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Hala Gorani Tonight
Taliban's Advance In Afghanistan Leaves Trail Of Destruction; Dozens Die In Wildfires In Algeria; Prominent News Anchor In Mexico Faces Death Threats From Cartel; China Sentences Canadian On Espionage Charges; Tropical Storm Fred Headed For Dominican Republic; Sudan To Hand Over Ex- President Omar al-Bashir To International Criminal Court; Paris Saint- Germain Unveils New Superstar Lionel Messi. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired August 11, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello everyone, we're coming to you live from London this evening, I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight, destruction in the
wake of the Taliban, and fear in their path as Afghan cities fall fast. We're live in Kabul. Then, scorched earth and dozens dead in Algeria as
wildfires rip across the Mediterranean. We'll have the latest. And later, this prominent news anchor threatened by a Mexican drug cartel, we're live
in Mexico City.
And we begin this hour in Afghanistan where the Taliban is making major gains fast, faster than many had predicted, in fact. Just hours ago, the
group claimed to have taken control of Kandahar prison, according to a tweet from a Taliban spokesperson. Earlier today, the militants claimed the
city of Faizabad in the country's northeast. You see it there on the map. Taliban fighters have now taken over nine provincial capitals since Friday.
The militants also say they are in control of Kunduz airport just days after they took over that city. Despite the Taliban's rapid advance, the
American President Joe Biden says he has no regrets about pulling American forces out. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: Afghan leaders have to come together. We lost thousands -- lost in death and injuries, thousands of American
personnel. They've got to fight for themselves. Fight for their nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right, we'll get to Clarissa Ward in the Afghan capital in just a moment. First, let's start with Oren Liebermann, he's at the Pentagon, I
wonder what Pentagon leaders say, whether it's on camera or perhaps even off camera, about the ability of the Afghan army to counter this Taliban
advance, this lightning advance across the country. We've seen so many provincial capitals fall just in the last few days.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hala, it's important to remember that some of these provincial capitals are farther out in the
countryside where there's little population, but it is still no doubt significant that the Taliban claims to have taken nine provincial capitals.
As of late July, they'd surrounded 17, so potentially at least, there are eight more provincial capitals that are surrounded, haven't been taken yet.
But with the speed of the Taliban advance, that could change perhaps even in the coming days especially with what we saw over the course of this past
The Pentagon assessment is that the Afghan military has the equipment and the personnel, the technology to fight back, to fight for itself. According
to the assessment here, there are some 300,000 Afghan national defense and security forces compared to only about 70,000 Taliban fighters in more than
4-1 advantage. And there are certainly a major technology advantage on the part of Afghan forces that have been given some pretty advanced U.S.
technology over the course of the past 20 years.
The fact that they're unsuccessful in fighting back and controlling some of these provincial capitals could be indicative of perhaps a bigger problem.
But the Pentagon's position is look, they have the personnel, they have the equipment, they should be able to fight back.
The U.S. is continuing in its mission of completing the withdrawal by the end of the month. So, in just about two and a half weeks here, and then the
bilateral relationship changes. It is one of support over the horizon, as it's called here, carrying out strikes from outside the country as well as
financial support for Afghan forces.
GORANI: Right, Clarissa Ward is able to join us now from Kabul. Is it realistic what the Biden administration is asking of the Afghan army and
the Afghan government, to essentially rise up against the Taliban using local forces and warlords?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, based on what we are seeing on the ground, Hala, that is a very tall order indeed. We
passed an Afghan checkpoint just the other day, we saw there were Taliban snipers who were firing on the checkpoint and we actually watched as Afghan
soldiers ran out of the base, they hailed a civilian car that was passing by, they jumped into it and they left. And when we returned through that
same checkpoint the following day, there were still some Afghan soldiers there, but they were wearing civilian clothes.
And what that speaks to, I think, Hala, is the very real fear that most of these Afghan forces are feeling and the very low morale among the Afghan
army. And that is going to be very difficult to counter, even with an ambitious strategy like trying to get the warlords back up and running,
trying to get people to go out and take part in these popular uprisings. What's needed right now is a coherent strategy, and that is what is
GORANI: And why is the Afghan army having such trouble? I mean, those who don't know Afghanistan intimately, who haven't covered it -- we just lost
our connection there with Clarissa, our audio connection. We'll get back to Clarissa once we're able to fix that connection.
