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Thousands of Brazilians Demanding President's Impeachment; Tunisian President Sacks Prime Minister, Freezes Parliament; Pakistani Taliban Leader Reacts to Gains by Afghan Taliban; U.S. Diplomat in China for Talks Amid Soaring Tensions. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired July 26, 2021 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: COVID cases rising, a tropical storm on its way, yet the Tokyo Olympics push on, and the world is tuning in.
Brazilians taking to the streets by the thousands. Why they're calling for the impeachment of their president, and the Trumpian playbook he is using to ward off detractors.
Plus, a CNN exclusive. Pakistan's Taliban leader speaks out about gains made by the militant group in Afghanistan.
And, welcome to our viewers all around the world, appreciate your company. I'm Michael Holmes, and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
HOLMES: The Tokyo Summer Olympics are in full swing, despite the pandemic. And there are signs that people there might be warming up to the games as well.
Organizers in Japan say more than 70 million people tuned in to watch the opening ceremony in Japan. But officials have also confirmed at least 153 COVID cases linked to the games so far.
One of the new cases was a resident at the Olympic village. That brings the total number of cases from the village to 16. Now, Japan is now not just containing with the pandemic, but also bracing for a tropical storm that is expected to bring rain and strong winds this week.
China and Japan, meanwhile leading gold overall followed by the U.S., but the standings could change pretty quickly. Twenty-one medal events on Monday.
For more on this, we're going to bring in our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, he's standing by. "CNN WORLD SPORT" Patrick Snell is here in the studio with me. And Blake Essig joins us now live from Tokyo as well.
Let's begin with you, Blake. Pretty full spring you've got there, isn't it? We've talked a lot over the months about the, you know, public
opposition, polls and all that, when it comes to the games. But since it's got underway, have you seen a change in mood at all?
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. You know, Michael, look, I mean, for months, we've talked about how unpopular these games have been, and poll after poll, as you mentioned, up 80 percent have come out saying that they've wanted these games canceled or postponed. The reason, of course, are the concerns over health and safety, you know, for the general population here. And that hasn't changed with cases in Tokyo now surging, and Olympic-related cases continuing to pile up.
But despite all that, since the competition began last week, it seems like the mood around this made for TV event is starting to change. OIC officials say nearly 70 million people in Japan watch the preliminary competition events last week, and that same number watched the opening ceremony. The CEO of the Olympic broadcast offices said it was the most watched event and Japan over the past decade. So far, 80 percent of Japan's roughly 126 million people have tuned in to watch the games at some point.
Now, after two days of full competitions, Japan's performances of these games, they're starting to get people excited. So far, Japan has won six golds and a silver. And they are doing it in historic fashion, winning gold in men and women street skateboarding competition, which is making its debut here in Tokyo.
And even though that buzz and excitement that is experienced here in Tokyo, it's a far cry from what you would expect from a host whole city here in an Olympic era. People are trying to experience the games in any way possible. Just today, you had a lot of people, crowds of people lining the triathlon event to watch. They weren't supposed to be there, but they are there to experience the Olympics in any way possible.
I personally attended a life public viewing over the weekend where 500 people actually sat in an auditorium for more than 7 hours to watch the cycling road race, cheering with wood clappers to experience that Olympic atmosphere in any way possible.
Now, we've also talked with people outside of venues who have had tickets for the events. They said they're devastated that no spectators are allowed in. But they are taking pictures of these venues, just so they could have memories that they can look back on.
Right now, outside of the water polo venue, people continue to walk by us, taking pictures constantly.
Now, people here also tell us the support for these games is stronger than what's being led on. The reason for that is because some people are afraid to express their excitement given all the negativity that has surrounded these games.
So, while it does seem like support for these games are shifting, there's no question, Michael, that it is still a tale of two cities.
HOLMES: All right, Blake, good wrap up there. Blake Essig, thanks so much for all of that.
Now, Patrick Snell is joining me here on set.
Some great stories. In the last hour, you and I would talk about how I've been watching the skateboarding and saw a couple of 13-year-olds. Well?
PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Well, you caught it. You called it. Won Olympic gold.
SNELL: On the weekend, we had Yuto Horigome making history for Japan in the men's skateboarding. Literally, Michael, within the last few minutes, 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya winning the women's title, extraordinary. She gets a gold, incredible scenes for her and for Japanese sports. Amazing stuff.
But look, when you scroll down the role of honors there, Rayssa Leal, Brazil winning silver. Her age? Thirteen. Also on the bronze for Japan, Funa Nakayuma, just a totally young there, extraordinary scenes.
HOLMES: Great stuff.
SNELL: It literally just happened.
HOLMES: The Brazilian girl, I mean, you could pick her up and put her in your pocket. I mean, she is so tiny. Just unbelievable skills.
