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tv   CBS Overnight News  CBS  August 23, 2021 3:30am-4:00am PDT

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♪ this is the "cbs overnight news." good evening and thanks for joining us. there is breaking news on several fronts tonight. president biden late today addressed the increasingly dangerous situation in afghanistan. he also pledged help to people impacted by henri. the storm pushing into new england right now. we begin tonight with devastating weather in tennessee. more than 20 people are dead, dozens are missing after extreme flooding this weekend. at least 15f rain fell. humphries county, an hour west of nashville, was hardest hit. cbs' jesse mitchell is there.
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>> reporter: jericka, the wall of water came rushing into towns like this so fast, for some there was no escape. a massive search and rescue operation is under way in hard-hit humphries county, tennessee, after flash flooding struck saturday. >> i called 911. and they tell me that i need to get to highest ground. >> reporter: a record 17 inches of rain. that's about one-third of the total yearly rainfall in the entire state. >> i heard pop, pop, pop. all these houses started moving. >> reporter: it did more than swamp some rural communities. >> we're going to have to start over. >> reporter: in mac uniewan, nashville, hoping for rescue. >> on the roof of the house, hoping we were going to make it. >> we're alive, thank you, jesus. >> reporter: in nearby waverly, the local school is underwater. search and rescue teams searching for the dozens still missing, chug children.
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tennessee governor bill lee is touring the area this evening as volunteers from around the volunteer state arrive to help with the recovery. jericka? >> jesse, thank you. the storm known as henri is tracking north after a rare landfall in new england. cbs' kris van cleave is in lisbon, connecticut. chris what are you seeing where you are? >> reporter: the biggest issue in lisbon and the surrounding parts of connecticut, power outages due to trees coming down although thick one. you can hear generators running in the neighborhood. but for other parts of new england, it's seemingly unending rain. henri arrived in force in rhode island, bringing high winds and rain to southern new england. water splashing onto roadways in martha's vineyard, winds whipping the trees. >> i'm asking you, rhode island, to stay home. >> reporter: rhode island's governor pleaded with people to stay indoors. >> this is not the time to go out and see the waves or downed trees.
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this is the time to stay home and stay safe. >> reporter: in new york, waves crashed on montauk beach, drawing a few brave souls to admire the view. >> watching the storm, i love it, chaos. >> reporter: last night, new york city saw one of its hardest downpours in history. and in new jersey, floodwaters engulfed whole neighborhoods. >> it's getting deep, and it's coming through. >> reporter: including kelly richards' helmeta home. >> it's upsetting, it's going to be a lot of damage for a lot of people. definitely. cars are under, basements are wet. it's not good. >> reporter: a swan rides the waves in old saper, connecticut, where this family was among the thousands evacuating to ride out the storm. >> it was a no-brainer to get down here. between the winds and the rain. mostly the tidal surges. >> reporter: with downed trees throughout the region, thousands are without power. in connecticut alone, the utility had predicted nearly 70% of customers could lose electricity.
