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CNN NEWSROOM

Less Than Half Of U.S. Vaccinated; Delta Variant Cases Spike In U.S.; Dutch Set Restrictions On Public Gathering Places; Branson Set For Historic Space Plane Flight; Haiti In Crisis; Euro 2020 Final; Argentina Win Copa America; The Big Lie Looms Over CPAC; Belgium To Return Art To DRC; Extreme Weather In Western U.S. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 11, 2021 - 03:00   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): As new cases of the Delta variant spike across the U.S., concern is growing about parts of the country where the vaccination rates are extremely low.

In just a few hours, the billionaire race to space blasts off, as Richard Branson prepares to fly on his space plane into suborbit, just days before Jeff Bezos takes flight.

And it's a historic win for one of soccer's top stars, as Lionel Messi leads his home country, Argentina, to the Copa America title.

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

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BRUNHUBER: The U.S. is experiencing a surge of new coronavirus cases and it's posing a danger to unvaccinated Americans. For the first time since May, the country has recorded 20,000 new cases for several days in a row. Health experts fear cases may keep trending higher because fewer than half of Americans are fully vaccinated.

The biggest clusters of unvaccinated people in the U.S. are in the Southeast and Midwest but not exclusively. Los Angeles County is reporting exponential growth in cases, jumping 165 percent over the past week.

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BRUNHUBER: Dr. Stephen Parodi joins me from San Francisco. He is the associate executive director with the Permanente Medical Group at Kaiser Permanente.

Thank you so much for joining us, Doctor. We're seeing the rise of the Delta variant, mostly in the South and places like Missouri, where the vaccination rate is extremely low, but also in California where it's now the dominant variant. Probably the best example is L.A. County. It's reported the highest

number of cases in months now. In fairness, it's still way lower than what we saw during the peak. But I guess it's the rate at which it's increasing that is worrying experts.

So the many hospitals that you help manage that treat millions of patients across the state, so you get a great overview of what's happening, what are you seeing?

DR. STEPHEN PARODI, ASSOCIATE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PERMANENTE MEDICAL GROUP: Well, you know, it's really clear that the Delta variant is much more transmissible than before. We were talking about it as an abstraction about a month ago. And now it's become the predominant strain in the United States.

And it's quickly going to be that in California as well. In California, I can say that because we've got higher vaccination rates. While we've seen increases in hospitalizations, we're at really 10 percent to 15 percent of where we were at the peak back in January.

That's different and in contrast to other parts of the country, where we're seeing, particularly in Missouri, as you called out, running out of hospital beds or running out of ventilators.

So the key message here, when it comes to the Delta variant, is that if you're unvaccinated, you're at high risk for getting infected and getting hospitalized and potentially dying from it.

If you're vaccinated, you are seeing lack of illness and lack of hospitalization; in fact, 99 percent of the hospitalizations that are occurring right now in our Kaiser Permanente system are in people that are unvaccinated.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, that's a very important point to make. And I think that 99 percent, we're seeing that practically across the country. But if it weren't enough, the Delta variant, now there's in California the Epsilon strain to worry about, I understand, which seems to make the vaccines dramatically less effective.

So as an infectious disease specialist yourself, what can you tell us about that?

PARODI: Well, you know, so this virus is doing what viruses do. If they're allowed to circulate around, they form new mutations. So the Epsilon variant is yet another version of that.

Fortunately, even with the early studies -- and we know that the Epsilon variant has been around in California since May, it has not become the predominant strain. And neutralizing antibodies are still made, even with the vaccines.

So my key message here is that the way to get this under control is to get vaccinated. And even if there are fewer antibodies made, you still have protection with the currently available vaccines that we have.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, I mean, getting vaccinated is the key. There have been sort of different ways to sort of reach those people who haven't been vaccinated, some say going door to door to encourage people to get vaccinated.

[03:05:00]

BRUNHUBER: Other people are suggesting that getting the vaccines fully approved by the FDA would help.

What do you think would make the most difference?

PARODI: I think what I've been finding is that it's literally making those personal connections. At this point, everyone's heard the messaging. And it's really reaching people where they are.

