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Eight Provincial Afghan Capitals Fall to Taliban; China Convicts Canadian on Espionage Charges; South Korea Reports Record COVID-19 Deaths; Florida Teacher Speaks Out after Long Battle with COVID-19. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 11, 2021 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Ahead this hour:


VAUSE (voice-over): Just hours now until Paris Saint-Germain officials unveil their star new recruit. The very latest on Lionel Messi's move to Paris.


VAUSE (voice-over): New York governor Andrew Cuomo stepped aside but still defiant despite accusations of sexual harassment.

Also this.


STEPHANIE GREEAR, WIFE OF COVID-19 PATIENT: It was the worst phone call I've ever received in my life. I couldn't believe it happened. I asked the doctor's nurses if he could hear me. She said, go talk to him, he may be able hear you, we don't know.

VAUSE (voice-over): A family struggles as a healthy gym teacher spent months in the ICU with COVID. What inspired him to (INAUDIBLE).



VAUSE: At least eight major cities in Afghanistan have fallen in just days to a relentless Taliban offensive. Those gains are likely to continue in coming days, with Afghan national forces folding under a relentless militant onslaught.

A senior E.U. official says that as much as 65 percent of Afghanistan is now under Taliban control and their medieval interpretation of strict Islamic law. The U.N. believes almost 400,000 people have been displaced this year, many of them leaving their homes for the relative safety of Kabul.

But "The Washington Post" reporting a new U.S. assessment is bleak, saying the capital could fall within weeks.

Some European leaders fear another migrant crisis and the U.N. human rights chief warns civilian casualties in this fighting may amount to war crimes. Despite all of that, the U.S. President Joe Biden not wavering from his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops by the end of this month.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have spent over $1 trillion, over 20 years. We trained and equipped, with modern equipment, over 300,000 Afghan forces. And Afghan leaders have to come together.

We lost thousands, lost in death and injury, thousands of American personnel. They've got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation.


VAUSE: As the U.S. considers downsizing the number of personnel at its embassy in Kabul, it's also sending an envoy to pursue peace talks with the Taliban. CNN's Kali Apub (ph) (INAUDIBLE) said the State Department prefers (ph) Nick Paton Walsh reports on the Taliban's rapid advance.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Consistent bad news for the Afghan government. Now eight provincial capitals falling to the Taliban since Friday, only three by the end of Sunday. It just keeps accelerating, these insurgent advances. Pul-e-Khumri the latest and now troublingly a lot of these fallen cities beginning to, looks like, form part of a circle around the capital, Kabul.

President Joe Biden, whose decision to unconditionally withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan, has sparked this insurgent momentum, well, he said he did not regret his decision very clearly and reminded Americans that they've spent 20 years there, over $1 trillion and that the Afghans have 300,000 troops that should be fighting.

And he essentially said that Afghan forces and leaders have to come together to fight and at times they even outnumbered the Taliban. A lot of that part of the optimism the U.S. has repeatedly shown over the past years, too trusting frankly in the ability of Afghan security forces to do the job.

There are effective commandos but they number significantly less than 300,000. That's the full strength of the security forces. They've said they've been there 20 years but I think many critics would argue they had 20 separate yearlong policies there.

But the speed at which the Taliban appear to be moving has many troubled, including it seems some U.S. officials, who say their previous belief that it could take only six months for the Afghan government to fall or collapse have had to alter that.

And they feel the timeline is significantly shorter, even talking about pulling some diplomats out of the embassy. This is collapsing a lot quicker than some had believed. There should be no comfort for anyone who's criticizing the U.S.' application in that country.

What they may leave behind could be a deeply troubling state of some element of collapse. But many people deeply concerned now about the plight of ordinary Afghans caught in the middle.


WALSH: As we continue to see the Taliban move through provincial capitals of Afghanistan -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.



KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: There are active discussions underway about a further drawdown from the U.S. embassy in Kabul, sources tell me. That comes as Taliban gains have increased in recent days and recent weeks and those gains, the pace of those gains has really come as a surprise to many U.S. officials.

Now this is not an evacuation that is currently being discussed but a further drawdown from what we have seen over the last few months in Afghanistan. The State Department spokesperson says that their posture has not changed but they also acknowledged that they are, on a daily basis, looking at the security situation in Afghanistan.

And they acknowledge that the ground situation, the environment, is challenging right now. If the U.S. could have more diplomats on the ground, they would.

Now the other thing that the U.S. is doing is pushing for a political solution. The U.S. special representative to Afghanistan is in Doha this week for talks with the Taliban. And he is pushing them to stop their military offenses in Afghanistan and to engage in negotiations to a political settlement.

But of course, the U.S. has been pushing for that for quite some time. And there are questions about just how much leverage the U.S. has, particularly when the U.S. troop withdrawal is complete later this month -- Kylie Atwood, CNN, the State Department.



VAUSE: Barbara Walter is a professor of political science at the University of California at San Diego. She is with us from San Diego.

