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Afghan Official: Thousands Flee Homes as Taliban Advance; U.S. in Final Stages of Completely Pulling Out Troops; China's Internet Watchdog Bans Didi from App Stores; U.N. Describes Dire Hunger Crisis in Tigray Region; Pope Francis Recovering from Surgery for Colon Diverticulitis. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 5, 2021 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Message about life getting back to normal.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From silent streets to crowded parade routes lined with people waving American flags. From empty stadiums and arenas to fans back in their seats cheering together again. From families pressing hands against a window, to grandparents hugging their grandchildren once again. We're back traveling again. We're back seeing one another again. Businesses are opening and hiring again. We're seeing record job creation and record economic growth. The best in four decades, and I might add the best in the world.


CHURCH: To Afghanistan now, and tens of thousands of families are fleeing their homes as the Taliban gain more territory. This according to one of the country's Vice Presidents. The threat is made worse as the U.S. military nears a complete withdrawal. U.S. Army General Austin Scott Miller who's overseeing the move is warning of a possible civil war as U.S. forces leave. Speaking with ABC General Miller said it's important to preserve what's been fought for.


GEN. AUSTIN SCOTT MILLER, U.S. ARMY: We should be concerned. The loss of terrain and the rapidity of that loss of terrain has to be concerning. One, because it's a war that's physical but it's also got a psychological or moral component to it. And hope actually matters and morale actually matters. And so, as you watch the Taliban moving across the country, what you don't want to have happen is that the people lose hope and they believe they now have a forgone conclusion presented to them.


CHURCH: And CNN's Anna Coran joins me now from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. So Anna, the Taliban have been emboldened by the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and that's unnerving many as we see including from this top general. So what is it latest on all of this?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, we're at Bagram Air Base, which of course was the nerve center of America's 20-year war here in Afghanistan. But when U.S. and allied troops flew out of Bagram on Friday, him very fairly early Friday, that really signified the end of their commitment here. Yes, they're going to keep 650 troops at the embassy, but other than that it is a tiny footprint.

And they leave behind so much I guess built-up infrastructure if you like. I mean, just take a look. You've got air hangers in the background, which are locked. The Afghans can't get access to them. Yes, there are some forklifts and machinery here. You see a convoy of SUVs. The National Security Council has sent a delegation on behalf of the President Ashraf Ghani and they're having a meeting at Bagram him as we speak to strategies and also to look at what the Americans have left.

Behind us -- behind those four-wheel drives is the runway, a 3 kilometer twin runway that used to, you know, be a hive of activity. Fighter jets, surveillance aircraft, cargo planes landing and departing constantly at the height of this war. Now, Rosemary, it is completely deserted. And then here you can see it's a bit like a car yard, a junkyard. You've got several hundred vehicles, pickup trucks, there's even a U.S. postal van that we saw further in. This is what has been left by the Americans.

And you listen to General Miller talk about this lack of morale. Well, Rosemary, I can tell you from speaking to Afghans it is overwhelming. One military officer said to us the Americans leaving is like an old friend leaving without saying good-bye. There is such a deep sense of abandonment. And the Americans are withdrawing as the Taliban are launching massive offenses across the country. We know that 150 districts have fallen in the last two months alone.

You mentioned the vice president of Afghanistan saying that tens of thousands are fleeing the countryside heading to the cities that has been backed up by the United Nations him who say 56,000 people have had to flee four provinces in the northeast of the country.

The Taliban is emboldened, there's no denying that. And the psychology behind that certainly here in Bagram and thin the capital Kabul, it is overwhelming. People are fearful of the future. People are fearful that the military will not be able to protect them, that they won't be able to counter the attacks from the Taliban and that their government and that their military will fall.


But as we know, Rosemary, the Americans have made it perfectly clear it's now up to Afghanistan to fight this war on their own.

CHURCH: Yes, that's a very fragile situation. Anna Coren joining us from Bagram Air Base, many thanks. Well a major supermarket chain in Sweden says it's among the victims

of a global cyberattack aimed at an American software company. A spokesperson for Co-Op Sweden told CNN a major IT disruption affected their cash registers prompting the grocery chain to close more than half of its 800 stores. It comes as U.S. cyber officials track a massive ransomware attack on a software vendor Kaseya. The Florida based firm says it's the victim of a sophisticated cyberattack. The White House is urging companies who believe their systems were compromised to immediately report it to the internet crime complaint center. U.S. him President Joe Biden says authorities are not certain yet who is behind the attack, but he has directed federal agencies to assist in the response.


