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U.S. Threatens Sanctions on China; Reports on the Coronavirus Pandemic from Around the World; The Milkman Makes a Comeback; U.S. Nears Grim Milestone. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 25, 2020 - 08:30   ET



IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Who will change their arrangements for being able to treat Hong Kong as -- as a separate entity.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien and others threatening U.S. sanctions on China now as a result of this law.

Does China listen to sanctions like that? I mean is there an economic lever or pressure point in the midst of all the other disagreements between the two countries that would make a difference given how China views Hong Kong as a threat to its authority?

BREMMER: No, in fact, it is the concern that the United States' relationship is becoming much more hostile that has led the Chinese government to move forward on this Hong Kong decision. You know, they recognize that Hong Kong is an element of growing dissent against Beijing. There were large, large demonstrations over the course of the past year that the Chinese government had a hard time directly intervening or suppressing.

And, you know, frankly, Xi Jinping, who -- who has been taking a lot of criticism, not just internationally but domestically because of the coronavirus issue, this is a rally around the flag moment for him. The decision to put a squeeze on Hong Kong is incredibly popular among mainland Chinese, ho see Hong Kong Chinese as -- as very wealthy, very privileged and defiant and not acting in a way that is aligned with that of the Chinese government.

And so, you know, in the same way that Trump sees beating on the Chinese as perhaps the most useful policy he can put in place in -- in moving blame away from him, as we -- for mishandling coronavirus as we get closer to the elections, Xi Jinping sees an action like this on Hong Kong in exactly parallel fashion. So, unfortunately, domestic politics in both countries are moving us towards confrontation.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Who has the actual upper hand in this, right? I mean both Xi and Trump claim to be, you know, finally putting the U.S. and China in their place, in effect, but there are enormous risks, are there not, for the U.S. economically, et cetera. I mean even U.S. debt that China owns many billions and trillions of dollars in U.S. debt. BREMMER: Well, there are two ways of thinking about that. The -- first

of all, the Chinese, if they suddenly were to dump American debt, it wouldn't be worth very much. And they'd be hurting themselves. The Japanese now hold more external debt than the United States.

If there is a cold war between the U.S. and China, China will be hurt much more. They're a smaller economy, a poor economy. They need the Americans more than the Americans need them. We export food. We export energy. We have the global reserve currency and our economy is longer.

But let's also keep in mind, if Xi Jinping gets into a fight with President Trump, Xi Jinping's still there going forward. We'll see about Trump after November.

SCIUTTO: Right. Yes, China does not -- China's leaders don't have to worry about elections, which is why laws like this matter.

Ian Bremmer, so good to have you on. We wish you a special Memorial Day.

BREMMER: Happy Memorial Day to you, too. See you soon.

SCIUTTO: Well, the milkman is making a comeback during these uncertain times.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The phones started ringing for people looking for home delivery service.


SCIUTTO: A blast from the past. We'll have the story, next.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Brazil's president greeting crowds at a rally without wearing a mask as his country experiences explosive growth in cases and deaths.

CNN has reporters all over the world to bring you the latest developments.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: I'm Nick Paton Walsh in Manaus, Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro was seen on Sunday in crowds of supporters, near to them at least, not wearing a face mask. He seems to have flown into the unscheduled rally in a helicopter wearing a mask, flanked by a cabinet minister and lawmaker, but then later on seen without that elementary form of protection.

And it will just add to the criticism that he simply hasn't taken this disease anything like as serious as he should. Brazil now firmly the second most impacted country in the world and the U.S. has banned travel from Brazil and from people who have been to Brazil in the previous 14 days trying to limit the impact and the spread of the disease from here, fast becoming the new hot spot.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I'm Nic Robertson in London, where the British prime minister is under pressure to fire his chief adviser, who is accused of breaking lockdown regulations by driving 250 miles across the country when his wife had Covid-19 symptoms. The British prime minister is standing by his adviser, Dominic Cummings, saying that he acted legally, responsibly and with integrity. However, members of Boris Johnson's own party are saying that the actions of Cummings undermine the government's message telling people to stay at home, not use second homes, not travel around the country. The leader of the opposition also saying Cummings should resign.

SAM KILEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Sam Kiley in Abu Dhabi, where, in the United Arab Emirates, there's been a very strict lockdown in place during the month of Ramadan and over the Eid celebrations. Even stricter lockdowns imposed. A complete curfew over the three days of Eid in Saudi Arabia and in Jordan. Egypt has had a lockdown. And all of these nations reacting to the latest statistics, Qatar and Kuwait, too, that are showing that during the period of Ramadan, there was an increase in the number of infections. And that has been blamed on people meeting illegally for prayers outside of mosques, which have been shuttered. There is a stronger recognition certainly in the Islamic world that the science would indicate that lockdown needs to be kept in place for yet longer.


SCIUTTO: Well, in a world dramatically changed by this pandemic, some of what is old has become new again. The milkman, in fact, is making a comeback.

CNN's Athena Jones has the story.


