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Supreme Court Protects Access To Abortion Drug For Now; Abortion Pill Ruling Victory For Biden Administration; 60-Plus Legal Groups Call On Sen. Feinstein To Resign; Russian War Plan Accidentally Drops Bomb On A Russian City. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired April 22, 2023 - 07:00   ET



CAROLYN MANNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I haven't seen it in a decade, and unfortunately didn't see it yesterday either.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: That really sucks.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, that is awful. You know what I really liked was your team's --

MANNO: No other way to say it.

WALKER: No other way.

BLACKWELL: Your team is looking ahead to the Grizzlies and the Lakers, like it's been a lot of trash talk, so that should be good. That should be good too.

MANNO: There has been a ton of trash talk.


MANNO: Yes, LeBron says, you know what, I'm going to let my play do the talking and you don't poke the bear. You don't poke the greatest of all time, so I fully expect L.A. to come back and throw the hammer down.

WALKER: Of course.

MANNO: It's been a really fun series to watch.

BLACKWELL: All right.

WALKER: Carolyn Manno, thank you. And the next hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

BLACKWELL: It is the top of a brand-new hour. Good morning to you and welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. I'm Victor Blackwell.

WALKER: And I'm Amara Walker, thank you for sharing a part of your morning with us and there won't be much trash talking here, at least between me and Victor, right? BLACKWELL: During the commercial breaks.

WALKER: During the commercial breaks. Here's what we're watching this morning.

A major decision by the Supreme Court and a major win for abortion rights supporters -- a widely used abortion pill will stay protected at least for now, but legal challenges still remain. What happens next, and what it means for women across the country?

BLACKWELL: An explosive mistake. Russia accidentally bombs one of its own cities and leaves a trail of destruction. We'll show you the stunning images.

WALKER: Plus, unsafe and easy to steal. More than a dozen attorneys general are calling for a federal recall on some Hyundai and Kia cars. We'll tell you which models could be impacted.

BLACKWELL: Women across the U.S. still have access to a commonly used abortion drug, at least for now. Last night, the Supreme Court stayed a lower court's order that place restrictions on the drug, mifepristone. It's the first pill in a two-drug cocktail which has been used by millions of women over the two decades it's been on the market.

WALKER: The justices previously paused the lower court's order, but that phrase had been set to expire at midnight. The decision from the high court came just hours before that deadline. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito publicly dissented while the votes of the other justices were not made public. CNN's Jessica Schneider has more.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Victor and Amara, the Supreme Court's stepping in to protect full access to the abortion pill, mifepristone, while this appeals process plays out.

That means, it will be status quo for the administration of this drug, women can continue to take it up to 10 weeks pregnant, they can continue to receive it by mail and via telehealth visits with their health care providers, and the generic version will remain widely available. This is exactly what the Biden administration and the FDA, what they were asking for.

They warned that if there were restrictions imposed on this drug at any point, there would be confusion and chaos. So, now, this chaos has really been averted. So where does this go from here? Well, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal appeals, they'll be hearing arguments on the underlying issue in this case, and the underlying issue is whether the FDA properly approved mifepristone in 2000.

Those first briefings in the appeal, they actually must be filed with the Fifth Circuit next week. And the case, as a whole, is being fast track because arguments are set for less than a month from now on May 17th. But regardless of what the Fifth Circuit decides, any possible changes to the drug, are being put on hold indefinitely by the Supreme Court order. So, women can continue to fully access mifepristone until the Supreme

Court acts again, at some point, which wouldn't be for months, if at all, guys.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you very much. Let's bring in now Kevin Liptak. Kevin, last night's decision, major win for the White House; what are we hearing from the administration?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, there were certainly sighs of relief within the Biden administration last night when this ruling came out. This is really kind of the best outcome that they could have hoped for. But at the same time, no one is under any illusion that this is the end of the road, this may not even be the last word from the Supreme Court on this matter. And what White House officials say, is that they are prepared for quite a long legal battle ahead. They have been making contingency plans.

