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White House Says, Trump Comments Appalling and Unhinged; IDF Says, Hamas Tunnel Found Under UNRWA Building; Nigerian CEO Killed in Helicopter Crash. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 11, 2024 - 03:00   ET




ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers watching from around the world. I'm Anna Coren from Hong Kong.

Ahead on CNN Newsroom --


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.


COREN: The White House condemning comments by Donald Trump after the former president invites Russia to invade NATO countries that fail to pay their dues.

Plus, Israel says it has found Hamas tunnels under the U.N. Relief Works headquarters in its latest blow to the embattled agency.

And a helicopter crash in Southern California leaves six people dead, including the CEO of a major Nigerian bank, those details in a live report.

We begin this hour in Washington, where the White House is going on the offensive on multiple fronts. The administration is working to get ahead of controversy over a recent special counsel report with aides, allies and even the first lady pushing back on suggestions that the president's memory lapses have revealed a lack of mental fitness.

Well, meantime, the White House is also blasting remarks made by the likely Republican presidential candidate that could alarm Europe and impact U.S. relations with NATO allies. Those comments were made Saturday at a campaign rally in South Carolina.

Donald Trump said he'd, quote, encourage Russia to do whatever the hell they want to NATO allies if they didn't pay up. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I came in, I made a speech and I said, you got to pay up. They asked me that question. One of the presidents of a big country stood up, said, well, sir, if we don't pay and we're attacked by Russia, will you protect us?

I said, you didn't pay, you're delinquent. He said, yes, let's say that happened. No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.


COREN: That statement is extraordinary in many ways. It goes against the core premise of NATO, which is collective defense. And NATO countries are not actually delinquent on any financial obligations, as all of them pay their share of the common budget.

Well, the White House slammed Trump's remarks in a statement late Saturday saying, quote, encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged, and it endangers American national security, global stability and our economy at home.

Well, Donald Trump is also blasting the idea that the U.S. would give any of its allies aid unless there are, quote, strings attached. He wrote on social media saying, the United States is stupid for offering support without the hope of payback. And he celebrated the failure of a $118 billion border deal and aid package earlier this week.


TRUMP: I said, why do we do this? If you do, you give them not $100 billion, you give it to them as a loan. It's called a loan. Give them the money. And if they can pay it back, they pay it back. If they can't pay it back, they don't have to pay it back because, you know, they've got some problems.

If that happens to our country, then, very simply, we call the loan and we say we want our money.


COREN: Trump is speaking out about a lot of topics on the campaign trail. He's not just attacking foreign aid, but targeting his Republican opponent, Nikki Haley, in a very personal way.

Alayna Treene has the details.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Former President Donald Trump set foot in South Carolina for the first time this year and had a clear message to deliver to his supporters, which is that this is his state to lose.

Now, Donald Trump and his campaign really do look at South Carolina as the place where they will deliver the final blow to Nikki Haley's campaign. And they tell me that's because he continues to do so well in the polls in this state. If you look at the past several months, he's consistently been leading her by an overwhelming margin, but it's also because of the intensity they've seen for him on the ground.

On Saturday, for example, many people showed up. The venue was packed and a lot of people could not get in and it hit full capacity very early on.


So, that just gives you a sense how strong the energy is for Donald Trump here in the Palmetto State.

But, look, Donald Trump spent a lot of his speech on Saturday going after Nikki Haley. Even though they are very confident in his chances here, he continued to ramp up his attacks on her. And at one point, he even questioned the absence of her husband on the trail. Take a listen.


TRUMP: Where's her husband? Oh, he's away. He's away. What happened to her husband? What happened to her husband? Where is he? He's gone.


TREENE: Now, I just want to be very clear here that Michael Haley, Nikki Haley's husband, is currently deployed in Africa and that's why he's not appeared on the trail alongside his wife. But I also think it's important to note that Melania Trump, the former first lady, has not been appearing on the campaign trail or in any court appearances with her husband, Donald Trump as well. The only time we really saw her appear with him so far in the 2024 election cycle was when he launched his bid for the White House in 2022.