Good to see you, Barbara, it's been a while. DR. BARBARA WALTER, UC SAN DIEGO: Nice to see you too, John.

VAUSE: So as these provincial capitals fall and a relatively small number of Taliban fighters take control of more territory, the Biden White House seems to be looking another way, insisting that Afghan government forces really can defend the country. Here's the White House's press secretary.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: But, ultimately, our view is that the Afghan national security defense forces has the equipment, numbers and training to fight back, which will strengthen their position at the negotiating table.

We believe there is a political process. That's the only process that will successfully bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.


VAUSE: And there's an envoy on the way to try to make those negotiations happen.

Given the speed of the offensive, at this point, why would the Taliban be willing to negotiate anything?

They're winning.

WALTER: Listen, the Biden spokesperson knows that there's no possible way there's going to be a successful settlement. She knows there is no possible way that the Afghan forces can emerge victorious.

That's a political statement that the administration is putting out, to basically give the American public hope and make it seem like we are not simply withdrawing.

But I think Biden's earlier statement that you played was quite true and honest, that we have been there for 20 years. The Soviets were there for a long time as well. Neither of these outside powers were able to defeat their opponent.

And they ended up being dragged into very long wars that probably would have continued as long as they were there. So the U.S. is in a really tough position. It could've stayed year after year after year.

And I don't think it would've been able to defeat the Taliban, not with the corrupt, disunited government, not with the corrupt Afghani forces.

Or it could've decided to leave. And I think that's what they did Biden's administration finally decided was the right move.

VAUSE: In the past few days, we've heard this line repeated by U.S. officials, that Afghan forces have the advantage in terms of training and equipment and boots on the ground. But even when the Americans had troops in country, armed with the very

latest weaponry, Taliban lived on to fight another day. There are limits to American military power, especially when that military power is in the hands of Afghan nationals.

WALTER: Right, right. Just because the United States is militarily powerful, richer -- just because it sends lots of sophisticated weapons to Afghanistan doesn't mean it's going to emerge victorious.

Look what happened in Vietnam. Look what happened with the countries in Nicaragua. Look what happened with the U.S. support of Chiang Kai- shek in China. We sent millions of dollars to these particular groups. And smaller, weaker groups ended up beating them.

So it's not a guarantee. If you are funneling money to a divided, corrupt government, that money is going to disappear. And as soon as it looks like the opposition is going to win, you are going to see a lot of soldiers jumping ship. That's where you're seeing right now.

VAUSE: Then there's the Afghans, who helped U.S. and NATO forces, thousands of them and their families.


VAUSE: They are now caught between the slow-moving visa process and a fast-moving Taliban offensive, which promises almost certain gruesome death. Listen to Captain Matt Zeller. He served in Afghanistan.


CAPT. MATT ZELLER, U.S. ARMY RESERVE, NO ONE LEFT BEHIND: If you want people like me to come home from future wars, you have to save these people's lives now. No one is going to trust us going forward. If we want to prevent future casualties in future wars, you have to start saving Afghan lives today.


VAUSE: He made the point that when they put out those gruesome videos of Afghans helping the U.S. forces being executed and murdered, that's a message being sent to future allies. That's one message.

Then there's the promise made to Afghan people that they would not be abandoned and now they are. The messages are not very good right now coming from the United States.

WALTER: Well, if I were somebody in the future and the United States came into my country and they said, trust me and help me and we're going to take very good care of you, I would be very skeptical. I might still help the United States because you are going to weigh the future risks against what is happening at the present time.

And if the U.S. at a particular moment in time does offer you resources and training, does offer you security, and that's what you have at the moment, you're still going to do that. So I think people understand the risks and they understand that the

United States, even if it promises it's going to stay in a country forever, is not going to stay in that country forever. But people have to make decisions, given on the circumstances that they face at a particular moment in time.

VAUSE: And very quickly, what does Afghanistan look like a year from now, if current trends continue?

WALTER: The Taliban will be in control of Afghanistan. They will institute exactly the type of government that we expect them to. It will be this medieval form of Islam. They will greatly restrict the education of women. They will impose harsh justice.

And they will probably be more popular than the current government, because, at least in the near term, people will feel that the violence is over and justice is being doled out and it will only be over the longer term that we will begin to see the really negative effects of this particular government.

VAUSE: Yes, history repeats. Barbara, thank you. We appreciate you being with us.

WALTER: My pleasure.


VAUSE: The war between Ethiopian forces and fighters in the Tigray region has forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee. It's also drawn accusations of war crimes. Now the Ethiopian government is calling on civilians to take up arms. Ethiopia is looking for new military recruits after Tigray forces reached the regional capital and began pushing into other parts of the country.

Ethiopia's prime minister says now is the right time for all capable Ethiopians who are of age to join the defense forces, special forces and militias.