DOUG WADE, OWNER, WADE'S DAIRY: And these are fresh pints of half and half.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For Doug Wade, owner of Wade's Dairy in Bridgeport, Connecticut, March was a scary time, with schools shutting down and stay-at-home restrictions forcing many other clients to close their doors.

WADE: And we lost 50 percent of our business literally overnight.

JONES: So he switched gears, supplying grocery stores facing shortages. And as schools ramped up programs to feed needy students stuck at home, his company regained some of the lost business.

Then -- WADE: The phones started ringing for people looking for home delivery

service. Do you do this? No, we don't. We did it in the past. But after you get enough of these calls, you start saying, geez, I wonder if this could be a viable way to sell milk again.

JONES: The delivery service he launched has been a hit with customers like Christine Ostrowski in nearby Fairfield.

CHRISTINE OSTROWSKI, WADE'S DAIRY HOME DELIVERY CUSTOMER: It's really been a big -- a big boone for us because we were struggling with grocery deliveries. It just really eased a lot of anxiety and stress.

JONES: Wade's now delivers to 260 customers in some 30 towns across the state and recently bought another truck.

WADE: Our hand grenade bottle, that was a half pint bottle.

JONES: Being a milkman is in Wade's blood.

WADE: I was seven or eight-year-old. The clink, clink noise of glass milk bottles banging up against the metal dividers in the wooden cases is just something I'll never forget.

JONES: His great grandfather began making deliveries in a horse and buggy in 1893.

WADE: People would time their meals around when the milkman was coming.

JONES: After a century, Wade's halted deliveries in 1992 as clients' habits changed. Covid-19 is shaking things up all over again.

And not just for Wade's. While national numbers are scarce, producers and distributors across the country are reporting a surge in demand for home delivery. Doorstep delivery in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, serves more than 300 families a week, another 300 or so are on a waiting list and they're hiring more staff to try to keep up with demand.

DARYL MAST, OWNER, DOORSTEP DAIRY: We probably tripled our home delivery customers in about a three or four-week time until we kind of maxed out our capacity.

JONES: Shatto Home Delivery outside Kansas City, Missouri, also has a waiting list. They've seen demand rise some 230 percent since late March, to more than 4,000 customers and have doubled their staff.

MATT SHATTO, SHATTO HOME DELIVERY: We purchased four new delivery trucks and created countless new routes, probably about 14 new routes throughout the metro over that period of time.

JONES: Each company provides no contact delivery to promote social distancing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you like to have home delivery for tomorrow? JONES: and it isn't just milk. Like the others we spoke to, Wade's

sells a variety of dairy and non-dairy products, including yogurt, cheese, eggs, fresh bread, orange juice and meats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bacon will not be available until end of May.

JONES: The companies are hopeful that strong demand will continue even after the pandemic. Suddenly in this business, everything old is new again.

Athena Jones, CNN, Bridgeport, Connecticut.


CAMEROTA: Really interesting the changes that we're seeing in front of us.

Here's what else to watch on this Memorial Day.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 9:30 a.m. ET, World War II Memorial ceremony.

10:00 a.m. ET, Korean War Veterans Memorial.

1:00 p.m. ET, Vietnam Veterans Memorial.


CAMEROTA: And now to this. "The New York Times" dedicating its front page to honoring the lives lost to coronavirus. One thousand different names. One thousand different families and special stories. You'll hear one of those featured on the front page, next.



CAMEROTA: The U.S. is nearing a grim milestone of 100,000 Americans dying from coronavirus. "The New York Times" paying tribute by dedicating Sunday's front page to 1,000 of those Americans who have died.

Among them, 62-year-old John Herman Clomax Jr. of New Jersey. "The New York Times" writes that was one of the few African-American corporate bond traders on Wall Street. He is survived by his wife, Paulette, his daughter, Adrian, and son, Emery.

Paulette Cleghorn Clomax joins us now.

Paulette, so sorry for your loss. We really appreciate you being here to talk about John.

And so did you know that he was going to be one of the thousand names on the front page of "The New York Times"? PAULETTE CLEGHORN CLOMAX, HUSBAND DIED OF CORONAVIRUS: Actually, I had no idea. When I heard about it, I had an inkling. I don't know, John always somehow would manage to get on that front cover, and he did.

CAMEROTA: And so -- so they hadn't alerted you that it was going to be, but you had a suspicion. And so did you go looking for his name or did it -- did it pop out at you?

CLOMAX: It -- I'm telling you, as soon as I looked at the page, his name popped out right away. The first thing I saw was his name. And I actually, when I bought the physical copy of the paper, same thing happened, right there. It was unbelievable. It was so surreal knowing that Memorial Day, you know, it's the day when we honor the dead and the time when we honor the dead and it's also his birthday weekend when we would celebrate his birthday, May 28th (ph). And so I just thought it was, although grim, it was just a beautiful tribute just for that purpose.

CAMEROTA: Wow. I mean that's -- that's a lot to be thinking about.


