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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Austria Lockdown Sparks Fears Of Wider Restrictions In Europe; Modi Backs Down On Controversial Reforms; Pressure Builds On China Over Tennis Star Peng Shuai; Blinken Warns Ethiopia Is On A "Path To Destruction;" Tackling The Stigma Surrounding Black Men And Mental Health. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired November 19, 2021 - 17:00:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello and welcome. This is "THE GLOBAL BRIEF." I'm Bianca Nobilo in London.

Tonight, locked down. Austria is the first European country to go back into COVID hibernation. How will the dominos now fall across the region?

Then, mental health stigma. Cultural barriers and systemic racism are keeping many black men from getting the help that they need. We dig deep

into a much-needed conversation.

And your good news weekly wrap. Why your pet may soon be able to put you on speed dial.

We have not succeeded in convincing enough people to get vaccinated. That's the message from Austria's chancellor today. The country is now set to go

back into lockdown starting Monday for a minimum of 10 days. It comes after a major spike of coronavirus infections.

Austria is a small European country with a population of just under 9 million, but the decision is going to how far bigger ramifications across

the continent and even the world. It's the first European nation to go into lockdown during this wave of the pandemic. Countries from Bulgaria to

Germany are seeing their highest amount of cases ever. With the country currently accounting for half of new global infections.

Earlier in the week, Austria announced a lockdown that would target only the unvaccinated. This plan was suggested as a path forward for other

countries in an attempt to avoid another dark winter. However, there were concerns about how it would actually be enforced. That plan only lasted

four days before this new lockdown was announced.

The country also became the first European nation to announce a countrywide vaccine mandate requiring everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated,

starting February. Both of those decisions are infuriating many people, with protests planned for over the weekend.

Criticism is being encouraged by the country's far-right Freedom Party, the third biggest party in parliament. Its leader, Herbert Kickl, posting on

Facebook, as of today, Austria is a dictatorship. Kickl won't be able to join the protests, however, as he has tested positive for the virus. So,

the next big question, how will the rest of the dominos fall? Neighboring Germany says it can't rule out a lockdown of its own.

The pandemic poses the greatest danger in places with lower vaccination rates. In Eastern Europe, countries are lagging behind due to widespread

misinformation, some even coming from community, government, and religious leaders.

CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman saw the deadly effect of this hesistancy firsthand in Romania.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is a jarring finality about death from COVID-19 in Bucharest University

Hospital. Workers nail coffins shut, spray them with disinfectant.

Anguished echoes from the next room, a woman sees her loved one for the very last time.

(on camera): This is Bucharest's biggest hospital. The morgue has a capacity for 15 bodies. But within the last 24 hours alone 41 people have

died. The overflow ends up here in the corridor.

(voice-over): Every day more COVID dead are wheeled into the morgue. Nurse Claudiu Ionita is closed to the breaking point.

They keep coming, they keep coming, he says. We're working for nothing. We can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And dark is Romania's tunnel. The country is in its fourth wave of COVID. Its worst yet. The death toll from coronavirus hit a record level this

month, intensive care units are strained to the limits. Hospital Director Catalin Cirstoiu tries to put the death toll in perspective.

DR. CATALIN CIRSTOIU, MANAGER, BUCHAREST'S UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: In Romania, each day we have 400 patients who is dead. You know? 400 people, it's a

huge number. It's a community. It's a village, you know.

WEDEMAN: Romania has one of Europe's lowest vaccination rates against the disease. There are no lines at this Bucharest vaccination center. Medics

say they struggle against fake news, suspicion and superstition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are a lot of doctors, myself included, that work with COVID patients, and we are trying to tell people that this disease

actually exists.


WEDEMAN: Parliament member Diana Sosoaca has even tried to physically block people from entering vaccination centers. "If you love your children," she

says, "Stop the vaccinations. Don't kill them."

The vaccines have been extensively tested in children and proven to be safe and effective. But she and others have sent wild rumors and magical

thinking swirling through social media.

Colonel Valeriu Gheorghita, a doctor, runs the country's vaccination program.

COL. DR. VALERIU GHEORGHITA, HEAD OF ROMANIA'S VACCINATION CAMPAIGN: We have unfortunately hundreds of deaths each day. So, it's -- this is a

reality and more than 90 percent of patients who died were unvaccinated patients.

WEDEMAN: Nearly 36 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. In rural areas, however, it's half that. The village of Bosanci is an hour's flight

from Bucharest and a world away.

