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Olympic Games Updates In Japan As New COVID-19 Cases Surge; Rising COVID-19 Cases All Across The U.S.; House Select Committee To Investigate The Capitol Riot Starts Tuesday; CNN's Exclusive Interview With Pakistani Taliban Leader; Tunisia President Suspends Parliament And Dismisses Prime Minister; Jordan's King Call Half Brother's Action Amateurish. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 26, 2021 - 02:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. Appreciate your company. I'm Michael Holmes. Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM.

A changing mood in Japan. We're live in Tokyo amid signs the country is getting more excited about the games. Details along with the latest medal count.

Plus, repairing a frayed relationship. We will have a live report from Hong Kong as one of America's top diplomats begins talks with China. Also coming up.


UNKNOWN: There is a lot of potential fuel for that fire to continue, if it crosses. And so our efforts and our priorities over there are to keep the fire from crossing the road there.


HOLMES: We'll bring you the devastating toll from the wildfires raging in parts of the United States.

The Tokyo Summer Olympics in full swing despite the pandemic. Just a short time ago, the tennis superstar, Japan's Naomi Osaka, advancing to the round of 16. Good news for the host nation. And let's have a look at where the metal count stands at the moment. It could quickly change though with 21 medal events on Monday.

Now, officials have meanwhile confirmed at least 153 COVID cases linked to the game so far. One of the new cases was a resident of the Olympic Village and that brings the total number of cases from the village to 16. Japan, now contending with the pandemic and also bracing for a tropical storm that's expected to bring rain and strong wind this week.

But despite all of that, the mood is at shifting in Japan as the competition gets underway. Let's ask CNN's Blake Essig who joins me now live from Tokyo. We have been talking about the down mood among Japanese people for months now. Do you get a sense that it is shifting, that people are starting to enjoy this?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Michael, you know, its great news. I do get the sense that the mood here is shifting. And the reality is, for months, we've talked about how unpopular these games have been with the Japanese people all the way up until about a week before the opening ceremony, poll after poll showed that the vast majority often 80 percent wanted the Olympics either canceled or postponed.

And the reason for that, concerns over the health and safety of the Japanese people. And that hasn't changed with cases in Tokyo surging, Olympic related cases also continuing to pile up. But despite that since competition began last week, it does seem like the mood around here is starting to change, here for this made for T.V. event.

IOC officials say that nearly 70 million people watched the opening ceremony here in Japan. The CEO of the Olympic Broadcast Services says it was the most watched event in Japan over the past decade. And so far, 80 percent of Japan's roughly 126 million people have tuned in at some point to watch these Olympic Games.


UNKNOWN (through translation): I've been glued to T.V. every night because I enjoy watching the Olympics and following the wins and the upsets. I think the athletes have been training really hard for this moment. Just being able to see their efforts makes me happy. And I think Tokyo did a good job in pulling all this off.


ESSOG: And now after two days of full competition, Japan's performance at these games is getting people even more excited. So far, Japan has won six gold and a silver and they're doing it in historic fashion, dominating the skateboarding competition as it makes its Olympic debut.

And even thought the buzz and excitement is a far cry from what you would expect in a host city here during the Olympics, people are trying to experience the games in any way possible, and proof of that, large crowds of people line the course to cheer on triathletes as they competed. Now, they weren't supposed to be there, Michael, but as you can see, it didn't stop these large crowds from gathering to catch a glimpse of Olympic action.

HOLMES: Well, that's some good news. Blake, good to see you. Thanks for that. Blake Essig in Tokyo. Now, joining me here in the studio, once again, CNN World Sport Patrick Snell following the achievements. And we heard Blake mention skateboarding. You and I have been chatting about this. Basically, a couple of kids --


HOLMES: -- on the podium.


HOLMES: Awesome.

SNELL: It was amazing. There is this image earlier, Michael, of three teenagers on the podium.


Day three of official competition Monday and another day to save, no question for Japan, once again, in the skateboarding. You should remember, it's making its Olympic debut, Michael, at these games. Historic as well.

In the women's competition list, all three competitors, just to stress, all three on the podium, teens. Japan's Momiji Nishiya has won gold. This is in the first ever women street skateboarding event in the Olympics, at just 13 years of age. She is one of the youngest gold medal winners in Olympic history.

