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World Court: Israel Must Do More To Get Aid To Gaza; Gazans Struggle To Find Food Amid Looming Famine; Former State Department Employee: Many Civil Servants "Shocked And Appalled" By U.S. Actions Supporting Israel; Maryland Gov.: "Long Road Ahead Of Us" After Bridge Collapse; WSJ Marks One Year Since Gershkovich's Detention In Russia; Russia Claims Attack Financed By Ukrainian Nationalists; FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Sentenced To 25 Years; Donald Trump Criminal Trial Is Back On; U.S., UK Accuse Beijing Of Backing Cyberattacks. Aired 2- 3a ET

Aired March 29, 2024 - 02:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN HOST: Welcome to all of you watching us around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN Newsroom.

Another order from the World Court. Israel must take additional steps to alleviate the crisis in Gaza. Plus --


WES MOORE, MARYLAND GOVERNOR: The Dali is almost as long as the Eiffel Tower. And the Dali has a key bridge on top of it.


BRUNHUBER: Officials get a first-hand look at the collapsed bridge in Baltimore. The cleanup and rebuilding process could be a complicated yearslong mess.

And later, China is accused of cyber espionage. Intelligence reveals the steps Beijing's taking to undermine democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from Atlanta, this is CNN Newsroom with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: The World Court is calling on Israel to do more to get basic supplies and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza in order to prevent genocide. On Thursday, the court said famine is setting in. It unanimously voted to add more provisional measures to their order from January, saying, well, the catastrophic living conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have deteriorated further, in particular in view of the prolonged and widespread deprivation of food and other basic necessities to which the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been subjected." Now, Israel calls the decision cynical and accuses Hamas of commandeering, hoarding and stealing aid. Its foreign ministry spokesperson says South Africa, which brought the genocide case, is undermining Israel's right to defend itself. The ICJ's decision comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his military is preparing to enter the city of Rafah in southern Gaza.

The city is now home to 1.4 million Gaza residents told by Israel to evacuate to safety there. The U.S. has repeatedly discouraged an Israeli ground operation there. A U.N. humanitarian group is calling on Israel to expand supply routes into Gaza so that large scale aid can be delivered to Gazans who are starving.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has more on their daily struggle to find food. And we just want to warn you, some of the images in this report are disturbing.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This video filmed 11 days ago at a northern Gaza hospital, captured little Mohammed's final days. His labored breaths and all that staff tried to do to keep him alive. On Thursday, 6-year-old Mohammed became the 24th Palestinian child to die of malnutrition and dehydration in Gaza.

And the fear is many more vulnerable lives could be lost. Hunger is in every corner of this besieged territory. The pain visible in the eyes of mothers like Najla (ph), who's helplessly watched her children go hungry for months. Her husband, Mahran (ph), has 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.

If you grab a bag of flowers, someone can kill you to take it, Mahran says. Our daily meal for our children became things we hadn't heard of before, like ground soybeans in 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.

My children were crying every night asking for a piece of bread, Najla says. We were 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 ape that's made it into this part of Gaza.

More than 1 million Palestinians are now facing catastrophic levels of hunger, according to a U.N. backed report, with famine projected to arrive in the north any day now. In this manmade crisis, where Israel's been accused of using starvation as a weapon of war, something it denies.


People every day 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. It's today's meal. What else can we do, she says. It's the indignity of hunger. Avoidable suffering as the world watches on.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.


BRUNHUBER: A former U.S. State Department employee says many American civil servants are shocked and appalled by U.S. actions supporting Israel. Annelle Sheline wrote an opinion piece for entitled, "Why I'm Resigning from the State Department." She says U.S. law prohibits financial support for foreign security forces where there is credible information of gross human rights violations.


ANNELLE SHELINE, FORMER U.S. STATE DEPT. EMPLOYEE: I think it's encouraging that we have started to see some degree of a shift, but at present it has made almost no difference to the lives of people starving and being bombed inside Gaza. I think to the extent that even things like the U.S. being willing to abstain at the U.N. Security Council is significant.

But then the administration came out and immediately said that that was non-binding. So, in general, I just find that the way the administration is trying to do this, I think, they made a political calculation that they thought that it made the most sense politically to maintain this extreme support for Israel, regardless of the illegal behaviors that Israel engages in.

