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South Africa Unrest: 70+ Killed During Protests After Ex-Leader Zuma Jailed; Activists: 100+ Arrested or Missing in Cuba After Protests; U.S. Citizen Accused of Orchestrating Attack on Haitian President; Extreme Heat Fuels Devastating Fires in U.S. and Canada; Sydney Region Extends Lockdown Until July 30; E.U. Commission: Over 50 percent of all E.U. Adults Fully Vaccinated; Protest over Beirut Port Blast Turns Violent; Biden Strongly Condemns Restrictive New Voting Laws; Support for Games Lacking in Many Countries. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 14, 2021 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause.

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM:

If the coronavirus was lightning, now comes the thunder of social unrest. Anger over vaccine inequality, growing economic hardship, and government incompetence and corruption fueling growing unrest throughout the world.

The carrots have not worked. Maybe it's time for the sticks. The debate over COVID vaccine mandates.

And with forecasts of a soaring summer temperatures and extremely dry conditions, many are fearing another record breaking wildfire season in the United States and Canada.


VAUSE: More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic and it seems many countries fear have given way to anger, with a number and intensity of violent protest growing by the day.

South Africa appears to be on the knife's edge after days of violence, leaving at least 72 people dead. Police have made more than 1,200 arrests.

The military has been deployed, but their impact has been minimal. Security forces are still struggling to contain the country's worst outbreak of violence in years.

The trigger for the unrest was the death of former South African President Jacob Zuma after he refused to appear before an anti- corruption commission. But authorities say there's early demonstrations have morphed into opportunistic lawlessness.

South Africa's police minister has warned looters in particular are under surveillance.


BHEKI CELE, SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE MINISTER: The current situation on the ground is under strong surveillance, and we will ensure that it does not deter it any further. We cannot allow anyone to make a mockery of our Democratic state. We have instructed law enforcement agencies to double their efforts to stop the violence and to increase deployment on the ground.


VAUSE: CNN's David McKenzie is in Johannesburg. He witnessed the violence and looting as it unfolded.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soldiers that brought out the armored personnel carrier here in Johannesburg to try and get some sense of order and they are standing here in a line, not too many of them, but they have rifles with live ammunition. There is a group, a large group of people on the other side.

Throughout today, throughout two provinces in South Africa, there have been running battles with the police if the police were even there at all.

Earlier this morning, we saw rampant looting at a mall in Soweto.

Later on, the police and military did arrest several people there. But the damage was already done.

There is a call for calm from political leaders in the country and the worst violence and looting that this country has seen in many decades, certainly since the beginning of democracy. And these have been the scenes all day. They haven't managed to stamp out the looting. I spoke to a shop owner about the losses he has suffered.

AMIR RAHMAN, SHOP OWNER: What I'm going to eat, what I'm going to do, we don't know, nothing. Really, we lost everything.

MCKENZIE: How do you feel?

RAHMAN: It's very painful and I don't know what I can say about that. This is not our fault. I don't know, if it had been the government, we don't know. But this is not our fault.

MCKENZIE: This might have started with politics, in the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma for contempt, but it has spiraled into something very different, very serious. And at this stage, it's unclear if the authorities can stamp it out.

David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Anti-government activists in Cuba say more than 100 people have been arrested or missing after Sunday's widespread protests. Cubans took to the streets in a rare show of defiance, frustrated by a growing economic crisis, lack of food, medicine, as well as sporadic electricity.

One person reportedly died Monday during clashes with police. Cuba's president called the protesters criminals and the government has cut Internet access to discourage any more demonstrations.

The U.S. has called on the Cuban government to show restraint.



NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We remain deeply concerned by the Cuban government's government, quote, call to combat, and by the images of violence we've seen over the last few days. We call for calm and we condemn any violence against those protesting peacefully. And we call on the Cuban government to release anyone detained for peaceful protest.


VAUSE: And the U.S. State Department is calling on Cuba to restore Internet access.

But this by restrictions on access to the web, videos of the protests and clashes with police is still appearing online.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann has more now reporting from Havana.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN HAVANA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Following what scale protests, the likes of which have never been seen before in Cuba, police on the island are cracking down. According to one activist group, more than 100 people have been arrested or are missing.

Cuba's president said the protesters were the violent ones, and the government security forces are not committing human rights abuses.

Where are the murdered Cubans? Where is the repression? Where are disappeared people in Cuba?

But outside this police station in Havana, a group of mostly women search for relatives who are now missing.

Three officers jumped on him. They threw him against the floor, Jaclyn (ph) says. They broke his jaw, hurt his wrist and I don't know where he is.

