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More than 280 Mass Shooting in U.S. This Year Alone; Tornado Destroys Dozens of Homes in Alabama; Federal Holiday Celebrates the End of Slavery; Poll: 40 Percent Of White Evangelicals Said They Won't Get Shots; Key Inflation Indication Records Biggest Jump On Record; Europe To Welcome Americans For Non-Essential Travel. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 19, 2021 - 20:00   ET




FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): One thing both moderates and conservatives agree on is that Iran's struggling economy is the country's top issue.

Now, Ebrahim Raisi will get his shot to bring it back on top.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Tehran.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


BROWN (voice-over): A dangerous surge in gun violence puts American cities on edge as the summertime crime wave is expected.

Meanwhile, police arrest and charge a 19-year-old man with first degree murder in connection with eight shootings Thursday in Phoenix.

Tropical storm Claudette makes landfall along the Gulf Coast putting more than 20 million people across the South under flash flood and tornado watches this weekend. Another 30 million on the West were under heat alerts as record temperatures expected over the weekend could reach 110 degrees in California.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a really, really important moment in our history.

BROWN: Nationwide, Juneteenth celebrations kick off across the country.


BROWN (on camera): I'm Pamela Brown in Washington.

You are in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday. And there is breaking news tonight out of south Florida. That is where

at least two people were run over by a truck during Wilton Manor's Stonewall Pride Parade. This is according to the city commissioner there.

The commissioner says it seems increasingly probable that this was an accident, but we will keep you updated as we get more details on that.

BROWN: And meantime on this Saturday night, the clearest evidence yet of the spiraling gun violence epidemic in America. More than 280 mass shootings in this country this year alone. The numbers are way up not only from last year but the year before.

And before this night is over, if this trend continues, 54 people will die in various shootings somewhere in America. A staggering jump so far in 2021 compared with the same time frame over the past six years.

And some of the video of those targeted is nothing short of heart breaking.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is in New York City for us.

One of the cities seeing the crisis for itself -- Evan.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, it feels like for viewers at home that we're talking about another one of these shootings every single day. That's because we are. That's because of how fast they are happening in this country right now.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Another deadly weekend in the U.S., with even more mass shootings and gun violence incidents.

Overnight, a shooting in Los Angeles left five people injured, and in Colorado Springs, two separate shootings less than a mile apart Friday night.

One shooting erupted at a mall carnival and another outside a restaurant. Five people total including three young people ended up in a hospital. The specifics of each incident vary but all three tell the same story, the terrifying normalcy of gun violence.

CNN defines a mass shooting as four or more people shot excluding the shooter. That's happened more than 280 times across the country since the beginning of 2021, according to the gun violence archive. That's about 40 percent more than this point in 2020, and 65 percent more than in 2019.

JILLIAN PETERSON, FOUNDER, THE VIOLENCE PROJECT: That type of violence has been surging through the pandemic and now in 2021, we're really seeing these numbers rise, and we can think about how the pandemic has increased stress, increased frustration, added to things like job loss and trauma and isolation, and we know all of that has an impact on gun violence. MCMORRIS-SANTORO: In Chicago, a mass shooting early Tuesday morning

left four people dead and another four injured. Among those killed 19- year-old Shermetria Williams who was supposed to attend her high school graduation.

MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D-IL), CHICAGO: Unfortunately, Chicago's not unique. We are part of a club to which -- cities to which no one wants to belong, cities with mass shootings.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Across the country in Arizona, a single suspect was arrested in connection with eight different shootings in the Phoenix metro area that left one person dead and at least 12 others injured by gunfire or hit by shrapnel.

A warning, the following video is disturbing to watch. We usually see only the aftermath of these terrifying incidents. But in the Bronx, surveillance cameras captured an attack on Thursday. And children caught in the crossfire. Though the children were not shot, and the victim is in stable condition, it serves as a stark reminder of the violence and an increasing number of Americans are confronting.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): Now, Pam, I know a lot of us, you and me in this business look at that video is part of our jobs all the time. But that Bronx video is one of the most disturbing I've ever seen. And it's that kind of thing that's playing out across this country almost every night.


And it's something we can almost guarantee will happen again before the next time you and I talk -- Pam.

BROWN: It's just awful. There's no word to describe what the situation is that you just laid out there in your reporting.

