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Ukraine: "Fighting Is Fierce" In Battle For Soledar; U.K. Demands Tehran Free Dual National Sentenced To Die; U.S. Consumer Inflation Continues To Ease; Concerns Grow Over TikTok's Effect On Young Users; Messi Plays First Match Since Winning World Cup; Biden Addresses Economy Amid Discovery Of Second Batch Of Classified Documents; Aired 10:00-11:00p ET

Aired January 12, 2023 - 10:00   ET




BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The battle for Soledar may be in its final stages, and it doesn't appear to be going well for the

Ukrainians. And if indeed the Russians do emerge victorious, the villages around it may be the next to fall.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: CNN is on the ground as the fight for this key eastern town rages on, who controls it and why it matters, is


Another batch of classified documents recovered by President Biden's legal team. We're in Washington for you.

And good news for the U.S. economy. The latest batch of figures show an easing of inflation at the end of 2022. We'll have analysis for you from

New York.

A very warm welcome. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson coming to you from Abu Dhabi in the UAE.

Ukraine says a fierce desperate battle is underway for the town of Soledar or what's left of it.




ANDERSON: Soledar has seen some of the bloodiest battles in Russia's nearly 11-month war on Ukraine and it has been a flashpoint because of who's

fighting on the Russian side. The paramilitary group, Wagner, which operates outside Russia's military chain of command, and by most accounts

with far more success on the battlefield.

Well, Ukraine continues to disputes the Wagner chief's claim that Soledar has fallen. Its Defense Ministry reports heavy Russian losses today.

Ukrainian officials in the Donetsk region are also trying to evacuate some 500 civilians who still remain there as the fighting rages.

Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is deriding Russia for focusing so much attention on this one small town. Have a listen.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): The terrorist state and propagandists are trying to pretend that some part of

our city of Soledar, almost completely destroyed by the occupiers as some kind of achievement of Russia. They will present this to their society in

order to support mobilization and to give hope to those who are for aggression, but the fighting continues. The Donetsk front is holding.


ANDERSON: Well, Ukraine also mocking Russia's announcement that it is replacing its top general, again. Valery Gerasimov will take over from

Sergey Surovikin, who was appointed only three months ago, Ukraine's Defense Ministry tweeting, "Every Russian general must receive at least one

opportunity to fall in Ukraine. Some may be lucky enough to fall twice."

Ben Wedeman connect us this hour from Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. Let's start with Soledar and the importance and why it matters. You and your team

have been in the area, Ben. What have you seen?

WEDEMAN: What we saw, Becky, was that the town of Soledar, which is small - - before the war, it had a population of perhaps only 10,000 people, is under steady bombardment. In fact, we've been in touch with the mayor of

Soledar today, and they're trying to arrange evacuations for civilians there.

But one of the main roads that was used before is now under Russian bombardment. And even in the towns nearby Soledar, the situation is getting

increasingly dire.


WEDEMAN (voice over): Medics load a wounded soldier onto an ambulance. Another casualty from the embattled town of Soledar

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One day, 20, 25.

WEDEMAN: It varies, depending on the number of casualties on the front lines.

Russian forces mostly troops from the Wagner group, the private military company, claimed to have control of the entire Soledar territory.


WEDEMAN (on camera): The battle for Soledar may be in its final stages and it doesn't appear to be going well for the Ukrainians. And if indeed the

Russians do emerge victorious, the villages around it may be the next to fall.

WEDEMAN (voice over): Ukraine's helicopters still flying sorties, its forces aren't giving ground easily. One soldier says it's difficult, but

we're hanging in there.

Despite the fighting, Fira [ph] is staying put with her pigs and cows in her home in a nearby village.

We won't leave, she says, you can only die once. I will not abandon my house.

Her 81-year-old mother, Lugmila [ph], has lived here for more than 40 years.

We had a good life here, she says.

Sedhegoshko [ph] heads the Soledar military administration.

I'm delivering aid, he says and reminding people they need to evacuate before it's too late.

(inaudible) says she'll heed his call. Everyone is tired, she tells me. We can't take it any longer.

As Soledar burns, there is little time to waste.


WEDEMAN: And from a strategic point of view, there isn't really much point to this battle. It really is more important politically for the Russians,

who, going back to late August when Ukrainian forces started to retake the Kharhiv region, have been suffering a series of setbacks.

So just for political and symbolic reasons, they are throwing everything they have into the battle to try to take this small town of Soledar. Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben, this is really important stuff. And you've described why it matters. Let's just talk a little more about what is going on behind the

scenes with regard Russia and its military. Tell us more about this move by Moscow to change war commanders and how this fits into the wider picture

with the Wagner group and in the carrier ops group on the ground in Ukraine.

