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Second Largest Afghan City Falls to Taliban; Coronavirus Pandemic Around the World; Extreme Weather Torments Europe. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 13, 2021 - 02:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone. Welcome to "CNN Newsroom." I appreciate your company. I'm Michael Holmes. We are following breaking news out of Afghanistan where Taliban fighters have claimed their biggest prize yet, the country's second largest city, Kandahar. The militant group is releasing video of victory celebrations. CNN can't independently confirm the authenticity.

Taliban fighters did claim that they seized hundreds of weapons, vehicles, and ammunition that American supplied. A local lawmaker calls it one of the worst experiences of his life. He told CNN and many others they made their way to the airport for a flight out.

Now, another video purports to show Taliban fighters taking over the governors' building and Kandahar. Afghan national forces are appearing to either surrender or flee.

The Taliban now controls 13 provincial capitals. Herat, the third largest city, fell on Thursday. The Taliban's rapid gains have the U.S. -- quote -- "gravely concerned." Despite America's military pulled out, the Pentagon is deploying 3,000 additional troops back to Kabul to help evacuate most American civilians from the U.S. embassy.

Sources say the U.S. is also considering moving the embassy to Kabul Airport to get diplomats out of the country quickly if it becomes necessary.


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: This is not about re- engaging militarily in conflict in Afghanistan. This is not abandonment. This is not an evacuation. This is not the wholesale withdrawal. What this is, a reduction in the size of our civilian footprint. So this shouldn't be read as any sort of message to the Taliban.


HOLMES: Let's bring in CNN international security editor Nick Paton Walsh. He is live for us in London. Good to see you, Nick. I guess the taking of Kandahar is just the latest stunning turn of events, in a string of them. The birthplace of the Taliban is back in their hands.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: It is utterly extraordinary that a week ago, we had not seen the Taliban enter into any of the main cities or provincial capitals, and now they have taken the second largest, third largest.

It looks like they have a lot of control over Lashkar Gah and Helmand (ph), deeply symbolic because of the volume of security forces of the Afghan government throughout that capital of the region, Helmand (ph), to try and hold it.

It's an utterly startling week, I have to say. I don't think anybody in their worst projections thought this would have been possible. It's an indictment, certainly, I think, to Afghan security strategy and the faith put in to the Afghan security forces.

As recently as 72 hours ago, by President Joe Biden, talking about 300,000 soldiers and over a trillion dollar spent in 20 years. You have to simply be realistic and acknowledge that that long vaunted army that the U.S. government talked about will be able to have security as they pulled out doesn't really exist.

Tens of thousands of commandoes are possibly rushing to put out fires everywhere. But sadly, it seems for the Afghan government, the narrative is now slowly moving towards the capital, Kabul. It's utterly unthinkable, frankly, to imagine we would be in a week in this position.

I should point, at this stage, Kabul is not physically under threat and there are no indications that that is imminent, but it hasn't stopped panic, certainly. People I have been speaking to inside of Kabul, government and otherwise, they seem to feel that the siege of that city is coming slowly. It is unclear how it will materialize. Will the Taliban focus their efforts on simply trying to cut it off or trying to move in and penetrate it?

Kandahar -- I should just go back to briefly, Michael, I say briefly startling simply (INAUDIBLE). We do appear to have seen that city pressured like many of others for a number of weeks. Then slowly, it seems, yesterday, the Taliban began to penetrate some of the government lines there and, as we've seen before, something of a collapse.

These cities, isolated from systems. The Taliban's tactics have been quite thorough. They choose a city, they surround it in its rural areas where they are always strongest, cut off the resupply routes, meaning that the army there are dependent on air resupply, and essentially waited out. Kandahar falling, some may think, after the pressure put on it, to some degree a matter of time.

But I do have to say, I do shudder to think what the conversations are amongst advisers around Afghan President Ghani. He took personal control of much of this military operation. It doesn't appear to have gone the opposite direction, to what anybody would've hoped in that period of time. The Taliban, though, you have to essentially realize that this is a moment of their ascendancy. They waited for this for 20 years.


PATON WALSH: They have the resources. They're able to pressure places at simultaneous moments with great intensity. That has proven effective. And I have to say, it is startling to listen to the U.S. announcement yesterday of that deployment of 3,000. Michael?

HOLMES: Yeah, and a staggering failure of United States Intelligence in not judging the capability and intent of the Taliban and then know that this was coming.

Nick, I got to leave it there. I appreciate it. Nick Paton Walsh there in London for us, thanks.

All right, now, let's take a look at the Taliban advances during the past few months and just how quickly the tide has turned in Afghanistan. This is what the country looked like just back in April, the month President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of American troops. Taliban control is in red there.

All right, let's fast forward, two months later, and you can see the Taliban making significant territorial gains already, and it has only gotten worse from there.