But, look, Donald Trump did not just attack Nikki Haley. He also spent a lot of time testing his general election rhetoric against President Joe Biden. He attacked Biden's handling of the southern border and he also ramped up criticism of the Justice Department's decision not to charge Biden over his handling of classified documents.

He also repeatedly criticized Joe Biden's mental fitness and what Special Counsel Robert Hur described as a poor memory.

Alayna Treene, CNN, Conway, South Carolina.

COREN: Well, Nikki Haley fired back at Trump after he made those remarks about her husband saying, Michael is deployed serving our country, something you know nothing about. Someone who continually disrespects the sacrifices of military families has no business being commander-in-chief.

Michael Haley also stepped in, tweeting a meme at Donald Trump, which read, quote, the difference between humans and animals, animals would never allow the dumbest ones to lead the pack.

Meantime, the first lady is adding her voice to criticisms of the language in that special counsel report. In an email late Saturday, she argued that the president's age is an asset, saying, quote, Joe is 81. That's true, but he's 81 doing more in an hour than most people do in a day. Joe has wisdom, empathy and vision. His age with his experience and expertise is an incredible asset and he proves it every day. Well, CNN's Priscilla Alvarez reports from Washington.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The White House is going on the offensive and taking direct aim at Republicans and President Joe Biden's critics over his age, saying in a newly released memo on Saturday, quote, this undeniable record referring to the president's legislative accomplishments speaks to why it's no surprise that Republican officials continue their desperate and inadvertently self- undermining age attacks after many years of failure. They're afraid of Joe Biden.

Now, this memo also goes on to make notable mentions of people like General Mark Milley and former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy who have called the president alert and engaged. But, of course, this comes on the heels of that special counsel report that also mentioned the president's age and apparent memory lapses.

Now, this had aides to the president fuming over the course of the week who pushed back and said the president is sharp and tireless.

We also saw that anger spill into public view from the president himself who took particular issue with the special counsel, suggesting that he had forgotten the day his son died.

Now, all of this is part of what is going to be a defining theme for the presidential election year, that being the president's age and fitness for office. Senior campaign officials say that the president is best when he is out on the campaign trail engaging with voters. And we have seen an uptick in traditional retail politics stops for him to do exactly that. And that is ultimately then the voters who are going to pass judgment on whether the president is fit to serve a second term.

But, of course, polls show that there is still some concern here about how old he is. But, again, campaign officials and White House officials well aware of that see it as something that they can navigate and remind the American people who he is and what he is like when he engages on the campaign trail.

Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, Washington.

COREN: Thomas Gift joins us now from London. He's the director of the Centre on U.S. Politics at University College London. Welcome. Good to have you with us.

Let's start with Jill Biden's assessment of her husband and his age. She says, yes, he's 81, but that's an asset because of the experience that he brings to the table. Would you agree?

THOMAS GIFT, DIRECTOR, CENTRE ON U.S. POLITICS, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Well, it's good to be with you, Anna. Thanks so much for having me.

I think the problem for Biden is this. He's trying to make the case that 2024 is the most important election of our lifetime, that it's a battle between democracy and authoritarianism, and yet he's going into that fight as an 81-year-old with a sub-40 percent approval rating who just got blasted by a special prosecutor appointed by his own attorney general for lacking the mental acuity to face criminal charges.


That is a real problem politically regardless of how Jill Biden tries to spin this.

The White House knows that there are a lot of experts who keep saying that Biden's advisers need to put their foots down and force him not to run, but Biden is the only person who can make that decision. And to be fair, he is in a tough spot, especially with a very unpopular vice president. There's no obvious successor, and kicking the choice down to the Democratic National Convention could really throw the party into disarray.

But the reality is that there are legitimate questions about Biden's mental sharpness. Voters are taking that into account, and Republicans are doing a very effective job so far of exploiting it.

