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CentCom: Strike Killed Leader Of Attacks On U.S. Forces; Report: Global Warming Breached Critical Limit; Soon: Pharma CEOs Testify On Prescription Drug Prices; Palestinian-American Stabbing Victim Speaks To CNN. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 08, 2024 - 07:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. Central Command says a drone strike in Iraq killed the militant leader behind attacks on American forces in the region that killed three service members. Wisam Mohammed Saber al- Saedi, he was the commander of a militant group called Kataib Hezbollah.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Now, that's one of the Iran-backed groups the U.S. accused of launching the drone attack that killed three American soldiers in Jordan last month.

Joining us now, the president and founder of the Eurasia Group, Ian Bremmer.

Ian, I think the big question we have been asking throughout this accelerated response but also over the course of the last month or so of U.S. action or reciprocal responses is how does this end? Do you see any kind of through line between what's happening right now and some kind of ending to these sporadic conflicts all over the map?

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER, EURASIA GROUP: No, not through the U.S. strikes. And I think the reason for that is because the United States is deeply concerned about this escalation potentially leading to direct confrontation between the U.S. and Iran. The economic implications, the security implications, not to mention the political implications back home.

That's why the strikes waited a week after the initial attacks on American servicemen and women. That's why the Americans telegraphed all of that to the Iranians. But that doesn't mean that we can't end the war.

The point is if you want to focus on ending the war, that focus is on the negotiations that are still underway with Hamas leaders heading back to Cairo to see if we can get hostages released, to see if he can with-- we can get a ceasefire going and then create political and security negotiations for the future governance of Gaza. That's a much more difficult challenge, but it's also the only way you end up getting some kind of stability in this region. HARLOW: Ian, let me ask you specifically about this strike in Iraq

that took out that Kataib Hezbollah leader. Iraq not happy with it. They say it's a clear aggression and, quote, a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

The U.S. government did not notify Iraq before this, which is a little bit confounding to me. And I wonder what you think of that?

BREMMER: Well, you notify the Iraqis, the likelihood you're going to undermine your own strike is pretty significant.

Look, the United States isn't taking this lightly. It is a challenge. The U.S. has troops on the ground in Iraq. They are increasingly unwelcome on the street in Iraq, and that puts pressure on the Iraqi government to force them out. I think there are big questions about what's the long-term disposition of U.S. forces on the ground in this part of the world. And, of course, the U.S. elections are going to have a lot to say about that. But I'm not surprised.

Look, I mean, Israel is America's best friend in the region, top ally in the region. That's still true despite what's happened over the last few months, and yet when the Israelis are engaging in strikes, for example, in Beirut against Hamas leaders, they're not telling the United States in advance. They're informing the Americans afterwards.

And again, I mean, ultimately those are Israeli decisions. The U.S. would love to have a heads up, doesn't have a heads up, and especially when we're talking about a war that could drag the Americans further in. We need to recognize that you've got a whole bunch of players here that ultimately are focusing on their own national interests first and foremost.

MATTINGLY: Ian, the thing, and we've talked about this before, that continues to completely confound me is how do you bridge the gap between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's, A, stated war goals, the elimination of Hamas in its entirety, B, his rejection of President Biden's kind of baseline perspective on this, the two-state solution, and, C, his political vulnerability, with the only way this could end as you already laid out.

How does that come together? Because it seems like a huge gap right now.

BREMMER: Well, I mean, you've already heard from other members of the war cabinet that they feel that Netanyahu is not being realistic in terms of the way he's talking about this war and the way he's engaging or not engaging in diplomacy.

So, I mean, a lot of people, including the Biden administration believe that Netanyahu's days are numbered and some of the decisions he's making are not aligned just with national security of Israel, they are about his own political survival.