Despite the communist run governments attempt to blocking Internet and mobile service as a way to stop protesters from communicating, videos of protests and crackdowns continued to pop up across social media. Many shared by exiles and relatives in Florida, including Republican Senator Marco Rubio who tweeted out a Cuban blogger's live TV interview being interrupted by state security.

Security is outside my house, she says. I have to go.

CNN could not independently confirm the authenticity of these videos.

Many protesters said they were exhausted by Cuba's chronic shortages. The government blames the lack of food and medicine on U.S. trade sanctions. The Cuban exiles say its Cuba's own crushing restrictions on private industry that have destroyed the islands economy.

GLORIA ESTEFAN, SINGER: The embargo that needs to end is the embargo the Cuban government has on its people. They have the goods and they don't give it to them. It's a very difficult situation.

OPPMANN: Exiles in Miami are making their voices heard, many marching on a busy South Florida highway this afternoon. While others are hoping to take a flotilla of boats carrying humanitarian supplies to Cuba, an offer the Cuban government has already rejected, saying the aid is just a pretext to create more insurrection on the island.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


VAUSE: To Vermont now and Tom Bollyky, a senior fellow for global health, economics and development at the Council on Foreign Relations as well as founder and managing editor of the online magazine "Think Global Health".

Tom, welcome to the show.


VAUSE: OK. Well, the South African president has warned that the looting, the protests, the unrest will come with serious consequences. Here he is.


CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: We will soon be facing a huge risk of food insecurity and medication and security in a few weeks. Our vaccination program has been severely disrupted just as it is gaining more momentum.


VAUSE: So, that's one country after just a few days in nearly a violent protest. It's a similar story in many other places right now which is struggling economically. So, globally, what are you expecting in terms of social unrest? Are we at the beginning? Was the coronavirus a lightning strike and now, we're going to hear the thunder? BOLLYKY: We are, unfortunately. Over the last month, we've seen

significant protests in Haiti, in Cuba, Columbia, South Africa and these protests are related to the pandemic. They are starting to de stabilize some government. So, they've contributed to worsening outcomes, particularly with the spread of the delta variant.

Now, this builds on a history according to an analysis done in March, there had been 86 countries already that have had COVID-related protests in the past year. But the pattern we are seeing now is a little different. What we are seeing early in the pandemic where a lot of protests largely around measures taken to put a stop to the pandemic, anti lockdown protests notably.

What we are seeing is for health performance and limited access to vaccines, leading to an escalation of preexisting concerns about political corruption and poor economic conditions.


And that's going to increase as you see this variant spread worldwide.

VAUSE: You know, during a conference on Monday, the head of WHO said the one question he's repeatedly asked is when will the pandemic end? He blamed a lack of global leadership for prolonging the agony then added to this. Listen to it.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Sorry to say it but if solidarity is not working if there is one word that can explain it, I'm sorry to say this, but I think anybody can see that it's greed.


VAUSE: So, essentially, he's looking at a situation where there is a situation every country is out for themselves, because during previous outbreaks, the U.S. would take a global leadership role, coordinated response like Obama did during the Ebola outbreak. Trump thought it was better to take an America first approach, as many countries were happy to do the same. And a lot of countries have been happy to exploit this crisis for their own benefit.

So, you know, is it a case now, it's a simple to say, that the misery is being prolonged by greed, or incompetence, or is it a combination of both or something else entirely?

BOLLYKY: Yeah. So, I think there's no question that the world has been seized by about me-first-ism, I guess, nationalism. Countries concerned about their own situation over the global situation. And we are now seven months into this pandemic and we distributed or administered more than 3.5 billion vaccine doses globally, with just 10 countries represent 3 out of 4 of those doses. That's still the case. And, you know, sure, perhaps countries with access to vaccines may want to prioritize their populations early, but we're getting far along in this vaccine rollout. And we are not seeing the shift that many of us started to -- expected to see in the 2nd half of this year. It's still quite slow. That needs to change.

VAUSE: Yeah. And also, on the issue of greed, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a meeting of his conservative party back in March. The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed, my friends. It was giant corporations that wanted to give returns to shareholders.

The problem, though, is greed did not develop the vaccine in record time, it was because of a massive investment of public money which fast-tracked the process. But if you or the vaccine makers to stand to make a killing in both profits and in lives because they are refusing to allow the vaccine to be produced by a third party like AstraZeneca is doing. And not just vaccines, remdesivir is priced at $3,000 a patient. And, you know, what's interesting and shocking about this, this is typical for big pharma.

And, you know, right now, the vaccine inequality, the pharmaceuticals, the treatments, therapeutics, they are out of reach for most of the world.