There had been intensive preparation inside the White House for this decision last night. And you saw that the President released a statement really within minutes of this decision coming out, saying in part: "I continue to stand by FDA's evidence-based approval of mifepristone, and my administration will continue to defend FDA's independent, expert authority to review, approve, and regulate a wide- range of prescription drugs."

The President went on to say, "The stakes could not be higher for women across America. I will continue to fight politically-driven attacks on women's health. But let's be clear, the American people must continue to use their vote, vote as their voice and elect a Congress who will pass a law restoring the protections of Roe versus Wade." So, that really is a reflection of the political stakes here and that is really front of mind for many White House officials, are the political implications.


And you have seen White House officials, and the Vice President Kamala Harris out in the country talking about this issue, certainly a recognition of the political salience of the abortion issue. As we enter the campaign season, White House officials focused on the public health aspect of this, but also on the political aspect of this as this continues to play out in courts.

BLACKWELL: Kevin Liptak for us at the White House, thank you very much. Joining us now to discuss is Wall Street Journal, White House Reporter, Catherine Lucey. Catherine, good to see you. So, let's start with the political potency of this decision. And we're going to start at the White House, where Kevin is now. The President, as we're expecting he will announce his re-election campaign next week, has an enthusiasm problem.

Is this an issue that can close that? And is it something that this President is comfortable with? We can note that the president didn't say publicly the word abortion until more than a year into his administration. Is this something that can energize the Democratic Party? Is he comfortable with it? CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: This is absolutely an issue that's going to energize Democratic voters. And we've seen it happen already, right, Victor? I mean, we saw this in the midterms, heading into the 2022 midterms. There was a lot of chatter and discussion about how this was going to be a bad cycle for Democrats, about how issues around inflation in the economy, were going to really dominate.

And we really saw a much better than expected results for Democrats. A big reason for that was anxiety around abortion access. And we saw it again, more recently in this Wisconsin judicial race. So, we know, we have, we have, we have data. We know that this is an issue that energizes Democrats, Democrats are concerned about the polling around mifepristone that shows, you know, the majority of voters want there should be access to that drug.

And, and Democrats know that. Democrats are really running on this issue. There's an expectation that this is going to be a big issue in 2024. And that this is really something that gets their base out. And to your question about President Biden, yes, he is someone who tried his career has not always been the biggest -- this has not always been the front-of-mind issue for him. It did take some time as President to say the word "abortion," as you noted, but he has come out very strong on this recently.

You saw his statement last night (INAUDIBLE) mifepristone. Both he and the Vice President had been vocal on this, and this is going to continue to be a big, a big focus for them.

BLACKWELL: And for Republicans. I mean, last night, was there a bit of relief on their side as well now that this is for the near-term? Of course, the appeals are still going through, not something that will as they know, it is bad politics for them, challenge them in the same way as the opposite ruling would have?

LUCEY: Well, that's an open question, I think. I mean, certainly, this drug remains available in the near term. But we're going to see these legal proceedings continue to play out as this, the campaign gets going, which means this is going to be front-of-mind for voters.

And we know that, certainly, in a general election, this is a tough issue for Republicans, and they're in a tricky space, because conservative base voters, you do want -- a lot of them do want to see abortion restrictions, comfortable with the overturn of Roe, you know -- would be comfortable with the rejection of this abortion drug.

When you get to a general election, the more moderate and independent voters that you really need to fit in to build a winning coalition, they're not in that space. And so, Republicans are going to have a tough time walking that line.

BLACKWELL: Yes. The Texas judge, Judge Kacsmaryk, was a Trump appointee. And one of the, I guess one of the things that former President Trump in his re-election effort points to is the number of federal judges were appointed during his term, thanks to that pipeline in the Senate. That is kind of clogged now for Democrats with the, the recovery of Senator Dianne Feinstein -- she has shingles, has been out for some time.

Now, there are 60-plus liberal groups in California have written a letter calling for her to resign. They write that, "Your absences hobbled the elected Democratic Senate majority from doing the work for California and our nation." Does this become more difficult for her to hold on to this position now that you have more than just a few elected House members, Democrat's saying, that she should resign, that there are these groups calling for resignation as well?

