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Mississippi Enters Recovery After Saturday's Tornado; Israel's Political Pressure, Protest Actions Continues; Trump Indictment Likely to Push Through; Philadelphia Water Supply Uncertain after Chemical Spill; Sunday's Protests in Israel attended by Thousands; Stock Markets on a Jump after First Republic's purchase from SVB, Deutsche Bank shares plunged; Putin's plan to put Nuclear Stations in Belarus slams West Allies; Beijing's Economy rebounds after COVID; NCAA March Madness nears Final Four; Lebanese people draw flak on Time Change. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 27, 2023 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching "CNN Newsroom", and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead --


GOV. TATE REEVES (R-MS): In times of tragedy in times of crisis, they stand up and they show up.


CHURCH: Mississippi's governor visits a town flattened by a powerful tornado, but the neighborhoods that were leveled, the recovery is only just beginning.

Political turmoil in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu is under pressure from his own government to halt plans on judicial reform. Now, we're hearing an announcement on that could be imminent. We are live in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the latest.

And the Manhattan grand jury is expected to continue its investigation and Donald Trump later today. We will ask our political analyst if an indictment is likely.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Good to have you with us. And we begin this hour in the southeastern U.S., where millions are under the threat of more severe storms, bringing large hail and damaging winds to areas already struggling to recover from an earlier rash of storms over the weekend. At least 10 confirmed Tornado strike Mississippi, Alabama and

Tennessee, killing 26 people. The city of Rolling Fork, Mississippi was almost completely flattened by one of those powerful tornadoes. The area is still mostly without power, and without the businesses that provide basic necessities.

People in Rolling Fork are helping each other as they tackle the massive cleanup effort, and Mississippi's governor says more help is on the way.


REEVES: What we've seen of 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.


CHURCH: CNN's Isabel Rosales spoke with one man who barely survived the storm that devastated Rolling Fork.


ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest that we're learning from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is that the four people who were missing statewide they have been accounted for now. So, this is really switched over from a search and rescue effort into a recovery and rebuilding mission.

This is a lot of what has been left over here in the city of Rolling Fork, just miles of debris any which way that you look. This used to be a mobile home park. And now, it just looks like a landfill as some people are describing.

Erwin Macon, I met him. This used to be his home right here and all that he has been able to recover from this site is a piece of luggage, a carry-on, inside a pair of tennis shoes, a shirt and jeans. That is all that is tangible that he has left to his name. He told me that right there is where he was sleeping.

And on Friday, he felt tremendous fear he could feel the tornado coming his way and then the winds hit. According to meteorologist from the National Weather Service, they could have been as strong as 170 mph. This was an EF for their thinking. And then he felt those winds attempting to suck him out of his own home.

ERWIN MACON, TORNADO SURVIVOR: The clear spot which you see is where I was at laying down.

ROSALES: So, this was your home?

MACON: Yes. ROSALES: And where were you at when this (inaudible) --

MACON: Right in this area where is cleared and had a mattress hold me? But it flew off and then the blanket. I mean, not a blanket, but a carpet just wrapped around me, and I was right there where everything was lifted and torn off? And I feel myself then sucked out, but I didn't. I don't -- I just held as, you know, as tight as I could until it passed over. And then I holler for help, and I waited a minute or two and when I stood up I just saw this -- just light on around.


And no one was around. It was a few people on the ground, maybe four or five, walking around trying to help and it was bad. You know, in -- just to be able to walk away from this, I don't worry about nothing else. And I just feel blessed to still be alive.

ROSALES: Meteorologist from the National Weather Service, they went to sites exactly like this, conducting a survey and analysis of all of this debris left behind and what they concluded from their preliminary findings is that at least 10 tornadoes struck three states, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.

One of them was an EF Four tornado, and that's the one that struck right here, Rolling Fork and Silver City. These are tornadoes that are extremely rare EF Fours and EF Fives, which we did not see in the situation happened only about 1 percent of the time here in the United States and are considered extremely dangerous. Now, this particular tornado they found went across 59 miles and was on the ground for over an hour back to you.


CHURCH: Alright let's get more on where the storms are heading from CNN Meteorologist Britley Ritz


BRITLEY RITZ, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Unfortunately, the same areas are going to get him to once again. We've been dealing with it all through the evening, and it will continue through the overnight and early morning hours.

Many hail reports as well as wind and, yes, tornado reports over the last 24 hours, same areas getting hit once again areas highlighted in red Alexandria, Louisiana, back into Jackson, Mississippi, Montgomery, Alabama, these are areas that are most vulnerable for long lived tornadoes EF Three or stronger with winds guesting over 100 mph in some sense.