Let's have a look at what Afghanistan looked like a month later, in July. The Taliban more than doubling its territory and that was before the provincial capital started to fall.

Now, finally, this is what Afghanistan looks like right now. The speed with which the Taliban have seized the territory is nothing short of stunning.

Colonel Cedric Leighton is a CNN military analyst. He joins me now from Washington, D.C. It's good to see you, sir. Let's start with the situation on the ground, essentially the looming surrounding of the capital, Kabul. U.S. Intel assessed the Afghan government could fall within 90 days. It will probably be sooner than that. The U.S. is moving its people to the international airport, which smacks of preparation to leave. Do you see inevitability about what is happening?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Michael, definitely. It's always good to be with you. But under these circumstances, I think it is very sad when you look at all the things that have happened in the last 20 years and all the sacrifices that have been made.

But, yes, there is inevitability to this. And I believe that as far as the amount of time it will take the Taliban to get to Kabul, I think it is going to be less than 30 days.

The way this is happening, it is unfolding so quickly, that there is absolutely nothing in the way the Taliban (INAUDIBLE) Kabul. That is a very sad state of affairs. HOLMES: We've seen the Taliban and its negotiations with the west. Basically, let's face it, lies about many things, including its relationship with al-Qaeda. Instead of cutting off ties, like they said they do, they are fighting shoulder to shoulder in some areas. You are a former Intel guy, what are the risks that Afghanistan becomes a terror haven and a terror threat than it was pre-9/11?

LEIGHTON: I think the risks are very high that that is going to be the case. You know, as a former Intel guy, I can tell you that nothing is more conducive to terrorist activities than a failed state. And a failed state, Afghanistan, certainly is and certainly will be.

And it will also be a state in which the portion of the Taliban government would most certainly support an al-Qaeda or an ISIS-type organization, and that is going to create a lot of problems not only for the U.S. but also for Europe and for countries in Asia as well.

HOLMES: As a military guy, we've seen as we did with ISIS in Iraq, literally the Taliban driving around, advancing in U.S. Military vehicles. I saw Humvees and MRAPs and so on. How does it feel as a military man to see that U.S. material surrendered or captured by the enemy and then used to take over the country?

LEIGHTON: It breaks your heart. On one hand, it makes you mad. On the other, it's very difficult to watch. It also shows how carelessly this was planned. The withdrawal of U.S. forces could have been planned in a much more coherent fashion. With this kind of equipment, it would never have gotten into the hands of the Taliban. And the fact that it has basically is a disaster.

HOLMES: Yeah. I couldn't believe it when I saw MRAPs the other day. I mean, I want to get to this, too, and ask you about it because I know you care very deeply. You're one of the many U.S. veterans pushing for those who work for the U.S. and Afghanistan to be urgently evacuated rather than be mired in what has been an absurdly slow bureaucratic process.

I think the U.S. is saying that 1,200 were left there, as many as 80,000, including families. I know you are in direct contact with many of those now facing being killed by the Taliban. What are they telling you?

LEIGHTON: Well, it is very desperate for them. The cries of desperation, you can just see them in the messages that they send me. One individual has two children. One of them requires medical attention. They've been in hiding for weeks now and there is no way out for them.


LEIGHTON: They are not in Kabul. To get to Kabul is a very, very difficult thing for them to do. In this particular case, he has all the paperwork ready to go, but in order to get to a point where he can produce that paperwork and actually get out of the country and make his way to U.S. facility, it is highly unlikely that he will be able to do that. HOLMES: It should've been started months, perhaps years ago. We only got a minute left, literally. I want to do ask you, you got the U.S. sending about 3,000 troops back to Kabul, basically to cater for what has happened since they moved 3,000 troops out of Afghanistan.

When you look at what is being lost in terms of Intel on the ground, Intel gathering, allowing for targeted operations and things like that, do you think a force should have been left there?

LEIGHTON: Absolutely. You can leave a force in a country and not be engaged in a war. Examples, of course, are Germany and South Korea, just to name two. We've had peace with those countries since 1945 in the case of Germany and since 1953 with Korea.

These kinds of things can be done in a way where we keep our boots on the ground, our eyes on the target, and we make sure that the threats emanating or previously emanating from those territories never touch us again. That is the mistake that we are making here. We are letting those threats come back and we will, I think, unfortunately, pay a price for that.

HOLMES: Colonel Cedric Leighton, always a pleasure. Thanks so much. Good to see you.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Michael. Thank you so much.

HOLMES (on camera): Russia is battling a deadly surge of the coronavirus and reported more than 800 deaths on Thursday, the country's highest daily death toll since the pandemic began.

In the U.S., amid a surge of infections, the Food and Drug Administration has authorized the third vaccine dose for some Americans with weakened immune system. Advisers at the Centers for Disease Control are set to meet in the coming hours to vote on whether to recommend it. For now, the FDA says the general population does not need a booster.

