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60 Confirmed Dead, 80 Missing as Search Shifts to Recovery; Soon, Biden to Address U.S. Troop Withdrawal as Taliban Makes Gains; White House: No "Mission Accomplished" Moment in Afghanistan; Scientists: Climate Change Will Cost More Lives; Las Vegas Could See Record-High Today; Stacy Davis Gates, Vice President, Chicago Teachers Union, Discusses Teachers Pushing for Vaccination Goal. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 8, 2021 - 13:30   ET



ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Ana, they're very clear that even though the terms change, the work doesn't change. So the terms change from search and rescue to search and recovery.

But they're still going to be working 24 hours a day. They're still going to be delayering. They're still going to be using every single resource very, very aggressively to try to identify every single victim.

But officials say that they had to look at the facts. They looked at, first of all, the survivability, the physical limits of a human being, just how long a person can survive without food, without water, without air.

They also looked at the facts of what the machines they were using were telling them. The --

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: OK. Sadly, we lost Rosa there. We'll try to get her back for the update.

Again, 60 people now confirmed dead. And the investigation continues into what caused the collapse as the recovery effort also continues in the rubble.

Any minute now, President Biden will speak on Afghanistan, where the immediate withdrawal of American troops is coinciding with major gains by the Taliban.

So while we wait for the president, I want to bring in CNN's chief national affairs correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, what are we expecting to hear from the president when he speaks?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Ana, we're expecting President Biden to draw a conclusion to a policy that's been in place, in his mind, and certainly, in this administration since the beginning that it was his intent to end America's longest war. We're going to hear from him momentarily about how the cost of the war

has been extensive and great in terms of life and money and just in terms of a U.S. foreign policy of power.

But this is something President Biden has long believed that this is simply an unwinnable war.

White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters, a few moments ago, the president does not want to commit another generation of America's young men and women to fighting a civil war they believe they cannot win.

But this is also not a time for celebration.

White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, again, had this to say about it.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're not going to have a "mission accomplished" moment in this regard. It's a 20-year war that's not been won militarily.

We are proud of the men and women who have served. Incredibly grateful.

The president will note that in his remarks today, how grateful he is for their service and the families that have sacrificed over the last 20 years.

And we'll continue to press for a political outcome and a solution political solution.


ZELENY: So, of course, all of this is coming as the Taliban is growing in its strength. There are real questions if Kabul will fall or be able to withstand this change.

But now, this is something that is happening fairly dramatically. Week by week, more American forces are out. By the end of August, they'll all be out.

So certainly marking an end to 20 years in Afghanistan. Some 20 years, of course, after 9/11. That anniversary is coming up on September 11th.

But we're also expecting, Ana, to hear President Biden talk specifically about what help the U.S. is going to give to get some of those translators, who were so important and critical to U.S. efforts there, out of Afghanistan.

So look for new policy ideas in terms of flying them out from him coming up.

But this certainly is a somber moment, marking an end of a war that certainly now has spanned four U.S. presidents -- Ana?

CABRERA: And we just reported yesterday that U.S. Central Command says that 90 percent of the withdrawal is now complete.

ZELENY: Right.

CABRERA: So we'll listen to what the news is at this press conference.

Jeff Zeleny, thank you for that preview.


Now parts of the U.S. are burning up. We're talking about record heat, severe and extreme drought, wildfires.

Scientists now say the scorching heatwave in parts of U.S. last week was 150 times more likely because of manmade climate change. And they say more lives will be lost because of it.



CABRERA: A group of scientists have a sobering reality check for us on the deadly northeast heatwave last week. The new analysis says this disaster was not merely an act of nature but also manmade.

"It would have been virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused climate change."

That is the consensus of an international team of 27 scientists. Their study, from World Weather Attribution, also finds that climate change made the heatwave at least 150 times more likely.

Now the western U.S. is bracing for another heatwave, and it could be the most brutal one yet.

CNN's Camila Bernal is in Las Vegas, which could see a record high.

Camila, when I was there a few days ago for our Fourth of July special. It was 100 degrees at 9:00 at night after the sun went down.

How much hotter is it supposed to get, and how is the city coping?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Ana, it can be 100 degrees at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, so there really is no relief.


And just to put things in perspective, this heatwave is being described as oppressive and something relentless and dangerous.

