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Senate On Track To Vote On Sweeping Health Care And Climate Bill; Dems' Senate Bill To Include $369B In Climate-Energy Spending; Heavy Rain Pushes Into Hard Hit Areas Of Eastern Kentucky; China Suspends Cooperation With U.S. On Range of Issues; Parkland Trial Jurors Visit Preserved Site Of Mass Shooting; Top Scientist's "Star" Turns Out To Be Total Baloney. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired August 06, 2022 - 13:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. All right. Right now the U.S. Senate is in session on track to vote on sweeping health care on a suite sweeping health care and climate bill. The bill known as the Inflation Reduction Act would be the largest investment in energy and climate programs in U.S. history. And for the first time it would give Medicare the power to negotiate prescription drug prices.

CAP Medicare out of pocket costs at $2,000 and extend expiring health care subsidies for three years. CNN's Jessica Dean is live for us on Capitol Hill with more on all of this. Jessica, what's happening?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have the Senate in session now, Fredricka. They are doing a couple of nomination votes just to kind of get everybody here and everybody moving in the meantime, behind the scenes. The Democrats are waiting on final rulings from the Senate parliamentarian because remember, they're using this specialized budget process in order to move this legislation forward.

It requires the support of only Democrats. But they also have to pass the test of the Senate parliamentarian who is looking over every provision and making sure that it fits within this budget process. So, they're waiting on the final rulings from her. They're also waiting from the Congressional Budget Office to see just how much some of -- they're going to score this. How much it's going to cost, how much it will affect the deficit.

So they're waiting on a couple of things there. In the meantime, they are looking ahead to a motion to proceed. That's really going to kick all of this off. And that's kind of the big question mark right now. Exactly when is that going to start, but we did hear from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer just a little bit ago. I'll let you listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Now that our meetings with the parliamentarian have largely concluded, we have a bill before us that can win the support of all 50 Democrats. I'm happy to report to my colleagues that the bill we presented to the parliamentarian remains largely intact. The bill, when passed, will meet all of our goals, fighting climate change, lowering health care costs, closing tax loopholes abused by the wealthy and reducing the deficit.


DEAN: Now, again, it's important to note. We do expect this to pass. It's just going to be an incredibly lengthy process. And part of the process is what's known as a voter-a-rama. It's hours and hours and hours of voting on amendments to this. And that's where Senate Republicans -- want to force some Senate Democrats to take what could be considered tough votes on things that are not going to end up in this bill. It just puts them on the record on these issues.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader speaking earlier as well. Here's Senator McConnell.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Democrats who have just started their first economic disaster justifies a second economic disaster. The working people of this country feel very, very differently.


DEAN: So, we're in for a long day, probably a long night, maybe into the overnight, Fredricka. Again, the next key thing will be when they vote on this motion to proceed. Again, it's a simple majority vote, but that will kick off the process. And then there will be up to 20 hours of debate on both sides before they then move to the vote-a-rama which will take as I said, lots of many hours here on the Hill, and then they will end up with final passage.

But again, Fredricka, just to give you the top lines, Senate Democrats very, very excited about getting this through. They thought this was dead for a while Senator Joe Manchin had indicated he wouldn't support things like these climate provisions or these tax provisions that are in here. So, Senate Democrats excited to get this passed before they go home on August recess. So, those who are running for reelection can talk a lot about this, Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Yes. A big turnaround. And yes to all of those scenarios you gave. Yes, to a long day, and probably a long night, too.

DEAN: That's right.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jessica Dean, thank you so much. All right. So, how far will this bill actually go to address the climate crisis? For that, let's bring in Kim Cobb. She's the director of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society. Kim, so good to see you. So, it's a big number. $369 billion, Pretty big investment, in your estimation, is it going to make a significant impact? KIM COBB, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE AT BROWN FOR ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY: Well, first of all, it's a significant investment, but the cost of climate change is on that scale with the United States suffering up to dozens of natural disasters every year bringing in and it's sometimes $100 billion or more per year.


COBB: And so it is commensurate with the challenge of what will it achieve in terms of emissions reduction again, a science-based targets, looking at 50 percent reductions in emissions by 2050 to keep those most ambitious warming targets on the table, the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming target. What would this do -- bill do? Well, by some estimates, and this requires modeling of scenarios over the next decade, of course, it would deliver up to really, you know, 40 to 60 percent additional emissions cuts to what we would have had otherwise.