Having said that, getting rid of Netanyahu doesn't suddenly end the overwhelming desire of the Israeli government and the Israeli people to ensure that Hamas no longer has a future in Gaza. [07:35:14]

Now, there's a difference between can you get the leadership, can you take them out and who's responsible for security, what's the nature of governance in Gaza? Those are all judgment calls. I mean, what we're going to see for something that feels more sustainable than endless war and violence on the ground in Gaza.

But right now, the political difference between where the Biden administration is and where Netanyahu is very, very stark. And of course, that's part of the reason it's challenging even to get a relatively short-term agreement between the Israelis and Hamas right now, despite all of the pressure on Netanyahu's government to get those hostages freed.

I'm still quite optimistic that there will be at least a short-term agreement with an additional cease fire to get large numbers of hostages freed. But I want to be very clear, that is absolutely not a necessary, you know, sort of signal that suddenly the war is about to be over.

We're not close to that right now. The Israelis aren't close to that. Hamas is not close to that.

HARLOW: Ian Bremmer, thank you very much for your expertise. We'll see you soon.

There's alarming new data coming in highlighting the dire conditions of rising global temperatures.

MATTINGLY: And we're going to show you live pictures right there, out of Iceland, another volcano is erupting, the third time since December. The radiating lava can be seen for more than 30 miles. No injuries have been reported.

Stay with us.



MATTINGLY: Overnight, we have a very important update to a very important story we brought you two days ago, and it's actually good news, who would have thought it.

The pod of ten orcas trapped by sea ice near Japan's northern island, it appears they're free. This is drone video from earlier this week when the whales were struggling to get air in a small gap between the ice.

Officials at the time said it appeared that orcas wouldn't be able to get out until the ice started to melt. Now it appears they have escaped. The ice is loosening. People in the coastal town say there has been no sighting of the whales in the past 24 hours. We hope they are happy and free.

HARLOW: Yay for good news.

Now, some bad news. New this morning, an alarming data showed that our planet is not getting any cooler, according to climate and weather monitoring service Copernicus. The world just experienced its warmest January, I can attest to that, on record.

MATTINGLY: If that wasn't enough, over the past 12 months, we also breached a threshold for the first time.

CNN chief climate correspondent Bill Weir is here.

Walk us through the report's findings, what are you learning?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you remember back to the Paris Accords, the world came together and said we've got to limit this out of control over heating, the goal was below 2.0 degrees for sure and 1.5 if we can manage it. Now the world has just spent an entire year above 1.5.

The worry for scientists is we do that year after year after year, what happens, but this is just sort of the opening attractions. If we're on this path going up with the thermometers here, all the changes we're seeing around the world just intensifying.

HARLOW: So, what happens if we stay on this trajectory?

WEIR: All the bad stuff gets worse and lasts longer. The enormous devastating fires that are happening in Chile right now because they're so dry, the flooding in California because they're so wet and because of the atmospheric rivers, all the water cycles are shifting in a way we have never experienced as species on this planet.

It means no snow in the ski areas, glaciers melting in the mountains. It means millions of species right now trying to move out of their range so they can survive. And many of them will go extinct as well. It means tens of millions of people moving around the world, trying to escape higher seas along the coast or just unlivable temperatures around the tropics.

MATTINGLY: So, if we've already surpassed kind of the red line, the threshold, where we want to be, is it possible to go back down?

WEIR: Well, there is some science that says yes, when fossil fuel pollution stops that, the warming can go down a little bit, but that has to be happen first, and it hasn't. We're living through this incredible industrial revolution, where solar and wind power is cheaper than ever and going on lines in ways that are blowing people's minds but not replacing the old dirty fuels fast enough at all really, and the legacy of big oil companies backing away from climate pledges.

Until one of these big majors says, look, we have this oil reserve we have found, we're not going to tap it. Instead, we're going to build a wind farm or something renewable over here. That just isn't happening. They're fighting the end of the business model tooth and nail. HARLOW: Right. I mean, just such a prime example of how much

corporate America can really do here. Yes, it has to be a partnership with government but so much power in the private sector to change.

