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CNN NEWSROOM

Israeli Rivals Strike Deal which Could Oust Netanyahu; PAHO: Cases are Accelerating in Parts of Central America; U.S. To Reveal Plans to Distribute Millions of Doses; Seven EU Nations Issuing Digital COVID Travel Certificates; Belarusian Activist Who Stabbed Himself Back in Prison; Canadian Socialite Charged in Belize Officers Death; Israeli Rivals Strike Deal Which Could Oust Netanyahu; Ransomware Attacks on the Rise; Half-Sunk Ship Poses Ecological Disaster; Inflation at Highest Rate Since 2008 Financial Crisis. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired June 3, 2021 - 01:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[01:00:48]

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM. Hello. I'm John Vause at CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta.

Ahead this hour:

They have a deal. The most diverse and unlikely political alliance in Israeli history said to form a unity government, united with one goal: forcing Benjamin Netanyahu out of office.

Easy money. The big business of ransomware with a number of hacks and the ransom being demanded surging in recent years.

Thanks, but no thanks. Thousands of Olympic volunteers in Tokyo quit over fears of the coronavirus.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

VAUSE: We begin in Israel, with Benjamin Netanyahu's 12 years as prime minister is inching closer to an end.

A deal to form a unity government by the opposition leader Yair Lapid brought celebrations in Tel Aviv. Eight political parties have signed up for the most diverse coalition in Israeli history, all committed to one cause, removing Mr. Netanyahu and that is a document they signed a short time ago.

Religious nationalist Naftali Bennett would serve as prime minister for the next two years, if the deal is approved by the Knesset.

And for the first time, Israeli Arab lawmakers will be part of a coalition government.

Journalist Elliott Gotkine is live this hour again for us in Jerusalem. You know, apart from what the pundits have been saying and the analysts have been saying, it seems when you look at the moving vans outside the prime minister's residents, perhaps that's an indication that really is the end of Netanyahu's leadership.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: That would be an indication, I don't think that just yet because, of course, this coalition government or this coalition government in waiting, let's call it, still needs to pass a vote of no confidence in Israel's parliament or Knesset. That could be as much as 12 days away. It's about a week -- a maximum of a week, after the speaker of the Knesset convenes lawmakers to gather to hold that vote.

So, but, certainly if that vote passes, then the removal vans will be there for the first time in 12 years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will become plain old Benjamin Netanyahu and be looking for a new place to live, although he does have a home in Sensoria (ph).

VAUSE: Yeah, I mean, look, this is the thing about Benjamin Netanyahu. He is a great survivor, and the question will be, you know, what can you do now? How can it be essentially the spoiler here? Because his only real option is to prevent this government from being formed, and take the country to a fifth general election, in two years.

GOTKINE: He'll be doing everything that he possibly can, John. He will be lobbying furiously both the leaders of the right-wing parties that are in this possible coalition government, the leaders of Yamina and also New Hope. He will be trying to get his base out to encourage them to reach out to lawmakers within those parties, to show them, help them see the error of their ways in Netanyahu's view, and going into bed with left-wingers and, you know, Arab parties as well.

And so, that's basically the most he can do. No doubt his allies in the media will also be doing similarly. But at the moment, he can't, procedurally too much rather than delay with the help of his ally, the speaker of the Knesset. You know, delay this vote as much as it is legally allowed. But as I say, that is probably a maximum of 12 days or so away. But that is a very long time in politics, he'll be doing everything that he possibly can.

Now if this government, if this coalition does come into being, if it passes that vote of no confidence, then Netanyahu will probably be going into the opposition, from where he'll be trying to make as much mischief as possible for the coalition government, to try to, if you like, expose what are already ideological fissures, and turn them into great rift that this coalition government.

But ironically enough, the main glue holding this coalition together. As long as he is in opposition, if it comes to that than perhaps this coalition will have a good reason to continue surviving.

VAUSE: Yeah, there are interesting days ahead to say the least. And the week in politics is a long time. It's an eternity in Israeli politics.

[01:05:02]

Elliott, thank you. Elliott Gotkine there in Jerusalem.

Political analyst and public opinion researcher, Dahlia Scheindlin, is a veteran of five national political campaigns in Israel. She is with us live in Tel Aviv.

Okay, so thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

There is now this deal on paper, right, a coalition made of eight political parties. From the right, there is a pro-settlement group. To the far left, you also got the united Arab list, and they form this majority with a razor-thin number 61, one seat majority in the Knesset.

You know, I have milk in my fridge which could potentially last longer than this coalition. Are we about to see a new era of consensus building and compromise? Or does this coalition last long enough to force Netanyahu out of office and then implode, if it gets that far?

DAHLIA SCHEINDLIN, PUBLIC OPINION EXPERT: That is a very tough question. Just a quick correction, I used to be a person who worked on five elections. But at this point, I've worked on eight elections, because we had so many over the last two years, and if this government doesn't hold together, it could very well that we'll be going to a fifth election.

