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Israel in Turmoil; Nashville School Shooting; David Beasley to Leave World Food Programme; U.N. Votes on Role of International Court of Justice in Climate Action. Aired 10-10:40a ET

Aired March 29, 2023 - 10:00:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): I'm Becky Anderson, live from Abu Dhabi. This is CONNECT THE WORLD.

Coming up this hour, Biden says Netanyahu won't visit the U.S. anytime soon.

Police say the guns in the Nashville school shooting were bought legally.

The International Court of Justice votes on a landmark climate case.

And in his last week on the job, I speak to the World Food Programme director, David Beasley.


ANDERSON: No face to face meeting in the near future. That is what U.S. President Joe Biden is saying about the prospect of inviting Israeli prime

minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House.

President Biden voicing deep concern over Israel's judicial overhaul plan, which the prime minister paused on Monday in the wake of massive protests.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Like many strong supporters of Israel, I'm very concerned. And I'm concerned that they get this

straight. They cannot continued down this road. And I've sort of made that clear. I hopeful -- hopefully the prime minister will act in a way that he

can try to work out some genuine compromise.

But that remains to be seen.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House, sir?



BIDEN: Not in the near term.

QUESTION: Mr. President --

QUESTION: Did you speak to him on the phone (INAUDIBLE) all this?

BIDEN: No, I did not. I delivered a message through our ambassador.


ANDERSON: Despite this seeming rift, Mr. Netanyahu did address the virtual Summit for Democracy today, which is being co hosted by President

Biden will help us. Hadas Gold connecting us from Jerusalem.

The prime minister making some noteworthy remarks at that virtual summit.

What have we heard?

HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky. I mean, we're hearing it's kind of ironic that Benjamin Netanyahu is speaking at this

summit that's hosted by the Americans on the same day as this rift essentially broke open.

And speaking about something that many opponents to the judicial overhaul feel that Netanyahu is trying to ruin. That is Israel's democracy and the

independence of the judiciary.

But in the speech, he defended what they are trying to do, saying that it's trying to rebalance the branches of government and saying that he thinks

balance can be achieved. And that's why he has promoted now a pause.

Didn't answer why he didn't try to bring negotiations forward at the beginning of this whole process, is still waiting after three months of

massive protests. But take a listen to what else he had to say at the speech.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: You know, Israel and the United States have had their occasional differences. But I want to assure

you that the alliance between the world's greatest democracy and a strong, proud and independent democracy, Israel, in the heart of the Middle East,

is unshakable.


GOLD: Now the United States has been sort of carefully critiquing this judicial overhaul plan for several weeks and months. We've been reporting

now about, you know, the Defense Secretary, the secretary of state, all -- the ambassador, all talking about how they hope that there can be a broad

consensus on this.

And what President Biden said yesterday essentially blew that all open. You could hear his frustration. Now the Benjamin Netanyahu in Twitter thread

shortly after Biden made these -- made that comment actually happened in the middle of the night here in Israel.

He's said that you know, Israel and the United States have a very longstanding allegiance and they will always have an unshakable bond, that

he is trying to reach genuine compromise.

But then he says that Israel is a sovereign country, which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad,

including from the best of friends.

That was echoed to the 10th degree by some other members of his government, who said things like "Israel is not a star on the American flag" and some

others, who went even further, that said the Americans were being fed fake news about this massive overhaul.

But clearly the frustrations blowing out into the open. Now senior Israeli officials have been briefing reporters all day today, saying that this is

not as big of a deal as the media is making it out to seem. The relationship is fine, even saying that they expect some sort of comments

from the White House or from the State Department.

Sort of ratcheting things down. But whatever, you know, briefing might come out of the White House or the State Department, to have the president

himself make that note and even goes as far as to say, no, Benjamin Netanyahu is not coming to the White House anytime soon.

I can't remember the last time I heard something like that, especially from President Biden, who always talks about what a stalwart supporter of Israel

he is.

ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. And there clearly is a trust deficit here.


ANDERSON: We'll do more on this as we move through this two hour show here on CONNECT THE WORLD. Hadas, for the time being, thank you very much


Well, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is extending an invitation to the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, to visit Kyiv. President Zelenskyy telling

the Associated Press he wants to engage directly with the Chinese premier.

Well, it comes as the head of the Wagner private military group paints a stark picture of the losses in the bloody town of Bakhmut, which he

describes as a meat grinder, saying Ukraine's forces there are all but destroyed but admitting his group is also pretty battered -- his words.

CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman has more from the ground in Eastern Ukraine -- Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I have, Becky. As you pointed out, the battle in Bakhmut, which has been going on for seven

months now, is really the focus of attention here in the eastern part of Ukraine.

