Return to Transcripts main page

The Brief with Bianca Nobilo

How Italy Is Trying To Contain The Coronavirus; Iran Has The Highest Mortality Rate From Outbreak; United States Democrats Request $8.5 Billion In Emergency Funds; Democratic Rivals Attack Senator Bernie Sanders Over Cuba Comments; Actor Explains Why He Will Stop Voicing "Simpsons" Character. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired February 26, 2020 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[17:00:00]

CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Tonight on THE BRIEF, the deadly coronavirus has arrived on a new continent as the disease marks a troubling

milestone. And concerns now in Japan about how the virus could impact the 2020 Olympics. Also Bernie Sanders' controversial claim about Fidel Castro.

Could those comments alienate Latino voters?

Live from London, I'm Cyril Vanier in for Bianca today. Welcome to the show. For the first time since the Coronavirus outbreak began, we are

seeing more new cases reported outside of China than inside.

Today China reported 412 infections while the World Health Organization counts nearly 460 new cases in the rest of the world. The epidemic is now

spanning every continent on earth except Antarctica.

There are more than 80,000 cases and 2700 deaths globally and new epicenters in Europe and in the Middle East. Iran's epidemic is growing and

people are taking precautions, closing schools and scrubbing down buses.

Country's Health Minister says public prayers this Friday are canceled in affected center. Italy is the biggest hot spot in Europe, infections

connected to the country are crossing borders on the continent and beyond, like in Brazil where the country's first case is a man who recently

traveled to Italy.

Markets are still reacting after a volatile day on Wall Street the DOW closed down for the fifth day in a row. U.S. President Donald Trump is

holding a news conference next hour on the Coronavirus. He is asking Congress for just more than $1 billion in new funds to address the

epidemic.

That is an amount the Democrats say is way too low. Manu Raju caught up with House Leader Nancy Pelosi to what she thinks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Coronavirus is under control according to the President, your reaction to that?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I don't think the President knows what he's talking about, once again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Italy is the epicenter of Coronavirus outbreak in Europe with 400 confirmed patients there, including 12 deaths. And the cases are spreading

outward. Croatia, Austria, Greece and Switzerland have all reported cases connected to Italy.

The country's government is suspending all public events in much of the northern regions most affected and they are urging people to work from

home. Melissa Bell shows us how people caught in the middle of Italy's outbreak are responding.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As in Asian countries before it, Italy is now in the grips of Coronavirus frenzy. Newspaper headlines scream of a

country under siege as politicians pounce on the fear it is sparking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTEO SALVINI, FEDERAL SECRETARY OF THE NORTHERN LEAGUE: If someone was to have controlled or closed not now but in January when we first said it, we

probably would have avoided some problems.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BELL: At pharmacies in Venice protective masks have sold out, the result of days of panic buying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. STEFANO BEJOR, PHARMCIST: We sold more than 2,000 masks in three, four days. We have a list of things the government gave us. There are advices

like keep hands clean, avoid crowded and public places.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BELL: And protective gear isn't all that Italians in the north of the country have been buying, some super markets in Milan are running low on

other supplies as well as citizens prepare for the worst.

But what is the truth of it? How scared should people really be? We spoke to one virologist here in this Veneto region of Italy who is working on the

outbreak who told us that too little was really known. He said that as far as he was concerned the fear for the time being really was far greater than

the actual danger. And that message of reassurance has also been coming from the World Health Organization.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANS KLUGE, W.H.O. REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF EUROPE: There is indeed no need for a panic and for trust by the people in what the government in Italy is

doing. We are ready to scale up the capacity to ensure that all regions in the country are equally prepared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BELL: Little comfort for the estimated 100,000 residents living under lockdown in the at least ten villages and towns in which they are confined.

Despite fears around public gatherings these mosque pilgrims flocked to the Vatican to hear Pope Francis extend his prayers to those affected.

