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Russian Court Sentences Griner To 9 Years In A Penal Colony; Rescuers In Mexico Battle To Free 10 Trapped Coal Miners; China Fires Missile Strikes Over Taiwan Strait After Pelosi Visit; Rescue Workers Trying to Free Ten Trapped Miners; U.S. Officers Face Federal Charges over Black Woman's Death; Jury Orders Right-Wing Conspiracy Theorist to Pay $4.1M; Orban Fires Up U.S. Conservatives; Hungarians Mixed in their Opinions of Orban; Bank of England Raises Interest Rates, Predicts Recession; U.K. Brewers Face Rising Costs, Soaring Energy Prices. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 05, 2022 - 01:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. Appreciate your company. I'm Michael Holmes. Coming up on the program. Brittney Griner sentenced to nine and a half years what her life inside a penal colony could look like.

Also to come.

Chinese military operations near Taiwan underway for the second day. Taiwan says they're preparing for war. And problems at the pub how the war in Ukraine is brewing trouble for beer drinkers everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Center. This is CNN Newsroom with Michael Holmes.

HOLMES: Shock and outrage after a Russian court hands down a nine year jail term for the American basketball star Brittney Griner. She had pled guilty to drug charges in the hopes of getting a lighter thins. Well, now the focus shifts on American efforts to return her to the US. The White House urging Moscow to accept its offer of a prisoner swap.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRTARY: We are doing everything that we can to make sure that she gets home to be with her wife, to be with her family, to be with her teammates. And as well as Paul Whelan. We have put a substantial offer on the table to make that happen, to make sure that they come home and we urge Russia to take that deal seriously.


HOLMES: Top diplomats from the U.S. and Russia are in Cambodia right now for a summit of Southeast Asian foreign ministers. No word yet on whether they intend to hold talks about a possible prisoner exchange. But Russia does not appear to be in any hurry. It has suggested the U.S. go back to quote, quiet diplomacy about the matter. Kylie Atwood has more on the verdict and where things go from here.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brittney Griner's face solemn as the judge read her harsh sentence in a Russian courtroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nine years of imprisonment.

ATWOOD: Almost six months after the American basketball star was detained in a Russian airport for carrying cannabis oil. The judge ruled she was guilty of smuggling drugs, saying she did so deliberately. Even though Griner said she had no intention of breaking Russian law or packing the oil.

BRITTNEY GRINER, AMERICAN BASKETBALL STAR: I want to apologize to my teammates, our club Gamco (ph), the fans and the city of Ekat, my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought. I made an honest mistake. And I hope that in your ruling that it doesn't end my life.

ATWOOD: On her way out of the courtroom when asked about the verdict, these were her only words.

GRINER: I love my family.

ATWOOD: Just minutes after the ruling, President Biden said his administration will work tirelessly to bring Griner home and called the sentence unacceptable. Even Griner's Russian lawyers were surprised by the verdict.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you (INAUDIBLE) verdict rule will be that severe?


ALEXANDER BOYKOV, BRITTNEY GRINER'S LAWYER: The average is five years or around five years and almost a third of the people convicted get the parole.

ATWOOD: They plan to file an appeal for Griner and find a way to pay her fine of about 16,000 U.S. dollars. All of this coming as the Biden administration has pushed the Kremlin to accept an offer they put on the table in June to get Griner home, offering to swap Griner and another American Paul Whelan for Viktor Bout, an infamous armed smuggler serving a 25-year sentence in the United States.

So far, Russia has not agreed.

JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESPERSON: They should have accepted it weeks ago when we first made it. It was an earnest attempt to see if we could get to some outcomes here. And we're still going to keep making those attempts.

ATWOOD: As for where those efforts stand now, administration officials say the ball is in Russia's court, all while her family, teammates and supporters in the United States turn up the pressure to get her home. Griner's agents saying today that getting a deal done will be hard but calling it urgent. Her team saying they will not allow her to be forgotten, and lawmakers urging the administration to bolster the offer they put on the table.

SHEILA JACKSON LEE, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: I believe now is that we have to ramp it up.


There's nothing that we should not do short of impacting the national security of this nation. We cannot continue this saga, all this masquerade. We've got more cards in the deck.

