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Hala Gorani Tonight

U.K. Prime Minister: England on Track to Lift Restrictions on July 19th; Duchess of Cambridge Self-Isolating After COVID Contact; Russia Reports Spikes in COVID Cases and Deaths; U.S. Exit Prompts Concerns Of Taliban Resurgence; Jeff Bezos Officially Steps Down As Amazon CEO; Pollution From Sunken Ship Devastates Marine Life. Aired 2-3p ET.

Aired July 05, 2021 - 14:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNNI HOST: Hello everyone, live from CNN London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. If not now, then when? The British Prime Minister says he's

ready to open the nation up, but admits cases are rising and more people will die. Also ahead, desperate scenes in Japan where 80 people are missing

after a devastating tsunami of mud.

And just days after the Americans leave a major base in Afghanistan, many families are already fleeing a rapidly advancing Taliban. What's next for

the country? We'll have analysis. We just heard from the British Prime Minister saying England is on track to lift most of its remaining

coronavirus restrictions on July 19th. It's right around the corner. Boris Johnson says we must start learning to live with COVID-19.


BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: We must be honest with ourselves that if we can't reopen our society in the next few weeks when we

will be helped by the arrival of Summer and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves, when will we be able to return to normal?


GORANI: This means big changes for this country. Two weeks from today, no more rule of six, meet as many people as you like come July 19th. No social

distancing. Pubs can fill up. Visitors can belly-up to the bar. Face masks will be optional. Experts are warning Mr. Johnson against this so-called,

quote, "irreversible reopening". This is why it's risky. This is a time line of the average of new cases over the course of the pandemic. You can

see the sharp uptick in cases recently, over 20,000 daily on a seven-day average.

But take a look at the numbers the prime minister is apparently betting on. COVID-related deaths are staying close to zero, in the teens, low 20s,

usually on a day-to-day basis. Bianca Nobilo has been monitoring Johnson's press conference and joins us now live in London. So, some scientists are

telling him it's too soon to lift all the restrictions on masks especially. Why is the prime minister making this decision now instead of delaying it?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, the British Medical Association and other scientists have come out and said that it's unwise to

lift regulations in all areas at once, especially as you just demonstrated with those graphs, we're seeing such a surge on account of the Delta

variant in the United Kingdom. Well, Boris Johnson is saying that he's making this decision today ahead of the 19th of July to give people lots of

notice because of the weakening of the relationship between cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

However, it's not quite as optimistic as that sounded initially, because although vaccines are effective against the Delta variant, they are less

effective. And the chief medical officer as well as the prime minister today both admitted that we are going to see more hospitalizations and

deaths across the United Kingdom if and when these regulations are eased. It's just inevitable.

But this is a decision that the prime minister says he's going to make now because if he doesn't end the legal requirements for masks, for social

distancing, for gatherings indoors or even outdoors that are private, then he's not going to be able to do it in Winter, because there is the

expectation that there will be more pressure on the NHS because there always is because of flu and other things in the Winter and that COVID may

yet again be an issue then. So, he says we've got to do it now if people want to reclaim those freedoms. That's his argument, Hala.

GORANI: All right. The question many of our viewers will have who are not currently in the U.K. is what if I want to visit the country because the

prime minister is maintaining the quarantine requirements for amber countries. So, those are countries that are on the red list, that have

cases of COVID, but not in the kind of way that creates an immediate issue if they travel to this country. So, why on the one hand domestically lift

all the restrictions and then on the other, when it comes to visitors, keep them all in place?

NOBILO: Yes, there's still a lot of opacity around that. But we're expecting perhaps to hear a bit more, and we might next week, about what's

going to happen for people who are double vaccinated if they want to go abroad to amber-less countries or other places, are they going to need to

isolate for the same length of time if they go abroad or if they come into contact with someone who tests positive.


That wasn't sort of explicitly laid out, and I suspect that's because the prime minister and his conservative party are reticent at creating a so-

called two-tiered United Kingdom, where people who have elected to have a vaccine are treated differently than those who haven't, even though many

might argue that, that would be a sensible road to take. So, we don't yet have enough information on that.

And it's something that you hear a lot of people in Britain complaining about as well because there's so many people being told to isolate as cases

are surging, as there are numbers above one, and the test trace system is being used, paying people left, right and centre.

So, hopefully there will be some more clarity on those matters, you know, as we go forward into the next few weeks. But the leader of the Labor Party

Keir Starmer has called this approach from the prime minister reckless, and it's also been heavily criticized from the leader of the biggest trade

union in the U.K. unite, the Liberal Democrat Party, many scientists, as you said, Hala.

