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Israeli PM Reschedules the Visit of His Delegation to the United States owing U.S. Abstention on the U.N. Resolution on Gaza Ceasefire; CNN Obtains Video of the Rebel Fighters Captured by Myanmar's Military Junta; Former U.S. President Barack Obama Backs Support for Joe Biden; South Africa Struggles with the War on Crime Ahead of the Polls; New Bill Plans to Ban Dachshund Dog Breeds in Germany; New Study Reveals that Climate Change may Cost the World an Extra Second. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 28, 2024 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world and to everyone streaming us on CNN Max. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, the U.S. government braces for a long and expensive road to recovery as operations turn to salvaging what's left after the devastating Baltimore Bridge collapse.

Plus, new evidence showing the brutal measures Myanmar's military junta is using to remain in power.

And later, how climate change could lead to losing a second off the clock.

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

CHURCH: Thanks for joining us.

Divers in Baltimore Harbor have recovered the bodies of two construction workers killed when a massive cargo ship hit the Francis Scott Key Bridge early Tuesday. The men were in a pickup truck beneath the collapsed bridge where police say the frigid water made it impossible to survive.

Four other workers are missing and presumed dead. Police say bad weather and the mangled wreckage of the bridge make it impossible for divers to continue their search.

Meanwhile, investigators are analyzing the ship's voyage data recorder and interviewing the crew. They say the Dali was carrying 56 containers of hazardous material, some of which were damaged in the collision. Others are in the water. They also say the bridge built in the 1970s was in satisfactory condition when inspected in May of last year.


JENNIFER HOMENDY, U.S. NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD CHAIRMAN: It's pretty devastating, certainly, seeing not just what's going on with the cargo containers, but just looking at what was a bridge span, three bridge spans, that is pretty much gone. That is, it's just utter devastation.


CHURCH: More now on the crash, the investigation, and the economic impact from CNN's Brian Todd.


GOV. WES MOORE (D-MD): The collapse of the Key Bridge is not just a Maryland crisis. The collapse of the Key Bridge is a global crisis.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Divers located the bodies of two construction workers in a red pickup truck 25 feet below the surface of Baltimore's Patapsco River a day after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed, killing six. Authorities say it is currently impossible to locate the remaining four people.

COL. ROLAND L. BUTLER JR., MARYLAND STATE POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: We're now moving from a recovery mode to a salvage operation. Because of the superstructure surrounding what we believe are the vehicles and the amount of concrete and debris, divers are no longer able to safely navigate or operate around that. We have exhausted all search efforts.

TODD (voice-over): Investigators say they're going to examine a play- by-play breakdown of the moments before the fully loaded cargo ship rammed into the bridge. A key piece of evidence, the ship's data recorder.

HOMENDY: We've sent that back to our lab to evaluate and begin to develop a timeline of events that led up to the strike on the bridge.

TODD (voice-over): Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg doesn't expect the investigation will change the designs of bridges or ships moving forward.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: A bridge like this one, completed in the 1970s, was simply not made to withstand a direct impact on a critical support pier from a vessel that weighs about 200 million pounds.

TODD (voice-over): But Homendy says the investigation will look at what could have kept the bridge from coming down.

HOMENDY: We will look at areas that should have been in place to prevent this type of destruction from occurring.

TODD (voice-over): At this moment -- SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): The most urgent priority is to open up

the port of Baltimore. It is essential to the livelihoods of people here in Baltimore and Maryland and in fact the economies of the region and will impact people around the country and around the world.

TODD (voice-over): And plans are in the works for a new bridge.

PAUL WIEDEFELD, MARYLAND TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: We will come up with a design for the replacement of that bridge as quickly as possible to get the port back up and the community back up and running.

TODD (voice-over): Buttigieg says cleanup crews are working to clear out the hundreds of millions of tons of wreckage so shipping can resume and the bridge can be rebuilt.

BUTTIGIEG: We know that it can't happen overnight and so we're going to have to manage the impacts in the meantime.

TODD: Federal officials now say there are 11 ships in addition to the Dali that are now stuck inside the port of Baltimore. They include three bulk carriers, an oil and chemical tanker and a vehicle carrier.


Officials have also said that all crew members of the Dali are still on the container ship and are cooperating with investigators.

Brian Todd, CNN, Baltimore.


