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Latest Strikes In Yemen Come One Day After U.S. Strikes In Iraq & Syria; Nearly 40 Million Under Flood Watches Across California; Today: Senate Leaders Expected To Release Border Deal Text; New Book Reveals Deep-Rooted Racism In U.S. Health Care. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 04, 2024 - 14:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We're tracking several stories developing at this hour.

Houthi rebels now vowing to meet escalation with escalation after the U.S. and U.K. hit at least 36 Houthi targets in Yemen on Saturday. Those strikes happening just a day after the U.S. launched a series of air strikes on Iran-backed militias in Syria and Iraq. And that was retaliation for last week's attack in Jordan that killed three American soldiers.

We're also watching the U.S. southern border, where Republican governors from more than a dozen states, are meeting over a feud between Texas and the federal government.

And breaking news out of California, parts of four counties now seeing emergency evacuation orders. Nearly 40 million people under flood watches. A deluge of heavy rain is just starting to fall, increasing the risk of potentially life-threatening flooding conditions.

All right. Let's begin with a vow by the U.S. to continue operations in the Middle East after it carried out more strikes against Iran- backed Houthi rebels in Yemen Saturday. U.S. Central Command says the strikes were conducted in self-defense, and included Houthi anti-ship cruise missiles that were preparing to launch.

The strikes hit 36 targets on 13 locations, using air and surface platforms, including fighter jets. They were aimed at deeply-buried weapons storage facilities, as well as other weapons used by the Houthis to attack shipping lanes in the Red Sea.

We've got full coverage of this developing story.

Priscilla Alvarez is with the president in Las Vegas, Ben Wedeman is in Aman, Jordan and Jeremy Diamond is in Tel Aviv.

So Priscilla, let's go to you, traveling with President Biden. What more are we learning about the strikes, what kind of details are coming from the White House?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Fredricka, the White House has said consistently that this would be only the beginning, this being those strikes that we saw happen on Friday in Iraq and Syria. And this morning, national security adviser Jake Sullivan repeated that, saying that the United States is taking a multi-tiered approach here in retaliation for the deaths of those three service members in Jordan.

And since those attacks have happened, the U.S. is assessing the damage on the ground. Take a listen to what he had to say.


JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We're still assessing the battle damage, our CentCom, Central Command is looking at the capabilities we reduced, and the casualties that were incurred.

The president was clear when he ordered them and when he conducted them, that that was the beginning of our response, and there will be more steps to come.


ALVAREZ: Now, the U.S. has not telegraphed what these strikes will look like moving forward or when they're going to happen. But it is clear that they are responding forcefully against the deaths of these three service members in Jordan.

Now this is separate from the strikes that we saw happen yesterday with the U.S. and the U.K. targeting Houthi targets. That is an ongoing mission with the coalition to diminish the capabilities of the Houthis that have been targeting U.S. vessels and commercial vessels in the Red Sea, all of it though underscoring this delicate balance that Joe Biden is having to strike between deterring these Iranian proxies in the region but not being pulled into a wider regional war.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan repeating that as well this morning, saying that the U.S. is going to respond forcefully and with clarity, but they do not want to escalate tensions in the region. Rather, they are trying to focus on deterrence, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Ok. Priscilla, thank you.

Ben Wedeman in Jordan, Houthis are promising to respond. What is being said?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. They have said that they will meet escalation with escalation. That they will continue to target navigation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.


WEDEMAN In fact, Mohammed Bukhaiti (ph) who's a member of the -- sort of the politburo of the Houthis came out with a statement saying that "The U.S.-British coalition's bombing of a number of Yemeni provinces will not change our position. And we affirm that our military operations against Israel will continue until the crimes of genocide in Gaza are stopped and the siege of its residents is lifted, no matter the sacrifice it costs us."

Now, it's worth noting that so far, as a result of the Houthi's targeting of ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, four out of five of the world's biggest commercial shipping lines have paused going through there. They're now going all the way around Africa, as well as British Petroleum.

And the Houthis clearly are determined to carry this on. It's worth noting that the Houthis, between 2015 and 2022, faced off against a Saudi-led coalition with American support, and the Saudis had a lot of very sophisticated U.S. weapons. But they did not manage to defeat the Houthis.

And if anything, the Houthis emerged from that war stronger than they were before. So they are a formidable foe who has proved very able to take a beating and then come back and hit back at those that are targeted.