For now, though, even outside the quarantine zones cities like Venice are feeling the pain, one of the greatest tourist spots in the world much

quieter than normal with many tourists staying away and many Italians staying at home. Melissa Bell, CNN, Venice.

VANIER: Iran has the worst Coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East. In just one week 19 people have died. There are 139 confirmed cases and the

outbreak doesn't stop at the country's borders, Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait and other neighboring countries have cases originating from Iran.

Despite the number of cases Iran says that it will not quarantine cities. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has more on Iran's efforts to contain the

Coronavirus.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cyril, all indications are that people should be concerned about the outbreak in Iran, especially people in this

region because if you look at the cases in different Middle Eastern countries they can all be traced back to Iran.

[17:05:00]

KARADSHEH: So there are growing concerns about whether Iran is doing enough to try and contain this outbreak, are they able to do enough considering

the state of the health care infrastructure in that country as a result of crippling U.S. sanctions and then there is the issue of transparency.

Are officials there being transparent about the scale of this outbreak? One issue here is the figures. If you look at the mortality rate in Iran, it's

somewhere around 14 percent to 15 percent. That is significantly higher than the average mortality rate of Coronavirus globally and in other

countries so lots of questions about why that is.

Is this an issue with screening, how are they screening people, are they screening every possible case, are people going to hospitals when they are

showing symptoms or is this a case of the Secretive Iranian Regime trying to downplay the severity of this situation?

We heard from President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday reassuring people that the situation is under control and basically saying, you know, slamming the

United States saying that they are trying to spread fear and panic amongst the population and that they are using the virus as a weapon to destroy

Iran's economy, but perhaps the most worrying statement we have heard from President Rouhani is so far Iran is not considering and has not made a

decision to quarantine any Iranian city. Cyril?

VANIER: That's Jomana Karadsheh reporting there thank you Jomana. Now U.S. markets gave us Wednesday's early gains and ended the day mixed over fears

of the Coronavirus impact on the economy.

Take a look at the three major indexes it was the fifth straight day of losses for both the DOW and the S&P 500. The DOW finished more than 100

points lower, that's about half a percent, the NASDAQ, however ticked slightly up snapping that four-day losing streak it will be on. CNN's

Richard Quest has more on the industries impacted by the virus.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: It is the range of companies and the depth and severity of consequences that's now starting to become clear and

it is across a large sector of the economy.

Take, for example, food and drink. Two companies to watch out for, Diageo and Danone. Diageo make us of Johnny Walkers - being heavily affected. You

wonder how that can be. Well, think about it, the bars are closed in China and $420 million in sales hit this year alone.

They believe will come as a result of Chinese - the Chinese affect. And then you have Danone, a good safe old fashioned type company, but it makes

Evian, Yogurt and the like and in Danone's case it's the Chinese factory that's closed expected $109 million of first quarter sales.

Food and beverage is crucial. And then you have the automobile industry. Now, even for those companies that don't actually manufacture there, there

is going to be a knock on effect. Moody says the global car sales will slump by 2.5 percent. Princess, Jaguar, Land Driver is seeing no sales in

China. NISSAN has closed its plants and now remain closed until at least March the 11th.

The airline industry had two big announcements or two announcements from key airlines on Wednesday, KLM and Lufthansa both making budget cuts,

freezing hiring. In the case of Lufthansa asking staff to take unpaid leave. Lufthansa admitted it has about 13 ground aircraft on the ground at

the moment.

The situation is serious and day by day we're getting more evidence of just how bad it's likely to get to global corporations. Richard Quest, CNN, New

York.

VANIER: And of course the economy will also be on President Trump's mind next hour as he speaks on the Coronavirus. Stephen Collinson is in

Washington. Stephen, what are you expecting to hear from Mr. Trump?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Normally, Cyril, at a time like this we would expect the President to offer a message of

reassurance, to show Americans that he has this organizational worked out and to perhaps talk about how bad this is going to get and the need for the

country to come together.