CHURCH: Joining me now is Kit Miyamoto. He is a structural engineer and global CEO of Miyamoto International. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So the deadly Baltimore bridge collapse works as a wake-up call, shining a spotlight on other bridges built before these massive cargo ships plowed through the waters below and this bridge did not have structural redundancy. What does that mean exactly and what could have been done to protect this bridge from the cargo ship hitting its support pier?

MIYAMOTO: Yeah, well, I mean, if you see the video, the structural system is actually pretty simple.

There's the bridge and that's supported by two piers. So if the one of the piers collapsed, everything else goes. That's exactly what happened.

Now, Baltimore, this bridge is pretty old. It's built in 1976 and it doesn't have much redundancy. Like today, if you see like a seismic area like California, the system has much more redundancy, which means that the much bigger piers and also it can take a lot of impact.

So therefore, it's much more redundant in a sense for against this kind of impact. Remember, this ship is huge. It's 100,000 tons at empty. It's about 300 meters long and traveling about 10 miles per hour. It's about the speed of a bicycle. Kind of slow, but it's such a huge element. So therefore, the momentum is big. So that's why it caused a collapse there.

CHURCH: And we have just learned that it's not the first time a cargo ship has hit this Baltimore Bridge. In an eerily similar scenario, a much smaller freighter rammed one of the bridge's support columns back in 1980. But because it was a smaller ship, of course, the bridge survived. However, we have seen other similar deadly disasters, the most recent just a month ago, involving a cargo ship hitting the Pearl Bridge in Guangzhou, China.

What needs to be done to reassess the structural integrity of these older bridges here in the U.S. and, of course, around the world to update them so they're less vulnerable to accidents like this? Because these enormous container ships, they're here to stay.

MIYAMOTO: That's right. Those container ships getting bigger and bigger, you know, by the way, and more traffic, too. So it's definitely those bridges exposed to quite a risk.

Now, in the 1980s, a bridge like that collapsed in Tampa Bay in Florida State. And they actually reconstructed in a much more robust way. The pier is actually, the pier is what I was talking about, protected by the island. So they built an island around the pier and also the bumper around it.

So when the ships are coming through, it will actually absorb the energy and slow it down.

But there's no structural system that can withstand such a huge impact, you know, just to make it slow down and hopefully lessen the risk of a collapse.

Now, today, if you follow the modern bridge design code or guideline, the probability of a collapse each year is 1 in 10,000. So it's definitely a rare event, but there's definitely a risk exists. So for the older bridges, the best we can do is build the protective devices or elements around the pier. That's probably the most cost effective and the fastest way to reduce risk.

CHURCH: Right. And U.S. President Joe Biden has vowed to pay the full cost of a replacement bridge in Baltimore. With so many massive container ships traveling through those waters in Baltimore, how should they replace it? What advice would you give for building a structure that needs to span a mile and a half with massive cargo ships below?

MIYAMOTO: Well, I think that, first of all, today's bridge code is much more robust than the 1970s. So that really helps.

The following that the current bridge code is that makes a big difference is that the structural system is much more redundant, which is very important, which means that the redundancy means if the one column disappears, still bridge is intact. I think that's a very important concept, something we use in the earthquake area.

And also that having a much more robust protective system for the pier, you know, that technology is available, and it's been done in the past. And that's actually very important things to do.

CHURCH: All right. Kit Miyamoto, thank you so much for joining us. I Appreciate it.

MIYAMOTO: Thank you.


CHURCH: The White House is confirming that Israel has agreed to reschedule a meeting between U.S. and Israeli officials in Washington. This coming just days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled the delegation over objections to the U.S. abstaining from a U.N. vote calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The meeting in Washington is set to focus on a possible Israeli ground operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than one million Palestinians are currently sheltering. Mr. Netanyahu says his country has no choice but to move into Rafah as its quote, "very existence is on the line".

The deadly and devastating effects of war already being felt in Rafah. Palestinian health officials say at least 11 people were killed in Israeli strikes on the southern Gaza city. Officials at one hospital say those strikes hit a home where families were sheltering and say an 11 year old child was among the dead. WAFA, the Palestinian news agency reports that residential buildings in other parts of Rafah were also targeted.

And CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman joins us now from Rome with more. Good to see you Ben. So what more are you learning about Israel's decision to reschedule that meeting with U.S. officials in Washington over the planned operation in Rafah?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we understand that this meeting is now going ahead after of course Prime Minister Netanyahu angrily canceled a visit by senior Israeli officials to discuss this operation. Now we're now in day 174 of this war, the death toll in Gaza is at least 32,570 percent of them women and children. Now Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday met with a U.S. congressional delegation, a delegation sponsored by the lobbying group AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Now during that meeting with the American delegation, the Prime Minister said that victory is just weeks away.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We've killed the many senior leaders including number four in Hamas, number three in Hamas. We'll get number two and number one. That's victory. Victory is within reach. It's a few weeks away.


WEDEMAN: A few weeks away. Well, we shall see. Certainly we should take those words with a few grains of salt. Now Prime Minister Netanyahu while meeting this delegation didn't appear to have much in the way of a strategy as far as the proposed Rafah operation goes.

In fact, he told the delegation that the Palestinians can just move out of Rafah, move with their tents. There's all of the Gaza Strip north of Gaza. People move down, they can move up. Now that seems rather flippant considering that many of these people have simply lost their homes completely.

Much of northern Gaza has been destroyed by Israeli bombardment and those who try to venture to the north of Gaza often come under Israeli fire. Now how U.S. officials are going to deal with this Israeli approach to the situation in Gaza is anybody's question.

Now we understand that when Israeli officials were in Washington this week, the Americans were suggesting that the Israelis be more pinpoint in their pursuit of Hamas' leadership. So they're not really telling the Israelis not to conduct an operation in Rafah, which of course has more than a million and a half people who've sought refuge there. They're just telling them to be a little more careful in that operation. Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Our thanks to Ben Wedeman joining us there with a live report.

CNN uncovers evidence of atrocities in the ongoing civil war in Myanmar. Still to come, a horrific video shows the fate of rebel fighters captured by allies of the country's military junta.

Plus Barack Obama is jumping in to help President Joe Biden take on Donald Trump as the race for the White House intensifies. Why experts say Obama is a critical ally for Mr. Biden to secure a second term.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

There's new evidence showing the sheer brutality of Myanmar's military junta and some of its allies.

Three years after seizing power in a coup, they're now taking losses on the battlefield, facing stiff resistance from a rebel group called the People's Defense Forces and other ethnic armed organizations. In a month-long investigation, CNN has uncovered video of what happens to some of those rebel fighters when they're captured.

Anna Coren joins us now from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Anna. So you and your team uncovered this evidence of atrocities in the ongoing civil war in Myanmar. What did you find? ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Rosemary. The

investigation led by CNN's Angus Watson and Helen Regan uncovered the level of depravity and heinous crimes that the junta and its allies are committing on the battlefield.

They are struggling to hold ground against a coordinated and well- organized opposition as these rebel forces from different groups are now effectively working together. And it comes as the junta celebrated Armed Forces Day with a military parade last night. We just spoke to an analyst who believes that the junta held the parade at night due to security concerns.

He told us that the front line is getting closer and closer to Naypyidaw, the capital where this parade was held, and that the rebel presence is about 80 kilometers away. He believes that in the months to come that the fighting could be on Naypyidaw's doorstep. He also noted the large presence of women on that parade ground. The men obviously are on the battlefield fighting.

We saw a large Russian contingent. Russia and Myanmar's military have a very close ties, even more so since the coup in 2021. But what really stood out to him was this scant show of force, you know, this lack of military hardware on display, no tanks or multiple rocket launchers when the jets flew over last night. No one could in fact see them. It really speaks to the pressure that the junta is facing.

Look, Rosemary, what our team uncovered is gruesome and what you're about to see is very disturbing.


COREN (voice-over): Walking through the flat dry scrublands of the Yor Valley in central Myanmar, a soldier films on his phone.

Hey brother, raise your three fingers, he jokes, mocking the salute symbolic of the country's resistance movement.

No more three fingers, yells one of them and laughs.


He moves on to another group of pro-junta militia resting in the shade.

Revolution, he cries.

It's bullshit, they respond.

Moments later, the man filming asks a soldier wearing a military junta uniform of a PDF, a reference to the opposition People's Defense Forces.

Yes, he replies.

This brief exchange caught on camera is about two rebel fighters they had just captured a few hours earlier. Before dawn on the 7th of November last year, rebels part of the PDF

staged an attack on the pro-junta militia stronghold in the village of Mayock Kinyan Gangor in Magwe Division.

