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CNN International: House Dems Would Save GOP Speaker for Ukraine Aid; Kaduna Governor: At Least 137 Children Rescues in Nigeria; U.N. Report: Electronic Waste has Grown to Record Levels; Families in Gaza Desperate for Food Amid Looming Famine; Native Fish Population of Adriatic Sea Under Threat. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired March 25, 2024 - 04:30   ET



ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren, live from Hong Kong. If you're just joining us, here are some of today's top stories.

Well, France is organizing flights for vulnerable nationals who want to leave Haiti. It comes as a U.S. State Department has evacuated more than 230 people looking to flee the recent gang violence in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince. Evacuations of U.S. citizens are also happening through state-coordinated efforts.

Ireland is again poised to get its youngest ever Prime Minister. The ruling party has named Higher Education Minister Simon Harris as its new leader. The 37-year-old Harris would succeed Leo Varadkar, who surprisingly resigned last week citing personal and political reasons.

Hindus are celebrating the Festival of Colors in India and Pakistan, known as Holi. It marks the beginning of spring and celebrates the victory of good over evil. Some communities begin the festivities the night before by lighting bonfires, followed by singing religious songs and drenching each other in colored powder and buckets of water on the day of Holi.

Assistance for Ukraine has been blocked in the U.S. Congress for weeks, but it may become a bargaining chip for House Democrats. On Friday, Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene filed a motion to oust fellow Republican Mike Johnson from his role as House Speaker. Democrats now say they might come to his rescue if he helps pass Ukraine aid. CNN's Manu Raju has the story.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: House Democrats are considering saving Mike Johnson from a threat from his speakership after Marjorie Taylor Greene announced on Friday that she would try to make Mike Johnson the second speaker ever to be ousted by his own colleagues.

The first speaker happened last fall. Kevin McCarthy was booted in the aftermath of a right-wing revolt. That was a little bit different at that time. Democrats all voted to oust him along with eight Republicans. Kevin McCarthy was pushed out of the speakership. There was 22 days of chaos.

Johnson came in. Now he's facing a similar threat after he agreed with Democrats on a bill to keep the government open through September.

Now, the question will be how Democrats handle this because many of them are indicating that they are willing to save him.

Why? Because of Ukraine aid being stalled in the House. Many of them say if Johnson were to outline a path to getting Ukraine aid approved, then that would change their calculus and perhaps they would vote to save him.

REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D-VA): If he does the responsible thing, which is allowing members of Congress to vote on a bill that will pass and that is in our national security interests, and then subsequent to that a non-serious actor who doesn't want to govern brings a motion to vacate, yes, I would motion to table in that circumstance.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I will make common cause with anybody who will stand up for the people of Ukraine, anybody who will get desperately needed humanitarian assistance to Gaza, and anybody who will work for a two-state solution.

RAJU: Now, the timing of this is all a bit unclear because Marjorie Taylor Greene could essentially call up that vote whenever she's recognized on the House floor. Now, the House is in recess for the next two weeks. She told me that she is not certain about her timing yet. But when she comes back, that could change. She could move to the floor, start the process, which would be two days before they would actually cast that critical vote.

The first vote is expected to be a motion to table or kill this resolution on a procedural matter -- procedural grounds. That is one that the Democrats are considering doing, essentially voting to kill the resolution from going forward.

But their demands are pretty clear, move on Ukraine aid, and if there's a path that they believe Ukraine aid can become law, perhaps Johnson can stay in the job.

Manu Raju, CNN, Washington.


COREN: Ukraine's president says Russia has been bombarding the country with massive aerial attacks. Volodymyr Zelenskyy says in the past week alone, Moscow has launched nearly 200 missiles, nearly 140 Iranian drones and close to 700 guided aerial bombs.

Well, Sunday saw another huge assault. Air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv as residents hunkered down in subway systems. Ukrainian officials say the capital city suffered only minor damage, but Kyiv was just one of the targets.

Russian missiles struck critical infrastructure in the Lviv region as well. One missile even entered Polish airspace. Poland activated F-16s and is demanding answers from Moscow.



WLADYSLAW KOSINIAK-KAMYSZ, POLISH MINISTER OF NATIONAL DEFENSE (through translator): If there was any premise indicating that this object was going in the direction of any targets located in Poland, of course it would have been shot down and more adequate measures would have been taken.


COREN: Well meanwhile, Ukraine says it launched successful strikes on Russia's Black Sea fleet. They say they hit two Russian naval vessels, a communications center and several other facilities in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol.

Officials in Nigeria say at least 137 schoolchildren kidnapped from Kaduna earlier this month have been rescued. The Nigerian military says they were rescued early Sunday morning. Nearly 300 were initially reported as being held captive. But the Nigerian government insists that all of the children are now safe.

The state's governor says he met with families of the children and the students will be hosted at an official dinner on Monday. But added that one teacher had died after developing complications while in captivity.