WEDEMAN: Well, the appointment of Valery Gerasimov, the general who has been the head of the military chief of staff in Russia since 2012, is

somewhat puzzling. This is the man who oversaw the initial phases of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which didn't go very well.

And when the Ukrainians say that, perhaps he's been given the chance to fail twice, that certainly looks like it. But there's an important sort of

behind the scenes struggle going on here between the Russian army and Yevgeny Prigozhin [ph], who's the head of the Wagner Group, who is really -

- had the Wagner Group and its soldiers and convicts turned recruits, are the major participants, it seems in the battles of Bakhmut and Soledar.

And he has been very critical of the Russian high command of the military and is essentially presenting himself and the Wagner group as sort of an

alternative to the formal structures of the army. So this is an attempt perhaps, by the military to reestablish its predominance, its preeminence

in this war.

But certainly if we look at their performance, it has been somewhat less than stellar from a military point of view. Becky?

ANDERSON: Absolutely. Ben, it was a pleasure. Thank you very much, indeed. And thank you to your team there.

Well, Andriy Zagorodnyuk is a former Ukrainian defense minister and is chairman of the Center for Defense Strategies. He joins us now via Skype.

And as we've just been talking about the Russian military, alongside the Wagner Group's activities on the ground, particularly around Bakhmut and

Soledar, you're a major architect for military reform in Ukraine before serving as defense minister.

I just wonder whether you can give us your perspective of what we are seeing now on the battlefield and how you perceive things behind the scenes

with regard Russia's military offensive.

ANDRIY ZAGORODNYUK, FORMER MINISTER OF DEFENSE OF UKRAINE: Yes. So first of all, on the battlefield, we see an attempt to deliver at least some good

news for Russian command, for Russian president, because Soledar has no -- every Ukrainian down, every Ukrainian village is important for us, but it's

strategic meaning from like battlefield perspective. It's not that significant. It's not actually significant at all in a way.


And so essentially, the reason why there is so much pressure there is simply because they have chosen it as a -- as a place which they fought.

You know, they would spare no expense to get there. And they will try to show this as a -- as some major victory.

They needed -- they needed those, you know, those news delivered to the command. That's actually the main reason why they're struggling so much for

Soledar. And, of course, we understand that there is a massive internal politicking happening in the -- in -- between the military commanders.

There is, in fact, a parallel army raising up in Russia with a completely parallel command. And it's not even controlled operationally in the

battlefield by Russian Armed Forces. And, of course, they are competing with the main one -- with the -- with main major armed forces.

And the reappointment of Gerasimov as the head of the -- of the operation, of course, it means that the old elite of the Armed Forces is still

preserving the power. They still concentrate the decision making process. And they were able to regain the status for Gerasimov, because for a long

time, he was almost ousted of there from any decision making process.

In Russia -- in Russia --

ANDERSON: I'm seeing some analysis about Gerasimov being brought in ahead of a spring offensive. What do you make of that? And how concerned are you

about any spring offensive being planned at this point?

ZAGORODNYUK: We are, of course, concerned about offensive because they are getting ready for it. So they're getting ready. Soldiers, they're most

likely going to have a new mobilization wave. They are preparing some tens of thousands of - they're currently going through training. So, yes, it's a

-- it's a -- it's a strategic concern, of course. No, there's no question about it.

Concerning Gerasimov, he hasn't been effective at all. I mean, we haven't seen any successful operation during this campaign, apart from the original

getting into Ukraine from all possible corners, and then failing in most of them.

So the reason Gerasimov was brought back is not because he was successful, most likely, the reason is because Russian army is a thing in its own. It

doesn't have external control. It doesn't have any civilian control. And as a -- as a -- as a sort of encapsulated organization, it preserves its own

elites and it preserves its own leaders.

So, essentially, they were able to be autonomous in a way and keep their key people from the -- from the -- from the external competitive forces so

to speak. It's not going to be productive for --

ANDERSON: What do you make of the success that Wagner is having on the ground? And I know you've pointed out there and you've said, you know, any

single death of the Ukrainian is a -- is a death to many as far as you're concerned. But you've explained why you can't see the strategic

significance of the battle for control of Soledar, but it just being a win for Russia. It would be a win for the Wagner Group. This is a paramilitary

group of mercenaries. And as we are well aware, prisoners that have been recruited, how concerned are you about the operations being conducted by

that group?