So it's either getting the vaccine into the community directly, where people have transportation issues still and/or the ability to access health care. But more importantly, when it comes to the hesitant population, it's actually listening to their stories and understanding where they're at.

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BRUNHUBER: But before we go --

PARODI: -- connection.

BRUNHUBER: -- before we go, I don't have much time but I did want to get your input on this, because this has been a big story this week, the confusion over the boosters. We heard Pfizer's CEO announce its vaccine loses efficacy over time, so we'll definitely need the booster.

CDC and FDA came out quickly and said, no need for a booster. So there has been a lot of confusion created in the public, already confused about mixed messages over COVID.

So what's your -- do you have any fears here that this might sort of undermine public confidence in the shots?

PARODI: My take on this is that the boosters are something that is really going to be something we're using later on and when there is a true vaccine variant that escapes. Right now, we've got vaccines that are effective.

The durability of the vaccinations are up to a year and perhaps even longer. So right now, our focus needs to be on getting people who haven't gotten vaccinated vaccinated.

And when we get that emergency use authorization for those children, the six-month-old to 11-year-olds, especially since they're going become to school, getting them vaccinated. That's really the order of the day.

BRUNHUBER: Absolutely. All right. That is all the time we have. I really appreciate having you on, Dr. Stephen Parodi, thank you so much for being with us. PARODI: Thank you so much.

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BRUNHUBER: Questions about the pandemic are looming large over U.S. schools as they prepare to reopen later this year. On Friday, the CDC released new guidelines, calling on schools to prioritize in-person learning.

While they're urging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated, the agency says decisions about a vaccine mandate should be left up to local officials. The president of New Hampshire's largest teachers' union says that's the right call.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A mandate I think -- and we believe -- is going just a little bit too far. New Hampshire right now has about 60 percent of its adult population vaccinated and about 65 percent have at least one dose.

If you put the vaccinations back with all the other mitigation procedures that we've been recommending and advocating for all along, hand washing, proper cleaning techniques, proper ventilation, mask wearing for those unvaccinated, at this point, we really don't feel that a mandate is actually in the best interest of New Hampshire educators or the parents right now for them to choose.

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BRUNHUBER: The agency is also encouraging schools to layer their safety precautions. That means social distancing and masks will likely still be a priority in many districts. Still, CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen says vaccines are the most effective way to make sure schools can reopen safely. Here she is.

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DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think, it's important for us to take a step back and talk about why it is that we get vaccinations in the first place because I think, somehow, there has been this understanding that vaccination is just about you.

And, yes, it's true; vaccination, of course, protects the individual very well against getting COVID-19 and getting severely ill.

But we also get vaccinated to protect people around us. So because we know that there is a risk of breakthrough infection, so even if you are vaccinated, you could still get infected. It is the safest thing that is there, is for everyone around you, even if you are vaccinated, to also be vaccinated as well.

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BRUNHUBER: Russia just reported an all-time high in deaths, 752 on Saturday. The number of infection-related deaths have been steadily climbing. The total stands at more than 42,000. Russia also reported more than 25,000 new cases.

The questions Europeans are having to deal with now are whether and how to reopen. COVID-19 cases are picking up again and the last thing the continent wants right now is another outbreak. Cyril Vanier is in London for us.

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CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A rise in coronavirus infections, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, is forcing European countries to face uncomfortable choices as they open up.

The Netherlands U-turned on Saturday, reimposing restrictions on nightclubs and restaurants, just two weeks after society mostly reopened. Clubs shut down again as the government found that nightlife was driving the infections.

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VANIER: And while the Dutch closed their nightclubs, the French just opened theirs on Friday. Virtually all restrictions have now been lifted in France. But the president is expected to address the nation on Monday. And with infections starting to creep back up, the French president is speculating that new measures could be on the table.

E.U. countries are racing to immunize their population; 44 percent of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated. And good news: the E.U. is no longer experiencing delivery shortfalls. The European Union has now supplied member states with enough doses to fully immunize 70 percent of the adult population.

So now it's all about getting shots into arms as fast as possible -- Cyril Vanier, CNN, London.