But instead, the rebels were ambushed coming under heavy fire.

Platoon Commander Ninja says as they tried to retreat in open fields, several of his fighters were injured, while others were cut off from the group, including 21-year-old Phoe Tay and 20-year-old Thar Htaung.

NINJA, YDF FIGHTER (through translator): The last time I saw them, they were hunkering down about 50 meters away from me.

COREN (voice-over): A few hours later, Ninja's platoon received a message from a villager saying two of their rebel fighters had been caught alive.

Video obtained by CNN shows the two young men bound and bloodied, relentlessly taunted by the militia.

The revolution must lose, PDFs are dogs, replies Phoe Tay. How many dogs have we killed, aren't you PDF dogs? Where dogs, repeats Thar Htaung.

The video then shows them being dragged on the ground, their arms and legs hogtied in chains.

The next clip, too graphic to show in full, reveals the young men hanging in chains from the branch of a large tree over a fire, being burnt alive.

Their screams heard over cheers from the militia as the prisoners writhed in agony as flames seared their flesh. An eyewitness to the execution told us the militia had ordered one person from each house to watch.

ZAW ZAW, WITNESS (through translator): When I got there, they hanged them on the tree and poured gasoline and diesel on their bodies. The rebels were moving and screaming and said they apologized. But the militia replied, apologize in your next life.

COREN (voice-over): Cross-referencing more than a dozen interviews with witnesses, villagers, resistance fighters, family members and experts, with analysis of the video and pictures from the day, using open source techniques, CNN has found evidence that the military and its allied militia were responsible for the killings.

The junta denies the claim, stating the video was fabricated. However, they do admit an attack took place that day and that its troops were stationed in the village.

CNN spoke to both fathers who confirmed their sons had been killed. They said they encouraged their boys to join the revolution and fight, but to die like this will haunt them forever.

MYINT ZAW, FATHER OF PHOE TAY (through translator): I got a chance to watch the video, but I could not finish it. I stopped because I knew it was going to break my heart.

COREN (voice-over): The brutality of this execution, however, is not a one-off case.

Since the military junta staged a coup in 2021, the level of depravity among its soldiers and aligned militia has increased in response to the mass losses and defections it's suffering on the battlefield. The junta's recent announcement of compulsory conscription, a clear sign it's facing enormous pressure.

As fighting engulfs two thirds of the country, experts believe the military is using fear and intimidation to try and control a defiant population.

MATT LAWRENCE, PROJECT DIRECTOR, MYANMAR WITNESS: We've been able to verify over 400 burnt bodies since the coup, and we've verified over a dozen instances of individual beheadings. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

COREN (voice-over): But the burnings, beheadings and indiscriminate artillery and airstrikes are doing anything but stamping out the resistance.

Rebel fighter Yor Lei, who fought alongside Phoe Tay and Thar Htaung that fateful morning, says what happened to his friends has only strengthened their resolve.

YOR LEI, REBEL FIGHTER (through translator): We won't give in to fear. We will continue this revolution until we win. Only then will it be worth it for those who sacrificed their lives.



COREN: Rosemary, we know how distressing this story is and watching that video, but we believe it's so important for the world to know what is happening inside Myanmar. Now, in response to the junta's compulsory conscription law that they've brought in, there have been recriminations.

We understand that 17 conscription officials have been assassinated by rebels in the past few weeks, and that the National Unity Government, which is the government in exile, has said that the officials behind this conscription drive are quote "legitimate military targets". Rosemary.

CHURCH: And we thank you Anna Coren and your team for that horrifying but important report. Joining us there from Hong Kong. I Appreciate it.

Joining me now is Tom Andrews, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar. Always appreciate you being with us.

TOM ANDREWS, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON MYANMAR: Thank you, Rosemary. It's always good to be with you. CHURCH: So, Myanmar's military junta is getting increasingly

desperate, using torture and violence in an effort to try and scare the armed resistance against it by bombing villages, burning people alive, even beheading them. But is this brutal strategy working for the junta or is it actually doing the opposite?

ANDREWS: I think it's doing the opposite, Rosemary. It's not working at all. They're losing.

They control less than half of the country right now. They've lost hundreds of military outposts in just the last few months. They've lost literally tens of thousands of troops to defections or to surrender or casualties.