But I could ask you that, that question as well, and I wonder what the take is in Washington? You know, trillions of dollars have been spent on
Afghanistan, on training the Afghan army and buying equipment for Afghan forces, and yet, it seems as though they're really unable to counter this
Taliban onslaught. Why is that?
LIEBERMANN: Well, it's worth noting that this is part of the Biden administration's argument. If over the course of 20 years, more than a
trillion dollars and all the training and equipment couldn't get Afghanistan over the line into a functioning, cohesive country, that it
wasn't going to work for another year, 10 years or 20 years, and that's part of what President Joe Biden made in his calculation to get out of the
country and end the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Part of it is that Afghanistan, the Afghan government has consolidated its forces,
they're trying to make sure it protects some of the population centers including, of course, Kabul itself.
And then, there's this momentum that is definitely on the side of the Taliban. They claim and have this sort of aura of inevitable victory that
they're showing online as they claim that they've captured theses provincial capitals, and that certainly helps them as they continue to make
territorial gains. Gains that from what we're seeing, from what they're claiming are speeding up as the U.S. withdrawal rapidly nears that end date
on August 31st.
GORANI: And Clarissa, I believe we have you back. So, as we are -- you continue to report on the ground there on these -- this expansion of
Taliban control across Afghanistan. What about Kabul? Is it at risk?
WARD: So, this is the real question. You know, at what point does Kabul fall? And I would just say from being here on the ground, it's a little too
early to make that call. The capital is still relatively secure. There are a huge amount of security forces here, but at the same time, what's clear
from watching the situation unfold across the country is that Kabul could be potentially isolated in the not-too distant future, and that would then
make it much more difficult to defend. The Taliban has also been trying to remind residents in Kabul that it can strike here whenever it wants.
We've seen a coordinated series of assassinations, when we arrived here just over a week ago, there was a large explosion. A complex attack
targeting the defense minister. It wasn't successful, Hala, but the message again is very clear from the Taliban. We can strike you in the capital
whenever we want.
And I would underscore that by saying, when we returned into Kabul from this trip yesterday, there isn't a huge amount of security coming in to
this city. There is a checkpoint, but no one stopped the car, no one searched the car, no one asked to look at our papers.
And so based on our experience, which, of course, is only our experience, I would say it is not that hard for Taliban forces to push into the capital.
Not in a sort of coordinated military way, but in the sense of launching these kinds of insurgent attacks, terrorist attacks, the likes of which
we've been seeing.
GORANI: All right, Clarissa Ward, our chief international correspondent is in Kabul, our Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann in Washington. Thanks
to both of you. So, of course, there's a humanitarian toll, the fighting in Afghanistan is already taking a deadly toll. The country's foreign minister
says over 6,000 people have been killed since April. He estimates 4,000 national security forces are dead, and 2,000 civilians.
Humanitarian agencies are warning of that growing crisis as civilians are caught up in the fighting, they're forced to flee their homes. The U.N.
migration agency estimates nearly 360,000 people have been internally displaced this year alone.
Let's bring in Mustapha Ben Messaoud; he's the chief of Field Operations for UNICEF in Afghanistan, he joins us live in Kabul this hour. Well, what
is it like? Because we're seeing these images of people fleeing cities and provinces where the Taliban are making big gains, and they're flooding into
Kabul among other places. What's the situation like from your perspective?
MUSTAPHA BEN MESSAOUD, CHIEF OF FIELD OPERATIONS FOR UNICEF AFGHANISTAN: Thank you for having me. I just finished looking at an assessment that
we've done today in Kabul, where we visited a newly formed IDB camp where our counts stands at 1,200 families, half of them are children, that's
around 8,000 individuals. And they're just pouring in from across the country, but that's not the only place. I came back from Kandahar
yesterday, where I was doing exactly the same thing and entering the UNICEF program are up and running and providing life-saving services.
And from there, we had displaced families from Lashkar Gah, from Kandahar, and the same is happening in the north and the same is happening in the
The count that we had was a few days back around 360,000 people that have been pushed into the move, and half of them are children. And in terms of
cost of those gains and losses on military ground, we do keep account also, and up to now, we have probably way more than 500 children killed and a
1,200 of them injured since the beginning of the year. And that's the price paid by women and children because of this conflict.
