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Two U.S. Army Helicopters Crashed in a Kentucky County; First Lady Jill Biden attended Nashville Candlelight Vigil; Catholics appeal Prayers for Pope Francis; King Charles III Arrives in Germany for a State Visit; IAEA Chief Visits Zaporizhzhia Power Plant for the Second Time; Russian Teenager in Most Wanted list has Escaped to Lithuania. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 30, 2023 - 03:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: A very warm welcome to our viewers watching in the United States, Canada and all around the world. I'm Paula Newton, ahead this hour.

We're following a developing story out of Trigg County, Kentucky, where two U.S. Army helicopters crashed during a training mission.

Plus, Pope Francis remains in the hospital, where he's being treated for a respiratory infection. Will go live to Rome in just a few moments.

And, U.S. First Lady Jill Biden was just one of the many people who gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, to remember the six victims killed in Monday's school shooting.

And we begin with that developing story in southern Kentucky. Officials at the U.S. Army base, Fort Campbell, have confirmed the crash of two Blackhawk helicopters and it's believed the incident could be deadly.

Now, we are told the aircraft went down in nearby Trigg County around 10 p.m. Wednesday night, that's local time. The helicopters were with the 101st Airborne Division, and they were doing apparently routine training when the crash occurred. As of now, the official status of the crew members is not known, but in a tweet earlier from Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, he said, fatalities are expected and asked for prayers for those affected. Now stay with CNN for the very latest, we will bring you updates, as we have them.

Meantime in Nashville, Tennessee, they are paying tribute to six victims of the shooting at a private elementary school. At a vigil Wednesday evening, Mayor John Cooper said Monday was the city's worst day residents are united as they mourned together, Police Chief John Drake told the crowd his officers trained for situations like Monday's attack, what they hoped it would never come.

And singer Sheryl Crow performed her song, I Shall Believe. (VIDEO PLAYING)

Authorities have identified the six victims as students. Haley Scruggs, Evelyn Dieckhaus and William Kinney, all just nine years old. The adults: 60-year-old Catherine Koonce, the head of the Covenant School; 61-year-old Mike Hill, a member of the Custodial Staff; and 61-year-old substitute teacher Cynthia Peak.

Hannah Rowley, who works as a special education teacher at another school, explains why she went to the vigil.


HANNAH ROWLEY, SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER: Yesterday, I went to school, and I couldn't help but just love on my students a little extra because, I want them to know that their loved and they're safe, and I want to be able to provide that seem love and embrace for these families who are going through this right now. And if I could, these families in the eyes and embrace them and just tell them that they're loved and they're known and they're heard and whether, I know them or not. I hope that they know that their community is here for them.


NEWTON: U.S. First Lady Jill Biden also attended the vigil. Earlier in the day, she left flowers at a memorial for the victims. The visit holds special significance for Biden, given her lifelong work as an educator. Meantime, the White House is urging congress to take action on gun control measures.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is not okay to have weapons of war. These are weapons of war that are in our schools, that are in our communities, that are in our churches, in our places of worship. That is not what is supposed to be.

Congress needs to take action. Congressional Republicans in congress need to get out of the way or come to we have some courage.


NEWTON: Now on the day's events and the investigation from CNN's Dianne Gallagher.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, as a grief- stricken city unites to mourn the six lives taken on Monday, and yet another school shooting, we're learning more about the victims who were lost.

Tennessee's governor, Bill Lee, speaking Tuesday night to a hurting community, revealing this is very personal for his family specifically for his wife. [03:04:55]

GOV. BILL LEE (R-TN): Maria woke up this morning, without one of her best friends, Cindy Peak. Cindy was supposed to come over to have dinner with Maria last night, after she filled in as a substitute teacher yesterday, coming in. Cindy and Maria and Catherine Koonce, were all teachers at the same school, and have been family friends for decades.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Hallie Scruggs' aunt posting a heart-wrenching tribute today to the nine-year-old, reading in part, I have often longed for a daughter, and Halle embodied all of those things I'd want in my own little girl. She was incredibly smart, feisty enough to keep up with her three brothers and my four boys.

Mike Hill, a beloved custodian at the Covenant School, is survived by his seven children and 14 grandchildren. Family-friends of nine year old victim William Kinney started the GoFundMe page in his honor, posting that he had an unflappable spirit, was unfailingly kind, gentle when the situation called for it, quick to laugh and always inclusive of others.