So, there's a lot of push-back already even from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan not ruling out potentially keeping masks mandated on public transports

in London because we know how dangerous those areas can be when it comes to contracting COVID when there's such a small amount of ventilation and

people are in such close proximity.

GORANI: Yes, well, even the chief adviser to the government is saying that in cramped, enclosed spaces, he would continue to wear a masks. And that

obviously fits certainly the definition and the environment that we see on public transport, especially in big cities like London. Bianca, thanks very

much for joining us. Let's get more perspective now on England's COVID road map.

David King is the chair of Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies known as SAGE, and he's the former chief scientific adviser to

the U.K. government. He joins me from Cambridge, England. Thanks very much for being with us. What is your reaction to the government's plan to lift

all remaining restrictions essentially on July 19th? Is it too soon?

DAVID KING, CHAIR, INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY GROUP FOR EMERGENCIES: Hala, I have to say in agreement with all the other scientists you have

spoken to, yes, it is too soon. It is also very strange when we say that if we carried on in a semi-lockdown and remember, we're not in a full lockdown

now, soon until the Winter, we'd be in difficulty. And it's very difficult to understand that except in the following way.

They -- the government, are managing two forms of antibody development in the population of Britain. One form is through vaccination. And so, that's

the big program to vaccinate as many adults over the age of 18 as they can get to. But the second is the children, the under 18s. And there, they must

be going for antibodies produced by infection, which means herd immunity.


KING: And we in the past that we believed the government was chasing herd immunity policy before. Now, there are many problems with this, one of

which -- you talk about travel. This means that children cannot travel anywhere because are not vaccinated. So, families with children will not be

able to travel abroad at least this year. The second is -- sorry.

GORANI: No, go ahead, please continue your thought.

KING: Sorry?

GORANI: Continue, please, sorry, I thought you had finished your thought, sir. Go ahead.

KING: No, I was going to say -- and there's been no mention of the problems of the long COVID. So --

GORANI: Yes --

KING: The estimate is that 1 million people in Britain have suffered long COVID, which is defined as more than 12 weeks with COVID. As 385,000 have

long COVID over 12 months or more. So, the problem is that if we let this disease run in the country, and as long as children have it, the remaining

people who haven't been vaccinated -- and that's a significant percentage are all at risk of picking it up from --


KING: Of course, there's another problem which is --

GORANI: No, I just -- if I can -- if I can just jump in because one of the chief advisors, Chris Whitty, was asked by a reporter, when would you

continue to wear a mask after July 19th?

And his answer essentially contradicted the government's plans because he said, whenever I'm indoors, whenever it's crowded, whenever there's no

ventilation, and whenever someone feels more comfortable with me wearing a mask around them. And so, it's interesting to have really the top medical

adviser contradict what the prime minister has just announced that his government's plans are after July 19th. Don't you think?

KING: Yes, absolutely. And so, the government is saying people should still wear masks if they wish to. So, it's a voluntary thing. But there's a

missing point here, which is if I wear a mask, it's to help everybody else.


GORANI: Yes --

KING: I'm not helped very much by everyone else not wearing a mask when I am. So, I think, you know, there's so many contradictions and difficult

points in all of this. So, I think, however, the government has been very keen to -- they call it freedom day, July 19th, to allow everyone their

freedom. But they're --

GORANI: Yes --

KING: Allowing on their freedom. There will be many more fatalities. There will be massive numbers of people in our hospitals. What about all those

people with urgent operations, such as cancer, that have already had to be delayed for so long because of the number of people with COVID-19 in the


GORANI: We sent a -- we sent a team out on the street just to ask sort of ordinary Brits what they think about the lifting of remaining restrictions.

And this is what they said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's down to the individuals really. I will still wear my mask in confined spaces, but I think we've got to live with this

now. We have to live with this virus and we have to get on with it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's too late, but I'm very much looking forward to it, I can assure you. I think it's just dragged on too long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's probably high time they were relaxed, but then again I've got concerns about people who are going to be exposed, who

are vulnerable.


GORANI: So, this is obviously not a scientific poll, but I mean, it gives you a sense of the people saying -- and many of them are -- look, it's time

to just move on. We'll just live with the virus and it is what it is. It'll be in our lives for many more years potentially.

KING: And of course that --

GORANI: Do you think that -- do you think that the prime minister was making more of a political calculation than one based in science?

