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Looters Leaves Shops Empty in South Africa; Mayhem in Cuba Over Zuma's Arrest; People Killed by Fire in Iraq Climb to 92; South Korea Hit Highest Daily COVID Infections; Millions Rush to Register in France's Vaccination; Suspects to Moise's Killing Now Under Custody; France to Pull Out its Citizens from Afghanistan; Crisis In Lebanon, Food And Fuel Short Supply; Protest In Beirut Port Blast Turns Violent; Cubans Protest Lack Of Food, Medicine And Freedom; Riots In South Africa; Hungary's Top Diplomat Defends Controversial LGTBQ Law; Enthusiasm Lacking For Olympics; Japan's fastest man, Ryota Yamagata on CNN; IOC President Say Tokyo Best Ever Prepared City For Olympics; REVIL Group Disappears From Internet; Britney Spears' Conservatorship Case; Mural Of Rashford Restored; British Prime Minister Urges Social Media Giants To Tackle Racist Abuse; London Restaurants See Signs Of Revival. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 14, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead here on CNN Newsroom, the struggle to contain chaos South Africa as the country faces its worst violence in years.

Warnings of an unfolding humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, millions already displaced, and more now fleeing the Taliban.

Plus, how a crippling financial crisis is just one of the many challenges facing Lebanon.

We begin with the violence in South Africa, where at least 72 people are dead after days of protests and looting. Police have arrested more than 1,200 people, but they are struggling to contain the chaos, some of the worst the country has seen in years. Protests erupted after former South African President Jacob Zuma was jailed for refusing to appear before an anti-corruption commission. But authorities say it has devolved into opportunistic lawlessness.

CNN's David McKenzie has more from Johannesburg, where he witnessed the looting firsthand.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soldiers 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 do 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, they have been running vessels 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 this country in 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 had suffered. he has lost everything.

AMIR RAHMAN, SHOOP OWNER: What I am going to eat, what am I going to do, we don't know nothing. Really, we lose everything.

MCKENZIE: How do you feel about what's happening?

RAHMAN: It's very painful. And I don't what can I say about that? This is not our fault. I don't know what happened to the government, we don't know. But this is not our fault.

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

David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.


CHURCH (on camera): One person has reportedly died in Cuba during clashes with police. This comes after the country saw unprecedented protests on Sunday, as Cubans, frustrated by a growing economic crisis, took to the streets in a rare show of defiance.

Patrick Oppmann has the latest now from Havana.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Following wide 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 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," Jacqueline 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 continue to pop up across social media. Many are shared by exiles and relatives in Florida, including Republican Senator Marco Rubio who tweeted out the Cuban bloggers 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 the U.S. trade sanctions. But Cuban exiles say it's Cuba's own crushing restrictions on private industry that have destroyed the island's economy.

GLORIA ESTEFAN, SINGER: The embargo that needs to end is the embargo that 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 also 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 supplies to Cuba, and 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.


CHURCH (on camera): Authorities say a deadly hospital fire in southeastern Iraq appears to have started when sparks from faulty wiring caused an oxygen tank to explode. At least 92 people were killed. Dozens more were injured.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh walks us through what happened.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Scores killed and injured in this devastating fire in the city of Nasiriya 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 Nasiriya 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 Nasiriya, 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 hospitals, while 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.


CHURCH (on camera): South Korea has new restrictions after reporting its highest number of daily COVID infections. More than 1,600 cases were recorded for Tuesday, with new clusters around Seoul fueled by the Delta variant.

So, let's go live to Hong Kong where Kristie Lu Stout is standing by and watching what's happening in South Korea.

So, Kristie, the Delta variant driving these numbers up. Talk to us about how the country is dealing with this.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the South Korean president says that this moment is the country's worst crisis since the pandemic began. You know, in South Korea, the number of COVID-19 daily cases is hitting a new record as the country is struggling with the Delta variant, as well as the slow pace of vaccination.

On Wednesday, South Korea reported 1,615 new daily cases of the coronavirus. This is its highest daily caseload since the very beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. It also represents the 8th consecutive day South Korea has posted more than 1,000 new cases of the virus.


