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World Leaders, Diplomats At Security Conference In Munich; Russian Strikes Near Bakhmut Kill Five Civilians; Death Toll In Turkey And Syria Quake Approaches 44,000 After 11 Days; Biden Says No Sign Downed Objects Part Of Any Spy Program; Ohio Residents Fear For Their Health After Train Derailment; U.S. Takes Long View Into Arms Supplies To Ukraine; China Declares Victory Over COVID-19 Wave; Family Says Bruce Willis Suffering From Dementia. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired February 17, 2023 - 10:00   ET



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: World leaders are in Germany for a crucial security conference as President Zelenskyy says there is no

alternative to Ukraine's victory. CNN is in Munich and Eastern Ukraine.

Shouts of joy, tears and happiness, as another life is saved. But over 40,000 people have so far perished after the earthquake in Turkey and

Syria. Many survivors are heartbroken and angry at the government. We're live in Antakya, with the details.

And a top diagnosis for Bruce Willis. The Hollywood actor has a dementia. The family wants to raise the profile of this silent killer.

Hello, I'm Lynda Kinkade. Welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. Good to have you with us.

Well, it's been almost one year since the start of the conflict that has had a profound impact on the world. And this hour in Munich, the world's

top diplomats and leaders are discussing what the world does next.

For the first time in two decades, Russia has not been invited to the Munich Security Conference. Ukraine's president gave the opening remarks in

the past couple of hours, urging leaders to hurry up with their decision- making.

The U.S. has sent a delegation including Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken who's set to meet with Germany's Foreign

minister later this hour.

Well, Nic Robinson is at that conference in Munich and joins us now live.

Good to have you with us, Nic. So the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy again reiterating his call for weapons, saying the need for speed is key.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: He did, and he likened the conflict to David versus Goliath where Ukraine is David and Russia is

the Goliath. And he talked in terms of the slingshot and said, all the support that the West gives, that's the slingshot. He said there is no

alternative to victory. There is no alternative to Ukraine becoming part of the European Union, and no alternative to Ukraine becoming part of NATO as


But the biggest part of that message, the hard part if you will, that was all about getting Ukraine the weapons it needs quickly.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: We need to hurry up, we need the speed, the speed of our agreements, speed of our delivery to strengthen our

sling. Speed of decisions to limit Russian potential. There is no alternative to speed because it is the speed that the life depends on.

Delay has always been and still is a mistake.


ROBERTSON: Well, Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, said he will do everything he can to get tanks and additional hardware to Ukraine quickly.

He called on other allies and partners to do that. And he said if it would make it easier for them, because Germany of course produces the Leopard 2

tank, some countries have already committed to giving those tanks. Others have not. And Germany is quite critical of allies and partners not doing


Olaf Scholz says look, if it helps those countries to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, then we will help train the Ukrainian soldiers. So the message

does seem to be being reflected back to President Zelenskyy. You have our support, you have our commitment. Emmanuel Macron, the French president,

also saying the same about supporting Ukraine. So Zelenskyy here, in a way, certainly appealing to an audience that is sympathetic towards him.

But he also said as well that he said by next year, we will have won, the war will be over, and I can be there with you. And I think perhaps the

audience here doesn't quite buy that at the moment, that the war can really be over in a year. The German chancellor saying that he thought better to

prepare for a long war.

KINKADE: And Nick, Zelenskyy also, again, made reference to Russia wanting to strangle Moldova. Is that a nation under threat from Russia? Is there

evidence of that?


ROBERTSON: Well, certainly Ukraine feels that Moldova could be a target of Russia. Certainly there is a wide belief amongst all the people gathered

here that Russia has, through proxies, tried to destabilize Moldova. Certainly here there is a very acute awareness that while Moldova is not

part of NATO, there is concern that its near neighbor Romania could become involved in the conflict.

Remember just couple of weeks ago Russia flew missiles through Moldovan airspace to hit Ukraine. That caused outrage and anger. But also, there was

a fear and concern that at that moment those missiles might have also passed through Romania. That would've been a much bigger deal. That turned

out not to be the case. But certainly, this is what Zelenskyy is pointing at. That Putin has the potential to escalate this beyond Ukraine.

