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Interview With Financial Services Commission Of Barbados And Climate Envoy For Barbados Prime Minister Mia Motley Avinash Persaud; Interview With "Poverty By America" Author Matthew Desmond; Interview With Artist Gilbert Proesch; Interview With Artist George Passmore; U.S. State Department Holds Briefing; U.S. Citizens Not Safe In Russia; U.S. Journalist Arrested In Russia On Spying Charges. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired March 30, 2023 - 13:00:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.



a climate vulnerable country, you may become one.


AMANPOUR: the clock is ticking to climate catastrophe. I speak about solutions with the environmental envoy from Barbados, the tiny island

nation at risk of going under.

Then, poverty by America, Princeton Professor Matthew Desmond tells Michel Martin why there are still too many poor people in the richest country on






AMANPOUR: Partners in art and in life. The inimitable Gilbert and George, give me an up-close look at their weird and wonderful world.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

A big victory for a small country. The pacific island of Vanuatu is one step closer to getting the world's highest court to weigh in on the climate

crisis for the first time ever. Backed by the United Nations, it's asking the International Court of Justice to clearly lay out how countries must

address the warming planet. Around the world, the devastation, so far, is just a tiny glimpse of what could be coming, as Mississippi digs itself out

from severe tornadoes, and Pakistanis are still homeless from last summer's floods.

Action is needed now, and no one is feeling the panic more acutely than Vanuatu, Barbados, and other tiny island nations that fear being swallowed

up by the sea. Prime minister Mia Mottley has become a climate active rock star. Clearly communicating what's at stake for Barbados and for the bigger

countries that think they're immune.


MIA MOTTLEY, BARBADOS PRIME MINISTER: We really are hoping that a conscience will be pricked and that they will recognize that no one is safe

until everyone is safe. So, in my country, we have a saying, hard ears, you won't hear, own way, you're going to feel. In other words, those who don't

listen will ultimately pay the price.


AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Mottley has a kindred spirit in Avinash Persaud, her climate envoy and my first guest tonight. Together, they're pushing the

Bridgetown Initiative, that's named for their capital city, to help pay for and delay climate change damage in developing countries.


AMANPOUR: Avinash Persaud, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: What discussions are you having -- because you're traveling, obviously, internationally, regarding climate mitigation.

PERSAUD: We've just had our first transition committee meeting. This is about loss and damage. There are three basic parts of the climate issue.

There's how do we mitigate the climate for a better future? More sustainable, low carbon. How do we adapt for the damage we've already done?

And then the third most difficult good piece is, how do we pay for the loss and damage that's being impacted today? And because that's about money and

about who pays, that's the most political issue of all.

AMANPOUR: And if I'm not mistaken, that is about big polluting countries paying smaller nations that don't pollute, such as Barbados, your country.

PERSAUD: I wouldn't say --


PERSAUD: -- it's that. I'd say that -- but the area of the world that's been most impacted today. The United Nations reckons four times more than

the rest of the world. It is much bigger. It's between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, the band around the equator. It's 40 percent of the


AMANPOUR: So, that's huge.

PERSAUD: 3.2 billion people. Pakistan, India.

AMANPOUR: So, what you've just been discussing is what was agreed at COP, right? It was the one major area of progress that they were able to talk

about. How is that the same or different to what you and your Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, have been working on the Bridgetown Initiative,

which involves also money for damage and mitigation.

PERSAUD: So, the Bridgetown Initiative is not a place, it's a set of ideas. And it's about the planet. We reckon that, you know, if things are

going to change, they're not going to change for the smallest islands in the world. Even though we may be the canaries in the mine, we are where

you're seeing the rub of climate change. If they're going to make a real change, it has to benefit the whole world. So, the Bridgetown Initiative is

about creating a global coalition around the set of ideas.


And a key component of that idea is changing the planet's sustainability. So, it won't really impact us directly, but it will indirectly.

AMANPOUR: For people who may not really, you know, understand fully the dynamic of this initiative, in -- what's your easy explanation of that.

PERSAUD: It's breaking down what we need to do in five practical, achievable things that together really do transform the system. It's about

recognizing that no one's writing big checks, so -- but there is a check to write. It's a smaller check, it's for loss and damage, recognizing that the

World Bank could do a lot more. And if they did a lot more and they invested in resilient (ph), certainly make a difference. And recognizing we

need to drive investment into developing countries to mitigate the climate and that requires some guarantees and some commitments and support. And the

initiative is about those things happening together.

AMANPOUR: Aren't you hoping that it fundamentally changes the way big institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, maybe other governments direct

funds to countries like yourself?

PERSAUD: So, there's already a fair bit of global warming baked into the system. So, sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting. And so, we need to

build resilience, but there's no point being resilient in 20 years-time, we have to be resilient now. And we would we would go bust if we spent all of

the money that we have on being resilient today.

So, we need the World Bank and other international institutions --

AMANPOUR: You mean, you -- individual governments would go bust, individual countries?

PERSAUD: All of the climate vulnerable countries --


PERSAUD: --- would go bust.

AMANPOUR: So therefore, you need?

PERSAUD: So, we need a super long term, very low-cost lending by those institutions for us to pay for the resilience today.

AMANPOUR: So, we know, at least, the French President Macron supports the initiative, supports Prime Minister Mottley. The recent IPCC reports said,

"If climate goals are to be achieved, both adaptation and mitigation financing would need to increase many-fold. There is sufficient global

capital to close the global investment gaps but there are barriers to redirect capital to climate action."

So, how -- you know, there's sufficient funds but apparently the logistics are the problem, is that correct?

PERSAUD: Well, there are two big issues we have. The most important one is actually mitigating, so transforming the world to a low carbon world. So,

we are not using fossil fuels. We are not burning them. We are not using them. And that will impact the whole planet, not just the vulnerable

states. That is the most expensive, that's trillions of dollars.

And the obstacle to that is that the cost of that transition in developing countries is about four or five times the cost in the rich countries. But

the rich countries are no longer the main sources of pollution. United States is still, but the rest have become much more efficient, even the

United States become much more efficient. And developing countries are becoming big emitters.