SNELL: It's such an impressive stuff.
HOLMES: It is.
SNELL: Just to remind our viewers, you know, skateboarding making its Olympic debut. Talk about an instant impact. But we must --
HOLMES: Tell us about your people.
SNELL: So much going on this Monday.
SNELL: Allow me to gloat just a little bit if I may.
A case of dominance personified, Adam Peaty -- yes, Adam Peaty powering his way to victory to win gold. Again, this is the men's 100 meters off the back of his Rio '16 try in Brazil. The 26-year-old from England, not just the defending champion, remember, but also the world record holder at this event. Swimming a time of 57 seconds, 37. Great Britain's first gold in this game. Peaty's third career Olympic medal. Why is it so special for the Brits? Well, Peaty, now, the first
British swimmer to successfully defend an Olympic title, no less. Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands, silver. The Italian swimmer Nicolo Martinenghi with the bronze.
Elsewhere, you are going to like this one, Michael.
HOLMES: I do, I do.
SNELL: Let me just set this one up first for our viewers. U.S. swimming sensation, Katie Ledecky, this in the 400-meter freestyle action earlier this Monday, looking to add to her triumph in Rio 5 years ago. But the world record holder, she was up against the formidable rival, the Australian Ariarne Titmus, just a thrilling contest between these two, but there would only be one winner.
And it does go the way of the Australian in these eagerly anticipated showdown between these two. Titmus winning gold with the time of 3 minutes 56 seconds 69. That now the second fastest time ever behind Ledecky's world record of 3.56.36, Ledecky, a 5-time gold medalist. She won silver.
And this is what's impressive. She won silver, yes, Michael, but her time, 3.57.36. That's the fourth fastest time ever. Titmus, that it victory giving Australia its 2nd gold medal of these games, fifth medal overall.
And for Team USA fans, they will need to know that Caeleb Dressel earlier Monday in his U.S. 4x100 meter freestyle relay team, they would emerge victorious to take gold medal, a winning time for them of 3.08.97. The fifth gold for the U.S. of these games after a sluggish start by their very high standards, 12 total overall for the Americans.
By the way, Dressel's third Olympic gold. Wow, what a busy Monday so far. So much more going on.
HOLMES: So much going on, it's head spinning. It's all good.
SNELL: Yes, in a good way.
HOLMES: The 13-year-old skateboarders. I love it. I love that story.
SNELL: We'll be talking more about it through the day.
HOLMES: We will indeed. And you'll be back next hour.
HOLMES: Patrick Snell, appreciate it. Always still better informed now.
Now, a tropical storm as you can see there on the graphic there. It is bowing towards Japan right now, expected to make landfall by late Tuesday, early Wednesday. It's headed north of Tokyo, but that does not mean that the Olympics will be safe from winds and heavy rain. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins me now to talk more about this.
What are you seeing in terms of direction and possible effects?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: My goodness, Michael. Can you imagine being the Olympic organizers? You're dealing with the effects of COVID and then you've got extreme heat that has been the top of town across these venues. Now, a tropical system.
And really, it could have been far worse. This literally is an equivalent to a hurricane or a strong typhoon that would work its way, many times in the years past but right now, at least within the first couple of days of the Olympics getting under way, Nepartak works its way across the region, just a few hundred kilometers north of Tokyo. You will get very unsettled very quickly.
You could see those winds pushed up to 70 kilometers per hour. Officials already saying they've rescheduled some of the water sports. We were talking about rowing events, some of them just offshore, they've been rescheduled because of the rough seas ahead of the system, moving ashore.
As you noted, Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, of course. We know of 42 venues across the Tokyo area and about 16 of these are north of Tokyo. And the outer lying regions, and, of course, into central and northern Japan, and Tokyo in particularly, the storm, even though it's hundreds of kilometers away it's still impacting, a few thunderstorms and heavy rainfall, potentially mixing in there Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night.
And notice, well, to the north here, where we think landfall is going to be mostly likely coming into Wednesday morning. The system comes ashore at 65 kilometers per hour winds -- rain, heavy storms, gusty winds, rough seas. All of these will play a role here for the activities for these 42 venues, the ones that are going to have exposed areas where you have the roof open or you have, of course, no roof is present whatsoever.
And these are the events that are being rescheduled in advance of the system coming in just in the first few days of Olympic Games starting here on Saturday.
HOLMES: You said it at the beginning. Boy, what else?
Pedram, thanks so much for that. Pedram Javaheri, appreciate it.
Turning to Southeast Asia where countries are struggling to contain a devastating third wave of the coronavirus. Malaysia remains one of the hardest hit nations right now on Sunday, the country's health minister reporting a record number of new COVID cases, more than 17,000. Malaysia has now surpassed 1 million total cases since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Australia's prime minister condemning mask protest against new COVID restrictions Down Under. It comes as the country sees new infections continuing to climb.