I would push back against the characterization of Israel's behavior as self-defense. The administration continues to use those words, because self-defense is permissible under the U.N. Charter. But the actions that Israel is engaged in, as far as -- like we already discussed, the use of starvation as a weapon of war, continuing to hit buildings, institutions that are protected under international humanitarian law, such as hospitals, the ways that Israel is conducting this war, I would argue are fall far outside the bounds of what might credibly be considered self-defense.

And, instead, I would argue that with, you know, I would add to the argument others have made that Israel is committing war crimes and is possibly engaging in an act of genocide.


BRUNHUBER: Spokesperson Matthew Miller says there is a broad diversity of views inside the State Department and people have the opportunity to make their views known. Sheline says that may be true, but she believes nothing will change until President Biden decides to act.

Maryland's governor is admitting the state has a very long road ahead as a salvage operation gets underway after the collapse of the Key Bridge. Now the U.S. federal government says it's giving the state $60 million as a down payment for cleanup work and rebuilding.

Officials are also working to reopen the channel and restart traffic to and from the port. The economic impact this disaster may have isn't something the governor takes lightly, he says.


MOORE: I've said it before, I will say it again, and I will keep on saying it. This is not just about Maryland. This is about the nation's economy. The port handles more cars and more farm equipment than any other port in America.


BRUNHUBER: Meanwhile, Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen says the Army Corps of Engineers will cover the full cost of clearing the channel, and the Corps s bringing the largest crane on the eastern seaboard to help clean up debris.

CNN's Pete Muntean has more from Maryland.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New video shows the fateful final moments before Baltimore's iconic key bridge was taken down by a crippled cargo ship, flashing lights on top, believed to be from the pothole repair crew that perished.

GAYLE FAIRMAN, UBER DRIVER: I could have been on that bridge.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Uber driver Gayle Fairman says she was stopped by police moments before the bridge is dramatic plunge into the Patapsco River below.

FAIRMAN: If my passenger wasn't a little bit late coming out to the car and getting into it, we probably very well could have been on the bridge when it collapsed.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Now, National Transportation Safety Board investigators, who boarded the Dali again on Thursday, are detailing the crew's desperate attempts to avoid disaster as the 100-ton ship barreled out of control.

JENNIFER HOMENDY, CHAIR, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: We've seen the recordings. We have data which is consistent with a power outage.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): But NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy says it is too early to know what triggered the outage. The Dali's voyage data recorder shows it shoved off from the port of Baltimore early Tuesday at 12:39 a.m., traveling at 8 knots or roughly 9 miles per hour.

The ship maneuvered without issue for 46 minutes. Then at 1:25 a.m., numerous alarms sounded on the ship's bridge. At 1:26 a.m., the crew ordered steering and rudder commands, then radioed for tugboats to come back and help.


At 1:27 a.m., the crew began dropping an anchor on the left side of the ship and warned over radio that it was approaching the Key Bridge. At 1:29 and 33 seconds, impact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The entire Key Bridge has fallen into the harbor.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Investigators now underscored that the 47-year- old bridge was designed without redundancy, known as fracture critical. The NTSB says the failure of one support causes the entire bridge to fall. The older design is common on nearly 17,000 existing bridges in the United States.

The Key Bridge did have protective barriers known as dolphins. But investigators say the Dali slipped through them.

TROY MORGAN, STRUCTURES ENGINEER: The idea is not to really design these bridge piers to absorb that kind of direct impact. It's just not -- it's not feasible, it's not economical, but usually there are other, you know, protective measures that can be taken to kind of limit the exposure of the peers to the ship itself.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): With the port, a backbone of Baltimore's economy, there is an urgent push to reopen its shipping lanes, even at a reduced capacity. At least 11 ships are trapped in the port, critical for moving everything from sugar to cars.

The Army Corps of Engineers is working to move the dolly first, but its bow is now pinned under the weight of the collapsed bridge.

CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: If we can open one of the lanes sooner, then that obviously would allow ship to come in and out.


MUNTEAN (on-camera): NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy says there is an issue with the ship's voyage data recorder. The data it recorded is very bare bones. Engine RPM, movement of the ship's rudder, and heading of the ship's bow. That is about it, not like the recorder on a commercial airliner that records about a thousand points of data.

The good news is the recorder captured a lot of audio from the ship's bridge, so the NTSB is now relying on that and interviews it is conducting with the crew of the Dali. All 21 of them are still on board.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Dundalk, Maryland.