GORANI: Right, and we're talking about kids here who are obviously out of school, who are in precarious situations, who may have issues finding, you
know, the kind of nutritious food that they need to grow up and to be healthy. So, once again, you're starting to have more and more waves of
people here going through intense suffering. Where does it end?
MESSAOUD: Thank you for bringing this up. One child out of two by the end of '21 will be severely malnourished. We have 4 million children that are
out of school and that number is going to grow. School are supposedly opening in September, but with the current state of the conflict, it's not
going to happen. Twenty million people in Afghanistan are or will be in need of humanitarian assistance. And this is impacting school, nutrition,
but it's also going to have an impact on the immunization program. The vaccination. We will --
GORANI: Yes --
MESSAOUD: Most certainly have measles and polio outbreaks in the months to come.
GORANI: So, I mean, I know that obviously the big strategic military decisions are not in your hands, they're not in the hands of humanitarian
organizations. But from where you stand, what do you need? What needs to be done in order to at least mitigate the effects of these waves of internally
displaced people, and the misery that they're forced to endure?
MESSAOUD: Access is extremely challenging, and we do have a long experience as UNICEF in Afghanistan for 65 years. So we built a relation of trust with
the community, but if the conflict does not close, if the conflict does not stop, if the violence is not brought to an end, there is not much that we
can do. We do have the capacity, we pre-position supplies and we have the teams with the experience. But if they can't go to the places where
children are and go there in --
GORANI: Yes --
MESSAOUD: Due time immediately, and the price is going to be catastrophic.
GORANI: Mustapha Ben Messaoud of UNICEF, thank you very much for joining us from Kabul, we appreciate your time and good luck to your organization and
all of those on the frontlines dealing with this humanitarian catastrophe. Let's talk about wildfires now ripping through northern Algeria amid a
severe heat wave there. The death toll up to 65, that includes 37 civilians and 28 service men. Algeria's president has announced a three-day period of
national mourning starting Thursday.
The prime minister says Algeria is working with its European partners to hire planes to put out the blazes. He says the government suspects
arsonists of starting the fire. Let's get to Jomana Karadsheh; she is following this story. So, obviously, we have issues with arsonists, but
again, like in so many places, it is a climate story because the terrain is so incredibly dry, Jomana.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Hala, and if you listen to what people in those devastated regions are saying right now, they say they
have seen nothing like this before. According to the authorities, more than 100 fires since Monday. They say that they have managed to control some of
these fires, but there are others that are still raging. This has impacted the northern part of Algeria, 16 provinces. You've got the fires spreading
across villages, mountainous areas, forests.
There are some really hard to reach areas which has made this, you know, the attempts by the authorities to try and bring these fires under control
so much harder. As you mentioned, the Algerian government says it has reached out to European countries, they're requesting assistance. They are
offering to hire more capabilities. We also in the past couple of hours heard from the French President, Emmanuel Macron in a tweet saying that
they are going to support Algeria, they stand with Algeria right now.
And as of tomorrow, France is going to be deploying firefighting planes. The death toll, Hala, has been rising over the past 24 hours.
Right now, it stands at 65 people who have lost their lives, 28 of them, as you mentioned, are soldiers who were deployed to these areas to try and
assist with the evacuation of civilians and the fire-fighting efforts. Absolutely terrifying images that we have seen coming, not just of these
soldiers and the fire-fighters trying to extinguish the flames.
You've also got civilians who are doing everything they can to try and save their homes and their livelihoods using whatever they could find, even
branches and you know, using -- filling up buckets of water to try and fight these huge, massive flames that have engulfed this area.
The government says it's investigating what started all of this. They're dispatching experts to the area, but as you mentioned, we've heard from the
prime minister, other officials saying arson. They've not really provided any proof yet, why they're saying that, but you know, we've heard at least
one official saying that this sort of simultaneous fire starting in different areas is just not normal.
But unfortunately, Hala, as we have seen over the past few days, whether it's here in Turkey, in Greece, recently also in Italy and in Cyprus, these
fire scientists are warning these wildfires that are raging out of control becoming more ferocious and widespread, this could possibly be the new
normal because of climate change. This Mediterranean region right now --
GORANI: Yes --
KARADSHEH: They're warning is a wildfire hot spot.