So, coming as close to 40 percent reductions in emissions by 2030, compared to the 50 percent emissions target cuts for that 1.5 degrees Celsius. So, quite significant indeed. And I think allowing the Democrats to make good on some of their core talking points of putting money back in the hands of Americans at the low to middle income levels, keeping our air and water clean from dirty fossil fuels.

And of course, in deep investments in American manufacturing of kind of low carbon energy technologies we know we're going to be using for the next decades.

WHITFIELD: So, let's elaborate a little bit further on what you just said about extreme weather, extreme conditions that certainly have an effect on climate change. And in fact, some of the latest examples, intense flooding in Kentucky, droughts in California, I mean, extreme heat, and many experts are warning that it's only going to get worse. So how do you see this building a -- I guess, a relative rescue plan for, you know, harsher conditions to come?

COBB: Well, really, there are a couple of important key points here. One is that we absolutely must get to work at those emissions reductions, because for each increment of emissions come into additional increment of warming, which comes with additional impacts to -- that we've already seen headlines every single summer, drought and wildfires out west extreme rainfall events across much of the eastern coast.

And of course, those heat waves that seemed to leave, you know, more and more communities reeling from extreme, you know, public health impacts. So, that's something that we know will worsen going forward. And so, this allows us to look to a future where we can turn that around and perhaps begin a cooling as early as mid century. That's the admission side of the equation. There are a number of provisions in the bill that really look to make

communities more climate resilient today.

And of course, that's really an important part of climate solutions. So, important investments and forest lands and fire -- resilient fire- ready forests, climate smart agriculture for farmers that may be suffering, the impacts of climate change going forward, as well as investments in securing conserving coastal wetlands which are critical to a shoreline protection and protection from flooding that we already know has been impacting so many communities here across the United States in recent years.

So, those are some of the provisions in the bill that really target resilience and adaptation that will keep communities safe and thriving today.

WHITFIELD: It sounds like you're pretty optimistic or at least hopeful about these measures.

COBB: Yes. I think this is a historic moment for certainly those of us who have been bringing to the public into policymakers, this wealth of information and decades of climate science, that have helped us see that these impacts are coming. Now they are here at our doorstep. Unfortunately, every single summer brings new headlines that the kinds of damages and loss that we know will only get worse until we get serious about climate change.

And again, this bill and not quite enough to bring us in line with those science-based targets to reduce as much damage and loss and suffering as possible. But get -- leading the way, I think to us doing more in the future because this bill really does help Americans connect the dots between climate change, public health and our economy. And of course, with deep investments in manufacturing and low carbon technologies.

We're really going to be able to see that come to fruition over the next years. And I hope it's a sign of time, a sign of things to come.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kim Cobb, thank you so much for being with us and breaking it down for us.

COBB: Yes. Thanks for having me.

WHITFIELD: All right. So now we're going to break down the measure and what it includes as it pertains to key provisions for Americans healthcare. For that, let's turn to Dr. Farhan Bhatti. He is a family physician and a board member for the Committee to Protect Health Care. So good to see you, Doctor. So, a big part of this bill is giving Medicare the ability to negotiate prescription drug prices for the first time ever but only a select few drugs per year starting in 2026.

So, how significant is this? What kind of starting point does this give Americans in your view?


DR. FARHAN BHATTI, FAMILY PHYSICIAN: Good afternoon. Great to be with you. This is a really big step forward for my patients. I have a lot of patients with chronic illnesses, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and the medications that are needed to treat those diseases are exceedingly expensive. Biological drugs are exceedingly expensive. Sometimes $50,000 per dose. And so, giving Medicare the opportunity to negotiate prices, even on those biological drugs is going to be a big step forward for the patients who I serve.

WHITFIELD: So, in your view, how quickly would patients be able to enjoy better negotiated prices based on what you're hearing? If indeed, all of this passes, is this something that your patients today who are looking at those $50,000 prescription bills, that's just extraordinary, that perhaps by the end of the year, or maybe into next year, they might get a break?

BHATTI: I think the way the legislation is written, the negotiated drug prices will begin in 2026. And that can't come soon enough. But any progress that we can make, we've been talking about negotiating drug prices or giving Medicare the opportunity to negotiate drug prices, since seemingly, I was a child. So now we're finally making steps towards that goal. And even if it's just 10 or 15, drugs that are vital for people to be able to, perhaps either live or die. It's a great step in the right direction. It can't come soon enough.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So, as someone, you know, who works with families every day, you really are underscoring how beneficial it will be capping the Medicare annual out of pocket, drug expense at $2,000 for families, you know, can you think of a few patients and their situations in which you see that the impact will be felt, you know, directly and immediately?