Now it's been a few days since that level four pandemic restriction was put into place in Seoul, in the greater Seoul area. That is the highest-level pandemic restrictions put in place on Monday to extend for about two weeks.

And under these pandemic curbs, a number of strict measures are in place. We'll bring up the graphic for you to understand what's been happening.

Under these level four measures in the greater Seoul metropolitan area, people are advised to stay at home. Nightclubs and bars are closed. Restaurants and cafes have limited seating. Only take out services are available after 10 p.m. Private gatherings of no more than two people after 6 p.m. No spectators are allowed to attend sports matches. Hotels can only operate at two-thirds of full capacity. Movies are not allowed after 10 p.m.

In addition to that, South Korea has also suspended baseball season for five days after a number of baseball players were confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus, and also, gyms in Seoul have been ordered to ban speedy treadmills, as well as fast workout songs. Any type of music that's faster than 120 beats per minute is not allowed to be played during group workouts.

According to the South Korean health ministry the thinking behind that is, quote, "because harsh breathing from intense activities can splatter a lot of saliva," unquote. I mean, it seems like a curious measure. The intention is to rein in the virus and also to target a specific demographic.

Because according to Korean disease control officials, they say that this spike of infection is being fueled by young, unvaccinated people. Earlier this week, the president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, he apologized for the situation that his country is in.

We'll bring up a translated version of the statement. Earlier this week he said this was the biggest crisis that South Korea is facing since the start of the pandemic. And also, quote, "the government will do its best to advance the vaccination period by utilizing the available vaccines as efficiently as possible. Once again, I feel very sorry for asking the people to endure and be more patient a little bit longer," unquote.

And Rosemary, out of a population of 52 million, only about 11.8 percent are fully inoculated. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Kristie Lu Stout joining us there from Hong Kong, many thanks.

Well, Sydney, Australia and the surrounding areas will be under lockdown longer than planned. Stay-at-home orders were supposed to end on Friday, but authorities have now extended them until July 30th. That's after New South Wales recorded almost 100 new COVID cases on Wednesday, less than 10 percent of the Australian population is fully vaccinated. That is according to Johns Hopkins University.

Well, if you live in France and want to enter a restaurant, bar, or go on a long train ride, well, you must prove you don't have COVID. That warning from the French president motivated some 1.7 million people to sign up for vaccinations which is a record. And that crashed the web site used for bookings.

Emmanuel Macron also suggested that if the infection rate gets worse, vaccinations could become mandatory. So, CNN's Melissa Bell joins us now live from Paris. Good to see you,


So, President Macron's announcement apparently gave the incentive that was needed to get the French people sign up for vaccinations or a large portion of them at least -- but there are the critics. So, what all has been said about this? What's the latest?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the announcements, Rosemary, do appear to have focused the minds. And I think it was a combination of things.

First of all, that from August, places like this, restaurants, cafe's bars, but also, movie theaters, anything where you might enjoy yourself, you are going to need -- you are going to have to show that COVID pass. That, plus the fact that in the COVID passage shows whether you've been vaccinated or not, or whether or not you have a negative PCR test.

Until now, PCR tests have been free in France. From this fall, you are going to have to pay for them. And I think that has got a lot of people thinking about whether it might be simpler just to be vaccinated in order to have access to have access to all of this.

And although restaurants will have a system in place from August, it's already begun. Today is the 14th of July. You might have noticed the cafe I'm in, it's a little quiet. It's a national holiday. And of course, the military parade is about to begin just behind us on the Champs Elysees.

And I'd like to show you what's happening just next to this cafe. You see the police truck this filtering system that they have at the entrance of the road at least the Champs Elysees, these people are being checked for their COVID pass in order to get access to the street, to the Champs Elysees from which they'll be able to watch that famous military parade.

So, already, those COVID passes are being used to gain access to events. And I think the idea that that's going to become even more the case in the coming weeks and months. The fact that you really not going to be able to have access to so much unless you have that COVID pass, unless you've been vaccinated or can show your PCR negative. I think that's really what's behind this sudden enthusiasm for getting vaccinated.