And we have to remember that, also as this battle rages, it's the towns around Bakhmut that are also getting battered.



WEDEMAN (voice-over): There isn't much to be salvaged from this business in Slovyansk, demolished Monday morning in a Russian strike.

Oleg, his wife and some friends are loading up what's left.

"I'm still in shock," says Oleg. "I'm 62 years old and I've invested my heart and soul and money to build it. And now that I'm old, it's been


The attack killed two people and injured more than 30, the likely target an army recruiting office next door.

In the hospital, one of the victims lies unconscious, a 30-year-old woman while fell on her, fracturing her skull in damaging her internal organs.

Surgeon Sergei Okovitiy has struggled since the war began, trying to mend shattered lives and bodies.

"Unfortunately, I have had to treat many serious injuries caused by mines and explosions," he says.

To the south in Krasna Horka, another Russian attack hit just next to this kindergarten, fortunately empty since the war began. Strikes like this

happen on a daily basis. This one occurred late on Monday evening.

Hours afterwards, workers make repairs area is regularly hit. They may be back here soon.

Down the road in Konstantinovka, closer to the front, only a few residents remain. Seventy-three-year-old Tamara isn't going anywhere, putting her

faith in a higher power.

"God protects me," she says. "God will save me. If not, it is what it is."

Artem sells seeds and other supplies to a dwindling community of optimistic gardeners.

"Everyone is scared," he tells me. "Only idiots aren't until now. I'm here. Here but I evacuated my children."

Not all children have left, however. One finding solace on a swing amidst the ruins.


Now yesterday the head of Ukrainian land forces said that tactic of the Ukrainians in Bakhmut is really to destroy, in his words, "as many enemy as



WEDEMAN: -- new offensive. Now both sides, the Russians and the Ukrainians, have invested a mindboggling amount of manpower and materiel in

this battle. The expectation is that, perhaps when the weather improves, that battle will intensify even more -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman is on the ground in Eastern Ukraine.

Ben, thank you.

Authorities continue to examine the clues to Monday's tragic shooting that killed three students and three adults at a private Christian school in

Nashville, Tennessee. Police have now released bodycam video that we will share with you.

But I do want to warn you. You may find this disturbing so I'm just going to give you a moment in case you would rather look away before we run this




Go. Downstairs. Don't stand, go.




Pushing all BBO (ph).

Pushing all BBO.

Go right!



Move, move!



ANDERSON: Police say the attacker was being treated for an emotional disorder yet was still able to legally buy seven guns. To help us sort out

how that was possible, let's bring in Carlos Suarez, who is in Nashville as we speak.

This investigation clearly still ongoing. And there are some questions which frankly need answers at this point.

Are authorities any closer to getting those answers?

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, the investigation into the shooting is still in its early stages. As you mentioned, authorities out

here in Nashville, Tennessee, are still looking into the fact that this 28 year old shooter was being treated for this mental disorder.

Now according to the chief of police out here, law enforcement was not aware that the shooter was being looked after by the doctors. And the chief

of police said that right now, based on what they know, it's unclear if there was anything that would have even prevented the 28 year old shooter

from buying these guns.

Again, all of them were purchased legally over the last several years. We're talking about seven guns in all. Three of them were used at this

school shooting. Two of them were removed from the family's home earlier this week, one they believe may have been sold.

And that seventh gun is still unaccounted for. Again, the chief of police says, right now, even if this person had been deemed a threat to themselves

or others, there is not a law in place that would have allowed them to go ahead and try to restrict some of this gun purchasing ability, at least.

In Tennessee, there are no red flag laws. A red flag law in the U.S. essentially allows for law enforcement or a family member to petition a

judge in court to say, look, this person is showing some disturbing behavior, poses a threat to themselves or others.

And because of that, we believe that the court should step in and take away some of these guns or restrict that person's ability to by a weapon.

But again, Becky, there are no red flag laws in the state of Tennessee.

ANDERSON: Carlos, thank you.

And we are continuing to track this on all CNN platforms. Stephen Collinson, my colleague, looks at the issue in his latest, "Meanwhile, in

America" newsletter and in that, he says, and I quote him here.

"Millions of Americans have made a choice. They may not put it quite this bluntly. But if the price of keeping their high-powered assault rifles is

regular mass shootings, so be it."

For added perspective on this story and others, subscribe to "Meanwhile, in America" on CNN Digital.

Well, you are watching. CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson for you. Coming up.


DAVID BEASLEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WFP: I've got 43 nations with 42 million people at IPC level four, knocking on families doors. Just help me

with them one time. That's a $6 billion price tag.

