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U.S. Battling Raging Wildfires and Rising Floodwaters; Death Toll in Kentucky Rises as Area Braces for More Rain; U.S. House Speaker Pelosi to Begin Asia Trip in Singapore; First Grain Ship Leaves Ukrainian Port of Odesa; Intense Russian Shelling in Southern City of Mykolaiv; Protesters Call Out Republicans for Blocking Burn Pit Bill; Manchin Slams Reports Economic Bill Would Add to Inflation. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 01, 2022 - 04:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Max Foster in London. Just ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We wake up and we see neighbors on their roof. We have no cell phone signal, no wi-fi signal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just devastating. When you see just what mud, what water does, it just destroys stuff, moves stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is something the likes we have never seen. Which means, we need a response.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of fast ones that are pulled in Washington D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are spending way too much money to use, to hide behind a veterans bill on an unrelated $400 billion spending fee is wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first grain vessel to depart from Ukraine's Black Sea ports under this new agreement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Resuming exports could be a critical first step in easing the global food crisis.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster.

FOSTER: It's Monday, August 1st, 9:00 a.m. here in London, 4:00 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast.

We begin with extreme weather fueled by a climate crisis unraveling in real time across the United States. In California, the McKinney fire has burned more than 52,000 acres. There's more than 21,000 hectors of land up in flames. The governor has ordered thousands of people to evacuate leaving their homes to burn as high temperatures and drought make the blazes even more intense. It's a heartbreaking realization for some that the fire has taken everything.


RODGER DERRY, KLAMATH RIVER, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: I watched it from my bedroom. I watched everything come. It was heading right straight towards our property. That's when all those houses I showed you on the way here all burned. We have a little township of 105 people. And you burn the 10 miles of the river township to the ground and that's where we're at now.


FOSTER: Other parts of the U.S. are under flash flood warnings. Heavy rains in the southwest have put cities in Arizona, California and Nevada on alert. And floods have turned deadly in Kentucky where at least 28 people have been killed as conditions continue to grow worse. Now it's a race against the clock to rescue those trapped by the rising waters.


ZACH HALL, KNOTT COUNTY, KENTUCKY RESIDENT: A lot of people are still trapped up in there. Going on three days now, no food, no water. I take what I can in the ATVs, a lot of other people are doing the same thing. And it's just a real tragedy, that, you know, there's a lot of older people. The older people here -- our population is mostly elderly and I get emotional thinking about it. But it's -- it's -- I don't know. I don't know. I don't know what to say. I get choked up.


FOSTER: CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro has more now from Kentucky.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The governor of Kentucky has been trying to tour the devastation from these flash floods since the water started to rise on Thursday. But because of the damage done by those water and ongoing weather problems he wasn't able to get out here until Sunday getting his first look at just how much damage had been done by these historic floods. The death toll keeps rising and at one stop on his tour, the governor got emotional.

ANDY BESHEAR, KENTUCKY GOVERNOR: I'll read you the full list. So, these are -- these are 28 Kentuckians. The number keeps growing. Two in Clay, 15 in Knott County, four of them children and it says minors. They were children. The oldest one was in second grade. I just passed and got out of the location that their home and that they were swept away in. Two in Meacher, three in Perry, and six in Breathitt. And we will have more we know.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The governor says it's now a race against time to get supplies and equipment in here to help to stabilize people affected by these storms. He's worried about more rain but also worried about heat coming in the next couple of days. People without water and without power, that could be a very, very dangerous thing.


Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, Knott County, Kentucky.


FOSTER: Let's get more from then from meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. He's live at the CNN Weather Center. What relief is there potentially for those people?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, well Max, we've got another day potentially of wet weather and then possibly on Tuesday afternoon we see conditions improve just a little bit across this region. So at least Monday not as good, Tuesday looks a little bit better and of course, you take a look at how things have played out here in recent days. You take a look at St. Louis, rainfall amounts exceeded 10 plus inches in a matter of hours.

