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Hong Kong to Reduce Quarantine for Fully Vaccinated Residents; Tough Negotiations Over President's Spending Proposals; Bipartisan Plan Proposes $1.2 Trillion in Spending; Nearly 300 Mas Shooting in 2021; Voters Head to Polls in Ethiopia After Decades of Repressive Rule; Hard-Liner Raisi Will Take Office in Iran at Pivotal Moment; Bennett to World Leaders: "Wake Up" on Nuclear Deal; John Rahm Wins First Major Championship. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 21, 2021 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everyone. Well Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has just announced a change in the region's strict quarantine measures. So let's go to Hong Kong where CNN's Anna Coren has the latest. Anna, what are you learning?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT; Well Rosemary, there's been growing pressure on the Hong Kong government to ease what it considers the strictest quarantine measures in the world. It was initially 21 days for Hong Kong residents returning to Hong Kong. That was reduced to 14 days, if you were vaccinated. Well today the Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that it would seven days for fully vaccinated residents who test negative to the virus and then carry out an anti-body test and test positive to that at Hong Kong airport.

Now this is something that people in Singapore have been doing. These anti-body tests but not at the airport. So Hong Kong will be the first to carry out these anti-body tests. And you pass those three criteria and you are allowed into Hong Kong and will just have to do seven days quarantined.

Countries like the U.K., the U.S., Japan, Canada, these are all countries that are considered to be high risk. Well now people who fit that criteria are then allowed into Hong Kong. It's a major win for the business community. We have to remember that Hong Kong is one of the largest financial hubs in the world and there's been, you know, a great deal of anger that Hong Kong has really just shut down its borders. Part of the reason it had to do that was to manage their, you know, four waves of COVID that the city has experienced. But also because of the very poor vaccination rate in Hong Kong.

Places like Singapore (INAUDIBLE) this next year, in Hong Kong it is just over 18 percent to people who have been fully vaccinated. Much of the reason for that is, you know, deep miss trust in the government but also seen as a form of protest against Carrie Lam's government and it's a national security law that came into effect just over a year ago. You know, banning protests as well as basically wiping out, decimating the democracy movement here in Hong Kong. But certainly the decision today is a big win, as I say, for the

business community and also for the tens of thousands of expats who live in Hong Kong. The problem, Rosemary, is for those people who are traveling with children. It still will be 21 days. Three weeks in quarantine even if the parents are fully vaccinated. Because as we know, children under the age of 12 cannot be vaccinated. Parents have describe this policy as inhumane, as cruel, and detrimental to the children's mental health. But we spoke to a professor earlier today who's part of the government's advisory board and he said that they are pushing for the government to allow children to do the same amount of quarantine as their parents. But as it stands now, Rosemary, this is certainly a big step toward Hong Kong trying to reopen its borders.

CHURCH: All right, we'll keep a very close eye on all of this. Anna Coren joining us live from Hong Kong, many thanks.

Well after spending last week on the global stage, President Biden is likely to turn to the fight over his infrastructure plan. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has the latest details as the debate heats up on Capitol Hill.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's going a critical week of negotiations regarding infrastructure here on Capitol Hill this week. Senator Bernie Sanders is the chair of the powerful Senate Budget Committee. He really will be in charge of ushering through any kind of deal that can be made with the White House as well as Republicans.


The Senator offering a $6 trillion reconciliation package. That is Democrats only supporting that putting out only a proposal for physical infrastructure dealing with roads and bridges and broadband but also to improve what they call human infrastructure. Providing Medicare, dealing with immigration, climate change, elderly care, all of those things on the table. Already Sanders has heard from moderate Democrats who are pushing back saying they cannot support such a large bill here. We're talking about Senators Joe Manchin, Jeanne Shaheen, Jon Tester, a whole group of them saying, no, that price tag is too large. Sanders says he will reach out to his fellow Democrats throughout the week but he seemed to acknowledge that this package, the proposal that he puts forward, is aspirational.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): You know, I sometimes think we get boggled down in numbers, and that's important. But we've got to look at what the needs are of the American people. What's going on right now.

And what is going on right now, so all that the president is doing, all I am doing is taking a look at reality for working families, understand their needs have been ignored for decades. Now it is time to create good-paying jobs, millions of good-paying jobs addressing health care, housing, infrastructure.

MALVEAUX: The infrastructure plan that is much more likely to gain support and passage as a bipartisan plan, more modest in scope. Just a couple of highlights here -- $110 billion in new spending for bridges and roads. $73 billion to expand power infrastructure. $66 billion on passenger and freight rail. $65 billion to expand access to broadband. More than $48 billion for public transit.

Now how would it be paid for? That is also up for debate, very controversial. But the proposal includes the idea of using unused COVID relief funds to pay for infrastructure. Suzanne Malveaux, CNN at the Capitol.


