Return to Transcripts main page


Iraq And Iran Rocked By Deadly 7.3 Magnitude Earthquake; North Korea Reacts To Trump's Mixed Message; Grading President Trump's Asia Trip; Bill Gates' New Mission: Curing Alzheimer's. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 13, 2017 - 06:30   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Over 300 confirmed dead after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake rocked the border region between Iraq and Iran. The epicenter was located about 217 miles north of Baghdad. We are showing you on the screen. The tremors were so powerful they could be felt in Pakistan, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Turkey.

We have Jomana Karadsheh. She's tracking the latest developments from Amman, Jordan. Boy, that was a long or vast field of feeling what happened there in Iran and Iraq on that border. That is a real stretch to go all the way where you are.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And it was felt across the region, as you mentioned there, Chris. This powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck that region along the Iran/Iraq border late in the evening on Sunday.

So, nighttime was making it really difficult to assess the extent of the damage and the devastation. But with daylight, search and rescue operations have been under way for several hours. It would seem right now the hardest hit area is in Western Iran, the province of Kermanshah.

As we are hearing from authorities through state media there, as you mentioned, 336 people at least confirmed killed. Nearly 4,000 others injured in Iran. Now, when it comes to Iraq, while most of the country felt the impact of this earthquake, it mostly impacted the Kyrgyzstan region.

According to figures that we are receiving from Iraqi authorities, at least seven people were killed, and more than 500 others injured. A lot of concern right now about a dam in that area. Reports from authorities there of cracks in the dam. No leaks but they're urging people in the surrounding area to evacuate immediately -- Poppy.

[06:35:07] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Jomana, thank you for the reporting. Please keep us posted. We appreciate it.

Ahead for us, President Trump taking to Twitter to insult North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un. How are those tweets being received inside of North Korea? Wait until you see what the president wrote. We are the only U.S. network there. A live report from Pyongyang next.


HARLOW: North Korean officials responding to President Trump's mixed message on his Asia trip. The president insulting Kim Jong-un's physical appearance in a tweet and then suggesting the two leaders could maybe become friends.

Our Will Ripley is the only American television journalist reporting from inside North Korea and joins us now live from Pyongyang. What has the response been by officials to what the president wrote?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I wouldn't hold your breath on the friendship happening any time soon, Poppy. I mean, it has been an all-out assault on President Trump in North Korean state media.

[06:40:09] This is the newspaper with pictures of the anti-Trump protesters in South Korea with no mention on surprisingly that the larger crowds were actually in support of President Trump. Then this commentary at KCNA reading, quote, "The reckless remarks by a dotard," which is an old senile person, "like Trump can never frighten us or put a stop to our advance."

That was the North Korean insult. President Trump then responding with his own insult on Twitter saying, quote, "Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me old when I would never call him short and fat. Oh, well, I tried so hard to be his friend and maybe someday that will happen."

It was really surreal to see those insults and then hear the president in Vietnam talking about the possibility of a friendship with Kim Jong-un. When I showed North Korean officials the tweet and the transcript of his remarks in Vietnam, they said they don't believe anything that the president says.

They say his words don't really matter to them, but it's the action of the United States and they referred to the military drills that were happening over the weekend. These large-scale military exercises involving three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups in the Pacific.

Dozens of U.S. warships and the North Koreans say that is justification for them to continue developing their nuclear program. They threatened nuclear tests and missile launches. They are watching and listening very closely for the president's possible decision before the end of this trip, which would mean just a matter of hours from now, whether to add North Korea back to the list of state sponsors of terrorism -- Chris.

CUOMO: Will, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

So, any way you look at it, it has been an eventful 12 days for President Trump in Asia. The question, has the trip been a success? Let's bring former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Thomas Pickering. Always good to see you, sir.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS R. PICKERING, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Thank you, Chris. Good morning to you.

CUOMO: Good morning to you as well. So, what is your general answer to that question?

