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Historic Flooding Kills At Least 25 People, More Missing In Eastern Kentucky; Biden Suffers From Paxlovid Rebound Testing Positive Again For COVID; Rep. Nancy Pelosi Begins Asia Trip With Taiwan Stop Still Unclear; China's Rocket Re-Enters Atmosphere, Crashes Into Indian Ocean; Kansas To Be The First State To Vote Abortion Rights Since Roe Ruling; Zelenskyy: Prison Attack Deliberate War Crime By Russians; Georgia County Distributes School Supplies To Families In Need. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired July 30, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. The top stories for you on this Saturday night.
Devastating and deadly flooding in Kentucky. The governor says he's worried that they could be finding bodies for weeks.
Plus President Biden testing positive for COVID again. He is back to isolating at the White House.
Also ahead for you tonight, pieces of a Chinese rocket fall down to earth uncontrolled.
And Kansas voters are set to become the first to decide if abortion rights should change in the wake of the Roe v. Wade reversal.
You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Well, in Eastern Kentucky, it is more dreaded news after days of heartbreak and anguish. The threat of more rain now hanging over parts of Kentucky decimated by this week's deadly flash floods. A flood watch is now in effect, and that is raising concerns about the massive search and rescue operation wrapping up its third day. 25 people are confirmed dead, and that includes four children all from the same family. Their aunt telling us they were siblings between 2 and 8 years old.
Kentucky's governor says he does not know how many people are still missing but says the death toll could rise for weeks as bodies are recovered. Washed out roads and dozens of destroyed bridges are slowing those efforts. And with at least hundreds of homes destroyed, the misery seems to deepen by the hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY STACY, DIRECTOR, PERRY COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: It's hard to put into words just the amount of devastation that we've seen. You know, you're talking about some really, really good people here in Eastern Kentucky, you know, don't have a whole lot. And a lot of them have lost everything they've got.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is in Jackson, Kentucky.
And Evan, I was talking to officials on the ground there in Kentucky and they were saying that residents are coming with pictures of their missing loved ones, desperate to find them. One official saying this could just be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the death count.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's sadly correct, Pam. Where we've been all day here at the staging area in Jackson, Kentucky, for Breathitt County, where officials are going out on search and rescue and recovery teams, huge amounts of equipment, huge amounts of supplies coming in, trying to help people out. But getting some of that terrible news that that death toll is going tick up. We heard today three bodies found at least in this county just today and more may be to come.
I want to tell you some personal stories that I've been picking up over the past couple of days, as I've been walking around talking to people, looking at this massive flood damage. Yesterday I was in Hazard, Kentucky, where folks had set up an emergency instantaneous pop-up donation site, where they were giving out supplies to people who had lost everything instantly. Some of those volunteers had lost everything as well, and they were helping each other out even though they had lost everything.
Here where I am today in Jackson, I spoke to a woman who said, you know, I'm OK, but my brother had a brand-new house, and he just lost it all in one fail swoop when the flood waters came through. And one of the county officials who's working with the county here out here trying to help find people and rescue people, he was telling the story of what's going to happen in places like this in the aftermath of this flood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DREWEY LEE JONES, BREATHITT COUNTY, KENTUCKY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: Thinking about all the devastation that I've seen all over the county, they some things that can't be rebuilt. These people that -- there's water that had got in homes that had never been concerned with water issues. Now their homes are gone. Where are all these people going to go? Where are they going to live? If they don't have a family member that they can go to?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Pam, this is an active tragedy. Officials are still out trying to find bodies, find who might still be alive. But folks here who live here and spent their lives here, they're starting to think about what might happen next after these historic floods -- Pam.
BROWN: Yes, I mean, that's -- that is what that official alluded to.
Look, this is an active tragedy right now. But think about these people who don't have homes to go to. Where are they going to end up, you know, weeks, months from now when those shelters aren't giving them a place to stay?
Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much.
