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Messi Arrives in Paris; Taliban Take Over Seventh Provincial Capital; Wildfires across Southern Europe; COVID-19 Infections Rise in China, Thailand, Australia; Vaccine Mandates Fuel Rise in Fake Vaccine Cards; Chinese Court Upholds Schellenberg Death Sentence; U.S. Sending Mexico 8.5 Million More COVID-19 Vaccines. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired August 10, 2021 - 10:00   ET





BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Enormous excitement in Paris, as football superstar Lionel Messi said to be about to join Paris Saint-



ANDERSON (voice-over): Afghans fleeing the fighting in their country but they are running out of safe places to go. We've got the latest on the

Taliban offensive.

And wildfires ravage all corners of Greece, forcing thousands to evacuate. The country's prime minister calls it "a disaster of unprecedented



ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson. It is 3:00 pm in London and 4:00 pm in Paris. Hello. Welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD.

Within the last few minutes, Lionel Messi and his family have landed in Paris, where, arguably, the footballing world's greatest ever superstar is

set to start a new chapter in his legendary career.

French media reporting Messi is leaving Barcelona to sign a two-year contract with the French club Paris Saint-Germain. And fans have flocked to

the airport to greet him. The impending move will end Messi's more than 20- year association with Barcelona, where he won 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League titles.



ANDERSON: Moving on, the Taliban moving quickly in Afghanistan. They have taken yet another Afghan provincial capital. The city of Farah is the

seventh capital to fall in the last five days.

It's not a surprise that the Taliban would reassert themselves, once the U.S. started to withdraw. But for many, the speed at which this is

happening is surprising. Keep in mind, the national capital, Kabul, and other major cities are still firmly in government control but they aren't


The Afghan people, meanwhile, caught in the middle. International Red Cross estimate some 4,000 have been wounded in fighting this month alone. And

when U.S. air support ends in three weeks, things will likely get even worse.

We have learned India now pulling its citizens out of the country and has now shut down all of its consulates except for the embassy in Kabul. Nick

Paton Walsh has covered Afghanistan for years. He joins us now with analysis from London.

John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, saying, it is down to Afghan government forces now to turn the tide against the Taliban. I quote him here, Nick.

"There is not much the U.S. can do to help," which will be a bitter pill for the thousands of Afghans with tales of brutal treatment at the hands of

the Taliban, correct?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes. The U.S. message militarily yesterday was sort of twofold.

One, we are not really going to do any more because we said we are leaving and we've always maintained that you should be able to do this yourself.

But also, two, we will be sending in airstrikes to continue supporting you; only, it seems for the next three weeks. No sign that that end is going to

change when the U.S. withdrawal is complete.

So it's sort of two-pronged. And John Kirby has been in Kabul himself lots, back when I lived there. The message back then was the Afghan security

forces are going to be able to do the job. And it's proven year after year after year that simply isn't the case.

They have very capable commandos, who are doing great work to push back the insurgency in many of the cities around the country. But they are limited

as a resource. So we see, again, today, Farah, its capital city, falling apparently, according to the Taliban Twitter account, showing images of

them in various important locations around that city, a claim not contested by the government and backed up by a local journalist CNN has spoken to.

That brings it to seven. One of them was Kunduz, a key city; the city of Ghazni, which could be the eighth possibly, is still contested. But quieter

this morning, we learn. And so slowly, this feeling I think that many had hoped to have that Afghan security forces could still hold urban centers

and keep the Taliban in the rural heartland, is more or less collapsing.

What is sustaining, curiously, Becky, is this notion that U.S. diplomacy has a role here in slowing down the insurgency's progress. The chief U.S.

negotiator on his way to Doha, Qatar, to try over three days to persuade the Taliban to slow down. That is essentially what the U.S., after all its

military might, is reduced to now.

ANDERSON: You make a very good point. This is Washington's special enjoy now in Doha to try and convince Taliban representatives there to accept a


What chance at this point, Nick?

WALSH: They have said themselves, literally in the last 48 hours, they are not interested in a cease-fire.

To some degree, why would you be?

So much of the Taliban's perception of the deal they signed was the Americans would leave and they wouldn't be using airstrikes any more. The

Americans are using airstrikes now.