So they are losing. They are desperate.

And unfortunately, their response is to make these attacks against particularly civilians even more brutal. There has been a fivefold increase in air attacks against civilian villages in just the past five months.

And there has been a doubling of civilians that have been killed or injured due to landmines in just the last few months. So they're increasing their brutality against the people of Myanmar as they become increasingly desperate.

CHURCH: And as part of that desperation, the junta is also forcing young men and women into military conscription. What has been the response to that?

ANDREWS: It has been a very strong response from people all over the country. They're not going to be putting themselves into an army that is killing their families and attacking their villages.

They're disappearing. They're heading into bordering areas over the border. They're joining resistance forces.

So this is having just the opposite effect. It's backfiring on the junta.

CHURCH: And there are also reports that the military junta are allegedly using Rohingya as human shields on the battlefield. What have you learned about this?

ANDREWS: Just imagine this, Rosemary. That's exactly right. They are attacking Rohingya villages. And unlike others in Myanmar, the Rohingya can't run for safety. They can't leave their villages. They're forced into these villages.

Now they are forcibly recruiting young Rohingya men to become human shields, as you mentioned. And just imagine this. So you're being forced to join the very forces that are not only bombing your villages in which you can't escape, but these are the very forces that committed genocide against your community in 2017 and 2018 that sent hundreds of thousands of Rohingya over the border into Bangladesh. It is just unbelievable to think about what that would mean for a young Rohingya man, boy and their families and what a horrible, horrible situation that the Rohingya are facing right now. It's just unbelievable.

CHURCH: And Tom, since the military coup in 2021, the junta have carried out a brutal nationwide crackdown against protest and dissent, as we've been discussing. Can you describe how things have deteriorated inside Myanmar and of course, the loss of freedom for the average citizen inside the country?

ANDREWS: Well, there are over 20,000 political prisoners now, Rosemary, in Myanmar. You know, when I became the special rapporteur in 2020, there were one million people in Myanmar who were in need of humanitarian aid.

Now there are 18.6 million people in need of humanitarian aid since the coup. 2.7 million have been displaced. The United Nations is now projecting that over a million more are going to be displaced just this year.


The economy has collapsed. Half the population are now in poverty. The education system has collapsed. Health care is in shambles.

So it's a very, very dire situation in Myanmar ever since the coup.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: And Tom, what progress has been made in terms of the international community responding to what's happening in Myanmar?

ANDREWS: Well, there has been some progress. You know, I issued a report last year that indicated that Singapore, for example, exported $254 million worth of weapons materials into Myanmar last year.

And since that report was issued, Singapore conducted an investigation. And I was happy to report to the Human Rights Council last week in Geneva that exports of weapons materials from Singapore has dropped by 83 percent since last year. That's an important step in the right direction.

We know that some of the sanctions that have been applied, the United States applying sanctions to the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank, Australia following that, also imposing such sanctions, we know that those sanctions are being disrupted.

The problem is that these various activities of various countries in the world, they're not coordinated. They're disjointed. They're not strategic. They don't add up because they're not working cooperatively together to impose sanctions on where clearly the junta is most vulnerable.

So we've seen progress. It's very hopeful. But unless and until the international community can actually focus and be strategic and coordinate those actions, it's simply not going to be what we need to see this thing finally, finally end.

CHURCH: Tom Andrews, thanks for your perspective and of course for joining us.

ANDREWS: Thank you, Rosemary.

Still ahead, remembering the victims of the Baltimore Bridge collapse, ordinary, hard-working men doing a tough job to provide for their families when disaster struck. Their stories next. Plus this --


We need to be on top of the vehicle as soon as we or as fast as we possibly can.


CHURCH: CNN rides along with a private security group in South Africa forced to do the job of police. We'll look at why the war on crime there is a losing battle.



CHURCH: Welcome back to "CNN Newsroom". I'm Rosemary Church. Our top stories this hour.

The White House is confirming that Israel has agreed to reschedule a meeting between U.S. and Israeli officials in Washington. This coming just days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled the delegation over objections to the U.S. abstaining from a U.N. vote calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The death toll from last week's concert hall attack near Moscow has reached at least 143 and Russian authorities say the same number of people have also been reported missing. CNN has reached out to Russian officials to check if those two lists overlap. Some people have taken to social media in recent days trying to locate missing friends and relatives.

