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Pelosi Meets with Japanese Prime Minister; China Fires Live Missiles Over Taiwan; Russian Court Sentences Brittney Griner to 9 Years in jail; Hungarian PM Speaks to Conservatives in Texas; Monkeypox Patients Work to Educate Others; Europe Bakes Under Another Heat Wave. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired August 05, 2022 - 00:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company.


Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, China escalates its response to Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, firing missiles over the island for the first time.

The calls to free Brittney Griner only grow louder after the American basketball star is sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony.

And later, Ukraine slams a new report from Amnesty International that claims they put their own civilians in harm's way.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Michael Holmes.

HOLMES: China says it has successfully completed a live-fire training mission that saw multiple missiles fired into the sea near Taiwan. Now, the drills come as Beijing promised that Taipei would play a price for hosting the U.S. House speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Taiwan's defense ministry reporting the missile's trajectory was above the atmosphere and, therefore, posed no risk to Taiwan. The U.S., though, condemning the ballistic missile launches and warning of more provocative actions from China in the coming days.

And Taiwan's president, who met with Pelosi during her visit, calls China's military drills, quote, "an irresponsible act."


TSAI ING-WEN, TAIWAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I would like to emphasize that we will not escalate conflicts or promote disputes. But we will firmly defend our sovereignty and national security and stick to the line of defense of democracy and freedom.


HOLMES: After she left Taiwan, Pelosi stopped in South Korea, where she visited the Demilitarized Zone and met with U.S. troops. The House speaker says she conveyed the gratitude of Congress and the country for their service.

Pelosi is now in Japan, where she is leading that congressional delegation in meetings with Japanese officials. They met just a few hours ago with the Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida.

All right. Let's go now live to Tokyo and CNN's Blake Essig.

And Blake, there was a news conference. What did we hear there? And all this, of course, coming at a time as Chinese missiles are dropping in Japanese waters.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, unsurprisingly, it was the speaker's visit to Taiwan that reporters wanted to talk about at the press conference held inside Tokyo's U.S. embassy, just a couple of hours ago, despite China's ongoing live-fire drills.

Pelosi said her trip was about security, governance, economic security and improving U.S. relations with allies, partners, and friends. But she also emphasized that Taiwan is a thriving democracy, and that China will not isolate the democratic island. Take a listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us to travel there. We've had high-level visits, senators in the spring, a bipartisan way continuing visits, and we will not allow them to isolate Taiwan.


ESSIG: Now, although Pelosi is expected to be heading back to the United States at some point later today, the impact of her historic and high-stakes visit to Taiwan continues to impact this region.

China's live-fire drills started yesterday, involving ballistic missiles that flew over Taiwan for the first time ever. Twenty-two warplanes that entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone, and a nuclear-powered submarine, all of that was involved in the drills yesterday.

In Beijing, the propaganda surrounding these drills has been relentless in an effort to live up to the fiery rhetoric that we had heard from government officials in the build up to Pelosi's trip to Taiwan. The underlying message is that time is on China's side with a fast-modernizing military and reunification with Taiwan is not a matter of if but when.

Now, earlier this morning, Pelosi met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for breakfast during the morning here. And during that meeting, the pair addressed a range of regional topics, including peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. The impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, North Korea and, of course, China. Now, I'm referring to China's ongoing live-fire drills surrounding

Taiwan. The prime minister said that China's missiles are a serious problem that impacts Japan's national security and called for an immediate halt to these jails.

Now, that's because overnight, Japan's minister of defense confirmed that five ballistic missiles launched by China are believed to have landed within Japan's exclusive economic zone. Four of those missiles flew over Taiwan.


Now, although Taiwan's defense ministry said that those missiles posed no threat to the island, Japan's minister of defense called it a serious problem that concerns Japan's security and the safety of its citizens, adding that Tokyo had lodged a complaint directly with Beijing through a diplomatic channel.

Michael, again, with Nancy Pelosi and her delegation expected to head back to the United States at some point today, the impact of their tour of Asia, and specifically, their visit to Taiwan, will continue to play out in this part of the world in the coming days and, likely, much further beyond that -- Michael.

HOLMES: All right, Blake, appreciate the update there. Blake Essig in Tokyo for us.

And joining me now from Washington, retired Air Force colonel and CNN military analyst Cedric Leighton. Always good to see you, sir.

Flying missiles over Taiwan, no small deal, even if they were, as Taiwan says, no threat to the island. What is your read of the risk landscape right now?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE: So Michael, it's definitely good to be with you.

