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Hala Gorani Tonight
Brazilian Independence Day Brings Pro- And Anti-Bolsonaro Protests; U.S. President Joe Biden To Give "Major Speech" On COVID-19; Cuba Plans Reopening In November; Europe Had Hottest Summer Ever Recorded; Taliban Announces New Caretaker Government For Afghanistan; Americans And Afghan Allies Stuck For Days At Mazar-i-Sharif Airport In Afghanistan; Bitcoin Becomes Legal Tender In El Salvador. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired September 07, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, HOST, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: Hello everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. More of the same. The Taliban just
announced a new government for Afghanistan stacked full of veteran members of the group and their allies. Also ahead, in Brazil, huge rallies
happening right now both for and against the President Jair Bolsonaro. More details on why people are out in force on both sides. And if you're in
Europe, you were not imagining it this Summer. It was the hottest on record. A look closer at some of the devastating weather that has scorched
The Taliban have finally revealed their new care-taker government in Afghanistan hours after cracking down on protesters in Kabul violently.
It's one made up of hard-line Islamists, some from the Haqqani Network. No women are currently included unsurprisingly. The announcement was made by
the Taliban's spokesperson who said Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund will serve as interim prime minister. Akhund is currently on a U.N. terrorism
blacklist. It comes more than three weeks after the Taliban's lightning offensive in Afghanistan as signs of dissent are growing louder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, if you want to look at courage, this is what it looks like. Taliban fighters fired warning shots into the air in Kabul Tuesday to
disperse a group of protesters, many of them women. Demonstrators and journalists were reportedly detained. Some of them beaten. The Taliban say
a permanent government will be announced soon. CNN's Nic Robertson joins me now live from Islamabad. He's been following this story. Talk to us first
about what we should make of the current lineup, the current government, Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, I mean, the Taliban said it would be inclusive and it would non-Taliban members. We're
not seeing that. What we're seeing here is a pretty hard-line old school Taliban lineup with, I think, some important add-ons. The prime minister is
the former governor of Kandahar, and his reputation then was for running that province with very strict interpretation of Sharia law. For example,
the hanging of adulterers.
So, there's a reputation there from the prime minister who's going to handle the day-to-day affairs of the country with a very strict
interpretation of Sharia law. His deputy Mullah Baradar was the one who negotiated with the United States in Doha. Mullah Yaqoob; the defense
minister significant because he was the son of the founding member of the Taliban, the first leader Mullah Omar, perhaps the figure that I think we
can read most into is Sirajuddin Haqqani.
He is -- he is widely believed to have ties to al Qaeda. He's on the -- and that's the FBI's analysis. The FBI has a $5 million bounty on his head. The
U.N. has sanctions on him because of his connections to terrorism. And as the interior minister, that would be the person that any government wanting
to sort of do any kind of counterterrorism analysis in Afghanistan would naturally go through. And of course, the Taliban have promised the United
States that they will keep an eye on al Qaeda.
So, I think for the United States, this is going to be a deeply troubling lineup, and for the rest of the international community, it's just not what
they were looking for, that is inclusive government, Hala.
GORANI: So, I'm not sure exactly what they were expecting. And we've seen obviously in the last few days some violent crackdown action against
protesters on the streets of Kabul, including women who are marching, very courageously, demanding that their rights be respected. Tell us more about
what we know is happening in the capital.
ROBERTSON: Yes, what we're seeing is more women's protests starting up in different cities of the country. Herat, there were protests there.
Actually, when the Taliban shot there today to break up protesters, reports are that two protesters were killed, three wounded in Herat. But Kabul, it
seems because previous protests had gone ahead without the Taliban shooting people, that a bigger number of people came out, and they weren't just
protesting, you know, what we've heard for representation for women, for education for women. They were protesting against the Taliban's ongoing
crackdown of resistance in the Panjshir Valley and also against Pakistan.
They were telling Pakistan to get out of involvement in Afghanistan. There's a common perception among many people in Afghanistan that because
the Pakistani authorities had connections in the past with the Taliban. And indeed, over the weekend, the Pakistan's Intelligence chief, head of the
ISI was in Kabul meeting with the Taliban. It's created this enduring perception, the population, that Pakistan is part of why the Taliban have
come to power so quickly. So, of course, these young generation Afghans, these women --
GORANI: OK, can I --
ROBERTSON: Who want rights, who want representation, who want education, they are out on the streets protesting, and they're focusing some of that
anger at Pakistan.