The highest ever recorded for the day, for July 8th, is 113. We're expecting the high to be 114. The highest temperature ever recorded here in Las Vegas, 117. We're

likely going to get very close to that over the weekend at the peak of this heatwave.

And so what officials here in Las Vegas are telling me is, normally, they prepare for one or two heat-related emergency calls. But on a day like today, they're expecting about 50.

What they're trying to avoid is a situation like what you saw in the Pacific Northwest just last week. There are plenty of pools and air- condition, but the heatwave is still very similar.

In Oregon, we already saw the death toll will be 116. In Washington State, the death toll there, 57. British Columbia, hundreds more.

So they're really trying to avoid a situation like that one. They've opened cooling shelters. And that's how they're hoping to keep people cool over the next couple of days -- Ana?

CABRERA: Do stay cool, stay hydrated. Make sure you and your team are continuing to drink.

Thank you so much, Camila Bernal, for that update.

Severe drought, record heat, raging wildfires. Let's talk about the why.

Bill Weir is CNN's chief climate correspondent.

Bill, more than two dozen scientists at World Weather Attribution minced no words in blaming humans for last month's deadly heatwave in the northwest.

It was virtually impossible without manmade climate change, they say. How important is that statement?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: I think it's hugely important, Ana. Scientists, as a breed basically, do not want to be considered alarmists.

They're very conservative in how they attribute specific events, particularly in meteorology and linking them directly.

But as the evidence rolls in, it just becomes undeniable. These numbers are so far off the charts in a part of the world that is so unused to this kind of weather activity that they have to say this is a once-in-a-thousand-year event.

And of course, it's the result of humanity pumping sort of planet- cooking pollution into the sky and the ocean for now well over a century. Well over a century.

And this is exactly what sort of the worst predictions were. Even five, 10 years ago, this would have been alarmist to see what is happening in the Pacific Northwest, but here we are.

CABRERA: It seems like this is happening sooner than any of us had anticipated.

We know, in California, for example, they just recorded its driest rainfall year on record, more than 125 years of record keeping. And that's on top of an existing drought.

Where could this be headed?

WEIR: Nowhere good, unfortunately. If you think about the food pressure of all the crops that are grown out there. The salad bowl of the world is in central California.

The Colorado River Basin keeps 40 million, 50 million people alive from San Diego to Albuquerque and they all share the water.

So what you're going to see probably is increasing tension between agricultural producers, farmers and communities over how to ration the water between states, the upper basin states and the lower.

The Colorado River Compact was written over a century ago. No of that applies anymore in terms of how that water is used.

So, you know, hospitality becomes harder on a less hospitable world. And these long-distance tragedies, a quick one, like a hurricane, can kind of bring communities together.

But it's these long, drawn-out droughts and famines. When you look over the fence and wonder where your neighbor suddenly got that water, that's what sort of tears communities apart right now.

We're just sort of at the beginning of the summer. It could get really tight.

CABRERA: You talk about tearing communities apart. There's also this literal burning communities down because of the wildfire risk.

Washington State is already dealing with a record number of fires this year. It's still not even the middle of summer. All the signs for disaster are there.

And yet, Bill, what I don't understand is there's still such a resistance to taking significant steps.

What really needs to happen to avert something much worse?

WEIR: That is the multi-trillion-dollar question, Ana. There's not going to be a Pearl Harbor or a 9/11 of climate change where everybody feels it all the same at the same time. It's these cascading events.

And as humans, we adapt to the awful so quickly. You saw what happened during the pandemic. You can normalize the pain right there.

But I think the conversation is shifting not just from mitigation, stopping the root of the problem, which is burning fossil fuels. That's the core of this. It's adapting to this new normal and strengthening communities hardening cities.

They're raising the streets in Miami, putting in bigger pumps. They're changing the zoning laws in California around fires.

And that's the mind shift that has to happen as we think about a less- predictable future.


CABRERA: Bill Weir, thank you for all of that insight and information.

And let's keep the conversation going. It's so important for people to understand. Sometimes you don't feel it until it's a disaster in your own backyard.

WEIR: Right.

CABRERA: Really appreciate it.

WEIR: Thank you.

CABRERA: Time is running out and pressure is building to get more students vaccinated ahead of the new school year. I'll talk to one teachers union pushing a new vaccination goal.



CABRERA: Should vaccines be mandatory for mandatory for students? It is a decision schools nationwide are weighing with kids just weeks away from returning to the classroom.