BIDEN: First of all, we're not sure who it is. I've directed the intelligence community to give a deep dive on what's happened, and I'll know better tomorrow. And if it is either with the knowledge of and/or a consequence of Russia, then I'll tell Putin we will respond. We're not certain. The initial thinking was it was not the Russian government.


CHURCH: There's more trouble for China's largest ride hailing service. The cyberspace administration of China banned Didi from app stores after saying it posed a cyber security risk for customers, and the internet watchdog launched new security reviews on three more Chinese technology companies after taking the action against Didi. So our David Culver is in Shanghai. He joins us now with more. David, what are the likely consequences of this moved to ban Didi from app store?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think in the immediacy, Rosemary, it's get in line and comply, it seems like Didi is going to do just that. Now what is Didi? We should put this in context for folks. It is a massive ride sharing company. You're talking about 377 million users here in mainland China alone. That's larger than the population of the U.S. And so, it's the Uber and Lyft equivalent.

Now making this all the more complicated is the timing of this action coming from the cyberspace administration of China. And that is just days after the company was listed on the U.S. Stock Exchange in its IPO. Also coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China and the celebrations that played out with that event. It's so, it puts into question what exactly the motives are for the regulatory agency, the cyber administration and the tech companies. Because as you mentioned, Rosemary, it goes beyond Didi now. There are three other tech companies facing similar actions where they are to suspend adding new users including a truck hailing company, and at that does essentially Uber for trucks -- as they label themselves. And the company that does online job listings.

These companies are facing a lot of pressure from Beijing. And it comes after in March President Xi here decided he likewise would move forward with similar actions in trying to keep regulations tight and companies in line. Essentially this is showing who's boss. It's Beijing as they portray it. Alibaba faced similar situations in April. And it's all similarly tied to those companies that have ties to the U.S. So the geopolitics cannot be ignored.

How is it being received here in China? Well, online we're seeing Chinese citizens react and many of those expressing nationalistic views criticizing Didi for its going public in the U.S. and showing it as perhaps even going contrary to the values of the Communist Party as it's been portrayed.

But all in all, Rosemary, it can't be ignored that Beijing is making a statement with these tech companies. And analysts that I've spoken with say it's going to have other companies foreign and domestic here in China on the lookout to be compliant with what is a very new regulatory agency in the grand scheme of things but nonetheless powerful.

CHURCH: Yes, indeed. David Culver bringing us the very latest from Shanghai. Many thanks.

Well a surprise announcement from the Vatican after the Pope's appearance for his regular Sunday blessing. Details ahead on the pontiff's surgery.



CHURCH: Authorities from Massachusetts have announced charges for 11 men who were arrested after a nine-hour standoff on a busy interstate highway. The men range in age from 17 to 40 years of age and are from different states. Police have charged each of them with eight counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, use of body armor in commission of a crime, conspiracy to commit a crime and more. The men describe themselves militia members and say they adhere to, quote, Moorish sovereign ideology. Despite being armed and dressed in military fatigues, police say none of them had a license to carry firearms.

This was the scene in Santiago, Chile Sunday as police pushed back protesters with water cannons and tear gas. They had gathered to protest the swearing in of a constitutional convention made of up 155 members. No arrests have been reported. The committee has at least nine months to draft and approve a new constitution.

Ethiopia's civil war is causing a massive hunger crisis. It's happening in Tigray, the region that's been locked in conflict since November. The U.N. warns nearly 2 million people there on the brink of famine. Food and fuel are quickly running out. The World Food Program say families are receiving some of the last stocks of aid. Roads to and from the region are blocked, and one of the major bridges to Tigray was destroyed last week. Larry Madowo joins us now from Nairobi. So, Larry, it is a desperate situation for people in the Tigray region. What more are you learning about what they're facing at this time?

[04:45:00] LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, we're learning that cash and fuel is running out in this region, that 400,000 people have already crossed over into famine, and the U.N. is warning another 1.8 million are on the brink. This is at a time where aid agencies are facing access shortages. The World Food Program only recently began more shipments of food and other nutritional supplies, and these are their last stocks. Many of the aid agencies have not been able to access the northern part of Ethiopia where so many people need food aid and that is a problem for them.

We've heard from our eyewitnesses and CNN reporting on ground that government forces are blocking access to Mekelle, its regional capital. And so, because of that blockade it's not easy to access the people who are most in need. It's a really dangerous situation because the longer this happens, more people are falling into need. It's been a week now since the Ethiopian military declared a unilateral cease- fire. However, that was rejected by the Tigrayan fighters who say, now they have to give some guidance on when they will accept the cease- fire, only if Eritrean forces are pulled out of Tigray and there is an independent investigation.

