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CNN NEWSROOM

Tokyo 2020 Summer Games in Final Hours; Devastating Fires in Athens, Greece; Protests against Italy's "Green Pass"; Arkansas' Surging COVID-19 Cases Push Medical Staff to Brink; France Institutes Health Pass for Cultural, Leisure Venues; New Calls for Pregnant Women to Get Vaccinated; Beirut Blast Anniversary; Mexico Sues Gun Makers; Humanitarian Ship with Rescued Migrants Arrives in Italy; China's Drive to Win Olympic Gold. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired August 8, 2021 - 00:00   ET

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


[00:00:00]

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us all around the world. Appreciate your company, I'm Michael Holmes.

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, an unprecedented Olympic Games with plenty of inspirational stories and not the usual atmosphere is about to come to a close.

Athens under siege: apocalyptic scenes in Greece, where many are forced to flee for their lives.

Also --

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HOLMES (voice-over): Protests in Europe as some governments make proof of immunity mandatory for public places.

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HOLMES: Well, when the closing ceremony begins in Tokyo in about 7 hours from now, it will mark the end of what has been one of the most remarkable Summer Games ever held.

By hosting Tokyo 2020 during a relentless global pandemic, Japan took a huge gamble. Already delayed a year, many Japanese wanted the Olympics called off completely; still the games went on.

And like all Olympics, they were filled with magnificent moments, not just in gold, silver and bronze but in unexpected acts of kindness, bravery and courage that help the world feel a little closer, even while COVID is keeping everyone apart.

There are still several more gold medals to be won in the coming hours. Right now, Team USA leads in the overall medal count. China has the most gold medals. CNN's Blake Essig is in Tokyo. (WORLD SPORT)

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HOLMES: Let's go across now to Tokyo and Blake Essig is standing there, the closing ceremony rapidly approaching.

I guess not many details from what I'm hearing.

But what might we expect?

Obviously not the atmosphere of ceremonies gone by.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael, it ends where it all started right here at the new national stadium. For now we don't know much about the closing ceremony. It's still very much shrouded in mystery although I can tell you, they are practicing as we speak.

We've been hearing some very dramatic music playing off and on for the last hour. What we do know is about the closing ceremony is the theme for the event is The World We Share. Organizers say that the idea being that, even if we can't all be together, we can share the moment and open the door to a brighter future.

Now as we take a step back and reflect over the last 2 weeks, these Olympic Games have been anything but normal. Virtually no spectators were allowed to attend events, and strict COVID countermeasures were put into place, that seemed to dampen the atmosphere that typically accompany the Olympics.

Now despite, that how incredibly popular they unpopular the games were in the days and weeks leading up to the games, there was a clear shift in mood of people on the ground. You could see the curiosity start to build, the desire to start to experience games any way they could.

If that meant spending time outside venues they were not allowed to be in while others watched on TV. According to the IOC, nine out of 10 people in Japan watched the Olympics on TV in Japan sometime during the games.

But it's important to point out, that the shift in mood wasn't a shift in support of the only movement. The vast majority still don't think these games should have been held because of health issues.

Instead, it was the support for the men and women competing. I've heard it over and over again throughout these Olympic Games, the desire to support athletes who work so hard and sacrificed so much to be here.

And yes, Japan did do extremely well at this Olympics, which winning more gold medals than any Summer Olympics every, which helped generate excitement. But when we look back at these games, Tokyo 2020, decades from now, there's no question that the legacy of these games will be defined by the global health crisis and an event that many people felt like was held against their will.

HOLMES: Certainly true. I hope the weather clears up for you, Blake, appreciate it. Blake Essig there in Tokyo for you.

Several wildfires are burning in Greece and Turkey and some of them are still out of control, very much so. Have a look at this video.

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HOLMES (voice-over): It was taken in Turkey on Thursday over the span of 35 minutes. Take a look at how quickly the flames overtake the trees. Smoke covers up the view completely. This fire is still ongoing and so as well are several more. That happened in 35 minutes.

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HOLMES: Now in Greece, officials say firefighters are still waging a, quote, "very big battle," the fires in Greece, wiping out people's homes and rendering entire neighborhoods unrecognizable. Elinda Labropoulou shows some of the devastation in Athens.