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BRUNHUBER: Richard Branson is getting good luck wishes from his rival ahead of his space flight in a few hours.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos posted this message on Instagram, wishing Branson and his team a safe and successful flight. Branson's mission starts in a bit more than five hours from now.

The billionaire will take off in a space plane built by his company, Virgin Galactic. If he is successful, Branson will beat Bezos, who plans to soar into space in his Blue Origin rocket by nine days. CNN's Rachel Crane talked to the soon to be space traveler about his out-of- this-world event and the risk involved.

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RACHEL CRANE, CNN BUSINESS INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The countdown is on. And in just hours, entrepreneur Richard Branson hopes to become the first person to ride a self-funded rocket into suborbital space.

RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, VIRGIN GROUP: Astronaut 001 Richard Branson.

CRANE (voice-over): A launch nearly two decades in the making.

CRANE: Tell me, how do you feel?

BRANSON: Well, I managed to avoid getting excited for 17 years since we started building spaceships and mother ships and spaceports and all these things. And I finally got the call from our chief engineer saying that every single box have been ticked on the safety aspect and that I was, would I like to go to space? And I hit the roof, I was so excited.

CRANE (voice-over): The Virgin Galactic rocket-powered space plane is set to take off tomorrow from New Mexico. The mother ship will release the spaceship at around 40,000 feet.

The rocket will ignite and take Branson, two pilots and three others on a 2,400-mile-per-hour ride more than 50 miles up to touch the inner edge of space, as defined by the U.S. military and NASA. The crew will experience a few minutes of weightlessness before gliding back to earth.

BRANSON: When you're up there, the spaceship will turn over under these enormous windows and it's going to be able to float around.

CRANE (voice-over): If successful, the space baron will edge out fellow billionaire and world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, who is set to ride his own company's rocket into space in the coming days.

The two men have jockeyed for the astronomical bragging rights that come with being first. Branson has insisted that there's no space race with Bezos and that the missions are different.

BRANSON: The kind of experience you're going to get with the two companies are almost as different as chalk and cheese. So we don't see ourselves as a direct competitor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two, one.

CRANE (voice-over): While Bezos' flight will be after Branson's, his rocket system, New Shepard, will go even higher, past the Karman line, which is the altitude internationally recognized to be the demarcation of space.

His company Blue Origin taking a shot at Branson's trip, tweeting their rocket was, quote, "designed to fly above the Karman line, so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name."

LEROY CHIAO, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: If you fly 50 miles or 62 miles, you're in space. You're not going to notice the difference between those 12 miles. Neither of these vehicles go into orbit, by the way. They touch space and then they come right back down.

CRANE: Both space companies have had successful suborbital test flights over the past decade. But with space travel comes inherent risk. In 2014, a co-pilot for Virgin Galactic was killed during a test flight of a previous model of their spacecraft.

MIKE MOSES, PRESIDENT, SPACE MISSIONS AND SAFETY, VIRGIN GALACTIC: I like to say you can do risky things safely if you know the risk you're taking, you know the controls you have in place and you verify that they are active and we do just that. I don't think the risk of this flight is high. It's not zero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two, one, zero and liftoff. The final liftoff of Atlantis.

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BRUNHUBER: Joining me now is David Livingston, the founder and host of "The Space Show," a radio internet broadcast, that focused on issues influencing the development of outer space commerce and space tourism. And he is also a guest lecturer on commercial space.

Thank you so much for joining us here. There is not much new here in terms of the flight's destination.

But in terms of the vehicle itself and the engineering, what makes this interesting to you?

DAVID LIVINGSTON, FOUNDER, "THE SPACE SHOW": Thanks for this opportunity, Kim.

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LIVINGSTON: It's interesting because this is privately funded. This is a private business. And it's commercial. It's designed to generate revenue, to fly multiple times, hopefully multiple times in one day, weather permitting.

And yes, the destination is straight up and then back down. But this is all commercially done. This is not government money, government technology, although it's built on what the government did in the past. And the people that are going up are private citizens, just ordinary people that want to fly to space.