Large hail to very large hail. We're talking golf ball size hail if not larger, we've already had hail reports of two inches and this will extend through Georgia back up into the Carolinas through the overnight hours areas highlighted in yellow, meaning it's not going to be as strong but we're still dealing with the same threats, wind and ale going to be our biggest concerns. This rides up into tomorrow. So areas highlighted in yellow Savannah, Georgia back into Albany up into parts of South Carolina.

Large hail, damaging winds main threats going into your Monday, but a tornado or two cannot be ruled out. Heavy rain, also another big concern is this Trains over the same areas. Pay attention to the timeframe here Sunday night into Monday morning, pushing through Alabama into central Georgia up into the Carolinas, again, it starts to weaken. We lose that tornado threat, but holding on to the threat of damaging winds and large hail.

Areas from just south of Birmingham and Atlanta, picking up 2 to 4 more inches of rain through Monday, that's these areas highlighted in orange. Isolated higher amounts are definitely possible so that flash flood threat continues on through the overnight and early tomorrow morning Macon, Georgia back into Montgomery, areas highlighted in red again where you're most vulnerable. But this extends back into parts of Mississippi up into the Carolinas through Monday morning. So, remember if you come across the roadway and water turn around, find a different route. You just don't know how deep that water is.

Back to you.


CHURCH: Thanks for that. Well the Governor of Georgia 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 were destroyed and as many as 100 damaged. And just a few hours ago, a hailstorm moved through parts of Atlanta.

The National Weather Service, issuing a considerable flood threat for nearly two million people in the Atlanta area, in effect for a couple more hours and there are preliminary reports of flooding on some highways.

We are following developments out of Israel where Israeli Channel 12 is reporting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to announce a halt in judicial overhaul legislation. That news comes amid growing calls to put a pause on that controversial plan for those reforms and after massive protests erupted on the streets of Tel Aviv, following the sacking of the defense minister.

Journalist Elliot Gotkine was there when the protests erupted and has this report.


ELLIOT 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 Tel Aviv showing their support for Gallant in his opposition to this judicial overhaul, and reiterating their opposition to an overhaul. [03:10:06]

That will mean 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, accepting 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, which is a Sunday evening, they are incredibly angry that this has happened.

We've heard from opposition leaders like Yair Lapid, 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 told Netanyahu to step down. The Histadrut, 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 dude is real overhaul, he was very much mistaken.

For CNN, this is Elliot Gotkine in Tel Aviv


CHURCH: Joining us now from Tel Aviv is Barak Ravid, Middle East Correspondent with Axios. Appreciate you being with us.


CHURCH: So what more are you hearing about this report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to announce a halt in his judicial reform legislation that has caused all of these problems?

RAVID: Well, I think that in the last few hours, at least according to what Likud officials are saying, people from Netanyahu's party, people around him, are saying that he is expected to announce a suspension of this judicial overhaul.

He was supposed to speak something like 30 minutes from now. But just I think two minutes ago, his office announced that he's postponing his statement, his announcement to the nation. And I think that what we're seeing now is an internal fight around Netanyahu, between two camps, between many people in his party were saying that this judicial overall is crossed all red line and it's tearing the country apart.

The Minister of Defense Gallant, who was fired by Netanyahu yesterday, just finished the hearing in the Knesset in parliament and warned that Iran, Hezbollah and other of Israel's adversaries are cheering to what is going on now in the country.

On the other hand, Netanyahu's Minister of Defense -- sorry Netanyahu Ministers of Justice Yariv Levin, who initiated this whole process of judicial overhaul, and Netanyahu's son, Yair Netanyahu, are pressing him very hard to continue pushing this legislation. Netanyahu's far right partners, Betzalel Smotrich, the Minister of

Finance and the Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, are also pressing Netanyahu to continue with the legislation and even threatening that they could dissolve the government if he suspends the legislation. Netanyahu's somewhere in the middle. And I think that within the next hour or two, we will know the final decision.

CHURCH: So, essentially this putting Israel in limbo. So, it could be suspended. But there's a lot of pressure that Netanyahu's failing to go forward with this. Talk to us about what would likely happen, what the political backlash and public reaction would be in the days ahead, if Prime Minister Netanyahu gives into the pressure and goes ahead, proceeds with his plan to reform Israel's judiciary.