KING: Well, yes. But remember what I've just said about herd immunity, plus, you know, vaccines, plus infection giving us herd immunity. So, there

is a point in what they're doing, but at what cost in terms of lives and in terms of suffering. Anyone who's got long COVID is going to be -- have

their lives significantly shortened because this disease attacks the lungs. It attacks the organs. And this does shorten lives. So, I think, you know,

it is a very difficult policy. They have mismanaged this epidemic from the beginning.

GORANI: Right --

KING: And the cost they're playing is this very large number. We've just got to remember the doubling period in days. So, by the July 19th, it will

be over 50,000 people with the disease per day being reported.

GORANI: Yes --

KING: And that is going to keep rising.

GORANI: Yes, David --

KING: And the peak of the last terrible wave, we were at 60,000. So, we're going to reach that peak and go beyond it.

GORANI: The calculation is not as many hospitalizations, certainly, not as many deaths, but the number of cases, we'll see if that translates then to

much higher hospitalization and sadly deaths. Inevitably, this will happen. David King, thank you so much for joining us, as always, a pleasure talking

to you. And staying --

KING: Thank you --

GORANI: In Britain, the duchess of Cambridge is self-isolating after she came into contact with someone who has since tested positive for COVID-19.

Kate Middleton is not experiencing symptoms, but a royal spokesperson says she's following the government guidelines. She takes a lateral flow test

twice a week, she's fully vaccinated according to a royal source. She was last tested at both Wimbledon and the Euros, both were negative.

COVID-19 cases are surging once again in Russia. The country just reported its highest number of new daily infections since January, and on Saturday,

Russia marked its highest number of daily deaths since the start of the pandemic for the fifth consecutive day. Take a look at the graphic. It

gives you a sense of just how much the number of deaths on the graph is on the up. Authorities say the contagious Delta variant is partly to blame.

But a CNN Matthew Chance reports there is one other major factor behind the surge.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, Russia is continuing its grim run of record-breaking daily COVID infections,

posting more than 25,000 new cases on Sunday. Another 24,000 in the past 24 hours according to official figures, some of the highest tallies in Russia

since the pandemic began.

The death toll has also been very high as well. Part of the problem, the Delta variant. Russian scientists say the highly infectious strain of the

virus is spreading across Russia. And Russia state media recently carried a rare admission that the country's home grown vaccine, Sputnik V, is less

effective against Delta than against other strains.


But the major factor that the infections are surging, say Russian officials, is the extremely low rate of vaccinations across the country.

Russia has one of the highest levels of vaccine hesitancy in the world. Conspiracy theories about the safety of the vaccine, about the reason for

the vaccination seem to have taken hold. Many Russians simply don't trust the jab that was the first in the world to be registered for public use.

Belatedly, the Kremlin has started to act.

Last week, President Vladimir Putin urged Russians to listen to experts rather than rumors about the vaccine and viruses. In addition, tough new

rules have been put in place, effectively compelling people who work in close contact with the public, like in the transport sector or in bars and

restaurants, to get vaccinated by next week or face dismissal. But with parliamentary elections in September, there's little talk here of imposing

another unpopular national lockdown, fueling concerns about this -- that this new wave of COVID-19 in Russia will continue to surge, Hala.

GORANI: Thanks very much, Matthew. Luxembourg's prime minister has COVID. He's reportedly in serious but stable condition. According to "Reuters",

the government's statement said Xavier Bettel was admitted to hospital on Sunday with persistent symptoms including insufficient oxygen saturation.

Now, the prime minister is only 48 years old and he tested positive for COVID-19 just over a week ago, and that was following an EU Summit in

Brussels. We'll keep an eye on the case of the Luxembourg prime minister.

And the Netherlands, by the way, you know, all these events where they tell people you can come in if you test negative with a lateral flow test, well,

listen to this story, it doesn't always work out. A dance party may be to blame for a rise in coronavirus cases in the eastern part of the country.

"The Daily Beast" reports 165 people out of about 650 night club goers tested positive for the virus in the city of Enschede. It comes despite

customers having to present vaccine certificates or negative tests.

Still to come, a major hurdle is gone as emergency teams dig through the rubble of that collapsed Florida high-rise searching for survivors. We have

the very latest. Plus, promises of an investigation in Japan as hundreds of rescue workers tried to save residents of a town that was completely

overcome by a giant mudslide. We'll show you the dramatic images coming up next.



GORANI: Well, emergency teams have resumed their search for survivors, hopefully, still at the stage at the collapsed Florida high-rise after the

remaining structure was demolished late Sunday night. You'll remember, it wasn't the entire building that collapsed. It was only part of it. Rescue

teams say it will by demolishing the rest of it, it will give them more access to the site and make conditions safer.

