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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Dozens Infected In Iran As Virus Spreads In Middle East; DOW Plummets For Second Day On Virus Fears; Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Dies At 91; Are Egyptians Better Off Than They Were Under Mubarak?; Two Cheetah Cubs Born Through In Vitro Fertilization. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired February 25, 2020 - 17:00   ET



CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Tonight on THE BRIEF, coronavirus cases spike in Italy, Iran, and South Korea, as global markets take another


U.S. President Donald Trump leaves India without any major new deals did in spite the fanfare. And Egypt long time ruler Hosni Mubarak has died. How

has the nation progressed since he was in office nearly a decade ago?

Live from London, I'm Cyril Vanier in for Bianca today. Welcome to the show. For the second day in a row, coronavirus fears are taking a major

toll on global markets. The DOW closed down more than 800 points today. That's 1,900 points lost over two straight days.

Most markets in Europe and Asia didn't do much better than that. There are more than 80,000 cases and 2,700 deaths around the world. Most in are still

in Mainland China, but hot spots in South Korea, Iran, and Italy are growing and they're spreading to neighboring countries.

Italy for one is reporting more than 300 cases and at least 11 deaths. The country's Prime Minster insists that they will have the epidemic fully

contained in just a few days despite pretty major missteps. Most of Italy's cases are in the Lombardy region in the North. 10 cities are under lock

down meaning people aren't allowed to enter or leave.

Even as the coronavirus epidemic touches more of Europe, the EU says closing borders would be disproportionate and ineffective. Melissa Bell

describes the challenges they're facing.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A hastily assembled meeting of health ministers Italy invited the World Health Organization and its neighbor

Salome in the midst of the first major coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia. With no central coordination of the public health policy at EU level,

the focus is on stopping the preventing the spread of virus from the epicenter of the outbreak in northern Italy to neighboring countries.


ROBERTO SPERANZA, ITALIAN HEALTH MINISTER: Viruses don't recognize administrative borders or those of provinces cities or states, so the need

of cooperation is evident.


BELL: Italy says it's doing all it can. Although speaking in Rome, a health ministry spokesman said on Tuesday that one of the reasons for the

explosion of cases was the country's decentralized structure. Here among the deserted streets of Codongo in the Lombardy region, which is run by the

far right northern league one hospital in particular, is in the spotlight for treating the first case and for failing to contain the spread.


GIOVANNI RIZZA, HEAD OF THE INFECTIOUS DISEASES DEPARTMENT: At the hospital level it was not immediately understood presumably due to the lack of help

epidemiological science that this corresponded to a person infected with a new coronavirus and therefore precautionary measures were not taken.


BELL: On Monday night the Italian Prime Minster didn't need to name names.


GIUSEPPE CONTE, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER: The management at the level of the hospital structure has not really been faithful to the protocols that are

recommended in these cases and that has certainly contributed to the spread.


BELL: And even as the hunt for a patient zero continues so does the outbreak to new Italian regions and to Italy's neighbors, with cases now

declared in Croatia, Austria and Spain. Where in a tourist tested positive leading to the lockdown of a hotel.

Back in Italy, more than 100,000 people remain trapped in and at least ten villages and towns with cities like Venice not yet closed off, but eerily

quiet this Mardi Gras. Melissa Bell, CNN, Venice.

VANIER: Iran's neighbors are taking steps to keep the infection from spreading further in the Middle East. Nearly 100 cases have been reported

in several Iranian cities and at least 15 deaths. But those numbers might not tell the whole story. Arwa Damon explains.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The epicenter of the outbreak in Iran is centered around a city of Qom where there are crowds of

Shia pilgrims visiting any number of holy sites there. Now when we look at the numbers coming from Iran, what is startling is that the mortality rate

there is quite high compared to the global average.

There are concerns as to how transparent Iran is perhaps being with a lawmaker claiming - claims that the ministry of health denies but claiming

that Iran's death toll is much higher than what is being reported and Iran's Deputy Health Minister on Monday appearing on national television,

appearing to be sick, and within 24 hours, testing positive for the coronavirus.

The spread throughout the Middle East has caused a very high level of concern among citizens and governments here. There are a number of very

vulnerable populations in countries like Syria and Yemen who are both very ill a quipped to be able to handle this kind of an outbreak should it take

it take place there.


DAMON: Turkey, for its part, has evacuated a plane load of its citizens, around 132 passengers and crew in total. It then ended up diverting that

flight to land not in Istanbul, but in Ankara, because of a couple of passengers on board was coughing. They appeared to show some symptoms of

being sick.

