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Delta Variant May Compromise Herd Immunity; Millions Under Heat Warnings In North America; Japan Mudslide Claims Two, 19 Rescued; Thousands Protest Bolsonaro's Handling Of COVID-19; UNHCR Wants Increased Vaccine Access For Refugee Populations; Massive Cyberattack Hits Hundreds Of Businesses; Police In Standoff With Armed Group In Massachusetts; Anti-Semitism In Europe; Track And Field Olympian Suspended After Failed Drug Test. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired July 4, 2021 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Millions of Americans take to the roads and skies this Independence Day, despite growing coronavirus case numbers.

Plus a partly collapsed Florida condo could be demolished as early as today. We'll tell you why officials are in a hurry to bring the rest of the building down.

And just days after turning over a major base to the Afghan government, U.S. officials update emergency evacuation plans for the embassy in Kabul. We're live in the Afghan capital.

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


BRUNHUBER: U.S. coronavirus case numbers are headed in the wrong direction, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. Authorities say the strain is the likely explanation for 10 percent rise in the U.S. infections this week, compared to the week before.

Experts say it's hitting states with the lowest vaccination rates the hardest. Right now, nearly half the U.S. population is fully inoculated and that's not enough to reach herd immunity, which happens when 70 percent to 85 percent of people are immune to the disease.

Health authorities say the Delta variant could make reaching that threshold harder. In California, where the positivity rate doubled, the strain is responsible for more than a third of new infections. Now some officials are asking people to wear masks in indoor public spaces, even if they're fully vaccinated. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARBARA FERRER, LOS ANGELES COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR: Now we are not requiring people who are vaccinated to wear those face coverings indoors. We're just made a strong recommendation.

If you're indoors, in a setting where you don't know everybody else's vaccination status and, in fact, there may be unvaccinated people around, for security for others and for safety for others, it is best at this point to prevent another surge here in L.A. County by having everyone in those settings, where it could be crowded and you're indoors, often with poor ventilation, to keep those face coverings on.


BRUNHUBER: It's Independence Day here in the United States. Some 50 million people are traveling by air or car. The big numbers are causing big headaches. Southwest and American Airlines had to cancel dozens of flights, with hundreds more delayed. CNN's Polo Sandoval reports.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By now, most Americans who plan to travel this holiday weekend may have already braved the Fourth of July frenzy on the roads.

VALENTINE CHAVARIA, TRAVELER: I think it's going to be pretty busy and congested. Yes, that's why I didn't want to wait and leave any, any later than today.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Or at some of the nation's airports, many of which seem to be bursting at the seams on Friday. AAA expecting nearly 48 million people will have traveled either by road or by air by the time this 4th of July weekend comes to a close.

Most of them, some 43 million, opted to drive to and from their destinations, according to Andrew Gross from AAA.

ANDREW GROSS, AAA: The biggest difference probably the number of people traveling by car and there are a number of factors figuring into that, international travel is still down, cruising has not picked back up yet.

And people may generally feel a little more comfortable traveling by car, you can decide when you're going to leave, where are you going to stop and maybe not everybody in the family is vaccinated yet.

SANDOVAL: Gross expects rising fuel prices likely aren't keeping families from a long overdue post pandemic getaway. It won't come cheap though with the cost of a gallon of gas averaging $3.12, nationally, the highest in seven years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: $11.00, I'm at 2.5 gallons.

SANDOVAL: Experts say not only a summer demand to blame but a shortage of fuel truck drivers that has left some service stations empty. Flying this weekend, you want to adhere to your air crew's

instructions or face paying some hefty fines. The Federal Aviation Administration has received over 3,000 reports of unruly passengers this year alone. A majority of incidents related to non-compliance of the federal mandate requiring mask wearing on flights.

Hoping to address people who don't listen to crew instructions, the agency rolled out a video message for those who should know better from those who do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'll go to jail if they keep doing that stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is so unsafe. They should know better if they're like adults.

SANDOVAL: Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.