I think there's two options. You know, one is that this government falls apart very quickly, for the reasons that you pointed out, it has only 61 seats, just a bare majority. It just takes a few. Of course, we need an absolute majority to vote out a government once it's sworn in, but Netanyahu as you have -- as your other analyst has noted has a great level of persuasion, and his supporters have been exerting enormous levels of pressure on the supporters of the change coalition already. And they are -- those parties are very ideologically disparaged.

It is certainly a possibility. I don't think we're heading into a brand-new era of miraculous consensus building in Israel. It's just not the nature of Israeli society. And the fundamental differences between those parties is so great primarily over issues related to the Israeli Palestinian conflict and over domestic issues of -- particularly Israeli institutions.

And we saw that one of the biggest sticking points in the negotiating process was how this government would manage the judiciary in Israel which is an increasing source division. Those crises will continue to come up. The question is whether they can reach small compromises, and just move a little bit towards one another for the sake of some stability.

It's true that they're primarily unified at this point to keep Netanyahu out but I also think that these parties have an interest in showing that there are other leaders in Israel who can govern with some measure of stability, it doesn't have to be the chaotic leadership of Netanyahu forever. VAUSE: You know, of all the images that we've seen the past 24 hours,

there is one which seems to stand out has been truly historic. This one here, look at this, from left to the right of the screen. You have Yair Lapid, the leader of the centrist opposition. Naftali Bennett is in the middle, we just saw him there, and he's the leader of the right-wing Yamina Party, the man on the right on that earlier photograph we saw was Mansour Abbas. He's chairman of Ra'am, an Arab Israeli political party. They're signing that coalition agreement.

Now, he leads the first Arab party in Israeli history, to form a joining coalition. In many ways, it seems that is being overlooked with so much focus on Netanyahu's political future.

SCHEINDLIN: I don't think it's being overlooked here in Israel. It has been an extremely controversial issue. The historic roots are very sensitive in Israel, the fact that there has been an independent Arab party in the Israeli coalition is part of the country's national identity and self definition as a Jewish state.

However, I could go a little further back to Netanyahu, but Netanyahu himself starting just half a year ago, started talking about the idea of building a coalition with Ra'am, that party that you mentioned, the United Arab list, because he knew that he has the credibility has a right-wing leader to do so. He thought it would be a game-changer, maybe he was just saying in order to pressure other parties to go into a coalition with them.

Either way, Netanyahu still wasn't able to form a coalition, but these oppositions parties capitalize on the newfound legitimacy for the idea of bringing a party representing the Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel into a coalition. For much of this time, we assumed that Ra'am would simply support the government with its votes for that critical vote of confidence in the Knesset to swear in the government. But now, it looks like they're actually part of the coalition. Although they will not hold ministerial positions, still it's an incremental but very important breakthrough towards having 20 percent of the population represented in the executive power in Israel.

VAUSE: Netanyahu has this very sizable, very loyal base. One of the expectations there of how they will react to this new unity government, how long will they remain loyal, once Netanyahu is out of office and their existing speculation of some kind of January 6 type uprising in the Knesset?

SCHEINDLIN: Yeah, that's a very sensitive question. Netanyahu has managed to retain a fairly stalwart base of supporters that numbers around one quarter of the electorate, which is the number of people who supported him in all of the last four elections between 24 percent and 27 percent.

[01:10:06]

That is a plurality, given the level of fragmentation, in the Israeli system. Many of those are Netanyahu fans, but many of them are also traditional supporters of Likud, going back historically before Netanyahu's party. So, I think many of those people are continue to support Likud simply

because it's a party of traditional support may be going back to their family, in generations back. We don't really know what percentage would leave Likud if Netanyahu was not at the helm. But I can't say that there are already lots of rumors within the Likud about discontent.

Netanyahu's been ruling for 12 years. Other younger leaders have been waiting patiently, or not so patiently. Gideon Sa'ar, of course, broke away, formed his own party, which is now a part of the change coalition.

There is a possibility that Likud will go into primaries eventually after this, if, of course, the government is established and Netanyahu has the opposition. And, you know, I don't think that Likud will lose dramatic support, but it could be the Likud is headed for the change of leadership.

VAUSE: Yeah, they've been down to 11 seats and one point back in 2006 with Netanyahu as leader. So, we'll see what happens.

But eight -- a veteran eight political national campaigns come in the last two years -- thank you so much, Dahlia. Good to see you. Appreciate it.

SCHEINDLIN: Thank you for having me.

VAUSE: Pleasure.

Well, the latest high-profile victim of a ransomware attack says all of its U.S. facilities will be back up and running in the coming day. There's no word yet on if JBS, the meat processing company, paid ransom, but the cyberattack is the latest from a criminal organization believed to be based in Russia.