Coming up next on CNN NEWSROOM, convicted of espionage in China, a Canadian businessman faces a long prison sentence. What it may have to do with another legal case thousands of kilometers away.

And pediatric ICUs filling up with children infected with the Delta variant. Ahead, why experts are warning it's going to get worse.

Also, after almost dying from COVID-19, a popular coach spreads vaccine awareness. The message he wants everyone to hear.


TERRY GREEAR, COVID-19 PATIENT: No one's wife or husband needs to tell their kids that Mom or Dad may not come home.





VAUSE: Canada's prime minister has spoken out after a Canadian businessman received an 11-year sentence for spying in China. Justin Trudeau says it was absolutely unacceptable and unjust. The Chinese court ordered Michael Spavor to be deported. But it is unclear whether that will happen before or after serving jail time.

He was arrested in 2018 along with another Canadian, Michael Kovrig. Both were arrested after a top executive of the Chinese tech giant Huawei was detained in Canada.

Let's go to CNN's Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

It's all a bit confusing but it is all linked together.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and this is the latest, more than 2 years after he was first detained in China, the verdict is in in the case of the Canadian business man Michael Spavor.

And a court in northeastern China, near the border with North Korea, the court sentenced him to 11 years in prison for espionage and also said that he could be deported but did not specify when.

We have been talking to analysts about the verdict and one observer says that that ambiguity opens the door for negotiations. Listen to this.


LYNETTE ONG, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO: I think there is plenty of scope for ambiguity. And I think ambiguity is always good in these sorts of cases because, from a Chinese perspective, it gives them bargaining power. And from a Canadian perspective, it allows us to express a more favorable outcome than 11 years sentencing.


STOUT: So within the last hour, Canada's ambassador to China has been speaking to the media. He says that they interpret the verdict as 11 years in prison and then deportation.

The ambassador also said that he spoke with Michael Spavor after the verdict.

He had three core messages to share with the wider community, saying this, "Thank you for all your support, it means a lot to me, I'm in good spirits and I want to get home," unquote.

In June last year, Michael Spavor and fellow Canadian Michael Kovrig were charged with espionage. In December of 2018, they were arrested shortly after the detention by Canadian police of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei and also the daughter of the Huawei CEO.

She's fighting extradition to the United States while under house arrest in Vancouver. She says she is innocent and China says that there is no link between these detentions. But Western observers say otherwise and have called it hostage diplomacy.

And we also have received this strongly worded statement from the U.S. embassy in China. Let's bring it up for you.

It says, quote, "These proceedings are a blatant attempt to use human beings as bargaining leverage, a practice roundly condemned by the global community and inconsistent with China's international human rights commitments.

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with Canada in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of both Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig."

Now as for the fate of the former diplomat, Michael Kovrig, still no word yet on when his sentencing could take place. And China has a conviction rate, of course, of over 99 percent -- John.

VAUSE: Kristie, thank you, live for us there in Hong Kong.

New daily infections have hit a record high Tuesday in South Korea. This surge comes after the government extended pandemic restrictions two weeks ago. Manisha Tank is live for us in Singapore, with more on the situation in South Korea and across the region.

Australia also extending lockdowns as they try to stamp out the Delta variant.

MANISHA TANK, JOURNALIST: Certainly, the phrase, a phrase many in the region really do not want to hear, to be honest. You mentioned Australia. I'll just pick up on that briefly.

In Melbourne, hearing today, that they may see their lockdown extended. It was meant to end August 12. We could see that go on for another week. The premier of the state of Victoria saying that this is really a spillover from the more than 6,000 cases that have been reported in the state of New South Wales, also in Australia.

And so Melbourne being very wary of what could come next. But I want to jump, of course, to South Korea, which you mentioned. Cases there and a daily rate in excess of 2,000.

In fact, the president weighed in on this, Moon Jae-in calling on people to cooperate with COVID-19 restrictions and also expressing concerns over this new caseload.


TANK: We have had in excess of 2,200 new cases in the last 24 hours alone. And the health ministry in South Korea also came out to note that it is not just the Delta variant that is behind this. It is also that people are really suffering pandemic fatigue, with ongoing restrictions and lockdowns of one kind or another.

But now they are ramping up testing once again, particularly amongst those in the medical services. They will also review, say the health ministry, the social and economic impact of these rolling lockdowns.

I want to jump to China; 111 new cases reported there across six provinces. We reported just 24 hours ago that people in Beijing were being told, you cannot travel to other parts of the country unless for it's an emergency and that restrictions were being tightened once again.

And more limits were being put on people traveling or people moving around. But questions are surfacing around whether or not China can sustain its zero COVID policy given the fact that the Delta variant is so highly infectious and is certainly causing problems around the country.

And of course, we are just six months away from those Winter Olympics of 2022. So the organizers of that will certainly be monitoring the situation and asking some serious questions about whether it's viable, given the current situation.

VAUSE: Manisha, thank you, reporting live for us there in Singapore.

