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China's New Foreign Minister Warns of Conflict; Weight Watchers to Cash in on Ozempic Craze; Mississippi Republicans Push for Jackson Takeover; Candace McDuffie is Interviewed about Chris Rock. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 07, 2023 - 06:30   ET




China's new foreign minister has issued quite a stern rebuke overnight of U.S. policies as tensions between the two largest economies in the world continue to soar. He says, quote, conflict and confrontation is inevitable if Washington does not change course. He also warned that there would be, quote, catastrophic consequences if things don't change. He defended Beijing's close partnership with Moscow.

Let's go to Marc Stewart, live in Tokyo, with more.

What I think is so interesting about him, Marc, is that this guy is a very accomplished, sort of longstanding diplomat. So, he knows the weight of his words. And the fact that he said, if the United States doesn't hit the brakes but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing. What does that mean?

MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, as you mentioned, this is - this was - this man was China's top diplomat, appearing on Sunday's talk shows, yet he is using words that become more stern, more strong, more pointed. And first of all, he's accusing the U.S. of trying to create NATO-style alliance in Asia, going on to warn that if things persist, that there could be a Ukraine-like crisis, again, under this backdrop of Asia.

But that quote you pointed out, it's worth repeating because it is so focused and so targeted to the U.S., saying, if the U.S. does not hit the brakes but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing, and there will surely be conflict and confrontation. These are really strong words.

Also interesting to note today, Poppy, he also made reference once again to the U.S. shootdown of that suspected spy balloon, again suggesting it was an overreaction.

HARLOW: What's also striking from this is the fact that he essentially defended what U.S. intelligence officials are worried could be China providing lethal aid to Russia by saying, well, it would be the same as the defensive aid that the United States sells to Taiwan. What did you take from that? STEWART: Oh, no question. When there was this opportunity to make this

reference, to make this comparison to Taiwan, he did so. But yet the U.S. has remained steadfast, saying that Taiwan is a sovereign nation and that it has a right to defend itself.

We also heard language from the government today saying that Taiwan is very much part of our territory and that we have the right to reunite it.

A constant back and forth on a familiar - on a familiar theme. But again, just reinforced further in a very public arena.

HARLOW: Very public.

Marc Stewart, thank you for the reporting.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: The Ozempic craze is getting another shot in the arm. Why Weight Watchers may now be getting in on the action over the popular prescription drug. We're going to discuss the significance and the safety, next.



LEMON: Weight Watchers customers could soon have access to prescription drugs. The company announcing yesterday that it will be purchasing Telehealth subscription service Sequence for $106 million The service connects patients with doctors who can prescribe weight loss medication. That includes the diabetic - the diabetes drug Ozempic.

Let's get more now. CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here.

Good morning to you, Elizabeth.

This is very interesting considering, you know, everything that's going on with Ozempic. Weight Watchers is jumping in on this, you know, weight loss drug. This is a business move, but what do you know?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is really interesting what Weight Watchers is doing with Sequence. So, right now, anyone can go to the doctor, get a prescription for Ozempic or for Wegovy, which is - which is really the same drug, and, you know, try to go to a pharmacy, try to get it. You might find a shortage. You might not.


What they're doing is they're saying, look, you will pay us a certain amount of money per month, whatever that turns out to be, and we will help you with all that. We will set you up with a doctor. We will help you with telehealth visits. We will help you find the drug. You still have to pay for the drug. This doesn't mean that your drug will be paid for by Weight Watchers. You still have to pay for it. But they're kind of almost like a broker, if you can think of it that way, which really, when you think about how complicated the American medical system is, especially when a drug is in shortage, that is no small thing.

So, let's take a look at Ozempic. And, again, everything I'm saying here would also go for Wegovy. What Ozempic does is that it stimulates insulin, which lowers your blood sugar. It slows the passage of food through your gut so you feel fuller longer. What studies have shown is that people see an average of 10 to 15 percent weight loss, which if you're, you know, quite heavy, that is a lot.

Speaking of which, take a look at this statistic. There's, obviously, a huge market for this. Nearly three out of four Americans are overweight or obese.


LEMON: That's if you can get it, right?

HARLOW: Yes. And there are people who are taking it -- we were just talking about this - who are not overweight at all, they just want to be thinner. Is it -- is there any danger? Like, what happens when you go off of it?

COHEN: You know what, studies have shown - you know, they haven't studied people who just want to like lose a few pounds so they fit into their bathing suit.

HARLOW: Yes. Right.

COHEN: But when they study other people, when they go off of it, they gain the weight back. So, when you're taking this, during that time when you're taking it, if you can redo your diet and rethink how you eat and exercise, you could go off of it and keep the wight off. But if you're just taking the pill and that's it, that weight probably will come right back at you as soon as you're done with the pill.

LEMON: Well, again, as I said, that's if you can get it. But the shortage is everyone (INAUDIBLE).

HARLOW: I Know. And the diabetes patients need it.

LEMON: Yes. Yes, I was at the pharmacy. I saw a diabetic patient could not get it because of the shortage.

HARLOW: Really?


HARLOW: And didn't -- it was on the front of, was that "The New Yorker" this week. Like the whole cover.

LEMON: It was on - it's on "The New Yorker" - no, "New York Magazine."

HARLOW: "New York Magazine."

LEMON: "New York Magazine's" whole cover. HARLOW: Yes.


HARLOW: People are talking about it.

LEMON: Thanks, Elizabeth. Appreciate it.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Also coming up this morning, there are rising tensions in Mississippi as lawmakers there are considering a bill that would create an unelected, state appointed court system in Jackson. Critics say it's a takeover of the city which has the second highest percentage of black residents by white politicians. We're going to take you live on the ground, next.

LEMON: Look at this.



COLLINS: This morning, the Mississippi state senate is going to resume consideration of a bill that would create an unelected, state appointed court system. This is something that is now drawing criticism. Essentially what this would do is create this separate court system within the city, which we should note, according to U.S. census data, is 83 percent black, that two state offices, both are currently held by white officials, would entirely appoint.

CNN's Omar Jimenez has more.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Whether it's the poverty or violence, you don't think that the process that's playing out right now is going to solve that?

JARVIS DORTCH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ACLU, MISSISSIPPI: No. If they just give money to the Hinds (ph) County district attorney, even though he's elected, that doesn't solve the problem because you're not tackling the root of the problem.

JIMENEZ (voice over): A plan to reshape Jackson, Mississippi's, criminal justice system has been on a legislative journey. It was introduced in Mississippi's house of representatives. That initial version singed out a section of the city that was disproportionately white to be under the jurisdiction of the state-run capital police. The senate version scraps the single district aspect of this and expands it city-wide. But both plans would put the selection of judges and prosecutors in the hands of the majority white legislature, rather than the hands of residents and the city that's over 80 percent black, taking governing power away from local elected leaders and critics say disenfranchising voters.

MAYOR CHOKWE ANTAR LUMUMBA (D), JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI: Even with the changes, it is still an attack on black leadership. It still is a trojan horse cloaked in the notion of public safety where it is not evidence based.

JIMENEZ: Legal leaders in Jackson believe there are better ways to address concerns that the current elected judiciary isn't able to keep up with the pace of cases.

ATTORNEY GAIL LOWERY, HINDS COUNTY PUBLIC DEFENDER: Both the house bill and the senate proposal severely missed the mark.

The real problem is that for decades Hinds County has needed at least two more elected, permanent judges.

JIMENEZ: Over the last few years, Jackson has seen a spike in violence. In 2021, one of the highest murder rates in the country. Supporters of this bill, including its Republican sponsor, have argued it would provide valuable reinforcements to the public safety ecosystem.

TREY LAMAR (R), MISSISSIPPI STATE REPRESENTATIVE: This bill is designed to assist the court system of Hinds County, not to hinder it.

JIMENEZ: The senate version of the bill would also expand the jurisdiction of the capital police force citywide, with the intention of them striking an agreement with the local police on how to police. In theory, together. But any dispute related to the law enforcement functions of the office of capital police within the boundaries of the city of Jackson, Mississippi, shall be resolved in favor of the commissioner of the department of public safety.

The mayor says he wouldn't sign it, but some residents are concerned state officers wouldn't be held to the same accountability as local one. And the prospect of adding capital police has specific fears for some. Twenty-year-old Jaylen Lewis was shot and killed by a capital police officer last year after an attempted traffic stop.

ARKELA LEWIS, MOTHER OF JAYLEN LEWIS: I'm here today because I know there are bills that this legislature has introduced that will expand capital police authority, possibly to the entire city of Jackson. And that terrifies me.


JIMENEZ: Now, that shooting is still under investigation. But this bill is on the agenda when the senate gets back into session later this morning. Even if it passes, there would still likely be details that would need to be hammered out on the house side.


But Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has indicated he'd be open to signing what's being worked on, but also that he's working closely with legislative leaders as this bill continues to develop.

COLLINS: Yes, and we'll track to see if it changes.

Omar Jimenez, thank you. HARLOW: New information just coming into CNN this morning about those four Americans who were kidnapped at gunpoint in Mexico. We'll tell you what we know, ahead.

Also, new reaction pouring in on Chris Rock's Netflix standup special. Why our next guest says he deserved to be slapped by Will Smith.



LEMON: Even still people have a lot to say about Chris Rock's Netflix standup special in which he skewered Will Smith for slapping him at the Oscars. I've been hearing from a lot of people, primarily black women, who think that the coverage of the special is missing the mark. Rock's strongest words appear to be directed to - or at Jada Pinkett Smith, the target of his Oscars joke last year. Rock traces his beef with her all the way back to 2016. That's when, according to Rock, she attempted to get him to quit the Oscars - to not host the Oscars because Will Smith wasn't nominated for the movie "Concussion."


CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: Nobody is picking on this (EXPLETIVE DELETED). She started this (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Nobody was picking on her. She said of me, a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) grown ass man should quit his job because her husband didn't get nominated for "Concussion." And then this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) gives me a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) concussion.


LEMON: Part of that was a larger push, though, because black actors weren't being nominated. So -- but critics also blasted Rock for making black people the butt of his jokes to appeal to a white audience. And our next guest writes that Rock, quote, deserved to be slapped.

And joining us now, the senior writer at "The Root," Candace McDuffie.

Good morning to you.

Why do you think he deserved to be slapped?

CANDACE MCDUFFIE, SENIOR WRITER, "THE ROOT": It's not so much about being slapped as much as it is about accountability, right? He has made black women specifically the butt of his jokes for years. And he's finally being held accountable. So, I feel like this kind of sets the precedence, you know, going forward, hopefully that people will be more careful about how they treat and discuss, you know, black women.

LEMON: You know, people are going to focus on your words saying, you know, is Candace McDuffie condoning violence, saying that, you know, that Will Smith should have slapped Chris Rock?

MCDUFFIE: I think, you know, in the literal sense, it seems like a bit much. But, honestly, sitting here, you know, calling Jada out of her name, making fun of her hair condition, talking about her alopecia, words can be violent as well. And as we see, you know, black girls and women, we suffer abuse at higher rates in this country. So, continuing to humiliate us only perpetuates this.

LEMON: A lot of people laugh, though, when they hear the jokes and they say, he's a comedian, he's just being funny. Maybe you're being too sensitive about it. What do you say?

MCDUFFIE: I think it speaks to a larger American pattern of using marginalized people as comedic fodder. And then it can also, you know, lead to violence being incited. It can lead us being not seen as human. Words in comedy have larger consequences, as we've seen in recent years.

LEMON: Yes. A black woman comedian, as you know, you know Leslie Jones, calling out the - what she calls, and I quote, hypocrites who are attacking Chris Rock, she says, for sharing his perspective on what happened. And in another quote, he is a comedian. This is his way of expressing it. If he sang, he would write a song because it's painful, it's a painful thing that happened. What do you - what do you say to Leslie Jones?

MCDUFFIE: What we saw on that stage wasn't comedy. You know, look, it was comedy but it was really pain. He hasn't healed from what's happened. And instead of kind of dealing with those emotions and his feelings, he's just taking it out and continues to take things (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: At the end of his special, he addresses why he didn't retaliate when he slapped -- when he got slapped. Watch this?


CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: And you know what my parents taught me, don't fight in front of white people.


LEMON: Does that joke bother you?

MCDUFFIE: So much. You're telling me that black people can't fight in front of white people, but you can humiliate black people in front of white people. There was recently a clip that resurfaced of him with Jerry Seinfeld and Ricky Gervais and Louis C.K. where he gave Louis C.K. the pass to say the "n" word. How is that OK, right? But we have to act a certain way that it doesn't apply to him.

LEMON: Candace McDuffie, I'm so glad you could join us this morning. Thank you very much.

MCDUFFIE: Thank you so much for having me.

LEMON: CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will kill every man on this plane. So, where are they? Where's Homeland Security? Pull the gun. Pull the gun. Where are they diverting us? Because wherever it is, it's going to be a bloodbath everywhere.


DLL: Can you imagine being on that plane? I'm not sure how I would react with that.

COLLINS: When I watched that, I was watching the guy sitting next to him feeling so sorry for him.



LEMON: Yes. I don't know. How -- what do you think you'd do? I often think about it on a plane. Like, if something broke out, something happened, what would I do?

HARLOW: I would want to get up and be the one to tackle him.


HARLOW: And you never know until you're in the moment.



LEMON: You never know what they're - what they may be armed with or just anything.

I mean, good morning, everyone.

It's a bizarre and frightening attack on a United flight.