ZAGORODNYUK: First of all, Soledar, as you just have seen, is a -- is controlled by Ukrainian government and Ukrainian soldiers at the moment. So

whatever happens, we can't -- we cannot be saying, like, for sure, that is going to be Russian success, et cetera.

Russians are losing thousands of people a day perhaps these days right now, because they are -- they are throwing them literally as again on fuller

[ph]. That's a totally different strategy from -- this story, that's a totally different approach from Ukraine. Ukraine tries to keep our people

because we've -- we value human lives and Wagner is epitome of basically style in World War Two approach where people are just thrown to die.

So whether this is going to be effective, I'm sure that it's a -- we knew about that strategy before. Essentially, Russian Armed Forces were throwing

their people right now. Just right now, it's climbing to a completely new levels, because they indeed throwing hundreds without any thinking what's

going to happen with them in the next few minutes.

So I'm sure we'll find the ways to stop that. I'm sure that will be -- will be okay. Because this is not -- this is -- in 21st century, that cannot be

a winning strategy. Throwing people into fire and just letting them die and thousands, that cannot be something would, like, a modern army's win these

days. So I think that's poised for loss as well. I mean, from Russian perspective.

ANDERSON: Right. It's good to have you on, sir. And your analysis --


ANDERSON: -- and insight is extremely important as we continue to cover this war now entering its 11th month.


Well, is it justice or a killing spree? Next on CONNECT THE WORLD, the fight to free a man sentenced to die in Iran. What the U.K. and human

rights advocates are saying about executions there.

And the Biden White House is facing growing fallout after another batch of classified records has been discovered. Details on that is up next.


ANDERSON: Amnesty International says Iran is on a killing spree. The human rights group is condemning the executions of those taking part in protests

sweeping the country. The comments come as Tehran sentences a former Iranian official to death.

Alireza Akbari holds dual citizenship in Iran and in the U.K. He is accused of spying for British intelligence. British officials say the charges are

politically motivated and they are calling for his release.

CNN's Nada Bashir is following this outcry from London and she joins us now live. What is it the British authorities are saying about this case?

NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Becky, as we've seen in the past with foreign nationals, dual nationals who have been

detained in Iran, there is a huge amount of concern here, at least, because relations between the United Kingdom and Iran are off significantly for to

being able to have any sort of leverage in securing the release of political detainees has proven difficult in the past.

Now, alarm bells are being sounded here in the United Kingdom. We've already seen a wave of political detainees being executed in Iran. Now, we

are learning that Alireza Akbari, a dual British Iranian national is facing the very imminent threat of execution.

According to Iranian officials, according to the Iranian judiciary, he has been detained and is facing the death sentence over allegations of

espionage, of spying on behalf of the United Kingdom. They say this has been confirmed by Iran's Intelligence Ministry and say that he was working

while formally as an Iranian official as an undercover agent on behalf of MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, but of course, this has been

disputed by his relatives and, of course, by rights groups.

We've already heard from Britain's Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly. This is what he had to say yesterday over Twitter. It reads, "Iran must hold the

execution of British Iranian national, Alireza Akbari, and immediately release him. This is a -- excuse me, this is a politically motivated act by

a barbaric regime that has total disregard for human life."

Now, CNN has reached out to the U.K. Foreign Office. They say they are working closely to provide support to Mr. Akbari's family. They are in

contact with Iranian officials, are urging for his immediate release and they are demanding, as a matter of priority, consular access, but as we

have seen in the past with British journal nationals who have been detained in Iran, many viewers will remember, of course, the case of Nazanin



The Iranian authorities and the regime has not been so forthcoming when it comes to those requests from the West. So there is significant concern

around his safety, his security, and of course, the risk of execution. As we've heard from rights groups, including Amnesty International. They've

described Iranian authorities as going on a killing spree. And, of course, it is expected that there are dozens of political detainees now in Iran,

facing the very real threat of execution. Becky?

ANDERSON: Nada, thank you.

Well, the Biden White House is facing growing fallout and questions after it emerged that a second batch of classified documents has been found by

the U.S. President's lawyers. We've learned Mr. Biden's legal team ordered searches of various locations following the initial discovery of classified

records in November.

Now, the president's former think tank office in Washington. Resource tells CNN the first batch contained 10 classified documents, including U.S.

intelligence and briefing materials on Ukraine, Iran, and the U.K.