BRUNHUBER: Many Americans like to put some pop in the 4th of July with firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles, et cetera. But this holiday arrives amid a historic heat wave and dry weather. As Paul Vercammen reports, it's a dangerous mix.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Up and down the West Coast, they're worried about the combination of the drought, high temperatures and fireworks. They're saying come down to the beach, cool off. If you need to set a fire, do it in one of these cement rings.

The big concern is so many people get their hands on illegal fireworks or legal fireworks and setting them off in the city. Los Angeles has had its problems here and just the other day, they confiscated 5,000 pounds of fireworks, put them in a bomb squad van and somehow that detonated.

Extreme danger, they're telling everyone they will be very aggressive in prosecuting somebody who starts a fire by fooling around with fireworks -- reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen. Back to you.



BRUNHUBER: We could be just hours away from the demolition of that collapsed condo building in Florida, as authorities race to beat an approaching tropical storm. If left standing, there's growing concern that strong winds and rain could topple the structure.

Engineers now believe they can safely bring it down before that storm arrives. You're looking at a live picture of the building there. In the meantime, search-and-rescue efforts have been suspended. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FL: Search and rescue does have to pause temporarily while the demolition preparation is underway. And there is threat to the standing building that is posed to the first responders, as we've told you.

We will begin the search and rescue once again on any sections of the pile that are safe to access as soon as we are cleared.


BRUNHUBER: CNN's Brian Todd is in Surfside, Florida, with the latest developments.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Officials here in Surfside, Florida have announced a pause in the rescue operation while they prepare to demolish the remainder of what's left of that condo complex that collapsed.

There is part of the Champlain Towers South complex in Surfside that remains upright but they have paused the search-and-rescue operation. They're planning to bring that building down via demolition, probably within the next couple of days.

They say they want to do that before the tropical storm that is tracking toward South Florida, tropical storm Elsa, gets to this area. Now it's not clear what, if any, impacts Elsa is going to have on Surfside and the nearby area.

But the storm could at least provide some remnants of high wind and heavy rain here. And they want to make sure they get that building demolished before that happens.

Will they be able to do it?

That's not clear. They had to pause the rescue operations at 4:00 pm Eastern on Saturday while they prepare for that demolition. That includes drilling into columns and doing other technical work to prepare for the demolition of the building because that building, as it stands upright, remains simply too dangerous.

There are concrete slabs, there are concrete columns hanging from it. Part of the rubble has shifted under the building. There are sensors indicating cracking. So it's a very dangerous structure as it remains.

They're going to try to bring it down in the next couple of days. The mayor said they will not need to evacuate anyone from nearby buildings for that demolition -- Brian Todd, CNN, Surfside, Florida.


BRUNHUBER: The rescue teams dig through the condo rubble, searching for possible survivors. They're carefully gathering and cataloguing any valuables and personal effects they find. The mayor of Surfside said those items will be returned to the victims; families and the demolition of the remaining structure is necessary to ensure the search area doesn't get covered up by tons of additional debris.


MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT (I-FL), SURFSIDE: The fear was that the hurricane may take the building down for us in the wrong direction on top of the pile, where we have victims.

We'll allow our rescue workers to pore all over the site without fear of any danger from falling debris or falling buildings.


BRUNHUBER: Elsa weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm on Saturday but that could change by the time it reaches the U.S.



BRUNHUBER: We have an update on breaking news. At least 17 people were killed when a C-130 military transport plane crashed in the southern Philippines. At least 40 people have been rescued.

The Philippines air force plane was carrying troops to a island in the Sulu province. It missed the runway and crashed into a nearby village. Photos show flames and smoke pouring from the crash site. Officials say at least 92 people were on board when it crashed.

Again, at least 17 killed, 40 rescued in a crash in a Philippines air force transport plane. We'll bring you more details as they become available.

I'm going to bring you some new information coming in to CNN in the past few hours. Officials in Japan say nine more people have been rescued following a mudslide that devastated Atami. That brings the total saved to 19. At least two women are confirmed dead and 20 others are unaccounted for after the disaster struck Saturday morning.