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the outage numbers weren't as bad as feared, but still here in connecticut, already nearly 30,000 are without power. in rhode island, neighboring rhode island, the number was closer to 75,000. and the storm isn't done yet. rain is still coming down. jericka? >> kris van cleave, thank you. president biden said today that evacuations from afghanistan are ramping up. a new cbs news poll finds most americans approve of removing u.s. troops, but most also believe the handling of the withdrawal has gone either very or somewhat badly. president biden's approval rating has also fallen from 62% in march to 50% right now. cbs' deborah alpharone is at the white house. the president was asked about our poll. what did he have to say? >> reporter: he was asked about it point blank, jericka, and he seemed unfazed, saying that this chaos would happen no matter when the u.s. withdrew, then he defended his decision. the president said history will
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prove him right. >> when this is over, the american people have a clear understanding of what i did, why we did it -- >> reporter: but at the moment, the pictures outside of kabul show an increasingly dire and desperate situation. for americans trying to evacuate, the struggle is getting to the kabul airport. secretary of state antony blinken said getting americans out is the number one priority. >> we're in direct contact with american citizens and others, and we're able to guide them the best way to get to the airport, what to do when they get there -- >> reporter: the administration has enlisted commercial airlines to help. at least 18 planes will carry americans and afghan allies already evacuated from kabul. the deadline for withdrawal is in nine days. >> as we approach that deadline, we'll make a recommendation to the president. >> reporter: that's not good enough for some critics. >> they're not negotiating with the taliban, they've completely
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surrendered to the taliban. >> in this case, it is i think a requirement of the job to be in contact with the taliban. >> reporter: there has been pressure from the international community, and g7 leaders have actually called a virtual meeting tuesday to deal with what has fast become an international humanitarian crisis. jericka? >> deborah alpharone reporting from the white house, thank you. as the u.s. scrambles to control the mayhem at the kabul airport, the situation is growing increasingly dire for thousands of afghans trying to flee the taliban. cbs' roxana saberi is in doha tracking developments. >> reporter: evacuees are still flowing into al udeid, doha. we've learned because of overcrowding, qatar and the u.s. are expanding the facility, installing more showers and places to sleep. the u.s. is also trying to screen people faster and fly them to countries like the u.s. and germany, where one afghan
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woman arrived yesterday having just given birth on her flight. the pace of the evacuations from afghanistan picking up. the pentagon says u.s. military and coalition flights have airlifted out just over 25,000 people in the last several days. cbs news has learned from a state department source that the u.s. mission says the situation at the airport remains volatile, but the gates where u.s. troops are stationed were less violent today. and just outside, some witnesses say the taliban are now making people form lines, but that there's still a mix of order and chaos. nato says at least 20 people have died at the airport in recent days as people push to flee the country. u.s. officials worry isis could use the chaos to carry out an attack. the pentagon has ordered six commercial airlines to help with evacuations. they're not supposed to fly to kabul airport, but to help move people from places such as doha
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to other temporary sites. jericka? >> roxana saberi, thank you. feeling sluggish or weighed down? it could be a sign that your digestive system isn't working at it's best taking metamucil everyday can help. metamucil psyllium fiber, gels to trap and remove the waste that weighs you down. it also helps lower cholesterol and slows sugar absorption to promote healthy blood sugar levels. so you can feel lighter and more energetic metamucil. support your daily digestive health. and try metamucil fiber thins. a great tasting and easy way to start your day.
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♪ this is the "cbs overnight news." i'm jericka duncan in new york. thanks for staying with us. the u.s. military is ordering civilian airlines to aid the ongoing evacuation from afghanistan. defense secretary lloyd austin has activated the so-called civil reserve air fleet. 18 aircraft from six different carriers have been enlisted. they won't be flying out of kabul, instead, helping move people who have already arrived at u.s. bases in the middle east. thousands of americans and tens of thousands of afghans are awaiting removal from afghanistan. after the stunning fall of the government to taliban forces.
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so how this all of this come about? david martin has a look. >> there was nothing that i or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days. >> reporter: the collapse no one saw coming began on friday, august 6th, with the fall of a provincial capital in the far west of afghanistan. the white house said it was time for the afghans to step up. >> now is the moment for the leadership and the will in the face of the taliban's aggression and violence. >> reporter: in the next two days, four more provincial capitals fell, including the key city of kunduz which surrendered without a fight. that night, general frank mckenzie, the commander of u.s. forces in afghanistan, alerted the pentagon, kabul could be surrounded within 30 days. an alarming prediction that turned out to be way off. pentagon spokesman john kirby.
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>> clearly, the security situation is deteriorating. and just over the last, what, 72 hours, roughly five provincial capitals fell to the taliban. that's deeply concerning. >> reporter: and they kept falling, as one after another, afghan units, trained and equipped by the u.s., gave up without a fight. by all 12th, ghazni, just south of kabul, was in taliban hands. joint chiefs chairman general mark milley warned that the taliban was within 24 hours of kab kabul. and the pentagon ordered in combat troops to reinforce the airport and safeguard the evacuation of americans from the embassy. >> the first movement will consist of three infantry battalions. they will move to hamid karzai international airport in kabul >> reporter: taliban leaders assured u.s. officials they only intended to surround the capital, not take it.
