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CNN NEWSROOM

Six-Year-Old Girl Killed in a Drive-By Shooting; acting U.S. Ambassador Calls for Investigation Into Taliban Murder of 22 Surrendering Afghan Commandos; Haitian First Lady Returns Home Ahead of Husband's Funeral; 80 Wildfires Burning across Several U.S. States; Brazilian Amazon Tribe under Threat from Illegal Minors; Spy Campaign Reportedly Targeted Journalists, Activists; Collin Morikawa Wins the Open Championship. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 19, 2021 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:30:00]

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Investigators over the weekend identified this little girl as Nya Courtney, an innocent bystander at an intersection when gunshots were fired from a car that drove by. That vehicle actually seen in surveillance video that was released by investigators over the weekend. And in it, you see that car cross that intersection and, at one point, an occupant there opening fire. D.C.'s police chief said the officers were nearby and responded, they desperately tried to save the little girl. Even put her in a patrol car and rushed her to the hospital where she later died.

Five other people, all adults, were injured, as well. D.C.'s police chief very frustrated here. He says that he's sick but he's also tired of being sick and tired when more and more of these cases happening not just in his community but throughout over parts of the country. Including in Chicago which saw another violent weekend as well.

Just look at the numbers along. Police there are investigating 30 dozen shootings between Friday evening and Sunday morning resulting in 48 injured, five of them fatally, one of the shootings was outside a party in which four teenage girls and a 12-year-old were injured there.

And then also a double shooting in west Philadelphia a 1-year-old boy in stable condition after being shot in the leg. No arrests made in that case. The cases happening throughout the country while they're each different, they have something in common. Is that families, their lives have been changed. And in some cases, including that horrible shooting in Washington, D.C., their lives changed forever.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Now the acting U.S. ambassador in Kabul is calling for an investigation into the Taliban murder of 22 surrendering Afghan commanders. Ross Wilson met with the Afghan Defense Minister in Kabul on Sunday. And Wilson tweeted this -- The Taliban committed possible war crimes by murdering surrendering Afghan troops in Faryab. This savage crime must be investigated and those responsible held accountable.

Now CNN was the first to report on the killings. Here's a portion of Anna Coren's report from a few days ago and a warning it does contains graphic images.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After over two hours of heavy fighting, all ammunition spent, Afghan commandoes walk out with hands in the air.

"Surrender, Commander, surrender," yells a Taliban member.

(GUNFIRE)

But the rules of war don't exist on this battlefield. Seconds later, more than a dozen members of the elite special forces have been executed. Sources confirmed the bodies of 22 commandoes were retrieved.

A villager pleads with the Taliban to stop shooting, asking, how are you Pashtun, and you're killing Afghans?

CNN has spoken to five eyewitnesses to this massacre, which occurred last month in Dawlat Abad, a district of Faryab province in northern Afghanistan. All confirm these events took place.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES: That was Anna Coren there. Well the Taliban denied the alleged execution saying the video was fake and the accusations was, quote, fictitious.

Cubans living outside the island nation are showing solidarity with protesters at home with uniquely Cuban flair. Have a look.

The solidarity demonstration took place Sunday in the Dominican Republic. Cuba recently has seen the most significant unrest in decades. Thousands have taken to the streets to protest shortages of basic goods, curbs on civil liberties, as well as the handling of COVID-19.

Now the wife of Haiti's assassinated president has returned home as the country prepares for the funeral for her husband Jovenel Moise. The first lady Martine Moise survived the attack making her one of the only witnesses. And with questions still swirling around the murder, investigators are eager, if you can imagine, to speak with her. CNN's Matt Rivers is in Port-au-Prince with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the first lady of Haiti is now back here on the island. She came back over the weekend. Remember, she was critically injured during the assassination that took the life of her husband, President Jovenel Moise. They were -- and he was assassinated in the presidential residence more than one week ago.

During that attack, she was critically injured. She was taken to the airport here in Port-Au-Prince. There she was flown to Miami where she recovered in a hospital in Miami for more than one week. Obviously, now feeling well enough to have returned here to the island.