Meanwhile, Israel is already planning to expand its booster shot program. It is going to drop its minimum age of eligibility for a third dose from 60 to 50 years old. Top U.S. infectious disease expert, Dr. Antbony Fauci, explains why Israel is moving forward with its rollout.


ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR, DIRECTOR OF THE U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Based on the data from the utilization and implementation of the vaccine program, they are seeing a significant diminution in the durability of protection. They see that more among the elderly than they do among the younger. So, they made a decision to do that.

We in this country are collecting data from multiple cohorts, both domestic and international. The domestic cohorts are being followed literally on a daily and weekly basis by the CDC. We are assuming that sooner or later, we are going to have to give boosters. So what we are doing right now, the decision is we don't need to do it right now. It's not imminent. But we are preparing as if it will be imminent. So we are going to be ready to do it whenever the data shows that the protection is gone below a certain level because of combination of the durability of protection and the special effect you're seeing with the delta variant.


HOLMES (on camera): Now, while some countries debate a third dose of the vaccine, many people worldwide, of course, are still waiting for their first. Only 16 percent of the world's population is fully vaccinated, according to figures tracked by our world in data.

Hospitals in Indonesia, as in many other countries, overwhelmed with patients, and it is forcing some families there to make unthinkable choices. CNN's Paula Hancocks explains.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A deadly second wave of COVID-19 left 42-year-old Fakhri with an impossible choice: Pick a family member with the highest odds of survival.

FAKHRI YUSUF, LOST HIS FATHER-IN-LAW TO COVID (through translator): My father-in-law worked as a driver. When his boss tested positive, he did, too.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Within that week, Fakhri's mother and two sisters-in-law also tested positive. Overwhelmed hospitals in Jakarta were already turning patients away. Fakhri's family secured a single hospital bed and a heartbreaking decision.

YUSUF (through translator): All hospitals and isolation centers were full. We managed to find one bed, so we decided to send my sister-in- law.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): His father-in-law died five days later at home. Deprived of a hospital bed in sickness and of undertakers in death, desperate, Fakhri turned to volunteer undertakers.


YUSUF (through translator): In about an hour, the volunteer team arrived and worked efficiently to bury my father-in-law in a COVID cemetery.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Fakhri's father-in-law story is all too common in Indonesia. The world's fourth most populous country has been ravaged by the highly contagious delta variant. Cases have jumped sevenfold since June and hospital beds are limited.

TAUFIQ HIDAYAT, VOLUNTEER UNDERTAKER, NATIONAL BOARD OF ZAKAT (through translator): The worst is when the bodies are left at home for hours and hours after death with no one to perform the last rites because they are scared.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Taufiq Hidayat has seen the situation deteriorate rapidly at close quarters. He is on the front lines as a COVID volunteer with the National Board of Zakat, a government-run organization funded by local charity funds that has been helping to provide last rites.

HIDAYAT (through translator): We've collected and buried more than 60 victims of COVID-19 over the past month. This is just unprecedented.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Taufiq's phone has not stopped ringing in a month and every call poses a new challenge.

HIDAYAT (through translator): It is really tough on us. We have to wear full hazmat suits. It gets hot. Some bodies are located in very small alleys or small houses. It is very difficult for us.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Faith keeps them going. His day starts with a prayer for their safety and ends with another, seeking peace for the deceased.

HIDAYAT (through translator): My family fear that I will get infected and bring home the virus. They pray for me. I always try to assure them of my safety.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Taufiq's account bears a grim reality, one that Fariz of LaporCovid-19 has been bearing witness to and documenting. His online platform has a digital repository of sorts with (INAUDIBLE) information on all things COVID.

FARIZ IBAN, DATA ANALYST, LAPORCOVID-19: (through translator): We found that nearly 3,000 patients have died in isolation, in their homes. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg and it is not represented in the overall death toll.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): It is not just dying alone. Self-isolation also carries other risks.

IBAN: Self-isolation is dangerous. With a contagious delta variant, they can easily infect others in their home.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): But with numbers still rising in Asia's outbreak epicenter, patients have little choice but to self-isolate and face the threat of perishing at home, relying solely on the selfless services of undertakers like Taufiq to lay them to rest.

Paula Hancocks, CNN.


HOLMES: Wildfires are tearing across the Mediterranean. Algeria, among the hardest hit, and the country is now making arrests. In Greece, the entire forest turned to ash as villagers try to come to grips with the devastation. We will have that after the break.


HOLMES: All sorts of extreme weather are doing a real number on Europe. Turkey is dealing with deadly floods on its black sea coast. At least nine people killed and nearly thousands others have to be evacuated. The floods have taken out at least five bridges and hundreds of villages have no power.

