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Police Standoff With Group Of Men In Massachusetts Ends Peacefully; Major Storm Could Force Rescue Teams To Suspend Operations In Collapsed Building In Surfside, Florida; Tropical Storm Elsa Threatens Parts Of Caribbean And Possibly Florida; White House To Deploy Response Teams To Low Vaccinated Areas As COVID Delta Variant Cases Increase; Los Angeles County Reopens Beaches For Fourth Of July Celebrations; Bill Cosby's Conviction For Sexual Assault Overturned; U.S. Economy Adds 850,000 Jobs In June. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired July 3, 2021 - 14:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: It was commissioned by the brothers a few years ago to memorialize their mother as well as mark the 20th anniversary of her death. The larger-than-life bronze statue will be placed in the new sunken garden at Kensington Palace.

Tonight, join Clarissa Ward in a search for the truth about Princess Diana's life and tragic death. CNN special report, "Diana, Chasing a Fairy Tale," begins tonight at 9:00.

Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this holiday weekend. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

A Boston suburb breathing a sigh of relief after an intense standoff ended safely this morning. The standoff shut down a major highway for hours. Investigators say the incident started as a traffic stop with a group of what police say were heavily armed men who were wearing tactical gear and body cameras. Several of the suspects fled into the wooded area near interstate 95, according to police, where the traffic stop occurred. Authorities say the suspects claimed to belong to a group that does not recognize U.S. law. All 11 suspects are now in custody.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro has been falling this developing story all day. Evan, what more are you learning?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, we are learning a lot more about how this standoff went down, what this was like. As you mentioned, it started at 1:30 in the morning last night on the highway when a highway patrolman saw these two vehicles parked in the breakdown lane. They say that one vehicle was trying to refuel the other fuel.

The police officer noticed a lot of guns, asked for some licenses, asked for some identification, was told that there wasn't any. He called for backup, and that led to the situation where some of the suspects fled into the woods, according to police, and others stayed around those vehicles, leading to this nine-hour standoff.

Police say in the standoff that the folks who were involved in it, the leader of the group said, look, we're not anti-government, but we don't believe the laws apply to us. At a press conference earlier today, one of the police described what that conversation was like.


COL. CHRISTOPHER MASON, MASSACHUSETTS STATE POLICE: Eleven armed individuals standing with long guns slung on an interstate highway at 2:00 in the morning certainly raises concerns, and is not consistent with the firearms laws that we have here in Massachusetts. I understand that they have a different perspective.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So we're waiting to see what happens with charges and what comes next for these 11 individuals. But as you heard there, the police pretty direct that you can't be on the side of the road with a lot of guns in Massachusetts right now on a holiday weekend on this busy, busy thorough fare by I-95.

So there's a lot more to learn. But really these details that are coming out just express how scary things were overnight and into the morning in this part of Massachusetts. We saw some people being told to stay in their homes while police search for these folks. We saw this long standoff that ended, fortunately, peacefully. Just a very, very, scary moment marking the beginning of this holiday weekend, Fred.

WHITFIELD: That's something else. Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much for that.

And then new developments on the search and rescue efforts in Surfside, Florida. A major storm could force rescue teams digging through the rubble of the collapsed condo building to suspend operations. Tropical storm Elsa was just downgraded from a hurricane this morning and it could make landfall in Florida as early as Monday. And officials have issued an emergency order to demolish what remains of that tower after it was deemed not structurally sound.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Our mission is to expedite it as soon as possible. Kevin Guthrie reports to me that once everything is ready to go that it can be brought down within 36 hours. And so it will entail minimal work stoppage from the search and rescue.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Brian Todd is in Surfside this afternoon for us. So Brian, what is the latest?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, you talked about the storm coming, and that is kind of a big part of the equation here as they start to plan the demolition of the rest of that tower. The timetable for that is a little unclear. The mayor of Surfside, Charles Burkett, said that it could come down as early as tomorrow. But the Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has really said there's no timetable for this. She's indicating that it could take longer than that.

And it's that delicate dance that they're doing with this tropical storm, Elsa. It's tracking toward the coast of south Florida. It's not clear right now whether it's going to track up the east coast or maybe go a little bit further west, and exactly when it's going to arrive here and at what strength. That's a little unclear as well, as you mentioned. But that's a big part of the equation too. How is that going to compromise the search and rescue operation.


