Return to Transcripts main page
New Signs of Hope for COVID Patients; Beijing Imposed Soft Lockdown; Football Fans Itching to Watch EPL; President Trump Signs Executive Order on Policing; Indian Army, At Least 20 Indian Troops Killed In Violent Face-Off With China; Violent Face-Off Took Place In Disputed Border; South Korea Will Not Endure North Korean Threats; North Korea Blows Up Inter-Korean Liaison Office; Kim Jong-Un's Sister Kim Yo-Jong Emerges As Powerful Figure; African Country Courts Back Black Americans; Ghana Courts African-Americans To Come Home; United States Set To Impose New Sanctions On Syria; Russian President Vladimir Putin Steps Up Virus Protection; Disinfection Tunnel Installed At Putin's Residence; Coronavirus Pandemic, Brazil Reports Nearly 35,000 New Cases In Daily Record High; Brazil Criticizes U.S. FDA's Hydroxychloroquine Decision. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired June 17, 2020 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. You are watching CNN Newsroom live from CNN's world headquarters here in Atlanta.
Ahead this hour. Some welcome news in the fight against coronavirus. A possible major breakthrough that could greatly reduce some patients risk of dying.
The virus is making an unwelcome comeback in Beijing, forcing a new lockdown and hopes of getting it back under control.
And Donald Trump announces his plan for police reform that critics say fails to meet the moment.
Good to have you with us.
So, a possible new breakthrough in the battle against the coronavirus. A new British study claims a cheap and commonly used steroid could save the lives of coronavirus patients on ventilators.
The study says Dexamethasone cuts their risk of death by one-third, but it doesn't appear to benefit patients whose lungs are working well.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the new study.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I'm proud of these British scientists backed by U.K. government funding who led the first robust clinical trial anywhere in the world to find a coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And CNN's Nina Dos Santos joins us now live from London. Good to see you, Nina. So, what exactly do the findings reveal about the possible benefits of Dexamethasone?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they did is looked at 6,000 patients as you mentioned before, Rosemary, who were already in hospital and in the worst conditions, thanks to COVID-19. Across 175 hospitals in the U.K., these are people who are on ventilators, they've got mechanical support for breathing, very often sedated to enable the doctors to do that, or people who are getting oxygen supports.
Like for instance, Boris Johnson, himself, a couple of months ago when he had to be admitted into intensive care after contracting coronavirus.
These two groups benefited they claim hugely in the sample size of 6,000 from a low dose those treatment for 10 days of Dexamethasone. Now when it comes to those patients who are in intensive care on a ventilator it cut their risk of death, they found by 35 percent when it comes to those who are having less invasive methods of health like oxygen support, also in hospital setting it cut their risk of death by around about 20 percent or at least their mortality rates, let's say, to use the specific language.
This is being greeted as a huge advancement in the treatment of coronavirus because obviously, this is a drug that is well known, it's in the pharmacies in many hospitals. It's relatively cheap of course. It's less than $80 per patient. And can be even cheaper than that in some cases.
So, the hope is that this could be rolled out worldwide including to developing countries who couldn't necessarily otherwise afford expensive novel treatments for the coronavirus. Rosemary?
CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to Nina Dos Santos, joining us live from London. I appreciate it.
For more, I'm joined now by Dr. Ashish Jha. He is the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. Thank you, doctor, for talking with us.
ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Thank you.
CHURCH: So, preliminary findings from researchers in the U.K. suggests the steroid drug Dexamethasone may help treat the sickest COVID-19 patients who require ventilation or oxygen, but you have cautioned against getting too excited about this. Why?
JHA: Yes. So, I mean, on one hand this is an exciting finding but all we have right now is a press release. We really don't have the data. Now the researchers are excellent and I have a lot of faith but faith is not the same thing as evidence and so we do need to see the actual paper, the manuscript undergo peer review.
But assuming it all pans out we should be enthusiastic because Dexamethasone may end up being the first drug that truly reduces the death rate of COVID-19. And that would be great indeed.
CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. And we are seeing a lot of these press releases coming out without the data and the methodology. Why are we seeing so much of that? Is it because we're in the midst of a pandemic and people want answers and they want them quickly?
JHA: Yes. I think that's right, Rosemary. And I'm obviously very sympathetic to getting information out quickly. The problem is that it wouldn't take that much more time. Probably a couple more days to just put together, you know, the tables and figures and the basic data and the basic methodology so that researchers and experts could evaluate the data.
And I've just been disappointed that in study after study it's been a one-page press release that we're all left to puzzle over and try to sort out whether, you know, whether the press release is adequate enough to really change practice or not.