Here's a closer look now at the situation there and in other countries across the Asia Pacific region.
PROTESTERS: We want freedom! We want freedom!
HOLMES (voice-over): Reckless and self defeating. That is how Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the thousands of people who marched in anti lockdown protests in Sydney over the weekend.
SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Millions of Sydneysiders, they stayed homes. They are the ones who are bringing an end to the lockdown sooner, not those who are putting themselves at risk, those around them at risk, particularly the police at risk. And that was a very selfish act.
HOLMES: Morrison says the protesters who police say defied social distancing restrictions put in place to try to contain the highly contagious delta variant, could actually make the lockdown last longer. Officials in the state of New South Wales say the tough measures are working despite case numbers continuing to rise. The premier says without them, new infections would be through the roof.
That type of surge, exactly with the city of Hanoi, capital of Vietnam, is also trying to control. The number of new confirmed cases in the country on an almost vertical trajectory over the past few weeks.
Some people say a lock down in Hanoi imposed this weekend is long overdue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I think authorities should have put the city under lockdown earlier, because a few days earlier I saw many people who were not abiding by the social distancing regulations.
HOLMES: Indonesia is extending its COVID-19 restrictions by a week. But the government says there has been an improvement in the number of new cases in several provinces in java. But the number of deaths in the country remains consistently high, surpassing 1,500 in one day last week. The government says it will add more intensive care units to ease the burden in some hospitals.
Malaysia, too, suffering from a rise in new COVID cases. It recently surpassed a total of 1 million infections since the start of the pandemic.
But one bright spot on the horizon? Hikers once again returning to the peak of Japan's Mount Fuji, which had been off limits due to the coronavirus for the past year. Climbers are encouraged to maintain social distance and hike in smaller groups. But officials hope it is one lifting of restrictions that could lift some spirits.
HOLMES (on camera): And as we just mentioned, Indonesia has extended some COVID restrictions by a week as it struggles with a surge in COVID cases. Indonesia posted record daily death tolls to three consecutive days last week, but officials noted that new infections, according to their numbers, have fallen recently. They say adjustments will gradually be made to existing restrictions, and that includes things like allowing some markets, restaurants and other businesses to open with certain limitations.
I'm joined now by Ade Soekadis, the executive director of Mercy Corps in Indonesia, comes to me live from Jakarta via Skype.
Good to see you.
But not a good story. As high as the numbers are, health experts are saying both deaths and case numbers have been undercounted, but even the official per capita death rate is three times the global average.
Hundreds of children have died. How bad is it?
ADE SOEKADIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MERCY CORPS INDONESIA: It is still bad, even though there's lift-off restriction by the government, but I think the situation is still quite bad. The numbers show that it's (INAUDIBLE) percent, that risks are still quite high, over 1,000 in the last 10 days, even though they say cases are going down, (INAUDIBLE) but it's still alarming and concerning, Doctor.
HOLMES: Yes, and more than 100 doctors have died from COVID this month. Double the figure from last month. How much pressure is there on the health system?
SOEKADIS: It is still overwhelming. I mean the health care facility as far as well health care workers are overworked and overwhelmed. You can see people in the hospital, still lining up, even though the occupancy rates are going down. You still see doctors getting sick of COVID. Also, hospitals are being overloaded, because of a lack of facilities available there.
And there is still a great pressure on the health care system, even though it seems that the occupancy rate is going down. But, still, if you look at numbers, it is potentially quite high, and it's still above the ideal occupancy rate. So, it is still (INAUDIBLE) situation.
HOLMES: As you point out, the government says some that restrict -- restrictions have seen a slight improvement, though, and they have been extended into next month. Isn't it true that many poor people, in Indonesia, they can't afford to stay home? They need to work to survive.
What more needs to be done to support people?
SOEKADIS: That is true, Michael. In a nation that doesn't have a good social safety net programs, so if you don't work, if you don't go to work, (INAUDIBLE) foods, or opening of yourself, to go to the factory to get your wages, or to get your income, it is very impossible to those lower level groups to survive. You know, we have a very, very concerning situation.
That's why I think it is understandable (ph) the government is trying to put an ease on a restriction for those lower income groups they can open their shops and stalls so that they can get their -- put food on the table basically.
HOLMES: Yeah, in many countries, we have seen vaccine hesitancy, resistance to getting the shot. Is there similar resistance in Indonesia? Ninety-seven percent or so of Indonesians have been vaccinated. Is there resistance? And also, most of the vaccines in Indonesia, are Sinovac, the Chinese vaccine, with a much lower efficacy.