She's a surviving witness of this attack. Investigators obviously want to hear what she has to say. And so to do members of the public because so many questions still surround the investigation into the assassination of President Moise. Unclear at this point if or when she plans to speak out publicly. We do know she will be attending funeral events that will take place this week for President Moise. There will be some of those events that take place here in Port-Au-Prince.

Also there will be his official funeral on Friday in Cap-Haitien. It is a town on the northern part of this island.

[04:35:00]

That is where Moise is from and that is where his official funeral will take place on Friday.

But again, when, if the first lady plans to speak out publicly, remains an open question.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES: Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, the indigenous tribe or Yanomami in Brazil are fighting not just for their survival but for the survival of the rainforest. Stay with us for my exclusive report on how illegal gold mining is threatening their lives.

Plus, dozens of fires are burning in the Western U.S. and dry conditions could spark more. We'll get you the latest on the weather. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOARES: Now severe drought in the Western U.S. is raising the risk of larger and more frequent wildfires. At least 18 major fires are burning across the region right now consuming more than a million acres. The bulk of them are in Montana with 18 active fires. But Oregon has seen the most land charred by fire. Take a look at this. Thanks, in part, to the largest fire in the U.S. this year. Officials are warning more residents to prepare to evacuate as the Bootleg fire scorches more than 300,000 acres.

Joining me now is meteorologist Karen Maginnis. Karen, as we look at these images just is staggering the damage it's causing. Is there any relief in sight for the firefighters fighting these blazes? How is the forecast looking for them? KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I wish we had better hope for the

firefighters and everyone who is impacted by these fires. Whether it's for their livestock, their homes, their crops, their businesses. There are so many elements that goes beyond just battling the fire. But for firefighters, yes, extreme drought. Low relative humidity.

We've got some gusty winds. They'll be up around 35-40 miles per hour. It is relentless. This is kind of the loop satellite imagery of the Bootleg fire. That's not the only fire but It's the biggest fire across the United States.

[04:40:02]

It's burning in excess of already 300,000 plus acres. For our international viewers, that's about 122,000 hectares. There you can see all the major blazes across the Western states. Where you see the blue, that's where we're looking at the rainfall. Now remember, this is monsoonal moisture. It's hit or miss. They also can produce dry thunderstorms, so it's the lightning that you have to worry about. They make the winds erratic. So there is nothing that firefighters really can do to battle these blazes unless they just get lucky every now and again.

Now the Bootleg fire is just about 25 percent contained. But take a look at the temperatures. They're running about 5 to 10 degrees above normal. In Montana, where they have the most blazes, that's where we're looking at the searing heat. We saw record-setting temperatures on Sunday. Take a look at the smoke coming up the next several days. I know it's colorful but it's meaningful because this is where we're looking at the smoke. A lot of people affected deeply by this.

We know this from fires in the past with the smoke is just suffocating. 80 large fires, major fires across the West. What's it going to take to help firefighters? Well, half an inch of rain would be profound. It would really kind of tamp down the fires. What would knock it out? It's going to take essentially an event the magnitude of what you would see in the fall. These big changes. Cold air, snow, rain, but we just aren't looking anything like that. Fire season still has many more weeks, if not months, ahead. Isa, back to you.

SOARES: Yes, imagine the half inch of rain is not coming any time soon. Karen Maginnis thank you very much for that.

Now authorities say nearly two dozen new wildfires are burning in Siberia's Yakutia region in Russia. They've already scorched about 11,000 acres or 4,500 hectares. There are nearly 200 forest fires burning across the region driving up pollutants as well as reducing visibilities. Wildfires are a yearly occurrence in Russia but are more intense this year because of unusually high temperatures.

Now in the skies above the Amazon rainforest, the Brazilian military is struggling and trying to root out illegal gold mining. And the indigenous tribe said their land has been stolen and their lives are in danger. Here's my exclusive report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Under the cover of the dense Amazonian jungle, the Yanomami indigenous tribe in Brazil step up for battle. But theirs is as much a rallying cry as it is a cry for help. The approximately 27,000 Yanomami is under attack by an elusive but old enemy, wildcat miners with a thirst for gold and a hand for destruction.