CHURCH: Understood. And doctor, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in about 18 states, a prediction from a closely watched model of the University of Washington suggests the U.S. could see more than 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus by the beginning of October.
Of course, you -- you also predicted that same outcome. How bad could this get? And how inevitable is a second wave despite Vice President Pence insisting there will be no second wave, even trying to declare an end to the coronavirus?
JHA: Yes. You know, I appreciate the vice president's desire to put the pandemic behind us and while I think many Americans want to believe that we are done with the pandemic, the problem is the pandemic is not done with us.
Unfortunately, it's still in the early days, and I'm expecting 20 to 30,000 deaths a month in the United States moving forward, 200,000 deaths probably by September early October. And then even then we won't be done. And we'll have a long way to go.
So, what I've been saying to both my fellow Americans and to policymakers is if we do not want to end up with hundreds of thousands of deaths across the country by the time this whole thing is over, we've got to change course and really move towards suppressing this virus.
CHURCH: And doctor, with that being said, I do want to bring up some images of President Trump signing his executive order on police reform measures Tuesday. And he of course, we see no effort at all to socially distance or to wear a mask.
We saw the same images from Vice President Pence not wearing a mask, and suggesting as we just said that the spike in cases was due to testing, even going so far as to falsely declare the coronavirus over.
So that's the message the Trump administration is trying to send, how dangerous could this be?
JHA: Yes. I think this is very risky. First of all, the way the president and the vice president behave is modeling for how other people who follow the president and the vice president will also behave. We know that if you want to get this virus under control, social distancing, mask wearing and then testing and tracing and isolation are really the main strategies we have to the extent that the leadership of our government downplays those strategies.
We're really creating the environment for more spikes in cases, and ultimately, and I worry about this, having to go to another shutdown which no one wants, but if we act responsibly and not on top of the virus that's where we're going to find ourselves.
CHURCH: And just very quickly, then you are really saying for us to live a normal life while we wait for the elusive vaccine, wear a mask?
JHA: Absolutely. You know, this has been really puzzling to me. That there are a lot of people who say, you know, masks infringe on my freedom. I think, no, no, no. Mask give you freedom. If you wear a mask, if you social distance, if there is adequate testing and tracing in your community that actually gives you the freedom to get about your daily business, to go to work, to go to school, to do the things that matter to you.
And it's been striking that so many Americans have decided that the line of freedom they want to focus on is wearing the mask or not as opposed to all the things that really matter in their lives. It's puzzling, and I'm pretty clear and the evidence is clear that people should be wearing masks and socially distancing.
CHURCH: Yes. It's such an easy fix, isn't it? Dr. Jha, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
JHA: Thanks so much.
CHURCH: Beijing is raising its emergency level as the Chinese capital raises to stop the spread of a fresh cluster of infections. More than 100 new cases of COVID-19 have been traced back to a local food market, one of Asia's biggest. Beijing residents are now under what authorities call a soft lockdown.
Ivan Watson has the details.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the Chinese capital, government announce at a late-night briefing that the situation is very dire. Beijing's coronavirus alert levels are being raised, schools closed, then nonessential travel outside of the city strongly discouraged.
A soft citywide lockdown after authorities say they detected more than 100 new locally transmitted cases in the last five days. Less than two weeks ago, Beijing was easing coronavirus alert levels, but the new cluster of infections has experts worried.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME: Over 50 days without having any significant local transmission, a cluster like this is a concern, and it needs to be investigated and controlled. And that's exactly what the Chinese authorities are doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: Most of the new cases traced back to this place. The Xinfadi market in the south of Beijing. The sprawling market and at least two others have now been shuttered, leading to scenes like this where vendors dumped fresh food.
Officials have imposed a strict lockdown on dozens of residential compounds. CNN interviewed a resident of one of these developments who says she's now relying on deliveries of online purchases of groceries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We can actually go outside our building but can't leave the residential community. I've brought my computer home, and I've been working from home these days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: City officials launched a huge coronavirus testing spree. They also say they've tracked down nearly 200,000 people thought to have visited the market in the last two weeks.
The Chinese government clearly doesn't want to repeat of what happened last winter when this new virus exploded in the city of Wuhan and then spread like wildfire around the world. Some residents unhappy with the new restrictions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I am affected. Hugely impacted. There are no customers now. No one even comes into my shop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): No, don't lockdown the city, if it's locked down, it would not only impact individual business, but also factories that are just resuming production. The damage would be huge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: The stakes are high. China is now in a race to stop the outbreak. Already infections have spread from Beijing to at least three other provinces. Now authorities say if people want to travel outside of the capital, they need to pass a coronavirus test first.
Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.