That's been his message all along. And by saying that it would put a stranglehold or would attempt to put a stranglehold on Moldova is one part

of that message.

KINKADE: Our Nic Robertson in Munich, good to have you there. Thanks so much.

Speaking to CNN's Christiane Amanpour in Munich, the German chancellor said he is taking a long term view about the war in Ukraine, saying the West

will remain steadfast and standing by Kyiv.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You in your speech said we have to be ready for the long haul. I mean, you must strategize,

you must think amongst yourselves how long this could last. Do you have a target date?

OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR: I think it is wise to be prepared for a long war. It is wise to give Putin the message that we are ready to stay

all the time together with Ukraine and that we will constantly support the country. So it is not really a very good idea that in this conference, or

at this podium, the two of us discuss the question when exactly in which month this war will end. The really important decision we should take all

together is saying that we are willing to do it as long as necessary and that we will do our best.


KINKADE: You can catch Christiane's full interview with the German chancellor on her show "AMANPOUR." That's coming up today at 7:00 pm in

Munich, that's 10:00 p.m. in Abu Dhabi.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy says Russia's predicted spring offensive in Ukraine has already begun. He's also ruling out any potential peace deal

with Russia that involves conceding territory. The Ukrainian president made that clear in a BBC interview.


ZELENSKYY (through translator): Any territorial compromises, he told me, are only going to weaken our country. So it's not about compromise, we make

millions of compromises every day. But the question is, with Putin? No. Because we don't trust Putin.


KINKADE: So Moscow says Washington is unlikely to welcome a suggestion made by the Belarus president. Alexander Lukashenko offered to mediate talks

between the U.S. and Russian presidents. Vladimir Putin said they would be discussing mutual military cooperation in a meeting near Moscow today.

And on the ground in Eastern Ukraine, a Ukrainian military official says at least five people were killed in the Russian strikes near the city of


CNN's Sam Kiley joins us now live from Eastern Ukraine.

Good have you there for us, Sam. So Zelenskyy ruled out giving up any territory to Russia in some sort of peace deal. Is there any room for

compromise? What will it take to move forward with peace talks?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lynda, there isn't a scintilla of hope for any kind of peace talks or compromise for two

reasons. The first is that the Russians refuse point blank to remotely consider giving up the territory that they have captured since 2014. And

that includes the Crimean Peninsula. And the Ukrainians, for their part, since February 24th, are saying that they want the Russians out of their

country lock, stock and barrel, every last Russian soldier has to be off their territory before any kind of negotiations can be gone into.

Now that is something that Zelenskyy once again reiterated in a television interview. But it's a position that is absolutely unchanged regardless of

the pressures that have occasionally been put on him. There were hints coming from the Pentagon that General Milley thought it might be a good

idea that perhaps the time might come quite soon for compromise and negotiations. That is very swiftly ruled out.

And indeed, it being ruled out has been endorsed by the White House and Downing Street and leaders right across Europe.


There is unanimity on the idea that Ukraine has to be free of the Russian invaders, Lynda. But that -- whether that translates into Ukraine getting

the military equipment that it needs to do that remains, still, something that is being negotiated between President Zelenskyy and other leaders at

the Munich conference and his defense minister in Europe earlier on.

There's a lot of talk about Leopard 2 tanks. These are a match more or less for a Soviet T-72. In other words, middle ranking, not very efficient, not

certainly in any way shape or form a strategic weapon. What they want -- they say they want a jet and long range missiles. And so far they've been

denied them by their allies in the West -- Lynda.

KINKADE: And Sam, we have been discussing the heavy fighting around Bakhmut. Some suggesting that the Russian spring offensive has already

begun. What are you seeing and hearing on the ground?

KILEY: President Zelenskyy and his leaders and the combat commanders here that I've spoken to on the ground are saying that they are facing the

beginnings of what they believe to be the Russian offensive. In military terms, I think the way to describe these are shaping operations, perhaps

probing attacks.

