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Japan's Doctors Union Agree to Cancel Tokyo Olympics; IOC Doing the Wrong Thing; U.S. Intel to Investigate the Origin of the Virus; Dominic Cummings Spill Beans Against His Former Boss; India Facing Another Plague; President Biden Calls For Ceasefire And Humanitarian Access In Tigray; Blinken' Middle East Trip Ends In Jordan; A Palestinian Human Rights Campaigner's View; Deadly Volcanic Eruption, Tremors Put Republic Of Congo And Rwanda On High Alert; Taiwan Faces Vaccine Shortage Amid COVID Outbreak; 18,000 Afghans Who Helped United States Still Awaiting VISAS; Dutch Court Orders Shell To Cut Emissions Faster. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired May 27, 2021 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.
Just ahead here on CNN Newsroom, Japan's National Doctors Union echoes the growing calls against hosting the Olympics. We will hear from a medical expert who says there might be a way to hold the games safely.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOMINIC CUMMINGS, FORMER CHIEF ADVISER TO PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON: When the public needs us most, the government failed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Boris Johnson's former chief adviser blasts the British government's handling of the COVID pandemic.
And the U.S. president orders the intel community to investigate whether the coronavirus escaped from a Chinese lab. We have reaction from Beijing.
Good to have you with us.
Well, the summer Olympics in Tokyo could signal a triumphant and to the coronavirus pandemic. Or they could be a super spreader event of global proportions. Now just 57 days away, doctors in Japan are leading the call to cancel the games. COVID cases are rising in many parts of the country, and the government will decide by tomorrow whether to extend a state of emergency for regions struggling to keep a third wave of the virus and check. In the past few hours, the Japan doctors union repeated its call for
the games to be scrapped.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAOTO UEYAMA, CHAIRMAN, JAPAN DOCTORS UNION (through translator): If the Olympic Games are to be held in Tokyo, this will mean that people will be coming to Japan from 200 different countries around the world. Tens of thousands of people indeed. This could mean potentially that all the different strains of the virus that exist in different places will be concentrated in gathering here in Tokyo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): And doctors here in the United States have serious concerns as well. One group outlined the problems they see in the New England Journal of Medicine. They say organizers have an uneven testing plan in place, vaccines are not available for many participants. Vaccinations for athletes are only encouraged not required. Contact tracing is based on apps which may not work, athletes have to bring their own mask, and they will have to share rooms.
Doctor Annie Sparrow is the lead author of that report. And she joins me now from New York. Thank you, doctor, for talking with us and for all that you do.
So, despite growing calls for the Tokyo Olympic Games to be canceled based on scientific evidence, the IOC and Japan's government are forging ahead. So, what changes need to be made to ensure the safety of all 20,000 athletes and staff will be in attendance?
ANNIE SPARROW, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, ICAHN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, MOUNT SINAI, NEW YORK: Well, it's not rocket science, Rosemary. Here's the thing. I mean, there are huge calls to cancel the Olympics but they're not actually based on scientific evidence. The, you know, the cases in Tokyo today were 525, that's less than what they were in New York. There's a lot of panic that is fueling this and that's very understandable. But the biggest problem is that the IOC, the guardian of the Olympics, has just not put in place the measures to protect athletes.
CHURCH: So what measures do you feel need to be put in place that aren't there right now?
SPARROW: Well, first of all, we know that the safest thing for athletes are single rooms. That makes sense, right? One room, one athlete. We know that very well from the NFL, from the European handball championships, I myself advise the women's basketball last year. But what are the IOC doing? They are packing three athletes per room. And this is Tokyo. I mean, the rooms are pretty small as it is. And that's a long period of exposure.
One of the other things they're doing is they're doing temperature checks. Now, temperature checking is like, you know, screening, security screening at airports. It's just for the optics. We all know it doesn't work, temperature checking is useless in COVID because half of the diseases spread asymptomatically by people who never display symptoms. And the other half is spread by people who do develop symptoms, but by the time they develop a fever, if they develop it, they already passed the most contagious stage.
And they knew seeing a cut off of 37.5 which could even be discriminating against women and Blacks because women and Blacks have higher temperatures.
So that's another useless effect which isn't shown, and which would be much better served with a rapid testing. And that's another -- that's another thing that they don't do. Instead of doing testing at least once, if not twice a day, the IOC haven't even committed to testing every athlete every participant every sport star even once a day.
CHURCH: Right. So, the main areas of concern are the athletes providing their own masks and sharing rooms and athletes undergoing testing at unspecified intervals after they arrive in Japan. Now these are all easy fixes if the IOC chooses to do that. But when it comes to encouraging athletes to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but not requiring it, that's a tough one, isn't it?