Authorities in Baltimore, Maryland are moving from recovery to a salvage operation after Tuesday's deadly bridge collapse. Federal investigators say they have obtained about six hours of voyage data from the container ship that crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Four construction workers remain missing and are presumed dead. The bodies of two others were recovered Wednesday.

Well the grief from the bridge collapse goes beyond borders. The six victims were immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. They're being remembered as hard-working husbands, fathers, sons and brothers. CNN's Gustavo Valdes reports.


GUSTAVO VALDES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Maynor Suazo Sandoval is remembered by friends and family as a visionary, a man who dreamed big.

He said that if we wanted to get ahead as a family, we must work three times harder together, said his brother Martin, who still lives in the small village in northern Honduras where they grew up. He was the youngest of eight children and almost 20 years ago left Honduras for the United States looking for a better future. And his hard work paid off.

His brother proudly says that Maynor managed to build a successful construction business that allowed him to send money home, improve the family house where his parents still live and open a couple of businesses, including a hotel. He also financed local soccer leagues.

He believed that helping children have a better life would improve the chances of a better Honduras, his brother says.

But his business suffered during the pandemic. He was among the group of workers doing repair work on the Francis Scott Key Bridge that collapsed when a cargo ship hit one of its pillars.

The news of the tragedy was a blow to the family who struggled to break the news to Maynor's mother.

Martin says that she wanted to fly to the United States as soon as possible, but now she only wants for the body of her youngest son to be found so they can bury him in his native land.

VALDES: All victims were migrants from Latin America. The governments of Mexico and Guatemala have said that they are already assisting their relatives in their countries and in the United States.

VALDES (voice-over); In El Salvador, relatives of Miguel Luna can't hold back tears for the father of six children who was also working on the bridge when it collapsed.

We knew him as a humanitarian person, says his cousin Angela Luna.

Luna left El Salvador shortly after finishing his basic education. He had lived in the United States for 19 years, working to provide for his family in Maryland and relatives in El Salvador.

He always wanted to see his children grow up and provide them with a better education, she says. And now all they can do is hope that his body is found.

Gustavo Valdes, CNN, Atlanta.


CHURCH: Baltimore is the top U.S. port for car and light truck imports, handling a record 850,000 vehicles last year. CNN spoke with Nissan Americas CEO about the impact the port's closure will have on his industry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEREMIE PAPIN, CHAIR, NISSAN AMERICAS: Let me start by saying that really my thoughts go to the families, our friends, colleagues of the victims of this terrible accident. And as regards to business, as you've mentioned, the Baltimore port has been a very good partner to our business over the years.

This week, we've managed to reroute our ships to other ports on the east coast of the U.S., and I believe we will have a very limited, if any, disruption to our business in the near term due to the port, and we're looking forward to working out longer-term solutions and coming back to the port whenever it's ready to do business again.


CHURCH: Baltimore is also the leading U.S. port for farming and construction machinery, as well as imports of sugar and gypsum. Its cruise ship terminal handled nearly 450,000 departing passengers last year.


U.S. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are running neck-and-neck in the polls, but when it comes to money, Joe Biden is outpacing Trump. On Thursday, that gap is expected to widen when Mr. Biden holds his largest 2024 fundraising event with former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton in New York.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has details.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: President Biden is heading to Broadway in New York for one of the biggest fundraising nights of his campaign, featuring former President Bill Clinton and former President Barack Obama.

Call it a meeting of the American President's Club, if you will, of course, absent former President Donald Trump and a few others, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, but Donald Trump, of course, will be top of mind as these Democrats try and raise millions and millions of dollars to take him on in the November election.

For all the hand-wringing among Democrats here about the strength of President Biden's campaign, tonight will be a reminder, a celebration of sorts, that Hollywood is well behind him.

Many, many, many boldface names. Stephen Colbert actually will be leading a conversation between Biden, Clinton and Obama, talking about the records of achievement in the Biden White House, as well as some history, perhaps, in the Obama White House and the Clinton White House.

Now, all of this is coming, we're told, as former President Barack Obama is taking a renewed interest in this campaign. He was at the White House just a couple of days ago recording a message with President Biden about the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. Of course, that is one of the biggest achievements that they worked on

together back during the Obama-Biden administration.