CNN senior U.S. justice correspondent, Evan Perez, joining us now. And, Evan, this is threatening to become a major political embarrassment for the

Biden administration. And it comes as his predecessor, former president Donald Trump, of course faces a special counsel investigation over his

alleged mishandling of classified records. What are we doing about this latest batch found and what the White House is saying at this point?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, at least the discovery or the disclosure of the -- of this new batch of documents

creates a perception problem for the White House, which is obviously, for now, we're asking questions about why didn't they disclose it when they

said earlier this week, that they had found an initial set of documents -- classified document's own office here in Washington?

What we know is that after the discovery of that -- of that set of documents, there were 10 documents that had classified records, various

classification levels. They conducted additional searches of other residences, other offices that were used by Joe Biden during the time of

the Donald Trump presidency. And this is when they discovered this second set of documents. We don't know very much about it. We don't know what

level of classification it is. We know that they've turned them over to the federal government, which has been doing a review. The Justice Department

has been doing a review of the -- of these documents.

The question for the Justice Department now, Becky, is one of, does this perception create the need to appoint a special counsel to do a full-blown

criminal investigation of the sitting U.S. president? As you describe that it's threatening to be a political problem, I think we're already there.

It's a bit of a debacle really that you wouldn't come out and just say everything at once, rather than having it come out during dribs and drabs.

That's the problem that they've created for themselves. And so we'll see what the -- whether the White House will more -- will acknowledge more

about what they're doing to clean this up today.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. The Special Counsel is seeking information on who is paying Donald Trump's legal bills as that intense -- that investigation

intensifies. What do we know about that?

PEREZ: Well, Jack Smith is the special counsel who's looking into a couple of different investigations of who's overseeing two investigations of the

former President Donald Trump, and in one set of this investigation, which is looking into, you know, who is handling, who -- he is sending a bunch of

subpoenas to people trying to figure out who is paying for the legal bills of some of the witnesses that have come forward in these investigations of


And the reason why this is important is we have seen, at least one witness, who has testified to the House Committee that was looking into January 6,

that she felt that the attorney who was being paid for by the Trump team really was trying to push her to mislead investigators and that creates an

obstruction of justice problem, which is now clearly something that the Special Counsel Jack Smith is now looking into more closely. So we have

seen a flurry of subpoenas come out, Becky, and so this tells us that this investigation is intensifying.

ANDERSON: Even Perez is on the story for you out in Washington. Thank you, sir.

PEREZ: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Let's get you up to speed on some of the other stories that are - - on our radar right now. And the regional branch of ISIS is claiming responsibility for a deadly attack in Afghanistan on Wednesday. ISIS media

says that 20 people were killed in a suicide bombing outside the Taliban- run Afghan foreign ministry in Kabul. Local police put the death toll at five.


China and the United States's top climate envoys, Xie Zhenhua and John Kerry, met virtually on Wednesday and agreed to keep talking about ways to

combat climate change. China halted negotiations after then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last year, but the talks resumed after

U.S. President Joe Biden met with China's Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit.

The climate activists calling on Dr. Sultan Al Jaber to step down, and CEO of one of the world's largest oil companies. This after the United Arab

Emirates appointed him as the president of COP28. The Gulf state is hosting the climate summit in Dubai starting in November.

Well, later in our show, we'll talk to Robin Mills, the CEO of Command Energy about the UAE's appointment. That is coming up next hour right here


Well, up next this hour, Joe Biden is touting the latest good news about the U.S. economy. Could it help boost his sagging approval ratings?

And is the Fed winning its war on inflation? And could that pave the way for slower interest rate hikes? We will look for some answer's view after



ANDERSON: Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Welcome.

Well, a quick look at our top story there. Our conflicting reports about the status of Soledar. That is a small mining town in Eastern Ukraine.

What's clear is that there is a fierce desperate battle there underway for control.

Moscow says the Russian military has made an enormous effort in retaking the town, but the main works still lies ahead.

Well, earlier the paramilitary group, Wagner, claimed to control the city center, while Ukraine said its forces killed 100 enemy troops just outside


Meanwhile, Russia shaking up its military leadership yet again, ordering its top general to take charge of its invasion now approaching the one year


As we've been reporting, soaring energy prices sparked by Russia's war in Ukraine, have done a number on inflation. But a key report on the pace of

U.S. consumer prices shows that they are easing down to their lowest rate in over a year.


Here's how stock markets in the U.S. and Europe are reacting. And remember, there is a big question looming over all of this. Will this latest U.S.

inflation report be enough to slow the Federal Reserve's rate hikes?