AMANPOUR: Such as the famous India, China.

PERSAUD: India -- so we need to transition these countries. If they are going to continue to develop and become as wealthy as the as the wealthy

countries at the same use of fossil fuels this would have consequences. But -- so we need to transition. But they rightfully are concerned about the

justice of this all. Why should they bear the cost when the rich countries did not adjust? And so, we need to find -- and Bridgetown Initiative is all

about finding a way financing the transition so it's not a burden on their development.

AMANPOUR: So, to that end, I'm going to play you a sound bite from Kristalina Georgieva, the -- as you know, the head of the IMF. And I spoke

to her around the U.N. General Assembly back in September. This is what she says about this issue.

KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND: I can tell you proudly, the IMF today is systemically significant institution

in the fight against climate change. We bring it in everything to do, in our policies, in our financing. And that is how the world has to absorb it.

What is my role? What is I can do to ensure that my daughter, my grandchildren have a future?

AMANPOUR: So, are you satisfied with the position of the IMF now and maybe even the World Bank? You know, the IMF has recently created the Resilience

and Sustainability Trust, this was last year, aiming to be a resource of some $42 billion, some of which is going to Barbados. Are you satisfied

with what she said or is there more that you want?

PERSAUD: Well, in the international financial system, the IMF is the is the bank and it provides short term liquidity. And it really has stepped up

to the plate to recognize that some of the short-term problems here are related to natural disasters, but it's only one part of the system.


We need to double or treble the amount of lending the World Bank and other development banks to do to make countries more resilient. It's a deal with

this climate change, and they have not done that yet. They are talking the right language, but we have not seen that yet.

AMANPOUR: And why not?

PERSAUD: Well, there's a, you know, there's a reluctance for organizations to change. Change almost indicates that there was a problem before.

AMANPOUR: Which there is.

PERSAUD: Most definitely. Most definitely. I think I'd rather say that there is a moment today where there's an alignment of interest and concern.

And I think we have a moment today that we need to grasp where they can double their lending. But all of these things become political because

they're about money and who is contributing. Now, the Bridgetown Initiative is a way in which they can make a big step without anyone having to worry

about being disproportionately contributing.

AMANPOUR: So, how though, I mean, how does this thing, this initiative contribute and make this big step? For instance, I think, you know, you've

been successful in negotiating climate change closest to be included in Barbados bond agreements and the like.

PERSAUD: So, we recognize the way in our world today where governments are not being elected in order to fund the foreigners. Sadly, they're being

elected to deport foreigners. So, we've got to recognize that's the world in which you're operating. So, we've come up with a set of things in which

they can make major change without anyone having to write a big check. So, we can make the system more shock absorbing, as you say, so we've got these

clauses in our bonds and we want them to be in everyone's bonds, which means that when a disaster hits you've got two years of breathing room to


We also want to find ways in which we can guarantee investments to mitigate the world's climate, to drive investment into China and other countries and

India to make that transformation. And then we want the World Bank to sweat its balance sheet. So -- they have a lot of capital, but they are very

conservative. So, we need to make them a -- the loosen up a little bit in terms of what they're prepared to do with what they've got. And we think

they can double the amount that they can lend and we want that focus --

AMANPOUR: And so that's bottom line to make them more creative, more amenable to do with what they've got. It's not like they don't have this


PERSAUD: So, a lot of the money that they've got is a -- is -- it's called callable capital. And callable capital is a very interesting idea. The idea

is that you write something that says that if you are, you know, about to go bust, I will put some money in, but you don't put any money in the yet.

So, that's the cheapest way of allowing the institutions to it to lend more with the comfort of these letters. And if they use -- they have got lots of

these letters, and if they use these letters, now we believe they can double the amount of their lending. And the focus of that new money is on

poverty and development and resilience for this changing world than we think that will make a big step. It's not the only step, but it would be a

big step.

AMANPOUR: And just to circle back on the World Bank. I mean, you were saying these big institutions are not quite there yet. President Biden has,

as you know, just nominated Ajay Banga to lead the World Bank. How much better is that than David, you know, Malpass, who -- you know, didn't

necessarily come to the table on climate?

PERSAUD: Well, I don't think it's going to be about one individual. It's about the entire institutions. I do think it's easier to make change with a

new person and --

AMANPOUR: Would be more inclined, do you think? What about -- what in his past has -- gives you comfort, let's say?

PERSAUD: Well, let me say the circumstances of him arriving. I think he and everyone else is very conscious of those circumstances.


PERSAUD: Of a need to do more. And so, I think there is a willingness but we need action, not just willingness.

AMANPOUR: So, you know, you've been working with the prime minister. We've talked to her. She's given incredibly powerful speeches at, certainly, the

COP that I was at in Glasgow and then again on the latest one. This is what she said in 2021 about where we need to be and where we might not be.

MOTTLEY: 1.5 is what we need to survive, two degrees. Yes, SG (ph) is a death sentence for the people of Antigua and Barbuda, for the people of the

Maldives, for the people of Dominica and Fiji, for the people of Kenya and Mozambique. And yes, for the people of Samoa and Barbarous. We do not want

that dreaded death sentence. And we have come here today to say try harder. Try harder. Because our people, the climate army, the world, the planet

needs our actions now.


AMANPOUR: It's dramatic. It's also very relatable and accessible. She speaks in terms that people can understand. And yet we all know that

there's still - it's very sticky. It's still very, very sticky. You've just explained. Do you think of -- what more creative, if there are -- if there

is such thing, creative ways are there to get the message out, given what the, you know, the IPCC just said, which is that it's not going in the

right direction.

PERSAUD: It's a sad thing but what will get people is when they feel part of it. I mean, they're not feeling what those in between the tropics of

Cancer and Capricorn are feeling. They're not feeling the third of the entire population of Pakistan who are homeless. The 27,000 schools under

water --

AMANPOUR: Under those terrible, terrible floods, yes.