One of the major reasons for the demolition is the approaching Tropical Storm Elsa. It is expected to bring thunderstorms and gusty winds to the

recovery site in Surfside. Elsa is now making landfall on the south coast of Cuba, and it could result in significant flash flooding and mudslides

for Cuba. Experts predict it will strengthen even more before reaching Florida.

Well, in Japan, the search goes on for 80 people, 8-0, still missing after a massive landslide. But you can see here what difficult conditions

rescuers are facing. There's a dog there helping the rescuers, hoping potentially the rescuers, that this dog will help them sniff out survivors.

Even the search dogs though seem to be having a hard time in finding their footing in the mud. It is clear why when you see just how much land was

washed away. Look at the hill side, it looks more like a river bed.

That's where the land gave way, taking everything down with it, trees, homes and people. Blake Essig has more from Atami, Japan.


BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): After several days of torrential rain, the possibility of another landslide remains high. Well,

that's part of the reason road blocks like the one right behind me have been set up to keep people away from the disaster area.

(voice-over): It's hard to imagine anyone in its path could have survived a horrifying scene captured by residents on cell phone video.

YUJI SHIMA, MUDSLIDE SURVIVOR (through translator): The mudslide looked like a tsunami. It was like a big wave that made a thunderous noise and

came crashing down onto the ground.

ESSIG: It happened Saturday morning. A taunt of mud and water sent crashing through part of the city, this is what was left behind a path of

death and destruction turning what was once a residential area in the sea- side city of Atami into a wasteland. Atami city, officials say 130 homes have been destroyed, either buried or swept away. As of Monday, hundreds

are sheltering at evacuation centers and dozens more have either been reported missing or unaccounted for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I just really want to see my husband again, no matter how he's found.

ESSIG: This woman who didn't want to be named says her husband is one of those missing people. She hasn't heard from him since the landslide swept

through the city. While she says her home wasn't washed away, neighbors say her husband was outside at the time, likely was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a smaller mudslide in the morning. I think my husband was checking for updates on the news around it, but then the

huge one happened. I haven't been able to reach him since.

ESSIG: In the days that have followed, despite bad weather and the constant threat of another landslide, search and rescue crews' frantic

search for any signs of life continues. So far, more than two dozen people stranded inside structures have been rescued.

On the ground, crews sift through debris, can be heard using chain saws to cut their way through the wreckage, and are even using dogs to squeeze

inside partially collapsed buildings. From the sky, drones and helicopters are being used to survey the devastation while the coast guard scours the

coastline. A search for survivors in a place where the odds of finding them are increasingly slim.

(on camera): The governor of Shizuoka says that the prefecture will investigate the cause of this landslide, as some residents believe was man-

made. A one theory that will be investigated is whether it was caused by housing and development projects that have deforested the area above Atami

and possibly reduced the mountain's ability to retain water. Blake Essig, CNN, Atami, Japan.


GORANI: After eight months of brutal and deadly civil war, the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces are still disagreeing over how to end the

violence. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people in Tigray are now estimated to be in famine with nearly 2 million more people right on the

brink. CNN's Larry Madowo has more.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Truck loads of supplies bound for people desperate for food in Ethiopia's Tigray region stand still

at a check point for days. This footage filmed by "Reuters" more than a week ago shows sacks of aid eventually being unloaded from the trucks at a

warehouse near a check point controlled by government allied forces. The stockpile here is little help to the people of Tigray without enough to



The UN warns shipments like these are critical, as shortages of food in the war-torn region have sharply increased in the past few weeks.

RAMESH RAJASINGHAM, ACTING U.N. AID CHIEF: One of the most distressing trends is an alarming rise in food insecurity and hunger due to conflict.

More than 400,000 people are estimated to have crossed the threshold into famine, and another 1.8 million people are on the brink of famine.

MADOWO: The World Food Program says it has resumed operations in Tigray, but it's facing access problems from ongoing fighting and the destruction

of key supply routes like this bridge that a U.N. officials targeted by forces allied to the government. The European government denies blocking

aid and blames Tigrayan fighters for gutting the bridge. But the spokesman for the Tigray's People's Liberation Fund, which has been battling the

government in an eight-month civil war says the damage is part of the government's plan to cut off the region.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amhara and Abiy's forces are busy destroying, and blowing bridge. So, they could, one, prevent humanitarian aid from reaching

the people of Tigray. And second, more importantly for them to prevent Tigray defense forces from taking over the western part of Tigray.

MADOWO: The urgent need for food aid coinciding with a major shift in battle. A week ago, the Tigray defense forces retook the regional capital

Mek'ele. It's a blow to the government which with the help of Eritrean soldiers forced the fighters out of the city last November. The foreign

ministry criticized Tigrayan forces for at first rejecting a ceasefire called by the government.

