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Parts Of Europe Begin Reopening To International Tourists; Visitors Flocking To U.S. Tourist Spots; Argentina Set To End Nine-Day Lockdown; Naftali Bennett To Announce Decision On Anti-Netanyahu Government; Texas Republicans Deal On Sweeping New Voting Legislation; More Than 80 Candidates Killed In Run-up To Mexican Midterms; Countries' Incentives To Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy; Singer B.J. Thomas Dies At 78; Lawsuits Plague Sale Of World's Most Expensive Painting. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 30, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome to all of our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Thanks so much for joining me this hour. I'm Robyn Curnow.

Coming up on CNN, much of the U.S. is getting back to normal. But concerns about a new COVID variant in Asia and soaring cases in Argentina show the world isn't yet out of the woods.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu's time as Israeli prime minister could be coming to an end as his political opponents work on a deal to oust him from power.

The midterm elections are a week away in Mexico but it's not just fake news or election fraud most people are worried about, it's that dozens of their politicians are being murdered.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: A solid year of lockdowns, face masks and social distancing is gradually winding down in many places as more and more people are getting vaccinated.

But COVID remains widespread and dangerous. As you can see here, countries in red are still struggling. The World Health Organization is investigating whether four cases in Vietnam came from a possible new variant.

But wherever vaccines have been widely administered, cases and deaths have been steadily declining; 5,000 people in Paris were finally able to enjoy a large, crowded concert on Saturday. And then dining out in London is once again possible. The NHS says more than half of people in their 30s have now received at least one shot. In the U.S., many popular tourist spots are reopening just in time for

the Memorial Day holiday. American airports reported nearly 2 million passengers on Friday, the highest one-day total since the pandemic. And more than 37 million Americans are expected to hit the road this Memorial Day holiday. That's up 60 percent from last year.

And the CDC says just over half of all U.S. adults have now received at least one shot. We get more from CNN's Natasha Chen in Miami Beach.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of people we're meeting here in Miami Beach say they're taking their very first trips in more than a year since before the pandemic began.

So there's a lot of that energy, with people who have been stuck inside their homes for so long, eager to come out and enjoy themselves under fewer COVID restrictions.

The mayor of Miami Beach told us the volume of people coming here is unprecedented. We saw those unprecedented crowds partying in the streets at night, creating traffic gridlock. A lot of people tell us they feel more relaxed and they're able to have fun, knowing case numbers are falling and more and more people are getting vaccinate.

But with the crowds comes a different problem; the mayor of Miami Beach talking about the need for law enforcement to keep a close eye on these crowds.


MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FL: The one thing that we've seen over the last few months has been an increase in both volume and disorder. And what I mean by that is we're getting more people that have ever come here, even on weekday nights.

And if you get 25,000 or 50,000 people in a small, little area, which is what you're talking about, and just a small percentage feel like they're acting out, it's very hard to control that without the huge presence of policing.


CHEN: Hundreds of Miami Beach police officers are all hands on deck this weekend, plus they've got help from other jurisdictions as well. There are businesses here very happy to see all these people come with the dollars flowing in after a difficult economic year.

Right now, the hotel occupancy in this county is back to where it was in 2019 during this same week. And according to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, they're saying that the dining activity, people dining out is actually more than a third higher than this point in 2019 -- Natasha Chen, CNN, Miami Beach, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CURNOW: Santa Monica, California, is heavily dependant on tourism and last year was a bust. But this year it's already looking much, much better. Paul Vercammen is there.

What can you tell us?


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So I'm standing on the pier in Santa Monica, which was completely shut down at one point during the lockdown. This is a small tourism city, that relies so heavily on tourism.

The tax base was obliterated during the lockdown. But now the mayor here says they are coming back. They got through this all with the help of federal aid.