For the latest developments, we bring in Blake Essig, who is live in Atami.

I see in the monitor there it is getting darker, night is falling there. But it's still -- you can see the devastating landscape behind you.

What is the latest?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kim, just within the past 15-20 minutes, all of the people that were conducting the search and rescue have hopped in cars and seemed to have called it a night.

They started around 6:00 am this morning at first light and we imagine that will be the case once again tomorrow, as there are still about 20 people missing, unaccounted for, following torrential rains that triggered a massive landslide in the seaside resort town of Atami.

It happened around 10:30 Saturday morning. A section of hillside gave way, sending residents scrambling as a torrent of mud and water came crashing through town, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. City officials say 130 homes have been completely buried or swept away and hundreds more have been affected.

Around 700 people are assisting with the search and rescue efforts so far. State officials say 19 stranded people have been rescued. They were dug out from their homes. As of early Sunday morning, roughly 380 people have been evacuated throughout 10 evacuation centers in the city.

And we spoke with one man, who says he and his family are lucky to be alive. They got out of their house moments before the landside hit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The first thing that struck me was the sound of the ground rumbling. There was such a muddy, chemical stench to the air. Of course, as so many things were being washed away, it all happened in a split second.


ESSIG: Adverse weather conditions and steep mountainous terrain made the search and rescue effort more difficult and there are fears that more landslides could take place, not just here but in several areas along the coast, as rain continues to fall.


ESSIG: Throughout the day, Kim, we've received multiple messages sent to our mobile phones warning about the possibility. In fact 15 minutes ago, received another warning about this specific location we're in and the possibility of increased likelihood of another mudslide.

Because of those concerns, evacuation orders have been put in place in several cities along the coast. But again, experts continue to say that, even if the rain stops, the risk of another disaster is high and that's because of the amount of water that has already accumulated in the ground, in an area that is clearly prone to landslides.

BRUNHUBER: So that area could get hit again. That would be devastating. You've talked to some of the people who live there in Atami. Give me a sense of how people are coping in the face of this disaster.

ESSIG: Kim, we talked to a handful of people throughout the course of the day. I spoke with one man, as we looked at this path of destruction behind me, I asked him, what was here before, what did it look like?

What do you feel when you look at this area now?

This area behind me was a residential area, littered with homes. And he told me, when he looks at what has happened as a result of these mudslides, it's devastating. These people, it is a small town. People know each other. So recognizing that lives have changed forever, it's absolutely heartbreaking.

Another man that I spoke with at an evacuation center told me that he is still processing everything that's he's dealing with, focused on the idea that there are still people potentially out there that could have their lives saved and then, at a later point, come to grips with everything that happens and potentially cries when he thinks about all that he's been through.

BRUNHUBER: We appreciate your reporting on the scene there. Do stay safe, Blake Essig in Atami, Japan, thanks so much.

Still ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, outrage spills onto the streets of Brazil. Why thousands are calling for the president to be impeached.

Plus the U.N. is monitoring vaccine access for refugees and says more must be done to vaccinate the vulnerable populations. That's ahead. Stay with us.






BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Thousands of Brazilians took to the streets on Saturday, demanding the impeachment of president Jair Bolsonaro. It comes amid allegations he turned a blind eye to a corrupt COVID-19 scheme within his government.

Brazil has been among the hardest hit countries during the pandemic. They have the second highest COVID death toll in the world after the U.S. Brazil has also seen more cases of the virus than almost any other nation. Many of Saturday's protesters blame him for the pandemic's devastation. Stefano Pozzebon explains.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro is facing renewed scrutiny over his handling of the pandemic response as tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across the nation on Saturday, demanding his impeachment.

It is the third time the protesters have marched onto Brazil's largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and hundreds more to urge congress to remove the president. He's already facing multiple calls for impeachment as well as a senate investigation into his government's action against COVID-19.