WEIR: A few years ago, scientists did the math on just historic decisions, and so, you could meet the decision makers, the C-suiters from the most polluting companies, the biggest source of the problem in a couple of buses. You know, it's -- these are 75 big companies in petrol states around the world that are driving a lot of the pollution.

People's every day lives, it matters to be aware of it, but until that logjam changes institutionally, we're heading this way.

MATTINGLY: They would be very nice buses, we should say that.

I have to ask, I am fascinated by this factoid. Super Bowl is going to be powered entirely by renewable energy for the first time.

WEIR: Yeah, the new stadium -- the new stadium in Vegas is really built with sustainability in mind. There's about 600,000 solar panels in the desert that will power the Super Bowl for the first time. The way they built that stadium, the roof is painted with a special paint that reflects lot of the heat. That's a new -- you're going to see that more and more, cities try to reflect heat. They get physically whiter as well. They have the grass on tracks, roll it out, instead of spending money on lights to grow grass indoors in the desert, which doesn't make a lot of sense.

So, this is sort of a mindset like it can be done. This is -- you don't have to sacrifice quality of life. You don't have to end Super Bowls. You can run them on clean energy. It's a pivotal moment. Hopefully, they -- all of what they say, the claims are true about the energy savings here, but it's encouraging to see big sort of pieces of Americana shifting in this way.

HARLOW: It gets such attention, you know?

WEIR: Absolutely.

HARLOW: All right. Thank you.

WEIR: You bet.

MATTINGLY: Well, today, big pharma executives will testify on why America has the most expensive prescription drugs.

HARLOW: Also this. Yay. Just how far will Moana go?


We won't have to wait much longer. "Moana 2" set to hit theaters this November.

It's safe to say that Maui is currently saying "you're welcome". Our kids are also going to be so excited. We'll be right back.


HARLOW: Coming up in just a couple of hours, the CEOs of some of the largest pharmaceutical companies will testify before a Senate committee on the very high price of prescription drugs in this country. The CEOs of Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson and Johnson and Merck will all be present for this hearing in front of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee. It's chaired by Bernie Sanders.

MATTINGLY: Now, according to a poll taken in July, 31 percent of Americans don't take their prescribed medications because they're too expensive, nearly 75 percent supporting more regulation of prices.

Joining us now is CNN medical correspondent, Meg Tirrell.

There is a reason, we noted that Bernie Sanders is chairing this hearing, and that these individuals are at this hearing, it's fair to say they likely are not going to agree or get along on anything. What should we be watching today?

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I wouldn't expect us to come out of today with an agreement that -- you know, drug prices are going to come down and everybody is on board with that. But, you know, this has been an issue for decades in this country. People feel like their drug prices are too expensive to afford.


And the focus today is really to try to compare prices in the United States versus prices in the other countries. And the Senate Health Committee actually put out a reporting leading into this meeting today, comparing some of the drugs made by these companies.

If you look at one called Januvia from Merck, that's a diabetes drug .You look at the price in France per year, this report says it's $200 per year. If you look at the price in the United States, $6,900 per year.

If you look at the Johnson and Johnson, Stelara, that's an arthritis drug. This can be very expensive medicine. The price in U.K. is $16,000 per year. The price in the United States, $79,000 per year.

Bristol-Myers' Eliquis, which is a blood thinner, $850 in France, $7,100 in the U.S. And these are not atypical prices. You see this for a lot of different things. All of these medicines are on the U.S. list of prices of drugs to negotiate under the Inflation Reduction Act. So, these could potentially be coming down. But, you know, right now, they are very high.

HARLOW: Question for you before you move on to the politics of this. Is that at all because of the amount of taxes that are paid in France and the government paying for more of a drug than the system we have here or no? TIRRELL: The main reason that prices are lower in countries like

France is they have a central negotiating power in the government. So, you know, they --

HARLOW: Companies are literally making less money from selling them in France?