BRUNHUBER: In South Africa, an eight-year-old is the sole survivor after a bus fell off a cliff. She's said to be in serious condition and is receiving medical treatment. Now, the accident happened Thursday on a mountain pass in Limpopo province. Crews are working to recover the bodies of the rest of those on board.

Forty five people who were traveling to a conference to celebrate Easter. Officials say the bus driver lost control and collided with some barriers on the bridge. That reportedly caused the bus to go over the edge, falling some 50 meters to the ground below where it caught fire.

The Kremlin was reportedly not entirely in the dark about the deadly terrorist attack near Moscow. Still ahead, a report that its security services knew in advance the attack could be in the making.

And a former crypto king is headed to prison. The message the judge wanted to send, Sam Bankman-Fried and other white collar criminals will have that coming up. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: It's been exactly one year to the day since Wall Street Journalist Evan Gershkovich was detained in Russia. The newspaper will mark the anniversary in its print edition Friday by leaving part of its front page blank. That represents the missing articles Gershkovich never wrote because of his detention.

The headline will say in part, "His story should be here." The crime, journalism.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin says ongoing contacts about his possible exchange must be conducted in absolute silence or they'll be less likely to succeed. Earlier this week, Gershkovich's pre-trial detention was extended until at least June 30th.

Russia says it has detained a 12th suspect in last week's terrorist attack near Moscow. The U.S. said on Thursday it warned Russia more than two weeks in advance that a terrorist attack could be coming. Russian President Vladimir Putin chose to ignore that, but now an activist group in London says Russian security services were aware that ISIS might have been preparing to strike.

CNN's Matthew Chance has that story, and again, just a warning, some images in his report might be disturbing.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the worst terror attack in Russia in 20 years. And new evidence suggests the Kremlin's own security services were aware of an ISIS threat. Internal Russian intelligence documents obtained by the London-based Dossier Center warned of an increased likelihood of an attack in Russia just days before the assault.

According to the investigative organization, ethnic Tajiks could be involved, radicalized by ISIS-K. That's the Central Asian offshoot of the terror group claiming responsibility for the attack near Moscow. With statements, photographs, even this propaganda video filmed by the attackers themselves.

The Kremlin hasn't responded to CNN's request for a comment on the Dossier Center report. But U.S. intelligence warnings to Moscow were dismissed by President Putin himself as a provocation intended to intimidate and destabilize Russian society. The Kremlin seems determined to blame Ukraine, which adamantly denies any involvement for this destruction and bloodshed.

Suspected Islamists may have carried out the attack, says Moscow. But it was supported by Kyiv and Russian investigators now say they've extracted evidence from the battered suspects.

SVETLANA PETRENKO, RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE (through translator): Working with detained terrorists, studying their technical devices, evidence was obtained connecting them with Ukrainian nationalists. We have confirmed data the perpetrators received significant amounts of money and cryptocurrency from Ukraine.

CHANCE (voice-over): But it's hard to take the Kremlin fighting a brutal war in Ukraine at its word. Critics say it may be using the tragedy in Moscow to bolster flagging support for a conflict costing tens of thousands of lives, and to mask the shortcomings of its own intelligence services. Too focused in recent years, say critics, on Russia's political opposition.

Like supporters of the late Alexei Navalny, and not enough on the Islamist threat. For the Kremlin, that's a damaging criticism. President Putin here visiting a military helicopter base north of Moscow, has long cast himself as the guarantor of Russian stability and security.

Now, more than ever, to many Russians, that guarantee seems threadbare.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


BRUNHUBER: Three U.S. presidents, one huge fundraiser, and new messages about the war in Gaza. A lot of details on that just ahead. Please stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada, and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN Newsroom.

U.S. financial markets didn't move much on the final day of trading in March, but they did end higher for the fifth month in a row. The Dow and S&P both gained a little more than a tenth of a percent. The Nasdaq dipped slightly. For the first quarter of this year, the Dow's up nearly 6 percent, the S&P more than 10 percent. The artificial intelligence craze and tech giant NVIDIA have boosted the Nasdaq by 9 percent.

The founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, who carried out one of the largest white collar crimes in history, has been sentenced. Sam Bankman-Fried, once known as a crypto whiz kid, was found guilty of fraud and conspiracy last year following the collapse of the exchange. He was convicted of stealing $8 billion of his customers' money.