Now people are on the beach. She says this is actually important for the entire psyche and mental health of southern California, the tourists that visit. And people were genuinely thrilled to be walking again on the Santa Monica pier.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's important not to forget what has happened but the fact that we are able to gather again and celebrate, not be in fear anymore.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hopefully most people, aren't still to enjoy this beautiful water and the pier that is here, that's what it's for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, I feel that it's a relief because everybody's been so tied up at home and being able to see people again like this is just -- I feel like it's kind of like the light at the end of the tunnel. Like we're finally like getting there like this has been such attack (ph) on like everybody like worldwide. And it just like I feel like we're finally like getting to the tail end of this thing. I was like it was never going to happen.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): These are the largest crowds we have seen in Santa Monica for quite some time. It seems like there should be more people in the water. Well, think about this. The temperature right now is only 61 degrees.

And right over here you see a rollercoaster, ready to get going on the Santa Monica pier. All of these rides pump more financial lifeblood into this tourism city. And don't forget in little more than 2 weeks, California will get rid of almost all of the COVID-19 restrictions -- reporting from Santa Monica, I'm Paul Vercammen. Back to you.


CURNOW: Earlier I spoke with Dr. Leonard Marcus, the codirector of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard School of Public Health. I asked him how people should get ready to start traveling again. This is what he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. LEONARD MARCUS, CO-DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS LEADERSHIP INITIATIVE, HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: It's important to know, if you're vaccinated, that you can travel on an airplane with a high level of confidence. Here in the United States, people are still required to wear masks when they're on public transportation. So keep your mask on.

I double mask when I'm flying. If you have to drink or eat, make it really, really quick. Slip it under your mask so you keep your mask on, especially while you're on board the airplane or while you're at the airport. Keep distance as appropriate and as you can.

And if you follow all of those precautions, if you're vaccinated, the risks of air travel are very, very low at this point.

CURNOW: But what about the CDC, saying there is some risk, even if you're vaccinated?

And how does that sort of -- you know, how is that counter the negative?

MARCUS: Well, there is some risk and it's a question of whether we'll ever be free of some small measure of risk. There are situations in which people have acquired a breakthrough case of COVID-19. Those situations are very, very rare.

The CDC is encouraging people when they're traveling to maintain these precautions as a way of significantly reducing those risks, which is why I say, if you're vaccinated, you keep your mask on and keep the distance, all those things we've become very accustomed to, you can fly with a high degree of confidence.

CURNOW: There's such a patchwork of security when it comes to where you're going, what flights you're taking, where you are in the world.

I mean, it's going to take a long time for all of this to be ironed out, isn't it?

MARCUS: It is going to take a long time. And my wife and I are hoping to do international travel and we just talked about it the other day. It's simply going to have to be wait and see.

Among the questions, what's the level of disease in our destination?

What are the requirements by our government in terms of quarantine, in terms of demonstrating that we are vaccinated?

All those questions, we simply decided, we're going to have to wait and see and make our travel plans a lot later than we would have before the pandemic.

CURNOW: And we've had a lot of coverage particularly in the last few day but it's certainly by no means limited to the last few days of the number of people getting agitated on flights, just sort of tempers flaring, whether it's over the issue of masks or whether it's just because people are, you know, feeling anxious.

That is also something that seems to be on another level entirely, doesn't it?

MARCUS: There are a small percentage of people whose behavior is just unacceptable when they're on a plane. And this, of course, presents a significant challenge to flight attendants. Through our aviation public initiative, we've had the opportunity to interview many in the industry, including flight attendants. They've been the enforcers.

A very small percentage of the population are unwilling to wear their masks. They're unruly when they get on the plane and it makes it very difficult for everybody on board and, in particular, for the flight attendants.

CURNOW: Thank you very much for joining us. Really appreciate it. And hopefully very soon, we can all be traveling and enjoying each other in beautiful places around the world, so thank you.

MARCUS: Thank you, Robyn.


CURNOW: Parts of Europe are also reopening to international tourists as more people get vaccinated. There certainly are still problems, even as the U.K. ramps up vaccinations. New cases, we understand, have crept above 4,000 on Friday for the first time in weeks. Scott McLean is following these developments in London.

