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Isa Soares Tonight
New Pictures Reveal Extensive Damage At Russian Airbase; New Research Cites The Arctic Is Warming Up Four Times Faster Than The Rest Of The World; Protests Over The Cost Of Living In Sierra Leone Turns Deadly; Eight Police Officers Killed In Sierra Leone Protests; Civilians Killed In Sierra Leone Protests; Armed Man Taking Hostages In A Bank In Lebanon Surrenders; Inflation Fears In Many Countries; North Korea Declaring Victory Over COVID; Medical Workers Sent To Hainan, China; Parts Of China Goes Into Lockdown; Taiwan Rejecting "One Country, Two Systems"; Western Military Experts Debunking Russia's Claim About Prison Attack; Russian Journalist Known For On-Air Protest Arrested; Bolton Lashing Out At Iran. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired August 11, 2022 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Hello and welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Christina Macfarlane in for Isa Soares. Tonight, new
pictures reveal extensive damage at a Russian Air Base in Crimea. What we can learn about the war from these satellite images.
Then as hot as you might feel in Europe, be glad you're not in the Arctic. New research says the region is warming up four times faster than the rest
of the world. And later --
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MACFARLANE: Protests over the cost of living in Sierra Leone turn deadly. Now, we're getting a clearer view of the damage caused by explosions at a
Russian base in Crimea on Tuesday. Ukraine isn't claiming responsibility, but its leaders are making clear that reclaiming the territory years after
Russia invaded and annexed it is a priority.
According to new satellite images, at least, seven Russian warplanes were destroyed. Analysts say, two more appear to have been damaged, it could be
Russia's biggest single day loss of military aircraft since World War II. Crimea's health ministry says one person was killed in the explosions and
at least nine were injured.
Well, video circulating on social media shows three separate blasts at the base. Two of them you can see right here. One of them occurs a little bit
later. Russia says the explosions were caused by a detonated aviation ammunition. But they don't explain how it was detonated in the first place.
David McKenzie joins me now live from Kyiv. And David, we know Russia sought to downplay this. But here, this is in broad daylight that they lost
at least seven warplanes. What more does this image tell us?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christina, this satellite images certainly make this an even more intriguing story,
because you clearly see those Russian fighter jets before and after these explosions. And they are totally decimated. Several of them. At least,
seven at our count.
And that indicates that, well, if this was some kind of ammunitions accident, as the Russians are alluding to, it would be a pretty devastating
accident. So, at this point, really, the speculation turns towards Ukraine, which has been very coy about this incident. There have been -- to use a
colloquial term, "trolling" the Russians about this.
Saying, people must be careful not to smoke near sensitive areas. But outside of that kind of trolling, there is a very serious implication of
this. Because if it is the Ukrainians, it means they can strike far outside their territory of control. And as you said, Crimea is a very important
eventual aim for their conflict.
It is also an important signal because, you know, since Russia invaded, Ukraine has been on the defensive. This is an offensive maneuver, to use an
American term, that could have a very important both legitimate wartime aim and a psychological one. Christina?
MACFARLANE: And David, while all eyes are on Crimea, the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant remains very volatile, very dangerous. We
know the IAEA were attempting to get in there to review the damage. And I understand that you have some new details about that.
MCKENZIE: Well, that's right. The energy company here that runs civilian nuclear power says that there were more strikes today, at least, 10 of them
landing in and around that site. Now, I must clarify that, that is a massive complex. It includes of course, at least, six reactors. But also a
large industrial site and a spillover area.
So, it's unclear yet how close these alleged shellings got to the actual core of that plant, but any kind of conflict, of course, around where you
are using these kinds of nuclear reactors is very bad idea indeed. It is right across the river from Ukrainian positions, and they are Ukrainian
positions to the north of there.
The Russians have not said much about that today. But the Ukrainians are again saying that this needs to be a demilitarized zone. A U.S. official
spokesperson a short time ago saying also that the military of either side needs to get out of that zone to ensure safety, and not just for Ukraine,
but for the entire region.
It must be said that Russia and Ukraine are trading accusations back and forth. It's very difficult to get a clear picture exactly what's happening.
But it certainly seems to be that there is a very dangerous ordinance near those nuclear reactors today and over the past weekend. Christina?
MACFARLANE: Yes, continues to be a very concerning picture. David McKenzie, thank you very much. Well, the U.K. has just said it will send
more precision-guided missiles and rocket launch systems to Ukraine. And will train more troops than it originally planned. Ukraine has been using
western military equipment to its advantage. Nic Robertson shows us how.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Suddenly, action. Camouflage off. Ukrainian troops rushing their new NATO compatible
artillery out of cover. The Polish crabs, a 40 ton beast of battle. This day, targeting Russian positions almost 30 kilometers, 18 miles away. They
shoot and scoot.