BHATTI: Absolutely. On the topic of Medicare patients, sometimes the patients with Medicare are the most difficult ones to get medications for. Because if they don't qualify for low income subsidy, or if they don't have a secondary Medicaid insurance, then even drugs that are considered covered on their formulary can be three, 400, $500 copay if they don't have a generic equivalent.

Every COPD inhaler, asthma inhalers, all of those things are greatly expensive. And we're talking sometimes 10 or 15 percent of a person's total yearly income that they're having to spend on their health care costs. And the elderly are the most vulnerable when it comes to, you know, trying to afford drugs that are supposedly covered, but they still have to stretch in order to be able to actually obtain them.

WHITFIELD: Wow. So I can hear that you see that there'll be tremendous relief. It sounds like you're telling me, you know, your patients are going to love it too. Now, how do you anticipate insurance companies might feel about these -- this potential passage of this measure?

BHATTI: So, as it pertains to the low income subsidy, which is going to be extended by this legislation, the -- unfortunately, the insurance companies are already preparing to increase premiums if this provision were to expire. So the good news is, if the low income subsidy is renewed as part of this legislation, which it looks like it's going to be, then the health insurance companies won't tack on even higher premiums for patients who are already struggling.

People who have a commercial insurance plan that they bought on the exchange. But, you know, they -- they're having a really difficult time being able to make their monthly premiums and be able to afford their deductible. Oftentimes, these folks have very high deductibles, and they're already overstretched trying to make ends meet.

WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Farhan Bhatti, thank you so much for breaking it down for us. Appreciate it.

BHATTI: My pleasure.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up. Parts of Eastern Kentucky washed away from the historic flooding last week. And they're about to get hit again by rain. The efforts to help those still recovering next.

Plus, the Israeli military launching deadly strikes against what they say where Islamic Jihad targets. We're live in Jerusalem, straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. President Joe Biden has tested negative for COVID-19 today following his rebound case. His physician says Biden will remain in isolation pending a second test. On Monday the president and first lady are expected to travel to Eastern Kentucky to see the flood damage there firsthand. Of course, we haven't heard an update on that as he continues to also be monitored however, for COVID even though he's tested negative today.

Back to Kentucky, heavy rain hit the area today. And new flood advisories are in effect. At least 37 people have already died as a result of catastrophic flooding. CNN's Diane Gallagher has more on the devastation facing people there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not -- we're not victims here. We're survivors.

DIANE GALLAGHER CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As the people of Eastern Kentucky dig out of the mud, they're praying for a miracle in the form of donations, goodwill, dry weather. Volunteers lined up at the Apple shop and Whitesburg to sort an attempt to salvage hundreds of soaked but priceless pieces of Appalachian history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything's wet.

GALLAGHER: Just across the river another piece of Appalachian culture caked in mud after the floods ripped through this downtown distillery.

COLIN FULTZ, OWNER, KENTUCKY MIST MOONSHINE: First you're just heartbroke and the end it's just try to fix it back. You know, get it back as fast as we can.

GALLAGHER: Running water, electricity, communications hard to come by community touchstones destroyed schools, pharmacies, fire departments and grocery stores. Nothing spared in these tiny towns. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think of it as a store, but it's actually a gathering place for everyone.

GALLAGHER: While Hindman Volunteer firefighters were doing boat rescues their department is flooded, a fire trucks swept away but it's a human toll that the chief can't shake.


GALLAGHER: The majority of the flooding deaths happened in Knott County, including the four siblings who died.

CHIEF PRESTON HAYS, HINDMAN, KENTUCKY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Just knowing those people was heartbreaking. This is -- this is our community. It's our town. It's our home.

WHITFIELD: For those who survived the flood surviving its aftermath now brings new challenges which for many become more difficult by the day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's nothing left. Everything's destroyed.

GALLAGHER: The rural nature of the region coupled with the water crashing roads and bridges made rescues and resources difficult to come by. With the National Guard coming in by air.


GALLAGHER: And neighbors by ATV. Survivors helping survivors in places like Wolf Cole.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neighbor helping neighbor, that means a lot.

GALLAGHER: And Fleming-Neon, where nearly every home and business was affected.