And Southern Italy is still struggling with hundreds of fires after hitting what could be Europe's all-time hottest temperature on Wednesday, nearly 49 degrees Celsius. The blistering heat is part of a high pressure system Italian media are calling "Lucifer."

This is a view of all of the active fires burning across Europe and North Africa. Keep in mind the flames marked the location but not the size of each fire.

We've got satellite images of Greece's Evia Island on August 1st, the full wildfires (INAUDIBLE), and here we see how Evia looks 10 days later, with a huge burnt-out area across the middle.

Meanwhile, Algerian authorities have now arrested 22 people suspected of lighting fires across that country, fires that have now claimed dozens of lives.

Eleni Giokos is standing by live in Evia, Greece. First, to Jomana Karadsheh, who is tracking the fires in Algeria. Jomana, what is the latest on those fires and what help is Algeria getting to fight them?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, Algeria is entering day five of this battle against the wildfires, more than a hundred that have erupted since Monday. By all accounts, this is some of the worst wildfires in the country's history, some of the deadliest with at least 69 people who have lost their lives.

Now, these fires, Michael, have been spread across 16 to 17 provinces and what have made this such a tough fight for the authorities are several factors. You are looking at some hard to reach areas, some of these mountainous villages and forests, and then you've got the weather conditions.

This extreme heat, near record temperatures, the result of this heat wave the country is going through, that has made these fires worse, and then the lack of capabilities. I mean, we have seen those really heartbreaking images coming out of Algeria with people just grabbing whatever they can, including tree branches, to try and put out these flames.

We heard last night from the country's president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, addressing the nation in a televised address, explaining that they did try to reach out to the E.U., to European countries early on to try and get more assets, more firefighting claims to help him in this fight because they were not prepared for something like this.

But he says they could not respond immediately because their firefighting planes have been tied up with the fires in Greece and in Turkey. But, finally, now, help is starting to arrive. Much needed help. Yesterday, at least two planes from France. They're expecting two more from Spain today. He says another one from Switzerland in the coming days.

The president is saying that they are continuing to investigate these fires and what caused these fires. But he is reiterating what we heard from officials over the last few days, Michael, saying that while the weather may have contributed to this, they are still blaming this on what they described as "criminal hands," arsonists, who started these fires. At least 22 people have been detained.

Michael, experts say that, yes, people do start fires, whether intentional or not, that is a different story, but the current climate crisis that we are living through, the weather conditions, this is what is exacerbating the fires.

We have seen this across the Mediterranean region, whether it is here in Turkey or Greece where Eleni has been reporting for the past week, Italy and other places. Scientists are warning that the Mediterranean region, Michael, is becoming a wildfire hot spot and we should get ready that this is probably the new normal.

HOLMES: Yeah. What a normal it is. Jomana Karadsheh, thanks very much. Let us turn now to Eleni Giokos in Evia in Greece. Evia was burning for 10 days. I mean, the losses must be devastating to so many people. What are the locals telling you?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, absolutely, Michael. We have been driving around the village over the last few days. And right now, we are seeing the Slovakian firefighting crew monitoring the situation. This was an intense fire a few days ago. It has now subsided. But what we are seeing is the concern of rekindling.

In terms of what the locals are telling us, they are filled with shock and despair. They are counting their losses. So, those big flames, those big fires have now ended. The emergency services are, of course, you know, really glad that the sort of the major issues have now gone away. Now, it is about what the future holds.


GIOKOS: We went and revisited some of the most impacted villages in Evia and I want you to take a listen to some of what we heard.


GIOKOS: Baked for a celebration, now turned to ash.

Here in the village of Rovies in Evia, unimaginable damage. Last week, it is escaping by sea. Today, it is counting losses.

ZOI HALASTI, BAKERY OWNER IN ROVIES, GREECE (through translator): We fought all our life, 38 years, to build this business, a huge loss. I don't know how it can be rebuilt. Lots of money needed. Pain, sadness, rage, despair, a mix of emotions. I asked her if the prime minister apologizing for any weaknesses in the response meant anything to her.

HALASTI (through translator): He needs to apologize to everyone for what they went through. It is not only us who lost a business. Many people left unemployed. The ecological disaster is huge. One apology is not enough.

GIOKOS: The fire then moving to a neighboring village, Limni. Flames engulfed forests and homes.

Forty years of work, wiped out.

PAVLOS GANFALLOU, MECHANIC IN LIMNI, GREECE: This is my father's business. This is where I grew up. This is where I spent my summers, my winters. This is gone.

GIOKOS: The damage is extraordinary.

GANFALLOU: Everything is gone.

GIOKOS: Everything is gone. Nothing is left to save. These are bikes you were working on?

GANFALLOU: Yes. These were working motorcycles, most of them. Some of them melted beyond repair.