ANDERSON (voice-over): The World Food Programme chief steps down next week after six years of pushing the world to help feed the hungry. His exit

interview is up next.

And just a little later, the island nation of Vanuatu is seeking climate justice with the help of the United Nations. Why the world's biggest

polluters are watching.





ANDERSON: Since 1961, the World Food Programme has been providing food assistance worldwide, striving to stave off hunger and indeed starvation.

Well, since 2017, it's been helmed by David Beasley, who will be stepping down next week.

His six years in charge have coincided with crises of unprecedented proportions. In April 2020, here's an example, the world was shut down as

the COVID 19 virus spread, prompting Beasley to warn of the hunger pandemic that would follow millions of people in nations already scarred by

conflict, were pushed to the brink of starvation.

Fast forward to August of 2021, when a withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan precipitated a Taliban takeover, sending the country into

freefall. At the time, the WFP estimated nearly 23 million could face acute hunger. And it was described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Then in February of last year, Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, creating a fresh hunger catastrophe as the breadbasket of the world was cut

off. A precarious U.N. brokered deal does mean Ukraine's exports of grain can go through the Black Sea but it hangs in the balance as the war rages


And just last month, a devastating earthquake struck Turkiye and Syria, the latter a country that the U.N. already described as reaching the point of

no return. Well, during his time at the WFP, Beasley has dealt with other natural disasters, conflicts impacting Pakistan, Mozambique, Yemen,

Ethiopia and Sudan.

Those challenges have been immense but there have been victories for David Beasley, two under his leadership. The World Food Programme won the Nobel

Peace Prize in 2020 for its fight against hunger as a weapon of war.

Last year, the WFP raised $14.2 billion, providing food and other assistance to people affected by conflict, drought, floods, earthquakes,

hurricanes and crop failures. David Beasley joins me now live from Rome.

The world will miss you in this role, David. In your closing statement in December, you said your tenure was the greatest joy and deepest heartache

of your life.

Can you just add a little there?

Just explain what you meant.

DAVID BEASLEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WFP: You know, Becky, it has been, I didn't want this job to begin with and I got talked into it. My gosh, it's

been the most rewarding in my own personal life.

But at the same time, it's been so heartbreaking, because you're seeing unprecedented hunger; children around the world starving to death. And so

the excitement of helping children, helping people, bringing stability and hope to people who have none and really bringing the attention to the

leaders around the world.

Becky, you've helped do that, bring attention to the leaders around the world, the crises that we truly are facing, the consequences if we don't.

But you know what's really difficult -- and you and I have talked about this before -- when -- and I've had people say, you know, you've got the

greatest job on the planet, saving the lives of millions of people. And I say I do, I really do.

But I don't go to bed at night thinking about the children we saved. I go to bed heartbroken about the children we can't reach. And when there's

$400 trillion of wealth on the planet and we have children, people dying from starvation, shame on us. And that is heartbreaking.

We've got to do better, we can do better and, if we don't do better, the consequences are really going to get severe in the next 12 to 18 months.

ANDERSON: Well, I want to talk about that and about what you see as the expectations. Before we do that, let's just go back and sort of remind

ourselves, just some of the work that you've done because you have not just run this organization but you have traveled into --


ANDERSON: -- I think I'm right in saying almost every single hotspot that the WFP knows they need to be in. And you and I traveled to Mozambique

together in 2019. I just want our viewers to see a little bit of that trip.


ANDERSON (voice-over): In some cases, entire villages have been washed away. It's only now that the sheer scale of this disaster is becoming


ANDERSON (voice-over): And this is the man trying to clear it all up. The WFP's chief David Beasley, bringing emergency food and water to hundreds of

thousands across Mozambique and beyond.


ANDERSON: Climate related disasters continue to haunt us, whether it's Mozambique, Pakistan, the United States, of course, as well. It's a

universal and existential issue. And you -- and you've talked about it's important at the heart of so much of what you see and what your agency is

involved with.

Just explain a little further, if you will.

Just how important is it that we are keenly focused on the impact of climate at this point?

BEASLEY: It's extremely important, Becky. In fact, just the last year, we had about 25-30 million people that were displaced because of climate

alone. And it's only going to get worse as we're looking at droughts and climate shocks, from flash flooding to hurricanes, tornadoes -- the list

goes on.

The world is really speaking to us right now and we've got to respond and particularly you get into the poorest of the poor countries and we've got

solutions there, Becky.

And this is what we want the donors to do, give us the flexibility with the funding to not just get without food but actually build resilience programs

by putting down water wells and capturing water systems so that people can take care of themselves.