PERSAUD: But they are feeling extreme heat, extreme cold. They are feeling unusual temperatures.

AMANPOUR: And storms that we've just seen in the U.S.

PERSAUD: And one of the interesting things about identifying the climate runnable (ph), I say to people that, you know, if you're not a small island

development state, you're not going to become one. But if you're not a climate vulnerable country, you may become one. And so, everyone is

beginning to recognize this is something that they're all involved. It's sad that it needs that to get people to be making the contributions they

should be making. But that last summer, people experience those heat waves and the flooding. We have --

AMANPOUR: Inspires. I mean, really, really biblical issues, really.

PERSAUD: Yes. We have a moment -- we have a moment, it's already 12 months. We think that by next year, with the U.S. presidential election and

other elections going on, people will be distracted. We've got a moment now. We really need to make a difference now.

AMANPOUR: So, talking of presidential elections, and I don't know how -- whether this affects you or not, or whether it comes across your table. But

the Amazon is something that the whole -- that part of the world shares in terms of the lungs of the world, et cetera. And we know what happened under

President Jair Bolsonaro, and we know what the new president, Lula, is promising to restore and to stop, you know, the threat there.

Now, "The Washington Post" in a fairly recent investigation revealed that some of that deforestation there is to make way for cattle pastures, so

i.e. the international beef trade. The E.U., in December, agreed on a new law which will require products sold in the block to not come from any

deforested land. How important is that do you think, these kinds of laws, these kinds of regulations by, let's say, the E.U. that would govern the

Amazon and other deforested areas?

PERSAUD: You touch on two related but separate issues. The first one is we now have an administration in Brazil that seems to be committed on

defending the Amazon, on thinking and acting responsibly, internationally on the climate. We had great meetings with their team, you know, as early

as the last COP meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh. So, we're very -- I think the world is very hopeful and has high expectations.

But you also touched on another issue, which is we are in danger as a world of descending into a protectionist environment for which climate is almost

being used as the excuse. And we have to make sure that we have regional, national, industrial strategies that does not descend into nationalism. And

basically, the creation of these trade barriers, because if we do there's more than a climate at risk here.

AMANPOUR: So, what are you saying, that this is maybe not very constructive?

PERSAUD: I think we have to reach -- we have to do this internationally rather than nationally or regionally. And there's an opportunity to do

that. I think if we do it nationally, we're ending up really in a protectionist segregated world.

AMANPOUR: So, if I were to ask you, I mean, maybe the answer is obvious. What keeps you up at night?

PERSAUD: That we have a lot of attention on the Bridgetown Initiative, that we have a moment, and that we have to make sure we do our best to push

this agenda, this initiative to the best of our abilities because in five years-time will be too late.

AMANPOUR: All right. Avinash Persaud, thank you so much indeed.

PERSAUD: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: Climate disruption, of course, as to global poverty. Our next guest believes that can be eradicated, but only by getting enough people to

make the change. Despite being the richest country, the United States has a higher rate of poverty than any other advanced democracy. Pulitzer Prize

winning author Matthew Desmond examines the dire situation in his new book, and he's joining Michel Martin to explain why the problem persists.


MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Professor Matthew Desmond, thank you so much for talking with us once again.

MATTHEW DESMOND, AUTHOR, "POVERTY BY AMERICA" : Oh, it's pleasure to be back.

MARTIN: The last time we talked with you, we talked about your book "Evicted", critically acclaimed, bestseller, it -- just as the title

implies that dug into the origins and the scope of the eviction phenomenon in the U.S.


Now, your latest book, "Poverty by America", kind of deals with similar ideas but it feels different. I mean, in a way, it feels like a book that

you've been kind of waiting to write your whole life. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?

DESMOND: Yes, that's right. You know, I've been researching and reporting on poverty all of my adult life. I've lived in really poor neighborhoods.

I've done into the -- dug into the statistics. But I just didn't feel like I had an answer to this really pressing question, which is why? Why there's

so much poverty in this incredibly rich country? And so, this book is my response to that question.

But I think there's always been something about the American poverty debate that didn't sit well with me. And I remember reading a line by the novelist

Tommy Orange where he writes, these kids are jumping out of the windows of burning buildings, falling to their deaths. And we think that the problem

is that they're jumping. And when I read that I was like, man that sounds like the poverty debate.

And we have been focused so much on the poor themselves. And we need to be focusing on the fire, you know, who lit it? Who's warming their hands by

it. So, this is a book about the fire. This is a book about how some lives are made small so others may grow.

MARTIN: You say that poverty is often material scarcity piled on chronic pain piled on incarceration piled on depression piled on addiction on and

on it goes. Talk a little bit about some of the people that you profile in the book and the way you say that poverty kind of isn't just one thing.

It's a thing that piles on and folds in on itself.

DESMOND: Yes, that's right. I mean, when I was spending time in Milwaukee for my last book, I met grandmothers living without heat in Wisconsin, you

know, sleeping under blankets all winter long, hearing (ph) that the space heater didn't go out. I saw kids evicted all the time. The courtroom in the

eviction court room is just brimming over with children facing homelessness and eviction every day and that's in city -- in cities all across the

country, you know.

America harbors a hard bottom layer of poverty, and it's not just about a lack of money. It's about a lack of choice. It's about pain. It's about

humiliation. It's about the nauseating fear of eviction on and on it goes, which I think should spur us to moral action, you know. It could really

drive us to address this problem because poverty isn't just a lack of income. It's this exhausting collection of social maladies and problems.

MARTIN: Is it your argument that the United States is fairly unique in that among affluent nations? That you just don't find appear (ph) economies

in which the level of misery is what it is in the United States?

DESMOND: That's right. We really are in a class all our own when it comes to the level of poverty that we tolerate amongst all this wealth. There's

no other advanced democracy that has the kind of poverty that we do and the depths of poverty that we have.

And, you know, while abroad I often heard Europeans used the phrase American style deprivation, you know, they can see it. Our child poverty

rate is twice what it is in Germany or South Korea or Canada, for example. We are really lagging behind other advanced democracies when it comes to

addressing poverty in our borders.

