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Susan Zeier and Le Roy Torres are Interviewed about the PACT Act; More Items Locked up at Stores; Remembering Vin Scully; Nearly 100 Million Under Heat Advisories. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired August 03, 2022 - 06:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: It was an emotional scene outside of the Capitol last night after the Senate finally passed legislation to expand health care benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during their military service.


KEILAR: That is comedian Jon Stewart, a fierce advocate on this issue, embracing Rosie Torres, telling her to say tell Le Roy I love him because her husband, Le Roy, has suffered health problems because of his exposure to burn pits during his time serving in Iraq.

Joining us now is army veteran Le Roy Torres. Also joining us is Susan Zeier, she is the mother-in-law of Ohio National Guardsman Heath Robinson who passed away in 2020 due to exposure to burn pits. The bill here is named after him.

Susan, this is going across the finish line. What are you thinking today?

SUSAN ZEIER, MOTHER-IN-LAW OF SGT. FC HEATH ROBINSON WHO DIED IN 2020: Boy, we had quite the celebrations last night and I'm a little tired, I'm not getting much sleep the last five, six days, But we're ecstatic, however, sad at the same time for the reason that we're happy.

And can I say hi to Le Roy. I love you.

LE ROY TORRES, U.S. ARMY (RETIRED): I love you, too, Susan. Good morning.

KEILAR: Oh, Le Roy, you're home sick. I know you couldn't -- you couldn't even go to some of these -- I know you wanted to be there and Rosie was there to represent you. What is this meaning to you that this - this passed this last big hurdle?

TORRES: Good morning, Brianna.

Just, you know, beyond -- just grateful, you know? I cannot help but hold back tears as I received the message from our group and that this tremendous effort finally came to fruition. And, you know, it was a moment to finally take a deep breath and finally - that the PACT Act was reality, you know, in making - in the making and especially the -- after the procedural issue with the bill from last week's Senate vote, you know, when my wife Facetimed me, that's when it really hit me. You know, just seeing everyone celebrating and me not being able to be there and -- because of this recent GI issue that I've been battling. But finally the promise that I made to those that I served with and to some -- some that gone before me that I kept my promise that my heart can finally rest.

Le Roy, you have -- you've lost friends. You've lost a lot of people to this. This bill didn't come in time for a lot of veterans.

TORRES: You know, I remember in 2014, my sergeant major, his last words to me were, sir, don't give up on this fight. You're going to be our voice when we're no longer here. And I -- yesterday evening, I just - I just - I could hear those words resonating in my mind. And, like, Sergeant Major, you did it. You finally - finally made this happen.

KEILAR: You did, sergeant Major, finally make this happen.

You know, Susan, I think -- I think that civilians -- look, a lot of people don't serve, but I think civilians are pretty familiar with this idea of knowing someone who's battling is disease or even dying from a disease and they're spending their final moments battling insurance, you know, battling for the coverage they deserve, which is not how they should be spending their time.

What is the difference that this bill is going to make for so many veterans and their families?

ZEIER: Well, this bill will not only provide insurance coverage, and it will be automatically granted for the qualifying illnesses and -- but aside from that, this bill includes disability benefits and death benefits -- survivor benefits, I'm sorry, for the families.


We have another one of our dear friends, Gina (ph), her name is Gina, she lives in New York, and her husband passed away. And two weeks ago she got - she got another denial letter from the VA. And last night we were just thrilled for her because now she's going to get her -- her benefits, take care of her children.

And, for my family, Heath was active duty, so there was never any denial of health care for him. That part was taken care of. So -- and heath felt very fortunate that -- for that because he heard the other stories and was hearing of all of his other brothers in arms and even like Le Roy and Rosie's stories. He wanted me and he asked my daughter and I to promise him that we will continue telling his story for the other men and women out there who weren't as fortunate as him to have -- to have that coverage.

And so last night I fulfilled my promise to him. And I know he's looking down so proud of me. But there's nothing in this bill that benefits our family except the satisfaction of knowing we won't have to watch any other families suffer like we did.

KEILAR: Tell me about Heath. Tell me about his legacy.

ZEIER: Heath was the Ohio Army National Guard NCO Soldier of the Year in 2012 and 2013. That picture right there was his presentation for that. You know, his -- being a soldier was his livelihood. He was so proud of his soldier - of his service. He was a combat medic. He had a hand in saving lives over in Iraq. And he was a great dad. His -- my granddaughter, Briel (ph), you know, she's the ultimate daddy's girl. And even after he was diagnosed with cancer, he was still out there on the soccer field coaching her.