And the White House says President Biden will raise the issue with the Russian president when they meet later this month.

CNN's Alex Marquardt has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russian hackers at it again, this time striking another part of America's critical infrastructure, food production. JBS Foods is one of the biggest meat producers in the world, all of its meatpacking facilities were impacted by the attack.

According to the United Food and Commercial Workers Labor Union, all nine of the JBS beef processing plants across the U.S. were shutdown.

The Biden ministration says cybercriminals likely based in Russia, are behind the ransomware attack on JBS and has told Moscow it's on them to help stop this.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: President Biden certainly thinks that President Putin and the Russian government has a role to play.

MARQUARDT: JBS says the majority of its plants are operational again. The Biden administration has called on meat producers to work to make sure there is no in fact on prices or supply, unlike when a different Russian hacking group attacked the Colonial Pipeline last month, which led to gas shortages, a spike in prices, and long lines at gas stations.

CHRISTOPHER KREBS, FORMER DIRECTOR, CYBERSECURITY & INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY AGENCY: Make no mistake, ransomware is a business, right now is that a business that is very profitable. We will continue to see hackers overseas, criminals overseas continue flood into the market.

MARQUARDT: Ransomware attackers take control of the network and hold it hostage until they're paid. Colonial Pipeline paid its attackers $4.4 million. JBS has not said whether they pay anything.

Those two attacks followed two other recent major operations by Russian government hackers. The unprecedented SolarWinds breach, and last week's attacks targeting hundreds of government agencies and organizations.

But it's the hacking of critical infrastructure, like pipelines and food plants, as well as hospitals, schools that affect ordinary people the most. Attacks that are easy, pay well, and are only getting worse.

ALLAN LISKA, SENIOR THREAT INTELLIGENCE ANALYST, RECORDED FUTURE: We are seeing a massive growth in ransomware. We saw in 2020 and it continues in 2021. They're not necessarily going after specific organizations. Instead. they're going after anybody they can get in any way they can get in.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUARDT (on camera): The FBI has now named the ransomware attack behind this attack on JBS Foods. They go by the names REvil and Sodinokibi believed to be located in Russia.

The Biden administration says that fighting this type of ransomware is a big priority for them. They recently issued an executive order designed to get companies to tighten and modernize their cybersecurity defenses.

Among other things, the White House is saying they want to hold countries like Russia to account, for harboring attackers like this.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

VAUSE: And I'm joined now by Kurtis Minder, the CEO cybersecurity company GroupSense. He's highlighted this week in "New Yorker" article: How do negotiate with ransomware hackers?

Kurtis, thanks for being with us.

KURTIS MINDER, CEO, GROUPSENSE: Thank you for having, John. VAUSE: Okay, so as to the frequency and the targets here, the

operators of a ferry service in Massachusetts tweeted that there are the target of a ransomware attack on Wednesday morning, advising customers they could see delays.

And in that "New Yorker" report, they say that by 2015, the FBI estimated the U.S. was subjected to 1,000 ransomware attacks per day.

[01:15:01]

The next year, the number quadrupled.

Which begs the question now, five years on, how many attacks are there each day? And is everyone and everything pretty much fair game?

MINDER: Yeah, I mean, these are attacks that we know about, John. Many of these attacks go unreported. A lot of the victims don't want to -- what their customers know, what their partners know it could be damaging to their business. So, we don't know how many we've seen over the last year, a huge increase on inbound ask for assistance from our company. Sort of an indicator that it's going up.

VAUSE: Yeah, were also going up is the amount of money. The hack is after money and the amount of money they're actually getting paid. Three years ago, it was around $7,000 an average, by 2019, it had surged to $41,000. Last year, 2020, more than $200,000 payout on average. That's the average payout.

So, looking at 2021 now, what's sort of payday are these ransomware hackers looking at? And that really explains a lot about why this is a growth industry I guess. They just keep getting paid more and more money.

MINDER: Yeah. Well, some have said that the cyber insurance agency has sort of contributed to that, where they're more likely to make a payout in these scenarios. It does vary based on the size of the business. What we've seen is the threat actors do often profile the business they have targeted, and build -- basically build a business case around what they're asking for. So, when they're hitting much larger industries, they're asking for a lot more money.

The main average is probably the result of the volume, as well. So, yes, we've also seen those numbers grow up considerably, just in the last few months.

VAUSE: There's a headline in the new republic which had a fairly simplistic solution. Here it is.

Want to stop ransomware attacks? Ban bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

That sounds like a pretty simple solution. So, is it even possible to ban cryptocurrencies? And if you could, would that bring an end to these attacks?

MINDER: Yeah. I mean, I wish it was that simple. The nature of how cryptocurrencies are built and blockchained, the way that the functions pretty much prevents that. So, while you could make it very difficult for example to do transfers on one particular cryptocurrency, let's say Bitcoin, which is one of the most popular, the threat actors will just move to another currency.