Who got silver? Well, that would be another 13-year-old. Brazil's Rayssa Leal winning silver at 13. Funa Nakayama winning bronze. She is a little bit older, Michael.

HOLMES: She's old.

SNELL: She was 16 years of age. It's just -- you just couldn't script this, could you? Nishiya has been giving Japan its sixth gold medal of these games in Tokyo, eight total medal. And on Sunday, just to recap, just capping off a wonderful weekend going into Monday, Japan's Yuto Horigome, winning the first ever Olympic gold medal in skateboarding in men's. So, it's just been an incredible last couple of days. I think you'll agree.

HOLMES: I got to see the Brazilian team actually compete, and she was terrific. She is tiny.

SNELL: Right.

HOLMES: Good for her, got a silver.

SNELL: Yes. Amazing, isn't it.

HOLMES: It's wonderful. When you say that teenagers, barely, two of them.

SNELL: Right.

HOLMES: Great storylines to talk about. And in the swimming pool as well. I mean, good news for my home country and good news for yours.

SNELL: And for my homeland as well.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly. All right. SNELL: Adam Peaty, incredible. We saw his prowess at the Rio '16 games

in Brazil. Powering his way to victory again to win gold in the men's 100 meters, off the back of that triumph five years ago. The 26-year- old from England, not just a defending champion, but also the world record holder in this event. Swimming a time, get this, 57 seconds 37.

Great Britain's first gold at these games. Peaty's third career Olympic medal as well. Why is this so special for the Brits? Well, Peaty now the first British swimmer to successfully defend an Olympic crown. Arno Kamminga, the Netherlands silver, the Italian swimmer, Nicolo Martinenghi with the bronze.

And as I said, you're going to like this one, Michael, because --

HOLMES: My turn.

SNELL: -- yes, your turn now. It's incredible. Let me just sum it up for you, setting the scene for you. First of all, the buildup to you this, dominated to some degree by the U.S. swimming sensation, Katie Ledecky. This was in the 400 meter freestyle action on Monday, looking to add to her triumph in Rio in 2016.

But the world record holder, as it would turn out against a really formidable rival in the Aussie, Ariarne Titmus here. This is a thrilling contest between these two, but there would only be one winner, and it goes the way of the Australian in this highly anticipated showdown.

Titmus winning gold with a time of 3 minutes 56 seconds 69, and that now, the second fastest time ever behind Ledecky's world record of 3:56:36. Ledecky, a 5-time gold medalist, she won the silver with the time actually impressive, 3:57:36. That's the fourth fastest time ever. Titmus' win giving Australia its second gold medal of these Tokyo games, and fifth medal overall.

But, again Michael, once again, we are seeing on day three some compelling storylines. And we haven't even mentioned the triathlon. We're going to be doing that on forthcoming editions of CNN's World Sport. So, that's a little tease. Yes.

HOLMES: What a day. What a day it's been. It's been great fun. It's been fantastic because of some wonderful performances.

SNELL: Now we know what you do during the commercial break because you watch the skateboarding.

HOLMES: I know. I'm watching the tally, yes.

SNELL: Good stuff.

HOLMES: Good to see you Patrick. Patrick Snell there.

Now, you can follow the games with CNN's instant coverage on our website, It's all there.

All right, turning now to the coronavirus pandemic, and experts are saying delta is the most prevalent variant in the U.S. right now, which I think pretty much everyone knew. Cases continuing to spark at an alarming rate.

The majority of the U.S. saw more than 50 percent increase in new COVID infections last week, represented on that map there in a sea of dark red. The vaccinations, well, they've hardly moved in the same time period, with less than half of all Americans fully vaccinated so far. Top health expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says the most pressing need now is to get shots in arms.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASESE: If you look historically at the modeling that has been done over the last 18 months, for the most part, it's been pretty accurate. So I'm not so sure it would be the worst-case scenario, but it's not going to be good. We're going in the wrong direction.

Since we have 50 percent of the country is not fully vaccinated, that is a problem particularly when you have a variant like delta, which has this extraordinary characteristic of being able to spread very efficiently, and very easily from person to person. And we know we have many, many, many vulnerable people in this country who are unvaccinated.