So, this was the hardest thing for Heath, not being able to be here to walk her down the aisle. Before he died, he bought a pair of diamond earrings for Briel when she gets married. Now, she was six years old. So, that was really important to him.

KEILAR: Susan and Le Roy, you have come so far. You have done it. And I will just say there is a huge community of people who are so appreciative for everything that you have done to see this through. I'm one of those people. So, thank you. Thank you very, very much from my military family to yours. Thank you.

ZEIER: Thank you for having us.

TORRES: Most welcome, Brianna. It's an honor.

ZEIER: And, Le Roy, Rosie's on her way home to you.

TORRES: I can't wait to see her.

ZEIER: Yes, I know.

TORRES: Thank you again, Brianna. Thank you so much.

KEILAR: Thank you, guys.

ZEIER: Thank you.

KEILAR: We're back in a moment.




STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": The CIA targeted him with a drone strike while he was on the balcony of his house at 6:18 a.m. on Sunday. That's so early. He was drinking from a mug that said, don't talk to me until I've had my hellfire missile.

Al Zawahiri did not survive, but the potato he was holding, julienne fries.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": I'm pretty sure he's just quoting Liam Neeson in "Taken," but it - it works. It works. Whatever it was, it works.

TREVOR NOAH, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": Goddamn. America killed the world's most wanted terrorist off of his safe house balcony. I mean, also, at this point, maybe we should stop calling them safe houses. No, every terrorist gets killed in a safe house. They should - they should call it a house that you think you're safe in, but you never know.


JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: Don't talk to me until I've had my hellfire missile.

KEILAR: Some dark, dark humor there.

AVLON: Dark humor helps us cope. But, in that case, pretty well- deserved as well.

All right, on to other news.

Retailers across the United States are locking up items from laundry detergent to allergy medicine and razors. Customers now having to flag down store employees just to access everyday items. So, why are we seeing more of these items locked up?

Let's bring in CNN business reporter Nathaniel Meyersohn and CNN business correspondent Rahel Solomon.

How are you guys? Good morning.

All right, so what's the deal? We've all seen it. What's this in response to?

NATHANIEL MEYERSOHN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Right, John. So, stores have been locking up products for years, you know, razors, smaller items, but now we're seeing them lock up everyday items like deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste. It's spread, you know, throughout the store and it's a real frustration for customers, for employees, and it's creating a really frustrating shopping experience.

AVLON: But why?

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and the reason -- well, the reason why is because organized retail crime is becoming such an issue, right? I mean the latest research that the National Retailer Federation pointed me to is that for every $1 billion in sales, stores are losing about $700,000. So it is a problem that is continuing to grow, but as Nathaniel pointed out, it's also becoming a growing issue for customers, right? I mean who among us has not had to flag down the person at a drugstore to try to get some deodorant or to try to get some razors.


And it's also, by the way, not without its own challenges for retails.

KEILAR: It makes it difficult to shop. You might be more inclined to shop at Amazon or something online. I wonder if it turns people away. And I say this as someone who went into a drugstore just this weekend and had to flag someone down to get a product as I watched someone head out the door with two 12 packs of beer, shoplifting the beer, which is not on your list.

SOLOMON: Can't say I've had that experience.

KEILAR: It's not -- beer is not on your list, but maybe we should add it.

MEYERSOHN: Yes, so stores are already under -- the CVS's of the world and brick and mortar are already under a ton of pressure from Amazon.

AVLON: Sure.

MEYERSOHN: And this just creating even more challenges. People are walking out of the store and buying the products on Amazon.

AVLON: Sure. But, look, it creates the hassle effect. We all get that. But let's also break through the euphemism. Organized retail theft means shoplifting, right?


AVLON: But it also means maybe shoplifting at a larger scale. Why the spike? Why now?

SOLOMON: Rings (ph). Well, I mean, because folks are reselling it sometimes on an Amazon, right? So, the incentive has sort of grown, right? It's not just sort of stealing items and then selling it on the corner, it's stealing items sort of in an organized fashion and then reselling it perhaps for a pretty decent profit on a company like an Amazon perhaps.

AVLON: Twisted.

KEILAR: All right, so in other news, Uber and Airbnb are reporting some strong earnings. Tell us about this.

SOLOMON: OK, so Uber, for example, has been the poster child of growing at all costs, right? But then remember a few months ago we heard from the CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, saying there had been a seismic shift in the market. So, the company refocused, pivoted to sort of managing costs and we're seeing that. So now they're earning more than they are burning. And that's a really important sign for investors because the appetite for just growing at any cost had really waned.

KEILAR: It tells you a lot, Nathaniel, about what people want to spend their money on.