GORANI: And speaking of that, thank you very much Jomana Karadsheh. Speaking of the Mediterranean region, a man died in Italy, southern
Calabria region today while trying to save his animals from a fire, according to a regional official.
The Italian fire brigade announced on social media that it had carried out over 300 operations in Sicily and in Calabria. There are 110 active fires
in the area and extremely high temperatures are not helping. And in Greece, they've been raging there for a week now, over a week, devouring homes and
forcing people to flee.
Assistance has finally come from 20 countries, but anger is growing at the government's response. Eleni Giokos is on the island of Evia.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A blaze so powerful engulfing entire forests. Apocalyptic scenes capturing the devastation. All the
residents escaping their homes.
(on camera): Evia is now sitting in the eye of the storm when it comes to the fires that are ravaging Greece. We have seen fire upon fire over the
past eight days, and now you're also seeing international assistance on the ground. What you see behind me is firefighters from Slovakia as well as
(voice-over): Hundreds evacuated on to ferries watching the island burn. Despite the blaze approaching, some opting to stay behind to protect their
homes. "They say they won't leave. They are ready to fight the fire." Emotions are high in Evia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, the game is lost, that terror is coming. A lot to see. Now, we're trying -- the little piece of edifice and some village that
are not burnt, all the others are burnt. They forgot us --
GIOKOS: Local volunteers standing by with fire extinguishers and even branches say it's too late. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis admitting
there were weaknesses in the response.
KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, PRIME MINISTER, GREECE (through translator): The extent of the destruction especially in Evia and in Attica blackens all of
our hearts, and I am the first to apologize for whatever weaknesses existed. I completely understand the pain of our citizens who saw their
houses and property burning. The upheaval of having to abruptly leave their homes.
GIOKOS: The source of these wildfires, the prime minister says is the climate crisis. The country is experiences heat waves, the highest
temperatures seen in almost 40 years, 22 countries have sent help to Greece, including France, Romania, Slovakia and Poland. They've sent
firefighters, fire engines as well as other resources.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are here to support the Greek teams in this big fire -- to beat the fires.
GIOKOS: It's the combination of this camaraderie between countries and people and the locals who are determined to save the island from further
devastation. Eleni Giokos, CNN, Evia, Greece.
GORANI: Well, from fires to floods in Turkey along the country's Black Sea Coast, floods are causing some major damage. This video posted to social
media shows buildings inundated with water and cars even being swept away. It's that bad. Three provinces along the coast are impacted, and one person
is missing. Search and rescue efforts are going on right now, and more rain is forecast for the area, unfortunately.
When we come back, a prominent news anchor receives death threats in one of the most dangerous countries on earth to be a journalist. Plus, a military
parade sparks outrage in Brazil. Why some believe it was used to intimidate lawmakers in Congress.
GORANI: Well, when you're a journalist and you receive death threats by someone who says he's a member of a cartel in Mexico, it's a frightening
thing. Azucena Uresti regularly covers cartel violence and the militia that had formed to defend communities against crime. And in a video broadcast on
social media, a man who identifies himself as a cartel leader vowed to track her down and quote, "get her". Uresti addressed the threat on her
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AZUCENA URESTI, MEXICAN NEWS ANCHOR (through translator): I have joined the federal system of protection from the government. I repeat, our work will
continue to be based on the truth and with the intention of providing information on the reality of a country like ours. And also, as has
happened on other occasions, I express my solidarity and support to hundreds of colleagues who are still threatened or who have had to leave
their areas, but who keep on showing the value of information and their love for this profession.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, Matt Rivers is live in Mexico, a city with more -- and the president is vowing to protect her. So, what's being done here? Because
this is -- this is very scary.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, and it's also nothing new, unfortunately, Hala. I mean, the threats that journalists face in this
country are ubiquitous really in every part of this country and have been for years now. This particular threat just being, you know, extremely
public because of who was targeted. Azucena Uresti is a very prominent journalist here in Mexico. She hosts a show on the radio, she also hosts a
nightly show on millennial which is a relatively big channel here. She's a prominent journalist.
And so to be targeted so publically by one of these cartels, the cartel that is involved is also part of the reason why this has gotten so much
attention, because this is the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, it's arguably the most powerful criminal group in the country right now. And CNN can't
independently verify the authenticity of this video, but the fact that one of the group's leaders came out and directly threatened her life by saying
things like, "Azucena Uresti, wherever you are, I'll get you and I'll make you eat your words."