BOLLYKY: Yeah, that is certainly true. Although I have to be honest with you the primary culprit are wealthy governments. At the end of the day a number of countries, mine, the United States and others, are sitting on significant surpluses of doses that they are still not sharing.

Vaccine donations alone with will not entirely solve the problem. It's not a long term solution. But it could make a meaningful difference when you're still not seeing those doses go worldwide. And that's because countries are still pondering whether they would need a boost later or still pondering, you know, when you will see a rollout extend to even younger populations.

Meanwhile, other countries haven't vaccinated or health workers that are having the kinds of situations that you brought me here to talk about which is Cuba, Haiti, collapsing economies and health systems. And that's just intolerable. What is going to put us at risk in this pandemic is -- are, you know, wealthy countries, failure to invest in vaccination abroad. That's going to put our success and vaccination at home at the greatest risk.

VAUSE: Tom, it's great to have you with us. We really appreciate that.

BOLLYKY: For sure.

VAUSE: Take care.

Well, the list of suspects linked to the brazen assassination of Haiti's president continues to grow longer. Haitian police are now looking for 10 individuals in connection to the attack. Officials have identified three of the new suspects that includes a former Haitian senator.

So far, 39 people have been tied to the murder of Jovenel Moise last Wednesday, including at least three U.S. citizens. And that list of Americans includes Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a man accused of orchestrating the assassination. Also, several other suspects reportedly have direct ties to U.S. law enforcement.

We have details now from CNN's Matt Rivers.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "This site has been sealed by the Port-au-Prince magistrate," reads the note on the door of the medical NGO, the compound where authorities say Christian Emmanuel Sanon, an American citizen, helped orchestrate the assassination of Haiti's President Jovenel Moise.


When police cars descended to arrest Sanon over the weekend, they found him at the house just across the street from the NGO, along with lots of ammunition, holsters and shooting targets. Authorities say he helped recruit and organize the 26 Colombians and two Americans they believe carried out the killing.

We've spoken to several neighbors now who were too nervous to go on camera with us but tell us that the amount of activity at this compound over the last month or two really started to increase. And interestingly, they say they saw men going from that compound to this one, which is where Sanon was arrested. They said all of the men were foreigners that were, quote, muscular like bodyguards, sometimes with camouflage pants.

There's no way to know for sure if those same men are among these suspects, suspects that Sanon is claiming to have never met. In police interviews, he is arguing he is innocent according to a source directly involved in the investigation.

CNN spoke to that source over the phone and agreed to conceal his identity.

Sanon said he doesn't know anything about the assassination, said our source. He said he's a pastor, his wife and children live abroad but he's been in the country for about a month. He says he didn't know the ammunition was in the house. This is what he said since the first day.

Sanon appears to split his time between South Florida and Haiti and has been involved for years in medical charity work. He's also been a longtime critic of the Haitian government saying this in a YouTube video from 2011.

CHRISTIAN EMMANUEL SANON, EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN PREACHER: Where is the leadership of Haiti? Nowhere to be found. You know why? Because they're corrupt.

RIVERS: Sanon, not the only American allegedly playing a key role in the assassination. Two more Americans scene here, James Solage and Joseph Vincent, have been detained in Haiti as suspects.

And CNN is also reporting that several other suspects in the assassination have direct ties to U.S. law enforcement as informants. The DEA has confirmed at least one of them worked for them in the past as an informant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: DEA operation, everybody back up! Stand down!

RIVERS: The night of the assassination, you can even hear a suspect shout he was working for the DEA, though U.S. officials have repeatedly said that was a lie.

And the U.S. doesn't just have connections to the crime, but to its aftermath. Haitians have been showing up at the U.S. Embassy in Port- au-Prince asking for visas. Some are desperate to leave an island where poverty, violence, and corruption are chronic. The assassination, just the final straw.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


VAUSE: Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, systemic corruption and mismanagement being blamed for a hospital fire in Iraq which has now claimed the lives of almost 100 people.

Plus, a heartbreak for residents of one small town in California struck by wildfires for the second time in just months. Why experts worry this year could see the worst fire season yet.



VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody.

Fighting between the Taliban and government forces is pushing Afghanistan to the brink of humanitarian crisis. The U.N. Refugee Agency reports years of fighting have forced 3.5 million people from their homes as the fighting picks up and the number of people displaced. More than 2 million Afghans have fled to Pakistan and Iran.

Civilian casualties are also up as well as reports of extortion by armed groups.


FARHAN HAQ, DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: The U.N. Refugee Agency said that the needs of those who have had to flee suddenly are acute. The UNCHR (ph) warns a failure to reach a peace agreement in Afghanistan and stem the current violence will lead to further displacement within the country as well as neighboring countries and beyond.