His sentence, far less than the 110 years allowed by sentencing guidelines, and also less than the 40 to 50 years prosecutors wanted, he's getting 25 years in federal prison. The judge also ordered him to forfeit more than $11 billion. Now, there's no parole in federal cases, but Bankman-Fried may be able to shave years off his term.

His lawyers have called the sentence Medieval, but the judge said Bankman-Fried never showed, quote, "a word of remorse for his terrible crimes and that there's a risk he could do something very bad in the future."

Dr. Scott Bonn is a criminologist and an expert on white collar crime and he's with us from Las Vegas. Thank you so much for being here with us. So just to start, what do you make of the sentencing? I mean, 25 years was half of what the prosecutors were asking for. So does the punishment meet the crime here?

DR. SCOTT BONN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, you just gave the definition of just desserts, which is the assumption and belief that the punishment should fit the crime. And I think in this case, it definitely does. I mean, based upon the tremendous harm that this man did through his fraud theft and corruption, I think that 25 years and $11 billion forfeiture hits the mark.

BRUNHUBER: So, what stood out to you in what the judge said in his sentencing?

BONN: Well, interestingly, the, you know, the judge had said in the 30 years that he's been on the bench, he had never seen anyone perform, and he used the word perform in the courtroom the way that the defendant did here. And I think what he was referring to was the rather callous and unremorseful nature of his presentation in the courtroom.

Absolutely no demonstration of remorse that, you know, (INAUDIBLE) borderline sociopathic. And so, I believe once again that this man, this is the least of which he deserves.


And, interestingly, the -- his defense lawyer said that my client is not a daily financial serial killer. And I happen to know a few things about serial killers, it's my area of expertise. And I would suggest that the daily fraud, theft, corruption perpetrated by Bankman-Fried is very serial killer like in terms of his predatory behavior. BRUNHUBER: Well, I mean, explain what you mean by that. It's just -- it was -- was it sort of like a sociopathic? I mean, explain your reasoning.

BONN: Yes, absolutely. Unremorseful, unrepentant. He expressed no contrition other than he felt sorry for these people, but he didn't take responsibility, personal responsibility for it in terms of, you know, his own defense. So that is highly sociopathic.

And the fact that he had essentially no expression and no reaction, even to his sentencing, they said he sat there completely stoic with, you know, with no emotion, I mean, those are sociopathic trademarks right there.

BRUNHUBER: All right, so looking at the wider issues here, what kind of precedent do you think this sentence sets?

BONN: Well, in addition to being just deserts, as I said, for him personally, I think what it's also a symbolic statement that the judge is making that this will not be tolerated. And I think it was a sentence designed to deter future corruption and fraud, not necessarily exclusively in the cryptocurrency space, but more broadly in the financial arenas and white collar crime generally.

So -- and I would even go as far as to say that this is not a bad thing as far as I am concerned for the cryptocurrency arena, because it's time to wash out some of these bad actors. You know, the cryptocurrency market arena has been referred to by many people as sort of the wild, wild west of financial markets.

So it's time to weed out some of these bad actors and allow more respected and appropriate actors to move in. For example, the asset manager BlackRock, I understand, is moving into this arena. So that's going to add new credibility. So weeding out someone like Bankman- Fried, I think is a very good thing in the long run.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, that company you mentioned was, I think, the world's largest asset manager, right? So, you're suggesting, I guess, you know, the world of crypto, I mean, it can be very, very shadowy sort of by its very nature. So you think this will actually restore faith, or might it just highlight how murky it can be?

BONN: No, I think the former, not the latter. I think that this, as I said, I think this is actually a good thing to demonstrate that, you know, the courts will not allow this. They're drawing a line in the sand. And by weeding out a guy like Bankman-Fried, who is, you know, was a obviously a major player in this thing but, you know, obviously, a shady character by getting him out, it demonstrates that there's, you know, it's a -- there's a new sheriff in town and it's a new arena. And by the folks like BlackRock moving in, I think that just adds to the credibility.

It doesn't tarnish it. I think what this does is, in many ways, clean house. And set the stage for a more promising future, hopefully.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, we'll see whether that proves to be the case. Really appreciate getting your expertise on this, Professor Scott Bonn. Thanks for your perspective.

And you can catch Dr. Bonn in person during his U.S. nationwide tour, "Serial Killers with Dr. Scott Bonn," begins on April 11th in Chicago.

Disgraced former attorney and convicted killer Alex Murdaugh is denying government claims he failed a polygraph exam. The test was part of a plea deal for a host of financial crimes charged against Murdaugh.