For example, we've seen the move primarily to Monero, of late, which is very, very hard to trace.

VAUSE: So, you sort of touched on this. One of the reasons why it's a growth industry is because the insurance side of it continues to pay out. They attacked businesses which has a low security, and a low tolerance for disruption.

Is there a way here of not rewarding bad behavior, of sitting in place some kind of system that these ransoms are not paid?

MINDER: Yeah. I'm a big advocate from the beginning. I don't want to pay the threat actors more than the victims do. We don't know when they do with the money.

So, you know, I've been an advocate with working with the federal government to determine a best path to program that will help victims recover without paying the ransom but also have preventive measures to prevent the ransomware from occurring in the first place.

VAUSE: One of the problems seems to be that there's very little lack of authority when it comes to insisting that corporations put in place adequate cybersecurity measures, right?

MINDER: Yes. We inventory what causes, or what the attack vector is on many of the victims that we assist. That list is quite short. There's a short list of cybersecurity vulnerabilities that these threat actors are using. They're typically not very sophisticated attacks.

And many of these cybersecurity threat vectors are what we've known about for 10 years, and could be easily avoided.

VAUSE: So, when it comes to negotiating with the ransom hacker, is there anything in particular which stands out? Do they have something in common apart from demanding money?

MINDER: It depends. You know, there are different kinds of threat actors. There are individual lone actors. Those are a little bit volatile, different styles, different ways of doing the negotiation. The ransomware gains are much more organized, very template based, and they actually run negotiations much like a business transaction.

VAUSE: Kurtis Minder, of growth industry by the look of things, and thank you so much for spending some time with us. We appreciate it.

MINDER: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: Well, for some of the vaccinated, there are COVID travel certificates. They come just in time for the northern summer. What you need to know before making plans for vacation. Also ahead, it seems like a good idea at the time, authorities in Sri

Lanka trying to limit environmental damage from a sinking fire-damaged cargo ship.

[01:20:06]

They tried to tow it out to sea, but now, it's stuck on the bottom of the ocean.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Well, it wasn't meant to end this way, but when Sri Lankan officials tried to tow a crippled cargo ship to deep water on Wednesday sunk. The ship had been on burning off Sri Lanka's coast for almost two weeks, and now, the ecological disaster there expected to get worse. Concerns to Sri Lanka's pristine beaches there with hundreds of tons of oil, fuel and chemicals -- now, which have gone down with the ship.

Here's CNN's Will Ripley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Soaring above the Sri Lankan coast, a view that takes your breath away until you go lower, get closer and find a scene that breaks your heart.

Beautiful beaches, blanketed with pieces plastic pellets. Melted down, they make everything from pipelines to plastic bottles. They also kill all kinds of marine animals, as deadly as they are tiny.

Environmentalist say this cargo ship was carrying billions of those plastic pellets. Hundreds of tons of toxic chemicals, nitric acid, sodium hydroxide, and oil that could leak at anytime.

HEMANTHA WITHANAGE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTRE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE: This will be a major disaster which we've never had seen in the last 100, or 200 years.

RIPLEY: A disaster that who began with a bang. An explosion two weeks ago sparked a fire burning ever since.

The ship sinking to the bottom of the Indian Ocean. Along with hundreds of shipping containers. Their contents had the potential to poison our planet for decades to come.

You have so many ships passing near Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has continuously planned for oil but not from these plastic micro pellets and not for these hazarded chemicals.

MUDITHA KATUWAWALA, COORDINATOR, THE PEARL PROTECTORS: We don't have for chemicals, we don't have for nuclear (ph), we don't have for plastic, we don't have enough firefighting equipment, firefighting vessels.

RIPLEY: What Sri Lanka does have -- a front row seat to environmental catastrophe.

What is Sri Lanka's most pressing, urgent need?

WITHANAGE: I think it's cleaning this mess is the most important thing. Even -- I mean, the compensation is not going to help us everything.

RIPLEY: A manmade disaster some are even comparing to the devastating 2004 tsunami.

KATUWAWALA: I think the long term of this is one of main things. Tsunami was water came in on land, that there was a lot of deaths, there is a lot of casualty on land. A disaster like this, this is completely of our hand because this is really polluting, destroying the ocean, the marine life, and Sri Lankans are so defendant on the marine -- we are an island.

RIPLEY: An island and its people devastated.

[01:25:02]

JOSHUA ANTHONY, PRESIDENT, JA-ELA FISHERIES SOCIETY (through translator): The ship has dealt an death blow to our lives. We can't go to the sea, which means we can't make a living.

RIPLEY: A death blow to their livelihoods and to the animals who call this poison piece of ocean their home.

Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Listen to officials in Washington and I will tell you inflation fears are overblown. From the Fed to the Treasury Department, any prices increase they say is just temporary.