Religion holds sway here. Many put more faith in God than science. Village mayor and Pentecostal Pastor Neculai Miron refuses to be vaccinated.

We're not against the vaccine, he insists. But we want to verify it. To be reassured. Because there have been many side effects. We don't think the

vaccine's components are very safe. It's not a safe vaccine.

Experts say the vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing severe disease and death from COVID-19.

And just down the road, Dr. Daniela Afadaroaie has vaccinated 10 people on this day.

No, she tells me, we haven't seen any side effects in any patients we've vaccinated.

In the county of Suceava, fresh graves in the cemetery stark evidence of a recent surge in deaths. Every day in Romania, a village is dying.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Suceava, Romania.


NOBILO: Now, we're just getting reports that people have been injured in the Dutch city of Rotterdam when police fired warning shots during protests

over COVID-19 measures. Police said in a statement that the warning shots were fired after protesters lit fires and set off fireworks. The statement

goes on to say that police are trying to restore order and access - an access to metro stations and a popular street in Central Rotterdam are

currently restricted. But we'll keep you posted on that.

Israel's coronavirus strategy has been a case study for much of the world. With its rapid rollout and early adoption of boosters, scientists around

the globe have been looking at the country's data very carefully. But now, even with all the vaccines, Israel's infection R-rate has gone back up to


Hadas Gold tells us what that means and crucially, what it doesn't.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for so much of the pandemic, people have been looking to Israel as a sort of glimpse into the future because of

how quick the government was to start administering vaccines. Including the third booster dose which began in late July.

Now there are some worrying signs even after that booster dose campaign. The R-number, which shows how many people, one positive case infects is

reaching its highest level in two months. It's showing that the virus may be spreading once again after weeks of decline. But the alarm bells aren't

quite ringing here yet, and no new guidelines have been put into place.

Health experts here say it's too early to say whether this is a fifth wave. That's because the average number of cases is still lower than it was in

previous months. And most importantly, the for the hospital system, the serious cases are at the lowest level since July. We'll have to wait and

see whether that is still the case a few weeks from now.

But health experts here say a variety of factors are contributing to this rising R-rate. The million or so people who haven't gotten their booster

dose, but they are eligible to do so. The public relaxing on guidelines like mask wearing and going inside now because of the colder weather. And

the unvaccinated children who are making up a large portion of new infections. That's why there's hope that as children aged 5 to 11 start

getting vaccinated in this next week. The R-rate will start to drop once again. Bianca?

NOBILO: Hadas Gold, thank you.

India's Prime Minster Narendra Modi is making a rare political U-turn. Farmers have been rallying against controversial agriculture laws for more

than a year now. And the prime minster is now backing down.


NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Today, I'm requesting all of our protesting farmers. Today is the holy day of Guru

Parv festival. Please return to your homes, return to your farms, return to your families. Let's start a new beginning.



NOBILO: We're seeing celebrations in the streets, but farmers' unions are taking the news with caution. They say that they'll keep protesting until

the laws are repealed in parliament later this month. As to the timing of all this, it's worth noting that major state elections are just months


India's top court has reversed a highly controversial judgment that highlights the country's problem with sexual abuse. In January, a man was

acquitted of charges of assault on a child after a Mumbai court ruled its skin-to-skin contact would be necessary for it to constitute sexual

assault. But that order has now been struck down by the Supreme Court, which calls it a narrow and pedantic interpretation of the law.

We've reported this week on sexual abuse in India, where official figures say one woman is raped every 17 minutes, but the real number is much higher

because most cases there go unreported.

The pressure is building on China over tennis star Peng Shuai as more people around the world ask where she is. A journalist with Chinese state

media claims the tennis star posted these on her social media on Friday. But CNN can't verify where these photos were actually taken or when or that

Peng posted them herself on social media.

Peng hasn't been seen in public since accusing a former government official of coercing her into sex. The United Nations is now demanding proof of her

whereabouts. The head of the Women's Tennis Association says he is willing to pull out of China and lose hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of

business if Peng's wellbeing isn't confirmed.

A U.N. agency says the host country of the 2022 World Cup is inadequately investigating and reporting worker deaths. The International Labor

Organization says at least 50 workers died in Qatar last year but says gaps in data collection mean the actual number of occupational fatalities are


Qatar faces widespread criticism over the working conditions of its migrant laborers, including those building World Cup Stadiums. The International

Labor Organization says migrants are the backbone of Qatar's workforce.