COREN: But why is age hurting Biden and not Trump? There's only three and a half years between them, and Donald Trump is making as many mistakes and faux pas as what Joe Biden is.

GIFT: No, I think you're absolutely right, and some of it is just how the narrative has evolved. This has been the main issue surrounding Joe Biden, despite the fact, I totally agree with you, that Donald Trump goes over and over and over out there and makes the same types of mistakes.

One of the issues with Biden, I just think, is how people see him. It's sort of more about frailty and not being as energetic, not being as dynamic. So, Trump is out there yelling and screaming. That may not be a very good assessment of his mental acuity, but that's not how people perceive it. They perceive him as sort of being sort of strong for his age and still relatively robust, whereas they see Joe Biden as the opposite.

So, whether this is fair or not, that's hard to judge but I think that this is the narrative that Biden is dealing with.

COREN: I mean, mixing up the names of leaders and countries, I mean, that's one thing, but telling Russia that it can do whatever it likes with NATO countries that don't pay its bills, I would say, is definitely another. I mean, some would say, and the White House has said that those comments from Donald Trump are unhinged, designed to throw the world order into disarray. What would you say to that?

GIFT: I would say 100 percent they are unhinged comments, and they're more of the same from what we've become so accustomed to from Donald Trump. But with Donald Trump, we just expect this. We become desensitized to it almost to the point where it barely registers in the newsfeed. He has to say something so outlandish to get attention now on CNN.

But I think a lot of people just hold Joe Biden to a higher standard, potentially for good reason. It's not fair. Everything that Donald Trump says reflects the fact that he really is in control, I think, of his mental faculties. But, again, that's not the narrative that has developed. It's more than this one around Joe Biden, and that's what he's going to have to grapple with.

COREN: So, Thomas, what does Biden's team need to do to change public perception?

GIFT: I think that's really difficult because the dilemma is that for Biden, there's really nothing he can do to change his age. He's 81. He would be 86 by the time he finished a second term. It's very difficult to P.R. yourself out of that reality.

Maybe Biden is capable of running the White House for another four years but the question is whether he's up to the rigors of a campaign. He's going to need to be in the spotlight. He's going to need to take questions. He's probably going to need to debate. You can't go into a presidential contest just hoping for the best.

In the impromptu press conference that he held, Joe Biden said, I know what the heck I'm doing. It's not a hard and fast rule, Anna. But usually when you're in the position of having to tell people, I know what the heck I'm doing, it's a good indication that you don't. So, to my mind, you should probably stop that kind of rhetoric and show people and not tell.

But it's really difficult right now. And I think this is just going to be the Achilles' heel that Joe Biden is going to have to deal with, just like the criminal indictments are the Achilles' heel that Trump is going to have to deal with.

COREN: Thomas Gift with University College London, great to get your insights. Thanks so much.

GIFT: Thanks.

COREN: Israel says it found a Hamas tunnel under the headquarters of the U.N. Relief Agency in Gaza. The Israeli military released this video claiming to show the tunnel, including what Israel says was an electrical connection to UNRWA headquarters.

The head of the U.N. agency says it left the building on October 12th after Israel ordered evacuations and had no knowledge of what might have happened there since, nor of the tunnel's existence. Israel's foreign minister is calling on him to resign.

Well, Israel is said to be preparing for an offensive in the southern Gaza City of Rafah. Well, that's where the IDF told Palestinians to flee for safety, although 1 million people are now sheltering there.


Hamas is warning against attacks in Rafah, which it says are aimed at displacing the Palestinian people. But already in Rafah, Israel says an airstrike killed two senior Hamas military leaders on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Palestinian police say Israeli airstrikes killed at least five police officers. It's not clear if the incidents are related.

And medical officials in the Hamas-run enclave tell Palestinian news agency, Wafa, that airstrikes and shelling killed 25 people on Saturday, many of them women and children. The IDF says it takes what it says feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm.