This is a risk landscape that is, I think, fraught with a lot of danger. In fact, it's probably one of the most dangerous times that I have seen in my 30-plus years watching this particular area.

Back in 1996, there was a similar situation that was far less volatile than us, and this -- the way the Chinese have actually gone about and moved their forces in and around Taiwan, that really speaks volumes, I think, to what they're trying to do. They're telegraphing their signals they're sending us, a way of, perhaps, future moves that they're planning. And that' s one of the key things that I think we need to watch out for.

HOLMES: Yes. The National Security Council spokesman, Admiral John Kirby, had a lot to say on this earlier. Let's have a listen to just some of it.


ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN: China has chosen to overreact and use the speaker's visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. We anticipated that China take steps like this. We also expect that these actions will continue.


HOLMES: Would you agree, Cedric, that the Chinese reaction militarily could be about more than just Nancy Pelosi's visit? Preparations for something else down the line?

LEIGHTON: I think that's exactly what's happening, Michael. What we're seeing here is the Pelosi visit was really a precursor and an excuse to the Chinese to do what they're doing.

But they were obviously ready and waiting to do something like this. The fact that they mounted their exercises and moved forces into those areas all around Taiwan. That really indicates that this has been something that the People's Liberation Army has been planning for a long, long time.

And I think what it shows is, you know, No. 1, they have the means and the possibility of blockading Taiwan. And No. 2, it could also serve as a jumping off point for them to actually invade at least parts of the island.

HOLMES: In so many situations, we talk about the -- you know, the risk of miscalculation when it comes to bravado, displays of military might and so on. How do you see those risks in this environment? How easily could things go south?

LEIGHTON: Unfortunately, it would be very easy for things to go dangerously south in this particular case, Michael. You have very nervous trigger-finger-happy militaries on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Particularly, though, on the Chinese side. And that is something that I think is very dangerous, because it takes just one little miscalculation.

And one of the things that I think about is, you know, back in the early 2000s, we had the -- an incident with the U.S. reconnaissance aircraft, where the aircraft was actually hit by a -- by a Chinese Air Force aircraft, and the Chinese pilot was killed in that particular incident.

This is the kind of thing that could spiral out of control. The forces are in very close proximity to each other, and if they don't have means of identifying themselves and of communicating with each other, the risk of a miscalculation can be acutely high.

HOLMES: We know that the stakes for Taiwan and the sort of risk calculation for the U.S. But what are the stakes for China, the risks for them? They have to balance, you know -- they have to give a strong response, in their view, to the Pelosi visit but not spark something that could spiral out of control. What are the risks for President Xi?


LEIGHTON: Well, in the ultimate sense, Michael -- and I think this is a great question -- for China, the risks can be really great, because if they do decide to take offensive military action against Taiwan, they risk destroying the economic basis on which they have built their economy.

HOLMES: All right, Cedric Leighton there. Cedric, sorry to interrupt. We just lost you there for a few seconds, but I think you were -- you were wrapping up. The shot froze for a minute.

We'll leave it there. Former Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton, always a pleasure. Thanks for coming on.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Michael.

HOLMES: All right. U.S. President Joe Biden vowing to tirelessly work to bring American basketball star Brittney Griner back home, after a Russian court sentenced her to nine years in jail, or a penal colony, in fact. There is a difference. That's close to the maximum possible penalty.

She was found guilty of deliberately smuggling drugs into Russia, despite an apology and pleas for leniency. Her defense team says it will file an appeal, calling the sentence absolutely unreasonable.


MARIA BLAGOVOLINA, BRITTNEY GRINER'S LAWYER: She is very obsessed, very upset and very stressed. And she is -- well, she can hardly talk, honestly. So it's a difficult time for her.


HOLMES: Now, the U.S. considers Griner and Paul Whelan, as well, another American held by the Russians, to be wrongfully detained. It's encouraging Moscow to agree to a prisoner swap to secure their freedom.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Today's sentencing is a reminder of what the world already knew. Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney.

We have made a substantial offer to bring her and Paul Whelan home. We urge Russia to accept that proposal.


HOLMES Fred Pleitgen now with more on where things stand.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brittney Griner's legal team says she was extremely shaken after a Russian court sentenced her to nine years in jail on drug charges, saying only this to our camera, as she was led out of the courtroom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brittney, how do you feel?


PLEITGEN (voice-over): This after Griner had made an emotional appeal to the court, holding up a photo of the team she plays for in Russia, at times, breaking out in tears.