LUCEY: This certainly is a growing headache for Democrats and for Senator Feinstein. We already had her, as you said, some members of her party making this call, and now you have more people echoing it. And the issue for Democrats is they can't easily advance judges out of the judiciary committee right now. And that had been a big point of pride for the Biden administration is just how many judicial nominees they have gone through.

You know, so far, she has not, you know, responded to these requests to sit down, there had been this effort to try and temporarily replace her on the Judiciary Committee, which Republicans have blocked. And so, we'll have to see what the next steps are here. But certainly, yes, this is slowing down what has been a big point of pride for Democrats so far in terms of judges.


BLACKWELL: Let's turn to the house now. And House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has now unveiled this plan to support a $1.5 trillion dollar increase in the debt ceiling in exchange for $4.5 trillion in cuts, many of them to Biden administration priorities. The question is, can he get enough Republican votes to pass it, thus far? Even he acknowledges that he does not have those? We watched 15 rounds to try to get the votes to get the gavel. Are we expecting that he will eventually get there? Because many of the deals he made to get the support to become speaker, are directly related to the deal for the debt ceiling.

LUCEY: I mean, he has a tough caucus to manage, right. And we know that, we've seen that play out already. We'll have to see if he can hold the line -- he really needs to hold his, his members together. But of course, even if he did, this isn't going to advance in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. So ultimately, this has to get to a negotiation.

We're just not there yet, in terms of either the President and Speaker McCarthy speaking; Democrats on the Hill and Republicans that Hill talking. I mean, Washington, I think has, has never met a deadline. It doesn't want to run right up, up against and -- or don't, we don't quite seem to be there yet.

BLACKWELL: Well, Catherine Lucey, we'll see how close to that deadline we will get. All the parties say, we're not going to default. We'll see. Thanks so much.

WALKER: Coming up, Russia accidentally drops a bomb on one of its own cities, leaving a 65-foot-wide crater. The latest on that next. Plus, a Republican state lawmaker in Tennessee who voted to expel several of his Democratic colleagues earlier this month has resigned, following a report of workplace harassment.



WALKER: New this morning, Ukraine is bolstering its military. The U.S. says, it will start training Ukrainian troops to operate its Abrams tanks next month as it seeks to get them on the battlefield against Russia before the end of summer. This, as the Russian city of Belgrade, which is just across the border from Ukraine -- yes, recovers after a Russian warplane dropped a bomb in the city's center. You can see the explosion there to the left of your screen.

The Kremlin says, it was an accident, but the explosion injured two, damaged apartment buildings, and left a 65-foot crater in the middle of the street there. Here with me now is CNN Military Analyst General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander. Good morning to you, General. First off, I mean, what is your reaction to this that Russia would mistakenly drop a bomb on its own city?

WESLEY CLARK, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think it's a malfunction of a longer-range weapon. The Russians have brought out a glide bomb that's supposed to be GPS-guided or whatever to go after, so they can launch it from over Russian territory and strike Ukrainian forces. I think this is a malfunction of the of that weapon system.

WALKER: I'm curious to hear your thoughts on General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his comments on Friday at a meeting on Ukraine. He drew this contrast with the Ukrainian military which he praised for being highly motivated and performing well against Russia. And then he, of course, you know, pointed out that Russia lacks discipline, the military does and morale. We've been hearing that though for some time as his war has been dragging on. Does that say anything about how this war may turn or end for that matter?

CLARK: Well, I think the, the morale, the fighting spirit, the intensity of the will of the Ukrainians is really remarkable. It's very praiseworthy. But it, in and of itself, is not going to decide the outcome of the conflict. The Ukrainians need more support from the west. It's that simple.

There are new Ukrainian brigades that are being formed for the counter offensive, but the Ukrainians are still short artillery, artillery ammunition, and most importantly, they don't have the kind of air support that's required to go after the aircraft that are capable of launching those long-range bomb strikes that fell mistakenly on Belgrade. That's why they're asking for the F-16, but they need more than that. They need air defense, in particular, because when they roll out these brigades, they're going to be vulnerable to Russian airpower.