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ELINDA LABROPOULOU, JOURNALIST (voice-over): It was another long night for firefighters in Greece. Exhausted figures moving like shadows in the darkness, battling a wall of orange flames, trying to save the houses in this neighborhood in an Athens suburb.

Desperate residents throwing buckets of water at the intruding flames. But they still burn. The light of day brings little relief. It's just easier to see the extent of the damage. A question many people are waking up to, what, if anything, can be salvaged?

Local resident Nikos Defteraios shows us what is left of his home, the place his family has lived in for generations, now reduced to twisted metal and shattered bricks.

NIKOS DEFTERAIOS (PH), LOCAL RESIDENT (through translator): We are looking at 30 years work. My parents, I got the house from them, for 30 years work here.

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DEFTERAIOS (through translator): They had also taken the house from my grandmother.

How will I be able to rebuild what was there, when?

LABROPOULOU (voice-over): His loss shared by countless other homeowners across Athens -- and businesses. The Greek government says it plans to reimburse people affected by the fires but right now it's just trying to save lives.

LABROPOULOU: Until some days ago, this was a popular Athens tavern. Now it's just one of dozens destroyed buildings, a result of the huge fire that burned in the north suburbs of Athens.

Greek authorities are trying to put out the flames but the destruction here is really immense. Local residents have told us that at least three-quarters of their homes have been destroyed.

LABROPOULOU (voice-over): Much of the forests around Athens have been destroyed. Officials say climate change contributed to the high temperatures and dry conditions that turned areas into tinderboxes.

The Greek prime minister said the land will be reforested. But for Nikos, the charred landscape of his beloved city represents an even bigger disaster.

DEFTERAIOS (through translator): We are talking about the lands of Athens. This area is a living land for Athens. Right now the flames are burning them. It doesn't matter where it happens, people live. We all take our oxygen from here.

LABROPOULOU (voice-over): In his community, there are some small signs of perseverance amid the wreckage. Volunteers pick up dogs lost in the fires. Utility crews work to fix damaged power lines. But it's a long way forward before these streets ever feel like home again -- Elinda Labropoulou, CNN, Athens, Greece.

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HOLMES: Just extraordinary.

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HOLMES: Opponents in some European countries speaking loud and clear against COVID health passes.

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HOLMES (voice-over): Next up, protesters take to the streets as vaccinations become a must to go to many public places.

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HOLMES (voice-over): Also, how frustrated health care workers are being pushed to the brink as one COVID hot spot runs high on patients and low on space. We'll be right back.

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HOLMES: Hundreds of Italians there chanting "freedom," as they rally against a new COVID green, pass on Saturday. At this protest in Rome the day after the measure went into effect. The pass, showing someone is at least partially vaccinated against COVID or has a very recent negative test.

Now it is mandatory to go to many public places, including, gyms, cinemas, indoor restaurants and so on. But the green pass is a red line for some Italians, who say it is government overreach.

Thousands also took to the streets in France for the fourth weekend in a row, to protest similar COVID rules there.

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HOLMES (voice-over): Take a look at the scene in Paris on Saturday. More than 230,000 people, marching in cities across France, protesting rules requiring vaccinations for caregivers and the expansion of the country's COVID health pass.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I will be deprived of freedom, because I have chosen not to be vaccinated and not to take the PCR test. Soon, I can no longer go anywhere. I can only stay at home.

Can you imagine?

And I will continue to pay my taxes. That's not normal.

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HOLMES: Starting Monday, a health pass will be required to enter restaurants, cafes or long distance trains as well.

Now in the Australian state of Queensland, one city entering lockdown, even as strict pandemics ease in other parts of the same state. The northern tourist town of Cairns beginning a 4-day snap lockdown, after a concerning case involving a taxi driver.

Meanwhile southeast Queensland in the same state is exiting its 8-day lockdown. Though, some extra precautions will stay in place for the state capital, Brisbane. Two other Australian states, New South Wales and Victoria, remain locked down.

Here in the United States, the Delta variant driving coronavirus case numbers to their highest levels since February, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. seven-day average is more than 100,000 new cases per day.

In Florida, with the second highest rate per capita in the nation, doctors say children's hospitals are becoming overwhelmed.

And health experts warning of a potential superspreader event, as hundreds of thousands of bikers, gathering for the annual, 10-day, motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. The controversial decision was made to hold the event last year in August and, months later, no surprise, a surge was linked to the rally.