GRINER: I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, UMMC Genka (ph) the fans and the city of Ekat (ph). My mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on us.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist had pleaded guilty to the charges but said she did not intend to bring vaping cartridges containing cannabis oil to Russia, where she was detained at a Moscow airport in February.

GRINER: I never meant to hurt anybody. I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population. I never meant to break any laws here. I made an honest mistake, and I hope that, in your ruling, that it doesn't end my life here.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): But that did not move the judge, who ruled that Griner acted with criminal intent, the nine-year sentence to be served in a penal colony: tough detention and labor facilities often far away from the Russian capital.

Brittney Griner's lawyer clearly angry and disappointed and vowing to fight on.

BLAGOVOLINA (through translator): We think the verdict was totally out of order. It does not correspond to what's happening and what happened. And it's totally going against the actual part of the Russian penal code.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Both the White House and State Department condemned the verdict, and the long jail sentence.

The U.S. lists Brittney Griner as being wrongfully detained and says it's putting it calls a substantial offer on the table to bring both Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, who's currently serving a 16-year jail sentence in Russia home.

The charge d'affair of the U.S. embassies was inside the courtroom near Moscow and said the United States will continue to fight for Brittney Griner.

ELIZABETH ROOD, U.S. EMBASSY CHARGE D'AFFAIRS: President Biden's national security team and the entire American government remain committed to bringing Ms. Griner home safely to her family, friends and loved ones.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: Jill Dougherty is a CNN contributor, former CNN Moscow bureau tree, and adjunct professor at Georgetown University. She joins me now from Washington.

Always great to see you, Jill.

So let's talk about Griner. She'd already pled guilty, so no surprise with the verdict itself, pretty much a formality, but a brutally long sentence. I guess the question is, what next? How much pressure on the Biden administration to get her and, perhaps, Paul Whelan home?

JILL DOUGHERTY, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, I think you almost could divide it into sections. I mean, what we have right now is the legal part has played out. Now, we go to the political part.


And this political part really depends on Vladimir Putin. Because the Biden administration has made it very clear that they made an offer, from what we understand, and it has not been taken by the Russians.

Now, in fairness, the Russians said they -- the court case has to come to a conclusion. There has to be a verdict and a sentence, and now there is.

So I think at this point, we move more, perhaps, behind the scenes to get to some type of, if there's to be, some type of discussion and negotiation about whether there really can be an exchange of prisoners.

HOLMES: Right.

DOUGHERTY: And a prisoner swap.

HOLMES: Yes, and as we've said, I mean, the sentence was brutally long. I mean, for an offense that, you know, is-- for something that's legal in many parts of the U.S.

But it's also to be served in a penal colony. Now, many people might think, you know, a prison, a normal prison, but what are conditions in Russian penal counties like, versus the regular prison?

DOUGHERTY: Well, they're quite different. Usually, the penal colony is far away from big cities, and that makes it difficult for lawyers to get there. It makes it difficult for families to get there to visit, or for anything else.

They're usually pretty rigorous, and that sometimes, you know, a misstatement, or understatement of the issue. But they're rigorous. They are difficult places to be.

You usually have some type of work, and that could be either physical work or, in some cases, sewing things, making things. But also, you have -- remember, the fact that Brittney Griner is that she is an anomaly. I mean, she is a very tall woman, 6'9". She -- you've seen her in the cage. She had to bend over a lot of times, even to fit in certain things.

So let's think about a creature of comforts, in prison not much, but a bed. You know, I doubt they would have a bed that would fit her. There are other conditions that might be much more difficult for her.

And then just being an American who doesn't speak Russian, who is in a very alien environment. This is -- this is really, really difficult.

HOLMES: Yes, I can imagine. I'm curious. How directly involved do you think Vladimir Putin is in, you know, Griner's predicament? How the case has been prosecuted and so on? Especially given the political points that Putin is scoring, really. I mean, he holds the cards.

DOUGHERTY: Yes. You know, I've been watching how the Kremlin kind of handles this, and it's really been hands off, and in the sense that, publicly, at least, you know, that's our legal system. It must wend its way to the end, et cetera. And we not will not interfere. And they actually haven't said very much publicly.

But I think the -- the obvious thing is that this is highly political, and President Putin, I'm sure, hasn't been sitting there in the Kremlin figuring out every legal maneuver, because he doesn't have to. That's the system, that basically 99 percent of the people who end up in court are found guilty. So that's already been done.

Now, as I said, the political part comes. And this is where I think that probably President Putin is -- is not under any of the pressure that Joe Biden is.

