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CNN NEWSROOM

Western U.S. Heat Wave Raising Drought And Fire Concerns; Iran Election; Parkland Survivor On Rising Gun Violence; From The Capitol Riot To Running For Office; COVID-19 Delta Variant Becoming Dominant Strain; North Korea Food Supply Under Stress; Ethiopian Elections; Biden Family Bids Farewell To Champ; College Student Donates Unused Meal Plan Money To Homeless. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired June 20, 2021 - 05:00   ET

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


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KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Supporters of Iran's new leader celebrate in Tehran but some around the world are labeling him an extremist.

Plus battered by Claudette, the tropical depression triggers a tornado in Alabama and drenches other parts of the Southeast.

And Minneapolis, Colorado Springs, Chicago and many more U.S. cities confront a major spike in gun violence. We'll look at what's behind the rise in shootings nationwide.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

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BRUNHUBER: The Iranian government says Friday's election of Ebrahim Raisi as the next president was the lowest turnout since the 1979 revolution. Washington criticized Iran from blocking other candidates from running.

In a statement, the U.S. State Department said, "Iranians were denied the right to choose their own leaders in a free and fair electoral process. Our Iran policy is designed to advance U.S. interests, regardless of who is in power.

"We would like to build on the meaningful progress achieved during the latest rounds of talks in Vienna. We will continue discussions along with our allies and partners on a mutual return to compliance with a joint comprehensive plan of action."

Here is Fred Pleitgen in Tehran.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Conservatives celebrating a major victory that could shape the political direction of this country for a long time.

Ebrahim Raisi, a man very close to Iran's supreme leader, will soon take over as president.

"With the help of God and with the help of Sajid Ebrahim Raisi, he we will do a good job," this man says.

While turnout was historically low, Raisi managed to garner more than 60 percent of the vote, the interior ministry says.

PLEITGEN: Raisi won his landslide victory in the presidential election. His followers are putting on a show of force. (INAUDIBLE) not everyone is celebrating after moderates suffered (INAUDIBLE).

PLEITGEN (voice-over): While some shops in this market have already hung up Raisi posters, others questioned the election after many candidates were disqualified by Iran's guardian council in the run-up to the vote.

"Before the voting, everyone knew the new president would be Raisi," this woman says.

And this one adds, "All the four candidates are the same. It makes no difference to me. The elections have no effect."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will be pushed to move toward lift the sanction. Our people are in the very high pressure of economic pressure.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The transfer of power is already being prepared. Raisi has already met outgoing president, the moderate, Hassan Rouhani, and said he is focused on the task ahead.

"I hope I can live up to the trust that the people have placed in me during my term," he said.

For many, that means getting the Trump-era sanctions lifted and reviving the Iran nuclear agreement, all to jump-start the ailing economy.

TRITA PARSI, QUINCY INSTITUTE FOR RESPONSIBLE STATECRAFT: There is a tremendous amount of continuity and very important foreign policy issues, such as the JCPOA, are not set by the president alone or the foreign minister. It requires much greater degree of systemic buy-in.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): One thing both moderates and conservatives agree on is that Iran's struggling economy is the country's top issue. Now Ebrahim Raisi will get his shot to bring it back on track -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Tehran.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: International reaction to Raisi's victory ranges from pro forma congratulations to outright condemnation. Two of Iran's most immediate neighbors offered words of support for the incoming president. Turkey's president, sending a letter sending -- saying, he wished "for

the spirit of cooperation between our countries to continue to strengthen."

And Iraq's leader said, quote, "Iraq truly looks forward to strengthening its relations with Iran and works to have even closer brotherly and friendly ties that link the two nations through their historical, cultural and social bonds."

But Amnesty International wants Raisi investigated for crimes against humanity.

They say, "As head of the Iranian judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi has presided over a spiraling crackdown on human rights, which has seen hundreds of peaceful dissidents, human rights defenders and members of persecuted minority groups arbitrarily detained."

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BRUNHUBER: And Israel is condemning Raisi as Iran's most extremist presidential figure yet and said his election, quote, "makes clear Iran's true malign intentions."

Tehran and Washington are current locked in negotiations over the U.S. rejoining the 2015 nuclear deal. Other parties to the agreement -- China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and Iran -- are set to resume talks today in Vienna with an eye toward the U.S. possibly returning to the deal.