MAYOR SUSAN POLIS, FLEMING-NEON, KENTUCKY: I mean, it was -- it was like a warzone.

GALLAGHER: Leaving the people there stranded, forced to lift themselves out of the mud, unable to seek outside help for days.

POLIS: You can't help but cry. You can't help but cry. But it's going to be all right. We're going to be OK. We'll be back.

GALLAGHER: Survivors like the Letcher Fire chief who hung on to the top of this tanker for 15 hours while the floodwaters rose around him say to really recover. No need more than repairs.

CHIEF WALLACE BOLLING, JR., LETCHER, KENTUCKY FIRE DEPARTMENT: PTSD is real. And I kind of wondered about things how to go forward but you know, I got to pick them up first.

GALLAGHER: Most who escaped with their lives had little elves left behind when the water receded.


GALLAGHER (on camera): Yes.

GARY CLICK, SURVIVED FLOODING: Now that's how deep this water was.

GALLAGHER: Gary Click as most of his possessions are ruined. Like many in this region, he didn't have flood insurance because he doesn't live in a floodplain.

CLICK: I've never seen water like that. I mean, just like a dam burst or like a tsunami. That's --

GALLAGHER: Gary lived by troublesome creek for most of his life. But he's not sure if his community ever independent and resilient can ever be the same.

CLICK: This is literally the end of this little community,

GALLAGHER: Admitting he'll never be able to shake the fear of another flood.

CLICK: I believe we're seeing the effects of climate change right here. Just given time, if we don't turn it around, just given time it's going to get worse. People are going to see life as we know it changed dramatically. I've seen it. I've lived here 40 years.

GALLAGHER: Dianne Gallagher, CNN, Hazard, Kentucky.


WHITFIELD: Wow, extraordinary. My next guest is from this part of Kentucky and he's helping in the relief efforts there right now. Joining me right now from Lexington is Tim Couch. He's a former quarterback for the Cleveland Browns and the University of Kentucky. Tim, so good to see you.

TIM COUCH, FORMER QUARTERBACK, CLEVELAND BROWNS AND THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY: You too, Fredricka. Thanks for having me on the show. I really appreciate it.

WHITFIELD: Thank you. So, I understand that you personally or directly have not been impacted, but your family has. So, indirectly, you still are being impacted. So how is everyone doing?

COUCH: Everyone's doing OK as far as my family goes, but yes, like you said, I'm from that part of the state and have family that still lived there, lifelong friends that still live there. And everyone is, you know, directly or indirectly impacted by the flooding in some way or another. So, I just want to step up and help out as much as I possibly can, you know, donating funds, you know, helping get donations and supplies in there as much as possible because people are in desperate need right now. So, I just want to do my part and help out as much as possible.

WHITFIELD: And understanding you've been working with Appalachian Regional Healthcare to help out with flood relief efforts and other ways too. So, what are some of the other ways in which you've been trying to, you know, dive in and help?

COUCH: Yes. You know, like you said, I've been working with ARH. They are the local healthcare provider, they're in Eastern Kentucky, and they do an unbelievable job. They have over 6500 employees there. And they do -- they've really stepped up in this time of need and helping people and creating donations and setting up places where people can come and pick up supply -- supplies.

So, I was down there a couple of days ago, helping unload semi-trucks and passing out supplies to people and just trying to do my part and help out. But they've really stepped up and I've kind of teamed with them. And people can go to if they're interested in donating. Supplies are very much still needed. Water, clothes, linen, cleaning supplies, anything that you're willing to give, a little goes such a long way right now. It's such a desperate time of need.

WHITFIELD: And what are you hearing in people? I mean, really, psychologically, I mean, just in the piece that we ran right before you to hear the gentleman there who said, you know, nothing's ever going to be the same. And he says, you know, this is climate crisis. This is a climate crisis. And he says, if people don't do something, change the way they're doing things, then, you know, essentially that community and others are doomed.

What do you say to people or what are they expressing to you about psychologically what they're going through and how they're processing all of this?


COUCH: Yes. You know, I think that's the hardest part, you know, I think, you know, for me, you know, seeing all the images come across T.V. and the internet, you know, before I had a chance to go down there. Just seeing the devastation in person and talking to people that have directly been impacted, people that have literally lost everything, you know, I can't imagine waking up one day and I have no home, no clothes, no vehicle, and you just really have to start all over.

