books when he called for a boycott of the NFL.

CHURCH: President Trump says this has nothing to do with race. He also says there's been a tremendous backlash against the NFL over this. Is he right, or is he wrong?

LUCAS: Come on. I mean, you know, it may not be that Trump actually issued the words race when he made that statement last Friday or in any of his tweets. But the coincidence that two weeks ago he and his staff called for the firing of an ESPN anchorwoman who happens to be African-American, his comments about the NFL players, many of whom are African-American, his comments about Steph Curry who happens to be African-American.

And within that wider context, as we have noted, that Trump has appeared to take sides by simply refusing to condemn white supremacists or what other would like to call white nationalism. Yes, it has everything to do with race.

CHURCH: So, Scott, why do you think President Trump attacked NFL players over the weekend at a time when the country faces enormous challenges including a nuclear North Korea, hurricane devastation across two states and the island of Puerto Rico, and a doomed healthcare bill?

LUCAS: Because he wants to fire up his base and this was the way to do it when he's struggling on other issues. Puerto Rico, which has suffered perhaps unprecedented damage; he didn't know how to get assistance down there or wasn't concerned about it. The healthcare bill is fold in Congress for a fourth time and it's unlikely to pass.

He isn't sure how to get his budget through or his tax program through. He isn't sure even what to do about North Korea so he picks an easy target or what he thinks is an easy target, Colin Kaepernick and he decides to insult him. This is what this president does. He avoids the tough choices by picking what he things is an easy fight, only for that it then become the central issue.

CHURCH: Scott Lucas, I want you to stand by if you would. We'll come back to you in just a moment.

I want to talk now, though, about the latest republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. It appears all but doomed with opposition from Senators Susan Collins, John McCain, and Rand Paul.

Late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel has been an outspoken advocate for broader health insurance coverage and he tweeted this. "Thank you, Senator Collins for putting people ahead of party. We are all in your debt."


[03:10:05] And this was the scene outside a Senate committee hearing on the proposal Monday. Protesters, many in wheelchairs, began chanting and were dragged out of the room. Capitol police arrested 181 people there.

Well, congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly has more on the challenges facing republicans as they try to make good on their longtime promise to replace Obamacare.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: There was one kind of key mark for Senate republican as they pursued once against an effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. They couldn't lose any more than two senators. Well, now they have. Senator Susan Collins coming out Monday night, saying she would be opposed to the bill and by all accounts, almost putting an end to the latest effort.

The fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, who no knows at this point where they're actually at? But one thing is clear. Ideologically, republicans still haven't figured out how to bridge their divide on issues that's divisive as healthcare.

Now guys, it came at the end Collins' statement of a very long day, a day that include a hearing on the bill known as Graham-Cassidy that had protesters including many in wheelchairs who were chanting and had to be removed and then arrested by Capitol police, kind of a visceral almost reaction to what has occurred with this bill and a really, really good way to underscore the opposition that has rallied around it.

You can also look at the poll numbers. A CBS poll coming out saying only 20 percent of Americans polled supported the Graham-Cassidy proposal. Of that group only 46 percent of republicans supported the bill.

Again, all underscoring why this has been so difficult up to this point. Now there hasn't been a public announcement yet that they are putting an end to the process, aides telling me Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell wants to make sure he has a chance to talk to his entire conference before making a decision whether or not to pull the bill altogether.

But you want to know just how far Senator Susan Collins was from actually supporting this bill, take a listen to this.


SUSAN COLLINS, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: Let me just quickly run through my reasons for deciding to oppose this bill. Obviously, this was an issue to which I've given a great deal of thought because there are many problems in the Affordable Care Act that do need to be fixed. However, it was clear to me that the Graham-Cassidy bill was not the answer.


MATTINGLY: Compare that with Senator Rand Paul who said once again on Monday that he was nowhere near ready to support the bill. And obviously, Senator John McCain who kind of sent this whole thing into a tailspin on Friday when he opposed the bill.

It doesn't look like there's any movement coming anytime soon. So, again, guys, the big question now, what do Senate leaders do? We talked to a lot of senators on background quietly. They said expect it to be pulled. We'll probably find out Tuesday afternoon.