MARTIN: Your point of view is that poverty persists in the way that it persists because the non-poor benefit from it. Why do you say that?

DESMOND: Well, we often consume the cheap goods and services that the working poor produce. Now, those of us invested in the stock market like

health returns, even though those returns often come at the cost of a human sacrifice with poorly paid labor. A lot of us really protect our tax

breaks, like our mortgage interest deduction. But those tax breaks really accrue to the wealthiest among us.

And doing so stars anti-poverty programs because we invest a lot more in subsidizing affluence than alleviating deprivation. And then the country

continues to be segregationist. We continue to build walls around our communities and hoard opportunity behind those walls. We need to tear down

those walls and we need to start taking responsibility for all the scarcity in our midst.

MARTIN: Let's just put this into different buckets if we can, although you make the argument that it's all related. So let's just talk about direct

government subsidies, you know, per se. One of the things you point out in the book is that from 1980 to 2017, there was a 237 percent increase in

federal spending on poverty programs. That's not a small amount of money. I mean, just in total dollar terms. So, why is it that the kind of misery you

describe persists given that level of spending?


DESMOND: Well, some might say it's because government spending doesn't have a real effect on poverty, but that's just wrong. You know, there's a

massive pile of research that shows the government programs directed at our poorest families are incredibly effective, even efficient. They prevent

millions of families from plunging into hunger and homelessness every year.

But they clearly aren't enough right now. And part of the reason is because we have not fully addressed the unrelenting exploitation of the poor and

the labor market and the housing market and in the financial market. Let me just give you one quick statistic. Every day, $61 million are pulled out of

the pockets of poor families in terms of overdraft fees, check cashing fees, payday loan fees. Every single day. You know, when James Baldwin

wrote how expensive it is to be poor, he couldn't even have imagined those kinds of numbers.

And so, unless we address that exploitation, we're not going to build sturdy, permanent foundation on which we can climb out of poverty for


MARTIN: Well, one of the other points you make though is that even with direct federal assistance that in most places, actually, you say that the

majority of that money doesn't actually get directly to people who are under-resourced. That there are only two states where a majority of their

assistance under the TANF program, which is the main -- used to be called welfare, maybe still is --


MARTIN: -- actually goes directly into cash assistance that most states. It goes to other places. Where does it go?

DESMOND: Yes, well --

MARTIN: What does that money do?

DESMOND: Yes, let's break it down. There's kind of two points that I think are important here. One point is that a dollar in the federal budget

doesn't mean a dollar in a family's pocket. So, you take this program called TANF for cash welfare. For every dollar budgeted for TANF, only 22

cents ends up with a family in terms of direct aid. Why? Well, because states get a lot of leeway about how they spend their money, and they're

really creative about how to do it.

You know, states have used that money to spend on Christian summer camps or abstinence only classes, marriage initiatives, things like that. Many of

these things don't have anything to do with reducing poverty. Other states just simply sit on the money. You know, Tennessee, last time I check, was

sitting on over $700 million in unspent welfare funds. Hawaii was sitting on enough to give every poor kid in its state $10,000. So, that's one thing

that's going on.

And the second thing that's going on that's important is that a lot of poor families don't take advantage of programs that they need and deserve. We

hear a lot about welfare dependency but if you look at the data, the bigger problem is welfare avoidance. The fact that families are leaving billions

and billions of dollars on the table every year. You know, one in five elderly Americans, for example, who could qualify and received food stamps,

they don't take advantage of that.

MARTIN: Why is that? Is it just too hard that it's actually just the actual process of getting these benefits is just too hard or why don't

people get it, or because there's a stigma attached to it, or because --


MARTIN: -- you make it humiliating for people to get it? What -- why is it that people don't get the benefits that they actually are entitled to?

DESMOND: Yes, all that is part of it. And we used to think stigma was the biggest reason why folks weren't relying on these programs. But it seems a

much bigger reason is that we have made them unnecessarily hard and complicated. We've wrapped these programs in red tape and regulations, and

we may make it incredibly confusing.

This is also very hopeful, though. You know, there are studies that show that just like increasing the font or connecting people with someone on the

phone can actually bring a lot more benefits to families that that need them today.

MARTIN: You know, one exception to that, of course, was during the COVID crisis, when the government made an effort -- the federal government made

aggressive efforts to, kind of, get money to people directly. And of course, there was a lot of debate and grinching about that. I mean some --

there were some people who said, oh my gosh, you know, it's you -- we're paying people not to work.

But just in that time period in which the federal government was supporting -- was offering additional cash assistance to people because of the COVID

crisis, did that make a difference in alleviating poverty for some people?

DESMOND: It made a huge difference, historic difference. We were able to reduce child poverty by 46 percent in six months. Six months. How? We

expanded the child tax credit, which was just basically a check. Mail the families with moderate and low incomes. Cut child poverty almost in half.

We reduced evictions to historic lows, months and months and months after the eviction moratorium ended, renters finally got a breath, and were able

to stay in their home and not face homelessness during the pandemic.

And it didn't seem to cost jobs. You know, in some states, it got rid of those extra benefits early and other states didn't.


The states that got rid of the benefits they didn't see their job numbers jump up. Job growth was basically tied between states that kept some of the

benefits and those that didn't. So, we made these historic incredible investments in reducing poverty. I would like that to become the new


MARTIN: And let's talk about sort of non-cash, the kind of non-cash, non- direct government, you know, assistance or lack thereof. Talk about the ways in which you feel like these income subsidies, redound to the benefit

of the middle class and the upper class, upper middle class and not necessarily to the poor. Talk a little bit about that, if you would. Give

one or two examples.

DESMOND: Sure, when we think about the welfare state, we usually think about cash welfare, public housing, things like that. But we should also

think about things like the mortgage interest deduction, the 529 savings plan, cash break -- excuse me, tax breaks we get for wealth transfers in

America. That's also part of the welfare state.