With a growing number of children becoming seriously ill from COVID- 19, pressure is growing for a fast authorization for a vaccine for those under 12. One adviser to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said why this is urgent.


DR. PAUL OFFIT, U.S. FDA VACCINE ADVISER: I think the clock is ticking, as we move to late fall and early winter. You want a vaccine for young children. I certainly hope we have one in place by then because children need this.


VAUSE: President Joe Biden says he's worried about children returning to school before they're vaccinated. That's because the U.S. is seeing a spike in cases among children, many now needing oxygen in hospital.


DR. DONNA TYUNGU, OKLAHOMA CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Our COVID-19 numbers are increasing, week over week, in pediatrics and actually in the adult side. The difference in what we are seeing this year as compared to last year, we are seeing a lot more previously healthy kids requiring oxygen.


VAUSE: In the meantime the debate over mask mandates rages on in Florida. State officials have informed at least three counties that they are under investigation for noncompliance, after the school districts defied the governor and put a mask mandate in place. In Florida, an elementary school teacher is getting back in the

classroom after a battle with COVID-19 which nearly killed him. He's now sharing his story, hoping that other families do not have to go through the same heartache. CNN's Rosa Flores has this report.



ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet Terry Greear, an athletic Orlando elementary school P.E. teacher, who loves the students who nicknamed him "Coach Beard," his two boys and his wife, Stephanie.

T. GREEAR: I am extremely lucky, I'm extremely blessed.

FLORES (voice-over): Blessed to be alive, after surviving a 72-day battle to with COVID-19 that started in mid-January.

When vaccines in Florida were not available for people in their 40s, Greear says he went from being healthy, taking precautions to prevent COVID-19, to, in a matter of days, developing a fever, his fingers turning blue, passing out and getting rushed to the emergency room.

S. GREEAR: And I do remember, as we sat in the ER, I kept thinking, oh, my God, what if this is the last time they saw their dad, like what if that was it?

FLORES (voice-over): Greear took this selfie from his hospital bed on day one, knowing he had no pre-existing conditions. And yet there he was, with COVID and pneumonia.

T. GREEAR: I was extremely scared. I'm like, what's going on?

This does not happen to me.

FLORES (voice-over): He doesn't remember many details because his condition deteriorated quickly. But Stephanie says he was moved to the intensive care unit.



FLORES (voice-over): He was intubated and placed in a medically induced coma.

S. GREEAR: It was the worst phone call I've ever received in my life. I couldn't believe it happened. I asked the doctors and nurses if he could hear me.

And she said, go talk to him. He may be able to hear you, we don't know.

I talked to him. I prayed over him. I asked God to please save him. FLORES (voice-over): Students decorated his office. P.E. teachers

designed these Coach Beard T-shirts and his wife filled his hospital room with pictures of friends and family.

T. GREEAR: So whenever I was coming to or awake, I would see pictures. And the first picture I would see was this heart that says, "We love you."

FLORES (voice-over): This is what Coach Beard looked like. His iconic beard was gone.


FLORES (voice-over): He lost 50 pounds, his lungs collapsed, twice. He was placed on a ventilator, a feeding tube and a lung bypass machine.

S. GREEAR: The worst part was telling my children that their father may not come home and thinking that they didn't even really get to say goodbye to him. It was hard. He is my partner in life, it was unimaginable for me to think about going through life without him.


T. GREEAR: My wife told me, you got to do this. Just something kicked in where I had to start fighting and I fought hard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because once we got him in the fight, he likes to win.

FLORES (voice-over): After two months, he turned a corner, entering intensive rehabilitation, having to re-learn how to do basic tasks.

T. GREEAR: Trying to put a sock on with two hands was impossible. My brain is saying, this is what you are supposed to do. But my body is saying, no, you can't.

FLORES (voice-over): Coach Beard still can't run like he used to. But he starts teaching today for the first time in months. And he has a lesson for everyone: get vaccinated, just like he did, after beating COVID.

T. GREEAR: I don't want anyone else's family to have to go through what my family went through. No one's wife or husband needs to tell their kids that Mom or Dad may not come home.

FLORES (voice-over): Wise words from a man with a big beard and a big heart.


VAUSE: Our thanks to Rosa Flores for that report.

When we come back, surrounded by fire and nowhere to go. Greek villages standing their ground alongside fire crews, battling unprecedented wildfires. Also ahead, New York governor Andrew Cuomo has resigned a week after a

state investigation confirmed allegations of sexual harassment. But stepping down does not mean an end to his legal troubles. More on that in moment.




VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone, I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Residents of the Greek island of Evia are refusing orders to evacuate, opting to stay and work side by side with fire crews trying to save their homes. CNN's Eleni Giokos reports now from Evia, which has seen the worst of hundreds of blazes burning across Greece.


ELENI GIOKOS, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A blaze so powerful, engulfing entire forests, apocalyptic scenes capturing the devastation, all the residents escaping their homes.