So, just getting to talk to those people and hear their stories and just see the heartbreak on their face of, you know, where do we go from here? How do we recover, it's just -- it truly impacts you and it breaks your heart. And that's why I really am trying my best to step up. You know, like I said, I'm from that area, it's -- it truly means a lot to me, the people in that area, they've supported me throughout my entire football career in high school and college and through the NFL.

So, for me to get opportunity to step up and help those people in a time of need is a no brainer for me. And I just want to do whatever I can to do my part to, you know, get them back on their feet, and hopefully get them back to some way of normalcy in their -- in their life.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And I know it is very meaningful to so many people that you are stepping in and helping them out and in all ways that you can. And now there's more rain today. And so, oftentimes when people have lived through disasters and there seems to be just an inkling of a repeat of whether something that they just endured, there's a feeling of like PTSD, you know, they feel like they're being hit again and it's very frightening.

Have you heard much about, you know, how people are kind of coping?

COUCH: Not yet. You know, I know that rain was supposed to hit there today. And, you know, just obviously super unfortunate, that's the last thing they need right now is more rain and more water. People are just trying to clean up and, you know, just trying to recover a little bit. So, you know, we're really praying for some nice weather, some warm weather to help dry things up a little bit.

So, hopefully, they don't get too much rain. But, you know, I'm sure like you said, you know, it is a PTSD thing. You know, we have people, you know, they see the water come in. And, you know, they have flashbacks of what just recently happened to them. So, hopefully it's not too much. And, you know, people can, you know, get back to the recovery process and getting cleaned up and getting back to their way of life.

WHITFIELD: And right now out of Washington just moments ago, the Senate Minority Leader, your senator, Mitch McConnell, spoke about what the federal government is doing to help Kentucky. The president of the United States and first lady are set to travel there Monday. I mean, of course, all pending the president's situation with, you know, COVID and rebound COVID.

So, how meaningful will that be, for people there for the first lady and president to visit and to see firsthand what they're going through?

COUCH: Yes, I think that's huge. You know, like I said earlier, you know, I think, you know, you see the images on T.V. and on the internet or whatever. But when you go see it in person, and you shake people's hands, and you look them in the eye, and you hear their stories and see their heartbreak, you truly are impacted very deeply, and you feel it so much more when you're there on the ground.

So, you know, I think it's great that they're going down to that area to see it firsthand, to see it for themselves. And I'm sure they're going to do everything they possibly can to, you know, raise money, get donations, get supplies into that area for the people that are so much in need.

WHITFIELD: Tim Couch, thanks so much for taking the time. I know people really appreciate all of the support that you're extending, and just pouring your heart out to help people who've been through so much.

COUCH: Thanks so much, Fredricka, I appreciate you having me on the show.

WHITFIELD: Thank you. All right, still ahead. Escalating tensions between China and the U.S. as the fallout continues from how Speaker Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. We're live in Taiwan next.



WHITFIELD: CNN has learned how Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now back in the U.S. following her trip to Asia, including a controversial stop in Taiwan.

China condemned the trip and has been conducting military drills in the waters surrounding Taiwan.

Beijing also announced it is suspending cooperation with the U.S. on a range of diplomatic issues. And China's ambassador rejected the U.S. condemnation of its military action.

CNN Blake Essig is in Taiwan for us.

Blake, is there anticipation that they could escalate even further?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, I think that the expectation is that what we're seeing right now could be the new normal, that includes ballistic missiles flying over Taiwan, and the Taiwan Strait media line that is to longer respected.

Now, China's foreign ministry is blaming the United States for starting the crisis surrounding Taiwan. And as a result of what they call provocative visit to Taiwan by the speaker of House, Beijing has sanctioned Nancy Pelosi for her visit.

Beijing has also announced that they're suspending cooperation with the United States on a number of issues, including climate, climate change and anti-drug cooperation, and have canceled future talks between Chinese and U.S. defense officials.

Now in response to China's ongoing live-fire military exercises surrounding Taiwan, the White House has summoned China's ambassador to condemn the country's actions. Of course, the Chinese ambassador rejected that condemnation.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken weighed in on Beijing's recent attempts to change the status quo amid heightened tensions on the Taiwan strait. Take a listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Since their missile launches, they've taken an irresponsible step of a different kind. They shut down eight different areas where our two countries have been able to work together.

It is China engaging in increasingly destabilizing and potentially dangerous actions with regard to Taiwan.