So it definitely is going to be a challenge for the United States. Obviously, they are using the top of the line when it comes to their armaments but the Houthis have outlasted and sort of outmaneuvered many foes in the past. This isn't the first time they've done this, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ben Wedeman, thanks so much.

Jeremy Diamond in Tel Aviv now, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to arrive in the Middle East region for his trip -- his fifth trip rather, now to the region since October 7th. What will be the focus?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen. The last time Secretary of State Tony Blinken was in the region was nearly a month ago, and back then, he was focused on trying to reach a hostage deal. He was focused on trying to avoid this conflict from spiraling into a broader, regional war and he was also working on longer term solutions to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

A month later, he's focusing on those very same three tasks as he's set to arrive in the region later tonight.

Of course, the backdrop for many of those issues has shifted in some ways, but the challenges and overall objectives very much remain the same. On the hostage front, of course, we know that there have been major developments as Israel, the United States, Egypt and Qatar last week were able to agree to a broad framework for the next hostage release deal.

And so the secretary of state will be arriving at a time when all of those countries are waiting for Hamas' reply. And he will be visiting some of the key capitals where mediators in Qatar, as well as in Cairo, Egypt have been trying to work with Hamas to get them to a place where they can accept that broad framework or present a counterproposal of their own as it relates to a broader regional conflict.

We know of course, that the secretary of state's trip comes with the backdrop of these latest strikes in Syria and Iraq, as well as the possibility of additional U.S. strikes in the region.

And as the national security adviser Jake Sullivan said earlier today, while the United States is going to reply militarily to attacks on its forces in the region, it also wants to balance that military activity with diplomacy aimed at trying to deescalate or at least prevent further escalation in the region.

But there's no question that ultimately the hostage talks will be a major focus for the secretary of state as people wait on edge here to see whether or not a deal is around the corner.

Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser indicating that as of now it is not. Other officials saying that it could be a matter of weeks. But nonetheless, this will certainly be a critical trip for the secretary of state at a critical moment in the region, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much.

I want to go back to Priscilla Alvarez, who is traveling with the president. You have some new reporting?

ALVAREZ: That's right, Fredricka. We're now learning from the White House that President Biden has officially notified Congress of Saturday's strikes against those Iranian-backed militias.

This is a formal step that the White House takes in notifying Congress of strikes when they happen, so the White House is doing that here. We're just now getting that notification, again, in regards to Saturday's strikes against those Houthi targets.

WHITFIELD: All right.

Priscilla Alvarez, Ben Wedeman, Jeremy Diamond -- thank you so much. We'll check back with you as the news warrants.

All right.

Let's get more on this developing story. With me now is retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Steve Anderson. He worked with coalition and U.S. forces in the Iraq War in 2006 and 2007. Good to see you.

So I wonder if I can get your reaction, now that this formal notification has taken place between the White House and Congress about these strikes. Does this -- is this an indicator that there has been a change in military strategy going forward?


BRIG. GEN. STEVE ANDERSON (RET), U.S. ARMY: Well, thank you, Fredricka.

No, I don't think this is an indicator of any change and what it says essentially accentuates what we already learned from Jake Sullivan and from Secretary Austin last week and that we're in the middle of a campaign.

We are fighting an extensive campaign to reduce the capabilities of these Iranian proxies and the Houthis to conduct war against us.

It's going to be a very, very difficult fight as Ben just said. I mean these are tough, resilient people. The Saudis tried to take down the Houthis back in 2015. 25,000 bombing raids in Yemen were unsuccessful really in making them stand down.

So it's going to be a tough fight. We're going to have to hit them hard. We're going to have to hit them often.

WHITFIELD: All right. So more on the focus now because the U.S. is maintaining it's trying to deescalate, but we just heard from Houthi leaders who say they will continue to escalate, that this escalation will be met with escalation.

So do you see that these strikes are not just a statement, but further exacerbating conditions or relations there?

ANDERSON: No. I mean, it's already exacerbated. I mean you just heard the report that 80 percent perhaps of the world's traffic through there is already being degraded and being rerouted. You know they can talk about what they're going to do but what we need to focus on is their capability.

I mean you know, talk is cheap, but what can they do? We need to fight against them. We need to take down all of their ability to launch attacks against us, and we did another one last night with help of the British. It was a coalition attack, which I think, of course, is very, very important to build a coalition of support against them.