Evan McMorris Santoro, thank you so much.

And joining me now, Cameron Kasky, who you may know as one of the survivors of the shooting rampage in at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Cameron, thanks for being here with us.


BROWN: You became a vocal advocate for stronger gun laws immediately after the attack that claimed 17 lives at your school. Here we are three years, one pandemic later, what goes through their mind when you see gun violence soaring right now?

KASKY: Well, right now, when you're somebody that's been in a community that's been so affected by gun violence, you notice the coverage of gun violence is very, very different with Democratic president in the administration. You know, with big, bad Donald Trump in office covering mass shootings, it's so easy to get traction, right? A mass shooting happens, everybody wants to talk about how this is Trump's America, this is what happens with Donald Trump in office.

But when Joe Biden's the president, generally speaking the goal is to not show the flaws in America but to celebrate all the great things that are going on.

So a lot of people I know at the gun prevention community are very frustrated because the fact we've not seen substantial gun reform from the Biden administration, which is especially disappointing from the fact Joe and Kamala both campaigned on this, you know, people are very frustrated, and a lot of people don't want to talk about how little is being done because we've got fortunately the Biden administration in office and the conversation has shifted very drastically.

BROWN: Okay, I'm just going to push back on that, though, Cameron, respectfully. And I can speak for this show. We have covered this topic extensively under the Biden administration, and we've called out the lack of action extensively.

And as you saw we're leading the show on this matter right now. So, I don't -- I don't accept that premise that we're ignoring this because the Biden administration.

But I do want to get your reaction to two major developments in recent days. In Texas, the governor just signed law that would allow people to carry handguns without a license training -- without a license or training if they're already blocked by law from doing so. And then you have in California, a federal judge overturned the state's long time ban on assault weapons created after the 1989 school shooting that killed five children and wounded dozens.

When you see what's happening in the courts and statehouses, how much tougher does that make your fight for stronger gun control?

KASKY: Well, again, the fight for stronger gun control in the world, the Biden administration is going to be tougher because it's an uphill battle. I applaud your bravery and ability to look at gun violence with the pandemic that it is.

But if you ask every single person in the gun violence prevention community, they will tell you fighting against gun violence with an administration that everybody wants to be cheering for is a lot more difficult.

Now, Greg Abbot is one of the country's worst governors. He's up there with DeSantis and all those other freaks who like to engage in these culture wars, weird legislative battles where they're talking about how, you know, critical race theory is going to ruin your kids and make them hate America, and they freak out about, you know, Dr. Seuss books. Greg Abbot is a mess, so seeing him pass this kind of law just so he can score easy, cheap points with his base is not something going to be surprising.

We need our administration, and we need the people in office right now to actually go hard on these people, to actually keep this conversation at the front of the debate and say in this bloody summer, in this bloody country and in this situation where people are less and less safe, we need to be making very, very serious steps here. And unfortunately, we aren't seeing very many.

BROWN: As you know Republicans like Greg Abbott say this isn't about the guns, this is about the mental health crisis in this country. That is the real problem here.

But do you agree that that also is a major issue that needs to be addressed to cut down on gun violence?

KASKY: Look, I'm a walking, talking mental health crisis, so I get it. The mental health crisis we face in this country is horrific. The mental health crisis that Gen-Z is facing having spent the year inside with remote education, everyone can agree. It's one of the only things people can agree upon right now across party lines that there's a horrible, horrible mental health crisis going on.


But as anybody who has looked at what these laws do will tell you, putting more guns in any situation is only going to escalate the violence. So while we desperately need to address the mental health crisis, the way to address the crisis is not to have as many people packing heat willy-nilly. You know, people in Texas just carry these firearms around, all you're doing is putting more and more people in situations where guns are going to be shot.

The good guy with the gun fallacy is something that was debunked a very long time ago. It's something that is not real, and we need to get to the bottom of the mental health crisis without doing so pointing a gun at everybody. It's the same thing happening in New York City right now. People are talking about how the data fixed the issue we mental health issue on the streets is to get more cops out there pointing guns at people.

It is a disaster. And the way we're approaching guns in this country is a mess.

BROWN: And that is of course your views, your political views that I assume you developed in the wake of being part of a shooting. And I'm curious, you know, we talk so much about those who die in mass shootings. We were someone actually there in a midst of a mass shooting.