CHURCH: The Honduran president and first lady have coronavirus. In a national address, President Juan Orlando Hernandez confirmed he had been diagnosed with COVID-19. He said his symptoms are mild, but he is receiving treatment and plans to continue his presidential duties and isolation.
The first lady of Honduras has also tested positive but she is asymptomatic at president -- at present.
Well, today is a big day for football fans. The English Premier League is going to be back in action after a break due to the coronavirus pandemic. Two matches will be played in the coming hours, but there will be one key difference in the current COVID world. No fans in the stands.
CNN's Alex Thomas joins me now live from Manchester. Good to see you, Alex. So how will all this work exactly for the players and of course, the fans.
ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Yes, making my life slightly easier. Broadcasting from outside the stadium without having tens of thousands of supporters around me. But not ideal for the game. It's the fans that make the atmosphere and make it so exciting.
Yes, we've had to wait more than three months to see England Premier League back, Rosemary. Arguably the most lucrative the most popular of all the national football leagues across the planet. We've had to wait more than three months. It was canceled because of the coronavirus crisis. And it's actually called off on Friday the 13th and it's been a real horror show for EPL organizers since then having to negotiate with clubs and players about the safe return of action.
They had to wait until June before the U.K. government actually gave the go ahead. And real fears for the Premier League that they would lose hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars of TV income as they couldn't get the season finished.
Still 92 games to play including two later on Wednesday including the reigning champions, Manchester City. It's the Etihad Stadium behind me, they face Arsenal, something of a must-win for them. If they lose, the Liverpool can take their titles with a in on Sunday which might seem like something of an anticlimax after waiting so long, the title race could be over within days of the league's resumption.
So, yes, it will be very different. No fans, lots of extra measures and protocols in place inside the stadium. The players, the coaches, the referees protected by extra cleaning measures, hand sanitizers.
They've been asked not to surround the referee if there is a decision they don't like. No handshakes, socially distance goal celebrations. It'll be interesting to see how hard some of these habits will be to break, but that is the new reality for them, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. And Alex, you did touch on this but no fans in the stands, of course, how sustainable will this be without the money flowing in from ticket sales?
THOMAS: I mean, not long term. That's probably the reality but they'll be OK for now. The Premier League is a very lucrative competition. It's been very, very successful since it was launched, changing the structure of English football way back in the early 1990s.
But the business model for the club has changed in that time. It used to be all about gate receipts. You get 55,000 people into the Etihad Stadium if they are playing -- if they're spending $100 upwards each fan you can see how the income racks up.
But actually, the percentage of revenue that each club relies on is much more heavily weighted in terms of the TV broadcast deals, what broadcasters will pay to have the exclusive rights to show games in their particular region. That's where they were so worried about not resuming the season.
And of course, the future is very uncertain. We know that the Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, spoke on Tuesday, saying they're already making plans for when spectators can get back into the stadiums.
As we've seen across Europe with the Bundesliga, which is the first in big five to resume. Now La Liga as well, that, you know, there are no fans in the stadiums right now. It is still too early.
People are very concerned about a second peak of coronavirus. We've seen how devastating it's been across the planet. And certainly, many European countries have fared badly including in this country, we have had far more than 40,000 deaths.
CHURCH: Yes. It is a big concern. Alex Thomas, thanks for bringing us up to date on the situation there. I appreciate it.
Well, after weeks of widespread protests against police brutality, President Trump signed an executive order on police reform. But critics say his new measures are a tepid response to a national crisis.
I'll discuss this with a former police chief. That's next.
And a border dispute turns deadly as both India and China blame each other for the incident. We'll have more on that after this short break. Stay with us.
CHURCH: U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on policing Tuesday. His first concrete steps towards addressing a growing national outcry over police brutality.
Nut the proposals falls short of what many were calling for. And Mr. Trump's own remarks announcing the reforms at times sounded more like a tribute to law enforcement.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports from Washington.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As he offered a full- throated defense of law enforcement, today, President Trump signed an executive order encouraging modest police reforms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We will have reform without undermining our many great and extremely talented law enforcement officers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Instead of calling for immediate action, the order focuses on guidelines and establishing a national database to track excessive use of force, while offering funding incentives for police departments that increase training and meet Justice Department standards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: These standards will be as high and as strong as there is on earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Without offering details, the order also encourages prohibiting the use of chokeholds with an exception.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Chokeholds will be banned, except if an officer's life is at risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: The president did not address allegations of systemic racism in law enforcement, and instead argued that police misconduct is rare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They are very tiny. I use the word tiny. It's a very small percentage. But you have them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Before the event, Trump met privately with families whose loved ones have been killed by police then surrounded himself with law enforcement officials and police union representatives. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Please come up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: At the event on police reform, Trump quickly moved on to other subjects as he mused about retail members and school choice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Frankly, school choice is the civil rights statement of the year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: He also made a veiled reference to efforts to replace confederate statues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We must build upon our heritage, not tear it down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: On Fox News this morning, before the event, Vice President Mike Pence was asked what seemed like a simple question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe it's harder to, for someone who is black to make it in this country? Whether they are a man or a woman?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Pence spent over two minutes not answering it directly, and instead focused on Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I love your question, because I saw where Joe Biden last night actually tweeted that everybody ought to prepare a shot of the American dream. Well, why don't you support allowing African-American families to choose where their kids go to school?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: And the president said before he came out into the Rose Garden that he had met with those families whose loved ones had been killed by police officers. He named off several of them, including Antwon Rose, whose mother later clarified in a statement that she was not at the White House for that meeting, along with the other families. She said she had no intentions of going to the White House and would not do so, even if she was invited.
Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.
CHURCH: For more on this, let's discuss with Jim Bueermann. He is the former president of the Police Foundation, and former police chief of Redlands, California, joining me now from Redlands. Thank you so much for being with us.
JIM BUEERMANN, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL POLICE FOUNDATION: You're welcome. Good morning.
CHURCH: So, President Trump responded to calls from across the nation for police reforms by signing this executive order Tuesday. What was your reaction to those proposals?
BUEERMANN: Well, I think they were pretty modest, as your reporter just said. But they are symbolic, and that is important. Most people don't really understand how little power the president has over local policing in the United States or that even Congress has over the United States.
There are a couple of important parts of what he did today that, if in fact they come to fruition, then I think those will be important and those being accreditation process and the database that he referred to about police misconduct.
CHURCH: Nd now critics say the reforms don't go far enough, and won't satisfy calls from across the nation for meaningful change and accountability when it comes to police brutality that targets people of color. What do you say about that?
BUEERMANN: Well, I think there is some truth to that. This, I don't think was intended to do that. Again, what he is proposing are modest reforms, many of the things that are included in that executive order have been spoken about before. De-escalation training and use of force training is not new in American policing.
Again, what I said about the databases or the accreditation process I think is very important, especially when you talk about the inability of police chiefs and sheriffs across the United States to easily check whether an officer, a candidate officer from other states has had problems.
And this idea of crediting police departments nationwide with one similar accreditation tool makes a lot of sense. That's the national coherence on American policing that is sorely lacking.
CHURCH: Right. And as a result of the horrific images of the killing of George Floyd and the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks at the hands of police, we are now hearing calls to defund the police, which would mean of course reallocating some of those funds to community organizations. Would that be a smarter way to deal with some of these situations?
BUEERMANN: Well. I think we're getting a little hung up on this term, defunding and taking money from the police to fund some alternative approach to this. What I think is important here is that we need to narrow the mission of the police.
The police have never wanted to be the first responders to mental illness, drug addiction, or homelessness. In the United States, that's just who we have given that to. State legislatures have abdicated the responsibility on this.
Whether we are moving money from the police, and that may or may not be problematic, then how you do that, it is, I think not really the issue. What is the issue is somebody other than the police needs to be the first responders to those kinds of situations so that you remove the opportunity for a tragic outcome to occur.
CHURCH: Right. And presumably, by moving those funds, you would actually change those responsibilities of the police. Right? So how much time is spent teaching police to defuse situations, rather than inflame them? And would that be a better way to train police going forward?
BUEERMANN: Well, I think you have to train police. Regardless of who is going to be the first responder in those kinds of situations, you have to train police, and it varies from state to state.
We have 50 different policing models in the United States, at least, just based on the state laws in each different state. And most of those states, if not all of them, de-escalation is already taught. This is not new in the field of policing. This has been going on for quite a while.
So, even if we have de-escalation training, even if the officers are trying to de-escalate a situation, removing them from that situation in the first place is probably as, if not more, effective than simply training them to do some of these things. Because they don't have full control over the situations. The people they are dealing with have some control over that too based on their own behavior and how they react to the officers, as well.
CHURCH: There has been considerable resistance to police reform in the United States, but many people watching what's happening now on the streets believe that it is different this time around. They believe there is a move in the right direction, even if it is slow.
Do you think there will be changes there will be accountability on the part of police? And there will be reform that is meaningful, eventually?
BUEERMANN: Well, I do believe that there is going to be more accountability and there will be more reform, absolutely. But I am very concerned that in spite of all the things we are talking about, and I am supporting almost all of these reforms suggestions that we're talking about, that we are still working around the margins of this problem.
That at some, point this country has got to say, the cessation of killings by the police, whether they're justified or not, has got to be a national imperative, just like in the 60's when President Kennedy said, by the end of the decade, we're going to go to the moon, and we did.