Russians also, by the way, have a strike force -- 20, 30, 40 battalion tactical groups that have been held back for over a year, that they are waiting to apply. Maybe if they get a breakthrough in Bakhmut, maybe coming in from the north. So, there's a lot that's going to happen in the next 90 days in Ukraine.

WALKER: So, when you say Ukraine needs a lot more help, especially air support from the West, what about these Abrams tanks that the U.S. will be training the Ukrainians on? They -- I mean, they hope to have them on the battlefield by summer, and will that make any difference on the battlefield for the Ukrainians?

CLARK: Sure, every additional piece of armored equipment helps, but it's only a battalion's worth of tanks. And we've got a thousand Abrams tanks, it could be readied and given to the Ukrainians -- that we're not giving. We could have started this training six months ago. So, I welcome the decision to, to provide the tanks. I'm glad we've speeded it up, but we've got to get him there as soon as possible, and more, if we can. I think we'll find the Ukrainians are quite capable of handling the M-1 Abrams tank.


WALKER: You know, I do want to turn and talk a little bit about what's going on in Sudan and the ongoing fighting there between the military and this paramilitary group. So, the internationally brokered 72-hour ceasefire doesn't seem to be holding, what do you think it will take to bring both sides to some kind of agreement. I mean, clearly, they're both fighting, the generals, on both sides are fighting for control of Sudan. This is about Sudan's future.

CLARK: I think it's going to take one side or the other to recognize that it's got more to gain by taking the ceasefire than it does by continuing to fight. Both sides appear to believe that they're winning. And so, as long as they have the resources, they're going to continue to fight. And this is a very consequential fight, because Sudan is a key country on the eastern side of Africa. It's got a major port.

The Russians want in there, the Russians are taking gold out. This is another play by Putin and Wagner group to, to make sure the West doesn't get a foothold in a key region of Africa. We've been trying to help (INAUDIBLE) democratize for decades. And this is a real setback for the West, and, and Putin knows it. So, he's going after it now.

WALKER: What are your thoughts on Russia's involvement? You know, CNN reported, you know, that the Wagner group, which is that private military group with obviously close ties to Putin has been supplying Sudan's rapid support forces. So, this is the paramilitary group in Sudan, with surface to air missiles to help them in their fight against Sudan's military.

Of course, the Wagner group came out with that statement on telegram to CNN is reporting, stating and claiming that as "no way involved at the Sudanese conflict." How significant is the Wagner group's alleged involvement in this conflict in Sudan? And are you concerned about these external interventions, you know, especially with, you know, so many other interests at stake here? CLARK: We should be very concerned about it. We're pretty sure that Wagner Group is involved. CNN has some evidence of this that it's, it's put out in its reports. But General Dagalo went to Moscow after the war began in Ukraine. I met with General Dagalo a year ago in Khartoum, and he was a very high on, on Russia, on its military capabilities, on believing Russia is the power of the future in Africa. So, it doesn't surprise me that there are all kinds of reports coming out that the Russians are helping Dagalo in this.

WALKER: General Wesley Clark, we're going to leave the conversation there. Thank you for your time, Sir.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, three men who marched at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville are facing charges nearly six years later. The latest on that next.



WALKER: More than 30 guns owned by the 2017 Las Vegas massacre shooter have been destroyed. In 2019, an anonymous donor gave over $62,000 to have Steven Paddock's firearms destroyed. 13 more guns owned by Paddock are still being held by the FBI. Now, Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival from his hotel room, killing dozens and injuring hundreds more. His estate has also been sold off, about $1.3 million will be evenly split among the loved ones of the victims and dispersed in the next four to six weeks.

BLACKWELL: Three men who carried tiki torches and marched at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville are facing charges nearly six years later. Each of those men has been indicted on a single felony charge of burning an object with the intent to intimidate and that charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. That 2017 rally ultimately led to violent clashes with counter protesters. A 32- year-old woman, Heather Heyer, lost her life. CNN's Brian Todd explains why it took nearly six years for these charges to be brought.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: August 11th, 2017, a menacing torch march in Charlottesville, Virginia. Hundreds of white nationalists marched on the campus of the University of Virginia recorded in this documentary by the news outlet, Vise, wielding torches, chanting racist slogans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jews will not replace us.