GORANI: All right, Nic Robertson, thanks very much reporting live from Islamabad. So, what about the people who are, in some cases American
citizens, in other cases people who have worked in Afghanistan with the U.S. military during its war there, will they be evacuated? Those who did
not make that August 31st deadline? The Secretary of State, who is -- of the United States is working with the Taliban to make sure those who are
eligible can still get out of Afghanistan. That's what he's saying. Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a joint news conference
with Qatari officials in Doha on Tuesday. This is what Blinken had to say. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: We've assured, again, that all American citizens and Afghan citizens with valid travel documents
will be allowed to leave. And, again, we intend to hold the Taliban to that. They've upheld that commitment in at least one instance in the last
24 hours with a family that was able to leave through an overland route. And we are not aware of anyone being held on an aircraft or any hostage-
like situation in Mazar-i-Sharif.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right, I'm going to be speaking with someone who's deeply involved in evacuation efforts from Mazar-i-Sharif in a moment. First
though, I want to get to CNN's Kylie Atwood, she joins me now live from the State Department. So, Antony Blinken is saying, you know, we're talking
with the Taliban, no one is being held hostage. People with valid travel documents can leave. But that's not necessarily what we're hearing on the
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think there are a lot of complicating factors here. The first of which is that the
United States doesn't have a presence in Afghanistan anymore. So, although, they are relying on this communication with the Taliban to allow some of
those Americans and some of those Afghans who were in the country to get out, they don't have eyes and ears at the airports talking on the ground
to the Taliban. They are in communication with the Taliban as the Secretary of State said earlier today in Doha.
He also said that he is not aware, as you heard, of any hostage-like situation, that we heard actually is the situation at one of those airports
from the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. So, we are hearing different things here. But I think that one thing that is
noteworthy that the Secretary of State said is that those who have valid travel documents are being allowed out of the country. And I think that's
significant because that may be one of the things that is holding up these flights from taking off, right?
If you have people on the planes who don't have visas or don't have valid passports, it's kind of hard to find a place, to find a country where those
planes can fly to. Now, the State Department is making clear that they are in control of those flights, but they're trying to do everything that they
can here to speed up this process.
GORANI: All right, Kylie Atwood, thanks very much, reporting live from the State Department. Now, despite those reassurances from U.S. Secretary of
State Antony Blinken, we are hearing multiple reports of delays at Mazar-i- Sharif airport with vulnerable Afghans apparently among those waiting to get out. I'm joined now by journalist Elizabeth Ruben. She has more than
two decades of experience in Afghanistan. She's also a contributing writer to the "New York Times Magazine", and she's been working with the U.S.
Senator Richard Blumenthal's office on evacuations from Afghanistan.
Thanks very much Elizabeth Rubin for being with us. I understand you've been working on the evacuation of about two plane-loads of Afghans, some
U.S. citizens and vulnerable Afghans who, for instance, worked as journalists or as human rights activists. But they are not able to leave
Mazar-i-Sharif even though I understand planes are ready to fly them out. Why not?
ELIZABETH RUBIN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: That's a very good question, and thank you for this. We have 705 people who are
manifested. And those names and that manifest has been sent to the State Department about a week ago. We had permissions to land in Doha, and they
all have documents. On top of that, as you probably know, Albania and the Albanian Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister Edi Rama have been incredibly
helpful and sympathetic to what's going on. So, they have issued visas for these 705 people, which is, you know, to the point about documents.
So, they all have documents. They're all ready to fly. Of course, there's concern, how do you -- you know, secure that the right people are getting
on those planes. We have people who can work with anybody on the ground. The Taliban have been cooperating with that. You know, the State Department
has been involved with this group every day. So, it's a little puzzling what's happening right now. And the statement about documents since they
all do have onward passage guarantees.
GORANI: So, what's the hold-up then? I mean, have military authorities given their OK for these flights to take off? I understand they're
chartered flights from the Afghan national airline. If they have the authorization to take off and their paperwork is in order, and Albania has
given them visas, what entity or who is preventing the planes from taking off with these passengers on board?
RUBIN: You've just asked the million-dollar question, and we're asking the same thing. We're just saying these people are very vulnerable. They've
been waiting for days. There are no hostages. That is inaccurate. I don't know who is saying that there are no hostages. So, we're just saying, you
know, these 705 people of these two planes, we have documentation for them. Everybody's approved this. It's time for these two planes to go off, you
know, to take off. And there needs to be some kind of humanitarian corridor for all the people who need to get off.