DINA MUFTI, SPOKESMAN, FOREIGN MINISTRY, ETHIOPIA (through translator): The cessation of hostilities was taken unilaterally from our side. However,

to implement the ceasefire fully, it needs two to tango. The other side has to react appropriately.

MADOWO: But on Sunday, Tigray set out conditions for a negotiated ceasefire that include an independent investigation into alleged war crimes

and a safe corridor for aid to reach the region. This follows a show of power by Tigrayan forces as they paraded thousands of captured Ethiopian

soldiers through their recaptured territory.

But it's a victory that could be short lived. Food and fuel are running out in the city because of a blockade by Ethiopian forces. Eyewitnesses say

government forces and militias are obstructing roads out of the city, and there is no power there, leaving many homes without running water.

Conditions that will surely bring more misery to civilians if help does not arrive soon. Larry Madowo, CNN.


GORANI: Well, Pope Francis underwent colon surgery over the weekend. He's said to be doing OK, but he remains in the hospital for now. Our Vatican

correspondent Delia Gallagher joins me now from Rome with more. What are doctors saying?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, the latest medical bulletin is saying that the pope is alert, he's responding, he's in good

condition and he's breathing on his own. They said that the surgery yesterday took about three hours.

They removed a part of the lower left colon. The pope was suffering from diverticulitis; that's an inflammation of the colon, as well as stenosis,

which is a narrowing of the colon that can cause blockages. This is apparently a condition which does affect the elderly. Pope Francis is 84

years old. And it required surgery under general anesthesia.

So, it's good news that the pope is alert and responding today. The prognosis, Hala, is a seven days in the hospital here behind me. You might

be able to see the pope's rooms are those five square windows with the blinds pulled down, the top floor there, those are the papal rooms. This is

the hospital that has treated popes for decades. John Paul II spent a lot of time here. Pope Francis will be here for at least the next seven days.


GORANI: All right, Delia Gallagher, thanks very much. Still to come tonight, an American withdrawal leaving a vacuum that the Taliban are only

too happy to fill. We'll discuss what lies ahead for Afghanistan and for Afghan women in particular. And we're now seeing some of the environmental

destruction caused by a ship that sank off the coast of Sri Lanka last month. Details ahead.



GORANI: For Americans, it was mostly a logistical challenge. But for many Afghans, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Bagram airbase is a

worrying development with potentially huge implications for them, for their safety and the safety of their families. Afghan Vice President Amrullah

Saleh says thousands of people are fleeing to major cities as the Taliban advanced once again, especially in the north of the country.

The militants claim they've overtaken about 150 districts since May. Concerns about their resurgence are shared by U.S. Army General Austin

Scott Miller, who's overseeing the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Our Anna Coren visited what until last week, was the U.S. troops' main base

in the country. Take a look.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are here at Bagram Airbase. This is the first time we've been given access to this facility since U.S. and NATO

forces departed on Friday, essentially ending America's involvement in the war. It was the hive of activity at the height of this war. It has now been

handed over to the Afghans and currently there are some 3,000 troops on the base assessing what the Americans have left.

Behind me is a delegation from the National Security Council assigned by President Ghani to strategize and work out how they are going to use Bagram

Airbase moving forward, but it certainly is a strange place to be. It feels a bit like a disorganized junkyard. We know the air hangars in the

background, that those hangars are still locked. We were out at the runways, which -- three kilometers long and it was absolutely deserted.

It wasn't so long ago that there were fighter jets, cargo planes and surveillance aircraft landing and departing constantly. As I say, it is now

quiet. And then here, you have like a car yard. There are hundreds of vehicles that the Americans have left, whether it be four-wheel drives,

pickup trucks, but this is what the Afghans are now having to assess what is in their arsenal to continue this war. And we know that the security

situation on the ground is deteriorating a lot faster than many realize.

The Taliban have taken over 150 provinces in just the last two months. One of the vice presidents of Afghanistan has said that tens of thousands of

the people in the countryside where the fighting is happening, are fleeing to the cities.


And that has been backed up by the United Nations that says more than 56,000 people have had to flee four provinces in the north east. It is

alarming and very concerning for Afghans on the ground. We spoke to one military personnel who said it feels like an old friend has left without

saying goodbye. There is a deep sense of abandonment here in Afghanistan. But as the Americans have spelt out, other than limited air support, this

war is now up to Afghanistan to fight. Anna Corren CNN, Bagram Airbase.