CHURCH: Scott Lucas joins me again. Scott, thanks so much for staying with us. So let's look at the issue of healthcare in America. Why are republicans pressing on with an apparently doomed healthcare bill that many people don't seem to want including some in their own party? And why can't they get this right after seven years of vowing to repeal and replace Obamacare?

LUCAS: Well, I think the first answer is that they boxed themselves into a corner by saying for those seven years, look, as soon as we get power, we're getting rid of the Affordable Care Act. I think some republicans are committed to scrapping Obamacare and coming up with a system which hands over more of the burden or responsibility to the states.

But I think others were politically tied to this. The question of why they continue to pursue it, you know, when you're in a poker game and you either have to fold your hand or you stay in and double your bet, quite often you try to bluff it out.

Graham-Cassidy is estimated to cost the American economy $270 billion in GDP. Perhaps more importantly, it's going to remove or reduce coverage from an estimated more than 20 million Americans. It is estimated that states who will now have to take on the burden of care will lose hundreds of billions of dollars as they struggle to deal with this.

Two-thirds of the state will lose, only one-third gaining. Now all logic would tell you, you go back and you rethink this. But every time the GOP has come the deadline, this time they have to try to get something through pass on September 30th, and they decided to take it to the wire.

Unless they can either swing more to the conservatives like Rand Paul and make concessions, but that might alienate the moderates or alternative what try to attract moderate like Susan Collins and alienate the conservatives, they're going to lose this one again just like they did this summer.

CHURCH: And Scott, in the CNN debate Monday night, Senator Bernie Sanders pushed for short-term fixes to Obamacare and his long-term plan for universal healthcare system. Then at the other end of the political spectrum republicans still trying to come up with a viable alternative plan.

So, what needs to happen next? Is there a middle ground solution, a compromise perhaps, and why is it that America can't find a healthcare solution whereas other western nations can?

[03:15:07] LUCAS: At the risk of saying something unpopular with many of your viewers, Rosemary, I think Obamacare was that attempt at a middle ground solution. At least for the next few years. And that's because it is impossible for a solely private system to provide care for all citizens, even with Medicare, even with Medicare, even with other federal assistance you had almost 50 million Americans were uninsured.

At the end of the day -- and I happen to live in a country which has single-payer insurance -- you've got to have a guarantee from someone, the federal government in this case, to provide a basic standard of care while allowing some type of private add-ons.

Again, which happens in many countries. Now, until the U.S. moves towards that guarantee for all of its citizens, we'll go round and round and round because a fundamentally private system is always going to leave huge gaps. CHURCH: And we are going round and round and round. And that is for

sure. Scott Lucas, always great to chat with you and get your perspective on all these issues. I appreciate it.

LUCAS: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, for our international viewers you can watch the debate and its entirety at 9 p.m. in Hong Kong. That's 2 p.m. in London.

Coming up next, North Korea accuses U.S. President Donald Trump of declaring war with a tweet. Now the White House is responding. We'll have the details for you next.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. South Korea is urging the United States to held dial back tensions with North Korea and to prevent any kind of accidental military confrontation. Now, this comes after North Korea's foreign minister accused President Donald Trump of declaring war when he tweeted that Kim Jong-un won't be around much longer if he follows through on his threats. The White House, though, is pushing back.


SANDERS: We've not declared war on North Korea. And frankly, the suggestion of that is absurd.


CHURCH: Well, CNN's Ben Wedeman is monitoring all this for us. He is in Tokyo. So, Ben, how frustrating and challenging is this for the South Korean leadership trying to de-escalate this situation while the U.S. president seems to be making things worse?

BEN WEDEMAN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, you know, traditionally, Rosemary, relations between Seoul and Washington were very good. There were very rarely any tensions, and they saw eye to eye on the threat posed by the North Korean nuclear program.

But certainly, since even the candidacy of Donald Trump, the signals have been much different from the United States. You'll recall that it wasn't long ago that President Trump accused the North -- South Korean leadership of appeasement when it comes to dealing with Kim Jong-un, and President Trump also threatened to can the South Korean-U.S. free trade agreement, which he called a job-killing trade deal.

Nonetheless, Korea, South Korea is obviously in the front line when it comes to the crisis with North Korea and they do need a friend in the White House. So, we've seen the Korean president meet with President Trump in New York during the U.N. General Assembly. President Trump has pledged to be willing to sell to both Japan and South Korea more advanced weaponry to deal with the threat pose by North Korea.