Because some athletes are fearful the vaccines may impact their performance in some negative way. So how do you fix that problem? Or do you --do you not? You just leave it as it is?
SPARROW: It's too late to fix that now even if we could. It's entirely understandable that athletes have concerns, that there may be side effects about a vaccine enter their body at this late stage. You know, when the Olympics were canceled this time last year, or March 24th, you know, the IOC just presumed that either the pandemic would be over, or everyone would be vaccinated. But they haven't, you know, they didn't put in place to maybe how to figure out how to do that.
But it's just too late now because it's just too late to get everybody vaccinated even if there were sufficient vaccine before the Olympics start in time in order to protect the athlete's sufficient protection. And that's not even -- that's even before we would get to the question of variants, which, you know, may some -- you know, which may show vaccine escape in any case.
CHURCH: And doctor, if Japan and the IOC disregard calls to cancel the games, and also refuse to make the games safer by following some of these guidelines you are suggesting, what might the consequences be?
SPARROW: Where we're up to now is we have to, you know, we have a very short window of time to actually stand up and get the experts together who know what to do, and that means who are the experts in ventilation? How can we get the air clean? How can we -- you know, we know how to do testing and certainly, the IOC who are experts at dog testing can certainly figure out how to do testing for COVID, you, know several times a day, compared with, dog testing, that's a piece of a proverbial. But, you know, think about Tokyo too, there's not going to be any spectators from abroad. So, there are dozens and dozens of hotels. So, let's put the athletes there so they can all have a single room. Let's figure out the public places so that in buses, for example, which can be COVID incubators, athletes can have like a respiratory mask than those times of high-risk.
CHURCH: Dr. Annie Sparrow, thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it.
CHURCH: The U.S. president has ordered his intelligence agencies to review the origins of the pandemic. New reporting by CNN and other media organizations has given new life to an old theory the coronavirus was born in a Chinese lab and possibly released by accident.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins picks up the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Biden now calling on the U.S. intelligence community to intensify its investigation into the origin of COVID-19.
UNKNOWN: This is incredibly important.
COLLINS: Biden demanding a firmer answer within 90 days after officials narrowed in on two likely scenarios. A pass from animals to humans, or was the result of a lab accident.
UNKNOWN: That could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion.
COLLINS: The president has, quote, "specific questions for China and toward intelligence agencies to keep Congress fully apprized." The directive is a sharp turn for more official stood earlier this week when pressed on whether the U.S. should lead an investigation.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What we can't do, and would I would caution anyone doing is leaping ahead of an actual international process. We don't have enough data and information to jump to a conclusion.
COLLINS: Federal health officials renewed calls for further investigation after the World Health Organization face criticism for initially dismissing the possibility that it came from a lab.
FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: It is certainly possible that other options might have occurred including a possible lap lead. We just don't have evidence to be able to say what that likelihood is.
COLLINS: One of Biden's top COVID-19 advisers was harshly critical of the WHO's investigation with China. ANDY SLAVITT, SENIOR ADVISER, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM: We
need a completely transparent process from China. We need the WHO to assist in that matter. We don't feel like we have that now.
COLLINS: Biden is also taking a shot at his predecessor, saying the failure to get our inspectors on the ground in those early months will always hamper any investigation. The new directive comes after sources told CNN that Biden's team shut down a State Department effort led by former Secretary Pompeo to prove coronavirus had originated in a Chinese lab.
MIKE POMPEO, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I am confident that we will find that the evidence that we have seen today that's consistent with a lab leak, and I'm convinced that's what we'll see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS (on camera): And the State Department is disputing the semantics of that story saying they did not shut down that investigation, it simply came to an end earlier this year. But I think the bottom line to take away from President Biden's directive today is they do believe there could be some credibility to that theory that COVID-19 did come from a lab, a lab accident, potentially, and that's what he wants the intelligence community to find out within the next three months.
Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.
CHURCH: Meantime, China is slamming the lab leak theories, calling them smear campaigns.
CNN's Steven Jiang reports from Beijing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: The Chinese government has been saying for days that these latest allegations from Washington are just a sign of a U.S.-led smear campaign against China. Now their current line of argument is China has done all it can in terms of helping the World Health Organization in its origin tracing effort. Now it's time to investigate other countries, especially pointing a finger at the U.S. but without providing any concrete evidence.
So that partly explains their growing frustration or even anger at anyone who demands or suggests further investigations in Wuhan in China. Because their own line of arguments or counterattacks is simply not resonating with much of the rest of the world.