You know, both tax break and a government check cost the government money, and both of those put income in someone's pocket. And so, if you add up all

the benefits that the government is doling out, social insurance, tax breaks, means tested programs to the poorest families, you learn that every

year in America the top 20 percent of us receive about $36,000 from the government. And the bottom 20 percent receive only $25,000 from the

government. That's almost a 40 percent difference. We're doing a lot more to guard fortunes than we are to expand opportunity.

MARTIN: What role do you think race plays in this? Because one of the things I noticed about the book is that, you know, race is a part of it,

but race isn't all of it. But I am interested in whether you think that there's an interplay between the way we think about race, the way we act on

race in this country, and the way these systems persist.

DESMOND: Yes, absolutely there is. It's impossible to write a book about poverty in the United States with also -- without also writing a book about

race and racism in the United States. A big way race -- a big role race plays in the story is segregation. You know, white Americans -- and

especially white affluent Americans continue to be the most segregated group in the country.

You know, we've built these communities where, basically, the only folks that can live in the communities are affluent homeowners, the majority of

whom are white in this country. And so, thinking about an end of poverty is also thinking about how to tear down those walls and embrace kind of open,

more inclusive communities.

And so, race plays a huge role there. It also plays a huge role until like how people see and understand the poor. There's a lot of really

discouraging studies that show that folks are more likely to vote yes on an anti-poverty program if they think the benefit isn't going to African

American families, that's really discouraging. And so, I think that the country's legacy of racism and the country's legacy of economic

exploitation have gone hand in hand since the founding.

MARTIN: Your book has been incredibly well received. I've been really interested in that. And I'm curious what you make of it.

DESMOND: I think the country is ready for this conversation. I think there's so many of us that are fed up with the old tropes and old stories

of poverty and bootstrapping and responsibility. And I think that we want a more-fair society. I think many of us who are not poor, many of us who are

privileged feel complaisant (ph) in all this poverty around us, and it drags us all down. And so, many of us are struggling, also want a language

and a new story about why it's so hard to get ahead in the land of the free.

So, I don't know. I think that there's -- you know, this is a driving issue of our day. This is a morally urgent issue that many Americans want to have

this conversation here.

MARTIN: You did not grow up wealthy. In fact, you talk about it very openly in the book, and I think very movingly. You've experienced your

parents losing their job, you've experienced losing your home because of it. You've experienced having to work really hard to get through school.

Not having all the choices that you wanted to make. How do you understand your own story in the context of all this?

DESMOND: I was given opportunities from the government. I was given things like student loans, and we often don't think about a student loan as a

government program, but it is. I was given a tuition remission at my state university, that helped a lot. And I think that I'm -- I was able to

recognize the way that the government intervened in my life in ways that really did result in social climbing. And I want a government that does

more of that for everyone.


I want a government that is truly obsessively committed to ending poverty because I think that's a government that's obsessively committed to freedom

and happiness in equal opportunity. And so, if that means that I need to give up a few things that I now receive because of, you know, I'm a member

of the professional class, that's totally a bargain I'm willing to make.

So, for example, you know, could it be the case that homeowners who get this big benefit from the government, the mortgage interest deduction,

start really thinking about that. You know, 2020 we as a nation spent $190 billion on homeowners' subsidies, but only $53 billion on direct housing

assistance of the needy. In a world where eviction is commonplace, in a world where most renting families spend at least half of what they have on

housing cost, that seems to be out of lock with our values and priorities. I'd like to bring that more into balance.

MARTIN: Professor Matthew Desmond, thanks so much for talking with us today.

DESMOND: Thanks, Michel. Always a pleasure and privilege.


AMANPOUR: An important conversation there.

Turning now to the wonderfully eccentric artist Gilbert and George. Yes, two people one artist. Together they produced some of the U.K.'s most

progressive contemporary work, Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore. And now the duo, who are romantic partners as well, have opened a permanent

exhibition space dedicated to their work in East London. It's gallery, screening room and education center showcase their decades-long career,

which I discovered when they turned their creative forebeam (ph) on me ahead of the formal opening.


AMANPOUR: Gilbert and George, welcome to our program.

GEORGE PASSMORE, ARTIST: Thank you very much.

GILBERT PROESCH, ARTIST: You're very kind.

AMANPOUR: One artist, two people. I think people are fascinated by that. Tell me how it works, because you are Gilbert and George, and you create as

one, is that right?


PASSMORE: But it's the most usual arrangement in the world, including the animal kingdom, we're all in twos.

PROESCH: And what George doesn't do, I do. And what I want to -- don't want to do, George does. That's about it.

AMANPOUR: Are there any examples that you can bring to mind? I mean, let's face it, we're in this unbelievable new exhibition of yours. Can you tell

me how to pronounce it, paradisical or paradisical?

PASSMORE: Paradisical.

PROESCH: Paradisical which comes from paralyze.

AMANPOUR: Yes, of course.

PASSMORE: We realize that most people think of paradise as the after party. So, we thought we would use these pictures to launch the whole

enterprise to begin with. And it's strange is when we were creating these pictures, we were very conscious that we wanted to address the people who

are great believers in the hereafter, and the people who don't, the people who believe in the here and now. So, we tried to be equally respectful to

those two communities.

AMANPOUR: Is it --

PROESCH: We are hearing now ourselves, yes.

AMANPOUR: And -- I mean, you're speaking somewhat religiously. Does religion come into it?

PASSMORE: Religion is there. We're part of the free world, very proudly so. And that was sort of invented a long time ago with the Christian --

Judeo-Christian background. So, you could say that we're -- we, as artists, are Greco-Romano, Judeo-Christian secularists.

PROESCH: But nonbelievers, that's very important.

AMANPOUR: That's like having your cake and eating it too.


AMANPOUR: So, tell me about "Paradisical". The "Paradisical", this is just amazing, the amount of color. This is a brand-new gallery museum, and it's

right near your home where you've lived, I think, what, 50 odd years?

PROESCH: Half a century, yes.

AMANPOUR: So, tell me about it. What was the idea as living artists -- a living artist to build this space now?

