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U.S. Marine Anti-Terror Unit Deploys To Haiti Amid Gang Violence; Sand Dune Barrier Built To Protect Homes Washes Away In 24 Hours; Dozens Of Artists & Speakers Pull Out Of SXSW Over Army & Defense Industry Sponsorships Amid Israel-Hamas War. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 13, 2024 - 13:30   ET



PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Now, Boeing has offered its condolences in a statement.

Sad incident amid all of these concerns about Boeing right now. Pretty much everyone had their antenna go up anytime there's an issue on a Boeing plane right now, at least for right now.

And there are a lot of conspiracy theories online that seems to be purely coincidental.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: All right. Pete Muntean, thank you so much for that.

A potentially dangerous deployment. The Pentagon sending Marines now to one of the most dangerous spots on earth, Haiti. We'll have more on their mission.

And there may be no defense against Mother Nature. How some homeowners are fighting rising sea levels, and why their fight may be futile.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: A U.S. Marine Anti-terrorism Unit is on its way to Haiti amid mounting chaos there. For weeks now, rampant gang violence has paralyzed the Caribbean nation, prompting the country's prime minister to resign earlier this week.

Haiti is now hoping to have a transitional council in place to pave the way for new elections.

But the country's top gang leader, whose fighters control much of the capital, Port-au-Prince, says that his coalition will not recognize any new government.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand is live for us at the Pentagon.

Natasha, what more can you tell us about this group of Marines that's going and what their mission is? NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY & POLICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes,

Boris, so this is what's known as a FAST Unit and that stands for U.S. Marine Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team.

Essentially, what it is, is a dedicated security and anti-terrorism task force, essentially that is able to be deployed at a very quick pace, very rapidly around the world in areas where they need to augment securities.

So for example, in Haiti right now, the U.S. embassy is still up and running. And so these Marines are going to be tasked with supporting embassy security.

The U.S. military did evacuate a number of non-essential personnel from the embassy in Haiti's capital on Sunday, however, they are aiming to keep the embassy open to the extent possible.

But of course, it is a very dangerous environment. So that's why they need this additional security from, we are told, dozens of Marines who are going to be part of this unit in order to ensure the safe operation of that embassy.

Because roughly 80 percent of Haiti's capital at this point is being run by the gangs now. And it remains unclear just when Kenya is actually going to be able to deploy that police force of roughly 1,000 personnel to Haiti.

Which is what the Haitian prime minister was over in Kenya trying to organize when this takeover over by the gangs occurred.

And so obviously the U.S. military is going to try to augment the presence there to allow U.S. personnel at the embassy to keep operating and wait and see essentially how this all plays out.

As you said, they are hoping that a transitional government can be put in place very soon.

SANCHEZ: Natasha Bertrand, live from the Pentagon, thanks so much for that.

So half-a-million-dollars defense against -- a half-a-million-dollar defense rising tides washed away in just a day. I'm going to take you live to the Massachusetts coastline, where people appear to be fighting a losing battle against the rapidly changing planet.



KEILAR: America's shorelines are disappearing. From Malibu, California, to New England beach front residents are watching helplessly as the ocean relentlessly eats their pristine sandy landscapes.

Homeowners in one Massachusetts seaside town took drastic measures. They built a $600,000 sand-dune barrier to shore up the beach. And the mighty Atlantic Ocean washed that thing away almost entirely in a single day.

We have CNN chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir, in Salisbury, where residents are now wondering what happens next -- Bill?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Brianna. And this is really a story sort of 50 years in the making. On a day like this, you can see why they love it so.

Residents who've been coming here since the '70s said you used to get tired taking your kids down to the water, the beach was so wide. But year-by a year, tide by tide, it's gotten higher and higher.

And because in Massachusetts, much of this beach is private -- it belongs to these homeowners -- the state won't replenish that.

So they chipped together, got 600,000 bucks, brought in 15,000 tons of sand. It would -- when they completed it, just for reference, it would have filled all of this under -- under the stairs here.

It was supposed to last three years. Lasted one storm. Lasted one day.

Not all of the residents actually opted in on the sand. And you can see the result of that here. This house, the waves went into the living room.

And so now they're looking at a $300,000 loss of sand in one storm hoping that their luck changes in this as a whole. But --is saying, at least Massachusetts is officially preparing for feet of sea level rise. This is just the result of nine inches of sea level rise.

And so while some don't believe the climate science I've talked to here, others are coming around to the idea that they have to think about this place in a whole new way.

KEILAR: So at what point, Bill, does the state actually get involved to help these residents? There was a meeting today about who should be paying to protect the homes.

WEIR: Yes. The folks here are really animated. They think the state should kick in. There's a state refuge. They get three bucks a car that comes and that's supposed to replenish those beaches. They'd like to see the same here.

But this is one of 79 towns in Massachusetts that are in this coastal surge zone. And it would cost tens of billions of dollars to defend all of them.

And so -- but they make the point here that there's $2 billion worth of property values just along this beach and a lot of those taxes pay for cops and teachers and the infrastructure of the town.

So this is a microcosm of this coastal debate. What do you do? What is managed retreat look like in the United States, where retreat is usually not part of the vocabulary.

