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Quest Means Business

E.U. Unveils Ambitious Climate Action Plan To Date; Fed Chair Jerome Powell Testifies Before U.S. Congress; REvil Ransomware Group Vanishes From Internet; At Least 72 Killed In South Africa Protests; Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Hospitalized For Possible Surgery; WFH versus Hybrid: New Modes Of Work. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired July 14, 2021 - 15:00   ET



ALISON KOSIK, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Stocks have been seesawing this afternoon, a record close for the Dow is not out of the question by the end

of the hour.

Those are the markets and these are the main events: Europe lays out its biggest plans yet for a more sustainable economy. I'll speak to Denmark's

Climate Minister.

Jerome Powell says the Fed is ready to act on inflation as he testifies on Capitol Hill.

And we'll be live in South Africa where the government is struggling to get a hold on violent protests. Live from New York, it's Wednesday, July 14th.

I'm Alison Kosik, in for Richard Quest, and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening. Tonight, the E.U. is laying out a bold plan to reinvent its economy for a greener future. Brussels has just unveiled an ambitious set

of proposals to pivot away from fossil fuels. It promises to shake up some of the bloc's biggest industries.

Its climate commitment called Fit for 55 aims to cut carbon emissions by 55 percent from 1990 levels by the end of this decade and get to net zero by

2050. To achieve this, it will raise the cost of emitting carbon for heating, transport, and manufacturing.

The E.U. also wants to end the production of nonelectric cars. Anna Stewart is in London with the details. This plan is being called ambitious. It is

one way to describe it. I mean, what do you think? Is it ambitious? Let's start with what's in it.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, it is incredibly ambitious. This is the E.U. wanting Europe to be the first continent in the world to be climate

neutral by 2050, and in order to get that -- to get there, they are going to have to really accelerate their climate policies and that's exactly what

the European Green Deal is.

It is a whole package of policies and they target really industries right across the bloc. Using nonrenewable fuels for all sorts of businesses is

going to get more expensive, a result of higher taxes. But also, the cap will be decreased on carbon emissions.

And then we have just the focused targeting on certain sectors, transport is one you mentioned in that introduction and this is where a big part in

the focus really is, not because transport actually counts for over a fifth of the E.U.'s emissions overall.

The cars they are looking for new cars in 2030, to reduce their emissions by 55 percent, and by 2035 by 100 percent. So, this means bye-bye

combustion engines, hello electric, and actually, it puts hybrid cars on the endangered list a well. That's similar targets for vans.

Now, when we get to airlines and actually shipping as well, taxes for the first time on polluting fuels. That is causing a bit of upset, particularly

with I.A.T.A from airlines. I.A.T.A is saying that more taxation will actually be counterproductive. They say, this could cost jobs.

So there is a lot to mull through here, and I think sector by sector, we are going to get more reaction on what businesses feel about some of these

policies -- Alison.

KOSIK: Yes, and with those higher costs, higher taxes, I mean, what is the likelihood that this will become a reality?

STEWART: So, there is the business case, how practical is this? What is the balance of the carrot and stick here is actually going to help industries

transition to a greener future or is it going to run them into the ground? Is it going to protect jobs?

And then, Alison, we also have the political side of things. This is an ambitious plan, but this has to go through the E.U., one of the most

bureaucratic legislative systems, I think, in the world.

Now, the E.U. Commission we are told actually struggled to agree on this. The E.U. Commissioners sat around that table, they struggled. It also has

to get through the E.U. Parliament, it also has to get through the E.U. Council if it is to become law.

Now, from the E.U. Commission -- sorry, from the E.U. Council's side of things, the E.U. leaders here, well, this is going to be more costly for

some countries than others depending on what their industry is. So, of course, they may not well want to vote for something that impacts their

country more negatively than somewhere else.

And then you've got the E.U. Parliament. We have got some MEPs saying actually, these policies go too far. It would make Europe less competitive

and then we've got some MEPs saying they don't go far enough. Plus, when we talk about the E.U., any vote can become a proxy in all sorts of other

divisive issues, human rights, rule of law, migration.

So, this is an ambitious man, Alison. This is a time-sensitive plan. It is to make Europe carbon neutral by 2050, the first continent to do so. But my

goodness, it could take absolutely years just to negotiate the plan here -- Alison.