Tropical depression Claudette is drenching the southeastern U.S. as we speak, after causing multiple tornadoes, including one that ripped through a town in Alabama Saturday. Three people were injured.

The twister scattered debris all over the area. One survivor said she rode out the tornado by hunkering down at home. When she emerged, she was stunned by what she saw. Listen to this.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden, the trees over this way behind the houses over there, they just kind of -- it was just like they imploded. They just fell over. I was in shock really. I didn't -- I mean, I didn't really know what to do. It was just really a helpless feeling because I knew that we were fine, I knew that the inside of my house was fine.

I knew that we were fine. And then when I walked out on the front porch and saw that, it just -- you know, it was really upsetting to see.

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BRUNHUBER: It caused flooding across the region and forecasters say more tornadoes are possible. Claudette has weakened from a tropical storm since rolling in from the Gulf of Mexico but it is expected to pick up steam again. (WEATHER REPORT)

BRUNHUBER: As Tyler just mentioned, lakes and rivers going dry, crops burned by scorching sun and power plants running out of water to make electricity, caused by worsening droughts in the U.S. and around the world. The U.N. says it could be a preview of things to come with no clear solution in sight. Michael Holmes has the story.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): It is commonly known as the hottest place on Earth. Tourists, posing for photos in Death Valley, California. The numbers on the thermometer, saying it all. It's a scorcher.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are from Michigan, so this is extremely hot for us. And we have a ton of water in the car, Gatorade. And we aren't going to do much.

HOLMES (voice-over): An alarming snapshot of a growing global crisis, affecting not only the American West but countries all around the world.

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HOLMES (voice-over): A U.N. official tweeting that drought could be the next pandemic, only with no vaccine to cure it.

The warning, not just for poor nations but developed ones, too, with population growth changing rainfall patterns from climate change and overcultivation, just some of the factors contributing to drought.

Without enough water, this farmer in Jordan says, he has no income.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The problem is that we don't have any water. Look at this tomato. If there was water, it would have been bigger and I could've sold it for a good price.

HOLMES (voice-over): The reservoir, so low in this hydroelectric dam in Ivory Coast, it has struggled to provide enough power to nearby cities; although, fortunately, heavy rain finally started to fall last week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I am cut off from noon until 6 pm. I have no air conditioning, I have no light. I can't even serve coffee. I can't do anything.

HOLMES (voice-over): Sometimes, the land itself buckles from dry conditions. Giant sinkhole increasingly cracking open in Turkey, the results of farmers tapping into groundwater to irrigate crops, which weakens the soil.

Lake beds in Taiwan, turned bare and brittle, after it suffered the worst drought in its history, when no typhoons directly hit the island last year.

Ominous signs from all over the globe, for the world without enough water is not a sustainable one -- Michael Holmes, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, American's gun violence epidemic rages on. The disturbing new statistics, next.

Plus a Capitol Hill rioter is about to be sentenced, the first one so far. And a number of people who were there on January 6th now claim they are running for office. Stay with us.

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BRUNHUBER: So far, 2021 is on track to be an even deadlier year when it comes to gun violence in the U.S. than last year. And that follows a surge in mass shootings in 2020. The country is now losing an average of 54 people per day to firearms. CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro has a closer look.

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EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another deadly weekend in the U.S., with even more mass shootings and gun violence incidents.

Overnight, a shooting in Minneapolis left five people injured. And in Colorado Springs, two separate shootings less than a mile apart Friday night. One shooting erupted in a Mall Carnival and the other outside a restaurant. Five people total, including three young people ended up in the hospital.

The specifics of each incident vary but all three tell the same story, the terrifying normalcy of gun violence.

CNN defines a mass shooting as four or more people shot excluding the shooter. That's happened more than 280 times across the country since the beginning of 2021. According to the Gun Violence Archive, that's about 40 percent more than this point in 2020 and 65 percent more than in 2019.

JILLIAN PETERSON, FOUNDER, THE VIOLENCE PROJECT: That type of violence has been surging through the pandemic. And now in 2021, we are really seeing those numbers rise and we can think about how the pandemic has increased stress, increased frustration, added to things like job loss and trauma and isolation and we know all of that has an impact on gun violence.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): In Chicago, a mass shooting early Tuesday morning left four people dead and another four injured. Among those killed, 19-year-old Shametria Williams who was supposed to attend our high school graduation.

MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D-IL), CHICAGO: Unfortunately, Chicago is not unique. We are part of a club to which -- of cities to which no one wants to belong, cities with mass shootings.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Across the country in Arizona, a single suspect was arrested in connection with eight different shootings in the Phoenix metro area that left one person dead and at least 12 others injured by gunfire or hit by shrapnel.

A warning, the following video is disturbing to watch. We usually see only the aftermath of the terrifying incidents but in the Bronx, surveillance cameras captured an attack on Thursday and children caught in the crossfire, though the children were not shot and the victim is in stable condition, it serves as a stark reminder of the violence and increasing number of Americans are confronting.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: There's no indication the number of gun violence incidents and mass shootings will slow down any time soon in this country. That means a lot of Americans are hoping that the rest of 2021 looks a lot better than the year has so far when it comes to gun violence -- Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, New York.

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BRUNHUBER: We're learning more details about that brazen shooting involving two children in New York City. Just a warning, this video is disturbing to watch.

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BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Investigators believe the attack was gang related. Police say the two children in the video are family members but aren't related to the man in red. You can see him running down the sidewalk before crashing into the children, who weren't shot.

The victim is in stable condition. The attack is also playing a role in the mayoral election with two candidates condemning the shooting on Saturday.

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BRUNHUBER: A survivor of one of America's deadliest school shootings is speaking out about the rise in gun violence. Cameron Kasky survived the rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. Three years later, he tells CNN the lack of progress is frustrating. Listen to this.

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CAMERON KASKY, SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: With big, bad Donald Trump in office, covering mass shootings, it's so easy to get traction. Right, a mass shooting happens; everybody wants to talk about how this is Trump's America. This is what happens with Donald Trump in office. But when Joe Biden is the president, generally speaking, the goal is not to show the flaws in America but to celebrate all the great things that are going on.

[05:20:00]

KASKY: So a lot of people I know in the gun violence prevention community are very frustrated because the fact that we have not seen very much substantial gun reform from the Biden administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: Joe Biden is only the second Catholic U.S. president after John F. Kennedy but his stance on abortion rights is bringing a new threat from a powerful group of bishops. CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House.

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ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden attended mass back home in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday, just one day after a group of Catholic bishops in the U.S. tried to make moves to prevent the president from receiving communion due to his support for abortion rights.

The president and the first lady were seen greeting their parish priest just outside of St. Joseph on the Brandywine, the parish that he attends when he's back home in Delaware.

And while we see the president attending mass nearly every weekend and he quotes from scripture in his events, the president is notoriously private in speaking about how he actually practices his faith.

So when he was asked the question about these moves to try to prevent him from receiving communion, the president taking a very private tone.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's a private matter and I don't think that's going to happen. Thank you.

SAENZ: This is not the first time that this type of debate has played out in the Catholic church. Back in 2004, John Kerry, also Catholic, was running for president and some Catholic officials were publicly saying he should not receive communion due to his support for abortion rights.

And President Biden had talked about abortion back in the 2012 vice presidential debate against Paul Ryan, also a Catholic. Biden, who was vice president at the time, said, while he supports the church's stance on abortion, he does not believe those views should be imposed on others who have other beliefs, essentially laying out his pro- choice position.

But this entire episode shows how fraught religion and politics can be as these Catholic bishops are trying to make moves to prevent the president from taking communion -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: The faith and freedom coalition has wrapped up its annual conference with an appearance by Florida's Republican governor Ron DeSantis. He got a better reception than former vice president Mike Pence, who was heckled on Friday. CNN's Joe Johns reports.

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JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The final night of the faith and freedom conference featured Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, who has gotten high marks from Republicans for his handling of the state during the pandemic.

He's been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate down the road. But right now the big focus is on the midterm elections and Republicans attempting to change the math up on Capitol Hill and retake the House and the Senate.

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GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The rule of law is also being challenged by feckless policies offed Biden-Harris administration at our southern border. We had under president Donald Trump a series of policies that worked.

Those policies upheld the sovereignty of our country. They made sure that our asylum system was not being abused.

What does it say about an administration when the states have to step up and do the jobs that the federal government is supposed to be doing?

But nevertheless, this is where we are and so we'll do what we can to be helpful.

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JOHNS: A big focus at this conference was the culture wars and wedge issues that have been passed along since the Trump era, the speaker's list a virtual who's who of Republican political personalities. The one person missing, Donald Trump, who said he had a previous engagement -- Joe Johns, CNN, Kissimmee, Florida.