Now the fact is, a growing number of experts and scientists are saying based on the evidence they have seen so far, they simply cannot rule out a lab leak theory. But they are also not ruling out other scenarios including the zoonotic jump that's being considered most likely by a WHO team that did go into the Wuhan lab early this year. Now, these scientists are saying these things are not incompatible
with each other, it's not an either or question but what they have a problem with is the WHO team that went to the Wuhan lab said it was extremely unlikely the virus was leaked from the lab based on a conversation with the staff. Not based on direct access to raw complete Chinese data and samples.
That's why the WHO's finding has not been very convincing to a growing number of experts and officials from around the world who are now calling on Beijing to provide unfettered access to all of this data to independent experts. But of course, given how politicized this issue has become on both sides of the Pacific is just increasingly unlikely, if not outright impossible for the Chinese government to agree to do so.
And for them, of, course it's not only a sovereignty issue, it's probably also a loss a face issue, not to mention this is increasingly a domestic and political issue given the narrative they've been feeding their domestic audience including increasingly over the top rhetoric against the U.S.
Steven Jiang, CNN, Beijing.
CHURCH: The British prime minister's former chief adviser didn't hold back when asked about his former boss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: His argument after that happened was, literally, quote, "I should have been the mayor of Jaws and kept the beaches open." That's what he said on many, many occasions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): And it didn't stop there. We will have more of his explosive testimony in parliament.
Plus, how a dangerous fungal infection is making the deadly COVID crisis in India even worse.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Here we are in the United States of America we're experiencing something that's not experience anywhere in the world. There is a sameness to this and that numbness, I think is something that we're all feeling. But it begs the damn question what the hell is going on in the United States of America. What the hell is wrong with us?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): California's governor there reacting to Wednesday's mass shooting in his state. It was the 232nd mass shooting in the U.S. this year. Maintenance worker at a commuter rail facility in San Jose were getting the fleet ready for the day when one of their coworkers opened fire. Eight people were killed and one was critically wounded.
The mayor said all of the victims knew the gunman well. Police believe he took his own life.
At about the same time firefighters were being called to a two-alarm fire at a house believed to belong to the gunman. No one was inside but it was badly damaged and left uninhabitable. Investigators are now trying to piece together a motive behind for two events.
In the coming hours, Australia's second most populous state will be back under lockdown. Victoria state officials are scrambling to take precautionary measures after a new cluster of infections were detected in Melbourne earlier this week. So far, at least 26 cases have been reported.
CNN's Angus Watson has more.
ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: The good is that they're all clustered together. The bad news is that contract tracing in the state of Victoria have pointed to over 10,000 people who could be primary or secondary contact of an infected person. And to make matters worse, this is the Indian variant of coronavirus. That coronavirus variant B1617 that was first identified in India spreading through the community in Melbourne which has people very concerned. Here is what the acting premier of Victoria had to say about that on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES MERLINO, ACTING PREMIER, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA: Sadly, we have one of those people, in an ICU on a ventilator in not - in not a very good way. In the last day we've seen more evidence that we're dealing with a highly infectious strain of the virus, a variant of concern which is running faster that we have ever recorded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON (on camera): So, this raise a serious question, Rosemary, as to how the virus got back into Australia after the country had done so well over the summer in keeping it out. The virus actually crept back in through Australia's hotel quarantine system, somebody caught it while doing their 14 days mandatory state-run isolation in a hotel and then brought it back into the community.
That raises questions, Rosemary, as to why there aren't more purpose- built quarantine facilities here in Australia. The government only has one at how it's brings in the northern territory where there hasn't been a single case of Coronavirus escape. There have been 20 outbreaks from these hotel quarantine settings around the country because they just aren't purpose built for the job, scientists say.
CHURCH: And that was CNN's Angus Watson reporting.
Well there is about to be a mandatory quarantine in France for those traveling there from the U.K. on top of a negative COVID-19 test. A government spokesperson says that it's because a highly contagious variant is spreading in Britain, the one first detected in India. The quarantine period is set at seven days and goes into effect on Monday. Germany is doing the same except it's twice that amount.
Well, members of parliament in the U.K. got quite a show on Wednesday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson's former top aide tore into what he calls the government's disastrous handling of the coronavirus.
Dominic Cummings, once an influential member of Mr. Johnson's inner circle and someone that the prime minister once called a genius spared no words detailing Boris Johnson's supposed negligence. Here is part of his testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: After the first lockdown his view was, he was crossed with me and for others in what he regards as just basically pushing him into the first lockdown. His argument after that happened was, literally, quote, I should've have been the mayor of Jaws and kept the beaches open. That's what he said on many, many occasions.
The prime minister took the view in January, February that economic harm cause by action against COVID was going to be more damaging to the country than COVID. And we could not persuade him that if you basically took the view of let it rip and not worry about COVID, you would get not just all the health disasters but you would also then get a huge economic disaster.
In February the prime minister regarded this as just a scary story. He regarded -- he describes it as the new swine flu.