Just on Friday, Brazil's attorney general was authorized to open a new investigation on whether Bolsonaro committed any wrongdoing in the negotiation of a COVID-19 vaccine contract for 200 million doses of the Covaxin vaccine.

The drug was canceled last month after the revelation that the price Brazil agreed to pay for the vaccine was over 10 times what it was originally estimated. Bolsonaro has so far dismissed the investigations he is facing. On Saturday he said it was his mission to lead the destiny of the nation -- for CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.


BRUNHUBER: Health experts say that vaccinations are a lifesaving necessity in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. But many barriers exist for those who have been forcibly displaced from their homes.

The United Nations Refugee Agency is monitoring vaccine access to these vulnerable populations, saying, more must be done to get them inoculated. Paula Newton has that.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They fled persecution around the world and now they face a new threat. As countries scramble to get their populations vaccinated, the U.N. is calling on nations to include refugees in their inoculation efforts.

Overcrowded camps make social distancing a challenge. Communal water taps and lack of sanitation makes the battle against COVID-19 even more difficult.

Getting a job has become much more difficult for older refugees. In Latin America, earning a daily wage has become a luxury for several of these older refugees, according to a U.N. report.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Some days, we hardly eat breakfast and we don't have dinner. Sometimes, we do not even have breakfast. Sometimes, my wife and I eat only one meal a day.

NEWTON (voice-over): More than 9 million forcibly displaced people live in Asian countries. Many of these nations are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases and vaccine shortages. That is according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.

Being a refugee puts them at the bottom of the list for vaccinations, the agency says. The U.N. Refugee Agency and Save the Children estimate that around 800,000 to 900,000 refugees live in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. It is the single largest and most densely populated refugee settlement in the world.

In May, the camps here reported more than 1,000 confirmed cases and zero vaccine rollout. That is according to the U.N. And not having citizenship and lack of documentation makes it even harder for this population to keep themselves safe.


ANN BURTON, UNHCR: Refugees and other populations that some of the requirements that governments have put in place to register for the vaccine require national identity documents, which refugees and stateless populations often do not have.

And so our operations have been working at a country level, trying to come up with a system, with governments, where they will agree to use other documents.

NEWTON (voice-over): One positive note: refugees and asylum seekers have begun seeking COVID19 doses in 91, of the 162 countries, that the U.N. is now monitoring -- Paula Newton, CNN.


BRUNHUBER: Still ahead, the U.S. is updating evacuation plans at its embassy in Kabul as America takes its most significant step yet in the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan.

Plus an interstate shut down during an arms standoff with police. We'll share what we're learning about the group behind a bizarre confrontation near Boston. We'll have that coming up. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

U.S. officials are tracking a major new ransomware attack targeting a key I.T. vendor. It's believed the hack is by the same group that hit meat supplier JBS and the hackers may have links to Russia and Eastern Europe. U.S. President Joe Biden was in Michigan on Saturday. He visited orchards and met with local officials but eventually talk turned to the cyber attack.


BRUNHUBER: And if Biden knows who is responsible, he isn't saying. CNN's Arlette Saenz reports.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden said intelligence officials are still piecing together the details of a massive ransomware attack that affected a key software vendor. That vendor, named Kaseya, provides many products to I.T. management companies.

And cybersecurity experts believe that the same criminal gang responsible for an attack on that meat supplier, JBS, that that same gang was responsible for this attack against that software vendor. That gang is believed to originate in either Eastern Europe or Russia. Now President Biden told reporters that he was briefed on the matter

as he traveled here to Michigan on Air Force One and that, so far, the U.S. government does not know who was responsible for the attack.

And he said that it may not be the Russian government. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, we're not sure who it is. The director of the Intelligence Community will be giving me a deep dive on what's happened. And I'll know better tomorrow. And if it is, either with a knowledge of and/or a consequence of Russia, then I told Putin, we will respond.

We're not certain. The initial thinking was it was not Russian government.


