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White House Dismisses Concerns About Biden's Neurological Health; RNC Panel Approves New Trump-Backed Platform; Researchers in China Test Robot Guide Dogs for Visually Impaired; Indian Prime Minister Modi Visiting Moscow for Talks with Putin. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 09, 2024 - 04:30   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Max Foster, here are today's top stories.

The NATO summit begins later today in Washington. The leaders of NATO's 32 member countries will be marking the 75th anniversary of the world's largest security alliance.

The war in Ukraine will be high on the agenda and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will be in Washington during the summit.

A wildfire near Santa Barbara, California is spreading. It's burned more than 21,000 acres so far and is only 8 percent contained. The so- called Lake Fire is threatening homes as well as Michael Jackson's former Neverland Ranch.

A jury selection begins today in Alec Baldwin's involuntary manslaughter trial. The actor is accused of killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when a prop gun fired a live round on the Rust movie set in 2021. Baldwin has pleaded not guilty, saying he didn't pull the trigger and didn't know the gun contained live ammo.

The White House is dismissing concerns about President Biden's mental acuity as more Democrats are urging him to step aside. Visitor logs showed a Parkinson's disease specialist visited the White House eight times in the past year.

Mr. Biden's physician says many military personnel who serve at the White House experience neurological issues and the neurologist visits regularly. Here's Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Has the president been treated for Parkinson's? No.

Is he being treated for Parkinson's? No, he's not. Is he taking medication for Parkinson's? No.

So those are the things that I can give you full blown answers on. But I'm not going to -- I'm not going to confirm a specialist, any specialist that comes to come to come to the White House out of privacy.


FOSTER: Well, CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, says he thinks President Biden would benefit from a neurological assessment. He says potential problems could be corrected with treatment.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Detailed neurocognitive testing usually performed by a neuropsychologist. That can be quite involved. It's a detailed history and physical examination of the patient talking to family members, but also doing real cognitive sort of challenges.

How many words can you recite starting with the letter T in the next 60 seconds? Go. How many animals can you name in the next 60 seconds?

All sorts of different tests, matching patterns, things like that. Recall, trying to figure out your ability to remember your judgment, your processing speed.

What you're looking at on the screen is what's called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. And people may know this because President Trump said he took this twice.

This is sort of a blunt screening tool. Think of this as maybe the first step in doing a more detailed neuropsychological neurocognitive exam. This can give people maybe there's an indication of a problem and where to probe further.


In addition to cognitive testing, another thing that is often recommended would be movement disorder testing. You know, if you if you watch President Biden, you know, people talk about his stiffness of gait, which has been attributed to neuropathy, doesn't move his arms as well. They say he doesn't have Parkinson's disease, but there may be other movement disorders which can also be evaluated in some of the ways that I'm talking about.


FOSTER: A medical analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, says President Biden isn't the only one who should be more forthcoming about his health.


DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: What we really need to see with both candidates is just an effort to have some transparency about the health of the people who are running for the highest office, perhaps the most important office on the planet.

We know nothing about Trump. Absolutely nothing. We don't know what medications he's taking. We certainly don't know how much he weighs. The -- his note from his physician in November was basically three paragraphs, completely devoid of any data.


FOSTER: Meanwhile, Republicans are getting ready to head to Milwaukee, Wisconsin next week. Where they'll be formally nominating Donald Trump as their presidential candidate. The party on Monday approved a new platform with more language. It's more Donald Trump and less far right conservative.

CNN's Kristen Holmes has the details.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Former President Donald Trump cementing his grip over the Republican Party on Monday after his platform was approved. And this is not just the platform of Donald Trump. He actually wrote parts of it. He also edited other parts, spent a lot of time, and it really mimics who the former president is. It looks almost nothing like the past platforms we've seen in 2020, 2016, when he was still the candidate. But instead, it looks like the candidate himself.

That means they've softened language on abortion. That is something that Donald Trump does not believe is a political winner. There is no mention in this new platform of a national abortion ban, something Donald Trump has said he would not put into effect if he were to be reelected to a second term.

The other part of this is this idea of, quote, unquote, traditional marriage, something that Donald Trump has not campaigned on at all. And this platform reflects that. No longer is there any words about a traditional marriage being between a man and a woman.

And perhaps the most surprising of all of this is this idea around the national debt. One of the long-term policies and things that the Republican Party has been focused on is this idea of reducing the national debt. There is no emphasis on that in this new platform.