ATWOOD (on camera): Now this sentencing and this verdict obviously put incredible amount of pressure now on those U.S. negotiations with Russia to try and secure a deal to get Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan of course home here to the United States and NSC's John Kirby was asked today if President Biden would consider putting another prisoner swap proposal on the table because the Russians essentially rebuffed the first one that the United States put on the table back in June and he wouldn't answer that. He said he wasn't willing to get into what President Biden was willing or not willing to do at this time. Kylie Atwood, CNN, the State Department.


HOLMES: Jill Dougherty is a CNN contributor, former CNN Moscow bureau chief 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, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: 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 Russian 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 in prisoner swap.

HOLMES: Yes, and as we said, I mean, the sentence was brutally long. I mean, for an offense that 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 conditions in Russian penal colonies wide versus a regular prison?

DOUGHERTY: Oh, 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's something -- sometimes, you know, a misstatement exactly 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 that also you have, remember, you know, I think the fact that Brittney Griner is that she is an anomaly. I mean, she's a very tall woman, six, nine. 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 you know, creature comforts. In prison, not much, but a bed, you know, I definitely 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 really, really difficult.

HOLMES: Yes, I can imagine. I'm curious, how directly involved do you think Vladimir Putin is in 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 is, and it's really been hands off. And in the sense that publicly least, you know, that's our legal system. It must wend its way to the end, et cetera. And we will not interfere. And they actually haven't said very much publicly.

But I think the obvious thing is that this is highly political. And President Putin I'm sure it 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 not under any of the pressure that Joe Biden is. When you look at the case in the United States, Michael, it's a big cases, a lot of public interest. There's a lot of political pressure and you've seen extraordinary 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.

HOLMES: Yes. DOUGHERTY: That's 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 pressure on President Biden.

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


HOLMES: The sports world quick to react to Griner's sentence including her own team in the US. The Phoenix Mercury observed 42 seconds of silence during a gay game to show their support for the star. CNN's Carolyn Manno has the latest.


CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS (on camera): In Connecticut tonight, a moment of unity members of the Connecticut Sun joining the Phoenix Mercury at half court for 42 seconds of silence of reflection in recognition of the verdict today 42 Brittany Griner's number and I'll tell you from being here, hearts were very heavy when these players took the court earlier this evening.

The Phoenix Mercury came up just a little bit short in this game. Again, that has playoff implications. But honestly, who could blame them, their friend, their sister, a world away receiving the news that so many expected, but weren't ready to hear.

SKYLAR DIGGINS-SMITH, PHOENIX MERCURY PLAYER: We come out here and we're still supposed to play this game. Nobody wanted to even play today. How can you how are you supposed to approach the game, approach the court with a clear mind and the whole group is crying before the game. Because you try to honor her and you try to come out and still play hard for her.

And you know, regardless if she here or not, right now, we still got to try to keep our spirit alive to honor her spirit and to try to get some momentum for the team. Something to feed off.

VANESSA NYGAARD, HEAD COACH, PHOENIX MERCURY: The bottom line today is just wanting them to know that we care about them. And I was so incredibly proud of them. They had so much courage to just even go out there and play.

MANNO: As you just heard there we were able to speak with a couple of the players to get a sense of how they were feeling. The WNBA actually making an exception and closing the rest of the locker room because of how emotionally charged this day has been.

But Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard told me Listen, they had not hung their hat on the Russian legal system. They know that it's diplomacy that will ultimately free Brittney Griner. And they also know that this sentencing today is something of a positive step. They've been briefed by the State Department they know that it is a process. They are all just desperate for her safe return back to the United States. For CNN in Connecticut, I'm Carolyn Manno.


HOLMES: It's important to note the reason why Griner was in Russia to begin with. She played on a Russian team during the WNBA offseason to earn extra cash. As CNN's sports analyst Christine Brennan explains. There is a huge discrepancy between men and women in professional basketball.


CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: WNBA players the highest salary is about $230,000. NBA players over 40 million, so millions to hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's American sports. Obviously, women's sports is way behind men's sports. Catching up. Title IX, the magic of Title IX 50-year anniversary just a month and a half ago. But yes, this is the issue with women's sports.

And so the WNBA players will go overseas to supplement their income, be at Spain, Italy, China, Turkey, Russia in this case, and that's what Brittney Griner was doing.