Because we had a good view of the rubble yesterday from a vantage point there, and there was a lot of debris hanging off the remainder of that south tower, including large concrete slabs that seem to be hanging by a thread there. So it is a dangerous situation there.

Earlier today Florida Governor Ron DeSantis talked about how the community overall is coming together in the wake of this tragedy.


GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA: The amount of outpouring you see has grown exponentially. It was very moving, because when I first went, I knew some of the families. Now I've met a lot more of them, and so I recognize these folks, and I've heard stories about what they -- their lives and what they meant to their family and friends. So it was really -- it was really moving.

The community has come together, and I think that's made it easier. I know the families really appreciate all the support, but it's tough. And it's really been difficult to see.


TODD: And we have some other news this afternoon to report. This regarding the Champlain East Tower complex, that is just two doors down, very close to the collapsed site, and again, part of the same complex as the collapsed building. We have obtained a memo from a source close to the Champlain East Tower Complex, a memo from the condo board association to residents of that building, that memo dated yesterday, seeking to reassure the residents that they're doing all they can to keep that building safe.

And the memo specifically cites there is a pillar in the garage of that building which suffered some spalling, some cracking. We have some video of that to show you from a resident there. And that cracking of that pillar in the garage, according to the memo, occurred after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South building virtually next door.

So again, the residual effects of that collapse could be causing some problems at that Champlain East Tower Complex. That memo that we obtained says that they have put in 13 sensors around that building to detect any movement of concrete or anything like that. These are measures, Fredricka, that they probably would never have done before this collapse.

WHITFIELD: And so, Brian, was Champlain East built roughly the same time that Champlain South and North were?

TODD: That's a very good question, and, no, it wasn't. Champlain South, the one that collapsed, was completed in 1981. Champlain North, which is its sister building, very similar in design, was completed in 1982. The Champlain East Tower, which is very close to the Champlain South Tower physically, that was completed in 1994 and is a completely different design.

Same builder and same company, but a completely different design. And again, the residents there are a little jittery, but they are being reassured by their condo association. And even regarding that garage pillar, the sources that we talked to close to that building say that that's not an indication that that building is compromised in any way or about to collapse.

WHITFIELD: All right, Brian Todd, thank you so much.

The threat of tropical storm Elsa looms large for the search and rescue teams. Let's bring in CNN meteorologist Gene Norman who is tracking the storm. Gene?

GENE NORMAN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Fred. This is some video we got in from when Elsa was a hurricane and hit Barbados yesterday. Numerous reports of power outages, trees down, and of course some flash flooding.

Now, the storm right now has 70-mile-an-hour winds. That's why it's no longer a hurricane, below the 74-mile-an-hour threshold. It is right now lashing the southern section of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. One thing that's pretty interesting is that the storm has been moving forward pretty quickly.

Forward speed of 29 miles an hour is pretty much unheard of for any kind of storm in the Atlantic, but it continues to head toward Cuba, and that's where the track shows. And we get a new track at 5:00. Heading for Cuba by sometime tomorrow morning and then up toward Florida.

Most of the heavy effects have been to the right of the center of the storm. What's to the right of the center of this storm track? The Florida peninsula, which is why there are concerns there from Monday to about Wednesday.

The storm sits between two areas of high pressure, and that's why it will continue to move toward the north, but it could slow down a little bit as it gets closer to Florida due to that stationary front that's draped across the southeast. Fred, we're going to continue to track it, of course, and have updates.

WHITFIELD: Gene Norman, thank you so much. Coming up, comedian Bill Cosby is a free man this weekend after his

sex assault conviction was overturned. I'll talk live with one of his accusers who calls the decision a major loss.

Plus, Paul Vercammen is live for us in California as the holiday weekend kicks into high gear, Paul, shades and all.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. Come with us. Yes, I've got to protect my eyes. You can get a heck of a sunburn on a day like today. Look behind me, though, they're starting to invade the beach in the best way possible. It's going to be very hot in the valleys and Los Angeles. We're going to show you what they're doing to beat the heat and be safe this Fourth of July weekend.