So it's opening some new doors. It's beginning of what is potentially going to be a very big industry, hopefully, in the not too distant future, as prices come down, and it's been a long time coming. Branson's been working on this since the XPRIZE, almost 17 years ago.

BRUNHUBER: So one giant step for space tourism. I want to play something that Neil deGrasse Tyson, said speaking to our Jim Acosta.

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NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, ASTROPHYSICIST: Launching from New Mexico. Spaceport, OK? That word feels a little weird.

But does it -- is it any weirder than the first people who heard the word airport, OK?

Just think about that: spaceport, airport. So it could be as routine as what time does the train leave or what time does the plane leave?

What time does your rocket leave in the future?

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BRUNHUBER: He is talking about how this is helping to launch a whole new industry. I know you're a huge supporter of commercial space travel.

What are the advantages that space tourism and commercial space travel might bring?

LIVINGSTON: There -- it's opening doors to innovation and technology and to all sorts of different opportunities -- space manufacturing resource usage, things that can really make life different here on Earth and better for people, not just countries that have a spaceport located in it.

More (INAUDIBLE) more people to go to space, more opportunity we have for creative innovation, for success for problem solving, for things back here on Earth that were very limited when all we had were space shuttle flights and government astronaut flights.

BRUNHUBER: But then on the other hand, I want to share maybe a more cynical take from one of our writers, Zachary Wolf. He recently wrote that this competition doesn't have any of the patriotic energy of the space race that led to the moon landing.

He wrote, this year's race between the billionaires features none of that national pride or opposing ideas. It's tax-averse tycoons who want to sell high-priced tickets to rich people interested in experiencing weightlessness.

So I know you've said Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has single- handedly saved the space industry.

Isn't there a chance something is lost here when practically the whole industry is in the hands of the mega-rich and it isn't truly a national effort, as it was this the past?

LIVINGSTON: Well, I would absolutely disagree with all of that and, also, I think the comparisons are really erroneous. We went to the moon as a result of the Cold War.

Does your author of that statement want to have us relive the Cold War now, maybe with China?

Does he want us to do duck and cover drills again in school, like I had to do when I was an elementary school kid?

We're going to space now for what space can do for humanity. And the price -- the government can't do this. It is not possible for the government. It's not part of NASA's mission. But the private sector can do this. And it starts with the private

sector, where money, Elon Musk, Bezos, Branson and other people, they're kicking it off. It's not just about their being able to sell tickets and make money.

It's about the innovation that's going to come out of this, about being able to find new ways to do things.

This is all very different from government astronauts. We did have some great things on the shuttle that help medically and other things. But now we can do this with the private sector routinely. We're not limited to just maybe once every once in a while, for millions and millions of dollars. It's changing.

Is there national pride?

I think there should be. These billionaires, they've been created with the help of our governments and the opportunities that democracies afford to people.

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LIVINGSTON: I think to not have pride in it and for us to not have a little piece of what Branson and Bezos and Elon Musk are doing is unfortunate. I really think that this is even (INAUDIBLE) if not better because, darn it, we're not doing it because we're in a cold war and we're scared to death we're going to nuke each other off the planet.

That's not what this is all about.

BRUNHUBER: Well, listen, we'll have to leave there it. But it's very exciting. We will be following along later today. Thank you so much, David Livingston, really appreciate it.

LIVINGSTON: Thank you.

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BRUNHUBER: All right. Still ahead, Haiti is on edge with the motive and masterminds behind the president's assassination still unknown. We'll have the latest from the nation's capital coming up.

Plus, the Taliban's tightening grip on Afghanistan. The key highway the militants say they've cut off, we'll show you that ahead. Stay with us.

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BRUNHUBER: Haiti is diving deeper into political chaos and uncertainty as the motive and masterminds behind the assassination of president Jovenel Moise remains unknown. [03:25:00]

BRUNHUBER: A special unit of Colombian police are now in Haiti to help authorities with the investigation. At least 28 people are suspected in the killing, 26 are Colombian nationals. Meanwhile, confusion over who exactly is running the country has grown since Wednesday's assassination. CNN's Matt Rivers has more from the Haitian capital.