And you know, as I saw her there, on the footage at the trial where she's sitting in a cage, you know, basketball very well. She is six foot nine. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist on the greatest team. in sports in the world, the US Women's Basketball Team, the most dominant team in sports. They haven't lost at the Olympics since '92. And to see her sitting there in that cage and knowing what's ahead now, it truly is heartbreaking.


HOLMES: Ukrainian rocket launches taking aim at Russian forces in the Kharkiv region. Ukraine says they failed in an attempt to regain ground near the city on Thursday. That in the south Ukraine says a much bigger counteroffensive could be in the making. It says Russia has been rushing troops and equipment to the region, including near the city of Kherson, and according to her Ukrainian military official there's unlikely reason for that.



OLEKSIY GROMOV, GENERAL STAFF OF UKRAINIAN AMRY (through translator): The enemy continues to fortify his positions and the occupied territories. In the north eastern district of the Kherson region, the enemy gathered large amounts of ammunitions and vehicles. We can exclude that the enemy might or is going to lead in an offensive deeper into our territory to interfere with our initiative and endanger our success.


HOLMES: Meanwhile, Western officials now estimate Russia has lost up to 20,000 troops killed since the war began. Another 55,000 wounded. The officials say Russia is now recruiting people from prisons and through private security companies to make up for the losses. The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy meanwhile, blasting a new report by Amnesty International about Ukraine's conduct in the war. It says that Ukrainian forces endanger their own civilians by putting their bases and operating military equipment in residential areas. In response, Mr. Zelenskyy said the report is helping Russia 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 terrorists 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: Three more Russian -- Ukrainian grain ships are expected to leave Ukrainian ports in the coming hours. They'll follow in the footsteps of this vessel, which did the same earlier this week. It was the first to carry Ukrainian grain the world since a new agreement allowed Ukraine to resume exports.

The three vessels will that set to leave today will carry more than 50,000 tons of corn. The hope is that grain exports will help tens of millions of people around the world who are facing food shortages because of the war.

You're watching CNN Newsroom. When we come back, rescue efforts underway to save 10 crew members trapped in a coal mine in Mexico. And later, U.S. federal prosecutors go after police officers involved in Breonna Taylor's death. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: Welcome back, Taiwan's defense ministry is reporting new incursions by Chinese fighter jets and warships in the Taiwan Strait in just the past few hours. Now, this follows a day of live fire exercises that saw multiple missiles fired into the sea near Taiwan. The drills can as Beijing promised that Taipei would pay a price for hosting U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


The U.S. condemning the ballistic missile launches and even canceling its own death of an unarmed Minuteman three ballistic missile as a precaution. Pelosi is now in Tokyo where she met earlier with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the House Speaker says the U.S. will not allow China to isolate Taiwan and Mr. Kishida had this message for Beijing.


FUMIO KISHIDA, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): With regards to China's ballistic missiles falling into waters in our country, including our exclusive economic zone, I have told Pelosi that it is a serious issue for our security and for the safety of Japanese people. We strongly condemn China and have protested. The recent actions of China create serious concerns for the region and to the peace and stability to the international community and that we urge to China stop military drills immediately.


HOLMES: More now from CNN's Selina Wang in Beijing.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): China is ramping up his intimidation campaign over Taiwan. According to state media, Chinese missiles flew over the Taiwan Island for the first time, even though Taiwanese officials are saying that this missile was above the atmosphere and pose no risk to the people of Taiwan. Experts I speak to say this amounts to a major escalation. It remains to be seen just how close the military drills will get to Taiwan in the next few days.

But what is clear is that China is sending the message that it could choke Taiwan off from the rest of the world at any moment.

(voice-over): Missiles firing into the sea around Taiwan. Fighter jets is scrambling to take off. And plumes of smoke seen by residents in the Chinese city closest to Taiwan. The video shows live rockets being fired towards the Taiwan Straits.

Moments later, state media confirmed the launch. The woman filming says Wow, we're witnessing history. Beijing unleashing a show of force on Taiwan over U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island. China's military claims it's starting the largest ever drills around the island.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My teammates and I flew our fighter and headed for the air spaces around the Taiwan Island. We are ready for combat and able to find at any time.

WANG: Define Beijing's threats, Pelosi met with Taiwan's president and key lawmakers and business leaders. Crowds of supporters in Taipei welcomed her.