Somebody at our national level has got to say, by the end of this decade, we will stop all police killings. By stopping all of them, we will stop the ones that are, even if they are justified, are still bad and they're tragic. All police killings are tragic on some level. So, we've got to find a way to stop them, and we're going to have to think differently and not incrementally.
CHURCH: Jim Bueermann, thank you so much for talking with us. I appreciate it.
BUEERMANN: I appreciate it.
CHURCH: Well, the Trump administration is suing to stop the publication of a new book by former national security adviser, John Bolton. "The Room Where It Happened," due out next week, details Bolton's tenure in the White House, and it's billed as an insider's rebuke of President Trump's foreign policy.
The lawsuit claims Bolton breached nondisclosure agreements, and that the book is rife with classified information. Bolton's attorney says the White House wants to block the release purely for political reasons.
We'll take a break here. Still to come, tensions high on the Korean peninsula, a day after North Korea blew up a building in the DMZ. We will get the very latest. Back in just a moment.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: We are back. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church. India is claiming a violent face- off with Chinese forces on their disputed border in the Himalayan Mountains has left 20 Indian troops dead. A large military buildup is reportedly been taking place for weeks on both sides of the border. India says senior military officials are now meeting with Chinese counterparts. Our CNN producer Vedika Sud is with us now live from New Delhi. Good to see you, Vedika. So, what is the latest information you have on this?
VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: Well, according to the Indian defense source that has been speaking to CNN, Rosemary. We just got new details of the night when this encounter took place between the two sides. Disturbing details coming out at the moment. What we do know is that last week, there was an outstanding at high military levels between the two sides and their representatives. That there would be a withdrawal of troops from the disputed areas.
Now after that understanding was seal this week we've got through sources that there was a tent set up in the disputed area by the Chinese troops. That's when a commanding officer from the Indian side went across and spoke with them and ask them to dismantle it. After which, he along with the soldiers dismantled it himself. And then went back to the unit. And now sources are telling us that after that, the Chinese troops
came back with reinforcements. There were no firearms used as far as this violent face-off is concerned. What was used is sticks, bamboo sticks with nails attached to it. They also used stones and that's what was used by the Chinese side, according to sources, to attack the Indian forces in the area.
We also now the standoff lasted for about four to six hours. By the time the Indian army could really bring in reinforcements, the casualty figures had grown up. Remember this is a very difficult terrain we are talking about across the line of action control. It's a tricky region, sub-zero temperatures. We've got to know that most of the deaths happened due to hypothermia. Because the reinforcements also didn't reach in time.
So, while the situation that we are talking about in the line of action control details just imagine. Also this is a huge embarrassment coming in from the Indian government that has boasted Chinese president last year in South India. There were talk about the Wuhan spirit being carried over to last year as well and a big win for diplomatic ties.
We also heard in the last few weeks from both the ministry as well as the Indian government as well as the Indian army that things are being sorted out in the military and diplomatic level. But clearly, what happened on June 15th talks about another story altogether.
This has cause been a huge setback for the Indian army and the opposition within India also now asking the Prime Minister to come out and speak on the issue and tell us more about how this happened. So, the pressure is building on the Modi government to come out and clear the air on this violent face-off that took place. Rosemary?
CHURCH: From New Delhi, we appreciate it. Well, South Korea says it will no longer endure North Korea's senseless comments and actions, one day after the north blew up the joint liaison office between the two countries. But we have just learned South Korea's unification minister has offered to resign, saying he bears responsibility of worsening relations. Will Ripley has more.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A building that symbolized peace between North and South Korea reduced to a pile of rubble. North Korea blew up the inter-Korean liaison office Tuesday. The black plume visible for miles both Koreas shared that building just north of the DMZ. It was supposed to be a neutral place to communicate.
Not far from Panmunjom, where the latest round of Korean diplomacy began more than two years ago. All this promise of a new era of peace, now up in smoke.
North Korea calls the blast retaliation for propaganda leaflets dropped from balloons by South Korean activists. Analyst suspect Pyongyang has grown tired of waiting for sanctions to be lifted, tired of waiting for a reward for coming out of its shell. Remember those three face to face meetings between Chairman Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump?
DUYEON KIM, VISITING SENIOR FELLOW, KOREAN PENINSULA FUTURE FORUM: Pyongyang is coercing Seoul to live up to its commitments to try to move Washington to lift sanctions.
RIPLEY: The face of this latest escalation has not been Kim himself, but his increasingly powerful younger sister. Kim Yo-jong is rising to prominence, with her brother largely absent from public view, just a handful of appearances in the last three months. Nobody knows for sure why Kim seems to be laying low. But analysts point to his sister as a rising figure in the North Korean leadership.