GIOKOS: Spending time with the locals here and hearing their stories, they say that destruction like this could largely have been avoided if help arrived in time. They say that they were left to fend for themselves.

Local mayor, Giorgos Tsapourniotis, says volunteers took on the heavy load.

GIORGOS TSAPOURNIOTIS, MAYOR OF MANTOUDI-LIMNI-AGIA ANNA, GREECE (through translator): The firefighters were ordering us to evacuate. But I don't think this is a strategy, people leaving their houses and letting them burn. Thankfully, many volunteers stayed behind and helped, saving 80 to 90 percent of the houses while endangering their lives. We didn't have much help on the ground or from the air. We were left to fight this monster with water pistols.

GIOKOS: According to the Athens National Observatory, about 465 square kilometers have been burned on the island of Evia. It will have a lasting impact on the community here. Evia produces 80 percent of the country's p resin, cultivated from pine trees that need to reach 30 years before they can be harvested. Now, it is gone.

TSAPOURNIOTIS (through translator): More than 3,000 people were dependent on the resin, honey-making, livestock, and tourism that are now destroyed.

GIOKOS: Despite the pain and despair, locals cling to any glimmer of hope. She says it's still smell sweet a week later.


GIOKOS: I mean, looking at just the sheer scale of the losses, you also look at what happened in the forests and the agricultural land has been absolutely decimated. The government has announced measures. Some locals say they are angry and they don't trust the government right now.

But Michael, let me tell you, seeing just the scale of this ecological impact and hearing some of the experts saying the next big risk is floods because the trees have been destroyed and that was a natural defense system against mudslides, it is now what locals are worried about.

HOLMES: Yeah, so much lasting damage. Eleni, thank you. Eleni Giokos there in Greece for us. Just dreadful.

We are going to take a quick break. When we come back, more on our breaking news. A major victory for the Taliban, claiming control of Afghanistan's second largest city. You are watching "CNN Newsroom." We will be right back.



HOLMES: And the "Breaking News" this hour, the Taliban have taken control of Afghanistan's second biggest city, Kandahar. We have new video, that the militant group is circulating, which they say shows victory celebrations. Look at them riding on an American Humvee. CNN can not independently verify its authenticity.

Another video purports to show Taliban fighters taking over the Governor's building. Afghan national forces appear to have either surrendered or fled. Kandahar is the 13 provincial capital to fall in just the past few weeks and the Taliban's rapid advance has the U.S. gravely concerned about Kabul. It is now sending 3,000 additional troops back there to help evacuate most American civilians from the U.S. Embassy.

Sources say the U.S. is also considering moving the embassy, itself, to Kabul Airport to get diplomats out of the country quickly if it becomes necessary.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: We're mindful that the security situation continues to deteriorate in Afghanistan. And as I said before, our troops will as always have the right of self defense. But this is a narrowly focused mission to help with the - to help safeguard an orderly reduction of civilian personnel. I'm not going to speculate beyond August 31. Our job right now, with this additional plus up, is to help facilitate the safe movement of civilian personnel out of Afghanistan. And the President's been very clear that he wants that reduction complete by that end of August.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have fled their homes due to the explosion of violence by the Taliban. According to the U.N. almost 400,000 Afghans have been displaced inside the country just this year. Part of more than five million in total over the years, millions of others have fled the country all together.

Pakistan host almost 1.5 million Afghan refugees. Some 780,000 are living in Iran. And many others are in Turkey. Many of those recently uprooted have made their way to Kabul in search of safety. But with the Taliban's latest advances, the Capital soon may be no safe haven.


HOLMES (voice over): Families sleep on the hard ground outside this school in Afghanistan. It may not look like the most comfortable place to rest but at least for now it is safe away from the trail of violence left behind by the Taliban's advance.

Many bombs were dropped on our village, one woman says. The Taliban came and destroyed everything, we were helpless and had to leave our houses.

One Afghan official in Kunar Province, where the school is located, says there are thousands of displaced families in his province alone trying to escape the fighting. But for some it is too late.

The Taliban were firing guns next to our house, one man says. Many bullets came our way. In the end my wife was killed.

A hospital filled with wounded civilians shows just how pitched the battle is. One patient says, I was on the side of the street, I was hit by a mortar and one of my legs was injured.

Some people taking refuge in the country's Capital, Kabul, thinking it is one of the safest bets with the Taliban on the move. This man left the besieged city of Lashkar Gah two weeks ago but hopes to return one day.


If you ask most people in Afghanistan, 99 percent of the people will say the fighting is not the solution, he says. The only way is peace. And the Afghan people want peace. A peace that seems more elusive as more civilians are forced from their homes.


HOLMES (on camera): Keep it right here on CNN. Next hour we'll hear from an Afghan journalist about the situation on the ground in Kabul and whom he thinks is to blame.


