Return to Transcripts main page

The Brief with Bianca Nobilo

World Health Organization: Virus Spreads Less Than Flu, Can Be Contained; Medical Teams Test People Going In And Out Of QOM; Joe Biden's Stunning Victories On Super Tuesday; Tensions Flare As Migrants Build Up At Turkish-Greek Border; Richard Dawkins On The U.S. Politics And Religion; Town Near Fukushima Power Plant Reopens. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired March 04, 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]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @JAKETAPPER. You can tweet the show @THELEADCNN our coverage on CNN

Continues right now. Thanks for watching.

BIANCO NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Tonight on THE BRIEF with Super Tuesday behind us, the Democratic Nomination is look a lot like a two-man

race. And Joe Biden has the edge.

Italy is closing schools and canceling sporting events over the coronavirus. And evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins joins me in studio

to talk politics, religion, and climate change.

Live from London, I'm Bianca Nobilo. Welcome to the show. Joe Biden's stunning victories on Super Tuesday have dramatically transformed the

Democratic Race for the White House. Setting up what's not essentially a two-man race.

The Former Vice President is celebrating his historic comeback after surging past Bernie Sanders in the delegate count at least for now. Biden

swept ten states, including Maine, which just finished counting votes.

Sanders won only three states. But we're still waiting on California, the biggest Super Tuesday prize of all. Biden's turn of fortunes was boosted

even further when one of the biggest names in the race dropped out. Our Arlette Saenz has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They don't call it Super Tuesday for nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Joe Biden basking in an historic political comeback.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Now we were told when we got to Super Tuesday, it will be over. It may be over for the other guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAENZ: In the wake of Super Tuesday, a major jolt to the race coming as billionaire Michael Bloomberg dropped his Presidential bid and officially

endorsed Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: I'm glad to say I endorse Joe Biden, and I hope you will join me in working to make him the next

President of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAENZ: This after Bloomberg poured more than half a billion dollars of his own fortune into the race, and only came up with one victory in American

Samoa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG, FORMER MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND: Let's do it for Joe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAENZ: It's the latest sign of the more moderate candidates coalescing around the Former Vice President. After a rocky start to his campaign,

Biden racking up wins in ten Super Tuesday states, with a sweep across the south overtaking Bernie Sanders in the fight for delegates with California

still up for grabs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I'm here to report, we are very much alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAENZ: Sanders' victories came in home state of Vermont, Colorado, and Utah, and he's leading in California, where the campaign hopes to rack up

delegates, but there are questions if Sanders can expand the electorate, as the contest has quickly turned into a two-person race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joe has his ideas, his record, his vision for the future, I have mine and I look forward to a

serious debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAENZ: Sanders already looking to the contest ahead running new TV ads targeting Biden and attempting to tie himself to President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: Great authenticity, great passion, and is fearless.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAENZ: One candidate's fate up in the air. Elizabeth Warren who had a disappointing showing on Tuesday, including a brutal loss in her home state

of Massachusetts. Warren assessing the state of her campaign but one of her advisers says her biggest decision isn't whether to end her campaign but

whether to throw her support behind Biden or Sanders.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBILO: And Arlette joins us now live. Arlette what's next for Joe Biden? What states are going to be voting next, and could they swing in his favor?

SAENZ: Well, Joe Biden remains here in Los Angeles for a fund-raiser, but over the weekend, he will be heading to Mississippi and Missouri, two of

the six states that vote next Tuesday. Now, Mississippi is a state that's very similar to a lot of those southern states that he won with a large

African-American population, so that's a state that the campaign will be targeting, and they have already started running ads in Michigan, Missouri,

and Mississippi.

Now Bernie sanders won Michigan, which is one of the states voting on Tuesday. He won Michigan back in 2016. So Sanders is hoping for a repeat in

that state. Now, Biden in the past has told me that he believes he could win Florida and Georgia, which are in the coming weeks in March, and both

have pretty big delegate hauls.

Now, one thing to keep an eye on going forward is what does Michael Bloomberg doing next. He spoke with Joe Biden today and told him that he's

willing to help in any way that he can to get Biden nominated as the Democratic Nominee.

Michael Bloomberg has a lot of money, but he already has an existing ground operation across the country, including in many of those states that are

about to come up. So one thing the Bloomberg team is trying to figure out right now is how they can leverage those field offices, those organizations

that they have set up across the country, to help Biden going forward? Bianca.

NOBILO: Thanks, Arlette Saenz there for us in Los Angeles. Biden's comeback is nothing short of remarkable. And it all started in what was considered a

do or die state for his sagging campaign.

The Former Vice President had his best debate of 2020 in South Carolina a southern state with a large African-American population, which is a

critical part of Biden's base.