SAENZ: Now the president raised the issue of cyber attacks with Russia's president Vladimir Putin as they sat face-to-face in Geneva, Switzerland, last month. And following that meeting, the president told reporters that he told Putin, if these types of attacks were to continue and if the Russian government was involved or had knowledge, that the U.S. would be ready to respond.

These issues of cyber attacks really such a point of contention between the U.S. and Russia over the course of the past few months -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, traveling with the president in Travers City, Michigan.


BRUNHUBER: The threat of escalating violence in Afghanistan has led U.S. officials to update their emergency evacuation plans at the American embassy in Kabul. It comes just days after U.S. troops left Bagram Air Base, the center of military power in Afghanistan, during 20 years of war.

The Taliban have made recent gains across the country. Top U.S. military commanders warn civil war could come after the pullout. CNN's Anna Coren is live in Kabul.

Many are asking how long can the U.S. keep its diplomats in the country?

ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know 650 Marines will look after the embassy in Kabul and other troops and contractors will secure the international airport.

Beyond that, Kim, there will be no other U.S. presence left in Afghanistan. That is certainly unnerving people here. Obviously U.S. and NATO forces flying out of Bagram Air Base which was the nerve center of 20 years of U.S. operations early Friday morning, that was the end of a chapter. And for many local Afghans, they feel a sense of betrayal, they feel like the United States is abandoning them. And even though President Biden says we are not, we are here to provide financial assistance, Afghans aren't buying it.

I spoke to one man yesterday, who is head of an NGO here. He said, I lived during the Taliban. I will not live under the Taliban again.

He said he can't believe that it has come to this, that the West, the international community, America has left Afghanistan in a state of helplessness, hopelessness, insecurity and violence.

We've seen the Taliban launching offenses across the country. They're now in control of more than 50 percent of territory. Yes, it's in the countryside but they are making advances towards these provincial capitals.

And like I say, Afghans are feeling extremely nervous about the future, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Thank you so much for your reporting there on the scene in Kabul, appreciate it, Anna Coren.

An armed standoff ended about as well as it could Saturday in Massachusetts; 11 people were taken into custody and no one was hurt after heavily armed men were confronted by police on the side of a busy interstate. CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro has more on what we're learning about this bizarre incident.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A sigh of relief outside Boston Saturday as an armed standoff with police on a major highway ends peacefully.

COL. CHRISTOPHER MASON, MASSACHUSETTS STATE POLICE: We were able to successfully resolve this situation through a combination of negotiation and some tactical maneuvers.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): An hour's long standoff between heavily armed men and police on one of the nation's busiest interstates ended without incident as authorities took 11 people into custody.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Still, many questions are left about what exactly was behind this potentially dangerous Saturday morning just north of Boston.

MASON: They wanted to be heard. They wanted to be -- a variety of not demands but requests that they just be allowed to leave the area, transit the area without any accountability. And at the end of the day, we couldn't accommodate that.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Overnight, a Highway Patrol car came upon two vehicles in the breakdown lane on I-95. Police say the heavily armed men wearing tactical gear we're attempting to refuel one of their vehicles. After learning the men were armed but not carrying firearm licenses, the State Trooper called for backup, some of the men fled into nearby woods.

The standoff began.

MASON: We are currently engaged with the subjects through our hostage negotiation team. We are talking with the subjects -- some that are in the woods, some that are still at the vehicles in the breakdown lane where the original interaction occurred and we are hopeful that we will be able to resolve this peacefully with them.

We're committed to a negotiation with them, having a conversation --

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Portions of I-95 were closed in both directions for several hours on a busy holiday weekend. Those in nearby homes were told to go into lockdown as police attempted to negotiate with the group.

JAHMAL LATIMER, IDENTIFIED LEADER OF WAKEFIELD STANDOFF: I don't know if you can see this but he's loading his gun right now.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The armed group appears to have livestreamed their side of the standoff online. It's unclear if the man filming the incident was one of the 11 arrested.