I mean, those are direct threats to a very prominent journalist. You mentioned Mexico's president, he did address this issue, he did say that
Uresti will now be under federal protection. Here's a little bit of what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR, PRESIDENT, MEXICO (through translator): I completely reject these threats. We don't accept this sort of behavior. We
are going to protect Azucena and we are going to protect all Mexicans. It's our responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIVERS: Now, he says it's his responsibility. The federal government is officially now protecting Uresti. She confirmed that herself. However,
that's not going to make a lot of people who are worried about the safety of journalists feel much better, because consider what happened last year
when another journalist here in Mexico was under federal protection, that same kind of federal protection, and him and his bodyguard were both shot
and killed in a restaurant not long after he was placed under that federal protection.
So, there's not a lot of confidence in this system, and you just look at the numbers over the past year, decade, Hala, since the beginning of 2020,
13 journalists here in Mexico have been killed. Since in the last decade, 76 journalists have been killed.
It is one of if not the most dangerous countries in the world to be a local journalist. Mexicans who are acting as journalists, risking their lives
every single day to try and do their jobs, the president says that the federal government will protect those journalists, the numbers clearly say
GORANI: And what about Uresti herself? She's going to continue to do her show presumably. She's -- I mean, being extremely courageous about the
RIVERS: Yes, she -- I mean, you heard her statement there, it was a pretty magnanimous statement, not only talking about herself being in federal
protection, but also highlighting the threats that I just talked about that her colleagues face on a regular basis.
Often times, the threats that her colleagues face around the country, Mexicans who are acting as local journalist, they don't get the kind of
publicity that, you know, comes with Uresti because she is such a high profile national figure at this point. She says she is going to continue to
do her show, she's going to accept federal protection, but the risk will remain.
Because as we've seen before, these criminal groups can get around that federal protection. And so the fact that she's willing to keep doing her
show, the fact that she's committed to the job, committed to the calling, as it is for so many people here in Mexico, you know, shows you her level
of commitment and her level of dedication and her understanding that, you know, so many of Mexico's problems can only really be addressed if they're
talked about in the public sphere. And to do that, you need journalists.
GORANI: Thanks, Matt Rivers live in Mexico City. Still to come, a Chinese court convicts a Canadian businessman on spying charges triggering an
international outcry. Plus, China criticizes local officials for the latest COVID outbreak, and now some are being reprimanded for it, we'll be right
GORANI: Well, the international condemnation of China is growing after a court there sentenced the Canadian business man Michael Spavor to 11 years
in prison on espionage charges.
The Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said the verdict is absolutely unacceptable, quote-unquote. This photo posted on Twitter shows
representatives of some 25 countries standing in solidarity against that sentence. Live in the Canadian capital with more on the reaction to the
sentence of this Canadian citizen, Paula Newton.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Hala, you hit the nail on the head with that condemnations that Canada is hoping that will make the
difference. This is a complicated case because it isn't happening in a vacuum.
Reminding viewers, Meng Wanzhou, a Huawei executive, also the daughter of the founder of Huawei, right now at this hour is in a Vancouver courtroom,
fighting her extradition to the United States on fraud charges.
Certainly Canada now has vocally said this is hostage diplomacy. The foreign minister today went so far as to say it was -- what was going on in
China was a mock trial and this was in retaliation for Meng Wanzhou being held by Canada until and if she is extradited to the United States.
Start with reaction today, Hala. A sharper edge to it. Hear from Canada's ambassador to China who had key words as the sentence was handed out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOMINIC BARTON, CANADIAN AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: Our collective presence and voice sends a strong signal to China, to China and the Chinese government,
in particular while all the eyes of the world are watching.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Remember, Hala, it's not just Michael Spavor it's Michael Kovrig as well. Two Canadians known as the case of the two Michaels. What's
significant here is what the foreign minister here in Canada said hours ago.
There are intense negotiations, discussions, going on not just between China and Canada but crucially between the United States and China about
what to do about Meng Wanzhou. In the sentencing, after Spavor was sentenced, the Chinese court determined he would have his sentence and then
Is there wiggle room there?
That's what officials trying to learn here. International solidarity is key. Canada pointed out again and again, if it's going to be arbitrary
detention, could be a Canadian one day, an American another day, a European citizen yet another day. This was a dangerous precedent already set by
GORANI: So what happens now?
