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24 Israeli Soldiers Killed In Gaza; Israeli Troops Surrounding Khan Younis; Israel's Spy Chief Proposed Hamas Leaders Leave Gaza; People In Gaza Account For 80 Percent Of Those Worldwide That Are At Risk Of Famine; Rights Groups Denounce Iran Over Execution; Ukrainian Troops Cope With Critical Shortages Of Ammunition; Russia Unleashing A Barrage Of Missiles Across Ukraine On Tuesday; Five Killed In Russian Strikes In Ukraine; U.N. Officials: Israel Is Weaponizing Food; Voting Underway In The New Hampshire Primary; U.S.-Mexico Border Wire Can Be Removed; Mexico Can Sue U.S. Gunmakers; Pope Francis' Modern Relationship With The Media; Blood Test Could Detect Condition Before Symptoms Show; Major Oscar Snubs. Aired 10- 11a ET

Aired January 23, 2024 - 10:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is "Connect the World."

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: This hour, 24 Israeli soldiers were killed during fighting in Southern Gaza in the deadliest day for Israel's

troops inside the battered enclave with -- since the war there began. It comes as hundreds of people displaced on hospital grounds in Gaza's second

largest city are trying to flee as Israeli military activity ramps up.

Russia unleashed a barrage of missiles across Ukraine on Tuesday killing at least five people and wounding dozens more. Ukrainian officials say a

school and a gas pipeline were hit.

And voting is underway in the New Hampshire primary. Former US President Donald Trump hoping for a victory that could knock out his only remaining

Republican opponent, Nikki Haley.

Israel's prime minister is calling it one of the most difficult days of a three-and-a-half-month war with Hamas. 21 soldiers were killed in a single

incident in Central Gaza Monday when a pair of two-story buildings exploded and collapsed. Three others died in separate incidents.

Now, the explosion happened very close to the Israel-Gaza border, just 600 meters from an Israeli kibbutz. The IDF saying it's likely explosives the

soldiers were laying to demolish the buildings went off after a tank protecting the soldiers was hit by a rocket's propelled grenade.

That news coming as the IDF says Khan Younis in Southern Gaza is now surrounded by Israeli troops. The Hamas controlled health ministry says

nearly 200 people have been killed there in the past day. The Palestine Red Crescent says hundreds of displaced Gaza residents are having to flee

hospital grounds where they had gone for safety.

We've got Jeremy Diamond in Tel Aviv standing by as well as Ben Wedeman in Beirut. They're with us this hour to take us through the latest news out of

the region. Great to see you both.

Jeremy, let's start off with you. I mean, we've seen the death of these soldiers, these IDF soldiers, which, of course, Netanyahu has been

describing as one of the toughest and worst days since the start of this war. Take us through how these deaths occurred, because we know these were

explosives that were also laid for demolishing buildings. How are they connected to what we saw?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. Yesterday was the single deadliest day for the Israeli military. Since the beginning

of this war, 24 soldiers were killed altogether, 21 of whom were killed in a single incident.

And as you just mentioned, the Israeli military says that these soldiers were operating very close to the Israel-Gaza border within Gaza, about 600

meters away from that border, where the Israeli military says they were working to create a so-called buffer zone to try and demolish buildings,

clear out Hamas infrastructure to make it safer, they say, for Israeli civilians on the other side of the border to be able to return to their


As they were doing that, around 4:00 p.m. yesterday, a rocket propelled grenade was fired toward a tank in that very same area. And we also -- and

we understand that as that happened, a simultaneous explosion took place, demolishing two two-story buildings in which dozens of these soldiers were

operating and killing 19 of those soldiers inside those two buildings, two soldiers inside that tank.

The Israeli military is saying that it is still conducting an investigation, can't conclusively say what caused that explosion that

brought down those two structures, but it was happening as Israeli soldiers were laying explosive material inside those buildings in order to demolish


But this is certainly having a number of reverberations across Israel, a small country where nearly everyone knows someone who's either who's in the

military. And so, this is going to have significant impact. It's why the Israeli prime minister described this as one of the most difficult days

since the beginning of this war, but it is certainly not slowing down the Israeli military as it continues to press forward with this offensive in

Khan Younis, encircling that city it says.