KOSIK: Anna, thanks so much for running down the list of challenges with that plan, and the plan is likely to face big opposition among some

European member states and industries. In Poland, E.U.'s biggest polluter, its all-important coal industry would be hobbled by new emissions


Car makers in Germany would be forced to rein in their emissions by more than they've already committed to. Shipping, crucial to Denmark's economy

would face new fines for polluting.

Joining us now from Denmark is the Danish Climate and Energy Minister, Dan Jorgensen. Thanks so much for your time today.


KOSIK: So, this plan is likely to face some really tough haggling among the 27 E.U. member states. How confident are you that it can pass in its

current form?

JORGENSEN: Well, we have already agreed on the target and we've actually made it legally binding, so really, this is not a discussion on whether we

will reach the 55 percent reduction in 2030 -- that we have to do. The discussion is now, how do we do it?

Obviously, I hope that we will do it in a way that is cost efficient, in a way that actually strengthens our competitiveness and creates jobs instead

of the opposite, and I feel pretty confident that that is possible. I definitely support the different proposals put forward today, by the

European Commission. I think they are progressive and I think they are wise.

KOSIK: And so, now you're pivoting to how to do it. So, if you look for emissions in sectors like transportation, residential commercial building,

a big barrier there is that these cannot be changed on a dime, let's say making those 2030 targets a very tough reach, right?

JORGENSEN: Well, it is going to be difficult. On the other hand, a country like mine has already, for decades, shown that you can make a green

transformation in a way that is actually beneficial for your economy.

So, for instance, using more renewables. If we look at offshore wind for instance, that used to be a very expensive way of creating energy. Today,

it competes with coal and nuclear power almost everywhere on the planet.

So, for the Commission today to propose that we have a much higher target, binding target on renewable energy is, I think, a very good way to go about


KOSIK: Yes, but there are lots of questions on whether this is -- look, we all want to clean up the environment. That's a given. But this is a lot,

all at once, some would say, you know, especially for business, costs are huge including a tax on steel and aluminum imports with nations that have

less stringent rules.

Plus, we are in the middle of a pandemic, and we've got global economies dealing with that. Is this too costly all at once? How do you offset that?

JORGENSEN: Well, first of all, think about the alternative. If we don't do anything to save our planet, the costs for all of us will be much higher.

Having said that, if we just look at the investments that we need, yes, they are big, but it is investments and it will make our societies better.

My own country, we've decided to reduce not by 55 percent, which is the target of the E.U. but by 70 percent.

And we don't plan on doing this in a way that will cost us jobs and competitiveness. Actually, we plan on doing it in a way that will do the


KOSIK: What about the prospect of possibly hurting trade relationships by punishing other countries for having softer environmental rules? How

concerned are you maybe about hurting trade relationships with Russia, China, even the United States?

JORGENSEN: Well, I am concerned about that, obviously, because free trade globally is a good thing. On the other hand, we need to find a way of

solving the problem that if a country or a group of countries like the E.U. regulates its industry and thereby increases the cost of production, that

the production then just moves to other parts of the world. I mean, that wouldn't be fair and it definitely wouldn't help the climate.

So what we are proposing now is to find a way to say, okay, if you're producing cement or steel or concrete and you are put in a situation where

your expenses increase, then to make sure that you're not out-competed by for instance, Chinese industry that doesn't have the same expenses, we put

a tax on the produce from China for instance.

I think it is actually a pretty fair idea. Now, how we then do it in practice, to keep it into the line of the W.T.O. rules, that is going to be


KOSIK: What is your message to critics who say the targets as they are right now, that this just can't be done?

JORGENSEN: Well, read the science reports from the International Climate Panel. They will tell you that if we don't do anything, then we will all --

and by that, I mean, all countries of the world will spend a lot more money on adapting to climate change in the future.

Also look at the International Energy Agency. They've just put forward a road map to show us that these transformations can actually be done and

they can be done in a way that will be a growth strategy as opposed to a strategy that will hurt our competitiveness.


KOSIK: Okay, Dan Jorgensen, grateful for your time today. Thank you.

JORGENSEN: You're welcome.

KOSIK: Spain's Economy Minister says the country is preparing to spend billions of dollars on a green sustainable economy. Nadia Calvino says

growth has been allowed to prosper by the country's vaccine rollout.