But we cannot allow this to happen, and we've got to take down their capability to wage war and to interdict shipping out there in the middle of the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea and anywhere in between.

WHITFIELD: So help people better understand what you mean when you talk about, you know, this is a campaign to reduce capabilities and the strikes in Syria, in Yemen.

There have been, you know, some leadership that's talked about why not strike within Iran? Instead the psychology is to go around Iran, and instead to some of these, you know, proxy locations. What kind of capabilities are being reduced by these kinds of strikes in Syria and Yemen?

ANDERSON: What they're trying to do probably is attack the logistics bases, their command and control, their launching systems. All the things that give them a capability to interdict shipping or to take out, you know, unfortunate case last week, to kill Americans.

So they have to focus on the capabilities and immediate kill (ph) it was so critical that we use B-1 bombers from the Dyess Air Force base which, by the way, was an incredible project of military power. We're the only ones in the world that can do that.

But we were able in that case, to use them in Syria and Iraq to make -- to use munitions that have enough payload to really strike deep and really hit down in the bunkers and to hit in the caves and places like that.

So we've got to hit their logistics, hit their command and control, hit their ability to store weapons, fire weapons, and hit their radar systems, all the like. Everything focused on reducing their capability to wage war.

WHITFIELD: The first round of U.S. strikes used the B-1 bombers. We have heard the reporting now that they originated from Texas.

But in this next round, most recent round now, we understand there was some fighter jets involved. Would it be your understanding that those fighter jets and other arsenal are coming from the region, or are all of them also U.S.-based?

ANDERSON: Well, Fredricka, I like what Secretary Austin said last week when he said while the enemy has capabilities and he has more capabilities. We have incredible capabilities. We have the Eisenhower carrier task group that has about 50 F-18s, and about 500 Tomahawk missiles loaded and ready to launch.

We also have a bunch of F-16s and A-10s down at Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, and we'd have to get some overflight rights from Saudi in order to use so we can bring those to bear, as well.

I mean, there's all kinds of capabilities. And of course, we just demonstrated from Dyess air Force Base in Texas, a 6,000-mile flight. I mean incredibly complex logistics, air refueling, all the like. I mean very, very difficult to do. But no other nation in the world can project military power like we did and we can.

We need to continue to demonstrate to the world that we can do this and that we will continue to do this until they stand down and until we reduce their capability to wage war against us.

WHITFIELD: All right. General Steve Anderson, thank you so much. Appreciate your expertise.


ANDERSON: Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. In other breaking news. Straight ahead, millions across California are bracing for life-threatening floods and landslides. Evacuation orders already issued for some communities as an intense atmospheric river moves in.


WHITFIELD: Parts of California are under mandatory evacuation orders. As an intense and powerful atmospheric river barrels through the state. A rare high-risk warning for life-threatening flash flooding has expanded now to include Los Angeles, due to excessive rainfall.

CNN's Camila Bernal is live near the Los Angeles river and meteorologist Elisa Raffa is tracking this dangerous storm system from the CNN Weather Center. Good to see both of you, ladies.

Camilla, you first, what are you seeing right now? How are people preparing?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred. Right now, it's sort of the calm before the storm. We've seen a little bit of drizzle here and there, but really this is the time that authorities are saying is the crucial time if you are under an evacuation order.


Because what they're saying is it may be too late later on when it really starts getting worse. And you're starting to see the heavier rain possibly rater on tonight and over the next couple of days.

So there are already evacuation orders in place here in Los Angeles County. The concern is the canyon areas because of the debris flow, the land slides. Those could be extremely dangerous for people who live in those areas.

But there are evacuation orders in place in a number of counties across California. Further north in Santa Clara County, you're seeing evacuations in San Jose. You're also seeing evacuation orders in Ventura County and Santa Barbara County.

In fact Santa Barbara County's several school districts, they have already canceled classes for the children tomorrow.

And so again, authorities are saying this is the time to evacuate if you're under those evacuation orders. Everyone across the state is being told to prepare for possible power outages, because we could see widespread power outages throughout California, and already officials saying look, if you can grab a sandbag and you need it, you should be doing that right now. I've been talking to residents across OA who are doing that and who've been doing it the last couple of days.

Here's what one resident told me.


DAVID GREENE, LOS ANGELES COUNTY RESIDENT: We've done a lot of work around the house, and now we've got sandbags that are going to hit some of the places where we think there will be an excessive amount of flooding.