Give us a vaccine status report.
SOEKADIS: Yeah, the lower number of vaccination rate does not really reflect the hesitancy people to get the vaccine. Eventually, due to logistical situation. I think that the vaccine isn't being distributed as fast as the government wants it to be.
You know, 7 percent fully vaccinated, 16 percent first vaccine, but if we look at the size of Indonesia, 17,000 islands, 5,000 kilometer across, it basically is very challenging. It's also because of the way of the government rolled out there the vaccine, through a large vaccination center.
(INAUDIBLE) as they said, with Sinovac, I think it is better to get a vaccine, then to not get one at all. Even though it is an issue, that people say it has less efficacy, but I think some studies indicate that if you get vaccinated, by Sinovac, or Sinopharm, the Chinese vaccine, it is still better compared to not getting a vaccine at all.
So, yeah, we have the vaccine, even if it is a Chinese vaccine with less efficacy, but it is better than not having a vaccine at all.
HOLMES: Yeah, that is true.
Ade Soekadis, with Mercy Corps, thanks so much. I appreciate your time.
SOEKADIS: Thank you very much for having me.
HOLMES: Now, experts say delta is the most prevalent variant in the U.S. right now, as cases spike at an alarming rate. A majority of the U.S. saw a more than a 50 percent increase in new COVID infections last week, represented there in the map in a sea of dark red.
But, vaccinations? Well, they've hardly moved in the same time period, with the CDC reporting less than half of all Americans are fully vaccinated so far. Incredible.
Now, for the U.S. to reach herd immunity, it is estimated that at least 70 percent of the population needs to be COVID vaccinated. The former U.S. surgeon general, saying then Americans should expect restrictions to make a comeback, if things don't improve.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JEROME ADAMS, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: More mitigation is coming. Whether it is masking, or whether it's closures, or whether it's your kids having to return to virtual learning. That is coming, and it's coming because this pandemic spiral out of control, yet again. And it's spiraling out of control, because we don't have enough people vaccinated. So, get vaccinated because it helps your neighbors, but get vaccinated because it's going to help every single American enjoy the freedoms that we want to return to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Now, in fact, top disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Sunday, he is part of a team reassessing whether the U.S. needs to change its mask guidelines. Here's part of his conversation with Jake Tapper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE UNION: Do you think that masks should be brought back for vaccinated Americans?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You know, Jake, this is under active consideration, if you are seeing my part of the discussion. Yes, I am. Part of the discussion, the CDC, still, says, and recommends, that if you are vaccinated fully, that you do not need to wear a mask indoors.
However, if you look at what's going on locally, in the trenches, in places like L.A. County, the local officials have the discretion, and the CDC agrees with that ability, and discretion, capability. To say, you know, you're in a situation where you're having a lot of dynamics of infection, so even if you are vaccinated, you should wear a mask.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Now, France fighting a fourth wave of coronavirus infections and the French parliament has been taking action. Lawmakers approving a bill requiring vaccinations for health care workers. And, it makes a health pass mandatory to enter a number of places like restaurants, bars, and theaters.
Jim Bittermann reports.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Even as the new health pass law has the impact the government wanted. After President Emmanuel Macron's July 12th announcement that the French would soon have to carry a certificate attesting to vaccinations, or a negative COVID-19 test, for even the simplest of daily activities, appointments for vaccination skyrocketed. According to Vaccination Reservation Center website, at least 4.7
million people have signed up in the two weeks since. On a visit to the French overseas territory of Tahiti, Macron said that the anti- vaccination protesters in the streets, like those in the streets this weekend, who believe that they should be free to reject vaccinations are wrong.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): That is not freedom. That is called irresponsibility. It is called selfishness. A society only holds together when the freedom of each person is respectful of the other, and therefore, it is based on rights and duties. .
BITTERMANN: But perhaps just as influential as the president's vaccination shaming is the influence of other countrymen. According to a health ministry statistic, about half of the adult population has now been fully vaccinated. A number that will no doubt only grow in coming days, as the health pass is required for more and more activities.
Jim Bittermann, CNN, Gilles, France.
HOLMES: Now, the U.K. is considering a similar plan to France requiring proof of full vaccination for events with at least 20,000 people attending. A government source says the idea is in the early stages, but the English Premier League is expected to support the plan. This coming after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was criticized for calling for proof of vaccination to enter nightclubs in the coming months.
Still to come here on the program, Canadian firefighters, struggling to contain hundreds of wildfires, burning in British Columbia. But help has just arrived. We'll have that.
And also, dramatic video capturing the moment that boulders begin hurdling down a mountainside during a deadly landslide in northern India.
We'll be right back.