The plane was diverted to Ankara because they had a more experienced crew there and a better a quipped quarantine facility out of an abundance of

caution although at this stage none have tested positive for coronavirus, they'll be quarantined for 14 days.

VANIER: In South Korea, the number of cases is nearing the 1,000 mark and showing no signs of slowing down. 11 people died and hundreds are

quarantined. The accept center is the city of Daigu. Korean President Moon Jae-in visited a hospital there today thanking medical staff and trying to

boost morale. CNN's Ivan Watson spoke with residents of Daigu.

IVA WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I've spoken with a couple of residents of Daigu and they do kind of say it's a stressful time.

There is not panic in the streets of that city, but they do worry about being stigmatized by the rest of the country for being essentially at the

epicenter of South Korea's outbreak.

It's important to note that the infection, the virus, does continue to spread. It continues to grow through the four branches of the South Korean

military, with 18 infections there, and it has reached South Korea's flagship airline carrier, Korean Airlines, which had to close one of the

offices in the country's main international airport after a Korean air stewardess was diagnosed as positive with coronavirus.

VANIER: Streets, hotels, shops, are all empty in Shanghai. The Chinese government racing to stop further spread of the coronavirus and preventing

mass gathering, including places like Disneyland has become a number one priority. Shanghai Disneyland has been closed for a month, and Disney fears

a $135 million loss if it stays shut another month. CNN's David Culver went there.

DAVID CULVER, CORRESPONDENT: This is pretty much as close as you can get to Disney Shanghai. Can you see it the castle, way back there. The reality is,

it's not only the theme park that's feeling the economic hit, but several of the surrounding communities and those businesses likewise feeling the


VANIER: As the coronavirus spreads and global markets are taking a hit, U.S. President Donald Trump is striking an optimistic tone, downplaying the

threat from the virus.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: It looks like they're getting it under control more and more, they're getting it more and more under

control, so I think that's a problem that's going to go away, but he lost almost 1,000 points yesterday on the market, and that's something that -

you know, things like that happen. And you have it in your business all the time. Had nothing to do with you it's an outside source that nobody would

have ever predicted.


VANIER: The Centers for Disease Control says the number of coronavirus case in the U.S. has jumped to 57 and warns that Americans should prepare for

the spread of the virus across the country. The Trump Administration briefed Senators behind closed doors Tuesday. Democrats are accusing the

White House of being asleep at the wheel when it comes to taking action.


CHUCK SCHUMER, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER: Even now after the virus has already become a worldwide health crisis with rapidly growing economic

risk, the Trump Administration is scrambling to respond. Four words - describe the administration's response to the coronavirus - towering and

dangerous incompetence.


VANIER: CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins me now from Washington. Jeremy, the President's trying to ease fears over the coronavirus, but let's look at

how the markets closed today another day of steep losses. We know this President is campaigning on the economy, on strong markets. So is this

administration prepared for the impact of the coronavirus?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's exactly right; they are banking on the economy as far as the President's re-election

chances are concerned. That's why beyond the health impact, beyond how they can contain the virus in the United States and prepare for quarantines and

all of the health related issues here, this administration is really focused on the economic impact this will have in the U.S. and that it's

already having.

You have the President's Chief Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow going on a business network today to try and calm the markets to try to reassure

investors, urging them not to panic today, but what he also managed to do was really muddle the message and that is because he said that the United

States, that at federal government is successfully containing this disease in the United States.


DIAMOND: That came just hours after the Centers for Disease Control said today that the disease is likely to continue to spread in the United States

and in fact that there will likely be severe disruptions to daily life. What is clear though, is that this administration is stepping up their


They requested $1.25 billion in emergency funding from Congress, but there's still criticism from members of Congress who are saying that it's

really just too little, too late. Weeks ago members of Congress, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had already told the administration they should

be requesting additional funding and it's only finally coming today, Cyril.

VANIER: And Jeremy Diamond thank you for your reporting. And Donald Trump is on his way back to Washington following his first visit to India as U.S.

President. He and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks on Tuesday just a short distance from deadly clashes that are engulfing India's Capital.

CNN's Sam Kylie reports on that.

SAM KYLIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Honoring Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Indian Nation gunned down by a Hindu fanatic a year after

modern India was born had rallied the day before the U.S. President giving voice to his admiration for Indian diversity.


TRUMP: India is a country that proudly embraces freedom, liberty, individual rights, the rule of law, and the dignity of every human being.