But the Koreans are nervous. The South Koreans are very nervous about the tone of the rhetoric going both ways. So over the weekend, we heard a spokesman for the ruling party in Seoul calling on both sides to temper their rhetoric in order to reduce anxiety.

Unfortunately, it's been a few hours since we've gotten any disturbing tweets from the U.S. president, but from the North Korean side, I've been reading all day long the dispatches from the KCNA, the Korea Central News Agency, the official news agency of North Korea, and there's no letup in the tone of rhetoric there.

The last dispatch I read was a report of the opinions of North Koreans living in China calling for a shower of nuclear bombs to cure President Trump's madness, in the words of that dispatch. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes, very uneasy in many parts of the world over this very issue. Ben Wedeman bringing us up to date on reaction there. He's in Tokyo, where it is nearly 4.30 in the afternoon. Many thanks.

And we are following breaking news this hour. There has been an attack at a crossing between an Israeli settlement and the West Bank. Israeli police say a gunman has killed three Israelis. The attacker is now dead.

I want to get the latest from CNN's Ian Lee. So, Ian, what more are you learning about this attack?

IAN LEE, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Rosemary, this attack happened in the early morning hours just behind me. And you can see you have a heavy security presence here in the settlement of Har Adar. We're in the back entrance where Palestinian workers would come in, about 100 on a daily basis, doing odd jobs, a lot of them in construction.

And that attack happened just beyond this fence. And a Kurd when the Palestinians were lined up the security officials there saw one man, and he looked suspicious so they went to engage him. And that's when this 37-year-old Palestinian man pulled out a gun, shot, and killed three Israelis.

We're learning that one of them was a border police. Two other were from the security here in Beit Adar or Har Adar, and one other person was shot in the stomach and injured. We're told that those people who were shot were in their 20s and 30s. The police investigating now the motive and trying to figure out more about the person behind that attack. But we are told that that 37-year-old man from Beit Surik which os just right over there he has been killed. Rosemary?

[03:25:07] CHURCH: And Ian, you're there at the scene. What's the feeling there? How are people responding? How are they reacting?

LEE: Yes, heavy security presence here and this is typical after an incident like this. You know, and just walking down here, we had a lot of people who are watching, seeing what the latest was. There's just a school a few hundred meters up in this direction and all the kids were out watching what's going on.

Definitely something that shakes a community like this when there is an attack and people are killed. But right now, you can see just a heavy police presence. We're told that the army could also be involved if there is an operation in the West Bank to go further into where that gunman was from in Beit Surik.

CHURCH: All right. Ian Lee, with the very latest on that attack from Har Adar on the West Bank, where it is nearly 10.30 in the morning. Many thanks to you.

We'll take a short break here but still to come, athletes protesting injustice is nothing new. Still to come, we will here from an Olympic champion who took a stand against racism 50 years ago.


CHURCH: A warm welcome back, everyone, to our viewers here in the United States, and of course, to those of you joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

I want to update you now on the main stories we're following this hour.

[03:29:54] Republicans are voting to press on with their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Despite Senator Susan Collins' announcement that she will vote against the latest bill. Collins is the third republican to come out against the proposed healthcare reform plan.

Hurricane Maria has left millions of people in Puerto Rico without food, water, or power. The U.S. territory is struggling with destruction that's been described as apocalyptic. The governor is asking Congress to approve a proportionate aid package to help the island recover.

It appears Iran's recently claimed ballistic missile launch did not actually happen. Iran's state-run TV reported the test launch on Saturday, but U.S. officials say radars did not detect any missile activity. It's unclear if President Trump received an intelligence briefing before he tweeted about the reported missile launch.

President Trump's suggestion that athletes should be fired for protesting during the national anthem has a lot of people thinking about this moment. This is back in 1968 in Mexico City.

Now, you see Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith and his teammate, John Carlos, raising their fists in a black power salute and hanging their heads during the national anthem, all to protest racial and social racial injustice.

The moment is iconic, occurring just months after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. And many people were outraged by it. Tommie Smith, the man in the middle joins me now. Tommie, welcome. It is indeed an honor to have you here in the studio.