The Israeli military claims to have killed dozens of Hamas militants over the past 24 hours or so, but this is a very sensitive area as well with a

number of hospitals, and it is worsening the humanitarian situation in that area amid intense fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants.


GIOKOS: Ben is also standing by to give us a bit more insight into what we've been seeing in Khan Younis. And frankly, we've been seeing scenes of

panic, people trying to move to safer areas, very difficult to move around in that area. And of course, we just heard from Jeremy describing intense

fighting, making evacuation very difficult.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the situation in Khan Younis is nothing less than catastrophic.

It's worth pointing out in the last 24 hours or rather in a 24-hour period between Monday and Tuesday, 195 Palestinians were killed, most of them

probably civilians. In the previous 24 hours, 190. What we're seeing in Khan Younis is the city is essentially surrounded. There is intense

fighting going on in areas around hospitals where thousands of people have taken refuge, for instance, at the Al-Amal Hospital, one of the main

hospitals in Khan Younis.

According to the U.N., there are as many as 13,000 people, civilians, taking shelter there and the adjacent headquarters of the Palestinian Red

Crescent Society. We've heard from doctors at the Nasser Medical Complex talking about an inability of people to actually leave the area because of

the fighting, Israeli snipers in the area, making that very dangerous.

So, the situation is just going from bad to worse. Keep in mind, it was just a few months ago that people in the north of Gaza were told to go to

Khan Younis, rather ordered by the Israelis to go to Khan Younis because that area would be safer. Clearly, now, Khan Younis is not at all safe.

But the roads are clogged with those who are trying to leave that city, reach safer areas, making it very difficult for ambulances to get people to

hospital. And those hospitals, many of them are also doubling as cemeteries.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): By hand, they bury the white-shrouded body of a young girl on the grounds of the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. The soft sand at

the hospital, one of the only safe places to put the dead to rest.

The girl suffocated, they couldn't save her, says her grandmother, Sadi Abutayma (ph).

Khan Younis is now the focus of Israel's offensive in Gaza, where Israel believes some of the hostages as well as some of Hamas' leaders are

located. But after weeks of intense operations, they found neither.

The war is well into its fourth month. Israeli leaders warn it could go on until year's end. The prospect of an early halt to fighting brushed aside

by the White House.

JOHN KIRBY, SPOKESPERSON, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: We don't believe a ceasefire is going to be to the benefit of anybody but Hamas.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Some in Gaza might beg to differ.

Israeli forces have pulled out for now from parts of Central Gaza. In the Nuseirat refugee camp, people search for what's left of their shattered

lives, or perhaps just scraps of firewood.

Hundreds of thousands have taken refuge in now overcrowded U.N. schools. Officials warn that lack of sanitation, clean water, medicine and proper

shelter is leading to the spread of disease.

Um Hammed (ph) fled here with her family, only to find no space.

Where is the shelter where we can stay, she asks. We're not the Hamas people they're talking about. We just want to live like everyone else.

By Al-Bureij camp, at another U.N. shelter, schoolbooks keep the fire going to cook a meal. It was a nightmare here while the fighting raged nearby. A

nightmare that for some isn't over.

My father's gone. My father the pillar of my life is gone, says 11- year- old, Qaram Hussein (ph). How can I live without him after the war?

His father's body and others lies in Gaza's soft sand behind this school. No gravestone, just names spray painted on the wall.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And of course, the medical situation, the health situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate. According to the U.N., 10

percent of the population of Gaza is suffering from acute respiratory diseases. 53 percent of the children under the age of five have diarrhea.

There are 7,500 cases of acute jaundice.


And of course, we are in January. Rains are expected in Gaza, and many people are essentially living in very primitive tents clustered along the

sea in the Mawassi area and along the border with Egypt, and they will be exposed to rain, to the cold. Situation is absolutely catastrophic.

GIOKOS: It absolutely is, Ben. Thank you very much for your reporting.

All right. Pressure keeps growing on Israel's government to get its hostages out of Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told their families

there's an initiative but no real proposal. That's according to his office. CNN has learned one idea being floated is letting top Hamas leaders leave

Gaza. Separately, Axios reports Israel is offering a two-month pause in the fighting.