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BRUNHUBER: The first sentencing of a U.S. Capitol rioter is set for later this week. A few defendants have already pleaded guilty, including Anna Morgan Lloyd, the first one sentenced. She'll find out her fate on Wednesday and it's possible she'll get off without any jail time.

Prosecutors have said probation is appropriate because she's pleading guilty to just one misdemeanor of non-violently demonstrating inside the U.S. Capitol. Now several Trump supporters who were there on Capitol Hill that day

are looking to further their own political careers. At least one is touting his role in the insurrection to boost his campaign. Here's CNN's Sara Murray.

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SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the Capitol riot.

JOEY GILBERT (R-NV), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I was in Washington, D.C.

MURRAY (voice-over): -- to the campaign trail --

GILBERT: If election integrity is not the number one issue of these guys, then they're either lost, confused or too stupid to be running.

[05:25:00]

MURRAY (voice-over): -- Republican Joey Gilbert, a former boxer turned lawyer, says he's launching a bid for Nevada governor.

GILBERT: I'm not a politician, I never wanted to be a politician, all right? But let me tell you something, I am probably going to be doing here shortly and that's called running for governor.

MURRAY (voice-over): The announcement coming just months after Gilbert says he was in Washington and scaled the Capitol steps January 6th.

GILBERT: One of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. People were on the Capitol steps. We just walked right up when I went up there.

MURRAY (voice-over): But insists he never went inside.

GILBERT: Yes, some people did go into the Capitol. I don't condone that. I have nothing to do with that.

MURRAY (voice-over): Gilbert, who is doubling down on the lie the presidential election was stolen --

GILBERT: In my opinion, Trump is still our president.

MURRAY: -- is one of nearly a dozen aspiring politicos spotted near the U.S. Capitol on January 6th by CNN and other news outlets.

In Michigan, Ryan Kelley is running for governor and ducking questions about his whereabouts during the Capitol insurrection.

RYAN KELLEY (R-MI), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I never went inside the Capitol building, never had the intention to and did not go inside, nor did I have any altercation with police officers.

MURRAY: While he denied going inside, Kelley wouldn't respond to CNN or a local news reporter's question about images showing him deep in the fray of rioters outside the Capitol.

QUESTION: That's you, correct? Right here?

KELLEY: You got my statement on the capitol, brother.

MURRAY: Gilbert and Kelley could face crowded primaries and it's too early to say if they have a shot at victory.

While neither of them have been accused of a crime, that's not the case for Jason Riddle.

The New Hampshire resident arrested after sharing photos of himself inside the Capitol holding a bottle of wine he stole with a local news station. Riddle faces five counts including unlawful entry and theft of government property and has pleaded not guilty.

Now he says breaking into the Capitol could be a boost to his campaign.

JASON RIDDLE, NEW HAMPSHIRE RESIDENT: It tells them I show up, I'll keep my promises and make some changes.

MURRAY: First he has to clarify what if anything he is actually running for

RIDDLE: I thought Ann was a state representative.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. A state rep is in the state house in Concord.

RIDDLE: Yeah. That's what Ann is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no. She is in Washington.

RIDDLE: Oh, I guess I got to run against that, then.

MURRAY: Now in addition to Riddle seemingly having no idea what he's running for, here's another wrinkle. He's not allowed to set foot in D.C. under the terms of his release. Lawyers for Riddle did not respond to CNN's request for comment. Additionally, Kelley and Gilbert also did not respond to CNN's requests -- Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, the Delta variant is spreading and health officials are concerned another surge could be on the horizon especially for the unvaccinated. Just ahead, we'll hear from a virologist about the dangers the variant could pose.

Plus people in North Korea tell CNN they've suffered drastic food shortages and high prices in recent months. Next, why officials say it's likely to get worse. Stay with us.

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BRUNHUBER: Top health officials say the COVID Delta variant is on its way to becoming globally dominant. At least 80 countries have reported the variant. In Missouri, only 43 percent of the population is at least partially vaccinated. And the Delta variant is on the rise there.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more on why this strain of the coronavirus is causing so much concern.

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DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: At the end of January, it was primarily the Alpha or the U.K. variant that was dominant in the U.K., understandably.

What happened over that time period?

The numbers came down, overall, which was good. But at the same time, the Delta variant started to enter the scene there. You saw the numbers pop back up and that was obviously primarily people who had not been vaccinated.