Bakhmut has been a cauldron now for many months. There's been an increase there in efforts by the Russians. But really, the pressure has been coming

for the south, in the town of Blahodatne, where the Russians received a pretty bad bloody noses. Kreminna further north, and Kobiansk further up

the Severodonetsk River.

Now along all of these areas, there has been an increase in artillery fire because the Russians have an almost inexhaustible supply ultimately of

shells and guns that they can use, fired the shells from, whereas the Ukrainians are very, very short indeed particularly of ammunition.

KINKADE: All right. Sam Kiley for us in Eastern Ukraine. Good to have you on the ground. Thanks so much for that perspective.

Well, 11 days after a catastrophic earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, the death toll has now climbed to nearly 44,000 people. And while the numbers

tell the wider story, they're not the whole story. Many survivors have known days of anguish as they wait for word of loved ones. And then this


Another incredible rescue in the disaster zone. Seen at least a handful. This time a 12-year-old boy was pulled alive from the rubble in the

southern Hatay Province 260 hours after the quake hit Turkey.

Well, this comes as U.N. aid trucks have been making their way across the Turkish border into northwest Syria. 143 trucks so far. It has taken days

of diplomatic maneuvering to get relief supplies into Syria's rebel-held territory.

I want to bring in CNN's Jomana Karadsheh who joins us live from the historic Turkish city of Antakya.

Good to have you with us, Jomana. It is great to see some of those aid trucks now moving in to northwest Syria. But I want to ask you about these

incredible rescues we're still seeing in Turkey. You have to wonder how some of these people, these young teenagers have survived for this long

under buildings.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Quite remarkable, Lynda. I mean, these are being described here in Turkey as miracles. And so many people across

the quake zone are praying for miracles. We have met so many families in this part of the country, in Antakya, that has been hit really hard by the

earthquake, who are still searching for their loved ones.

I mean, as you could probably see behind me, the destruction here is so extensive. It's very hard to even find a building in this historic city

that hasn't been touched by the earthquake. And, you know, more than 11 days into this, Lynda, the search and rescue operations haven't stopped. I

mean, we were earlier comparing it to Syria where we were last week. And we were on the ground on Saturday and the day before that, the White Helmets

rescue group there had called an end to search and rescue operations. They had moved into search and recovery.

But here in Turkey, it's a very, very different scene. You've got active search and rescue operations still ongoing across the majority of the areas

that have been impacted by the earthquake. Last night, we were driving really late at night and our cars were stopped. And the police came up to

us and said, there is a call for quiet in the area. And this is about 3:00 in the morning. They were listening to see if they had managed to locate a

possible survivor.

And almost every day, Lynda, you're hearing these stories of the miracle rescues as they're being described here.


But unfortunately these are very rare right now. We have seen a lot of bodies being pulled out of destroyed buildings over the past couple of

days. But at the same time, those miracle rescues as they're being described have given a lot of families that are waiting for their loved

ones hope.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): Antakya, no more, they say, this once bustling city now in ruins. It is here where hope meets despair. In every corner are

scenes so painful, of loss so hard to comprehend.

She's waited days for news of her husband, but the wait never prepares you for this. Nothing could have prepared the people of Antakya for these

grimmest of days, misery here so palpable in the air.

AYLIN AKYURT, SEARCHING FOR FAMILY MEMBER: You lose track of time. So I don't know which day it is, but at this point, I don't think there's

anybody left alive.

KARADSHEH: Aylin and her family have been searching for her aunt. Other bodies have come out of the building, but not hers.

AKYURT: You go through all stages of, you know, of grief. You're angry. You're desperate. You're sad. You accept then you get mad again. At this

point, we've come to accept that she's passed away but we just want to put her at her final resting place because with how it's been going, leaving

her here is unimaginable.

KARADSHEH: Around the corner the rare good news these days. After more than 220 hours under the rubble, a woman and two children were rescued alive.