The question is whether President Trump after three years of divides and rules politics has the trust of the country and the ability to unify them

and marshal them around him. The President has been very angry with Democrats, he's been very angry with the media accusing them of

exaggerating the depth of the likely crisis if Coronavirus does become an epidemic in the United States.

[17:10:00]

COLLINSON: So I think the jury really is out about how effective the President will be and if he will be disciplined enough to strike a message

to the American people and not go off into a tangent on the politics by attacking Democrats, by attacking the media, or making claims that are not

backed up by the warnings of his Public Health Officials in his own administration.

VANIER: Stephen, thank you very much. For the moment he has been trying to play this down, saying this is not going to be a problem much longer. We

will see what he says in about an hour. Stephen Collinson from Washington thank you.

In Japan preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are going on as planned despite growing fears about how the Coronavirus outbreak could impact

things perhaps even forcing officials to cancel the 2020 Olympic Games. CNN's Matt Rivers reports.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Five months to go until Tokyo 2020 and rehearsals are in full swing, a practice torch run outside Tokyo though the

flame hasn't arrived yet some crowds, cheers, corporate sponsors.

This is the fun stuff. This is what organizers want to be practicing for, want to be preparing for, but given what's going on in this part of the

world, they're also preparing for something else.

Specifically the Coronavirus outbreak dozens of cases have been reported in Japan as Japanese officials try to stop its spread, safe to say they're

worried about crowds. The new emperor's birthday celebration canceled, March 1st Tokyo Marathon called off for all but elite runners so the

natural question, is the Olympics next?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no case for any contingency plans of canceling the games or moving the games.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIVERS: Officials with the International Olympic Committee say they base that decision on guidance from the World Health Organization which has told

them as of now there's no reason to cancel.

IOC officials have already set up a virus task force and are working closely with Japanese Health Authorities but for people who have prepared

their entire lives for this summer, the athletes who will stay in this village behind me any thought of the games possibly being interrupted is

tough to think about, so they're staying positive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRELL KIMMONS, U.S. SPRINTER: Bit I think knowing that the Olympic game is coming into the country that, you know, they have everything under control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully they have everything figured out and by then.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIVERS: Here in Japan ping-pong practice goes on unabated. Virus threat looms.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YOSHISHITO MIYAZAKI, HEAD OF JAPAN'S TABLE TENNIS NATIONAL TEAM: I'm worried about whether Japan can actually host international guests if this

infection keeps spreading.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIVERS: But Japanese officials say that's currently their top priority. It's important for us to have visitors feel safe and enjoy Japan while here

the vice Health Minister says, so this is our big focus.

Japan wants the games to be safe and successful but only so much is in their control. A lot is still unknown about the Coronavirus and who knows

what happens between now and the July kickoff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC RUBIN, DEPARTMENT OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: We don't know how far it's going to spread and we don't know if it spreads how long

that will last. Could that put the Olympics at risk? Yes. I have tickets, though, and I'm not giving them up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIVERS: Nobody wants a virus to ruin the names. The Olympic flame, after all, is designed to not go out the hope that this rehearsal turns into the

real thing by the end of July. Matt Rivers, CNN, Tokyo.

VANIER: And we will have more on how Coronavirus is impacting sport around the globe on "World Sport" at the bottom of this hour.

Also breaking news we need to bring you here from the U.S. State of Wisconsin. Authorities say that they are responding to the scene of a

shooting in Milwaukee. They are calling it a critical incident at the Molson Coors Complex. We are working on getting details out of there but

there are reports of fatalities at this hour. We will keep you updated as we learn more.

Coming up on the show U.S. Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders says he's just speaking the truth, but his praise of Cuba's literacy

program under Fidel Castro is causing an uproar our political debrief just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:15:00]

VANIER: Now to the Democratic Race for the White House. Candidates were back on the campaign trail bright and early today after a bruising fight

last night. Front runner Bernie Sanders came under attack from all sides in the South Carolina debate, his rivals portrayed him as a risky radical

choice, some seizing on an issue that's been haunting him, his comments about Cuba. Here is Sanders two days ago at a CNN Town Hall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Fidel Castro first came to power which was, when, '59?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: '59/'60.