The problem for the French authorities is that they are really trying to overcome that wall of vaccine hesitancy, Rosemary. And for the time being, they are looking at the carrot. They're telling people, look, these are the kind of places you're going to be vaccinated to get into.


What he also announced though on Monday night, the French president, was that if all else failed they might have to consider resorting to mandatory vaccinations for all. But we are a long way from that, and for the time being, the system of carrots of incentives appears to be working, Rosemary.

CHURCH: It certainly does. And perhaps it offers a model for other nations across the globe. We shall see. You look very comfortable there, Melissa. We'll leave you. Melissa Bell joining us from a cafe in Paris. I love it.

So, coming up here on CNN Newsroom, as investigators work to unravel the plot behind the assassination of Haiti's president, we are learning new details about the alleged mastermind behind the attack.

Plus, Joe Biden makes the case against restrictive new voting laws here in the U.S. And Donald Trump stolen election lies that are fueling the movement. Back with all of that in just a moment.


CHURCH (on camera): Welcome back, everyone.

Well Joe Biden is defending American's right to vote in the face of restrictive new laws in more than a dozen Republican controlled states. His speech in Philadelphia Tuesday came amid pressure from progressives in his own party to speak out on voting rights. Although he didn't mention Donald Trump by name, he laid into his predecessor's big lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The assault on free and fair elections is just such a threat, literally. I've said it before. We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That's not hyperbole. Since the Civil War! The confederates back then never breached the capitol as insurrectionists did on January 6th.

I'm not saying this to alarm you. I'm saying this because you should be alarmed.

I'll be asking my Republicans in Congress, in states, in cities, and counties to stand up for God sake, and help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our elections.


BIDEN: And a sacred right to vote. Have you no shame?



CHURCH (on camera): Biden stopped short of calling for a change in Senate rules to abolish or reform the filibuster. A 60-vote threshold on most major legislation makes it almost impossible for Democrats to pass voting rights or other bills with a single vote Senate majority.

Well, the list of suspects linked to the brazen assassination of Haiti's president is growing longer. Police are now looking for 10 new individuals including a former Haitian senator.


So far, 39 people have been linked to the killing of Jovenel Moise last Wednesday including at least three U.S. citizens. Among them are Christian Emmanuel Sanon, the man accused of orchestrating the assassination.

CNN's Matt Rivers has more.


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 believed carried out the killing.

We've spoke 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 a man 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 is no way to know for sure if those same men are among the 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 says he is 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 2020.

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

RIVERS: Sanon is not the only American allegedly playing a key role in the assassination, two more Americans seen here, James Solages 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.

UNKNOWN: 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 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.


CHURCH (on camera): Now to the war in Afghanistan, and Reuters video of a Taliban attack on an Afghan Special Forces convoy in the city of Kandahar. The government troops were on their way to rescue a wounded police officer surrounded by insurgents. There are no reports of casualties among the commandoes and the police officer was eventually whisk to safety.

The Taliban have stepped up their offensive as U.S. and NATO troops are pulling out of the country. They claim to control 85 percent of Afghan territory. A figure the Afghan government disputes.

The fighting is taking a brutal toll on the country civilian population. And the United Nations is warning Afghanistan is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.

CNN's Anna Coren has more now from the capital city Kabul.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the security situation continues to deteriorate across Afghanistan, the French embassy here in Kabul is calling on all its citizens to leave the country. The French government is organizing a special flight on Saturday to take the entire French community back to France.

The embassy says anyone who is not on that flight they will not be able to ensure the safety of their departure. It comes as the Taliban is making sweeping gains across the country seizing more districts. There's intense fighting going on in Kandahar in the southern part of the country as militants try to claim that city.

The ministry of defense says the Afghan national security forces are launching operations across Afghanistan and it killed more than 300 more than Taliban in the last 24 hours. But it is the civilians who are paying the price. UNHCR says there is a looming humanitarian crisis on the way. More than 270,000 people have been displaced this year so far.