HOLMES: Now, CNN's team is across the U.S. with the latest on the virus. Suzanne Malveaux is in Missouri where a controversial mask mandate is going into effect. But first, let's go to Paul Vercammen in Los Angeles where COVID hospitalizations are surging.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The delta variant helping to drive up the number of cases in Los Angeles County. The most concerning statistic, hospitalization. Let's get right to the last numbers. That is because over the weekend, sometimes you'll have a lag and we did see the number of new cases drop.

But the hospitalizations jumped above 700 in L.A. County, hospitalizations for COVID-19, and that is absolutely alarming. And so, county health officials are saying that people need to wear their masks indoors and get vaccinated.

The result of these hospitalizations is we're seeing a county hospital such as this, County USC, is seeing more patients. They will have one or two patients in June, and now, they are seeing 10 to 15 for COVID- 19. So, what is driving this?


PAUL HOLTOM, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, L.A. COUNTY/USC MEDICAL CENTER: As of right now, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. It's just extraordinarily important. That is the people who are vaccinated now seem to have a high level of protection. The people we are seeing, the numbers that are increasing, are all among people who have not gotten the vaccine. And moreover, it's changed. We can't say anymore, well, it's the old people who are going to die. It's young people now who are coming in very sick.


VERCAMMEN: So, Dr. Holtom saying that this new wave of patients is younger and many of them had excuses such as I just didn't have time to get a shot. He is urging people who've only had one shot in Los Angeles County to get that second shot, and that's because they are vulnerable to a breakthrough case of the delta variant if they haven't had both of required shots. Reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen. Now back to you.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For more than two months, people are breathing a sigh of relief for not having to wear a mask. And all of that is changing on Monday for the people here in St. Louis and St. Louis County. We are in the state of Missouri. And this is where the mask mandate will, in fact, take effect.

So, they will have to wear masks for indoor public spaces, that is everyone, as well as public transportation, everyone 5 years old and older. The vaccinated, as well as the unvaccinated. The only exception will be for those who are eating or drinking at a bar or a public restaurant or those who have a disability who cannot put on or take off their mask.

It will also be a strong recommendation to wear a mask in outdoors as well. Now, the mayor as well as the county executive say this is for the health and safety, well-being of the people here. There has been an incredible surge in COVID cases recently. The push back to the mask mandate has been swift.

To the attorney general, Eric Schmidt, who is running for the GOP nomination of the U.S. Senate was the first to go ahead and be very vocal in his pushback about this, tweeting saying, "The citizens of St. Louis and St. Louis County are not subjects. They are free people. As their Attorney General I'll be filing suit Monday to stop this insanity." Framing this as an issue of freedom and not public safety.

The mayor of St. Louis was quick to respond in her own tweet saying, "Our top priority is protecting the health, safety, and well-being of the people of St. Louis city and county. Nobody is surprised that the attorney general plans to file yet another frivolous lawsuit to serve his own political ambitions."

In the meantime, you have the restaurant owners, the bartenders, the employees, and people who are going out and about, who are now stuck in the middle.


UNKNOWN: Whenever we had the mask mandate, we had to fight a lot of people who didn't want to wear a mask.

We had a customer pull a gun. We've had customers like threatened to fight and just go crazy.


MALVEAUX: City officials later on Monday, will hold a press conference to try to explain how this mask mandate will work. In the meantime, the city of St. Louis is undergoing a COVID crisis. A 40 percent increase, a surge in cases just over the last week. Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, St. Louis, Missouri.

HOLMES: Now, one doctor in Arkansas is pleading with people in his community to get a COVID vaccine. His hospital posting this message online.


MICHAEL BOLDING, COVID UNIT, WASHINGTON REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: What I really wish you could see, is to look into the eyes of a young father or a gentleman who knows that they may be short for this world because they didn't get their vaccine. And the regret and remorse on their face, and fear.



HOLMES: Powerful stuff. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in his community. He appeared on CNN earlier to share more about what it's like to treat extremely ill patients with the virus.


BOLDING: I just, literally just came from a patient's room in his 20s, and it took six people to get him in a prone position on the ventilator. And we are seeing 20 and 30-year-olds dying now from a preventable illness and it's heartbreaking. We are seeing, you know, you can't be too healthy for this virus.

We are seeing people that crossfit on Tuesday and are on a ventilator on Friday. I can't get the word out enough of what we are seeing back here in these units. I see someone daily for the last three weeks that is possibly dying, certainly very sick, that asks if they can get their vaccine.