WALSH: But they are also still leaving. And frankly, practically on the ground, too, the Taliban are making significant advances. A lot of

unpopulated territory in their hands now. Population centers increasingly so.

But not the majority by any stretch of the imagination. And there is a real dilemma inside the Taliban, too. They have been fighting this war for 20

years and some may say maybe even longer.

There's an older generation who perhaps remember being in power briefly in the '90s, maybe wouldn't want to be a pariah anymore. And there's a younger

generation doing the fighting, who probably want to see victory and that's probably what they have offered by their leadership right now.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Nick.

To a very different kind of fight now, one the Greek prime minister calls an unequal battle with nature. More than 500 wildfires burning across

Greece. They are being fueled by extreme heat and drought.

The prime minister apologized for, quote, "weaknesses" after protests over how the government is handling the crisis. He says the fires are an example

of climate change, quote, "knocking on the door of the planet." The Greek island of Evia has been hit hard by these fires. CNN's Eleni Giokos is

there for us and she joins us live.

You and I spoke at this time yesterday. Fill us in on where you are now and what is going on.

ELENI GIOKOS, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We are in a town that has just been evacuated. The fires are coming down from the mountain. We were there

about 20 minutes ago. And it was so intense, it just started spreading.

Firefighters, Greek firefighters and firefighters from Slovakia, were working on dousing out this very intense fire and the hope was that it

would subside. But one pine kernel literally got from one side of the fire to the other and then the fire spread and this is why this town has now

been evacuated.

We are seeing trucks and ambulances ready and on high alert. We also met with the team from Slovakia. They brought fire engines and around 70

firefighters. Seeing them work together with the Greek firefighters was really moving and emotional.

You saw people hugging when they were able to douse some of the fire that was just engulfing trees and spreading so rapidly. But, unfortunately, even

though you got a fire under control, there is a big chance of rekindling.

And that's exactly what we have seen throughout the island today. This morning, there was a bit of hope that most fires were under control. But

they rekindled and have started again.

It is extremely hot. We have got extreme temperatures hitting Greece through a heat wave that has been around for over a week. As you say, over

500 fires experienced in just over a week in Greece.

What is interesting is you have the prime minister apologizing for the weaknesses in the response. And the locals here feel we wouldn't be sitting

eight days of fires still raging on in this island if the authorities had responded adequately.

They say no helicopters and no aircraft were sent for at least the first five days and the mobilization of forces was not adequate, that there was

too much of a focus on Athens and other areas in the country. And that is why this island has been hard hit.

I have to also say a lot of volunteers and a lot of locals, young men, older women and older men, everyone coming together to do what they

possibly can to save their land and their property.

Many don't want to evacuate. But the economic impact -- and people are thinking about that very seriously. Almost half of Evia has been burnt and

many people were relying on the forest for income, through the agriculture like honey and the likes of resin, which is a big issue.

They say the forest will take decades to recover. And we are seeing the situation turning again into a crisis mode.

ANDERSON: We have been looking at some terrifying images taken locally of people, just looking so stricken by what is going on. Eleni Giokos, thank


How much longer will hot and dry conditions keep fueling these flames?



ANDERSON: You can find out more about our changing planet, extreme weather, on our website. How the climate crisis affects our daily lives and

what people are doing to try to help. You can find that on your phone, your computer and however you -- whichever device you use, however you want to

find that. That is

We will take a very short break. Coming up, hundreds of new COVID cases in Sydney, Australia, despite weeks of lockdowns meant to keep that virus in

check. We've got more on the growing crisis there and across Asia.

And counterfeit is getting clever with faking COVID-19 vaccination cards. We will tell you about an online bust in Italy.





ANDERSON: New research from New Zealand suggests COVID-19 could be easier to wipe out globally than polio. The article published in the journal "BMJ

Global Health" says eradicating COVID-19 will take global cooperation an a quick response to variants.

Meanwhile, the numbers across Asia going in the wrong direction, sadly. China reporting more than 100 new locally transmitted cases across four

provinces today. Travel in and out of Beijing is being restricted as the city prepares for the Winter Olympics in six months' time.