And I want to bring in Kentucky's Emergency Management director, Colonel Jeremy Slinker.
Hi, Colonel. Man, you have had such a busy year sadly between what happened in Western Kentucky with the massive tornado damage, now this historic flooding in Eastern Kentucky. What is the biggest need in Kentucky right now?
COL. JEREMY SLINKER, KENTUCKY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR: The biggest need in Kentucky, of course the, you know, major event that's going on in Eastern Kentucky. There's many, many needs there. Financial assistance is at the top of the list. Bottled water comes shortly after that because most of the infrastructure there was affected in some way. Water systems and treatment systems were affected. So some places are without water.
So, drinking water is essential, and, as well as cleaning supplies. As you know, after a flood there is a lot of cleanup and cleaning supplies is a significant request as well.
BROWN: Yes, I think that's such an important point. You know, that doesn't necessarily come to mind first off when you think about like needs right after a flood, but you're right. Cleaning supplies are critical, as you try to clean up. And these search and rescue efforts are underway. I'm wondering how is coordination going with the federal government? Are you getting the resources you need from them?
SLINKER: Federal government has been here since the very beginning of the event. They showed up when the state EOC activated. FEMA federal coordinating officer was here to serve as our liaison on this disaster. And we've been coordinating ever since. They have deployed a significant amount of resources, including a national search and rescue team -- teams as well. And we continue to add to that list, as we have been declared, and some counties got individual assistance.
BROWN: What are you doing to prepare for more rain ahead?
SLINKER: Yes. The forecast is concerning, and we're watching it very closely obviously. We also are sending out warnings and making sure everyone knows that we are expecting somewhere between one to two inches of rain Sunday night to Monday. And we're just not sure exactly where that's going to hit. It's called for in that same area. But we're preparing for it and making sure all the residents there are prepared for it because we just don't want to lose anyone else or have any more tragedy.
BROWN: How are displaced residents there just getting their basic needs met? I mean, I think about people who need their medicine that they have to take daily, you know, things like that. I mean, how are you able to meet their needs?
SLINKER: Well, I won't say that it's not challenging. But the coordination between the local, state, and federal government has been amazing. And we continue and continue to address every situation, every request, and every crisis that comes up. Our state partners regularly meet throughout the day, twice formally, to discuss our needs and our gaps so other agencies, other departments, can help fill them.
Particularly, one, as you mentioned, is the Department of Public Health, which has a significant footprint here in the EOC. And we meet regularly to address those needs that come up in the health care industry.
BROWN: Colonel Jeremy Slinker, thank you so much for all that you are doing to help my fellow Kentuckians.
SLINKER: Thank you for bringing attention to the matter.
BROWN: And a reminder, if you'd like to help victims of the Kentucky flooding go to CNN.com/impact to get more information including on the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund set up by the state's governor to help those impacted.
Well, President Biden back in COVID isolation right now again after what the White House physician is calling a likely rebound case. The president posted this message about it on Twitter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hey, folks. Joe Biden here. Tested positive this morning. I'll be working from home for the next couple of days. I'm doing fine. Everything's good. Commander and I have got a little work to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: CNN's Kevin Liptak joins me now from the White House.
Kevin, what else are you hearing?
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president says he's doing fine. His doctor says that he's doing quite well. And the president actually told some folks on the phone earlier today that he was in the White House gym this morning before that positive test. So, medically, he seems to be doing fine. But this is a disappointment for President Biden after it seems like he was finished with his bout from the virus.
The White House has had to cancel a number of out of town trips that they had scheduled for the next couple of days. And the president will have to isolate here at the White House. And of course he's got his dog there to keep him company. But it was only four days ago that the president emerged triumphantly into the Rose Garden to proclaim that he had recovered from coronavirus.
He was using himself as an example of the strides that the administration has made against this virus, and he noted vaccinations, more testing. And he also noted Paxlovid, which is that antiviral that he had been taking throughout the course of his illness. But the White House is now attributing that Paxlovid to this rebound case. And they had really sort of downplayed the prospect that that might happen.