[17:05:00]

NOBILO: That strong performance was followed by a powerful and emotional endorsement. James Clyburn, an influential U.S. Congressman and giant in

South Carolina politics, gave Biden his blessing just days before that state's primary.

It was a must-win for Biden, and he won big. That was the spark he needed to reignite his campaign and win over more crucial backing. Former

Democratic Candidates Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Beto O'Rourke, all endorsed Biden on the same day, the eve of Super Tuesday, and well, the

rest is history.

Now, the World Health Organization says based on what we know so far, the novel Coronavirus appears to be deadlier than the flu. They calculate the

current mortality rate is somewhere around 3.4 percent, but that doesn't mean that the virus has suddenly become more dangerous. Other Health

Experts say it is difficult to take an accurate account of infections and deaths during the epidemic. Here's what we do know from the WHO

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: COVID-19 spreads less evidently than flu. Transmission does not appear to

be driven by people who are not sick. It causes more severe illness than flu. There are not yet any vaccines or therapeutics, and it can be

contained.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: Since the outbreak began, there have been more than 94,000 confirmed infections and more than 3200 deaths most of them in Mainland

China. The next biggest hot spots are in Iran, South Korea, and Italy. Governments there are taking desperate measures to control the epidemic.

Iran is suspending Friday prayers in most of the country for the second week now. And South Korea's government says it's going to use a GPS-based

app to insure people in quarantine stay in quarantine.

Italy has the highest number of deaths outside of China, and that has led the government to close all schools and universities until March 15th.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Milan, the center of Italy's outbreak. Ben, we're now hearing of restrictions on sporting events, too. What more do we know

about this?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we understand, Bianca that for instance, every sporting activity in the 11 communities

that are part of these red zones where the outbreak was most intense are completely banned. That sports fans from the affected areas will not be

able to travel to other parts of Italy to attend other athletic events. This is quite a blow in this sports-mad country.

This, of course, in addition to the closure of all schools and universities around the country, and the latest statistics coming out from the Italian

Civil Protection Agency indicate just how bad this outbreak is becoming.

The latest statistics are 3,089 recorded cases. The number of deaths has now reached 107. Today, the increase in new cases was the biggest the

country has seen yet, as well as the number of new deaths as well.

Now, we have seen a spike of new cases of Coronavirus in a Bergamo Province, and the government is considering creating red zones in that area

as well. And we heard from Giuseppe Conte the Italian Prime Minister who said today that the Italian Public Health Service, which is one of the best

in the world, has been overwhelmed by the number of new Coronavirus patients. Bianca.

NOBILO: Thank you very much, Ben. Ben Wedeman there for us in Milan in Italy. Iran's battle against Coronavirus is going to be hard-fought. The

nation is facing dire shortages of hospital beds, hand sanitizer, and other supplies. President Rouhani says the Coronavirus is now touching almost

every province. Sam Kiley shows how the outbreak is affecting the country and its neighbors.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so there are a lot of international concerns over the spread of the Coronavirus continue to be

focused on Iran, the Iranian government has announced that it's going to deploy some 300,000 extra health care workers across the country.

It is also now trying to quarantine effectively the whole city not in its entirety, but it has got road blocks around the city, screening visitors in

and out of that location because as a holy city and a site of pilgrimage, it is a place where the disease has been able to spread.

Because of that medical reality, the Saudi government has also issued instructions that its own residents of the Kingdom and foreigners resident

there, can no longer go on pilgrimage to Mecca. That is on top of an announcement they made a few days ago to say that foreigners were already

prevented from coming in because of the very dense numbers of people that pilgrimage to Mecca inevitably means there will be a rapid spread of the

virus.

[17:10:00]

KILEY: The United Arab Emirates is also moving quickly, much like the Italians, also saying that they're going to ask children and students to no

longer come to school for the next month in the universities and schools here in the Emirate.

But for the moment, the attitude here in the Gulf regions is that they believe they have enough money and skills to contain it. The real problem,

though, is it leaking out into those parts of the Middle East where there is neither the money nor the skills? Sam Kiley, CNN, in Abu Dhabi.

NOBILO: The $1.7 trillion travel industry is getting pummeled by the global Coronavirus outbreak. Businesses and individuals are staying put. The

Global Business Travel Association estimates travel spending could drop a half trillion dollars in a year, and its estimated airlines alone could

lose more than $29 billion this year.

In an email to employees obtained by CNN, United Airlines says it's cutting flights in the U.S. and Canada by 10 percent and overseas flights by 20

percent next month. And executives met with U.S. President Trump at the White House on Wednesday.

And Airline Trade Association told him it's working on an app and a website to help health officials collect information faster on travelers so that

they can more easily trace potential virus carriers. The President said that people should keep flying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think where these people are flying, it's safe to fly. And large portions of the world are very safe

to fly. So we don't want to say anything other than that. And we have closed down certain sections of the world, frankly, and they have sort of

automatically closed them also.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: The U.S. death toll from the Coronavirus is now reached 11. One of the deaths occurred in California. The other ten in Washington state.