In exchange for honest answers, prosecutors would recommend he serve no additional time on federal charges, but they say his dishonest answers invalidated the deal. Murdaugh denies lying during the test, and his attorney say the polygraph examiner engaged in, quote, "odd conduct" before administering the exam.

Murdaugh is already serving 27 years on state financial charges, including money laundering, forgery, and tax evasion, and two life sentences for killing his wife and 22-year-old son.


Donald Trump's criminal trial is back on in Georgia, and his lawyers are arguing that the former president is protected by the First Amendment.

Nick Valencia is following the trial here in Atlanta.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, Donald Trump's criminal case in Georgia back underway. Trump's attorney in the sprawling racketeering case arguing in court that the indictment must be thrown out.

STEVE SADOW, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: Statements, comments, speech, expressive conduct that deals with campaigning or elections has always been found to be at the zenith of protected speech.

VALENCIA: Steve Sadow objecting to the charges against Trump, arguing his client was protected by the First Amendment when he spread lies and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election being stolen.


VALENCIA: Noticeably absent from Thursday's pretrial motions hearing, Fani Willis, who spoke out Saturday at a community event.

FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I'm not embarrassed by anything I've done.

VALENCIA: The Fulton County D.A. narrowly survived staying on the case after more than two months of hearings and court filings on an effort to disqualify her over her romantic relationship with the former lead prosecutor on the case, Nathan Wade.

WILLIS: I do think that there are efforts to slow down this train, but the train is coming.

VALENCIA: But today, the focus was back on the facts of the case. In the first hearing since those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, her team, minus the recently resigned Wade, arguing Trump was not being charged for lying, but rather because the lies he told incited a crime under Georgia law.

DONALD WAKEFORD, FULTON COUNTY PROSECUTOR: An act which is illegal because it does harm to the government. There's nowhere to go because all of these features pled as integral criminal conduct and therefore, it's not protected by the First.

VALENCIA: Attorneys for Trump co-defendant, David Shafer, also argued to get his charges dismissed. The former Georgia GOP chair was charged with multiple counts, including for impersonating a public official when he and others showed up to the Georgia capital in December 2020 to act as so-called fake electors for Trump. Shafer's attorneys argued the term should be dropped calling it, quote, really nasty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a just a pejorative statement.

VALENCIA: Shafer argues he was not participating in a shady scheme when he tried to cast a vote as an elector, saying Trump won the 2020 election in Georgia. Instead, he argues he was simply following novel legal advice to give his candidate legal options to challenge the election.


VALENCIA (on camera): The court ended without a decision and the judge gave no indication as to when he would give one. It is very important to note that previous co-defendants have tried First Amendment arguments and failed. Now that this case is back on track, there are still very big questions surrounding this case. Perhaps the most important, will Fani Willis be able to get this case for an August trial like she's hoping?

Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.

BRUNHUBER: And just hours ago, the U.S. president said Saudi Arabia and Arab countries are, quote, prepared to a fully recognize Israel for the first time but stressed that there had to be a post-Gaza plan. And the remarks came during a huge fundraiser for Joe Biden's reelection campaign.

It was billed as an armchair conversation with Democratic predecessors, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. All three presidents calling for a two-state solution.

Now, the event inside New York's Radio City Music Hall was interrupted several times by pro-demonstrators demanding a ceasefire. They were scolded at one point by Obama, who suggested they talk less and listen more.




BRUNHUBER: Hundreds of others rallied outside protesting the Biden administrations handling of the war in Gaza. The fundraiser is believed to have raised more than $25 million for President Biden's battle against Donald Trump, who was referred to on stage as the other guy.

And at one point, Clinton wisecracked that Biden's predecessor had a few good years, quote, because he stole them from Barack Obama.

The U.S. and Britain accused Chinese hackers of carrying out years of cyber attacks against Western targets and infrastructure, and they say it was done on behalf of Beijing. Why China says the West is playing politics.

That's coming up next here on CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: China's president is urging American CEOs to throw their support behind the world's second-largest economy. Xi Jinping met this week with more than a dozen us academics and corporate leaders as part of Beijing's renewed effort to win back foreign investors and repair relations with the U.S.

President Xi is encouraging global businesses to continue to invest in China as direct investment in the country has dropped sharply in recent months.

