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Protests in Israel after Netanyahu Fires Defense Minister; West Condemning Putin's Plan to Station Nukes in Belarus; Young Volunteer Struggles with the Terrors of War; Southeastern U.S. Struck by at Least 10 Confirmed Tornadoes; At Least 28 Migrants Dead after 2 Boats Sink off Tunisia; Kamala Harris Taking Weeklong Trip to Africa; Beijing is Starting to Recover from COVID Economic Slump; Daylight Saving Time Row Leaves Lebanon with Two Time Zones. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 27, 2023 - 00:00   ET


LAILA HARRAK, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome to all of our viewers watching from around the world. I'm Laila Harrak.


Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM --




HARRAK: Israel's political crisis deepening this hour as anger erupts on the streets late into the night.

Neighborhoods simply decimated as officials in Mississippi promise help is on the way. A new severe weather threat looms for some 30 million people.

And the U.S. vice president on tour of -- on a tour of Africa, promoting investment opportunities and countering the growing influence of China and Russia.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Laila Harrak.

HARRAK: It's seven in the morning in Israel, where there's outrage over the firing of the country's defense minister, after he voiced opposition to controversial plans for a judicial overhaul.




HARRAK: Massive crowds packed the streets of Tel Aviv late Sunday, part of spontaneous protests that erupted after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sacked Yoav Gallant. Well, protesters aren't the only ones responding to that move. The

consul general of Israel in New York resigned. And in the hours ahead, universities in Israel plan to go on strike, while the country's largest labor union, set to hold a news conference, it promises will be dramatic.

In Washington, the White House National Security Council expressing deep concern over the developments. Gallant was the first member of Netanyahu's camp -- cabinet to voice opposition to the judicial reforms.

But now three other ministers, all members of Netanyahu's Likud Party, suggest halting the plans.

Journalist Elliott Gotkine was there when the protests erupted on Sunday and has more from Tel Aviv.


ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: As the saying goes, if you're going to shoot at the king, you'd better not miss. And it seems that Israel's now ex-defense minister missed when he gave a press conference on Saturday evening and became the first minister to call for a halt to this government's judicial overhaul, because when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from his weekend in London, he sacked Gallant.

And the result of that is what you see behind me, thousands and thousands of people on the streets of central television, showing their support for Gallant in his opposition to this judicial overhaul and reiterating their opposition to an overhaul, pretty much all checks and balances on the government, allowing it to put its allies in the Supreme Court and preventing the Supreme Court from striking down laws passed by Parliament except in very narrow circumstances.

Now, since this announcement by Netanyahu, since it came out that he had sacked Gallant, these people have come out onto the streets. They're usually out on the streets for the past three months on Saturday evenings and on Thursday. This is a Sunday evening. They are incredibly angry that this has happened.

We've heard from opposition leaders, like Yair Lapid, the former prime minister, and Benny Gantz, former defense minister, coming out and saying that Netanyahu has crossed a red line.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak has called for Netanyahu to step down. The history of Israel's main labor union has called for a general strike on Monday.

So if Netanyahu thought that sacking Gallant was going to quash dissent in his ranks and put an end to opposition to this judicial overhaul. He was very much mistaken.

For CNN, this is Elliott Gotkine, in Tel Aviv.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HARRAK: Well, joining us now from Jerusalem is Yaakov Katz, editor in chief at "The Jerusalem Post" and author of "Shadow Strike: Inside Israel's Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power."

So good to have you with us, Yaakov, on this very eventful day. We've seen, obviously, weeks of extraordinary scenes, and now this political crisis seems to be deepening, the societal rift only growing. Describe the mood right now in Israel.

YAAKOV KATZ, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "THE JERUSALEM POST": Look, the mood is terrible. There is a -- there are people out in the streets, burning things in the highways, in the middle of the roads. There is a feeling of complete distress.

It feels as if the prime minister has lost control. It feels as if this country is going down a very dangerous road.