UNKNOWN: Did you tell him it wasn't?
CUMMINGS: Certainly. But the view of various officials inside Number 10 was if we have the prime minister chairing COVID meetings and he just tells everyone the swine flu, don't worry about it. I'm going to get Chris Whitty to infect me live on TV with coronavirus. Everyone realizes it's nothing to be frightened of. That would be -- that would not help actually seriously panic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera0: His former boss did not like that, the prime minister pushed back against his former adviser's comments defending the actions of his party and blaming the opposition for delays to government action over the last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I don't think anybody could incredibly accuses government of being complacent about the threats of this virus plays at any -- at any point. We have worked flat out, Mr. Speaker, to minimize loss of life, to protect the NHS while they have flip-flopped, Mr. Speaker, from one position to another, backing curfew one day, opposing it the next, backing lockdowns one day, opposing the next. Calling for tougher border controls one day and then saying that quarantine is a blunt (Inaudible).
Mr. Speaker, we have got on with the job of protecting the people of this country from one of the worst pandemics in living memory, if not the worst in living memory. We have turned the corner and it is no thanks, Mr. Speaker, to the lower opposition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): And CNN's Bianca Nobilo joins me now from Surrey with the latest. Bianca, of course, it was explosive and surprising, extraordinary revealing. And this certainly, you know, for the prime minister this is very damaging but Cummings has to take some of the responsibility here as well, doesn't he?
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Quite an explosive, political dynamite, jaw-dropping, astonishing and frankly, a lot of words that I can't say live on TV are some of the things that that testimony has been called by people in British political circles.
Dominic Cummings spent those seven hours eviscerating the prime minister's reputation, that of the health secretary and the government writ large. But it is damaging for the prime minister on many fronts. But let's look at the fact that Dominic Cummings claim that his former boss, someone who he was instrumental in getting into office with a historic election victory was not fit for that office.
He said many times that Boris Johnson simply didn't take the pandemic seriously enough, not that his criticisms of Boris Johnson were confined to the pandemic, in fact, they were before that. But he said that Boris Johnson had a flippant approach to the pandemic and the critical planning stages and that lives could have been saved had he taken it more seriously.
Let's take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAROL MONAGHAN, M.P., SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY: Did you hear him say like the bodies pile high in their thousands or it's only killing 18- years-olds?
CUMMINGS: There's been a few different versions of this, of these stories knocking around. There was a version of the -- of it in Sunday Times which was not accurate. But the version that the BBC reported was accurate.
MONAGHAN: And you heard that?
CUMMINGS: I heard that in front of Mr. (Inaudible).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO (on camera): That's an incendiary claim, Rosemary. Dominic Cummings saying that Boris Johnson after having ordered a second lockdown which according to Cummings is something that the prime minister did not want to do, made that callous remark.
We're yet to hear from the prime minister at length and that will probably happen later today but he was certainly not the only one that was in the firing line, as I mentioned the health secretary had a number of attacks. But it wasn't just the figures in government and that was what's quite so startling about what we heard yesterday.
This is someone who is in the room, in the corridor's power at the heart of everything as it's conducted in Westminster and Britain and he basically said that the entire system is creaking, it's falling apart at the seams. It isn't efficient. He said that even if you got Bill Gates or somebody exceptionally talented in business and management and put them in there, that they wouldn't be able to run it. That it has a total systemic failure when it comes to the pandemic.
He also then went on to say some, perhaps peculiar things about the fact that he thought he was under qualified for the role of that chief adviser position, that he shouldn't have been able to get into Number 10 and to be so close to the prime minister and all that decision- making.
And that was part of when we look at what happened yesterday and consider the validity of Dominic Cummings' claims and the credibility of what he was saying, there are several things which already don't add up.
For example, this is someone who many have referred as a genius, who have painted as Svengali, a Machiavellian character, but he on many occasions alluded to the fact that he wasn't smart enough to understand things. Or that, you know, he didn't have any influence to affect the changes that he wanted to affect.
This is in extreme contra distinction to the way that he is perceived in the United Kingdom and perceived in government circles. So, I'm sure that journalist and figures in the government will be beginning to pick apart those claims today. And the government will be keen to see how these lands with the British public. That's the key question here.
I spoke to as many people as I could yesterday and this morning, and there are huge amounts of people who think that there must be truth in the seven hours' worth of testimony that Dominic Cummings gave. That many people look at him and see a disgruntled former employee, somebody with a clear ax to grind with the government, so that's where there needs to be a lot of scrutiny on the claims that he makes. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Truly shocking revelations. Bianca Nobilo bringing us up to date on that. I appreciate it.