So that is the concern here. We know this is a much more transmissible variant. The U.K. or Alpha variant was 50 percent more transmissible than the strain before that. And this is 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant. So you get an idea.

In Scotland, there was a study showing that those who were infected with the Delta variant were also more likely to be hospitalized. So this does appear to be more transmissible and more serious also.

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BRUNHUBER: For more on this, I'm joined by Dr. Muhammad Munir, a virologist at Lancaster University in England.

Thank you so much for joining us. We've been warned about variants before; not that long ago doing segments about the U.K. variant and our top experts were warning it could trigger a fourth wave here in the U.S.

And that surge didn't really happen, not in any significant way. Obviously, that was before we had as many people vaccinated as we do now.

But still from a public perception perspective, is there a danger here that people might tune out the warnings about this variant?

Compare the Delta variant to the others we've seen.

What makes this one so worrisome?

DR. MUHAMMAD MUNIR, VIROLOGIST, LANCASTER UNIVERSITY: Thank you, Kim, for having me on the show. I think one of the important things with the Delta variant is the unique mutations that haven't been seen individually in any of the other variants, making it more strongly to bind to our cells and internalize, which make it much more contagious.

And looking onto the current picture globally, with 80 countries reporting and becoming predominant in many countries, including the U.S., some 10 percent of the cases belonging to this variant, all these indicate that so far all the variants that we have seen, Delta variant seems to be more contagious and more dangerous.

And primarily one reason that makes it more dangerous is because it is escaping immunity and also becoming more transmissible in particularly unvaccinated population.

BRUNHUBER: So just from a U.K. perspective, as an example, the U.K. has been particularly hard-hit and it seems it's spread primarily by young people. Give us a sense of what's happening there.

What are you seeing?

MUNIR: Absolutely. If we look at the picture, in England, we have 315 counties; out of these 285 counties are the ones that are reporting cases. And all of them are belonging to the Delta variant. And in England, 80 percent of the country is having an increased number of cases.

And looking onto all the sequences of the positive cases, 99 percent of those positive cases belonging to the Delta variant.

[05:35:00]

MUNIR: And this is more spread into poorer communities, communities where the vaccine hesitancy has been.

All in all population where the vaccine hasn't been rolled out at that scale, we're able to have some level of barrier against the spread of this infection.

Because of this Delta variant becoming more transmissible and covering wider communities, even if it is not dangerous, it would take a larger toll onto the death and that's what we're starting to see here in the U.K.

BRUNHUBER: I saw a study of cases in Scotland that found the risk of hospital admission with that variant was roughly double compared to the Alpha or U.K. variant. You mentioned the vaccine.

Basically for people, who have been vaccinated, who are watching this, are you essentially protected?

Is there nothing to worry about here?

MUNIR: Well, one thing is pretty clear, it's better to have vaccine than not having it because, if we look on to the number of people who've ended up in hospital in the U.K. or ultimately died, unfortunately, the majority of people are the ones unvaccinated.

For example, in the hospitalized people 806 are hospitalized recently. Out of those 65 percent are ones that are unvaccinated. So it really indicates that if you're not vaccinated, the chances for you to end up in hospital after getting the Delta variant in particular is extremely high.

So overall, getting the vaccine is much better than having COVID-19, particularly with the new variants like Delta variant.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: That was virologist Muhammad Munir there.

In Brazil, more than a half million people have died since the COVID- 19 pandemic began. The death toll is twice as high as it was six months ago, a sign the mortality rate is accelerating. Brazilians are increasingly angry about the way their president has handled the outbreak. Stefano Pozzebon has more.

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STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Saturday, Brazil became just the second country in the world after the United States to cross the grim threshold of over 500,000 COVID-19 deaths.

The South American country reported over 2,300 new COVID-19 deaths on Saturday and over 82,000 new cases. That brings the total number of cases reported by the Brazilian health ministry since the beginning of pandemic to over 17 million cases.

And as Brazil marked this milestone, thousands of protesters took onto the streets to demand the impeachment of the president, Jair Bolsonaro over his handling of the pandemic. Major Brazilian cities such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Recife all reported large-scale and peaceful demonstrations as did the country's capital, Brasilia.