I mean, look at the case in the United States, Michael. It's a big case. There's a lot of public interest. There's a lot of political pressure, and you have seen extraordinarily action.

I mean, the president writing a letter, talking to the family, really reaching out. Because a lot of families who have their relatives, you know, held by countries, not just Russia.


DOUGHERTY: Paul Whelan is the other American in Russia, but there are other people who are now saying, The United States government has to help us. This is a huge, you know, pressure on President Biden.

HOLMES: Jill Dougherty, good to see you. Thanks so much.


HOLMES: Now, the verdict has been met with shock and disbelief by Griner's colleagues in the Women's National Basketball Association here in the U.S. Here's how the head coach of the Las Vegas Aces reacted.


BECKY HAMMON, HEAD COACH, LAS VEGAS ACES: Athletes really have to think twice about now where they go, because all of a sudden, you can just be snatched and become, because, a prisoner of war, or a political pawn.

It's hard to play against an opponent that doesn't play by the rules or makes their own rules. So, it's disturbing and wrong.


HOLMES: Griner's team, the Phoenix Mercury, held a 42-second moment of silence for her before their game on Thursday. Forty-two is the number Griner wears on her jersey.


Near the end of the tribute, spectators began to chart, "Bring her home."

Russia and Ukraine trade accusations over attacks in the East. They say the shelling is taking a toll on both sides of the front line, and civilians are paying the price. That's coming up.

Also a European leader with close ties to the Kremlin fires up a crowd of American conservatives in Dallas. We'll tell you what Hungary's Viktor Orban had to say when we come back.


HOLMES: Police in Thailand say at least 13 people have been killed and 35 injured in a nightclub fire. It happened around 1 in the morning in a town about 170 kilometers south of Bangkok.

Officials say the injuries ranged from mild to serious and burns police are looking into what caused the fire.

A buildup of Russian troops continues in Southern Ukraine. That's from Ukrainian officials, who say Moscow is likely preparing to mount a counteroffensive.

The buildup concentrated in Kherson and parts of Zaporizhzhia region. Ukraine has slowly gained ground in the south.

Now, in the East, pro-Russian separatists say five people were killed when Ukrainians shelled the city of Donetsk on Thursday. And Ukraine says a Russian strike on another town, held by Ukrainians, left eight people dead.

Meanwhile, Western officials now estimate Russia has lost up to 20,000 troops, killed since the war began. Another 55,000 have been injured. The officials say Russia is now recruiting people from prisons, and through private security companies to try to make up for the shortfall.

And the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is blasting a new report by Amnesty International about Ukraine's conduct in the war. It says Ukrainian forces endangered their own civilians by putting their bases and operating military equipment in residential areas.

In response, Mr. Zelenskyy said the report is helping Russia get off the hook for its crimes.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We saw today a completely different report from Amnesty International, which, unfortunately, tries to amnesty the terrorist state and shift the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim. There are no, and can be no, even hypothetically, conditions under which any Russian attack on Ukraine becomes justified.


HOLMES Mr. Zelenskyy also accusing the group of, in his words, "immoral selectivity."


Hungary's right-wing prime minister, Viktor Orban, is not a popular man in most of Europe, and he has plenty of critics in his own country, as well.

But conservatives in Texas, well, they gave him a rock star welcome on Thursday, cheering over and over, and giving him standing ovations as he railed against liberals, same-sex marriage, gender identity, and other hot-button issues.

For 30 minutes, he attacked Democrats and the news media as enemies of democracy, and set only a strong leader can ensure national security. Orban, considered the most pro-Kremlin of Europe's leaders, made this bold pitch to the crowd.


VIKTOR ORBAN, HUNGARIAN P: Progressive liberals didn't want me to be here, because they knew what I would tell you. Because I am here to tell you that we should unite our forces, because we Hungarians know -- because we Hungarians know how to defeat the enemies of freedom on the political battlefield.


HOLMES: Well, unlike other European leaders, Viktor Orban has a reputation as a staunch nationalist and authoritarian. He is also a loyal ally of Donald Trump.

CNN's Ben Wedeman reports.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You could call it a meaning of like minds.

Video from his official Facebook page shows the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban visiting former president, Donald Trump, Tuesday at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, on his way to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Texas on Thursday. The hard-right, anti-immigrant prime minister recently set off alarm

bells with a speech laced with sinister undertones.

"We Europeans," Orban said, "are willing to mix with one another. But we do not want to become peoples of mixed race." He has since come out insisting he isn't racist or antisemitic. The damage, however, is done.