And it is heartbreaking to tell them that time has passed. That that was five to six weeks ago to prevent this. I grew up in rural America. I'm, you know, watching this kind of disparity between the unvaccinated and the increased mortality of our state and states similar to ours. And I can't scream it enough. You know, these are my people and they are dying and it's tragic. And it is very much a case of misinformation.


HOLMES: And preventable. Just 36 percent of Arkansas residents are fully vaccinated. That is the third lowest rate in the country. Now, a special committee will begin its investigation of the attack on

the U.S. Capital, and Republicans aren't happy about their colleagues who will serve on the panel. We'll have the latest on this battle coming up.

Also, we are hearing from the Pakistani Taliban leader as he reacts to fighting across the border in Afghanistan. His exclusive interview with CNN when we come back.




BENNIE THOMPSON, CHAIRMAN, SELECT COMMITTEE ON JANUARY 6 ATTACK: We don't have any shrinking violets on there. Everybody is committed. They are great patriots. They love this country. And if the issuance of a subpoena by me as chairman is what we have to do to get individuals to come and testify, we will do that. If we have to subpoena records, be they telephone logs or whatever, we have absolutely no problem in pursuing the truth.


HOLMES: That was the U.S. House Democrat, Bennie Thompson, who will chair the special committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol. The first hearing set for Tuesday and partisan battle lines are clearly being drawn. Two Republicans are on the committee, Adam Kinzinger, an outspoken critic of Donald Trump, will serve along with Liz Cheney.

The House Republican leader accusing Speaker Nancy Pelosi of structuring the committee to satisfy her political objectives. And now there are growing calls within the GOP to have Kinzinger and Cheney removed from their other committees in retaliation. CNN's Melanie Zanona has more on what's ahead.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Get ready for an emotional day on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. That is when the January 6 Select Committee is scheduled to hold its first hearing featuring the testimony of police officers who responded to the Capitol attack that day.

Several of the officers were beaten, maced, dragged out into the crowd. One of them was crushed in between doorways. So we are expecting it to be very powerful and emotional. We are also expecting video clips and body-worn camera footage to be played.

One other thing to now look out for is the presence of two Republicans on the select committee who were both appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Liz Cheney was already on the initial roster of this committee, but after Kevin McCarthy, the GOP leader pulled his picks from the panel, Pelosi announced on Sunday that she would be appointing Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican to the committee as well. Now, Republicans are saying this is just another example of how Pelosi

is trying to structure the committee around her own political interest. But Pelosi making clear she's not worried about Republicans have to say. Take a listen to what she had to say on ABC this week.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The Republicans will say what they will say. Our select committee will seek the truth. It's our patriotic duty to do so. And we do not come into our work worried about what the other side who has been afraid of this. Maybe the Republicans can't handle the truth, but we have a responsibility to seek it, to find it, and in a way, retains the confidence of the American people.


ZANONA: So that is just in early preview of the battles to come here on Capitol Hill as the select committee heats up in the coming weeks and months ahead. Melanie Zanona, CNN, Capitol Hill.

HOLMES: A top U.S. general says American forces will continue airstrikes in Afghanistan to support Afghan forces battling the Taliban. Militants have gained ground in recent months after launching a sweeping assault as the U.S. withdraws.

Those Afghan Taliban games grabbing the attention of Pakistan's Taliban leader just across the border. CNN's Nic Robertson has the details in this exclusive report.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): As Afghanistan's Taliban gain ground, so Pakistan's Taliban, the TTP, take heart. In his first ever T.V. interview, their leader, Noor Wali Mehsud, answers questions CNN sent him via intermediaries at an undisclosed location near the Afghan-Pakistan border. The gun and his side, a message of war.


NOOR WALI MEHSUD, LEADER, TEHRIK-I-TALIBAN (through translation): The Afghan Taliban victory is the victory of entire Muslim people. Our relations are based on brotherhood, sympathy, and Islamic principles.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Mehsud's three predecessors were all killed by U.S. drone strikes for fighting alongside Afghan-Taliban targeting U.S. forces. Their bloody record included 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 and 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 (through translation): 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 (voice-over): But while Pakistan's army has fought a decade's long counter insurgency 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, blowback 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 (voice-over): The TTP are already demanding sharia law, curtailing girls education.