GORANI: It's incredible to see it like this. The Americans left. Hameed Hakimi of Chatham Houses join me. They left. They left cars, they left all

the infrastructure there. Hameed Hakimi was previously an International Advisor for Policy and Capacity Development at the Afghan Foreign Ministry

in Kabul. Thanks for joining us from London, Hameed.


GORANI: Well, what now for Afghanistan? I mean, if it's up now to the government and the Afghan army to continue this fight against the Taliban

that is rapidly advancing by the day, what are the hopes there for them?

HAKIMI: I think in one word, it's "uncertainty," for sure. But also, I think, as we from the western corridors, look at the situation in

Afghanistan through our screens, mostly, and I know your reporters on the ground, the situation is really fluid. And I think it also demonstrates a

few things, one, that the United States intervention, invasion, whatever you word it as, was never about the Afghan lives. It wasn't about

Afghanistan, it was about the United States priorities, which sometimes it's communicated clearly. Other times, it was contradictory, even to the

soldiers who were on the ground fighting.

For the Taliban days, I think they were the only party to the conflict that have remained steady with their, you know, focus on this notion of getting

rid of the foreign forces. For the Afghan government, unfortunately, on the other hand, it's been a matter of distractions. I think it -- what you see

on the ground is not so much the military prowess and power of the Taliban, which obviously they have felt energized since 2020, signed that agreement

with President Trump's administration. But it is also an acute failure, both at the political leadership level and at the military leadership level

of the Afghan government. And that's --

GORANI: Yes. But --


GORANI: But what is it -- what is Afghanistan going to look like in six months, a year or so when they're taking districts where they're regressing

in terms of imposing their version of Sharia law, in terms of women's rights, and there are some -- there was a great article in The Guardian

today on one particular district where a public flogging of a woman took place because she was accused of adultery. This is also a complete walk

back of some of the basic human rights that women were able to claw back in their country. Right? And other Afghans as well.

HAKIMI: Well, I see, of course, these are, you know, horrific things to witness. But unfortunately, we also have to ask the Taliban enablement has

to happened largely because the United States, knowing all of these things the Taliban are up to, they haven't started this today. They haven't

started this and not, you know, in the last couple of years, they've been consistent in their approach to the way they rule.

The Taliban's behavior was documented, and the United States well -- knew this very well and they still went and, you know, got into this agreement.

And I think what the pullout looks like, the military pullout, in my view is -- quite personal view, I think, is quite irresponsible because it

leaves a vacuum. Nobody in Afghanistan I've spoken to haven't been supportive of a military occupation or presence.

But obviously, there are a lot of people who feel that the way that the United States have behaved with complete disregard for the way that they

have left the country or leaving, that is the problem.

GORANI: Hameed, the Afghan Brigadier General in charge of Bagram was asked about the U.S. departure. He spoke to Anna Coren, our reporter on the

ground you heard right before our interview, this is what he told her. Listen.


ASADULLAH KOHISTANI, OFFICER IN CHARGE, BAGRAM AIR BASE: This is our country. Even we appreciate all the United Nation, our NATO forces and U.S.

Army and all the nations from the United States that helped us support of the 20 years. But finally, we are Afghan, this is country. We have to

defend our country. We have to rebuild our country.


GORANI: He's basically saying this is our country. It's got to be our fight now. Does he have a point?


HAKIMI: He does. I mean, the military transition actually happened under President Obama. So the Afghan forces have been largely conducting the war

by themselves with support from the NATO-led countries since 2014. He has a point. But I think it also goes back to what I alluded to earlier, which is

you can also find a lot of political leadership statements in Afghanistan, who, you know, to -- who've kind of alluded to this point that maybe the

United States' not really serious, they're not really leaving, they just say they want to leave, they've been here, we are too important for the

United States to leave. I think only time can tell that.

But as things stand, we are facing a complete, you know, period of uncertainty that even by the standards of the war in Afghanistan, which


GORANI: Look, I've got to --

HAKIMI: It's very unfortunate.

GORANI: I -- there's so much to talk about here. But what choice does the U.S. have? I mean, the U.S. before, it was the Soviet Union before, it was

another occupier. Afghanistan has not worked out for these giant superpowers and the U.S. felt, how much more can we continue to spend in

money, can we continue to sacrifice in lives, when this is not a country, we're going to be able to turn into this kind of fantasy vision of a

functioning democracy with the Taliban still very much breathing down everyone's neck?

So the U.S. basically said we're done. It's been 20 years. It didn't work out. We've got to leave now. What other options do you think they had?