(on camera): The whole operation took about 2 to 3 minutes. They calculate they've got about 8 minutes to get back under the tree-line here to be safe
from any returned fire.
(voice-over): There's a lot these troops like about their new kit, safety high on the list. "It's so much better than we had before", gun commander,
Vasley(ph) says. It's mobile. We're out of danger fast.
(on camera): So this is your command vehicle?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's our -- my command vehicle.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Artem runs the whole battery.
(on camera): So, you can see the whole battlefield here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is the topas(ph) --
ROBERTSON (voice-over): It's all high tech.
(on camera): So where there's a cross here, this is the target.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shoot at this target.
ROBERTSON: You already shoot this target?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): A former Math teacher, he had 2 weeks training on the CRABs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To learn it, it's very -- I would say it's a --
ROBERTSON (on camera): User friendly?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Poland gave Ukraine 18 of the CRAB system, and they're buying another 56. Two months in service, their accuracy making
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very big difference between these new guns and Soviet old guns, because these guns got the new GPS systems.
ROBERTSON: Each shot, a better chance of hitting its target.
(on camera): These troops are really hoping the CRAB system can make a difference. So far, this war has been fought mostly by artillery. The
Russians massively outgunning the Ukrainians.
(voice-over): But even with the new guns, there is a problem. Ammunition here is tight.
(on camera): And do you have enough shells?
(voice-over): His answer with a wry smile and chuckle, "I'd like to have more rounds to send the occupiers back home." Nic Robertson, CNN, on the
eastern front, Ukraine.
MACFARLANE: Well, let's take a closer look at this all now with Neil Melvin; he is the director of International Security Studies at the U.K.
think-tank, The Royal United Services Institute. Neil, great to have you with us.
NEIL MELVIN, DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES, THE ROYAL UNITED SERVICES INSTITUTE: Christina --
MACFARLANE: I want to begin with the context of where Crimea is in the broader picture of the frontlines of Ukraine, because I'm hearing it some
125 miles away from the closest position here. So, given that distance, just talk us through what sort of long range artillery could have been
responsible for a hit on the base which I believe is just down here.
MELVIN: Exactly, so the Russian base Saky which is being hit is just here. So it's a conceivable way from the main areas of Russian occupation, and in
the frontline which Ukraine controls. So this has led to a lot of discussion about how actually Ukraine managed to hit this base deep inside
As you say, beyond the range of what we understand Ukrainian capabilities. So, I think there's a couple of options here. The first one is Ukraine
actually has ballistic missiles, it hasn't yet told us about. And so it's able to actually fire missiles from its territory and able to hit all the
way down here, up to 200 kilometers away.
MELVIN: Ukraine hasn't acknowledged having that capacity yet, but it looks like it might do if it's done that. The second one is, it somehow managed
to infiltrate special forces units into the Crimea, and they've actually been the ones who have done the damage to the airbase.
MACFARLANE: Yes, and I want to get to that actually. So, let's hone in now and actually look at the airbase in question. We have some images here
before and after the strike happened. This obviously before, extremely green, extremely lush. We can actually see aircrafts here in their hangers.
And this is the image after the strike happened.
You can see, I mean, the whole area really, has been affected here, hasn't it, Neil? And I mean, to my eye, you can see, it's -- you know, ruined
carcasses here of the seven, I believe, aircrafts that were ruined. So, tell us in your view -- we've heard lots of rumors circulating about this.
In your view, what could have caused this kind of damage?
MELVIN: Yes, well, this has been a key Russian base. I mean, they've been launching their attacks from -- on to southern Ukraine from here. It's a
really big strategic target. So, you can see that all these planes here worth hundreds of millions of dollars. What we got here is that at least,
three different sites where there appear to be craters.
First one here, second one here and the third one here. And these at least, some of these were buildings before the attacks. So it looks initially as
though this confirms the idea that it was a ballistic missile attack or some kind of rocket attack in those three targets. Those are blown up,
craters are craters.
And then we've got secondary fires which you can see in all these brown areas have spread, damage to other buildings right down here. And of
course, all the planes here and at least, nine planes damaged.
MACFARLANE: And you mentioned special forces just now. Do you believe special forces were involved in this, and If they were, how would that --
how would they have achieved this?
MELVIN: Well, looking at the satellite images, the initial impression is very much it could be a missile strike. But there are some suggestions as
to why this may not be the case. First of all, we haven't seen any video evidence of missiles actually hitting the base. And I think you saw in the
lead into this piece that there were clear explosions.
MACFARLANE: Yes --
MELVIN: Those explosions happened simultaneously. Again, missiles could do that, but it can also be that this was timed bombs that had been left in
these sites or detonated remotely. So you get that kind of simultaneous activity. And the third issue is just that, to actually hit with this
accuracy where we see three very precise targets. Now --
MACFARLANE: Where are those?