LATIMER: We are not anti-government. Our nation which our flag is right here has a treaty with your government.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): They appear to belong to a group called Rise of the Moors, which seems to be connected with the Moorish Sovereignty Movement that believes among other things, an 18th Century treaty between the U.S. and Morocco grants them special rights.

In livestreams from the highway, one member insisted they did not break laws and they did not intend to be hostile. Police said the men were passing through the state on their way to attend some sort of training operation.

LATIMER: We're abiding by the peaceful journey laws of the United States Federal courts.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): But Massachusetts officials said the state's laws are clear.

MASON: They did not have gun licenses on them. First of all, Massachusetts does not allow the carrying of a loaded or unloaded firearm on an interstate highway such as this.

You can imagine 11 armed individuals standing with long guns slung on an interstate highway at two in the morning certainly raises concerns.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The men eventually surrendered to police on site without incident where they seized a still undisclosed number of guns. MASON: I can share with you that a number of firearms have been seized. I cannot share with you the exact number. The two vehicles that were at the scene are being towed from the scene. They will be processed pursuant to a court authorized search warrant and only then will we know the exact number of firearms that have been seized.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The vital artery that is I-95 was finally reopened to holiday travelers but the investigation around the incident is ongoing. It is expected officials will look into this little known group and their motivations.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The bunch of armed men are traveling in a car to do something and we don't know what that something is. So that's where the investigation is going to go right now.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Authorities say the men taken into custody should appear first in court on Tuesday. The investigation into that incident continues. For now, the highway is back open to traffic -- Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, New York.


BRUNHUBER: A 21st century virus may be breathing new life into old conspiracy theories.


ELIE ROSEN, PRESIDENT, GRAZ JEWISH COMMUNITY: After this attack, those warnings of my grandparents had kind of flashed back. This made me very, very sorry and brought tears into my heart.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): We'll explain why COVID restrictions might be fueling anti-Semitism in Europe. Stay with us.






BRUNHUBER: Coronavirus lockdowns and COVID-19 conspiracies are being blamed for a rise in anti-Semitism in Europe but that's not all that's fueling violence against Jewish communities. CNN's Melissa Bell reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elie Rosen knows all about where hate can lead. His grandparents survived the Holocaust. They always warn him to keep his head down because there might be more to come.

Last August, they were proved right. Rosen was targeted along with his synagogue in the Austrian city of Graz. Its walls made from the bricks of the synagogue destroyed in 1938 defaced.

ROSEN: After this attack, those warnings of my grandparents had kind of flashed back. This made me very, very sorry and brought tears into my heart and sorrow to my face.

BELL (voice-over): A few days later, just outside the synagogue, Rosen was chased by a man wielding a baseball bat but managed to get back into his car just in time.

ROSEN: Certainly, I was scared being physically attacked. It is a dimension that is different than being verbally attacked, which I'm used to, because anti-Semitism has risen within the last year.

BELL (voice-over): In 2020, anti-Semitic incidents in Austria reached their highest level since the country began keeping records 19 years ago. And in Germany, incidents rose as much as 30 percent, according to a German watchdog.

Much of the rise in both countries is being blamed on harsh COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Protesters demonstrating against restrictions held signs, depicting forced vaccinations by Jews. And two people in Berlin were shouted out by a man who they believe blamed Jews for the pandemic.

KATHARINA VON SCHNURBEIN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION ANTI-SEMITISM COORDINATOR: I think that anti-Semitic conspiracy myths have been there for centuries. And in fact, whenever there is a pandemic, they have come to the fore again.

BELL (voice-over): Across Europe, anti-Semitic attacks have been rising for years, from a deadly standoff in 2015 at a kosher supermarket in Paris to Vienna, where four people were killed in a rampage outside a synagogue last year. And then there is the desecration of Jewish graves like these in Eastern France.

In Brussels, Rabbi Albert Guigui now wears a baseball cap when he goes out to hide his very identity.

"Of course, I wear a yarmulke at home," he says. "But outside, I prefer to cover my head less conspicuously. It is not healthy," he explains, "to live in an atmosphere of fear and where you feel hunted.