Now, years later, what are the -- what do you feel are the repercussions, the consequences of that? How is your mental health impacted by that?

KASKY: Well, I was not very particularly close to the violence that broke out at my school. A lot of the mental health issues I faced from the shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School actually involved the country's response to the shooting and the fact that shooting ended up being paraded around the country. But it's really tough. I mean, people especially the past year who have been facing gun

violence have had to watch their tragedies unfold in a tragic year, losing people to gun violence in a year where hundreds of thousands of people are being killed by this horrible violence, it's awful because when a shooting like the parkland shooting happened, the whole country stopped. Everybody was watching, and as awful as what happened was, we got this outpour of support from people who saw the pain we had, and they shared it, and it was -- there's a unity between an awful lot of people who came together and said this is horrible.

But this has been a year of tragedies. This has been a year of death. So people who are facing mass shootings -- I mean, there have been mass shootings this year roughly the size of the one in my high school that people just don't talk about because there's only so much tragedy of people of the United States should be expected to handle.

You know, our trauma only has only so much bandwidth, so I obviously send my love to everyone this year who's had to face this kind of gun violence, and it's only going to get worse before it gets better until we get some serious work done.

BROWN: Yeah, and the projections are it's going to get worse over the summer, and you're right. I mean, you're dealing with a pandemic with coronavirus and this pandemic with gun violence. It's just -- it's just awful.

Thanks so much, Cameron Kasky, for coming on and sharing your views on this.

KASKY: Thank you for having me.

BROWN: In Brewton, Alabama, drone footage shows a path of devastation after a tornado rips through a town. We're still waiting for a full assessment on the ground there, but three people were injured and multiple homes were clearly damaged.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden, the trees over this way behind the houses over there, they just kind of -- it was just like they imploded. They just fell over.

I was in shock really. I didn't -- I mean I didn't really know what to do. Just a really helpless feeling because I knew that we were fine. I knew the inside of my house was fine. I knew we were fine. And then when I walked out on the front porch and saw that, it was really upsetting to see.


BROWN: Claudette is now a tropical depression drenching the Southeast and heading East. The National Hurricane Center is now issuing advisories for the Atlantic on Claudette. The depression is expected to strengthen once again as it gets over open water.

And still to come this hour, Billy Graham's son Reverend Franklin Graham tells me about his mission to win over evangelicals who don't want to get their COVID shots.

The E.U. lifts COVID restrictions making it much easier for Americans to vacation in Europe.

And the U.S. Federal Reserve is under pressure to cool off the economy after a price surge caused the highest inflation reading in years.

Plus, an extreme makeover gives a new lease on life to a stray shih tzu. You really got to see this one to believe it. Trust me on that.

But, first, a racial reckoning in America marks its first Juneteenth federal holiday since slavery and did 156 years ago.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a great start. This is a holiday, something that we all should come out and celebrate.


BROWN: Many Americans are celebrating a holiday weekend. Around the country, people have spent Friday and today marking the first national observance of Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S. and the day in 1865 when former slaves in Galveston, Texas, were finally told slaves in the U.S. were freed.

President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth holiday bill into law on Thursday. And he gave the first pen from the signing to 94-year-old Opal Lee, the woman known as the grandmother of Juneteenth. She helped lead the fight to make the day a federal holiday.

CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux joins me now live in Washington.


So, Suzanne, what's happening where you are?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pam, don't be alarmed if you hear loud noises. There are some folks who have been actually letting off firecrackers, homemade fire crackers on the street here. So, it's been very loud.

But the crowd is just beginning to disperse. Thousands of people gathered here at a very significant point. This is 14th and U Street and the context here, this is where the black community, where many come to celebrate, to protest, to express community joy, anger, frustration.

Today is a day of celebration for many to celebrate black resilience, black achievement during this holiday. But, of course, also knowing that there's much work to be done, that a lot of this is symbolic as well.

But it is a celebration. The go-go bands just broke up, and people have been dancing and partying and also talking about real issues here. I want to bring in one of our guests. She and her husband very creative have every year designed various art installations. Tell us a little bit about what we're seeing here on the ground and this tank that you built and some of the other things.


MALVEAUX: Juneteenth is so important.