For years, she has been a quiet presence by her brother's side, one of his most trusted advisers. Now being built up by North Korea's propaganda machine. Kim Yo-jong has already been blacklisted by the U.S., accused of severe human rights violations, and recently promoted to Central Party leadership.
This week, Kim Yo-jong took aim at North Korean defectors in South Korea. She called them human scum and said the south, by harboring them, is committing an act of war. North Korea also cut off all communication with the south, and warned of military action. A new face, perhaps, but a familiar message from the north, bringing the Korean peninsula right back to where it was before this latest detente. With tensions rising, yet again. Will Ripley, CNN.
CHURCH: And Robert Kelley joins me now. He is a professor of political science at the Pusan National University in South Korea. Good to have you with us.
ROBERT KELLY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR PUSAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY: Thank you for having me.
CHURCH: So, we have just learned that South Korea's unification minister has offered to resign, saying he bears responsibility of worsening relations between North and South Korea. What do you make of that development?
KELLY: It's probably a way to deflect criticism from the president himself. I mean, ultimately, it's a presidential system and Moon Jae- in barely bears the responsibility and captures the praise should he do things well, right? For example in covid. I mean, Moon Jae-in has pushed North Korea hard for a while for detente. This has been something that has been in the center of his career for many years.
It's a breakthrough with North Korea. But he's constrained the Americans. You know, America is South Korea's most important ally of course. And the United States is very uncomfortable with detente with North Korea without some kind of denuclearization. So, Moon is kind of stuck and hasn't been able to provide very much. I think that's what the demolition was the other day. I think its South -- North Korea's way of saying they are upset about that. CHURCH: You know, I want to ask you what message you thought North
Korea was sending by blowing up that joint liaison office and what you think is likely to happen next given the military deployment along the border on the part of North Korea. Where is this all going, do you think?
KELLY: So, I think the important things is there won't be any kind of sustained military clash, right? The North Koreans know that they would lose a war, anything like that. If this were to spin out of control. North Korea has done provocations against South Korea for many years and they have never slipped and they have never sort of escalated, because the north knows.
I think what they are trying to do now is sort of convince the Moon government to try to sort of bully the Moon government back to the table to make concessions to break with the Americans, right?
The South Koreans -- the American alliances is very popular in South Korea. And so Moon can't sort go against the Americans who don't want offer North Korea very much. You know, because it needs -- it will be politically risky at home. Right. And the North Koreans are sort of counter pressuring Moon, trying to get him to sort of push the Americans out of the way. So, get the Yankees out of the way to make some kind of a deal. And Moon just can't do that. He is tied by U.N. sanctions, he's tied by the American alliance and so on.
CHURCH: So, what did you make of South Korea's reaction saying it will no longer endure the north senseless comments and actions, and what exactly does that mean, as these tensions increase, given now we are now hearing about this offer of resignation?
KELLY: You're probably not too much, right. I mean, this is the kind of stuff, as Will Ripley pointed out in his report, this is a kind of stuff that we have heard for years, right. North Korean provocations and South Korea rhetorical blast go back for decades. So, I'd be surprised if the South Korean do anything. These government (inaudible) Moon Jae-in really is committed -- deeply committed to detente and some kind of breakthrough with North Korea. So, Moon is not going to jeopardize that.
What he really wants is for the North Koreans come to the table and actually starts making swabs, right. But the rhetoric has been so unhinged, right. And the North Korea had been sort of like so angry. Or the bullying has been so intense for the last month or two. But I think the South Koreans felt backed into a corner. But I would be surprised if this escalates. There will be more rhetoric, but I mean, that's part of for course here, there won't be any kind of serious military conflict. That would be far to risky to the North.
CHURCH: Interesting. And what's your reading of the more prominent role now being played by Kim Jong-un sister, Kim Yo-jong and why is he not commenting on this?
KELLY: Yes, that's actually a really good question. Everybody is out there trying to figure this one out. I think the issue is that Kim himself wants to sort of step back and let somebody else take the heat if detente with South Korea fall apart. Right? There has been a lot of big talk in the last couple of years. From Donald Trump, from Moon Jae-in, from the North Koreans and South (inaudible) some new ear, stuff like that.
And again, Will Ripley mentioned that in his report and it just hasn't come through. There just isn't a big deal on the ground. There's been a lot of rhetoric but very little follow-through, Right, and I think that Kim is trying to stay out of the way, just in case maybe the bullying by the sister works.