What can you tell us about this slight increase in the amount of infections where you are?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First, let me set the scene for you in Europe. As mentioned, things are opening up quickly. That's thanks, in part, to vaccinations really starting to ramp up. More than one- third of the population has their first shot.

You have scenes like the one you showed earlier, 5,000 people in Paris, partying as if it were prepandemic. The only difference, this time, is they've got their masks on.


MCLEAN: You also have countries like Italy and Hungary loosening restrictions. Last week, Switzerland, Ireland, set to loosen some of their restrictions. This coming week you have the big tourist hot spots like Portugal, Greece, Spain, all competing for tourists from the U.K.

Hold on a second, because, by the same token -- and this is where it gets a little odd -- you have France and Germany actually putting up travel barriers to people coming from the U.K., making it harder to travel in. This is a country that has fewer cases and a higher vaccination rate, a much higher vaccination rate than Europe.

The reason is because of the Indian variant, which we know spreads more quickly than the U.K. variant, the previous dominant strain. The jury is out on just how much more.

As you said, case counts hit 4,000 for the first time since early April, so ticking up a little bit. Hospitalizations also starting to tick up slightly as well. And as a result, the British government is really trying to get shots into people's arms as quickly as possible.

They are speeding up as well the time period between the first shot and the second shot. Just 2.5 weeks ago or so, they opened up vaccines to everyone 30-plus. Now more than half of all people in this country in their 30s have already got their first shot of the vaccine. So that is undoubtedly a success.

But now really comes the big test for the vaccination campaign because you have this odd situation, where the U.K. has lifted restrictions to the point that, if you walk around in London, you can see people eating outside at restaurants; you can see them eating inside as well. There are still restrictions in place.

But you wouldn't know it. It feels pretty normal. Most of the people, maybe not most but a good chunk of the people, out, enjoying their newfound freedom, people in their 20s, people who haven't been vaccinated at all.

The test is, can the U.K. essentially let the virus run rampant to some extent in this younger age group and count on the vaccine to provide a firewall to make sure older people don't end up hospitalized and dying?

So the U.K. has decisions to make on how quickly that final phase of loosening of restrictions will take place.

CURNOW: Great. Thanks so much, Scott McLean live in London.

Protesters in Brazil aren't happy with the handling of the COVID pandemic in their country. Tens of thousands marched across Brazil Saturday, demanding better access to vaccines and they want the president, Jair Bolsonaro, to be impeached.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It's a duty to fight for democracy. This government is of no use to us. It doesn't serve the people. We've taken to the streets because we have no alternative.


CURNOW: The country is facing a possible third wave of COVID. More than 16 million people are infected. Less than 10 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Brazil's neighbor, Argentina, is also dealing with a soaring number of COVID cases. Saturday, it surpassed 77,000 deaths from the virus. This comes as the country is set to end its nine-day lockdown. Rafael Romo has more on all of that. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): It's a lockdown that doesn't feel like one.

"I see a lot of people," this man says, "too many for me."

It was the first working day since Argentina went on lockdown to stop a devastating second wave of COVID-19. At checkpoints on roads going into the city, frustrated drivers describe the long lines as chaos and a disaster.

"The truth is that I wasn't expecting so many cars on the roads," this driver said.

President Alberto Fernandez announced a lockdown on May 20th, saying Argentina is living the worst moments since the beginning of the pandemic. The president said people would only be allowed outside their homes for 12 hours a day, starting at 6 in the morning, except for essential workers.

Schools and nonessential businesses were to remain closed until may 30th. Argentina, along with Brazil and Colombia, are the 3 South American countries that remain in the top 10, with the highest numbers of daily confirmed new cases in the world.

ROMO: The strict lockdown aimed at reversing the worrying trend and the explosion of cases Argentina has had in the last few weeks. In the long term, this South American country is hoping to become a major source of COVID-19 vaccines.

ROMO (voice-over): Argentina is partnering with Oxford University and AstraZeneca to produce massive amounts of the COVID-19 vaccine, developed by both institutions. In a lab in Buenos Aires province, the process has already begun.

