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New Day Saturday
Postal Service Warns Mail-In Ballots May Arrive Too Late To Be Counted; Native American Schools Forced To Reopen Despite COVID-19 Risk; On The Trail With Sen. Kamala Harris; Growing Struggle To Access Benefits As Eviction Crisis Looms; Ice Cream Song With Racist Past Gets RZA Remix. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired August 15, 2020 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Potentially promising developments in the search for coronavirus vaccine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But challenge trial is where you intentionally put the virus literally up their noses and you see how well the vaccine works.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I consider it to be unnecessary, uninformative and unethical. Basically, it's treating people like laboratory animals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The capital this morning. Good Saturday to you and this morning. There's a lot of uncertainty about the presidential election. The U.S. Postal Service says in most states, nearly all states, mail-in ballots may not make it in time to be counted.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And let's talk about the fight against the coronavirus because more than 1300 people died yesterday in the U.S. and now the American Heart Association says COVID-related heart damage is worse than they thought.
BLACKWELL: In our first interview as the presumptive Democratic Vice- Presidential nominee, Kamala Harris, says that Joe Biden broke barriers by choosing a black woman to be his running mate.
PAUL: And while officials in California, Oregon and Colorado are battling a series of wildfires, nearly 85 million people across the country are facing some of the hottest temperatures of the summer this weekend. We'll keep you posted on that. We do want to begin with the threat to the U.S. Postal Service across the country right now. Last night, the Post Office agreed that it would stop removing boxes in 16 western states and parts of two others until after the election. BLACKWELL: Boxes have already been removed in New York and Oregon and Montana and Indiana. The Postal Service says told workers and four other states that it will start to cut hours of retail operation. Here's CNN's Abby Phillip.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After months of railing against mail-in ballots that he claims without evidence will hurt Republicans.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mail-in voting is going to be the greatest fraud in the history of elections.
PHILLIP: President Trump now admitting this week that he wants to hold up funding for the U.S. Postal Service to gain a political advantage in November.
TRUMP: They want $25 billion, billion for the post office. But if they don't get those two items, that means you can't have universal mail-in voting because they're not equipped to have it.
PHILLIP: In May, Trump installed a top Republican donor, Louis DeJoy, as Postmaster General. And in the last two weeks, an avalanche of developments have raised new questions about Trump's influence over the agency and the risk that mail delays could have an effect on the election.
Earlier this month, Trump met with DeJoy in the Oval Office for a meeting that the White House said was about congratulating him on his appointment in May. Two days later, DeJoy met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer in a contentious meeting where Democrats demanded an end to the cutbacks.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We are not going to stop fighting until state election systems and the Post Office, which is part of getting the mail there on time get the resources that they need.
PHILLIP: Just days after that, DeJoy announced a major restructuring of top USPS jobs that some Democrats called a Friday Night Massacre. Trump later lying about speaking with DeJoy despite meeting with him.
TRUMP: Well, I didn't speak to the Postmaster General in the Post Office. I know this. He's a very good businessman.
PHILLIP: Over at USPS, the warnings of trouble ahead are piling up.
KEITH COMBS, AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION LOCAL PRESIDENT FOR THE DETROIT DISTRICT: When you start making cuts, you're delaying the process. You're not speeding up the process. I'm a 31-year poster, and boy, I've never seen these types that's been put in place in order to make the service better.
PHILLIP: The Postal Service's top lawyer sending nearly all states including battleground states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Minnesota warnings that ballots may not be delivered in time to meet election deadlines, sending election officials scrambling to determine if and how they can change their deadlines.
And CNN is now learning that USPS is removing hundreds of mail sorting machines across the country, responsible for processing millions of pieces of mail ahead of an election that could see historic mail-in voter turnout. All this prompting a rebuke from Democrats and Republicans alike.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): But now it's not the time to be cutting back services. I do disagree with the president very strongly on that issue. The Postal Service is absolutely essential.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we've never seen before is a president say, I'm going to try to actively kneecap the Postal Service to encourage voting and I will be explicit about the reason I'm doing it.
PHILLIP: The Postmaster General writing to postal workers Thursday that the restructuring resulted in unintended consequences. In other words, delayed mail all over the country.
And with all this happening, more states are turning primarily to mail-in voting for the general election. The latest, New Jersey. And in Pennsylvania, state officials say they're willing to accept ballots that have been postmarked by Election Day, a change in their position prompted by concerns over mail delivery delays.