MELVIN: So, we have this area here, which looks like I think one of the first craters. The second one is in this corner where there was a
building originally. And the third one is down here.
MACFARLANE: Yes --
MELVIN: So these are the sites where there's been an explosion. Either a missile attack or explosives. Or it could be that there's been a
combination of the two. There's been some missiles fired, and forces on the ground have guided them in, which may explain why they're so accurate. But
we don't know exactly yet what that causes, and we have to look more of this, I think to understand that picture.
MACFARLANE: I want to talk about the bigger picture when it relates to Crimea, because we heard President Zelenskyy saying over the last couple of
days that Crimea now, you know, they're not going to stop until Crimea is liberated. You know, we were quite surprised to hear that. Some saying
that, that could take years. What is your reading of that?
Are we -- Is that true or are we potentially looking at a red herring here, a decoy perhaps. And if that is the case, where else are you expecting this
counter-offensive to come from?
MELVIN: Well, I mean, there's been long talk about the Ukrainian counter- offensive, when is it going to happen now? I think this is -- with these strikes, we're seeing really the first phase of that now. And what is going
on is a degree of shadow-boxing as well. The Ukrainians are trying to indicate areas they might go, they might go to Crimea.
Suddenly, now, President Zelenskyy is saying that Crimea could be a war aim, and that the forces might actually come down and swing south. It's
also possible that they could come around here for Zaporizhzhia, I mean, the Kherson focus might actually even be a feint. We don't know exactly.
Everyone is trying to misdirect.
So, the attack on Crimea suddenly opens up this new theater, and President Zelenskyy went out fairly soon after the attack and had said that Crimea is
not off limits. And we've also seen the United States and the U.K. backing an attack on Crimea. So, Russia's attempt to say that Crimea has now been
annexed in Russian territory, Ukraine's are pushing back on that.
MACFARLANE: Yes. You mentioned Kherson, and let's talk about that now because we know this is one of the areas where for weeks now, Ukrainian
forces have been preparing for this counter-offensive. We've been seeing them taking almost potshots at the Russians. We heard of six incidents of
shelling on Wednesday. What is the strategy here? Is it to break them down?
MELVIN: Well, the official announcement by the Ukrainians as you say has been for some time that they're building up the forces that we've already
got as you see in this yellow area, sort of counter-attacks, pushing back on the Russians. We've got the longer-range attacks into the airbase in
Crimea, but also destroying bridges and infrastructure in this area.
So the Russians are going to find it harder to come in here. So, at least, what the Ukrainian official sort of announcements have been suggesting is
that, this is going to be the site for their main attack. They want to pull the Russians in, then cut them off and then try and surround them, and sort
of force them to surrender or basically to wear them down through these attacks.
MACFARLANE: And one way that they are doing that, of course, is with this here. The Antonivskyi Bridge. You know that they've obviously been
pummeling this bridge, but not directly trying to ruin and bring the bridge down. First of all, just talk us through why this particular bridge is such
a key target.
MELVIN: Well, as you see, I mean, Kherson itself is on the west bank of the river here. So, this means that, actually it's the only way across,
it's the only way you could bring in supplies, but also if the Ukrainians do start to push back, it's the only way for the Russians to retreat. So,
this is the -- this is the choke point both in and out of the region.
Russian forces are along the west bank, what the Ukrainians want to happen now is to take back this area, but of course, they don't want to get
involved in the kind of urban combat that we saw in Mariupol, in which, you know, the whole city would be destroyed in the name of liberation.
What they want to do is try to limit what the Russians can bring in, then wear down the forces and try to actually get the Russians to surrender
these territories or sort of pull back at some point with minimal damage to the civilian population --
MACFARLANE: What are the chances of that, Neil? What are the chances of Kherson not becoming another Mariupol?
MELVIN: It's going to be very difficult for the Ukrainians, I think, to cut -- avoid getting involved in some kind of urban combat. They want to do
it, but you'll see, I mean, to actually take this territory, they're going to have to come into these areas, the Russians will try and pull them into
MACFARLANE: Yes --
MELVIN: So politically, for Ukraine, this is going to be a very delicate battle to fight.
MACFARLANE: Neil, it's been fantastic to how you break this --
MELVIN: Thank you --
MACFARLANE: All down. I find this personally fascinating. I hope you all do too at home, and of course, there's going to be many more discussions
like this to come, as we see this war shifting in the months to come into Winter, of course. Thank you very much.
MELVIN: Thank you.