Thailand seeing a record number of COVID deaths and over 300 new infections have been confirmed in Sydney in Australia, despite weeks of lockdown

there. Paula Hancocks is joining us live in Seoul, from South Korea, with more on these growing outbreaks across the region.

Thailand being hit particularly hard.

What do we know about the outbreak there?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, as you said, there has been another record number of deaths in the past 24 hours, 235. There is also

growing frustration in the capital, Bangkok. This Tuesday evening, we have been seeing people out on the streets, protesting what they called a car

mop (ph).

They were driving cars and motorcycles through the city, protesting against what they see the way the general -- the prime minister has dealt with this

pandemic and also the very slow vaccination rollout that we are seeing.

At this point, there is 6.7 percent of Thailand has actually been fully vaccinated. So there is a lot of frustration coming out from people in

Thailand. We have seen on livestreams of events this evening as well, there have been clashes with riot police; tear gas has been fired. We saw some

protesters with sling shots.

So you can see the anger coming out against what they see is a mismanagement of the situation by the administration.

Then when you look at Australia, Becky, you have there a record number of the highest ever of daily cases in Sydney, the most populous city. As you

say, this is a city that has been on lockdown for a long time. This is the seventh week that Sydney is going into a lockdown. And still these numbers

are increasing.

ANDERSON: Paula Hancocks, reporting from Seoul in South Korea, thank you.

Data from the United States shows about 1 in 5 ICUs beds are now occupied by COVID-19 patients. This children's hospital in Arkansas has never seen

so many cases. The state has become a hot spot, as just 40 percent of people there are fully vaccinated.

What hospitals are not seeing many of is fully vaccinated people, showing up as COVID patients. Now according to a CNN analysis of CDC data, more

than 99.99 percent of fully vaccinated people have not had a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization or death.

Again, reinforcing just how effective these vaccines are. With more cities and organizations requiring vaccines, the daily vaccination rate is the

highest it's been in seven weeks in the U.S.

United Airlines became the first major U.S. carrier to require vaccines for all of its employees and the Secretary of Defense moving to have all active

duty members of the military vaccinated.

He is aiming for no later than mid September. But it depends on the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration giving full license.

With more mandates being suggested and enforced, demand is rising for counterfeit vaccine cards. Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is

joining me from Atlanta.

It does seem, Elizabeth -- and this is a global show on CNN International; we do stories of COVID around the world. It seems that other countries are

doing a better job at proving who has and hasn't got a vaccine.

I wonder, is the U.S. going to have to adopt to a similar system with digitization and QR codes?

Because, as I understand it, there are already states that are offering some sort of digital vaccine records.

How do you see this going?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So yes, Becky, there's no question that other countries are doing a better job. That's just an

objective assessment that other countries are doing a better job.

Will the U.S. have to do better?

The U.S. doesn't have to do anything. Some states might; some states might not. You can kind of -- it's kind of you can do whatever you want, is the

situation in the United States, to put it kind of bluntly. Let's show our viewers who have not been in the United States what a CDC vaccine card

looks like.


COHEN: It is a piece of paper. That's it; you're looking at it. Your name goes in there; the date and the lot numbers of the vaccines you took and et

cetera. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that you can easily forge this.

Guess what, all sorts of people are all over social media forging these and selling them and selling blank ones and all sorts of stuff. And you don't

need a degree in computer science to forge one of these little pieces of paper.

So let's take a look at what the government, the U.S. government says about these pieces of paper. The Federal Trade Commission says -- they are very

blunt and quite outright.

"Sure, there are those CDC COVID-19 vaccination cards that people get when they get their vaccines. But they were never designed to prove your

vaccination status and they may not be enough."

I don't know if you can hear me laughing here but it is almost laughable that the government is saying, yes, we have these cards but they were never

intended to actually prove vaccination. It was kind of like more for your own information.

So let's take a look at folks who have been arrested for selling either fake cards or for actually stealing real cards. A naturopathic doctor was

arrested for this. A contract worker for a county was arrested. A bar owner was arrested. There's sort of a wide array of people who have been arrested

for doing this.

Let's take a look -- I think many of our viewers probably have seen something like this. This is what an Israeli vaccine passport looks like. I

know many countries have some version of this. It has an ID number. It's up there, it's little and probably hard to see. It has a QR code.

