Return to Transcripts main page


Sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson Left Off U.S. Olympic Roster; Afghans Who Helped U.S. Now Fear Taliban's Wrath; Denver Zoo Vaccinating Animals Against COVID-19. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 7, 2021 - 13:30   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: And the FAA is now looking into it.

Thank you, Pete Muntean, for that reporting.

We are just weeks away from the Tokyo Olympics so U.S. athletes are gearing up. But not this U.S. track star, one of the world's fastest women. More on the decision to leave her out, ahead.



CABRERA: Hopes and dreams of running in the Tokyo Olympics are over for one of the world's fastest women.

USA Track and Field chose not to include star sprinter, Sha'Carri Richardson, on the roster for the relay team following a one-month suspension for marijuana.

CNN's Coy Wire has more -- Coy?


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, Anna, sprint star, Sha'Carri Richardson's, dreams of the upcoming summer games have come to an end. USA Track and Field leaving her off of the women's relay team despite it being scheduled after her one-month suspension for marijuana use ends.

Richardson admitted taking marijuana after finding out about her biological mother's death.

The U.S. ATF saying that, while it has sympathy for Richardson, it also has responsibility to other athletes.

Richardson is taking it all in stride. She believes her misfortune has helped women's Track and Field, tweeting, quote, "The attention that is on Track and Field now and was because of very, very few names. So if that's where fans' support lay, you can't be mad at that," unquote.

Appearing on "NEW DAY" this morning, White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said the decision is, quote, "sad."


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We know the rules are where they are. Maybe we should take another look at them.

We certainly have to respect the role of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the U.S. Olympic Committee and the decisions they make.

But it is sad. And we do wish her luck and look forward to seeing her running as the fastest woman in the world for years to come.


CABRERA: Ana, Psaki adding also that Richardson is someone inspiring to both her and the president.


Back to you.

CABRERA: OK, Coy, thank you for that.

Man, her presence and her talent will be missed at the Olympics this year.

Another person close to Britney Spears is leaving her inner circle amid the high-profile fight over her conservatorship.

Her court-appointed lawyer, Sam Ingham, is resigning effective once new attorney is assigned.

This follows news that Spear's long-time manager, Larry Rudolph, is parting ways with the pop star. And he's been with her since the early '90s.

Spears continues to fight this conservatorship as her father still maintains control of her estimated $60 million estate.

Beheaded by the Taliban for helping to save American lives. Just one story of an Afghan translator. And others are worried they're next.



CABRERA: In Afghanistan, the U.S. withdrawal could mean a death sentence for Afghans who worked alongside Americans bridging cultural gaps and language barriers during the war.

Some 18,000 handlers, drivers, translators and others have applied now for special U.S. immigrant visas. But for many, it is a deadly race against time. CNN international correspondent, Anna Coren, has their story.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Standing in the Kursian Valley (ph) in Uruzgan Province, Abdul Rashid Shirzad had just completed another mission with SEAL Team 10.

The Afghan linguist working alongside America's military elite translating for U.S. Special Forces.

But according to Abdul, his five years of service has now amounted to a death sentence after the U.S. government rejected his special immigrant visa, making him a target for the Taliban.

ABDUL RASHID SHIRZAD, FORMER U.S. MILITARY INTERPRETER: If they catch me, they're going to kill me, they're going to kill my kids and they're going to kill my wife, too. It's payback time for them, you know.


COREN: The father of three says his contract with the U.S. military was terminated in 2014 after he failed a polygraph test.


COREN: But his letters of recommendation from SEAL commanders reflect a translator who went above and beyond duty.

Describing him as a "valuable and necessary asset who braved enemy fire and undoubtedly saved the lives of American and Afghans alike."

SHIRZAD: This is Eli (ph). He was one of our team members.

COREN (on camera): These guys were your American brothers?

SHIRZAD: American brothers, yes.

COREN (voice-over): Abdul says he has no idea what he did wrong and never received an explanation.

His visa rejection letter from the U.S. embassy stated, "lack of faithful and valuable service."

SHIRZAD: If we have peace in Afghanistan, if I had not served the U.S. military, if the Taliban were not after me, I would never leave my country.

COREN: Around 18,000 Afghans who worked for the U.S. military have applied for special immigration visas. But CNN has learned only half are expected to be granted.

The Biden administration is in talks with a number of countries to act as a safe haven while the visas are processed, a clear sign the government is well aware of the looming threat posed by the Taliban. But for Afghans, who have been rejected, the danger is just as real.


COREN: Sahal Pad (ph), as seen here dancing, worked for 16 months as a translator for the U.S. Army before he too failed a polygraph test and was terminated in 2012.

ABDULHAQ AYOUBI, FORMER U.S. MILITARY INTERPRETER: They were telling him that you are a spy for the Americans, you are the eyes of the Americans, and you are infidel, and we will kill you and your family.