Well, as India tops 27 million COVID cases it is facing a new challenge. Black fungus. The deadly infection is spreading among COVID patients and officials say the number of cases has surpassed 10,000. But patients are struggling to find a particular drug which is used to treat the fungus.
Now CNN's Vedika Sud reports relatives of black fungus patients are desperate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BHAVYA REDDY, DAUGHTER OF BLACK FUNGUS PATIENT: So, they had to taken out, take out this part of the pallet of the jaw, they had to take that out. He has to be fed through food pipes for a month.
VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: Twenty-four-year-old Bhavya Reddy thought the worse was when her father Vasili Reddy (Ph) was recovering from COVID-19 in Andhra (Ph) in south India. But he then developed a swelling across his face.
REDDY: Initially we thought that it was her reaction because of all the doses that were given. But after the MRI Scan, we got to know that he's infected with black fungus.
SUD: Mucormycosis is a black fungus is a rare life-threatening infection. If not detected and treated in time it could lead to loss of eyesight, or as in Reddy's case, part of the jaw, and even death.
HERMANT THACKER, CONSULTANT PHYSICIAN, BREACH CANDY HOSPITAL: If you take the treatment properly --
SUD: Dr. Hermant Thacker, consultant physician at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai says black fungus is increasingly being detected in COVID-19 patients who are immunocompromised.
THACKER: The fungus starts invading the nasal septum, the palette, the sinus membranes and here it also invades the blood vessels, and it rapidly grows.
SUD: The Indian government has ramped up production of the anti- fungal drug but many states are reporting an acute shortage. Twenty- nine-year-old software engine Amardeep Shewalkar recently underwent surgery to remove black fungus from his face and nose. Extremely weak after suffering from both COVID-19 and the fungal infection, he still needs vials for a full recovery.
AMARDEEP SHEWALKAR, COVID-19 AND BLACK FUNGUS PATIENT: So, I still need 24 injections at least.
SUD: Amardeep says he still needs 24 injections and has been to almost all pharmacies across Hyderabad to look for them, they are not available.
Bhavya Reddy recently graduated with a degree in fashion management, with a father in hospital and a highly diabetic mother she is now the family's primary caretaker.
REDDY: And we're still looking for the vials because it's not available and the doses have increased. Everything is becoming an issue because we're spending so much and were not getting anything in return. And my father is the only one who is earning in the family. My relatives are helping us out.
SUD: With the country still reeling from a brutal second wave of COVID-19, the pressure on India stretch health care system is only increasing.
Vedika Sud, CNN, New Delhi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): New allegations of atrocities and a warning from the U.S. president. We will explain what's happening now in Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray region.
And America secretary of state wraps up his Middle East tour and leaves with a fragile ceasefire in place.
Coming up, an activist shows CNN why Palestinians feel hemmed in and cut off in the West Bank.
CHURCH: The U.S. President is calling for a cease-fire in Ethiopia's troubled Tigray region an unimpeded humanitarian access. Joe Biden released a statement saying this, a large-scale human rights abuses taking place in Tigray including widespread sexual violence are unacceptable and must end. All parties in particular the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces must allow immediate unimpeded humanitarian access to the region in order to prevent widespread famine.
The Ethiopian government says it's working on the orderly withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray and blames the violence on quote, terrorists from the Tigray people's liberation front. Amid all this reports of new atrocities in the town of Shire witnesses tells CNN that soldiers have been rounding up hundreds of young men from displaced peoples camps reportedly shouting we will see if America will save you now.
The U.S. Secretary of State's Middle East tour is over and he leaves behind a fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas militants. Anthony Blinken's last stop was Jordan where King Abdullah welcome the Biden administration's decision to reopen the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem to improve outreach to the Palestinians.
Blinken also met with Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi saying afterwards that Egypt is a real and affected partner in deescalating the conflict.
In addition to meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders during his trip, Blinken also spend time with members of Palestinian civil society. Among them was a human rights campaigner in the west bank. Nic Robertson went with him for an eye-opening walk.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over):
While in the Mid-East, Anthony Blinken reached round politicians for an unvarnished view, meeting State Department selected Palestinian activists.
ISSA AMRO, PALESTINIAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: He listened to me and I felt from his body language that he knows enough about here. So, I moved to tell him what Palestinians want from the American administration.
ROBERTSON: One of those he met was a 41-year-old Issa Amro, whose regular criticism of Israel is strongly disputed by Israeli officials.
AMRO: We want to get rid of retribution, to get rid of Israeli apartheid and (inaudible). So to end the siege on Gaza and to support our political and human rights.
ROBERTSON: So did Blinken tell you anything that makes you think that he understands that, or is going to change that situation?
AMRO: He said that we are working to reverse Trump administration decisions. And we want to start communication with the Palestinian people, and it's not a switch battle.