But for all the concern among many Democrats about the trajectory of the Biden campaign, he, of course, is either leading or neck-and-neck with Donald Trump in many battleground states. There has been some concern about the strength and stamina of President Biden.

Well, we are told that in a private conversation, former President Barack Obama actually praised President Biden's performance at the State of the Union, and he believes that that should alleviate some concerns that have been out there about the campaign. We also know that former President Obama will be playing a much bigger role in this campaign, particularly trying to reach out to younger voters, Black voters, Latino voters, and to ease some concerns that many voters have about the Biden administration's handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

We do not expect to see former President Obama out on the campaign trail until later this year, but he will be doing fundraising appeals throughout the summer months as well. But for now, at least, on Thursday night in New York City at Radio City Music Hall, three American presidents coming together to try and defeat another one.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: One of the lawyers who helped Donald Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 U.S. presidential election is now facing the consequences.

A California judge is recommending that former Trump lawyer John Eastman be disbarred for his role in Trump's efforts to remain in power. Eastman can appeal the ruling, and the California Supreme Court will review the case. But a potential disbarment in California would be confirmed by other state bars across the country.

Still to come, CNN's David McKenzie is live in Johannesburg with details on why South Africa is struggling with a war on crime.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Rosemary. After the break, a wave of crime in South Africa that, many say, is out of control.




CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone, 30 years into its young democracy, South Africa is struggling with the crime wave that can't seem to control. Violent brazen attacks and heists which should be handled by police are instead turned over to private security patrols, because police corruption is rampant as well. So let's go live to Johannesburg, where CNN's senior international

correspondent David McKenzie is standing by. Good to see you, David. So you rode along with a private security group in South Africa. What did you find?

MCKENZIE: Rosemary, you would expect the police to be the main crime- fighting force in a country, but that's not the case often in South Africa, where private security outnumber the police many times. In fact, there are more than 500,000 active private security officers, about five times more than active police.

And both the police and private security are struggling to deal with a crime wave in this country.


ANTON KOEN, CEO, NOJACK: This was a vehicle that was triggered by the license plate recognition system. We need to be on top of the vehicle as soon as we or as fast as we possibly can.

MCKENZIE: So Anton is chasing a hijacked vehicle. This happens all the time in South Africa. They're in touch with private security groups throughout this eastern part of Johannesburg. And one thing you don't hear anything about is the police.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Police can't cope, underfunded and struggling with corruption.

Dash cam footage shows the criminal gangs private security are often up against. In South Africa, more than 20,000 vehicles were hijacked last year.

Murders are at a 20-year high.

Cash-in-transit heists are now commonplace. Armored vehicles targeted in broad daylight by heavily armed gangs. This heist on a major Joburg highway in October.

MCKENZIE: Was it difficult to get a gun?

UNKNOWN: No, it's not difficult.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): We met a cash-in-transit criminal who claims he's gotten out of the game. We agreed to hide his identity so he would talk freely.

UNKNOWN: People who are angry with the level of crime, they will never sleep with their stomach empty. Those are the people who are crying with crime.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): He says around a dozen gang members target the vehicles. Often with insider intelligence, they have spotters, drivers and shooters splitting the cash evenly.

MCKENZIE: Did you ever kill anyone? UNKNOWN: Yes. No, it's bad. I feel bad about it. Some of them, you go

and you want to rob, they do not surrender. They want to become heroes.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): But father of four T.T. Ngwenya says he never wanted to be a hero. He just wanted to put food on the table.

T.T. NGWENYA, FORMER CASH-IN-TRANSIT GUARD: Yes, I needed the money. You must take out that you are going to be killed because you will never work for your children.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): He always knew they would be hit. And in May 2021, they were.

The dashcam video shows the gang working quickly, efficiently even. They made Ngwenya and the other guards lie in the grass. When they blew off the roof, it crushed his legs.

NGWENYA: The big thing to me, I'm no longer able to stand. I'm no longer working as the way I was before I joined that job. And I always feel pain. I'm short with some pills, you see, and I'm a fighter.

KOEN: Seems like the value of life has actually means nothing to a lot of people anymore. I think at the moment, our crime is out of control. Our crime is really not in control. We're having a hard time fighting crime.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): South Africa is losing the war against crime. The promise of its democracy hijacked by corruption, desperation and greed.