But in the real world, prices are rising with increases of the cost of energy in particular, driving the fastest wave of global inflation since 2008. This could be temporary as economies reopen after pandemic shutdowns or more troubling, it may be a sustained trend here.

Here's CNN's Clare Sebastian.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This data confirms what we've already been seeing, that as economies reopen and vaccines rollout, consumer prices are rising at rates not seen in years.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said today across its 38 member nations, most of which are wealthy countries, consumer prices rose at the fastest rate in more than 12 years in April. Now, fueling that rise was a 16 percent rise in energy prices compared to last year.

And we did see uneven rates across various regions. The U.S. and Canada, for example, saw prices rise faster than across much of Europe. And some of this is to be expected because, of course, this time last year was when we saw economies shut down and also demand for things like energy and commodities, (INAUDIBLE). Of course, relative to that, prices are much higher this year.

So, there's pent-up demand. There's also areas of the economy where demand is surging and bumping up against supply chain constraints like for example the car market. Going forward, of course, the big question, something that's keeping central bankers awake at night, is will this last? Or will it be something temporary?

For the moment, most believe that it will be temporary. That these supply chain constraints will sort themselves out and that pent-up demand will die down. But, of course, there is a risk that this can turn into something more long lasting and inflation will spiral after decades of stable prices. The next few months will be critical in determining that.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Well, a new day dawning in Israel, and possibly the beginning of a new political era. When we come, we'll have more on the fragile political agreement that could mean Benjamin Netanyahu's 12 years as prime minister is about to come to an end.

Plus, COVID cases on the rise in parts of Central and South America. The worsening crisis some countries are now facing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:30:03]

VAUSE: The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maybe down but history would caution not to count him out yet.

Unlikely allies Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennet have announced a deal to form a unity government made up of political parties with very little in common. They have a razor thin majority in the Knesset.

The agreement still needs parliamentary improvement with a vote next week in the Knesset giving Netanyahu and his allies time to try and sabotage this fragile coalition.

We get more now from CNN's Hadas Gold in Jerusalem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is history in the making and could spell the beginning of the end for Israel's longest serving prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. With just 38 minutes to go before the midnight deadline, the centrist leader Yair Lapid informed the Israeli president he has managed to form a coalition after four elections and more than two years of political dysfunction. Under the deal of this coalition, the right wing leader Naftali Bennett will actually first serve as prime minister for two years, followed by the Centrist leader, Lapid, as part of the rotating leadership deal.

And this coalition will be made up of a wide swath of political parties from the far left, Merits Party (ph) through the center to Naftali Bennett's right wing Yamina Party. And in a first in Israeli history an Arab Israeli Party, the United Arab list will also be a part of this coalition.

In a statement Lapid said that the government will work to serve all citizens of Israel including those who aren't members of it. We respect those who oppose it and do everything in its power to unite all parts of Israeli society.

But not much unites this coalition other than their opposition to Netanyahu in power. So it may be a fragile government if and when they are able to be sworn in.

And that will only take place after a vote of confidence in Knesset, the Israeli parliament. That will only take place after the speaker of the Knesset notifies the parliament. And we might not even a vote on that until possibly Monday, June 14th.

That leaves a lot of time for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his allies to potentially try and get a few defectors. They could potentially try and cause this coalition to crumble if they get enough members to defect from this coalition.

All that could (ph) say though that this has been a very historic evening. Not only because of the inclusion of an Arab-Israeli Party in a coalition but because this could be the beginning of the end for the ultimate survivor of Israeli politics for the longest service Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Hadas Gold, CNN -- Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Dalia Dassa Kaye is a Wilson Center scholar and the former director of the RAND Center for Middle East Policy. She says this coalition may be called the change government but it's likely to focus on domestic issues.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DALIA DASSA KAYE, WILSON CENTER SCHOLAR: With this new coalition, assuming that it is sworn in probably next week, it will reinforce a yearning for stability in Israel. There, you know, has been four election in two years. There is no budget. There's going to be a need to focus on domestic socioeconomic issues, the economy, education, health of course, in the COVID crisis.

So I think, you know, this is just going to reinforce, that trend that we see. That really is part of the underlying reason that we have this coalition to begin with.

That is really quite surprising and it did not allow Netanyahu to pull off yet another surprise ability to stay in power, following the Gaza conflict. So it is an interesting development.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Well, coronavirus infections have been declining world wide. Many countries are still facing deadly outbreaks made all worse by critical shortages of vaccines.

But now a glimmer of hope with U.S. set to announce how 80 million doses of excess vaccine will be distributed worldwide, no strings attached.

Brazil's vaccine rollout continues to struggle and its COVID crisis could get worse with the potential third wave. More than 95,000 new COVID cases were reported on Wednesday.

And the Pan American Health Organization says Central America is reporting more COVID deaths than ever before and cases are accelerating in some parts of the region.

