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Eviction Threat Looms for Millions of Americans; U.S. Suffers Worst Quarterly GDP Drop on Record; Oregon State Troops Take Over in Portland; Isaias Strengthens Into A Hurricane; Warning Over Protests in Israel; Tower of London Beefeaters Face Layoffs for the First Time; NBA Returns to the Court After Almost Five Months. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 31, 2020 - 04:30   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Atlanta lawyer Pierce Hand works with tenants like Pamela who have lost jobs and are at risk of falling into a deep hole of housing debt. The consequences could be dire.

PIERCE HAND, STAFF ATTORNEY, STANDING WITH OUR NEIGHBORS: I think what we are facing is a possible mass eviction scenario.

PHILLIP (voice-over): Black Americans are already more likely to contract and die from the coronavirus, and they are also disproportionately at risk of losing their homes.

ZACH NEUMANN, FOUNDER, COVID-19 EVICTION DEFENSE PROJECT: The rent crisis affects everyone but it's especially affecting our communities of color here in Colorado and around the country.

PHILLIP (voice-over): A U.S. Census survey in the last week found that when it comes to paying next month's rent, more than 40 percent of black renters said they had little or no confidence they'd be able to pay rent in August, nearly twice the rate of white renters. And it's not just missed rent payments that can trigger eviction proceedings.

HAND: Whether it's water or electricity, and if you can't pay it, you could lose your subsidized housing and face homelessness as well.

PHILLIP (voice-over): Meanwhile, as lawmakers haggle over how much unemployment insurance should be extended, Pamela agonizes over the unthinkable.

PAMELA FRINK, GEORGIA RESIDENT: So, honestly, I try not to think about that, but I don't know.

PHILLIP (voice-over): Her message to lawmakers.

FRINK: Please don't make us go back to being able to possibly call a shelter because we can't afford to pay our rent for this month or the next two months. (END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIP: Republicans on Capitol Hill are considering extending the unemployment benefits but for far less than the $600 a week that people are currently receiving. The goal would be to push some of these folks back into the workforce. But in places like Georgia and in many parts of the country right now, the coronavirus is still raging. The prospect that people will be able to find work like it was before the pandemic seems far-fetched.

Abby, Phillip, CNN, Washington.

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: The economic fallout isn't just an American problem. Now we're hearing that Spain's economy shrank 18.5 percent in the second quarter pushing that country into recession. And earlier we learned France's GDP contracted by 13.8 percent due to the COVID lockdown.

So, for more now, let's go to CNN's Eleni Giokos in Johannesburg. Eleni, so first, let's go back to the U.S., that massive drop from last quarter, you know, paradoxically manages to be unsurprising and shocking at the same time. Which way are you leaning? Are you expecting to see such a big drop given the shutdown?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kim, you know, I was looking at some of the forecasts and analysts were saying 40 percent contraction, others were saying closer to 30. So there was a bit of a range but the point here is this is a number we've never seen. It is a times worse than the biggest contraction in the global financial crisis.

If you go as far back as what we saw in the Great Depression, again, this really tops the catastrophic impact that the pandemic and the lockdown has had on the U.S. economy. I guess the question is where we're going to from here? This is a second quarter number. Since then, I've seen some economic activity resumed, but that also has brought with it new coronavirus cases. And that means that the ability for U.S. companies to start employing again or going back to full economic capacity is going to be derailed.

You're looking at those initial claims numbers for two weeks now we've seen arise, this is not good news. And it's a big and important barometer in terms of the big trends that we'll be paying out in the next few weeks. Remember we've had a drop for 15 weeks in a row on initial claims. That number is now up and you just heard the desperation for vulnerable Americans that have been receiving extra benefits on a weekly basis. There's no resolution on that.

And honestly, the importance of a recovery in the U.S. really does rely on stimulus and the Federal Reserve and employing various tools to ensure that this does not get derailed in any way.

I'm also going to take a look at what's happening in the global market. You mentioned Spain and France, Germany also looking really down. In Japan, we're seeing record rises of coronavirus cases three weeks in a row, those markets taking a three percent knock in today's session. So you're seeing just so much of a data and information coming through that we're not out of the woods as yet. That's why stimulus and assistance by government is going to be really important. And, of course, we're also watching earnings, company earnings are going to be really important because that is also a litmus test in terms of how much consumers are spending, where they're spending and then the strip off corporate America to start re-employing, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, always appreciate your analysis. Eleni Giokos in Johannesburg for us, thank you very much.