Listen to what Dr. Ashish Jha told us last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Here's the key point about rebound, which is when people have rebound, they don't end up in the hospital. They don't end up particularly sick. And the goal of Paxlovid is to keep people from getting seriously ill. Paxlovid is working really well at preventing serious illness, rebound or no rebound, and that's why he was offered it, and that's why the president took it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIPTAK: Now, the president is among that faction of people who did have a rebound case. The White House says he will remain in isolation until he can test negative again -- Pamela.
BROWN: All right, Kevin Liptak live for us tonight from the White House. Good to see you, Kevin, thank you.
And here with me now for more CNN senior political analyst Ryan Lizza.
So, Ryan, the president is back in isolation. He was just set to hit the record again to push his legislative agenda. How much does this set him back?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't really think it sets the legislative agenda back too much. I mean, frankly the biggest thing that's happened in Congress President Biden didn't have a whole lot to do with. That was Joe Machin and Chuck Schumer agreeing to this deal on a new version of Build Back Better. And frankly, Biden stayed away from that negotiating.
The other things that are going through, the CHIPS bill, the CHIPS Plus bill he's going to sign this week. That's passed. There's potential for codifying same-sex marriage into federal law. And so his agenda is being ushered through Congress without him having to do too much. He wants to be on the road because the midterms are coming up. He wants to make the case for what they're passing because they're suddenly on a bit of a hot streak.
It does seem like every time in the past two years he's promised to get out of the road and do a lot of campaigning.
LIZZA: He doesn't for whatever reason, sometimes it's COVID, sometimes it's other things. So, you know, I think that's the bigger thing is, can he go out on the road and talk about these successes?
BROWN: Right. And let's talk about -- because, look, you have the Schumer-Manchin deal. But it's still fragile, right? I mean --
LIZZA: Yes. We shouldn't say success yet. You're right.
BROWN: Well, they need --
LIZZA: Done that many times the last two years.
BROWN: Right. Exactly. And then something happens. In this case, look, they need all 50 Democrats. And Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema has not given her approval, right?
LIZZA: Yes. I think since early June, they haven't had all 50 senators, all 50 Democrats, in the chamber mostly because of COVID and Senator Leahy hurt his hip, and he's back in action now. So COVID I think is one of the biggest things they have to worry about because unlike the House, senators cannot vote remotely. They never instituted that during COVID. So that's a big fear.
And as you point out, this was a deal between Manchin and Schumer. There's some reporting out there that Sinema is taking her time reviewing this and is letting the world know that, hey, she didn't sign off on anything. She's been the other senator that's been very, very difficult to wrangle. Looks like all 48 other Democrats are on board with whatever Schumer can get out of Manchin. But Sinema is still a question mark, as you point out.
BROWN: Yes, I want to talk about something that seems to be a little bit related. That is the burn pits bill.
BROWN: Likely suffered at the expense of announcing this deal. Republican senators surprisingly reversed course. They blocked it earlier this week. As of now Schumer is planning another vote on Monday. Does it have a chance of passing?
LIZZA: You know, I wrote about it this week. And I'll tell you the Republican Senate leadership really got very angry saying that they did this because of the Schumer-Manchin deal. The McConnell argument here is they filibustered the bill because Schumer reneged on a promise to offer an amendment from Pat Toomey.
Pat Toomey doesn't like the way that this bill is financed, essentially moving it from discretionary to mandatory financing. That's the sort of policy dispute. A lot of other people looked at what happened and said, you know what? This was a fit of pique. They got mad because they thought the Schumer-Manchin deal wasn't happening and that's why they filibustered this bill.
Now going forward, Schumer said he's going to bring it up again on Monday, that amendment from Pat Toomey is going to get a vote. Now the question is, if it doesn't pass, it's going to be -- the Senate, the rules are kind of complicated -- it's going to be at a 60-vote threshold, right? So for this Toomey amendment to pass, they need 60 votes. If it goes down, as it seems likely to, that is a big question.