The other thing to remember is, if you're being persecuted, it's very hard to get papers from your persecutors, right? So, we have promised to help
anybody who worked with the U.S. government or allies or people in danger - - and it's very difficult for them to get the right papers in this situation.
GORANI: Yes --
RUBIN: Now, the 705 on these two planes have the right papers and they have Albanian visas and they have landing rights. I don't know --
GORANI: Is the State Department -- when you contact the State Department and ask what's going on, what do they tell you?
RUBIN: Well, I am not in touch with the State Department, Senator Blumenthal's office is. And there are different things that are said, done
GORANI: Yes, and by the way, you mentioned Senator Blumenthal, he's tweeted about this. And one of the tweets essentially says, "we cannot
leave behind the people who helped the U.S. forces in Afghanistan. I expect the White House and State Department to do everything in their power,
absolutely everything, to make this happen. These are American citizens and Afghans who risked everything for our country."
I'm just trying to get clarity on where the hold-up is because Blinken in Qatar just said there's no issue. If you have the right paperwork, you're
fine. We're talking to the Taliban, and these 705 passengers have been waiting for, I understand, almost a week now to board these planes?
RUBIN: Yes, and find out the people, there's children, you know, they're not in great conditions and people are scared. And, you know, we've made
these promises to them. And since everybody is on the same page and saying it's time for them to leave and they have the right documentation, we're
not sure what the hold-up is at this point. The Taliban have given -- you know, they're working with us. They have been cooperating. The State
Department is on it every day and now they have Albanian visas and they have landing rights. So, if you could get to the bottom of this, that would
be amazing. And Senator Blumenthal --
GORANI: I was hoping you could -- I was hoping you had more information -- I mean, and we're going to stay on this because the notion that -- and you
have U.S. citizens among this group. The notion that you have every piece of paperwork in order, and on top of which --
RUBIN: Yes --
GORANI: The Albanians have said we're granting these people visas, which means they're not going directly to the U.S. So, anybody who's worried that
somebody might infiltrate this group and somehow want to cause harm to U.S. citizens in America, that can't happen because there's that stopover in
RUBIN: Absolutely. And then they're going to be processed in Albania. They're going to be housed in Albania. I'm sure you've been covering how
wonderful the Albanians have been treating the Afghans arriving there. And just the Afghans are able to breathe again, right? And have peace and then
organize themselves. They're being put up in hotels. And that is all going to happen with these 705 people. So, you know, it is a puzzle and I don't
understand the message that Secretary of State Blinken put out, that we don't know what documents they have, we don't know who they are. That
might apply to the other planes, but it does not apply to these two planes because they do have --
GORANI: Right, because there's more than -- there's more than one evacuation effort. Yours is one of several from Mazar-i- --
RUBIN: Yes --
GORANI: Sharif --
RUBIN: Yes, right.
GORANI: Quick last one. You have confirmation that at least some of the passengers are U.S. citizens or U.S. passport holders in Mazar?
RUBIN: Yes, there are 19 American citizens as far as I know. There's legal permanent residents. There's SIV holders. So -- and then there are all the
people that have worked with the U.S. amongst --
GORANI: Right --
RUBIN: This group.
GORANI: Well, we're going to stay on it. Thanks so much Elizabeth Rubin --
RUBIN: Thank you --
GORANI: For joining us. We're going to stay on it and we're going to keep -- we're going to -- we're going to keep asking questions of the State
Department and keep trying to get to the bottom of what's going on and why these planes aren't able to take off. Thanks so much for joining us from
New York --
RUBIN: Thank you sir -- thank you so much.
GORANI: Well, we want to show you, by the way, these startling images of Kabul's new normal. Students are divided by grey curtain, men on the left
and women on the right. Now, the Taliban had promised to allow women to continue in school. You'll remember previously, the Taliban prohibited
women from getting any kind of education if they were aged over 8. Some students are too afraid to return, and who can blame them? Others are
vowing to stay with it. One student said she wants to be educated no matter the circumstances.
Still to come, protests on the streets of Brazil as the president looks to re-energize his base. But some fear these rallies could be a sign of a
power grab. We'll explain why? And bitcoin is facing one of its biggest tests yet. We'll tell you about the first country in the world to accept it
as legal tender.
GORANI: El Salvador has officially become the first country in the world to accept bitcoin as a legal tender. It says the move will give people
greater access to banks and their finances. But not everyone is convinced. Rafael Romo is with us for more.