HAKIMI: I think they have a lot of options and not least because of their leverage on the political sphere. In fact, they were the ones who brought

the Taliban to the negotiating table. Of course, there's an argument about the forever war that is very ripe in the United States. But let's not

forget, U.S. Ambassador Khalilzad said that the United States entered Afghanistan without asking anybody, and it's going to leave without asking

anyone's permission. And that actually sums up the U.S. attitude to this conflict, you know.

So I think to say that somehow it's now the problem and the fault of the Afghans or the region or any particular country, that there is a conflict

that is not fixing up and the United States has nothing to do with this, they just tried to fix it, I think that's very simplistic and perhaps a bit


GORANI: OK. Although that's not my -- necessarily my position, I'm presenting the position of those people who support this move. Hameed

Hakimi of Chatham House, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate --

HAKIMI: Thank you.

GORANI: -- your analysis and your thoughts this evening. Next, the man who wants to disrupt the space race and who has disrupted the retail space,

well, he's setting his eyes on the stars. Jeff Bezos is blasting off in more ways than one today. We'll be right back.



GORANI: He began his career selling books out of his garage. Now he's beginning a chapter few would ever have imagined. After more than two

decades at the helm of Amazon, Jeff Bezos is officially handing the CEO title over to Andy Jassy. Who is that you may ask? Clare Sebastian



JEFF BEZOS, FORMER AMAZON CEO: Our obsessive focus on customer experience. What has worked at Amazon is focusing on the customer. Customer obsession

has driven our success.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For 27 years, this has been Amazon's stated mission. From pioneering customer reviews to Alexa, its A.I.

personal assistant, to two-day shipping and then same day delivery, Jeff Bezos putting customers first, even it seemed above shareholders.


BEZOS: As you know, we are a famously unprofitable company.


SEBASTIAN: It took Amazon more than four and a half years after going public to make a quarterly profit, two decades to see the billions start to

roll in.


BILL CARR, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF DIGITAL MEDIA, AMAZON: We were reinvesting the revenue and profit that we were earning from our operating

businesses back into the business to continuously improve the customer experience.


SEBASTIAN: Bill Carr, a former Amazon executive, says Bezos was willing to take risks. Case in point, Amazon Prime, which launched in 2005.


CARR: We'd actually just invested several hundred million dollars in a fulfillment center network that was designed to ship packages to customers

in a timeframe of more like four to five days. So we knew that we would have to scrap that over time. But if we had focused on our sunk cost

investments we have, we would have never made that leap to Prime, which is what customers wanted.


SEBASTIAN: Today, a growing chorus of voices believes Amazon's growth has come at too high a cost.


STACY MITCHELL, CO-DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR LOCAL SELF-RELIANCE: I think the customer focus was always about how do we dominate everybody else in this

industry. There's a growing level of concern about Amazon's power and I think you see that, you know, across the public, but particularly workers,

you know, we've seen a lot of walkouts, a lot of Wildcat strikes over the last year, you know, especially with the dangers of COVID.


SEBASTIAN: As the COVID-19 pandemic drove its sales up 38 percent last year, Amazon hired half a million people, growing its workforce by more

than 60 percent.


BERNIE SANDERS, U.S. SENATE INDEPENDENT: There is no excuse for workers and Amazon not to have good wages, good benefits, and good working conditions.


SEBASTIAN: While an attempt to unionize that an Alabama facility in April ultimately failed, that threat hasn't gone away. One of the biggest U.S.

labor unions, the Teamsters, has made building worker power at Amazon its top priority.


RANDY KORGAN, TEAMSTERS NATIONAL DIRECTOR FOR AMAZON: Millions of our members over the last hundred years have helped to propel this industry

into the middle class. And we just got to make sure that it stays there.


SEBASTIAN: Amazon says its wages are fair and workers also get benefits like health care coverage and a 401(k) Plan. In June, Amazon told us they'd

invested a billion dollars in new safety measures in 2020. In his last shareholder letter, CEO Jeff Bezos updated his mission, to become Earth's

best employer and Earth's safest place to work.


ANDY JASSY, CEO, AMAZON: At AWS, we're customer focused.


SEBASTIAN: It's a challenge his successor, Andy Jassy, now inherits, the man who built Amazon Web Services from scratch into the number one player

in the global cloud market. He will likely have to do more of this.


BEZOS: We have a policy against using seller-specific data.


SEBASTIAN: Defending Amazon before lawmakers who believe it's a threat to competition. Amazon after Bezos, just like Bezos himself, will have to

reckon with the risks of stratospheric success. Clare Sebastian CNN, New York.