Well, Journalist Elliott Gotkine is live in London with more on this. Elliott, let's start with those Hamas tunnels that the IDF says that it's discovered. What more can you reveal about this video footage and the details?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Anna, for the Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, this is the latest and perhaps most damning tunnel that the IDF says it has discovered as part of Hamas's sprawling network of tunnels under the ground in the Gaza Strip that would have taken years and vast sums of money to build.

On this particular tunnel, it entered a tunnel shaft near an UNRWA school and then found, it says, that it went directly underneath UNRWA headquarters in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Not only that, and this tunnel is about 18 meters below ground. Not only did it go underneath the UNRWA headquarters, the IDF says, but that there were cables running from UNRWA down into this, what it describes as a Hamas military intelligence center, and actually this data centre that it said Hamas was running directly underneath the UNRWA headquarters drew its electricity from the headquarters above.

Now, it also discovered vast quantities of weapons. It says as well, UNRWA, as you say, has denied all knowledge of this tunnel existing or of this data center existing underneath. It says it doesn't have the capacity to investigate, to understand exactly what's going on underneath either.

And, of course, this comes at a very delicate time for UNRWA, given the allegations by Israel that a dozen of its employees were actively involved in the Hamas-led terrorist attacks of October the 7th, prompting many countries around the world to suspend funding to this organization that, of course, is stretched to the limits, trying to provide humanitarian aid to all of those Palestinians in desperate need of it in the Gaza Strip. Anna?

COREN: Elliott, the Rafah ground offensive, we know it's imminent, the Israeli prime minister has said as much. When will this happen and where are the 1.3 million Gazans in Rafah expected to go?

GOTKINE: We don't know the answer to all of those questions, Anna. We understand from an Israeli official that Israel's plan is to finish this operation, this ground operation in Rafah in time for Ramadan on March the 10th, so in about a month's time.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, in excerpts of an interview that he's given to ABC, says that Israel will provide safe passage to the more than a million Palestinians there in Rafah. But it's unclear exactly where they will go.

And we have heard concerns expressed from regional players, such as the United Arab Emirates, with whom Israel has diplomatic relations, expressing concern from the Saudis, with whom Israel hopes to form diplomatic relations, expressing its concerns, concerns from the European Union's foreign policy chief, saying that there could be an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe from the U.K.'s foreign minister as well.

So, a lot of concern about this ground invasion. But the war itself has already come to Rafah, of course, Anna, in the form of those airstrikes.

COREN: Elliott Gotkine in London, we appreciate the update. Thank you.

U.S. military officials say they conducted what they called self- defense strikes in Yemen on Friday against Houthi weapons targeting ships in the Red Sea.

U.S. Central Command forces struck five missiles and two unmanned surface vessels, saying they posed an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and commercial vessels in the region. The U.S. targeted several other drones and missiles in Houthi-controlled territory over the past few days.

Up next, six people are killed in a helicopter crash in California, including two leading figures in Nigeria's finance and public health sectors. We'll get a live report from Lagos.

Plus, Pakistan has finally released the official results from Thursday's election. We'll break it all down in a live report, next.



COREN: Six people are dead after a helicopter crashed in San Bernardino County, California, on Saturday night. They include Nigerian banking CEO Herbert Wigwe and his wife and son. He served as the chief executive officer of Access Bank Holdings and was described as a colossus in Nigeria's financial sector. Abimbola Ogunbanjo, who was the former group chairman of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, was also killed.

The director general of the World Trade Organization confirmed the deaths and released a statement expressing her deepest sympathies and condolences to the victims' families.

Joining us now is CNN's Stephanie Busari in Lagos, Nigeria. Stephanie, what more can you tell us about the victims of this crash?

STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN SENIOR EDITOR, AFRICA: Yes. So, a nation is plunged into mourning, Anna, and details are still emerging, but Herbert Wigwe, as you mentioned, is believed to be involved in this crash, along with his wife and his eldest son, who were on their way, we understand, to watch the Super Bowl game.