VAUSE: Senior Afghan leaders will travel to Qatar this week for peace talks with the Taliban.

And France's embassy in Kabul calling on the French to leave the country and (INAUDIBLE) to get them out.

An early investigation into a deadly hospital fire interact says sparks from faulty wiring triggered an oxygen tank to explode, killing at least 92 people and dozens more were hurt.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh walks us through exactly what happened.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Scores killed and injured in this devastating fire in the city of Nasiriyah south of Baghdad. Officials there expect the death toll to continue to rise as many of those who were injured are in critical condition. What we understand is there's fire broke out at Al-Hussein hospital in the city of Nasiriyah on late Monday night. This is a hospital that was really busy at the time.

Iraq is going through a third wave of the pandemic. This is -- they have been registering some of the highest number of confirmed cases on a daily basis. One would expect that the hospital is really busy at that time with COVID-19 patients and family members when this fire broke out.

Scenes of chaos and panic as people try to escape as flames engulfed this hospital.

The Iraqi prime minister has ordered an investigation into the fire to try and find out what happened. He promises the result of this investigation in a week.

But what we do understand from health officials in Nasiriyah, they believe that it was an oxygen tank that exploded and started this fire. According to the interior ministry, they say that the fire started at an isolation unit, pretty much a makeshift isolation center at the hospital made up of caravans that are made from highly flammable material, they say. Twenty caravans caught fire and that fire spread.

The Iraqi prime minister has suspended a number of local health officials and others. The director of the hospital as well pending this investigation. The Iraqi president and other officials blaming this fire, this incident on mismanagement, on corruption.

But Iraqis have heard this before. People are angry. They are fed up.

They are in a state of disbelief. They cannot believe that this is happening once again. A pretty much identical incident, a fire in Baghdad, less than three months ago, at a hospital also treating COVID-19 patients claimed more than 80 lives. People cannot understand how this was allowed to happen once again.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


VAUSE: Wildfires have struck a small California town for the second time in less than a year. On Saturday, Doyle is hit by the Beckwourth fire, the state's largest fire so far this year. About 700 people live in Doyle, many had to flee again, and that's because eight months ago, it was Laura 2 fire ripping through the town.

This wildfire season is on track to be among the worst ever across the Western United States and Canada, with countries reports scores of fires burning right now, many out of control.

Let's go to Tyler Mauldin with some more details on this.

And, you know, every year, it just gets worse and worse, and this year, the trend look like to continue.

TYLER MAULDIN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It does. At the moment, John, we have 67 active, large, uncontained wildfires across the U.S. And this is just on top of what we have already dealt with to date.

Today, we've had more than 33,000 wildfires, nearly 34,000 on average, we'd see about 30. So, we are already on track to see a record breaking season. And then, across Canada, we are seeing even more fires currently than what we are dealing with in the U.S. And today, we have seen more than 3,000 active wildfires pop-up across Canada.


And that is above average for them.

One of the reasons is the fuel. We've got a lot of fuel out there across the West Coast of the U.S. in Canada. Much of the region is in a drought. In fact, 94 percent of the western U.S. is in a drought.

We've also had record breaking heat, the U.S., West Coast saw more than 300 all-time record high temperatures from June 12th to July 10th. British Columbia also saw the same. In fact, we saw a national all-time temperature record of 49.5 degrees Celsius just last month.

So, all the ingredients are in place to have these wildfires. You've got the fuel. You've got the heat, and you've also got the wind adding to the fire, helping it breathe.

Now, temperatures aren't really going to go anywhere. We're going to deal with all-time record heat for the rest of July, but temperatures are going to continue to be above average for us, all the way up into British Columbia, northern British Columbia, too, and also near the Arctic Circle.

In terms of rainfall, you need 15 millimeters to help stop the spread of wildfires. Fifteen millimeters to completely extinguish a fire due to drought, and it is going to be slim pickings when it comes to rainfall. We'll see rain across the four corners, but nothing in the areas that really need it. And that's what the next five days, going into next week, much more of the same, below average precipitation chances, John.

And, John, and as you can see here, this is the smoke forecast. You don't need to live across the West Coast today with impact, because the smoke is being pushed east and leading to poor air quality.

VAUSE: Yeah, what happens in the West soon I guess makes its way East. Thanks, Tyler. Appreciate that.

MAULDIN: You got it.