Well, I want to bring in CNN's Matt Egan live from New York. This is the final CPI report before the Federal Reserve's February rate decision. Is

the Fed winning its war on inflation? And this is enough to spur a change in policy, because that policy, at the moment, is a policy of increasing

rates, isn't it?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Becky, you know, it does feel like the Fed has all of the momentum right now and is on track to win this war on

inflation. These latest numbers are encouraging, you know, annual inflation, increasing six and a half percent. That's not healthy, but that

is much better than that 9% figure from six months earlier. This is actually the lowest in 14 months.

Month-over-month, we see prices were actually down. We haven't seen anything like that since this inflation crisis began. So let's look at

where prices are cooling off. We saw a decline year-over-year in gasoline prices. That's huge. That is also really important psychologically. Used

car prices, those had skyrocketed during much of COVID. There was a shortage of computer chips. They're down almost 9%.

And look at that televisions also related to computer chips down 14%. But listen, this war on inflation is not over. It's way too early to declare

victory. Look at where inflation remains hot. For example, shelter. Shelter prices up by seven and a half percent. That is significant. That's the

biggest year-over-year increase since 1982.

Supermarket prices, of course, remain very high. And a lot of people are talking about egg prices. They're up almost 60% year-over-year. We haven't

seen anything like that since 1973. So there's some good news here for the Fed. There's still some reasons to be cautious.

So, Becky, I think what we can expect from the Fed is they're not going to do another one of those monster 75 basis point increases. The thinking

right now is either they do another 50 basis point increase on February 1 or perhaps more likely they downshift and they raise interest rates by just

a quarter of a point. And maybe we get some more hints about whether or not the Fed can actually pause the rate hikes altogether in the coming months.

ANDERSON: Thank you, sir.

It's 32 minutes past 10:00 in New York and mid-morning. It is mid-evening as it were here. Those improving inflation numbers surely being celebrated

at the White House. Joe Biden has made controlling inflation one of the biggest priorities of his presidency.

At any minute, he is expected to come out and talk about the latest CPI numbers. In the last five minutes, the White House has just released a

statement about the classified documents found at two locations.

CNN's Kevin Liptak is at the White House for us. And as we await this -- these comments by President Biden on the economy, let's have a look at this

statement that we have just got from his administration, Kevin.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And the statement really kind of clarifies these additional classified documents that President Biden's

lawyers identified after that initial discovery. And what they say in the statement is that after they found those documents, at his think tank in

Washington, they conducted a search of his homes in Delaware. He has two homes, one in Wilmington, and one on Rehoboth Beach. And they did find

these additional documents at the home in Wilmington, and they found them in two locations in that home. One was in a storage area in his garage. And

then they found one piece of paper that was had classified markings on it in an adjacent room.

And so this sort of fills out what we reported yesterday, which is that they found the second batch of classified documents after the initial find.

And what the White House says in the statement, it says, as was done in the case of the Penn Biden Center, the Department of Justice was notified

immediately. And the lawyers arranged for the Department of Justice to take possession of these documents.

So, clearly, the White House trying to be very careful in what they're saying publicly about this audit process of the president's homes. They

wanted to make sure that they didn't have any more classified documents in any of the president's other areas.

And what they said is that this audit was concluded last evening, Wednesday evening. Now, the President will come out here in a matter of moments and

he is intending to speak about inflation and the new inflation report that came out this morning, but it's almost certain that reporters will shout

questions at him at the end about this latest revelation when it comes to these classified documents.


Whether he chooses to answer it or not is an open question. He has remained very on message on this, and that is very intentional. His lawyers and his

political aides are very concerned that this could escalate into a more of a scandal. And they want to be very certain to say very specific things so

that it doesn't sort of spiral out of control. Becky.

ANDERSON: Right. And while you've been speaking, actually, I've just had news that the Attorney General Merrick Garland will make a statement at

1:15 -- excuse me, 1:15 Eastern time. It is, as I said, 10:35 with you at the moment.

We are not sure what that will be about. The department did not say what the subject of the statement will be. Our justice team is digging for

additional details, of course. Thank you, sir.

LIPTAK: Right.

ANDERSON: The World Economic Forum in Davos gets underway next week, and CNN, of course, will be there. Join Richard Quest and Julia Chatterley

throughout the week as they talk to world leaders and top CEOs high on the agenda, the war in Ukraine, the global economy, inflation, of course, and

indeed, climate change.

Well, still to come, remembering Pele. A touching tribute from one king of the football pitch to another. Details in your sports update.

And it may look harmless and fun, but is Tiktok dangerous to your health? That story, when we come back.


ANDERSON: The dangers of social media on young still developing brains has been well documented, but there are now new concerns that TikTok, which is

the most popular platform used by kids might also be the most addictive. And it comes down to TikTok's unique algorithm.