And it's really been seen as a national tragedy here in Nigeria. Herbert Wigwe touched many lives. As well as being a colossus in banking, he was a philanthropist who gave scholarships to many students, home and abroad.

And Herbert was very ambitious about his plans for building Africa. He was involved in many transformative projects, including a world-class institution, a university in his own name that he was building at the time of his death.


And he vowed at the time that this university would provide world- class education for Africans to give them a level to compete globally, and sources close to him telling me that he had also earmarked thousands of scholarships for students to attend this university.

Herbert was also a patron of the arts. He sponsored leading contemporary art festivals here in West Africa and also was -- in the interest of transparency, was a sponsor of a CNN series known as African Avant-Garde.

But, really, reactions are pouring in, people feel this loss keenly as someone that they know because he just touched so many lives. And his wife and his eldest son on that flights with him, Anna, he actually has five children, so other children here in Nigeria being comforted by relatives, I understand.

But, really, this is a big loss for the Nigerian financial institution and also for many Nigerians who will feel his loss keenly. Anna?

COREN: As you say, a huge loss to his family, but also to the country.

Stephanie Busari joining us from Lagos, thank you so much.

Authorities in Florida have tentatively identified the two victims of a small plane crash that happened on an interstate near Naples on Friday, the pilot and the second in command.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there anybody else in there?


COREN: The Collier County Sheriff's Office announced the pilot was 50-year-old Edward Daniel Murphy and the second in command was 65- year-old Ian Frederick Hoffman, both from Florida. Three other people on board survived and an investigation is underway. But shortly before the crash, the pilot told air traffic controllers the plane had lost both engines.

Children still head to school despite near-daily strikes on Ukraine's second-largest city. But in some classrooms, students can completely block out the explosions happening outside. We'll explain how.


COREN: Welcome back. Ukraine is forging ahead with a reboot of its top military command as it seeks to change its battlefield strategy. On Saturday, President Zelenskyy appointed five more senior commanders. They'll take charge of Ukraine's drone programs and military innovation, as well as logistics and training.

The announcement came just days after Mr. Zelenskyy replaced his top military chief. His replacement, General Oleksandr Syrskyi, is under pressure to come up with a new battle plan without calling up too many conscripts.

A family of five was killed after being trapped in a fire caused by a Russian drone strike on Ukraine's second-largest city. They're among seven people who died in Kharkiv on Friday, when drones hit a fuel depot and set part of the neighborhood on fire. A couple was trapped in their burning home and died, along with their three children, including a ten-month-old.

Meanwhile, Russia is making new advances near Avdiivka, according to a Ukrainian open-source mapping site. It shows Moscow in control of a railway line north of the town, and possibly just a few hundred meters from its main supply route. Ukraine says it's still able to bring supplies into the town.

Russian strikes are a regular occurrence in the city of Kharkiv, but officials have come up with an idea how to protect children in school by moving their classes underground.

Fred Pleitgen has the story.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Extra special braids is what six-year-old Elmira (ph) wants for school because simply going to school is special here in Kharkiv. And it's dangerous, so dangerous they had to move classes underground.

For many children here in Kharkiv, this is the reality of their school day. They go down into the subway because everywhere else in the city is simply unsafe.

The city built classrooms here. They call it the Metro School.

How are you this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm fine, sir. How are you?

PLEITGEN: Here, we won't hear anything she says. Hear what, I asked. The bangs, she says.

Bangs happen nearly every day here in Kharkiv, Russia's army shelling the city, killing and wounding hundreds since the beginning of the invasion. But down here, kids can be kids. The classrooms are sound proof, locking out not just the noise of the subway that's still running, but also the thunder of the war that has already affected these youngsters so much.

On my birthday, for some reason, a war broke out, Elmira tells me.

On February 24th, 2022, all Elmira wanted was to celebrate her fifth birthday. But Vladimir Putin's troops were already storming Kharkiv.

Firing from Russian territory towards the territory, I would say around Kharkiv.