MACFARLANE: All right, well, it's hard to forget the chaotic scenes from Kabul one year ago. People were so desperate to escape Afghanistan before
the Taliban takeover, they were chasing U.S. military planes, some, even trying to hang on. Our Clarissa Ward was on the ground reporting as
America's longest war came to an end. And now, she's back there again. Here's her snapshot of life one year after the U.S. troop withdrawal.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I think you can probably see behind me, we're at a market. There is a sense of
normalcy on the streets at this city. There is not the same sort of anything approaching the levels of chaos and violence that we saw playing
out during those heart-wrenching scenes last year.
But the change has also brought about a real decrease in the standard of living here. And a lot of people are now fighting to put food on the table.
The U.N. says that nearly half the country is in a state of acute hunger. The International Rescue Committee says, by the second half of this year,
they believe -- well, we are now in that second half of this year, more than 90 percent of people will be living below the poverty line.
And that's for a whole plethora of reasons, partly because of sanctions and the freezing of Afghanistan's federal reserve's after the Taliban took
power, partly because of the food crisis, partly because of inflation. But what you see when you go around, and I just want to show you a little bit
since we're here in this market, you could see, there is food.
There is food that you can buy. The market stalls are full. But the conversations that we've been having with vendors make it clear that for
the vast majority of people, it's become unaffordable, this food. So, flour, I was told by these vendors has doubled in price. Cooking oil, which
is obviously one of the basic necessities, has more than doubled in price.
And that's not even before you start talking about the very real changes and the impact that they've had, as the Taliban has gradually become firmer
in implementing its vision or version of Sharia law.
MACFARLANE: All right, still to come tonight, fires, drought, and soaring temperatures in Europe. How a new heat wave is affecting people's lives,
and how authorities are responding. Plus, crumbling glaciers and vanishing sea ice. As climate change devastates both poles of the earth, we'll
explain how the rest of the planet could be affected.
MACFARLANE: Hi, welcome back. European allies are dispatching firefighting planes and other critical supplies to France, to try and contain raging-
drought driven wildfires. Right now, a monster fire is burning through forest and threatening homes in southwestern France. It comes as new
intense heat waves sweep across Europe. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz reports.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Soaring temperatures and few signs of rain. Millions across Europe are experiencing some of the hottest
and driest climate conditions since record-keeping began, creating a tinderbox. More than 600,000 hectares across Europe have burned in
wildfires already this Summer. French authorities report numerous outbreaks.
Emergency services in southwest France have gone door to door, urging more than 6,000 residents to evacuate.
MARTIN GUESPERA, SECURITY OFFICIAL (through translator): The fire is still progressing. It caught us by surprise with its direction, and created its
own wind, its own story, its own movement.
ABDELAZIZ: France has experience its driest July since 1959. And like much of Europe, it's bracing for another heat wave over the coming days. Large
parts of England are under amber warnings, where homes are typically ill- equipped to deal with extreme temperatures.
Straining a house service already feeling the heat. Wildfires continue to burn in Bulgaria, Montenegro and Portugal, where, for five days, a fire has
ripped through the heart of one of the countries' national parks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It really breaks my heart. Everything has burned, everything is ruined. There is nothing green left.
It will take many years to regenerate, and I won't be around to see it.
ABDELAZIZ: These images in central Spain highlight the severity of the drought, the reservoir stands nearly empty. Locals fear for the future of
FRANCISCO BAZAGA, BUSINESSMAN (through translator): It's been several years without rain, and we're hitting rock-bottom. If it doesn't rain,
unless they find some alternative water supply, the future is very dark.
ABDELAZIZ: According to the inter-governmental panel on climate change, temperatures will rise in all European areas at a rate exceeding the global
average, and are projected to keep rising. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.
MACFARLANE: Well, the impacts of the climate crisis has been especially hard on the north most parts of the world. According to new research,
temperatures in the Arctic have been rising four times faster than the rest of the planet. That's a higher rate than most climate modules are currently
showing. And what's worse, the changing temperatures are melting away the region's sea ice, which in turn, is amplifying global warming.
Well, CNN's chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir, joins us now from New York. And Bill, these are alarming statistics. What is it that is
accounting for the speed of this warming in the Arctic?
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christina, yes. This is one of those -- we knew it was bad, we didn't know it was this bad kind of
stories. And a lot of it has to do with the loss of reflective ice. In the Summer months up at the Arctic, as the earth tilts towards the sun, and the
sun really doesn't set up there, normally, the Summer ice reflects a lot of that sea -- that sunlight coming down through the atmosphere.
But as it's melting, that dark water absorbs a lot more heat. And so yes, four times the rest of the world, and the beret sea, it's seven times
faster than the rest of the world. It's really uneven. And then to amplify things, at the other end of the world, down at the south pole, there's new
science out of JPL, Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the United States, that says, 12 trillion tons of ice has been lost, both the melting and calving
glaciers in Antarctica.