Amazon is based in Seattle, Washington, and it's now informing employees that an Amazon worker in Seattle has been diagnosed with the virus. That

employee has not returned to work since falling ill on February 25th. There are at least 154 confirmed cases of the virus across 13 states now.

There's been a new round of violence in Afghanistan since the U.S. and the Taliban signed an agreement last weekend. The U.S. says that the Taliban

attacked dozens of targets on Tuesday. And today, America hit back with what it called a defensive air strike on militants in Helmand Province.

Earlier, I asked CNN's Nic Robertson what this strike tells us about how the new agreement is working out.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, Bianca, one thing that the air strike tells us very clearly is that it is backing up the word

that it gave to the Afghan government, that I was told about by a Senior Afghan Government Official just a couple weeks ago, that if the Taliban

transgressed from the deal, then the United States would bring in lethal fire power.

I have spoken to the same official again, and he says look, if the Taliban were probing to see if the U.S. was going to keep good on its word, if

there were any gaps between the Afghan government and the U.S. forces, then the Taliban will have realized that there are no gaps and this is a very

clear message to them.

Now the Taliban for their part believe that in the agreement, they were going to get 5,000 of their prisoners released by the Afghan government by

the 10th of March, and the Afghan government said that was too fast and too soon.

The actual agreement that the Taliban signed with the United States was that it was going to be up to 5,000 prisoners, but it does seem that the

Taliban were testing the will of the United States, testing the will of the Afghan government, by when they didn't get what they wanted with the

prisoner release in the timeframe they wanted, then they went on the offensive.

We do know that there were different elements within the Taliban, we do know that there were differences of opinion in whether or not they should

go on the offensive, but they have been sent a clear message, interestingly, talking to a Taliban official, a member of the negotiating

team over the weekend, he said that the fact that the Taliban had held a reduction in violence for a week showed that they did have complete command

and control.

So if that's the case, it's over to the Taliban now to reconsider going on the offensive because they know how the United States will respond. Bianca.

NOBILO: Nic Robertson there for us. Greece fired tear gas at migrants again today to keep them out of the country. Look carefully and you can see

people running on the other side of the fence. They're in Turkey.

Last week, in a policy shift, - said that they could leave. Europe doesn't want them, and both sides today are digging in. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has

more on the men, women, and children caught in the middle.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This has not deterred the thousands of people who have gathered here waiting to get across. We have met people

from all over the world who are heading to this border, who are coming here. We have met people from Afghanistan, from Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia,

Palestinian, from Gaza even. So many people and some Syrian families who say that they know there are risks.

[17:15:00]

KARADSHEH: The understand the risks and the challenges here, but they say that this is the first time in four years that the Turkish government has

opened its borders for them, and they know that they might be possibly being used as leverage by the Turkish government to get what it wants to

get from the European Union, but they say they do not care.

This is an opportunity, and they're not going to waste it right now. They're ready to risk everything for this opportunity to get to Europe.

Jomana Karadsheh CNN, on Turkey's border with Greece.

NOBILO: Rescuers in the Southeastern United States are looking for survivors of the deadliest day of tornadoes to hit Tennessee in seven

years. 24 people were killed and 17 others are unaccounted for. After the storm system battered the Nashville area before dawn on Tuesday.

Hundreds of homes and buildings are damaged. Emergency crews are having trouble getting to the hardest hit areas because of downed power lines.

Many people are wondering where they're going to live now.

Still to come on THE BRIEF, Richard Dawkins sits down for a wide ranging talk. The controversial scientist opens up about modern politics and

religion, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBILO: In this post-Brexit President Trump Era that we live in, people can seem more polarized than ever before, whether it's through modern tools

like social media or more traditional means like religion, people are increasingly choosing their own tribes.

Richard Dawkins is a controversial scientist, evolutionary biologist, and author. His views, particularly on atheism, have sparked countless debates

about our modern society. He sat down with me earlier for a wide-ranging interview, and with the race for the White House heating up, I asked him

about the role religion plays in picking a President.

RICHARD DAWKINS, ETHOLOGIST, EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGIST AND AUTHOR: It always says God bless America, and polls indicate that or have indicated that

people won't vote for an atheist President which is sad. As you say, America is a secular country. The constitution is secular. The founding

fathers were secular.

The wall of separation, Jefferson's Wall of separation between Church and state ought to be sacrosanct in America, and many people, it is. But to

many people it absolutely isn't.

NOBILO: Do you think it's neutral to have a God-fearing President or do you actually think that's dangerous or undesirable?