VAUSE: Well, Australia's largest city will be on the lockdown longer than planned. Not clear when the stay-at-home order will actually ever end. We are live in Sydney with the latest.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Well, much of the pandemic, Australians have been for you to live relatively normal lives, able to leave their homes but not the country. A pandemic restriction which meant there was effectively no international travel to or from the country. That left the world's largest island isolated and spared the worst of the coronavirus, that is until now.

And the greatest Sydney area's lockdown has once again been extended and millions of people are now wondering when it will ever end. Stay- at-home orders were meant to expire last Friday.

So, let's get right now to CNN's Angus Watson live in Sydney.


And this is something the Australians haven't really seen before, these sort of long lockdowns. I mean Melbourne went through one but Sydney is now sort of in the grips of a very similar situation.

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: That's right, John. When this lockdown came about here in Sydney last month, Australia -- sorry, Sydney hadn't had a lock down for over a year. Sydney was one of the cities around the country that had done well in suppressing the virus and the numbers around Australia were stark, John.

Just three people have died of COVID-19 this year across the entire country. Two of those people now have come this week in the midst of this Delta outbreak here in Sydney that's kept Australia's largest city locked down. And it will be locked down now until at least the end of July, John.

New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian announcing this morning that that lockdown would have to go on n for another two weeks and likely longer still as the Delta variant moves through the community.

Now, one particular community here in Sydney is particularly affected, most of the 97 cases announced in Sydney today were in the Fairfield area of southwestern Sydney. People there given an extra element told to get tested every three days if they are an essential worker who needs to leave their neighborhood to get to work. Now, those people lined up this morning before dawn for hours in their cars. Queues stretching for miles around the block as people waited to get tested. And John, of course, as you know with these lockdowns, hearts and minds are a serious business for the government. It needs to bring people along with them if it's going to get numbers down, John.

VAUSE: They can also get these lockdowns and it's relatively quickly if they can get that vaccination rate up. But right now, what is it? Less than 10 percent. Why is it so low?

WATSON: John, Australia's population is dangerously under-vaccinated and critics of the government here are saying that they just didn't order enough vaccines. And when they did go to order it was too late there at the back of the queue behind other countries.

Now John, wealthy countries like Australia, you would expect to have done far more in vaccinating their population than just under 10 percent of people. But it was only November 2020 when the federal government ordered 10 million Pfizer shots just enough for about a fifth of the population here in Australia.

It wanted to rely on the AstraZeneca vaccine but that had hiccups as well with medical advice suggesting people here in Australia that only people over the age of 60 should get it. So critics of the government here in Australia are quite frankly, John, saying that it's bungled the vaccine rollout.

VAUSE: Yes. There is also that message at the beginning, it's a marathon not a sprint. I guess now it is a sprint.

Angus Watson in Sydney, thank you.

WATSON: Absolutely.

VAUSE: Well, as the highly contagious Delta variant drives up COVID cases in Europe, some countries are now mandating vaccines, mostly to health care workers but also leaving the door open to much wider mandates.

France and Greece both announced that nursing home employees will join health care workers for mandated vaccinations. In Greece, workers who refused to get vaccinated will be suspended.

Italy was the first to order vaccine mandates for health care workers. Noncompliance could see a yearlong suspension without pay.

And the German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the country is a long way from meeting its vaccine quota but she won't make the shot compulsory.

The E.U. Commission president says more than half of all adults in the E.U. are now fully vaccinated.

We have more details now from CNN's Melissa Bell in Paris.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Here in Europe, the race is on to get people vaccinated and to get beyond the wall of vaccine hesitancy that so many European countries are now coming up against.

This as the Delta variant continues to spread with 90 percent of new cases in the E.U. expected to be of the Delta variant by the end of August.

Greece has announced that health care workers will have to be vaccinated. Italy already has something similar.

The French president announced on Monday night that in France, health care workers would face mandatory vaccination henceforth. Also announcing a series of measures designed to get ordinary French people to go out and get vaccinated.

So for instance, access to restaurants, shows, theaters, cinemas, some trains will only be available to those who have their health vaccination passed. That is they're going to have to show either that they have been fully vaccinated or that they have a negative PCR test.

And here is the catch. PCR tests have been free in France thus far. The French president announced last night that from the autumn, you're going to have to pay for them.

And that appears really to have helped focus the minds. What we've seen overnight is the app here in France that allows you to book medical appointments overrun. In less than 24 hours, more than 1.3 million appointments were booked with 17,000 being booked every minute after the French president began to speak.


BELL: And this, the French authorities hope will help them avoid that ultimate threat that Emmanuel Macron made in his speech on Monday night that if all else failed, France would consider mandatory vaccination for all.

Melissa Bell, CNN -- Paris.