Twice as much as previously thought. And they've lost, just by the calving glaciers crumbling around the edges of Antarctica, the equivalent of land
mass the size of Switzerland. And those glaciers hold back the inland ice, if you think of Antarctica like a big super bowl, frozen with the glaciers
on the edges holding it in.
As those go away, that barrier to the sea basically accelerates the meltdown there. So, doubly concerning in this new science today, at both
ends of the world, that we're really heating up, overheating all the way around.
MACFARLANE: Bill, I hope this doesn't sound like a silly question, given the scale of the problem. But what hope do we have for halting or even
slowing this rate of warming?
WEIR: Well, there is always, you know, decarbonization, which is the grand challenge of the day. That can't happen nearly fast enough for practical
reasons. That has to happen as soon as possible. There's also pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. Carbon capture and sequestration into the
earth. But the latest discussion that's happening from Cambridge, to Harvard, to MIT, is geo-engineering.
The idea that either by spraying salt water into the stratosphere, to kind of mimic a volcano and create shade for the earth, it will cool things off
temporarily while humanity gets its act together on the decarbonization side of it. There're ideas like marine cloud brightening, where you would
use spritzers in the Arctic, basically to create super bright, puffy clouds that would reflect a lot of that sunlight that we talked about before.
But these are hugely controversial ideas. Just the basic studies to even see if it's feasible, have been shot down in Europe. Here in the United
States, there's for the first-time ever, the U.S. government is starting the early stages of research to seeing what this would take, what it would
cost, what the impacts would be. There's worry that maybe some billionaire will go and do this on his own, and throw off monsoon seasons once you
start tinkering with the atmosphere like that.
But there's only a few planes in the world that could run these tests way up in the stratosphere, you know, 5 miles high up there. But those are sort
of, in case of emergency break-glass scenarios, that some really smart people are talking about earnestly.
MACFARLANE: Yes --
WEIR: But that's where we are. Discussions --
MACFARLANE: Yes --
WEIR: About spraying sunscreen in the sky to at least buy us some more time.
MACFARLANE: Yes, I feel like we're at that point. We need to break the glass. Bill, thank you very much for bringing that to us. And we're not
done with climate change yet, because it's a sign of the times in California, where soaring temperatures and strong winds combined to form a
Now, take a look at these pictures of the swirling flames burning near Gorman, near Los Angeles. More than 200 firefighters were called to tackle
the wildfires, it spread some 60 hectares. The L.A. County Fire Department says, there have been no injuries and no homes have been damaged.
All right, we'll be right back with much more news. We're expecting to hear from the U.S. Attorney General any moment now.
MACFARLANE: Hello and welcome back to the show. The streets of Sierra Leone's capital are tense but calm today after a deadly antigovernment
protest left the nation in shock.
Violence broke out hundreds of people in Freetown protested a dramatic rise in the cost-of-living Wednesday. The country's youth minister says eight
police officers were killed. Witnesses say civilians were also killed. Some of them shot by security forces.
I'm joined by CNN's Stephanie Busari.
And, Stephanie, I think violence of these protests took a lot of people by surprise. What is the situation right now? And crucially, do we know the
whereabouts of the president?
STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN DIGITAL SUPERVISING EDITOR, AFRICA: Sure. Like you say, it came as a surprise. Sierra Leone is normally very peaceful country.
So, protests like this are very unusual.
But the price -- the cost-of-living is affecting everybody globally. And this is a low income, very small country with very high inflation and a big
youth unemployment problem. So, a lot of disgruntled young people who have taken to the streets and expressing their anger, they say their backs are
against the wall. That's what some of them have told us.
Now, we know that the president was in London and we learned that he's now back in the country. But we don't know when he's going to address the
people of Sierra Leone. The youth minister, we saw in an interview earlier saying that he is back but he doesn't know when the president will address
MACFARLANE: So, you say this is being fueled by the cost-of-living crisis, high inflation. What do the protesters want and how long have the
government been ignoring, you know, the -- this crisis, essentially?
BUSARI: Well, so, some of the young people say that the government is not listening to them, that the economic situation is getting worse and there
is no way out. And they just don't have a way to increase the standard of living. Some of them have called for the resignation of the President Bio.
So, the president is saying that it's actually being orchestrated by the opposition. They're not really addressing the concerns of these young
people. They are saying that these planned attacks and protests.
But the fact is that there are a lot of the young people who are very disgruntled in the country. And it doesn't take very much to instigate them
to get out onto the streets.
MACFARLANE: Do we know the circumstances around those police officers that were shot? I believe it was eight?
BUSARI: Well, so, the youth minister told us earlier that around eight security personnel, six men and two women, were killed. There are some
videos of security personnel being attacked. There were very graphic videos being shared on social media. But it's on both sides. We also see security
personnel firing directly at protesters. And in some cases, we see protesters on the floor lying injured and bleeding out with no medical
assistance being rendered.