NADIA CALVINO, SPANISH ECONOMY MINISTER: What is clear is that the vaccine is a game changer that since the month of March, we saw that the progress

with vaccination was also making us go into a different phase in terms of the economic recovery.

The Spanish economy is recovering very strongly. Everybody is foreseeing a very strong growth in 2021 and 2022, that Spain will be one of the engines

of growth in Europe and worldwide. And that is, I think, the new situation.


KOSIK: And Richard Quest will be back with you on tomorrow night's program live from Southern Spain. You'll hear his full interview with the Economy

Minister as well as the Chief Executives of Iberia and Telefonica. That's Thursday night only CNN.

The Fed's refrain has been that inflation is transitory and there is no immediate need to raise rates. Chairman Jerome Powell gave Congress a more

specific timeframe at today's hearing in Washington.

I'll have details, next.


KOSIK: The Fed Chair, Jerome Powell told Congress that he expects U.S. inflation to exceed the Central Bank's two percent target for about six

months. He said the current spike is the result of an economy coming back to life.


JEROME POWELL, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: Inflation has increased notably and will likely remain elevated in the coming months before moderating.

Inflation is being temporarily boosted by base effects as the sharp pandemic-related price increases from last spring drop out of 12-month


In addition, strong demand in sectors for production bottlenecks or other supply constraints have limited production has led to especially rapid

price increases for some goods and services, which should partially reverse as the effects of the bottleneck unwind.

Prices for services that were hard hit by the pandemic have also jumped in recent months as demand for these services has surged with the reopening of

the economy.


KOSIK: In his testimony to U.S. lawmakers, Powell acknowledged that inflation is well above the Fed's desired rate. The consumer price index

hit 5.4 percent year-over-year in June. It has been rising steadily since crossing the two percent threshold back in March.

Clare Sebastian is here now with us. So you know what, he had me at hello that inflation, this data, exceeded the Federal Reserve's expectation.

Hello? I mean, you would expect that he would say, listen, we're going to change our timeline here for tapering, but he has really stuck to his


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He still believes, Alison, the big question that inflation is transitory. He believes that

these are sort of issues related to the surge in demand and the supply chain constraints that we've seen as the economy has roared back. And he

thinks that they will go away of their own accord.

He is sticking firmly to that. He says, he acknowledges that it has come in faster and the price rises are higher than they would have wanted, but it

is still what he and the members of the Federal Reserve Committee would have expected given what else is happening in the economy.

And he said that combined with the fact that he feels the labor market still has a long way to go, he still wants to see more people come into the

labor force. He wants this recovery to be inclusive of all the sort of lowering kind of jobs that were lost during the pandemic that he believes

it is time still to wait, to do anything to taper, to raise rates, and he thinks acting prematurely would be a mistake.

But the other takeaway from this hearing in Congress that lasted about three hours this afternoon is that Members of Congress are extremely

worried. They say that it is already affecting people in their districts and they were pretty tough on the Fed Chair who did maintain his calm

throughout proceedings there -- Alison.

KOSIK: All right, I want to you stand by with us and listen to this, because over the past few weeks on this program, bankers and financial

experts, they have been sharing their thoughts on inflation. Listen.


DAVID RUBENSTEIN, COFOUNDER, THE CARLYLE GROUP: I don't think it is anything really to be alarmed, not really now. I worked in the White House

in the Carter years and we had double digit inflation. That's serious inflation. Inflation of three percent is not serious.

JEAN-YVES FILLION, CEO, BNP PARIBAS U.S.A.: What is driving the trends today are what we call transient actors. You know, logistical bottlenecks,

release of pent-up demand, reopening of some COVID-19 dependent sectors with a shortage of workforce, and this is the driver.

However, we are watching very closely some more permanent factors, such as wages.

SETH BERNSTEIN, CEO, ALLIANCEBERNSTEIN: Ultimately, we're not all that alarmed by it. The Fed needs inflation. It needs it badly. And so, to the

extent we got to 2.5 percent or three percent over the next couple of years, I don't think that that would cause the Fed to stop priming the



KOSIK: Okay, but here's the thing, Clare, we're coming out of a pandemic. This is kind of uncharted territory here. No one really knows for sure if

this is really transitory or not. There is no history really of this.