What do Republicans do then? Do they -- so in other words, is the demand only that they have a vote on this or is the demand that it be included on final passage? So that's the thing to watch for.
BROWN: All right. We will be watching for that next week. Ryan Lizza, thank you. Great to see you.
LIZZA: Thanks, Pam. Good to see you.
BROWN: Well, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has started her trip to visit U.S. allies in Asia, including Japan and South Korea, but it's still uncertain if she's going to stop in Taiwan. The island has been a point of contention between the U.S. and China. And this week, President Biden talked with his Chinese counterpart. One translation has Xi Jinping saying, if you play with fire, you get burned.
CNN's Will Ripley is in Taipei. Well, what do we know about the possibility of a Pelosi visit to Taiwan?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, they're not officially saying anything. But all indications are that it could very likely happen probably after she visits Japan because she could get a military escort pretty easily from U.S. military facilities in Japan.
Look, Nancy Pelosi, we know, thinks that it's important for the U.S. to show support to Taiwan. And lawmakers on both sides have been urging her to do this even though China has lashed out through their state media and their Defense Ministry and their Foreign Ministry, promising to react. I mean, there's been so much discussion about it. Analysts say China is pretty much obligated at this stage to do something if Pelosi does go to Taiwan.
But, of course, also it is believed that China doesn't want this to escalate into a conflict any more than the United States does, given that Xi Jinping is about to enter a very important, critical point for his own political career as he seeks an unprecedented third term in office, essentially making him president for life potentially.
And then Taiwan has been really quiet about all of this. Partially because this visit really puts them in a very awkward position. Obviously they don't want to turn away one of the most powerful lawmakers in the United States, you know, a country that supplies weapons that Taiwan would need to defend itself against the Chinese invasion. The Beijing communist rulers have claimed this island for several years. Even though they've never controlled it, but after China's civil war they both kind of laid claim to the other side and Beijing has never let that claim go.
But Taiwan has its own military. They have their own government. And they depend on democracies like the United States for help. But they also don't want to, you know, appear too enthusiastic about a high ranking visit by Nancy Pelosi being the highest level U.S. official to visit in 25 years because they don't want Beijing to blame Taiwan and use that as an excuse to do something very provocative. Here's what one, you know, local journalist told us about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN HIOE, TAIWANESE-AMERICAN AND FOUNDING EDITOR, NEW BLOOM MAGAZINE: There could have been more dialogue between Taiwan and the Biden administration rather than have these confusing mixed signals presented out there openly in the public in a way that now China has noticed and will respond in some way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIPLEY: So, basically President Tsai Ing-wen has not made a statement in support or against Pelosi's visit. The Taiwan premier says they're grateful to have, you know, Speaker Pelosi's support and they welcome friendly visits from other countries. So certainly Taiwan is not rolling out the red carpet, rhetorically, but they're also making it clear that they would welcome Nancy Pelosi if she decides to make a trip, even though it's not right now on her schedule -- Pam.
BROWN: All right, Will Ripley, thanks for getting up early for us there from Taiwan. We appreciate it.
Breaking news, the city of New York says it is -- New York City says it is declaring a public health emergency due to monkeypox. Now this makes New York the second major U.S. city to do so after San Francisco. And as of Friday, there were more than 1200 confirmed cases of monkeypox in New York City. But officials say it is likely there are many more cases that have not yet been diagnosed.
In a statement, New York officials explained, quote, "New York City is currently the epicenter of the outbreak and we estimate approximately 150,000 New Yorkers may currently be at risk for monkeypox exposure."
And still ahead tonight on CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday evening, uncontrolled pieces of a Chinese rocket fall from the sky. Could we see this happen more often?
I'm going to talk to the former commander of the International Space Station, Scott Kelly, about that and much more up next.