PROESCH: It's very simply because new museums they don't have the space anymore, and it is limited what they can show. And we as artist, we're what

we call -- he started out with the idea that we wanted to be seen. And that's why the only way to be seen if you build your own little museum.

AMANPOUR: OK, that is -- so not -- the museums weren't big enough for you. Is that what you're saying?

PROESCH: No, they are --

AMANPOUR: The National Gallery --

PROESCH: -- still full of --

AMANPOUR: -- the Moore -- Gerald Moore --

PROESCH: -- they are too full for -- with other artists.


PASSMORE: And we're also very conscious that we are part of a generation of artists who came about believing that they go to the studio every day,

work away, day after day. And one day someone will knock at the door and propose an exhibition for them. We never believed in that. We always

thought it's up to us to speak through our art and that the art should reach people. Art for all was one of our earliest slogans.

PROESCH: That's why at the beginning, we were able to make art walking the streets of London. We're the living sculptures.

AMANPOUR: OK. That's what I want to understand. What does that mean?

PROESCH: We were the art. We made ourselves the subject of our art and it's quite exciting. We are living sculptures.


AMANPOUR: Which could be somewhat egotistical, or it could be this unbelievable dynamic that you guys have created in every single picture,

you are depicted, correct?

PROESCH: Yes, because it's our world. Our journey. It is a journey towards the end. And we are doing it and we are showing ourselves and what

surrounds us.

PASSMORE: It's the power of culture. Dickens wrote all of the Dickens' books. He didn't let anyone else right out. Vincent van Gogh painted all of

his pictures. So, when you go to museums, somebody is at this very moment, probably in a different time zone, and they're looking at gnarled tree and

some blossom in the background, that is Van Gogh speaking to them from the grave. The western world, the western triumph where we are all safe and

free, unlike most of the territories in the world, it was created through culture, not through the policeman and not from the vicar.

PROESCH: Not the vicar.

PASSMORE: The music, the painting, the art, the theater, the ballet, the opera, that created a safe and free world. How privileged we are.

PROESCH: It's extraordinary, this journey that we did ourselves. We invented the form even, the living sculpture form and we wanted (ph) in the

form for art for all that everybody could be involved in it, and it's just fantastic.

AMANPOUR: When you say, art for all, do you mean sort of, for instance, I understand this exhibition, this gallery will be free for people to come.


PROESCH: Yes, art for all.

AMANPOUR: Is that what you mean by art for all?

PASSMORE: It's partly that. But it's also our intention -- when we were baby students at Saint Martin's School of Art, we realized that all of the

fellow students and the teachers believe that art was another form in life. It wasn't part of life. It was to do with shapes, colors, angle, surfaces.

They didn't think it had anything to do with death or --


PASSMORE: -- or life.


PASSMORE: Or death or hope or any of those things. They thought it has to do with form. So, if you could take those artworks out of the college onto

the street, it would have no meaning. We wanted art that would address anyone wherever they lived in the world.

AMANPOUR: So, tell me the meaning of this then because most of the art that I've seen of yours anyway, is all about living things and mostly

nature, or am I wrong?

PROESCH: And people.

PASSMORE: Nature is there.

AMANPOUR: And people, but mostly the people are you.

PROESCH: And dirty street and dirty scars and sun and everybody else and us turning into what we call the humanity of human being. We're trying to

express ourselves as human beings like everybody else. We don't want to be different, but the journey is ours.

PASSMORE: As we speak, somebody's having a funeral somewhere in London or somewhere else. And the person who's being buried is going to be promised

eternal life by the vicar. As we speak, people being promised life everlasting.


PASSMORE: And these pictures are about that subject, and it also addressed the belief that here and now is it. We're trying to deal with equal

courtesy to those two groups of people.

PROESCH: It feels like walking into the Garden of Eden. But where is she? She's not there.

PASSMORE: It's not the Garden of Eden. It's not the garden of Sodom. Where are we going to go?

AMANPOUR: Talking about Sodom, you do use some pretty outrageous words, at least many people might think they are on many of your paintings. You know,

irreligious words, if you like.


AMANPOUR: Some profanities.



PROESCH: Because it's normal. It's totally normal. Everybody is using it, no. We are just using as part of art. But out there, it's all the time, day

and night.

AMANPOUR: Behind me, I mean, this is one of my favorite ones, actually.

PROESCH: It is the best one.

AMANPOUR: But I'm somewhat offended by the name, "Date Rape".

PASSMORE: Date rape is a very, very important picture for us because we know when we read our newspaper in the morning and when we watch television

news at 6:00 every day, that there's a lot of very bad behavior in the human world. And when we occasionally get exhausted during the day and

watch a nature program in the afternoon, we see there's a lot of bad behavior in the animal world. And we wanted with this picture to explore

what is what is it in the plant world?

PROESCH: They must do extraordinary stuff.

PASSMORE: The fruit and the flowers and the buds. We don't know about bad behavior to that, do we? And this picture suggests that maybe there are


PROESCH: I'm sure, they do.

PASSMORE: They are flinging the seeds all over, aren't they? They're calling out to the bumblebees to help them. It's extraordinary. Maybe it's

another world we don't know about.

PROESCH: One day we will know the language of trees and flowers.

PASSMORE: And the very word rape, you can hardly open a newspaper anywhere in the world without finding that word.

PROESCH: Even the bible nonstop. And not a what about animals, you know, what about flowers. Not about humans, but us.


AMANPOUR: You have called yourselves conservative? And at one point, you said, maybe we've written our death warrant or signed our death warrant in

the artistic world. Do you believe that? I mean, is it that weird to be conservative artists?

PASSMORE: I think in the art world -- I'm not sure about all over the world, but I think in Britain for many, many years it was a bad thing to

say that you're conservative. It was as though you're weird or something. We always vote conservative because we like to vote for the winning party.

And for quite a few years, we've been on the winner. And we think the --

AMANPOUR: And when there were Labour governments --

PASSMORE: -- we think conservatives is more normal.