TODD: Including one slogan that was a notorious Nazi reference. A prelude to what happened the next day. The so-called Unite the Right rally on Saturday, August 12th, white supremacist clashing with counter protesters. A car driven by a white nationalist rammed into a crowd of protesters killing, 32-year-old, Heather Heyer.

Three white nationalists involved in that August 11th torch March facing justice in Charlottesville: Will Zachary Smith, Tyler Bradley Dykes and Dallas Medina, all charged with burning an object with intent to intimidate -- a felony. One of the men, Will Zachary Smith, is also charged with violating a statute that makes it illegal to maliciously release a chemical irritant such as tear gas

OREN SEGAL, VICE PRESIDENT, CENTER ON EXTREMISM, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Accountability for efforts to intimidate, to harass, to spread hatred and violence is always welcome, especially in the time where six years after what we saw on Charlottesville: white supremacy, anti- Semitism, and extremism remains a core part of the fabric of this country.


TODD: In the court room today, Dykes was denied bond. Presiding Judge Claude Worrell said, "The Court can't believe you will be on good behavior."

Citing incidents, the prosecutor said, showed Dykes has engaged in anti-Semitic behavior since 2017. The judge granted an attorneys request to reschedule Will Zachary Smith's hearing to May 3rd.

The county's former Commonwealth's attorney declined to pursue charges related to the August 2017 demonstrations when he was in office.

University of Virginia law professor Anne Coughlin says both the defense and prosecutors will have strategic decisions to make about their arguments.

ANNE COUGHLIN, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA SCHOOL OF LAW: The defense may try to argue that their conduct was no more than political speech, and therefore, it's protected by the First Amendment.

And the prosecutor, of course, will say no, you crossed the line from protected speech, and you committed crimes, committed conduct that was threatening, and you did that with the intent to terrify and intimidate other people.


TODD (on camera): None of the three defendants in this case have yet entered a plea. We reached out to the office of the lead prosecutor commonwealth's attorney James Hingeley, to ask if he intends to pursue charges against any of the hundreds of others who took part in that torch march in 2017, or the supremacist rally the next day? We haven't heard back on that. Amara, Victor?

WALKER: All right. Thank you for that.

Still ahead, more than a dozen attorneys general are calling for a federal recall of Hyundai and Kia vehicles that they say are unsafe and too easy to steal.



WALKER: The House Intelligence Committee is investigating the CIA's handling of sexual assault and harassment cases.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the probe comes after multiple female CIA employees told the committee the agency is discouraging women from filing sexual misconduct complaints.

The leaders of the committee sent a letter to the director of the CIA last week, informing him of the probe.

In a statement, the CIA said, in part, it has no tolerance for sexual assault and harassment and that they would be supporting the investigation.

BLACKWELL: The governor of Ohio says he expects Norfolk Southern to help support East Palestine residents for years to come.

The community, as you know, is grappling with major health and safety concerns after a toxic train wreck two months ago. Governor Mike DeWine told CNN he wants the train company to establish a fun for people who live there who develop medical issues associated with the derailment.

DeWine also said he expects the company to pay people the difference if they are trying to sell their homes and don't get what they would have gotten before the train wreck.

WALKER: The acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration says he will step down this summer, creating a key vacancy at the agency.

In a letter to staff, acting administrator Billy Nolen wrote it is time for a new captain to guide the FAA. The Biden administration's nominee to fill the position, Phil Washington withdrew his nomination after it's stalled in the Senate. The White House has yet to name a new nominee.

BLACKWELL: 18 attorneys general say millions of Kia and Hyundai vehicles should be recalled because they say the vehicles are unsafe and they're just too easy to steal.

WALKER: The vehicles in question were manufactured between 2011 and 2022.

The attorneys general say they include ignition switches that are easy to bypass. Here are the details from CNN business and politics correspondent Vanessa Yurkevich.