HOLMES: Now, California's largest wildfire burning out of control. The Dixie Fire scorching nearly 200,000 acres of northern California. That's almost 81,000 hectares. Now, it's gaining steam after combining with a second, smaller fire. More than 5,000 firefighters are battling the blaze. The Dixie Fire, just one of 86 large wildfires burning in the U.S., right now.
Now, hundreds of wildfires, also burning in British Columbia, or in Canada. The province has been under a state of emergency since Tuesday. Fortunately, they are getting outside help. 100 firefighters from Mexico, arriving in British Columbia on Saturday. For the next month, they will work with local crews to battle the more than 250 fires that, are now, currently active in the province.
Meanwhile, heavy rain triggered severe flash flooding in parts of London on Sunday. The city some major delays along key roadways, and flooding in several underground stations, and disruptive train services. The weather is also causing issues are to London area hospitals, with flooding reported in at least one emergency department. The London Fire Brigade says it's received more than 600 calls about flooding.
Rescue operations are underway after a landslide in northern India on Sunday. Have a look at this video. You can see there, the large rocks, tumbling down the mountainside, destroying a bridge below. Officials, say at least nine people were killed, two others injured after a boulder hit the vehicle they were traveling in. At least one bystander, also hurt. According to local media reports, most victims were tourists from other parts of the country.
In Western India, at least 149 people have died after monsoon rains triggered landslides, and flooding there.
CNN's Vedika Sud joins me now live from New Delhi.
Bring us up to date on the latest efforts.
VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest numbers suggest, Michael, that about 230,000 people have been evacuated from vulnerable areas, in the state of Maharashtra which lies in western India. We are also being told that relief operations continue because you still have 64 people missing, most of them, because of the landslides that have taken place. Five of them reported by the national disaster response team, until now.
There's also a report on how survivors are looking for their loved ones who still remain untraceable.
SUD (voice-over): Another body recovered, adding to the grim death toll in western India. Rescuers racing against time, combing through debris to find survivors after a landslide hit this spillage. Some 180 kilometers southeast of the financial capital, Mumbai.
GOVIND MALUSARE, VILLAGER (through translator): There were five people inside. My mother, my brother, his, wife and two children. Out of the total family, only the boy's body has recovered. The other family members have still not been traced.
SUD: In a nearby district, distraught survivors look on. Torrential monsoon rains have left behind a trail of destruction. Homes have been swept away, farmlands inundated, bridges cut off, livelihoods destroyed. Many denied a proper cremation.
ANKUSH RAJARAM, VILLAGER: We did not have material to cremate bodies. It was raining heavily. We dug a pit, and buried everyone together. SUD: Thousands have been evacuated from vulnerable areas. Some waited
on rooftops to be rescued. Authorities are not only battling flooding. The spread of the virus looms large. Maharashtra has the second highest number of active cases of COVID-19 in the country after Kerala.
Plus, 35 percent more rain than normal has fallen on the state since the beginning of monsoon season. Experts say the cause is clear.
CHANDRA BHUSHAN, ENVIRONMENTALIST: This is not possible without climate change. In fact, all of the attribution studies are clear that the kind of acceleration and hydrological systems, extreme rainfall events that we are witnessing across the world, would not have been possible without human interference.
SUD: For a country that's experienced two cyclone's and the deadly collapse of a glacier in just the last 16 months, the intensity of this monsoon is another sign that India is on the front line of the climate crisis.
SUD: There have been enough incidents in the past two years, not only in India but across the region, Michael, to serve as a wake up call to leaders across the world about climate change, Michael.
Vedika, thanks so much for that report. Vedika Sud there in New Delhi.
SUD: Thank you.
HOLMES: All right. Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, allegations of corruption, a vaccine scandal and COVID running rampant, all spelling trouble for the Brazilian president whose popularity is plummeting amid widespread protests.
HOLMES: And welcome back to our viewers all around the world.
I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
A vaccine scandal and a cavalier attitude towards COVID have many in Brazil calling for the president's removal for the second time this month.
Protesters demanding the impeachment of Jair Bolsonaro. He's being investigated in the Senate over corruption allegations tied to the purchase of an Indian coronavirus vaccine.
Bolsonaro's popularity has plunged to record lows and polls show him losing to his main rival, leftist former president Lula da Silva in next year's election if both were to run.
Guilherme Casaroes is a professor of political science at the Getulio Vargas Foundation. He joins me now from Sao Paulo. And thanks for doing so, Professor.
Where do you see these protests headed? Jair Bolsonaro was once so popular, but given his handling of COVID in Brazil, how vulnerable is he politically?
GUILHERME CASAROES, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, GETULIO VARGAS FOUNDATION: Well, he's pretty vulnerable right now. I would say he's going through the most turbulent period of this period in office.