So, although we just heard you know these others say, it is transitory, it is transitory. The reality is, we really just don't know.

SEBASTIAN: And that is exactly what the Federal Reserve Chair, Jerome Powell did acknowledge as well in this hearing, Alison. He said, that we

think it is going to go this way, but we don't know. And I think one of the most telling parts of the hearing today was when he said, like, even if we

do have to act, even if it turns out that inflation doesn't come down of its own accord, it will still prove temporary because the Federal Reserve

has the tools and will be able to guide it down safely.

So, either way, it will prove to be transitory. He really did have his work cut out to reassure those Member of Congress there, Alison, that the Fed

isn't going to be behind the curve. This is something that the former Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin warned about today.

He said that he is concerned that if the Fed acts too slow, that inflation could spiral and then they'll have to raise rates much higher than is

needed in an economy that is still seeing its labor market recover. That is the concern that they could be too slow.

Jerome Powell said that he doesn't expect that to happen. He still expects that the Fed will be able to telegraph what they're doing, give the

markets, and the public time to prepare and then move ahead with normalizing monetary policy.

KOSIK: Oh, we will only know, time will tell. I hate that phrase, but really, in this case, that is really how it will be. Clare Sebastian,

thanks so much.

U.S. markets are fairly flat as investors digest Powell's testimony. They are also taking into account the latest batch of earnings.

Bank of America, Blackrock and Citigroup are all down after posting increases in profit. Bank of America and Citigroup also reported drops in

second quarter revenue. Bank of America blamed the decline on low interest rates.

Paul La Monica is here with us now. So, we are seeing slower fixed income trading as well.


LA MONICA: Yes, I think the banks are recognizing that the volatility that we had a year ago in the midst of the COVID concerns that were rattling

financial markets, things have gotten a lot calmer, which is paradoxically not the best of news for the big banks when's it comes to trading,

particularly on the fixed income side. So, I think that is one issue that hurt Bank of America a little bit.

But the consumer remains very strong in part due to all the stimulus that - - you know, the checks that people have received because of the pandemic, and you saw Citigroup having a really great quarter, new CEO, Jane Fraser

having, I think, you know, some very positive things to say about the credit card business at Citi.

Wells Fargo, the comeback kid. This has been a bank that has been hurt really badly by bad P.R. because of the scandals that they've had in the

past few years. They are now slowly making a comeback as well and I think low rates are clearly helping on the consumer side of things even though it

does hurt things like bond trading and other parts of bank businesses.

KOSIK: Yes, I want to ask you a broad question about the markets here. I am just seeing a lot of complacency after we got that sort of bombshell

inflation report yesterday. How concerned are you about the market reaction to what is going on in the economy?

LA MONICA: Yes, it is a bit perplexing, Alison, that bond investors in particular, when you look at what happened with the yield on the 10-year,

it has gone down and has held relatively stable. The message seems to be that the bond market actually believes what Fed Chair Jerome Powell and

other Central Bankers have been saying that inflation is transitory, and I think that really is the big question.

These headline numbers about rising consumer prices are very scary. But is this the peak? That is what remains to be seen. Jerome Powell is clearly

betting that yes, they are not going to run much higher from these levels. If he's wrong, then the Fed probably has to start raising rates a lot more

aggressively in the near future, and that is something I don't think the market is pricing in at all.

KOSIK: Yes. We definitely would see the market reaction then. What do you think is the next catalyst for the markets?

LA MONICA: I think we are getting through this second quarter earnings period where the results have been very good, but I think people knew that

they would be great because of the recovery from the nadir that we had in the summer of 2020. I think going forward, investors want to see what a

normalized market and economy does for Corporate America and corporate profits. That I think is going to be a catalyst.

And I think also, you know, President Biden has to say sooner or later if he is going to reappoint Fed Chair Powell for a second term because his

term runs out in February. I think the market wants Powell to get a second term in the same way that Ben Bernanke did under President Obama in the

midst of a crisis.

So, I think you know that is going to be, I think a potential good catalyst if President Biden shows that there will be continuity with regards to

economic policy, and I think, you know, Powell and Yellen seem to be getting along fairly well. Both of them obviously, share history of being

the head of the Federal Reserve.

KOSIK: Right. They're old friends. Paul La Monica, my friend, good to see you.

