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Barr: Trump's Tweets Make It Impossible to Do Job; China Reports More than 64,000 Cases of Wuhan Virus; Family With Small Children Endures 14-Day Quarantine; France to Limit Access to Mont Blanc to Fight Overcrowding; Infection Takes a Toll on Frontline Healthcare Workers. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired February 14, 2020 - 00:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Studio Seven at CNN's world headquarters Atlanta.


Ahead this hour, the U.S. attorney general and serial Trump enabler is now speaking out. The president's tweets are making his job impossible, he says. On face value, it seems like rare criticism, but is it?

Holiday from hell. Stuck in tiny cabins with bored kids on a ship under quarantine because of the coronavirus and going nowhere.

And the French president takes action on climate change, announcing a raft of measures big and small to reduce carbon emissions, but will they compensate for a recalcitrant Trump administration?

We begin with what seems like rare public criticism of Donald Trump from a member of his own cabinet. Attorney General William Pelham Barr rebuked the president on Thursday for his tweets and public comments on the Justice Department judges and legal cases.

It all revolves around longtime Trump advisor and convicted felon, Roger Stone. The president tweeted that a recommended 7-to-9-year prison sentence for Stone was too harsh. Barr stepped in and scaled back that recommendation, but he says he was not influenced by the president's comments.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're saying you have a problem with the tweets?

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes. Well, I have a problem with some of -- some of the tweets. To have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: We have not heard yet directly from the president, but the White House issued a statement saying he wasn't bothered by the attorney general's comments.

We have more now from CNN's Kaitlan Collins.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, White House officials seemed caught off-guard by that interview that Bill Barr did, publicly challenging the president and saying that his tweets make his job impossible to do and telling the president he should stop tweeting about ongoing criminal cases at the Justice Department.

But they did put out a statement later that said the president had full confidence in Bill Barr to continue doing his job and that they believe that Bill Barr is able to air his opinions just as everyone else's.

But of course, the question is going to be when we hear reaction from the president himself, who has not weighed in yet and, of course, oftentimes the president's views of an event are shaped by the coverage of this.

And we know this is a president who does not like to be criticized, certainly not publicly, and certainly not by one of his own cabinet officials in the way that Bill Barr did. Though questions still remains whether or not the president was aware that Barr was going to sit down for this interview to talk about this case.

Now, Bill Barr said in that interview that he believed the president put him in an untenable position by tweeting about Roger Stone's recommended sentencing before the Justice Department had a chance to overrule it. But now, he has put the president in a similarly impossible position, because he's stuck, essentially, between someone who is one of his favorite cabinet members who is carrying out the agenda he wants, but also dealing with someone who publicly criticized him in a way that was incredibly defiant and surprised many people around the president.

And we are still waiting to see what exactly it is the president is going to say about this or if he'll let it slide.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


VAUSE: Michael Genovese is the president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and he is with us this hour.

So Michael, good to see you. I want to start with, you know, one reason why the president is not bothered by what Barr said -- and I want you to listen very closely to this part of the interview where Barr is talking about the president intervening in the Roger Stone sentencing. Here he is.


BARR: I had made a decision that I thought was fair and reasonable in this particular case, and once the tweet occurred, the question is, Well, now what do I do?


VAUSE: So it's a timeline here. Barr admitted he decided to intervene before the president tweeted. If you look at these comments in that timeline, it could be argued that Bill Barr is rebuking the president for tweeting about the case and bringing publicity to the case, not necessarily for intervening in the case, right?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, PRESIDENT, GLOBAL POLICY INSTITUTE: I think that's right. What Mr. Barr is saying is, Look, I need a little bit of room if I'm going to do your bidding. I need a little bit of space. I'm already your pet poodle. I'm already doing everything you want. And if we're going to keep shattering the guardrails of democracy, you can't shine a spotlight on it. We've got to do that in -- in the still the night and keep it under wraps. I'll do your bidding, but don't put public pressure on me.

So I think he just wants a little bit of room, because the unthinkable is now quite thinkable. In fact, it's an everyday occurrence, and those Republicans who, in the Senate, voted against impeachment and conviction saying, Oh, well, you know, he's learned his lesson, those people now, it's quite embarrassing to them, because it's like they're -- you know, they're saying, you know, I'm shocked, shocked that there's gambling at Rick's.