So, everybody works in the field.
ROBERTSON: Through your neighbor's garden?
ROBERTSON: And this is the only way you could move around here now?
AMRO: This is the only way that you move around here.
ROBERTSON: Amro, lives next with Israeli settlement, says America's timely help is vital for Palestinians.
AMRO: This used to be the main entrance.
ROBERTSON: And the reason this is blocked now?
AMRO: It's because of the settlers.
ROBERTSON: He says in recent years, roads for his and his neighbors Houses have been cut.
AMRO: From here now.
ROBERTSON: It's a maze, it's an absolute warden of gardens.
And worries without U.S. involvement, the settlement will grow more.
AMRO: Military post on the House.
ROBERTSON: Right on the house. So, families still live here? AMRO: Yes, they still live here.
ROBERTSON: We're back on the road again from here. And a soldier at the check post here just came to check which channel we are filming for. We told him CNN, and I think he is OK with that.
AMRO: So the main road used to be from here to many families.
AMRO: To me, to my house was from the left. About a (inaudible) family now left to right, I'm not allowed to visit them.
ROBERTSON: Because they are within the settlement area?
ROBERTSON: Further down the street, another control on his life.
AMRO: One of the main checkpoints here. You get into your house from your neighborhood, you should pass --
ROBERTSON: This where you come in from the outside?
AMRO: When I come from the shopping area, I walk up from here.
ROBERTSON: And if you want to bring any friends to your house?
AMRO: I need special permission.
ROBERTSON: We walk on past a row of Palestinian shops shuttered for almost two decades.
AMRO: This is a Palestinian entrance.
ROBERTSON: This one. There are families left?
ROBERTSON: And then, we reached the limit half a mile from his house.
AMRO: I'm allowed only to here.
ROBERTSON: And why this line? Why only to here?
AMRO: Because they don't want us to continue.
ROBERTSON: President Biden's help, he says, can't come soon enough.
AMRO: Biden's administration should start from where Obama's administration ended. To make the Israeli settlement illegal. Then make the aid to Israel conditional, if Israel doesn't respect the principle of freedom, justice, and equality for all. They should not get any dollar from the American people.
ROBERTSON: His most radical suggestion to Blinken encourage Hamas which the U.S. designates a terrorist organization. And those rockets he doesn't support to become part of the political landscape.
AMRO: This is why I talked to Mr. Blinken, to do a presidential waiver to include Hamas and the political --
ROBERTSON: To include Hamas?
AMRO: Yes. Exactly. We want to bring Hamas and all Palestinian parties to the PLO, according to the international law.
ROBERTSON: He says, he spoke with Blinken for about 20 minutes. The clock now ticking on his and Palestinians expectations.
How long do you give them?
AMRO: I think we will wait another you know, let me say six months or, you know, another year.
ROBERTSON: Nic Robertson, CNN, Hebron, the west bank.
CHURCH: Ongoing tremors are rattling the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and neighboring Rwanda just days after a deadly volcanic eruption. A Congolese military Governor is now ordering the evacuation of neighborhoods near Mt. Nyiragongo in case it blows its top again. He says the seismic activity shows the presence of magma beneath the city of Goma and warns another eruption could come without warning. CNN's Larry Madowo reports from the Rwandan capital.
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There's a great deal of concern here in Rwanda the west of the country, but especially in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo because of a series of earthquakes and tremors that have hit that region and have damaged infrastructures. Schools, buildings, and even some roads, there had been some cracks that had appeared. This is all stemming from it is believed the Saturday volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo.
This is -- this mountain in the Virunga national park which is considered one of the most active, one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. 31 people died when that mountain erupted on Saturday. There's still a lot of people who are displaced, powers only now partially restored to Goma, and water supply is still not available.
There are people who are not sure where their next meal is going to come from. Thousands of people need humanitarian assistance, and aid agencies and governments are scrambling to make sure they have a place to stay, they have food to eat, and their children are well taken care of.
But here in Rwanda, they have been tracking earthquakes, the emergency minister met with the stakeholders in the neighborhood of (inaudible) and (inaudible), that's at the border. Because even there on the other side of the DRC border, they've seen damaged to schools, to a hospital and they are assuring them of government's support.
But within the Democratic Republic of Congo, in this eastern part of the country which has seen so much conflict already, the last thing they need is an active volcano. There were no early warning signs in this case, and the Goma volcanic observatory did not even have the funds to be able to warn people in advance because of they have a corruption scandal and the World Bank pulled some of that funding.
So, in the days ahead, many people are starting to leave their homes, especially those who live in high rise buildings because they are afraid with all the tremors, all the earthquake they've seen that the actual buildings might be collapsing. So, across the region, a lot of devastation, a lot of pain, and still not sure what might be coming.