VAUSE: Sian Griffiths is an emeritus professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and shared Hong Kong's inquiry into the 2003 outbreak on SARS. She joins us now.

It's good to see you. It's been a long time. So welcome back.


VAUSE: In the U.S., giving away the lottery tickets, free childcare, even giving away beer has failed to convince enough people to get the jab so they could reach herd immunity.

But in France the president mentions the possibility of a vaccine mandate. More than one million people make an appointment in 24 hours. So has the time now come to put the carrots away, bring out the

sticks, and mandate a COVID vaccine?

GRIFFITHS: As Europe faces increasing Delta cases, it's obvious that the politics in Europe are allowing much more serious regulations than say perhaps in the U.K. where it would be very unusual if we were to mandate health care workers.

I think that the carrot is obviously a very preferable way to the stick. However you can see the result in France has been a rush to vaccine so it may be it is time now to turn towards the stick.

VAUSE: You know, in the United States it seems the anti-lockdown crowd have now joined with the anti-vaxxers and many turned up at the conservative political convention known as CPAC last weekend.

I want you to watch this. It's the big reason why despite having more than ample vaccine supply, the U.S. has still not reached herd immunity. Here we go. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know any people who got sick or died from the virus? --

ZACH BARRETT, CPAC ATTENDANT: I know three people who got it and died. But you know what? I know people who got cancer and died, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know three people who died from coronavirus and you won't get the vaccine?

BARRETT: No. Like I said I don't need the vaccine.

REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): Don't come knocking on my door with your Fauci ouchie (ph). You leave us the hell alone.

ALEX BERENSON, CPAC MODERATOR: The government was hoping that they could sort of sucker 90 percent of the population into getting vaccinated and it isn't happening. Right? There is younger people --


VAUSE: It is an incredible disinformation sort of campaign being waged out there about the vaccine and its effectiveness.

Here's the issue though. Does the vaccine mandate feed into the sort of unfounded and irrational paranoia. You know, they all say it is growing government control. Could this make a bad situation worse?

GRIFFITHS: It depends very much on your culture and your environment. And I think traditionally in France, there has been a feeling of not wishing to come forward for vaccination for whatever. You have people who are against vaccination, it takes persuasion.

It's very different if you look at the U.K. We have a very high vaccination rates. It's something that people will come forward for. There's been no mandating of vaccines in the U.K. for common (INAUDIBLE) diseases.

And so once the vaccine was available for COVID, I think people were very willing to come forward. So it depends on your culture, your country, and also how you can reach out to communities.

So in areas in the U.K. for example in the black ethnic minority committee in the U.K., there was a resistance against vaccination. And what we found works very well is local approaches.

The local public health authorities supported to reach out working with local faith communities, working with local leaders to answer the questions about vaccination and to show that if you are vaccinated you are protected.

The statistics say for itself, if you are -- if you are double vaccinated, you are 96 percent less likely to end up having severe disease and being hospitalized and therefore dying.

And so it's a very simple statistic, you can protect yourself. And if you do get COVID, you can also get long COVID and we are seeing those as more and more of a threat.

So I think you need to contextualize the debate. When I hear the clips you've played me, obviously, you know, the people who are out there demonstrating and commenting a very hard line. But we do need to sort of get underneath the tip of the hard-liners and make sure that the mass of people understand that vaccination is the way out of this -- the way out of this situation.

And it's effective against Delta because the Delta variant is spreading very quickly across Europe.

VAUSE: One other measure which seems to be growing in popularity in particular, France, a demand to show a vaccine passport or certificate at places where the public gathers -- restaurants, museums, anywhere like that.


VAUSE: This seems to be a backdoor way for mandated vaccines, if you like. But there was a survey, again in the United States, that had found 62 percent of respondents said that they somewhat or strongly- supported local state or federal government to require everyone to get a vaccine.

Just over 27 percent of respondents said they supported businesses using vaccine passports.

You know, for the sake of consistency, reliability, to avoid confusion and just to get the damn thing done, is a government mandate just a much more simple, much more effective approach?

GRIFFITHS: I think it sounds simple but I wonder how it could be implemented. Everyone having the vaccine passport, or a negative PCR, and proof of a negative PCR test -- that might be more easy to have a proof of a negative test. The mandating -- and trying to force the issue through mandation (ph) could cause reaction by the population and say actually I'm really not going to comply with this.

I think most people are coming around to the idea that there may be certain circumstances where vaccine should be mandated, for example for health care workers and care home workers. I think the attitude there may be very different.

I agree that if you are going into a business, if you mean by business whether it's a shop or a bar, it can be very confusing to have to just show your passport. And the passport can also be discriminatory because it maybe that you haven't been able to get you jab. There may not have been access.