And President Trump now appears to be walking back his opposition to funding the Postal Service, telling reporters in a briefing at the White House that he would be willing to fund USPS to the tune of $25 billion if Democrats accede to his demands for other forms of funding in the coronavirus stimulus bill that is under negotiation on Capitol Hill. Abby, Phillip, CNN Washington.
PAUL: Abby, thank you. Now, the president isn't just questioning the security of mail-in voting. He's also refused to distance himself from a candidate who's pushing conspiracy theories of her own.
BLACKWELL: Sarah Westwood is with us now. Sarah, tell us about this candidate.
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Victor and Christi. And this woman is named Marjorie Taylor Greene, she won a GOP primary this week for a Congressional seat in Georgia. And the President in speaking about her has really just been praising her and been focusing on that primary victory and on her popularity in that state, but he refused pointedly to disavow the conspiracy theories that Greene has openly embraced.
And when he was pressed on at the briefing yesterday by reporter, he ended up moving on to call on someone else declining to answer that question. I want you to take a listen to that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, she's did very well in the election. She won by a lot. She was very popular. She comes from a great state, and she had a tremendous victory. So, absolutely, I did congratulate a place for her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you agree with her on that? That was the question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WESTWOOD: Now, Greene has said that the QAnon conspiracy theories are something worth paying attention to, but I want to just walk you through some of the things that are involved in this QAnon conspiracy theory that she's embraced. It includes these baseless allegations that high profile people have participated in child sex rings that a deep state has tried to sabotage Trump's presidency. There's been conspiracies related to mass shootings into elections, and also that 5G is somehow spreading coronavirus.
Now, this isn't the first time that the President has embraced a baseless conspiracy theory. He's not openly embracing QAnon here but declining to distance himself from it. He's also embraced Birtherism, suggested that the Cruz family was somehow connected to the JFK assassination. So, this is not necessarily new territory for the president.
And Greene, herself, is potentially posing some headaches to Republicans. She's likely heading here to Washington because that district in which she won the primary is very safely Republican. And although Republican congressional leaders had condemned earlier this year, her, for some racist language that surfaced and media reports over the summer, they turned around and congratulated her for her victory, but she's already dividing Republicans.
For example, Congressman Adam Kinzinger, tweeted this week disavowing himself, the QAnon conspiracy theory. So, that is certainly -- she is someone that will likely divide Republicans if she does come to Washington in November.
PAUL: All right. Sarah Westwood, appreciate it so much. Thank you.
So, ahead, Native American reservations across the U.S., they've been among the hardest hit by coronavirus and a federal agency now says it will reopen schools on reservations despite educators' safety concerns. We'll tell you about it.
BLACKWELL: Plus, it's going to be hot for a whole lot of people this weekend especially out on the West Coast, the temperatures and the massive wildfires in three states. We'll check with the CNN Weather Center, coming up.
PAUL: 12 minutes past the hour right now. Thanks for being with us here. The CDC is reporting Native Americans have the highest hospitalization rate of any ethnic group in the U.S. Take a look at that, 5.8 percent. They often have limited access to health care, which just compounds the situation and many people live in these multi-generational homes -- they're small, confined spaces.
The Navajo Nation experiences some of the highest rates of water poverty in the U.S. as well. I don't know if you knew that. They're almost 67 times more likely not to have indoor plumbing, potable water and sanitation in their homes, which obviously makes it so much harder to follow these handwashing guidelines that we've been told about. Despite the toll that this pandemic has taken on the community, the federal government is now forcing schools on reservations to reopen as of September.
I want to discuss this with Dr. Mary Owen, she's President of the Association of American Indian Physicians. Also, with us by phone: Sue Parton, she's the President of the Federation of Indian Service Employees. Ladies, I thank you both for being with us. We're grateful to have you this morning.
Dr. Owen, let's listen together here to Dr. Michelle Tom -- she's another family, she's one of the few family doctors on the Navajo Nation. I spoke with her a couple of weeks ago and here's what she told me about what's happening there right now.
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DR. MICHELLE TOM, NAVAJO FAMILY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: It's, it's a daily -- it's hard, emotionally, spiritually, you know, I'm very tied to the people into the land and and being Navajo, we're very maitre lineal. We have a very strong unit of extended families. So, you know, I always seem to know someone every day or every other day of someone who's been infected or someone who's been intubated, and someone who's back.