With only bows and spears as their defense, they're here to protect their riverbanks, and their villages from boats like this one. Illegal gold miners exploiting and destroying the rivers and land, and in doing so, intimidating and firing at the Yanomami.

In May of this year, a half-hour shootout between the miners and the Yanomami was caught on camera. Women and children are seen desperately running for cover as a speedboat of gold miners fires as it passes.

With the violence on the rise, the federal police and the army have been sent in to investigate these deadly clashes that have left four dead, including two indigenous children. Fernando, one of the Yanomami's community leaders, tells us what they've been doing for months now.

FERNANDO, YANOMAMI COMMUNITY LEADER (through translator): The problem is the armed miners who pass here at night. There are always a lot of them.

SOARES (voice-over): The entire community has been put to work, converting paddles into weapons, bamboo into spears.

FERNANDO (through translator): This is a spear. This one pierces quickly. You will die fast. It goes through everything. This one, made from bamboo, has venom, lots of venom.

SOARES (voice-over): They say they've had no choice but to step up these last few years, under a populist president who promises space to develop, some would say, exploit the rainforest for his resources. Naturally, they're furious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Bolsonaro, you are ignorant! You let these people walk into our land and threaten the Yanomami. These people have come and have killed us. We want you to remove them quickly.

SOARES (voice-over): And with 30 percent of the land in the hands of illegal gold miners, their plea is clear and loud. Get the miners out. All they ever wanted, they say, is to protect the children and their already vulnerable way of life. Their very existence as the guardians of the Amazon.

From above, the challenge is made clearer. The Yanomami reserve, almost 24 million acres of it sits deep in the dense Amazonian jungle.

[04:45:00]

Finding miners, an estimated 20,000 of them here, becomes a game of cat and mouse. This boat knows what's circling above, and speeds away from the authorities. But the police persist and follow the trail back to the station. They spot an opening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated text): Federal police. Federal police. Come here!

SOARES (voice-over): This is as much about catching criminals as it is understanding how they work, who pays them, and funds the devastation.

POLICE (translated text): Where is the gun?

MINER (translated text): I don't have one.

POLICE (translated text): It seems he only brought the ammunition.

MINER (translated text): I don't touch other people's bags.

SORES (voice-over): The women, often used as cooks, pay for their journey in gold in advance, but the gold rush is not what they imagined, and they struggle to pay it back.

POLICE (translated text): How did you come?

LADY (translated text): By canoe, I paid 4 grams.

POLICE (translated text): What's a gram worth here?

LADY (translated text): $240 (47 USD).

SOARES (voice-over): Miners, too, become disillusioned, as that dream of striking it rich fails to materialize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I've been here for three months. I came here because they told us it was good. It would be good. But until now, we haven't seen any gains.

SOARES (voice-over): Yet the destruction is clear for all to see. Their very presence of razing the pine forest, their thirst for gold contaminating rivers with mud and mercury.

The police go deeper and find several wooden barges full of heavy machinery to dredge for gold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated text): You see the diving suit? One of them stays below the water, pushing the sand inside the hose.

SOARES (voice-over): The police know this is a losing battle. There're too many miners, and the area is too vast to patrol. So all they can do is slow them down by destroying their equipment.

This isn't a solution the Yanomami have been pleading for, but until President Bolsonaro changes his environmental policies, the Yanomami cries will continue to fall on deaf ears. And this burden of riches, the lungs of the world risks falling with it.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SOARES (on camera): Now in response to CNN's reporting, the Brazilian government says is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous people. So he also says the alleged violations by illegal miners in the Yanomami indigenous land are being investigated by federal authorities in multiple operations.

Still to come right here on CNN NEWSROOM. Making history at golf's open championship. American Collin Morikawa enters the records books at one England's most prestigious courses. That moment and more in our minute in sports next.

Plus, new evidence of industrial stealth spying that targeted activists, journalists, and government officials. We'll bring you all the details just ahead.