What we've seen until now has been a lot of protests: 300,000 people weekly taking to the streets. But now this is something else, right? The fact that the defense minister was sacked just because he dared to speak up against the judicial reforms, shows a whole other level of what is happening here in the political system.


You know, if in the past, by the way, you could have said this is just about, you know, the right or the left. Here, this is already people within the prime minister's own party. The defense minister who's coming out and saying this is wrong, and then just gets fired.

So Israelis, and many of them today are feeling extreme anguish and fear of what is coming.

HARRAK: Any sign that the prime minister is prepared to hit the -- hit the brakes on this. Have we heard from him?

KATZ: He's supposed to speak. Sometime this morning. He just announced that he'll be giving another one of these dramatic speeches. He did the same thing last Thursday, if you recall.

And then on Thursday, he gave a speech where people thought, OK, maybe this is where he's going to hit the brakes. Maybe he's actually going to take a step back from from where he's been heading.

But in the end, he basically doubled down and said, yes, I'll be sure to -- to safeguard civil rights, but I'm moving ahead with my judicial reform.

I think what we saw last night when he fired Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, was basically a decision by Prime Minister Netanyahu. He is moving ahead with the legislation. They plan to bring it this morning to finalize the piece of legislation in the Knesset, the Parliament's committee, and finalize it and prepare it for a vote on Wednesday when it will be brought for a 2nd and 3rd reading. That's the final voting process in the Israeli Knesset. And the reason to fire Gallant, I think, is basically to send a shot

across the bow and to create a deterrent, to tell any other member of the coalition, If you dare cross me, if you dare violate your commitment to my judicial reform, I will fire you.

And that is meant to get other people who might be considering doing this in the Parliament to back off.

HARRAK: So there are no other dissenting voices within the Netanyahu administration?

KATZ: Look, there are. You know, we saw after Yoav Gallant's speech on Saturday night, there were a couple other members who came out and issued statements of support. They said, we support that; we support the call for dialogue for -- for this piece of legislation to be done in -- in harmony, if that's even possible at this stage; to be done together between the opposition and the coalition, the protesters and supporters.

But those people did not say they would vote against it. They did not say that they would not, as Gallant said, give their hand towards or in support of this legislation.

So I have yet to hear of any other possible public dissenter. There are people who are behind-the-scenes murmurs of opposition within the ranks of the coalition, but those people have yet to come forward.

I'm not sure. I mean, this. You know, the firing of the defense minister could go both ways, right? It could be the straw that breaks the camel's back and gets coalition members to say while the prime minister has really lost it.

On the other hand, we know that politicians tend to be concerned about their -- their own future before maybe the future of the people sometimes sadly, and therefore, this deterrent might actually work.

HARRAK: Yaakov, how unprecedented is this very moment? I mean, is this now about more than just overhauling the judiciary?

KATZ: Oh, this is much more this is, you know? I say to people all the time, whether you are supportive of the judicial reforms. You're against it. You like the protesters. You don't like the protesters to see such a huge amount of people.

You know, you have to look at -- it might just seem like 300,000 people, not so many. That's 2.5 percent of our population. That's the equivalent of about eight million Americans taking to the streets on a weekly basis for 12 weeks straight. That's unimaginable, right?

And -- and what these people are saying is they care about democracy. I think it shows the vitality, the vibrancy of Israel's democracy, the character of the state, the commitment of its people to -- to fight for what they believe in.

Right, you know, we've for long looked at Israelis over 75 years of status as a country. That has for forever, really, been embroiled in conflict and really shine, sometimes, in -- in those moments with its bravery and its courage and its ingenuity.

I think we're seeing that again now, and that's something that should be inspirational. But on the other hand, it's very concerning. It's how a government sees that its peoples in distress and doesn't stop. It doesn't care.

And that's something that I think we need to look at and say, OK, so what can be done? How can people make sure their voice is heard?

HARRAK: So describe for us what is going to happen in the next couple of days.