The Tigrayan government sees this as for them a humanitarian decision to allow for life to return to normal for humanitarian assistance to be made available. And at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Friday they say that much. And they have support from other African countries, Kenya, Niger, Tunisia, all who see this is as internal matter that the U.N. Security Council should not get involved in. But in the middle of this a region of 700 million people who are in dire need of humanitarian help. And some people are already comparing this, Rosemary, to the famine of 1984.

CHURCH: Unbelievable, such a grim situation for those civilians caught in the middle. Larry Madowo joining us live from Nairobi with the details there. Many thanks.

Well, former South African President Jacob Zuma is lashing out at the judges who sentenced him. Comparing them to white apartheid era rulers. Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in jail for contempt of court for refusing to answer questions from an anti-corruption commission. He was supposed to turn himself in on Sunday but that's been delayed until the court hears his challenge to a jail term on July 12th.


JACOB ZUMA, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: Things like detention without trial should never again see the light of day in South Africa. The struggle for a free South Africa was a struggle for justice where everyone is treated equally before the law.


CHURCH: Zuma also faces multiple charges including fraud, racketeering and corruption relating to an arms deal when he was deputy president. He denies the charges.

Pope Francis is in the hospital recovering from surgery for colon diverticulitis. The Vatican announced the scheduled procedure on Sunday. Before he went in for the surgery, the 84-year-old Pope addressed thousands of people in St. Peters Square for his regular Sunday blessing.

And CNN senior Vatican analyst John Allen joins us now from Rome. Good to see you, John. And the good news, of course, is that this was scheduled surgery, which of course takes the whole emergency sense out of this. But what more are you learning about the pope's surgery and how it all went?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Hi there, Rosemary. Well, late last night the Vatican told us that the surgery had gone well, that Pope Francis responded well to the surgery. He is currently recovering in Rome's Gemelli Hospital, which is a little under 5 miles north of the Vatican, and of course it's where popes receive their medical treatment. It was actually known as the third Vatican during the St. John Paul II years.

We are expecting another medical bulletin around noon Rome time. But we are told it is going to be very brief, very pro forma, and this is one of those cases in which no news basically is good news. If there was a dramatic turn for the worse, we would already know about it.

The expectation is that Pope Francis will have to stay in the Gemelli for some period of time, maybe a few days. But obviously he did not want this to get in the way of business as usual. As you said he delivered his normal Sunday blessing just before he went in for this surgery. Not only that the Vatican also confirmed he's going to be traveling to Hungary and Slovakia in September.


So, you know, Rosemary, I've often said that Francis is the energizer bunny of popes. This is a man who just does not have an off switch. And even apparently a case of diverticulitis of the colin, he does not want even that to get in his way.

CHURCH: Yes, apparently nothing will get in his way. John Allen bringing us up-to-date from Rome. Many thanks.

Well, the U.S. pulled out all the stops to celebrate another birthday Sunday. The best of the fourth of July fireworks just ahead.


CHURCH: It is history in the making again for one baseball player having a phenomenal season. CNN's Patrick Snell has that and more in our minute in sports.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Rosemary, thanks so much. We start right here in the U.S. where Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani has made history again while becoming the first player selected as an All-Star is both a position player and a pitcher. Great way to celebrate his 27th birthday. Today on Sunday giving a solo home run for his team the LA Angels in their 6-5 win over Baltimore.


The 31st homer of the year for Ohtani who's now tied the record for homers in a season by a Japanese born player, joining the legendary Hideki Matsui. What a wonderful achievement.

Huge week ahead on the global football calendar with the semis of Euro 2020 taking center stage. We're also down to the last four at the Copa America, Brazil taking on Peru later tonight in the tournament's first semifinal, Argentina and Columbia on Tuesday.

At the Austin Grand Prix over the weekend Red Bull star Max Verstappen winning his third straight race to cement his place atop the drivers' standings. World champ Louis Hamilton having to settle for fourth.

And a busy Monday ahead in the round of 16 at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships where we now know they'll be at full crowd capacity from the quart finals onwards there at the All England Club. And with that, it's back to you, Rosemary.


CHURCH: Thank you so much, Patrick.

Well, fireworks lit up the night sky from coast to coast as the U.S. celebrated its 245th birthday on Sunday. And you are looking at a spectacular fourth of July fireworks display in the nation's capital as crowds once again gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

A similar scene played out in New York City as people marked Independence Day. And on the West Coast this fireworks show could be seen in San Francisco. This fourth of July tradition seemed almost unthinkable just months ago. This is the first celebration since the pandemic started that saw communities able to come together and commemorate the holiday. Fantastic.

Thank you so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Be sure to connect with me on Twitter @rosemaryCNN. "EARLY START" is up next. You're watching CNN. Have yourselves a wonderful day.