COREN: Thirty-two-year-old Sahal (ph) confided in his best friend and fellow translator, Abdulhaq.

Both had joined the Afghans Left Behind Association hoping to raise awareness for their cases.

But on the morning of May 12 this year, Sahal (ph) left Abdulhaq a voice message -


COREN: -- saying he was driving from Kabul to Khost Province to pick up his sister for Eid celebrations.

On the way, the Taliban had set up a checkpoint. Sahal (ph) sped through but villagers told the Red Crescent the Taliban shot his car before it swerved and stopped.

The militants then dragged Sahal (ph) out of the car and beheaded him.


COREN: Sahal's (ph) brother takes us to his grave on the side of a barren hill. Earth and stones a reminder of a life violently taken in a country that has been left to fight this war on its own.

COREN (on camera): There are hundreds of other Afghan translators who were terminated from their contracts for what they say was unjust cause.

And while the U.S. government says it won't be reviewing those cases, they fear that if they stay in Afghanistan their fate will be the same as Sahal's (ph).

AYOUBI: We kindly request that President Biden to save us. We help you and you -- you have to help us.

COREN (voice-over): A desperate plea from a group of Afghans who once believed America would never desert them.


CABRERA: Our thanks to Anna Coren for that reporting.

More on the pandemic now. And the push to vaccinate doesn't stop with humans. Now some zoos are taking action to protect their animals.



CABRERA: Vaccinating animals against COVID, is it necessary? At least two zoos across the country say yes. And shots are going into furry arms and legs now.

The Oakland Zoo is one of those places. Already, vaccinated tigers, bears and ferrets. Now the Denver Zoo is following suit hoping to vaccinate 100 animals by summer's end.

With us now is Ron MaGill, zoo communications director for Zoo Miami.

Ron, I know Zoo Miami hasn't taken this step. Do you think this is a good idea?

RON MAGILL, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, ZOO MIAMI: I think it may be inevitable, yes. This is in the experimental stages right now, just like when they were first experimenting with vaccines with people.

It's a different type of vaccine. These zoos are experimenting with it and other zoos are paying close attention, including us.

Normally, this would become a normal part of the medicine program.

CABRERA: Like you mentioned, it's the first step testing these vaccines with animals.

In Denver and Oakland they're not vaccinating all animals. So how do you choose which ones? Are some more vulnerable than others?

MAGILL: Yes, we found in zoo animals that felines, tigers, lions, the otters, the minks, they have all been noted to contract the virus.

So those are the ones we're initially protecting to see if the vaccine will work in those animals.

It's important to note that none of these zoo animals have died or experienced serious complications from contracting the virus.

There have been minks that have died on mink farms but the zoo animals, as far as there have been lions, tigers and gorillas that tested positive with COVID, with very minor symptoms and have made full recoveries.

CABRERA: So what has been the impact of the virus on these animals? How does it affect animals as far as we know?

MAGILL: We really don't know the death of it yet but we know they exhibit signs like a dry cough, fever, many of the signs of the weaker symptoms you've seen in humans. It doesn't seem to progress more in the zoo animals. That's not to say

it couldn't. We've also seen it in domestic dogs and cats.

Other than minks we haven't seen any animals succumb to the virus. So there may be some resistance there.

Having said that, it's still important to have the vaccine. I mean, we have a vaccination for distemper and rabies.

So vaccination programs are very important parts of preventive medicine.

CABRERA: Do you know how a COVID vaccine of an animal from differ from those we get for humans?

MAGILL: I'm not sure. I mean, I know it's a different vaccine. The company is providing them free of charge to these institutions.

I know there's several zoo's waiting list to receive them. I don't know the exact things about them, though.

CABRERA: At what point would you say all zoos should be doing this. Are there any risks?

MAGILL: You know, there's always a risk with any vaccine, just a risk with the rabies and distemper vaccines.

I think the fact is, once this is proven to be relatively safe, like the other vaccines, it should be common protocol for all zoos because this virus has become part of our environment, part of our life, our culture.

And we owe it to these animals under our care to give them the best protection possible.

CABRERA: Ron MaGill, it's good to have you here. I really appreciate your time. Thank you.

MAGILL: My pleasure.

CABRERA: Before we go, a diamond anniversary. Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn, are celebrating 75 years of marriage today.

The couple, whose lives together have now spanned decades of service helping others, officially tied the knot on July 7th, 1946.


And Mr. Carter called marrying Rosalyn the, quote, "pinnacle of his life."

They plan to celebrate this incredible milestone with a big party in their hometown of Plains, Georgia.

Talk about a love story. Thank you all for being with us today. I'll see you back here tomorrow

at 1:00 Eastern. In the meantime, please follow me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera.

The news continues next with Alisyn and Victor.

Have a great day.