CHURCH: Well, COVID cases and deaths are increasing in Taiwan. Coming up, why the island is struggling to get enough vaccines doses to curb the outbreak.
CHURCH: Taiwan is racing to vaccinate its population as its COVID outbreak worsens. 13 COVID deaths were reported there on Thursday, and while that is a small number, relatively speaking, it is the second day in a row a daily record has been broken there. And now as Taipei waits for more vaccines, its accusing mainland China of blocking access to Pfizer BioNTech supply.
CNN's Will Ripley joins us now live from Taipei. Good to see you Will. So, what is going on with these vaccine supplies from China? And what's the latest on COVID infections and deaths there in Taiwan?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Rosemary, 13 deaths in a single day is an eye-popping number here on the island of Taiwan considering that when I arrived less than two weeks ago they had just 12 deaths for the entire pandemic. We take a look at the numbers as they stand right now versus just over two weeks ago, there has been in nearly fivefold increase in the number of deaths from 12 to 59.
And just today the Taiwanese government announced 671 new cases most of them locally transmitted, some of those infections announced today, other factored into previous days over the last week, look at the numbers. You can see a 41 fold increase in just over two weeks, of local cases from 135 on May 13th to more than 5,500 today. And that is raising concerns about what lies ahead for this island which is still struggling to get the vaccines it needs.
RIPLEY (voice over): Once a poster child for pandemic success, now, a cautionary tale. Taiwan had zero local cases of COVID-19 for 255 straight days last year. This year, local cases surging. The pandemic is worsening says this nurse in Taipei, so I came for the vaccine. Vaccines are in desperately short supply here. Only around 1 percent of Taiwan's population has their first dose. Millions of doses are set to arrive by the end of August. Not soon enough, says opposition lawmaker (inaudible).
Our people are worried she says, we will lack adequate protection if we still don't have enough vaccines.
Former vice president and leading epidemiologist Dr. Chen Chien jen says the only way out of this crisis is getting the public vaccinated.
CHEN CHIEN JEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF TAIWAN: I do have the confidence once we receive adequate vaccines that the people in Taiwan, they will come out together in (inaudible).
RIPLEY: Getting those vaccines is proving to be a huge struggle for Taiwan's government. Foreign shipments face delay after delay. Leaders in Taipei blame global supply shortages and interference by Beijing. China claims the self-governing island as its own, stepping up military activity near Taiwan, even during the outbreak.
Do you believe that Beijing has slowed down the arrival of vaccines here?
CHIEN JEN: Sometimes we have these obstacles.
RIPLEY: Obstacles including political pressure from China. Something the mainland denies. Taipei blames Beijing for its exclusion from the World Health Organization. Taiwanese law bans the import of Chinese pharmaceuticals for human use, the island rejecting repeated Chinese offers to send its own vaccines, instead asking the U.S. which plans to donate tens of millions of doses around the world. The mainland calls Taiwan's move pointless, political, manipulation.
CHIEN JEN: Politics is never a consideration for us to import any vaccine into Taiwan. The only thing that we are really concerned is the safety and efficacy.
RIPLEY: Dr. Chen says evidence suggests a Chinese vaccines are less effective than Moderna and AstraZeneca, both authorize for emergency use in Taiwan. President (inaudible) says that locally produced vaccines could be ready by late July. Frighteningly far away for those trying to do what spelled out in the lights of this iconic hotel, stay safe.
RIPLEY (on camera): Adding to the feeling of unease here in Taiwan is the fact that the government has 300, more than 300 missing cases of COVID-19, these are patients who have tested positive and cannot be reached immediately. That is raising concern about community spread at a time that vaccines are being distributed across the island, they are supposed to go into the arms of priority workers like, medical personnel, police and firefighters. But there are some opposition lawmakers here saying that everybody
needs to have an opportunity to get vaccinated for free, but of course you need more doses to do that. There is also announcing a fourth relief package, $7.5 billion in relief, these are for the businesses that have really been ravaged by this latest level three restrictions that are shutting down restaurants and gyms and other businesses, like hotels and tourism really taking a beating, Rosemary.
So, they're hoping to get financial assistance to people and perhaps some who may be reluctant to get tested will be more keen to do so if they know that they won't lose money by having to stay home from work if they do test positive.
CHURCH: True. Will Ripley, many thanks for bringing us up to date on the situation. I appreciate it.
With American forces due to leave Afghanistan as early as July there is growing urgency to protect the many Afghans who assisted them. Thousands of those Afghans are now waiting for U.S. Visas. But it is a slow process so the U.S. military is preparing to evacuate them if it is order to do so. CNN's Barbara Starr has the details.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): During the 20 year war in Afghanistan they worked as translators, contractors and in a wide variety of jobs helping the U.S. Now some 18,000 Afghans face the threat of being targeted and killed by the Taliban in retribution as soon as July. Once U.S. Forces are expected to be gone.