I wouldn't know, if you told me to buy bitcoin, I wouldn't know where to even start looking. So, what are the citizens of El Salvador being told
about bitcoin becoming suddenly legal tender in their country?
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Yes, that's a very good point, Hala, and it's the same situation that many people in El
Salvador are facing right now. There's a lot of questions, a lot of misinformation, and Hala, El Salvador had a bit of a rough start this
morning due to glitches in the app designed by the government for exchanging bitcoin for dollars and vice versa. President Nayib Bukele said
they had to temporarily disconnect the app because of what he called a relatively simple problem.
The law to make bitcoin legal tender in the smallest country in Central America went into effect today, but the reality is that there's a small
coastal village in El Salvador that has been using bitcoin for several years.
ROMO (voice-over): On the south western coast of El Salvador --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: El Zonte is a kind of a sleepy beach town.
ROMO: Lies a rocky beach that has been attracting surfers from around the world for decades. It's not the kind of place where you would find luxury
resorts. But the coastal village of about 3,000 has begun a small financial revolution that has the potential of reshaping the world economy.
"For the last several years, an increasing number of people at El Zonte have been using bitcoin as their main currency for daily transactions."
MICHAEL PETERSON, DIRECTOR, BITCOIN BEACH: You can pay your car insurance or your school tuition, and they can pay in bitcoin.
ROMO: Michael Peterson is an American who has been living in El Zonte for eight years. Peterson first travelled here as a surfer in 2004. Now, he's
the director of Bitcoin Beach, a locally-led initiative supported by a U.S.-based non-profit organization. Peterson says the initiative has a dual
purpose, developing the community and promoting bitcoin.
PETERSON: This isn't a business for me, it's just something that loses money for me. Now, I have a business in the U.S. that supports my needs,
but I just have a love for the community here and a real belief that bitcoin can really impact the life of those that are unbanked and those
that are at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.
ROMO: Peterson is not the only one who is betting that bitcoin will alleviate El Salvador's endemic poverty. Nayib Bukele, the millennial
president of El Salvador successfully advocated for a law making his country the first to adopt the cryptocurrency as legal tender. And
Venezuela launched a cryptocurrency three years ago called Petro that was backed by the country's reserves and natural resources.
(on camera): The case of El Salvador is unique, in that it's the first country to make bitcoin legal tender. Here in Mexico, for example, the
country's central bank issued a warning over the Summer, saying cryptocurrencies posed inherent risk and that dealing with them is not
legal under current law. This means that banks are not allowed to trade or offer any transactions with them. Some small business owners in El
Salvador, like this baker who makes a living selling sandwiches on the street, say they like bitcoin because it gives them an alternative to make
"It truly isn't difficult to deal in bitcoin at all", he says. Not far from there, this owner of a tortilla shop says she prefers cold, hard cash.
"It's something new, and we don't have enough information about it", she says. She's not alone. Hundreds of Salvadorians who recently took to the
streets to send an equivocal message about cryptocurrencies. "They're trying to change the whole country into a casino where those who can afford
it like the Bukele family can get in and play", he said. "El Salvador is not a casino."
(voice-over): Back in El Zonte, Peterson says people shouldn't see bitcoin as a threat but an opportunity.
PETERSON: I think they get it backwards. This is what bitcoin actually fixes. Bitcoin will bring these opportunities to young people so they don't
feel like they have to go to the United States in order to feed their family. They can develop a successful business here. This deters people
from entering the gangs because a big reason people enter the gangs is because they feel like there isn't other opportunities for them.
ROMO: He warns though that adopting bitcoin doesn't mean that El Salvador's problems like poverty and gang violence are going to disappear
overnight. But he hopes it will empower those at the bottom of the economic ladder in the smallest country in Central America.
ROMO: And Hala, the government of El Salvador has invested $203 million in infrastructure to install ATMs that will be available around the country
where people will be available to exchange bitcoin for dollars and the other way around. The Salvadorian National Assembly has also created a
fund of $150 million so that there's money readily available if people want to exchange their bitcoin. And now major American fast-food chains that
operate in El Salvador like McDonald's and Pizza Hut are also accepting bitcoin as a form of payment. Hala, back to you.
GORANI: Well, it's a new -- it's a new era that we're living in. Thanks very much. Still to come tonight, Brazil's president tries to mobilize his
base with protests across the country. What Jair Bolsonaro is calling for and why some are expressing concern. And taking a page from Trump's
political playbook as President Bolsonaro, his poll numbers drop, his supporters turn to America's far-right for inspiration.