MAX TUNON, INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION: Qatar is a very unique labor market. 95 percent of its workforce are migrants, and it's globally

recognized that migrant workers are more susceptible to occupational safety issues. Secondly, Qatar has a huge labor force in construction. Again,

globally recognized as one of the most hazardous occupations or sectors of work.


NOBILO: Qatar's ministry of labor said in a statement that figures reported in media on migrant worker fatalities have been wildly misleading. There

are similar allegations of migrant abuses in other gulf nations.

Let's now take a look at other key stories making international impact today. Poland is accusing Belarus of tracking hundreds of migrants back to

the two countries' border today and encouraging them to cross illegally. It says it happened just hours after Belarus cleared the main makeshift border

camp taking migrants to spend the night in a warehouse nearby.

Israel is welcoming Britain's plan to ban Hamas entirely as a terrorist organization. If lawmakers approve, anyone supporting Hamas in the UK could

face jail time. The Palestinian militant group that rules Gaza says the move shows quote, "bias toward the Israeli occupation."

In Central Iran, thousands of farmers and their supporters gathered Friday to protest water shortages. Iran blames its worst drought in decades for

the problems, while critics also point to the mismanagement, including the diversion of local river water and a damaged pipeline.

The International Criminal Court has suspended a probe into suspected rights abuses during the Philippines' so-called war on drugs under

President Rodrigo Duterte. Thousands of suspects were killed during the campaign. The prosecution says it's seeking more information following a

deferral request from the Philippines.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is warning that the war in Tigray has launched Ethiopia on a, quote, "path to destruction." And that its

effects could spread throughout East Africa. Blinken spoke with CNN while in Abuja, Nigeria, one of the stops on his three nation African tour. He

called on Ethiopia's leader Abiy Ahmed to fulfill his responsibility as prime minster to end violence in the region.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There's no military solution to the challenges in Ethiopia. None of the different combative parties can

prevail by military means. That's a path to destruction for the country and misery for the people of Ethiopia, who deserve a lot better. So, I hope

that all the leaders, starting with again the leader of the country, the prime minster, will do that, bring people together and work through these

problems politically.


NOBILO: Fighting between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray people's liberation front, often marked by atrocities, has left thousands dead and

displaced more than 2 million people since last November.


Conversations around mental health are often in the spotlight. However, for black men, the issue is still entrenched in cultural barriers and systemic

racism. We look at how the lack of representation in the mental health field is impacting their willingness to seek help. That discussion after

this very short break.


NOBILO: There's strength in vulnerability. It's a powerful sentiment, but for many men it's easier said than done. Today is International Men's Day,

which in recent years has been putting a spotlight on mental health.

In tonight's show, we want the tackle the stigma surrounding the mental health of black men. This is a conversation that more often than not is

sidelined or shied away from, with cultural barriers and systemic racism often restricting black men from getting the help that they might need.

And here's why that really matters. In the UK, black men are more likely to be diagnosed with severe mental health problems. That also four times more

likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, which is a piece of British legislation that allows people to be detained and treated if

they're considered at risk of harming themselves. This is a widespread and global issue.

U.S. Data shows that only 26 percent of black men, aged 18 to 44 seek mental health services in America, compared to 45 percent of white men.

Why? Black men often feel like they have no one to turn to.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, only 2 percent of the estimated 40,000 psychiatrists in the United States are black. For context,

African Americans make up 12 percent of the U.S. population.

Dr. Rico Mosby is a psychologist with over 20 years of experience. He's the clinical director of The Victorious Mind, which aims to create positive

change in thoughts, emotions and relationships. And he joins me now from Austin, Texas.

Dr. Mosby, it's great to have you on the program. Thanks for joining us.


NOBILO: What are some of the ways in which experiencing racism can impact the psychology of black men? I was having a conversation earlier with a

great man who contributes to our team, and he was talking about obviously the trauma that so many black men have witnessed in the aftermath of the

murder of George Floyd, and I wonder if you could take us through the impact of that.

MOSBY: Oh, yeah. I think looking at 2020, it allowed -- allowed us to have a pause, right? The distraction that we normally experience in society were

not there. You know we did not even have sports, you know, for a moment. And so, during this time there was a collective audience you know to what

was happening, and because of that, you know, people were able to really key in and see a lot of the challenges that they experienced, particularly

within the black community.


There was a reference, governance, far and wide. You know, we're at a point of paying close attention to the things that are happening here in the

United States regarding the injustices that sparked protests in governments.