Maybe Moon are Trump comes back to the table to some kind of offer in the next eight months or something like that. You can say his hands were on that sort of the language of earlier in the year. There's also the issue of the bloodline succession which is that the sister, the most obvious choice, should Kim die, or his children aren't old enough. And so, that's probably one of the other reason why she is being elevated, because she is the most obvious bloodline descendant.
CHURCH: Interesting. We will watch to see what the next move is. Robert Kelley. Great to chat with you. I appreciate it.
KELLY: Thank you for having me.
CHURCH: And still to come on CNN, why one West African nation is courting black Americans to move to Africa. Back with that in just a moment.
CHURCH: The West African nation of Ghana is responding to protest against police brutality and racism in the United States by inviting African Americans to move there. Ghana was once central to the transatlantic slave trade, and it's the ancestral homeland for some Americans. For more, we turn to Stephanie Busari, who joins me now from Lagos in Nigeria. Good to see you, Stephanie. So, what exactly is gone offering African Americans? And what has been the response to this?
STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN PRODUCER: So, Ghana has actually been courting the black dollar, if you want to call it that, aggressively for quite a while. It launched a year of return initiative two years ago, urging black Americans to come back home. It's telling them, Ghana, if you are not wanted in America, you can come back home. Africa is waiting for you.
I spoke to Ghana's director of tourism and an African-American man, who is living in Ghana at the moment. Take a listen.
BUSARI: One African nation is sending a message to African-Americans in the wake of George Floyd's death. BARBARA OTENG GYASI, GHANAIAN MINISTER OF TOURISM: We continue to
open our arms and invite all our brothers and sisters home. Ghana is your home. Africa is your home.
BUSARI: Ghana recently unveiled a monument to Floyd and is openly calling for black Americans to move there.
The country has courted the black dollar for some time last year the president launched the year of return initiative, marking 400 years since the first documented arrival of West African slaves to America. Young and old flocked to the country for a number of cultural events, such as ACCRA fashion week and a music festival, Afrochella.
Ghana's finance minister hailed the scheme a massive success, saying it recorded as much as 3 billion dollars in added GDP. The government and ACCRA is now building on that momentum, with another initiative called beyond the return, which aims to encourage investment in Ghana.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) call now for the back to Africa movement to be reunited. It's really something that is natural. Africa is home and we are hoping to open our arms to (inaudible) to come back home.
BUSARI: One African American man who came for business trip in February says he chose to stay and see the pandemic through there, and he urges others to follow in his footsteps.
RASHAD MCCROREY, FOUNDER, AFRICA CROSS CULTURE: Really consider moving to Africa. Really consider moving to Ghana. This land, the resources, the riches, everything is here for you to succeed.
BUSARI: A country once central to the transatlantic slave trade, now offering a safe haven for those looking to restart their lives.
BUSARI: So, there you have it, Rosemary. It remains to be seen whether African Americans who are fighting the struggle against systemic racism in the U.S. will heed this call to go back to Ghana. But Ghana has long had an affinity with African Americans. Maya Angelo lived there for some time. The scholar (Inaudible) Dubois also lived there. So, I think, Ghana may well be successful in this new venture to get African Americans to move back there.
CHURCH: We shall watch and see. Stephanie Busari, thank you so much for joining us and for your story. We appreciate it.
Well, the U.S. is now set to impose broad new sanctions on Syria, intended to put increased pressure on President Bashar al-Assad and cut off revenue to his regime. And Jomana Karadsheh joins us now. So, Jomana, how will these new sanctions differ from previous ones and what impact will they likely have?
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, these sanctions have been in the works for years. This is basically comes under what is known as the Caesar act. This is a bipartisan bill that U.S. lawmakers and members of the opposition have been working on for years. They want to try and hold the regime accountable for some of the worst atrocities of our time.
And also to try and deter the regime, stop it from committing these acts again, as it continues with these alleged war crimes. You know, Rosemary, the issue here is there is never really at this point going to be a real judicial process that is going to hold the regime accountable, because of the support that it has from the security council from its ally, Russia.
So, everyone is looking at other ways. They are saying that this is a way of holding accountable, it's called the Caesar act because it is named after that brave military defector who years ago smuggled out tens of thousands of photographs of Syrian detainees who were tortured and starved to death in Syria facilities.
Now, this is coming at a time when you look at what is going on the ground, the Syrian regime has pretty much won this war militarily. It has taken control of much of the country with the help of its allies Russia and Iran.
And if you hear what U.S. officials are saying, they say they want to try and deprive the Assad regime of a military victory. They want to try and use these sanctions to push the regime towards some sort of a political settlement, back to the negotiating table. A lot of skepticism that this is going to achieve that.