And when we do that, Becky, it's amazing what happens. It's a lot cheaper. They don't migrate. They don't starve to death and nations don't

destabilize. So we've got these solutions.

But the leaders in the world have got to be more strategic and, Becky, particularly now, because there's not enough money to address all the

humanitarian needs around the world. And so leaders have got to prioritize. And climate shocks is a major priority.

Otherwise, you're going to have mass migration by necessity all over the world. And I can assure you, anecdotally and experientially, it's going to

cost 1,000 times more. And here's what's beautiful.

Just in the last few years. Becky, our beneficiaries rehabilitated over 4 million acres of land, built over 110,000 holding ponds and water

reservoirs, taking care of themselves. And when they do that, they don't need our support.

And they're greening up the planet, even though they're doing nothing to contribute to the problem.

Isn't that amazing?

ANDERSON: You often -- it is amazing. You often conflate climate with conflict. And I want to get us into a conflict situation. I mean, you know,

I could name, you know, tens that that you've been involved with, sort of, you know, try and provide solutions for Yemen, Sudan, Ethiopia.

Let's have a look at Afghanistan, a desperate situation. Our own Anna Coren reporting from there this month. People are literally freezing to death.

Just have a little look at some of her reporting.


ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "I had nothing to burn to keep the house warm," he explains. "I checked on the children

during the night and their bodies were numb. I realized my son had died of frostbite.

"This is a photo of him last year," he says, "and this is his dead body."


ANDERSON: The WFP said last week that a drop in donor funding could push part of Afghanistan into famine this year. We started this conversation by

you warning about the next 12 to 18 months across the world.

I'm sure Afghanistan is front and center for you in that the Taliban continues to disrespect women's rights, banning women from working even for


Where's the line for you and other donors with the Taliban and what needs to happen next?

As I understand it, so many organizations are pulling their staff from Afghanistan and that is not going to do the people of Afghanistan any good

whatsoever, is it?

BEASLEY: No. You know, Becky, you're just you're exactly right because we can't let people starve to death. You can't let innocent women and children

starve to death because of politics.

And so we're there for them. I had more mothers telling me I don't have enough money to buy cooking oil and heating oil have to freeze my child to

death or starve my child to death.


BEASLEY: And right now, because of lack of money for Afghanistan people, this is a nation of 42 million people, of which over 20 million are in

severe food insecurity. About 6 of them are knocking on famine's door.

And Becky, we just cut literally a couple of weeks ago, 50 percent rations, down to 50 percent for 4 million people. We may have to cut rations for 9

million people because we are running out of money and that is going to have migration. And it will have starvation and it will be a catastrophe.

And we've got to help and not turn our back on these innocent, innocent victims of politics.

ANDERSON: You couldn't have known that your last year in this role would be dominated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the Black Sea grain deal,

which was absolutely essential to ensure that so many parts of the world, already struggling, weren't thrown into total chaos on the edge of


As you reflect on this past year, one, can that grain deal survive to your mind and, two, what needs to happen next ?

What are your reflections of this past year?

BEASLEY: You know, Becky -- and I've told people this; I don't care if you love or hate Russia but we've got to get the food and the fertilizer out of

this region because 8 billion -- 8 billion people need fertilizer if we're going to feed the world.

And so this is critical. And so when everyone was focused on the eastern military campaign in Ukraine, if you recall, I immediately went down to

Odessa and said, we've got to open up these ports.

And I tweeted to Putin saying, do you want to bring famine to the rest of the world?

If not, open up these ports.

Fortunately, we were able to negotiate the Black Sea grain initiative, moving grains because, as you know, Ukraine alone grows enough food to feed

400 million people. It's absolutely critical, especially now with inflation, food costs , fuel costs.

And I could go -- and devaluation of the currency as well as many other factors that the entire world is struggling with. Many countries depend 50-

80 percent on grains from this region. This initiative must continue. We've got a 60-day window, which is not enough.

We need to extend it an entire year and allow the commodity market to calm down because that affects global food prices for 8 billion people , not

just a few 100 million people. So there's a lot that must be done.

And we must be serious; political pressure must be brought to bear on the - - this military campaign by Russia to say we've got to keep that Black Sea opened up for Odessa and that region. It's absolutely critical, Becky, it's


Now the best thing, is in this war, find a solution; the world's in trouble right now. We've got to end some of these wars and particularly that war.

ANDERSON: There is already a widespread and acute food crisis. War, climate shocks, economic turmoil, it goes on. Cindy McCain is confirmed as

your successor.

How does she turn the boat around as far as funding is concerned at this point?

You've done a remarkable job but you will be the first to admit that there are significant funding gaps here.