Well, everybody knew what was going to go on. And Mr. Barr is right in line with, and there's no separation between himself and the president.

VAUSE: Always like a reference to "Casablanca," if you can get that in, so well done.

Trump likes the Attorney General Barr, a whole lot more than his first attorney general. That was Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. Listen to this.


GERALDO RIVERA, HOST, "ROADKILL WITH GERALDO": Do you ever wonder what your life would've been like if you had picked William Barr instead of Jeff Sessions when you took office?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, my life would've been a lot easier.


VAUSE: And after Sessions rightly recused himself from the very beginning from all things Russia, Trump would often ask in anger and frustration, Where's my Roy Cohn? A notorious New York lawyer, who was a lawyer to the mob. Here's how Cohn is described in a recent documentary.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roy Cohn's contempt for people, his contempt for the law was so evident on his face. And you knew you were in the presence of evil.


VAUSE: You have the president of the United States saying he doesn't want an attorney general who would hold up the law but rather who would bend it or test it for him whenever he wanted. Right?

GENOVESE: You know, the good news about President Trump is he often just has no filter and says whatever comes into his mind. And that was just so revealing about who Donald Trump is, what his goals are and how he operates. If you want a Roy Cohn, you want a pit bull. You want someone who will step on people, who will crush them, who doesn't have the limits on -- from the rule of law or from human decency. That's what you want, and that's what he's trying to get.

VAUSE: And what we are now hearing also is some rare criticism, I guess, if you like, from the former White House chief of staff, John Kelly. This is in reference to the defense of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who was subpoenaed by Democrats to testify in the impeachment hearings.

He overheard that, you know, so-called perfect Ukraine phone call. On Friday, he was frog-marched out of the White House. His crime, it seems, was doing his job.

And Kelly told "The Atlantic," "Having seen something questionable, Vindman promptly notified his superiors. When subpoenaed by Congress in the House impeachment hearings, Vindman complied and told the truth. He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave. He went to his boss and told him what he just heard."

In Trump world, there is no higher duty, it seems, rather than protecting the president.

And so Kelly was on the receiving end of some angry tweets. Here's one of them. "When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn't do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head. Being chief of staff just wasn't for him. He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper, but like so many X's, he misses the action and just can't keep his mouth shut."

Really, though, from Kelly this seems to be kind of just a bit too late, and time to speak out for him was the moment he was fired.

GENOVESE: Well, you know, the president can't keep his mouth shut. He has kept his mouth shut, for the most part, since he was unceremoniously pushed out of the White House. But I think when President Trump went after the lieutenant colonel for doing his job, for doing the right thing, for obeying the rules, for doing exactly what he was taught to do, I think that was a bridge too far for General Kelly and I think he almost felt like he had to come out and open up about that.

The problem is he opened up about several other things. And so once you open that door to criticizing Trump, a whole slew of things are going to come out. And General Kelly knows Donald Trump, how he operates. And I think he's got a lot of beans to spill, if that's what he wants to do.

VAUSE: This all seems, you know, what do they say -- a dollar short and a day late.

The other issue here is Vindman was, what, one or 20 or 30 people, maybe more, listening in on that call. It seems, again, talk about lessons that Donald Trump has learned throughout all this, here is the lesson, it seems, he's learned on that issue, of having people listen in on these international phone calls.


TRUMP: When you call a foreign leader, people listen. I may end the practice entirely. I may have -- I may end it entirely.


VAUSE: So the reason why there are so many people on the call, it's to protect the president. It's to protect the office of the presidency. It's also at our national interest, right?

GENOVESE: And you also want people there to confirm what the president believed was said. There's interpretation involved in these kinds of phone calls, and you want to make sure that when you get it, you get it right.

But I think President Trump has instilled kind of a climate of fear in the White House where, if you speak up, if you question him, if you do anything that is not what is on the Trump agenda, you risk getting fired or humiliated or getting an insulting tweet sent out.


And so what you end up getting is a bunch of yes-men who keep on saying that the emperor, who has -- who cannot say the emperor has no clothes, people who will tell the president everything he needs everything to hear -- excuse me, wants to hear but rarely things that he needs to her. A recipe for disaster.