So, is it -- that violence was on both sides. Reports say that at least 21 of those protesters and civilians have died. But we haven't confirmed that
MACFARLANE: All right. Stephanie, it's good to have you across this. Obviously, it's an evolving situation. So, we will -- we know you will be
keeping across that for us. Thank you.
BUSARI: Thank you.
MACFARLANE: And an armed man who took hostages inside a bank in Lebanon so he could withdraw his own money has now surrendered. Lebanon State News
Agency says the man was promised $30,000 of the $200,000 that he has in the bank if he'd give up. The crowd gathered outside during the standoff
throwing bottles at police and cheering the hostage-taker. Lebanon's financial crisis has forced banks to put it limits on withdrawals, angering
many bank customers.
The crisis in Lebanon and Sierra Leone are just too extreme examples of the ways inflation is playing havoc with people's lives worldwide. Joining me
now CNN's International Business Correspondent Rahel Solomon.
Rahel, good to have you with us.
We know in -- that at the moment, the U.S. is really kind of a bellwether on global inflation rates. And today, we had yet more evidence that
inflation may have, in fact, peaked. Is this the sort of meaningful decline that we've been waiting for?
RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christina, good to be with you.
We certainly hope so, right? So, today, we got Producer Price Index which is factory level inflation, warehouse level inflation. And it shows that
monthly, actually prices declined, half a percent. Now, yearly, they are on average higher by almost 10 percent. But, Christina, if you look at sort of
where we're coming from and look at that yearly figure over the last month, you can see -- over the last year rather, you can see prices are actually -
- it's moving in the right direction, right?
We're talking about 9.8 in March. That was closer to 11.7 percent year over year. So, that is some room for optimism, right? What we're seeing in this
report is that this was much like actually what we saw on the Consumer Price Index report yesterday. This was largely because of energy declines,
right? And so, that made its way. We saw that with airline fares yesterday in the Consumer Price Index report.
But it matters for consumers here and it matters for Americans because as energy costs come down, the transportation costs for companies, for
factories, producers of goods and services, that comes down. And they hopefully pass on all of them or, at least, some of those lower cost to us
So, it does give you some reason, lend you some reason to be optimistic about where inflation is going. That said, the caveat is that if energy
prices go back up, well, we're going to talk about very different inflation reports in the future. It's just still very fragile.
MACFARLANE: Yes. And, Rahel, last week, we saw promising numbers on jobs in the U.S. Today, of course, it's inflation rates. How do you see this
playing out for the economy and those fears of a recession?
SOLOMON: Well, it's certainly being read as, well, maybe we might get that soft landing, that the Federal Reserve has been hoping for all along,
right, that soft landing being raising interest rates to cool inflation but not doing so much that that it causes a recession. Maybe we do cool
inflation and avoid a recession.
Take a look at how the markets closed yesterday, Christina. I mean investors seem to think so. I mean, the S&P touched its highest level in
months. I want to show you -- and I think we can pull it up here, the NASDAQ closed up more than 2.5 percent. The Dow more than 1 percent.
So, it is starting to feel like when you add all of these data points that we've gotten over last week, really strong jobs growth. Unemployment tick
down to 3.5 percent. That is tying a 50-year low. And two solid inflation reports that show while inflation is still historically very high, it
appears to be hopefully moving in the right direction.
MACFARLANE: Yes. All eyes on the Federal Reserve. Rahel Solomon, thank you very much.
We will be right back after this short break. Stay with us.
MACFARLANE: Welcome back. Now, just a reminder that we are waiting for the U.S. attorney general to speak any moment here. You can see the podium
there to the right of the screen, and we will bring that to you as soon as he steps onto it.
But next, COVID conquered. That is what North Korea is claiming as it declares a victory over the virus. And it's blaming Seoul for the outbreak.
Paula Hancocks reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): North Korea says it's achieved in 91 days what the rest of the world has not managed in two and a
half years, eradicating COVID-19.
KIM JONG-UN, SUPREME LEADER NORTH KOREAN (through translator): The difficult war against a disease is now over. And today, we are finally
declaring the victory.
HANCOCKS (voiceover): Mask less and shaking hands, Kim Jong-Un congratulates the officials he says beat the virus. Kim says, they still
need to keep a steel strong anti-epidemic barrier until the health crisis ends for the rest of the world.
His sister and high official, Kim Yo-jong, said Kim himself had a very high fever. A statement meant with visible emotion from the audience. A
consistent message that the leader has been suffering alongside his people.
Pyongyang officially reported 4.77 million so-called fever cases, up until July 29th. Actual COVID testing is scarce. And just 74 deaths out of a
population of 25 million. Numbers widely questioned.