Evia is now sitting in the eye of the storm when it comes to the fires that are ravaging Greece. We have seen fire upon fire over the past eight days, and now you're also seeing international assistance on the ground. What you see behind me is firefighters from Slovakia as well as local firefighters.

Hundreds evacuated onto ferries, watching their island burn. Despite the blazes approaching, some opting to stay behind to protect their homes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): They say they won't leave. They are ready to fight the fire.

GIOKOS: Emotions are high in Evia.

NIKOS, EVIA, GREECE RESIDENT: And now the game is lost that everyone is coming (ph). What we said (ph). Now we're trying just to save the little piece of Evia (ph) and some villas that are not burned. All the others are burned. They forgot us.

GIOKOS: Local volunteers standing by with fire extinguishers and even branches say it's too late. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis admitting there were weaknesses in the response.

KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, GREEK PRIME MINISTER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The extent of the destruction, especially in Evia and in Attica, blackens all of our hearts, and I am the first to apologizes for whatever weaknesses existed. I completely under the pain of our citizens who saw their houses and property burning. The upheaval of having to abruptly leave their homes.

GIOKOS: The source of these wildfires the prime minister says is the climate crisis. The country is experiencing heat waves, the highest temperatures seen in almost 40 years. 22 countries have sent help to Greece including France, Romania, Slovakia, and Poland. They've sent firefighters, fire engines, as well as other resources.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are here to support the Greek teams (ph) in this big fight in the fires.

GIOKOS: It's the combination of this camaraderie between countries and people and the locals who are determined to save the island from further devastation. Eleni Giokos, CNN, Evia, Greece.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: Also tracking new developments in the Caribbean where tropical storm Fred has just formed. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has more now. He joins us with the details. Is this going to be a busy season coming up?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is. It's forecasted to be above average, and John, we're a couple of weeks ahead of where typically the letter F storm would come in typically late August.

Of course, it's August 11, so we're a few weeks ahead of time here for seeing this particular storm develop, and it has developed just south of Puerto Rico as a tropical storm at this hour watching it with winds at 65 kilometers per hour gusting to 85 kilometers per hour.

Moving rather briskly about 27 kilometers per hour, but the concern is where the system will end up here in the next couple of days, and the governments across this region already taking it very seriously. We've got hurricane warnings in effect across the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and also Puerto Rico as wall as the eastern coast there of the Dominican Republic as the system approaches in the next several hours.

But if you know anything about this region, extremely mountainous, and the storm is going to interact with quite a bit of landscape and mountains in this region, but notice sea surface temperatures plenty warm. You've got to get to 28 degrees to produce a tropical system. We have that at a minimum across this region, some areas well into the 30s, and the forecast models right now, John, indicating the system will interact with the mountains but potentially work its way north of Cuba, and then once we get to late this weekend approach the United States, so a story will certainly be following.

VAUSE: Thank you. Pedram Javaheri there with the very latest. Thank you.

A beautiful welcome in Paris for one of the beautiful game's all time greats. Fans have been cheering for Lionel Messi at the airport, at the stadium, outside his hotel pretty much everywhere. Messi was full of smiles. He waved while wearing a shirt that translates to "This is Paris", and Paris Saint fans hope this signing will mark their big chance to finally triumph in the Champions League.

WORLD SPORT's Don Riddell following all of this live for us here in the CNN Center. Take us through the last 24 hours. It's been quite the sight.

DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yes, John. It's been quite extraordinary. You have to remember that whilst Lionel Messi is one of the best footballers of all time, one of the most famous athletes on this planet at this moment he's one of the most private athletes as well. We don't know too much about him. He doesn't often speak to the media or give press conferences, and yet this has been like watching The Truman Show.

The last 24 hours there have been cameras on him pretty much all the time, in the car, on the way to the airport, in the plane with his wife, back in the car, driving to the stadium in Paris. What's been truly extraordinary is seeing all the behind the scenes stuff, the medical examinations that these players have to go through.


You hardly ever see any of this kind of footage. In here we are seeing it of Lionel Messi. There he is being examined, getting scanned, having his vitals taken. I guess given that he's worth $41 million a year, Paris Saint-Germain aren't taking any chances, but I suspect what this is really all about is showing him off to the world. They are absolutely thrilled that they've managed to get him. Of course, Barcelona absolutely devastated that he has left, but here he is all ready to go, and he'll be giving his first press conference in just a few hours time.

VAUSE: OK, so what's at stake here? The Champions League or bust (ph)? I mean, this is a team of champions, will be a champion team.

RIDDELL: Well if you look at the roster now, I mean, it would be hard to argue that this is not the best club team in the world right now. They are absolutely star-studded. These are just the players who have arrived in the last few weeks. Of course, Sergio Ramos just won the European Championship with Italy, and of course, they already had Neymar. They already had Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi, Angel Di Maria.