ALI LATIFI, AFGHAN JOUNALIST: I feel like everybody shares a responsibility in this, you know. And the thing is, I never had any expect - why would you have expectations out of the Taliban. You never had expectations out of them. Unfortunately we've all seen the way the U.S. has acting here over the last 10 years - well 20 but for me 10.

But I'm also angry at this government because, you know, last - yesterday we had to sit and watch footage of the Governor or a province fleeing, running off, not - not - not fighting for his province. And for him to leave Ghazni and to try and come Kabul, 150 kilometers away, at a time when the Taliban control Ghazni and he eventually got arrested and went back (ph) on the way to Kabul.

For him to even make it from Ghazni to Wardak there's no way when Ghazni's under Taliban control he didn't make a deal with the Taliban. But he made that deal for his own safety. He didn't make that deal to protect the millions of people who live in Ghazni. He didn't care.


HOLMES: And you can see my full interview with Afghan Journalist Ali Latifi coming up in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.

And now to a mass shooting in the U.K. where at least five people and the suspected gunman are dead. This happened in Plymouth in Southwest England. And police say the incident is not terror related. Two females and two males were found dead at the scene. A local member of Parliament says one of the victims was a child under 10-years old. Another woman was treated for gunshot wounds but died a short time later at the hospital. And the suspect shooter was also found dead.

We'll bring more information on that as we get it. This kind of gun violence happens daily in the U.S. but it's very rare in the U.K. A mass shooting 25-years ago prompted the British government to tighten gun laws and ban private gun ownership.

One of South Korea's top business tycoons says he is truly sorry as he walked out of prison several hours ago. Samsung's Vice Chairman, Lee Jae-Yong, was released on parole. One of hundreds set free for South Korea's Liberation Day. Lee was caught in a scandal that led to the impeachment of the country's first female President back in 2017. He was convicted of bribery and embezzlement and can't work without a special permit now from the Justice Ministry. Lee still faces separate charges related to a corporate merger back in 2015.

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, team Australia had one of its most successful Olympics in history. But instead of a heroes welcome, some of the athletes are facing long quarantines. We'll have that when we come back.



HOLMES: Well they represented their country in Tokyo and now some of Australia's Olympians are feeling decidedly unwelcomed as they returned home. As Manisha Tank explains for us, they can blame the reaction to COVID outbreaks in one Australian state in particular.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MANISHA TANK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A hero's welcome on hold. Instead double quarantine, 28-days the price of a trip to Tokyo where team Australia won more golds than at any games since Athens 2004. But the country has also done better than many in keeping out COVID. It's border is shut tight, little leeway even for its sporting champions.

STVEN MARSHALL, PREMIER OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA: There's nothing fair about a pandemic. So many South Australians have had to make enormous sacrifices to protect our health in South Australia.

TANK (voice over): As Australia's most popular state, New South Wales and Victoria, battle an outbreak of the Delta variant. Smaller states are doing everything in their power to keep the virus from crossing their borders.

In South Australia that means two-weeks quarantine for anyone coming from New South Wales even for 16 Olympians who will have already done that in hotel quarantine in Sydney.

MARSHALL: The Australian Olympic Committee weren't able to set up a sterile corridor to get those athletes back so - in other words they would be going to the airport, they'd be getting on a plane with people who of course had to go into 14-days of quarantine. It's a very difficult situation.

TANK (voice over): A difficult situation the Olympians know all too well, their time in Tokyo governed by strict rules of the bubble. The Australian Olympic Committee says more quarantine just isn't fair.

MATT CARROLL, CEO, AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: We're talking about also like the safest cohort to return to Australia since the pandemic started. They are all fully vaccinated. They have been tested every day while they were in the village in Tokyo. We had over 1,000 people in our lot (ph) in Tokyo, we had no infections.

TANK (voice over): Despite Australia's pride in its Olympic success, tough border policies have scored well with voters as the pandemic has rumbled on. But South Australia is the only state to make athletes quarantine twice. A measure that will take its toll.

CARROLL: You get to the mental health issues of having to deal with another - but with 28-days of lockdown - in quarantine.

TANK (voice over): That, a price some athletes are now unwilling to take. The Australian Olympic Committee says, some among the group of 16 due to double quarantine will give up and go back overseas instead. Manisha Tank, CNN Singapore.


HOLMES: And there'll be more sports news coming up after the break. I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for spending part of your day with me. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram, at home CNN. I'll be back with more CNN NEWSROOM in about 15 minutes or so. See you then.



DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLDSPORT: Hello there and welcome to WORLDSPORT, we're coming from you from CNN Center. I'm Don Riddell.

It hardly seems like it ever went away but the new football season is upon us once again. In Europe the French Ligue 1 kicked off last weekend. England's Premiere League, Spain's La Liga, and the Germany's Bundesliga will all kick off later this Friday. There will be interest in the English Capital. In this game newly promoted Brentford will be at home to their London rivals, Arsenal.