MEYERSOHN: Right. So we're seeing people traveling more, Airbnb posted strong earnings. People want to get out and about. They want to travel around the country. You know, rent these homes. We're also seeing people, you know, Uber said that more people are ordering for delivery. They're taking taxis again. They're going back to the office.

AVLON: Sure.

So, we're seeing this sort of tale of two consumers, though, right?

SOLOMON: Yes. Totally.

AVLON: I mean the Airbnb numbers actually blew my mind, up 24 percent from the same time in 2019. Not year over year. So that's before the pandemic.


AVLON: So you've got this, you know, this situation in the economy where there's a certain segment that's spending more than ever before while other folks are simply struggling to get by.

SOLOMON: Absolutely. And we see it in lots of data. This is just one more example of that to your point, John, right? For folks who are really struggling under the weight of inflation, they are not necessarily traveling as much, right? They are shifting where they're spend to essentials. And we have seen that in many reports, including Walmart's reports and Target's reports, saying that people are shift to essentials.

But then there are other consumers who can still afford it and they are traveling and they are spending on experiences and services.

KEILAR: They're not spending maybe on beer.

AVLON: Not according to your own (INAUDIBLE) sample (INAUDIBLE).

SOLOMON: Not at your CVS. Yes, not at your drug store.

KEILAR: Anecdotally.

Rahel and Nathaniel, thank you so much.

Some people are spending on beer I'm sure.

AVLON: I bet -

KEILAR: For sure.

AVLON: For sure.

KEILAR: For sure they are.

All right, wildfires, floods and now extreme heat again. Nearly 100 million Americans are going to face scorching temperatures over the next few days. AVLON: And, he was the voice of the Dodgers for more than six decades,

from the 1950s in Brooklyn through Los Angeles. We remember Vin Scully, broadcaster, poet, legend.



AVLON: He was the voice of so many classic American sports moments, from Don Larsen's perfect game to Kirk Gibson's walk on home run. So no wonder this morning baseball fans are mourning the loss of legendary broadcaster Vin Scully.

Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Pull up a chair.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hi, John. That's exactly right.

Vin Scully always said that he was just a school boy who wanted to be a sportscaster. Well, he became a - became a masterful storyteller, considered himself a conduit between the game and the fans and he did become one of the greatest sportscasters of all time.

When you heard his voice, you knew it was time for Dodger baseball.


VIN SCULLY, SPORTSCASTER: Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be. Pull up a chair.


WIRE: And there it is. Scully started broadcasting Dodger games in 1950 when the team was in Brooklyn. Eight years later, moved with them to L.A., called their games all the way until 2016, 67 years. That's the longest run of any broadcaster with any one team. He called 25 World Series. In his first came at just 25 years old. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts talked about the icon after yesterday's game.


DAVE ROBERTS, LOS ANGELES DODGERS MANAGER: He was a friend. He was a friend and he inspired me to be better. And, you know, there's not a better storyteller. And I think everyone considers him family, you know? And he was in our living rooms for so many generations. And, you know, Dodger fans consider him a part of their family. And so he lived a fantastic life. A legacy that will live on forever.


WIRE: Vin Scully was 94 years old.

Meantime, yesterday, we had one of the biggest MLB trades ever on deadline day. Padres picking up 23-year-old superstar Juan Soto from the Nationals. The two-time all-star and World Series champ and teammate Josh Bell heading west for Luke Voit and five minor leaguers. Soto turned down a 15-year $440 million offer from the Nats last month, forcing the team to seek a trade. Fifty-three trades made overall yet throughout this period, John, two - many of them coming in the last two days. The Rockies were the only team not to make a trade.

AVLON: Man, Juan Soto, what a loss for the Nats.


What a great young talent.

WIRE: Yes.

AVLON: Coy, thank you so much.

WIRE: You got it.

AVLON: All right, a major move by the Justice Department. Grand jury subpoenas the former Trump White House counsel. We're going to get reaction from Trump's former defense secretary.

KEILAR: Plus, the latest on Tuesday's primary results and what they could tell us about the November midterms.


Sweltering heat is hitting parts of the U.S. once again. Nearly 100 million people are under heat advisories, with the southern plains suffering the brunt of it today and the northeast feeling the heat tomorrow.

So, let's get straight to meteorologist Jennifer Gray with an eye on what we're seeing here.


JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Brianna, we're seeing temperatures this afternoon planning on hitting 103 degrees in Dallas, 102 in Little Rock, 94 in Nashville. You can see all the red on the map. And this is just going to be building to the east and northeast in the next couple of days.

This weather is brought to you by Safelite, your vehicle glass and recalibration experts.


So, here are your heat advisories now. You mentioned nearly 100 million people.