[04:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOARES: Now new evidence of a sprawling spy campaign that targeted journalist, activists, politicians and business leaders. According to reporting by more than a dozen news outlets, there's evidence governments around the world tried to hack into targets. Possibly by using spyware sold by an Israeli cyber surveillance company.

CNN's Hadas Gold joins us now from Jerusalem. And Hadas, this is pretty massive as well as a global leak. How exactly where people targeted? And what is the Israeli company saying about the allegations?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is a sprawling investigation. It was done by an international alliance of 17 organizations, including human rights groups like Amnesty International. As well as media organizations such as "The Washington Post," "The Guardian" in the UK, and " Haaretz" here in Israel. They say they received a leaked list of 50,000 numbers that they say were known to be targets by governments that are known to use this software called Pegasus.

This is a type of cybersecurity spying software that can essentially infect people's cell phones and use -- get their data and track them. This is developed by an Israeli cyber security company called NSO which ostensibly licenses the software for the use of good they say, for targeting terrorist and criminals. But amongst this list of 50,000 numbers, these media organizations say that they found phone numbers belonging to members of an Arab royal family, business executives, human rights activists, politicians, and government officials and journalists, including several CNN reporters.

Now the group says they were able to find traces of this Pegasus software on 37 phones. They were able to forensically analyze. Now CNN has not independently verified the findings of this investigation, which was organized by a group called Forbidden Stories. But the report is bringing scrutinized back to the company and also to the Israeli government for allowing this software to be licensed by governments who may be misusing it. And using it to target people that it shouldn't be targeting like journalists and human rights activists. Now the company NSO is strongly pushing back against this report. A

senior source at the company telling us that they deny the findings. They say that they haven't seen the list of 50,000 numbers. They don't believe it's possible that all those numbers could be targets of their clients who they said targeted an average of 4,000 targets a year. But that they do not operate the software for their clients and therefore do not have visibility into the data. However, the source says that they will investigate any claims of misuse and they are willing to and have in the past cut up contracts with their clients who they say misuse their software -- Isa.

CHURCH: Hadas do keep us on top of this story. I'm sure we'll hear much more in the coming days. Hadas Gold for us there in Jerusalem.

Now American golfer Collin Morikawa has won the 149th open championship and he made history. He's now the first golfer to win two different majors in his first attempt. Patrick Snell that has that and more in our minute in sports for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Isa, thanks so much. We are going to start at golf's open championship this Monday. Where at just 24 American golf star Collin Morikawa celebrating the fact he's now champion golfer of the year. Calling it, by far, one of the best moments of his life. Last year the Californian winning the PGA championship on his debut and now wins the coveted claret jug at the first time of asking to.

(04:55:00)

Morikawa finishing two shots clear of compatriot Jordan Spieth.

Controversy at the British Grand Prix over the weekend after rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen collided. The young Dutchman went spinning into the wall. He was taken to hospital but later released. Hamilton the eventual race winner. Verstappen later calling the Brits move on the track dangerous.

Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, six British athletes and two staff members now self-isolating after being identified as close contacts of an individual who tested positive for coronavirus on their flight into Japan.

Another Tour de France on Sunday. A second straight title for the Slovenian star Tadej Pogacar. He's now the youngest two-time winner at just 22 years of age. Congrats to him. And with that, it's right back to you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOARES: Thank you very much, Patrick Snell.

Now on Tuesday Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is hoping to join the ranks of billionaire astronauts. He's scheduled to rocket to the edge of space and back with his company Blue Origin. Also on board will be his brother Mark Bezos, as well as 18-year-old Oliver Daemon, and 82-year- old aviator Wally Funk. They'll be the youngest as well as the oldest people ever to travel into space. The Dutch teen was added after the seat's original owner took a rain check due to a scheduling conflict. Do you believe that. This trip comes just nine days after Richard Branson became the first billionaire to travel to space in his own company's spacecraft. Liftoff is starting at 9:00 a.m. U.S. Eastern time.

And that wraps up this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Isa Soares. I'm back tomorrow with you. "EARLY START" though is next. Do stay right here with CNN.

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