In the state of Arkansas is another hot spot where the virus is spreading fast and ICU beds are running out. The situation so overwhelming, some medical workers find it too much to handle. CNN's Martin Savidge explains.

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MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Greg Thompson, surging COVID cases have made every day a disaster.

GREG THOMPSON, RUNS AMBULANCE SERVICE: A slow-moving mass casualty event, yes.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): He runs the ambulance service for Little Rock and Central Arkansas. But his ambulances are running out of places to take patients. Computers track hospital availability. Red means they're full.

It's the reddest day they have ever seen.

For Dr. Cam Patterson, every day is a challenge.

DR. CAM PATTERSON, CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS FOR MEDICAL SCIENCES: We are down over 200 nurses, empty positions that we can fill.

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SAVIDGE (voice-over): As chancellor at the University of Arkansas for medical sciences, part of his duties includes overseeing Arkansas's only level one trauma center. He says the latest surge is pushing his health care workers to the breaking point.

PATTERSON: We've had people literally walk off the job, because I couldn't take it anymore.

SAVIDGE: Somebody walking off of their shift at this hospital?

PATTERSON: We've had people -- we've had people walk off their shift in the middle of the shift, as distressing as that is, because they just cannot take it anymore.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): They now have three COVID wards that could add more beds but like most hospitals, they can't add more staff.

SAVIDGE: Did you ever anticipate that the worst surge would be at a time when there was a vaccine?

PATTERSON: No.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): What's different this surge health care workers say is the frustration that it shouldn't be happening, not with the vaccine, not in summer. This was supposed to be their break.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think everyone thought that.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Instead, Arkansas's vaccination rate has remained low and daily new COVID hospitalizations have exploded.

SAVIDGE: Overwhelmingly, most of the patients are unvaccinated. How do you not get angry?

DR. MARC PHAN, ER AND ICU DOCTOR: I try to respect everyone's decision. I know there is a lot of misinformation.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Being an intensive care and emergency room physician is all Dr. Marc Phan ever wanted or so he thought.

SAVIDGE: I just wanted to read a tweet that you put out. And you said, not going to lie, this has sped up my thoughts of retiring from healthcare by a few years. What's going on?

PHAN: It gave me second thoughts on, you know, what I'm going to do entire -- the rest of my life.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): He sees the constant stress stealing his coworkers' passion for their job and compassion for their patients.

SAVIDGE: Burnout, do you see it? Do you hear about it?

PHAN: Oh, it's constant.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): As a new nurse, COVID is the only life Takela Garner has ever known.

TAKELA GARNER, NURSE: I feel like it's taking over.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): In 18 months, she's seen as many people die as most nurses before COVID saw in a career. And it's taking its toll.

SAVIDGE: Have you had days where you did not want to come to work?

GARDNER: Yes, yes, I've had moments where I have sat in my car and cried before I came to work, before I came in. I literally just sit there and cry.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Martin Savidge, CNN, Little Rock, Arkansas.

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HOLMES: Let's bring in Dr. Scott Miscovich. He is a national consultant for COVID testing, joining us from Tucson, Arizona.

Good to see you, Doctor. The good news, I suppose, in the U.S., is that nearly 60 percent of the eligible population, 12 and older, are fully vaccinated.

The reality is, is it enough?

Especially given the virulence of the Delta variant?

And with that 7-day average, topping 100,000 again?

DR. SCOTT MISCOVICH, FAMILY PHYSICIAN AND NATIONAL CONSULTANT: That is exactly, correct Michael. I think everyone has heard the concept of herd immunity. We were saying, maybe early on, 60-65 percent.

What we do have to understand as we have a variant that is so contagious and that is spreading at the rate of chicken pox and spreading almost double the rate of what the smallpox had spread, which was obviously, quite serious, most of us believe, we are going to need to hit 85 percent before we can start getting into the next big place of -- remember, it is suppression, elimination and eradication.

Right now, we aren't close to any of those. So we need to think 85 percent.

Why is that a problem?

We know, probably, about 12-15 percent of the country won't even dream of getting a vaccine. So anyone eligible needs to be vaccinated.