Some of these guys are going to find it hard getting into the first 11, but this is all about the Champions League. Paris Saint-Germain are a relatively new club. They've only been around for 40 or so years, but they've never won the European Cup, and this is what the club's new owners, the Qatar Investment Group, are all about. They want to be the champions of Europe.

Of course with Messi on board they now think that's imminently possible, but it is kind of that or nothing. Remember, they didn't win league earn (ph) in France last year. I think they would absolutely be expecting that as a minimum with Messi and this kind of team, but the Champions League is what it's all about for them.

VAUSE: Don, thank you very much. Don Riddell, we appreciate all of that. We'll take you to a break. When we come back, Brazil's President accused of using tanks and troops to intimidate lawmakers to try and change election rules.

Also Britain's Prince Andrew and Buckingham Palace remaining silent over that lawsuit alleging sexual abuse. We'll tell you why that is significant in a moment.



Brazil's President, Jair Bolsonaro, has failed to change election law to include paper ballots in next year's presidential election. He says votes conducted electronically will be rightfully fraud and he won't accept the results without paper backups. Now the lawmakers who voted down his proposal say the president tried to intimidate them with tanks and solders. CNN's Matt Rivers explains.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well a very unusual military parade that took place on Tuesday morning in the Brazilian federal district of Brasilia has prompted a lot of criticism from both the left and the right to be directed at Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, over the timing of that military parade.

We have some video of the parade that we can show you. More than 100 different vehicles were involved. It didn't actually last very long with Bolsonaro himself overseeing the parade.


The official reason given for this parade happening as it did on Tuesday was that this was some sort of elaborate way for the Brazilian military to formally invite Jair Bolsonaro to attend upcoming military drills that are set to be led by the Brazilian Navy. At one point during the parade, a Brazilian officer actually walks up and hands Jair Bolsonaro and invitation, but here's the thing. These drills are not new. They've taken place every year for more than two decades now, and never before have tanks been required to deliver an invitation to the sitting president of Brazil to attend.

So that's left a lot of critics saying, well, there are other reasons why this parade happened when it did, and they point to a vote that also took place on Tuesday, a key piece of legislation that lawmakers in Brazil voted on that was pushed by Bolsonaro himself.

This was a piece of legislation that would require paper ballots to be apart of next year's presidential election. Bolsonaro saying that without those ballots he's afraid there would be rampant fraud in those elections despite not providing any proof as to exactly what that fraud would be. But he said without those ballots he's not willing to accept the results or might not be willing to accept the results of next year's presidential election.

Critics are saying that this parade took place for two difference reasons. One, for Bolsonaro to show that he has control over the military, but two, critics say that he did this as a clear or perhaps thinly-disguised attempt to influence lawmakers ahead of that vote, and it's not just his critics saying that. The President of the Brazilian House Chamber, who's also a Bolsonaro political ally, called the timing of the parade a tragic coincidence and said that because this military act took place when it did, it opens up the space for people to, quote, speculate that there was some sort of pressure being put on lawmakers. Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


VAUSE: Well his direct talk and leadership made him a hero during the early days of the pandemic, but now New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has been forced to resign after and investigation confirmed accusations of sexual harassment. The Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, will replace Cuomo in two weeks, becoming the first female Governor of New York State. CNN's MJ Lee has details.


MJ LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An upheaval in American politics. New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, announcing his resignation.

ANDREW CUOMO, OUTGOING NEW YORK GOVERNOR: The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government. And therefore, that's what I'll do.

LEE: The news marking a dramatic fall from grace for the three-term governor, a fixture in national politics for decades.

CUOMO: We're New York tough.

LEE: And hailed a hero for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged his state.

CUOMO: The enemy landed in New York State. COVID launched the attack here. You unified and you rose and you overcame, and you saved lives. And that was powerful in its effect. It was beautiful to see, and it was an honor to lead.

LEE: But the governor coming under siege in recent weeks, accused of sexually harassing multiple women, facing and impeachment investigation in Albany and several criminal investigations.

CUOMO: I've never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn't realizes the extent to which the line has been redrawn. There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn't fully appreciate, and I should have. No excuses.

LEE: Cuomo remaining defiant about the attorney general's report released last week detailing the women's allegations.

CUOMO: The report said I sexually harassed 11 women. That was the headline people heard and saw and reacted to. The reaction was outrage. It should have been. However, it was also false. This is not to say that there are not 11 women who I truly offended. There are. And for that, I deeply, deeply apologize.

LEE: The governor explaining that his instinct was to fight, but he didn't want to become a distraction for the people of New York.

CUOMO: It is your best interest that I must serve. This situation by itself current trajectory will generate months of political and legal controversy.

LEE: And also speaking directly to his daughters.

CUOMO: I never would intentionally disrespect a woman or treat any woman differently than I would want them treated. And that is the God's honest truth.


Your dad made mistakes, and he apologized, and he learned from it, and that's what life is all about.