NANCY PELOSI, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: Taiwan has been an island of resilience and now more than ever, America solidarity with Taiwan is crucial. And that is the message we are bringing here today.

WANG: China's foreign ministry says the trip is a quote, outright farce. Taiwan calls this the median line. More than 20 Chinese warplanes crossed the line the day after Pelosi landed an unprecedented number.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're demonstrating that they don't recognize Taiwan's lines because they don't recognize Taiwan. So this is an act of political warfare, psychological warfare and information warfare. It's also a very important signal to China's own people to demonstrate its resolve. WANG: These boxes encircling the island are where Beijing says their military drills are happening. It's a blockade say both Beijing and Taipei and to major provocation in the eyes of Taiwan and the U.S. but to a lot of Chinese citizens it's not enough, especially after officials had hyped up expectations of an unprecedented military response.

Disappointed wrote one person on China's Twitter like platform Weibo, another mocked that its leaders should speak less, do more But far from speaking less, officials are issuing one fiery statement after another, all condemning Pelosi's trip. It also banned imports of thousands of food items from Taiwan and suspended exports of natural sand, a key component in semiconductor chips, all of this rage just over a two day visit.

Pelosi's presence in Taiwan a slap in the face to Beijing, which insists the self-governed island is a rebel Chinese province. Pelosi is out of Taiwan, but she left a crisis behind her. Beijing's retaliation is just getting started.

(on camera): It's important to remember that this show of force is also intended for the people here in China. It's for Xi Jingpin to show the world that there's a price to be paid for Taiwan to host U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But while all of this increases the risk of miscalculation, Beijing also does not want this to escalate into a real conflict. Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.


HOLMES: And joining me now from Washington retired U.S. 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.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: 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 this. And this -- the way the Chinese have actually gone about and move to their forces in and around Taiwan. That really speaks volumes, I think to what they're trying to do. They're in essence, 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KIRBY: 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 might 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 is 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 for the Chinese to do what they're doing. But they were obviously ready and waiting to do something like this, the fact that they've mounted their exercises and a move to forces into those areas all around Taiwan.

And 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, number one, they have the means and the possibility of blockading Taiwan. And number two, 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 a very nervous trigger of finger happy militaries on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, particularly though on the Chinese side, and that is something that I think is a very dangerous because it takes just one little miscalculation.

And one of the things that I think about is a, you know, back in the early 2000s, we had the -- an incident with the US reconnaissance aircraft, where the aircraft was actually hit by a jet -- 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 a means of identifying themselves and of communicating with each other the risk of a miscalculation can be acutely high.

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

Now, police in Thailand say at least 13 people have been killed, 35 injured in a nightclub fire. It happened around one in the morning in a town about 170 kilometers south of Bangkok. Officials say the injuries range from mild to serious and mainly from burns. Police still looking into what caused that fire. The families of 10 coal miners are keeping vigil in northern Mexico. Rescue teams trying to free the workers trapped underground after a devastating accident. CNN's Matt Rivers with the details.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, we're following an ongoing situation that is increasingly capturing the public's attention here in Mexico after a mining accident in the Mexican state of Coahuila on Wednesday, trapped multiple miners. Authority say this happened around 2:00 p.m. in a town called Sabinas when sudden flooding ended up causing a partial collapse in an area of a mine where workers had been operating.

Now authorities said they have managed to so far rescue five of the miners involved in this incident but that leaves 10 more miners as of Thursday afternoon that remain trapped.

Now, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador spoke to the media at length about this issue on Thursday morning saying that national state local authorities were working around the clock to try and save these miners.


Now the national coordinator of civil protection, a woman named Laura Velasquez gave details of the rescue operation saying, quote, "We are strategically putting pumps in each of these wells to be able to extract the greatest amount of water and have immediate access to the mines and rescue the miners as soon as possible."

Now unfortunately this area no stranger to mining accidents in the past. It was just in 2011 in the same town of Sabinas where an explosion in a mine ended up killing 14 miners. And it was just five years before that in 2006, again in the town of Sabinas where 65 miners were killed after yet another explosion in a mine. The fate of the miners trapped in this latest incident, of course, remains to be seen.

Matt Rivers, CNN -- Mexico City.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, a European leader with close ties to the Kremlin, firing 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: And welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say her name. CROWD: Breonna Taylor.