VAUSE: We're eight months or so away from the November election, and we have a situation, and there was a headline in "The Washington Post" which summed it up, which basically said, that the president feels emboldened now and unrestrained, not just to test the power of the executive, but to test the rule of law. And what we have seen by the current makeup of the Congress, with the Republicans in charge of the Senate, that means essentially we'll have an unrestrained presidency until November?

GENOVESE: I think that ship has already sailed. I think that the whole notion that the rule of law was blocking the president, I think that ended, maybe, before even Mueller's report came out.

He's a president who doesn't feel constrained, doesn't want to be constrained, is not used to being constrained. His whole life has been running a small family business and getting his way. And now, when there are people, and there are laws in his way, he's uncomfortable. He -- he just shirks at that. He can't operate in -- within the constraints of a separation of powers, rule of law system, and therefore, he doesn't.

VAUSE: Is this essentially -- last question for you. Is this a reflection of how he ran Trump Industries of Trump Corporation, rather?

GENOVESE: Well, you know, you're a product of your experiences in part, and when you're doing something for 45 or 50 years one way, it's tough to change overnight. And I think that's the problem with President Trump. He doesn't even want to change. He needs to change but doesn't want to.

VAUSE: Good point to end on. Michael, thank you. Good to see you. Michael Genovese, live for us there in Los Angeles.

GENOVESE: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Well, the U.S. Senate passed a new resolution to limit President Trump's war powers when it comes to Iran. This is incredibly rare, and it passed with bipartisan support.

Eight Republicans voted in favor, even though President Trump is against it. The resolution would block Trump from ordering strikes on Iran in the future, unless there's an imminent attack. The White House has threatened to veto the measure. It's unlikely to get enough votes in the Senate for -- to override that presidential veto.

After two weeks, stranded at sea, some of the passengers on board the cruise ship Westerdam are finally back on land and heading for home.

No cases of the novel (ph) coronavirus were either -- were ever found on the ship, but fear of the disease kept the Westerdam from docking at multiple Asian ports.

Then, Cambodia agreed to accept it. Tour buses are now taking passengers to catch flights home.

Meantime, the virus death toll has risen to nearly 1,400. Total confirmed cases 64,000, the vast majority in China's Hubei province.

Quarantine for the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan is set to end next Wednesday, but elderly patient -- passengers, rather, and others considered to be at risk may be allowed to finish the quarantine off the ship.

So far, 219 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed among passengers and crew.

CNN's Stephen Jiang is standing by live for us once again in Beijing.

So Steven, what is the reality of the situation on the ground there at the epicenter right now?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: That's right, John. The officials here increasingly trying to differentiate between Hubei province, the epicenter, and the rest of mainland China.

They're saying outside of Hubei, the increase in the case numbers has been dropping ten days in a row. But inside Hubei, of course, it's a totally different picture.

Now, there is some confusion early this morning over the statistics out of Hubei. The national health authority actually revised down some of the numbers from Hubei. The case numbers -- was revised down for more than a thousand, and the death toll was revised down from more than 100. But obviously, this happened after they reclassified how they count the numbers just yesterday on Thursday.

This kind of confusion really also calls into question the reliability of the Chinese government data, which has always been a problem.

But no matter what the numbers say, John, the reality there is when you look at other pieces of information out of there, it's still very, very grim. After sending in more than 20,000 medical workers from the rest of the country, the authorities in Hubei saying they're still facing a shortage of medical supplies personnel in facilities. And also, more and more cities in Hubei have been now placed under even more stringent quarantine rules.

In some cities now, residents are completely confined to their homes, not allowed to even go out of their residential compound, not even for buying groceries and daily necessities. These items are now going to be delivered to them by local officials. They're basically saying they're in a state of war.

But John, maybe one good piece of information out of Hubei today is we have just received a statement from Wuhan's health authority. That's, of course, the provincial city saying the seven -- seven specific cases CNN has interviewed has now received medical attention and medical treatment after CNN's inquiry. So our work actually has made a difference at the epicenter -- John.


VAUSE: Steven, thank you. Steven Jiang, with the very latest there, live from Beijing. Thanks, Steven.

So being cooped up for two weeks inside a cruise ship cabin, that's tough. Being cooped up inside that cabin for two weeks with young, energetic children, well, that's a nightmare. CNN's Will Ripley spoke with one father whose family is enduring this

quarantine on board the Diamond Princess, one hour at a time.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what a cruise is supposed to be like. For parents with young children on the Diamond Princess, this only happens for about an hour every few days.