Well, joining us now is CNN's David McKenzie, who's following the story from Johannesburg. David, tell us, what is the latest on the kidnapped schoolchildren and have all of them been released as the government claims?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the government says that all of them have been released, Anna, and they're describing this as a search and rescue mission by Nigerian military that found the children or at least had them given back to them in a neighboring state. Perhaps as much as 100 miles from where they were taken after school assembly in a terrifying circumstances of gunmen driving motorcycles, heavily armed, killing at least one person who's trying to protect the kids and then taking them away in what has become an all too frequent occurrence in that part of Nigeria. The parents, of course, are very relieved.


JIBRIL, GWADABE-KURIGA, KURIGA COMMUNITY SPOKESPERSON: When we had the -- our children are back. We're happy, people are happy, you know, you're bleating what all you wait to see the to see our children, but we believe they are back since government cannot tell us lies. They have informed us that children are now they are taking care of them so that, you know, they have to go under some treatment before they hand over to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MCKENZIE: Well, if you see these images, these are the children after they have been released, that they were shown to the governor who's taking credit for the rescue in this case. They haven't been given back to the parents at this stage, we believe.

And of course, while the government takes credit for these kind of rescue operations, we did speak to family members who said they were contacted by the so-called bandits who are asking for more than $600,000 in ransom money. There's no indication one way or the other whether a ransom was paid.

But this is the trend in Nigeria, Anna, over many years now. There have been children, often at least 1400 of them, according to some estimates, kidnapped in various parts of Nigeria in the northwest. It is often for ransom and a sense of lawlessness and an inability of the government and successive presidents to, in fact, protect its most vulnerable citizens from these bandits.

And so the government can take some credit for getting the children back, but they certainly aren't able to prevent them at this stage from being taken -- Anna.

COREN: Let's hope they're reunited with their families very soon. David McKenzie, appreciate the report. Thank you.

Well, most of us can't imagine our lives without electronic devices and not just screens, we also rely on larger items like refrigerators and air conditioners.

According to a new joint report from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and the International Telecommunications Union, the world is now producing a record amount of electronic waste or e- waste, and it's putting lives at risk. Kim Brunhuber has our report.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These men in Ghana are rummaging through discarded electronics. Using screwdrivers and pliers, they break down computers and cell phones for any parts they can salvage. But this is just one electronic wasteland.

An alarming new U.N. report says that since 2010, the amount of global e-waste has grown five times faster than it can be collected and recycled. According to the study, a record 62 million metric tons of e-waste was produced in 2022. That's an increase of 82 percent from 2010. And the world is on track to generate a whopping 82 million tons of e-waste in 2030. One U.N. researcher says that we're losing the battle against e- waste and the wealthy are mostly to blame.

KEES BALDE, SR. SCIENTIFIC U.N. INSTITUTE FOR TRAINING AND RESEARCH: Well, the richer you are, the more you consume, well, the more products you are buying on the battery and the plug, and the more e- waste you are generating.

[04:40:00] BRUNHUBER (voice-over): What's more, e-waste recycling only produces one percent of the rare earth elements needed to meet the current demand, which leaves the world highly dependent on just a few countries where rare earths are mined, including countries in Africa. The continent generates the lowest amount of e-waste, but recycling rates there are below one percent.

A high-level official with the International Telecommunication Union says it's up to the manufacturers to make a difference by giving devices a longer life cycle.

COSMAS LUCKSON ZAVAZAVA, DIRECTOR, ITU TELECOMMUNICATION DEVELOPMENT BUREAU: They too will be benefitting if they take measures to make sure that there's responsible manufacturing, there is a responsible consumerism.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): While some countries have implemented environmental regulations to tackle the problem some are working on a more grassroots level. Places like the Fixing Factory in London are teaching consumers to make more sustainable choices.

DERMOT JONES, PROJECT MANAGER, CAMDEN FIXING FACTORY: We buy these things. And the first time they fail, we don't get them fixed and were trying to change that mindset so when it fails, just think that's just a part of its life cycle.

It's not the end of it. How can we get that going? How can we get it going a few more years?

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): But such efforts won't do enough to address the rapidly growing mountains of e-waste, especially as society grows more dependent on tech devices which are linked to the Internet.

Despite the dire forecast, the report says there's still time to introduce infrastructure to process e-waste more efficiently, driving up demand for recycled materials and increasing recycling rates overall.

Kim Brunhuber, CNN.


COREN: As widespread hunger grips Gaza, many are resorting to some heartbreaking ways to feed their families. We'll have those details next.


COREN: UNRWA says Israel will no longer allow its food convoys to enter the northern part of the territory.


UNRWA's chief called the move, quote, outrageous and urged Israel to lift the restrictions. This comes as a UN-backed report warns that famine is imminent in northern Gaza. This comes as a UN-backed report warns that famine is imminent in northern Gaza between now and May. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has more on the growing hunger crisis in the enclave. But a warning, her report is disturbing.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pain in the eyes of a mother who's helplessly watched her children go hungry for months. The father who's thought the unthinkable, throwing his children in the sea, he says, to spare them this torture of an existence.

Dante's family endured months of bombardment in northern Gaza but it's a looming famine there that's pushed them out of their home, walking 18 hours to make it to central Gaza.

If you grab a bag of flour, someone can kill you to take it, Mahoran says. Our daily meal for our children became things we hadn't heard of before like ground soybeans and a wild plant that we'd never tasted before, food that animals refuse to eat, we ate.