Is it impossible to forge this?

No, of course, nothing is impossible but it's a lot harder to forge this than to forge that little piece of paper.

And some states are going that route -- California, New York -- they are doing their own registries that would generate something like what you're

seeing right now. However, there are problems with this.

You can also put in the wrong information and sort of mess around with those. They are not mandated. You can put your name in there; you don't

have to. Bars and restaurants and concerts or whatever, they can ask for it; maybe in the future they will be required. But it's all a little murky

and it's really at the sort of the infant stages at this point.

ANDERSON: I just want to show our views what is on my phone. I'm based in the UAE in Abu Dhabi. I've had this app on my phone since July last year.


ANDERSON: It hasn't had all of this information since then but this shows that I haven't actually had a COVID test in the UAE for some weeks now,

because I've been in the U.K. So that has expired. It's got both of my vaccine dates in there and then all of the negative tests.

I can keep scrolling because these are the amount of tests that I've had since I've been sort of -- you know, it keeps going in the UAE. You don't

have to be vaccinated as of yet but you will need this increasingly for shops, for malls, for sporting events, indoor events, cultural events --

and you can see where this is going, of course.

Like I say, this has been available for use and very useful to have, I have to say, in the UAE now, for more than a year.


COHEN: Becky, I've talked to public health experts in the U.S., who would love to have that. They look at that kind of thing. They look at what the

Israelis are doing or other countries and say we would love to do that.

What you just showed me, if we did this here in the U.S., a significant portion of the country would go, for want of a better word, bananas. They

would just go bananas.

"The government is spying on me, the government has put this in my phone. The government could watch me while I sleep. The government is implanting a

chip under my skin."

There are all sorts of things it would just -- I know it's hard to understand and if probably in the UAE this happened, and nobody really said

it was all OK, I would imagine, for most people. In the United States, many people would go berserk.

ANDERSON: I am still fascinated to see how many libertarians are actually providing an argument for vaccines at this point. That's what you would

normally see the kind of naysayers but what is the case, say libertarians, for vaccines at this point?

And I'm seeing increasingly, I'm seeing that case being made by a group that you wouldn't necessarily expect to make that case in the past.

Look, thank you. Really important stuff.

Even Italy, which is using E.U.'s digital green passes, hailed around the world, is having problems. Police there investigating four people on the

messaging app Telegram, they say fake passes are being sold for up to nearly $600 in cryptocurrency or online shopping vouchers, if you will.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, live from London.


ANDERSON: Still ahead, a Chinese court upholds a death sentence against a Canadian citizen, as an arrested Chinese executive fights extradition from


Are these two cases connected?

We will look at that up next.

And an expression of grief but not an admission of guilt from Iran. An update on the deadly drone attack that killed two tanker crew members is

coming up.




ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson on CONNECT THE WORLD at half past 3:00 in London.

A diplomatic row between China and Canada took another hit today when a Chinese court upheld the death sentence of a Canadian citizen for drug

smuggling. Robert Schellenberg was originally sentenced to prison for 15 years in 2018, four years after his arrest.

And the sentence was changed to death a month after Canadian authorities arrested a Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a warrant from the United

States. She is now fighting extradition to the U.S. David Culver connecting us from Beijing.

This sounds like tit-for-tat. It's got a whiff of that on it.

Is there any possibility of a diplomatic agreement here?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be interesting, Becky, to see if there will be diplomacy over justice, so to

speak. You're right; it has an image of tit-for-tat and it's not just the two cases you mentioned.

Two other Canadians are likewise in custody here in China; their fate remains unknown. But all of these citizens, be it the Chinese in Vancouver

or the three Canadians here in China, left in limbo because of the back- and-forth between China and Canada.

The U.S. plays a role in some of this as well. As you point out, the timing; yes, you've got to look at the timeline, the timeline of all of

these arrests are suspiciously geopolitical.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

CULVER (voice-over): A Chinese court upholding a death sentence for a Canadian man, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, seen here at his retrial in 2019,

convicted of smuggling drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Canada condemns this verdict on all possible terms.

CULVER (voice-over): The sentence, even for a foreigner in China, is in line with China's harsh stance against drug trafficking but the timing

raises questions.