WHITFIELD: All right, this July 4th weekend the White House is celebrating what it is calling America's independence from the COVID virus. This hour President Biden is touring a cherry farm in Michigan with Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and he and other members of his administration are traveling across the country to mark the progress of the nationwide vaccination efforts. CNN's Arlette Saenz joins me now from Traverse City, Michigan. Arlette, what more are you learning?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Fred, President Biden really is looking to highlight how much closer the country is getting to normal as the U.S. is making more progress against the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the president and other top White House officials are fanning out across the country this weekend for what the White House has described as the America's Back Together tour.

President Biden is here in the state of Michigan while first lady Jill Biden is up in Maine and New Hampshire, and the Vice President Kamala Harris is out west in Nevada. Each of these stops really trying to promote just the progress that has been made against the coronavirus pandemic.


The president is currently touring a cherry farm up in Antrim County, which is actually a county that President Trump won during the 2020 election even as President Biden carried the entire state of Michigan. One thing the White House has said, that during that tour he's also planning to talk about the benefits of that bipartisan infrastructure agreement as he is looking to get more Republican sign-on onto that plan.

But right now, this tour across the country, trying to highlight the progress of the coronavirus pandemic also runs up against the reality that this White House has missed its target that it had set for the Fourth of July holiday when the White House had indicated they wanted to have 70 percent of American adults with at least one shot of the coronavirus vaccine. Right now, that figure sits around 67 percent. And the White House has

acknowledged that they have much more work to do, as communities remain -- some communities remain hesitant about receiving the vaccine, and also as that Delta variant takes hold in the U.S. we have seen, and the White House has said that they are starting to mobilize some units to try to combat the Delta variant in certain communities here in the U.S.

But really so much of this weekend for this White House is just trying to highlight what progress has been made as the country is getting closer and closer to normal, even as they are acknowledging there is more work to do.

WHITFIELD: Arlette Saenz, thank you so much for that update. Beautiful weather there too. That's good.

California now. People are spending this holiday weekend soaking up the sun. Good weather there, too. The state just recently removed COVID restrictions. But officials are also seeing an uptick in new cases there. CNN's Paul Vercammen joins us now from a beach in Los Angeles. OK, so where are you at, which beach?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am at Dockweiler State Beach, Fred. And you are alluding to what's going on in Los Angeles County. So we've got a rise in COVID cases. We also have extremely dry fire weather, and that's concerning officials, because on the Fourth of July, Los Angeles has had a problem with illegal fireworks. And some of you may have seen that earlier this week they confiscated a batch of illegal fireworks, 5,000 pounds, and it blew up in a bomb squad van.

Now, we've got a situation here where fire officials and even a federal prosecutor is saying you get caught with illegal fireworks this weekend in L.A. County, you could be in big trouble. So their idea is get yourself down here to a place like this. This is Dockweiler Beach. We're seeing people flow in here already. And we thought this was just great. This family is setting up a birthday party for a four-year-old. Come on over here. Among other things you can burn in the fire pits here at Dockweiler. Tell us about this theme. What have you got going here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My niece is having a "Frozen" birthday party.

VERCAMMEN: That's awesome. And then what's the plan here for later on?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just going to have a birthday party for her until later, and then have a bonfire, and then go home.

VERCAMMEN: That's excellent, thank you so much. She's going to be four-years-old. She's not here yet. Pan over there. This is what you can do in L.A. county. This is very close to LAX, by the way, if you're hearing the plane. You're allowed to burn in this concrete ring.

And so that's the kind of thing that they're telling people to do, celebrate safely. But in this extreme drought and with this fire danger, don't start setting off illegal fireworks all over the city. We saw that happen, something like three dozen fires started last year in L.A. by illegal fireworks. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Be careful, everybody. That's a lucky four-year-old. She's got quite the bash there to expect. That's cool. Thanks so much, Paul Vercammen.

Still ahead, angry and upset. Bill Cosby accusers express outrage over his prison release.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sucker punched, like the rug was pulled out from underneath us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dismayed, enraged, infuriated.


WHITFIELD: I'll talk live with one woman who says Cosby assaulted her twice in the late 1970s.



WHITFIELD: Bill Cosby is spending his first weekend as a free man after he was released from prison this week. Pennsylvania's highest court overturned his sexual assault conviction, saying his due process rights were violated. Cosby was found guilty in 2018 of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexual assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004.

Dozens of women came forward to accuse Cosby of sexual misconduct, and one of those brave women is joining me right now. Patricia Leary Steuer accused Cosby of assaulting her twice in the late 1970s. Patricia, so good to see you, sorry under such circumstances. It took tremendous courage for you to share your story. What was your initial reaction to hear that his conviction was overturned?