KATZ: Look, I'm concerned, you know. So today it will go to the Knesset committee, and there will be some technical voting. Tuesday, tomorrow there's no meeting of the Parliament, so that'll probably be maybe a quiet day, although there could be some protests.

I would predict that, if this actually comes to a vote on Wednesday, if the prime minister does not slam the brakes, we will see a massive, possibly unprecedented protest in Jerusalem outside Israel's Parliament on Wednesday, when people will be streaming to the Parliament building.


You know, I don't want to jump and say this is Israel's January 6th moment. I hope it's not. I hope we will not see those images.

But I think that we will see a very distressed crowd who will be trying to do whatever they can democratically and legally do to make their -- themselves heard and get their point across. There will be per -- this is the city where I live will be paralyzed. I have no doubt about that.

But I don't know that this will end. I don't know that, you know, people in the coalition who think, Oh, we'll just pass this legislation and everyone will go back and see that life is OK. The sky hasn't fallen in.

I'm not sure that's true. I think that we are at a point. This is an inflection point in the state of Israel's history, and it talks to a lot of questions of what type of country does Israel want to be?

HARRAK: An inflection point. Yaakov Katz, thank you so much.

KATZ: Thank you.

HARRAK: The condemnation is growing among Ukraine and its Western allies over Vladimir Putin's announcement that Russia would move tactical nuclear weapons into Belarus.

Well, NATO calls the move, quote, "dangerous and irresponsible," while noting the alliance had not seen any change in Russia's nuclear posture.

Meanwhile, a senior White House official downplayed Putin's announcement.


JOHN KIRBY, COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: We have not seen any indication that he's made good on this pledge or moved any nuclear weapons around. We've, in fact, seen no indication that he has any intention to use nuclear weapons, period, inside Ukraine.

Obviously, we would agree that no nuclear war should be fought. No nuclear war could be -- could be won. Clearly that would crush -- cross a major threshold.

I would also tell you that as we monitor this, and we monitor it every day. You have to, with the rhetoric coming out of Moscow and with rhetoric that's been coming out since the beginning of the war. That we've seen no -- nothing that would cause us to change our own strategic deterrent posture.


HARRAK: An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Putin is afraid of losing and that the move would violate the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Meanwhile the E.U.'s top diplomat calls Mr. Putin's announcement "an irresponsible escalation and threat to European security."

Lithuania's foreign ministry says it will call for new sanctions against Russia.

While any mention of nuclear weapons by the Russian president raises alarm, analysts say there are likely other motives behind his announcement.

CNN's Matthew Chance has more now, reporting from Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what Putin said is that Russia is planning to station a number of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus --

CHANCE (voice-over): -- the first time since the 1990s that any part of Russia's nuclear arsenal has been stationed outside the country.

Putin added that a storage facility is scheduled to be completed by July. So by the summer, potentially, these small but powerful battlefield weapons could be deployed.

But while Putin's frequent references to Russia's nuclear missiles and weapons are alarming for the rest of the world, they don't necessarily mean that we're taking a step closer to Armageddon. Much of this may be for domestic consumption, to show Russians that Putin still has the initiative, when actually, progress on the battlefield has been pretty stagnant -- stagnant. Certainly, the U.S. State Department has reacted calmly to the

announcement, saying they don't see any reason to adjust their nuclear posture. Nor any indication that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon.

Where this Russian decision will be felt, though, is Belarus, Moscow's ally in what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine. Putin made it quite clear that the tactical nuclear weapons would not simply be handed over to Belarus but would remain under the command and control of Moscow.

And what that means is that Russia will likely be stationing even more of its troops there --

CHANCE: -- slowly but surely moving into Belarus, gradually tightening its grip over that country.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


HARRAK: Well, Russian attacks are ongoing in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, but a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military says they've been able to control the enemy's actions and that it has enough forces to hold the frontline.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian military commander says the Eastern city of Vuhledar has been, quote, "completely razed to the ground" after heavy shelling by Russian forces.