LA MONICA: Thank you.

KOSIK: Hackers hacked? The cyber hackers known as REvil have mysteriously vanished from the internet. The ransomware group is believed to operate out

of Russia and Eastern Europe. It is accused of major attacks like the one on JBS Foods.

The cybersecurity company CrowdStrike says it has counted ransom demands of $164 million this year alone.

The CEO of CrowdStrike spoke to CNN earlier about how the ransom paid to these hackers is changing their tactics.


GEORGE KURTZ, CEO, CROWDSTRIKE: We've seen the impact they've had. We've seen the dollars raised by them. And obviously, ransomware is problematic

for every company right now, every organization. And you know, it certainly could be that they took themselves down and will reconstitute. They've done

it in the past. They were part of a former group that reconstituted themselves are REvil.

But you also have to look at the political motivations behind this. Obviously, there is a tremendous amount of pressure from both the U.S.

government and perhaps the Russian government to get this shut down given the current conversations the governments is having with each other.

So, I think it remains to be seen. I'm surprised we haven't seen a real official announcement by any of the those parties, but we'll wait and see.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, FIRST MOVE: How easy is it for a nation state to deactivate cyber hackers like this? Because they were

midway through negotiations with firms or businesses that they locked up data for, and obviously were negotiating a ransom. And all of that

infrastructure disappeared as well.


KURTZ: Well, that's part of the problem. If you're in the middle of negotiating with them and their infrastructure is down and the shop is

closed up, you're pretty much out of luck at getting your data back.

It depends. Certainly, governments have the capabilities to be able to disrupt their operations, and if they were asked by the Russian government,

they probably would comply.


KOSIK: South Africa is deploying the military as demonstrators clash with police across the country and set buildings ablaze. A live report from

Johannesburg is up next.


KOSIK: Welcome back, I'm Alison Kosik. There is more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment when we'll be live in South Africa where dozens have been

killed after a violent protest turned deadly.

And as more companies call their workers back into the office, I'll speak to the CEO of U.S. real estate giant, Colliers about his predictions for

the post-pandemic workplace.

Before that, the headlines this hour.

Haitian Police are searching for 10 new suspects in connection with the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. The new list was created after

the rest of Christian Emmanuel Sanon, the man accused of orchestrating the plot. So far, 39 people including at least three U.S. citizens are now

suspects in the investigation.

Anti-government activists in Cuba say more than a hundred people have been arrested or are missing following widespread protests. Officials say one

person died Monday in clashes with police.

These are Cuba's largest protests in decades as anger grows over shortages of food and medicine.

In response to recent racist online abuse of English football players, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says social media companies will face

fines if they don't remove hate speech from their platforms.




KOSIK: Police in South Africa say they've arrested more than 1,700 people, as deadly riots and looting continue in some areas of the country over the

imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma.

The political anger has turned into complete chaos over the past few days, leaving scenes like this one, as malls are looted by protesters. So far,

officials say at least 72 people have been killed in the violence. David McKenzie joins me live from Johannesburg.

David, what's the latest?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest is that the defense minister is calling on more troops to be prepared to get out onto the

streets to protect people, their livelihoods, their homes, after what has been a very bad few days.

In fact, the worst several days of unrest this country has seen since the dawn of democracy. Now those troops might restore order and there is a bit

more calm at this hour, though there has still been sporadic looting. But the impact of this unrest is incredible.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): In the end, after the mayhem, there is nothing left for the looters to take.

MCKENZIE: It is almost incomprehensible what has happened here. The alarms are going off. This is the center of life in Soweto. It's like a bomb went

off here. Everything is destroyed. Everything is taken. And it took just a few hours.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): The president vowed to arrest and prosecute those responsible. He called for calm but few listened.

In Durban, a city center left gutted, aerial footage showing the sheer scale of destruction.

In this food line, they are only allowed to buy 15 items each because there just isn't enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has failed the people. And all these government workers, that includes the army and the police,

have really failed us. And it is so sad to see the communities not protect themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We say no to looting of our own establishment.

MCKENZIE: Just describe what it has been like to try and defend this mall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been hell. These guys that have been shooting at us for the last four days (ph).

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Vigilantes did what the police did not. Nhlanhla Lux (ph) says they battled armed attackers through night to save Maponya Mall,

the pride of Soweto.