Plus, it has been five months since Russia invaded Ukraine. So where do things stand? We'll break it down for you.
And then later in the show, Will Smith breaking his silence with a new video apology to Chris Rock.
BROWN: After days of anxiety, the remnants of a massive Chinese rocket fell into the Indian Ocean earlier today. Footage was posted on social media from Malaysia, alleging to show some of the fallen debris, although CNN cannot confirm its authenticity. But earlier today, U.S. Space Command did confirm the re-entry of remnants from the 20-ton rocket. It was launched last Sunday carrying a module for China's space station.
Well, this marks the third time China has been accused of not properly handling space debris. In 2020, pieces of a similar Chinese rocket fell on villages in the Ivory Coast and damaged several buildings.
Joining me now to discuss, retired NASA astronaut and former commander of the International Space Station, Scott Kelly.
Hi there, Scott. Great to have you back on the show. So this rocket broke up over the Indian Ocean, but there had been concerns pieces could land somewhere in the U.S. or in the Philippines or other populated areas. NASA says China has failed to meet responsible standards. This has happened several times now.
I mean, why does this keep happening, and what can be done?
SCOTT KELLY, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: Well, space junk is a big problem. Mostly it's a problem for satellite that are in orbit. But, you know, in this case with the Long March rocket, they actually carry the core stage, you know, all the way into orbit. And it takes several days for it to come down. And my understanding is that just the Chinese government has not been very forthcoming with the, you know, the orbital parameters so we can better predict where this is going to land. And also, you know, they're just not taking responsibility for their space hardware.
Normally, you know, we would want to, you know, safely de-orbit something, generally put it in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where it's not going to harm anybody.
BROWN: Right. I mean, that's the scary part about this because I remember last time it was the same thing. We didn't know where it was going to land. Fortunately last time it landed in the ocean as well. But I mean, that is the scary part of this.
You mentioned space junk. There is a growing belt of space junk circling earth. What is to stop some of these satellites or boosters from colliding, shifting orbit, becoming a risk to people on earth or those in the ISS, for example?
KELLY: Well, there's nothing stopping that. We've just been very, very lucky. When I was aboard the International Space Station in 2015, we had to shelter in place for a Russian satellite, dead Russian satellite, that got within half a mile of us. And it could have hit us. You know, so far we've been very lucky. But, you know, satellites do get hit all the time.
But we are getting to a point where we could potentially pollute lower earth orbit so much that you could get into a situation where you have a cascading effect of collisions that would, you know, create more space junk and make that so valuable piece of real estate in the sky that we use for so many things useless. BROWN: What is the risk to people on earth when it comes to space
KELLY: You know, the risk of -- individual risk is very, very low. If you look at a map of the earth, especially when you see the Pacific Ocean on one side and the, you know, basically the rest of land on the other, that it gives you a sense that there's really a lot of water out there. So, you know, generally these rockets land in uninhabited locations.
But that doesn't mean it's not possible for it to land where people are. And, you know, pieces of spacecraft have hit populated areas before. So there is that small risk.
BROWN: Talk about being unlucky, right, being in one of those areas. Wow.
All right. So I want to talk about this other news that's coming out this week, as Russia announced its withdrawal from the International Space Station, at first saying that they would leave after 2024. It has been almost 24 years since the U.S. and Russia teamed up for the first mission aboard the ISS.
So, first of all, you're not so sure Russia will quit the ISS at this point, right? I mean, you think it's bluster.
KELLY: I do. You know, the space program has been, you know, historically very important to their government. You know, I think they kind of use it almost as a distraction to other failures, where they just point to, you know, the fact that they launched the first human into space as an example of their, you know, technological prowess and, you know, despite maybe not that being so strong anymore.
And I think Putin gets a lot out of the credibility from being in this partnership with Western nations on the International Space Station. He gets it internationally. He also gets it domestically. So my personal feelings are that unless Russia can no longer afford to launch their cosmonauts to the space station and support their space station, that they will likely stick with it for as long as they can.