And in the Eastern city of Avdiivka, a Ukrainian soldier described the situation as difficult because of increased Russian airstrikes, which have cut off some supply routes.


VITALII BARABASH, HEAD OF AVDIIVKA RMA (through translator): The prospects for the town are very bad. Every day, we have multistory buildings falling apart. There hasn't been a day in the last couple of weeks when we haven't been shelled.

The town is being wiped off the face of the earth.



HARRAK: Well, the story of this war isn't just the big view of battlefield positions. It's also found in the accounts of those fighting it.

Many are young, often lightly-trained volunteers, some barely out of their teens, who are facing a powerful enemy bent on destroying their country.

CNN's David McKenzie met one such young man who is paying a high price for his time on the front lines.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The video diary of a young Ukrainian volunteer, call sign: Akula, or shark.

He signed up on the very first morning of the invasion, ready to defend his nation.

In the beginning, he says he didn't feel the burden of war. But then Akula was sent to the Eastern front.

"This was the most difficult time in my life," he says. "It's impossible to describe it with words."

Where words fail him, these images tell his story. The story of thousands of young Ukrainian soldiers.

Akula says he's suffered severe concussions from artillery and rocket strikes.

He's now at a mental health rehabilitation center near Kyiv.

MCKENZIE: Did you think the conflict would be anything like you've experienced when you volunteered that day?

MCKENZIE (voice-over): "To be honest, I did not expect such a war," he says. "When I went to war, I thought everything would be different. And when you get there, it's not what you think. It's scary, cold, hungry. And lonely."

Akula says it's peaceful here. At the forest glade center, soldiers get up to a month of treatment. The hardest decision for them is to send them back to fight and perhaps die.

"Most important thing now is that they survive and stay alive," says the head of mental health. "After the war, we will help them with their health and socialization in this country. Now every decent man should join the war, young and old. Their job is to save Ukraine."

And Ukraine is urgently calling for volunteers like these. They don't release casualty figures, but a senior U.S. official estimated months ago that perhaps 100,000 soldiers had been killed and injured, that figure undoubtedly higher now.

Just weeks ago, many of these recruits hadn't held a rifle, but their commander, a trained psychologist, carries a Ukrainian flag on his back to raise above liberated towns.

"At the moment, I feel less afraid for myself than for my fighters," says Lieutenant Kabest (ph). "Some of my team have not seen combat, and I have a great responsibility to lead them forward."

"I just want people to clearly understand," says Akula, "that the guys who have been there since the beginning are not going to stand forever."

He says he isn't physically or mentally ready. But in a few days, he could be sent back to fight.

"This is my job," he says, "and I have to do it. Who else, if not us?"

David McKenzie, CNN, Kyiv.


HARRAK: Heartbreaking loss and devastation. People in the Southeastern United States picking up the pieces and bracing for more storms after deadly tornadoes pummeled the region. We'll have a report in just a few moments.

Plus, another migrant tragedy at sea. More than a dozen people killed after two boats sank in the Mediterranean Sea. Why Italy is now calling on Europe to help. That's up next.



HARRAK: In the Southern U.S., some of the same areas that suffered a barrage of violent storms over the weekend are in harm's way again.

Billions of people are under threat of severe storms. In Georgia, the governor issued a state of emergency after a large tornado struck South of the town of LaGrange on Sunday. At least three people were injured, dozens of homes destroyed and as many as 100 were damaged.

Well, the city of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, continues the massive cleanup effort after powerful tornadoes struck the region Friday, killing 26 people and leaving untold damage behind. But the state's governor says help is on the way.

CNN's Nick Valencia is in Rolling Fork.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With all of those who were unaccounted for on Saturday now located safely --

VALENCIA (voice-over): -- the effort is entirely on the clean-up here, and there is a lot of it to be done.

There's very little of this community that was untouched by the storm that ripped through here on Friday night. But one of the things that really stood out to our crew here is just how everyone is chipping in to help. It's something that the governor talked about earlier when he spoke to the media.