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DR. MARY OWEN, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN INDIAN PHYSICIANS: What is your reaction to what she's saying? Are you still seeing that kind of effect on the Navajo Nation?
OWEN: I'm not -- I am living up in Minnesota but, yes, we're still hearing the same source of effect on the community there, not just Navajo Nation, but surrounding groups like the Zuni and, and the Hopi as well. All of our communities are susceptible. Go ahead.
PAUL: I just wanted to ask as well, there are more than 9000 cases and close to 500 deaths as I understand it, on the Navajo Nation, and they're going to begin these phased reopening on Monday. Are you comfortable with that? OWEN: No, I'm not comfortable with it. I think most people in our native nations are not comfortable with the fact that we are not making the decisions on when to open our schools just like everybody else in the country. The places that are, the places that are impacted by whatever those decisions are, should be in the -- in control of whether or not to open our schools. So, each community is going to be different. Obviously, it's not a safe right now to open those in the Navajo Nation, and other places as well, like for instance, Yakama. Go ahead.
PAUL: OK, I wanted to bring in Sue Parton as well, again, the President of the union that represents the Bureau of Indian Education employees, and here's the thing: the bureau, as we said, is forced to, forcing schools on the reservation to reopen for in person classes. Now, just so you know, the BIE is part of the Interior Department, and therefore, they're under this federal mandate. That's how it's being enacted.
This is affecting 53 bureaus of Indian education schools run by federal government in 10 different states. Ms. Parton, I know that you have said you don't think the scientific evidence has proven that it's safe to go back to school as normal. What is your strongest concern today for those people right now? What is their -- what do they need most?
SUE PARTON, PRESIDENT, FEDERATION OF INDIAN SERVICE EMPLOYEES: My strongest concern is that the people who are making the decisions are at a level in the federal government that are not down here in the grassroots. We speak with our union members who work at the schools, as well as what they tell us about their families and their communities and there is just so much fear and so much uncertainty.
Our employees often get mixed messaging because as federal employees, they have to look at the guidelines provided by the Department of Interior, and then the guidelines set out by the Bureau of Indian Education, and then the guidelines sent out by the Governor of the state wherever their schools are located, and then the tribe, the tribal government. So, our employees are just like, don't know which way to go.
And one of my biggest concerns is as federal employee, we do represent about 2,800, bargaining unit employees throughout the BIE. Out of those 2800, about 80 percent are working in BIE schools that are located in Arizona and New Mexico. So, my biggest concern is the reports that I hear from the Trump administration about trying to force all schools in our country to open full-fledged. And he has made threats, I know, to withhold funding to those schools.
However, the majority of the public-school systems are operated by the individual state. But our Bureau Union Education is not. We are under the Department of Interior and the decisions that I see coming down to the federal employees who work at the BIE schools, to me, sounds like the top leaders in D.C. are succumbing to political pressure, to force our schools to open. Now, the letter that we received from the Assistant Secretary of
Indian Affairs does say, to the maximum extent possible. BIE schools will operate brick and mortar. But I know that we're getting a lot of pressure to try and open them, and I just don't feel that it's safe at this time. I think the bureau needs to put all of their efforts and resources into building an infrastructure that would support virtual learning, at least for right now.
And then that, of course, you know, puts out its own challenges because of the morality of where our schools are located.
PAUL: I wanted to get to that. I want to go -- Doctor, oh, I want to go to you with this. As we understand it, the complication of locality is a real thing. There are rural areas here where some kids don't have the broadband capabilities to have a computer and to access what they need to access for their school, so how do we or how do you balance that?
OWEN: Well, that's exactly right. Not only are the schools not adequately prepared to be able to get this out the broadband out. I mean, I think there are 30 percent of native communities that don't are native households that don't have access to the Internet. So, how do you do that? As the previous caller or Ms. Parton said, our schools need to have the monies to be able to provide that Internet access.
It's not just during a pandemic, it's at all times. Our schools are as underfunded as our health systems are. Well, I don't know if they're as, but they are definitely underfunded as well and don't have the infrastructure. In addition to that, though, our clinics and our hospitals are not set up in these rural areas to deal with the impacts of diseases we're seeing in Navajo Nation, because they have been chronically underfunded. So, it's a problem on top of a problem.