(On-camera): Several bodies have also been recovered from the building. There are others still trapped inside. They don't know if they're alive or


(Voice-over): They prayed they find them alive. Mohamed Bayron just buried his daughter and her husband, his 12- and 14-year-old grandchildren are

still inside. God, I beg you, he says. Just like they got that woman and two children out alive, we're hoping for the same.

It's been the most agonizing of waits for his and other families here. May the Lord not put anyone through this, this woman says.

Mohamed hasn't eaten in 11 days. He says all he can do is hope, pray and wait. We weren't able to get these big machines for a few days, he says.

They had to go through other buildings here first. Maybe if they had, they would have come out alive.

Another call for quiet during our interview. One of many in the past few days. Rescuers hear something, cheers break out. They believe they've

located two people alive. A tense wait now into the evening, the crushing sound of silence. It's hardest for those who wonder if they mourn or wait.

It is here where hope fades as fast as it grows.


KARADSHEH: And Lynda, just to update you on Aylin who you saw there in our report who has been searching for her aunt's body. Her only desire to find

her and give her a proper burial. That search and recovery operation was carried out by volunteers. And they say they've had to stop it because they

haven't been able to find her body.

Mohamed there, that grandfather, is still waiting for his grandchildren, hoping that they are alive. But so far only dead bodies have emerged from

that building.

KINKADE: So heartbreaking. Jomana Karadsheh, you and the team are doing a great job on the ground there. Thank you very much.

Well, still to come, it's an unsettling mystery that still isn't quite solved. Coming up, what the U.S. president told Americans about those three

aerial objects that were shot down last weekend.

Plus, new video just in shows sparks flying from the wheel of that same train that crashed a short time later and unleashed a toxic disaster in

Ohio. Could this be a major clue for investigators?



KINKADE: Welcome back. Well, we have now heard the first detailed remarks from the U.S. President Joe Biden concerning those three unidentified

aerial objects that U.S. fighter planes shut down last weekend. Here is part of what he told the American people.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't yet know exactly what these three objects were. But nothing, nothing right now suggests they were

related to Chinese spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from any other country.


KINKADE: CNN's U.S. national security reporter Natasha Bertrand is following the story from the Pentagon and joins us now live.

So, Natasha, if they weren't for surveillance, what are U.S. officials believe these objects were doing?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's still really unclear, Lynda, because the debris actually has not been recovered

yet from any of these three objects that were downed last week. But what we are learning, of course, is that the president does believe according to

his intelligence community that these objects were likely not being used for surveillance purposes and that they were possibly tied to some kind of

research project or some kind of recreational activity for scientific purposes for example.

And it is just not clear at this point what exactly they were. But it is leaning towards, of course, that these objects did not actually have any

hostile intent and did not actually have any real surveillance capability. So obviously, a lot of questions moving forward about when the U.S. is

going to take action in the future against objects like this that appear in U.S. airspace because shooting down objects like this that have no real --

that pose no real threat to national security with very expensive missiles, scrambling fighter jets every time it happens, that is not something I

think that the administration will be able to justify moving forward.

And that is why the president also said in his remarks that he will be coming up with new parameters around when these kinds of objects should be

shot down, when they do pose a national security threat and when they do not. So this is not something that we have yet to see. Of course these

parameters will be classified. But the president saying that ultimately, this was done out of an abundance of caution because these objects were

flying at an altitude that could pose a risk to civilian aircraft -- Lynda.

KINKADE: All right. Much more on this story coming up. Natasha Bertrand at the Pentagon, good to have you with us, thank you.

Well, President Biden's comments did trigger a shock response from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. A spokesperson bristled at the suggestion that

sharper rules are needed for dealing with aerial intrusions. Again accusing the U.S. of excessive force in shooting down the Chinese balloon and

disregarding existing norms regarding civil aircraft.

But Beijing denies the balloon was for surveillance. The spokesperson says on numerous occasions, American blooms have intruded Chinese airspace. They

urged Washington to work with China to avoid future misunderstandings.