HOLMES: That's depressing, to be honest. But it's accurate. There is a huge annual motorcycle gathering, we mentioned earlier, in Sturgis, South Dakota, up to 700,000 people, likely to attend. Last, year it turned into a superspreader event.

What do you think when you see a gathering, like this, at a time like this?

MISCOVICH: You know, my mind, it just looks at that and it just makes me realize, I start to count and think, do these people realize how many of them are, truly, just going to die because of this?

If that's the case, there will be people who will succumb to COVID, because they attended that event. We are still seeing the mortality rate of 1.8 percent and it is probably closing in on 2 percent. So the superspreader events are, I looked at the clip within France, when you look at them walking through, with the green pass protests, not one mask anywhere.

And you know in the Sturgis event, we won't see any masks on those individuals. So it's quite dangerous. And hundreds will die.

HOLMES: It's a good point. You mentioned, in France and Europe, we are seeing several countries moving toward, so-called green passes, proof that you've been vaccinated before you can get into a variety of places. Yet, we see the pushback by many people.

[00:25:00]

HOLMES: It's interesting; given we have driver's licenses and the law says you have to wear a seatbelt and so on and we do, why do you think that such passes are being so, fiercely, opposed?

They seem to make sense, don't they?

MISCOVICH: They make so much sense. We have seen that the danger is indoors. Indoor environments, right now, with Delta, what we are telling our patients and we are telling groups, is that if you are unvaccinated and you go into an indoor environment and people have COVID, you are going to get it.

I have come up with a fact that, I believe, CDC and World Health needs to change their guidance to say that it only takes 2 minutes, within 6 feet, not 15 minutes. We need to start pushing that, so that people understand how easy it is to get the new Delta variant. It is just unfathomable as we watch the hospitals overrun. Everyone,

now is probably one degree of separation from knowing someone with COVID. It is remarkable. I have no idea why they would think that.

HOLMES: Really quick, we have to mention the global situation and, in particular, the low vaccination rates in so many countries, that cannot even get vaccine doses. The thing that is mind-boggling, is meanwhile, in the U.S., thousands, thousands of doses, are being thrown out because they are out of date and no one is coming to use them.

MISCOVICH: Yes, fortunately, I am in Tucson, with my group and we have a creative program going on with the Mexican government. And we are taking the vaccines that are close to expiration and having the administration time down to the border for the high risk.

I think it is a great pilot that needs to be expanded. But let's face it Michael, the world needs to be vaccinated before we have this COVID moving into the elimination and eradication.

We have to find a world, a way for the world to come together and the United States and the European Union, have to take bigger leadership. Yes, we focus on our population but until we turn to places like Africa or some of the other third world countries, we will be living with this through 2024 or 2025.

HOLMES: It is so clear. Variants thrive where there is rampant spread. So we will get another variant, as people are saying, that could beat these vaccines. Have to leave it there, unfortunately, Dr. Scott Miscovich, thank you so, much I really appreciate it.

MISCOVICH: Thank you Michael.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: There are new calls for pregnant women to get vaccinated. A large number, having avoided the vaccine fearing, what would happen to their unborn child. But British health officials say, the Delta variant puts these women more at risk than ever. Salma Abdelaziz, explains.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So that tummy has got to come in.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pregnancy in a time of pandemic comes with a big question, whether or not to get vaccinated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Staying up at night and researching. It became slightly like an obsession.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They told women not to have it, the next minute to have it. It was a little bit confusing.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Guidance keeps changing. British officials first advised expectant mothers against vaccination. But since July, strongly urge it.

In the U.S., the CDC does not directly recommended it for pregnant people but say they are eligible. While two leading obstetric groups say, expectant mothers should be immunized. Unable to find clear answers, Christine Coffman in Maryland decided not to get vaccinated.

CHRISTINE COFFMAN, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: I was definitely worried about it being so new and us having a lot of research on it.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): One week before her due date, she tested positive for COVID-19.

COFFMAN: At that time, I thought that I was going to die. It was terrifying knowing that I have this infection coursing through my body.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): As mom and baby got sicker, doctors performed an emergency C-section.

COFFMAN: They took her to the NICU and I didn't see my baby for two days because I had COVID.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Both are now back home, happy and healthy.

ABDELAZIZ: Hello.

COFFMAN: Hi.

I just really want my story to be an advice. If you're thinking about getting the vaccine, get it.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Ninety-eight percent of expectant mothers admitted to hospital with COVID-19 in England since May were unvaccinated.