PATRICIA LEARY STEUER, ACCUSED BILL COSBY OF TWO SEXUAL ASSAULTS: Well, I was sad -- and thanks for having me on. I was sad because it felt like a loss. I was stunned because none of us had much notice about this happening. The speed of it was quite stunning. I was angry that it feels like the courts and the system are skewed in such a way that it favors wealthy and powerful men over women when it comes to sexual assault. But I was comforted at the same time by the fact we did everything we could.


Our job was to come forward and tell the truth. It took some of us a long time to do that, including me, but that was our job, and we did that.

WHITFIELD: Now, overturning this conviction doesn't mean not guilty or innocent for Cosby. It's the result of a technicality and a huge prosecutor's office error. Still, how stunning or hurtful was this? Do you feel like overturning this conviction will be interpreted by many people as he is an innocent man?

STEUER: I suspect that's the way it's going to be spun by Mr. Cosby and the people who support him, but that is not my understanding of this ruling at all, and certainly isn't my lived experience or that of the other survivors. I hope it doesn't keep women from coming forward, because if we don't continue to come forward and talk about this, we'll continue to be sexual assault survivors, and no one will be held accountable for this.

WHITFIELD: Cosby cannot be tried again, but the door remains open for civil litigation. Do you see that effort gaining momentum, or was this such a blow, in your words, that those efforts have lost steam?

STEUER: I have no idea where individual survivors are about any of this. I will say I heard an interesting question today, which was would it have been better if he was never tried, or would it be better if he was tried, convicted, and then this ruling came down which allowed him to be set free from prison? And I say the way this happened is better than if he was never tried, because it gave us all a chance to use our voices in support of Andrea Constand and let people know who he really is.

WHITFIELD: And do you worry at all that this conviction overturned then might, I guess, still make it difficult for other survivors, alleged victims, to come forward? Do you see them as building their reluctance to come forward, or even testify?

STEUER: Some people are going to feel that way. I know from personal experience what kind of despair and resignation I had and for how many years after this happened to me. So all I can do is encourage you, please, put that aside and come forward anyway. We deserve to do this for each other as women who have had this shared experience of being sexually assaulted.

WHITFIELD: Patricia Leary Steuer, thank you so much for sharing your experience and your reaction.

STEUER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: As the coronavirus Delta variant surges, new concerns about how it's hitting some states harder than others, especially where vaccination rates are low.

And celebrate July 4th with CNN. Join Don Lemon, Dana Bash, Victor Blackwell, and Ana Cabrera for a star-studded evening of music and fireworks. Here's a look at the all-star lineup.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: July 4th. America is open. It's time to celebrate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Full on fireworks. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With coast-to-coast performances from Bebe Rexha, Billy Ray Cyrus, Black Eyed Peas, Blues Traveler, Brad Paisley, Chicago, Flo Rida, Foreigner, Neo, Nelly, REO Speedwagon, Sammy Hagar and the Circle, Susanna Hoffs, the Beach Boys, Tasha Cobbs Letter, Trisha Yearwood, and more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Join Don Lemon, Dana Bash, Victor Blackwell, and Ana Cabrera for "The Fourth in America" Live July 4th at 7:00 on CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't want to miss it.




WHITFIELD: Nearly 157 million people are now fully vaccinated here in the U.S. according to new numbers just released by the CDC. That makes up just a shade over 47 percent of the total population. Experts say we need to get shots in the arms of at least 70 percent in order to reach herd immunity.

But officials are now warning that the more transmissible Delta variant could make it even harder to reach herd immunity. This as cases surge in states like Arkansas, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation. CNN's Miguel Marquez explains why officials are sounding the alarm.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lincoln Reed Willis.


Oh, my goodness.

MARQUEZ: His mom, 28-year-old Victoria, she's otherwise healthy and works as an ICU nurse. She says she didn't want to get vaccinated, then got COVID-19.

VICTORIA WILLIS, WAS HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID-19 WHILE PREGNANT: Once I got it, it obviously took a turn for the worse. I ended up in the E.R. and then I ended up in the ICU, and I ended up delivering him in the ICU.