So I think at this point what we have to focus on is first of all the number of deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic is really high in Brazil. We rank second in total number of deaths. We have millions of cases.
So that's the first thing that might have taken his approval ratings down in the last few months.
CASAROES: And then there's the second thing which relates to the economy. I mean the Brazilian economy hasn't recovered as the economic team of the government has imagined in the first place.
So we're talking about a perspective of 5 percent growth this year. But last year we went on a recession of minus 4 percent. So combined, this is not great news for the government.
HOLMES: Given the sort of comments the president has made in his lack of seriousness with the pandemic, we've seen the protests. Just how angry are Brazilians? Particularly those who have lost loved ones to the virus?
CASAROES: Well, I would say Brazilians are very much revolted right now, not only because of the pandemic, but because they've spent pretty much one and a half year without being able to go out on the streets to protest against the government, whereas Bolsonaro supporters took the streets several times, even amid the pandemic.
And Bolsonaro has stimulated most of those protests, pro-government protests, really. So there was -- there was a sensation fostered by Bolsonaro himself, that he was the only politician who enjoyed popularity in the last 12 months or so.
And that has proven wrong by the numerous people on the streets in the last few protests.
HOLMES: Yes. And he's become less and less popular as the protests have grown in his handling of COVID and all of that. But he's famous for just ignoring criticism and even institution. In the face of all this, has he as a person, a personality, become more conciliatory, or has he gone the other way and hardened his attitude?
CASAROES: Well, he has been sending mixed signals to Brazilians in general. So on the one hand he seems to have tried to get closer to the establishment politicians, what we call (INAUDIBLE) in Brazilian politics, which is pretty much a group of centrist parties, that pretty much control Congress.
So he has been sending very positive signals to this establishment politicians on the one hand, and that is part of his conciliation, part of his compromise.
But on the other hand, especially his military ministers, he has got so many military as ministers and cabinet secretaries. So some of those ministers have been sending very clear signals that they are willing to stage a coup d'etat in case Bolsonaro is not elected next year. So that's also a trouble that we are facing right now.
HOLMES: That is -- that is worrying. And yes, you make a point, there is an election next year.
I mean what are his chances of reelection? Who might -- might Luis da Silva actually effectively challenge him. I've been reading that he's already calling the system corrupt ahead of time, fraudulent. And he is losing to Lula in the post. But might he not even make it to the election with these calls for his impeachment?
CASAROES: There has been a lot of pressure, especially among the opposition to impeach Bolsonaro. He has committed so many crimes of responsibility so far. But there is still no political environment for Bolsonaro to get impeached at this point.
So I think that Bolsonaro will have to face elections in 2022. And what really calls my attention at this point is that he is following on President Trump's steps and he is preemptively playing the electoral fraud card.
And that is really troublesome, because there is nothing wrong, apparently there is nothing wrong with our election system. It has been an electronic election ever since the 1990s. And it has been widely accepted as good, as efficient.
So the fact that now he is casting some doubt on the electoral system, it really sends a terrible sign for Brazilians in general, because a suspicion grows with the electoral system. We might see something along the same lines that we saw in the United States on January 6th.
HOLMES: Yes. Yes. Extremely worrying, as you say.
Guilherme Casaroes, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.
CASAROES: Thank you so much for having me.
HOLMES: Demonstrators in the United States standing in solidarity with Cubans. They gathered outside the White House on Sunday to call on President Biden to take more aggressive action against the Cuban government for silencing protesters.
The Biden administration has already announced new sanctions targeting government leaders with the promise of more to come. All of this just weeks after Cuban authorities began cracking down on the largest demonstrations seen on the island in decades. They were protesting a lack of freedom and the worsening economic situation.
HOLMES: Quick break here on the program.
When we come back the Pakistani Taliban leader speaks exclusively with CNN as a war rages across the border between Afghan forces and Taliban militants.
Also scenes of celebration on the streets of Tunisian capital after the president sacks the prime minister. We'll have the details when we come back.
HOLMES: Welcome back.
We're following a developing story out of Tunisian where the president has sacked the prime minister and frozen parliament. Large crowds turning out in the capital of Tunis in support of the president's announcement though his opponents accuse him of launching a coup.
President Kais Saied said his actions are in line with the constitution and that he would assume executive authority with the assistance of a new prime minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAIS SAIED, TUNISIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): After consultations took place with the prime minister and the speaker of the parliament, Article 80 of the constitution was implemented, as well as a number of decisions.
The first decision is to freeze all of the parliaments powers. The constitution does not allow its dissolution but it does not stand in the way of freezing all of its activities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Now the president and the now dismissed prime minister were locked in political disputes for more than a year. This came as the country, of course, is facing an economic crisis.