BROWN: Scott Kelly, thank you. And by the way, thank you for your children's book. You sent it to me, and my son absolutely loves it. He wants to be an astronaut, among many other things one day. Thank you.
KELLY: My pleasure, Pamela. Thank you.
BROWN: Well, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Abortion is still legal in Kansas for now, but advocates are worried about the impact of a possible ban.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we're seeing right now is, in my opinion, a national emergency.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BROWN: In just a few days, Kansas will be the first state to vote on abortion rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade. Critics say the proposed amendment could lead to an outright abortion ban in the State.
CNN's Nick Valencia traveled to Wichita and spoke with voters on both sides of this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HELENA, FIELD DIRECTOR, KANSAS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL FREEDOM: Might name is Helena. I'm the field director for Kansans for constitutional freedom.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In a small room in Wichita, the fight for abortion rights is on. Kansas will be the first state in the country to vote on whether the right to abortion is protected by the State's Constitution since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Ashley All is part of the coalition working to preserve abortion access in Kansas.
ASHLEY ALL, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, KANSANS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL FREEDOM: The amendment that is on the ballot will mandate government control over our private medical decisions and ultimately pave the way for a total ban on abortion.
VALENCIA (voice over): In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the State Constitution protected personal autonomy, including the right of a woman to decide whether to continue a pregnancy, the ruling effectively blocked legislators from passing laws to restrict abortion access within the State. If passed on August 2nd, the so-called Value Them Both Amendment would give back power to the Republican supermajority legislature to regulate access to abortions in the State.
ALL: We believe that they will -- if this amendment passes, they will act quickly to ban abortion outright. That has been their goal for a long time.
VALENCIA (voice over): Adding to their worries, the issue is being voted on in the primary rather than the General Election. In a state where registered Republicans vastly outnumber Democrats, abortion rights advocates believe the move was intentional by State conservatives to limit non-Republican turnout.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that it's best to have as little abortion if not any as possible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Abortion is a right that everyone should have access to, it is healthcare. [19:35:10]
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's really important for, I mean, all the young babies, the lives that are being saved, if it passes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want rights taken away.
VALENCIA (voice over): Some voters we spoke to were also concerned about the involvement of churches and religious groups.
Since the vote is on an issue, not a candidate, such organizations have been allowed to campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The passing of the Value Them Both Amendment --
VALENCIA (voice over): Brittany Jones welcomes the support. Jones, an anti-abortion lawyer helped write the amendment.
BRITTANY JONES, DIRECTOR OF POLICY AND ENGAGEMENT, KANSAS FAMILY VOICE: Kansans want to ensure that moms and babies are protected. And so Kansans are very concerned about this push to make us an unlimited destination for abortion.
VALENCIA (voice over): Though it seems like a reaction to what the Supreme Court did with Roe, Jones and her Kansas Republican colleagues say they've been working on drafting the amendment for years.
One of their main concerns, people coming from nearby places like Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas, where abortion is already outlawed to get procedures done in Kansas.
ASHLEY BRINK, DIRECTOR, TRUST WOMEN ABORTION CLINIC: The day that the decision came down, we had patients calling us from the waiting rooms of other health centers in other States saying our appointments were just cancelled. How soon can we get in?
VALENCIA (voice over): Ashley Brink is the Director of Trust Women, one of four abortion clinics in the state. Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Brink estimates more than 60 percent of the patients are from out of state.
BRINK: What we're seeing right now is in my opinion, a national emergency.
VALENCIA (voice over): The choice on August 2nd may be local, but it will come with national implications.
BROWN: Thank you to our Nick Valencia.
And you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Tonight, Russia is accused of new war crimes as Ukraine's President announces a mandatory evacuation in the east.
Retired Colonel Cedric Leighton is here to walk us through the state of the war, up next.