But a lab representative says it will be the end of the year before they expect to begin clinical trials, with the goal of launching production by early 2022.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 remains a deadly challenge for Argentina. An additional 551 people died of the virus Thursday, the same day the country broke its own daily record, with more than 41,000 new confirmed cases.

And the government has yet to find out if the current lockdown imposed out of desperation is going to reverse the trend -- Rafael Romo, CNN.


CURNOW: Coming up on CNN, a seismic political shift could be imminent in Israel. The latest on a potential coalition deal that would see Benjamin Netanyahu out as prime minister.

And new details about a massive cyber attack targeting dozens of countries. How it might affect the U.S. President and Russia's leader. (MUSIC PLAYING)



CURNOW: Israeli media is full of speculation that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu may soon be out of a job. It hinges on right-wing leader Naftali Bennett, said to be considering joining with centrist Yair Lapid to form a new government. Let's go to Jerusalem. Hadas Gold brings us up to date on what we know.


HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If this shakes out way it's being reported, it could be the end of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's career as the longest-serving prime minister of Israel. His 12-year term could be coming to an end if this does shake out.

What's being reported that could happen -- and a source close to the negotiations is telling CNN they are cautiously optimistic this is how it will work -- Naftali Bennett could be joining with the centrist Yair Lapid to form the government.

As part of the deal, Bennett would be the first prime minister as part of a rotating leadership deal, where Bennett would be the first prime minister, followed by Lapid. Naftali Bennett's party only won about seven seats in the election. But his party has been the kingmaker since elections in March, where it was sort of who he decided to sit with that could be the next government.

This new government, this coalition, would have parties from the left to the right and would likely need outside support from a small Islamist party as well. It would be a very interesting party, very wide ranging.

I should warn that, in Israeli politics, things change quickly. Bennett has already apparently delayed a meeting with his party to later this afternoon. There's a lot of things moving behind the scenes.

But if they announce they have struck a deal and they have struck this coalition agreement, it is possible that, within the next week, this new government could be sworn in.

Again, things can change quickly in Israeli politics but if this shakes out the way Israeli media is reporting, we could see the end of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.

CURNOW: Hadas Gold live in Jerusalem, thank you so much.

Protesters outside Belarus are turning up pressure on its government over the arrest of an opposition activist. Rallies were held across the globe Saturday to demand the release of Roman Protasevich, arrested after Belarus forced an international flight to land last week and took him off the plane. A top Belarusian opposition leader who took part at a rally believes

better days are on the horizon for her country.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm very touched by the support I see in Lithuania and all around the world. But it's a pity that it's been a year and we haven't won yet. But I'm sure changes will come and new elections will come because there's no other way.


CURNOW: The leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, met with Russian president, Vladimir Putin, for the second time in two days. They discussed the status of the activist's girlfriend. She is a Russian citizen and was arrested with him.

On Thursday, Microsoft said Russian hackers targeted email accounts in dozens of countries, including one used by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Matthew Chance is in Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is the timing of this alleged cyberattack that, I think, is the most striking. Just a few weeks before the U.S. and Russian presidents are set to meet in Switzerland for a face to face summit that is already fraught with a long list of disagreements and grievances.

Russia's (INAUDIBLE) the latest crisis involving Minsk (INAUDIBLE) airline apparently to arrest two passengers on board. The treatment of Alexei Navalny, Russia's jailed opposition leader, the Russian military threat to Ukraine. And add these fresh hacking allegations, to add to the historical ones that are already there.

To make matters worse, since President Biden imposed tough sanctions on Russia for precisely this kind of cyberattack, the SolarWinds hack, targeting U.S. government agencies and blamed by Washington on the SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service.