GORANI: Brazil is marking its independence day with opposing demonstrations. One side is marching in support of the president amid his
feud with other public institutions. Jair Bolsonaro has been attacking the Supreme Court. He's been attacking Congress for opposing his government.
Critics say his actions are undermining democracy and many are holding counter demonstrations. Some of the biggest rallies are taking place on the
streets of Sao Paulo. Anthony Wells from CNN Brazil is there with a look at the scene.
ANTHONY WELLS, CNN BRASIL REPORTER (on camera): Hello, everyone, we're standing at the very top of a building with a bird's eye view of one of the
biggest protests in the nation that's happening down below. So, I'm going to step out of the frame and let our photo-g here who could show and give
you guys a look at the scene. So, down below, we have thousands of protesters in favor of President Jair Bolsonaro and his administration.
Protesters who are bearing green and yellow, the Brazilian national colors and are awaiting the arrival of the president, who is expected to address
his supporters here within the next hour.
Now, these are people who believe President Jair Bolsonaro is on a political crusade to rid the country from leftist politics, and who argue
the Brazilian Supreme Court is trying to impede Bolsonaro in that quest. Now, opposers would argue protests like the one you are witnessing right
now are trying to give the administration a false sense of strength in what is Bolsonaro's weakest moment since his presidency began in 2019.
Polls show that over 60 percent of Brazilians would not vote for Bolsonaro, putting him behind a former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
His ratings are also nosediving as a result of a coronavirus pandemic that has claimed almost 600,000 Brazilian lives. So we're staying on top of the
protests here. Should we have any updates, should they get violent, we'll be sure to let you know -- Anthony Wells, CNN Brasil, Sao Paulo.
GORANI: And for more on Brazil's political unrest, I'm joined by now CNN's Isa Soares.
And how Bolsonaro is trying to push back and strategize, as his poll numbers continue to decline, and he's looking to perhaps Trump's political
ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, Hala, the similarities have always been there. Of course, Trump of the Tropics, he's known as Trumpino
(ph) in South America as well. So the similarities are there, stoking mistrust, stoking divisions.
What we've seen throughout the last few days, the populism, that is clear (ph). But what is really interesting in the last few weeks, we've seen as
his poll numbers drop, approval rating is down something like 20 percent.
And that climate of discontent that you're seeing on the streets of Brazil, be it because of this handling of the pandemic, be it because of the
crippling economy, many people have felt that really he -- that they're calling for his impeachment.
So in a desperate state of affairs, as he tries to give a full sense of dominance, as we've seen on the streets today, he's turning -- he and his
campaign managers are turning to read the Trump playbook and really cozying up to the American Right. Take a look.
SOARES (voice-over): Splashed across a big screen, Brazil's conservatives look to the American Right for inspiration.
DONALD TRUMP JR., FORMER PRESIDENT'S SON: Do you go the path of socialism or do you remain steadfast and strong for freedom?
SOARES (voice-over): The Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, an American import, is hoping to revive Jair Bolsonaro's dwindling base as
the embattled president faces sliding approval ratings, a weakening economy and public outrage over his handling of the pandemic, which has claimed
over 580,000 lives.
Luiz Philippe de Orleans e Braganca, a lawmaker and Bolsonaro supporter, tells us why the president is seeking a second term in office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUIZ PHILIPPE DE ORLEANS E BRAGANCA, BRAZILIAN LAWMAKER: He believes that there is a risk that the radical Left will take over Brazil and that there
is a risk of totalitarian regime to take place in Brazil. And I believe that, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES (voice-over): With an election in Brazil looming large, this relationship with the Trump inner circle has strengthened over the years.
And in the Bolsonaro family, the likes of former Trump campaign manager, Steve Bannon.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He's the third son of the Trump of the Tropics, president Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say, Edoardo, you are --
SOARES (voice-over): With Edoardo Bolsonaro making an appearance at the My Pillow CEO's event.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bolsonaro will win unless it's stolen by - guess what - the machine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The machines.
SOARES (voice-over): Taking his cue from the Trump playbook, Bolsonaro has been sowing doubt on the integrity of Brazil's entire electronic voting
system, calling for printed ballots to supplement electronically cast votes.
JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT: (Speaking Portuguese).
SOARES (voice-over): And threatening not to hand over the presidency next year if there is suspicion of fraud.