WEDEMAN: Viktor Orban's talk about racial mixing, about racial purity, stir up dark, still-fresh memories. These metal shoes commemorate the spot where, in the final months of World War II, Hungarian Nazis murdered thousands of Jews.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): It's time for evening prayer at Budapest's historic Dohany Street Synagogue. Rabbi Robert Frolich says Orban's words hit too close to home.

ROBERT FROLICH, CHIEF RABBI: You saw the small congregation here, who come here every evening, every morning to pray. They are older people. Most of them are Holocaust survivors. They are worried. They heard this before, and it didn't end well.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Often described as an authoritarian, Orban has been in power for the last 12 years, reelected in April. His economic policies have won him support, but with inflation rising, that's beginning to change, says economist Zoltan Pogatsa.

ZOLTAN POGATSA, ECONOMIST: In the long run, yes, I think Orban remains popular, but in this particular point in time, I think more people are skeptical about him than ever before.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): In Budapest's central market, opinions vary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Viktor Orban is not people, like, in our own country (ph).

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Margareta Krinich (Ph), the butcher, begs to differ.

"Viktor Orban is doing everything for his people," she says. "He loves his people."

Evening, and city residents savor the soft breezes of the Danube. History flows through this city, the past never far from the surface.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Budapest.


HOLMES: A Texas jury is ordering white right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay up. They found the InfoWars host liable for defamation, awarding the parents of one of the young victims in the Sandy Hook school shooting $4.1 million in damages.

Twenty-six people were killed in the 2012 massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, 20 of those killed children. Jones repeatedly claimed that the massacre was staged. He called it a

hoax, but admitted during the trial he now believed it to be, quote, "100 percent real."

Now, the jury comes back on Friday to deliver -- deliberate on punitive damages. Jones faces other similar lawsuits yet to come in Connecticut.


As monkeypox spreads around the world, so too does the need to make people aware of the dangers. Just ahead, how U.K. health workers are helping to slow transmission of the virus.


HOLMES: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes, and as always, appreciate your company.

Now, the U.S. is following the lead of the World Health Organization and declaring monkeypox a public health emergency. The Biden administration is making that the coalition on Thursday, it says it will free up funding, expand the ability of health authorities to share data, and increase the number of personnel to help fight the virus.

All of this coming as infection numbers are rising in the U.S. There are currently more than 7,100 confirmed cases of monkeypox, more than any other country in the world.

Now, of course, that does not mean that it's not a problem in other countries. Spain, Germany and the U.K. also facing considerable outbreaks.

And according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there are almost 27,000 cases worldwide. Health officials say the majority of reported cases are men who have sex with men, but they caution anyone can get the disease. Salma Abdelaziz spoke to some of the men who are affected.


SILVER STEELE, MONKEYPOX PATIENT: Hey, guys. Day 15 of monkeypox.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After adult film entertainer Silver Steele tested positive for monkeypox, he started to document his painful struggle, from isolation in Texas.

STEELE: I don't want anybody to have to go through this. So if my story will help people possibly change their behaviors or attempt to go get vaccinated, then it will be worth it.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): It's a trend. Social media is key to raising awareness at ground zero of this health crisis, the gay community. Ninety-eight percent of cases so far are among men who have sex with men, according to the World Health Organization. But sex is not required to transmit the virus. It's passed on

primarily through close skin-on-skin physical contact.

ABDELAZIZ: Do you feel that there is a stigma?

STEELE: One hundred percent. First of all, it's easy to label it as a gay disease, but this virus doesn't go, Oh, I'm going to find a gay person, oh, look, here's another gay person.

It's just going to find a human.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): From a sexual health clinic in East London, Dr. Ian Reeves (ph) says he witnessed the early days of the outbreak.

DR. IAN REEVES, SEXUAL HEALTH CONSULTANT: This kicked off with (ph), all of us were a little bit in the dark, to be honest with you. You know, kind of it's not an infection I was familiar with at all.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Now, healthcare workers are playing catch-up, trying to vaccinate those most at risk faster than the virus can spread.

ABDELAZIZ: Clinics like this one had to react quickly to the outbreak, training their staff, preparing tests, giving out dozens of vaccinations a day. It's put a strain on health services, and there's no sign the demand is letting up.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Word of mouth and public messaging are driving more and more to come forward for their shot.

JONNY DILLON, MONKEYPOX VACCINE RECIPIENT: People are, I think, taking this very seriously and making sure that they're protecting themselves and protecting each other and the rest of the community.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): But monkeypox cases are still on the rise, and with limited vaccine supply, containment still presents a challenge.