ESSIG: Blinken also said that China has chosen to overreact and is using Pelosi's visit as a pretext to increase proactive military activity.

And the military activity he's referring to is now in its third day. China's live-fire military exercises, essentially encircling this democratic island, started the day after Pelosi and her delegation last Taiwan.

Today, according to Taiwan's defense ministry, multiple Chinese military aircraft and warships were spotted operating in the Taiwan Strait with some again crossing the median line in a possible simulated attack against Taiwan's main island, on Friday.

During the second day of exercises, China sent 49 war planes into Taiwan's air defense identification zone. And on Thursday, Beijing launched nearly a dozen ballistic missiles, some flying over Taiwan for the first time ever.

And, Fredricka, while U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's tour of Asia wrapped up yesterday, and as you mentioned now she's back in the United States, the fallout from her surprise visit here in Taiwan continues to be felt -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Blake Essig, in Taiwan, thank you so much.

All right, the Israeli military launching more deadly strikes against what it calls Islamic Jihad targets in multiple locations, including Gaza and the West Bank.

They say they were targeted a training camp and a weapons house in southern Gaza.

And in overnight raids in the West Bank, Israel said it detained 19 suspected militants.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Jerusalem for us.

So, Ben, Israelis saying the operations were aimed at trying to prevent a terror attack?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is what the Israelis are saying. The timeline is as follows. Last Tuesday, Israeli forces captured the field commander, the senior commander for the military wing of Islamic Jihad in the northern West Bank.

Immediately afterwards, the Israelis, fearing retaliation from Islamic Jihad in Gaza, imposed a lockdown on the Israeli communities around Gaza.

And it was on Friday, yesterday, that the Israelis say that they were preventing to anti-tank squads from Islamic Jihad from attacking Israeli forces.

They also killed Jabari, who is a senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza.

Now, since then, what we've seen is the worst outbreak of exchanges of fire between Gaza and Israel since May of last year when it was very intense, 11 days of rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli strikes on Gaza itself.

It left more than 250 people dead, more than 250 Palestinians dead and more than a dozen Israelis dead.

At this point, around 380 -- that is latest number -- rockets have been fired from Gaza. But most of them have either been intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system, or they fell in empty land.

Israel, as you mentioned, has struck a variety of targets in Gaza itself. Most of them, in fact, it seems all of them, somehow related to Islamic Jihad.

Islamic Jihad is the junior partner of the militant groups in Gaza, Hamas is what is -- the group that actually runs Gaza. And the Israelis have made it clear, their target is Islamic Jihad, not Hamas.

And as long as Hamas stays out of the fighting, the exchange of fire, perhaps a larger conflagration could be avoided -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Ben Wedeman, in Jerusalem, thank you.


Coming up, the high school building where a gunman opened fire and killed 17 people has stood still entirely untouched since February 2018 until now. Jurors deciding the fate of Parkland shooter got a firsthand look at the crime scene. The heart wrenching details straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: Sources tell CNN actress, Anne Hecke, is in intensive care after a car crash yesterday in the Los Angeles area. Witnesses say she was driving at a high rate of speed when her car went off the road and slammed into a house.

The crash caused the car and the house to catch fire. The Emmy Award- winning actress suffered severe burn injuries. With one source saying she faces a long recovery. No one in the house was injured.

All right, jurors in the sentencing phase of trial against the Parkland school shooter are deciding whether he should be put to death. And 23-year-old Nikolas Cruz has already pleaded guilty to killing 17 people in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in floor.

CNN's Leyla Santiago has more.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 1200 building has haunted the Marjory Stoneman Douglas community for four years, a crime scene left untouched since February 2018 for this state.

Today, jurors would walk through what remains after the horror unfolded within those walls.

After survivors escaped, the bloodstains, the shattered glass, Valentine's Day gifts, even random shoes, were left behind.

Today, jurors saw it all.

IVY SCHAMIS, FORMER MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS TEACHER: I kept thinking about these kids that should not be experiencing this.

SANTIAGO: Former teacher, Ivy Schamis, remembers what she left in room 1214 that Valentine's Day.

SCHAMIS: There's a box of Valentine chocolates sitting on my desk with puppies on it a student brought me.


SANTIAGO: The jury will have to decide if Cruz gets the death penalty or life in prison, after pleading guilty to 17 murders and 17 attempted murders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there something that you would like to tell the jury about your dad?



HIXON: I miss him.