Reporting from the Russian side of the border, I saw the invasion firsthand. On the receiving end, instead of the birthday party, Elmira and her friends had to go to the bomb shelter.

I even started crying, she tells me. I thought it would be the end. They try not to talk too much about the war in the subway school, but the children coming back here now have been scarred for life, the teacher says.

They had the look of adults who had already experienced hardships, she says, experienced the hard days and months of this war.

There are no regular functioning schools in Kharkiv. It's either the subway or online classes. And the city doesn't believe that will change soon. They're building bunker schools because children here wouldn't even have enough time to get to an air raid shelter, the mayor tells me.

The S-300 missiles reach Kharkiv in about 35 to 40 seconds, he says, therefore no air alarm can work. And the only way out is to build such underground facilities, real underground schools.

Back at the subway school, every day, a minute of silence for those killed by Vladimir Putin's war against Ukraine.


But then the kids sing their national anthem, showing the Russians and their leader that no matter how many missiles they fire, Ukraine is growing stronger, its future brighter every day.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kharkiv, Ukraine.


COREN: Official election results in Pakistan are now in. Now, today is a protest in vote-rigging allegations. Independent candidates backed by the country's jailed ex-leader, Imran Khan, won a plurality of seats, but no majority in the assembly after Thursday's vote.

Before the results came out, Khan had apparently sent word that protests should be held today outside polling offices, where his party says election results had been withheld and delayed. Well, joining us now with more is CNN's Sophia Saifi in Islamabad.

Sophia, let's start with whether people are not heeding Khan's call to take to the streets in protest.

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Anna, the protests are due to take place in about half-an-hour from now. The announcement this morning by Khan's party members was for a larger scale protest across the country. They've actually been sharing timings and locations for these protests, but they've scaled those back in the past couple of minutes.

They've said that they're going to be having them very specifically outside, like you said, those polling stations, because initially this morning there had been a decision shared by them for wider protests because of the anger that's there according to them because of their seats being stolen from them and because of the rigging that they say has taken place.

So, again, a lot of anger amongst these young supporters of Imran Khan, but, again, compared to what happened on May 9th when there were most recent large scale protests in this country and what followed was an immense crackdown, multiple party members are still under arrest.

So, there's a scaled down protest. We'll have to see if that too becomes violent with potential clashes or not. Anna?

COREN: Sophia, tell us about these latest results. What does this mean for who will become Pakistan's next prime minister and will the people accept the outcome?

SAIFI: Well, none of the parties have received a majority. They need 169 seats. Khan's candidates affiliated with this party, the independents, have won the most seats, but what we're going to see is a coalition, potentially of the PMLN, which is the Sharif's party, and the PPP, which is Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's party, along with minor parties as well.

The PTI has not indicated that they're willing to be in talks with anybody to form this kind of coalition. So, still a few days before we have the announcement of who's going to be the next prime minister of the country, but it's not as blatantly outright as had been predicted by many analysts that Nawaz Sharif would be winning a historic fourth term. That plan was leveled by the lead that the independents affiliated with Imran Khan have received. Anna?

COREN: It truly is extraordinary. Let's see how things play out today. Sophia Saifi, joining us from Islamabad, good to see you. Thank you.

Well, Hungary's president has resigned over the pardon of a man implicated in a child sex abuse case. Katalin Novak made the announcement during a televised address on Saturday. Protesters had called for her to step down after she pardoned a man accused of covering up a sex abuse scandal in a children's home. Novak said the pardon was a mistake. She apologized to child abuse victims and their families. Novak has been a close ally of conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

King Charles is making his first public statement since Buckingham Palace announced this week the 75-year-old has an undisclosed form of cancer. He thanked the public for their support, saying it brought him, quote, the greatest comfort and encouragement.

The British monarch added his diagnosis has strengthened his admiration for organizations that help cancer patients.

The palace says he's been stepping back from public duties while he undergoes treatment.

Well, people gathered in Atlanta Saturday to remember the youngest son of slain civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King. A memorial service was held in honor of the chairman of the King Center, Dexter King.