Vanessa Yurkevich has the story.



VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In just five years, TikTok has amassed more than one billion global users.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cutting up all the budgets that are going to go into the broth.

YURKEVICH: Eyeballs around the world glued to the endless content and viral videos.

YURKEVICH (on camera): How long do you think you spend on TikTok every day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two to three hours.

YURKEVICH: Two to three hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two to four hours.

YURKEVICH (voice over): But last month, the U.S. government, along with more than a dozen states, banned TikTok on most federal devices, citing

national security concerns over its Chinese parent company, and the possibility it could pressure TikTok to hand over personal data.

There is no public evidence the Chinese government has done that, but there is evidence of another risk. Social media's impact on mental health

particularly among Gen Z.

JEAN TWENGE, PSYCHOLOGIST SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY: The depression started to rise after 2012. So it did self-harm and suicide.


YURKEVICH: Dr. Jean Twenge says as smartphones and social media grew, so did the rate of depression among teens, nearly doubling between 2004 and

2019. By that year, one in four U.S. teen girls had experienced clinical depression, according to Twenge.

TWENGE: For anorexia videos, their videos instruct people on how to cut themselves. What the author was trying to do is get people to use the app

for longer because that's helped the company makes more money.

YURKEVICH: TikTok, in a statement said, quote, one of our most important commitments is supporting the safety and well-being of teens. And we

recognize this work is never finished. We continue to focus on robust safety protections for our community, while also empowering parents with

additional controls for their teen's account through TikTok family pairing.


Users of TikTok spent an average of an hour and a half a day on the app last year, more than any other social platform.

What is it that keeps you scrolling, even if you know maybe you've spent one, two hours on it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once you watch the one video, you're like, well, can watch another. So you just keep doing. It's like a cycle. You don't realize

that the time is passing.

YURKEVICH: That's exactly what happened to Jerome Yankee [ph].

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I definitely done all-nighters on TikTok before. I just been scrolling until the sun came up.

YURKEVICH: He says he lost sleep, his grades suffered, he lost touch with his friends. He lost his sense of self. In 2021, he deleted the app.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Getting disappointed by my own life is never something I want to be doing, especially when I have the power to change it, but I just

wasn't because I was spending hours on this app.

HANNAH WILLIAMS, CREATOR, SALARY TRANSPARENT STREET: We have like a lot of cool resources that we give to our audience for free.

YURKEVICH: But Hannah Williams proves the positive side of TikTok, allowing her to create a business, Salary Transparent Street, providing paid

transparency to her nearly one million followers.

WILLIAMS: I think TikTok definitely helped just because they have such audience reach potential.

YURKEVICH: She hopes TikTok's algorithm works in her favor.

WILLIAMS: Helping people and marginalized communities is the only reason I am doing this. It's my entire mission.

YURKEVICH: Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, New York.


ANDERSON: Well, after a well-deserved break, Lionel Messi has returned to Paris after a month. The first time that he's played since lifting the

World Cup trophy, of course in Qatar, but look at what he is wearing. The face of Pele smile from the chests of the PSG players.

Amanda Davies joins me now. These are wonderful images. OK. We're not going to sport because as I understand it, U.S. president is set to speak. Let's

listen in.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good morning. Today, we've got some good news. Good news about the economy. For the sixth month in a row,

inflation has come down, measured over the last 12 months, it has fallen 6.5 percent to 6.5 percent. That's down from 7.1 percent the month before.

It's down from 9.1 percent this summer. Inflation is now at its lowest level since October of 2021. We look at the -- at the -- just the last

three months, we see that inflation fell to 1.8 percent on an annualized basis. It's down for more than 11 percent in the first three months of last


So the data is clear. Even though inflation is high and major economies around the world is coming down in America month after month, giving family

some real breathing room. The big reason is falling gas prices. My administration took action to get oil onto the market and bring down


Now gas is down more than $1.70 from its peak. That adds up to a family with a typical fine with two vehicles to a savings of $180 a month every

single month that stays in their pockets, instead of being spent at the pump.

Food inflation is slowing as well. Last month, we saw the smallest increase in food prices in almost two years. And much of that increase was due to

the avian flu outbreak, which has driven up the egg prices around in the United States.

It's not just gas and food prices though, when we look at what economists call core inflation, which takes out energy and food, we see welcome news

as well. Core inflation is down to the lowest level in a year. Over the past three months, core inflation has come down to three percent on an

annualized basis. That's down from more than six percent at the beginning of 2022.