Microsoft which is taking the latest hacking of U.S. aid agencies, think tanks and humanitarian groups, mainly in the U.S., said the same group of Russian hackers are responsible this time around. For its part, the Kremlin has denied any knowledge of the espionage, saying it has questions about why Russia is again being blamed -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


CURNOW: Love finds a way, even in a pandemic; Number 10 Downing Street no exception. British prime minister Boris Johnson reportedly married his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, Saturday in a low-key ceremony, as required by government rules.

Those rules were recently relaxed to allow for 30 guests. It was a secret wedding at Westminster Cathedral, with close friends and family in attendance. Downing Street has declined to comment.

Coming up on CNN, Texas is trying to join other Republican-led states that have set sweeping limits on voting. Hear why the U.S. President calls those laws un-American.


CURNOW: And Mexico's potentially pivotal midterm elections are just days away. Why the country is seeing a rise on violent attacks on candidates, what's behind these political killings next.




CURNOW: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Thanks very much for joining me. You are watching CNN.

Texas Republicans are one step closer to passing sweeping new voting restrictions. A conference committee agreed on a bill that will make it harder to mail in ballots and will ban after-hours voting and drive-thru options. It has to pass the state house and senate before it reaches the governor's desk.

Voting Rights activists are outraged, saying it's clear what state Republicans are trying to do.


CHARLIE BONNER, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, MOVE, TEXAS: Texas has a long, ugly and racist history of voters suppression. This version of Senate bill, S.B.-7, fits squarely into that.

It limits access to many of the pro-voter policies we saw utilized in the 2020 election to make sure that we hold safe and secure elections in the middle of a pandemic. Those are the first things on the chopping block in this piece of legislation.

We know they were disproportionately used by communities of color. This is a clear attack on voters of color in Texas right now.


CURNOW: The U.S. President is denouncing this proposed bill and other bills like it. Arlette Saenz has more.



ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden was forceful in denouncing Senate Bill 7, a Republican-led effort in the state of Texas to enact new voting restrictions, in a statement saying, "It's part of an assault on democracy that we've seen far too often, often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans. It's wrong and un-American."

The president added, "In the 21st century we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote."

This is similar to sentiments the president expressed the course of the past year, as more Republican-led state legislators have enacted voting restrictions in their state, the president calling one Georgia law "Jim Crow in the 21st century."

In order to counteract laws being passed on the state level, the president is urging Congress to act to pass two voting rights measures, including the For the People Act, a sweeping voting rights bill making its way through Congress at this moment.

While it passed in the House, it is now in the Senate, where it's facing some roadblocks. There are not enough Republicans or Democrats on board to get it through. It seems unlikely that Democrats are willing to blow up the filibuster in order to push voting rights through Congress.

But the president has insisted voting rights will remain a priority and he's expected to speak more on this topic when he travels to Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Tuesday, to mark the 100th anniversary of the race massacre that occurred there.

The president has insisted, protecting and expanding voting rights will be key in his administration. The question is, whether Congress will be able to come together to act -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, Wilmington, Delaware.


CURNOW: The efforts we've been seeing in conservative states to limit voter laws, it's all a Republican effort. Most Democrats believe traditional, American pro-democracy values will prevail. But CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein says that may not be true anymore.


RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: What you are seeing is, that for a significant share of the Republican coalition, the fear of demographic eclipse is eroding the baseline commitment to democracy.

We don't fully have a language or understanding what that means in American politics. It's what we see in parties in countries like Poland, Turkey or Hungary, that win an election and then use tools of the state to make it difficult for the other side to ever win again.

This is, as I wrote in "The Atlantic," a lot of debate among groups concerned about this, about whether President Biden himself and Senate Democratic leaders are showing enough urgency about what's happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CURNOW: Mexico is suffering a wave of political killings in the run-up to their midterm elections next week. More than 80 candidates have been killed in recent months. Hundreds of others have been targeted. Matt Rivers has more on the surge in the political violence.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here is Abel Murrieta (ph), a candidate for local office in the Mexican municipality of Cajeme. Crime was his number one issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

RIVERS (voice-over): But just one day after filming this ad, he was dead, shot and killed May 13th in broad daylight on a busy street while handing out campaign flyers.