Well, first of all, I've got to tell you we've got to give it up to Long Live Go-go, amazing collaboration with all the art and DDL NBC (ph), the tent was built by my husband, the artist and it's very important to us, because we tend to forget almost 200 years ago, all the African people were brought as well to Mexico. So, that's the connection we have, you know, like black and Latinx people.

We've got to make sure that we both fight for liberation because we're all the same.

MALVEAUX: Let me ask you this. It's a national holiday now. Is it beyond the symbolism? What are you looking for now beyond the celebration part of this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beyond the celebration, I think that we all want change, right? What do we want beyond celebration?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beyond celebration we want reparations. We want systematic changes behind the movement that we're making. We're not just here making noise, and this is just our form of advocacy to have our voices heard. But at the end of the day, we want reparations, we want land, we want what belongs to us.

So, we're out here demanding change and we want to be the change we see in the world, and so, we are. We're going up to elected officials, we're getting them elected. We're getting council members elected, like Janeese Lewis. We're out here demanding D.C. statehood, which is just a blasphemy against African Americans, the 700,000 who live in the District of Columbia. It's a slap in the face every day.

MALVEAUX: We hear you. We've run out of time. We've got to wrap it up, but we hear you loud and clear.

And I know that this is a celebration that will continue each year, and again, what so many people have stressed here is that, yes, symbolic change is happening, but they also want some real teeth behind it, real change in terms of legislation, some laws and, of course, economic parity -- Pam.

BROWN: All right. Suzanne Malveaux in Washington, thanks so much. And when we come back, Billy Graham's son, Reverend Franklin Graham,

joins me on how he's getting vaccine hesitant evangelicals to see the light.

We'll be back.



BROWN: Public health experts have told us at least 70 percent of the population needs to get the vaccine to reach herd immunity, maybe more considering the variants of COVID.

But resistance remains strong in one particular group, white evangelical Christians. This isn't a small group. 1 out of 4 Americans, 25 percent identify as evangelical. In March, an AP poll found that 40 percent of these white evangelicals said that they are unlikely to get the vaccine. That's compared to 28 percent of other white protestants. Twenty-seven percent of non-white Protestants and 25 percent of Americans as a whole.

Is this any wonder when church goers are presented with messages like this?


PASTOR GREG LOCKE, GLOBAL VIEW WORLD CHURCH: If you think for one minute that those political elites actually got that vaccination, you are smoking meth in your mama's faces. I ain't getting, I ain't promoting it, and I discourage everybody under this tent to get it, because I'm telling you if you think you're going to get healthy over a vaccine that's supposed to do away with a virus that has a 99.9 percent survival rate, you've been watching too much Fox News and CNN at the same time.


BROWN: So that kind of preaching results in this kind of response.


JEFF JACKSON, LIFE TABERNACLE CHURCH PARISHIONER: Because we're the radical right. We don't believe in gay marriage. We don't believe in abortion, all that.

REPORTER: Are you going to get the vaccine?

JACKSON: No. It's detrimental to your health. It starts going into conspiracy --


JACKSON: -- theory type stuff.

REPORTER: Uh-huh. JACKSON: But I do, I believe it's Bill Gates and them trying to kill us.


BROWN: I want to bring in a faith leader who wants to help, Reverend Franklin Graham, he's the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham and president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritans Purse.

Welcome to the show, Reverend Graham.


BROWN: Why are so many evangelical Christians hesitant to get vaccinated? What are they so afraid of?

GRAHAM: That's a question I'm not sure I can answer. And it's not just evangelical Christian, it's people across the country and around the world. A lot of people are just scared of needles.


But for me as a Christian, it's very easy for me to support the vaccine because as a Christian, Jesus Christ came to this earth to save life. He gave his life on a cross for the sins of mankind -- for your sins, Pamela, for mine, for the whole world.

And God raised him to life. And while he was here on earth, He used his power as the Son of God to bring healing to people's lives.

And so, as a follower of Jesus Christ, I want to do all that I can to try to bring healing to people's lives where I can. And Samaritan's Purse, we're the head of COVID hospital in New York City in Central Park last year. We're in Los Angeles County, we're in the Bahamas, we're on Indian reservation, even here at home here in North Carolina, we were working.