RAVID: Well, first, I want to say this is no judicial reform. Okay? And I think it is clear to everybody right now. This is a power grab to try and take control of Israel's judicial system, weaken it week another democratic institutions.

If Netanyahu goes ahead, okay, just minutes before we started talking, the head of the workers union in the country announced a general strike in Israel. And this is just another step in the deep economic crisis Israel has plunged into in the last three months since this thing was announced, and I think that Netanyahu also sees that and I think that more and more you see every minute every hour, more and more organizations in the country are announcing a general strike

Hospitals, just this morning, several government hospitals announced that they're going on strike because the doctors refused to continue business as usual while this country is going through this kind of crisis. So, I think that if Netanyahu pushes forward, he can -- he can take this to a vote, but I'm not sure that at the moment he even has the votes he needs to pass this legislation.


CHURCH: So, what do you think is happening? What is the internal discussion here and the forces against this overhaul? Are they are greater than those who are saying that they should back off?

RAVID: I think so. I think that, you know, the protest against the judicial overhaul has been going on for 12 weeks now. Last night at 9.30 p.m., after Netanyahu fired the Minister of Defense, thousands -- tens of thousands and at a certain point more than 100,000 Israelis spontaneously went to the streets to demonstrate. The main highway in Tel Aviv was full of people demonstrating against just this judicial overhaul.

And you see it all over the country, not only Tel Aviv, you see in Jerusalem, last night in front of Netanyahu's residence, you've seen in Haifa, you've seen in Beit Shemesh (ph) in the south, you see all over the country.

And yesterday one of the interesting things was that you saw for the first time in the demonstrations, people who say, I voted for Netanyahu, I voted for Likud, but enough is enough. This government has went off the rails, and it needs to stop. And I think this was very interesting last night that you saw people were the base of this government who said enough is enough.

CHURCH: We will certainly be watching this very closely to see what happens next. Barak Ravid joining us live from Tel Aviv, many thanks for joining us.

RAVID: Thank you.

CHURCH: And still to come. It's another week of legal woes for Donald Trump, and his comments over the weekend may have added another problem to the pile.

Plus, officials in Philadelphia say the tap water is safe to drink following a chemical spill. But why are residents still worried? We'll take a look at that.




CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, in the coming hours, a Manhattan grand jury is expected to continue its investigation into Former U.S. President Donald Trump. They're looking into whether Trump falsified business records to cover up hush payments to adult film star, Stormy Daniels, over an alleged affair.

That didn't stop him from campaigning for a second term over the weekend. At a rally in Texas, Trump railed against his legal battles, accusing Democrats of trying to sully his name, and prevent him from getting back to the White House.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Prosecutorial misconduct is their new tool, and they are willing to use it at levels never seen before in our country. We've had it, but we've never had it like this. We must stop them, and we must not allow them to go through another election, where they have yet another tool in their tool kit.


CHURCH: Trump took to social media to lay into Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the man leading the hush money probe. The former president claimed Bragg's office was in complete disarray and that, quote, "Potential death and destruction would follow, if there's an indictment." Trump's attorney quickly went into damage control. Here's what he told NBC.


JOE TACOPINA, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: I'm not his social media consultant. I don't -- I think that was an ill-advised post that one of his social media people put up and he quickly took down when he realized the rhetoric and the photo that was attached to it.


CHURCH: Michael Genovese is a political analyst and President of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount, and he joins me now from Los Angeles. Always great to have you with us.


CHURCH: Donald Trump held his first official rally, Sunday, for his 2024 presidential campaign in Waco, Texas. He was espousing his familiar election lie and also calling for the elimination of the deep state and talking about what he calls the Democrats new weapon against him, labeling it prosecutorial misconduct, in reference to the legal battles he's currently facing.

So where do you see all of this going? And how likely is it that he'll be indicted as a result of those legal problems?

GENOVESE: Well, you know, he did start off this campaign with a rally in Waco, Texas, which is sacred ground for the white nationalists and militarists in America, because that's where the conflict between a breast video in group and the government took place in 1993, but sacred ground for the far right. He opened his rally with a song, "Justice for all," which was sung, ironically, by people who are in prison because of the January 6th convictions.

And so he's celebrating lawmakers in doing that. The speech itself and you talked a little bit about it was a rehash of all grievances. And it was all about Donald Trump and what they were doing to him and to his cause. He spewed a lot of venom, but he didn't offer a lot of policies, what are you gonna do about inflation, what are you going to do about national security.