CHURCH: When you listened to what President Trump said over the weekend, does it take you back to the 196s? How does it make you feel when you hear what he has to say? SMITH: It rather saddened me but knowing the man's M.O., because of

the presidential campaigns, it was a depilatory type situation for him to say things that he did say to full-grown men and being a leader of this country acting as a person that did not care. That's what frightened me and saddened me to hear him taking a block against a building of a nation through the attitude of, you're fired.

This is not a TV show. It's life, and these are young men are not out there making fun of what they do. They are making this thing they call fun a reality because it's a part of life, which they live. They have families. They have futures, and they have pasts. Their mamas and their daddies, their aunt and uncles, grandparents worked hard to build the country. And they should be in a position to say what they think about the continuation of this path of their lives.

CHURCH: And of course, when you protested, you and John Carlos back in 1968, you -- there was a lot of symbolism, wasn't there? You took your shoes off to as a symbolism of poverty. You wore things round your neck to show lynching.

When you look at the form of protest now, Colin Kaepernick of course triggering that taking to his knee, what do you think of that form of protest, what sort of impact do you think it has?

SMITH: Rosemary, you know that I think action speaks louder than words, and a picture means more than a thousand words. And he has symbolized that right to show his feeling in his job, the things he did. He needed -- he needed a feature of sight so people can understand, could see his concern and he made his concern verbally known by saying why he was on his knees.

And it took a while for people to try to understand why he was doing this. And they thought they still do to some still do think that he's using the flag and dragging through the mud. But what he's doing actually he's picking the flag up, showing the colors of the flag and saying, this is what I represent.

It should represent freedom. I mean, this is a textbook symbolization from Colin, and other people are beginning to see this now on a small level as I'm talking on a small level. But it's going to rise as we go through this year, it's going to rise and it's going to be mightyful, especially in six months from now in 2018.

CHURCH: And when you see the president and other government officials demanding respect for the national anthem, for the flag, and yet not appearing to understand what the protest is about, how do you feel about that situation?


[03:34:59] SMITH: Well, they should educate themselves. My goodness, gee, whiz, if you're going to talk about something, you should know what the subject matter is, so you can just call a name or two and not those guys and then taking one sport and pitting it against another sport that is divisive, and one do not this, especially to our country, and that's what the president of these United States did. He must be educated, and I think he's being educated. I think he's

fighting with all his might to prove that he doesn't know as much as he might think he knows.

Now, I'm not banging on the president, only as a man looking him directly in the face as he views the athletes it's time to understand what's going on. It's time to lock your arms and conversate while you are touching and not divisively move it apart and saying this is what you should do. If you don't do, you're going to be fired. Come on. This is not a TV show.

CHURCH: So, what do you say to the critics that say, well, when people, when the NFL players protest like that during the national anthem, it's being disrespectful to the military? What's your answer to that?

SMITH: I don't believe so. Some of the athletes have been in the military, like myself. A lot of football folks don't that. I was ROTC in college. After Mexico City, I was no longer ROTC. I think the pride of the nation is in its war against ignorance in the same respect. I don't think it's a challenge to our country to fight for a right of a person in that country. Please, military, I would -- don't feel this way because it's not factual.

CHURCH: Now, the White House says that these protests are not about race. I want to just to get you to listen, if you wouldn't mind, to what the White House press secretary had to say about these protests.


SANDERS: I think if this is -- the debate is really for them about police brutality, they should probably protest the officers in the field that are protecting them instead of the American flag.


CHURCH: What do you make of that?

SMITH: Protection is protection. That is their job, I do believe, not taking the person and banging their heads against the ground just to force an issue that cannot stand and because you're a policeman you think you're protected. No. I think Colin recognized the fact, and this is what he started with.

It has risen now to an implication of more people are needed to stop not only the brutality but also to bring in the attitude of the constitutional sake of the Constitution and being able to speak your piece, not denying the fact that because you move differently in a way to improve the life in a country that you should be shunned because yours are not like someone else's, and yours is not the same color as someone else's when it comes to the technique moving forward. We all have different moves.

Now, I think because we have these different moves we should lock together, conversate and move forward. If we take this and stop each other because my idea is different from yours, that's where the lockdown is, and that's we're moving forward is impossible. We can move together even though our thoughts are different. That's what makes anything grow, especially a country is differences in opinion moving together and making another sake to move forward in different words. I think in my opinion is important.