GOV. TATE REEVES (R-MS): What we've seen over the last 36 hours in Mississippi, on the one hand, has been heartbreaking to see the loss and devastation of these communities. But on the other hand has been inspiring and gives me great reason for optimism. And, quite frankly, makes me damn proud to be a Mississippian, because Mississippians have done what Mississippians do. In times of tragedy, in times of crisis, they stand up and they show up.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Part of what's giving us a better understanding of the scope of this devastation is the aerial footage that we've seen. It shows just how widespread this damage is and gives an indication of how much time it will take to clean up.

VALENCIA: Nick Valencia, CNN, Rolling Fork, Mississippi.


HARRAK: At least 28 migrants have died after two boats sank off the coast of Tunisia as they were trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Italy.

Well, this as the Italian Coast Guard says they rescued thousands of people in just the past 48 hours.

CNN's Barbie Nadeau has more.


BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It was another deadly weekend on the Mediterranean migration trail between North Africa and Italy.

Tunisian authorities say that scores of people died after two boats went down off the coast of Tunisia that were trying to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa.

In the meantime, Italian Coast Guard officials say they coordinated the rescue of 3,300 people in the 48 hours between Saturday and Sunday and took them to the island of Lampedusa. Those people were on 58 different boats that were in distress.

Italian authorities are calling on Europe to help stem the flow of migration and help accept those who do qualify for asylum.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN, Rome.


HARRAK: A royal welcome for U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris as she arrives in Ghana Sunday. It's part of a weeklong diplomatic push across the continent. Details after the break.

Plus, Beijing starts to shake off an economic slump. How both the city and all of China are trying to make a comeback after years of strict COVID policy.


[00:27:15] HARRAK: Welcome back to all of our viewers around the world. I'm Laila Harrak, and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

North Korea has conducted more weapons tests, this time a short-range ballistic missile.

Well, South Korea's joint chiefs of staff say two such missiles were launched Monday morning. They flew about 300 and -- 370 kilometers before falling into the water East of the Korean Peninsula.

Pyongyang has ramped up missile launches amid ongoing military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. They're the largest joint exercises since 2017 and will end in early April.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Ghana Sunday for a history-making weeklong visit to Africa.




HARRAK: Harris was greeted in Accra by dancers and drummers. It's her first trip to the continent as U.S. vice president.

Later this week, she will travel to Zambia and Tanzania, part of a diplomatic push aimed at strengthening us relationships across the region.

In remarks after arrival, Harris said all kinds of innovations could arise from empowering the continent's young people.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm very excited about the future of Africa. I'm very excited about the impact of the future of Africa on the rest of the world, including the United States of America.

When I look at what is happening on this continent, and the fact that the median age is 19 years old. And what that tells us about the growth of opportunity, of innovation, abilities. I see an all of that great opportunity, not only for the people of this continent, but the people of the world.


HARRAK: Cameron Hudson is a senior associate at the Africa Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

So, so good to have you with us.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on a trip to the continent to boost ties. This comes just after Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to Niger in the summer he also visited several African nations. What's behind this flurry of trips? Why now?


One, I think that, obviously, the backdrop to this is this competition with China. China has been aggressively moving in with business deals and investments onto the African continent at the same time that the perception has been that Washington has essentially been stepping back, certainly since the Trump administration; disengaging in some places diplomatically financially.


And so this is really an effort by the Biden administration to make good on some of the promises they've made in the first two years.

To really reup the relationship level with -- with African countries to try to drive investment and to try to give Africans more of -- more of a voice at the international table, where decisions around climate change, debt relief, counterterrorism, where those kinds of decisions are being made. They want Africans to have a voice at that table.

HARRAK: And now, in addition to China's presence on the continent, there is, of course, also the rising Russian influence, especially in the Sahel region, where the Wagner mercenaries are there for so-called security reasons.

China as you know, has invested massively in Africa for decades now.