Syria has been under E.U. sanctions, U.S. sanctions for a long time. But these are going to be the toughest sanctions, the most far reaching sanctions so far to hit Syria. We are talking about a number of different sectors that will be hit from the energy sector to construction. It is going to impact banking. And it's not only going to impact Syrian individuals, institutions, the government, there's also secondary sanctions.
So, anyone who thinks of doing business with the Assad regime is going to face U.S. sanctions. They could be blacklisted. Their assets frozen. And they could possibly get arrested. And this is pretty much to deter anyone who is thinking of normalizing ties with the Assad regime, trying to ensure that this remains an isolated pariah state.
There are some conditions to try to basically that would lift these sanctions pretty much impossible talking about the release of the tens of thousands of political prisoners, stop bombing civilians and the return of refugees amongst them. The biggest concern, Rosemary, is the impact this is going to have on the civilian population, the same population that this act is meant basically to protect them.
Because if you look at the situation, Syria's economy is on the verge of collapse. Its currency has lost about 70 percent of its value. There is inflation. People cannot afford food. Their salaries are no longer enough to buy them food, 80 percent of the population is living in poverty right now. And a lot of concern, despite the U.S. assurances that this is not going to impact the civilians, we have seen this before.
That this is likely going to impact the lives of those civilians who now will face starvation, possibly, because of these sanctions, despite the assurances and the exemptions to food and medicine, the impact is probably going to be devastating on the country's economy and the civilian population, Rosemary.
CHURCH: It's a critical point that you raise there, Jomana Karadsheh. Many thanks to you for bringing us the latest on that. We appreciate it. Well, Russia's president is taking new steps to make sure the coronavirus cannot make it inside his home. The newest addition to Vladimir Putin's residence when we return.
CHURCH: Brazil is closing in on a million cases of covid-19 as it breaks another daily record. Latin America's largest country reported nearly 35,000 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to more than 923,000. These staggering numbers came on the very same day a government official claimed that the outbreak, was under control.
And Brazil is now recommending hydroxychloroquine for more covid-19 patients, even after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration pulled its emergency use of the drug. Remember the U.S. just sent 2 million doses of it to Brazil late last month. Shasta Darlington has the latest.
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brazil has expanded the use of hydroxychloroquine, just as the FDA revoked its emergency use authorization for the drug for treatment of covid-19. Brazilian officials criticized the FDA's decision and announced they would expand recommended use of the drug to include children and pregnant women in early treatment.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been a huge proponent of using malaria drug during the entire coronavirus crisis, clashing with doctors and even his own health ministers over regulations. He ended up firing his first health minister and the second quit a month later.
For the last month, an army general has taken the post on an interim basis. On Tuesday, Brazil registered a record number of new cases, almost 35,000 in 24 hours. While the death toll rose by more than 1,200 topping 45,000. Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sau Paulo.
CHURCH: Well, Russian president, Vladimir Putin is not taking any chances with the coronavirus. According to state media, the president has installed a special tunnel at his residence that disinfect anyone walking through it, even before this, anyone who meets with Mr. Putin is being tested for the virus. Matthew Chance joins me now from London to talk more about this. And Matthew, officers were already being tested for the virus. So why the tunnel? And what are Russians think about all of this?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, you are right. The tests have already been taking place of anybody that came face to face with Vladimir Putin, but he has been noticeably absent throughout the vast majority of this pandemic in Russia. He has been having meetings by video conference and maybe a few face to face but not many. He is very rarely appeared in public.
And you know, this video, which was put out on state media yesterday, it gives us a little bit of an insight into the kind of extraordinary measures that are being taken to shield Vladimir Putin from the coronavirus.
In the video you can see people walking through that tunnel. It was put it his official residence just outside of Moscow. People are sort of sprayed all over their bodies and all over the upper parts, you know, the head and neck and hands, and things like that are sprayed from the ceiling and from the sides.
So, it's quite extreme apparently. We are told by state media that it's a fine -- the liquid is a fine sort of disinfectant spray. It's obviously trying to clear any surfaces of any virus. It's unclear how effective that would be, you know, to somebody who was actually infected with coronavirus that passed through. It probably would not very be effective at all.
And in terms of, you know, what Russian people think, Well, I think, there's been a great bit of reaction to this, except to say that, you know, Russians are sort of endlessly fascinated by the, you know, the life of their very opaque president. And of course, what a contrast would had been drawn by the fact that he's being protected so closely, while at the same time many Russians are being told the lockdown in their towns and cities is being lifted.
CHURCH: It is very James Bond inspired by, I suspect. Matthew Chance, many thanks to you bringing us the latest there on what's happening in Russia. We appreciate it.
And thanks for joining me. I am Rosemary Church. I will be back in just a moment with another hour of news. Do stay with us.