I mean, what are the avenues for Canadian authorities to try to perhaps get some of these sentences to be reduced for these Canadian citizens?
NEWTON: There's certainly an appeal process. Normally, historically in China, that goes absolutely nowhere. To note, just the other day, another
Canadian who was convicted of drug offenses, he, when Meng Wanzhou was detained in Canada, he had a sentence for his drug offenses.
But then he was hauled back to court, sentenced again and, just this week, sentenced to death. Canada is now urging clemency on his behalf. The point
is here, the deeper you go without some kind of negotiated settlement, not just between China and Canada but between crucially the United States and
whether or not one way out would be to perhaps allow Meng Wanzhou to be released, returned to China with a statement of understanding of exactly
what her impact was on Huawei's decision and what that has meant in the last few years.
This is very much a corporate story but it is right now also in the hands of the U.S. Justice Department, which continues to insist they want her
extradited and don't want charges just against Huawei as a company.
NEWTON: They want to pursue those charges against her and that is key.
GORANI: OK. Paula Newton in Ottawa, thank you.
China, speaking of China, says it has punished dozens of officials for failing to contain its latest COVID outbreak. It reported more than 100 new
cases Wednesday. As the Delta variant continues to spread. As Manisha Tank reports, the variant is driving up cases all across Asia.
MANISHA TANK, JOURNALIST: A rather ominous new record reported in South Korea. The Korean Disease Control Prevention Agency reporting more than
2,200 new cases of COVID-19. It is highest daily tally since the pandemic hit the country's shores.
A spokesperson from the health ministry pointed out, it isn't just spread of the Delta variant causing this surge in infections. There is concern
around pandemic fatigue in the country.
With that, a statement from the president, Moon Jae-in, urging people to continue to adhere to the strict measures in place. South Korea is fighting
its fourth wave of the disease.
Elsewhere in China, the national health commission has reported a new 111 cases, 83 of which are spread across six provinces. And some of this is
calling into question the sustainability of China's zero COVID policy.
Meanwhile, at least 47 officials report state media have been punished over negligence in the control of the Delta variant, in preventing its spread.
Some of those officials come from local government and others working in transport infrastructure, particularly in airports as well as health
services -- in Singapore for CNN, I'm Manisha Tank.
GORANI: In the United States, students are heading back to classrooms and some experts are saying they are perhaps the most vulnerable group right
now in the pandemic. Kids under 12 are still not eligible for COVID shots. That means they could be most at risk for infection.
That's a shift from earlier in the pandemic, when the elderly were most vulnerable. Obviously weren't vaccinated then and many of them are now. Dr.
Anthony Fauci says he's not surprised.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: So when you look at a highly efficient virus in transmission and you look at the
relative proportion of vulnerable people, relatively speaking, the young are now more vulnerable because they are in the cohort who's
undervaccinated, either children like 12 to 15, 12 to 18, who are eligible who are not yet gotten vaccinated when they should or the children who are
too young to get vaccinated.
So when you look anywhere in a hospital, you are seeing a relative proportion of people who are sick are leaning much more towards the younger
group. And that's not surprising.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: That was Dr. Anthony Fauci.
OK. Here's a wild story for you. Police in northwest Germany are investigating a nurse suspected of replacing COVID vaccines with saline
solution. Authorities say more than 8,000 people may have received the wrong jab, not COVID vaccine at all but saline solution and they're urging
the people vaccinated in that center to come forward to get a new shot.
That is not a phone call anyone wants to receive. Officials overseeing the case say this was not an accident, it seems, but that the nurse had anti-
Still to come tonight, he left a legacy of human suffering. Now ex- president Omar al Bashir will be handed over to the International Criminal Court. We will discuss the fallout. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
GORANI: The Dominican Republic is bracing for tropical storm Fred, even though the storm isn't over the island yet, you see the rain has started.
Some streets are already flooding. Fred is now only 85 kilometers from the capital of Santo Domingo and evacuations are happening across the country;
14 provinces are under a red alert there.
Now it's set to remain a tropical storm but that could shift as it progresses further into the Caribbean and towards the United States.
The announcement today that the Sudanese government will hand former president Omar al-Bashir over to the International Criminal Court is
sparking a heated response. Al Bashir ruled Sudan for three decades before he was removed from power in a coup in 2019 and arrested.