Here's Stefano Pozzebon with details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over in the western hemisphere with particularly concerning situations in Brazil which on Wednesday reported more than 95,000 new coronavirus cases in less than 24 hours. And that's the 2nd highest single day increase in new cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

And in Central America which has now reported more coronavirus deaths than any point during the pandemic, according to the Pan American Health Organization with particularly concerning outbreaks in El Salvador, Panama and Haiti.

[01:34:56]

POZZEBON: And Dr. Carissa Etienne, who is the director of the Pan American Health Organization said that while for the last few weeks, cases have been plateauing and even decreasing in some countries.

Cases have now risen across the hemisphere in the last week with the only exception of the United States, Mexico and Canada where they're still reporting decreases in new cases and deaths.

In Colombia, for example, the number of new cases has almost tripled in some of the region, according to PAHO. And Etienne said that what's particularly worrying is the number of people that is moving around the continent. And that lockdowns, restrictions are being lifted prematurely which is creating a perfect environment for the virus and worrying new variants to spread without restriction.

Here in Bogota, for example, intensive care units are yet again bordering capacity. But the local mayor has announced a total reopening of the city starting next week, in order to try to boost an economy that is been deeply affected by the COVID lockdown.

For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Well, in Brazil, critics pull no punches as President Jair Bolsonaro addressed the nation.

VAUSE: That was the response in the capital of Sao Paulo as Bolsonaro spoke Wednesday night. Across the country, they chanted "down with Bolsonaro" and "Bolsonaro genocide". Many are unhappy with his response to the pandemic.

During last week -- the last weekend, I should say, opponents held large rallies calling on the president to quit. During his speech to the nation the president praised the distribution of 100 million vaccine doses cities and states.

Just as cases are rising in Brazil, we're seeing them increase in other parts of Latin America and in Asia as well. The highly contagious Delta COVID variant, the one first found in India is partly to blame.

I spoke a short time ago with William Haseltine, he founded (ph) two divisions of Harvard Medical School and asked about serious the pandemic still is.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Professor William Haseltine is an infectious disease expert and president of Access Health International and author of "Variants: the shape shifting challenge of COVID-19". He joins us this hour from New York.

Professor, thank you for coming back. Good to see you.

WILLIAM HASELTINE, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: Pleasure to be here, John.

VAUSE: So in Central America, the pandemic seems to be going from bad to worse. We have the Pan-American Health Organization reporting COVID-19 infections are accelerating in Panama, Belize and El Salvador where new cases have doubled in the last seven days.

It's a similar situation in many parts of Asia. Here's part of an editorial from Malaysia's latest "New Straits Times". The headline: "Be afraid, be very afraid. We're in a desperate situation. Yes, a full lockdown comes into force tomorrow. But it is uncertain whether the ravages of the pandemic can be brought under control. The economy will certainly suffer, the people will suffer even more those who live. Many are dying and will die."

This seems like in many instances it's about as desperate as it has been. And the longer this virus remains active and circulating it seems the more contagious it gets. And that (INAUDIBLE) places a lot more urgency on getting the entire world vaccinated sooner rather than later.

But that's just not happening. So what are the consequences here?

HASELTINE: Well, it's very serious. For South America it's also really serious. There are about 200,000 people a day being infected there. It's as bad as it's been.

And as you've accurately pointed out, many parts of the world, South East Asia in particular which seemed to have been spared -- Thailand, Vietnam, many of the countries there, Malaysia are now suffering.

And even the countries that had been doing very well by closing their borders and taking the strictest of measures, many of them are right now on lockdown because there has been leakage.

When you have variants like exist (ph) that are much more transmissible, it's not as easy to contain it as it was before. And it was never easy. but now it's considerably more dangerous because the one thing that's been happening through the course of this pandemic over the last year and a half is the virus is getting more and more transmissible.

VAUSE: U.S. plans to release part of its excess supply of vaccines. (INAUDIBLE) help countries which had been unable to secure adequate supplies.

Here's the U.S. Secretary of State with more on that. here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We will be making available globally about 80 million vaccine doses that we have access to between now and the end of June. And in the next week or so, sometime in the next week to two weeks, we will be announcing the process by which we will distribute those vaccines.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[01:40:05]

VAUSE: But, most of that 80 million I think will be the AstraZeneca vaccine which seems to be less effective against some of the variants, especially compared to Moderna and Pfizer. Is there a need for a better strategy here?

HASELTINE: There is a need for better strategy. And I think that strategy is first of all, the richer countries in the world getting together and increasing dramatically the total supply of vaccines. It's not just about inequity. It's a total supply that we just don't have enough of the vaccines, particularly the Pfizer and the Moderna which seem to work much better against the variants than any of the others. The AstraZeneca vaccine, for example was published in a real trial not to work against the South African variant. So it really matters what variant and what vaccine. And so far, the Pfizer and the Moderna are by far the best. And we just don't have the manufacturing capacity around the world.