CULVER (voice-over): Is this a just punishment or geopolitical maneuvering?

Chinese authorities first arrested Schellenberg in 2014 and, in 2018, he was convicted on charges that he tried to smuggle methamphetamine from

China to Australia.

His sentence?

Fifteen years in prison. But a few days after his sentencing, Canadian officials detained Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei and

the daughter of its founder. They held her in Vancouver on an extradition warrant issued by the United States, which has accused her of violating

sanctions against Iran.

China called for her release and warned of unspecified consequences if Canada refused. Nine days after her arrest, Chinese authorities detained

two other Canadians in China, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and accused them of spying.

China denied the arrests were related to Meng's case. But just a few weeks later, a Chinese court granted Schellenberg's appeal and ordered a retrial

of his drug case. In early 2019, his 15-year prison sentence turned into a death sentence, which a court upheld on Tuesday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have expressed our firm opposition to this cruel and unusual punishment.

CULVER (voice-over): In the meantime, in Canada, Meng Wanzhou's extradition case has dragged on. Crucial final arguments are now underway.

As for the two Michaels, as they have become known, they remain in Chinese custody, awaiting their fate.

Beijing has repeatedly denied accusations that they are using hostage diplomacy. The timeline suggests otherwise as tensions between China and

Canada rise, relationships rapidly worsen with each country's citizens caught in between.


CULVER: A lot of moving parts and multiple cases at play here. I want to go back to the Schellenberg case and that death penalty. It's not over.

That case moves on for review under the Supreme People's Court, that is the high court in China.

What we will look at now, to see what happens with Meng Wanzhou in Canada, if she, for example, is not extradited to the U.S. and sent back to China,

could perhaps there be a change in the sentencing for Schellenberg as well as for the two Michaels?

Remains to be seen.

ANDERSON: You and I have talked about the deteriorating situation between the U.S. and China, of course. I'm just thinking that, as you were talking

here, that it is the Beijing games, of course, in six months' time.

Do you get any sense, is there any evidence to suggest that Beijing is, in any way -- and certainly doesn't seem as if that is happening with this

case in mind -- in any way trying to sort of prevent this further deterioration with countries in the West, particularly that of the U.S.?

Do you see any evidence that things might just warm slightly in this period between now and these Winter Games?

CULVER: If you look at state media and social media and get a sense of the rising nationalism, there is no indication that Beijing will back down.

They seem to be stuck in this direction. It seems to be winning over domestically at least.

And look at how they have even taken on the tech giants and gone after Big Business, showing that Beijing is boss. It seems to be that this is the

direction it's heading, be it with Canada, be it with the U.S., be it with Australia. This seems to be the trajectory they are going to stay on.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Thank you, David Culver.

The next hour, the effects of rapid climate change. How rising temperatures and extreme weather are posing a threat to the puffin population in the






ANDERSON: Let's get you up to speed on the other stories on our radar right now.

The Iranian embassy in Lisbon has expressed condolences over the two crew members killed in last month's tanker drone attack. Two crew members died

in the July 30th attack on the Mercer Street commercial vessel which was off the coast of Oman.

In that same statement, Iran maintained its position that it rejects allegations of any involvement.

More COVID vaccines are heading for Mexico. The Mexican foreign minister is saying the U.S. is sending 8.5 million doses to help combat a surge in

cases there. The U.S. has already donated millions of vaccine doses to its southern neighbor.

And Buckingham Palace isn't talking after a lawsuit was filed against Prince Andrew for alleged sex abuse. Virginia Giuffre, an alleged victim of

deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein said she was sexually assaulted by the Duke of York in London and in New York nearly 20 years ago when she was

a minor.

The British royal has repeatedly denied the accusation.

The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has a warning for the U.S. and for South Korea. She says both countries will, quote, "face a

more serious security threat" if they go ahead with joint military drills planned for this month. She also says Pyongyang will strengthen its

preemptive strike capabilities.

We all saw it at the top of this newscast, football legend Lionel Messi, waving to a throng of cheering fans after arriving at an airport in Paris.

He's reportedly set some two-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain, ending a more than 20-year association with the Catalan powerhouse, Barcelona.