Eastern areas of Kentucky, similar numbers played out in a span of 48 hours from one another. Each being a one in a thousand year event taking place. And of course, it doesn't take much rainfall here to exacerbate the situation. You know, the soil is fully saturated, the water table has already increased. So, any additional rainfall, some models say one to two inches of rainfall that could lead to surface flooding, and that's the biggest concern across these area that have seen so much water come down in recent days.

So, here's the levels for Monday, notice a slight risk. That's a level two on a scale of one to four. It is diminished come Tuesday so we think we've one more day here before we see conditions improve at least across the Heartland of the U.S. when it comes to flooding.

Now the extreme temperatures on the western area of the United States. Incredible heat across the Pacific Northwest, which typically one of the cooler spots around the U.S. But temps across Seattle, Washington even climbing up to 95 degrees, besting a previous record. And also, first time in recorded history where it's six consecutive days Seattle exceeded 90 degrees, that occurred again on Sunday getting six days in a row.

Conditions are going to cool off a little bit, at least along places such as Seattle and Portland while the interior region of the Northwest remains rather hot in the coming several days. But notice temps drop down here, maybe down to 70 degrees by late week. And then guess what, early next weekend, into possibly early next week even, getting the temperatures back up again close to 90 degrees.

One more element to share here. This is the McKinney fire across northern tier of California, zero percent containment. Rapid expansion with this fire but look at the models here. You don't see this often especially this time of year, moisture surging right on into Northern California, possibly as early as later on Monday into Tuesday, and some models bring the rainfall directly over the fires. Of course, it's a large fire, Max, but again, beneficial rainfall nonetheless across the region. I'm sure firefighters love that forecast as well.

Las Vegas will aim for 95 today, Kansas City around 96 degrees. New York City highs there, Max, should be closer to 76 degrees. But again, lots going on across the U.S.

FOSTER: OK, Pedram, thank you very much for keeping across that for us.

Now a U.S. Congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi begins a tour of parts of Asia today with a stop in Singapore. Over the course of two days Pelosi and her team will meet with Singapore's President, the Prime Minister, along with cabinet members and business leaders. They'll also visit Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. Let's bring in CNN's Blake Essig live in Tokyo. The big question though is whether or not she'll take in a very sensitive visit to Taiwan. That's still up in the air, isn't it?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, rumors of her potential visit have been swirling for more than a week. And the reality is we just simply don't know. What we do know is that the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has kicked off her tour of Asia. Singapore the first of four planned stops, according to a statement released by her office. Those other stops include Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

Now despite recent speculation that the Speaker would be making a fifth stop in Taiwan, the statement made no reference to the self- governed island, that of course, doesn't mean that the rumored visit won't take place. In fact, Admiral Mike Mullen who visited Taiwan earlier this year with the delegation of private citizens and former officials said that he thinks a surprise visit to Taiwan is, in fact, possible. Take a listen.


ADM. MIKE MULLEN, FORMER JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: She's been there many, many times in that area of the world. She feels strongly about supporting the kinds of values that we stand for and working with our friends. So again, and Taiwan has been a friend for a long time and particularly in a bipartisan way. So, it wouldn't surprise me if she went.


ESSIG: It's worth noting that the omission of Taiwan from the Speaker's agenda falls in line with what we've seen before from other U.S. officials on visits to this part of the world. Earlier today, Taiwan's premier was asked about a potential Pelosi visit, rather than answer the question directly he danced around it a bit and reiterated that Taipei warmly welcomes any foreign VIP friends to visit Taiwan and that the central government would make appropriate arrangements to facilitate any visits by foreign guests.

Experts say Taiwanese authorities are likely keeping a low profile to avoid the perception that Taipei is encouraging the Speaker's visit which could provoke Beijing.