For example the policy in the U.K. has been to only vaccinate -- or to start by prioritizing all the people. So the people who have only had one vaccine or who are not vaccinated tend to be younger.

Now with Delta, that's obviously a big risk because the Delta variant is spreading very quickly amongst younger people. And so now there's a big move to get people vaccinated.

But to say you can't go somewhere because you're not vaccinated, it's part of the -- you know, the reason you're not vaccinated is part of the system.

So I think you have to be careful when you apply these rules. I think if there is a strong feeling of anti-vax they're are not coming forward, mandation maybe more appropriate than in situations where it's been a matter of logistics and supply and demand.

VAUSE: Yes. Absolutely. Good point to finish on. Sian Griffiths, thanks so much for being with us.

Well, anger boiled over Tuesday on the streets of Lebanon's capital. Protesters gathered to demand answers about last year's deadly port explosion. But the demonstration took a violent turn amid frustration of the country's mounting problems.

CNN's Ben Wedeman reports now from Beirut.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Anger is seething in this country beset by multiple crises. A collapsing economy, mounting shortages of food and fuel as rage continues to boil over last August's Beirut port blast.

Relatives of those killed in that blast carried pictures of the victims and mock coffins to the home of Lebanon's caretaker interior minister. Protests soon turned to pandemonium Tuesday evening.

The protesters enraged that the minister, Mohamed Fahmi (ph) has ruled Lebanon's powerful intelligence chief won't have to answer questions about the blast, a massive explosion that killed more than 200 people. "It's almost a year since the blast," says protester Melissa Pavlala (ph), "Where is just our justice?"

The government promised swift justice at the time. That promise like so many others proved empty.

Lebanon once known as the Switzerland of the Middle East is falling apart. For almost two years the economy has been in free fall, made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

Marina (ph) picks up a bag of food, part of a local radio station's program to help the needy. Two years ago her monthly salary was worth more than $800. Now it amounts to less than $80.

"Things were all right before," says Marina, "you work, you got by. But now you can't afford anything."

At a gas station just up the street people line up for hours.

Beirut gets at best just a few hours of electricity a day.

(on camera): The United Nations reports that nearly 80 percent of families here don't have enough food to eat while the World Bank describes Lebanon's economic crisis as one of the worst the world has seen in the last 150 years.

(voice over): The bottom still nowhere in sight.

"You go to the pharmacy for baby formula for your kid, there is none," says Mustafa. "Aspirin? None."


WEDEMAN: Days ago the caretaker prime minister here warned that Lebanon is days away from a social explosion. He may be right.

Ben Wedeman, CNN -- Beirut.


VAUSE: Coming up, Joe Biden has a message for Republicans working to restrict voting rights. Have you no shame? But outrage is falling short for progressives within his own party.

More details on that coming up on CNN NEWSROOM.


VAUSE: The U.S. president has condemned a wave of new laws being rolled out in Republican-controlled states aimed at restricting access to voting.

Despite a speech filled with outrage, Joe Biden is getting a lukewarm response from progressives and civil rights leaders who say outrage just is not enough.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The big lie is just that, a big lie.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S. AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight President Biden confronting the 2020 election more forcefully than ever before. Calling the assault on voting rights "the most dangerous threat to democracy since the civil war".

BIDEN: In America if you lose, you accept the results. You follow the constitution. You try again. You don't call facts "fake". And then try to bring down the American experiment just because you are unhappy. That's not statesmanship.

That's not statesmanship. That is selfishness.

ZELENY: Speaking in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation's democracy, Biden did not mention his former rival by name as he warned of the dangerous fallout from former president, Donald Trump's false assertions about the election.

BIDEN: There's an unfolding assault taking place in America today, an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote in fair and free elections. An assault on democracy, an assault on liberty, an assault on who we are.

ZELENY: Since the November election, 17 states across the country have passed laws making it more difficult to vote. And in some cases, making election boards overseeing the vote-counting partisan roles.

BIDEN: It's no longer just about who gets to vote, it's about who gets to count the vote.

ZELENY: The president has been under growing pressure to do more to push back against the Republican-passed voting laws.

BIDEN: They want to make it so hard and inconvenient that they hope people don't vote at all. That's what this is about.

ZELENY: Yet, he stopped short of what many civil rights leaders and progressive activists have demanded -- pushing to abolish the filibuster, the senate rule requiring 60 votes to pass major legislation.

White House officials have noted the president cannot change the filibuster and said he would work with Senators to rally support to pass the federal voting rights bill.