What they'll do, where they'll go, they don't know. All they want right now is to feed their little ones. Starvation is what brought us here. We're so tired, Najlat (ph) says. We came very hungry. My children were crying every night, asking for a piece of bread. We're dreaming of white bread. We were eating animal feed.

For the first time in five months, they say, the children are having real food, even if only plain bread.

This is what Dante's family left behind in the north, scenes that tell of the desperation of so many who also just want to feed their children as they rush the little aid that's made it into this part of Gaza.

More than a million Palestinians now are facing catastrophic levels of hunger, according to a U.N.-backed report, with famine projected to arrive in the north any day now. But death from hunger has already arrived.

Some of Gaza's most vulnerable, children with medical conditions, have died of malnutrition. Even amid an international push for a ceasefire, many more could die in this man-made crisis, where Israel's been accused of using starvation as a weapon of war, something it denies. Hunger is in every corner of this besieged territory.

It's the holy month of Ramadan, a time when Muslims fast, when extended families traditionally gather around at sunset to break their fast together.

For so many, like Om Nabil al-Kurd, this Ramadan has been a painful reminder of what they no longer have and loved ones lost. On better days, if one can call them that, they receive a little pot of lentil stew at this makeshift camp in central Gaza.

Today, she managed to get some potatoes. With no cooking gas, it takes her an hour to cook. Her family's not had a proper meal since October.

I really want meat. I want pancakes, little Saira says. And I want to go back to Gaza City, live in a house. We had a home. Now we're in a tent.

Parents can't shield their children from the bombs, and now hunger.

Life is harder than you can ever imagine, Hamza says. I can't even be a father to provide for my children. We just wish we would die so we don't have to go through this life.

The little they get is a lot more than most have these days. But even that could soon be gone, with warnings famine will sweep across Gaza in months. As every day, more people find themselves scavenging for food, forced to pick wild plants to boil and eat.

This grandmother can't hold back her tears as she washes weeds and leaves. That's today's meal. What else can they do, she says? It's the indignity of hunger.

Avoidable suffering as the world watches on.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.




COREN: Recent data suggests the Mediterranean is becoming the fastest warming sea on the planet. That includes temperatures in the Adriatic Sea. Well, now climate change and increased maritime traffic is threatening the native fish population in the region. CNN's Barbie Nadeau has the details.


BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): On the Adriatic Sea, it's a beautiful day for fishing, but problems swim beneath the surface. Invasive species threaten the native population and the livelihoods of those who fish it.

MARKO KRISTIC, FISHERMAN (through translator): About 15 years ago, this fish arrived to this region of the Southern Adriatic. There weren't many of them at first, but now there are lots. You can be sure to catch several each time you cast your net.

NADEAU (voice-over): As human-caused global warming heats up oceans to record levels, parrot fish and other tropical species are starting to displace the Mediterranean's native fish population.

They swim from the Red Sea through the Suez Canal or are carried in the ballast tanks of ships.

Fifty new non-native species, some potentially lethal to both native fish and humans, have spread to the Adriatic.

NENAD ANDOLOVIC, SCIENTIST, INSTITUTE FOR MARINE AND COASTAL RESEARCH (through translator): Ten years ago, many would have said that nothing could kill you in the Adriatic. However, things have changed since then.

NADEAU (voice-over): Croatian fishermen Marko Kristic finds plenty of parrot fish in his nets. He says they endanger his traditional catch and are of no use to him or his business, because the fish is unpopular in Southern Croatia.

KRISTIC (through translator): When I catch it, I can't sell it to anyone, because the local people don't eat the new fish. They don't know what it is, and they don't want to eat it or try it, or anything.


NADEAU (voice-over): The Mediterranean is becoming the fastest warming sea on Earth, according to recent data. Scientists in neighboring Montenegro say invasive species, like blue crabs and lionfish, are thriving in the warming Adriatic, wiping out local species and damaging ecosystems, leaving the future uncertain for the communities who depend on that ecosystem to survive.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN.


COREN: Well, the U.S. men's NCAA tournament, Sweet 16, is set. On Sunday, Marquette advanced by beating Colorado 81 to 77. Marquette's Tyler Koleg had 21 points and 11 assists.

The Cinderella story of this year's tournament has come to an end. The scrappy Yale Bulldogs lost to San Diego State, 57 to 85.

And an upset in the women's tournament. Duke knocked off Ohio State in the Buckeyes' home arena. Duke moves on to the Sweet 16.

The Iowa Hawkeyes and star Caitlin Clark will have their chance Monday night to advance to the Sweet 16 when they play West Virginia.

American ice skating prodigy Ilia Malinin lived up to his name, Quad God, nickname on Saturday, with a historic performance. The 19-year- old climbed from third place to first to win the men's world figure skating title.

Malinin opened his routine with a quadruple axel before landing five more quad jumps. This resulted in the highest ever score given in the competition. The Quad God is still the only man to land the quadruple axel.

What an incredible feat.

Well, thanks so much for your company. I'm Anna Coren. CNN "THIS MORNING" is up next after this short break.