We've had a heavier storm a few weeks ago, and we had a little bit of flooding outside in the yard into the neighbor's yard. And we decided this time since the storm is going to be a lot heavier, or is expected to be a lot heavier, that we would sandbag a lot more.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERNAL: And state officials saying there's already about 8,500 personnel ready to go in case things get worse. We also know there's swift water rescue teams and helicopter teams ready to go. And officials are telling people take this seriously, because it could be dangerous, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Oh yes, Very seriously. Thank you so much, Camila.

Elisa, how long is this storm system expected to last?

ELISA RAFFA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Days. We have a flooding risk through at least Tuesday, because this fire hose will really continue.

You can see radar has already been busy for most of the state today. We've had some of the heaviest rain and the gustiest winds, some gusts even up to hurricane force in parts of the northern and central part of the coast. San Francisco has already had some problems with their airport there.

We're already looking at 150,000 people in California without power, and again, we haven't seen the brunt of it get to the southern portions of California, where there's pretty high population.

Here is a look at some of the excessive rainfall risks that we have been talking about. That high risk that is in effect from Santa Barbara to L.A. and Long Beach is very rare, not just for California but for the U.S.

Fewer than 4 percent of the days that we get this excessive rain risk have that high risk in there. But it's responsible for 80 percent of the flood damage that we see, and 40 percent of the flood-related death.

That high risk has also been issued for tomorrow too, for southern California, so that threat continues as we go into tomorrow.

So we're looking at dangerous and life-threatening flash floods, river and urban flooding, mud and debris flow, downed trees and power lines. Because this is not just a water threat, this is a wind threat, as well.

Look at the high wind warnings, all of that kind of dark red for gusts up to 80 miles per hour. And then that pink right off the central coast, that's where we're looking at some hurricane force winds that we've already seen. And it's the first time that that office has issued a hurricane force warning.

So we can see that the ranges continue to pile on. You can see the gusts up to 35, 40 miles per hour. And then look at southern California tonight and into tomorrow and even into Monday and Tuesday, the fire hose of moisture that just continues.

So the rain totals again will be very hefty, widespread three to six inches with that chances seeing up to eight-inch totals plus that snow pack, we're looking at it coming down in feet, Fred. WHITFIELD: My goodness. And so Elisa, you know, January, February,

it's not rare that big rain inundates the areas there, especially in southern California. I remember being there one time and it was some kind of record, you know, rainfall.

But this is particularly unusual, right? Because you just mentioned hurricane force winds, you know, alerts for that for the first time. So how rare is this kind of atmospheric weather, you know, river threat?

RAFFA: Yes, like you we mentioned, we kind of expect these storms in California this time of year, especially it's an El Nino year, so we see more of those storms when we have that ocean circulation.

But I was listening to an expert this morning and he said this storm is unusually strong, unusually getting even stronger, rapidly intensifying, and unusually close to the coast, which is where we're getting the wind impacts there.


Also this plume of moisture is stalling through the next couple of days. And on top of this, we have already gotten a month's worth of rain in parts of southern California last week.

So that adds insult to injury when you are talking about the flooding. And then something else I want to point out too is the ocean temperatures are fairly warm. That adds more moisture to the sponge.

When we have warmer air and warmer oceans, we are looking at these intense events becoming 10 percent more intense in future decades, because of climate change.

WHITFIELD: All right. Elisa Raffa, Camila Bernal, thank you so much.

All right. For more on the storm's impact, I want to bring in now Tony Tavares, he's director for the California Department of Transportation. Good to see you.

So let's talk about what you're bracing for in terms of the biggest threat from all of this water.

TONY TAVARES, DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Well, thank you, Fredricka. It's a pleasure being on your show.

First, I would just like to say the governor has put the full weight of his administration and all the necessary resources to address this storm event.

So CalTrans is really coordinating across multiple state departments, regional and local agencies to ensure the safety of all Californians.

What we have done essentially is preposition more than 4,000 of our personnel, women and men, that are out there from Eureka all the way down to El Centro and San Diego area. Along with about 1,200 pieces of winter equipment to help us address any situations that may arise on our roadways.

WHITFIELD: This storm is not just bringing heavy rain and wind. But parts of the state are also preparing for heavy mountain snow accumulation and widespread power outages.