He faces charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur conflict. Joining me to discuss this and -- is Scott McLean, live in
Nairobi with more on what to expect.
So the decision was taken.
What was discussed today?
Is there a timeline when Bashir might be handed over to the ICC?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A great question, Hala, and it fits into your earlier point about the fiery response from Omar al Bashir's defense
team, which said today the decision to hand him over to the International Criminal Court amounts to a conspiracy that's been hatched.
And warned if he is extradited to The Hague, it would be a disaster for Sudan. Also he indicated there are some legal maneuvers they can make in
order to drag this process out.
So it is very unclear at this point when that formal handover may actually take place and when we may actually see the former dictator inside of a
courtroom in The Hague.
We know -- it's also unclear, I should say, Hala, we don't know how many others are going with him as well. For sure, there are outstanding criminal
court charges against, for instance, his former defense minister and also a leader of one of the militia groups he's accused of directing.
For context, Omar al Bashir is already locked up in Sudan for corruption charges, a corruption conviction back in 2019. Right now, he is also facing
trial in the country for the 1989 coup that brought him to power for the next 30 years as well.
The indictments against him in The Hague, though, Hala, pertain specifically to the Darfur conflict in the mid-2000s, which killed hundreds
of thousands of people and displaced well over 2 million.
The effects of that war still very much felt even to this day. There are 10 charges in total. You mentioned it, war crimes, crimes against humanity and
genocide but specifically al Bashir is accused of directing Arab militias to put down non-Arab rebel groups, which were attempting an insurrection.
The trouble is, those Arab groups also directly targeted civilians, innocent civilians, and also blocked desperately needed food and
humanitarian aid, medicine, from getting in to that region.
In February last year, Sudan committed to sending its former president to the International Criminal Court. So today's announcement, Hala,
essentially makes good on that promise by having the country sign the Rome statute, they call it, allowing that formal handover to take place. Again,
when that will actually happen, still very unclear.
GORANI: As you mentioned, Bashir is being tried on other charges domestically, right?
So he's got more than one legal headache here.
MCLEAN: Yes. Absolutely right. There's the corruption charges. That's been settled, that put him in jail in Sudan for two years. Then last summer, the
trial began against him for the 1989 coup. Him (sic) and 27 others facing trial for that. That remains unsettled at this point.
And now obviously he's being handed over to the International Criminal Court, bringing up a whole new can of worms here. He, by the way -- the
first person, the charges against him in the in the International Criminal Court, Hala, have been outstanding since 2009.
He's the first person ever to be charged by the court with genocide; also the first person to be a sitting president, wanted on an outstanding
warrant by the court. He will be the third African leader indicted by the court. But if he's found guilty, he will be the very first one to be
GORANI: All right. Scott McLean, thanks very much, indeed.
The others have been acquitted.
Brazilian lawmakers rejected plan to add paper receipts to the country's electronic voting system. The bill was backed by the president Jair
Bolsonaro, who cast doubt on electronic voting.
Before congress voted on the bill, the president presided over this, a military parade in the capital, a move that critics viewed as an effort to
intimidate the lawmakers. CNN's Rafael Romo has been following this story, joining me live with details.
Critics of Bolsonaro and his move to sort of want to change the way votes are cast in Brazil are saying that, not unlike some efforts in the United
States, for instance, that it's an effort to make voting more difficult and, therefore, make it more difficult to vote him out of office.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Yes. That's right. There is a debate going on in Brazil about whether it's necessary to have a paper
trail and a voting system, Hala.
But the reality here is that there are many questions about Tuesday's military parade and whether the use of war tanks was nothing more than
political theater to propel president Bolsonaro's push for this voting bill that ultimately failed.
First, we have to set the scene about what happened. The military parade was held Tuesday. It was in front of the presidential palace in Brasilia,
the country's capital; more than 100 military vehicles and war tanks participated in the parade as well as members of Brazil's armed forces in
full battle uniform.
It was nothing more than an elaborate way of inviting president Bolsonaro to attend a military exercise called Operation Formosa on August 16. The
drill itself is nothing new. What never had happened before was the use of tanks and military vehicles to stage a military parade with the sole
purpose of delivering the invitation to the president.