While the Biden administration hasn't made the decision to evacuate them, the Pentagon is doing some very preliminary planning to be ready for a potentially huge operation.
UNKNOWN: If directed to do something like that we can certainly do it.
STARR: Nobody knows how soon people need to be airlifted out, exactly how many people need help and where they will be taken.
Those already out and away from danger stress the need for protection telling Jake Tapper --
UNKNOWN: I left my family and my colleagues.
STARR: This Afghan man fled his country fearing he would be killed after working as an engineer for the U.S. Government in Afghanistan.
UNKNOWN: But I don't regret my service.
STARR: There is growing bipartisan pressure to act. The memories of thousands of South Vietnamese who help the U.S. escaping the final days of the Vietnam War still fresh for many. MICHAEL MCCAUL, U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: We cannot allow Afghanistan to
be another Saigon. This isn't just about the people waiting for these visas in Afghanistan, therefore allies and partners don't trust us to keep our word, or think they will be abandoned, it could cause irreparable damage to our national security.
UNKNOWN: We must do our part to aid those Afghans who had aided us.
STARR: Those please have not fallen on deaf ears at the Pentagon.
DAVID HELVEY, ACTING ASSISTANT US SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We have a moral obligation to help those who have helped us over the past 20 years of our presence and work in Afghanistan.
STARR (on camera): The special visa program run by the State Department that would be handing out visas to these Afghans is already overloaded, some cases are taking as much as 500 days to resolve. Time that these Afghans may not have. Barbara Starr, CNN the Pentagon.
CHURCH: The call to move away from fossil fuel is being heard loud and clear at multiple major oil companies. What it means going forward when we come back.
CHURCH: Well, you could say it was a bad day for big oil and potentially a turning point for the climate, in what some are calling an historical decision that called in the Netherlands and is ordering Shell to cut its carbon emission more aggressively than planned. Here is the lawyer for one of the groups behind the lawsuit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER COX, LAWYER FOR FRIENDS OF THE EARTH: (Inaudible) will have to reduce its emissions by 2030, almost by half. And that really counts because shell is a much bigger polluter then many countries in the world. So that is a good effect. Also we expect a ripple effect across all the jurisdictions because now once we have this first established liability of company like this, we expect that this will have a ripple effect on against on other multinational oil and gas companies and coal companies in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Shell says it will appeal and America's biggest oil company now dealing with an unprecedented event as well. Two ExxonMobil Directors have been ousted after a battle with an activist investor, engine number one. The hedge fund has won at least two seats on the board, another two are too close to call.
It's says Exxon is dragging its feet on the climate crisis. Shareholders also have a warning for chevron, a majority of them voted in favor of a proposal to cut emissions generated by using the company's products. And these are all major milestones for our planet's attempt to make the Paris climate goals. Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us now. So, Derek what more are you learning about all this, an incredible progress.
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. That is 100 percent correct, Rosemary. In fact these landmark decisions from chevron, against chevron, Exxon and Shell could've come a moment sooner because we are edging closer and closer to that agreed upon 1.5-degree curved temperature from preindustrial levels according to the Paris climate agreement.
What you are looking at here is a graph overlaying temperatures which is that white squiggly line and the carbon dioxide emissions over the past 150 years or so. And you can see the trend, it goes up. What is most shocking, the scientist is the rate of acceleration within the past several decades, all due to the increasing global carbon dioxide emissions.
What we are seeing is carbon dioxide in temperature they go hand in hand, the more co2 we pump into the atmosphere the quicker our planet warms. And we all have that skin in the game here, we are going to look at history books to determine who was a climate denier and who believed in the science that is agreed upon by over 97 percent of scientists across the planet.
That this is indeed human induced climate change taking place. Look at this, just in the past several decades, you can see the billion dollar plus disaster total is going up and up and up. Last year alone we had 22 billion plus dollar disasters, totaling 95 billion just in the United States alone. That shatters records from 2011 and 2017.
Namely last year's wildfire season that set records across much of the western U.S. including California, this year, we're off to a record pacing start. We know that already, seven of the last warmest years have occurred since 2014. So, here's the trajectory that I was talking about and it looks as if it is going to continue. We have to cut CO2 emissions by 100 percent by 2050 to meet that one and a half degree Paris climate accord agreement. Back to you.
CHURCH: Incredible stuff. Thanks Derek. I'm Rosemary Church, be sure to connect with me on Twitter, @RosemaryCNN. I love to hear from you. Kim Brunhuber will be here with more CNN Newsroom in just a moment. Have a wonderful day.