CHRISTOPHER GREEN, SENIOR CONSULTANT, KOREAN PENINSULA, ICG: I think we need to see North Korea's COVID outbreak has not only a public health
matter, but also a political matter. The beginning of the outbreak did not signal North Korea's first COVID case. And the end of the outbreak being
announced does not mean that they got rid of COVID either. It just means that this was a time when they needed to shift onto something else and to
make use of the outbreak for political purposes.
HANCOCKS (voiceover): Kim Yo-jong also called for deadly retaliation against South Korea, which he claims intentionally sent the viruses across
the DMZ by an anti-North Korea propaganda balloons, saying if it happens again, the North will wipe out the South Korean authorities.
KIM YO-JONG, KIM JONG-UN'S SISTER (through translator): This national crisis that we suffered was clearly brought about by the hysterical fires
by the enemy, using a global health pandemic to escalate the confrontation with our nation.
HANCOCKS (voiceover): South Korea's unification ministry calling the accusations groundless, and the comments, disrespectful and threatening.
HANCOCKS (on camera): This declaration of victory is being seen at some North Korean watchers as a message of hope and unity for a struggling
domestic audience. It could also potentially be a message for neighboring China that North Korea is ready to lift restrictions, to open borders, and
crucially, to allow desperately needed food into the country.
Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACFARLANE: And more than 10,000 medical workers have been sent to a Chinese island to help with a COVID outbreak. Some tourists finally have
been allowed to leave. But tens of thousands are still stuck. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's China's tropical island paradise, Hainan. Known for its sandy beaches and extravagant
resorts, a coveted destination for Chinese travelers like Li Zefang, an engineer from Shanghai.
LI ZEFANG, STRANDED TOURIST (through translator): I chose to come to Sanya because the COVID restrictions were more relaxed than in Shanghai.
STOUT (voiceover): But for Li and some 80,000 tourists, their island getaway turned into a nightmare. Officials hastily imposed a lockdown in
the resort City of Sanya to curb a COVID-19 outbreak. From Saturday, public transport was suspended, people's movements, restricted, and tourists were
required to stay for seven days and clear five COVID-19 tests before leaving.
Southern Flight cancellations led to chaos at the airport. In this widely circulated video, a local official tries in vain to placate dozens of
frustrated travelers. He says, the government will assist with a room and board, but it is not enough.
We want to go home, they say.
In heavy rain, residents and visitors queue for mandatory COVID tests.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. Look how big the queue is. Oh, my god. What is going on? To the back of the queue. To the back of the queue.
STOUT (voiceover): And across China, a number of domestic tourist hotspots have been struck by zero-COVID lockdowns. Last month, more than 2,000
tourists were trapped in the resort town of Beihai. Meanwhile, cases are rising in Xinjiang and even Tibet, which had been COVID free for almost
With overseas travel still banned and domestic tourist destinations struck by the virus, this summer has ended early for many Chinese vacation goers.
The first batch of stranded tourists have started to leave Hainan. And Li is still waiting for his trip home.
STOUT (on camera): You endured the lockdown in Shanghai, you are now under lockdown in Sanya. How do you cope?
ZEFANG (through translator): For someone who has endured a three-month long in Shanghai, I am keeping a steady peace of mind because this is the
kind of natural disaster. It's out of our control.
STOUT (voiceover): Li says, because he's in a high-risk zone with confirmed cases, he must stay put for another week or so. Under lockdown
yet again, but this time, with an ocean view.
Christine Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACFARLANE: Taiwan has rejected a report from China that it may put the island under its one country, two systems policy. China says this would be
part of its peaceful reunification with Taiwan, even if that means using force. Taiwan calls that wishful thinking.
Meanwhile, Taiwan wrapped up its artillery drills today, and China says, it wrapped up its land and sea war games on Wednesday.
And much more news ahead, including a live statement from U.S. attorney general, Merrick Garland. He set to speak, as Republicans are demanding
answers about the FBI's search of Donald Trump Florida home, Mar-A-Lago. We will bring you that as soon as it happens.
MACFARLANE: Welcome back. Western military experts are disputing the Kremlin's explanation for a disaster at a Russian run prisoner of war camp
that killed at least 50 Ukrainian POWs. Russia says Ukraine bombed the camp with a U.S. made rocket in, which Ukraine vigorously denies.
Now, our David McKenzie spoke with forensic experts who say the evidence clearly shows the Russian account is false. And just to caution you, some
of the images are graphic in David's report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Svetlana (ph) hasn't heard from her son in more than two months.
SVETLANA (PH) (through translator): They were promised that they would be taken prisoner in order to save their lives.
MCKENZIE (voiceover): Her son like sons and husbands of many at this demonstration in Kyiv is a prisoner of war, held at a Russian camp in
CROWS: Save our heroes. Save our heroes.