Cost of goods is actually falling as prices from everything from computers to use cars are coming down as well. And inflation and the core services is

moderating as well. You know, and as inflation is coming down, take home pay for workers is going up. Workers' wages are higher now than they were

seven months ago adjusted for inflation. Wages for lower income and middle income workers have gone up even more. It all adds up to break for

consumers, real breathing room for families, and more proof that my economic plan is working.


When I came to office almost two years ago, the economy was flat on its back, as you all remember. Millions of people lost their jobs through no

fault of their own. Millions, millions who kept their jobs, saw the hours and paychecks cut, hundreds of thousands of small businesses permanently

closed their doors. People were hurting badly. That's what we inherited. A pandemic was raging and the economy was reeling. We acted decisively to put

in place a new strategy that would build a rescue and would rescue the economy from the pandemic downturn.

At the same time, we laid the foundation for a stronger, more resilient economy for decades to come. An economy that grows from the bottom up and

the middle out. Now two -- now two years in, it's clear, clearer than ever that my economic plan is actually working.

Here's what we've learned, just last week, unemployment is the lowest it's been in 50 years. I'll say that again, lowest unemployment rate in a half a

century. My first two years in office where the two strongest years for job growth on record.

We created nearly 11 million jobs, including 750,000 manufacturing jobs. And there were two of the strongest years ever for small business creation

as well. And today, unemployment rate is near record for lows for blacks and Hispanic, Black and Hispanic workers near record lows. And it's the

lowest ever on record for people with disabilities.

We're seeing American families breathing leisure. More Americans have health insurance than they did ever in our history. Fewer families are

facing foreclosures today than before the pandemic. And we still have more work to do, though, but we're clearly moving in the right direction, and

there are more -- there's more breathing room in store for American workers and families.

Starting last week, as of January 1, month supply of insulin is now capped at $35 for seniors on Medicare. Some are paying hundreds of dollars every

month for their insulin, but not anymore. Starting last week, if big pharma raises prices faster than inflation, they're going to face big penalties.

Starting last week, American can get tax credits when they install energy efficient appliances in their homes, like heat pumps, or solar panels, or

when they buy electric vehicles. These were all pieces of what that big law that we passed last year. Now, they're kicking in, and Americans are

starting to feel the benefits in their everyday lives, but that's not all. We're seeing historic investments in American manufacturing, turning in new

factories and new jobs from Arizona, Ohio, Georgia, New York.

Companies have announced nearly $300 billion and manufacturing investments here in the United States since I became president. Instead of exporting

jobs, like we did for decades, we're now creating jobs and exporting product, creating jobs and exporting products. That's the idea. Now, the

House has elected a new speaker, I can call -- congratulated and ready to work with them or any Republican Congress to make progress on -- for the

American people.

But like many Americans, I was disappointed that the very first bill, Republicans in the House of Representatives passed, would help wealthy

people and big corporations cheat on their taxes at the expense of ordinary middle class taxpayers. And it would add $114 billion to the deficit. Their

very first bill.

House Republicans campaigned on inflation. They didn't say, if elected, their plan was to make inflation worse. Plus, House Republicans introduced

another bill, blocking action that would help lower gas prices and help consumers.

And on top of that, House Republicans are preparing to vote on a national sales tax bill. National sales tax. That's a great idea. It would raise

taxes on the middle class by taxing thousands of everyday lives from groceries to gas, while cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans. And if

I'm not mistaken, what they've introduced, it also totally eliminate the IRS. Feels good, except all going to be sales tax. Go home and tell your

moms. They're going to be really excited about that.

Come on. Is this how House Republicans are starting a new term? Cutting taxes for billionaires, raising taxes for working families, making

inflation worse? Well, let me be very clear. If any of these bills make it to my desk, I will veto them. I will flat veto them. I'm ready to work with

Republican, not this kind of stuff.


They try to cut Social Security and Medicare, which Americans have been paying into every paycheck since they ever have had got their first

paycheck. I'll use my veto pen to stop that as well. But if Republicans want to work together on real solutions, so lower inflation, create more

jobs, build an economy works for everyone, I'm ready.

Let me close this. Today's inflation numbers are good news. Good news about our economy. We have more work to do, but we're on the right track. We're

seeing bright spots across the country where great things are happening. Roads and bridges are being built. Factories are coming online. People back

to work again, families breathing a little bit easier. That's why I can honestly say, you've heard me say this before, and I mean it, from the

bottom my heart, I've never been more optimistic about America's future than ever today.

We just have to remember who in God's name we are. You've heard me say it many times, this is the United States of America. There's nothing, nothing

beyond our capacity if we work together. So God bless you all, and may God protect our troops.


PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Classified material next to your Corvette. What were you thinking?

BIDEN: Let me -- I'll get a chance to speak on all of this God willing soon. But as I said earlier this week, people -- and by the way, my

Corvette is in a locked garage. OK? So it's not like you're sitting out in the street. But anyway --

DOOCY: So it was in a locked garage?

BIDEN: Yes, as well as my Corvette. But as I said earlier this week, people know I take classified documents and classified material seriously. I also

said we're cooperating fully complete with the Justice Department's review.

As part of that process, my lawyer has reviewed other places where documents in my -- from my time as vice president were stored, and they

finished the review last night. They discovered a small number of documents of classified markings in storage areas, and file cabinets in my home and

my -- and my personal library. This was done in the case of the Biden Penns -- this was done in the case of the Biden Penn Center.

The Department of Justice was immediately as was done -- the Department of Justice was immediately notified. And the lawyers arranged for the

Department of Justice to take possession of the document. So you're going to see -- we're going to see all this unfold. I'm confident --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How's the First Lady? How's the First Lady, sir? How's the First Lady?

BIDEN: She's doing really well. She was under a long time for five hours, because what they were doing is they take out when do the most meaning

remove what they thought what might be cancerous, and they have to then go back and test it and see what it was.

But she's doing really well. She's up. We had breakfast this morning and she's recovering. And she's going to be sore for a while because of the

work they did on her eyes. And that's where one of these were. But she is zero to one percent chance of ever returning of any cancer. And so thank

God, she's doing really well. Thank you for asking.


ANDERSON: Well, U.S. President Joe Biden speaking about his wife's health, also speaking about the economy after the latest numbers show inflation is

easing. And he said, on those latest CPI numbers that he had never been more confident about the U.S. economy.

That was why he was addressing the audience. The U.S. people and indeed those watching here on CNN, what the journalists in the room wanted to hear

about was this stash or these stashes, batches of classified documents found in offices and other places. Documents that go back to his time as

vice president. He didn't really answer that question. He began to and then well, it sort of fizzled out.

CNN's Kevin Liptak is in Washington for us. What do you make of what you heard, Kevin?

LIPTAK: Yes. The president clearly being very careful in his words, reading from that prepared statement that almost verbatim of what the White House

Counsel's Office released about 20 minutes ago, explaining this process of going through his homes looking for potentially classified documents that

may have been remaining from his time as vice president. He made clear they found them at his home in Wilmington. It was in his garage. That's why he

was referencing his Corvette.


But clearly, the White House and the president are being very careful in what they're saying here, and the president's aides really do want to avoid

the president saying anything that could make this situation even worse.

And this whole event that you saw unfold this morning is really illustrative of what the White House doesn't want to happen, which is to

get thrown off their message. And they really do feel like the economy is their strongest suit at this point. Inflation is easing somewhat. It is

still at a high-level, but it is easing somewhat. And the president really did want to come out here, take credit for some of that say that his

economic programs are working and take some digs at Republicans as they enter the majority in the House of Representatives.

But it is this issue of classified documents that is hanging over everything at the moment. Of course, we will hear later today from the

Attorney General Merrick Garland. We don't know whether that is about this situation, but that is something that the White House is also monitoring

very closely.

And so the president was defensive. He was reading a prepared statement, but certainly his tone, at the onset there, was quite defensive. The

president really wanting to draw a distinction between his situation with classified documents and the situation of the former president Donald


The situations are quite different, of course, former President Donald Trump had hundreds of classified documents in his possession. And he only

turned them over after the National Archives came to -- came looking for them. The President Biden's situation is much different. There's only about

a dozen or so classified documents, and they have proactively returned them to the National Archives.

But the President clearly facing a political crisis, I would say, as he works to explain what has gone on. He does say that they are cooperating

fully with the Department of Justice. Of course, it will all come out later, perhaps. And you saw the president there say that he wished he could

say more. But it will come out at some point what specifically in these documents and that will be very important, I think, as the president works

to explain exactly what happened, exactly how these documents ended up in his think tank office and in his garage at his home in Delaware. Becky.

ANDERSON: Thank you, sir.

And I don't want to officially conflate the two, but the Attorney General Merrick Garland will make a statement at 1:15 p.m. Eastern Time today just

before 11 o'clock in the morning on the East Coast at present.

The Justice Department has announced that. The department did not say what subject of the statement will be. Our justice team is digging for further


All right. I'm Becky Anderson, CONNECT THE WORLD, from here in the UAE, continues after this short break. Second hour, coming up. Stay with us.