Nhlanhla Lux (ph), Soweto community leader: We said, men of Soweto will rise (ph), will unite, will come together and make sure that the business,

the communities, the women and children are protected.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Protected but now Petronella (ph) is forced to buy bread from a truck.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) we are going to end up (INAUDIBLE) are going to end up not having food for the next coming days and weeks.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Duda Mpose (ph) forced to pick through the debris and ruin to salvage anything from a pharmacy. But there was nothing left to



MCKENZIE: Tonight, I'm speaking to South Africans who are out on patrol, protecting their livelihoods. This kind of community banding together

because they feel they've been failed by the state. This is across the traditional racial and ethnic and class lines of this country, people

feeling they've been failed by president Cyril Ramaphosa, the military and the police.

Though it must be said, things are calming down somewhat. The long term impact is still hard to fathom. The president himself said that food

shortages could be happening, medicine shortages. And this is all in the midst of a very bad third wave of COVID-19. The vaccine distribution has

slowed down.


MCKENZIE: Even if the violence stops and it stays capture, the impacts will be felt for a very long time.

KOSIK: David, thank you for bringing us those pictures, just incredible. Thanks for your reporting.

From South Africa to Cuba, to Haiti, countries around the world have been gripped by unrest. The common thread: they've all been hit hard by the

pandemic and are lagging behind other nations when it comes to vaccination rates. As CNN's Nic Robertson explains, some people are laying the blame

firmly at the door of their government.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: From Cuba to Haiti, South Africa to Lebanon, tinder dry tensions are igniting, triple the

economies burdened by COVID-19 are partly to blame.

In Cuba, angry citizens, incensed by lack of food, medicine and freedom as well as spiraling COVID-19 infections are getting beaten back by police for

demanding the ouster of president Miguel Diaz-Canel.

In the national broadcast, he blamed Cuba's economic woes on U.S. sanctions imposed under former president Trump.

MIGUEL DIAZ-CANEL, CUBAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We explained to the Cuban people very clearly that we were about to enter a very rough

period of time.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): The reality is Cuba's weak economy and health care system is being brought to its knees by COVID-19, infections soaring, only

a little more than 16 percent of Cubans fully vaccinated. The United States is watching with concern.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: People are deeply, deeply, deeply tired of the repression that has gone on for far too long, tired of the

mismanagement of the Cuban economy, tired of the lack of adequate food and, of course, inadequate response to the COVID pandemic.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Haiti also a concern for the U.S. The audacious assassination of President Jovenel Moise last week topped weeks of deadly

streets protests and fighting, fueled poverty and factional infighting.

The impoverished Caribbean nation, which has been an economic basket case for week, saw its street violence ramp up in recent weeks concurrent with a

spike in COVID-19 cases in late June.

In South Africa, where COVID-19 infections have been spiking and vaccination rates are low, the economic inequalities are high. The army has

been brought in to quell deadly rioting, triggered by the jailing of the former president Jacob Zuma on contempt of court charges.

And Lebanon, too, is hitting a crisis, exacerbating pre-existing tensions of poor COVID readiness, protests and anger ever present as rocketing

inflation, rolling power outages roil passions. The nation reeling from the economic impact of decades of Syrian civil war next door, compounded by

years of political infighting.

And to cap it all, a port blast last summer shredding much of central Beirut.

And Iraq this week became the latest country where tinder-dry frustrations combusted as they touched the nation's war- and COVID-weary population.

Oxygen tanks for treating COVID-19 patients at a hospital exploded, killing more than 90 people.

Within hours, nearby residents took to the streets, demanding better from their government. Living with COVID-19 has become not just a way of life

but a salutary warning for leaders everywhere -- Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


KOSIK: When we return, we'll meet one group bringing solar powered water to communities in Ghana as part of the fight against COVID-19.





KOSIK: Welcome back. I'm Alison Kosik. We're counting down to Expo 2020 in Dubai in October. It will showcase some of the bright ideas which have

evolved in the fight against COVID-19. Eleni Giokos looks at two projects, making a difference to everyday lives.



ELENI GIOKOS, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From improving hand hygiene in Ghana to maintaining social distancing in Belgium, COVID-19 has

posed many unique challenges.