A city councilman, telling CNN today that Katherine Koonce likely died trying to protect the children of her school, saying a witness told him the school's Headmaster ended a zoom call after shots were heard in the background.

CHIEF JOHN DRAKE, METRO NASHVILLE POLICE: I do know she was in the hallway by herself --

GALLAGHER (voice-over): And nine year old Evelyn Dieckhaus, whose family said in a statement, Evelyn was a shining light in this world.

Amidst all this pain for friends and family, authorities continue to work to answer questions about who the shooter was and the motive behind Monday's massacre.

DRAKE: I've met with the school this morning. We met with the parents, and efforts right now, we don't have any indication, there was any problems at the -- at the school or at home.

GALLAGHER (voice-over); One of the shooters' college professors talked to CNN today, describing what she witnessed on the suspects' social media page over the last year.

MARIA COLOMY, TAUGHT HALE IN 2017: About a year ago, she started openly grieving about someone that she had lost. And there was a slight romantic context to it. It didn't seem like she was just talking about a friend, and literally sense that happened. I mean, I honestly feel like that, those are the only updates I've seen from her on Facebook have been her openly grieving. Saying how you know how much she was hurting, how much she was missing this person.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Dianne Gallagher, CNN, Nashville, Tennessee.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NEWTON: Now, given the profound loss that Dianne just outlined there, you can imagine emotions were running high in the halls of the U.S. Congress. So with one Democrat lawmaker loudly berating Republicans for an action in the wake of the Nashville tragedy and other school shootings. Take a listen.


REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): Is everyone controlling the house? The American people need to know that they don't have the courage to do anything to save the lives of children (inaudible), look at the data. You're not looking at any data. (inaudible) lobby, listen to what I'm saying, that's causing their children to dying. None of their own children (inaudible) arming teachers. That's worth it, every school.

I was a teacher, I was a school counselor, I was a middle school principal. I was in cafeterias protecting kids every day of my career.

REP. THOMAS MAASIE (D-KY): There's never been a shooting, never been a shooting. (inaudible) We got guns here to protect us, and it doesn't believe that kids should have somebody to protect them.


NEWTON: So later this hour , we'll take a closer look at the stark differences and how police responded in both the Nashville shooting and the one last May in Uvalde, Texas, one was over in minutes, while the other lasted more than an hour.

Pope Francis spent the night in hospital after having trouble breathing, Wednesday. The Vatican says he will stay there for at least a few days. Catholics meantime, right around the world, including the Pope's hometown in Buenos Aires are praying for the quick recovery of the 86-year-old Pontiff.

U.S. President Joe Biden also wished the pope well and asked people to quote "Saying extra prayer for him".

CNN's Barbie Nadeau joins us now from Rome, and she's been following the latest developments. I mean, Barbie look. The pope has had his share of medical complications, this now at the start of holy week. What more are you learning about his condition and how serious it might be?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, the Vatican said yesterday that he had been gone into the hospital for some routine tests, and then you know, we heard a little bit later, he may have gone in -- in an ambulance, so there's been a little bit of sketchy information coming out, and that causes people to worry, wondering if this is actually more serious than it is.


As you said, this is the beginning of Holy Week, so it seems odd that he'd have something scheduled before that, but we just don't know. We've heard from the Vatican press office that wish that he had a good night in the hospital that just came through. And that we may be getting an update on his health later.

But Holy Week in Rome is the most important date on the catholic calendar, and it's very important for the city of Rome too. In fact this, the Mayor of Rome tweeted last night, Rome is close to its bishop and awaits him with sincere and deep affection for the continuation of his important mission for humanity. You know, Holy Week is a big deal here, pal, as you know, and the pope in the hospital, the couple of days before it starts, whereas a lot of people.

NEWTON: Hope of course, that he's well enough to attend. And yet this is a pope, who has been incredibly practical about his health, his age and what that means. Now he's already signed apparently a resignation letter to be used in the event of him becoming so called impaired. How significant is that?