BOLSONARO: (Speaking Portuguese).
SOARES (voice-over): As the calls for his impeachment grow louder, Bolsonaro continues to fight for political survival, using the armed forces
to project power, with a military parade recently in front of the presidential palace, enough to rattle some of Brazil's political
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).
SOARES (voice-over): A former member of Brazil's Communist Party, Amelia Natal (ph) said she was a victim of torture during the country's brutal
military dictatorship, which lasted 21 years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).
SOARES: Is Brazil's democracy at risk, Amelia (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).
SOARES (voice-over): Cautionary (ph) words from those who carry the scars of those dark days and fear that Brazil's past might just be about to
SOARES: And Hala, it's really understandable why political dissidents like Amelia (ph) feel this way. When you hear -- when you see the scenes on the
streets of Brazil of those tanks, of that military on the streets of Brazil, that took place -- just to give our viewers some context -- on the
same day that congress was voting as to whether -- as whether to add those ballots for -- printed ballots, in addition to the electronic ballots.
That was -- that was happening on the same moment. Now the Bolsonaro camp saying basically it's coincidence.
But what that creates is an atmosphere, that really leaves people on edge, people in Brazil on edge, over 25 years of military dictatorship. So when
you look at the scenes that have been playing out in Brazil, in Brasilia as well as Sao Paulo today, many people I've been speaking were incredibly
fearful that we could be looking at the same scenes that we saw in Washington early January of an insurrection.
And if Bolsonaro of course does not give up when -- if he loses next year, he says he won't; defeat is not an option -- that is still a huge concern
GORANI: Isa Soares, thanks so much for that report.
Still to come tonight, Israel is hoping a multipronged approach will keep children safe from COVID-19 as they head back to school. We'll show you
what the country is doing and why one school principal says it is still a work in progress.
Plus, this summer was sweltering for much of Europe. Climate experts say it's a sign of things to come. If you were in a Mediterranean country, you
weren't imagining things. It was hotter than usual. We'll be right back.
GORANI: So it's important to remember we're still really in the middle of a pandemic and officials are having to come up with strategies to deal with
the road ahead, especially as kids start returning to school.
The American President, Joe Biden, is set to outline his next moves to fight the COVID pandemic in a speech. An official said he'll talk about how
schools but also businesses can move forward.
GORANI: And what he'll require of federal employees and the status of possible booster vaccines.
Now all of this comes as Americans are showing waning confidence in Mr. Biden's handling of COVID-19. A "Washington Post"/ABC News poll says about
52 percent of Americans think he's doing well, down 10 points from two months ago.
Right now a little more than half of Americans are fully vaccinated but the country is still suffering through a pretty severe surge. It just surpassed
a total of 40 million cases and almost 650,000 deaths, a lot of that driven, it has to be said, by unvaccinated Americans.
Like so many countries in these times of COVID-19, Israel is struggling with how to get children safely back into school. Administrators and
teachers say that it's a pretty worrisome challenge but a combination of masks, testing and so-called green passes is enabling what one teacher
calls a focus on life.
Will all of that work?
Elliott Gotkine reports from Tel Aviv.
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's all fun and games at Arazim (ph) School in Tel Aviv, where these new first graders are readying
themselves for class under the shadows of COVID.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're worried, of course, but really, really without any choice.
GOTKINE (voice-over): Getting a bunch of six year olds to wear masks in class will be just one of the challenges.
GOTKINE: How do you feel in terms of the preparation in the face of with COVID still happening?
DALIT ROCHMAN, TEACHER: I am trying not to think about it because otherwise there will be paralyzed. And so I'm trying to take every day as
it is to come very happily to school to show the kids that there is life. And there are so young kids, we don't want them to be focused on the COVID,
we want them to focus of the first grades in school.
GOTKINE (voice-over): They might just be able to do so, thanks to the lessons learned over the past 18 months.
GOTKINE: In the previous school year, if a child or a teacher came down with COVID, the entire class would have to go into isolation and
This time around, things are said to be different. Children who test negative on a daily basis would be able to continue to come to school as
GOTKINE (voice-over): The same applies to children with so called green passes. To that end, the government has launched a mass serological testing
campaign for virus hotspots. Children whose results show they've recovered from COVID as well as over 12 who are vaccinated will receive green passes.
GOTKINE (voice-over): Yet for school principal Uri Perlman, overseeing these new rules and regulations won't be simple.
URI PERLMAN, SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: But who is supposed to enforce it?