Now whether Pelosi's visit to Taiwan happens or not, tensions over the Taiwan Strait have intensified with the simple prospect of her visit infuriating China. As a result, Beijing has vowed to respond. And some Chinese analysts have suggested, Max, that the response could involve the military.

FOSTER: OK, Blake Essig in Tokyo, we'll be watching very closely. Thank you.

That's the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain blowing its horn as it left the port of Odesa. The ship is expected to arrive in Istanbul on Tuesday before heading to its final destination which is Tripoli in Lebanon.

Resuming exports could be a crucial first step in easing the global food crisis sparked by the war, which has trapped millions of tons of grain inside Ukraine for months. Those developments come as Russia continue hammering parts of Ukraine's southern coast. This was a scene in the Odesa region on Sunday after a Russian missile strike set off a grass fire. According to local officials or local official say Russian forces fired at least two missiles from occupied Crimea.

Meanwhile, more shelling pounded the southern city of Mykolaiv overnight. Local officials say at least three people were wounded. In the city's mayor says Russian forces targeted a medical facility. It comes just a day after another attack on the city killed a Ukraine business mogul and his wife. CNN is covering the story from every angle. Clare Sebastian joining me here in London with the latest on the Ukrainian grain exports. But first let's go to CNN's Nic Robertson live in Mykolaiv. Because that really does seem to be a focus of Russian attention right now.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It does. Oleksiy Vadaturskyy the very, very wealthy businessman and his wife Raisa, who were killed in the shelling yesterday could so easily have left this city. Certainly, rich enough and wealthy enough, a big grain exporter in his own right, a man who'd put his money back into Ukraine, had helped out in the war effort was helping rebuild the shipping here. So, his death, when he was taking shelter in the basement of his mansion during that heavy shelling the night before last really, you know, certainly affected his neighbors who we spoke to yesterday morning. They were very worried and concerned and thought they would probably leave as well.

Many other people we've spoken to in the city really feeling less certain about staying here. And I talked to the mayor as well about why he thinks there has been such an uptick recently in Russian shelling of Mykolaiv.


ROBERTSON: So why do you think that they've ratcheted up the number of strikes?

OLEKSANDR SENKEVYCH, MYKOLAIV, UKRAINE MAYOR: First of all, they don't have any success on ground operations and they want to, you know, to hit people. The new tactics for this strike is that they are using pro-Russian telegram channels, like we know that some armored people, and ammos are stored in different places.

ROBERTSON: Are there saboteurs working in the city trying to help the Russians?

SENKEVYCH: For sure. I'm sure that they have spies who are going around the city. And they say like I saw the number of machines, or the people, military people there. They send this information and Russia attack there.

ROBERTSON: And do you think those saboteurs might have helped in the attacks last night?

SENKEVYCH: I'm sure they helped.

ROBERTSON: We've talked to quite a number of people around the town today, and you know, they've all said this was a big night. And quite a few of them have said that, you know, if they could leave, they would or this is something that would make them think of leaving. What's your message to those people?

SENKEVYCH: From the first day of war, I tell them that they need to leave the city. And I would commend them to leave the city until this every night heavy bombardments.

ROBERTSON: Are we expecting more of these heavy bombardments?

SENKEVYCH: For sure. I expect them any moment, even now.


ROBERTSON (on camera): He said before the war the population of this city was 480,000 people it's down to 230,000. Now there's people on the bus right next to me now going to work. People driving around the city. But it is a very cautious feeling here. The air-raid sirens go off regular intervals in the city. I don't think anyone here feels particularly safe. But life goes on. And I think that's the reality for so many parts of this country, Max. Particularly those close to the frontline. That, you know, people have their lives and livelihoods here and they just don't want to leave, even when the authorities say.


And we know that the president of Ukraine has told the people in the east of the country, in the Donetsk region, that they need to leave now, there won't be heating next winter. It's tough times and more to come. Tough times, Max.