NADEAU: Well, it is significant because it just shows that he -- he is thinking about the future. He's thinking, I suppose, as well about John Paul the Second, who suffered so publicly in his waning days. He died in April 2005 right around the Easter period as well. You know this pope -- Pope Francis, though, has had -- he had colon surgery in 2021. He's had other ailments he has -- he's in a wheelchair. He's not at that healthy of a man and he's missing part of a lung that was removed when he was in his seminary back in Argentina, and so respiratory infection, which is what they say he has, is worrying, it's troubling.

And this is a this is an elderly man like any of us would be worried about a grandparent, an elderly, elderly parent in the hospital, such as he is it is worrying, and you've got the everyone right around the world, Catholics and Non-Catholics alike really praying for this man right now, Paula?

NEWTON: Absolutely, I can attest to his stamina. He was in Canada last year and has been on other foreign trips since then, and he is certainly a man who, if he's able, will get back to work as soon as possible. Barbie Nadeau for us in Rome, really appreciate it.

And Donald Trump is appealing a recent court ruling that would force several of his former aides to testify about efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Among those aides crucially, Mark Meadows, his former chief-of-staff, and that's, according to two sources familiar with the grand jury's criminal investigation.

The Mid-March ruling was the latest in a series of defeats for the former U.S. president. He has been trying to block the testimony of his former staff and allies on the grounds of executive privilege.

Britain's King Charles the Third is set to address the German parliament in the coming hours and meet with Ukrainian refugees who have sought sanctuary there. But when he and his wife Camilla arrived in Berlin on Wednesday, it was time for a ceremony, pageantry and symbolism.

Our Max Foster was there.


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A grand entrance fit for a king's first official state visit. King Charles and his wife, Camilla, the queen consort, welcomed to Germany with a 21-gun salute and a fly past.

In an unprecedented start to his 29th official visit, the royals' were escorted by fighter jets, one of the many firsts.

(on-camera): Adding to the sense of history, this was the first full- ceremonial welcome for a head of state here at the Brandenburg gate, since the second world war. And the first chance for the new king to meet German fans.

UNKNOWN: The atmosphere, it was really, yeah. I have never experienced something like that before.

FOSTER: Is it symbolic having him here in the shadows of the Brandenburg gate?

UNKNOWN: I think so, yes. I think it's uh, that's a strong bond between both countries for centuries, and there were two world wars, and it's actually great kind of go-together. There's a friendship, and again.

UNKNOWN: We all know about him when he was Prince of Wales. he did a lot for the environment, which I think is a good thing and I think we'll have to see what will become of it when he's now that he's King.

FOSTER (voice-over): King Charles is focused on the environment, was on the agenda as usual, with a reception focused on green energy and the tree planting ceremony, part of the Green Canopy initiative in memory of his mother, Queen Elizabeth the Second.

KING CHARLES III, UNITED KINGDOM: Over all these years, and in so many ways, I have been struck by the warmth of the friendship between our nations, and by the vitality about partnership in countless areas. It was Mr. President, a friendship which mattered greatly to my mother.

FOSTER (voice-over): The King's visit and State Banquet in Berlin is intended to celebrate the U.K.'s relationship with both Germany and France following the postponement of his visits to Paris due to protests.


Buckingham palace says Charles will use this historic trip to highlight the importance of sustainability and community ideas integral to both nations.

Max Foster, CNN, Berlin, Germany.


NEWTON: A college student ends up on Russia's Most Wanted list, just for criticizing the war in Ukraine.


UNKNOWN (through translator): Because I'm not the first and I won't be the last in the era of the information war between propaganda and reality, words can get through to someone. That is why the authorities are afraid.


NEWTON: Still, she says, her campaign is only just beginning. That story just ahead.

Plus a potentially life-saving drug soon to be as easy to pick up as aspirin, and according to some, the decision could prevent many Opioid deaths right across the U.S.



NEWTON: Ukraine's Defense Minister is now suggesting that a counter offensive campaign could begin as early as next month. Alexei Reznikoff says German leopard tanks now arriving in Ukraine will likely be on the battlefield in April or May, and that word comes as Ukraine reports heavy Russian losses around the eastern city of Bakhmut.

Officials say in just one day, nearly 100 Russian soldiers were killed. Well, they acknowledge Russians have had partial success and their attacks, still the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman says it's the Russians who are paying the highest price. listen.


GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: These forces are very undertrained. They're essentially doing frontal assaults in the machine gun positions, etcetera, they're getting slaughtered. The Russian troops, Ukrainians are doing a very effective area defense that is proven to be very costly to the Russians. For about the last 2021 days, the Russians have not made any progress whatsoever in and around Bakhmut, so it's a slaughter-fest for the Russians. They're getting hammered in the -- in the vicinity of Bakhmut and the Ukraine's have fight very, very well.


NEWTON: Meantime, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog traveled to Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to assess the current conditions there. Rafael Grossi says the situation has not improved and in fact military activity is increasing.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz joins me now from London, Salma, you've been, you know, discussing this for quite some time. We were discussing this several months ago. At issue now is an actual military build-up and escalation around the plant. What did Mr. Grossi have to say about that?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is Mr. Grossi's second time, making it to that nuclear power plant, having to cross frontlines, literally go across a minefield, to make it to that nuclear power plant where there is a very complex picture on the ground.

You have Ukrainian employees still operating that plant, but it is under Russian occupation, so Russian forces occupying that plant you can imagine for those Ukrainian workers, just the amount of strain and stress that they are under in this nuclear power plant is very much on the front lines of this conflict.

There has been shelling that landed right up near it. There has been a number of blackouts. Remember, of course, Russia has been targeting Ukraine's energy infrastructure that has led to the nuclear power plant several times having to go into emergency blackout mode.

It's important to remember here, Paula, this is Europe's largest nuclear power plant. All six of its reactors shut down and it's very much in a precarious situation. Mr. Grossi has been working to try to negotiate some sort of security zone around this nuclear power plant. He answered reporters' questions during his visit. Take a listen to what he said.


RAFAEL GROSSI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY: The increased military activity, which I was referring to, on the basis of the information I had before going is obvious. In terms of military presence, signs, visible signs of damage and destruction before you get to the place, so it is obvious that this area is facing a perhaps more dangerous phase.


ABDELAZIZ: Now, as you heard there, while Mr. Grossi has been trying to improve the situation there, it seems to be deteriorating on those negotiations. He's been trying again to get Moscow and Kyiv to find middle ground here to create that security zone. We understand that Kyiv's precondition is that Moscow pulls out.

Moscow has been refusing to do that so far. Grossi would not comment on the details of those negotiations that have been ongoing for months, but he was also accompanied by more IAEA experts. They've had experts on the ground around the clock there for seven months now. That's going to continue, so there's a new rotation that's going into place. But absolutely a hugely precarious situation remains around that power plant, with the nuclear watchdog warning that a nuclear disaster is possible, if there are accidents that happen on this front line.

NEWTON: Yeah, Mr. Grossi warns that it will spare no one again. Thanks so much for bringing us the details of what's going on in that plant right now. Salma Abdelaziz for us from London. Thank you. Now, a human rights group says more than 400 Russians have been

prosecuted for anti war activities since the invasion of Ukraine began. But one 20-year-old student says she was singled out and faced severe charges after criticizing the war on social media. She managed to flee Russia and has no intention of staying silent

As she told our Melissa Bell.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's now a wanted fugitive escaping the law, but Olesya Krivtsova was a teenager, like any other. Olesya Krivtsova is now on Moscow's most wanted list, but enjoying the streets and the freedoms of the European Union. For the safety of those who helped her to get here, we've agreed not to give too much away about how she escaped.


OLESYA KRIVTSOVA, EXILED RUSSIAN STUDENT (through translator): No one expected that the case would grow so much that the residents would be huge.

BELL (voice-over): Krivtsova's social media was typical of her age. But some of her social posts criticizing the war in Ukraine were brought to the attention of authorities by fellow students, one of them distinguishing between snitching and patriotic denunciation.

KRIVTSOVA (through translator): The only difference is that in Stalin's time, people disappeared for good, and it wasn't clear where. Now because of social media, almost the same thing is happening except it's very public.

BELL (voice-over): from the start, Krivtsova was made an example of. Most of the many hundreds prosecuted friends who wore activity in Russia, have been charged with disseminating false information. Krivtsoiva was charged with terrorism instead.

(on-camera): Why are you so scary to them?