We're already seeing that -- 150,000 customers without power, you know, in various parts of the state. So how is that going to, I guess, really impact even your emergency preparedness plan that you have in place?

TAVARES: Yes. At CalTrans, safety is always our highest priority. Keeping people safe on our roadways and transportation networks is paramount for us. And so we have our snow blowers, our snowplows that are working right now through the Sierra Nevadas and a lot of the higher elevations for snow falling addressing that situation.

One thing about this storm is that it is very slow-moving. And it seems to be providing a lot of precipitation in the short amount of time, which is going to cause some localized flooding in low-lying areas. And so we're monitoring those areas, those low-lying areas, those areas near creeks and rivers and streams to ensure that we address any flooding as quickly as possible.

Some of the personnel and equipment that we have staged and pre- positioned includes portable pumping systems, along with generators and other equipment that can help us deal with those flooding situations very quickly.

WHITFIELD: And you just mentioned things that are around -- you know, communities around waterways, but what regions of the state are you also most concerned about?

TAVARES: Well, since the storm is so wide, it's really hitting the entire state of California. So we have crews monitoring many of our wildfire burn scar areas in northern California. We have crews in the mountains of the Sierra Nevadas that are dealing with the snow and ice up there. And we have crews along the coast from the Monterey County area all the way through Santa Barbara down to Los Angeles and San Diego.

So really, everyone is -- it's an all-hands-on-deck right now, and everyone is doing their part to ensure the safety of all Californians.

WHITFIELD: So all weekend long, we've been talking about and showing in various communities how people are trying to, you know, brace for this threatening weather. They've been, you know, sandbagging. There have been sites where they can get it for free. They've got to fill those bags themselves, put it in their cars, get to their homes, et cetera. That's one way of preparing.

What are you encouraging people to do to keep themselves safe?

TAVARES: Yes. Our message has been fairly consistent. We're telling all Californians in the path of this storm, if you don't need to be on the roadways, stay home and stay safe. That's the best place right now. It's a Sunday. Stay at home and stay safe. Please postpone or delay

any of your non-essential travel until after the storm passes. And I think that's the best thing right now.

CalTrans and our California Highway Patrol officers are out on the roadways doing the work to keep those roadways open for those who do have to travel on the roadways.

And so if you do see them, we're asking people to please slow down, reduce your speeds, never drive through standing water. It only takes a few inches to wash your vehicle downstream. And we tell people, turn around, don't drown.

TAVARES: And so please, if you see our folks out there, CalTrans employees or the California Highway Patrol, please slow down, move over a lane if it's safe to do so, and continue to your destination safely.


WHITFIELD: A lot of folks will be able to stay home and then there are a lot of folks who are heading out in Los Angeles County, which we understand how it's going to get hit hard, too, right, because they want to attend a crown jewel event and that would be the Grammy Awards tonight in Los Angeles.

So what, what about people who will be out in the elements to get to that big event? How concerned are you about a lot of visitors who are in town to attend that event and perhaps are not ready for this?

TAVARES: You know, that's an excellent question. And so again, allow additional time to get to your destination it is going to take more time to get to where you need to get to, whether you're driving or taking another mode of transportation in Los Angeles, we have very good commuter rail service services. We have light rail, we have great transit through many of our local transit agency partners. So I would advise looking at other modes of transportation. And if you do have to drive be very safe, slow, slow down, slow your speeds down, and allow additional time to get to your destination.

WHITFIELD: All right, folks, take lots of caution.

Tony Tavares, thank you so much. All the best to you and your team's efforts on this threatening weather.

TAVARES: Thank you very much, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right.

Up next, after months of negotiations, U.S. Senate leaders are expected to release the final text of a bipartisan border deal today. We have the very latest, next.


[14:35:44] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back right now, more than a dozen Republican governors from across the country are getting a briefing from Texas Governor Greg Abbott in the small border town of Eagle Pass. That city has become a flashpoint in the immigration crisis. The governor's visit comes amid a battle between the White House and the state over the construction of barriers on the border. Texas is continuing to build the barricades, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Biden administration two weeks ago.

And at any moment now, leaders in the Senate are expected to release the final text of a long awaited bipartisan deal aimed at addressing the border crisis. It's all part of a massive national security package that has been months in the making and has bitterly divided Republican lawmakers.