MARQUEZ: Despite CDC assurances that pregnant women after consultation with their doctors are safe to get vaccinated, despite ample evidence that the virus is a danger for pregnant mothers and possibly their children, neither Victoria nor her husband, Donovan, who have three kids chose to get vaccinated for COVID-19. DONOVAN WILLIS, VICTORIA'S HUSBAND: I know that I should get

vaccinated, I've always known that. But it's just, I guess, one of them irrational things of you hear everyone -- this is Arkansas. Everybody around here have their belief system.

MARQUEZ: The state of Arkansas now in it's third surge of COVID-19 infections, say health officials. It has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. Only about 34 percent of all Arkansans are fully vaccinated.

DR. JENNIFER DILLAHA, ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: We are seeing widespread COVID-19 in our state, and it's hitting the rural areas that were not previously hit in earlier surges.


MARQUEZ: Those growing cases in rural areas clear on this map from Johns Hopkins University. The bigger the circle, the bigger the outbreak. The highly transmissible Delta variant now spreading through the state.

DR. CAM PATTERSON, CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS FOR MEDICAL SCIENCES: We're seeing over 85 percent now of samples that are the Delta variant. And keep in mind, we only had our first Delta variant identified May 1st here in the state.

MARQUEZ: Little Rock's University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital reopened its COVID-19 unit this week and is planning to expand it in the weeks ahead.

PATTERSON: There's no doubt in my minding that our patients now are sicker. They're coming in more acutely ill. They're requiring more intensive care to manage their infections. It's a different monster than it was a year ago.

MARQUEZ: COVID-19 and its new variant still very much a threat.

V. WILLIS: If I would have known, then I would have definitely got it when I was pregnant to keep from having to deliver him at 33 weeks.

MARQUEZ: The Willises hope to take Lincoln home in the next couple of weeks. They also plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Look, it's as simple as this. Since the end of January, 99 percent of the people who have died in the state of Arkansas from COVID-19 were not vaccinated. Officials here now concerned about July 4th and that Delta variant really taking hold in the state, creating lots of needless sickness and death ahead.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Little Rock.


WHITFIELD: Joining me now, Dr. Junaid Nabi, a health policy expert and senior researcher for health care strategy at the Harvard Business School. So good to see you. He also recently wrote an op-ed for NPR titled "Vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. is a peculiar privilege." Dr. Nabi, explain what you meant by that.

DR. JUNAID NABI, HEALTH POLICY EXPERT: Thank you for having me here. So we know that the pandemic will not be over in the United States or some other western nations until it's over everywhere. For that to happen there must be a fair distribution of vaccines around the globe.

And that's not happening at the moment. We have, for example, in the U.S. up to 50 percent of the population fully vaccinated, as you were showing earlier, but in countries like India and in Africa with a population of more than 2 billion people combined, we have less than three percent of the population vaccinated.

And now to me as an immigrant looking at these sorts of stats, I was surprised because there is so much support and there is so much information available, yet there is hesitancy and refusal in the U.S. A recent NPR poll suggested up to one-fourth of the population would refuse vaccinations even when offered. So to me that suggests a certain amount of casual recklessness which was quite surprising and, honestly, shows that there is a certain amount of privilege that's going around.

WHITFIELD: Yes, it is very peculiar. You say that phrase, I want to wait and watch, is a common one you hear. Same with me, I hear it from people I know. And given that there is so much information, as you say, out there about the efficacy, the origin of these vaccines, it is confusing to hear people say I want to wait and watch. But what do you think is really behind that?

NABI: So there's a couple of reasons. For example, in the U.S. vaccine hesitancy, there are a lot of complicated reasons. We know that the medical system has not always been fair to underserved and minority communities in the U.S., and there has been a lot of oppression within the medical community and a lot of the underserved populations for the past so many decades.

WHITFIELD: And that part, I think, is understandable.

NABI: Yes.

WHITFIELD: But then there are other elements of it which is -- that would explain the hesitancy. But then there's the downright refusal, but it's not necessarily linked to historically -- historical precedents.

NABI: Right. I think there is an element of trust, an erosion of trust that has happened in the last one year. And what has happened is that a lot of the medical information has been politicized, unfortunately. And now there is this disconnect between whenever there is new information, there is skepticism. Whether it's true, how accurate it is, and that is contributing towards this distrust.