MARIAN KNIGHT, PROFESSOR OF MATERNAL AND CHILD POPULATION HEALTH: The balance is very much in favor of the benefits of vaccination versus the risks of the infection.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Initial vaccine trials did not include pregnant women but experts point to the nearly 200,000 pregnant people now safely vaccinated across the U.S. and U.K.

[00:30:00]

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Back in the park, we ask if the real world evidence is enough.

ABDELAZIZ: Raise your hand if you've gotten the vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For me, there's not enough data there, personally, from what I've researched to make me feel comfortable getting it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just felt more comfortable and safer knowing that I had some protection than no protection at all. ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): A majority of pregnant people in the U.S. and the U.K. remain unvaccinated, with many still waiting for answers -- Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Quick break now. When we come back here on CNN NEWSROOM, a year of coping with grief and heartbreak and loss. Survivors demand justice on the anniversary of the deadly Beirut port explosion. That story is coming up.

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HOLMES: Welcome back. I'm Michael Holmes, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Now the Taliban may be on the verge of seizing yet another provincial capital in Afghanistan. A local official reporting heavy fighting around Kunduz and casualties on both sides.

The Taliban keep advancing in the countryside and not even the capital is safe as the U.S. completes a near troop withdrawal. In Kabul, a funeral has been held for a top government spokesman killed by the Taliban on Friday.

His killing among the latest in a wave of assassinations targeting military and government officials. And as the Taliban takes more territory, embassies telling their citizens to leave. The U.N. warning of impending disaster. CNN's Clarissa Ward reports from Afghanistan.

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CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly unraveling, which is why you saw the U.S. embassy come out and urge all Americans to leave the country.

This comes on the heels of the Taliban taking control of two provincial capitals. This is a big deal. They are the first but by no means, unfortunately probably the last. At least three other cities are under imminent threat.

We spoke to ICRC, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the helped the hospital in Kandahar, who said that in the first six months of this year alone, they saw more than 2,300 weapon-wounded patients.

That's more than double the amount that they saw in the first six months of last year. We also heard from the new U.N. envoy to Afghanistan. She warned that if the international community does not act soon, Afghanistan could be a potential catastrophe with few if any parallels this century.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: Clarissa Ward there.

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HOLMES: Now Lebanon has just marked one year since the deadly explosion at Beirut's port and with the official probe stalled and no one yet held accountable, people express their anger and frustration at the government, as you would imagine they would.

Clashes between protesters and security forces left more than 50 people injured, that's according to the Lebanese Red Cross. People demanding justice for the blast, which killed more than 200, injured thousands and changed the lives of just about everyone else.

CNN's Ben Wedeman reports for us from Beirut. First a warning, his report contains graphic images.

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BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Nurse Pamela Zaynoun (ph) was on the phone with her mother. At 8 minutes past 6:00 in the evening, Beirut's nightmare began.

Pamela, in the ward for premature babies, didn't hesitate.

PAMELA ZAYNOUN (PH), NURSE: I was very focused to save the babies.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): With three babies in her arms, she worked walk for an hour ad a half to find an incubator. While Pamela was walking, the injured flocked to her severely damaged hospital, the St. George, where the explosion had killed four nurses.

On that awful evening, more than 6,000 people were wounded, more than 200 killed. A city that, over the decades, has been through wars, car bombs and terrorism had never seen anything on this scale.

A year later, and most of the rubble has been cleared; some of the damage has been repaired, yet deep scars remain.

ZAYNOUN (PH): I know a lot of my colleagues, they are still on medications, they are still having a very hard time sleeping or eating. And they still are remembering what happened. So it's really tough.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Paul and Tracy Naggear lost their 3 year old daughter, Alexandra (ph), in the blast. Like many here, they blame the disaster on Lebanon's political elite.

TRACY NAGGEAR, MOTHER OF BLAST VICTIM: Last year after the blast, we decided to leave, which is a normal decision, you know. They killed our daughter, they almost killed us, they destroyed our house.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): They are still here. Paul was recently elected to the Order of Engineers and has become a vocal advocate for change and accountability -- accountability, that until now, remains elusive. Elias Maloof (ph) lost his 32 year old son, George, who is in the port

when the blast happened. He regularly joins vigils with other relatives of the dead, demanding justice.