But it was troubling because it was so defiant. So it was full of anger, and I talked about this being the final battle. Match that with what he stood on social media, where he said that if he's charged, it will bring what he said -- these are his words -- death and destruction. Well, as Bob Dylan, a great American poet, said you don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Donald Trump is telling us which way the wind is blowing, and it's very troubling because of his propensity to talk about violence so casually.

CHURCH: And let's look at that, because, as you mentioned, he opened that rally with the anthem being sung by those January 6th prison mates, he said, and I'm quoting here, "2024 is the final battle," as you mentioned, that's going to be the big one, he said.

He also said that either the deep state destroys America or we destroy the deep state. So, how dangerous is this sort of political rhetoric in the wake of what happened on January 6th?

[03:25:08] GENOVESE: Well, you're making it into almost a religious crusade. And when you do that, people who believe by faith believe that they are on a sacred mission. And that means there are no holds barred. You're out to get the devil. And when you're out to get the devil, anything goes. And so, I think that opens the door for some really dangerous behavior. And I won't say Donald Trump will not openly advocate violence, but people who follow him here that. They hear implications. I mean, it's not that veiled a threat when you say there will be death and destruction. But people who follow him might very well hear that as a call to arms. And we saw what happened in January, 6th, people died.

CHURCH: Yeah, exactly. And, of course, meantime, polls show that support for Ron DeSantis, Florida's governor, is going down while support for Trump is going up. Will that likely change markedly when or if DeSantis officially runs for the presidency?

GENOVESE: No I think that Donald Trump has managed to get to center stage very quickly. He's a magnet, the camera loves him. He is flamboyant. He's interesting. He's a carnival barker and he's fun.

Now, I think if he is indicted, he will wear that as a badge of honor. I think he's probably frightened that it's going to happen as well. He should be because the noose is tightening from a lot of different directions.

But the Republican Party is his. It's built now in his image, and it's more of a cult of personality than it is a party. So I think an indictment, for example, even with the DeSantis candidacy, an indictment of Trump will play very well to his base and help him get the GOP nomination. It will hurt him in the general election.

CHURCH: Michael Genovese, always a pleasure to have you on and to get your analysis. Appreciate it.

GENOVESE: Thank you so much.

CHURCH: In Philadelphia, officials say they are confident that tap water is safe to drink after a chemical spill in the nearby Delaware River. They say they have not found any contamination in the city's water supply, but concerned residents rushed to buy bottled water.

Officials say the contamination occurred, Friday, when a latex product spilled in the Bristol Township. The company estimates more than 8,000 gallons of solution was released into the water.

And CNN's medical analyst and former Baltimore health commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen spoke to us earlier about what's at stake here following the spill.


DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We're talking about ethyl acrylate, butyl acrylate, methyl methacrylate (ph). These are the chemicals that we're aware of so far, so in their undiluted form, they could cause skin irritation, eye irritation, respiratory difficulties, even dizziness and worse.

But in this case, we don't know what the delusion is going to end up being as in if this these chemicals are in the water supply and then reaches the water treatment plant and then reaches people's homes, it'll probably be significantly diluted by that point, and it may be that there's not going to be any detectable concentration.

But I think that the city of Philadelphia is doing the right thing in giving people advanced warning, saying to use an abundance of caution, get bottled water, in the meantime, prepare for in case we do detect these contaminants in the water. It may not come to pass, but at least be prepared for when that, and if that happens.


CHURCH; We'll take a look at global markets when we return, including a live report on whether last week's drop in Deutsche Bank's shares is still having an impact.

Also ahead will have reaction from Ukraine and its western allies over Vladimir Putin's plan to move nuclear weapons into Belarus.




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: We continue to keep an eye on developments in Israel, where there are growing calls to halt controversial plans for a judicial overhaul after the sacking of the defense minister and massive protests on the streets.

Thousands turned out in Tel Aviv on Sunday night after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Yoav Gallant for his opposition to a planned judicial overhaul.

So let's head out to Jerusalem and CNN's Hadas Gold. So, Hadas, we're hearing reports now of a possible halt to Netanyahu's plan. So, what more are you learning about this?

HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary. What we are learning is that actually, just in the last few minutes, we are hearing that Israel's largest and biggest union, Histadrut, has announced a general strike as of immediately.

This is the biggest union in Israel. It represents the entire sector. Essentially, this union when it calls for a strike can close down the country. And we are now just now getting reports that this strike could also include Israel's main airport. This could potentially affect even airplanes flying in and out of Israel. We are still working to get final confirmation on that.