But at the same time, I want to urge people in the U.S. and other places that they must look around, they must look at what is happening at the global level, the amount of suffering, the amount of devastation that is happening. And for them, they could easily play a role by getting vaccinated, by encouraging others to get vaccinated, because that would allow for the government to be a little less worried about their own population and start playing a bigger role at the global level.

WHITFIELD: And do you think the U.S. will ever really get to 70 percent of vaccinated in order to fully achieve herd immunity?

NABI: I think the numbers, they are constantly changing, and there's a lot more that goes into developing that amount of protection.


So I wouldn't focus on 70 percent or 80 percent. But as many people to get vaccinated, that would be a priority. And if that happens, then we could come to a stage where we could finally sort of reopen properly and share and share the vaccines with other countries, and enable them to get back on track.

WHITFIELD: It sure seems counterintuitive that such a wealthy education, resource-rich country like the U.S., people would be snubbing the abundance of life-saving vaccines whereby so many other countries, as you mentioned, wish they had enough vaccine to go around.

NABI: Right. That's what so surprising to me, because when I speak with my colleagues, medical doctors in other countries, for example, in Africa and so many African countries, or even in South America or in India, they're constantly reminding me about how they're so surprised and so shocked that there are monetary incentives in the U.S., lottery systems and others to motivate people to get vaccinated, while in their countries they don't even have access to basic vaccines. So that is a recurring conversation I'm having.

But I don't see a lot of that in the U.S. I feel that a lot of people -- I constantly see advertisements for travel and to go certain places. So to me it seems that there is a certain community in the U.S., or certain people that think that the pandemic is over. But we're far from it. We're not -- we're nowhere near.

WHITFIELD: Yes, we're nowhere near. Dr. Junaid Nabi, thank you so much. Appreciate your perspective.

NABI: Thank you so much for having me.

WHITFIELD: Great. And have a great holiday weekend.

NABI: You, too.

WHITFIELD: And this just into CNN. U.S. officials say they are actively updating emergency evacuation plans for the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, as concerns grow about the potential for escalating violence in that country. And this comes as nearly all U.S. troops have exited the country. Sources say in addition to bolstering the physical embassy security, there are now other assets in the region to be ready to assist if there is a need for evacuation.

On to Japan now. Today two people are dead and 20 are missing after a powerful mudslide in a town southwest of Tokyo. These pictures extraordinary. Emergency crews searched for hours for any survivors, stopping only when darkness fell. And you can see this video destroying homes and buildings. Nothing but rubble left behind from this wall of mud. More than 2,800 homes remain without power now.

WHITFIELD: As of this week, it's a new era in the world of college sports. Student athletes can now make money from their name, image, and likeness. And already, some are making some pretty big deals, including star basketball twins, there they are, Haley and Hanna Cavinder, who announced partnerships with Boost Mobile and Six Star Nutrition. I can't wait to talk to them next.



WHITFIELD: A Los Angeles judge is granting a request by a wealth management firm to resign as a co-conservator of Britney Spears' $60 million estate. Bessemer Trust requested to resign due to changed circumstances, their words, after Spears' explosive testimony at a hearing last week. She said then that the conservatorship was abusive. The same judge also denied Britney Spears' request to have her father removed from his current role as co-conservator of the estate. He has held that position since 2008.

Starting this week, the NCAA has opened up its rules to allow college athletes to make money from endorsements and sponsorships following a Supreme Court decision. Students still won't be paid directly for playing. College sports rakes in billions of dollars a year in everything from TV contracts to merchandise, but only a fraction of that makes it to the players themselves.

And among the first players to sign endorsement deals, Haley Cavinder and her twin sister, Hanna Cavinder. They are both star players for the Fresno State women's basketball team, and are big stars on TikTok with more than 3 million followers. And there you can see them in Time Square celebrating their endorsement deal with Boost Mobile, and they also have a deal with Six Star Nutrition now.

Hanna and Haley Cavinder, good to see you. Man, you all wasted no time, ladies, with two endorsement deals. Why did you feel like now is the time, I've got to seize it?

HANNA CAVINDER, GUARD, FRESNO STATE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM: I think we were just trying to take advantage of July 1. We went on our app and saw that we had a contract with Boost Mobile, which we were thrilled about because it's such a worldwide brand. And we were just super excited about it. And they wanted us to have their first deal on July 1st, so that's kind of what we did. And we're just super happy.

WHITFIELD: So Haley, how's it feel?