Your nation has always been admired around the earth as the place where millions upon millions of Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs and Jains,

Buddhists, Christians and Jews worship side by side in harmony.


KYLIE: This was the reality on the ground in Delhi while he was addressing a rally in Ahmadabad. Often bloody sometimes fatal in riots against India's

new Citizenship Amendment Act. Legislation critics say the discriminate against Muslims. It was introduced by Trump's host Indian Prime Minister

Narendra Modi, himself a Hindu Nationalist.

Now the act allows refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to apply for nationality here in India but only if they're not Muslims and

it's that aspect of its critics say threatens to tear apart the very social fabric that has held this country, of 1.4 billion people together for 70

years. But this has been a state visit high on eponymy and friendship. Neither leader came to mention national divisions.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your position at the moment on India's Citizen Amendment Act?

TRUMP: I don't want to discuss that. I want to leave that to India and hopefully they're going to make the right decision for the people.


KYLIE: They did announce that India would buy more than $3 million worth of U.S. military hard ware, but this trip has been about polishing the

reputations of these two populist leaders. They have both been accused of exploiting ethnic frictions as it means to political power.

It's worked well India for Mr. Modi who's BJP party won a landslide in elections last year. It's good for Mr. Trump in India. Here he enjoys an

approval rating for 56 percent. A figure no doubt he'd like to take back home. It would almost guarantee re-election. Sam Kylie, CNN, New Delhi.

VANIER: After 9 day heat wave on the northern tip of Antarctica NASA captured evidence of a massive know melt. In the image on the right, Eagle

Island has lost 20 percent of its snow. Screen left is how it looked before. Pools of melt water have opened up in the center as scientists say

that these changing patterns are becoming increasingly common as global temperatures rise.

We're following some huge news in the business and entertainment world that Disney CEO Bob Iger has stepped down in his 15 years as Chief Executive

Iger spearheaded a number of key buys for Disney, including Pixar and Star Wars Studio Lukas Films. The 69-year-old will stay on as Executive Chairman

through the next year. He'll be replaced then by Bob Chappic who is in charge of Disney Parks.

Still ahead on the show is statesman or dictator. We'll look at the controversial rule of the late Hosni Mubarak and where Egypt stands after

nearly a decade of turmoil?



VANIER: Now to the end of an era in Egypt as President Hosni Mubarak wheedled an iron fist until his own people forced him out? Mubarak died

today at age 91. This is believed to be his last public photo, a tender moment with his son. It's not though the Mubarak that most Egyptians knew.

He was likened to a modern day pharaoh belonging to a generation of leaders in the Middle East, who held on to power at any price. Mubarak's 30-year

reign was marked by crackdowns and repressions and claims that his family was getting rich at the country's expense.

Tensions boiled over with the 2011 protests that eventually forced Mubarak from power. Those protests turned violence with hundreds of demonstrators

killed, causing Egypt's longtime ally, the U.S. to distance itself from Mubarak.


BARACK OBAMA, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: Now, it is not the rule of any other country to determine Egypt's Leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that.

What is clear, and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak, is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful,

and it must begin now.


VANIER: Mubarak served time over the deaths of protesters but his conviction was eventually overturned. Mubarak was succeeded by Mohamed

Morsi, a member of the Muslim brotherhood that Mubarak wontedly opposed. Morsi didn't last long enough he too was overthrown, and since 2014 Egypt

has been led by Former Army Chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

So how has Egypt changed since Hosni Mubarak was thrown out? Are things any better for the people there now? Robin Wright is with "The New Yorker" she

is also a distinguished fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center. She joins me for our "Egypt Debrief". Robin, we're almost a decade into the post Mubarak

era and frankly Egypt today looks a lot like it did in the Mubarak years.

ROBIN WRIGHT, WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, on many ways it's worse off under Former Field Marshal current President Al-Sisi, Egypt has become a

rather draconian place when it comes to anyone who wants to disagree politically, express views in an independent press.

There are more than 60,000 political prisoners according to human rights groups. The number of death penalty, executions, has tripled. This is a

very difficult place to live, far worse than it was under Mubarak.

VANIER: Is Al-Sisi Mubarak 2.0?

WRIGHT: He may be 5.0. in many ways this is a more difficult time for particularly young. Many of the problems that sparked the Arab spring, the

quest for a sense of future, for employment, for dignity, for daily bread, have not been addressed.

And the unemployment among the young is today close to 33 percent 1 out of 3 young people unemployed. There's a real challenge when it comes to the

infrastructure of a country where the military absorbs an extraordinary percentage of the revenues.