PICKERING: My general answer is that, well, we've got some important commercial agreements, although the details are lacking and a serious effort on the president perhaps tactically to try to use flattery to get himself pushed along the line and some promises of future revelations on trade, most of what we see now is pretty devoid of what one would call important takeaways or important achievements.

The president needs a little time here and nobody should crowd him. But at the same time, there seems to be kind of more of this confusion. This on the one hand "Rocket Man." On the other hand, maybe we'll meet some day.

My own sense is increasing the pressure on Pyongyang is important. But at the same time, Secretary Tillerson was right when he said we need to open some lines of contact. We need to see how and what way we can exploit the pressure and drive this particular question to an answer that we can live with.

CUOMO: So, what was the biggest plus and what was the biggest minus in your --

PICKERING: Well, I guess the biggest pluses at this point were a relaxation on the trade fight with China momentarily. Some important announcements about some commercial steps, but some of those may be old and some of those may be future.

And I think the big minuses were, in fact, the controversies over how and in what way he was dealing with President Putin's announcements or statements to him that somehow President Putin was totally convinced that the Russians didn't do it.

It was interesting. It was the kind of eye word there, plausible denial, I didn't do that. Was that a narrow and careful parsing of the syntax or did he really mean as President Trump seemed to assume that I meant both Putin and Russia. We don't know.

We will spend a lot of time can examining those kinds of issues. I'm afraid those external examinations are not going to produce an answer. We should look for Robert Mueller. We should I think put our faith and trust in General Clapper and John Brennan and the intelligence communities' judgments as we go along.

They are, I think, careful and very analytical on these particular questions. It's an important issue. Does this provide us a hand hold on President Putin for the future? Hard to know. He's a character who in many ways as avoided that kind of vulnerability and will continue to do so.

CUOMO: Well, look, the president of the United States is never looking to double down on how bad Russian interference was during the election. So, that probably shaped a lot of his reckoning of what Vladimir Putin said. How about the controversy -- PICKERING: It's a really interesting question is that an investment

in avoiding past liabilities of what the Russians call (inaudible) or is that something that he sees as basically transactional for the future. If I get along with Putin and I flatter Putin, maybe we can get some kind of deal here.

CUOMO: Doesn't it work for him on any of those fronts? He does not like the Russia investigation. He calls it a witch-hunt. So, any chance he has to tamp down its significance, he takes. Why (inaudible) the explanation?

[06:45:06] PICKERING: The real question is, is that a liability or nearly a kind of political gesture at this stage? We have on to wait and see. But the really interesting question is that it plays very badly, as you know, and I know and why we're talking about it, in American domestic politics.

Where that 98-2 vote in the Senate on the next stage of sanctions is a real reflection of national attitude. I think overexaggerated in my view. I think we have to get along with Russia. I don't see the president course of action taking us there.

CUOMO: What bothers you more, the president's kind of accepting Vladimir Putin at his word about Russian interference or human rights not being front and center and the focal point in his meeting with the Philippine president?

PICKERING: They both bother me. They're both in different spheres, but they're both very, very important, and they are part of traditional American policy, and something that the president at least pretends he supports but from time to time seems to slip off the wagon here.

CUOMO: Give us a grade for the trip.

PICKERING: I would say maybe a C-minus.

CUOMO: I thought you would be more in the B, B-plus range. All right. Thomas Pickering, thank you very much.

PICKERING: Thank you very much, Chris.

HARLOW: Interesting discussion. No curve on that grade.

CUOMO: I thought maybe a straight B, but he went right into the C zone.

HARLOW: There you have it, someone with a lot of experience.

All right. Ahead for us, Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, spending tens of millions of dollars of his personal fortune to help find a cure for a disease that impacts 50 million people around the world. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta with the exclusive interview next.