Instead, it is all about getting rid of inflation. The rest of the platform obviously still focuses on things Donald Trump cares about, particularly immigration, talking about mass deportations, ending the weaponization of the government, something we hear from Donald Trump often in these rallies. But what this really does is it shows you the power that Donald Trump has over the Republican Party as we head into next week's convention.

Kristen Holmes, CNN, Miami, Florida.


FOSTER: A new study finds that the diabetes and weight loss drug Mounjaro leads to significantly more weight loss than Ozempic. Researchers analyzed the health records of more than 18,000 adults on one of these medications for more than a year. They found both medications were effective. But after one year of use, the average weight loss for Mounjaro users was more than 15 percent of their starting body weight, compared to about eight percent for those taking Ozempic.

Now, it's less furry than a traditional companion, but it can navigate via cameras and has an A.I.-enabled voice recognition capability. And researchers in China hope robot guide dogs can one day help the visually impaired live more independently.

CNN's Marc Stewart reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good boy, forward.

MARC STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Guide dogs are known for their alert eyes and life-saving potential. But now they may be getting a new image. A Chinese research team is testing a six-legged robot dog on the streets in Shanghai to help visually impaired people.

Li Fei and her husband are visually impaired and working with the Jiao Tong University research team to test these robots.

LI FEI, TESTING ROBOT GUIDE DOG (through translator): For now, I can tell it where I'm going via voice conversation. I can control the speed with this blind cane I have.

STEWART (voice-over): The robot dog navigates by using cameras and sensors and recognizes traffic signals, which guide dogs can't do. It can communicate with visually impaired people through A.I. technology, in voice recognition and route planning, using listening and speaking capabilities.

China has around 17 million visually impaired people, according to the China Association of the Blind. Eight million are completely blind, says the World Health Organization. But there are only 400 or so guide dogs in the country, says the head of the research team.


GAO FENG, PROFESSOR, JIAO TONG UNIVERSITY, SHANGHAI (through translator): It is impossible to solve this problem with guide dogs. Robots are a lot like cars, and I can mass produce them in the same way as cars. It will become more affordable.

STEWART (voice-over): Affordability is a major issue for both dogs and robots. The vast majority of visually impaired people navigate the world without access to highly trained guide dogs, according to Guiding Eyes, a non-profit providing dogs to people with vision loss. Researchers say if these robots are successful and affordable, they could bring a new level of accessibility to visually impaired people.

Critics say robots can't adjust to terrain and dangerous situations as easily as dogs can. But despite the pros and cons, researchers believe there is a future for both to exist in harmony.

Marc Stewart, CNN, Beijing.


FOSTER: India's Prime Minister visiting Moscow for the first time since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. What this means for New Delhi's ties with Moscow.

The effects of a devastating day in Ukraine carry over onto the courts at Wimbledon as a Ukrainian athlete honors her home country and those who lost their lives to Russian airstrikes. That's still ahead.


FOSTER: As the 75th NATO Summit is about to begin, China and Belarus are staging a joint military exercise just miles from Belarus' border with Poland and Ukraine. The 11-day exercise started on Monday. China says the event will include hostage rescue operations and counter- terrorism missions.

Belarus has been one of Russia's key allies in the Kremlin's war on Ukraine. Russia used Belarus as a launching pad for some of its troops when it launched the invasion in 2022.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on the final day of a two-day visit to Russia. It's the first time he's been in the country since Russian President Vladimir Putin's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.


Modi is set to attend official talks at the Kremlin today. Discussions, his office says, will further cement the two nations' strategic partnership.

Ivan Watson joins me from Hong Kong. It's quite profound what we're seeing here, Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a partnership between India and Russia that really goes back to the days of the Cold War and the Soviet Union. And what Narendra Modi is doing now is reaffirming that and talking about deepening that friendship. So these are very important symbols, the scenes of these two leaders embracing themselves on the steps of Vladimir Putin's residence outside of Moscow.

Modi making this pilgrimage to Moscow and in comments that he made just an hour or so ago, saying, quote, this is a relationship built on a foundation of mutual trust and mutual respect.