PAUL: Dr. Mary Owen, Sue Parton, we've run out of time. I'm, I'm so grateful to be talking to you today about this. Take good care. Thank you so much and keep us posted.
OWEN: Thank you very much.
PARTON: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: President Trump says that mail-in ballots could lead to massive voting fraud this election. There's no evidence to support that. How the President's strategy of criticizing the Postal Service could backfire, especially if it's going to slow down service. How it could backfire on Republicans trying to keep control of the Senate?
BLACKWELL: Now, let's go into the debate over a mail-in voter fraud. The U.S. Postal Service announced they would be reducing operating hours and taking the mailboxes off the streets in several states. And now, the Postal Service is planning to stop those removals after some, some reaction in 16 western states. [07:25:39]
President Trump has repeatedly said that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud and give an advantage to Joe Biden. But according to several studies, mail-in voting does not benefit one political party over the other. So, let's bring in politics of White House Editor for Axios and CNN Political Analyst Margaret Talev. Margaret, welcome back.
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning, Victor.
BLACKWELL: So, let's start here. We've got this letter that went out from the Postmaster General warning 46 states that the ballots may not be in time to be counted. You've got the anecdotes from people all across the country, many of them in rural communities about delayed delivery, some represented by Republicans. What is the President's party saying about his criticism of the post office and connecting the funding to trying to stop mail-in voting?
TALEV: Right. Well, this is where it all comes down to at this point, right now. There are many Republicans who are beginning to speak out about this and say that this is an essential function of government. But nonetheless, where they stand right now is that there's a request for an extra $25 billion, and that's tied up now in the stimulus talks. To some extent, that's the next front in this but you can all see where this is going.
Litigation is the ultimate front and we're already expecting so many lawsuits around the elections. This is just one more. And the President has drawn a battle line now and even though he's walked back slightly, the bigger picture of what's going on is that for months now, there have been efforts by the administration and the new USPS, to dial back services, cost tightening at a time when folks are saying, hey, you actually need more money to make sure that the system can handle this massive crush of absentee and mail-in validating that is expected because of the coronavirus.
BLACKWELL: Yes, so the Postal Service reaches every community. I mean, that's the point that they go everywhere; rural, and then we talk about veterans, seniors. What's the potency for Democrats of this argument as they try to take back the Senate, of course, when the White House?
TALEV: Yes, I mean, look, obviously this could become a political argument. It could be a strong bullet argument to mobilize voters. But that's politics, then there's also reality, which is, if Post Office really is overburdened, if people do what they always do, which is cast a ballot, closer to the election itself, their vote may not be counted.
So, what's the president trying to do here? One, he's been pretty overt about what he wants the angle to be. But two, there is an aspect of sort of disenfranchisement, which is if you're telling people in advance, hey, your ballot might not count, are they going to bother to vote? And that's I think what Democrats are really fighting against now.
We're going to see a wave of an information campaign, both from Democrats attempting to organize that's what you see President Obama doing now. But also, from just voting rights advocates saying, hey, if you want to vote absentee, if you want to vote by mail, get that ballot as early as possible and cast it immediately. Don't wait, because the longer you wait, the greater the chances this could get tied up in delays at the end.
BLACKWELL: All right. Let's talk about the big announcement this week. Kamala Harris joining Joe Biden as the presumptive Vice-Presidential nominee. The President is called mean, and nasty, and horrible, and all of those things. This is what Vice President Mike Pence said this week about Kamala Harris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator Kamala Harris said she would change the dietary guidelines of this country to reduce the amount of red meat Americans can eat.
Well, I've got some red meat for you. We're not going to let Joe Biden and Kamala Harris cut America's meat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: He said it was so much gusto and the, the audience there was like, OK, yes. They seem to be struggling with the narrative here.
TALEV: Right. Well, I mean, at least red meat is not a race baiting or gender baiting. It's just saying, hey, I'm trying to turn out the base. Now, what you're seeing here is a pretty deliberate effort to sort of paint her as the other or to paint her as someone who could pull the party further to the left.
That's the effort at least. And you see it combined with the president's strategy about the suburbs, telling people who live in the suburbs, the suburbs aren't what they used to be, you know, make suburbs great again, or something like that.