We're trying to figure out. Like what are we -- we're having discussions like, what should we do? You know given we now are aware of these things

that are happening, particularly that shed the light on the need, you know, for a notable amount of change that was happening.

If we think about it, we slowed down in a way that -- that the black community and the issues they were dealing with were brought to light.

NOBILO: And Dr. Mosby, considering the additional trauma and burden that black men have to bear in countries that remain systemically racist, we now

know, as I just outlined, that they don't seek the help and also, they're not represented in terms of options in psychologists and psychotherapists.

MOSBY: Right.

NOBILO: But what do you think the biggest obstacles are to black men in seeking the mental help support that they might need?

MOSBY: You know before COVID, there has been a longstanding stigma associated with professional -- seeking professional help for mental health

issues in the black community, and it's because of that. You know that particular stigma, a lot of times you know people feel this is black men in

particular that they're not able to find in particular the help they really need. You know there's barriers such as the mistrust of the healthcare

system that's there. There's also aspects of desire to find another black male professional. It's hard to find. It's hard to seek that out.

NOBILO: It also seems to me that when men in general talk about mental health, they have had to address the stigma of men ideally not having

vulnerabilities or weaknesses or getting past so that they can seek health and share and be vulnerable.

MOSBY: Right.

NOBILO: And when we consider black men and the sort of sociocultural expectations of them, and also how the stereotypes that exists, the family

expectations, et cetera. The phrase that our friend on the show that we have been working on the segment with you was a hypermasculine ideal. Do

you think that makes it really difficult for black men to get help because they believe that they have to live up to that?

MOSBY: That's so true. That's so true. During the height of the pandemic, I was able to work with a number of black men who were able the disclose and

in their bigger environment that they were able to project themselves - easily project themselves into the scenes in the media and say, you know

what, that could have been me. All right?

And so, for this time, what happens with the COVID-19 pandemic, what it did, it allowed a lot of black men to see that it was OK to not be OK. You

know, and -- because the normal reaction would be, I'm OK, or it's not that bad.

And what I have been able to witness, which is one of the most powerful and kind of revitalizing experiences, is to see that black male - the strong

black male is emotionally wounded in so many ways to say, truthfully. I am at a point where I didn't know what else to do, and I'm so glad, and I have

been needing this for so long.

And see, that particular acknowledgement is a source of strength and not a weakness. You know? And too oftentimes I think black men are able to desire

that, and they don't know what it looks like from a therapy standpoint, but they're able to have that experience when a provider is able to meet them

where they are, really connect to them, show a sense of worth, value, validate it. They feel heard, understood, you know.

And so, I think too often, too, black men feel as if, I just need to snap out of this that's pretty much the gist of it. But sometimes you can be so

far in your hole, too cold and too deep to crawl out on your own, and to be able to ask for help and to voice that level of need for help is the most

powerful thing and significant thing to do.

Because in doing that, sometimes it's not about snapping out of it. It's about seeking out the proper professional help to properly get out of it,

properly get to it, to deal with the pain, deal the emotional struggles that you have been in.


And so -- and when you do that, most of the time what happens, you feel this -- you feel empowered, help by the human behavior that you've engaged

in and then you might share that with your spouse or your relational partner, your friends, your child, your family in general. Because what

this does is it kind of demystifies or decreases the stigma.

NOBILO: It does. It does. And Dr. Rico Mosby, I think that's a powerful note to end things on. And I hope that people have heard what you said and

will heed the messages that you left us with. Thank you so much for joining us.

MOSBY: All right, thank you.

NOBILO: You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be right back after this.


NOBILO: Now, we all love a little dose of good news. So, here's your weekly wrap of happy headlines.

Well, first up, what could be described as a miracle. A second patient may have been cured of HIV without stem cell treatment. According to

scientists, the person's body seems to have naturally fought it away. Despite this being extremely rare, it still gives us hope for the future.

Meanwhile, in Switzerland, we're seeing a long-awaited victory for the LGBTQ+ community. In September, a referendum passed to allow same sex

couples to marry. Now, this week, the government announced that July 1st, next year will be the first state that couples are able to start walking

down the aisle.

And if returning to the office was giving you separation anxiety from your pet, well, look no further than the dog phone. A new invention allowing

your pet to video call you whenever they miss you, simply by shaking a ball. The University of Glasgow is still experimenting with the prototype.

I'll be waiting in anticipation for the official release because I have a very cute kitten at home.

Thanks for joining us. See you next week. Good night.