CAMEROTA: And so I thought it was so interesting, you told our producer that, you know, your eye -- when you looked down at the paper, it was as though the sun shone on his name. And so just tell us about -- about that experience and what you felt when you saw him included there.

CLOMAX: It was amazing.

Yesterday actually was the first time I went into the city since this happened, and we picked up a copy of the paper, and I picked it up and there was like a little sun ray that went on there.


And I was with my nephew, Courtney, and he -- you know, I said, Courtney, look where the sun's shining, and it was right on his name. It was unreal. Just -- I can't even begin to tell you. But it's sort of his little secret winks that he gives us all the time.

CAMEROTA: It sounds like it.

CLOMAX: That's what I took out (ph) of it.

CAMEROTA: I mean there's no -- you know, I looked at that front page and it was just name after name. "The New York Times" did a really interesting job by including a little kind of morsel or tidbit about somebody's life.


CAMEROTA: But it would have been hard to zero in on a name because, you know, I mean the sad fact is that there are so many, and he was one name out of a thousand there. And so just tell us -- and what "The New York Times" said was that he was one of the few African-American bond traders on Wall Street. So tell us a little bit more about John.

CLOMAX: Oh, gosh, he loved his work. He was a bond trader who specialized in restructuring companies going bankrupt. Sort of what's going on right now. He was actually one of the key authors of the restructuring of R.H. Macy's when Macy's was going through the same thing JC Penney is going through now. So I know I'm thinking, God, he's just wishing that he was here to fix it.

Yes, he -- his first job was in the '80s at Solomon Brothers on Wall Street. And so, back then, you know, to see an African-American on the street doing his job was, you know, few and far. So he definitely was a trailblazer. He loved, loved, loved his work. Yes.

CAMEROTA: You know, we've been talking about how we're approaching the milestone of 100,000 Americans who have been killed. And at the moment we're close to 98,000. And so it couldn't have been easy for "The New York Times" to just cull 1,000 names down, even though that itself is a jaw-dropping number. And so why do you think that they zeroed in on John?

CLOMAX: I think hearing that they actually read through the obituaries, I mean his story is incredible. It's amazing. And just seeing all of those names, you realize the vastness of this pandemic. You realize the immensity of it. And, you know, knowing that this is just one page of, you know, 100,000, how many pages would that be? You don't see names that are red, you don't see names that are blue, you don't see d's or r's next to the names. They're humans like us. You know, they're us. They're everybody. They could be your grandmother. You see the age range. You can tell from some of the names the nationalities. And it crosses all spectrums. It's not just one kind of person.

And it really hits home. And, you know, the people that just think it's not -- it's never going to reach them or it's so far away or something that you see on TV, I think this cover really, really speaks -- if you take the time to just look at it, to see that it could happen to anybody. You see 25-year-olds and you see 90-year-olds and everything in between. So this is about all of us.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean I read that you said that when you saw his name, the experience was, I'll just quote you, powerful, grim, jarring, heart-wrenching and comforting.

CLOMAX: Yes. Yes.

CAMEROTA: That's -- those are a lot of mixed emotions right there.

CLOMAX: It's a lot of emotions. I mean we're kind of living in a surreal existence now and every moment is a mixed emotion. And that's exactly what it was. It's extremely grim. How could it not be heart- wrenching, you know? And, at the same time, as I mentioned before, it is his birthday weekend and this is normally when we'd have a barbecue and do everything he wanted to do. We never had a big birthday celebration, although we are a family of, you know, big parties and celebrations. On his birthday it was kind of just family. It was either us or his immediate family with his mom in Chicago and his sister and his brother. So it was more intimate during those times.

And, yes, so it was -- it was really special that that happened. And I -- I think it's, you know, all divine intervention, divine intervention.

CAMEROTA: Well we're really happy that you're getting those God winks. I know that those can be really comforting at times like this.


CAMEROTA: So, Paulette, we really appreciate you sharing your personal story and your photos with us and just telling us what it means for just one family of those thousand that are listed.

And so here are some more pictures of John Herman Clomax. Thank you so much for being with us.

We'll be right back.



SCIUTTO: So it's time for "The Good Stuff." I'm sure you want to hear some.

A New Jersey man is turning his personal loss into a mission to help families connect with loved ones who may be isolated in a health care facility during this pandemic. John Lynch was forced to say good-bye to his own father on FaceTime. Imagine that. But it inspired him. And he's launched the iPad project. It puts donated iPads, new or slightly used, into the hands of hospital and health care workers who can then use them to help elderly patients see and talk, stay connected to their separated family members. So necessary. You know, when we've heard these stories of people passing away without even being able to connect with their loved ones, it's nice to hear people are trying to do something to help them out.

CAMEROTA: Yes, what a great idea.

So, Jim, thanks so much for joining me today.


I really appreciate you being here.

Have a safe Memorial Day.

SCIUTTO: Nice to be here, always.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you.

So CNN's coronavirus coverage continues right now.