And CNN has learned that a high-level delegation from the Afghan government will be flying to Doha, Qatar to meet with the Taliban for peace talks. This will be the first time since September last year.

Anna Coren, CNN, Kabul.


CHURCH: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has secured a parliamentary vote to cut foreign aid despite a rebellion within his own conservative party. The controversial vote allows overseas funding to be slashed by about five and a half a billion dollars a year. The government says it will reverse the cuts when Britain is no longer borrowing to fund day-to-day needs.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It bears repeating that we are doing this in the midst of a terrible crisis. When our public finances are on the greatest strain than ever before in peacetime history. And every pound we spend in aid has to be borrowed. And in fact, represents not our money but money we are taking from future generations.


CHURCH (on camera): But criticism is pouring in. Former Prime Minister David Cameron called the decision a grave mistake, saying, quote, "during a time of huge global challenge we must not abandon the poorest in our world."

Well, violent scenes unfolding in Lebanon as protesters erupted rage and frustration under the weight of multiple devastating crises. That's next.

Plus, Hungary's foreign minister is standing by the country's new LGBTQ law. Why he says the controversial bill is necessary.


CHURCH (on camera): Welcome back, everyone. Well, anger boiled over Tuesday in the streets of Lebanon's capital. Protesters gather to demand answers about last year's deadly port explosion. But the demonstration took a violent turn amid frustrations over the multiple mounting crises in the country.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is in 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's port blast. Relatives of those killed in that blast carry pictures of the victims and mark coffins to the home of Lebanon's caretaker interior minister. Protests soon turned to pandemonium Tuesday evening.


The protesters enraged that the minister Mohamed Fahmy has ruled Lebanon's powerful intelligence chief won't have to answer questions about the blast.

A massive explosion had killed more than 200 people.

It's almost a year since the blast says protester, Melissa Fablolo (ph), where is 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 picks up a bag of food, part of a local radio stations 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, who worked and got by. But now, we 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.

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 that the world has seen in the last 150 years.

The bottom still nowhere in sight. You go to the pharmacy for baby formula for your kid, and there is none, says Mustafa, aspirin, none.

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.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): And for a closer look at the crisis, we are joined via skype by Lina Khatib, the head of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House. Thank you so much for joining us.


CHURCH: So, the situation in Lebanon was bad even before the pandemic. But now, the country is on the brink of collapse, dealing with shortages in food, medicine, fuel and power, soaring prices, and of course last year's Beirut blast. What's the major driving force behind all of these crises? And who is to blame? KHATIB: We have to go back to the political system in place in

Lebanon that has allowed all of these crises to happen. The political system is one that fosters corruption and lack of accountability on part of all the ruling class in Lebanon. They have been siphoning state resources. They have been controlling the banking system to benefit themselves.

And therefore, the state on Lebanese is practically bankrupt and unable to meet the basic needs of its citizens. That's why we are seeing all these shortages. And of course, the economic model that this ruling elites put in place for Lebanon gave the impression that there was prosperity and stability in the country economically.

But the reality has now been exposed to be completely the opposite. So, people also lost their savings and the money that they worked very hard for, leading them unable to afford even basic necessities, the few necessities that remain available. So really, it all goes back to corruption and political impunity.

CHURCH: Right. And as we heard in Ben's report, Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister warned that his country is just days away from what he calls social explosion. So what's he and his government doing about it? And what do they expect from the international community? Because presumably, they are relying on help there.

KHATIB: Wm this is the problem. You have a government that is trying to warn the international community that Lebanon is about to collapse. When it is the same government, and others in the ruling political parties in Lebanon that are responsible for the scenario that we are witnessing today.

They hope the government -- that the international community is going to turn a blind eye to their own transgressions and just send aid money to Lebanon, because they want their hands on this money. Unfortunately, this keeps happening. Aid comes to Lebanon and it's diverted from its intended recipients.