While the reigning German champions, Bayern Munich, are away at Borussia Mnchengladbach and Valencia at home to Getafe in Spain. The pick of the weekend's games I think must be in North London where Spurs host the Premiere Leagues Champions, Manchester City. It could be one of Harry Kane's last games for Tottenham before he transfers to their opponents, Man City.

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi has trained for the first time with his new club, Paris Saint-Germain, two days after his move from Barcelona. It was the first time he'd been on a football pitch since winning the Copa America with Argentina last month. And Messi isn't expected to make his debut for PSG until the end of this month.

Messi has been reunited with his former Barcelona teammate Neymar and there are plenty of familiar faces for him in the locker room. He's got these Argentine players alongside him. Not to mention PSG's Argentine coach, Mauricio Pochettino.

There has been another mega transfer deal in Europe this week. The Belgian star, Romelu Lukaku, has moved from Inter Milan to Chelsea on a five-year deal. The Blues paid a (ph) fee reported to be around $135 million for a man who used to play for them. Lukaku left Chelsea in 2014 having only played 10 first team games.

His transfer fee is to - believe to be the second biggest in the history of English football. Only Man City's new signing, Jack Grealish, is worth more. He moved with Aston Villa last week in a deal worth a reported $139 million.

I mentioned that Bayern Munich are in action to kick off the Bundesliga season later today. The 2020 Champions League winners are looking for another campaign dominance. They've won the last nine league titles in Germany and would love to extend that streak to double figures. They'll have a new coach in Julian Nagelsmann and a squad of young superstars including the multi talented Alfonso Davies. He is highly entertaining both on and off the field.

As Amanda Davis, no relation, discovered.


ALFONSO BOYLE DAVIES, CANADIAN PROFESSIONAL SOCCER PLAYER: I just want to say thank you guys for one million followers on TikTok, you're the best (ph), man.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): You'd be forgiven for thinking that everything Alfonso Davies touches turns to gold. But his is a story of success against the odds. Born to Liberian parents in a refugee camp in Gahanna. He's a footballer motivated by a whole lot more than trophies.

BOYLE DAVIES: When my parents came to Canada, you know, they told me some stories about their time in Gahanna. They said it was - it was tough time. Now I just want to make a better life for my family. And every time I step on the field it's for - it's for them.

DAVIES (voice over): As well as a Champions League title, three Bundesliga Crowns, a German Cup, German Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup by the age of 20. Davies has a social media following to rival the biggest and best, over 4 million followers on TikTok alone.

BOYLE DAVIES: Every time I post, you know, I just try to put a smile on someone's face. You know, try to put a smile on my face as well when I'm doing it, you know. You know, keeping busy and also it's not - it doesn't just show Alfonso Davies the footballer, it shows Alfonso Davies the person as well.

DAVIES: Which is your favorite post ever that you've done?

BOYLE DAVIES: Probably the Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Number one, could you please sing the opening to "I Want it That Way"? Really? OK. Yes, I mean that took almost 45 minutes to make because I had to change different outfits and stuff like that, get the words right. But yes, that was fun to make. Ah, chills, literal chills.

DAVIES: We've heard somewhere (ph) the recent campaign that started here in England with the football social media boycott. Do you think it's had an impact? Do you think much has really changed in that direction?

BOYLE DAVIES: I think there's still people out there that are, you know, hating on some football players, you know. The things that happened with Marcus Rashford, it was ugly to see. (Inaudible) football is (inaudible), you know, we breathe, sleep, eat like everyone else but, you know, I understand, you know, fans are very passionate about the sport but they need to realize that, you know, we're humans as well, you know, we make mistakes. We have a family. Like - so - like them and so not everybody's going to love you.

But, you know, you just got to stay strong to yourself.

DAVIES (voice over): Davies was only 18 when Bayern Munich became his new footballing family. He joined a club with six straight Bundesliga titles. With a team sheet filled with the stuff of teenage dreams.

BOYLE DAVIES: Words can't really explain it but when I walked into the locker room and I was looking at the picture and I just - in my mind I was like there's no way these are the real people.


You know, you see (inaudible), you see Alaba, Ribery, Robben, Afenia (ph), Hamas (ph). And then Robben walks in the room and then, you know, it's the real guy, it's not - it's not like parts (ph) (inaudible) it's a real guy. I shook his hand and he introduced himself, very polite and humble guy. It was - it was amazing and the rest started coming in. It was - it was incredible.

DAVIES: Was there somebody you were really excited about meeting?

BOYLE DAVIES: I was really excited to meet David Alaba. Because obviously when we're little he's a role model for most of the - most of the kids back home because obviously he did that - he did the hair thing. And I think most players did it as well.