Now, there was report earlier today that Benjamin Netanyahu was going to give a major speech and was going to announce a halt to this legislation. That has not happened yet. We have not heard any sort of official notice about when the potential speech will take place. Of course, this is all coming after the very dramatic past 24 hours or so.

We've had protests erupted last night, spontaneous protests erupted all night last night throughout the night until two in the morning, blocking main highways across Israel in response to the prime minister firing his defense minister because the defense minister gave a daring speech on Saturday night, where he called for a freeze to the legislation because, he said, the divisiveness over the judicial overhaul that would give massive power to the Israeli parliament over the Supreme Court, he said it was causing a tangible and credible threat to Israeli security, not only because it was causing a hundreds of Israeli military reserves to say they would not heed the call to serve if this reform passed because they no longer feel as though they would be serving a democracy.

But he also talked about how Israel's adversaries or enemies. We're going to be using this divisiveness to their -- into their advantage. So, he gave this major space on Saturday night. He was the first sitting minister to speak out against this reform, calling for a halt to it, and he's obviously a very senior minister, the defense minister, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu's own party.


So then, with about 24 hours later, Benjamin Netanyahu fires him. We see these massive spontaneous protests in the streets. Now there have been protests going on now for more than 12 weeks on a regular basis against these reforms, but the protest last night, they had a different feeling to them. And now we're hearing about this general strike that could essentially shut the country down. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Alright, we'll continue to watch this very closely. Hadas Gold, joining us live from Jerusalem. Many thanks for that report.

All right. We are keeping an eye on world markets after news that First Citizens Bank and Trust has officially purchased the troubled Silicon Valley Bank. Stocks were still jumpy after shares in Deutsche Bank, Germany's largest, plunged Friday, taking other banking stocks with it.

And here's a look at Wall Street Futures this hour. You can see there, the Dow in positive territory up 0.23 percent, and the S&P 500 only just in positive territory.

Asia markets are showing mixed results on Monday amid ongoing jitters over the strength of the banking sector. And here's what Europe's markets are looking like right now. You see the FTSE up more than half a percent, the DAX up 0.77 percent, nearly .88 percent there.

So, CNN correspondent Claire Sebastian joins me now live from London with more. And Claire, What are we to make of all of this?

CLAIRE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, I think there's a little bit of relief coming back into the markets. This, of course, was the first weekend in three that we didn't get news of the bank failing or looking like it might fail. So that was good for the markets to wake up to on a Monday morning.

Also, of course, the news that the FDIC has managed to offload the deposits and loans of Silicon Valley Bank, which, of course, was in receivership at the FDIC, the regulator that this means that Silicon Valley Bank will no longer exists at 17 branches will reopen in a few hours under the First Citizen's name, but it does go somewhere to, of course, resolving that issue and to showing the markets that the regulators are continuing to work behind the scenes to tidy up the mess in the banking sector. But the scrutiny still continues, and particularly the question of whether the stress in the financial markets will spill over into economic stress.

And the Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari over the weekend was specifically asked on CBS whether he thought that the stress in the financial markets could tip the U.S. into a recession. Take a listen to what he had to say.


NEEL KASHKARI, PRESIDENT, FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF MINNEAPOLIS: Definitely brings us closer. Right now, what's unclear for us is how much of these banking stresses are leading to a widespread credit crunch. And then that credit crunch, you're right, just as you said, would then slow down the economy. This is something we are monitoring very, very closely.

Now, on one hand, such strain could then bring down inflation. So, we have to do less work with the federal funds rate to bring the economy in the balance. But right now it's unclear how much of an imprint these banking stresses are going to have on the economy.


SEBASTIAN: So, I mean, a lot of people are saying this, Rosemary, it does bring us closer. We're just not sure how much. It's just jarring, I think, for the markets to hear that from a fed official and one that has previously been in favor of rate hikes. So, that is causing some jitters.

I think, look, yes, there's some relief today, Deutsche Bank is rebounding along with other European banks. But we're going -- we're probably going to keep seeing volatility. And particularly this week, we're going to see more questions raised about how Silicon Valley Bank did fail when we see the first house hearing on this issue.

CHURCH: All right. Claire Sebastian, joining us live from London. Many thanks.

Condemnation is growing among Ukraine and its western allies over Vladimir Putin's announcement that Russia would move tactical nuclear weapons into Belarus. The European Union's top diplomat called Putin's announcement an irresponsible escalation and threat to European security, and Lithuania's foreign ministry said it will call for new sanctions against Russia.