AYESHA SIDDIQA, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, SOAS SOUTH ASIA INSTITUTE: They would like to implement sharia in Pakistan and Pakistan's territories. Already, there is a lot of fear.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): 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 threatened.

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 than (inaudible) Afghanistan. It will be a threat much more.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): From his undisclosed location, Mehsud is coy, hinting that the gains that could be coming his way.

MEHSUD (through translation): According to the teaching of Islam victory, of 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 (voice-over): In the meantime, despite his denials, expectation is Mehsud's fighters will keep backing the Afghan-Taliban. Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Tunisia's president has dismissed the prime minister and frozen the parliament in a move that sparked cheers in the capital.


HOLMES: Large crowds turning out in Tunis in support of the president's announcement, though his opponents accuse him of launching a coup. The president, Kais Saied, said his actions are in line with the constitution and that he will assume executive authority with the assistance of a new prime minister.

Many protesters in Tunis though voicing their anger against a moderate Islamist party, the largest in parliament. This says the COVID crisis adds to the country's economic and political turmoil.

Jordan's king is calling his half-brother's role in an alleged plot, amateurish and disappointing. You might remember Jordanian officials accused former Crown Prince Hamzah of being part of a plot to destabilize the kingdom back in early April.

In videos obtained by the BBC, Hamzah criticized Jordan's leadership and denied the allegations. He said he had been isolated over concerns about alleged criticism of the government or king. But days later, Hamzah pledged loyalty to the king. Here is what the king now tells our Fareed Zakaria about the situation.


KING ABDULLAH II, JORDAN: We've had to look at many characters that tend to use people's frustrations and legitimate concerns of challenges that they have in making their lives better, to really push on their own agendas and ambitions. What I think made this so sad, that one of the people was my brother, who did it in such an amateurish and really disappointing way.


So from my point, the intelligence services as they always do gather information and it got a point where they had legitimate concerns that certain individuals were trying to push my brother's ambitions for their own agendas and decided quite rightly to nip it in the bud and quietly.


HOLMES: Earlier this month, a top adviser to the king and a member of the royal family was sentenced to 15 years in prison for sedition. Quick break. When we come back even as the COVID-19 Delta variants spreads, protesters in Europe resisting vaccinations. We'll have details when we come back, and 1000s of Brazilians are demanding that President Jair Bolsonaro be removed. I'll talk to an expert in Brazilian politics for more on why the so called Trump of the tropics has become politically vulnerable.


HOLMES: And a warm welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. This is CNN NEWSROOM. Well, as the COVID-19 Delta variants spreads across Europe, some protesters are demanding freedom from having to get vaccinations.


HOLMES: 1000s of people marched to the Greek parliament in Athens over the weekend. Some launching petrol bombs at Riot Police who fired tear gas and water cannon. Protesters in France also demonstrating against proposed requirements. The country battling a fourth wave of Coronavirus infections, and the French Parliament passing a bill requiring vaccinations for healthcare workers.


It also expands the use of the health pass system to enter many businesses. CNN's Jim Bittermann reports.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Even before it leaves the parliament, the new Health Pass Law seems to have had the impact that the government wanted. After President Emmanuel Macron's July 12 announcement that the French would soon have to carry a certificate attesting to vaccinations or negative COVID-19 tests for even the simplest of daily activities, appointments for vaccination skyrocketed.

According to the 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 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.

BITTERMAN: But perhaps just as influential as the President's vaccination shaming is the influence of other countrymen. According to health ministry statistics, about half of the adult population is 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 Bitterman, Gilles, France.


HOLMES: 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.

President Bolsonaro's popularity has plunged to record lows, and polls show him losing do his main rival, leftist former President Lula da Silva in next year's election if both were to run. Earlier, I spoke with a Brazilian political expert and asked him how vulnerable the president is.


GUILHERME CASAROES, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, GETULIO VARGAS FOUNDATION: He's pretty vulnerable right now. I'd say he's going through the most turbulent period of his period in office. So I think that 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. 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.


HOLMES: A top Chinese diplomat is blaming the U.S. for the country's strained relationship just a couple of days after China's Foreign Minister have warned the U.S. to stop boasting of its superiority. The pointed rhetoric comes as America's number two diplomat, the Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman is in China for a two day visit.