Now, the Indian side says that the two leaders, in talks later today, they will be discussing defense ties that, again, go back to the Cold War. India buys a lot of Russian-made weapons. Trade ties today, India buys a lot of cheap, discounted Russian fuel that used to go to European countries that have now put sanctions on the Kremlin for its full-fledged invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Modi has demonstrated that that is not a problem for him, that he is willing to deepen his relationship with Russia despite the ongoing war. To date, the Indian government has not condemned that invasion. In fact, in comments today, Narendra Modi thanked Putin for helping secure the safe exit of Indian university students who were trapped by Russia's invasion of Ukraine back in 2022, despite the fact that it was the invasion that put those students in harm's way in the first place.

So we're expecting to hear a little bit more. Modi has said that the Indian government will be opening consulates, for example, in the Russian cities of Yekaterinburg and Kazan moving forward.

Meanwhile, he's come under some pretty harsh criticism from no one less than the president of Ukraine himself, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who pointed out that the same day that Modi was embracing Putin, the Ukrainians are accusing Russia of firing a cruise missile at a children's hospital in Kyiv, where Zelenskyy tweeted, 37 people were killed, 170 injured, including 13 children.

He went on to write, quote: It is a huge disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world's largest democracy hug the world's most bloody criminal in Moscow on such a day.

No official response from the Indian government yet to that criticism.

The U.S. government has said it is watching this closely. And here's what a State Department spokesman had to say about Modi's trip to Moscow.


MATTHEW MILLER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: India is a strategic partner with whom we engage in a full and frank dialogue, and that includes on our concerns about the relationship with Russia.


WATSON: So the symbolism here, of course, is important. The West has been trying to isolate Vladimir Putin. And with this visit, he's able to show that those efforts are failing to some degree, and he's also offering some counter-programming to the upcoming scenes we're expecting as the NATO summit, his arch-rivals, will be convening in Washington this week -- Max.

FOSTER: How do you think this speaks to the two axes we've got here, very much embodied by the NATO meeting and various meetings between leaders outside NATO?

WATSON: Well, here's where it gets complicated, Max, because, yes, Narendra Modi has travelled to Moscow. He's made it clear that he has his own independent foreign policy that is not completely subject to U.S. whims, for example. But that does not mean that he is cozying up to the growing partnership between Russia, China, Iran, Belarus, and North Korea.

In fact, relations between New Delhi and Beijing are not in a good place. They haven't been for years. The Indian and Chinese armies have fought deadly skirmishes along their disputed border in the Himalayan mountains, and just last week, Modi skipped a gathering of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It was meeting in Kazakhstan. That is this regional security grouping that is largely led by China, and I think it was a snub to the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping.


In fact, some Indian experts I talked to, they suggest that by going to Moscow, Modi is actually trying to pull Putin to his side to some degree, as he watches Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, their alliance blossom. So that may be at the heart of some of what Modi is doing here -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, thank you so much, Ivan.

Now, Kylian Mbappe and France take on Spain in today's Euro 2024 semifinal. More on this clash of the titans just ahead.


FOSTER: A Ukrainian tennis star wore a black ribbon on the courts of Wimbledon on Monday. CNN's Don Riddell explains.


DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: You know, it's hard enough being a top athlete, trying to focus on being your very best in competition, but it's much, much harder when you also have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

At Wimbledon on Monday, the Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina was in fourth-round action, playing just hours after the Russian army had targeted numerous cities across her home country, including a devastating missile strike on a children's hospital, killing more than 30 people. Svitolina played with a black ribbon, and she was just ruthless throughout the match, dispatching her opponent Wang Xinyu in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1.


Svitolina has previously used her platform to raise awareness of the plight of her compatriots at war, but in the interview on the court afterwards, it became clear just how much this particular attack had impacted her.

ELINA SVITOLINA, UKRAINIAN TENNIS PLAYER: You know, it's a very difficult day today for Ukrainian people. So, yes, it was not easy to focus today on the match, and, you know, since the morning, it's very difficult to read the news and just to go on the court, it's extremely tough. So I'm happy that I could play today and get a win.

RIDDELL: Well said, and well played, Elina Svitolina. She added that the victory was, quote, a small light that brought a happy moment for Ukrainian people. She'll play the 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina next on Wednesday for a place in the semifinals. Back to you.


FOSTER: In less than 24 hours, we'll know one of the teams that will be in the Euro 2024 final. Spain meets France in the semifinal later today in Munich. Spain is the only team to win all five of their games. The winner of this match will face either England or the Netherlands in the final.

Thanks for joining me here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster in London. CNN "THIS MORNING" up next after a break.