"Every day, his mother cries and cries," Elias (ph) tells me.

She asks, "Why doesn't George come over for coffee?

"Why doesn't he come over for the weekend?"

The port blast is just one catastrophe visited upon Lebanon, which, in the last two years, has seen unrest, political paralysis, financial and economic collapse and the COVID pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of this and the explosion happened, was full of rubble.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Hani (ph) and Kiana (ph) have come back to their old flat overlooking the port.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) most of the injuries were on his right side and he crashed through like this. So that's why (INAUDIBLE).

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Both were wounded by flying glass, scarred and traumatized. Hani (ph) and Kiana (ph) are leaving Lebanon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we would see an immediate future, then we would be.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Lebanon's future is dark. The jarring images of a year ago seared into the memories of everyone who lived through it. The nightmare isn't over -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Mexico says it has had enough of U.S. guns getting into the hands of criminal and drug cartels in Mexico and now it's taking drastic action against American gun makers in court. We'll have the details when we come back.

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HOLMES: Mexico's president defending his government's lawsuit against 11 American gun manufacturers, saying it isn't an attempt to challenge the Americans right to bear arms. The companies include big names like Glock, Ruger and Smith & Wesson, accusing them of reckless business practices.

Mexican officials say that more than 500,000 guns are trafficked from the U.S. into Mexico every year; 68 percent of them are made by those companies we just mentioned.

The trafficked guns were used in at least 17,000 homicides in 2019, according to Mexican authorities. The lawsuit putting the spotlight on cartel gun violence in Mexico and U.S. gun makers are already firing back. CNN's Rafael Romo with the details.

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RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): A shootout in broad daylight and heavily armed men roaming the streets. This 2019 street battle in Mexico between security forces and the Sinaloa drug cartel made headlines around the world.

For Mexicans in many parts of the country, drug violence has been part of a harsh reality they have to deal with daily. And now the Mexican government says 11 American gun manufacturers are responsible in part for this violence, saying in a lawsuit they facilitate gun trafficking to drug cartels, who then use the assault weapons to terrorize the population.

The Mexican president said this is not an attack on the American government or Americans.

ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO: (Speaking Spanish).

ROMO (voice-over): "We are not trying to meddle or go against the American government," the president said, adding that this is not against the right to bear arms, either, but how weapons are sold and how easily they're trafficked into Mexico.

Part of the complaint suggests that these gun manufacturers are flooding Mexico with illegal weapons, saying this flood is not a natural phenomenon or an inevitable consequence of the gun business or of U.S. gun laws; it is the foreseeable result of the defendants' deliberate actions and business practices.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I do believe the Mexican government will have some hurdles to leap over in terms of being successful with this case. First, they will have challenges as to whether or not they have standing -- in other words, a legal right to be able to bring a case in the United States.

And second, there is a 2005 liability protection for U.S. companies, U.S. gun companies, that will also potentially put a block to this case.

ROMO: Who are the companies being targeted by the lawsuit?

Among the major brands are Smith & Wesson, Colt and Glock, companies that are well-known in the United States and around the world.

ROMO (voice-over): Gridlock, one of the defendants, told CNN that it is company policy not to comment on pending litigation. Nevertheless, the company said in a statement, "Glock will vigorously defend this baseless lawsuit." The other companies did not respond immediately to CNN's request for

comment. But there was swift reaction from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the U.S. firearms industry.

In a statement the NSSF said the following, "These allegations are baseless. The Mexican government is responsible for the rampant crime and corruption within their own borders" -- Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: A German humanitarian ship arrived in Italy on Saturday after rescuing hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean. It was one of 2 rescue ships that pulled nearly 400 people from a dangerously overcrowded wooden boat last week.

[00:45:00]

HOLMES: After docking, the migrants were tested for COVID before being transferred onto a quarantine ship. Migrant boat departures from Libya and Tunisia to Italy and other parts of Europe have increased in recent months as the weather has improved.

Still one U.N. affiliated group estimates more than 1,100 people have died on the journey this year.

And a coastal city in Colombia is facing a humanitarian crisis right now. Thousands of migrants from a number of countries are stranded there, hoping to eventually make their way to the U.S. Stefano Pozzebon reports.