State authorities say he was deliberately targeted but don't know by whom. Suspects or not, though, it's just further proof that, in Mexico, politics can be deadly. From September of last year through May 25th, at least 88 politicians or candidates have been killed, according to a Mexican consulting firm.

They're a part of the more than 565 politicians or candidates overall that have been targeted by some sort of crime, ranging from murder to assault to threats, the firm says. The government says it believes both numbers are actually far lower, though they don't say how they tallied their numbers. But still, it admits there's a problem.

"It's a difficult time for these campaigns," says Mexico's president. "We're going to keep protecting them."

Though Mexico has consistently failed to protect its candidates, political assassinations have been a problem for decades. But this year is particularly bad.

ANA MARIA SALAZAR, PUBLIC SECURITY EXPERT: I do think that this is going to be considered one of the most violent elections in Mexican history.

RIVERS (voice-over): Security experts like Ana Maria Salazar say politicians are killed for a number of reasons but it most often involves organized crime. In many cases, criminal groups want their preferred candidate in office.

So they might target others they don't like, especially candidates who make crime a centerpiece of their campaign.

SALAZAR: Candidates that talk the way Abel Murrieta speak clearly are going to run bigger risks.


RIVERS (voice-over): Murrieta was known for challenging criminal groups and drug cartels. As a private lawyer, he was also representing an outspoken family with duel U.S.-Mexico citizenship that lost nine of its members when they were murdered by suspected cartel members in Mexico in late 2019.

Adrian LeBaron tweeted shortly after Murrieta was killed, saying, in part, quote, "They have killed my defender.

"What do we call this?

"The rule of law?"

RIVERS: Do you believe he was killed because of his opposition to the cartels?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He was always exposing them. To me, he died a martyr.

RIVERS (voice-over): Authorities have not identified any suspects or motive in Murrieta's murder but the victims seem to know he was at risk, saying this a few days before he died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

RIVERS (voice-over): He went on to say, the streets belong to the people, not to criminals. And some of those people turned up here to his funeral. They gave him a standing ovation as his coffin was led out -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


CURNOW: A gruesome discovery in Canada decades in the making. The remains of 215 children have been found near a former indigenous school in British Columbia, which started operations in the 1800s.

Some children buried there were as young as 3. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau says the news is heartbreaking and a painful reminder of that shameful chapter of Canada's history.

A report six years ago detailed the history of the country's dismantled residential school system, which was designed to "assimilate" the children.

Many indigenous children never came back home and their parents never found out what happened to them.

The threat of another volcanic eruption looms over the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Continuous smoke is billowing from the volcano and officials say the crater remains active.

If it happens, it would be the second eruption in a week. That's why thousands of people have fled their homes, many pouring into shelters. What's left behind in Goma is damaged roads, no water, hundreds of homes washed away in lava.

A flat in Hong Kong or $100 million?

What governments around the world are doing to encourage you to get the vaccine.

Plus body cam footage shows police pulling a man to safety just before a huge explosion. We'll hear from the officers ahead.





CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow.

Some of America's top researchers will be helping to track down the origins of COVID. The National Laboratories will be part of intel efforts to find out if the virus emerged naturally or if it leaked from a Chinese laboratory.

The National Labs is a collection of 17 research facilities at the Energy Department. A White House official says they were brought in because of their ability to crunch massive amounts of data. Sources say this renewed investigation won't involve newly acquired data but digging through vast amounts of untapped evidence.

It's certainly an offer you can't refuse, at least that's what countries all over the world are hoping, pulling out the stops to encourage more people to get vaccinated. Condos, cash, even cows up for grabs to lure the vaccine hesitant into getting a shot. Here's Michael Holmes.



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A catchy rap song about one of the best ways to not catch the coronavirus. Local officials in southwest China's Sichuan province releasing this video to encourage people to get the COVID 19 vaccines, as the country aims to inoculate 40 percent of its population by July.