ALIESKY ROMERO, MONKEYPOX VACCINE RECIPIENT: Seeing that some friends of mine had it, and they had it quite bad, so I thought I better.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): And healthcare workers are scrambling to access a historically-marginalized population.

REEVES: One of the concerns I have is that the people that the people that get into the vaccine connects (ph) are going to be kind of better connected. And so that can leave people who, you know, historically, are less well-served by health services behind a little bit.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): And that's why, alongside public health messaging, grassroots voices are making an impact. So far, more than a million people around the world have viewed Steele's video.

ABDELAZIZ: How does that make you feel, to know that your message is being heard? STEELE: I feel fulfilled, fulfilled that what I'm going through, other

people are going through, isn't for nothing. Because I'm telling you, you don't want this. It's painful.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): A community rallying to prevent a new disease from taking hold.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Much of Europe suffering under yet another heat wave. Details on the high temperatures from the CNN Weather Center when we come back.


HOLMES: From Spain in the West, to Albania in the East, Europe once again seeing scorching high temperatures; and the dry conditions sparking wildfires in multiple countries. Jennifer Gray with the latest.


JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Much of Europe is baking under yet another round of scorching heat. This comes after a record-breaking heat wave moved through the region last month.

France is seeing its third heat wave this summer. Nearly all areas of the country have water restrictions in place. France has been under drought conditions since July, and so far, forecasters say there's no end in sight.

FLORIAN HORTOLA, WEATHER FORECASTER, METEO FRANCE (through translator): We have classic meteorological situations, but this warming off the atmosphere leads to temperatures which are higher than before. So now it is very easy to have very high temperatures for several days in a row. And thus, heat waves.


In the coming years and decades, we expect it to get warmer and warmer, and so, to have even more heat waves for prolonged periods of time.

GRAY (voice-over): Berlin came within a degree of the highest temperature ever recorded in the city.

Animals are trying to cope with the high temperatures, too. At the Frankfort Zoo, aquatic animals are spending much more time in the water.

Spain passed an energy conservation law this week, banning offices, restaurants, and other public places from setting their air conditioning to cool below 27 degrees Celsius. The dry weather has sparked wildfires throughout the region. Europe is

only halfway through the fire season, and the blazes have already burned the second largest area on record, according to the European Union's research center.

Firefighters battle fires in Northwest Spain. Scorched trees and grassland could be seen in the town of Arine (ph) and the autonomous community of Galicia. Local media reports that the fires were caused by arson.

In Albania, fires are threatening homes and farmland. Villagers assist of the firefighters in containing the blaze there. Scientists say heat waves and droughts are expected to become more common and last longer because of the climate crisis. And a U.N. report found that those droughts will cause an increase in the number of extreme wildfires.

Jennifer Gray, CNN.


HOLMES: All right. Let's bring in meteorologist Derek Van Dam. That heat having a profound impact on the wildfire season across Europe.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. It certainly has, Michael. In fact, with the E.U. joint research center claiming that over 600,000 hectares have burned so far this season. That is twice the size of the area of Luxembourg. That puts it at the second largest area burned across the European Union since record began, which was 2006.

So that's really saying something. Puts that wildfire season into context.

Here are some of the images of the firefighters just battling the blazes currently across Central and Southern Spain. We know that 2021, the summer season of 2021 was the hottest summer on record across Europe. And it looks likely that 2022, the summer of 2022, will likely best that heat from last season.

So we're getting heat wave upon heat wave and this is also continuing into multiple summers, really in a row. So this is just an example of what we've been dealing with.

Look at Frankfurt. We're talking about temperatures anywhere from 7 to 13 degrees Celsius above average where we should be.

Berlin, Milan, Marseilles, more of the same. Temperatures extremely, extremely hot. In fact, we have heat alerts from many locations across Central and Southern France, Southern and Western portions of Poland. Extreme heat, the risk of dehydration continues.

Here's a look at some of the other high temperatures across the Iberian Peninsula, Madrid in the upper 30s. It's going to still be hot today across that area.

Throughout the Mediterranean where many of the -- a majority of the fires are burning out of control. And even though we do have a cold front that's settling in that will bring some relief, the temperatures start to rise right back up into the second half of next week. Here is Paris, for example -- Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Good to see you, Derek. Thanks for that. Derek Van Dam with the latest.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. WORLD SPORT after the break. I'll see you in about 15 minutes or so.