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STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's barely dawn when a group of migrants start lining up for a seat on the boats traveling from the coastal Colombian town of Necocli, toward Panama.

This pristine Caribbean beach is usually packed with tourists from around the world, but recently have become a passageway for thousands of migrants from all over South America and even Africa, looking for better opportunities thousands of miles away in the United States.

People from Haiti, Venezuela, Brazil, even as far as Ghana cross the (INAUDIBLE) and then set on a treacherous and violent journey through a 37-mile stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama.

Joining the thousands of other migrants, heading to Mexico and then to the United States and ignoring the Biden administration's, "Don't come," message to migrants.

Here, we met (INAUDIBLE) a chef from Togo, who migrated to Chile to work as a gardener.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then the pandemic happened and when the pandemic happened, it is like, it's like (INAUDIBLE). It was, I don't know, we were suffering. POZZEBON (voice-over): He then says this is his third journey,

seeking a better future. In 2018, he left his parents behind in his native Togo, moving to Ghana to work in the kitchens. Then, in 2019, he left Ghana and flew to the other side of the world to Chile. Now, at 30, his hopes are set on another country.

POZZEBON: Where in the United States you want to go?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Georgia, Georgia, because I have some family in Georgia. Yes and I hope that because the problem is the fact that, if you went to the border of the USA, the authorities going to ask you some questions. And they have to -- they have to know if you have somebody in USA or no.

POZZEBON (voice-over): On the road to the United States is perilous, minutes before recording this interview, Adam (ph) and his friend, Victor (INAUDIBLE) discovered that they had been robbed.

(CROSSTALK)

POZZEBON (voice-over): They had spent the night in a boat, on the beach and found their belongings scattered and searched through. They had their passports and money with them. But some of their food was stolen.

(INAUDIBLE) are waiting for the next boat ride and, like many others, had no other choice than spending the night on the beach. Some were able to stay in hotels, a safer choice but a more expensive one.

Waiting here costs a lot when you can't work and don't know when you will leave says Georgina (ph) (INAUDIBLE), a Haitian mother, who lived in Brazil for six years, before the pandemic and is now traveling with her two children.

In these remote small towns, transports are limited. There's just one boat company crossing the Gulf of Necocli to the port of (INAUDIBLE) and they are completely sold out. Other boat companies are hours away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard. We try to transport like 800 or 900 people per day, you know. But it's hard.

POZZEBON (voice-over): The fare costs $20 U.S. and the company says that it has a backlog of more than 8,000 migrants, who have already paid their trip and are waiting for their turn.

Some fear it might take up to 10 days to leave. Colombian defense minister (INAUDIBLE) visited Necocli last weekend, pledging the navy will provide a temporary pyre (ph) to allow more boats to take the migrants to the other side of the gulf.

POZZEBON: But the governments have for my be (ph) too little and a bit too late as more migrants continue to arrive here in Necocli on a daily basis, putting a heavy load on this small community.

POZZEBON (voice-over): The few who have made it on the boats feel relief. But for all of them, this is just one part of the journey. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Costa Rica, Costa Rica, Nicaragua,

then Nicaragua, the other country.

POZZEBON (voice-over): Hope is a feeble flame at the end of the road -- Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, Necocli, Colombia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Intense pressure and high expectations, we will take a look at China's dark drive to dominate the Olympic gold medal count.

Also, still to come, this year's games also highlighting kindness and compassion. We will take a look at some of the extraordinary moments, after the break.

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HOLMES: Competition wrapping up at the Tokyo Olympics, just a few events remaining before the closing ceremony. Here is where the medal count stands, so far. China and the U.S., tied for the most gold medals, though the U.S. has the most medals overall.

And host Japan, they had a great games, haven't they?

They have the next highest gold haul. And that gold medal count is also important to China, with intense pressure on athletes to perform. Selina Wang, taking a look at the forces driving China's Olympic success.

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SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Again and again, this anthem has been played as China tries to top the Olympic gold medal count at the Tokyo games. Dominating sports across the board, these medals are a symbol of sporting prowess. More importantly for China, of national strength.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the things the Olympics does for China, is, first of all to show that the Chinese are able to succeed in something, which the whole world regards as being a premier arena for international performance.

WANG (voice-over): A week before the games, China's director of sports administration, calling on athletes to, quote, "fight for the glory of their country with pride, honor and responsibility."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I don't know what to say. I'm a little speechless. I took it step by step, one move after the other.