CROWD: Breonna Taylor.



HOLMES: Supporters there of Breonna Taylor, chanting her name after the announcement of U.S. federal charges against police officers involved in her death.

A little background here for you. Taylor was shot and killed at her home in Louisville, Kentucky during a botched drug raid more than two years ago. No drugs were ever found at her home, but until now, the four current and former officers involved had not faced any federal charges. Taylor's mother says the decision was overdue.


TAMIKA PALMER, BREONNA TAYLOR'S MOTHER: You all are learning what we've been saying was the truth. They shouldn't have been there. Breonna made a post that said, take me to a place that I can't even imagine. Brianna has taken us all to a place that we can't even imagine. Today's overdue. But it still hurts.


HOLMES: And Josh Campbell has more details on the case.



JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Four current and former Louisville, Kentucky police officers have been federally charged in connection with the death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. she was shot and killed by police during a botched drug raid in March, 2020.

The Justice Department alleges two of the officers falsified an affidavit that was used to obtain a search warrant of Taylor's residence. A third is charged with conspiracy in the incident.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The affidavit falsely claimed that officers had verified that the target of the alleged drug trafficking operation had received packages at Miss Taylor's address.

KRISTEN CLARKE, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION: That false affidavit set in motion events that led to Miss Taylor's death when other LMPD officers executed that warrant.

CAMPBELL: Prosecutors say as police entered Taylor's residence, her boyfriend fired one shot towards them believing the officers were intruders. Police then opened fire. One officer has been charged by federal prosecutors with using

excessive force after allegedly shooting ten times into the residence through a window and glass door both covered by blinds and curtains.

CNN has reached out to the attorneys for all four of the officers for comment, two were previously fired by the police department. The agency said Thursday, it had started termination proceedings for the other two officers still on the force.

Josh Campbell, CNN.


HOLMES: A Texas jury ordering the 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 of the Sandy Hook shooting $4.1 million in damages.

26 people were killed in the 2012 massacre, at a Connecticut elementary school. 20 of those killed children.

Jones repeatedly called it a hoax, but said during the trial, he now believed it to be 100 percent real. Attorneys for the parents released a statement saying, in part, quote, "Neil and Scarlett are thrilled with the result and look forward to putting Mr. Jones' money to good use.

Mr. Jones, on the other hand will not sleep easy tonight with punitive damages still to be decided and multiple additional defamation suits pending, it is clear that Mr. Jones' time on the American stage is finally coming to an end," end quote. The jury comes back on Friday to deliberate those punitive damages.

Hungary's right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban, is not a popular man in most of Europe, and has plenty of critics at home as well. But conservatives in Texas gave him a rock star welcome on Thursday.

They cheered, there were standing ovations, even as Orban 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 said 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 PRIME MINISTER: Progressive liberals did not 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: Unlike other European leaders, Viktor Orban has a reputation as a staunch nationalist and authoritarian, also a loyal ally of Donald Trump.

CNN's Ben Wedeman with some background.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You could call it a meeting of like minds. Video from his official Facebook page shows 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 the 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 it's done.

Viktor Orban's talk about racial mixing, about racial purity, stirrup 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.

It's time for evening prayer. Budapest historic Dohany Street synagogue. Rabbi Robert Frolich says, Orban's words hit too close to home.


ROBERT FROLICH, CIEF 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 outraged (ph). They heard this before and it didn't end well.

WEDEMAN: 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 is beginning to change says economist Zoltan Pogatsa.

ZOLTAN POGATSA, ECONOMIST: In the longer 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: In Budapest central market, opinions vary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The (INAUDIBLE) speech of Orban is not even like in our own country.

WEDEMAN: Margaret Ekrainyk (ph), the butcher begs to differ.

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

Evening (ph) and city residents stay with the soft breezes off the Danube. History flows through this city. The past never far from the surface.

Ben Wedeman, CNN -- Budapest.


HOLMES: The Bank of England announces the biggest interest rate rise in 27 years and says the worst may still be to come. We'll have more on that, when we come back.


HOLMES: U.S. financial markets hoping to regain some momentum in the day ahead as the government is set to release its jobs report for July.

The Dow fell 85 point, saw a quarter of a percent on Thursday. The Nasdaq up 52 points. The S&P, well, pretty much flat.