DAVIES: So it's interesting you mention the hair thing because I remember, when I was lucky enough to come Allianz, I found it hilarious that as you walk out of the dressing room there is a mirror on the wall for you guys to check your hair before you walk out onto the pitch.

BOYLE DAVIES: Yes, I mean, you know, the saying goes, that if look good, you feel good and you play good. So, looking at myself in the mirror I tell myself, you know, you know how to play the game, you know (inaudible), you know this is football enjoy it, have fun and just go out there and do what you need to do. You know. And then I do like little hair flicks and then I'm out.


RIDDELL: He's right, you know. OK, we've got two very cool stories for you next on WORLDSPORT. How an Olympic volunteer saved the day and ended up winning big herself. Plus all the players were ghost in the "Field of Dreams" but major league baseball has brought the whole thing back to life.


RIDDELL: You know one of the best stories at the Olympics happened away from the arenas in Tokyo. And although we did hear about it at the time the video of it has only just emerged. The Jamaican hurdler, Hansle Parchment, accidentally took the wrong bus to the wrong venue and he could easily have missed his semi-final in the 110 meters. But he ended up getting to the stadium in time where he made the final and then stunned the world champion, Grant Holloway, to win the gold medal.

But it wouldn't have been possible without one of the volunteers who gave him some money for a cab and really did help to save the day. So he went back to find her, thank her, repay her and show her the prize that she helped make possible.


HANSLE PARCHMENT, OLYMPIC MEDALIST: (Inaudible), you remember me?

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Oh, you came (ph). Hi, you came (ph) really, thank you.

PARCHMENT: Yes, I am back to repay you and show you something. You were instrumental in me getting to the finals that day.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Really, really you won this?

PARCHMENT: Yes. I won.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: (Inaudible).

PARCHMENT: That's just because you helped me get to the stadium.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Thank you, (inaudible).

PARCHMENT: Yes, so I took a shirt for you as well.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

PARCHMENT: And I took back your money.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Oh, thank you.


RIDDELL: It's just wonderful. If you get a chance watch the whole video on his Instagram page it will make your day. And the volunteer's day got even better, the Jamaican government has extended her an offer to come and visit.

You know last night I spoke with a colleague who was in Tokyo for the games. He described them as amazing and sad. Terrific sport but in empty arenas and the Japanese people who had invested so much in hosting the games didn't get to see any of it. We will always remember the Tokyo Olympics. Certainly the U.S. Olympic team will, they finished top of the medal table despite competing in such difficult circumstances.

Our Coy Wire has been chatting with the head of the their Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Sarah Hirshland.


SARAH HIRSHLAND, CEO, US OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: When you're in the trenches you do, you build bonds unlike those you can build any other time. And I think the world has been in the trenches together. You know these games should unify and inspire, they always do. And this time perhaps just a touch more than normal. And the world's going to be just a little better place on the backend.


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: Another type of magic found in Tokyo, "Girl Power". I mean, yes, as a dad of two daughters it's awesome to see.


WIRE: What kind of statement do you think the U.S. women have made here in Tokyo?

HIRSHLAND: It's a reflection of what's possible. And we're at an inflection point. I mean I feel incredibly, incredibly lucky to be here at this moment in time. Frankly one I wasn't sure I see in my lifetime when I started my career. And now, you know, my bar has moved. Now you think about this in the context of a very different environment than where we were just a couple decades ago.

And so it's pretty awesome to see. And we owe - we owe a debt of gratitude not just to those women who are on the ground right now killing it but to the women who have been working hard for this for a long time.

WIRE: Next up, Winter Olympics, it's like right up on us.


WIRE: What type of resistance do you feel there may be from some in the U.S. about games being held in China?

HIRSHLAND: There's no question that there's resistance. The opportunity here is actually to set an example, to show what happens when human beings do come together in the spirit of fun fair competition, sportsmanship, setting aside differences, setting aside any sense of discrimination and allowing sport to shine. There's opportunity for our actions and our behavior to set an example for all the world to see including those in China.

And I think that's powerful. And I have heard, you know, some of the power of that. The political issues and the political ideologies, those are issues for our governments to work on. But for us as individuals and athletes as competitors, it's the opportunity to set an example of what the spirit of sport is about. And I think we'll do that.


RIDDELL: All right, just before we go. We have just witnessed a very unique game of Major League Baseball. Firstly, it was the first ever MLB game played in the state of Iowa. But it was about much more than that.

The Yankees and the White Sox played each other in the middle of a cornfield. A celebration of the iconic 1989 movie, "Field of Dreams". You might remember in it, Kevin Costner plays a character who builds a field for the ghost of baseball legends, 8,000 fans had the experience of a lifetime at this one. The White Sox won it, by the way, with a walk off homerun right there into the corn.

That's it for WORLDSPORT just now, thanks for your company. I'll see you again soon.