KRIVTSOVA (through translator): Because I'm not the first and I won't be the last in the era of the information war between propaganda and reality, words can get through to someone. That is why the authorities are afraid because words are the most terrible weapon

BELL (voice-over): Krivtsova had been on her way to meeting her husband for coffee when she was arrested for the second time. She was placed under house arrest on trumped-up charges, so in February, as she turned 20, she made her decision to go. Taking very little --

(on-camera): Do you regret the posts?

KRIVTSOVA (through translator): It's a difficult question. I lost a lot and went through a lot. My mother's tears faced with this situation. I lost my husband, grandfather and grandmother. This is a huge price for anyone. BELL (voice-over): But Krivtsova would not be silenced, even as big

brother watched Orwell's quote tattooed above an image of Vladimir Putin as a spider.

KRIVTSOVA (through translator): I think it's now my daily job to discredit the Russian army, because the Russian army is committing crimes on the territory of Ukraine.

BELL (on-camera): Tell me about this place. How it's been.

KRIVTSOVA (through translator): Yes, the stairwell looks very Russian because the building was constructed in the USSR. It's only my second day here. I haven't had a chance yet to tidy up my new place properly, or to get my bearings around the courtyard and the surrounding area.

BELL (voice-over): But Krivtsova has already set up a new Instagram channel. A girl interrupted on her way to getting coffee, now in Lithuania, freer and intending to be louder than ever.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Vilnius.


NEWTON: Still ahead for us, friction between two allies and the Israeli government minister says his country is not another star on the U.S. flag, as protests persist over judicial reforms.



NEWTON: And welcome back. We have more now on that developing story out of Kentucky. Two U.S. Blackhawk helicopters from the 101st airborne division have crashed in the southwestern part of the state, now that's according to a statement from Fort Campbell.

It says crew members were flying a routine training mission when the incident happened, now the status of the crew is unknown at this time. But Kentucky's governor tweeted earlier that fatalities are expected.

State police say they are assisting authorities and no residential areas have been affected. And we will, of course, bring you more information on that as soon as we get it.

Police in Nashville, Tennessee, say they believe the shooter who killed three children and three adults at an elementary school on Monday had weapons training, but investigators say they have not yet been able to uncover any problems at home or at school, in the 28- year-old Audrey Hale's past. In fact, the motive is still eludes them. U.S. First Lady Jill Biden, meantime, was among those who attended a candlelight vigil for the victims on Wednesday.

Now the loss of life in Nashville was, of course, tragic. but the rapid police response probably saved many more lives. Compare that to last May shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where police hesitated. More than an hour before entering the classroom where the gunman was holed up. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz has our report.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): It looks tragically, the same. Police responding to a school shooter on a killing spree. Calls for help and police respond. But that's where the similarities between the school shooting in Nashville and Uvalde, and --

CHIEF JOHN DRAKE, METRO NASHVILLE POLICE: We have six innocent, beautiful lives that were taken. And we had officers that went in harm's way to stop this.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): When police arrived at the Nashville school, the response is swift.

UNKNOWN: The kids are all locked down, but we have two kids that we don't know where they are.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Police rushed the building with rifles and handguns, door keys in hand clearing rooms

UNKNOWN: Upstairs. sounds like it's upstairs.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Charging to the sound of gunfire.

UNKNOWN: Right, right, right --

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): And engaging the shooter. Within four minutes of police arriving, the 28-year-old shooter is dead. It's just 14 minutes after the 1st 911 call.

DRAKE: I was hoping this day would never, ever come here in this city. But we would never wait. to make entry and to go in and to stop the threat, especially when it deals with our children.


PROKUPECZ (voice-over): It's the opposite of what police did in Uvalde. In Uvalde, police would initially rushed to the classroom, but then retreat when fired upon and wait 77 minutes before going in --

UNKNOWN: Are we going in or are we staying here? What are we doing?

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Gathering inside and outside the school.

UNKNOWN: We've got multiple officers inside the building at this time

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): And questioning what to do with no clear leadership

UNKNOWN: Are we just waiting for BORTAC or what's going on?

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Hundreds of law enforcement officers arrive, and yet no one enters the classroom where the gunman is with the teachers and students. The school police chief fumbles for a key to a door that was actually unlocked, and tries to negotiate

UNKNOWN: Please put your firearms down sir, we don't want anybody else hurt.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Before law enforcement finally goes in and kills the 18-year-old gunman. Family members in Uvalde believed that delays cost lives.