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>> kabul is not right now in an imminent threat environment. but clearly, david, if you just look at what the taliban's been doing, you can see that they are trying to isolate kabul. >> reporter: last saturday, general mckenzie, the central command chief, flew to the persian gulf to meet face to face with taliban leaders. he took a map showing a 25-kilometer area around the airport, intending to warn the taliban to stay out or their fighters would be attacked. but by the time they met on sunday, taliban fighters were already rolling into the city. and all mckenzie could do was tell them not to interfere with the evacuation. afghan president ghani fled the country, and the taliban were taking selfies in the presidential palace. the collapse of the house of cards erected over 20 years was complete. >> it was a very hollow government and a hollow
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military. >> reporter: since 2012, john sopko has been the watchdog for reconstruction as the special inspector general for afghanistan. issuing report after report calling out failed projects and rampant corruption. just this past week he issued a "lessons learned" report. >> i did not think it would collapse this quickly, although once it happened, we realized that all the preconditions for failure were there. >> reporter: the report is based on his own inspections in afghanistan and on more than 700 strikingly candid interviews with senior administration officials down to aide workers in the field. none more candid than douglas lute, an army general who served as a special adviser on afghanistan to presidents bush and obama. "we were devoid of a fundamental understanding of afghanistan," lute told the inspector general.
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"we didn't have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking. it's really much worse than you think." or this recorded interview with ryan crocker, former ambassador to afghanistan, talking about the afghan police. >> they'reless as a security force. and they're useless as a security force because they are corrupt down to the control level. >> this endemic corruption is also one of the key reasons of the success of the taliban. when we poured money like manna from heaven in afghanistan, what would you expect? they grabbed it. we contributed to the corruption by just pouring too much money. >> reporter: $145 billion went into rebuilding afghanistan, producing, according to president biden, an afghan army and police that should have been capable of holding its own against the taliban. >> we trained and equipped an afghan military force of some
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300,000 strong. incredibly well equipped. >> was that a real 300,000? >> that's what the afghans reported. but we knew that there were serious problems with what we called ghosts. that means people on the rolls but who don't exist, but whose salary and everything else is just stolen by the afghan off jers aofficers and generals. >> reporter: it was more than salaries, it was supplies for ghost soldiers and policemen. >> a u.s. general told us 50% of the fuel we provided to the afghans was stolen. 50%. we were talking about billions of u.s. dollars. >> reporter: but sheer waste doesn't explain why afghan armed forces couldn't or wouldn't fight once the u.s. withdrew.
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why couldn't the afghan army become less dependant on the united states? >> we didn't let them become less dependant. the afghans couldn't deliver the food or buy the fuel, we did it for them. so weential made them dependant. we gave them equipment that they didn't know how to maintain and couldn't sustain. they just couldn't function without us. >> but the military officers who were advising and assisting the afghan army must have seen all this in detail. were they warning that, as soon as we pull our support, they're going to collapse? >> it was the u.s. air force that first alerted us and alerted the pentagon that without u.s. or coalition contractor support, the afghan
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air force would collapse within a matter of months. >> reporter: the american way of war simply did not work for the afghan military. while child mortality rates went down over the last 20 years, sick babies must now be lifted over barricades to get care. the scenes of chaos at kabul airport promise to be the most indelible of the lessons learned from the american failure in afghanistan. so the debate's going to take place. who lost afghanistan? >> united states. lost afghanistan. there's a lot of mistakes to go around for everybody. and i think in my humble opinion, a healthier question is, what do we learn from those is, what do we learn from those 20 years? it's dry. there's no dry time. makes us wonder why we booked fifteen second ad slots.
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close, i could almost grab its dorsal fin. it is right underneath me. scientists say that shark is not interested in me or other people. watch this huge shark swim right up to these unsuspecting children and simply turn away. the population of these great whites off socal beaches is exploding. i can only see it now because i'm getting up high. if i were a surfer, i'd be lying down, and i'd have no idea it was underneath me. >> oh my god. >> reporter: wedding photographer carlos gouna started capturing these stunning images off the coast when the pandemic dried up business. >> almost every time i see an interaction with a human and a shark, my heart does pound. we've all been conditioned ever since "jaws" came out to fear that interaction. >> reporter: but this is far from "jaws." watch as a large shark calmly cruises along with surfers. this one approaches a family, a swimmer headed right toward another, and all of the sharks seem uninterested.