CHURCH: Tommie Smith, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

SMITH: My pleasure. Thank you.

CHURCH: All right. We'll take a very short break here. But still to come, in Puerto Rico, a desperate situation with millions struggling in hurricane Maria's aftermath. A look at one of the hardest hit areas when we come back.


CHURCH: U.S. President Donald Trump is talking about the disaster in Puerto Rico for the first time in days. After all those tweet he went out stirring at the national anthem controversy again, he was back on Twitter Monday night talking about hurricane brief efforts while lasting the island over its debts.

This is what he said. "Texas and Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure and massive debt, is in deep trouble. Its old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the island was destroyed with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks, which sadly must be dealt with. Food, water, and medical are top priorities and doing well. Hash tag, FEMA."

Well, a week after hurricane Maria and millions of people in Puerto Rico are still without food, water or power. The governor says the U.S. territory is facing a humanitarian crisis and he's urging Congress to send aid that will help the island recover. The situation is even more desperate in remote areas.

CNN's Bill Weir reports.


BILL WEIR, ANCHOR, CNN: It is so hard to move around this island because Puerto Rico is a tangled mess of shadowed trees and downed power lines and endless gas lines where the desperate can wait half a day under a blazing sun for a few precious gallons.

In the rural highland south of the capital, it looks like a bomb went off. Once lush, green hillsides are now brown and broken by the power of Maria's wind and it's up here where most of 28,000 residents of Aguas Buenas had no choice but to shelter in place and pray.

As this camper was toss like a toy, Deanna (Ph) and her family were huddled in their home across the street.

How are you, how is life? How are you surviving? "I think God I'm still alive," she tells me. "I can't describe the storm. I've never seen anything like it in my life." It's hard to tell from the road, but the back end of this house is

built on concrete stilt driven into the hillside, so imagine the anxiety as Maria really picked up strength. Deanna (Ph) inside she's carrying for an invalid husband. She's worried that the back end of the house's bedroom is going to slide into the ravine, so she moves the whole family into the living room.

They hear the crash of this power tower go down on the neighbor's roof. Water is coming in through the shutters. She's trying to keep it up, and at one point she tells me they prepared to die together.

Which is scarier combat in Vietnam or hurricane Maria?

The hurricane is worse.

Miguel survived a combat tour in Cambodia and now Deanna worries about the last vial of his insulin at risk of spoiling in a powerless refrigerator.

[03:45:05] Yet, with textbook hospitality -- muchos gracias -- she takes the time to make us coffee. A few miles up the road, more kindness and much more misery.

Here's a drone shot of this area before Maria, and here it is today. This is what a category four hurricane will do to wood construction. The roof, who knows what happened to the roof? It's amazing the walls held the way they dis.

Trophies earned by Wilfredo's grandkids still stand in a room with no proof. He was released from prostate surgery the day the storm hit, hold up with his whole family in a local church and they all survived, but now he has little left with his faith.

How would you describe people's desperation? Are you seeing looting? Are you seeing anger?

"There has been looting." The mayor of Aguas Buenas tells me. There have been robberies. And when it comes to the feelings of the people of this town, we are saddened because we are still looking for people."

As an American, I wonder how do Puerto Ricans feel about being an American territory in times like this. Do you think America will come save you? Do you hope they will? "Yes," he tells. President Donald Trump has approved a disaster declaration. We will me forward with the help of the United States.

GLADYS HERNANDEZ, PUERTO RICAN RESIDENT: What they can give us, we'll receive with a lot of love. Thank you.

WEIR: You're welcome. You're welcome.

HERNANDEZ: Very much.

WEIR: We're thinking of you.

Bill Weir, CNN, in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico.


CHURCH: And earlier, we spoke to Puerto Rico's Governor, Ricardo Rosello about the recovery efforts on the island. Here's what he said they need right now.


RICARDO ANTONIO ROSSELLO, GOVERNOR OF PUERTO RICO: Well, the greatest need is for us to be able to get food, water, and fuel to all the areas in Puerto Rico and to make sure that those that need rescue still have a way -- a safe passage home. We've rescued over 5,500 people in Puerto Rico in the past couple of days. So, all of those are priorities right now.