Meanwhile, China is also lashing out at the U.S. and Britain for imposing sanctions over alleged Chinese government-backed cyber attacks. Beijing's accusing the Western allies of engaging in political manipulation.

Our Will Ripley has details.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, China in the crosshairs. The U.S. and Britain accusing Beijing of cyber espionage, hacking into the heart of Western democracy, targeting critical military and civilian infrastructure.

CHARLES LI, CHIEF ANALYST, TEAM T5: The Chinese government, they have intentionally developed their cyber capability for the past day decade, and we are tracking (ph) like hundreds of threat actor and some part of them, we can trace them back to a military unit belonging to PLA.

RIPLEY: The Peoples Liberation Army, linked to ongoing Chinese cyber warfare, says the U.S. director of national intelligence. AVRIL HAINES, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: We expect the PLA will

field more advanced platforms, deploy new technologies, and grow more competent in joint operations.

RIPLEY: The latest accusations from the U.S. and the U.K., claiming elite Chinese hacking units are infiltrating America's power grids, stealing voter registration lists for tens of millions of British citizens, working on behalf of China's powerful security ministry, the accused hackers now facing sanctions in both countries.

Just months ago at their summit in San Francisco, Chinese leader Xi Jinping told President Joe Biden, China won't interfere in the November elections, two people familiar with the conversations tell CNN.

But U.S. intelligence believes Beijing is improving its ability to spread disinformation and may try to use social media platforms like TikTok to sow doubts about U.S. leadership, undermine democracy and extend Beijing's influence.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Director Haines, you cannot rule out that the CCP could, again, just like they did here, use TikTok as a platform to influence 2024 elections, right?

HAINES: We cannot rule out that the CCP could use it, correct.

RIPLEY: Beijing's malware may also be designed to wreak havoc on America's food, water, and power supplies. "The New York Times" reports, citing U.S. intelligence, part of a plan to create chaos and distraction if the U.S. tries to defend Taiwan from a hostile Chinese takeover.

TSAI SUNG-TING, FOUNDER AND CEO, TEAM T5: I think the purpose of this kind of cyber attacks, especially targeting critical (ph) infrastructures, I mean, the goal is probably to cause some disruption.

RIPLEY: The U.S. Justice Department also indicting individual hackers working for Beijing for what the attorney general calls a 14-year global campaign to target and intimidate critics of China's communist party.

Beijing's ministry of foreign affairs says, this is purely political manipulation. We urge the United States and the United Kingdom to stop politicizing cyber security issues, stop slandering and smearing China.


RIPLEY (on camera): Beijing has long accused the west and especially the us, of hypocrisy and digital deception, waging countless campaigns of cyber espionage against China.


Experts say hackers on both sides are likely silently searching for online vulnerabilities with the potential to paralyze and disrupt daily life during times of geopolitical crisis.

Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei

BRUNHUBER: Well, I'm sure you've heard the old expression, waste not, want not. And the new study suggests, are waste is having a host of unwanted side effects. A study published in the journal Science finds that landfills are producing much higher levels of planet-warming methane than previously thought. Researchers monitor more than 200 landfills or per four years. They found methane emission rates were nearly 1.5 times higher than officially reported.

Now, methane is produced when organic matter decomposes without oxygen and has around 80 times more atmospheric warming power than CO2. The study estimates landfills create around 20 percent of human-caused methane emissions.

While controversial statue of King Charles's father, the late Prince Philip, is set to come down. And have a look here. So this is the statue in question. Cambridge Don, the faceless bronze statue is nearly four meters, or 11 -- or 13 feet tall, rather.

It was intended to commemorate Prince Philip's 35-year tenure as chancellor of Cambridge University. Now, here's a side-by-side comparison with what Prince Philip actually look like. Not much resemblance there

The statue was not only branded as ugly, it also failed to receive planning permission according to the local council.


All right. Well, I'm sure you recognize the song there, "Jolene", but maybe not the singer. That is actually Beyonce's take on the classic Dolly Parton song and Parton has said she's a big fan of Beyonce since she does a voice intro before the song.

Now, "Jolene" is one of 27 tracks on Beyonce's highly anticipated album "Act II: Cowboy Carter". It's been released at midnight local time Friday around the world and it features collaborations with a host of artists, including Willie Nelson, Miley Cyrus, and rapper Post Malone.

All right. That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. "WORLD SPORT" is next, and then I'll be back in about 15 minutes with more news.

Please do stay with us.