Well, there are growing fears in the American town of East Palestine, Ohio. Residents scared the toxic chemicals from a massive train derailment two

weeks ago are putting their lives at risk.

Brand new video of the tracks before the crash is giving us a better timeline of what happened. You can see an apparent overheated wheel bearing

begin sparking. Now, this video was taken 43 minutes before the disaster as the train passes through another town.

CNN's chief climate correspondent Bill Weir is covering the story for us from New York.

Good to have you with us, Bill. So, it's kind of baffling, people in the town complaining of headaches, rashes, vomiting, all while authorities are

saying it's OK, we've tested the water. What is going on?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot remains to be seen, Lynda.


You know, independent testing may come in and calm some fears. And some people are obviously complaining of legitimate problems. They have been

through two weeks of hell. Displaced, so much uncertainty. How much of the illness is part of that, how much it has to do with actual toxins in the

air. But also, we have to account for the fact that this country has been fed a storyline for the last five or six years that government cannot be


And what you're seeing is bipartisan mistrust in this county. They don't trust the Republican Ohio governor, who's telling them to drink the water,

it's OK. They don't trust the federal government who is telling them the air quality is fine. And other municipalities are all saying it's OK right

now. So this is sort of a byproduct of the political age we live in right now.

But it's too early to say because a lot of the soil, when they replace those train tracks to get the trains running again, they left the

contaminated soil there which sowed more distrust among the locals. So we're still early in the story.

KINKADE: Yes. We are, Bill. And it was interesting we had one guest on our air earlier today from the Greatest Cincinnati Waterworks who said at least

one of these chemicals have made it all the way downstream into Cincinnati. He said the amounts are small, he's still during the water. But even so it

suggests that this hasn't been contained.

WEIR: No. There was a plume of chemicals that's moving -- that was moving about 25 miles an hour down the Ohio River. They put booms around it to try

to contain it and keep it from leeching into creeks as it moves. The one chemical they're measuring is butyl acrylate. It sort of smells fruity.

It's a chemical used in plastics and sealants and pains. And they're minor, little, less than 20 parts per billion whereas it has to be over 500, 600

parts per billion to be considered harmful to humans.

As long as folks aren't swimming in it, they shouldn't have to worry about it. It should reach the intake valves of the Cincinnati water supply

sometime in the middle of the night. But they can shut those down, they can treat it so the Greater Cincinnati Water Authority is saying don't worry

about this right now. But it does really cast a light on how many other chemicals are in our rivers all the time.

This one is getting a lot of attention, but, boy, it'd be great if we talk about our water supplies year around and what's in there given our

dependence on so many chemicals these days.

KINKADE: Exactly. And you mentioned the issue of trust. We will be discussing this more next hour.

Bill Weir, good to have you with us. Thanks very much.

WEIR: You got it.

KINKADE: Well, still to come, preparing for a long road ahead. Why the U.S. is shifting its view on how best to support Ukraine and its military.



KINKADE: Welcome back, I'm Lynda Kinkade at the CNN Center. You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Good have you with us.

Well, Ukraine's president is urging the West to hurry up with its discussions and agreements in his opening address to the Munich Security

Conference. World leaders are gathered there almost one year since that conflict began. Russia has not been invited.

We've also heard from the German chancellor Olaf Scholz who told our Christiane Amanpour that the world should be ready for a long war ahead,

saying the West will stand firm in its support for Ukraine.

Well, as Ukraine calls on the world to expedite its decision-making, the U.S. says it's starting to take the long view about military supplies to

the country. Officials say they are now looking into what Ukraine will need in the long run to deter any possible future aggression by Moscow.

As Oren Liebermann reports, U.S. defense factories are preparing to ramp up production.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the steel furnaces of Scranton, Pennsylvania, the weapons of war are in high demand.

One ton metal rods, heated and forged into about 11,000 high explosive artillery shells a month.

CNN got a rare look inside the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant, one of only a few in the country that make this crucial round. Here, especially made

steel is heated to 2,000 degrees, slowly shaped step by scorching step into its final product.