In Illinois, the Chicago Teachers Union is stepping in with a new goal. They want 80 percent of students, 12 and up, vaccinated by October.

Joining us now is the vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, Stacy Davis Gates.

Stacy, thanks for being with us.

Chicago public schools, they're preparing for a full in-person return to the classroom next month. Are you proposing to make vaccines a requirement for students or is this just a goal?

STACY DAVIS GATES, VICE PRESIDENT, CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION: It is a goal. It is not our place to make it a mandatory -- or to make it a requirement.

But we are simply saying that our school district is run by the mayor of Chicago, who also runs the Department of Health.

We are saying that she has the ability to coordinate these resources, not just for our students but their family members as well.

Our school district is 90 percent students of color. If you look at the map of Chicago, which is deeply segregated, you will see that the vast majority of communities of color have the lower vaccination rate. We are simply saying, let's set a goal. Let's anchor vaccinations

inside of our school communities and make sure that families have the ability to do this.

The Delta variant is of great concern. We know that the unvaccinated are more susceptible to it.

So we have the ability to do all we can as good citizens here in Chicago. And we believe setting a benchmark and having an accountability mechanism makes perfect sense.

CABRERA: And you made the deadline October. Why October?

DAVIS GATES: Look, we would love to make the deadline yesterday, to be perfectly honest with you. And we understand bureaucracy and systems.

We believe that the teachers union, our members, are trusted resources in every single school community.

We believe that we should be making home visits right now, in fact, to get families to understand the process of getting vaccinated, to make sure that we are giving good information.

And to have a regular space inside of a school community where families can go and know that they have the ability to get a vaccine.

CABRERA: The school district can only do so much, right? Parents have to be on board, too. What happens if this goal isn't reached?

DAVIS GATES: Well, again, the goal has to be done together. We are proponents of a coalition plan.

We have held several vaccination events at our union hall for families, and that's exactly what we see.

We see moms and dads, we see grandmothers and grandfathers, we see aunts and uncles, and we see school-age children coming, 12 and up, to these vaccination events.

It is possible. We have to build it. We have to amplify it. We have to make it consistent and available to people.

But we also have to have trusted messengers of this process engaging with families.

It is not enough just to say that these things are offered. It is a requirement that we work together inside of the communities.

Who better to do that than the school clerk, than the teacher's assistant, than the teacher or the social worker or the counsellor?

These are people that have deep relationships in the communities in which they engage already.

CABRERA: And I think part of it is leading by example. Right now, we know some 50,000 children under the age of 18 have been

vaccinated in Chicago. That's still less than 15 percent of students in the district.

What percent of your teachers are fully vaccinated right now?

DAVIS GATES: Well, our union believes we should be 100 percent vaccinated.

As you know, the struggle that we had with reopening in the winter centered around having the availability of vaccines for our members. Right now, I think we are hovering near 80 percent, and that number continues to grow.

CABRERA: It is not just vaccines. Your union also wants improved ventilation at schools, accommodation for teleworking for high-risk teachers.

You want the school district to organize vaccination events at school buildings, which you mentioned as well, as hire 500 parents and community members to perform home visits to educate families.

How are you proposing, you know, the district go about this? Do you think it is realistic with the start of the school year just weeks away?

DAVIS GATES: Well, I think it has to be realistic, quite frankly.

President Biden has sent our school district $2 billion, $2 billion to stabilize and recover. This is a part of stabilizing and recovering. All of these things have to be done and more.


For the last 10 years, we have been beating a drum very loudly about the time of infrastructure that our school communities do not have because these communities have been disinvested in over a generation.


DAVIS GATES: That being said, this $2 billion will go a long way in planting the seed to provide the types of supports and infrastructure that will be necessary to reengage.

Again, only 25 percent of our families came back to school as a hybrid option.


DAVIS GATES: We have 75 percent of our families that we are going to have to embrace and make sure that they understand that they have a voice, that they have agency --


DAVIS GATES: -- and that we can have communication factors together. CABRERA: Stacy Davis Gates, good luck in your efforts.

Thank you for joining us. I really appreciate it.

DAVIS GATES: Thank you.

CABRERA: Thank you.

DAVIS GATES: Take care.

CABRERA: And thank you at home for joining us as well. I'll see you back here tomorrow at 1:00. In the meantime follow me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera.

The news continues next with Alisyn and Victor.