For more on this let's turn to CNN Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Number two top level meeting between the two countries since President Biden took office. One presumes they weren't expecting big things. What happened?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, expectations have not been high for this high level meeting that is still currently underway in Tianjin between the United States and China. Ahead of the meeting, U.S. officials said that Wendy Sherman, she is of course the Deputy Secretary of State for the United States would be seeking guardrails with China to better manage competition with China and to avoid conflict with China but she has been getting an earful from Chinese officials.

In the days running up to today's meeting, Wang Yi, that's the Foreign Minister of China has been seeding and emphasizing this message in state run media that no country is superior to others. And then earlier today, we've been hearing from his deputy Xie Feng, who has been issuing a series of statements rebuking the United States including blaming the United States for the current, 'stalemate in relations.'

Let's bring up an example of one of these statements from Xie Feng in which he says this, "The China-U.S. relationship is now in a stalemate and faces serious difficulties. Fundamentally, it is because some Americans portray China as an imagined enemy. We urge the United States to change its highly misguided mindset and dangerous policy"

Now today's meeting in Tianjin comes at a time of deepening tension between the U.S. and China, especially after that last first high level meeting between Biden Administration officials in China in March in Alaska that erupted into that very public confrontation.

Since then, there has been this sort of ongoing trading of diplomatic barbs between the U.S. and China as well as tit for tat sanctions. Most recently sanctions placed by U.S. officials on Chinese officials here in Hong Kong and in response China on Friday slapped sanctions on American officials, including the former U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.


It's in this current climate with relations so challenged and so fraught that's prompted a number of China watchers, including Willie Lam, to say that the likelihood of any significant outcome out of today's meeting in Tianjin is not that high. Take a listen.


WILLY LAM, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, CHINESE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: Given the fact that both sides have so many things, not in common, including - imposition of sanctions, accusations of hacking, geopolitical contention in South China Sea, Taiwan, Xinjiang and Hong Kong, it's not the meeting to resolve differences.


LU STOUT: If talks do go well today in Tianjin, it could set the stage for a possible Xi-Biden summit that could take place in the sidelines of the G20 summit in Italy in October, Michael.

HOLMES: All right, Kristie Lu Stout there with the latest on that. Thanks so much, Kristie. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back rescue crews are in a race against the clock to find survivors after heavy monsoon rains triggered floods and landslides in western India. We're live in New Delhi. Coming up also, the victims of Florida's Surfside condo collapse remembered at a memorial concert.





HOLMES: A memorial in Bal Harbor in Florida honoring the victims of the Surfside condo collapse. It has now been a month since the Champlain towers South building came crashing down in the middle of the night killing at least 97 people. Authorities believe there is still one victim of the collapse yet to be found. CNN's Boris Sanchez was at Memorial and has a report from Surfside.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a solemn and somber evening near Surfside Florida, on the water just a few blocks away from where Champlain Tower South came crashing down, one month ago. It was very emotional and people in the crowd shed tears as the names of the 97 people who were confirmed dead in that tragedy were read aloud.

There were songs and hymns and a symphony, playing music for the crowd. It was an early step in a long process of closure. I got to speak with the Mayor of Surfside Charles Burkett about that process. Here's some of what he shared with me.


CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE FLORIDA MAYOR: You know, we've got people's lives in that debris. I mean, things as small as diamond rings. I was just talking to a family member who told me, her daughter was - who was just married in January had two rings and described the rings in great detail.

So all of those things have to be found. These people have no closure yet. This is a long process, it's painful. They asked about the psychological support. We have psychological teams here. We're just getting started really.

SANCHEZ: And there's no question this is going to be a long process of closure. There are still so many questions to answer for, that investigators are working through right now. I do want to leave you with some of the lyrics from the final song that was sung here on Sunday night both in Hebrew and in English. Surfside of course, being the home of a large Jewish community. The song is called, 'Heal us now.' And some of the lyrics say, 'we pray for healing of the soul. We pray to once again, behold.' Back to you.





HOLMES: Dramatic video from northern India showing the moment boulders began rolling down a mountainside and this is during a deadly landslide Have a look at it yourself. You can see the large rocks slamming into a bridge below. That bridge then collapses. Official say at least nine people were killed two others injured after boulders hit the vehicle they were traveling in. At least one bystander was also hurt.