COL. STEVEN MCCRAW, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR: Hey, from the -- from the benefit of hindsight where I'm sitting now, the course it was not the right decision was the wrong decision period. There's no -- no excuse for that.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over):both shooters were former students and guns in both attacks were AR-15 style weapons. The failed response in Uvalde, under investigation, while there is praise for officers in Nashville.

But in both shootings, families and communities are devastated and will never be the same.

MAYOR JOHN COOPER (D-TN): This is our worst day. we're resilient city, but it's a shock to have to add our name to the list of places where there have been mass killings of children.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Shimon Prokupecz, CNN, New York.


NEWTON: China is warning it will resolutely fight back if Taiwan's president meets with the U.S. house speaker Kevin McCarthy during his -- her stopover, pardon me, in the U.S.

Now there's been no official confirmation that such a meeting would even take place, but it is considered likely. Scenes like this are infuriating Beijing, a sea of Taiwanese flags, greeting Tsai Ing-Wen, at a banquet in New York on Wednesday night. Now she's not in the U.S. and on an official visit, but rather a diplomatic mission to Guatemala and Belize.

CNN's Anna Coren has been following this story, especially the Chinese reaction. She joins us now from Hong Kong, and we knew this trip was going to be controversial. And yet in terms of reaction from China, it seems to be so much more strident.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, things could certainly escalate, saying you know how things play out over the next 10 days, but certainly Taiwan's President, you know, Tsai Ing-Wen, she praised her -- her country's bond with the United States while attending that banquet in New York a few hours ago.

She, of course, is transiting through the United States before heading to Central America for those official visits with Guatemala and Belize. While her stopover, as you say, is unofficial, it has deeply angered China.

Spokesman saying, China firmly opposes the visit, claiming her true purpose is in fact to promote Taiwan's independence. Now before we delve-in further to China's warning of a serious confrontation, let's hear from Tsai.


TSAI ING-WEN, TAIWANESE PRESIDENT (through translator): Taiwan has made tremendous progress in diplomacy and its relationship with the U.S. has never been closer.


COREN: Now Paula, as you were saying what's really upsetting the Chinese' eyes expected meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California, on her way back to Taiwan, McCarthy would be the highest ranking U.S. official to meet a Taiwanese leader on American soil.

China has threatened to quote, "Resolutely fight back if they meet in Los Angeles." and let's have a listen to what China's top diplomat in the U.S. had to say before Tsai arrived.


XU XUEYAN, CHARGE D' AFFAIRES, CHINESE EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON: It could lead it to another serious, serious, serious. I repeat, confrontation. We urge the U.S. aside not to, not to repeatedly play with fire on the tell-all question. As we say those who play with fire will perish by it.


COREN: Now Paula, strong language there, as you may remember when former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last year in august, China responded by firing ballistic missiles over Taiwan, deploying warships in the Taiwan Strait and conducting a simulated blockade of the island.

China, as we know, believes that Taiwan belongs to it, that's refused to rule out the use of force to bring Taiwan back under its control. And while the U.S. acknowledges China's position, it maintains that Taiwan's status should be settled peacefully between Beijing and Taipei.

Now, her trip comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing. But U.S. officials say China should not overreact.


And that such transits which side has done six times before as President, is simply routine. Analysts believe that Tsai's visit is designed to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties with the west and assert her island's autonomy. They also believe that she wants to project strength back home. Now Paula, Tsai is stepping down as President next year, and she wants to bolster support for her Democratic Progressive Party, which has had a drop in support. Paula?

NEWTON: Yeah, An interesting point there, that you say this is obviously helping her political cause at home. We will wait to hear from the speakers. see if that meeting will happen in the coming days. Anna Coren for us, thanks so much.

Now a simmering diplomatic dispute over judicial reform is looking more like a rift to what's behind the tensions between Israel and the United States. That's next.



NEWTON: Israeli negotiators held a second round of talks on Wednesday over the judicial reform plans that have plunged the country into political chaos. Now, many doubt whether a compromise is even possible. Again, demonstrators and Tel Aviv rallied against the Prime Minister's plan to weaken the power of the courts, even though that plan is now on hold, at least for now. Benjamin Netanyahu called the debate quote, "Public and often painful", it says he hopes an agreement can be reached.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: And we have to make sure that as we shift the pendulum from one side of an ever powerful judiciary, which is different from an independent judiciary. How do we ensure that the judiciary remains independent, and that we balance the need to strengthen the executive and the legislative and at the same time protect individual rights. I think that balance can be achieved and that's why I've promoted a pause.