Here now is CNN's Manu Raju.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, Fred, a major showdown brewing here in Washington as the Senate moves ahead with a bipartisan deal alongside bipartisan deal that has actually been months in the making in how to deal with the crisis with the border with Mexico, new restrictions on border policy, new restrictions on asylum seekers, as well as people who are entering between ports of entry, all of which Republicans in particular had said must be resolved first before they move forward with new aid to Ukraine, new aid to Israel, as well as aid to Taiwan, billions of dollars in that aid package.

But it's unclear if any of you can get passed because Republicans are divided over this border deal. Donald Trump for one does not want to give Joe Biden a campaign victory here, and the legislative victory, and is urging Republicans to kill it, saying this deal does not go far enough. He has not seen any of the details yet, but believes it is a, quote, betrayal. Those were his words. But there are also Democrats were uncertain about whether this is the way forward and Democrats who are more moderate are split with some of the progressives who believe Joe Biden is giving up too much.

What grade would you give them on the border?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Well, right now, I mean, it's a total F for anybody and everybody that supports the system that we have. It's not working and once you do that, you want to improve, improve your scores in any way you can improve it, doing the right thing.

RAJU: It deserves an F, you said?

MANCHIN: No, I'm just saying that whole system -- yeah, and the president is responsible.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I have tremendous respect for the president, but I -- I really think that Democrats have fallen into this trap over and over again of trying to be as tough as Republicans in rhetoric. There's rhetoric and there's policy. Clearly, the administration is very different from Republicans until now, on policy.

RAJU: Now, where this goes from here remains to be seen. The Speaker of the House Mike Johnson has not committed to put any Senate deal that emerges from that chamber onto the floor of the House. So that is a big question. How would they proceed?

Other, of course, the other big question can they get 60 votes in the United States Senate? That will be the first test on Wednesday, getting the votes, there is 51-49 chamber. That means at least nine Republicans would vote, join Democrats, but we do expect some Democratic opposition. So, so many questions about whether they can even get the votes to begin the process, let alone passing a law in the middle of this campaign season, and its intractable issue of immigration -- Fred.


WHITFIELD: Manu Raju, thank you so much.

All right, coming up, presidential candidate Nikki Haley goes late night, taking shots at both Trump and Biden.



WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

It's a sad fact, but despite improvements in health care over the last century, the Journal of Women's Health maintains grave disparities persist when it comes to Black women's experiences.

Not only do Black women experience inequities in access and treatment in their health care journeys, but consequently, or conversely experience higher rates of chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease. Obesity, maternal mortality, and shorter life expectancies compared to most other American ethnic groups.

The latest numbers from the CDC show life expectancy for Black women is nearly four years lower than white counterparts. But the reasons are far reaching.

Someone who became a familiar face on this show and network talking about COVID, the pandemic and a host of other health-related issues is Dr. Uche Blackstock. And now she has penned a deeply personal book called "Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine," and it focuses on health care disparities.

Welcome back, Dr. Blackstock.

Dr. UCHE BLACKSTOCK, AUTHOR: Hi, Fredricka. So great to see you again into being conversation with you about this very important issue.

WHITFIELD: It is -- so great to see you as well. I mean, this has really close to home for you and so many people will really be able to identify with this. You write about persistent health care disparities rooted in racism, which impacted your own life growing up and even while at Harvard medical as a student, plus, experiences your own mother, Dr. Dale Blackstock experienced and she also a Harvard graduate and physician, and that didn't preclude her from faith facing health care disparities.


So how did all this come together for you to want to share it in this way?

BLACKSTOCK: Yeah. So, Fredricka, you know, I want to use this book to help connect the dots for people that, you know, why in 2024 are we seeing these really horrific statistics as it relates to Black people and Black women. And I talked about how systemic racism do practices and policies had limited the number of Black physicians and Black women physicians.

I talk about a report in 1910 called the Flexner report that led to the closure of five out of seven of the historically black medical schools that would have trained tens of thousands of Black physicians. But I also just talk about how the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow really has impaired the health of Black people as to chronically deprive our communities. And that even our professional level of attainment socio-economic status, as we know what Serena Williams and Beyonce Knowles, you know, women who are affluent. Serena Williams is the greatest of all-time athletes. That is not even protective for us.

So I talked about this appendicitis that I had that almost ruptured. And how my mother died at a very early age from a rare cancer that she should not have gotten, but likely she developed as a result of environmental racism.