BROWN: Outrage tonight ever new allegations of Russian war crimes in Ukraine. The United Nation says it is appalled by videos alleging to show Russian soldiers castrating and killing a bound and gagged Ukrainian soldier. Now, CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the videos and they are too graphic to show you. The Prosecutor General's Office in Ukraine says it has launched a criminal investigation.
Also drawing condemnation tonight, a strike on a prison in Eastern Ukraine. The attack killed dozens of prisoners and many of the Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the steel plant in Mariupol were held there.
President Zelenskyy calls it a deliberate war crime.
Today, he announced a mandatory evacuation for the remaining residents of the Donetsk region. He says the sooner people leave, the fewer people the Russian Army will have time to kill.
CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel, Cedric Leighton is with us here now at the magic wall.
Good to see you.
So let's walk through these alleged war crimes, these recent alleged war crimes from Russia. Tell us about that.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Absolutely, Pamela. This is where this happened. This is the town of Olenivka right here, right where the Donbas frontline basically is. This is the Donetsk region right here and Luhansk is up here. That's the northern part of the Donbas. This is the area the Russians have already captured.
Now, at the Olenivka Prison, what the Russians are alleged to have done, either they or their separatist forces is what you described earlier in the introduction to this piece, and that is a very major war crime
This is something where anybody who does something like that is really subject to the laws of war, the violation of the Geneva Convention. These are war crimes, and the fact that they are war crimes means that any of the people that did this, if the allegations are true, could be charged with that and punished under international law.
BROWN: You know, we are 150 days into this. I remember when you were here in the early days of this war, we thought Ukraine was going to fall. We thought Russia was going to come in, at least take Kyiv. That is not the case.
Tell us about how this war has been progressing. LEIGHTON: So look at what we have here, Pamela. This is -- all the red
was the Russian forces; the yellow, the Ukrainian forces. The Ukrainians were able to take over Kyiv and now, everything that's moved forward into this area has really shown the concentration is in the east.
So if we slow this down just a little bit, you can see that at the very beginning, the Russians were right in this area, and then they really were threatening all of Kyiv right here and it could have easily fallen under normal circumstances.
But what the Ukrainians were able to do was they were able to pull back in a very different way. And once they moved forward from here, it went a little bit -- you know, it was slow going at first, but then you start seeing the Ukrainian forces start to gain territory right here in the northern part, on the Belarus and Russian borders. All of this is a tremendous achievement for the Ukrainians.
The fact that they were able to do this is something that many people did not expect. A lot of people thought the Ukrainians would put up a fight, but that they'd be able to keep Kyiv. That was remarkable, and that that really made the difference and allowed the Ukrainians to prosecute the war effort to the extent that they have so far to this point in time.
BROWN: And how about the weapons the US has sent, how much of a difference has that made for the Ukrainians and able to make this progress?
LEIGHTON: So let's take a look at one of these weapons. This is the so called HIMAR system, a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, it has a range of about 70 kilometers, so about 40 to 45 miles and it is really an advanced system that when you look at it, how it works, it actually is a system that allows for the rapid targeting and here you see a launch.
This is launched from the Ukrainian position, it goes straight to a Russian target that's pre-programmed into the system and it destroys it. It's based on being able to get the right GPS coordinates and correct intelligence. In fact, we have been able to prosecute this war effort.
BROWN: I'm going to talk about the grain routes, protecting them has been a big concern. How are things going with that?
LEIGHTON: So this is one of the things that becomes really, really important. So when you look at the grain routes right here, this is the port of Odessa and this becomes a really critical point. These other ports right here, Pivdenny and Chornomorsk, they become a critical area for the Ukrainians to move their grain out into the Black Sea.
Remember, Snake Island? This is where the massive first fight really in the Black Sea occurred and where the Russians took it over for a time. The Ukrainians of course, had the famous words that they passed on to the Russians at that moment.
BROWN: Right, of course.