PROESCH: We think it's very --

PASSMORE: The other side is more foreign. It's more revolutionary. It was more communists or more atheists or something weird.

PROESCH: But it's very --

PASSMORE: Conservative means normal, average.

PROESCH: That's why everybody's, oh, my God. They have this beautiful scene (ph), they behave like fantastic people. But behind the scene, we did

amazing stuff, but --

AMANPOUR: And you do -- I mean, part of your, you know, living sculpture is this clothing that you're wearing.

PROESCH: We are able to go through airports very easily.

PASSMORE: Very rarely searched at airports.

AMANPOUR: Because of the way you dress?



AMANPOUR: Because you look like upstanding citizens?

PROESCH: Yes. It's so conservative.

PASSMORE: And you can get a table at any restaurant in the world.

PROESCH: What did they say in the --

AMANPOUR: Because of the way you dress or because they know that you are very important.

PASSMORE: No, no. You can go into -- we went to Portugal by chance a few years ago, we were in Lisbon where we've never been before. And somebody at

the hotel said you must try the restaurant in the other hotel. And we went, and it was a bit extremely grand place, and we found the restaurant which

was also very grand and at the restaurant door, there was a very sophisticated, snooty headwaiter with the leather-bound whiteness (ph)

under his arm. And I said, good evening. Do you have a table for us? And he said, we always have a table for great artists. This way, gentlemen.

AMANPOUR: Well, they recognized you then. Do you --

PASSMORE: I think it's --

AMANPOUR: -- would you call yourself eccentric?

PASSMORE: Certainly not. No, no, we're normal.

PROESCH: What do we call -- normal?

PASSMORE: Normal weird.

PROESCH: Normal weird.

PASSMORE: We don't want to be weird because traditionally all the artists were weird. You know, with sandals and tobacco pipes and things. And we

don't want to be normal, because who wants to be like everyone else? But to be weird and normal at the same time is a good balance, we think.

AMANPOUR: Normal weird. I'm going to pocket that one. That's good. Can I ask you because, again, you've lived in this neighborhood, the east end of

London, very, very, very rich, culturally. Whether it's Brick Lane or Spitalfields, where we are now, rich culture of the City of London. You

have gotten your inspirational lot from this part of London, right? That's what I understand. In what way?

PROESCH: Because we think the center of the world is Spitalfields. We always there down. Everything is not important. Spitalfields is the center

of the world.

AMANPOUR: Yes, but why?

PROESCH: Because everything is there.


PROESCH: All the cultures of all over the world, they're all -- they all end up here. They have been starting from -- I don't know, when the French

were chucked out of France, and then we have the Bangladeshi, then we had the artistic people like us. And now, we have the most sophisticated year.

PASSMORE: We live on a French street, built on the room in a cemetery. Brick Lane is where Oscar Wall used to buy his drugs. We live 10-minute

walk from the house of the founder of the free press, John Wilkes. We also have a 10-minute walk from the tomb of the most famous least read book,

"Pilgrim's Progress".

AMANPOUR: The most famous least read book.


PASSMORE: I think so.

PROESCH: And William Blake.

PASSMORE: William Blake is in the same cemetery.

PROESCH: Same cemetery.

PASSMORE: It's also the dissident cemetery, not the regular cemetery.

PROESCH: Dissident.

PASSMORE: So, we're living not in eastern, not in Spitalfields but in an amazing --


RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rahel Solomon. I want to take you now to the U.S. State Department for a briefing. Let's listen



VEDANT PATEL, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: U.S. citizens are arrested abroad, we pursue consular access as soon as

possible. However, due to Russia's administrative procedures and security requirements, it will likely be several days before that happens.

Third, we are in close contact with the wall street journal on this issue. And also, I would like to make it clear that it is not safe for U.S.

citizens to be in the Russian federation. Any U.S. citizen residing or traveling in Russia should depart immediately, as stated in our latest

travel advisory. Those who require assistance in departing Russia should contact the U.S. embassy in Moscow for assistance.

Unfortunately, we have seen how the Russian government's escalating repression affects journalists, as well as civil society activists and the

broader Russian community. Since February, 24 2022, dozens of outlets and more than 100 individual media professionals have been labeled as

undesirable organizations or foreign agents for doing their jobs.


Russian citizens are routinely jailed or fined for reporting basic facts or daring to share any opinion that differs from the Kremlin's narrative. Our

first priority will always be U.S. citizens, but I want to reiterate to independent Russian journalists and civil society voices who continue to

speak out or are jailed or are in exile. We stand in absolute solidarity with you.

Matt if you want to -- take us away.

MATT: Yes. Well -- so, on that, can you give us any more detail about, you know, when you knew, how you knew about this arrest and, you know, what

you're doing about it other than just reaching out to the Russian foreign ministry?

PATEL: Matt, we are still very much in the early stages here. And so, that is, in fact what we're doing. We're trying to obtain and ascertain as much

information as we can. I'm certainly not at a place to speak to the specifics of this case beyond what I already said, given privacy

considerations. But I, again, would say that we are immensely concerned over Russia's announcement that has detained a U.S. citizen journalist.

We're --

MATT: OK. Sir --

PATEL: -- in contact, as I said, with "The Wall Street Journal" about this situation, and we have not yet heard back from the Russian foreign ministry

affairs. But we reached out through the appropriate channels as soon as we were made aware of this reporting.

MATT: So, your understanding right now is there is no privacy act waiver for this person?

PATEL: That is correct.

MATT: Would you recommend that people who are traveling in Russia who do not heed your advice to leave immediately, sign one --

PATEL: I'm not --

MATT: -- if they want to, you know, if they want you guys to be able to speak about their case?

PATEL: I'm not here to offer legal advice, Matt.

MATT: I don't think that's legal advice.

PATEL: I am here to say two things. First, that when any American in any part of the world is detained, we moved quickly to seek consular access,

just as we had, as we have in this case. And secondly, our travel advisory warning for Russia continues to be a level four and has been for quite some

time. And that continues to be the case and it continues to be our message to any American citizen currently inside the Russian Federation.