GORANI: Still to come, from beaches littered with plastic pellets to marine life washing up dead, the environmental fallout from a cargo ship disaster

on Sri Lanka's coast is becoming clearer and it is very depressing. We'll bring you that story coming up.



GORANI: A deadly wildfire that has been raging across Cyprus for two days is finally under control according to police. Firefighters had the help of

planes deployed from neighboring Greece, Italy, even Israel, dozens of properties along with more than 50 square kilometers of farmland and

forests have been destroyed. Now, people in entire villages had to evacuate. At least four people died as a result of the fires.

We are now seeing some of the environmental destruction caused by a ship that sank off the coast of Sri Lanka last month. But experts are warning

that this could be just the start of something far, far worse there. CNN's Paula Hancocks explains.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Already endangered in the waters of Sri Lanka, sea turtles are now dying by the dozen likely poisoned by toxic

chemical spilling from the burning cargo ship, the government says. More than one hundred and seventy turtles, four whales, and twenty dolphins have

so far washed up dead according to the Marine Environment Protection Authority.

The Singapore flagged container ship X-Press Pearl caught fire on May 20th off the coast of Colombo. It burned out of control for two weeks before

sinking sparking fears of an oil spill. No sign yet of 350 tons of fuel oil on board seeping into the ocean. But nearly 80 tons of plastic pellets or

nurdles are already widespread.


CHARI PATTIARATCHI, UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA: There has been instances where the nurdles have been caught up in the gills of fish then

they suffocate and that could same happen to dolphins or turtles suffocate.

DON MUDITHA KATUWAWALA, COORDINATOR, THE PEARL PROTECTORS: This is unimaginable disaster we are seeing not just to the marine environment but

to the coast as well.


HANCOCKS: The United Nations representative in Sri Lanka has said "An environmental emergency of this nature causes significant damage to the

planet by the release of hazardous substances into the ecosystem." Not to mention the devastating impact on the local fishing community, many of whom

rely on daily wage work.


D. S. FERNANDO, NEGOMBO FISHERMAN (through translator): You not only have the shipwreck and the ban on fishing, but people are not scared of eating

fish because it might be contaminated. Prices have also dropped drastically. The situation is hopeless.

SARIKA DINALI, NEGOMBO RESIDENT: at the buffet, but I also heard about what was in a ship and the chemicals. So we are scared. So now for weeks we have

not consumed any seafood.


HANCOCKS: As locals try to assess the financial damage of one of the country's worst environmental disasters, one local activist has filed a

lawsuit against the government and ship officials for environmental damage and "inadequacy of preparedness." The government has not responded to CNN's

request for comment on the lawsuit.

The captain of the ship was arrested then released on bail. He's not formally been charged.


His attorney says the captain is a witness and is not commenting. The cleanup along the beach has been in full swing for weeks. The devastating

impact from the plastic pellets alone will be felt for years.


PATTIARATCHI: The major concern is that they last. They're inert material being distributed along most of the Indian Ocean, Northern Indian Ocean

countries. If you go looking for them, you will find them for years to come.


HANCOCKS: The plastic pellets alone are being spread far and wide by the ocean currents. This graphic from oceanography Professor Chari Pattiaratchi

shows their projected movements towards India and Indonesia. The X-Press Pearl is now resting on the seabed, according to the ship's owners, its

toxic cargo polluting and killing marine life in the water surrounding it. And acute concerns of an oil spill from the wreckage mean that this

environmental catastrophe still has the potential to become significantly worse for Sri Lanka and beyond. Paula Hancocks, CNN (INAUDIBLE)


GORANI: And this is something you don't see every day, but then again, U.S. Independence Day is no ordinary day. Take a look at this.


JOHN DENVER, SINGER: Take me home to the place I belong --


GORANI: Now, at first, when I saw this, I thought it wasn't real and it looks like some sort of deep fake that Facebook says it's cracking down on

but no, it is very real. It is Mark Zuckerberg, celebrating July 4th. He took to an electronic surfboard to brandish the red, white, and blue, the

flag to the tune of Take Me Home, Country Roads. We're just going to leave that there for you to enjoy for just two seconds.

And this you may not enjoy, I don't enjoy watch -- I don't know. I don't enjoy watching these videos. In New York's Coney Island, contestants got a

mouthful on July 4th during Nathan's famous international hot dog eating contest. I just -- I can't get used to watching people just shove this down

their throats. Defending world champ Joey Chestnut scarf down 76 dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Last year's event was without a live audience because

of the pandemic, but the crowds were back this year.

He beat his own record. Yay. He ate one more hot dog than he did a year ago and 26 more than the second place finisher. This is just -- it's not

healthy. It can't be. Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.