I, the minister of education and we're not so sure. Everybody is a bit confused. I mean, like every year, September 1 is going to come.
Everybody's going to be here. It's going to be OK. I would love to have more information. But as we all know, it's a rolling situation.
GOTKINE (voice-over): It's not quite the leap into the unknown it was last year. But with vaccination booster shots being rolled out amid near record
levels of daily COVID cases, everyone in Israel will be hoping that back to school this year means staying at school, too -- Elliott Gotkine, CNN, Tel
GORANI: Now Cuba says it expects to vaccinate a majority of its population with its homegrown COVID vaccine by the middle of autumn. And with its
critical tourism industry struggling after months of lockdown, the government has announced that it will reopen to visitors in mid-November if
you fancy a trip to Cuba.
Patrick Oppmann is in Havana.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Cuban government on Monday announced that, starting in mid-November, this island will begin to reopen
its international borders.
For much of the pandemic, Cuba has been on lockdown, with flights severely restricted, sometimes cut off for months. This, of course, has been
devastating to Cuba's tourism industry. And economy on this island has suffered severely throughout the pandemic.
Cuban officials say that, even though the island still remains in the throes of the pandemic, with some of the highest numbers of cases, daily
cases and daily deaths, to date, starting in mid-November, for the first time, the Cuban government will no longer require a PCR from travelers.
They will begin to ask travelers to show their vaccination cards upon arrival. And the Cuban government, according to the ministry of tourism,
thinks that the vaccination campaign here, using Cuba's homegrown vaccines, is paying off, is having an effect.
There are about 4 million people who have received all three doses here. And the Cuban government says that they expect that, by mid-November, they
will have vaccinated over 90 percent of the population.
OPPMANN: Or begun to vaccinate a majority of the population. They have had trouble, though, on obtaining some of the materials they need to create the
vaccines. There has been supply chain problems, there've been problems in hospitals here with the medicines, that they have been running out of with
the number of beds.
So while the Cuban government sounds optimistic, a lot of what we have been seeing on the ground seems to indicate that they've had problems throughout
the pandemic, that the health care system here, that the government is very proud of, at some points has come close to collapsing.
So while the government says they plan on reopening in about two months, it remains an open question of whether they will be able to -- Patrick
Oppmann, CNN Havana.
GORANI: Well, this is not video you see every day nor would you want to see video like this every day. Anti-vaccine protesters pelting the Canadian
prime minister with gravel after a campaign event Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI (voice-over): Justin Trudeau was boarding a bus in London, Ontario, and crowds of screaming people surrounded him and his security team.
Trudeau says he will not back down from angry protesters or from enforcing public health measures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Now to an extraordinary story out of Australia, where a 3-year-old toddler is safe with his family after going missing last week.
The boy, named A.J., has autism. And his parents were obviously very, very worried when they couldn't find him out in the wild. Ivan Watson has the
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The dramatic moment when police aircraft spot a missing child after a frightening three-day
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got the boy. Stay, boy, steady (ph).
WATSON (voice-over): Three-year-old Anthony "AJ" Elfalak, spotted sitting on a riverbank in the Australian bush, drinking water. He went missing off
his family's property around noon on Friday and wasn't found until three days later.
Hundreds of emergency volunteers joined the search. Little AJ is reportedly autistic and non-verbal. He apparently survived three near-freezing nights
in the plunging temperatures of the Australian winter. His exhausted mother says her boy is now home, warm and sleeping off the ordeal.
KELLY ELFALAK, AJ'S MOTHER: Oh, I can't explain it. I'm so blessed. I'm so happy that he's here, he's with us, he's safe and well and healthy. That's
all that matters.
WATSON (voice-over): Anthony's father tells journalists his son had diaper rash and suffered ant bites but is otherwise OK. In a statement, the family
thanked everyone who helped with the rescue, adding, quote, "AJ is fine. Hold your kids close." -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.
GORANI: And still to come tonight, floods, fires and extreme heat; climate change is happening faster than we expected. In Europe, we're getting a
closeup look at how rapidly temperatures are rising. And we're feeling it year-on-year almost. We'll be right back.
GORANI: It's getting harder and harder to be a climate change denier, whether you're in Europe or anywhere else, especially after Europe lived
through its hottest summer ever recorded.
And we're looking at trends, increasing trends for temperatures across the region. A new report from the E.U.'s Copernicus Climate Change Service says
the average temperature from June until the end of August this year was a whole 1 degree Celsius higher than the average from 1991 to 2020.