A top U.S. general is vowing that American forces will continue airstrikes in Afghanistan to back up Afghan forces battling the Taliban. That assurance coming about one month until nearly all U.S. forces are expected to be out of the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENERAL KENNETH MCKENZIE, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: So we will continue to support the Afghan forces, even after that 31 August day, it will generally be from over the horizon. And that will be -- that will be a significant change. And then it will be time for the Afghan forces to fight and carry on the battle themselves. We spent a lot of time training them. Now is their moment. Now is the time for that very stern test that I know that earlier they're going to face.
I think they have the resources and the capability to actually conduct that fight and win it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Taliban militants have gained a lot of ground in recent months across Afghanistan -- just have a look at the map there -- after launching a sweeping assault as the U.S. withdraws. Those gains grabbing the attention of Pakistan's Taliban leader just across the border.
CNN's Nic Robertson with the details in this exclusive report.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: As Afghanistan's Taliban gain ground, so Pakistan's Taliban the TTP, take heart.
In his first ever TV interview, their leader Noor Wali Mehsud, answers questions CNN sent him by intermediaries at an undisclosed location near the Afghan-Pakistan border. The gun at his side, a message of war.
NOOR WALI MEHSUD, LEADER, TEHNK-I-TALIBAN (through translator): The Afghan Taliban victory is the victory of the entire Muslim people. Our relations are based on brotherhood, sympathy and Islamic principles.
ROBERTSON: Mehsud's three predecessors were all killed by U.S. Drone strikes for fighting alongside Afghan Taliban targeting U.S. forces. Their bloody record includes the 2009 attack that killed nine people, including seven CIA officers and contractors at a base close to the Pakistan border. And the massacre of 145 people, mostly children in a Pakistan school in 2014.
Mehsud became leader in 2018. And the U.N. later designated him a global terrorist. Added him to the sanction list for his ties to al- Qaeda.
Today he denies those al-Qaeda links and that his group is still fighting alongside the Afghan Taliban.
MEHSUD: Our fight is only in Pakistan, and we are at war with the Pakistani security forces.
We are firmly hoping to take control of the Pakistani tribal border regions and make them independent.
ROBERTSON: But while Pakistan's army has fought a decade's-long counterinsurgency against the TTP in Pakistan, Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI and the army have backed the Afghan Taliban although they deny it.
Now as the Afghan Taliban win territory, blow back for Pakistan looms.
MICHAEL SEMPLE, PROFESSOR, QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY BELFAST: The risk for Pakistan is that a stronger Afghan Taliban can actually reduce its cooperation with the ISI in controlling the TTP, and it's that which empowers the TTP.
ROBERTSON: The TTO are already demanding Sharia law, curtailing girls' education --
AYESHA SIDDIQA, SOAS SOUTH ASIA INSTITUTE: They would like to implement Sharia in Pakistan and Pakistan's territories. Already there is a lot of fear.
ROBERTSON: For the past two decades, U.S.-Pakistan relations have been complicated by Pakistan's alleged dual-track approach of support for the U.S. while covertly backing the Afghan Taliban. It's a delicate balance Afghan Taliban gains threaten.
SEMPLE: The TTP are now banking on an Afghan Taliban victory. And they are confident that they will be able to continue their fight against Pakistan in the event of the Taliban taking over in Afghanistan.
SIDDIQA: It's Pakistan which will be in greater pain -- there in Afghanistan. It will be threatened much more.
ROBERTSON: From his undisclosed location, Mehsud is coy, hinting at the gains that could be coming his way.
MEHSUD: According to the teaching of Islam victory, of f one Muslim is necessarily helpful for another Muslim. But how the victory of Afghan Taliban will prove helpful for the Pakistani Taliban, time will tell.
ROBERTSON: In the meantime, despite his denials, expectation is Mehsud 's fighters will keep backing the Afghan Taliban.
Nic Robertson, CNN -- London.
HOLMES: The U.S. President Joe Biden will meet in the coming hours with the Iraqi prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi at the White House. They're expected to announce a shift to a strictly advisory role for the U.S. mission in Iraq.
It's not a major change. The 2,500 troops in Iraq already focused mainly on advising and assisting the U.S. military.
Meanwhile, Iraq's parliament has taken control of the country's Independent High Commission for Human Rights. One commission member telling CNN the move raises concerns about Iraq becoming more authoritarian. They also say it could keep the commission weak and powerless.
And also in Iraq, the son of human rights activist, Fatima al-Bahadly, has been found dead in the southern province of Basra. Ali Karim's body was discovered on Saturday hours after he was abducted by an unknown armed group.
The European Union ambassador in Iraq is calling for serious investigation into his death. Fatima al-Bahadly founded an organization that focuses on women and girls affected by war.
Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, a key U.S. diplomat is in China amid soaring tensions between the two countries. More on the warnings China had for the United States. That's when we come back.