BELL (voice-over): "I think that, as well as being vigilant, we must tackle the evil at the root of the problem and that is about being different."

The Holocaust killed an estimated 6 million Jews in Europe but, as living memory gives way to fading footage, so denial grows and hate speech returns. As well as the tension around the COVID lockdowns, the violence between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East in May also drove hate towards Jews across Europe, like here in Berlin or in Brussels, where the chants spoke of ancient battles between Jews and Muslims.

BENJAMIN WARD, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH EUROPE: We do see in the Middle East that increase in expressions of anti-Semitism and also anti-Semitic violence linked to events in the Middle East.

But if we look more broadly at the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in Europe, we see that it is much older and also much wider. It is really a European issue.

BELL (voice-over): The hate is also spreading online, according to Human Rights Watch. Horrific cartoons, like this one depicting Jews with a big hooked nose or this one in France of a conspiracy theory blaming Jews for the pandemic and shared, he says, mistakenly, by a candidate in recent regional elections.

The European Commission has a deal with tech companies to remove offensive content within 24 hours but only once it's been alerted.

This is the memorial in the very heart of Vienna to the 65,000 Austrian Jews who were deported during World War II. Most did not survive. It is a reminder of where words and conspiracy theories can lead.

But it's also a reminder of Europe's own very violent homegrown history at anti-Semitism, an anti-Semitism that has never quite disappeared.

Prayers continue to be heard all over Europe, from the center of Paris to the old temple synagogue in Vienna.

Elie Rosen said that his grandparents' approach of keeping a low profile after the holocaust was understandable but ultimately misguided. European Jews keeping their heads down, he says, has not prevented anti-Semitism from rearing its head once again.

ROSEN: Contrary to my grandparents, I will tell my son or I would tell young Jewish people to be proud of being Jewish.

BELL (voice-over): Melissa Bell, CNN, Vienna.


BRUNHUBER: A 98-year-old British woman has been awarded France's prestigious Legion of Honour in a ceremony in the U.K.

Betty Webb was just a teenager when she worked at the top secret Bletchley Park during World War II, where encoded messages from Nazi Germany were intercepted and deciphered.

As a code breaker, Webb was privy to many wartime, secrets including the impending Allied victory but she said she never said a word to anyone, not even her parents. We'll be right back.





BRUNHUBER: A top U.S. track star is speaking out about her failed drug test, which may dash her hopes of getting a medal at the Tokyo games. Sha'Carri Richardson was suspended one month from the U.S. Olympic team after testing positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana.

That means she is forbidden from running in the 100-meter sprint, her signature event. She may still be allowed to compete in a later event, like the 4x100 meter relay. She says the shock of learning her mother's death from a reporter is one reason why she consumed marijuana.


SHA'CARRI RICHARDSON, OLYMPIC SPRINTER: I apologize for the fact that I need to know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions during that time. But sitting here, I'll just say don't judge me because I am human. I mean, I'm you. I just happen to run a little faster.


BRUNHUBER: U.S. President Joe Biden said he was really proud of the way Richardson responded to her suspension and he weighed in on the drug test policy. Listen to this.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The rules are the rules and everybody knows what the rules were going in. Whether they should remain that, that should remain rules is a different issue. But the rules are rules and I was really proud of her, the way she responded.


BRUNHUBER: English soccer fans are on cloud nine after their national team finally reached the Euro 2020 semifinals. Have a look at this.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): They're singing, "Football's coming home." That's how they celebrated in Rome after England crushed Ukraine 4-0 in the quarterfinal Saturday. That was the first time in 25 years that England reached the semis. The Three Lions will face Denmark, the Cinderella story of the tournament.



BRUNHUBER: That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. For our viewers in the United States and Canada, "NEW DAY" is just ahead. For everyone else it's "MARKETPLACE AFRICA."

And for everyone celebrating here in the U.S., happy Independence Day.