COVID is a real problem. And it can destroy your life, and a vaccine could possibly save your life. And I don't know why people are afraid, Pamela. It says -- for me, it's an easy, easy question to answer, I took the vaccine. But I tell people, this is your personal choice. I don't say people have to have it. This is a personal choice. Talk to your doctor, pray about it. And then you examine it and then do the right thing.

And so, I spoke with Dr. Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health just this week about this, and I put it on my Facebook, if anyone wants to go to Facebook, we've got about to about a 20-minute interview, discussing these various things, why people don't want to take the vaccine. And Dr. Collins does a tremendous job in answering these questions that people have, you know, is it going to change my DNA? Is a -- is the government going to be able to trace me, these kinds of things. I don't know where people get that, Pamela, it must come from somewhere, but maybe the internet. I don't know. BROWN: Well, I mean, misinformation is a big problem, right? When it comes to this, you've said that people in your own family don't want to get vaccinated. And that is where all these conspiracy theories about the vaccine often spread. What is your message to evangelical pastors like the one that we heard earlier who is -- are telling their congregation not to get vaccinated?

GRAHAM: Well, first of all, I think that pastor is a minority, he certainly is in a majority at all. And I think most of evangelical churches I know are telling their Congress to study it and look at it, and if it's the right for you to do it.

And so, a lot of my pastor friends have taken it. And I think more and more people are coming around to it, Pamela, as they see how dangerous COVID is. And right now, we're in the summer, people have relaxed a little bit thinking, well, maybe this is behind us, it's over. I can tell you, it's not over. I've got some of my staff right now sick with COVID, and it's very frightening. And I would encourage people to pray about this issue, and talk to your doctor and just see what's right for you.

BROWN: And as you pointed out in that poll earlier that 40 percent of evangelicals said they didn't want to get vaccinated, as you try to talk to people in your own family and try to convince them to get vaccinated, showing them the facts and the science. What is it been like for you personally?

GRAHAM: Well, everybody has to make up their own mind. And I can't make up my mind for my family. All I can do is set the example. And then that's why my wife Jane and I, we took the vaccine, we want to set an example.

And, you know, all we had was the next day felt a little sick, and it was over with. And most people that have get the shot have similar kind of reaction. A lot of people have no reaction at all, but for me, I was sore the next day. And then the following day, all is fine, but I'm glad I took it. And I would encourage people again to pray about this. This is a very serious issue. COVID can kill you. And this vaccine could possibly just save your life.

BROWN: Absolutely. I mean, we are seeing hospitalizations go down across the country, deaths go down, all the numbers go down because of the vaccine. More and more people are getting vaccinated.

I want to ask you this. Last August, you did an interview with the Christian Broadcast Network. And in that interview, you said the Democratic Party is opposed to faith, accused the mainstream media of being run by socialists. And then you said this.


GRAHAM: You're going to see Christians attacked, you're going to see churches close. You're going to see a real hatred expressed toward people of faith, that's coming.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: So, when -- I got to ask, when faith leaders like yourself issue dire warnings like that, is it any surprise that white evangelicals feel they're under assault and have to maintain political and social divisions and have this distrust?

GRAHAM: I don't think it's white evangelicals. I think it's people of faith. People that believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ, that believe that He died for our sins.


And earlier, Pamela, you had a segment on the guns and the gun violence that we have in this country. I think it was 280 mass shootings that we've had so far this year. Governor Abbott said, this is a mental health crisis. I don't see it that way, Pam. I see this as a spiritual crisis. I see this as a sin crisis. God's the one who said that thou shalt not murder. And what's happened is we have taken God out of our schools. We've taken God out of our government.

And there is no rudder anymore steering our nation morally. And we have become a morally bankrupt, and we need God's help. We're not going to solve these problems without Almighty God. And we've -- I think for people that believe in God, that trust in God, I think we're going to be, no question, more and more in the minority. And I think that it's going to be difficult for people of faith in the future.

The world doesn't want to hear that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. They don't want to hear that Jesus Christ died for our sins. They don't want to turn from their sins, they enjoy their sins. But if we don't turn, if we don't repent, Pamela, God is going to judge us one day, and we -- and He will judge us and we'll have to stand before Him.