BEASLEY: We're having very serious funding gaps, Becky, no doubt about that. What I try to remind leaders around the world is that if you're not

going to do it out of the goodness of your heart, you better do it out of your financial and your national security interests.

Because let me explain how this is going to play out when you have migration because it will cost literally 100 to 1000 times more than going

in and doing it right.

Cindy McCain is right person at the right time to follow in my footsteps. And she'll set her own path. She and I are already meeting with leaders,

for example, in the United States government. We're already bringing Republicans and Democrats together.

And as you know, Becky, they don't seem to get along on anything nowadays. But when it comes to food security, they come together. They lay aside

their differences. It's the Miracle on Pennsylvania Avenue, I call it.

And so Cindy and I are already working that transition, carrying over the relationships, particularly the major donors, like in Germany and Asia and

around the world. And I'm really excited about her stepping up. But it's going to be a tough task, no matter who's in this position.

But I think Cindy is really the perfect person at the right time to carry on this fight.

ANDERSON: Also the WFP won the Nobel Peace Prize.

I asked you what next?

I'll ask you again; at this stage, what's next, David?

BEASLEY: It's easy. My daughter had our third grandchild last week and that's what's next. Get home. See my grandchildren -- I have three now --

and get on my farm in South Carolina.


BEASLEY: Take a little bit of a break. Take -- dust off, you know, my chainsaw and do some work on the farm and be quiet for a little while. And

then let's see what's next.

Who knows?

ANDERSON: I don't. I don't for a moment believe that you're going to be quiet for a very long while.

So is that -- have you got a run in you in U.S. politics.

Is that where you're focused on?

BEASLEY: No, not right now. I really, honestly, I want to finish up here. Finish strong. Make the transition strong, literally get home. Take them --

and take a little bit of a break. You know, I say a few months. My wife said, yes, maybe two weeks.

You know, we laugh about it because you know me. I'm going to be engaged, no matter what. But I am worried about the world and I'm available to help

resolve some of the issues around the world because the world is in trouble. And leadership is needed now more than ever.

We got to bring people together. The world is so divided and, you know, we use food as a weapon of peace. And you know if we can do in the United

States Senate with Republicans and Democrats, why, we can do that all over the world.

ANDERSON: David, give that new grandchild a squeeze from us. We applaud you, sir, will meet you in this role. But I know you're going to pop up

somewhere else and do a sterling job whatever you do next. Thank you very much indeed for the time you spent with us over the last six years

And the very best of luck to you and the family. Thank you.

BEASLEY: Thank you, Becky.

ANDERSON: Right. Taking a very short break back after this.




ANDERSON: Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. The time here is just after half past 6 in the evening, you are watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Now it's being called history in the making.

The question, what are big polluters responsible for?

At this hour, the U.N. General Assembly is expected to vote on a resolution seeking to clarify exactly that.

Now if it passes, it would bring the International Court of Justice into the climate action picture. Cyclone stricken Vanuatu pushed for this

resolution. The South Pacific island has suffered from years -- for years from extreme weather. Now it's seeking climate justice from nations that

have caused much of the world's global warming.

CNN's chief climate correspondent Bill Weir joins us live from New York.

And bill, I was in Egypt for COP 27; climate justice very much front and center with the conversations about loss and damage.


ANDERSON: Just how significant is what is going on today, sir?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's -- it is a major moment in the fight for climate justice. You could, I guess, frame it as a

ultimate David and Goliath struggle between a tiny little island nation, beautiful little atoll of 82 islands between Hawaii and Australia, versus

the Saudi Arabias of the world, the United States, the Chinas, the mega oil producers and polluters.

And it would hold some weight. It would -- it would -- if there is a actual clear opinion on the responsibilities of governments to stop the climate

crisis and to take care of those who are suffering by it and show the consequences of exactly what would happen to those countries that don't,

that would carry some weight.

That would chip away at the social license of big oil companies like Saudi Aramco, which last year made incredible $161 billion profit, it tripled the

record set by Exxon, the U.S.' top oil producer.

So when you talk about profits of that size, you can -- it's easy to see why about 120 nations are rallying around Vanuatu, who's now in a six month

state of emergency after two back to back category 4 cyclones wiped through their islands there.

It should pass unless China and the United States objects. It will take about 18 months for an opinion to be formed. Countries can chime in on

this. But we'll see if it carries any weight ultimately.

ANDERSON: Yes. Fascinating. All right, we're going to do more on this in the second hour of CONNECT THE WORLD. To you, Bill, thank you very much

indeed for joining us.

Up next on the show, even for the man who owns so many goal scoring records, this was something special. The story of Lionel Messi's big night

on the pitch is after this.