And at what point are you pouring sort of wasted money fighting against time and tide? How much sand can you afford?

KEILAR: That's really amazing to look at it behind you there.

Bill, thank you so much for the report and showing that to us.


SANCHEZ: Now to some of the other headlines we're watching this hour.

Another three measles cases have been linked to a migrant shelter in Chicago, raising the citywide total to eight cases detected in the past week.


A team from the CDC is now on the ground in an effort to curb the spread of the highly contagious virus. Officials are encouraging all new arrivals and unvaccinated Chicago residents to get the measles shot as soon as possible.

Also Family Dollar announcing it's going to close nearly 1,000 stores across the country. Now owned by Dollar Tree, the discount retailer has been plagued by years of mismanagement, theft and poor store conditions.

Remember, it was recently fined more than $40 million for a rat infestation at a warehouse that forced hundreds of stores to temporarily shut down.

And you remember that disastrous Willy Wonka experience event in Glasgow, Scotland? Disastrous or legendary, depending on how you see it.

Now, you can take a piece of it home with you if you care to. Some of the set pieces are being auctioned for charity on eBay. This, after the event was widely ridiculed on social media for promising kids a fully immersive experience that turned out to be anything but.

In fact, here's how one of the actors described it.


PAUL CONNELL, HIRED AS WILLY WONKA FOR "WILLY'S CHOCOLATE EXPERIENCE": Not just for the children, but for me, it was just -- it was just so --you know, I was in the middle of this abandoned warehouse. I had top part and like cheap car on. And I was -- I was pretending to be Willy Wonka. It was - I -- you know, there's -- there's no words to describe it.


SANCHEZ: Almost 50 people have bid on the set pieces. The highest offer right now, just under $1,000.

Brianna is set to bid on it as we speak.


SANCHEZ: You could own a piece of history. Don't miss out on this opportunity.

So it's not the headline that South by Southwest was looking for. Artists are protesting over some of the festival sponsors. Why this is related to what's happening in the Middle East, when we come back.



SANCHEZ: Happening right now, dozens of performers and speakers are pulling out of the South by Southwest festival in Austin. At issue, sponsorships from the U.S. Army and a number of defense companies.

The protesting artists expressed solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza as they announced their boycott.

KEILAR: The message from the state's governor, Texas Republican Greg Abbott, is, "Bye, don't come back." That is a quote there from his tweet.

South by Southwest organizers pushing back on the governor's response. They say they respect the artists' rights to free speech, and they're also defending their sponsors as well.

Our Elizabeth Wagmeister is tracking the story.

And, Elizabeth, the Army is now responding. What are they saying?

ELIZABETH WAGMEISTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are. We have received a statement from a spokesperson for the us Army. Here is what they told us at CNN. They say that:

"We are proud to be a sponsor of South by Southwest and to have the opportunity to showcase Americas Army. South by Southwest presents a unique opportunity for the Army to meet technology innovators and leaders exploring new ideas and insights and create dynamic industry partnerships as we modernize for the future."

Now, as you said, Brianna, South by Southwest is pushing back on Governor Abbott. And they are also supporting the Army.

We have received a statement from South by Southwest, and here is what they have said in part. They say that they do not agree with Governor Abbott.

Quote, "We are an organization that welcomes diverse viewpoints. Music is the soul of South by Southwest and it has long been our legacy. We fully respect the decision these artists made to exercise their right to free speech."

And they go on to say, "We have and will continue to support human rights for all. The situation in the Middle East is tragic and it illuminates the heightened importance of standing together against injustice."

Now, I have to tell you, I just got back from South by Southwest. I landed last night from Austin. There we're no protests yet that I saw on the scene, but there is a protest scheduled for this Thursday.

The festival runs through the end of this week. That protest is being organized by the Austin for Palestine coalition.

SANCHEZ: So, Elizabeth, how many artists and speakers have actually canceled or are they just packing up and leaving Austin?

WAGMEISTER: So there are about 80 individuals who have pulled out of the festival. This includes various artists and also panelists.

Now, this is mostly smaller artists, not household names, indie bands who are pulling out on an individual basis and announcing this on social media.

Now, South by Southwest is a major event. It's a music festival. It is a film festival. There's a lot of tech that comes to Austin.

Last year, 340,000 individuals came to the festival. The festival brings in hundreds of millions of dollars.

And there are major players there. Just throughout the past week at the festival, we have seen film premieres that have been attended by Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sydney Sweeney. Meghan Markle also was a panelist. She spoke at South by Southwest.

So we have not seen any major stars pull out. I do not anticipate that we will. Because most of the television and film premieres have already happened.

And again, the people who have pulled out and are standing in protest because of the Army sponsorship are pulling out, again, on an individual basis.

It would be very difficult for a major Hollywood studio, let's say, to pull out for a few reasons.


Number one, this is a great presence on the festival circuit. Number two, to have an anti-Army stance would be very difficult for a major Hollywood player to do.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Elizabeth Wagmeister, thanks so much for the update.

Still plenty more news to come this afternoon, including an important win for Donald Trump's legal team in Georgia. Maybe not, though, the one that they we're hoping for. That's next.