And Jesus said, I'm the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me, there's no two ways to God or many roads to God, there's only one path, and it goes to the cross, because Jesus Christ is the only one in history to pay the debt of sin. When he went to the cross, he paid your debt. All we have to do is be willing to receive it, to accept it by faith.

BROWN: I need to -- I need to jump in here, Reverend Graham. And then I just want to circle back on what I had asked before, because you had said at that time that, you know, the mainstream media is being run by socialists and the Democratic Party is opposed to faith, and then you have right-wing media like Fox News stoking reluctance in the vaccine.

Do you think that that is part of the problem? That's why so many people have distrust because of leaders in society that are telling them to distrust the system?

GRAHAM: I'm not sure I quite understand, Pamela. But first of all, let's go back to the origins of the vaccine that was during the Trump administration, and where he had Operation Warp Speed and they were able to cut the red tape and get this vaccine, get it -- go and get it underway. And I'm grateful that President Biden has picked up on the vaccine and he's pushing the vaccine, like President Trump did. This is going to save life. And that's why it's so very important that we all work together, whether we're Democrats, Republicans.

And by the way, Pam, I'm not a Republican, I'm an independent. I'd get fed up with the Republicans as much as I do with the Democrats. So, I'm just -- and I'm just one of these guys who's kind of in the middle of the road, so to speak, as an independent. But I do believe that if we work together, with God's help calling on God to help us, we can solve some of these problems.

BROWN: And it's interesting -- so, you say you are not a Republican, but you have been a supporter of the former President Trump, you've suggested to him that he should do a PSA about the vaccines, because as you pointed out, it started under his administration. Have you -- have you talked to him directly about doing a PSA to get his supporters on board just given the influence he has on so many people?

GRAHAM: No, Pam, I haven't talked to him about that. I thought about it. But you know, he's got so many people that are that are pulling on him. And first of all, it wasn't a supporter of Donald Trump. It was -- I support the policies that Donald Trump that gave us the best economy we had in 70 years, more people working in any time in my lifetime. And I appreciate the policies that the man signed and was behind.

And, of course, he was very friendly to evangelicals, and I appreciate that. But the Biden administration, he's the president now and we need to do all we can to support him and back him and try to help him understand the importance of this vaccine and that we continue working together.

BROWN: All right. Reverend Franklin Graham, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your perspective on this really important topic. Thanks so much.

GRAHAM: Thank you, Pamela. God bless you.

BROWN: Thank you, same to you.

GRAHAM: God bless.

BROWN: Well, the U.S. Federal Reserve under pressure to pump the brakes as surging prices make investors run for the exit. CNN economics and political commentator, Catherine Rampell, is up next to explain.



BROWN: The U.S. Federal Reserve is under pressure to cool off the economy after a price surge caused the highest inflation reading in years. U.S. producer prices jumped a record amount last month of 6.6 percent between May 2020 and May 2021. So, why is this happening? The general belief is that as the pandemic ends, demand for goods is accelerating so fast that supply chains can't keep up, which in turn is causing prices to spike. Investors are feeling the fear, the Dow just had its worst week since late January.

Joining me now is CNN economics and political commentator Catherine Rampell. Catherine is also a Washington Post opinion columnist. Great to see you, Catherine. Nice to have you on. So, last month, you wrote this op-ed with the headline, don't freak out about inflation yet. How about now?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would say, I wouldn't freak out yet, even now. The Fed has argued, I think fairly convincingly, that they expect the sources of inflation to be transitory, temporary, exactly as you laid out. Basically, the economy is reopening. Everybody has decided simultaneously that they're ready to start traveling again. They're ready to start dining out Again, and, you know, supply just can't keep up. You know, the capacity just isn't there yet because restaurants have been shut down, hotels are still reopening, large parts of the economy are just still trying to ramp up. And once that adjusts, then things will calm down price wise.


I mean, we've already started to see that happen a little bit in some areas that had been really hot, lumber prices shot way up because there was a, you know, a huge demand for housing, which is partly related to the to the pandemic, of course, and partly related to the fact that we just haven't built enough houses over the past couple of decades, but lumber prices have fallen a little bit back down.