But I think what -- here is the thing, and we did some polling with survey monkey at Axios right out of the gate. The initial reaction -- initial response to Kamala Harris is that she is absolutely bolstered Joe Biden's kind of popularity inside the Democratic Party, and is popular on balance with Independents as well.
So, she accomplished so far what the Biden campaign wanted her to; energizing black women and assuring moderate and Conservative Democrats that Joe Biden is not going to take the party far to the left.
So, president's team are trying to figure out what messaging will stick. She's always been the hardest potential V.P. running mate for them to brand, and they're working on it right now, and they haven't quite figured it out.
BLACKWELL: All right, Margaret Talev, always good to have you.
TALEV: You too. Thanks so much.
BLACKWELL: Enjoy the weekend. Christi?
PAUL: Thanks, Margaret.
So, I want to introduce you to a young woman who's already spent months with Senator Kamala Harris on the campaign trail. CNN political embed reporter Jasmine Wright takes a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP
JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN POLITICAL EMBED PRODUCER: John and I work very well together. I don't think I would be as successful in my job without her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jasmine knows the story and she's going to speak her mind.
WRIGHT: People can think what they want about me because I'm still going to get the job done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: That's a special you can watch on HBO Max there. Jasmine covered Senator Harris and other Democratic candidates in the early stages of the race. And we have coerced her to get up early on a Saturday morning to talk to us.
It's so good to see you, Jasmine. Thank you for being here.
WRIGHT: Thank you, happy to do it.
PAUL: Good. So, I want to talk about something that Margaret was just saying about how her nomination has or her -- his choice of her -- Joe Biden's choice of her has bolstered his popularity that it is engaging black women. You have had unique access to Senator Harris. What is your take on what she brings to the table here?
WRIGHT: Absolutely. So, it's a couple of things, right? She is this new America that people are hoping to see, right? She is a biracial woman, she is a black woman she's a South Asian American woman, and she is young, and she creates that vision of a future -- the future of politics, the future of inclusion, the future of -- hopefully, what people like to see which is a political party that is looking out for all folks of all different races. And that is something that she brings to the table.
And as well, you know, she provides -- she -- Senator Harris is so good at delivering a message, right? She injects energy into the campaign, she has that raw political talent that draws people in, that wants people, that forces people to click her videos, look at her viral videos, watch her when she is giving a speech because she commands that stage. And that is another thing that it will be a benefit.
And as well, you know, I think, when so many people when I would, following her on the trail, I would ask, how do you know Senator Harris? And they would mention those videos of her, questioning Justice Kavanaugh, would mention the videos of her, questioning Bill Barr, because they want to see her in that prosecutorial role. They want to see her prosecuting the case against this administration. And so, those are some of the benefits that she brings to this ticket.
PAUL: Yes, and it's interesting you mentioned the questioning that she did on both of those -- for both of those men because that's exactly what President Trump is trying to use against her on the other way around.
I want to -- I want to point out that you have a piece coming out on cnn.com today. And in that piece, here is something that you said about Senator Harris. You said, "Her ascension to becoming Biden's vice-presidential pick could provide one of the most tangible rebuttals to any notion that young girls of color should not be ambitious. That they should wait their turn or that their dreams should come second."
What is she doing specifically do you think? What is she giving to black girls when it comes to how they see themselves and where they can go?
WRIGHT: So, on the trail, she would constantly seek out young girls of color, young boys of color even -- and provide them with inspirational anecdotes. She would often tell them that her mother would tell her you can be the first but don't let yourself be the last.
WRIGHT: You know, there is a viral video of her asking a young girl what her name is and she kind of looks down. And Harris, says, don't you look down, you know, keep your chin up, and that was seen by over two million people. So, it's those small moments now on a massive scale.
She provides young women of color, young black women with a -- actual vision of leadership, an actual image of a black woman in this incredibly high office, right? On her way to possibly being second in command of the entire country, and that literally, is something that we have not seen before. She is breaking that barrier.
And so just that image provides -- and especially with these girls I talk to in this piece, they say it provides them with that ability to say, if she can do it, I can do it too because I identify with her.
PAUL: And there is power in that. Jasmine Wright, so good to talk to you today. Thank you.
WRIGHT: Thank you.
PAUL: And you're going to want to see more of her. You can see more of her work and really, the work of all our incredible embedded reporters. It's on a trial -- on the trail. A documentary that's airing right now on HBO Max. Highly encourage you to take a look at it.