CNN's Rafael Romo reports from Atlanta.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The King family has called them an Easter Baptist Church, their spiritual home for more than a century. So, it's no surprise that they chose this church to say goodbye to Dexter. And when the King family was making plans to hold a memorial service for Dexter King.


They said that the event would be what they called a candlelight musical experience.

The memorial was open to the public and it was also streamed live on the King Center's website. As we have previously reported, Dexter King died after a battle with prostate cancer on January 22nd, only days before he was going to turn 63 years old.

The day after he died, his sister, Bernice King, the CEO of the King Center, wanted to honor the memory of her brother, and this is what she had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I always admired his brilliant mind, his ability to innovate. But I told him this year, I said, Dexter, you, to me, you have the most strategic mind that I know. Dexter was a strategist, and most people didn't understand and know that.


ROMO: Dexter King was the youngest son and third child of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King. He was only seven years old when his father was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968.

According to the King Center, he was named after Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, the church where his father first served as pastor before coming back to Atlanta. At the time of his death, he was not only the chairman of the King Center but also the president of the King estate.

Raphael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.

COREN: Coming up, the stage is set for Super Bowl LXVIII in Las Vegas. We're tackling the matchup, security preparations and the latest on Taylor Swift's efforts to make the game from her Tokyo concert tour. That's next.


COREN: Super Bowl LXVIII is just hours away.


The reigning champs, the Kansas City Chiefs, are hoping to score back- to-back titles as they take on the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium. And Taylor Swift seems to have arrived back in the United States from Japan in time to attend the big game.

By the way, her boyfriend is playing. That's in case she didn't know. You would have had to be living under a rock, I would say.

Well, meantime, security preparations are underway to keep the Super Bowl and travelers flying to the game safe.

CNN's Josh Campbell explains.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: As fans await Super Bowl kickoff, law enforcement in the United States has been planning for months for this big event. The hundreds of thousands of fans who will be in and outside Allegiant Stadium will be protected by this massive deployment of law enforcement officers.

Some of the resources they're bringing include physical scanners for everyone going into the stadium. There are explosive detection canines. There are also sensors that are being deployed that essentially sniff the air for any type of chemical, biological or nuclear-type threat. That's what's happening on the ground.

In the air, a national security temporary flight restriction will be instituted just about an hour before kickoff. That will be enforced by military fighter jets.

Now, one area of focus for law enforcement pertains to drones. Drone technology is obviously very cheap to obtain. There are a number of ways that bad actors could cause harm using a drone. And so the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have brought in counterdrone technology. The capabilities include being able to technically take over a drone, either drop it out of the sky, or perhaps take control, move it to another area if there's concern that it might contain a dangerous payload.

Now, at this point, all of this is precautionary. Law enforcement tells us that they haven't identified anything specifically gives them concern, but they're ready.


CATHY LANIER, CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER, NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE: There is no known specific or credible threats to the game or any of the events surrounding Super Bowl. As always, you'll see an increased security presence not only around the stadium on game day but also around all of our other events.

SPENCER EVANS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: We have FBI personnel stationed in our own Emergency Operations Center and at every joint command post and intelligence center operating throughout the Las Vegas Valley.

We are monitoring and sharing every scrap of information that indicates a potential threat with all of our interagency, law enforcement and appropriate private sector partners.


CAMPBELL: Now, the work of law enforcement doesn't end with the final score of the game. They still have to get all of these people safely home. We're told by TSA that they will have increased personnel at Harry Reid International Airport. All security checkpoint lanes will be open for a period of about 48 hours.

Of course, we know that not everyone leaves Las Vegas a winner, particularly for crestfallen fans from the losing side. TSA will be making their exit just a little bit smoother.

Josh Campbell, CNN, Los Angeles.

COREN: Some special students from Hawaii will take part in the big game. Members of this high school football team will serve as honorary coin toss captains six months after catastrophic wildfires leveled their community on Maui.