So they're hoping that when the international community said awhile back, that Lebanon can only get aid if it engages in reform, that if the international community sees the situation about to explode, then they are going to say, you know what, forget about the reforms. Let's just give you money, because we don't want Lebanon to collapse. So, that's what the political class is counting on, and of course it's a very dangerous gamble.


CHURCH: It is quite a gamble, isn't it? I mean, so what should the international community do about this?

KHATIB: I mean, already we are hearing reports that UNICEF for example, is starting to distribute cash to Lebanon, through money transfer bureaus and not thru the banks, because the banks have been taking a huge chunk of foreign aid that is sent to the country through the banking system. We are seeing some international NGOs bypassed the government altogether and send aid to people inside Lebanon through local NGOs.

So we are already seeing this kind of bypassing of government institutions as a way to guard against corrupt activity. So, the international community must continue to support the Lebanese people in this way, but at the same time should mount the pressure on the Lebanese political class, in order to make it very clear that the days of relying on the international community as a kind of patron for these leaders are over.

There has to be an insistence and concrete action with perhaps, some real punishment, you know, put on the table where these politicians not to comply. I think the international community bears a huge responsibility in what can happen next.

CHURCH: And we will watch to see what happens next. Lina Khatib, joining us there, many thanks. I appreciate it.

Well, many of the country is dealing with protests and violence right now share a common thread, government mismanagement of the COVID pandemic.

CNN's Nic Robertson explains.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From Cuba to Haiti, South Africa to Lebanon, tend to dry tensions are igniting, crippled economies burden by COVID-19 are partly to blame. In Cuba, angry citizens, incent by lack of food, medicine, and freedom, as well as spiraling coronavirus infections, are getting beaten back by police, the demanding the ouster President Miguel Diaz- Canel.

In a national broadcast, he blamed Cuba's economic woes on U.S. sanctions imposed under former President Donald Trump.

MIGUEL DIAZ-CANEL, CUBAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We explained to the Cuban people very clearly that we were about to enter a very rough period of time.

ROBERTSON: Reality is Cuba's weak economy and health care system is being brought to its knees by COVID-19. Infections soaring, only a little more than 16 percent of Cubans fully vaccinated. The United States is watching with concern.

ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: People are deeply tired of the repression that has gone on for far too long, tired of the mismanagement of the Cuban economy, tired of the lack of adequate food and of course, inadequate response to the COVID pandemic.

ROBERTSON: Haiti, also a concern for the U.S. The audacious assassination of President Jovenel Moise last week topped weeks of deadly street protests and fighting fueled by poverty and factional infighting. The impoverished Caribbean nation, which has been an economic basket case for decades, saw street violence ramp up in recent weeks, concurrent with a spike in COVID-19 cases in late June. In South Africa, where COVID-19 infections have been spiking, and

vaccination rates are low, the economic inequalities are high. The army has been brought in to quell deadly rioting, triggered by the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma on contempt of court charges.

And Lebanon too is hitting a crisis, exacerbating pre-existing tensions of poor COVID readiness. Protests and anger ever-present as rocketing inflation, rolling power outages, (inaudible) passions. The nation reeling from the economic impact of decades of Syrian civil war next door, compounded by years of political infighting. And to cap it all, a port blast last summer shredding much of central Beirut.

And Iraq this week became the latest country where tinder dried frustrations combusted as they touched the nation's war in COVID weary population. Oxygen tanks for treating COVID-19 patients at a hospital exploded, killing more than 90 people.

And within hours, nearby residents took to the streets demanding better from their government. Living with COVID-19 has become not just a way of life, but a salutary warning for leaders everywhere.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


CHURCH: Hungary's foreign minister is defending the country's controversial LGBTQ law. He told CNN that Hungarian children quote must be protected from any LGBTQi activists and NGOs in school. The bill bans teachers from sharing material the government sees as promoting homosexuality to students under 18. The law has sparked widespread protests in support of the LGBTQ community.

And criticism from E.U. officials, activists, and human rights organizations has been pouring in. The president of the European commission slammed the bill, saying it conflated homosexuality and pedophilia. But the foreign minister disagrees. This is what he told CNN earlier.