Remember, Egypt gets more foreign aid from the United States than any country except Israel and most of it goes to the military and not to job

creation, development, the kind of things that would help a country that has always been a trendsetter in the Arab world that accounts for one

quarter of the Arab world's population.


WRIGHT: It is tremendously important country and it has not only stagnated but deteriorated since the Arab spring.

VANIER: Well, so I would assume you mentioned the U.S. - I was going to ask you, where is the U.S. on Egypt today? They have been all over the map in

the last nine years. Of course the U.S. was a staunch ally of Egypt under Mubarak, and then not when they felt the heat from the protesters, and I'm

not too sure the U.S. knew what it wanted in the Muhammad Morsi era, and now of course we have as you call it Mubarak 5.0.

WRIGHT: Yes, well the U.S. policy is fluctuated in some cases widely. President Obama made a very important decision in saying to an Egyptian

leader, we no long support you. Time to leave is now, reflecting the wishes the will of millions of Egyptians who took to the streets during the Arab


Today President Trump is one of President Al-Sisi's closest allies. They have met a half dozen times. The first person to call the President Trump -

I think it was after the nomination, was President Al-Sisi. They met at the U.N. even before he was elected. So they have a very tight connection and

President Trump has called him a great man.

VANIER: Have there been going back to something you were saying earlier, have there been any major improvements - any improvements in fact for

Egyptians under Al-Sisi? I mean, freedom of the press know multi party democracy know having a voice in the country's future I'd say no. Have

there been any improvements?

WRIGHT: When you look at the strategic value of Egypt, it's important in terms of both. It is neighbors to the west in North Africa and to the North

Israel and Levant and beyond. Egypt now faces a real strategic crisis in ISIS which is still very active in the Sinai Peninsula and has responsible

for shooting down Aircraft the killing of many Egyptian soldiers.

So in some ways the internal tensions, the fact that there are so many Egyptians who had disillusions with the regime and of joined ISIS is a

reflection of the disillusion with this government.

VANIER: Robin Wright thanks so much for joining us today. Thanks for your thoughts on the show.

WRIGHT: Thank you.

VANIER: The lawyers for WikiLeaks founded Julian Assange say their client tried to warn the U.S. government that sensitive material was going to

become public but was rebuffed. The claim came Tuesday his extradition hearing in the UK. The U.S. wants to try Assange on espionage charges after

WikiLeaks published classified documents related to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Assange's lawyers say it was the U.S. that put lives at risk.


BARRY POLLACK, ATTORNEY FOR JULIAN ASSANGE: The United States government making this extradition request claim that Julian Assange intentionally

published names of sources without redaction. We learned today the United States government knew all along that wasn't true, that when others were

about to public those names without redaction, Julian Assange called the State Department to warn the State Department that others were about to

publish and pleaded with the State Department to take whatever action was necessary to protect those sources.


VANIER: He says the State Department told Assange to call back. We've tried to reach the Department for a response but haven't circumstantial evidence

one yet. When THE BRIEF returns a huge scientific breakthrough in a U.S. zoo is giving researchers hope, how a risky medical procedure could be the

answer to saving rare and endangered species next.



VANIER: Saudi Arabia has kicked off a football league for women. It's the latest in a series of changes made by the Saudi government loosen strict

social rules and modernize the ultra conservative Kingdom.

The league is for women aged 17 and older. Official say the league initially will be set in Riyadh, Jeddah and Daman but has the potential to


Wild life experts are cheering a milestone at the Columbus zoo in Ohio for the first time a cheetah has given birth to two cubs through in vitro

fertilization. Is it a major breakthrough for the species and that is because over the past 50 years Cheetahs have become extinct in at least 13

countries and the roughly 7000 cheetahs remaining in the wild are into threat from habitat destruction and hunting?

Making matters worse, people are illegally buying and selling cheetahs as pets. Conservationists are pushing to abdicates to the endangered species

list. Cheetahs face a difficult time breeding while in captivity about a third of the cats in zoos are unable to breed because of age, because of

health, or because of behavioral issues.

However the successful In Vitro birth is giving experts hope of saving not just the cheetah, but many other rare and endangered species. That's your

BRIEF for today. I'm Cyril Vanier. "WORLD SPORT" is up next.


DON RIDDELL, CNN HOST: Hello, there, and welcome. It is time for "WORLD SPORT". We are coming to you live from CNN Center. I'm Don Riddell. We've

got some terrific stories for you again today.