BLACKWELL: So, weekly unemployment claims dropped below 1 million for the first time since the start of pandemic. But of course, you know, there are millions of people who are still out of work. See how people are dealing with a new problem. Next.
BLACKWELL: Millions of people have more bills right now than they have money to pay them, and they're at risk of losing their homes. And the effort to get help to pay those bills, it's really few and far between.
PAUL: Yes, I mean, for a lot of people, it means this excruciating weight, right, to just eventually, for a lot of them be denied the unemployment aid. And for those who do get it, they say sometimes it's just too late. Here's CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich.
DANIEL VOUGHT, WAITED FOUR MONTHS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT: I had negative money. I had negative 170 something dollars in my bank account.
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: For more than four months, Daniel Vought, waited for unemployment after losing his bartending job in Washington, D.C. Last week a debit card finally arrived, loaded with thousands of dollars in unemployment back pay.
When you look at that card, I mean, what do you think?
VOUGHT: I'm just really apathetic about this country. I've seen it have a lot of opportunities to do the right thing and take the other option every time. So, I don't --
YURKEVICH: The damage is already done. He maxed out his credit card and says he got evicted by his roommates after he couldn't make rent. Now, he's living with his dad in the Bronx.
VOUGHT: If they've given me the money earlier, I wouldn't have -- it wouldn't have been this big of a problem and the amount of money they gave me would have been fine. But now, I have all these compounded problems --
YURKEVICH: The safety net failed vote and he's not alone. The pandemic has cost the U.S. nearly 13 million jobs, leaving Americans to face a system ill-equipped to handle the surge.
The consequences are real. Without more government aid, up to 40 million Americans face eviction by the end of the year.
MICHELE EVERMORE, SENIOR POLICY ANALYST, NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT LAW PROJECT: Nobody pays attention to unemployment insurance when the unemployment rate is three or four percent. So, some states just sort of ignored their system since the last recession to make it harder for people to get benefits.
YURKEVICH: Liaya Arrington, she applied for unemployment and pandemic unemployment assistance. But after months of waiting, she says the Georgia Department of Labor denied her both because she was terminated from her job last September due to attendance.
She was the medical proxy for her terminally ill sister and had to make the decision to end her life. Her grief made it hard to get out of bed.
LIAYA ARRINGTON, DENIED UNEMPLOYMENT: Each person's particular circumstances needs to be individually heard. Ultimately, I was not at fault for my sister dying and it caused me total financial chaos.
YURKEVICH: She says she's $15,000 in debt and hasn't been able to make rent in months. She sends her 15-year-old daughter to friend's homes to get three full meals a day.
Arrington says she applies for jobs every day, but with millions of other Americans looking, it's been an uphill battle.
ARRINGTON: I haven't had any offers. So, pretty much, just still continue to search and look and put my best foot forward.
YURKEVICH: Out of options, Arrington, says she's appealing her unemployment decision. This appeal is her last hope.
ARRINGTON: I still have no relief on any of my financial situations seem to be getting worse, but I'm remaining hopeful.
YURKEVICH: Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, New York.
PAUL: You just feel for them. And there is a critical runoff election today in New Orleans to fill a court vacancy that provides or presides over evictions. So, in the next hour, we're speaking to an attorney about the push to stop evictions there and the stories of renters that she's helping who are at risk of losing their homes now.
Also, we're watching some severe weather out west. Dry conditions, really scorching temperatures that are fueling a number of wildfires. These wildfires are barely contained. We'll take you there next.
BLACKWELL: All right, 11 minutes until the top of the hour now. Let's turn to weather. There are a few states that are trying to manage the impact of severe systems this morning.
PAUL: Yes, it's severe in California in terms of the heat. It's so intense, it's going to trigger rolling power outages across the state. This is obviously one of those situations that's increasing power demands, and Californians are being told, you know, please conserve your power, just turn off the lights, set your air conditioner thermostats to 78 degrees or higher. That is not comfortable but you don't want to lose power altogether.
The California Lake Fire, it's still raging in northern Los Angeles County. More than 17,000 acres have already been destroyed. Take a look at this. As of last night, the blaze was only 12 percent contained.