All those other hours are spent like this, waiting for the daily delivery of fresh toys, coloring books, crayons, colorful beads.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have this bracelet and also this one.

RIPLEY: Arts and crafts can keep the kids busy four hours.

Every morning, local jet skiers try to boost morale.


RIPLEY: Every evening, bunk beds become trampolines.

HARVEY, QUARANTINED ON DIAMOND PRINCESS: Being trapped in this cabin, it makes you think and realize we should appreciate, like, the little moments, the little details of life.

RIPLEY: Harvey is a young dad, who asked us not to use his last name. He's on the quarantined cruise ship with his entire family.

HARVEY: There's 11 of us, and then there's five kids.

RIPLEY: The youngest, three. The oldest, eight.

(on camera): What do you tell your children about why you guys are sitting there for this long?

HARVEY: We say there's, like, this invisible monster called the coronavirus, and we can't go outside.

RIPLEY: That invisible monster may have the parents more spooked than their kids. Nobody in Harvey's family is showing any symptoms of the coronavirus, he thinks they should all be tested anyway.

HARVEY: The numbers are kind of strange to me. I'm also worried, because even though I trust my own health, I don't want to be, like, an invisible carrier.

RIPLEY: The Japanese government has only tested a few hundred people, out of more than 3000 on the Diamond Princess. Many are asking, why not test everyone at once?

Japan can only process around 300 test kits per day. The nation expects to more than triple its capacity by early next week, one day before the end of the quarantine. The question many are asking, is it too little, too late? HARVEY: If we are worried that we -- we might be carrying, then it

will affect our daily life. That's one of the major concerns, that we don't want to be carrying it, like, and we don't want to spread it to communities.

RIPLEY: Harvey worries what could happen when they could go back home to Hong Kong. Could he and his children be stigmatized? Could they pass the virus to their neighbors, family and friends?

Peace of mind, he says, can only come if everyone on board is tested. And if those tests, come back negative.

Will Ripley, CNN, Yokohama, Japan.


VAUSE: With overcrowded mountains, shrinking glaciers and increased pollution, France takes action to lower carbon emissions. Details on this plan to fight climate change in a moment.

Also ahead, Australia's drought crisis fueling those devastating bush fires. We'll visit the town which has not seen a decent rain in three years.



VAUSE: French President Emmanuel Macron's new push to limit climate change is starting with the tallest mountain in Western Europe, announcing a limit on access to the mountain to protect it from overcrowding, as well as climate change.

CNN's Cyril Vanier has more.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At France's highest mountain, a high-profile visit by the French president to a natural wonder under threat.

In the heart of the Alps, Emmanuel Macron walks through a massive glacier that has been admired for centuries. Now, it is disappearing rapidly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This lake did not used to be there. Before, the glacier extended almost down to the village, and now, little by little, you can see more and more rocky debris instead.

The Mer de Glace, or Sea of Ice, has shrunk by eight to ten meters each year, receding two kilometers since 1850. Researchers believe that by the end of the 21st Century, 80 percent of the glacier could be lost forever.

"This will be the fight of the century," Macron vows after his visit, announcing protections for Mount Blanc, including a protected zone, tighter restrictions and higher fines for littering. He also unveiled a new national biodiversity agency and other broader measures to combat the climate crisis.

MACRON: Acceleration of the glacier shrinking is also proof of the effects that were always anticipated, including by us. Consequences of past actions and the urgency for us to act today.

VANIER: In France, global warming reveals itself in more than a dime a glacier. Some vineyards have had to change their time-honored techniques as hotter temperatures alter the flavors of the country's famed wines.

Seasonal businesses are having to consider a warmer future. At least one ski resort was forced to temporarily close when the lack of snow left slopes bare. It followed France's warmest winter months in a century, matching a trend of rising temperatures across Europe where age-old natural wonders may struggle to survive.

Cyril Vanier, CNN.


VAUSE: Well, now Jess Phoenix is with us from Los Angeles. She's a geologist and the executive director and co-founder of Blueprint earth.

So Jess, good to see you. Just very quickly, on a scale of one to ten, where do you put these actions by the French government? One being go sit in the naughty corner with Donald Trump and ten being, well, you must be Scandinavian?