In this village, Project Maji, a social enterprise, has been providing solar-powered filtered water to communities since 2015. Despite water being

a finite resource, they recognize the importance of hand washing in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and began educating communities on hand

hygiene and developed a safe, simple and low-cost invention to help them do it.

SUNIL LALVANI, PROJECT MAJI: What we've come up with is handwashing station where we have eliminated the single biggest weakness of a traditional hand

washing station, which is closing the tap after you've washed your hands manually. So we came up with a foot operated station which is so easy to

make and maintain by villagers.

GIOKOS (voice-over): More than 750 handwashing stations called Maji Buckets and a soap distribution campaign have been deployed to 90 communities

across Ghana, impacting, according to Project Maji, the lives of some 75,000 people.

In this workplace in Antwerp, maintaining social distancing caused its own challenge. At Atlas Copko, a compressor manufacturer, keeping its 3,000

workers safe was a top priority.

BART BAES, ATLAS COPKO: The most important, of course, was making sure we kept our distance of 1.5 meters at all times to work in a safe way.

GIOKOS (voice-over): They turned to Belgian firm Lopos, who decides safe distance, a wearable device that uses alarms, lights and vibrations to warn

when social distancing is not being respected.

PETER VAN ROOSBROECK, LOPOS: I think the most important thing is that we provided a technology that is configurable, even when government

regulations changed and it's not 1.5 but maybe 2 meters or 1.3, then all of our clients can just configure the technology and continue to use it.

GIOKOS (voice-over): Lopos says it has dispatched 25,000 devices so far. Now those behind safe distance and Maji Buckets are among a number of

projects chosen by Expo 2020's global-based practice program that will get a chance to showcase their innovations during the six-month event from

October -- Eleni Giokos, CNN, Dubai.



KOSIK: And we've got news just in to CNN. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is being transferred to a hospital in Sao Paulo for tests to

determine if he needs emergency surgery.


KOSIK: He has been in a military hospital in Brazil under observation because of abdominal pains caused by hiccups. Presumably these are more

health complications stemming from that 2018 assassination. As we get more, we will bring it to you.

Let's go to a break and we'll be right back.




KOSIK: More now on our breaking news. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is being transferred to a hospital in Sao Paulo for tests to determine if he

needs emergency surgery. Let's go straight to our Shasta Darlington, who is live for us in Sao Paulo.

Shasta, what's the latest?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alison, that's right. This is an unexpected development. As you mentioned, he is being

transferred to this hospital in Sao Paulo. It is still not clear whether or not he will need surgery.

But we do know they found an intestinal obstruction. Bolsonaro will undergo additional tests to see what needs to be done next. He actually took to

Twitter to talk about what's going on, calling this latest health problem, quote, "one more challenge, a consequence of the assassination attempt in


Of course, he's referring to a campaign rally back then, when he was stabbed in the abdomen. The attack happened while he was being carried on

the shoulders of a supporter. He was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery at that time and he has since had numerous interventions to remove

a colostomy bag, unblock his intestine and for hernias.

In his tweet on Wednesday, he thanked supporters and urged them to stick by him. Bolsonaro was originally taken to a hospital in the capital of

Brasilia. This was so he could be under observation for 24 to 28 hours due to chronic hiccups and the abdominal pain that those were causing.

He underwent tests. He has apparently been suffering from these bouts of hiccups for more than a week. He complained about them during a live on

Facebook last Thursday, warning viewers he might not be able to express himself properly.

At that time he said it might be due to medications from dental implants. He is clearly now tying this to the assassination attempt in 2018, which

was a real turning point in the electoral campaigns.

It was at that moment that support really started to build the momentum in his campaign started to be built. So it definitely is an interesting --

interesting that he's doing that now.


DARLINGTON: Considering he is facing arguably the most difficult time of his presidency. He is facing record lows in approval ratings. He's in the

midst of a congressional inquiry into his government's handling of the pandemic.

And all of this has come to a head, just when he's having new health problems. So we'll be keeping a close eye on what happens here in Sao

Paulo, when he goes through these new tests and whether or not surgery is required.

KOSIK: Okay. Shasta Darlington, thank you for that update.

More companies are making plans to return to the office. GM plans to rebuild a new $71 million campus in Southern California. One of its top

execs said virtual work can only get you so far.