Well, protesters were out again Thursday night in Portland, Oregon even as federal agents began to pull back at the federal courthouse. And the demonstrations were much calmer than on previous nights when officers and protesters faced off.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov is on the scene.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been an interesting 36 hours on the streets of Portland. Thursday evening began peacefully with a very large crowd gathered here in front of the park and the federal courthouse building. We saw in the early hours of the afternoon state troopers patrolling the area behind the fences. We have not seen a visible presence of either federal paramilitaries or state troopers in the early hours of the evening. There was a large crowd, a lot of speakers focusing on racial justice, racial equality. One speaker telling protesters look, this protest isn't about the federal courthouse building, it's about black lives matter. If you're here for the building get out.

We actually saw a concerted effort by the crowd to police themselves. One man began throwing beer bottles over the fence, a group of demonstrators approached him try to talk him down, stop that action from happening. And so, it's been a largely peaceful gathering in stark contrast to what we saw in the early hours of Wednesday morning. That is when we saw probably the largest federal presence on the streets of Portland. They went out from behind the barricades, they were using flashbangs and tear gas to move the crowd.

We actually saw a large group of federal paramilitaries over on the other side of the park pushing the crowd this way, trying to move them away from the area. That's not something that we've seen in previous nights. It looks like the mood is shifting again. We have not seen a visible law enforcement presence on the street.

The message by the activists here very much focused on racial justice.

BRUNHUBER: A raging wildfire in Southern California has burned 240 acres and evacuations are underway. The dam fire is only 10 percent contained. So far no buildings have been damaged as the Angeles National Forest-Fire Department has been able to stop the flames from spreading further. But temperatures are soaring above 100 degrees making firefighting difficult. And Isaias, the storm system in the Atlantic has strengthened into a hurricane and is bearing down on the Bahamas and South Florida. So here with more is meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Derek, it seems like it's getting stronger and it's taken a dangerous turn. How close will it come to land? Do we know?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Good morning, Kim. You know, the storm wasn't actually supposed to be a hurricane until later today. But late last night, Hurricane Hunters found winds of about 80 miles per hour near the center of circulation. It is going to veer towards the southeastern United States but there is some promising model projections which we'll show you in just one moment. Let's get to the details.

Eighty mile per hour sustained winds that makes it equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane. It is just south and west of the Turks and Caicos, and it is now traveling in a northwesterly direction, right across the central and northern Bahamas within the next 24 to 36 hours. That's why you have all the islands here across the Bahamas dotted with that shading of red, that is a hurricane warning. We have that shading of yellow across southeastern Florida, and that is a tropical storm watch.

Of course, we're waiting for that 5 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center so we could see the watches and warnings just a little bit. But this is the actual forecast track. It does show that hurricane -- I got to (INAUDIBLE) say that now because that is so new. Hurricane Isaias will strengthen to an 85 mile per hour Category 1 hurricane moving across the central northern Bahamas before taking that parallel turn with a southeastern coastline and eventually impacting the Carolinas as we head into Monday and Tuesday.

Now there are definitely some model comparisons that we're looking at that have discrepancies between the two (INAUDIBLE) the strength of the hurricane, but also the timing of the hurricane. Look at the American model versus the European model. These are timestamp at the exact same time. So late Sunday night into early Monday morning, they're much more formidable powerful storm with the American model and a weaker storm and a much slower storm with the European model.

One thing is for sure, it's looking less and less likely that we will escape the impacts of a tropical system along the southeast coastline of the U.S. This is the most likely arrival time of tropical storm force winds and you can see how that impacts the coastline going forward this weekend.

Kim, back to you.

BRUNHUBER: Interesting to see those two different models there. And that update in about 20 minutes so we'll wait for that.

VAN DAM: Right.

BRUNHUBER: Thank you very much, appreciate it.

Still ahead, anger in Israel and a grave warning. Opponents and supporters of Israel's prime minister take to the streets and prompt concerns of possible violence.