(On-camera): To this point, it's only taking a few hours to heat the steal, and then to turn it into what looks like what an artillery shell, to press

it into that familiar shape. But it's still days of testing and inspecting to make sure that this can be turned into a 155-millimeter artillery shell

that can fired.

(Voice-over): The process doesn't end here. The empty shells are shipped to another plant for explosives, fuses. 5,000 miles from the frontlines in

Mother Russia, the enemy here is Father Time. Ukraine can burn through the plant's monthly production in half a week, locked in a grinding war of

attrition with Putin's army and Russian mercenaries.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: The current rate of Ukraine's ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of


LIEBERMANN: One year in, the war has turned into a vicious math problem. How to make enough ammo for Ukraine, United States, and allies? The

Pentagon is already planning on new ammo plants in Texas and Canada, part of a race to increase the capacity of the defense industrial base.

Doug Bush is the Army's head of acquisitions.

DOUG BUSH, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY FOR ACQUISITION: Right now, we are meeting demand. Of course I would want it to be faster. Everyone does.

But there is a time factor, a year to 18 months is often what you're looking at.

LIEBERMANN: Bush says this is the greatest ramp-up in military production, possibly going back to the Korean War.

BUSH: Early on we realized we had to really put our foot all the way to the floor.

LIEBERMANN: The goal within two years is to produce five times more artillery rounds each month, up to 70,000, twice as many Javelin anti-tank

missiles, up to 4,000 a month, 30 percent more rounds for the HIMARS rocket launchers, about 850 a month. Precision weapon Ukraine has used to target

Russian command posts and ammo depots, and 60 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles each month.

The U.S. isn't at war with Russia, but that matters little to weapons manufacturers whose products are part of the fight.

SETH JONES, DIRECTOR, CSIS INTERNATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM: Our defense industrial base is still largely geared towards a peace time environment,

and not towards a wartime or at least a quasi-wartime environment that we're now in.

(On-camera): To get a sense of just how much the Army is investing in this, within the last couple of weeks, the Army has announced $1.5 in procurement

of new 155-millimeter artillery rounds. They're trying to produce this crucial ammunition faster and they're trying to produce more of it.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, at the Pentagon.


KINKADE: Well, all this week, we have covered a number of stories out of Israel and the Palestinian territories related to the conflict between both

sides and internal Israeli politics. The White House has now commented on one of those issues, saying it is, quote, "deeply dismayed by Israel's

announcement to expand thousands of new settlements in the West Bank." Claiming the step, quote, "exacerbates tensions and undermines the

viability of the two-state solution."

The U.N. Security Council is considering a draft resolution that would demand Israel stop all settlement activity. Reuters report that the text

was drafted by the United Arab Emirates in coordination with the Palestinians and that the council is likely to vote on it on Monday.


Well, let's get you up to speed on some other stories on our radar right now. The death toll in New Zealand after Cyclone Gabrielle has risen to

eight. That's according to Prime Minister Chris Hipkins who went to see for himself areas devastated by the storm. He described the cyclones fallout as

a major catastrophic event, saying it will take time to get through the emergency response phase.

North Korea says the U.S. and South Korea face unprecedented strong responses if they move forward with planned military exercises. The Foreign

Ministry statement reported by state media says such drills would be seen as preparations for an invasion. Washington and Seoul are planning nuclear

drills next week at the Pentagon and separate exercises in the Korean Peninsula next month.

One of China's top investment bankers is missing. China Renaissance says it has been unable to contact Bao Fan, its chairman and CEO. Its stock had

plunged about 30 percent on that announcement. Bao was one of the top dealmakers in China's tech industry.

Still to come, they shouted the message and now they are spelling it out, so that the world can read it. Enough is enough. We will tell you why the

Canadian women's football squad is angry.

Also, the family of actor Bruce Willis gives a troubling update on his health. We'll tell you about his new diagnosis when we come back.


KINKADE: Welcome back. Well, China is declaring a major and decisive victory over the latest wave of COVID-19. Claiming that despite scrapping

restrictions late last year it has the lowest COVID fatality rate in the world.