More is coming online. Singapore signed up to use of their technologies. The Chinese are using their technologies. There's new technologies coming online from some European countries. So that's all good. But we need to accelerate it.

And we can make sure those manufacturing facilities, or in places like Egypt, that can help supply the African continent, or perhaps Chile in South America. We need those vaccines to be produced, so they can be distributed locally. And that's incumbent on the rest of the world to help that happen.

VAUSE: Yes. A good point to finish on. Professor, thank you. Professor William Haseltine, thanks so much for being with us.

HASELTINE: You're welcome. Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Well, COVID-19 certificates for travel within the block are now being issued free of charge by seven European governments -- Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Poland.

Here's Denmark's foreign minister.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEPPE KOFOD, DANISH FOREIGN MINISTER: This is very important for reopening of our society that we have digital COVID passport certificates.

And we have done it domestically. We launched a domestic issue of this passport last week. and it's fully complied with the standard of the common new passport. And therefore we can also use it for traveling across borders in the E.U. in a safe, good way.

And it is really important for, you know, tourists, for families, for businesses that they can cross borders and they have proof of, as you said before of, you know, vaccination, negative tests, or recovery.

So this is fundamental for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: The rest of Europe though will have to wait just a little longer.

Details from Melissa Bell.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A system of digital COVID certificates now up and running in seven European countries, a system that should go live in the whole of Europe by the first of July.

It basically means that with this digital certificate, people can show as they come in and out of countries and across the European Union, whether they have been vaccinated, whether they've been found to be immune because they have recently had COVID. Or if they've had a negative test in the previous 72 hours.

They idea, once again is to get Europeans flowing cross borders that have for too long been closed also allowing third-party nationals, so for instance, Citizens of the United States, 47 countries so far but for the rest of Europe, by July 1st if they've been vaccinated once again to be able to travel in and out of the European Union for the first time in more than a year.

Melissa Bell, CNN -- Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Well, postponement is not an option. The head of a Tokyo Olympic rules out another delay despite increasing concerns the summer games could be the ultimate super spreader event. We'll have the very latest in a moment.

[01:43:49]

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VAUSE: Well, the president of Tokyo's Olympics says another postponement is simply impossible. Moving the games seems to be off the agenda as well.

Long time Olympics commentator Bob Costas has told CNN another delay seems unlikely even though he believes they should be.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB COSTAS, SPORTS COMMENTATOR: I think the best course of action would be to postpone it, not cancel it. Postpone it to 2022. But that may have led some people to infer that I think that's a possibility. It's not.

The IOC holds the hammer here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Well, thousands of volunteers have quit ahead of the games. Officials say their exit vote will not affect the running of the Olympics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATSUNOBO KATO, JAPANESE CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY (through translator): The Tokyo 2020 CEO said that around 10,000 out of the roughly 80,000 Olympic volunteers decline to take part in them games. But since the games have been simplified and there are volunteers who can register both for the Olympics and the Paralympics thee will be no particularly problem in operating the games.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So mark your calendars, July 23, the start of the summer games. So let's go live now to Tokyo. Blake Essig is standing by for us.

You know, what, 50 days and the problems just keep mounting and of course, there will be heavy these games. They'll be no international spectators and there are questions about whether or not the games will even break-even at this point.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, there are a lot of question that we don't yet have the answers to.

And Olympic officials, you know, regarding these 10,000 volunteers, didn't give a specific reason as to why they were quitting but did say that they started to drop in February around the same time for him that Tokyo 2020 president, former Tokyo 2020 president, Yoshiro Mori, resigned after making sexist comments about women.

But according to a volunteer I spoke with, health and safety concerns do remain the primary reason for these volunteers dropping and of course, that's because the current COVID-19 situation and the counter measures put in place to protect those volunteers which include two masks, a small bottle of hand sanitizer and the requests to socially distance.

Those health and safety concerns are the biggest reason that these games remain so deeply unpopular here in Japan and it's important to remember in just the past few weeks, we've heard from multiple doctors groups, and Olympics sponsor, industry leaders and the general population all calling for these games to be canceled or postponed. And just yesterday, Japan's top coronavirus adviser told the lower house of parliament that it's not normal to host these games and that the current situation of course -- current situation being a global pandemic.

As of today, only about 3 percent of Japan's population has been fully vaccinated. And all volunteers are not being given priority. Although some are going to be offered the vaccine, those details yet are still being discussed.

It's likely that those volunteers will be the ones interacting with the Athletes's at different venues.

For now, Tokyo and nine other prefectures remain under a state of emergency until Jun 20th while the daily count has been going down for about two weeks, the number of patients in critical condition, remains highly and despite that, as you mentioned.

(INAUDIBLE) sports newspaper just yesterday that it's impossible to postpone these tames again. And that data provided of them like Tokyo University, shows that there will be no increase in the number of infections if the games were held without spectators, compared to not holding the games at all, Seiko.