WANG (voice-over): While many athletes have been able to celebrate their success, China is becoming more assertive on a global stage, meaning that the pressure for athletes to take home nothing less than gold has never been higher.

"I feel like I failed the team. I am sorry, everyone," said Leo Suwin (ph) after the mixed doubles table tennis team finished with a silver medal. And the pressure is not just coming from the athletes themselves.

When they lost their badminton gold medal match to Taiwan, users on China's Twitter like platform, Weibo, piled on, with one saying, have they been drugged?

Why did they look like they haven't woken up?

WANG: What does China's success at the Tokyo Olympics mean for China's broader standing on the global stage?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Olympics and sporting success, in general, has become one of the most important markers in terms of China, defining itself in the world. And seeming to show that it has managed to develop itself into a power and a country, that really has a global presence.

WANG (voice-over): China's sporting strength, skyrocketing in recent decades. The country's obsession with gold, linked to the nation's narrative of rejuvenation, after centuries of defeat by foreign powers.

The country, actually didn't win its first gold, until 1984. But just 2 dozen years later, China surpassed the U.S. in gold medals, for the first time. Topping the table. While Chinese media focus on the gold medal count, a metric that the official Olympic website uses to determine country rankings, U.S. media emphasized the total medal count, putting the U.S. first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S.-China competition, which, of course, extends to so many areas, is certainly very visible in the way that particular context, the Tokyo Olympics here is being portrayed in China, as well as the rest of the world.

[00:55:00]

WANG (voice-over): And as China prepares to play host for the upcoming Winter Olympics, it will give the country yet another opportunity to bolster national pride, especially after riding high off of its Tokyo gold rush.

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HOLMES: Medal counts, alone, do not capture the spirit of the games, of course. We have also been seeing some extraordinary moments of sportsmanship and kindness. Will Ripley, with more on the feel good games. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The legacy of Tokyo 2020 may not be measured in medals or COVID cases but acts of kindness, moments of grace, Olympians choosing humility over hubris.

American gymnast Simone Biles cheering on her teammates, even as she was struggling to compete. American swimmer, Annie Lazor hugging her South African competitor, Tatiana Schoenmaker, who broke a world record to win gold.

ANNIE LAZOR, TEAM USA BRONZE MEDALIST, SWIMMING: To have someone right next to me break a world record, just as a fan of the sport in general, that's something that's pretty amazing to happen to you.

RIPLEY: Given that there were no spectators and you were in this bubble in the middle of a pandemic, do you think that brought the athletes closer, this experience?

LAZOR: Definitely more of a sense of we're just really happy that this is happening and really happy to be here.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Happiness written on the faces of the first ever Olympic skateboarders.

SKY BROWN, GREAT BRITAIN BRONZE MEDALIST, SKATEBOARDING: Winning as one big family, probably getting on the podium with two of my best like -- two of my favorite people is like awesome.

ROB KOEHLER, DIRECTOR GENERAL, GLOBAL ATHLETE: I think, you know, we're seeing that camaraderie between athletes now.

There is always something good that comes from something bad and I think this is part of what the pandemic has done is, it has created a better community of athletes that are supporting each other under very difficult conditions in Tokyo to be supporting each other is huge.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Support spanning across continents and badminton courts. When Denmark dethroned China to win gold in the men's singles, the players traded shirts as a symbol of respect.

These Qatari and Italian high jumpers, friends and competitors for years, opted out of a jump off, deciding to share the gold.

GIANMARCO TAMBERI, ITALIAN GOLD MEDALIST, HIGH JUMP: It was just amazing and sharing with a friend is even more beautiful.

MUTAZ ESSA BARSHIM, QATARI GOLD MEDALIST, HIGH JUMP: Thank you.

RIPLEY (voice-over): There were high-fives and helping hands. After falling during the 800-meter, these runners from the U.S. and Botswana finished the race arm in arm, a legacy of kindness and camaraderie, outshining even the Olympic flame -- Will Ripley, CNN, Tokyo.

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HOLMES: What a great story. That's what it's all about.

Thanks for spending part of a day with me, I'm Michael Holmes, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HolmesCNN. "TECH FOR GOOD" starting right after this break. I will see you in an hour.