HALEY CAVINDER, GUARD, FRESNO STATE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM: It feels so good. It's been -- the last 48 hours has been crazy. So I still don't think it's hit Hanna and I, but we're just so stoked and grateful. WHITFIELD: I know it's summer right now, but I do wonder -- Haley, you

first -- is this going to distract from your game at all? Now you've got to manage all of these deals. There are certain commitments that have to be made with these endorsements.


What's it going to be like for you? What do you anticipate it will be like for you when you get back in school and you're playing competitively?

HALEY CAVINDER: I think that Hanna and I have been doing social media the last two years, so we kind of know what it's like even throughout season. We did it for fun. So that's not really a concern of ours just because we have been doing it for a while, so we know the priorities are still education and being student athletes. But we still know the time management will be a huge factor.

WHITFIELD: And Hanna, this Supreme Court ruling allowed for players to profit from their name or image, but it doesn't go all the way to say if players should be paid. Is this enough, in your view, or do you hope this paves the way for athletes to profit or get paid by the colleges and universities that are raking in millions of dollars from the games, matches, programs?

HANNA CAVINDER: Right. I think that is just a whole different ball game. And right now I'm just super happy that the NIL did pass. It's crazy, it's monumental. So we're just super excited about that right now. Like I said, I just think that's a whole different ballgame.

WHITFIELD: And then what do you say to critics who say they worry about whether paying players undermines the nature of the game, particularly at the college level, that these students are amateur players, not professionals, the integrity of the game could be compromised. What do you say to all that?

HALEY CAVINDER: I just think that people will always have something to say, but this has been long overdue for student athletes. Anyone can benefit from their unique way, so we're just super excited that the NCAA did finally pass it. And I think it's been very long overdue.

WHITFIELD: And Hanna, do you feel that particularly so, because there are a lot of college student athletes who are putting everything they've got into the game, as I know you all are, but the majority don't go pro later. And you've given a lot to the sport, to your school, your mascots, essentially, of your school. And many leave and perhaps never play another game of tennis or play another round of competitive basketball or football after they graduate, that they leave empty-handed when schools make so much money off their talent.

HANNA CAVINDER: Right. I think that's why I'm so excited about it because a lot of college athletes are on the peak while they are in college. And I think that you should be able to profit off of it. So now that it has passed, I feel like it will help all student athletes be able to benefit from it in the future even if we don't go pro. So I just think that's huge, huge for students. WHITFIELD: You're both also huge TikTok stars. We saw a little taste

of that. Between you, you've got more than 4 million followers on social media. How have you been handling the notoriety? Because now you know you're to just explode with these endorsements.

HALEY CAVINDER: I do think it's been crazy. Like I said, these last 48 hours have just been insane. So I think it still hasn't hit us yet. Our audience and our fans are so great, and it's just so fun that we can finally interact with them on a next level now that the NIL did pass. So we're just super excited for that.

WHITFIELD: And Hanna, you were an All Mountain selection for the second straight year. Haley, you were the Mountain West player of the year this past season. Now what? What's ahead? What do you see in your crystal ball?

HANNA CAVINDER: A championship. That is our main focus and goal.

WHITFIELD: Fantastic, spoken like true champions. I know your coaches are happy to hear that. Hanna Cavinder, Haley Cavinder, thanks to both of you, congratulations, all the best, and looking for more of you.

HALEY CAVINDER: Thank you for having us. Thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: Fantastic. Have a great happy Thanksgiving -- I was about to say Thanksgiving, can you believe that? Where am I. Fourth of July!


WHITFIELD: Take care, ladies.

A United flight taking off from Maui, Hawaii, had some unexpected passengers onboard with some impeccable nerve. The flight was delayed after two birds were flying through the cabin prior to takeoff yesterday. The pilot asked the passengers to lower their shades so the birds could fly towards the lone light shining, and then eventually lured off the plane. Guess what, it kind of worked. With a little help from the crew, the birds were able to safely exit the plane on their own.

And we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: Some incredible video emerging of what looks like a large eye of fire in the Gulf Mexico. Mexican authorities say the fire burned for more than five hours fueled by a gas leak from an underwater pipeline making it look like the Gulf itself was on fire. No injuries reported. Mexico's oil safety regulator said there was no spill as a result of the leak, and the company says the pipeline has been capped.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield.