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First Lift On Portion Of Baltimore Bridge To Happen As Soon As Today; Trump Posts Video Showing Image Of Biden Hogtied On Pickup Truck; Biden Campaign Makes Direct Appeal To Haley Supporters In New Ad; Trump Team Appeals Judge's Decision On Fani Willis Case; Critics Warn Alabama Bills Are Chipping Away At LGBTQ Rights; Princess Kate's Cancer Diagnosis Part Of Troubling Trend; Poor Cocoa Harvest Leads To Surge In Chocolate Prices; Superbloom Springs To Life In California. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired March 30, 2024 - 15:00   ET



CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Elite Eight appearance but their first under second year head coach Jon Scheyer. So the Elite Eight tips off tonight on our sister channel TBS. Illinois and top- seeded UConn getting things started just after 6:00 Eastern followed by Clemson and Alabama just before 9:00.

So Andy Scholes, Fred, Houston is out. I believe --


MANNO: I know. Kaitlan Collins still has Alabama. What about you? Any family members rooting for anybody?

WHITFIELD: No. I'm just going with the flow.

MANNO: Yes. My bracket was busted, too.

WHITFIELD: But you know what, Duke, I love to see like an excitement, but I'm like, but they're used to it, but I'm like, oh, that's right. No more Coach K. So it's a totally different something, but still very special nonetheless.

MANNO: Yes, absolutely.

WHITFIELD: I like it. All right. Carolyn Manno, thank you so much.

Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right. New major developments just announced in that Baltimore bridge collapse. Officials now say the first lift of a piece of the Francis Scott Key Bridge is expected to happen as soon as today. It's the first step in the process of eventually reopening a shipping channel to Baltimore's critical port.

CNN's Gloria Pazmino is in Baltimore for us.

So, Gloria, what more can you tell us about the plans ahead?

GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred. Good news in the sense that we are finally getting some news about the first step that the authorities are going to take in order to begin this massive cleanup project, as you said. They are going to move the first portion of what remains of the Key Bridge. That is expected to happen today.

Just take a look at the sheer size and scale of the wreckage, which is behind me, and the governor outlined several new updates, including the fact that they will be moving that first portion of the bridge and they are hoping to create a temporary channel that is going to allow the movement of other ships and other boats around the Dali while they are working on it.

He also said that the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved a disaster declaration. That's going to free up about $2 million of federal low-interest loans. And that is for small business owners who have been affected by this. That is certainly another part of the recovery. And then he said, this is an operation that is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, more than 300 people are out there as we speak right now, working on this to make sure it can get done.

Reminding people here that recovering the victims, recovering the bodies of those who were killed remains a top priority, but that is still very dangerous and difficult to go into the water to search for them. So outlining the next critical steps. But take a listen to the governor talking about that first portion of the bridge that we expect to see some movement on today.


GOV. WES MOORE (D), MARYLAND: This morning, Unified Command assured me that the haul of the Dali is damaged but intact. The Army Corps and their partners will begin to move forward with a crane operations today. The north sections of the Key Bridge are going to be cut up and removed. This will eventually allow us to open up a temporary restricted channel that will help us to get more vessels in the water around the site of the collapse.


PAZMINO: So, Fred, you know, I've been speaking with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers trying to understand how this process is going to play out. And they explained to me, as you heard it there, they are going to have to go in and cut pieces of the bridge in order to be able to move it. And every time they cut a piece it's going to affect everything else that is already there. So they have to be really careful about how they approach it.

Go step-by-step to make sure that they can ensure the safety of the first responders and to make sure that this mission can continue and be successful. What we're looking certainly at least at several days before the wreckage can be removed. And certainly a much longer road in terms of a full recovery and certainly the rebuilding of the bridge, which the governor said is absolutely a key component of the response here -- Fred. WHITFIELD: Yes. And Governor Wes Moore calling upon his U.S. Army,

military background underscoring mission first people always.

Gloria Pazmino, thanks so much.

All right, for more now on the economic impact that this collapse is having, let's bring in transport professor at the School of Engineering at the University of Sydney, David Levinson.

Professor Levinson, great to see you. So you were teaching at the University of Minnesota, right, when the I-35 bridge collapsed over the Mississippi River back in 2007. So what lessons do you believe from that disaster might be applied here?


DAVID LEVINSON, PROFESSOR OF TRANSPORT IN THE SCHOOL OF CIVIL ENGINEERS, UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY: So when we looked at the bridge collapse in 2007 one of the things that we saw was that much of the traffic that was on the bridge was able to find different routes across the Mississippi River. So, for instance, the bridge before it collapsed carried about 140,000 trips a day, which is much heavier than the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

And when we looked at the increase in traffic on the other Mississippi River crossings after the bridge collapse, we only found about 90,000 cars increased. 50,000 of those vehicles no longer needed to cross the river somehow. So they either found different destinations or they decided not to make the trip entirely. So there's still economic impact associated with that.

The other thing that we saw is, of course, it does increase travel time because it's faster than the alternative paths that's why people use that bridge. And so there's about $150,000, $200,000 of economic damage per day, this is in 2007, associated with trucks that would have to take longer routes, people who would have to take more time to get between home and work or home and wherever they're going. And so it's a significant impact.

WHITFIELD: Yes. I mean, it will be a nightmare, too, you know, around the Baltimore area because some 30,000 commuters rely on it on a daily basis, the Francis Scott Key Bridge. They won't have that, so people will take other routes. They're going to have to defer to some of those pre-1970s, you know, when they built the bridge days. However, so much has changed from, you know, commerce to communities built, other roads that have been built. And you know, that part of Maryland has a whole lot of tributaries, too.

But when you heard from the governor today, who said, you know, it's really not just about the Baltimore, Maryland, community, but this is a port that the entire nation relies on. You know, he talked about, you know, the restauranteur in Tennessee or the auto workers in Ohio. So when it pertains to the cargo that comes in and out of that port, what kind of impact do you see ultimately since this is going to take years to rebuild the bridge? LEVINSON: Yes. So this is a very different case than Mississippi River

bridge when it collapsed. There's very little cargo upstream on the Mississippi River from the I-35W Bridge. So here you're blocking off the Port of Baltimore for as long as the wreckage of the old bridge remains in the harbor. Now how long will that take to clear? It's still, I guess, to be determined. Hopefully in a couple of months, it'll be cleared and there'll be a full channel.

They were even talking a shorter period of time for that for a partial channel, which would be great, and I think one of the things that you have to remember is that there's many ports on the East Coast and while it will be devastating for the port workers of Baltimore, many of them might wind up working temporary jobs in Hampton Roads or Wilmington, or in Philadelphia as temporary alternatives to Baltimore because shipping is going to have to still unload all of the ships that are currently on the ships that were going to Baltimore already on the ocean, or in the Chesapeake Bay or at the port.

And those are going to have to land somewhere. So there'll be a lot a substitution effects, which obviously the governor of Maryland is not going to be happy about, but, you know, the supply chain is going to find alternative routes.

WHITFIELD: Right. I mean, over the last few days, we've heard everything about there may be more activity for Charleston, South Carolina, Jacksonville, Florida, perhaps even the Newport News, Virginia, area. In fact, let's listen now to what the governor had to say earlier about the kind of activity, the expectations there of that port.


MOORE: Maryland's economy and Maryland workers rely on us to move quickly. And it's not just Maryland that is being impacted. I'm also talking about the farmer in Kentucky. I'm also talking about the autoworker and Ohio. I'm talking about the restaurant owner in Tennessee. This is impacting all of us, and the nation's economy and the nation's workers are relying on us to move quickly and to move together.


WHITFIELD: Yes, that underscores, you know, how vital this Baltimore port is. A lot is going to change over the course of the next few years as a result of this accident that happened earlier in the week. Professor? Yes.

LEVINSON: Yes. So, I mean -- yes. So, I mean, things that will have to change in addition to, you know, sort of the short-term supply chain adjustments that hopefully once they've cleared the wreckage, the Port of Baltimore can get back to operation once they rebuild the bridge.


Trucking can get back to its preferred routes, particularly hazmat -- hazardous material trucks will be able to use the bridge as opposed to going around the Baltimore beltway. And I think we'll see longer-term changes in how we build bridges and how we reinforce bridges, and there have been other bridge collapses in the past usually not due to container ships. Some of them have been due to barges hitting bridges because there are a lot more bridges and inland waterways than across harbors.

But those reinforcements will affect how we invest our infrastructure and how we avoid these kinds of problems in the future, and particularly we need to be concerned not just about accidents, but about intentional attacks upon bridges. We're moving more and more towards autonomous shipping over the next several years and several decades. And those kinds of systems have a different set of threats associated with them. Accidents are rare and, you know, if we have humans in the loop, we tried to avoid them.

But if the humans are intentionally trying to attack a bridge either due to terrorism or, you know, potentially warfare, those kinds of things you know, make the bridges a lot more vulnerable and I guess we're going to be having to think about these kinds of threats just as after 9/11, we thought about a whole new series of threats that we hadn't thought about previously.

WHITFIELD: All right, Professor David Levinson, glad you could be with us. Thank you so much.

LEVINSON: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, posted a video showing the sitting president tied up in the back of a pickup truck. The latest inflammatory campaign messaging straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: Former president Donald Trump setting off a firestorm of controversy after incendiary social media post. Trump shared a video on his Truth Social account featuring an image of President Joe Biden hogtied on the back of a pickup truck. As you see right there, the Biden campaign is blasting the post as inciting political violence.

CNN's Steve Contorno joining us with more on this.

Steve, what more are you learning about how this happened?

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, we've gotten statements from the Trump campaign doubling down on the use of this image. In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign said, quote, "That picture was on the back of a pickup truck that was traveling down the highway. Democrats and crazed lunatics have not only called for despicable violence against President Trump and his family, they are actually weaponizing the justice system against him."

And just to describe that video briefly, it was captured Thursday in Long Island. It shows two trucks traveling down the road, decked out in Trump flags and decals. And on the back of the second truck there's this image of President Biden hogtied, very, very large image, as you can see on your screen there.

And the Biden campaign responding quickly to this, issuing a statement to us earlier today saying, quote, "This image from Donald Trump is a type of crap you post when you're calling for a bloodbath and when you tell the Proud Boys to stand back and stand by. Trump is regularly inciting political violence and it's time people take him seriously. Just ask the Capitol police officers who were attacked protecting our democracy on January 6th."

So, Fred, just the latest example of Trump using this kind of violent imagery. Of course, we're used to seeing this from his supporters often at rallies, certainly on the internet, and yes, on vehicles. Now from the former president as well.

WHITFIELD: And then Trump is set to get back on the campaign trail this week? What more do you know?

CONTORNO: Yes, it's been a relatively quiet period for the former president's campaign ever since he locked up the GOP nomination, especially compared to President Biden, who has been all over the country since the State of the Union address, visiting virtually every battleground. Well, on Tuesday, President Trump, former president Trump will return to the campaign trail as well.

He has rallies scheduled for Michigan and Wisconsin. Of course, those are two key swing states this cycle. He won them in 2016, lost them in 2020, and just notable that he's coming back to Wisconsin. It's his verse visit there since August of 2022 -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. No scheduled court appearances this week, so instead the campaign trail.

All right. Steve Contorno, thanks so much.

All right, meantime, the Biden campaign is launching a new ad targeting Nikki Haley supporters to get on board. Haley dropped out of the Republican presidential race early this month and said it was now up to Trump to earn the support of her voters. And now President Biden is making a forceful appeal to those Haley voters who are reluctant to support Trump.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joining us now from the White House.

Priscilla, what more can you tell us?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, all campaign officials have said that this is going to be a tight race and to try to shore up more support, they're going directly for those supporters that backed Nikki Haley. Now, this is an ad that's going to run in battleground states.


And what it does is it showcases clips of Donald Trump calling the former Republican candidate very angry person and also noting the times that the Republican or by Biden's Republican rival didn't want their vote. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Birdbrain, I call her birdbrain. Nikki Haley has made an unholy alliance with RINOs, never Trump base, Americans for no prosperity. She's sitting there like. She's gone crazy. She's a very angry person. She is not presidential timber. I don't need the votes. We have all the votes we need. She's gone haywire. There aren't that many never Trumpers anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How do you bring these Nikki Haley voters get back into the tent?

TRUMP: I'm not sure we need too many.


ALVAREZ: Now the Biden campaign is specifically trying to shore up support among those voters that are in suburban areas, areas where Nikki Haley did well. Sources also tell CNN that campaign officials have reached out to some of the donors that backed Haley. So clearly a concerted effort here by the Biden campaign to try to bring these voters on board. All of this of course coming on the heels of that record-breaking fundraiser that happened in New York City this week with former presidents Bill Clinton and former president Barack Obama.

And as the campaign uses those funds to expand their network in battleground states and open even more offices, especially in that battleground Michigan that President Biden only narrowly won in 2020. So a full-throated effort here to expand the campaign infrastructure and also try to attract those Republican voters who are turned off by Donald Trump.

WHITFIELD: All right. Priscilla Alvarez at the White House. Thank you.

Former President Donald Trump and some of his co-defendants in the Georgia election subversion case are appealing a judge's decision to allow Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to remain on the case. Trump's attorneys want Willis disqualified for having a relationship with the special prosecutor that she had hired. This new court filing comes as Willis pushes ahead with her case against Trump.

CNN's Nick Valencia has more.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ever since Judge Scott McAfee granted a certificate for immediate review, we had been anticipating this filing, but now it is official. The former president and eight of his remaining 14 co-defendants, including his former chief of staff Mark Meadows and his former personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, are asking the Georgia appellate court to overturn Judge McAfee's decision and remove Fani Willis from this case. Here's part of what they're saying in their filing, which is downright

scathing. D.A. Willis has covered herself and her office in scandal and disrepute. The trial court's decision not to disqualify D.A. Willis under these circumstances is a structural error, a violation of the defendants' due process rights and seriously denigrates the public's confidence and the integrity of the criminal justice system.

We did reach out to the Fulton County DA's office, but they declined to comment. However, we should expect a response in writing. A source with knowledge of the process tells us that the appellate court will have 45 days to make a decision. And of course all of this underscores just how much the disqualification of Fani Willis still hangs over her head and this case, even as she and her team tried desperately to bring the focus back on criminal charges against the former president and his remaining co-defendants.

Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.


WHITFIELD: Right now, a series of bills being labeled as anti-LGBTQ are moving through Alabama's legislature. Why critics are worried these bills could pose a threat to the state's youth?



WHITFIELD: In Alabama, a flurry of conservative legislation is working its way through the state legislature that critics say threatens the rights of LGBTQ citizens.

CNN's Isabel Rosales reports.


ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a sunny spring day, an Alabama mother walks past rows of tombstones.

CAMIKA SHELBY, SON DIED BY SUICIDE AFTER ANTI-GAY BULLYING: Never in a million years that I think I will pull up at home and find my child lifeless.

ROSALES: Camika Shelby is here to visit her only son.

SHELBY: Definitely not easy having to plan a funeral for your 15-year- old child.

ROSALES: In 22 days, Camika will mark five years since Nigel, remembered as warm and gold-hearted, died by suicide after he was bullied for being gay.

Do you still talk to him?

SHELBY: Yes. Yes. It makes it -- it's like a comfort thing because I believe he can hear me. ROSALES (voice-over): Last year, she settled a little more than

$800,000 civil lawsuit with the Huntsville City Board of Education in the death of her son. Part of the deal required several district-wide policy changes to better acknowledge and protect LGBTQ students, including an update to its anti-discrimination policy, specifically prohibiting harassment based on a student's sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. Now, she questions whether Nigel's legacy is at risk.

SHELBY: If these bills actually go into play, what was I fighting for? Who are these bills actually protected?

ROSALES: In Montgomery, a series of bills are advancing that opponents warned are intended to slowly chip away at LGBTQ rights. One determines gender as dictated by your birth certificate. Another bans non-approved flags, including pride flags from flying on public property. Then there is House Bill 130, dubbed as "Don't Say Gay" by opponents.


The bill intends to broaden a 2022 law to all public K through 12 grade levels and flat-out bans instruction and discussion about gender identity and sexual orientation.

MACK BUTLER, ALABAMA STATE HOUSE REPUBLICAN: This bill just strengthens the law that's already in place and goes a little bit further, making sure that we keep a political agenda or a social agenda out of our schools, and let children be children again.

ROSALES: HB-130 would also prohibit teachers from displaying flags related to sexual orientation. Groups like the ACLU of Alabama fiercely hitting back against the legislation, saying it would rid Alabama classrooms and students of inclusive discussions.

Republican Mack Butler, who represents the town of Rainbow City, authored the legislation. He argues these conversations belong at home.

BUTLER: We just want the school to focus on reading, writing and arithmetic. That's all it's seeking to purify the schools just a little bit.

ROSALES: The lawmaker later walking back that purifying of schools line, saying he misspoke. Camika argues his bill amounts to alienating and erasing students like her son.

SHELBY: It's dangerous. You're basically making it official that they don't have a safe space. School is not supposed to be a place that would make a child want to end his life.

ROSALES: Representative Neil Rafferty, Alabama's only legislator who publicly identifies as gay, warns the bill could seriously interfere with the school curriculum in unexpected ways. NEIL RAFFERTY (D), ALABAMA STATE HOUSE DEMOCRAT: It is a super

problematic bill. It's become so vague that can even talk about Martha Washington being married to George Washington because Martha Washington was a woman, a wife, right, who married a man, George Washington. So, that's a heterosexual relationship.

ROSALES: That's sexual orientation.

RAFFERTY: That's sexual orientation. Now you're talking about gender identity and sexual orientation.

ROSALES (voice-over): And he questions the motivation for these bills.

RAFFERTY: These are not homegrown Alabama issues. Essentially these are solutions in search of a problem.

ROSALES: As for Camika, her pain and loss still fresh, but in Nigel's name, she fights on.

SHELBY: He is no longer here, but there is still a million of him that is here, and it does affect them.


WHITFIELD: Isabel Rosales, thank you so much.

And if you or anyone you know is struggling, help is available at the Suicide Lifeline. Just call 988.

All right. Live pictures out of Vatican City now where Pope Francis is presiding over the Easter vigil service after suddenly skipping Good Friday service. His Easter message next.



WHITFIELD: Right now, Pope Francis is leaving the Easter vigil service at St. Peter's Basilica. This follows his last-minute cancellation of a Good Friday service to, quote, "preserve his health for Easter." Vatican officials say the Pope followed the Stations of the Cross service from his residence but the last-minute change renews questions about the Pope's health following recent bouts of bronchitis. The Pope did participate in some Easter rituals seen in a wheelchair, washing the feet of women inmates at a prison earlier this week.

In his Easter message to the United Kingdom, King Charles is stressing the importance of care and friendship during times of need.


KING CHARLES, UNITED KINGDOM: In this country, we are blessed by all the different services that exist for our welfare. But over and above these organizations and their selfless staff we need and benefit greatly from those who extend the hand of friendship to us, especially in a time of need. (END AUDIO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: His message was the first the king has made publicly since Catherine, Princess of Wales, announced that she was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for a cancer diagnosis.

In a new CNN op-ed out this week one oncologist warns that Princess Kate's health issue is just one in a troubling trend of rising cancer among people under 50.

Joining us right now is the oncologist behind that op-ed. Dr. Jalal Baig works at the City of Hope Cancer Center in Chicago.

Doctor, great to see you. So you cited a couple of studies showing how much cancer has risen in the last few years. What are those studies find?

DR. JALAL BAIG, MEDICAL ONCOLOGIST, CITY OF HOPE CANCER CENTER CHICAGO: Well, thank you for having me. I think I want to preface this by just making one important point. Cancer is still very much a disease of those that are older. 90 percent of cancers will be diagnosed in those over 50. And 50 percent of those will be found in those over 75 years of age. But Kate Middleton, Catherine's diagnosis, I think makes an important point and sheds light on an interesting phenomenon.

A 2020, 2023 study from "British Medical Journal" found that from 1990 to 2019, there was an 80 percent rise all over the world in these early onset cancers or cancers in those that are less than 50 years of age and a 30 percent increase in mortality or deaths for those same age group. The cancers that have been highlighted are breast cancers, gastrointestinal cancers, which are colon, rectal, pancreatic, esophagus or stomach, respiratory cancers such as lung, prostate cancer, and head and neck cancers.


And it's important to note this is not only being observed in America or Western Europe, but we're also seeing this in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. So a complete global trend.

WHITFIELD: Wow, so why do we believe that is? I mean, you can't argue then just geographical or environmental when you're talking about all of these geographical locations that you just laid out, sharing these kind of same commonalities? Why do you suppose this is?

BAIG: Right. And this is aggressively what's being investigated and researched right now. The thought is these ultra processed foods, sugary drinks, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, some environmental risks like pollution, microplastics. There's also work being done that's looking at the gut microflora, which are microorganisms that are found throughout the gut that play a role in digestion and also in our immune systems.

These microbiota can be altered by antibiotics, foods, certain medicines, chronic stress, and these alterations can put us on a path to cancer potentially. And we're also looking at risks, that risks exposures that can begin in a very early age when we're children or even at birth.

WHITFIELD: Wow, I mean, everything you just described is just about everything that everyone experiences. So now it sounds like, you know, these statistical findings are nearly unavoidable.

BAIG: Yes. And we're seeing this in practice in my clinic at City of Hope in Chicago. There's a misperception that young people just can't get cancer, that they're so much shielded and protected from it. And I see two sides of this. One is the patient side. Patients that just sit on their symptoms for long periods of time and don't seek medical attention, or when they finally see doctors, they don't advocate as aggressively for their symptoms.

I saw a case of this unfortunately just a few days ago, a 45-year-old gentleman who had left-sided abdominal pain for many, many months, neglected it and finally when he was seen, he was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. The other flipside of this is the darker side. Primary care physicians and general practitioners. There's a general belief that young people, again, just cannot be diagnosed with cancers or these doctors are not aware of this ongoing phenomenon and this data that we're talking about.

And so when they see young patients with certain symptoms, they downplay them. They tell him the symptoms are benign. Just a couple of weeks ago, I saw a 35-year-old female who had a mass in her breast which she continued to get reassurance for months from her doctor that this is nothing, it's probably benign. Finally the mass continued to grow and grow, a biopsy was done, and lo and behold we found in aggressive breast cancer.

Early detection is still very important. The earlier we detect these cancers the more we can deploy from our arsenal to intervene and still provide patients good outcomes. March especially is highlighted because its Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and a lot of press has been spent looking at younger and younger patients that are getting colon cancer. And there's a misconception sometimes here that this cancer might just be more aggressive and that's why these younger patients are getting ill and doing worse.

But time and time again, studies are finding you that it's really a long stretch of time and symptoms that passed before these patients are diagnosed. So it's not necessarily that their cancers are inherently aggressive or lethal, but it's more of a time delay in their diagnosis that's causing poorer outcomes.

WHITFIELD: Wow. This is very fascinating, but bottom line, I think I heard you say both patients and doctors, everyone has to be more vigilant. Don't ignore the signs.

BAIG: Yes.

WHITFIELD: And, yes, don't explain them away, that you could be too young to possibly have anything more serious.

All right. Dr. Jalal Baig, thank you so much.

BAIG: Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: All right. New video obtained by CNN showing a postal worker's final moments before that deadly stabbing spree in Illinois. The latest on the rampage.



WHITFIELD: New doorbell footage obtained by CNN shows an Illinois postal worker moments before he was killed in a drug fueled stabbing rampage. 49-year-old Jay Larson, a beloved mail carrier for 25 years, is seen right here delivering mail Wednesday afternoon and then within an hour he would be brutally stabbed to death and run over twice. Larson and three others were killed in the vicious attack which also injured seven others.

Police say Christian Soto confessed to the attack, claiming that he became paranoid after smoking pot and that he believes it was laced with another narcotic. The 22-year-old is charged with murdering four people, attempting to murder seven others. Soto will remain in custody until his detention hearing, which is scheduled for Tuesday. He has not entered a plea.

All right. Gusty winds created some terrifying turbulence on a flight from Tel Aviv to Newark, New Jersey. The Boeing 787 flight with more than 300 people on board had to be diverted Friday to a regional airport about 75 miles way and seven people were taken to the hospital.



MICHAEL BIGG, NEW WINDSOR EMS CHIEF OF OPERATIONS: UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Multiple people on the plane complaining of nausea, some chest pain from the turbulence. Just for observation, nothing was serious, no major injuries.


WHITFIELD: Pretty scary. In a statement, United Airlines said the jet refueled and continued on to Newark. The FAA is investigating.

All right. Americans are doing their final shopping runs for Easter baskets, chocolate bunnies, all things chocolate. But this year, many can expect a sticker shock because of surging cocoa prices just in time for this weekend.

CNN's Ivan Rodriguez is joining me now.

Oh, boy, terrible timing. Either its around Valentine's if something like this happens and now, you know, it's Easter.

IVAN RODRIGUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's just, it's holiday to holiday.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So what's going on?

RODRIGUEZ: So what's so interesting is that cocoa futures themselves have more than doubled since January. It's even out gold and Bitcoin, which is crazy to think about. But part of the reason is the -- really the fact that it's poor climate and also crop disease in West Africa, which you would never think is home to about 70 percent of the global product for cocoa itself. So it's really that shortage in supply that's resulting in these rising costs.

And we even got the chance to speak with a local chocolate shop here in Atlanta and they're feeling it head on.


RODRIGUEZ (voice-over): For chocolatiers the last several months have been nonstop.

JOCELYN DUBUKE, CHEF AND OWNER, JARDI CHOCOLATES: You get Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, a little bit of break, Easter, and now things kind of slowed down a little bit.

RODRIGUEZ: Jocelyn Dubuke is the owner and chef of Jardi Chocolates. She's tasked with making chocolate confections of different flavors, shapes, and colors, but this year since the price of cocoa has gotten significantly more expensive, she's rethinking the kind of treat she makes and how she makes them. Like this marshmallow chocolate bunny.

DUBUKE: It's a chocolate cookie with a vanilla bean marshmallow, and then it's covered in milk chocolate. So for the, you know, 30 grams that you're getting, only 18 grams of that is chocolate, which means it's a much lower ingredient cost for me, much lower labor for me as well, which means that I can pass along those lower costs.

RODRIGUEZ: In January of 2023, Dubuke was paying $13.50 a kilo for chocolate. This week, she's paid $15.71 a kilo.

DUBUKE: So that's a 16 percent increase. The white chocolate, like I said, has gone up 35 percent in less than a year.

RODRIGUEZ: And with no end in sight for when prices could normalize, Dubuke will have to continue finding creative ways to create delicious chocolate while keeping her business afloat.


RODRIGUEZ (on-camera): And it's an uncomfortable situation sometimes for these chocolatiers because, for example, the chef here told us that sometimes a consumer may feel that they're the only ones feeling this price increase, right? I mean, everything is getting more expensive. Eggs, milk, gas and now chocolate so it's uncomfortable, but she's also saying that she's very glad that her customers are understanding.

WHITFIELD: No sweet escape from paying higher prices for anything these days.

All right, thanks so much, Ivan Rodriguez.

All right, buyer beware. With all the excitement around the upcoming total solar eclipse, fraudsters are trying to cash in by polluting the marketplace with fake eclipse glasses. Of course, looking directly at a solar eclipse without proper protection can lead to severe eye damage, even blindness. Regular sunglasses, well, they're not going to cut it either. The American Astronomical Society has a list of approved eclipse glasses and you can find it on We're here to help.

All right. And you can join CNN for special live coverage of the eclipse across America that starts Monday, April 8th. Get ready at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. You can also stream it on MAX, and we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: After a wetter than average winter California's deserts are swimming in wild flowers.

CNN's Stephanie Elam takes us there.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A flurry of flowers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's amazing.

ELAM: As spring begins to unfurl in California, flower fans are hoping for another show stopper. A phenomenon known as a superbloom.

EVAN MAYER, BOTANIST AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THEODORE PAYNE FOUNDATION: Yes, superbloom is many, many flowers, millions if not billions of flowers blooming simultaneously.

ELAM: Expanses of orange, yellow, and purple flowers so densely clustered that they are visible from space, like in 2023, after one of the wettest winters on record. The thing is, superblooms aren't a guarantee. It takes the right conditions for that riot of hues to appear. During California's devastating drought years there's no brilliant display.

MAYER: But when those conditions come together and you get a lot of rain and cool days, you're going to see tons of flowers, and this year I think we're on track for that.

ELAM: All of these beautiful blooms just draw people in. But this is nature so naturally there are threats. And here in California that often is snakes.

(Voice-over): Like 12-year-old Mylene (PH) found out.

What is the coolest thing you've seen when you've come out here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A snake. I got the dog and I started running.

ELAM (voice-over): In 2017, some California parks were crushed with superbloom seekers.