MCKENZIE: Well, security experts tell us that there are plenty of good cops here, both in the lower levels and the higher ranks. But they are overwhelmed by a lack of resources, underwhelmed by their colleagues who are corrupt and also facing just this crime wave that is often just taken for granted in this country, despite the dramatic footage you saw there. And if you think we're exaggerating, just over my shoulder, about 20 minutes drive away, early yesterday morning, there was another attempted cash-in-transit heist, say police.

And in two months or so, we'll be having a critical election here in South Africa. This will be one of the main issues on the voters' minds when they go to the polls. Rosemary?

CHURCH: An extraordinary report. Our thanks to Dave McKenzie joining us live from Johannesburg.

And still to come, it seems there's not enough hours in the day to get things done sometimes. And now we may lose a second of that precious time. We'll explain after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

Disgraced cryptocurrency magnate Sam Bankman-Fried will face sentencing in U.S. federal court later today. He was convicted on seven counts of fraud and conspiracy. Jurors found Bankman-Fried guilty of stealing billions of dollars from accounts belonging to customers of his crypto exchange FTX. Prosecutors are pushing for 40 to 50 years behind bars, but he could get a sentence of as much as 110 years.

Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. has been added as a defendant in a civil lawsuit against rapper and business owner Sean Diddy Combs. The music producer who filed the complaint alleges he was sexually assaulted by Gooding Jr. in January of last year. He also claims Combs suggested he quote, "get to know the actor". An attorney for Gooding Jr has not responded to CNN's request for comment. It's one of the latest developments in the legal storm surrounding Combs.

On Wednesday, his private jet was seen still parked in Miami despite plans to go on a trip with his daughters, a source tells CNN. That trip was interrupted when federal authorities stopped him on Monday and searched two of his homes.

Germany's Kennel Club warns that the future of the Dachshund, one of the country's most popular dog breeds, could soon be in jeopardy. That's because German lawmakers are considering a bill that targets torture breeding. Fred Pleitgen explains what that could mean for some beloved breeds.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Many Germans are up in arms as one of the most popular dogs here in this country and really a staple of German culture, the sausage dog, they believe could be under threat and maybe in the future could disappear and not be bred anymore here in this country. Now, all this comes down to a draft law, which was put forward by the German Agriculture Ministry, which is in charge of animal protection here in this country.


And that law seeks to end what Germans call torture breeding.

That in effect means breeding animals with what the Germans call skeletal abnormalities. And some of those abnormalities include very long spines and very short legs, which of course tend to be features of the German sausage dog.

Now, the ministry itself, we've gotten in touch with them, they say that they have absolutely no plan to end breeding of sausage dogs here in this country. They say they simply want to protect animals and end what they call torture breeding, which essentially they say means breeding animals in a way that makes their life essentially unlivable because of their bodily features.

Now, the German Kennel Club doesn't buy any of this. They say while some of the provisions in this draft law are good, like for instance combating the illegal puppy trade, they say that some of the rules set out for the breeding could in fact ban breeding of German sausage dogs. We also got in touch with a breeder of German sausage dogs who says that the dogs are not inbred and the vast majority of them are very healthy and also that German sausage dogs actually live quite long. Their longevity is apparently very good.

Now, the German Kennel Club and the breeder both say that they are very suspicious of this new law. They do believe that it could mean the end of breeding of German sausage dogs and not just that. They also fear that it could mean the end of breeding of things like, for instance, German shepherds or schnauzers, which are also of course staples of German cultures and a lot of people here in this country have these types of dogs. So there is a lot of concern out there.

This law, however, is still in the very early stages of being drafted. It would still have to go through various stages in German parliament to actually become law.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


CHURCH: Climate change is slowing down the Earth's rotation and will eventually cost everyone a second of their time. That is according to a U.S. study in the journal "Nature".

It says melt water is draining away from the poles towards the equator, where all that extra mass is tapping the brakes on the spin of the Earth. That could force scientists to subtract a leap second in about 2028.

Leap seconds are used when atomic clocks and the Earth's rotation are out of sync by about one second. Some fear leap seconds could wreak havoc on computers, much like the Y2K bug. That turned out to be a dud with a negligible impact. We'll see what happens.

Thanks so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Have yourselves a wonderful day. "CNN Newsroom" continues next, with Kim Brunhuber.