And Bolsonaro himself did not address either the COVID-19 deaths nor the protests when he attended an aid event (ph) earlier on Saturday. But his communication minister, Fabio Faria, did so on social media, attacking the government's critics for not focusing on the millions of vaccine doses delivered, he said, by the government and even cheering for the virus, according to the communications minister -- and for CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: China is reporting an impressive COVID vaccine achievement. On Saturday it passed 1 billion doses administered, according to its national health commission.

More than 500 million shots were administered in May and 100 million in the last five days. It wants to have 70 percent of eligible people vaccinated by the end of the year. Residents in Pyongyang tell CNN food insecurity has gotten much worse.

In recent months they've struggled with shortages and extremely high prices. Paula Hancocks has more from North Korea's food shortage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Soonkwon Kim was known locally as Dr. Corn. An agricultural scientist, he developed high yield corn strains, taking them to North Korea.

His first visit in 1998 toward the end of the devastating famine, he said that the situation was worse than any other country he had worked in. After 3 million people may have died the actual number is unknown.

Dr. Kim says he sent 1.6 million bags of fertilizer and nearly 100 tons of corn seeds and corn to Pyongyang over the years. That ended, abruptly, when North Korea shut its borders in January 2020.

SOONKWON KIM, THE INTERNATIONAL CORN FOUNDATION: Because of COVID, I cannot visit.

[05:40:00]

KIM: Because of COVID, even this year, the super sweet corn seed, I said last month I would go to the DMZ and just hand over the seeds at the border.

But they did not accept the ideas.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Kim Jong-un said this week food shortages are a top priority, saying, the people's food situation is now getting tense, according to state-run media KCNA.

The news bulletins are focused on preparing for the upcoming rainy season. Youth groups have been recruited to help in the rice paddies. A nationwide focus on the recurring issue of food insecurity.

The United Nations, estimating that North Korea will have a shortfall of more than 2 months food this year, if it cannot supplement with food aid or imports. Both, unlikely, while the border is closed. It predicts a harsh lean period later this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Normally, North Korea imports grain from China in large quantities, when the price is low. But with COVID-19 restrictions, movement is impossible and the price of imported goods like flour or sugar has risen considerably.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Pyongyang residents tell CNN, even some locally produced goods have risen in price in recent months. Giving an example of the price of potatoes, tripling in one market. The U.N. is calling on Pyongyang to allow humanitarian aid to cross the border but no sign of easing restrictions yet.

In April, Kim Jong-un called on the country to prepare for another, quote, "arduous march," a term most recently used to describe the deadly famine of the '90s and a clear signal, from the very top, of hard times ahead -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.

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BRUNHUBER: Ethiopia is getting ready to vote on Monday. The prime minister says it's going to be the first free and fair elections there in decades but it's looking complicated. We'll show you why, coming up. Stay with us.

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BRUNHUBER: The United Nations is urging for calm ahead of Monday's elections in Ethiopia.

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BRUNHUBER: They've been marred by violence, especially in the Tigray region. No date has been set for elections there and, of the 109 million citizens in Ethiopia, just 37 million are registered voters. CNN's Larry Madowo has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a delay of almost a year, Ethiopians will head to the polls Monday in both regional and national parliamentary elections.

The country's prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, said he is committed to a free, fair and peaceful election. But it is already marred by a host of problems, including a violent conflict raging within its borders.

The violence in parts of Ethiopia's Tigray region in the north has created a humanitarian crisis, where there will be no election at all. The U.N. and other agencies say that large parts of Tigray are experiencing dire hunger because of food shortages, blamed on the fighting.

The Ethiopian government has denied these reports. But Prime Minister Abiy says he has hope for Ethiopia's future.

ABIY AHMED, ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The choice between destruction and development, construction and demolition for our country, is laid in front of us. We Ethiopians carefully understand, feeling dismayed is not civilization. And pushing one another is not a better option.

MADOWO (voice-over): Opposition candidate Berhanu Nega is less optimistic.

BERHANU NEGA, OPPOSITION CANDIDATE: Whenever you attempt this transition from tyranny to democratic governance, there is no guarantee that it will be absolutely perfect or it will be clean. MADOWO (voice-over): Accusations of ballot box fraud tainted the last

general election held in 2015. This time around, logistical issues and violence have caused voting delays in 110 out of 547 districts.

Some parties, whose leaders have been imprisoned, are boycotting it altogether. Opposition figure and fierce critic of the prime minister, Jawar muhammad, remains in jail, where he is accused of terrorism and other charges.