VAUSE: Ok. Blake thank you. Blake Essig there live in Tokyo:

Well, the championship of death -- that's what one Brazilian senator is calling the COPA America which kicks off in Brazil and in just 10 days. And here's the reason.

Covid 19, raging there, reaching more than 95,000 new casers on Wednesday. That's the second highest daily number since the pandemic began.

But President Jair Bolsonaro says South America's life is football torment, we'll go on despite the COVID surge.

[01:49:51]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I have said from the beginning about the pandemic, I regret the deaths but we have to live.

If everyone just stays in their homes and people in the country sides stay home, I would like to see what city dwellers would survive on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: South America's Football Confederation says the COPA will be played in four cities including Rio but without any spectators in the stands.

Well a socialite with ties to a British billionaire is behind bars charged with killing a police officer in Belize. Those details just ahead.

And a Belarusian activist who stabbed himself in court is back in prison. We'll have the very latest on his case in a moment.

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VAUSE: A Belarusian political activist is back in prison after stabbing himself in the throat during a court hearing on Tuesday. He claimed the government had threatened his family and neighbors unless he pleaded guilty to organizing protests.

The leader of the opposition in Belarus is calling for an end to what she says is the country's state of terror.

Fred Pleitgen reports now and a warning, the images you're about to see are disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Only a day after being rushed to hospital after stabbing himself in the next, the activist Stefan Latypov (ph) is back behind bars. Now his family tells CNN that Latypov is now situated in the detention center (INAUDIBLE). It was a force on Tuesday that joined the hearing against him. Latypov told the court that he is severely being pressure by the Belarusian authorities. That they had told him that they would go after him but also his neighbors and his family if he did not admit the crimes that he says he did not commit to then took a pen, stabbed himself in the neck and of course, as is fairly customary, in trials like that, in Belarus he was inside a cage. It took a while for court helpers to get to him. He was then rushed to the hospital.

Now of course, all of this causing massive uproar because it comes only about 10 days after the Belarusian authorities forced a Ryanair plane to land. There, dragging the journalist Roman Protasevich and his companion off that plane and detaining them.

All of this causing the opposition, the Belarusian opposition to call for tougher action against the Belarusian regime of Alexander Lukashenko. Also the European Aviation Safety Agency is now calling on European nations to not allow any flights to go through Belarusian territory.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Well today, a socialite has now been charged with the death of a police officer in Belize. The Circumstances of his death though remain murky.

The socialite is the long time partner of Andrew Ashcroft a well-known real estate developer in Belize and son of British billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft.

CNN's Paula Newton has more now on what we know so far.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Police superintendent Henry Jemmott was a father of five and a law enforcement veteran. His friends and family say they are stunned by his sudden death and equally shocked that a police officer could die this way.

Jemmott's sister, Marie Tzul (ph) holds on tight to family members during an interview with CNN from Belize. She tells me, none of the circumstances make any sense to her.

MARIE TZUL, HENRY JEMMOTT'S SISTER: My family right now is really hurt. We are missing our brother, his children are missing him. We're devastated, really devastated by this.

[01:54:58]

NEWTON: Police in this Central American country confirmed Jemmott did not die in the line of duty but instead in what they describe as an incident. The details disclosed that Jemmott and a woman were drinking alone on the pier, and both were fully clothed. Details beyond that are scant.

Police in Belize say they have charged Canadian socialite Jasmine Hartin seen here being transported while in custody. Hartin's lawyer says his client is cooperating.

GODFREY SMITH, DEFENSE LAWYER: The charge is manslaughter by negligence. Bail has been denied. The appeal to the supreme court as is normal.

NEWTON: What is not normal, says Jemmott's family, are the details as outlined by police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police found the female on a pier. She had what appeared to blood on her arms and on her clothing. And inside the waters right near the pier police recovered the lifeless body of Mr. Jemmott with one apparent gunshot wound behind the right ear.

NEWTON: Police say Hartin covered in blood was is an emotional state when they first arrived but will not disclose what she told them, if anything.

Jemmott's family says they want to know more from Hartin, the longtime partner of Andrew Ashcroft, the son of British billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft.

Hartin and the Ashcrofts have been fixtures in Belize for years. Jemmott's family says their brother knew Hartin and the Ashcroft's. The details of how he died though, they say, do not point to an accidental death.

Tzul: What we don't know why they did not charge her for murder. (INAUDIBLE) to court, murder. Let the (INAUDIBLE) in the court and court will decide.

NEWTON: Police say they continue to investigate underscoring he was also their beloved friend and colleague. And Jemmott's family says they want answers on the devastating loss of a father, brother, and devoted police veteran who police indicate may have been killed by a bullet from his own service weapon.

Paula Newton, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. CNN NEWSROOM continues after a short break with Rosemary Church.

[01:57:24]

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