In the U.K. a bleak outlook for that country's economy. The nation projected to plunge into recession. The Bank of England says it expects the economy to shrink later this year and announced the biggest interest rate rise in 27 years to 1.75 percent.

CNN's Clare Sebastian breaks it down for us.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yet more evidence that inflation is forcing the hand of central banks, even as we see signs of an economic slowdown. Eight out of nine Bank of England policy makers were in favor of this half percentage point hike, but the bank says Russia's invasion of Ukraine has caused wholesale gas prices to double since May.

The decision came with some pretty bleak economic forecast. Inflation predicted to peak in the fourth quarter of this year out of the 13 percent, bear in mind just two months ago, the bank predicted, it had peaked up 11 percent.


SEBASTIAN: In another (INAUDIBLE) the U.K. will fall into a recession at the end of the year and stay in one for the whole of 2023. Clearly, this makes a big rate rise a very tough sell. The UK is already in the midst of a historic cost of living crisis.

Here's how the Bank of England governor justified his decision.

ANDREW BAILEY, BANK OF ENGLAND GOVERNOR: If we don't bring it back to target and if we get these so-called second round of (INAUDIBLE), it's going to get worse. And it will get worse precisely I'm afraid for those who are at least well off in society. So while I have a huge sympathy and you know, huge understanding, for

those who are struggling most with this. And I know that they will feel well, you know, why have you raised interest rates today. That might get worse from their perspective in terms of consumption.

I'm afraid my side is it doesn't, because I'm afraid the alternative is even worse in terms of persistent inflation.

SEBASTIAN: This is exactly what we heard from the European Central Bank back in July, front loading rate rises now before potential energy shortages, and an increasingly likely recession in the winter.

The Bank of England cautioning though that nothing is certain. No one knows what Russia will do next to European gas supplies, and by the time the Bank of England moves again in September, there will be a new prime minister in the U.K. Perhaps with a new set of fiscal policies and certainly an unenviable position of managing what looks set to be the worst performing economy in the G-7.

Clare Sebastian, CNN -- London.


HOLMES: Soaring energy prices blamed on the war in Ukraine are affecting businesses all across the world including one of Britain's favorites -- beer.

CNN's Isa Soares went to one of the U.K.'s great celebrations of its ales, stouts, and lagers to find out how brewers are coping.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After a two-year hiatus, the great British beer festival is back and there's plenty to celebrate.

With nearly a thousand cask (ph) ales, craft beers, and ciders under one roof. It's a welcome return for an industry that has seen restaurants closed and bars struggling to stay open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We haven't seen each other socially for quite a long time. So it's just a great place to come, have a few beers, and chew (INAUDIBLE).

SOARES: But trouble is brewing. As the U.K. like many countries, faces the knock on effect of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

NIK ANTONA, NATIONAL CHAIRMAN, CAMPAIGN FOR REAL ALE: Brewing is a high intensity production process. You need to boil your water, you melt (ph) the barleys together and mix them all together at high temperature. So you do need a lot of energy to do that and it's pushing up their cost very highly.

There's other factors. Fuel cost, delivery cost, the crisis with the Ukraine, that's affecting grain prices.

SOARES: And it's not just grain. Russia's invasion has also caused energy prices to spike, rising 70 percent from June of 2021 to June of this year.

ANDREW TURNER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ST. AUSTELL BREWERY: Everything is being affected, and if I'm honest, I don't think we're really feeling the squeeze of that yet. I think the squeeze, that really could come in the next 12 to 18 months.

SOARES: But the reality of this cost has left a bitter taste in some people's mouth. With more than 50 percent of the British public saying the average price of a pint now around $5 U.S. is unaffordable.

But as I wandered through the wholes of this festival, it's clear the thirst for beer is not going anywhere.

How does it feel to be back after three years of COVID?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely brilliant. Loving every minute of. It's great to see everyone under the same roof again, joining -- enjoying great (INAUDIBLE).

SOARES: And while the outlook may look cloudy -- for now these brewers clearly still have a glass half full.

Isa Soares, CNN -- London.


HOLMES: The U.K. parliament has closed its TikTok account just days after it joined. It left the social media app after a group of parliament members signed a letter saying they were concerned about the Chinese government gaining access to their data.