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MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the manhunt here in Haiti continues in earnest for the remaining suspects in the assassination of Haiti's president.

With Haitian authorities not really having updated their official numbers in a little while now; 20 suspects have been detained, three suspects have been killed officially and five remain on the loose at this time.

We know that there's 28 suspects in all, 26 of which are Colombian nationals, two of which are Haitian Americans. But that is about all the information that we really have from Haitian authorities that's very solid.

What we don't have is a motive.

Why did nearly 34 nationals come here to Haiti to kill this country's president, as Haitian authorities say they did?

Who financed them?

Who armed them?

How long had they been in this country before the assassination took place?

That's all answers that we don't have right now. And in the absence of official information, there is a lot of theories floating around the Haitian public about why and how this was allowed to take place.

Meanwhile, the political instability in this country continues in earnest. It was on Friday night that Haiti's senate elected the senate president to serve as the interim president of Haiti overall.

The swearing-in ceremony was supposed to take place, according to the senate, sometime during the day on Saturday. That didn't happen and it was in the evening on Saturday that the senate president tweeted out that the swearing-in ceremony had been postponed without really elaborating as to why that is.

It's also not clear that, had that happened, other political factions all around the country would have expressly recognized that fact. It just goes to show how unstable right now the political climate is here in Haiti.

This is a place that political unrest, it's not something that hasn't happened for a long time. There are a lot of protests over politics that happen in this country; some of them do turn violent. That hasn't happened yet. But we are going to watch and see how this plays out over the coming days and weeks -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

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BRUNHUBER: Aid groups are also sounding the alarm about escalating violence in Haiti. UNICEF estimates about one-third of Haitian children are in urgent need of emergency aid, including medicine, food and clean water.

The agency says the rising violence is only compounding that crisis, in part by making it harder for aid groups to provide assistance. This all comes as COVID-19 is spiking in Haiti, one of the few countries that has yet to start vaccinating residents.

In Afghanistan, another link to the outside world may have fallen to the Taliban. The militants say they have cut off a key highway to Pakistan as they lay siege to Kandahar. Anna Coren reports.

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ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: The Taliban is continuing its offensive across Afghanistan, targeting strategic road and border links as embattled Afghan security forces desperately try to hold ground.

The militants claim to have cut the main highway between the southern city of Kandahar and the border with Pakistan, saying all army outposts in a nearby town have been overrun.

They also claim to have the city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, under siege. In recent days, the Taliban has taken control of one of the country's main trading gateways with Iran.

The dry port of Islam Qala is where millions of dollars worth of fuel and supplies cross every day. Customs officials, also confirming that militants took control of a border crossing with Turkmenistan.

The Afghan ministry of defense saying its forces had killed almost 200 Taliban fighters in 24 hours in operations across Afghanistan and will continue ground offensives and airstrikes to recapture lost territory.

As the fighting rages, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, is still campaigning for peace talks. He is traveling to Qatar, Pakistan and Uzbekistan to meet with regional stakeholders in an attempt to advance these stalled peace talks.

But many here in Afghanistan are convinced that the Taliban is not interested in peace or sharing power -- Anna Coren, CNN, Kabul.

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BRUNHUBER: Soccer passions are reaching a fever pitch ahead of the Euro 2020 finals. Still ahead, England and Italy go head to head in a clash of the Titans at Wembley.

Plus, Lionel Messi wins with Argentina. We'll have the thrilling results of Brazil against Argentina. Stay with us.

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

Well, there is no mistaking the expectations at 10 Downing Street as England prepares to face Italy in the Euro 2020 finals. Boris Johnson showed off the English flag on Saturday at his suitably decorated official residence.

He and Queen Elizabeth also sent letters of support to the squad. For England, it's not just because the title is on the line. Don Riddell reports.

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DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The tournament, delayed by one year, then played by 24 teams across 11 different countries, will finally be settled on Sunday night when England play Italy at Wembley Stadium in London. These are two countries, both craving success after the emotional pain of COVID-19 and the lockdown.