JESS PHOENIX, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BLUEPRINT EARTH: He pretty much must be Scandinavian at this point. And I just have to say it's utterly refreshing to see the leader of a pretty significant nation like France taking decisive action like this to do what we need to do to help mitigate the climate crisis.

VAUSE: Right now, it seems to be this very stark contrast between -- you sort of touched on this -- the actions taken by the French government, which includes practical measures like these. There are annual bonuses introduced for government workers who carpool or ride a bike to work.

Government ministers will be encouraged to take a train for nonessential travel. All government cars will switch to electric or hybrid power, including the presidential limo. There will be an and to buying single-use plastic.

And then what we've seen from the U.S. in the past three years, which being headlines like these. "EPA rolls back Obama-era plan limiting coal-fired power plant emissions," "EPA to limit science used to write public health rose," "EPA exceeds goals on cutting back environment regulations," according to internal watchdog.

You know, it does seem the vast majority or countries are at least trying, you know, to limit the reasons or the causes of climate change. Will that be enough, though, to make up for the actions of the Trump administration, which seems intent on doing whatever it can to make the climate worse?

PHOENIX: Well, I think something that people need to understand globally is that, while the U.S. only has 5 percent of the world's population, more or less.

Since 1900, we've accounted for over 30 percent of the world's carbon emissions. So you're totally right. Like, the big elephant in the room is the United States. And we need to get our act together.


And so I am optimistic, because we have a lot of young folks and a lot of people who were not engaged in voting before who are awake to the urgency of the situation. So the U.S. is going to be a key player here.

But the rest of the world, in the meantime, should be taking leadership roles here. And countries like France are uniquely positioned to make an outsize impact on the start of this change.

VAUSE: Another record has been set, according to NOAA. January 2020, the warmest January on record for the globe. So is this essentially what we can now expect from this point on? Almost every month, with maybe the odd exception from time to time, we'll see a new record high temperature?

PHOENIX: You know, it may not always be record highs because part of what climate change is the fact that some things are just more extreme. So that means heat and cold.

But yes, we're going to start seeing more and more things that are different or, you know, the worst or the biggest or the driest or the hottest or the wettest. And that is all. It just adds up to the climate system itself has been knocked off-balance, and it is shifting.

VAUSE: Yes. And the direct impact of these increasing temperatures, it's here now is the surreality of climate change. The French president spoke about this on Thursday. This is what he said.


MACRON: What we're seeing with the evolution of the glacier is indisputable proof of the trace of this global warming and climate imbalance and, essentially, of the shift of an entire ecosystem.


VAUSE: And again, with the risk of, you know, banging the same drum, there is this contrast with his America counterpart. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Honestly, climate change is very important to me, and you know, I've done many environmental impacts -- statements in my life. And I believe in -- I believe very strongly very, very, crystal-clear clean water and clean air. That's a big part of climate change.


VAUSE: Maybe the U.S. president doesn't understand the concept of climate change, what it actually is. But even then, with this much evidence out in the open for everyone to see, how is it that one world leader can look at this and see a crisis and a need for urgent action. Another looks at it and say, We need crystal-clean water.

PHOENIX: I'd just like to go back to the fact that when Trump wanted to build a sea wall around his golf course in, I believe it was Scotland, on the application, it said sea level rise due to climate change. That was his justification.

So either he's really good at acting to keep his Republican and fossil-fuel donors happy, or he really is just dense and have people who work for him who explain these things, or at least get the legal aspects done. So his industry can go on unabated, even in the face of the changing climate.

It is -- it is a contrast, though. You are totally right about that.

VAUSE: I mean, so your suspicion is -- I mean, because what, there was a petition which all the business leaders in New York signed before he was president -- this was a few years ago -- urging the Obama administration to do something about climate Change. And Trump -- Donald Trump signed onboard. Don Jr. signed on board. Ivanka signed on board.

So your suspicion is that this is basically pandering to his political base?

PHOENIX: That's 100 percent what it is. This is -- I guess, the simplest terms to put it in would be it's a crime of opportunity, right? You need to keep certain interests happy, so you're going to do that whatever it takes to stay in power.

And until we have leaders who recognize the long-term harm this is going to do to other people. Basically, we need leaders with empathy. If you don't have people running things who care about the greater population and the greater good, this is what you get.