BRUNHUBER: Frustration in Israel is growing over the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis. Thursday night, more than 1,000 people took to the streets of Jerusalem. These were the scenes outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence. Last night, also saw a smaller counter demonstration a few blocks away. Dozens of far-right supporters came out to back Minister -- Mr. Netanyahu.

Israel's president warned the dueling protests could result in bloodshed. So let's get more now from journalist Elliott Gotkine in Jerusalem. Elliott, so we've seen these protests fairly regularly outside Netanyahu's residence, but they seem to be taking a turn. What's the latest?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Well, last night's demonstrations were not the biggest that we've seen in recent weeks, but they were still pretty sizable. As you say more than a thousand, some estimates saying 1,500 demonstrators. Many gathering just on the corner there at a small square, and most of them calling for Prime Minister Netanyahu to resign. They say he shouldn't remain in office while he is on trial for corruption.

Indeed, some banners we saw from the protests last night referring to him as the crime minister. Other protesters also complaining about the lack of government support for people who've been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, so people who've lost their jobs or whose businesses have been suffering or been forced to close. So calling on the prime minister and the government to help them out a little bit more.

In contrast though to some of the recent demonstrations, there wasn't any violence at the anti-Netanyahu protest here. But about a kilometer away, there were some incidents that members of a extreme right-wing group called La Familia, these are a group of supporters of the Beitar Jerusalem Football Club trying to hold their own pro-Netanyahu rally but they didn't have permission for it. And some of their members also ended up attacking members of the press. At least three news outlets saying that their reporters or camera people were assaulted by members of La Familia, and police made some 16 arrests.

The big concern now, though, is what happens tomorrow evening after the end of the Jewish Sabbath. More demonstrations are planned. They're expected to be bigger. And there are concerns, of course, that some extreme right-wing groups may again try to attack those demonstrators or gain access to them, and that some violence could ensue.

But certainly last night's (INAUDIBLE) anti-Netanyahu protests just here in Jerusalem did pass off without incident.


BRUNHUBER: All right, thank you so much. Elliott Gotkine in Jerusalem, appreciate it.

Well, pro basketball is back in North America after almost five month coronavirus timeout. So coming up, how players and coaches took a knee before they took the court.


BRUNHUBER: Well, usually London is thronged with tourists this time of year and many of them would be visiting the Tower of London to see the crown jewels. Yeoman Warders often referred to as Beefeaters or ceremonial guards there, but for the first time in their more than 500-year history, they're facing layoffs.

CNN's Scott McLean is at the Tower of London right now. Scott, even the Beefeaters, I mean, it tells a larger story of the economic fallout from this pandemic. No one's immune, right?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, Kim. Think about this for a second, the Tower of London has withstood the plague, the Great Fire of London, and the Blitz. But the man in charge over there today says that the coronavirus is a different kind of crisis. After being shuttered for months, it is now open to tourists but it's a limping on using it savings and government help as well. But pretty soon, both of those things are going to run out.



MCLEAN (voice-over): Standing tall for almost a thousand years, the Tower of London is one of the most secure places in Britain. It houses the crown jewels and the Yeoman Warders who guard them, one of the country's most secure jobs until now.

(on camera) This time last summer, how many people would be here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So on a busy summer's day, we'd have upwards of 10,000 people here. And it's not unusual to see 13, 14 or on some days 15,000 people.

MCLEAN (voice-over): While the legend has it that the British crown and kingdom depends on six ravens remaining inside the tower grounds, the towers finances rely almost entirely on donations and ticket sales. A steep sudden drop off in tourists has left a COVID-size 98 million pound hole in the budget. Staff including the ceremonial Beefeaters have been asked to take voluntary severance packages. Hours have already been cut 20 percent and this fall, the axe will come down on more than one third of the payroll.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really bad news, but we've got no other thing that we can do.

MCLEAN (voice-over): The plight of the Beefeaters and their civilian colleagues is the latest and most British example of just how far- reaching the damage of COVID-19 has been to the economy. Almost 10 million people have been furloughed, many others are simply out of work.

Not a single Beefeater has been laid off in 500 years. If their jobs aren't safe, it seems no one's is.

(on camera) You've saved for a rainy day. This is a lot more than that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody anticipated the scale of this crisis either in our industry or anywhere else.