What can the U.S. offer the continent?

HUDSON: Well, I think what what -- what the United States is trying to offer and has sort of mapped out with this visit this week is a -- a set of shared values.

So the vice president is going to three democratic countries, trying to shine a light on democratic success stories on the continent. Those are not necessarily places that Russia and China are making the same kind of inroads.

And so Washington is, I think, playing to some partners here where it thinks it has a built in advantage.

But in terms of pushing back against China and Russia and the inroads that they have been making, I think Washington is really challenged in this.

The investments that China has been making, the United States is really not in the business of building roads in Africa, building ports, building airports, those kinds of big-ticket investment items.

But I think Washington is very much invested in the health and the education, in the social welfare of Africans, and you don't see Russia and China making those same kinds of investments.

And so I think Washington is going to try to distinguish itself by the investments in human capital that it makes and less so on the kind of hard infrastructure or security investments that Russia and China might be trying to make right now.

HARRAK: Will that be enough to counter the growing influence of Russia and China?

HUDSON: Well, I think the challenge, certainly from the Africans' perspective, is they're saying, Well, why can't we have all of these countries as our partners? If China wants to build a port, and Russia wants to sell us arms, and the United States wants to invest in our health and education sector, why can't we be partners with all of these countries?

That's traditionally not been the way it has gone, from the Cold War to present day.

And so I think Africans are really trying to turn this model of diplomatic engagement on its head right now. They're in the driver's seat. All of these countries are coming to Africa, crisscrossing the continent, courting African countries.

And so it's a question of whether or not Washington is going to accept being able to work in these countries alongside of China and Russia, possibly in a very competitive environment, whether that's going to be OK.

HARRAK: Very interesting insights. Cameron Hudson. Thank you so much for joining us.

HUDSON: Thank you.

HARRAK: The sting of COVID 19 is still being felt in China's economy. New data shows, while retail sales are steadily climbing, both property investment and industrial profits dipped, and it will take some work to hit Beijing's economic goals.

CNN's Selina Wang shows us how the city is coming back to life.


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The crowds are back in Beijing. During the pandemic, this popular shopping area --

WANG (voice-over): -- was virtually empty. The stores were starved for business, and the restaurants --

WANG: -- did not allow people to dine inside.

WANG (voice-over): But now people are back in the streets, and they are ready to spend.

China dropped its harsh zero-COVID policy last December, and families like this one from inner Mongolia are traveling for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

He tells me people are finally going out after being stuck inside for so long.

It's a busy Saturday night, and getting a table is a battle.

WANG: It's about a 30-minute wait, but this line is huge to get into this restaurant. Follow me.

WANG (voice-over): But it's not so bad compared to other places.

WANG: They're not even taking waits any more. It's all fully booked for the rest of the night.

WANG (voice-over): We try our luck in another area, but it's not any better.

WANG: There are these long lines out of so many of the restaurants. I've been talking to people here who've been waiting for more than an hour.

WANG (voice-over): Including this man, a tourist from Wuhan, where the pandemic started. I asked him if people are feeling happy that the country has opened up.

"Not necessarily," he responds. "The mood is still depressed, because people's incomes were unstable during the pandemic."


Beneath the surface of busy shops and streets are deep economic wounds. Nearly one in five of China's youth is unemployed. That could be about 20 million people, according to CNN's calculations.

Across the country, they're flocking to job fairs like this one.

WANG: Organizers here say that things have really picked up since pandemic restrictions ended.

WANG (voice-over): These two women graduated college last summer but still haven't found work. She tells me she majored in chemistry. But if she can't find a job in the sciences, she'll take any job she can get.

This computer science graduate tells me he's been applying to jobs everywhere -- online and in person -- with no luck yet. He says he's worried about the mass layoffs at China's technology companies.

But it's not just higher-paying tech jobs getting hit. This factory owner gives an impassioned speech, claiming that a lot of factories in Guangdong, China's manufacturing hub, are laying off workers and cutting salaries.