LEE: Cuomo's resignation coming after a lengthy briefing by his lawyer, going on the attack against some of the governor's accusers and saying the A.G. investigation was incomplete.

RITA GLAVIN, CUOMO LAWYER: Everybody should have a chance to respond, and everybody should be scrutinized with what they say by facts, context, and evidence. That hasn't happened here.

LEE: An attorney for two of Cuomo's accusers, Alyssa McGrath and Virginia Limmiatis, saying in a statement that the women felt, "both indated (ph) and relieved that Cuomo will no longer be in a position of power over anyone."

Cuomo handing over the reigns to Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul. Hochul tweeting this afternoon in part, "I am prepared to lead as New York State's 57th Governor." The news reaching the White House. President Biden, Cuomo's long-time ally, offering his approval.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I respect the governor's decision, and I respect the decision he made.

LEE: Now even though Governor Cuomo has resigned, that doesn't mean that all of his troubles are suddenly going away. Remember there is the impeachment investigation that is still ongoing in Albany. There is also the criminal complaint that is being brought against him in the Albany Sheriff's Office, so it is going to be awhile before we actually know what is going to happen to all of these investigations even after Governor Cuomo has left office. MJ Lee, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: And here's CNN Legal Analyst, Joey Jackson, on more on the - about those allegations made against Cuomo.


JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: In 2019 this governor signed legislation here in New York which would make it more favorable for victims to come forward. How? Extending the statute of limitations from one year to three year, eliminating the component in the law hollet (ph) that said it had to be persistent, right, and pervasive in terms of severe and pervasive discrimination.

No, it doesn't have to be that at all. One incident if the proper incident and the proper misconduct could constitute, in fact, the violation and a whole host of other things that make it more likely that victims can come forward including not even reporting, right? Before you had to report it. Now you don't have to report.


VAUSE: Stepping down does not mean the allegations go away. At least one of his accusers has filed a criminal complaint, but there is a possibility of civil suits as well.

Buckingham Palace and the legal team for Britain's Prince Andrew are refusing to comment on new sexual abuse lawsuits, but it's not the first time allegations against Prince Andrew have come to light, but in the past there have been strenuous denials. CNN's Nina dos Santos has our report.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Virginia Giuffre around the time she says she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew. A photo taken at the London House of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell facing trial for procuring minors for the late pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein, charges she has plead not guilty to.

When this shot was snapped in 2001, Giuffre was just 17. Prince Andrew was around 40.

VIRGINIA GIUFFRE, PRINCE ANDREW ACCUSER: He knows what happened. I know what happened, and there's only one of us telling the truth, and I know that's me.

DOS SANTOS: In a civil suit filed this week in New York, Giuffre alleges the prince abused her in three locations, including at Epstein's mansion in Manhattan and on his private Caribbean island. She says the prince knew she was underage and she had been trafficked there.

The complaint filed in the state child protection laws details allegations first described by Giuffre in 2015 and seeks damages in an amount to be determined at trial. Prince Andrew's legal team declined to comment on the development. In the past, the royal has strenuously denied he'd ever met Giuffre who's maiden name is Roberts, and has suggested that the photo of them together could be fake.

PRINCE ANDREW, DUKE OF YORK: I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened.

EMILY MAITLIS, BBC NEWS NIGHT HOST: Do you recall any kind of sexual contact with Virginia Roberts then or any other time?

PRINCE ANDREW: None. None. None whatsoever.

DOS SANTOS: Prince Andrew offered to cooperate with investigators in 2019 in this disastrous TV interview and has since reported that pledge in a written statement when resigning from royal duties. Giuffre's lawyers, though, say he's been stonewalling since.

But this author who's written a book on the prince and Epstein, the legal drama means it's unlikely Andrew will make it back into the royal fold soon.

NIGEL CAWTHORNE, AUTHOR, "PRINCE ANDREW: EPSTEIN AND THE PALACE": The new civil lawsuit from - filed by Virginia Giuffre certainly precludes Prince Andrew from returning to public duties. It's very different to see how it can come back to the front line of the monarchy as is (ph) expressed to wish to with (inaudible) pending or if there's a court finds against him in absent here (ph).


DOS SANTOS: Buckingham Palace declined to comment on Giuffre's suit. In the past, it has issued statements asserting the prince's denials, but news of fresh litigation highlights some comfortable questions about the prince's relationship with a known sex offender long after Jeffrey Epstein's death. Nina dos Santos, CNN in London.


VAUSE: Still to come, Paris Saint-Germain going all out for their new recruit, Lionel Messi, filming his every move, rushing out (ph) a music video ahead of the big official reveal just a few hours away.



RICHARD EDELMAN, CEO, EDELMAN: I think this return to workplace is the ultimate crucible for business, and business can't do it alone. It has to be partnered with government, taking the subway, flexible hours, some kind of litigation coverage, you know, for someone who might get sick in transit. All of these things have to be done in partnership.