VAUSE: That's a huge price to pay to stay in power, or to win power, I guess. But Jess, we're out of time. Good to see you.

PHOENIX: Good to see you, too, John.

VAUSE: Thanks.

Well, from frontline medical response to coronavirus patients, a growing number of doctors and nurses are now being counted among the 65,000 confirmed cases. That's next.


VAUSE: Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

The White House says President Trump is not bothered by those new criticism and comments from the attorney general, William Barr, who claims the president's tweets and public comments about the Justice Department, judges and legal cases have made it impossible for him to do his job.

France plans to limit access to western Europe's tallest mountain, Mount Blanc, part of a raft of measures to limit the impact of climate change, including the creation of a French Office of Biodiversity.

Passengers are finally able to disembark the cruise ship Westerdam after two weeks stranded at sea. No one actually had the coronavirus, but paranoia prevented the ship from docking at multiple Asian ports until Cambodia stepped in.

In China, nearly 1,400 people have died from the disease, among some 64,000 confirmed cases.

And Chinese officials have not disclosed the number of coronavirus infections among healthcare workers, but accounts shared by medical staffers suggest it could be in the hundreds, perhaps even the thousands.

Here's CNN's David Culver.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China has likened into a military operation, a nation's battle against the deadly novel coronavirus. It's placed healthcare workers, doctors and nurses on the front lines.

Early on in the fight against the epidemic, Chinese state media aired emotional interviews like this one, one of the nurses explaining how she had to reassure her own parents.

JIANG WEI, INTENSIVE CARE NURSE (through translator): I always say it's OK since we are well-protected. Actually, I was just saying that to give her peace of mind. We're actually afraid and worried, but as long as you're on duty, our own sense of mission will support us to do the job.

CULVER: While Chinese officials in state media praised medical workers for their heroic efforts, CNN has spoken with some who feel as though they've been sent into battle without armor. As a result, they say many of their colleagues have gone from treating patients to becoming one.

One Wuhan hospital nurse who asked we not identify her, fearing the repercussions for speaking with the media, told us by text, "Right now it's really a problem. Our hospital has more than a hundred people who are quarantined at home." She's one of them. She says a chest scan revealed that she had a suspected case of the virus.

That same nurse describing to CNN the shortage of medical supplies, often being posted on China's social media site, Weibo.

These images, posted on state-run "People's Daily" Weibo account, show medical personnel in a Wuhan hospital, so desperate that they resorted to creating protective gear out of plastic trash bags. It's something Chinese health officials have publicly acknowledged.

And even while they have ramped up production of supplies, some feel it's arriving too late.

And this nurse posted that she contracted the virus and is now a patient at the same hospital where she works. "The impatient floor I live on is basically filled with colleagues from my hospital," she posted, adding, "I'm afraid the virus inside my body will come out and infect these colleagues who are still standing fast on the front line."


CULVER: We video chatted with Dr. Ivan Hung, an infectious disease doctor at Hong Kong University Hospital. He warns it is not the healthcare workers working directly with the confirmed coronavirus patients who are most at risk, but rather --

HUNG: In those who are in the general medical ward, or the emergency -- accident/emergency areas where they triage these patients, where they are not -- perhaps not aware that they are actually carrying the virus.

CULVER: That is precisely what happened to Dr. Li Wenliang. The 34- year-old Wuhan ophthalmologist contracted the virus in mid-January, just two weeks after trying to sound the alarm of a then-mysterious SARS-like illness. Local police reprimanded him.

Li spoke with CNN briefly by phone on January 31. Struggling to communicate, you could hear the hospital machines pulsing in the background.


DR. LI WENLIANG, SOUNDED WARNING ON CORONAVIRUS (via phone): I can barely breathe.

CULVER: He died a week later.

Li's death and the fight so many healthcare workers are now enduring a reminder of the dangers facing those task to stop the spread.

David Culver, CNN, Beijing.


VAUSE: Well, it's a rare sight in parts of Australia, a rainy week. But after years of drought, the recent rains may have little positive impact.

More on that in a moment.


VAUSE: Sudan has agreed to pay $30 million to the victims and families of the suicide bombing on the USS Cole. Al Qaeda attacked the warship almost 20 years ago when it was in a port in Yemen, killing 17 sailors and ruining dozens more.