Meanwhile, local governments are struggling to cope with mounting debts after years of paying for mass testing and COVID quarantines. Just one province, Guangdong, spent $22 billion fighting COVID over the past three years.

Some cities are reducing costs by cutting government-provided medical insurance for residents. The change sparked protests in several cities last month. Crowds of senior citizens took to the streets in Wuhan and Dalian, shouting for their money back, some of them pushing against rows of police.

Back on the streets of Beijing, normal life has returned, but each person and business is still dealing with the aftermath of years of economic pain.

Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.


HARRAK: Residents of Hong Kong turned out to protest on Sunday, but with the government's permission. Officials say about 80 people fought the room (ph) to speak out against the construction project on reclaimed land.

Police had limited the protest to about 100 participants. Each person had to wear a numbered lanyard to join in. They were not allowed to wear face masks.

Public assembly is a guaranteed right in Hong Kong, but this is the first approved protests since Beijing passed the area's strict national security law.

What time is it? It is not a simple question if you're in Lebanon right now. We'll explain what's behind the clock confusion after a short break.


HARRAK: Do you know what time it is in Beirut right now? If your answer is no, then you're not alone. Even the people in Lebanon can't agree.

The clock confusion has to do with a government decision on Daylight Saving Time.


HARRAK (voice-over): What time is it in Lebanon? On Sunday, that basic question got complicated.


In a decision announced Thursday, prime minister Najib Mikati delayed the beginning of Daylight Saving Time by nearly a month, which has created two rival time zones in the country and a lot of confusion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We were at a house party last night, and we looked at our phones. One phone showed the clock, 1 a.m. And another 2 a.m. It was like, what is happening?

HARRAK (voice-over): Lebanon usually moves its clocks forward by an hour over the last weekend of March, aligning with many European countries. And though no official explanation was given, a video circulating on

Lebanese media, showing a conversation between the country's Parliament speaker and the prime minister, suggests the reason for the postponement may have been to allow Muslims to break their Ramadan fast an hour earlier.

Lebanon's largest Christian church said it would not abide by the government's decision, saying it was made without consultation or consideration of international standards, a view shared by many Lebanese businesses, media organizations and schools, which went forward with the time change, though many Muslim institutions still remain on winter time.

Lebanon's national carrier, Middle East Airlines said it won't change its clocks but would adjust its flight times to keep in line with international schedules.

Many Lebanese say it is a disorienting dilemma.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Could you imagine that I have to have to follow different timings for my children's school, my work, my online course? I don't even know how I'm going to set different times for all of this.

Anyways, it's fine. That's Lebanon.

HARRAK (voice-over): The time crunch isn't great timing for a country facing many critical problems, including a deepening economic crisis, a plunging currency, political deadlock, and a history of tensions between Christians and Muslims that once erupted into a 15-year civil war.

One man says, despite the confusion, he thinks it's a waste of time to get upset over an hour's difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I will wear watch on the right hand following the new time and another watch on the left hand keeping the old time. So I tell whoever asked me to pick which one they want, the new or the old.


HARRAK: It's a great solution.

In the English Premier League. Tottenham's controversial head coach, Antonio Conte, is out of a job.

The team announced Sunday that Conte has left the club by mutual agreement. It comes a little more than a week after he issued a tirade against his players after Tottenham blew a 3-to-1 lead against Southampton.

But Conte is not leaving without a significant achievement, earning a Champions League qualification in his first season with the club.

And finally this hour, March Madness is living up to its name once again. For the first time since 1970, three schools will be making their first ever appearance in the final four of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Two of them punched their tickets on Sunday, as the five-seed San Diego State won a nail-biter over Creighton, and another five-seed, Miami, mounted a second-half comeback to beat Texas. They'll join fourth-seeded UConn and the nine-seed FAU in next weekend's final hour.

Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Laila Harrak. WORLD SPORT is up next, and I'll be back in 15 minutes with more CNN NEWSROOM. See you then.