There was absolutely nothing more than that. And also, what you mentioned at the beginning, the timing is being questioned by the opposition, because
the parade happened only hours before Brazil's lower house of congress was to vote on the bill that would have required paper ballots to be added to
the country's electronic voting system, a bill favored by the president.
Critics in congress said the parade was an attempt by Bolsonaro to intimidate lawmakers ahead of the vote. The bill needed 308 votes to
advance to the senate; it earned 276 in the first round and only 229 in the second.
And now president Bolsonaro says the bill failed because members of congress were, in his words, blackmailed. The president told his supporters
Wednesday morning during a broadcast that many others abstained for fear of retaliation and went on to say there's no explanation for what they are
They want to elect the person by committing fraud. Goes back to the point you made at beginning, Hala, this debate about whether it's necessary to
have a paper trail in Brazilian elections.
GORANI: All right, Rafael Romo.
Still to come tonight, after a hero's welcome in Paris, Lionel Messi sits down with CNN.
How does he really feel about his move?
That interview is coming up -- next.
GORANI: He is the world's biggest football star arguably and now in the Paris Saint-Germain dressing room, he's also the new guy. Lionel Messi's
move from Barcelona to Paris has dominated headlines in recent days for obvious reasons.
But how does it feel to be the man at the center of it all?
Amanda Davies sat down with Messi to find out.
AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And so a new chapter begins for Messi here in Paris and here at the area, quite a few days for the 34-year-old.
There have been people here telling me they can't quite believe the move happened and happened so fast.
So perhaps not a surprise that the man himself admitted he's still trying to process and put it into words.
Congratulations. Lovely to see you. We have seen you this week go through the whole range of emotions.
Can you even begin to sum up the last few days?
LIONEL MESSI, PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (through translator): Well, the truth is it's hard to put into words, but I've had to live through this week. It was
really difficult. What happened with Barcelona, saying farewell after being there my whole life in one place. And after three days without forgetting
what happened, everything changed.
I was living with a lot of doubt, a lot of nerves, a lot of anticipation that this would happen. And well, a lot of excitement and desire to get
started. It was a really special arrival, the welcome from the people who welcomed me who came out onto the streets.
I'm very excited to start this new era. And I'm going to live and I'm ready to start my new life here in Paris.
DAVIES: You have won league titles. You have won Champions League titles. But this is new to you.
Are you ready for life as the new guy in the dressing room?
MESSI (through translator): Yes, honestly, I'm aware of my background and the objective. This club has been fighting for a while to win a Champions
League. And it came close these last few years.
For me on a personal level, I would love to win another Champions League, like I've said in previous years and I think I've come to the ideal place
that's ready for that.
We have the same goals. The club's got impressive players, one of the best squads in the world. And God willing, we can achieve that goal which Paris
wants so much, I want so much.
MESSI (through translator): And hopefully we can enjoy it with the people of Paris, too.
DAVIES: What is the aim?
What is success for you here?
MESSI (through translator): Well, honestly, I live day to day, I think about enjoying the dressing room, where there's a lot of guys, I know, I
have friends there who are, like I said, among the best in the world.
I know them and being able to enjoy playing with them to be able to achieve the goals that the club has doing it all in a relaxed way and going slowly.
I'd love to be able to keep winning titles and to do it here in France, to fight for everything. I think those are the objectives. And hopefully it
DAVIES: Have you allowed yourself to contemplate the prospect of PSG against Barcelona in the Champions League?
MESSI (through translator): Well, it could happen, it would be strange for me if it happens. On the one hand, it would be special going back to my
home with a different shirt on. But we'll see what happens in the future. And if it does, we'll enjoy it as well.
DAVIES: There have been fans queuing up desperate to get their hands on the new 30 Messi Jersey already. We got a sneak peek as he came out wearing one
for a kick about with his children after all his commitments had been done.
But if there was hype around today, just imagine what it's going to be like when he takes to the field properly for his debut in a few weeks' time --
Amanda Davies, CNN, Paris.
GORANI: Before we go, Europe's tallest active volcano put on another show. Italy's Mount Etna erupted again Monday, shooting lava and ash into the sky
every couple of weeks since February now. The eruptions rarely cause damage. But Sicily estimated 300,000 tons of ash cleaned up so far.
I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks to all of you for watching and I hope you have a good evening. If it's evening where you are. Do stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS
BUSINESS" is coming up next and I'll see you next time.