HOLMES: Welcome back.
A top Chinese diplomat is blaming the U.S. for the countries' strained relationship. Just a couple of days after China's foreign minister warned the U.S. to stop boasting of its superiority. Now the point of rhetoric comes as America's number two diploma, deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is in China for a two-day visit.
Let's talk more about all of this with Kristie Lu Stout standing by in Hong Kong. Good to see you, Kristie.
The second top level meeting between these two countries since Joe Biden took office, I think it's fair to say that there are not expectations for any breakthroughs?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. Expectations are pretty low. This high-level meeting is taking place right now between the U.S. and China in Tianjin (ph).
Ahead of this meeting U.S. officials said that the U.S. deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman would be seeking guardrails with China in order to avoid conflict and to better manage competition.
But Wendy Sherman has been getting an earful from Chinese officials. You know, Wang Yi, that's the foreign minister of China in the run-up to today's meeting has been emphasizing a message in Chinese state-run media that no country is superior to others.
And today we've been getting a series of very strong statements from the vice foreign minister of China, Xie Feng, in which she rebukes the United States in a number of points, including blaming the United States for the quote, "stalemate in the relationship".
Let's bring up that statement for you. According to Xie Feng, and he made these statements earlier today at this meeting underway in Tianjin. He said "The China-U.S. relationship is now in a stalemate and faces serious difficulties. Fundamentally it is because some Americans betrayed China as an imagined enemy. We urge the U.S. to change its highly misguided mindset and dangerous policy", end quote.
Now, today's meeting comes after that first high-level summit that took place earlier this year in march in Alaska which of course erupted in a very public confrontation between the U.S. and China. And since then we have seen just a trading of diplomatic barbs, tit-for- tat sanctions between the U.S. and China.
Most recently we had the U.S. slapping (ph) sanctions on Chinese officials in Hong Kong. In response China on Friday slapped sanctions on American officials including the former U.S. Commerce secretary.
And given this environment, a number of China watchers say that any likely positive or strong significant outcome from today's meeting in Tianjin is not going to happen. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLY LAM, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, CHINESE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: Given the fact that both sides have so many things not in common, including mutual impositions of sanctions, accusations of hacking, geopolitical contention's in South China Sea, Taiwan, Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
(INAUDIBLE) to resolve differences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Now, if talks today do go moderately well, there is a chance we could set the stage for a possible Biden-Xi summit to take place in the sidelines in the G20 summit to take place in Italy in October, Michael.
HOLMES: All right. Kristie Lu Stout there in Hong Kong. Thanks so much.
Now, a memorial concert was held Sunday in Bal Harbour in Florida to honor the victims of the Surfside condo collapse.
HOLMES: It has now been a month since the tower south building came crashing down in the middle of the night, killing at least 97 people.
HOLMES: Members of the community spoke at Sunday's memorial, including the mayor. And the names of the victims were all read aloud.
Authorities do believe there is still one victim of the collapse who was yet to be found. The site now mostly cleared and the debris moved to another location.
Now police and bystanders are being hailed for their heroic actions after a vehicle hit a mother and her baby in New York state. Trapping the little girl underneath the vehicle. It's disturbing to watch, but mother and child thankfully did survive.
We'll have a look at what happened. Surveillance video shows the car swerving into view, hitting another car, then veering it right into the woman and her daughter. The car then crashes into a barbershop and the baby is pinned underneath the car.
Now, that is when two officers and bystanders came to the rescue, lifting the car to get the little girl out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grab the baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grab the baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. Come on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got it. I got it. I got the baby. We got the baby. Hold up. Hold up. Ok we got it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Literally lifting the car to make that happen. Now, both the child and mother were injured, but are expected to recover. The driver has been arrested and charged with vehicular assault. Police say he had a suspended license and was intoxicated.
Now, a couple got the surprise of a lifetime when their long lost wedding video turned up many years later. Drew and Kayla Godfrey thought the video had been accidentally erased and was gone for good.
Get this. When a friend found it 14 years later, Drew decided to give Kayla a very special anniversary surprise. He booked out a movie theater and surprised her with a big screen showing on their anniversary. It was the first time she had seen that video. He's going to be a popular man.
And finally, two popular spots in the Spanish capital are now listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Madrid's historic Paseo del Prado Boulevard, and El Retiro Park were added to the list on Sunday. The Paseo del Prado dates back to the 16th century hosting important cultural and tourist spots, including the Prado Museum.
El Retiro Park is one of the city's most visited attractions that was built for the personal enjoyment of King Philip the 4th in the 17th century. Beautiful park. Beautiful park.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram, @HolmesCNN.
Do stick around. I'll have another hour of news in just a moment.