And, on the field, both teams will have something to prove. Italy are no strangers to success. This will be a 10th major final for the team that won this title back in 1968 and who won the World Cup no less than four times.

However, by their own standards, Italy have kind of been in the wilderness. They failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup but have not lost a game in the three years since.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We need both attributes tomorrow. You can't survive a final at Wembley, against England, without a warm heart. And you can't do it without cool heads.

There will come times when we will need to be more daring, when we need to go for it. And there will also be times when we need to be cooler and try and keep the situation under control.

[03:35:00]

RIDDELL: England have ridden a wave of euphoria to the final, playing five of their six game so far in London, reaching their first major final since 1966. That was the year they won the World Cup, their only trophy to date. And their fans are dreaming of lifting another trophy some 55 years later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What has come before is not unimportant, because we recognize the contribution others have made and we are respectful of that. But the near misses and the tournaments that haven't gone so well weren't important for this team.

And over the last four years, they have knocked down so many barriers and they have come through so many different challenges, different ways to win matches, had to come back from being behind, had to go through extra time, had to go through penalty shootouts.

So their resilience and experiences as a team have really prepared them well for this moment.

RIDDELL: While Italy has consistently excelled over the years, England has really struggled. A series of tournament blowouts or heartbreaking near misses have become so infamous, so painful, that the misery and yearning for success, are almost now part of the national psyche.

RIDDELL (voice-over): All of that heartbreak, captured in a song in 1996, "Three Lions," and the fans have been singing it throughout the tournament. They will be singing the chorus, "It's coming home again," at Wembley on Sunday.

Is the trophy coming home?

Or is it going to roam?

We will soon see. Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: All right.

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BRUNHUBER: Argentina is celebrating a big win in the Copa America championship.

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BRUNHUBER: They beat their bitter rivals Brazil 1-0 on Saturday at Rio de Janeiro. This is the first major title that superstar Lionel Messi has won as a member of his national team. Everson Souza of CNN Brasil has more.

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EVERTON SOUZA, CNN BRASIL CORRESPONDENT: It's being 29 days since the kickoff of Copa America. Despite all the doubts and questions about Brazil's ability to host the tournament, it happened successfully.

The final at Maracana stadium took place with few supporters, only 10 percent of Maracana's capacity; 7,000 spectators were allowed by Rio de Janeiro officials to watch. The first title incurred by Lionel Messi with Argentina. The supporters invited by Conmebol maintained a safe distance from

each other. Brazil accepted hosting Copa America after the refusal of Colombia and Argentina. A last-minute decision, taking only 12 days before the competition is started.

The tournament was joined by 10 South American nations during an ongoing COVID-19 crisis in Brazil. During the tournament, more than 28,000 COVID tests were made and 179 people tested positive for COVID. It represents less than 1 percent. All samples were brought to be analyzed at lab. Until now, no results were released -- Everton Souza, CNN, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: Australia's Ashleigh Barty won her first Wimbledon title on Saturday, the World number 1 defeating Karolina Pliskova in three sets. She is the first Australian woman to win a Wimbledon singles title in more than 40 years.

In several hours the men's final gets underway when Novak Djokovic takes on Italy's Matteo Berrettini. If Djokovic wins, it will be his 20th Grand Slam title and that will tie him for the most all time with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The biggest yearly gathering for U.S. conservatives is underway and the star attraction is shaping up to be former president Trump and, of course, what's known as the Big Lie. We'll take a closer look coming up. Stay with us.

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BRUNHUBER: The rallying cry of those who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th was "Trump won." He didn't, obviously, but it's being heard again this weekend at the conservative political action conference or CPAC.

It's the biggest gathering of the year for American conservatives. Here is CNN's Donie O'Sullivan reporting from the convention.

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DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: Pretty much everybody we have spoken to here, this weekend, at the conservative CPAC convention in Dallas, Texas. They don't believe that Trump actually lost the election. Everybody, apart from this one man, have a listen.

O'SULLIVAN: So, you are, you know, one of the very few people I am likely to meet here this weekend who will tell me that Biden won the election fairly. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's unfortunate. I got to have the evidence. I got to see it. If you tell me you're going to release the Kraken, show me the freaking Kraken for crying out loud. And don't tell me go to Mr. Pillowman's website to get the information.