And in western India, at least 149 people have now died after monsoon rains triggered landslides and flooding there. CNN's Vedika Sud joins me now live from New Delhi with the latest. Bring us up to date on the rescue and recovery.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Michael Well, those efforts are still going on in many of the districts in the western state of Maharashtra. In India, the capital city of Maharashtra remember is Mumbai for our viewers. Now very quickly, a lot of these districts are still inundated. They've been landslides through most of these districts.

And still we have over 60 people missing, over 230,000 people have been evacuated from low lying areas, because the worry is that the dams are overflowing, the waters being released. So these are vulnerable spots from where these people are being pulled away. The Indian Army, the Navy, the Air Force, as well as other state Disaster Response Teams are on the ground, trying to help people. Some people cannot even trace four-five the family members as of now, some of the state disaster response forces are now planning to pull out from some areas, because they're saying that bodies are decaying, and they really can't find more of the missing.

Now it's very important to note here that environmentalists that we have spoken with say that this area's ecologically sensitive. Remember, India has seen two strong cyclones as well as a Glacier burst in the last 16 months. And this is just yet another sign of climate change according to environmentalists, and they saying that this should be a wakeup call not only for India, but the region especially because Maharashtra itself since the first of June, which is officially the monsoon time here in India has seen 35 percent additional rainfall than usual.

So these are all warning signs that the environmentalists are talking about and hoping that India takes these issues up very soon because climate change is not only something to do with India, but the world currently, Michael.

HOLMES: More signs, aren't they? All right. Vedika, thanks. Vedika Sud there.

SUD: Thank you.

HOLMES: With at least 86 large wildfires burning in the United States right now mostly in the West. the Dixie fire in Northern California is the state's largest and it grew rapidly on Saturday, so far scorching nearly 200,000 acres, almost 81,000 hectares.

1000s of firefighters now fighting it right as we speak. And California's neighbors facing their own infernos. The Bootleg fire in Oregon remains America's largest that more than twice the size of the Dixie Fire. Firefighters struggling to control it. Hot dry weather only making things worse. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins me now. Pedram, any hope in sight?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, the long range models actually do suggest a change of the pattern here, kind of bringing southerly air which would bring monsoonal moisture from the southwest into this interior portion of the Northwest. And that's the excellent news because you notice upwards of these 86 active fires, large active fires around the western U.S. This is scattered about 12 States and the vast majority of them into that interior Northwest region.

And of course we've talked about how the smoke has kind of made its way to the upper atmosphere. The winds have eventually brought some of that and brilliant sunsets across portions of the upper Midwest even on into the Northeast. The condition again, widespread when it comes to what's happening out west and the impacts even being felt across the eastern U.S. but notice the excessive heat.

It's once again back in action here temps in Portland, climbing up into the 90s within the next few days. Boise, Idaho, 10 degrees above average in late July. That puts you well over 100 degrees, again staying there for a couple of days before it cools off and you noted the Bootleg fire, you'll notice 46 percent containment, third largest fire in state history for friends across Oregon and not far south of there.

Of course we've got these active fires as well across northern half of the state of California but here's the good news. Southern air here, it kind of shifts and brings moisture from the southwest into portions of the Northwest.


So we do expect a 40, maybe 50 percent chance of some showers, some couldn't mix in with thunderstorms. But still the best bet we've seen for some rainfall in quite some time, around parts of eastern Oregon into portions of western Idaho. That's excellent news. But notice what's happening down across the Southwest. No excessive heat had been in place in recent weeks.

Well, we have flipped the switch and the monsoonal moisture in full effect here with rainfall continuing. In fact, as much as three plus inches has come down in Vail, Arizona, which is a small community just east of Tucson. That's about four months' worth of rainfall for this region coming down since - just on Friday alone.

So it kind of speaks to the amount of rain that has been in place. You'll notice the drought situation here certainly has been expansive, and that's improving with the rainfall in place. But Michael, the good news here is that that moisture is going to shift towards the north and maybe give firefighters a little bit of an upper hand going into this weekend.

HOLMES: I'm sure they will gratefully accept it. Pedram Javaheri, thanks so much. Appreciate that. And to learn more about the climate crisis, go to for our full coverage. Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HolmesCNN. My colleague Isa Soares with more CNN NEWSROOM after the break.