NEWTON: Now, his taped remarks were played at a White House-hosted Democracy Summit despite concerns about democratic backsliding in Israel, and amid growing strain between the two allies.

On Tuesday, the U.S. president said he hopes Israeli leaders abandoned the judicial overhaul, adding they cannot continue down this road.


JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: We obviously have urged Israeli leaders to come up with a compromise as soon as possible and the President's comments yesterday about walking away from it, perfectly consistent with finding a compromise that -- that again preserves checks and balances in Israel.


NEWTON: Now, Joe Biden previously said he had no plans to invite Mr. Netanyahu to the White House in the near term, and that caused some outrage in Israel. But a senior Israeli official downplayed the dispute, calling it a tempest in a teacup, in fact.

Now a drug designed to reverse opioid overdoses will become easier to obtain in the United States. On Wednesday, the FDA formally approved the Narcan nasal spray to be sold over-the-counter, and it's being touted as a potential lifesaver at a time when opioids are the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States.

People can already buy Narcan without prescription in most states, but as Elizabeth Cohen explains, the new approval still makes a big difference.


ELIZABETH COHEN CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right now, you can get it without a prescription, but you have to ask the pharmacist for it. It's behind the pharmacist's counter, and that's a problem because people don't know what's there or they're too embarrassed to ask for it.

What's going to happen soon is that it will be available just over- the-counter, just right there on the shelf next to the shampoo or next to the aspirin. It will be just right out there. Let's take a look at why this is so important.

If you take a look at this graph, these are opioid deaths from 1999 until 2021. As you can see, they have just skyrocketed in 2021. There were more than 80,000 opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. if you look from 1999 to 2016 about 9000, children and teens died from opioid overdoses.


NEWTON: Our thanks to Elizabeth Cohen for that. Now, one question that remains is the cost, and that's led some health officials to worry that Narcan will be too expensive for many who need it most

Still to come for us. The story of an American civil rights pioneer gets pulled for review in Florida after a complaint. Why a parent says the Ruby Bridges movie shouldn't be shown to young children.




NEWTON: A Florida school has pulled the movie telling the story of Ruby Bridges pending further review. Now the story about the first black child to integrate into an all-white school in the southern United States is a staple in curriculums right around the country, but now faces a ban after a parent filed a complaint.

CNN's Leyla Santiago explains.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Disney movie tells the story of Ruby Bridges, the six-year-old first-grader who became the target of hatred and racism when she integrated an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960.

It is now the latest flashpoint over instructional materials, as the state of Florida limits how lessons on race, sexuality and gender are taught in the classroom. The PG-rated movie is now under review by Pinellas County Schools in Florida, a review that stems from a complaint by a parent of a second-grader asking it be removed from the schools list of approved films.

The North Shore Elementary parent whose name was redacted, and the complaint form by the district says the movie is not age-appropriate, spelling out objections to the use of racial slurs, and that the movie could teach students that white people hate black people and is more appropriate for eighth-graders.

It's not the first time some parents have objected to how the story of Ruby Bridges is taught in the classroom. In 2021 in Tennessee, one mom told CNN --

ROBIN STEENMAN, MOMS FOR LIBERTY, WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE: All this curriculum highlights is, the mean white people and how she's victimized and it speaks to nothing of the good

RUBY BRIDGES, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: So when I share my experiences, my story in these books I share our shared history. Good, bad and ugly.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): That's what Bridges herself told a U.S. House committee last year.


According to the Florida district, the movie will not be shown at this particular school for the rest of the year, but is still available at other schools in the district and in the district's movie library, and will now go through the formal objection process to review challenged material per district policy. No word on how long the review will take to complete.

(on-camera): In context here, this is the same Florida school district that pulled Nobel-prize winning author Toni Morrison's Bluest Eye in January from high school libraries, when a parent complained and objected, and school officials reviewed it,

Leyla Santiago, CNN, Miami.


NEWTON: I'm Paula Newton. I want to thank you for your company. "CNN Newsroom" continues in just a moment with Bianca Nobilo in London. Stay with us.