CHURCH: And earlier I spoke with Jessica Levinson, a professor of law at Loyola Law School. And I began by asking her whether President Biden can realistically reach a deal with Republicans any time soon.


JESSICA LEVINSON, PROFESSOR, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: I think the answer is how much President Biden is willing to compromise. So, we've gotten over the initial thresholds now of COVID relief. We passed COVID relief. We've rolled out the vaccines and that there's been a lot of success in that, meaning the kind of big emergencies we're starting to pass the thresholds. But the next big thing is infrastructure.

And President Biden has said it's not just roads, it's not just freeways and bridges, it's a greater type of technological infrastructure and he wants a lot of money. And the Republicans don't want to give that to him. So, one of the big questions will be when he comes back and he looks at the offers on the table, how much is he willing to give? Does he want to give a lot to get something? Or is he going to try and take his political capital for a spin? He's probably not going to be ever in a better position than he is in right now and see how hard he can try to push his Republican colleagues.


CHURCH: The epidemic of gun violence in America is getting harder to ignore. The country is rapidly approaching 300 mass shootings this year with at least nine this weekend alone. They happened across nine states. Killed six people and wounded more than 40 others. That is according to data compiled by CNN and the Gun Violence Archive. CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro has more on this latest fate of shootings.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another weekend in America where gun violence erupted across the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God, on the south side, gunshot, another shot was just fired.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's down, he's down, he's down.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): This is becoming the sound of the summer in America after another weekend torn apart by gun violence. Incidents from Oakland, to Chicago, to Minneapolis. Just this weekend with more than 30 people killed in gun violence so far according to the Gun Violence Archive. Disturbingly, children continue to be caught in the crossfire.

In Dallas, a gun fight between party goers leaving eight people injured including a 10-year-old and a 15-year-old. And Detroit Thursday, police still investigating a shooting that killed a 2-year- old. One of two unconnected gun violence incidents according to police on freeways in the Michigan city last week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I don't wish this on my worst enemy.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Some victims know their shooter. Some are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mass shootings which CNN defines are incidents where four or more people are shot excluding the shooter are nearing 300 so far this year according to the Gun Violence Archive. That's about 40 percent higher than this point in 2020. And 65 percent higher than this time in 2019.


Some gun reform advocates are discouraged by what they feel is a lack of action at the federal level in the wake of this uptick in violence.

CAMERON KASKY, PARKLAND SHOOTING SURVIVOR, GUN REFORM ADVOCATE: The fact that we have not seen very much substantial gun reform from the Biden administration which is especially disappointing considering the fact that Joe and Kamala both campaigned on this, you know, people are very frustrated.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The pace of gun violence in America shows no sign of slowing down. And the summer is just getting underway.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: There hasn't been much summer yet. Authorities worry that as the season goes on, the pace of gun violence in this country will continue.

Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, New York.


CHURCH: And coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, voting is underway Ethiopia. The government says it's the country's first free and fair election but with some areas ravaged by war and unable to vote, many skeptics have their doubts.


CHURCH: Voting is underway in Ethiopia in what the country calls the country's first free and fair election after decades of oppressive rule. But many are skeptical due to Ethiopia's economic disparity and the ongoing war in Tigray region. Some major parties are boycotting the election over alleged intimidation by security forces. Over a fifth of constituencies say they're delaying voting for various reasons. A second round of voting will take place in September.

So let's bring in our Larry Madowo who joins us live from Addis Ababa. Good to see you, Larry. So how is Ethiopia's voting progressing so far? And what are the overall expectations?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The voting appears to be (INAUDIBLE) reposts of events of anything of concern.


These are supposed to be the first free and fair elections in Ethiopia, but that's (INAUDIBLE) this country is (INAUDIBLE) the violence in many parts of the country (INAUDIBLE) and there are other parts of the country (INAUDIBLE) that are in prison for boycotting the elections. However, the chair of Ethiopia's Human Rights Commission still thinks it will be reasonably credible elections. This is what he told me.


DANIEL BEKELE, ETHIOPIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER: Organizing the election was a necessary step to have an elected government in a credible process. And we have a credible elections commission to lead the process and there is a credible political space for competitive elections. So, this was a necessary step toward this dialogue and toward these longer-term solutions for Ethiopia.


MADOWO (on camera): And so the big problem here is that problem here is that one. (INAUDIBLE) than for the need of legitimate (INAUDIBLE) of this popular mandate (INAUDIBLE). But there is a need for dialogue, saying things have necessarily brought (INAUDIBLE) in what appears to (INAUDIBLE) satisfied to direct the country and prove that it that (INAUDIBLE).

CHURCH: All right. Larry Madowo talking to us here from Addis Ababa. A few audio problems so we do apologize for that.