The Ukrainian government is now urging its western allies to take action against what it calls the Kremlin's nuclear blackmail.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Kyiv with more.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ukraine has reacted angrily to Russian president Vladimir Putin's plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, with the foreign ministry here calling for an extraordinary meeting of the U.N. Security council to condemn the move. A senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described this plan by the Russian president as a sign he's afraid of losing the war and is, thus, resorting to scare tactics.

A spokesman for the state department told CNN, the U.S. does not plan to change its strategic nuclear posture and sees no sign that Russia is intending to use nuclear weapons.


Meanwhile, fighting in the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine continues to be intense with one Ukrainian army spokesman telling CNN, the Russian forces there do not seem to be suffering from a shortage of artillery shells. Russian forces have cut all but one road into the city, where officials say that despite a seven-month siege, 4,000 civilians live under evermore dire circumstances.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Kyiv.


CHURCH: North Korea conducted more weapons test Monday morning, this time short range ballistic missiles. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff say, two such missiles were launched, flying about 230 miles or 370, kilometers before falling into the water east of the Korean peninsula.

Pyongyang has ramped up missile launchers amid ongoing military exercises between South Korea and the United States. They are the largest joint exercises since 2017 and will end in early April.

Another migrant tragedy at sea, at least 28 people have died after two boats sank off the coast of Tunisia on Sunday. They were trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Italy, officials say, many are still missing from one of the wrecks. Meanwhile, the Italian coast guard says they have rescued more than 3,000 people from 58 boats in the past 48 hours.

And still to come. Beijing starts to shake off an economic slump how both the city and all of China trying to make a comeback after years of strict COVID policy.



CHURCH: It's the end of one relationship and the start of a new one for Honduras. On Sunday, the Central American country signed a formal document recognizing one China, and establishing diplomatic ties with Beijing. It comes after breaking off relations with Taiwan, a decision Taiwan's president called, quote, "very regrettable." Several Central American and Pacific countries have made the same move recently in order to increase trade with China.

The sting of COVID-19 ease (ph) are being felt in China's economy. New data shows while retail sales ask deadly climbing, both property investment and industrial profits dipped and it will take considerable work to hit Beijing's economic goals.

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


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): The crowds are back in Beijing. During the pandemic, this popular shopping area was virtually empty. The stores were starved for business. And the restaurants did not allow people to dine inside. But now, people are back in the streets, and they are ready to spend.

(voice-over): 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 they're finally going out after being stuck inside for so long.

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

(on-camera): Thirty-minute wait. But this line is huge to get into this restaurant. Follow me.

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

(on-camera): They're not even taking waits anymore. It's all fully booked for the rest of the night.

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

(on-camera): 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.

(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.

(on-camera): The organizers here say that things have really picked up since pandemic restrictions ended.

(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 hire pink tech jobs getting hit. This factory owner gives an impassioned speech claiming that a lot of factories in Guangdong, Chinese 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.

Selena Wang, CNN, Beijing.


CHURCH: What time is it? A simple question without a simple answer. If you're in Lebanon right now, just ahead, we'll explain what's behind the clock confusion. Back with that in just a moment.




CHURCH: 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, including five-seed San Diego State, which beat Creighton, and another five-seed Miami mounted a second half comeback to beat Texas on Sunday. They'll join fourth- seeded UCONN and the nine-seed FAU in next weekend's Final Four. It's the first time since seeding began in 1979 that no team better than a four seed has reached the final four.

And in Sunday's women's games, two schools sealed their berth in the Final Four. Number two-seed Iowa beat number five-seed Louisville, 97 to 83. It was behind an historic performance from Caitlin Clarke 41 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. The Iowa Hawkeyes will play either number one, South Carolina, or number two, Maryland on Friday. Number three LSU defeated number nine Miami 59 to 42. LSU's coach took her team to the final four in just her second year at the school. The Tigers will play either number one Virginia Tech or Number three Ohio State on Friday.

So a question, 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 is due to a hovernment decision on Daylight Saving Time.

Laila Harrak reports.


LAILA HARRAK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What time is it in Lebanon? On Sunday, that basic question got complicated. In a decision announced Thursday, Prime Minister Najib Minetti 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.

UNKNOWN (through translator): We were at a house party last night and we looked at our phones. One phone showed the clock, 1.00 a.m. and another 2.00 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.

UNKNOWN (through translator): Could you imagine that I 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.

UNKNOWN (through translator): I'll 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

Laila Harrak, CNN.


CHURCH: Thanks for your company. "CNN Newsroom" continues with Max Foster. That's next.