MCKENZIE (voiceover): It's a cry for help, but for many of the POWs, one that came too late.
At least 50 of them were killed in an attack on a building where they were held. Russia was swift to blame Ukraine, saying it had killed its own to
prevent them from confessing war crimes.
LT. GEN. IGOR KONASHENKOV, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): A deliberate missile tack on July the 29th from the American
HIMARS multiple rocket launch system on a pretrial detention center in the area of settlement of Olenivka.
MCKENZIE (voiceover): Russian journalist at the scene displaying remnants of a HIMARS rocket, serial number included. But a CNN investigation found
that it is extremely unlikely that a HIMARS struck the prison.
CHRIS COBB-SMITH, BRITISH ARMY VETERAN AND SECURITY ADVISER: We would see a crater in the ground, and we would see more blast damage.
MCKENZIE (voiceover): British army veteran and weapons expert, Chris Cobb- Smith, has seen his fair share of missile strikes. He says, this wasn't one of them.
COBB-SMITH: We would see, certainly, on this far wall here, we would see fragmentation, pop marking from an explosion, from the fragments of the
ammunition as it went off. And that's not happened. All we're really seeing here is evidence of a fire, an intensive fire. So, to me, this does not
indicate a large detonation.
MCKENZIE (voiceover): The available video and images show bodies badly burned, some still in their bunks. Forensic pathologists tell CNN the fire,
proceeded by a small explosion, was likely responsible.
DR. BENJAMIN ONDRUSCHKA, PATHOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER HAMBURG EPPENDORF: It seemed to be that something needs to be exploded close by to
be very burned badly, resulting in a detonation, resulting in a fire.
MCKENZIE (voiceover): Ukraine is using U.S. donated 200-pound HIMARS rockets to hit Russian depots and other high valued targets. But the
visuals of the aftermath that have emerged are usually different from the scene at the prison. Before and after satellite imagery from a confirmed
HIMARS strike in Nova Kakhovka shows a Russian warehouse destroyed by the blast.
At Olenivka, there are burn marks in the wall but crucially no structural damage.
COBB-SMITH: Everything in this site is blackened. The bodies have been severely charred. Everything you can see has been blackened with soot. The
HIMARS piece, as we have seen, presented as evidence, do not display any blackening at all. It does not look as though they've been in the scene of
an intensive fire.
MCKENZIE (voiceover): Cobb-Smith and other experts say it is unlikely that the incident was accidental. Olenivka is believed to house more than a
thousand prisoners. Here, you see the satellite images from the day before the incident, showing POWs circulating in different areas of the camp. But
Ukrainian officials and relative say that around 200 prisoners were moved to this warehouse in a different zone just before they were killed.
Ukrainian officials also say the incident happened on the eve of a prisoner exchange. Kyiv has rejected Moscow's version and accused Russia of using a
powerful incendiary weapon against the building and the prisoners.
MCKENZIE (on camera): CNN's investigation can almost certainly rule out Russia's version of events, but we may never know why those prisoners were
moved and exactly what happened. Russia has publicly invited the Red Cross and United Nations experts to visit, but both organizations say that they
have yet to be given access to the prison.
MCKENZIE (voiceover): The families of the prisoners are increasingly desperate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I am asking all people who can, who care, to help bring back our sons, our heroes.
MCKENZIE (voiceover): But they don't even know who has killed that night, nor what killed them.
David McKenzie, CNN, Kyiv.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACFARLANE: And CNN reached out of the Russian Defense Ministry for comments on the findings of our investigation, but we have yet to hear
Now, a former Russian state TV journalists known for on-air protest has just been placed under house arrest. She's charged with violating the so-
called anti-defamation law the Kremlin passed days after Russia invaded Ukraine. She could face up to 10 years in prison. She's also been fined in
separate cases for protesting against the war, including when she interrupted a live broadcast in March and became one of the first prominent
faces of the Russian antiwar sentiment.
Well, John Bolton is lashing out at Iran after a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was charged with plotting to assassinate him. The
former U.S. national security adviser told CNN the alleged assassination plot was complex. Bolton said violence is a large part of Iran's foreign
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It's not just window into how they behave with their terrorist activities and sponsorship of
terrorist groups, but how they conduct their foreign policy altogether, including most specifically with respect to the nuclear weapons program.
This is not a regime that can be trusted to meet its commitments or obligations. It's a regime that sees the United States as an enemy and acts
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACFARLANE: Many thanks for watching tonight. That is it for this hour. I'm Christina Macfarlane. But stay with CNN, we have been expecting a live
a statement from U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. He is set to speak as Republicans are demanding answers about the FBI search of Donald Trump's
Florida home, Mar-A-Lago. We'll bring you that as soon as it happens.