TikTok is owned by Chinese parent company. A TikTok spokesperson says they are happy to reassure MPs about their concerns, and clarify inaccuracies about the platform.

Much of Europe suffering under yet another heat wave, we will have details on the high temperatures from the CNN Weather Center after the break.



HOLMES: We are getting some amazing pictures of the volcanic fissure that has been erupting in Iceland. It is churning out and spouting red hot lava. This is near the capital Reykjavik. The fissure is estimated to be at 200 meters wide, about the length of four Olympic size pools.

In volcanic terms, that is considered small. Its location means the threat is to the population is low, some good news there. Pretty pictures.

Well, from Spain in the west to Albania in the east, Europe is once again seeing scorching high temperatures. And the dry conditions are sparking wildfires in multiple countries.

Jennifer Gray with the latest.


JENNIFER GRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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 is no end in sight.

FLORIAN HORTOLA, WEATHER FORECASTER, METEO FRANCE: We have classic meteorological situations, that this warming up the atmosphere leads to temperatures which are higher than before. And now it's very easy to have very high temperatures for several days in a row and thus heat waves.

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

GRAY: 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 Frankfurt 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 battled fires in northwest Spain. Scorched trees and grassland could be seen in the town of Arene (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 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 UN report found that those droughts will cause an increase in the number of extreme wildfires.

Jennifer Gray, CNN.


HOLMES: And let's bring in meteorologist Derek Van Dam, yes, pretty colorful map there. And a lot of fires as well.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, 600,000 plus hectares have burned so far across the European Union Nations. That's just incredible. In fact that's the second you heard Jennifer, the second largest area burn since records began in 2006.

Put this even into further contacts that is twice the size of the country of Luxembourg. 2006. That is pressure, and the size of this into even further context, that is twice the size of the country of Luxembourg.

That is twice the size of the area burned is the size of Luxembourg. I mean that is just incredible to think how much coverage of these wildfires has scorched the land, here's an example of one of the firefighters just battling the blazes across the Mediterranean.


VAN DAM: We know that in 2021, the summer that was the hottest in Europe' record. And it is likely that 2022, the summer of 2022, will likely best that with even a hotter summer on record.

So we are seeing these heat waves occur more frequently, and also in concurrent summer seasons as well.

Look at this, we've had temperatures just yesterday ranging anywhere from 5 to 13 degrees Celsius above average. Marseille to Frankfurt incredible amounts of heat in place across much of Europe. We do have heat advisories and heat alerts for places like southeastern France central and western portions of Poland for instance. Extreme heat continues, and then we always talk about the Iberian peninsula because it's so hot and the majority of our wildfires are occurring across this area.

Just look at Cordova, we should be about 36 degrees, but when you start seeing the mercury and thermometer climb to 40, you know it spells trouble. Look at the temperatures today across the Mediterranean, really in the lower mid -- upper 30s, depending on where you're located.

Tomorrow more of the same. Lots of the heat located across this region even though we do have some slight cooling in the forecast for places like Berlin as well as France you'll start to notice as the temperature start to warm right back up into the second half of next week above average. Poor Paris. So no end in sight, Michael.

HOLMES: All right, Derek. Appreciate the update. Thank so much, Derek Van Dam there.

Now, we have a rare piece of good news about the Great Barrier Reef. A monitoring group in Australia says parts of the reef are bouncing back. And in fact are healthier than they have been in decades.

This is good news. Average hard coral cover in upper region and central areas of the reef has increased by about a third. Terrific news, but scientists say the reef is still highly vulnerable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE EMSLIE: So today, I think what we are seeing is that the Great Barrier Reef still is a resilient system. It still maintains that ability to recover from disturbances. And if you give it enough chance, it can do that but the worrying thing is that, you know, these -- the frequency of these disturbance events are increasing, particularly the mass coral bleaching events.


HOLMES: Scientists say forward the reef, six massive bleaching events have happened since 2016.

Now, a runaway cow, a busy highway, and a lot of stunned drivers. Video shot Wednesday morning along Alabama's interstate 65 captured this unexpected scene, a young steer streaking down the medium with animal control officer in hot pursuit. The officers say chase lasted a few miles before the animal was safely corralled in a nearby field.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HolmesCNN.

Do stay with us. CNN NEWSROOM with Lynda Kinkade starts after this short break. You will enjoy that.