LEIGHTON: But what the Ukrainians are trying to do is they're trying to get the grain out. The other thing that the Ukrainians are doing, though, is when you look at what is happening here, they're moving in the south, but in Donetsk -- in the Donetsk region right here, they have been told to evacuate the civilian population, the President of Ukraine, Zelenskyy has told his population to evacuate this area, because, in essence, what he's doing is he's telling them to leave so that they don't become targets of the Russians.
When you go to here, he is trying to secure the economic lifeline of the country by allowing this, by moving the grain out here. Hopefully, the Russians will allow that.
But the big issue here is going to be how do we protect the grain? How do they protect their populations up here? And how do they keep the war effort going?
So they need more weapons. They need the ability to continue to fight, but they have to move in a very tactical and very considered and deliberate movement because what the Ukrainians are trying to do is while they move the grain out, they're trying to go in here and capture the City of Kherson, which is the main goal of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, which is going on right now.
BROWN: All right, breaking it down for us, Colonel Cedric Leighton. We appreciate it.
LEIGHTON: You bet, Pamela.
BROWN: And you're in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday. Across the country, kids and parents are getting ready for back to school. We head to one community to see how families are getting help amid so much economic uncertainty.
BROWN: Children across the country are getting ready to head back to the classroom, but with families already dealing with sky high grocery bills and energy prices, school shopping lists are an additional economic burden, and that is why today, one Atlanta area School District partnered with local leaders to give out 5,000 backpacks filled with school supplies, fresh food and lunchbox snacks.
CNN's Nadia Romero met up with parents and volunteers to learn more.
NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela this food and backpack giveaway here in DeKalb County, which is one of the counties in the Metro Atlanta area has seen so much need, so much impact already just this year, growing from the pandemic, now dealing with the inflation. Take a look at the long line of cars behind me, the long line of cars
right in front of me, they've been lined up since 6:00 AM. Many of these people, they came out by 8:00 AM, more than a hundred people are already lined up to be a part of this giveaway, and that was even an hour before the event started.
Now, we know that food prices are going up for many families. And so, these kinds of bags being handed out are so important, full of juice boxes and snacks and cereal to help feed kids as they head back to school in the next couple of weeks.
They can also pick up other boxes like, this is a box full of fresh meat -- chicken. We know that everything in our grocery store, nearly everything has gone up dramatically since this time last year.
We spoke with one mother who says she's a single mom of six adopted kids. She says they eat all the time, nonstop. She has to go to the grocery store every two weeks and her costs have gone up by at least $100.00 every time she goes to the grocery store.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAMARA SHEPHERD, GEORGIA PARENT: I shop like every two weeks for groceries and my grocery bill is never under $300.00. So that's like a hundred to maybe $115.00 more. As the prices go up, the quantity is coming down.
MICHAEL THURMOND, CEO, DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA: Not only are they struggling to purchase food. Now, they have to buy the supplies that their children need, so this is a critical moment in the history of our State and our nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMERO: Another big part of this giveaway, the backpack giveaway, full of school supplies that kids need -- calculators, crayons, notebooks -- and well, you should notice that this is a clear backpack and although it's not mandated in this particular county, the parents here and the county school officials tell me that they wanted them to be clear because not only are they concerned about still COVID-19, about inflation, rising costs of everyday items, but they're also worried about their kid's safety.
So clear backpacks were on the list as well -- Pamela.
BROWN: All right, Nadia Romero, thank you.
And you are in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday.
We're following two big stories for you tonight. New York City has just declared a public health emergency over the monkeypox outbreak. I'm going to ask a doctor if other cities may soon follow suit.
Plus, fears that the death toll from flooding in Kentucky will go even higher. We're going to speak live to survivors up next.
BROWN: Tomorrow night, CNN takes you to the extremes of Patagonia's far south, which is teeming with life including whales.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flying against the wind, the drone's battery is running out of juice.
If the whale doesn't surface soon, they'll have to give up.
One last chance. Got it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: A new episode of "Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World" airs tomorrow at 9:00 PM here on CNN.
And the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.