WHITFIELD: And she was just 47 years old and I know she has been an inspiration for you and for your twin sister, Dr. Oni Blackstock, which both of you have been on the air here with us --


WHITFIELD: -- you know, over time. And so in your case as a medical student, what you weren't taken seriously and when you went into the ER, and at the same time with your mom even with her medical expertise when she was trying to get treated for leukemia a similar pattern. I mean, this is a cycle, it's a very painful, terrible cycle.

BLACKSTOCK: It really is. And what happens is -- so we faced racism just everyday lives, that kind of puts a wear and tear on our bodies. It's called weathering. Arline Geronimus, researcher, coined that term.

But also when we interface with health care professionals and the establishment, are concerns that I've talked about this, what I talked about it in the book, are concerns or often minimized and ignored, and that is the problem. You know, when you're going to seek help for pain or some issue and you don't want -- either you don't want to seek care because you feel like people wont believe you or you do and you're turned away and dismiss what happened to me. I actually was sent away from ER, twice. And was on my third visit finally, over the course of a week, my appendix had actually ruptured. I developed complications that led me to ms a month of medical school, but it could have killed me.

But we see that happening delayed and misdiagnoses in Black people, it ends up killing us.

WHITFIELD: That's incredible. I mean, are you hopeful that this cycle will be broken. I mean, in some ways, you've created a handbook, right some real life examples here, but a handbook, so that this can stop happening. But on a very macro level, how hopeful are you that it will be taken seriously? Not just your book, but just the whole concept and --


WHITFIELD: -- that this kind of cycle will end.

BLACKSTOCK: You know, Fredricka, I wrote this book and in the last chapter is a call to action. And even for policymakers, even for the average American -- White American, Black American, any race, that everyone has a role in making a difference. And I trust and believe that Black people -- Black Americans, we deserve better, we deserve to live full, healthy, long lives full of love. And so, I'm hoping that everyone will get committed to that.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Uche Blackstock, great to see you. Thank you so much. Congratulations on the book and a big thanks because so many of us are now going to be benefactors of this insight that you're imparting to so many and a big hey to your sister, Dr. Oni Blackstock, as well.

All right. We'll be right back. Thank you.



WHITFIELD: All right, a little levity now. Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley took jabs at President Biden and former President Donald Trump during a surprise appearance on "Saturday Night Live". She appeared as herself in a mock CNN town hall posing questions to the show's Donald Trump


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now to CNN Trump town hall, live from Columbia, South Carolina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, everyone. Hello, hello, hello. And welcome to South Carolina.

We are your hosts tonight. I'm Charles Barkley.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I -- and I am Gayle King. And we're the co- host of a real CNN show that combines our two names "KING CHARLES".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I it should be gay bar then I was told that that was terrible.


Tonight, the people of South Carolina will ask former President Trump questions about important issues affecting their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'll ask myself questions like, can you bet on a town hall?

You're so can on FanDuel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, please welcome the former president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's been around a court more than me. And I was in the NBA, President Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much to the few of you who are applauding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump, I voted for you in 2016, 2020.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, you fell for it twice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What makes you think you can defeat Joe Biden this time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think I'm doing even better this time in terms of Hispanic. I like to say, I put the panic in Hispanic.


And people are sick of having and alleged criminal like Joe Biden in the White House. They want a convicted criminal, someone they can trust to get the crimes done right.

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My question is, why don't you debate Nikki Haley?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God, it's her, the woman who was in charge of security on January 6. It's Nancy Pelosi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the 100th time, that is not Nancy Pelosi. It is Nikki Haley.

HALEY: Are you doing okay, Donald. You might need a mental competency tests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what? I did, I took the test and I aced it. Okay. Perfect score. They said I'm 100 percent mantle, and, you know, I'm confident because I'm a man. That's why a woman should never run our economy.

Women had terrible with money. In fact, a woman I know recently asked me for at $83.3 million.

HALEY: And you spent $50 million in your own legal fees. Do you need to borrow some money?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, Nikki, don't do this, Nikki. Nikki, Tikki, Tavi. Nikki, don't lose that number. Nikki Haley, Joel Osment. Nikki Haley, Joel Osment. We call her. "Sixth Sense", remember that one? I see dead people.

HALEY: Yeah, that's what voters will say if they see you and Joe on the ballot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, Nikki, that's not very nice, Nikki.