PETER SZIJJARTO, HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: It's fake news that pedophilia and homosexual people would be confused in our law. You will not find a sentence where these two phenomenon would be confused. One part of the law speaks about very, very serious consequences of pedophilia, and the other part of the law speaks about the protection of the children regarding the educational, their sexual orientation to totally different and isolate parts of the law. Nothing is being confused.

Me, as a father, as a parent, know my own child much better than any NGO or any other institution. That's why it's much better for my children that I conduct their education regarding sexual orientation, and not an NGO. Who does not know any single about my child and I don't know who they are finance by and was there aims and was their goal. Now the law does not prohibit of course education related to sexual

culture or sexual orientation or sexual development addressed to minors. But such kind of education must be conducted by authorized and professional staff. What we would like to avoid is, the LGBTIQ activists go to kindergarten or go to schools and try to promote any kind of behavior or orientation to our children.

It must be only the parents. That is our very firm and very strict opinion in this regard. And I don't think that on this basis, we should be considered as worse than any other country or any other legislators.


CHURCH: Still to come, Olympic organizers say the games must go on. But in countries around the world, it seems enthusiasm from fans just isn't there. We will take a look.



CHURCH: Excitement for the Tokyo Games is lacking in many countries. With the Olympics just over a week away. Across 28 countries surveyed in a recent poll only 43 percent of people say the games should go ahead despite the pandemic, 57 percent say no. Enthusiasm is highest in Turkey with 71 percent support for the games. Followed by Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Those in the host nation of Japan are among the least excited with just 22 percent support. Only South Korea has less enthusiasm. So CNN's Blake Essig joins me now from Tokyo. Good to see you, Blake. Not a lot of support around the globe for the Olympics. But the games will go one, of course. What is the latest on this and the preparations?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): You know, Rosemary, with just nine days ago before the Olympics athletes continue to arrive. The Olympic village is now open. And there's little doubt that these games will go ahead. In fact IOC President Thomas Bach said so yesterday during an online interview with local media outlet Kyodo News.

Despite the reality, these games still 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're 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. When it's driven to qualify for his third Olympics. Where he will run in the 100 meters in men's 100 meter relay. Being captain of Japan's Olympic team and claimed the title of Japan's fastest man.

YAMAGATA (through translator): 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. 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 (through translator): I wanted to believe that I would 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 would not have qualified.

ESSIG: 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. While Yamagata remains focused, he says the controversy surrounding these games fueled by health and safety concerns has been tough to deal with.

YAMAGATA (through translator): This is a challenging time and there's a part of me that feels the pressure. But I hope that doing our best at this Olympics is our way of helping the world become slightly brighter. I think there's value in sports. And I'm trying to find the meaning in my running and stick to that.

ESSIG: New meaning and perhaps a new perspective after years of uncertainty.

YAMAGATA (through translator): 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.


ESSIG (on camera): Although COVID-19 cases in the capital are surging, Olympic organizers maintain that through a strict set of COVID-19 countermeasures that they will be able to hold a safe and secure Olympic Games. 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, Rosemary, based on continued lack of public support, it is clear that that effort is failing.

CHURCH: Yes, it looks that way. Blake Essig, great report there, many thanks.

Well, a notorious group of hackers has mysteriously vanished from the internet. Cybersecurity experts tracking REVIL, short for Ransomware evil, say, its website went dark on Tuesday. Including a page that lists its victims. The Ransomware gang was behind the recent attacks on meat supplier JBS and a major I.T. Software vendor. It's believed REVIL operates in Eastern Europe or Russia.


Last month the U.S. president warned Russia's Vladimir Putin there would be consequences if Moscow failed to reign inside the criminals. Theories on REVIL sudden disappearance range from a coordinated government strikes to plan downtime.

Well, Britney Spears is expected to phone in for a court hearing, Wednesday as she fights to regain legal control of her finances. The popstar is requesting new council for her conservatorship case.