BIDEN: We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the civil war. I'm not saying this to alarm you. I'm saying this because you should be alarmed.

The president described the rash of new state election laws as un- American, undemocratic, and more akin to an authoritarian regime.

BIDEN: I will be asking my Republican friends in Congress and states and cities and counties to stand up, for God's sake, and help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our election. and the sacred right to vote. Have you no shame?

ZELENY: Now voting rights activists and civil rights leaders praised the president for confronting the big lie head on in his most forceful speech yet that he's given in the eight months since the election.

But it's less clear how much political capital President Biden intends to put behind this, particularly on filibuster reform. That is something he did not mention in his speech on Tuesday.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN -- the White House.


VAUSE: Still to come, the International Olympic Committee might just be a lonely club of one. The only ones around the world excited by this year's summer games in Tokyo.


VAUSE: It seems holding the Olympics during a pandemic which has left millions dead is a real buzzkill. 28 countries surveyed in a recent poll, only 43 percent of respondents said the games should go ahead despite the pandemic. 57 percent said no.

Enthusiasm is highest in Turkey with 71 percent supporting the games. That's followed by Saudi Arabia and, yes, Russia.

Different story for the host nation, Japan right down the bottom with just 22 percent support. The only ones less enthusiastic than the Japanese are the South Koreans.

CNN's Blake Essig joins me now live from Tokyo and the games will soon go on, regardless.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, John, that seems to be the case with just nine days to go before the Olympics. There is no doubt that these games will go ahead.

In fact, IOC president, Thomas Bach said so yesterday during an online interview with local media outlet Kyoto News. Now, despite the reality that these games remain deeply unpopular, especially with Tokyo now under its fourth state of emergency order with cases surging in the capital, the ongoing health and safety concerns aren't just affecting the public. They are also weighing heavily on athletes, including Japan's fastest man.



ESSIG (voice over): Ryota Yamagata has himself a set of wheels. Not literally, of course but man, this guy can move.

As a kid, Yamagata was always fast. Choosing to race against machines with actual wheels, his motivation.

RYOTA YAMAGATA, JAPAN'S FASTEST MAN (through translator): Your body moves faster when you feel like you're being chased. So I trained by pretending to run away from cars.

ESSIG: It's a mentality he still carries today. One that's driven him to qualify for his third Olympics where he'll run in the 100 meters and men's 100-meter relay, be named captain of Japan's Olympic team and claim the title of Japan's fastest man.

YAMAGATA: It was a long road until I got my personal best and ran under 10 seconds.

ESSIG: A long road littered with injuries and a little bit of luck.


ESSIG: (on camera): In 2019, you suffered a collapsed lung and leg pain. Last year, it was your right knee. Had the Olympics not been delayed a year, it's possible you wouldn't have qualified?

YAMAGATA: I wanted to believe that I'd make it to the Olympics. But my body wasn't able to keep up with my mind. I did think back then that if the Olympics had been held that year, I probably wouldn't have qualified.

ESSIG (voice over): But Tokyo 2020 was postponed. And Yamagata made the most of it. He recovered from injury, made changes to his training routine, and is now peaking at just the right time.

(on camera): Will Yamagata remain focused? He says the controversy surrounding these games fueled by health and safety concerns has been tough to deal with.

YAMAGATA: This is a challenging time, and there's a part of me that feels the pressure. But I hope that doing our best at these Olympics is our way of helping the world become slightly brighter.

I think there is value in sports. And I'm trying to find a meaning in my running and stick to that.

ESSIG (voice over): New meaning and perhaps a new perspective after years of uncertainty.

YAMAGATA: It's been a really tough road getting to the Tokyo Olympics. And I overcame a lot of challenges, but I want to achieve my goals and give it my best shot.

ESSIG: That goal is to win gold and proudly represent Japan right here at home.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ESSIG: Although COVID-19 cases in the capital are surging, they've been increasing for 24 straight days compared to the previous week, Olympic organizers maintain that through a strict set of COVID-19 countermeasures, that they will be able to hold safe and secure Olympic games.

But for months, organizers have kept an upbeat tone in an effort to generate excitement. And cement a positive legacy for these games. But to this point, John, based on the continued lack of public support it's clear that that effort is failing.

VAUSE: Yes. It looks like these games will come with an asterisk.

Blake, thank you. Blake Essig there live in Tokyo.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us the news continues on CNN with me. Yes, another hour after the break.

I'll be back.



VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Another hour with me, John Vause.

And coming up, the worst violence South Africa has seen in years has left dozens dead, sparked concerns over food and medical supplies, and left authorities struggling to restore order.

The list of suspects grows in the assassination of Haiti's president.