SANTIAGO: Far more damage left behind for loved ones -- agony, an emptiness that will never go away, strains on relationships.

HIXON: We have a void in our life that will never be filled.

SANTIAGO: For days, loved ones told the court about the realities of their lives.

ANNE RAMSAY, MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM, HELENA RAMSAY: Helena was murdered on her father's birthday.

SHARA KAPLAN, MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM, MEADOW POLLACK: To try to articulate how it has affected me would be for me to rip my heart out and present it to you shattered into a million pieces.

SANTIAGO: Testimony that brought even the shooter's defense team to tears.

This all comes after weeks of the prosecution making the case that this was a methodical and calculated school shooting.

Prosecutors showed the jury's social media posts by the shooter months before the massacre. Some reading, quote: "I'm going to be a professional school shooter."

And multiple posts expressing hatred.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Just want to kill people.

SANTIAGO: There were also Internet searches including one for, quote, "good songs to play while killing people."

Revelations in a court and at the crime scene that explain to a jury what led up to the massacre that forever changed a school and shattered lives in this community.

SCHAMIS: Just being able to say the truth of what happened in front of the shooter, like that does not happen very often. Most of these mass shooters don't survive these shootings.

I'm sorry to say I really don't have any sympathy for him. I really don't. I don't hate. I don't hate anyone. But he deserves whatever he's going to get.

SANTIAGO (on camera): It was a lot for the jury to take in, a lot to see, a lot to understand. We noted one juror took a handful of tissues and two jurors were seen sobbing in the courtroom.

Leyla Santiago, CNN, Parkland, Florida.




WHITFIELD: So according to Dean martin, when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore. I couldn't resist.


WHITFIELD: But what is it when a respected physicist tries to pass off a slice of sausage -- I shouldn't have done that. Now I can't even get through it. They're trying to pass off a sausage as a faraway star, that's total baloney.

Jeanne Moos has more. Here to make you laugh.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We've all been looking at them in awe, gushing over them --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Look at his thing. Isn't that beautiful?

MOOS: -- even if we're not sure what these gorgeous Webb Telescope images are showing.

Especially this one. A planet five billion light-years away. Umm, no, a salami slice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It feels great. It smells amazing.

MOOS: Something smells fishy.

Turns out a famous French physicist hosted the image, saying it was taken by the Webb Telescope. A photo of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the sun.

Most of his Twitter followers got the joke. It was actually chorizo, pork sausage.

Of course, the Internet responded by grinding out more sausage images, passing them off as the view from another angle or another planet orbiting the original sausage star.

But some didn't appreciate mixing astronomy and gastronomy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give a good massage, engage with your food.

MOOS: The esteemed physicist engaged with his critics, apologizing and called the photo a form of amusement. But urging people to be cautious about accepting eloquent images at face value.

"No object belonging to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere but on earth," he tweeted.

Still, if the moon is supposedly tastes like cheese --

ANNOUNCER: Tastes like no cheese on earth ever tasted.

MOOS: -- why can't a star be made of sausage?

The joke and the meat have this much in common.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sweet. A little spicy.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: A story only Jeanne Moos can tell.

Right now, major moves on Capitol Hill. The U.S. Senate is ticking closer to passing a breakthrough climate and economic bill. We're live on the Hill, straight ahead.

But first, this week's "START SMALL, THINK BIG."


CHRISTINA HA, CO-FOUNDER, MEOW PARLOUR: I had never had a cat before. My husband found a cat.

My first cat as Mr. Socks. I was suddenly full-blown crazy cat lady. But it also made it clear to me we have a stray cat problem. I

thought, we can do something. We can have an impact on the city.

The Meow Parlour is a cat cafe. It's a space where you can rent time to hang out with adoptable cats.

We have a space designed for cats. The cats are free roaming throughout our space. There's hiding spots and spots where they can be seen.


They have the opportunity to decide when to engage with people. Something that feels a little more natural.

You can come and hang out with the cats but also you can take cats home. That can involve fostering from us or adopting from us.

There's no obligation to adopt a cat. But every time you interact with one of our cats, you're helping socialize them.

If people want the full Meow Parlour experience, I recommend stopping by at our bakery next store, picking up some sweets, getting a drink and coming over.

Meow Parlor opened in 2014. But starting in 2018, we became our own rescue. Since 2018, we've placed over a thousand cats into homes.

I think every day that we're open, someone leaves thinking, I need a cat in my house.