SANDERS: Okay. Do you know what he did? He initiated a major literacy program. I think teaching people to read and write is a good thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Sanders also criticized the authoritarian nature of Fidel Castro's regime, but he says it's unfair to say that everything under Castro's rule

was bad. Sanders says he's just pointing out the truth about Cuba's high literacy rate. That did not go over well on the debate stage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: When dictatorships, whether it is the Chinese or the Cubans do something good, you acknowledge that but you don't have to trade love

letters with them.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not going to win these critical, critical House and Senate races if people in those races have to

explain why the nominee of the Democratic Party is telling people to look at the bright side of the Castro regime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Sanders has a history of praising aspects of left wing revolutionary regimes, though qualifying it with condemnation of their

human rights abuses. The fact that he is praising authoritarian governments at all is offensive to some Americans, it's also deeply worrying some

Democrats, including one Senator whose parents were Cuban immigrants.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): I always find it interesting that he gives a passing glance to the question of authoritarianism but then dwells on all

of the alleged good things. So it's just not what I would want to see in the person who would be the leader of the free world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Julio Ricardo Varela joins us for the "Political Debrief". He's Founder of latinorebels.com and Co-Host of "In the Thick" a political

podcast. Do you think Julio that Castro comments are going to cost Bernie politically?

JULIO RICARDO VARELA, FOUNDER/PUBLISHER, LATINO REBELS: Probably not in the end. I mean, let's just step back for a second. Fidel Castro is dead. He's

dead. I mean, this is - this is just another example of a simplistic take by American media of which I'm a part of that we've never had a deep

conversation about the context regarding Cuba and anything that's come out of Cuba in the last 30, 40, 50 years has always been out of a cold war

lens.

I think one of the things that's really important about this and I think people need to understand that a lot of young Cuban progressives who

support Sanders are saying, hey, this is way more complex than what sort of the political media has done recently and I just want to call out one

piece--

VANIER: You have an article on that. You have an article on that--

VARELA: Yes, exactly.

VANIER: --an opinion piece on your website. Yes, I read it on your website, latinorebels.com from the descendant of a Cuban political prisoner and he

says I'm not offended by this, in fact, I support Bernie Sanders and I believe that what he was saying about the literacy programs, for instance,

is right, is factually accurate.

VARELA: I mean that is an opinion piece by Charles Rode. I mean, Cuba is a third rail issue when it comes to Latinos, when it comes to Miami, when it

comes to places in America.

[17:20:00]

VARELA: Cuba is I think one of the more guttural like topics of the last 50, 60 years in American politics. I don't want to get into the history of

it. But at the same time what's missing in Cuba is the context of everything.

So when one of the things that happened in the debate last night was that Sanders was trying to get into U.S. interventionism and history of

imperialism in Latin America and people just - like Pete Buttigieg just kept talking over him because like, you know, Castro is the boogie man in a

lot of eyes.

What's interesting is that as much as there are plenty of Cubans who adore what the Castro regime has done you cannot deny the fact that younger Cuban

progressives are kind of like, it's kind of old news.

And, you know, people can come after me for saying that, but that's what young like Cuban American progressives have been telling me. And one of the

things when we published that piece which is an opinion piece that we publish a wide variety of opinion pieces.

VANIER: Sure.

VARELA: One of the things that people need to understand is that the author, Carlos, was told - he told me - he actually sent me a text today

saying, hey, there's so many young Cuban Americans who said you're sharing what I believe in.

So I think people need to stop and realize that it's intergenerational, I think it's a little bit stale and, you know, I know it's a controversial

topic, I know I'm probably going to be on Twitter in the next half hour and everyone is going to call me a communist.