O'SULLIVAN: Do you guys think the election was fair?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

O'SULLIVAN: No?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They tried to tell us the Tarrant County election we went blue for the first time since 1962.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not called an insurrection to me. What about it was an insurrection?

O'SULLIVAN: They stormed the Capitol?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who? Who's they?

O'SULLIVAN: The Trump supporters, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bullshit. I mean, I'm sorry. Bullshit. You don't know who those people were?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, some Trump supporters were invited in and there's video and there's audio that they said come on.

O'SULLIVAN: Many people we have spoken to are in denial about the election, denial about what happened at the January 6th insurrection. And there is now also some concern about this conspiracy theory that Trump could, in some way, be reinstated as president in this -- in the next few weeks or next few months and how that could lead to further violence.

Trump is due to speak here, later this weekend. And a lot of his base, a lot of his supporters, are going to be listening to see if he mentions or hints at this false conspiracy theory, that he might be able to be put back into office before 2024 -- at CPAC, in Dallas, Donie O'Sullivan, CNN.

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BRUNHUBER: A symbol at the heart of white supremacist violence has been taken down in Charlottesville, Virginia. On Saturday, statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were trucked away and banished to storage. The city has been trying to take them down for years but efforts to do so have been tied up in courts.

It was almost four years ago that white nationalists commandeered the debate over Lee's statue's removal. Their "Unite the Right" rally turned deadly and violent. A white supremacist killed one counterprotester and hurt 19 others when he drove a car into a crowd.

Belgian officials made a blunt acknowledgment, saying it doesn't belong to us. And they'll begin returning art looted during the colonial era to the Democratic Republic of Congo. But it won't happen right away, as CNN's Eleni Giokos reports.

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ELENI GIOKOS, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Over many decades of colonial rule, Belgian and other European explorers and soldiers stole artwork from what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Thousands of wooden statues, ivory masks, musical instruments and other artifacts, taken by force and eventually displayed in the Africa Museum near Brussels. Now Belgium says it will return the stolen art.

THOMAS DERMINE (PH), BELGIAN SECRETARY OF STATE FOR SCIENTIFIC POLICY (through translator): The approach is very simple. Everything that was acquired through illegitimate means, through theft, through violence, through pillaging, must be given back. It doesn't belong to us.

GIOKOS (voice-over): Belgium will transfer legal ownership of the artifacts to the DRC but it will not immediately ship the art itself to the country unless the work is specifically requested by DRC authorities. That way, the museum can keep the works on display and pay a loan fee to the DRC.

GUIDO GRYSEELS, DIRECTOR, AFRICA MUSEUM: I have no problem whatsoever to transfer the ownership to the Congolese, where it rightly belongs. It's a moral question. And then negotiate, A, we would like to use it in an exhibition.

Under what conditions can you help?

Will we pay you a loan fee?

Will you leave it here for the time being?

Or what is the condition?

[03:50:00]

GIOKOS (voice-over): The museum will also spend time determining if it is not clear which items were stolen and which were obtained legally.

GRYSEELS: I guess that in five years with a lot of resources we can do a lot. But it could also be a work for the next 10 to 20 years to basically be absolutely sure of all the objects that we have, that we know the precise circumstances by which it was acquired.

GIOKOS (voice-over): At the opening of the DRC's national museum in 2019, president Felix Tshisekedi called for Congolese artifacts to be gradually returned in an organized way. Now that work appears to be underway -- Eleni Giokos, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BRUNHUBER: And CNN NEWSROOM will be right back.

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BRUNHUBER: Death Valley, California, is reaching abnormally high temperatures. It hit 130 degrees on Friday, the hottest so far this year, inching closest to the all-time record of 134 degrees. High temperatures are forecast for cities throughout the weekend as another record-breaking heat wave sweeps across the western U.S.

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BRUNHUBER: And I'm Kim Brunhuber and I'll be back in just a moment with more CNN NEWSROOM. Please do stay with us.