MATT: Thank you.

PATEL: All right. Jenny.

JENNY: Thanks, Vedant. Do you expect to name Evan as wrongfully detained? And if so, what is that process? How quickly do you think that designation

will be made? And then can you say when you file this notice with the ministry of foreign affairs in Moscow? Is there any sort of timeline that

they're required to meet you grant consular access or provide this notification?

PATEL: Jenny, the department regularly reviews the circumstances surrounding the detentions of U.S. nationals overseas for indicators that

these detentions are wrongful. I'm not going to get ahead of that process as this just happened yesterday. Of course, I'm seeing the same public

reporting that you are seeing as it relates to these charges. And I don't think that there is any truth to them. But again, I'm going to let this

process play out and not get ahead of this process.

And then again, in terms of notifications or any of the sequencing, I'm just not at ability to speak to the specifics given privacy considerations.

But the minute that we were aware, the department has been deeply engaged on this, as has been our embassy in Moscow.

JENNY: Can I follow up? You said even citizens residing in Russia should leave that Evan was an accredited journalist there. Are you saying it's not

safe for even people who are credited, you know, with the ministry or working for international organizations to view?

PATEL: Our message to American citizens residing in Russia is that the travel advisory warning is a level four and that they should leave. And if

they need assistance doing so, they can get in touch with our mission in Moscow.

Sean (ph), go ahead.

SEAN (PH): The Russians have already said that the United States, in their words, shouldn't use this as a reason to take action against Russian media

and United States. Do you have any comment on that one way or the other?

PATEL: Can you repeat that question, Sean (ph)?

SEAN (PH): Sure, the Russian foreign minister is saying that the United States should not use this as, in their view, a pretext to do anything to

Russian media, take any measures in social media here. Do you have anything to say about that or about how Russian media is treated in the U.S.?

PATEL: Well, broadly, I think quite clearly, we take the importance of the freedom of the press and freedom of expression quite seriously. And more

broadly what our focus here right now is to not take any action that is unrelated or to simply just understanding as much information as we can.


And most importantly gaining consular access to meet with and visit this individual to ensure their well-being.

Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the State Department engaging with Russia about the arrested "Wall Street Journal" reporter? And is there the possibility of

there being a prisoner release like there was with Brittney Griner situation or any sanctions or sanction any kind of concession to get "The

Wall Street Journal" reporter back?

PATEL: So, to answer your second question. I am not going to speculate or preview any actions. Again, we continue -- our number one priority

continues to be seeking consular access so we can meet with this individual and ascertain their well-being and get as much information as we can. And

to your first part of your question, I think I just delivered a topper on this.

Camilla (ph), go ahead.

CAMILLA (PH): Thanks, Vedant. Do you have any reason to be concerned that this is some, kind of, tit for tat for the student Russian spy that was

attending Johns Hopkins University or is it too early to tell?

PATEL: I just think hypotheticals at this point are unhelpful to the process.

CAMILLA (PH): Thank you.

PATEL: Yes. Anything else on this before we move away to a different topic?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just quickly, is there anything about Russia's lack of response so far that gives you any indication that they're either treating

this similarly to previous wrongfully detained Americans in Russia?

PATEL: I don't want to draw a conclusion or get into hypotheticals. What I will just reiterate again is that our priority and our focus is pursuing

consular access as swiftly and as quickly as we can. That continues to be our priority, and that's what this entire department and our team in Moscow

continues to be engaged on.

SEAN (ph): Sure.

PATEL: Go ahead, Sean (ph).

SEAN (PH): I know there was a statement, I think from the mission in The Hague on this. But the International Court of Justice ruling today on

Iranian assets. Is there anything you can say about that? The Iranians are actually seeing some silver linings in this as well. Is there anything you

have to say about it broadly?

PATEL: Well, broadly, what I would say, Sean (ph), is that decision actually is a major blow to Iran's attempt to avoid its responsibility, in

particular to the families of U.S. peacekeepers who were killed in the 1983 bombing of the marine corps barrack in Beirut. We recognize the court's

important role and contributions to the rule of law, and the U.S. commends the court's ruling related to Bank Markazi, which was the bulk of Iran's


We are, of course, disappointed that the court has concluded that U.S, laws permitting the turnover of assets of other Iranian agencies and

instrumentalists to U.S. victims of Iran sponsored terrorism were inconsistent with the treaty. But broadly, we believe that today's decision

is a major blow to Iran.

Go ahead, Alex.


SOLOMON: And we have just been listening to the State Department press briefing. This is Vedant Patel, the deputy spokesman. He was given reaction

to CNN's top story today, the arrest of a U.S. journalists in Russia.

Let's bring you up to speed on this story. "The Wall Street Journal" urging Russia to release one of its journalists and also denying allegations that

he is a spy. The Russian security agency, FSB says, that American Evan Gershkovich, who you're looking at here, was detained in the Ural's region.

And it's accusing him of trying to collect information for the U.S.

Now, video from local media and Moscow appears to show Gershkovich being taken out of a police van, you'll see him here before returning to the

vehicle. His arrest comes days after the U.S. announced charges against Sergey Cherkasov, who's accused of working for Russian intelligence and

entering the U.S. under a fake identity.

I'm now joined by CNN's Stephen Collinson, he is in Washington and CNN contributor and former Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty. Jill, Stephen,

great to have you both. I do want to warn that we're expecting a White House press briefing on the same story and just moments, so, I may have to

interrupt. But good to have you both.

Jill, I want to start with you, coming out of that press conference. Anything stand out to you? Anything particularly concerning about what we

heard from the State Department?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Well, the fact that they are asking for consular access, and there doesn't appear

to be any response at this point. I mean, diplomats that I've been talking to already were very worried that this could drag on for a very long time.

Absolutely this now because it's an espionage charge becomes very serious and often it takes a very long time just under any circumstances to

adjudicate something like this.

So, the indications now will be -- it will be very important to see how long it takes for U.S. officials, even to get to Evan because, you know,

this is now top secret.