CNN's Chloe Melas has more now on where the legal battle stands right now.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: It's been three weeks since Britney Spears' bombshell testimony in which she said that she was forced to perform, take lithium and remain on birth control against her will. Now she faces Judge Brenda Penny at the Los Angeles County superior court once again to ask to retain an attorney of her choice.

For the last nearly 13 years Samuel D. Ingham has been her court appointed attorney. But he just recently put in his resignation. A source close to the case tells CNN that former federal prosecutor, Matthew Rosengart has been in talks with the singer to represent her. But when reached by CNN, Rosengart had no comment. There are some other things on the table. Including the resignation of best summer trust, which has been the co-conservator of Britney Spears' estimated $60 million dollar estate.

There's been other resignations including her longtime manager Larry Rudolph after over 20 years. Resigning just recently. But all we can do is sit back and wait to see. What is Brittney going to say next?


CHURCH: CNN's Chloe Melas reporting there. Well, restaurants across London are buzzing once again while the demand is there, stocks is not. Coming up, what's behind the worker shortage? We'll take a look.



UNKNOWN: Black lives matter.



CHURCH: A cheering crowd gathered in support of England forward Marcus Rashford after his mural was repaired on Tuesday. The original artist restored the mural after it was defaced with racist graffiti. Rashford was one of three players who suffered racist abuse after missing penalty kicks in England's lost to Italy at the Euro 2020 final.

The online abuse directed at the England players prompted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to sit down with social media giants as he urged them to take swift action to address racist abuse on their platforms. Twitter says they had a constructive conversation with Mr. Johnson over efforts to tackle the problem.

Just last month, a YouGov survey found 54 percent of fans in England said racism in football does exist and is a serious problem. That number down just slightly from March.

Well, restaurants across London are back in business after month's long closures due to coronavirus. But while the pandemic problems are starting to ease the industry is facing new challenges.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz explains.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER (voice over): Food not made at home or delivered in a box but chef developed, expertly prepared and beautifully plated is back.


After more than a year of closures and restrictions, London's restaurants are buzzing again. From his acclaimed restaurant NOPI, Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, told us it is about bringing people together.

CHEF YOTAM OTTOLENGHI, CHEF AND RESTAURATEUR: As someone who serves food for a living, I love doing it. It feels so terrible and unnatural.

ABDELAZIZ: The author of 11 cookbooks told us lockdowns forced him to change and innovate.

OTTOLENGHI: This is where all the magic happens. There is an immense flexibility and a hospitality industry. It's people who think on their feet, act on their feet. So, as an industry we move really quickly from serving people on the sides to deliveries and take out.

ABDELAZIZ: Head chef David Bravo said, he used his time at home to get creative.

UNKNOWN: Having all this time, I would just spend thinking on your dishes and new recipes. What we can do with leaves? What we can do with carrots using in a different forms?

ABDELAZIZ: But while people are eager to finally dine out the industry cannot find the human resources needed to serve them.

OTTOLENGHI: We are struggling to hire on all fronts. We pit an ad out for kitchen (inaudible) and we have very few candidates applying.

ABDELAZIZ: A third of venues reopened without adequate staffing according to one survey. Post Brexit immigration rules and the sense of instability makes recruitment and retention more difficult. General Manager (inaudible), told us many of his friends and colleagues have quit their jobs.

UNKNOWN: It feels very sad. A couple of times on the bus to work, I just have a little cry, because I think that we didn't have a chance to say goodbye. It was such a mass exodus that we never got the closure. And now we have to rebuild again.

ABDELAZIZ: Pre-COVID, an estimated half of hospitality workers were E.U. citizens. Over the last year, many have returned to Europe, government data shows. But while the industry struggles to find solutions, consumer demand is soaring.

OTTOLENGHI: The one thing I'm really confident in is that people will want to eat out, because it's one of the few joys, communal joys that we still have. And restaurants are the perfect place for that.

ABDELAZIZ: Hope that the revival of London's food scene will lead to renaissance and reunion.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


CHURCH: Also looking through there. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Be sure to connect with me on Twitter @RosemaryCNN. And I will be back with more news in just a moment. Do stick around.