HARLOW: Now to a CNN exclusive, Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, is launching a new and very personal crusade trying to find a cure for Alzheimer's. He is committing $50 million of his own money to this. He sat down exclusively with our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And Sanjay, as someone who you've interviewed Bill Gates so many times about so many different missions, this one you say he seems most committed to and most engaged on. Why?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think this is a personal mission for him. You know, we think about the Gates Foundation. Bill Gates making such an impact with things like HIV and malaria and clean water, these infectious diseases.

This is the first time he invested in this kind of money in a noninfectious disease, Alzheimer's disease. He talks about the concerns within his own family of Alzheimer's disease, and how this is his biggest fear. So, he is really committed to it and very bullish on it as well.


GUPTA (voice-over): Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops dementia, the most common form, Alzheimer's. More than 5 million Americans are living with the disease right now. That comes to a cost of more than $250 billion a year in terms of care. By 2050, that number is expected to explode to as many as 16 million Americans with Alzheimer's, and care, that's expected to reach a trillion dollars.

BILL GATES, PHILANTHROPIST: We don't really have anything that stops Alzheimer's. So, the growing burden is pretty unbelievable.

GUPTA: Well-known for his philanthropy in the world of infectious disease, Bill Gates for the first time is investing $50 million of his dollars into a non-communicable disease. He will support the Dementia Discovery Fund, a public-private collaboration that helps new avenues of research. Ideas that may have a hard time otherwise getting funded.

(on camera): Should the word cure be used with Alzheimer's?

GATES: It's probably setting a high bar. At first, we probably should say treatment. Any type of treatment would be a huge advance, you know, from where we are today. So, yes, I believe there is a solution.

GUPTA (voice-over): Deep inside the brain, billions of cells work to create memories by sending messages through a neural highway. Electrical signals passing through junctions called synapsis where chemical called neurotransmitters will leap across the gap carrying the message to more and more neurons.

In Alzheimer's, these pathways become blocked by unusual proteins called amyloids intel that clump and tangle affecting memory, personality, and eventually basic functions of the brain.

GATES: Now there are people looking at the cells, immune system of the brain. People looking at the idea that your cells just run out of energy. The energy engine, mitochondria over the period of your life get broken down. So, a lot of great science going on.

GUPTA: Today, Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Since 2000, while the number of people who died of heart disease has dropped 14 percent, the number of people who died from Alzheimer's has increased by 89 percent.

(on camera): Was there a personal connection with Alzheimer's for you?

GATES: Yes. My family, including several of the men in my family, have had this disease. So, I'm seeing how tough it is. That is not my sole motivation, but it's certainly drew me in.

GUPTA: Do you worry about this for yourself, Alzheimer's disease?

GATES: Anything that were in my mind would deteriorate. I have to say I would be disappointed that, you know, thinking about complex problems and I hope I can live a long time without those limitations.


HARLOW: It's amazing to me, Sanjay, seeing that up there how many more people it affects than breast cancer, for example. It almost seems the discussion is you can't cure it, you can't cure it, you cannot cure it. He will not give it to that. Why has it been though so difficult to find even any treatments?

GUPTA: There's this one basic thing I think I wanted you to know about Alzheimer's and that is that the disease in the brain starts far earlier than when people develop symptoms. Ten to 15, maybe even 20 years earlier there's already changes in the brain.

[06:55:09] A person may have no idea, probably has no idea. The problem is by the time we can detect that the person has symptoms, it's already gotten so far along. The only diagnosis conclusively after someone has died, we need to be able to detect it earlier.

That's probably one of the big keys and also really investing in other types of avenues of research. There's been all this research on one particular strategy that hasn't worked.

HARLOW: It's a fascinating, important piece. People can see a lot more of the interview on Sanjay, thank you.

GUPTA: Yes. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So, the politics surrounding Roy Moore getting uglier and uglier. He is now threatening to sue the media outlook that came up with the accusations of sexual misconduct. Will that really happen? We have the latest developments and what's behind them next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The Washington Post" published (inaudible) my character in a desperate attempt to stop my political campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the allegations proved to be true, he should step down.