DAWKINS: I think that a President who takes his religion seriously and actually puts it into his policies would be dangerous, and the better

Presidents, although they have at least paid lip service to being religious, have actually not let it interfere with their decisions, and

they have respected the constitutional separation, which is fine.

[17:20:00]

NOBILO: There's been a lot of discussion over the last four years with the election of President Trump and then Brexit in the United Kingdom as well

over the post-truth era. The idea that we don't have the same standards or even desire for objective truth and facts as somebody who has committed

their career to that, how concerned are you that that is the case?

DAWKINS: I think that's horrifying. That's one thing that would make me despair if a majority of people in the world said we don't care about

truth. I mean, truth is the nearest thing I come to having a kind of sacred religion, the religion of truth.

I think as a scientist, I believe there is such a thing as truth, and its scientists' business to discover it. So people who are cavalier with truth

and even despise truth like Trump, make me very annoyed indeed.

NOBILO: What would you say to President Trump if you could offer him some advice?

DAWKINS: Resign.

NOBILO: Anything else in the event that he wasn't keen to take you up on that?

DAWKINS: I mean it's not even worth talking about giving him advice. He doesn't take advice from anybody. He's like an infant.

NOBILO: If people listen to you speak about science or read your books, it's very clear you have this enthusiasm, a huge passion for it. And it

fills you with awe at times. Many people would say that that's how people feel or how it mirrors how people feel about their God and religion? So do

you feel that in many ways perhaps you have the same sensation when you think about science as how people do when they think about God?

DAWKINS: Yes. That's possibly so. I mean, you say I have an enormous enthusiasm for science, of course I do. How could you not? If you think

about what science can do, science can tell you why you exist? It can tell you why the universe exists? How could anyone be so dull-witted as to not

be bursting with enthusiasm for science?

Well, as you say, that is somewhat similar to the enthusiasm which people have for charismatic religion and, you know, born-again Christians speaking

in tongues and things like that. And the difference is theirs is not based upon evidence. That's a huge difference.

NOBILO: Do you ever wonder what you may have believed had you been born several centuries ago?

DAWKINS: Yes, if I had been born in the middle ages, as you ask, I would have probably have been religious because I would have been overwhelmed by

the evidence, apparent evidence of design all around me and I would not have had the brain power to say that's a bad argument.

NOBILO: Another concern that people have about science and atheism is the idea that science left unchecked might do things that are not good in the

normative sense. What would you say to that? Where should we derive our morality from?

DAWKINS: Yes well, you have to make a distinction between science, which is the disinterest and search for truth, and technology, the applied science.

So things like hydrogen bombs and biological warfare weapons are terrible, and they depend on science. You couldn't have them without science.

It's unfortunately true that if you want to do bad things, science may well be the best way - may well provide the best ways to do that, just as if you

want to do good things, science may provide the best way to do that. So if you want to develop a terrible biological weapon, you use science.

If you want to develop a vaccine that cures terrible diseases, then you also use science. But it shows it is an example of what I called the

shifting moral zeitgeist. As the decades go by, we change in a progressive direction. And that doesn't owe anything to religion. I'm not sure what it

does owe it to, but it's something.

NOBILO: Do you think climate change is the biggest existential threat humanity is facing?

DAWKINS: Probably, yes.

NOBILO: What would the others be?

DAWKINS: Well, I suppose people have disease in their minds at the moment, but I think - I think the present scare over the present virus may be a

little bit exaggerated.

NOBILO: And we had a lot more to discuss ranging from the influence of religion on society to Twitter. Look for the full interview it will be

posted on youtube.com/cnn in the coming hours. When THE BRIEF returns, almost a decade on from the devastating Tsunami in Japan and one town close

to the Fukushima Power Plant is finally reopening, but some of its former residents aren't happy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:25:00]

NOBILO: There are images seared into our collective memory, endless devastation in Japan after a Tsunami crashed into the side of the country,

killing more than 20,000 people. The Fukushima Power Plant was hit badly. The wave knocked out cooling systems and caused the worst nuclear disaster

since Chernobyl.

Well, nine years later and a small town Futaba just a few kilometers from the plant is opening its doors again. It's coinciding with the Olympic

Torch Relay, which is due to pass through in the next few weeks. But not all former residents are happy about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YUJI ONUMA, FUKUSHIMA EVACUEE: When I came in here yesterday, I walked on a branch road which had over 15 micro sever per hour although it may seem

like we recovered there are actually many places where the situation is the same as nine years ago. I think it's a fake recovery promotion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: That Torch Relay is for an Olympic Games that may have to be pushed back, as Japan grapples with Coronavirus. Japan began the decade with

unspeakable tragedy. They're hoping to end it with Olympic glory. The next few months will determine whether or not they'll get the chance. That's

"The Brief." I'm Bianca Nobilo. "World Sport" is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On "WORLD SPORT" tonight, Coronavirus and sport.

END