FOSTER: Nic in Nikolai Mykolaiv, thank you. Clare is here to talk about the grain exports. The first ship leaving Odessa, this is a huge moment, not just for Ukrainian income but also for, you know, this food shortage in the rest of the world.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, much of the world really struggling because of the lack of grain coming out of Ukraine. It's been five months now, Max, that these ports have been blockaded. I think you're right. It is a moment, you know, that ship blowing it's horn as it leaves the port of Odesa this morning. This is the Razoni, a Sierra Leone-flagged vessel. We're told that it's carrying about 26,000 tons of Ukrainian corn which is heading eventually Tripoli in Lebanon. A fraction of that 22 million tons that still left in the country.

It's still significant said needed to a country like Lebanon which before the war relied on Ukraine for about 66 percent of its wheat imports. But what's happening now is it's going to head through a safe maritime corridor, eventually it will end up sometime tomorrow in Istanbul, where it will be inspected by staff from the JCC, the Joint Coordination Center that was set up as part of the agreement on the Black Sea grain shipments. And then eventually it will go after that through the Bosporus in on to Tripoli in Lebanon.

So, this was down to the wire up until the end of last week, the U.N. was saying they were still ironing out the coordinates of these safe maritime corridors. On Sunday a Turkish presidential spokesperson said that they were still sort of ironing out some details with Russia. But it looks like this morning that they managed to get off the ground -- Max.

FOSTER: And this will allow Ukraine to make some money because there's billions of dollars' worth of grain in storage currently and then they've got the billions of dollars' worth more which have been harvested.

SEBASTIAN: Right, and just in time. Because they couldn't leave it in storage much longer, they're already harvesting this year's harvest. What we've got in the storage is some of last year's harvest that they couldn't export before the war started. So, really just in time. Harvest season is critical. This is an export for Ukraine and 90 percent of it before the war was shipped by sea. So really any efforts to get it out through other methods, road, rail, through the Danube, all of those, pale in comparison to of the significance of reopening the sea corridors.

FOSTER: Clare, thank you.

Still to come, protesters turn out in Washington, after Republican Senators block a bill expanding medical coverage for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals. The details just ahead.

Plus, stuck for nearly 2 weeks in the White House. An update on U.S. President Biden as he battles his rebound COVID case.





CROWD: Coward.


CROWD: Coward.


CROWD: Coward.


CROWD: Coward.


FOSTER: Protesters on the U.S. Capitol steps voicing their anger as they call out 25 Republican Senators for pulling their support for a bill that would expand medical coverage for millions of troops exposed to so-called burn pits. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has details from Washington.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You'll see behind me here. This is a group of protesters, veterans and advocates who are out on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and they've been out here for days. They are, of course, trying to draw attention to the failure of the burn pit legislation. And specifically calling out directly the Republicans who surprisingly voted against it last week. Many of those Republicans who had previously supported this bill in the past.

And we have heard many powerful testimonies from veterans and their families out here. I spoke with one woman who she was in Iraq in 2007. She had sustained exposure to burn pits and she believes that many of the health issues that's she's experienced in the time since is because of those burn pits. Issues like fertility issues, migraines and lung issues, she says. And she believes that Republicans are overlooking the need here, the dire need, she says, for veterans health.

ASHLEY CAROTHERS, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: I don't know what to say, because time and time again they say happy Veterans Day. Time and time again they're in a parade. They're shaking hands with veterans. One of them on his handle has a photo of him shaking soldier's hand behind him. They told him no. They told these folks no and thousands of veterans in this nation. It's not just my generation, it's the generations before me, where my uncles had fought for, for healthcare.

And it's a stab in the back. It really is. Because you're constantly saying we support you, support our troops. You know, they'll be tweeting out, you know, remember every deployed on Fridays and wear red. But when it actually comes to something that matters for our health care, they turn their backs on us. That hurts more than anything.