BLACKWELL: Iowa's governor wants federal help as an estimated 167,000 people still don't have power days after severe storms with hurricane- force winds were in that state. Let's go to Allison Chinchar in the CNN Weather Center. How high will these temperatures get today in the west?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You're talking record-breaking. And not just in one state, but you're talking 11 states that could potentially have record-breaking temperatures, not just today, but for the next several days, and that, unfortunately, makes it very difficult for these firefighters to fight the fires.
I mean, remember, they're in full-blown equipment in this intense heat, and two of the fires we're talking about are in California. The Ranch Fire, it's only three percent contained.
And then again, the Lake Fire. This is one thing to keep in mind that it's not just the amount of acres there, but how quickly it grew. It went from 50 acres to 10 000 acres in just 2-1/2 hours. To put that in perspective, that means that it was, at one point, consuming 66 acres per minute. That's the equivalent of a football field every 1.2 seconds. Again, that's incredibly fast.
One of the contributing factors has been the lack of rain. It's been 21 days since Phoenix has reported rain. It's been 88 since Los Angeles has seen rain, but Las Vegas, it's been 116 days since they'd had some rain. So, obviously, they need to see it. And one other contributing factor is just the intense heat.
Again, you can see how widespread, you've got heat advisories, excessive heat watches, and warnings. And again, one of the things to note, we're not just talking five or 10 degrees above average. For some of these areas, it's 20 degrees above average where record highs will be possible. Including Colorado could see some records and they also have some fires of their own that they're dealing with.
Three of the bigger ones are Cameron Peak, which is zero percent contained. Grizzly Creek also zero percent contained, and the Pine Gulch Is only about seven percent contained. What they desperately need right here is to see some rain.
Another area that got probably too much rain earlier this week and a lot of severe weather. 19 total tornado reports, 544 severe wind reports, and a lot of large hail. This was earlier this week as that Derecho event made its way through a portions of the Midwest.
Here is some of the damage that you can see from Iowa. Again, you have fields that were just flattened, leveled. You also have buildings, structures that were significantly damaged by this particular storm, Victor and Christi. And it wasn't just Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, a lot of Midwestern states sustained damage from this specific event earlier this week.
PAUL: What a mess. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: Thanks, Allison.
So, it was my favorite song as a kid, whatever song the ice cream truck was playing. I don't remember the name of the tune. Anyway, it's a familiar sound and it's getting a remix. We will have it for you next.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "FOOD AS FUEL" is brought to you by noon. Noom is based in psychology for lasting health and weight loss results.
PAUL: So, in this week's "FOOD AS FUEL", eating well helps your brain.
LISA DRAYER, CNN HEALTH CONTRIBUTOR: Thinking about what's going on your plate now could help your thinking down the road. Some studies suggest strawberries and blueberries can help delay memory decline and improve brain function, particularly, for older adults.
DRAYER: Another study found women who ate more leafy greens and cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower did better on memory tests.
Fatty fish is high in DHA and omega-3 fatty acid that long-term is linked to improved memory, better learning ability, and slower cognitive decline. And the caffeine in coffee and tea can help form new memories and may reduce declining brain performance.
And get this, eggs are rich in an important nutrient called choline. One study found people who consumed high amounts of choline had healthier MRI scans of their brains. If you don't eat eggs, peanuts are also a good source.
BLACKWELL: Good Humor is celebrating its 100th anniversary with the tune-up for ice cream trucks everywhere. RZA of Wu-Tang remixed their popular jingle, Turkey in the Straw. Oh, that's the name of the song, which turns out to have a problematic past. The melody was previously used in American minstrel shows. OK, OK.
PAUL: Yes, so -- yes. So, now, Good Humor is offering this new sound to ice cream trucks everywhere for free. Listen to this.
What do you think victor?
BLACKWELL: I mean, I'm eating ice cream anyway. You could play Jolene from Dolly Parton. I'm coming out to get a Chipwich. That matter what you play. What's your favorite?
PAUL: (INAUDIBLE). My kids? Oh, I don't know. Anything they have is pretty much good for me. But my kids will hear it a mile away, and then, we'll be out front looking everywhere for it.
BLACKWELL: Give me the Chipwich because you get ice cream and you get cookies. I don't know how people didn't pick that as their favorite.
PAUL: I'm going to -- I'll try that next time.
BLACKWELL: You got to go with it.
PAUL: For you. Yes, next hour.
BLACKWELL: Next hour starts now.