So, the real question is, you know, what is the psychology behind all of this? So even if companies are able to ramp up back again, and that puts a damper on inflation, will there be this sort of self-sustaining inflation that the Fed does worry about, that it becomes kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy that you and I look around, we see that prices are rising elsewhere, we say, OK, I need to preemptively raise my prices, raise my wages, and then again, it becomes this sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

It doesn't seem like we're in that world yet. Of course, we could be, that would be a very bad world to be in, but the Fed has indicated that they are taking the threat of inflation seriously, which I think should kind of tamp down those kinds of concerns that there could be the self-fulfilling out of out of control, spiraling inflation. If the Fed is willing to step in, and, and make sure that that inflation gets under control, I don't need to preemptively raise my prices.

BROWN: So, how concerned are you though, that these companies won't get up to speed with the demand, because they're having a hard time getting people to work for them? As you know, that's been an issue.

RAMPELL: It has been an issue. And there's this real question about why so many companies complain about having too few workers. Is it because of more generous unemployment benefits? I think that's possible that's playing a role in some cases for some workers, but there are a lot of other obstacles as well. Things like lack of access to childcare, a lot of people retired in the past year, and those people may not be coming back to work because, you know, they were close to retirement age anyway, why come back now?

There are, in some seasonal areas, where there -- where employers are highly dependent on an immigrant seasonal workforce, there have been a lot of problems getting those workers here. So, there are a lot of things that go into, a lot of factors that go into why employers are having difficulty finding workers, many of which may be temporary. And if that's the case, then it should be a little bit easier for employers to eventually ramp up particularly as it becomes safer to return to work because more people are getting vaccinated.

BROWN: OK. I want to talk about something that impacts so much of us. I actually just spoke to a colleague who said she just sold her house because the housing market was so hot. And this scene and headline really speaks for itself.

The housing market is so hot, buyers are paying $1 million over asking price. Is this starting to look like the bubble before the 2008 financial crisis?

RAMPELL: I think there are a few things that are different about the housing market dynamics, this time around versus in 2008. This time around, people are putting down huge down payments to buy houses, which was not the case in 2008, right? People have the cash to spend, they're willing to spend it.

So, the kinds of purchases, the nature of the purchases, how risky they are, is very different. There are a number of other reasons to think that it's different this time around, including that we just didn't really build that much housing, as I said over the last couple of decades, and you have a lot of people you know, around my age, people are starting to have kids, they're realizing they need more space.

The market has also changed for other reasons, too. You know, maybe remote work is here to stay. So, if you're in your 30s, let's say, you decide you're going to work from home, you're going to be able to work from home, you want to have a little more space. So, there are reasons to think that this is not just, you know -- you know, a bubble that this is not just about people getting too excited about the market that there are real dynamics at play here.

BROWN: OK. Catherine, thanks as always for your insight. And then another sign that life is starting to return to normal, the E.U. is now lifting COVID travel restrictions and making it much easier for Americans to vacation in Europe.



BROWN: Europe is expected to soon welcome American tourists back to the continent. The European Union's governing body is recommending that countries lift COVID-19 restrictions on travelers from 14 countries including the U.S. CNN's Melissa Bell explains what that means.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pam, some Americans have wasted no time at all in making the most of the reopening of some European countries to American tourists. It follows the recommendation yesterday from the European Union that a certain number of countries had now been put on a green list, and that European countries should therefore change their rules to allow for non-essential travel.

So, for instance, France became on Thursday one of the first European countries to do so. American tourists have been vaccinated can come and go as they like. Unvaccinated Americans have to provide a PCR test. And already on the streets of Paris. You're seeing a few of them around.

Other countries have yet to follow the guidelines precisely. For instance, Spain is allowing in vaccinated Americans. It is not yet allowing unvaccinated Americans to come, so probably best to check the guidelines before you book your travel.

Perhaps, one other important question, the European Union had been looking for reciprocity on this for the time being. No word from the American administration about when Europeans are going to be allowed back into the U.S. for non-essential reasons, Pam.


BROWN: Melissa Bell in Paris, thanks so much. And the heads up for the big interview this time tomorrow, we've got former Biden White House Senior Advisor for COVID response, Andy Slavitt on the show.

Also, tomorrow, I speak to a lost hiker who was miraculously found alive after being charged by bears, what a story, she joins me live tomorrow with her incredible story of survival.

And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Pamela Brown. Tomorrow night, up next, the CNN film Dreamland: The Burning Black Wall Street.