International negotiators in Vienna say they're closer to an agreement for restoring a nuclear deal with Iran but it hasn't been reached just yet. A sixth round of talks with Iranian officials wrapped up Sunday. Russia's representative said there was a chance of arrival at a final point in discussions by mid-July. Negotiators will now consult with their capitals ahead of the next round.

Well Iran's incoming president will hold his first news conference in the coming hours. Ebrahim Raisi takes office in early August signaling a turn to the hard right after an election that most reform-minded Iranians skipped. Fred Pleitgen reports Raisi's election comes at a critical moment for Iran both at home and abroad.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The transition of power here in Iran already appears to be starting after the presidential election, which of course, is one that many people say is very important and possibly pivotal for this country. Moving around on a trajectory far more towards the conservative powers here in this country.

And the president-elect, the very conservative Ebrahim Raisi, he's set to hold his first international press conference on Monday. Now, he's expected to take questions both from Iranian journalists and international journalists, as well. And he's also expected to outline some of the agenda, both the domestic and in foreign policy.

As far as the policy for Iran is concerned, of course, by far the biggest issue here is the struggling economy of the country, because Iran is still very much suffering from crippling sanctions mostly put in place by the Trump administration; and a lot of people are looking for economic reprieve.

Raisi in the past has favored what the Iranian power structures called a resistance economy, which means making Iran as self-sufficient as possible and not dependent on foreign direct investment.

The other big question, of course, is going to be, what are the foreign policy initiatives going to be. So far, at least as far as relations with the U.S. is concerned, Ebrahim Raisi has always been for a very tough line, a strong stance towards Washington.

And the other big question is going to be what about the Iran nuclear agreement? Now, we've heard from a senior member of Iran's governing elite that the Iran nuclear agreement is something that the supreme leader of the country, who is, of course, the main authority here in Iran, he signed on to that, and he wants the Iran nuclear agreement to come back into full force and the U.S. to get back into the agreement for Iran to come back into full compliance. Of course, those negotiations still very much ongoing.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Tehran.


CHURCH: And the Iran nuclear deal remains a key concern for Israel's new government. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has a warning for world leaders before they negotiate with Iran's new president. Hadas Gold has details.


HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Naftali Bennett spent part of his first cabinet meeting as prime minister on Sunday warning world leaders against Ebrahim Raisi, calling him the hangman of Tehran, a reference to Raisi's role in a bloody crackdown on dissidents in Iran.

Although there is a new government in Israel, most mainstream politicians agree when it comes to Iran on any -- and on any sort of return to the Iranian nuclear deal. Although this new government may choose to go about displaying their disagreement slightly differently than former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was famous for his very public displays of disagreement with the Iranian nuclear deal, especially when it came to the United States' position on it.


Naftali Bennett on Sunday saying in that cabinet meeting that this is the last chance for the world powers to wake up before returning to the nuclear agreement and to understand who they are doing business with. These guys are murderers, mass murderers.

So what, if anything, will change between Israel and Iran now that Israel has a new government and Iran has a new president? Well, for one thing, analysts here think that there may be a rush to try to complete the Iranian nuclear deal before Raisi formally takes over as president, something that the Israeli government says they are very much against.

On the other hand, having a new hardline president with such belligerent rhetoric could actually serve Israel's interest as Israel tries to mobilize the international community against Iran, essentially giving Israel the ability to say to other world leaders you can't really negotiate with these guys. You cannot really trust them, especially when it comes to a nuclear agreement or potentially them being able to obtain a nuclear weapon.

So essentially while there is a new government in Israel and a new president in Iran, don't expect much to change between the two countries.

Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.


CHURCH: And we'll be right back.



CHURCH: Spanish golfer John Rahm celebrates a major win at Tori Pines and the Atlanta Hawks pull off another upset to advance in the NBA playoffs. Here is our Don Riddell with our minute in sports.


DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: The golfer John Rahm has made history both for himself and for his country. On Sunday in San Diego, he became the first Spaniard to win the U.S. Open. It's also his first major title. Rahm became a father just a couple of months ago, his first father's day is certainly one that he will never forget.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks are going to the NBA's Eastern Conference finals. The Hawks beat the top seed Philadelphia 76ers on the road in a tight game seven. The next series against the Milwaukee Bucks gets underway on Wednesday.

Italy and Wales are both heading into the last 16 of the European Football Champions. Italy beat Wales by 1-0 in their final match in group A. But Wales have done enough to go through to the knockout round as the second best team in the group.

And in Formula 1, the Red Bull team has won their third consecutive race. Max Verstappen third win of the season, came to the French Grand Prix, meaning he now has a 12 point lead over the reigning champion Lewis Hamilton. Back to you.


CHURCH: Thanks for that, and thanks for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Be sure to connect with me on Twitter @rosemaryCNN. We'd love to hear from you. "EARLY START" is up next. You're watching CNN. Have a great day.