SERFATY: And this group has received some high profile help from comedian and veteran advocate Jon Stewart. He's been up on The Hill pushing for this legislation and really, again, also calling out Republicans. He called them cowards. He said the failure of the procedural vote last year felt like a gut punch to him. Now Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer he has lined up a procedural vote on this legislation on Monday. So, we could see it inch forward this week on Capitol Hill. And this group of course, will be out here, they say. They'll be sleeping overnight on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Every moment of every day until the legislation gets through.

Sunlen, Serfaty, CNN on Capitol Hill.


FOSTER: Senators on both sides of the aisle are speaking out after the legislation failed to pass with one Republican lawmaker defending his decision.


SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA): This is the oldest trick in Washington. People take a sympathetic group of Americans, and it could be children with an illness, it could be victims of crime, it could be veterans exposed to toxic chemicals. Craft a bill to address their problems and then sneak in something completely unrelated that they know could never pass on their own and dare Republicans to do anything about it.

SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT): I don't agree with his assessment.


And I think the veterans who served this country are pretty important because they fight for our freedoms and make sure we're safe and secure. And when it comes time to taking care of them you've got to step up and do that. That is a cost of the war. I think the American people see through all this garbage that happened last Wednesday in Washington D.C. and they are, along with the veterans, saying enough is enough. Let's get this done. Our veterans deserve this benefit.


FOSTER: Tester went on to say this bill is the same one that was passed in June and should be passed again.

Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is defending his support of a massive new climate and health care package. Mansion outraged Republicans after announcing he and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed on a $739 billion plan to tackle the climate crisis and reduce the deficit. On Sunday he touted the benefits of the bill and dismissed Republican claims it'll make inflation worse.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): There's nothing inflammatory in this bill even though there's some naysayers. I'm sure you will always hear that. But there is nothing in that. We're paying down debt, $300 billion we're increasing production as far as if you want to get the gasoline prices down, produce more energy and produce it here in America, that's what we're doing. And we're investing in the technologies for the future energy. we're doing everything to bring manufacturing back, keep people working. And I think it's a great piece of legislation. And in normal times, my Republican colleagues would be for something such as this.


FOSTER: Democrats hope to pass the bill before the Senate leaves for his scheduled August recess. Manchin just mentioned the push to get gas prices down. And as we can see here, they've already dipped from just one month ago. The national average for a gallon of regular gas now stands at $4.21.

U.S. President Joe Biden still testing positive after a rebound COVID case. The White House physician says the president continues to feel well as he isolates. CNN White House reporter Kevin Liptak has more details.


KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The White House doctor, Kevin O'Connor, says that's not necessarily a surprise as he weathers this rebound infection that they're attributing to the antiviral drug Paxlovid. And you do see a small percentage of patients who take that drug have an infection after they've tested negative. But the White House still says that it has helped kept his symptoms mild.

The White House doctor says that the president is feeling well today. So medically the president certainly seems to be doing fine. And he told a group yesterday that he'd actually gone to the White House gym before this positive test.

But perhaps more troubling for the president is the isolation period. They've had to cancel a number of events that were slated to take place out of town. The president had hoped to go to his home in Delaware this weekend. That was cancelled. He was also supposed to travel to Michigan to tout some new legislation on Tuesday. That also had to be cancelled. The president had hoped to go up yesterday to support some protesters at the U.S. Capitol. They're protesting some stalled legislation.

He couldn't go because of that positive test but he did FaceTime them from the Truman balcony here at the White House. He does have his dog here to keep him company. But it's hard to believe he's not going a little stir crazy. It will now have been 11 days since he's left the White House.

Kevin Liptak, CNN, the White House.


FOSTER: Still to come, how a CNN exclusive report has triggered protests in Sudan, calling for an end to military rule in the African nation.

More on calls to prosecute Sudan's military rulers for corruption.

Later, he's an icon in American team sports but his impact reached beyond the game. Tributes to the late NBA legend, Bill Russell, who passed away at 88 coming up.