It has to be a joint effort. The idea that business can do all of these societal issues on its own is delusional. It's wrongheaded. It's too risky because particularly between societal issues, for example, dealing with systemic racism or sustainability, absolutely wage levels, business can lead on those, but government has to lead on education or health systems or transit safety and even on return to workplace with the rules of the playing field.

VAUSE: In just a few hours it will all be official with Paris Saint- Germain unveiling their newest recruit who's also considered to be one of footballs' greatest of all time, superstar Lionel Messi.

Simon Kuper is a columnist and reporter with the "Financial Times". His latest book, "The Barcelona Complex: Lionel Messi and the Making and Unmaking of the World's Greatest Soccer Club", is set to be released next Tuesday. He joins us now from Valencia in Spain. OK, explain what happened on Tuesday in Paris. Everywhere Messi went there were just thousands and thousands of cheering fans. It was like the Beatles had arrived and Joan of Arc was touring with them.

SIMON KUPER, COLUMNIST, FINANCIAL TIMES: It was amazing. I mean, this is a city that for decades had quite a mediocre football club, and then 10 years ago the Qataris bought it. And so, 12 million people - this is the biggest city in Western Europe - who had been waiting for soccer success. It's been building up. And so, people have been waiting at the airport for Messi for days before he even arrived. There were people at the Le Bourget Airport.

So this is really the biggest thing I think we could ever say that has ever happened in Paris soccer (ph).

VAUSE: OK, well this is now a team of champions. There's Messi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe on paper lease. Are they unbeatable?

KUPER: Nobody is unbeatable and the Paris Saint-Germain team has many weak spots. I mean, their defense and midfield are not on par with what's upfront, but it's true that this summer they also bought the world's best young goalkeeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma. They bought great Spain caps (ph) in Sergio Ramos although he's now quite old.

So you'd have to say that they would be one of the three or four front contenders for the Champions League, which is a prize that Paris has never won before. And remember the French league is historically only the fifth league in Europe, so this is amazing. I mean, Messi is going to what has always been a soccer back quarter (ph) until the last few years.

VAUSE: So there's obviously a lot of enthusiasm for Messi among PSG fans, but that cannot be said about Messi for PSG in a way. You know, he was willing to half his salary to stay with Barcelona. Barcelona wanted him to stay. It was all like a sad ending to a romance novel. Messi was in tears a few days ago announcing the breakup.

KUPER: Yes. I mean, it's strange because last summer he wanted to leave Barcelona and the club kept him. This summer he wanted to stay but the club told him he had to go. I mean, I think in personal terms his wife and his son wanted to stay. They cried last year when he said that they would be leaving. The boys don't want to not - start a new school in a foreign country, so in family terms all the sentiment pours into Barcelona that Messi is, above all, a great soccer player and a winner as he says, and he wants to win.

And he won't be able to win with Barcelona probably anymore. It's now quite a mediocre team around here whereas he'll be very excited about playing with sort of his favorite teammate of the last few years, Neymar, who he will refine at Paris Saint-Germain. They were a great partnership in Barcelona a few years ago.


VAUSE: You know, when there's wild celebrations for one major football team almost always there's unhappiness at another, and there's a lot of unhappiness at Barcelona. The club massively in debt. They've been trying to compete with deep pockets of other clubs who's being bankrolled by oligarchs and billionaires. Is there a moment of reckoning coming now for Barcelona?

KUPER: I think they face a few very difficult years. I mean, they have an aging squad, lots of the players they should have moved out years before. They have a debt at $1.4 billion and the other big European clubs are going to be circling like vultures over the three or four Barcelona players who everyone wants to buy. Players like Pedri or Fenkie de Jong.

And so, I can see a very long, long and deep downturn for them. The days of winning Champions Leagues appears to be over for quite some time.

VAUSE: So what happens if Messi blows it? What happens if he doesn't live up to the hype, the expectations? How quickly will those cheers turn to tears? How - you know, when does he go from here or the goat (ph)?

KUPER: Messi is always the goat (inaudible). Messi for 15 years now almost week-in week-out has been the best player in the world. It's not just that he's a genius but he's almost like a genius on call by machine on rope. I mean, every three days he drives down the highway from the small town where he lives. He plays brilliantly, drives back home. He has this very kind of regular life, so I see no likelihood that he will fail in Paris. Messi doesn't fail.


VAUSE: Simon, thank you. It's been great having you with us. Your insights have been very, very valuable, indeed, so thanks for being with us. Simon Cooper there with the "Financial Times".

Please stay with CNN WORLD SPORTS for special coverage of the Lionel Messi PSG news conference that's scheduled in just a few hours from now. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Another addition of CNN NEWSROOM continues after the break with my colleague and friend, Rosemary Church. See you tomorrow.



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The company started when Thomas Twining bought an existing London coffee house. Within the city of London there were over 2,000 coffee houses, so intense competition, so having trained in tea he introduced fine quality teas to his coffee as a point of difference.