That's brought heat waves and massive wildfires to the Mediterranean this summer. And we've seen record-breaking rainfall, leading to deadly flooding
in Germany and Belgium.
Samantha Burgess is the deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service and she joins me from Reading in the U.K., with more on why we are
seeing these rising temperatures.
Talk to us first about your findings. Regarding this -- when we look at the headline numbers, so obviously this summer versus two or three summers ago,
it's not as much of a jump.
But if you compare this summer to the period between 1991 and 2020, the average temperature, we're seeing a much bigger rise.
What's going on?
SAMANTHA BURGESS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, COPERNICUS CLIMATE CHANGE SERVICE: Good evening.
Yes, so, we monitor the climate on a regular basis. And we do this through using a product called reanalysis, which takes observations of the climate
and Earth system from around the world and integrates, assimilates it with the latest numerical weather prediction model to create a global map of
climate indicators everywhere.
And what we're seeing month-on-month is a increase in temperature trends. And we know from human-induced and thermogenically caused climate change
that the atmosphere is warmer and wetter than it otherwise would have been without these human-caused emissions.
And this means that we're seeing more extreme events, so higher intensities of rainfall, hotter heat waves. And these have led to the devastating
impacts that you mentioned in the opening.
GORANI: And this is definitely linked to human activity?
BURGESS: Yes, absolutely. And we can say this with complete confidence. The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in August,
released their sixth assessment report. And I think the word that they used in that report was unequivocable, that humans are causing the changes that
we're seeing to the climate system.
BURGESS: And the number that the IPCC has used is that the -- with this human-induced warming, the climate is 1.1 degrees warmer than it otherwise
would have been without these emissions.
GORANI: So how do we slow this down?
What do we do?
And based on what policy initiatives countries around the world are enacting, I mean, where -- how much of this can be slowed, if at all?
BURGESS: So it can be slowed and the temperature and the extreme events that we've observed recently are directly proportional to the emissions
that we have in the atmosphere. So we're in a good place politically.
In 2015, all nations came together and committed to the Paris agreement, which limits warming from human-induced emissions to 1.5 degrees. And many
nations around the world have actually committed to a net zero by 2050.
So to really ramp down those emissions as much as possible. And if we see those emissions reduce, we'll see a reduction in impacts to the climate
system. Obviously, there will be feedbacks and this will be slowed. But we have this evidence base.
BURGESS: And we have this political commitment. And there's a conference that the U.K. is hosting later this year, the Conference of the Parties,
COP26, where hopefully there will be ambitious action from political states around the world.
GORANI: All right. The hottest summer, as Mediterranean countries, some of the hottest weather on record. Samantha Burgess, thanks very much for
The American President Joe Biden, speaking of wild weather, he's touring storm ravaged areas of New York and New Jersey. He's trying to reassure
these hardhit communities that they have federal support.
Last week the remnants of a hurricane named Ida slammed into the Northeast, bringing heavy rain, tornadoes and deadly flooding. Dozens of people were
killed. Some drowned in their own basement apartments on the eastern coast.
It's just unbelievable stuff is going on with wild climate events. Mr. Biden says we're living through climate change in real time and we must do
something about it now.
And we want to end the show on this sad note. Five-time Emmy nominated actor Michael K. Williams is being remembered as a rare talent, a beautiful
soul and, by those who knew him, a true friend.
Williams died Monday at his Brooklyn home. If you ever watched "The Wire" - - and people who watched "The Wire," certainly some of them say it's the best TV show ever made, that standout role was his, Omar Little on the HBO
series. Here he is from one episode, squaring off with a prosecutor in a courtroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS, ACTOR, "OMAR LITTLE": Hey, look, I never put my gun to no citizen.
PETER GERETY, ACTOR, "JUDGE DANIEL PHELAN": You are amoral (ph), are you not?
You are feeding off the violence and the despair of the drug trade. You're stealing from those who themselves are stealing the lifeblood from our
city. You are a parasite who leeches off --
"LITTLE": Just like you, man.
"PHELAN": -- the culture of drugs -- excuse me?
"LITTLE": I got the shotgun. I got the briefcase.
It's all in the game though, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Costar Wendell Pierce described him this way, "An immensely talented man with the ability to give voice to the human condition,
portraying the lives of those whose humanity is seldom elevated until he sings their truth"
Michael K. Williams was a young 54 years old.
I'm Hala Gorani. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.