The NFL says it's honored to showcase the players and recognize their resilience and success after everything they went through in the deadly fires back in August.

Well, plenty of happy faces in Qatar right now as their team wins back-to-back titles in the Asian Cup. They're the first team to do that since Japan two decades ago.

World Sport Patrick Snell has the details.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Well, Qatar's football is celebrating back-to-back titles at the Asian Cup. The tournament hosts beating Jordan 3-1 on Saturday in front of over 86,000 fans in the final, with one penalty taking magician grabbing all the headlines.

Jordan 87th in the world rankings, remember, and playing in their first ever final, these are the scenes ahead of kickoff as both teams line up ahead of one huge final. The home fans' expectations at absolute fever pitch, and on the 20-minute mark, it's Qatar who take the lead, Akram Afif, brought down, and it is he who picks himself up to convert from 12 yards out for the opening goal of the final, and he celebrates, look at this, pulling out a card from his socks, a magician's trick, if ever there was one.

Afif would then be stretched off though with an apparent knee injury, but he wouldn't stay off the field of play for too long as he would then come on to play again, and what a part he would play. Jordan leveling though with a great piece of skill from Yazan Al-Naimat in the 67th minute, great turn, control and finish for one apiece, but the drama was only getting going.

And just minutes later, Qatar with another penalty, Akram Afif again stepping up to convert another party trick and smashes it home for 2- 1, and would you believe this, a historic hat-trick of penalties from the very same player, sealing a 3-1 victory for Qatar over Jordan, absolutely wonderful scenes there for Qatar and their fans.

Qatar are defending Asian Cup champions.


They are now back to back champions and they did it in front of their home fans at Lucille World Cup Stadium as well, three goals to one over Jordan. What an incredible weekend for them, and our congratulations to them as well.

For now, it's right back to you.

COREN: Patrick Snell. Thank you.

Partygoers in Rio may have a rude awakening after celebrating at Carnival. The reason, revelers could end up sick and find themselves in the middle of a health emergency. That's ahead.


COREN: While some call it the greatest show on Earth, but there's a potential spoiler hanging over the famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, which got underway on Friday. The city is grappling with an outbreak of dengue fever, a potentially deadly disease. And as Michael Holmes reports, officials are concerned the mass celebrations could make the bad situation even worse.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Let the party begin, with drums thumping, dancers parade through the Sambadrome in Rio dressed in bright colors and dazzling costumes to celebrate Carnival.


It's a kaleidoscope of fun with lines of revelers shaking and shimmying in the southern summer heat.

Brazil's Ministry of Tourism says 49 million people are expected to take part in the festivities this year across the country, before Lent, a Christian period of prayer and penitence beginning on Wednesday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Parading is about celebrating life. It's very important to celebrate life, and that's why we're here.

HOLMES: But even one of the biggest parties on the planet isn't immune from a buzz kill. Last week the mayor of Rio de Janeiro declared a public health emergency. Officials say the number of dengue infections is surging across the country four times higher than the same period last year.

DANIEL SORANZ, RIO DE JANEIRO MUNICIPAL HEALTH SECRETARY: With this increase in cases, Rio de Janeiro has a classic dengue epidemic. We've experienced a few dengue epidemics in our history, and now, in the year 2024, we unfortunately have a new epidemic.

HOLMES: With millions of people parting outdoors for carnival, authorities say there could be an uptick in infections, which is spread by mosquitoes. A mass vaccination drive is underway in Brazil, with children 10 to 14 getting the first doses, and several treatment centers set up to treat the sick.

Health officials are advising people to cover up and use repellent to avoid getting bitten by the insects, but some people say all the precautions aren't dampening their spirits.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am protected. I'm covered with repellent. It's alright. I'm blessed.

HOLMES: The good times still rolling in Brazil, but what comes next once the party is over could be a sobering experience.

Michael Holmes, CNN.


COREN: Well, thanks so much for your company. I'm Anna Coren. And I will be back with another hour of Newsroom after this short break.