These 18 attorney generals from 17 states in Washington, D.C. found this issue so alarming and deadly. They sent a letter to the Highway Traffic Safety Administration, calling on Kia and Hyundai to recall 11 years of vehicles on the market.

YURKEVICH (voice over): That puts that number in the millions. And these vehicles have become so easy to steal, according to these attorney generals. They are causing serious safety issues, including eight deaths, injuries, property damage, and the diversion of emergency services from other priorities to deal with these events.

And in this letter, the A.G. say, Kia and Hyundai have not done enough to address this issue. The two automakers have been offering voluntary software updates to help with the theft issue. But these A.G. said this is not enough because it will take months to release all the updates and it isn't available for all their models.

Now, Kia and Hyundai cars were so easy to steal that in 2021, a TikTok challenge started, called, the Kia Boys Challenge, where people would show just how easy it is to steal one of these cars.

Now, the letter also notes that even more theft took place in 2022 across major cities, thefts of Hyundais and Kias in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, increased 836 percent and 611 percent respectively.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Not to mention the absolute headache for the car owner whose car is stolen, and if they get it back, it's incredibly expensive to repair.

Victor, Amara?

BLACKWELL: Vanessa, thank you.

Now, CNN reached out to the car makers. Hyundai says it is committed to ensuring the quality and integrity of our products. They say that newer cars have upgraded theft prevention devices. And Kia says that it remains very focused on this issue and that they continue to take action to address the concerns.


WALKER: All right. Still ahead, a Republican state lawmaker in Tennessee, who voted to expel several of his Democratic colleagues earlier this month has resigned, following a report of workplace harassment.


BLACKWELL: A Tennessee state lawmaker who voted to expel two of these so-called Tennessee Three has stepped down from his own position after a harassment claim and an ethics violation.

WALKER: A sudden resignation follows that dramatic showdown at the state capitol earlier this month. CNN national correspondent Ryan Young has the details.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, Victor and Amara, another shakeup at the Tennessee State House.

That's after Scotty Campbell, high-ranking member of the Republican Party decided to resign on Thursday. That's after ethics complaints came forward that were confronting the lawmaker about a conversation they had off the state legislature campus.

There were some allegations made on March 29th. The subcommittee investigated, and they found that he had violated policy at the state capitol.

Then, a reporter from WTVS confronted him about some of these allegations. And in fact, you can listen to this exchange with that reporter from a few days ago.


REP. SCOTTY CAMPBELL (R-TN): But I did not know that a workplace policy could be enforced when you're not at work.



YOUNG (on camera): WTVF basically said there was an intern that was involved in this. She felt uncomfortable about the conversation that was had between the two.

After that confrontation, Scotty Campbell decided to resign his position, basically putting out this one-line resignation letter, saying that he was stepping away from his seat.

We all got on to say we got a memo from the statehouse that basically said, "Discrimination and harassment in any form will not be tolerated, in accordance with the Policy and Rule 82. No further information concerning this complaint will be released." This is after weeks of back and forth in that statehouse.

You remember, lawmakers on the Republican side that supermajority moved to kick three law members out of the statehouse. Two ended up being kicked out.

But now, after all that has happened, one of their own, one of the Republicans has had to step away from the seat after this harassment claim.

Victor and Amara?1

BLACKWELL: Ryan, thanks. The two lawmakers who were expelled, they've been reinstated. And Scotty Campbell, the lawmaker who stepped down and not get resigned when he made the statement responding to the harassment claim.

WALKER: In New York, dozens of public schools across the state may be forced to change their names and their mascots, after state education officials ruled that schools will eliminate indigenous related names and imagery.

BLACKWELL: Now, those schools have until the end of the year or risk losing state aid. CNN's Polo Sandoval has the story.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For some, they are a source of school pride. But for tribal nations, they are the reason behind a decade's long battle. And this week, a win.

New York State education officials voted unanimously to ban their public schools from using indigenous team names, logos, and mascots.

They have until the fall of 2024 to eliminate such imagery or risk losing state funding.