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despite the fact that people are out there thrashing around, and their arms are hanging off boards, legs are hanging off boards, sharks just ignore it. >> reporter: chris lowe is director of the shark lab at cal state long beach. why don't they want to eat us? >> we don't really know the answer to that question. first of all, we're not close to being on the menu. >> reporter: most of the sharks spotted off southern california beaches are juvenile great whites. despite their size, they're only up to about 6 years old, and very inexperienced hunters. lowe's team showed us where the sharks use the warm coastal water as a nursery. >> when they're born, they're completely on their own. the safest place for them to be is shallow water. they have to learn to feed on what's there. the number one thing there are stingrays. >> reporter: carlos' video shows they're very aware the surfers are there. >> yeah, we've been able to document sharks recognizing that somebody's nearby. so they know the sounds of a
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person swimming and surfing. they're a wild animal, and if they feel threatened, they will defend themselves. >> reporter: in 2019, the coast guard had to airlift a surfer who was bitten by a shark off santa rosa island. but lowe says unprovoked great white shark attacks around here are extremely rare. we're essentially telling people, don't worry about the baby great whites in the water, but does the same thing apply on the east coast? >> actually, no. there, we have adults that are there to feed on seals. those seals are sharing the beach with people. so that's a very different situation. even in northern california. i'd be a lot more hesitant about getting in the water. >> reporter: off the socal coast -- >> this shark is just swimming so calmly and so gracefully right now. >> reporter: lowe's team is working to eventually predict the conditions that would lead to shark encounters withf hopin five years, you'll get a rip current report and you'll get a shark report. >> reporter: they say these videos and my interaction are
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just more examples that beachgoers and great white sharks can coexist. at least in southern california.
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the heart-wrenching scene of afghans trying desperately to flee their own nation has struck a chord with veterans of america's longest war. >> to my fellow veterans who have bravely served in afghanistan the last two decades and gold star families whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice, my message to you can best be summed up in three short words. we did good. i know it might not feel that way in this immediate moment. ten years ago when i put down my backpack on an ied on my third tour in afghanistan, i was feeling angry, hurt, depressed and hopeless, many of the emotions we're experiencing i eenthere. i feel your pain. since my injury i have spent the majority of my second chance at
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life trying to live life to the fullest, helping other veterans overcome a raincht of mental challenges and physical obstacles. so my message is simple. afghanistan wasn't all for nothing. it was because of us, those who have served, that some good things did, in fact, happen. we did good. we've built and dug wells to provide fresh drinking water to the afghanistan people. we built schools so more of the population had access to education, including women and children. we provided modernized western medicine and provided medical assistance in the region. we built hospitals. we also helped with the local economy and commerce by hiring afghans to build infrastructure. these are all tools the population will still be able to use even after we leave. we did good. could the pullout have been handled logistically better? of course. we probably should have left afghanistan a long time ago. but don't let recent events erase all the positives that we did to make the country better. it wasn't all in vain, and as hard as it might be, i hope
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there is some comfort in that. >> staff sergeant mills, the nation thanks you for your service. that's the "overnight news" for this monday. reporting from new york city, i'm jericka duncan. this is "cbs news flash." i'm alise preston in new york. vice president kamala harris met with singapore's president and prime minister in the southeast nation. harris will head to vietnam later this week. her overseas tour is expected to strengthen rips in the region as china continues to gain more power. reverend jesse jackson and his wife are still hospitalized with covid-19 this morning. the 79-year-old civil rights leader has advocated for black families to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, which is disproportionately impacting people of color. new york governor andrew cuomo's resignation takes effect at the end of the day as the state deals with damage left by now tropical depression henri.
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for more news, download the cbs news app for your cell phone or connected tv. it's monday, august 23rd, 2021. this is the "cbs morning news." wild weather. record-breaking rain triggers massive flooding in tennessee kilting at least 22 people. meantime, parts of the northeast are also submerged after henri makes landfall as a tropical storm leaving thousands in the dark. breaking overnight, violence at kabul airport. the latest on the fire-fight that left at least one person dead as president biden considers extending the deadline for evacuations. vaccine milestone. the pfizer shot is reportedly on track to become the first coronavirus vaccine to get full fdpr


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