TIRRELL: Oh, yeah. They make way more money from the United States. It's by far the most important market for them. And so, the pharmaceutical industry argues, Americans get drugs -- new drugs faster than other countries. They say the system actually works better for a number of ways. And so, they're going to mount a defense with that in mind.

They're also going to argue that the middlemen like the pharmacy benefits managers profit on the system here and that contributes to high drug prices. And so, we're going to hear a lot of these arguments we've been hearing for a long time. But we are actually at a moment where we see change some change because of these Medicare price negotiations which we haven't seen before.

MATTINGLY: And it's something that Donald Trump pledged he was going to do, never actually got to. But Biden actually did, which stunned me because I --

TIRRELL: Me, too.

MATTINGLY: -- they never -- pharma never losses.

TIRRELL: They never do.

MATTINGLY: And they somehow manage to do it. You mentioned, though, the negotiation and how that all works is still kind of being rolled out this point in time.

Meg Tirrell, thanks.

TIRRELL: Thanks, guys.

HARLOW: Big day for Donald Trump. The Supreme Court set to hear the case on Colorado's decision to remove him from the ballot.

MATTINGLY: And an update on a story we have been following about the 23-year-old Palestinian American who was stabbed at a rally. He spoke to CNN about his condition. You're going to hear from him, next.



MATTINGLY: The 23-year-old Palestinian-American stabbed after a pro- Palestinian rally is speaking out this morning. He provides an update on his condition and describes how his injuries are affecting him caring for his 5-month-old son.

This comes as the Austin police department says that the stabbing incident was a hate crime.

Joining us now, CNN's Diane Gallagher.

Dianne, Zacharia Doar, he's spoken to you, spoke to CNN. What are you hearing?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, he has about a six to eight-week recovery from his injuries ahead of him. It is still up to the Travis County district attorney to decide whether they will elevate the charged offense to a hate crime and prosecute it that way. But there is no doubt in Zacharia Doar's mind that he is one of a growing number of victims of antisemitic, Islamophobic and anti-Arab attacks across this country.


GALLAGHER (voice-over): The stabbing of a 23-year-old Palestinian- American meets the definition of a hate crime, according to the Austin Police Department.

Zacharia Doar agrees this crime against him was motivated by hate.

ZACHARIA DOAR, PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN STABBING VICTIM: I was the only one there that had a Palestine flag and a keffiyeh hanging out the window. He came specifically to my door and dragged me from the vehicle.

GALLAGHER: The stabbing happened on Sunday, following a pro- Palestinian rally in Austin, when Doar says the suspect Burt James Baker approached his car.

DOAR: And I looked around. I didn't see anything. And then my door was opened by a crazy guy. And he dragged me from my truck.

GALLAGHER: Doar was stabbed in the left side of his back and has a broken rib. He worries about caring for his 5-month-old son.

DOAR: That's one of my greatest joys coming home to my son. That was taken away from me. I haven't been able to pick up my son, be there for my son, do anything for him for the past couple of days.

GALLAGHER: Doar believes U.S. politicians, including Texas Governor Abbott and President Joe Biden should call for a cease-fire.

DOAR: If those two people would have stepped up and said something to stand for us, said something to defend us, this would have never happened. But because they haven't said nothing for us, this is the cause.

I'm not the first. I'm not the second. I'm not even the third. How many more have to go on for them to realize that this is wrong?

GALLAGHER: He says this attack will not stop him from advocating for the people of Gaza.

DOAR: I just really wish that people would realize that we go out there and protest, it's not to cause a problem. It's to end a problem. That's the problem in Gaza. Something like this is not going to stop me from standing up for my people.


GALLAGHER: Now, we reached out to a public defender for Burt James Baker. He declined to comment -- Phil, Poppy.

HARLOW: Thank you very much for that important piece, Dianne.

And CNN THIS MORNING continues now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump engaged in insurrection and therefore cannot appear on the ballot.