But something is being lost in this context and I just feel like one of the things that people need to understand and kind of gets into Bernie Sanders

and why he has such support with Latinos, particularly Latino progressives, is that he's the only one who is talking about Latin American policy and

how it hurt Latin America and how the United States really caused a lot of the problems that we're dealing with right now.

VANIER: So let's set the specific Castro issue aside, then.

VARELA: Thank you.

VANIER: What are Hispanic voters looking to hear from the Democratic candidates?

VARELA: You know, here is the thing, I was skeptical, I'm going to say this really honest because if you look at the 2016 cycle, Sanders did not do as

well with Latinos as Hillary Clinton, but one of the things that they realized when they looked back and they said, wow, we have a lot of young

Latinos here and maybe this is someplace that we should invest in.

So what you've seen and I've talked to many people on the Sanders Campaign and I'm not the only one who said it and there's plenty of pieces that have

been written about it, I've written about it.

What you've seen is that the campaign has invested money in places. So when you look at Nevada, for example, on Saturday, you know, Sanders lost--

VANIER: Let's put up the numbers, by the way, we have the entrance poll numbers for Bernie Sanders versus Joe Biden it's 53 for Bernie Sanders, 17

percent for Joe Biden. Entrance poll numbers, the number of Latino votes that they took.

VARELA: Right. Sanders crushed him. I mean, there is no other way to say it. And the best way to say it is that Biden, you know, was kind of like

the Clinton establishment Latino vote, very traditional, a little bit older. Sanders crushed that vote.

And if you look at Latino leaning districts, Latino majority districts about 33 of them, the top 33 of them this is out of a UCLA study that came

out he won over 70 percent of that vote. So you have to step back and realize what did the Sanders Campaign do?

They invested in the community. There are plenty of examples of them that have gone and opened office before anyone else. If you look at what voters

were saying, not only - not only in Nevada, but also in places like in California where there's only early voting, Texas is at - they're like the

only campaign that's talking to me.

But what's the appeal, right? One of the things that I tell people about the appeal is that Sanders - he is a leftist - he is a leftist populist,

right, and there is a tradition of Latin American progressivism and there is a tradition when you look at the Mexican and Mexican American

communities in the west and southwest, when you look at the Chicano Movement of the '60s and '70s there is not a lot that Sanders doesn't

appeal - do you know what I'm saying?

Sanders appeals to sort of this history of like the struggle and the class inequality. So I think there's a lot to be said about that that not a lot

of people are talking about.

VANIER: All right. Julio Ricardo Varela, thank you so much for coming on the show. Next big test is going to be Super Tuesday to see where the

Latino vote is going. Thank you very much.

VARELA: Thank you.

VANIER: We're back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:25:00]

VANIER: More than 30 years the TV show "The Simpsons" has remained pretty much the same, Bart, Lisa and Maggie never get older and homer nets get

smarter, but one character is changing, voice actor Hank Azaria says that he is done playing the role of Quickie Mart Owner Apu.

Apu was once seen as funny but some now say that he represents offensive stereotypes. One Indian American comedian explained it in this documentary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've had a great career filled with laughter, critical acclaim, I should be completely happy but there's still one man who haunts

me Apu the hours of team of Avalon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please pay for your purchases and get out and come again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know a white guy does the voice?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you feel about that?

HANK AZARIA, ACTOR: Oh, I'm making a movie about how much I dislike it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right away they were like can you do an Indian voice and how offensive can you make it? I immediately began to talk this way. It's

not tremendously accurate, it's a little stereotype. That's all right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Hank Azaria is now opening up about why he won't voice the Apu anymore. He said he gradually became aware that Apu was hurtful. Azaria is

Jewish and he tells "The New York Times" I started thinking if that character were the only representation of Jewish people in American culture

for 20 years which was the case with Apu I might not like that.

The Executive Producer of "The Simpsons" says Apu will remain on the show and they will find a new actor to provide his voice. And that is THE BRIEF

for today. I'm Cyril Vanier. Up next as promised, you have got "WORLD SPORT." Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END