It's this carrot over stick approach that is catching on in countries around the world, at least the ones that have enough vaccine supply to try and encourage people who might be hesitant to roll up their sleeves.

And some of the incentives are pretty hard to beat. In Hong Kong, property developers are organizing a lottery, with the grand prize of a $1 million flat. But only residents who have received both doses of the vaccine can enter the drawing. Less than 20 percent of Hong Kong's population has gotten their first shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I've been vaccinated. Only one jab though. I'm going to get the next one a few days later. So yes, I'm definitely going to sign up for this.

Why not, right?

Lucky draw anyway (ph). Let's see. I'll test my luck (ph).

HOLMES (voice-over): Others are less flashy but maybe a little more practical. The mayor of a rural town in the Philippines raffling off a cow a month. No shot, no chance of winning.

Israel has one of the most successful vaccination drives in the world, it offered free pizzas to lure people to its vaccination centers.

A free 7-day pass to ride the subway in New York comes with the jab at select stations across the city.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in no hurry, because I had coronavirus in April of last year. Once I heard about this extra incentive, I got even more motivated.

HOLMES (voice-over): To scale up the motivation, some businesses are offering freebies to anyone flashing their vaccine card, Krispy Kreme giving away a free glazed donut. United Airlines has a drawing to win free flights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first winner, Abigail Bugenske from --

HOLMES (voice-over): Ohio just enhanced the first winners of its Vax- A-Million lottery. One woman $1 million richer for getting vaccinated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did come up to Cleveland from Cincinnati to look at a used car and I think buying a used car is still in my future. So that's about as far as I've gotten.

HOLMES (voice-over): A new set of wheels and the freedom to move about, both compliments of a vaccine scientists wish more people would take -- Michael Holmes, CNN.


CURNOW: The actor Gavin McLeod had two big roles that forever cemented his lovable reputation. He died on Saturday. A fixture on American TV in the 1970s and '80s, he was known as Captain Stubing on "The Love Boat" and he played the brokenhearted news writer, Murray Slaughter, who pined for Mary Tyler Moore's character on her self-named show. Gavin McLeod was 90 years old.

And the singer B.J. Thomas has died at age 78 from complications of lung cancer. Thomas sang country, pop and gospel music, with "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" enshrined in the Grammy Hall of Fame. His hits included "Hooked on a Feeling."


CURNOW: And he won five Grammys for gospel songs after he recovered from substance abuse. Before he died, he wrote he was blessed to share wonderful songs.

Coming up on CNN, we'll go inside the mysterious and opaque world of art dealing and the legal fight surrounding the most expensive painting ever sold. A CNN exclusive report next.




CURNOW: A Texas man owes his life to two Austin police officers, who pulled him out of a truck fire with seconds to spare. Watch this amazing body cam footage.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's hot. Put it out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help me. Help me get him real quick. Come on. Come on out. Come on out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. Pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull. Come on.


CURNOW (voice-over): Those officers spoke earlier about their dramatic rescue with CNN's Jessica Dean.



JESSICA DEAN, CNN ANCHOR: Officer Pineda, does your training kick in at some point like when you are doing this or is this adrenalin?

Like walk us through how that goes.

OFFICER EDUARDO PINEDA, AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT: It is actually your training at that point. I felt adrenalin after everything was done. But during the actual moment, the training kicked in and you just react.


CURNOW: Since that explosion, the officers have been recognized for their heroism by their department. The video and their story have gone viral online.

Something no roller coaster fan should ever see: cars at a standstill. We're told 20 people were rescued after getting stranded on this ride in San Antonio Saturday. No reported injuries. Everyone was upright and had water during the rescue process.

A spokesperson says the ride will remain closed until the park completes a full inspection. The name of the ride is Poltergeist. The most expensive painting ever sold is at the center of a legal

fight, shaking up the art world. Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Jesus was presumed lost for hundreds of years, only to be rediscovered this century. The expert to put the multimillion-dollar price tag speaks exclusively to CNN's Nina dos Santos, shining the light on the murky world of art dealing.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): Billion-dollar lawsuits, claims of subterfuge surrounding the most expensive painting. The Bouvier affair, as it's dubbed, is the fiercest feud witnessed in the art world, an industry that's developed a rocky reputation for its way of doing business.