BRYAN POLITE, CHAIRMAN, SHINNECOCK INDIAN NATION: Who is overdue? I mean, this latest push is just the newest push, but we've had community members fighting for these changes over the last several decades.

SANDOVAL: Bryan Polite is chairman of New York's Shinnecock Nation, Chiefs, Warriors, Indians. Polite joins the National Congress of American Indians and calling such mascots inappropriate stereotypes that dehumanize native people.

POLITE: Well, a lot of these mascots and logos are Hollywood depictions on what they think Native Americans should look like.

In other times, its sensitive items and cultural references that we don't want paraded around on the football field.

SANDOVAL: The ban is likely to affect schools throughout New York, prompting some pushback. Long Island's Massapequa public school is out with this letter this week defending their chief mascot as historic and informing parents that they are investigating all options with legal counsel.

Also, on Long Island, Patrick Pizzarelli, who leads Nassau County's interscholastic sports. He predicts future funding issues of athletic departments are forced to pay for rebranding their programs, uniforms, even their sporting venues.


But, you got to give these districts the money. You can't just expect them to do it. And maybe even more time, you know? Right now, by the end '25, I believe is supposed to at least be started.

Now, I'm not sure it has to be done by then. But you know, you got to help them. Because you don't want to hurt other kids to fix the problem.

SANDOVAL: The head of the Tonawanda City Schools near Buffalo also bracing for the cost of compliance.

DR. TIMOTHY OLDENBURG: SUPERINTENDENT TONAWANDA CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT: And we're a district that's going to comply. And we're going to do very good work, working with our stakeholders, our community, again, most importantly the students in determining what our next steps are.

SANDOVAL: Renaming won't be necessary for schools that bear the name of an indigenous tribe. Educators are also still allowed to use indigenous imagery in their curriculum.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.


WALKER: Still ahead. Did you know it is Earth Day.


And there are plenty of ways for you to help fight the climate crisis. We're going to take a closer look at what is being done and what needs to happen.


BLACKWELL: Seven miles of public beach in Long Beach California had been closed because 250,000 gallons of sewage spilled into the Los Angeles River.

Authorities blaming equipment malfunction. Now, the L.A. Sanitation District says a blockage caused an overflow of sewage. Crews finished their first round of cleanup yesterday. They've not yet said when the beach will be reopened.

WALKER: This morning, North Carolina firefighters are racing to contain a massive fire burning in a National Forest.

The wildfire which has been burning since Wednesday has now grown to 35,000 acres. And so far, it's only been 10 percent contained.

BLACKWELL: Officials hoped that a chance of rain today will improve conditions, but anticipated winds could potentially impact the direction of the fire.

There are no evacuations and the fire is still under investigation.

WALKER: On this Earth Day, the planet has just failed a wide-ranging health check. The world meteorological organization found that last year, smashed a series of climate records from sea level rise to glacier melts.

BLACKWELL: Now, the planet warming is happening at a rapid rate. This year's Earth Day theme is Invest in Our Planet.

People are encouraged to celebrate by picking up trash in their communities, planting trees, finding ways to reduce waste.

Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is with us now. So, we know it's warmed since the first Earth Day in 1970. But how much?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Right. And that is important. It's also important to us that all 50 states have warmth.

So, this isn't just a couple states here and there, all of the states have been impacted.

[07:55:02] CHINCHAR: Now, when you look at the contiguous U.S., basically, the lower 48 as a whole. They've all warmed about 2-1/2 degrees Fahrenheit. Warmer than we were for the very first Earth Day back in 1970.

And the reason that number is important is because it's dangerously close to that limits that we've always talked about, you know at all these COP -- you know, COP meetings that we have internationally speaking.

And that number, the limit is 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1-1/2 degree Celsius. So, knowing that we're getting close to that, and the concern here is that when we set forth those limits, you know where we want it to be?

We were looking decades into the future. The concern is that the last nine years in a row have been the warmest nine years on record.

So now, the concern is, can we even make it to that 2030? 2050? Can we make it to those deadlines that are decades out when we're seeing that warmth, go so rapidly?