MCLEAN (voice-over): The Tower of London brings in more than a hundred million pounds each year. This year, it expects only 12. The British Government is guaranteed a 26 million pound bank loan, but the tower may not make enough money to repay it in the two years when it's due.

(on camera) One tower employee told CNN there is a feeling of fear amongst the staff that hasn't been felt before. That's understandable considering that behind each of these doors is a family home. All of the Beefeaters live here on site and for them losing their job would also mean losing their house.

(voice-over) The government says it's already subsidizing wages for furloughed employees but that money dries up this fall. With global tourism not expected to fully recover until 2024, the only thing that might save jobs at the most fortified building on the Thames is a sudden invasion of tourists.


And Kim, keep in mind that the charity that runs the Tower of London is undoubtedly one of the most successful in the U.K. It had a years worth of savings stashed away. And so there were many charities and many companies for that matter that are in much, much worse shape. Heaven forbid there's a second wave of coronavirus to contend with.

If there is though a silver lining here, it's that because it is so, so quiet in London right now. It is one of the best times you can think of to be a tourist here. That's if you can actually get here.

BRUNHUBER: Wow, what a fascinating story you had there. And as one of the producers said, we hope those Beefeaters have some transferable skills.

Thank you again, Scott, at the Tower of London. Appreciate it.

Well, the National Basketball Association returned to action on Thursday after suspending its season for 20 weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. So here to discuss is CNN Sports Andy Scholes.

It feel so strange to see the NBA reopening. I was reporting on the night of that infamous game in which -- in March in which the first NBA player tested positive for COVID-19, the league was shut down. Given, you know, everything we've seen from the baseball players testing positive, are the players nervous every time they, you know, post up against their sweaty opponents. ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: It's really doesn't seem that way, Kim. It seems like be an extremely positive attitude there at the bubble in Orlando because it's working. You know, the league announcing, you know, they haven't had any positive test since July 20th. And, you know, the players there, they're -- they believe in the protocols. And like I said in that bubble, 22 teams and by all accounts, it's working as planned.

Now a big part of this restart for the NBA was the continued fight for social justice. And we saw members of all four teams that took the court last night as well as the coaches and referees kneeling together during the national anthem to protest systemic racism. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement saying, I respect our team for unified active peaceful protest for social justice. And under these unique circumstances we'll not enforce our long standing rule requiring standing during the playing of our national anthem. Now Laker superstar LeBron James says he hopes to keep the focus on the Black Lives Matter movement.


LEBRON JAMES, L.A. LAKERS FORWARD: In the past when we've seen progress, we've let our foot off the gas a little bit. Now we can't do that. You know, we want to continue to keep our foot on the gas and continue to push for, you know, continue to spread love throughout America.


We're dealing with a lot of racism, a lot of social injustice, police brutality, not only in my neighborhoods, not only with black people but what people of color and it's something that we want to continue to have people's ears open to.


SCHOLES: Now these games in Orlando have a much different look. There's no fans in the stands but they do have virtual vans tuning in from their home (INAUDIBLE) the giant video board behind the court. The players and coaches, they sit new socially distanced bench areas. The scores table in the middle of the court surrounded by a Plexiglas. And no cameramen are allowed on the floor but they do have a robotic camera going around that gives you a really cool view of the action.

Now as for the games, Lakers and Clippers, the big game of the night. LeBron James coming up big at the end of this one, follows his own miss puts it back under -- with under 13 seconds to go. That put the Lakers up for good. They win that one, 103-101.

And then the other game, Jazz center Rudy Gobert, whose positive cash triggered really the shutdown of all sports. He's for the first basket of the game and the last -- score the last points for the Jazz camp securing their win. And he said afterwards, well, you know what, life works in mysterious ways. That certainly is true.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUDY GOBERT, UTAH JAZZ CENTER: Life works in mysterious ways. And I'm just happy blessed to be able to, you know, be back on the court and do what I love to do. To get back out there and try to win the game.


SCHOLES: All right, you heard it from him there and NBA is back and it certainly feels pretty off.

BRUNHUBER: Feels unreal. All right, thank you so much, Andy Scholes for joining us. Appreciate it.

And I'd like to thank you for your company. I'm Kim Brunhuber. Early Start is up next. You're watching CNN.