This has been an unprecedented catastrophe here in Puerto Rico, and quite frankly, an unprecedented catastrophe overall. You know, having two category five hurricanes come back-to-back to one location in the span of two weeks is unheard of.

I have to say that from the administration, from the president, they have responded quickly. FEMA has responded appropriately. We're working together to make sure that we can save lives and execute appropriately.

But, again, there are some challenges, and we need more resources. We recognize that it's unprecedented, but now what we're doing is asking Congress to establish a package for Puerto Rico so that we can start rebuilding. We can have the resources. We can have flexibility in execution. And then, you know, we can avoid what could be a humanitarian crisis here in Puerto Rico.


CHURCH: And if you want to learn how you can help hurricane Maria victims, just log on to You can donate to one of the charities we've vetted for you, or you can volunteer your time.

Well, in defiance of international opposition, large numbers of Iraqi Kurds cast their votes in a referendum on independence Monday. Officials say more than 70 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. Iran and Turkey fear the vote could motivate Kurdish minorities in their countries.

The U.S., U.K. and the U.N are concerned it could detract from the battle against ISIS.

Our CNN international correspondent Nima Elbagir is in Erbil in Iraq. She joins us now. So, Nima, what are the expectations in the wake of this vote?

NIMA ELBAGIR, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, we ask -- we are very much in unchartered territory at this point, Rosemary. The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi has said that while this had been perceived as a mandate to begin conversations with the central government, that he will not negotiate on the basis of what he calls an illegal and unconstitutional referendum.

In fact, in a further escalation of the rhetoric that we've been hearing over the last few days, he says that all options are on the table to protect the territorial integrity of one unified Iraq, including, he says, the use of force.

And that comes after some pretty escalated rhetoric on the part of the Turks, and of course, on the part of Iran who are concerned that this will empower their Kurdish minorities.

We've already seen celebrations on the part of the Syrian Kurds. We can show you those pictures, Rosemary. This is a day that is being celebrated not just by the Kurds here. This is really being seen as an historic day by all Kurds across the Kurdish diaspora, across the Kurdish nation.

[03:50:00] And now they're looking to see, well, what happens next. As you rightly spoke about the key role that Kurdistan has played that the Kurdish forces have played in the battle against ISIS. That is very much their joker here.

That's the ace up their sleeve, that while ISIS continues to be a threat, continues to shape their reality on the ground and the Kurds continue to play such a key role in that, they have a very strong diplomatic hand.

They can't as yet be forced to accept the international community's rejection of this referendum because they are so important in that ongoing battle, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, Nima Elbagir joining us there from Erbil in Iraq, where it is nearly 11 o'clock in the morning. Many thanks to you for that live report.

Coming up next, phrases like SOB used to be restricted to private conversations, but since President Trump's football feud eruption, the invective is on everybody's lips.

CNN's Jeanne Moos has that story after this short break. Stay with us.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, calling someone and SOB used to be unpresidential. But now thanks to President Donald Trump, that phrase has a lot of people talking.

[03:55:04] Jeanne Moos reports.

JEANNE MOOS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It used to be that a president like LBJ would say phrases like SOB for private conversations never intended to be heard publicly.


LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why do you think that son of a bitch wouldn't concede? (END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: But this son of a real estate developer spit it out with gusto.


TRUMP: To say get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired.


MOOS: Once the president said it, the sports world spit it back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you called people sons of bitches, that offends everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know for a fact that I'm no son of a bitch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As an African-American has somebody in the NFL as one of those sons of bitches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say he should apologize. We're not SOB's.



MOOS: Of course, this SOB story round up on reporters' lips in the White House briefing room.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the president go too far in referring to these players as SOB's?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And calling an American citizen who is expressing his First Amendment right as son of a bitch?



MOOS: But the woman whose son was the first to get down on his knee wasn't sobbing about him being called an SOB.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kaepernick's own love incidentally, magnificently responding I guess that makes me a proud bitch.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

CHURCH: And thanks so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me any time on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you. Early Start is next for Max -- for our viewers in the United States. For everyone else, stay tuned for more news with Hannah Vaughan Jones in London.

Have yourselves a great day.