WALKER: And are we seeing any sparts of the country or any specific states that are warming at a higher rate than others?

CHINCHAR: Yes. So, even though overall, all 50 states have warmed, there are what we call these clusters, where we are seeing them at a much higher rate. Reno, Nevada, specifically has warmed faster than any other city. 7.8 degrees Fahrenheit since that very first Earth Day.


CHINCHAR: Yes. And you think about that, for people who live there, that's a noticeable change.


CHINCHAR: You know, the human body can't really detect much that's below two degrees. But when you're talking almost eight degrees --


WALKER: Eight degrees, yes.

CHINCHAR: That's noticeable. Especially for people who say have lived there for 30, 40, or 50 years.

But even other areas, you know, Las Vegas, El Paso, Texas, Phoenix, they've also had at least four or five-degree gains in just the last few years.

WALKER: Mostly, desert areas then.

CHINCHAR: Mostly desert.


CHINCHAR: And that's a concern in and of itself, because it's the compounding effect of not only is that area more prone to southwest, more prone to these heat extremes, but also prolonged drought.

And so, it's that compounding effect of having both of them. And we know for a fact that in a changing climate, both of those things are going to get worse anyways.

BLACKWELL: So, let's talk solutions. And what's being done to find some?

CHINCHAR: Right. So, the good news. Let's start with the good news. OK?


CHINCHAR: And that is -- the U.S. has reduced emissions by about one percent every year since 2005. So, we are making improvements. And the goal is to be net zero emissions by 2050.

So, we have these goals in place. We have started to make improvements. And even on an individual level, you know, people going out today, you know, clean up your trash, try to reduce your single use plastics. Regenerative agriculture, there is so many things that we can do, not just globally, you know, organizations, companies, but also on an individual level.

And it may seem small, but if everybody did it, it would make such a big difference.

WALKER: You know, really sticks out to me is when I go to the grocery store, people still allow, you know, to they use these plastic bags that are provided by the stores, and they'll, you know, put like one carton of eggs, and then, they'll use another bag.

For, I mean, just bring your own bags, the recyclable bags. I mean, I feel like that's just one thing that we can do, right? Than letting this plastic kind of run rampant right from the stores.

BLACKWELL: I was really socialized on plastic bags in my 22 months in New York.

WALKER: Oh, yes. I'm sure you were. Right.

BLACKWELL: So, now --


BLACKWELL: I have my own bags that I take with me.

Allison Chinchar, thanks so much.


WALKER: There will be socialized. BLACKWELL: All right. Make sure to catch a brand-new episode of the whole story with CNN Anderson Cooper tomorrow night, as climate experts race against time to build innovative solutions to protect the planet from the looming effects of climate crisis.

Here is a look.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): You're part of the movement to basically build the oil industry in reverse.


WEIR (voice over): After making a killing in software and becoming frustrated with carbon offsets, Peter Reinhardt helped found Charm.

REINHARDT: So, this over here is the -- is the paralyzer.

WEIR: A startup that scoops up the organic waste usually left to rot in farm fields. Heats it into biochar, which improves soil health, and bio-oil, which injects down into old oil wells.

WEIR (on camera): How much have you injected to date?

REINHARDT: We've sequestered about 5,450 tons of Co2 equivalent. That is a drop in the bucket, right? Compared to the 50 billion tons a year that we're emitting as a -- as a civilization.

WEIR (voice over): Confirming Peter's claim, independently is tough, because carbon removal verification is also brand new. But if he is right, his teeny drop in the bucket would be about half of all the carbon ever removed.

WEIR (on camera): No offence this is awesome. But it's a couple of containers in a parking lot in San Francisco and we were in Iceland and saw what's there, and that's it and the whole world? Should I be depressed by that or --


REINHARDT: Or you could view it as an opportunity.

WEIR: I guess.

REINHARDT: You want to start covering a little business?


BLACKWELL: "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER" airs tomorrow night at 8:00 right here on CNN.

And CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.


WALKER: And good morning to you. Welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. I'm Amara Walker.