TikTok is asking employees in the U.S., U.K. and Ireland to spend three days a week at the office. And Google is reopening its California offices

on a voluntary basis.

Gil Borok is the CEO and president of Colliers US, a leading commercial real estate firm and he joins me live from Los Angeles via Skype.

Great to see you.


So your firm is paid to fill offices. I'm curious how that's going and where are occupancy levels, at least from your view.

Thank you. It's very topical. It is slow going still but a lot better today than maybe even two or three months ago. There is definitely a return to

work. There's definitely a return to cities; if you take New York City, for example, just this morning, I was reading and confirming my thoughts around

the fact the demand for apartments is going up significantly.

And the incentives to get people into apartments from landlords are going down. So that's a very good sign in terms of the working population

returning to New York. Of course, they will return differently to the office but it is a very good sign that more and more people are being

called back.

And offices are starting to fill up. And I think that will be an ongoing trend here through the summer, until Labor Day, when a lot of companies --

or right after Labor Day, a lot of companies, including Colliers, are requiring employees to come back to the office.

KOSIK: But as many stories as you're hearing about people coming back, there are stories of many companies retreating, meaning allowing employees

to full time work from home. There is expected to be a change, even when autumn comes.

How can your company prepare for that?

BOROK: Yes, I think that we are going to, at least for the foreseeable future, have a different way of utilizing the office. There is a very

popular belief that the office will be more of a gathering place, more of a place for meetings and interaction, to drive collaboration, to drive

culture and that sort of thing.

But not using it as a 9-5 every day the way it was historically. The term that's being used generally to describe it is some kind of hybrid approach

to using the office, allowing folks more flexibility to not have to come in every day and to not necessarily come in at set hours.

But the vast majority will be coming back I think for some portion of the week, probably three to four days.

KOSIK: To fill vacancies, is Colliers looking to maybe be a little more creative and maybe offer lower prices for spaces?

Are there incentives for leases or subleases?

BOROK: So we broker transactions and manage buildings and are not landlords ourselves. But we represent a number of landlords. And, yes, there have

been incentives to bring occupiers back to the table and to entice occupiers to sign leases.

Those are diminishing as the demand for space goes up. Then the market moves more toward or in favor of the landlord versus the tenant.

So there have been incentives. I think, more importantly, the incentive to bring people back in will be, as I mentioned, around flexibility and

amenities and making the experience of going to the office that much more pleasant than it might have been historically. And I think that's what will

drive people back to the office in the short term.

KOSIK: You have your finger on the pulse of your industry.

Do you think the next economic crisis is empty retail space?

As retailers go fully online, is commercial real estate cratering?

BOROK: No, I don't think so. With regard to retail, what I think is being understood now, after months of stores being relatively empty, is that the

retailers that will do the best are those that practice what is known as omnichannel.


BOROK: That means to say they're both online and have a bricks and mortar presence. I hear a number of people complaining that they go into stores

and there's not enough inventory. And a number of people want to get back into stores and shop that way.

In addition, while many people have turned to shopping online, they will often return to the store. What a missed opportunity by the store if they

don't have inventory when someone comes in to make a purchase, an impulse purchase, and the inventory isn't there for them to do so. So I think

omnichannel is the successful wave of the future for retail.

KOSIK: OK, Gil Borok, CEO and president of Colliers US, great talking with you.

BOROK: You, too, thank you.

KOSIK: And there are just moments left to trade on Wall Street. We'll have the final numbers and the closing bell right after this.




KOSIK: There are just moments left to trade on Wall Street. The Dow is up but not by much. It was briefly above 35,000 early in the session, despite

that inflation report. Inflation certainly becoming the buzzword of the week.

The Fed chair, Jay Powell, on Capitol Hill keeping his stance, saying inflation is transitory in the U.S.

Let's look at the Dow. It's about an even split between winners and losers. Apple is in the lead. Bloomberg reports Apple is increasing production of a

new iPhone model to come out this fall.

Markets are in the red in Europe but not by much, though. The FTSE is down less than 0.5 percent. The Zurich is down less than 0.25 percent and the

DAX and the CAC are flat.

That's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Alison Kosik in New York. The closing bell is about to ring on Wall Street. Richard Quest will be back with you

tomorrow for his show. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" will start next. See you soon.