In 2014, a U.S. court found Sudan provided aid to al-Qaeda, although they deny doing so. Sudan's prime minister says the $30 million is payment for Sudan's removal from the U.S. list of terror sponsors and to normalize relations.

There's been a surprise shakeup in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's cabinet. U.K. Finance Minister Sajid Javid has resigned after he was told he had to replace his team of legal advisor. Javid will be replaced himself by Rishi Sunak, a conservative M.P. who previously served as chief secretary to the treasury.

The prime minister announced a new economic advisory board that would be split between his office and Sunak's.

Well, after months of a bushfire season for the record books, parts of Australia are finally getting a break, a week of torrential rain. Fire authorities in New South Wales say all the bush fires in their region are now contained.

But the rain has created other problems. Storms have caused flooding. They brought damaging winds and forced evacuations in a number of towns. And despite the recent downpours, parts of Australia are still in a drought, and have been so for years. And it's those drought conditions that helped fuel the deadly bushfires.

CNN's Andrew Stevens takes us to one town that, before the recent storms, had not seen a decent rain in three years.


ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 8 o'clock at the Royal Hotel in Murrurundi, and the mercury is hovering at 42 degrees Celsius. The locals are gathering at one of their favorite watering holes, in a town where there is no water.

(on camera): What's it like living here in a town with no water?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You drink beer, you're all right.

STEVENS: The laconic humor of the Australian bush, though, doesn't hide the fact that the drought here is deadly serious. The river in this town of a thousand people four hours northwest of city, has not run for more than two years.

Away from the sleepy main street, public spaces and backyards are becoming dust bowls. This is what keeps Murrurundi alive now: trucking water in.


Matt Burn (ph) drives 12 to 14 hours a day, six days a week, delivering the precious commodity, and he says he'll keep doing it until the drought breaks.

(on camera): Behind me is the original reservoir, which is now just too low to pump. So the town is relying on this small pond here. Now, without these trucks constantly re-supplying, this pond would be used up in just about three days, leaving the town completely without water.

(voice-over): It's not just outback Australia. Sheep and cattle country within an hour of Sydney is also bone-dry.

James Galbraith and his father, Bill, farm land that's been in the family since the 1800s.

BILL GALBRAITH (PH), FARMER: Well, this is as it's ever got, this drought.

STEVENS: This was the farm two years ago, before the drought took hold. And what it looks like now.

JAMES GALBRAITH, FARMER: It's not just dry on the surface. It's dry right all the way down. So what we're seeing is there are some trees suffering, as well as the pastures. So for us as farmers, we're -- we're just sort of holding on.

STEVENS: James has been forced to sell nearly all his stock and now works four days awake on another farm to make ends meet.

Southeast Australia, the most heavily populated part of the country is in the grip of one of the worst droughts in living memory. The rains haven't come for nearly three years.

Australia has endured many cycles of drought, but this time it's different. More and more Australians are blaming climate change, not the natural cycle, for the crippling water shortages.

SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: I've always acknowledged the link has (UNINTELLIGIBLE) between the broader issues of global climate change and what that means for the world's weather and the dryness of conditions in many places.

TIM FLANNERY, CLIMATE SCIENTIST: The overwhelming majority of Australians see climate change as a real problem, see climate change as a man-made problem and say that something should be done about it.

STEVENS: Professor Frank Johnston is director of the Center for Climate and Energy Policy at the Australian National University.

The problem, he says, is breaking Australia's economic dependence on fossil fuels. They account for 25 percent of total exports and provide 80 percent of the country's electricity.

It's a stark challenge for conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who once stood before Parliament and declared, "This is cold. Don't be afraid."

MORRISON: It's cold.

STEVENS: Morrison's hard line on protecting fossil fuel industries has been sharply criticized, nationally and internationally. But he maintained only last week Australia has the right balance between the economy and the environment.

(on camera): Is Scott Morrison in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry?

FLANNERY: The prime minister and his party are paying very strong emphasis to the interests of the fossil fuel industry and, in particular, the Australian coal industry.

STEVENS (voice-over): With an area the size of West Virginia already scorched and the fire still burning, the stark reality of Australia's vulnerability to global warming has never been clearer.

Andrew Stevens, CNN, Canberra, Australia.


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