The U.S. has also voiced alarm over the conditions ahead of the elections. The State Department issuing a statement, saying, quote, "The United States is gravely concerned about the environment under which these upcoming elections are to be held."

The country had big hopes for Abiy when he was appointed in 2018. The Nobel Peace Prize winner was, at the time, praised for cracking down on corruption and freeing political prisoners.

Abiy made many promises but his military campaign in Tigray and jailing of opposition leaders has angered many of his constituents. As Ethiopians get ready to cast their ballots, the Ethiopian government hopes for democratic election.

But it comes at a time of turmoil where fighting in Tigray has killed thousands, leaving people on the verge of starvation and threatening the credibility of the voting process -- Larry Madowo, CNN.

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BRUNHUBER: Guinea declared Saturday that a deadly Ebola outbreak there is now over. The outbreak was first reported back in mid February; 12 patients died, 11 survived. Health officials credit their swift response to lessons learned from previous experiences with the disease.

The world's largest Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in 2014 and spread across the region. That crisis raged into 2015; ultimately, claiming more than 11,000 lives.

The Bidens are grieving after one of their beloved German shepherds passed away. The tributes for Champ -- after the break.

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BRUNHUBER: Sad news from the White House this weekend, the Bidens announced their 13-year-old German shepherd, Champ, has died. Kate Bennett has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Condolences for the Bidens are pouring in, after the president announced the family's much-loved German shepherd, Champ, passed away Saturday.

Michelle Obama tweeting, "Champ was such a good boy. Barack and I are sending all of our love to you."

And Biden's former national security adviser adding, "Boy, oh, boy, did he love chasing golf balls."

Champ chose the Bidens when he just a month old shortly after Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election. For Jill Biden, getting Champ was about keeping a promise. She said the family could get a dog if Joe and Barack won the election.

Biden's grandchildren gave Champ his name, an homage to the nickname Joe Biden's father called him.

In the announcement, the Bidens write, "He was our constant, cherished companion during the last 13 years and was adored by the entire Biden family."

They say, "Champ loved nothing more than curling up at our feet in front of a fire at the end of the day, joining us as a comforting presence in meetings or sunning himself in the White House garden," and note Champ was there for their most joyful moments and most grief- stricken days.

They even got their other German shepherd, 3-year-old Major, as a companion for Champ to help keep him busy and active as he got older. The pair were featured in Biden's campaign ads when he was running for president. And the first lady said the pups had some major adjustments to make when they moved into the White House.

DR. JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: They have to take the elevator. They're not used to that. They have to go out on the South Lawn with lots of people watching them. So you know, that's what I've been obsessed with, just getting everybody settled and calm.

BENNETT (voice-over): President Harry Truman once said, "You want a friend in Washington?

"Get a dog."

But it's Jill Biden who summed it up, saying everything was instantly better when he was next to us.

Rest in peace, Champ.

BENNETT: There may be a silver lining to the sad story. The Bidens have talked about adopting a cat. The cat will join Major Biden at the White House so he won't have to be the only pet there much longer -- I'm Kate Bennett, CNN, Washington.

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BRUNHUBER: A much happier story now. Here's how one college student is giving back.

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MAYA NEPOS, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY GRADUATE: Would you like some food?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, please, thank you so much.

NEPOS: Would you like some food?

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Maya Nepos only had a few days left before graduating from Washington University in St. Louis and had $600 of her meal plan leftover. So she bought food and supplies from a campus market and made care packages she personally delivered to the homeless.

She even became friends with one man and his family and took him to get his COVID vaccine. She graduated with a degree in psychology and is now looking for a job herself.

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BRUNHUBER: A 3-week-old infant floating on the Ganges has been saved after a boatman heard her cries. The little girl was abandoned inside a wooden crate lined with red cloth and decoration of Hindu deities. The man who found her considers her a blessing.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I saw a box, floating on the water, and heard a sound coming from inside of the box. I opened it immediately and found the baby girl inside. I took her and brought her into my home. The girl child has changed our faith. She is goddess Ganga.

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BRUNHUBER: Ganga refers to the Hindi name for the sacred river. The baby is in stable condition at a local hospital and the state's chief minister says they would take care of her as she grows up.

That wraps up this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber, for our viewers in the United States and Canada it's "NEW DAY." For the rest of us, it's "LIVING GOLF." Thanks for watching.