BEN LEWIS, AUTHOR: Opacity, lack of transparency, greed, tax evasion, money laundering, dishonesty, dissembling, disingenuousness, corruption, where does it end?

DOS SANTOS: This Russian oligarch, Dmitry Rybolovlev, made his money in fertilizer in the so-called era of gangster capitalism. He claims he's been swindled on a $2 billion collection, including the "Salvator Mundi."

Others believe it's not entirely original. On the other side, his former Swiss dealer, Yves Bouvier, who admits to making money on hefty markups but says it was all above board and claims his life has been ruined.

YVES BOUVIER, ART DEALER (through translator): I was blacklisted by auction houses, banks wouldn't transact with me, I couldn't sell my art works. My business was destroyed. In the future when it is all over, I don't know what I'll do but I'll certainly see the world differently.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): A Rybolovlev representative declined to be interviewed. A spokesman told CNN these matters are being fought in the courts where we expect to prove what happened and that Bouvier's fanciful story is false.

For now what is notable is what Bouvier does not dispute. As an art adviser, he pretended to help his clients assemble an art collection at a cost of $2 billion, while secretly reaping half of that price for himself.

Yet Bouvier does dispute that he was ever an art adviser, a matter of the dispute at the heart of the litigation and allegations of breach of trust.

"I am an art dealer," he told CNN. "All my invoices explicitly described me as the seller."

The six-year drama has prompted lawsuits from Monaco to Manhattan and Switzerland to Singapore. In a letter submitted to prosecutors, Bouvier claims he has been followed and spied upon by private investigators. Rybolovlev declined to comment on those allegations.

All of this lifts the veil, experts say, on the ugly side of a market for the most beautiful items in ways seldom seen.

LEWIS: Art's a very good way to hide your true wealth. It's difficult to evaluate it. It's easy to move it around.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): The affair also highlights the vast sums stashed away in priceless works. Take the "Salvator Mundi," Rybolovlev bought it for more than $127 million from Bouvier. But the dealer paid much less than that himself.

BOUVIER (through translator): My company made $40 million. I turned it around and sold it in two days. That's a very good deal for my company. I'm not going to complain.

ANTOINE VITKINE, FILMMAKER (through translator): So at this level, art is very opaque, secret and anonymous, because people don't want others to know how big their fortune is. Just look at the case of the "Salvator Mundi;" when it was sold at Christie's in 2017, all buyers on the phone were bidding anonymously.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Countries around the world are cracking down on the sale of art in general, with the U.K. and the E.U. requiring more transparency.


DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate report in 2020 said art could be used to evade sanctions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the "Salvator Mundi" at $400 million.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): The "Salvator Mundi" hasn't been seen since it was last sold in 2017, reportedly to Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, for a record $450 million.

However, the legal wrangling between its former owners continues -- Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.


CURNOW: Some Chelsea fans are waking up after a long, long night of partying.


CURNOW (voice-over): Erupting in cheers Saturday after their team clinched its second Champions League title. Celebrations went on into Sunday morning out Chelsea's Stamford Bridge Stadium in London. The Blues beat Manchester City 1-0 in Portugal. The victory was sealed by Kai Havertz, who scored this goal before halftime.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CURNOW: One couple in the U.K., saying that they were speechless when a diver managed to find their engagement ring from the bottom of the largest lake in England. The ring slipping off as the couple were taking pictures this week. That is when a local 20-year-old free diver, Angus Hosking (ph), came to the rescue.

After about 20 minutes in the frigid water, with a metal detector, he returned to the surface with the diamond ring. The engaged couple, Rebecca Japtria said that they'd love to thank him by inviting him to their wedding. In August, if restrictions allow.

Thank you for spending part of your day with me. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @RobynCurnowCNN.