But as Khristie Lu Stout reports, questions inside and outside the country remain.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chinese leaders are patting themselves on the back, declaring a decisive victory over COVID-19. This comes two

months after the government suddenly scrapped it's tough Zero COVID policy which triggered an exit wave of infection. In a meeting on Thursday,

presided over by the Chinese leader Xi Jinping, members of the Politburo Standing Committee also claimed to have kept the lowest COVID-19 fatality

rate in the world.

China's most powerful leadership body also said this, quote, "With continuous efforts to optimize COVID-19 prevention and control measures

since November of 2022, Chinese COVID 19 response has made a smooth transition in a relatively short time. China has created a miracle in human

history," unquote.

Now China has been accused by the World Health Organization and world leaders for under-reporting the toll of the outbreak caused by the sudden

easing of its pandemic policy. The country's official COVID-19 death toll was remarkably low, given the rapid spread of the virus, the relatively low

vaccination booster rates among the elderly, and given the widespread reports of overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums.


This declaration comes just weeks before China is due to hold the National People's Congress, its annual legislative session as Beijing looks to

revive an economy hammered by three years of Zero COVID restrictions.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


KINKADE: Well, the family of actor Bruce Willis says he is suffering from a form of dementia. Willis became one of Hollywood 's biggest stars with

films like "Die Hard," "Armageddon," and "The Sixth Sense." He was revealed to be suffering from aphasia, a disease that affects language and

comprehension about a year ago. His family now say he has a form of dementia and they say they hope that the announcement will shine a light on

the disease that needs far more awareness and research.

Well, let's bring in CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen to tell us more.

So, Elizabeth, just describe what this type of dementia is that Bruce Willis has?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Lynda. Often when people hear dementia they think oh, it must be Alzheimer's disease. But

there are other kinds of dementia. This is one actually that often strikes people when they are a bit younger. So in their 40s or 50s, or 60s. And it

can be very difficult to get a diagnosis because there are lots of different kinds of symptoms.

Also, the person is so young and doctors don't always think of this. So it's called frontotemporal dementia. Let's take a look. If you look at the

brain, you can see the two lobes that it affects. Now let's talk a little bit about some of the aspects of this type of dementia. What they find is

that actually neurons are dying in these parts of the brain. There is actually a progressive nerve cell loss. And people's behavior kind of

deteriorates, their personality changes. They can have difficulty with language, speaking or understanding.

And that's actually something that their family first said a while back. Unfortunately, there is no specific treatments. There is nothing that can

be done to stop it. You can give the person medication to treat, for example, their irritability if they're irritable, or their depression if

they have depression. So there are treatments for or there are drugs you can give for the symptoms, but nothing can be done to stop the progression

of the disease -- Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes. So sad. All right, Elizabeth, we'll speak with you again soon. Thanks so much.

Canada's women's football team is not happy and they have good reasons for it. Their players are protesting over pay inequality and funding cuts.

We'll take a look at what they are wearing on this shirt. Enough is enough.

"WORLD SPORT" Amanda Davies joins us now. And Amanda, this has been going on for some time but they have found some allies in the U.S.

AMANDA DAVIES, WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: They have, Lynda. And when the defending world champions line up to face the Olympic gold medal winners,

particularly when it's the USA and Canada, you'd think the battle lines would be very much be drawn. But here, this is two sides united in the same


You might remember, it was just this time last year the U.S. women's national team won their long fought six years of fighting the battle for

equal pay with the U.S. Soccer Federation. Canada's women are now taking the same stance against Canada Soccer, saying they should be getting equal

pay but equally equal investments and the same kind of facilities behind their football.

They wore these T-shirts. They say they're going to do that until Canada Soccer stops, listen, and takes notice. Does something about it.

KINKADE: Hopefully they do take notice. We will stay on this story.

Amanda Davies, we will see you after the break for much more news in the sports world. Thanks so much.

And I'll be back at the top of the hour with much more news. Stay with us.