CNN's Alex Marquardt has been working his sources on this. He has exclusive reporting from Washington for us.

Look, Benjamin Netanyahu rejecting a deal to release hostages. That deal was floated by Hamas. Now, we're seeing this new deal where Hamas

leadership can leave Gaza. Tell us what you've learned and how viable this is, and the prospect of Hamas even, you know, considering this as an


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Eleni. There are all these proposals, all these ideas from both Israel and Hamas

and the mediators, Qatar, Egypt, United States and others. So, Israel is certainly under a lot of pressure to try to get its hostages released from

Gaza. Obviously, Hamas wants to see an end to the war, Israel indicating that that is not their intention.

One of the proposals that I've just learned about that was raised by the Israeli intelligence chief, David Barnea, he raised it last month initially

with his CIA director counterpart, Bill Burns, is for the Hamas leaders to leave Gaza, essentially allowing them to walk away, which would just be

extraordinary that the architects, the planners of the deadliest day in Israeli history would essentially be allowed to leave Gaza.

Of course, it could benefit Israel as well. It would weaken Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It would essentially allow these Hamas leaders to come out of

the tunnels and go elsewhere. We know that Israel plans to mount operations to target Hamas leaders around the world.

But, Eleni, I think it really does speak to this pressure that Israel is feeling to come to some kind of agreement that would lead to a ceasefire,

that would lead to the hostages coming home. Our colleague, Barak Ravid over at Axios reporting that Israel has proposed a two-month ceasefire,

which is the longest period of time that Israel has proposed during this conflict.

It also speaks, Eleni, to the lack of progress that Israel has made at destroying Hamas, which is their stated goal. The highest level of Hamas

leadership, they are still alive. They are still on the battlefield. Some 70 percent of Hamas fighters, by Israel's own estimates, are still on the

battlefield. So, this is one proposal that has been raised by the Israelis.

I'm told that in a meeting earlier this month between the Qatari prime minister, who's a main mediator with Hamas, and the U.S. secretary of

state, Antony Blinken, the Qatari said this will never happen. And this is something that I've also been told by officials, both American and

international, that these leaders, Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in Gaza, Mohammed Deif, the head of the military wing, and others, that they would

never consider leaving Gaza.

That they are ideologues. They are true believers. They are religious zealots. They would rather die fighting their sworn enemy, Israel, than

leave the Gaza Strip. But in any case, Eleni, it is remarkable that Israeli intelligence would suggest this to begin with.

GIOKOS: Yes, really remarkable stuff. Great reporting. Thank you. Alex Marquardt there for us.

A group of experts at the United Nations say that the people in Gaza account for 80 percent of those worldwide that are at risk of famine or

catastrophic hunger. They say Israel is intentionally targeting food systems.

In about 15 minutes on the show, I'll be speaking to Francesca Albanese, the U.N. special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories about

what can be done. You don't want to miss that. That's coming up in about 15 minutes.

And coming up now, Iran executes a man for part in anti-government demonstrations. We'll talk about what it means for the protest movement.

And Ukrainian soldiers say they're doing their very best without proper ammunition. We'll show you how one unit is coping with the shortage.



GIOKOS: Iran is continuing its crackdown at home, and today, executed a man connected with the 2022 protest. Mohammad Ghobadlou was accused of running

over and killing a policeman and injuring five others during those protests. Gabadloo's mother appealed to the victim's family to spare her

son from death row.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Please forgive my son, my sick son, to his veteran father.


GIOKOS: Amnesty International said Ghobadlou had a longstanding mental illness, which would make his execution illegal under international law. It

is part of a worrying trend of increased executions in Iran.

In 2022, executions increased nearly 75 percent on the previous year, according to human rights groups. And they say the rise reflects an effort

by Tehran to instill fear among anti-regime protesters.

Hadi Ghaemi of the Center for Human Rights in Iran says, "The execution of 23-year-old Mohammad Ghobadlou in Iran stands as a glaring injustice, a

murder carried out under the guise of a judicial process that lacks any semblance of fairness. It is a stark example of state-sanctioned killing

that demands urgent global attention."

And Hadi Ghaemi joins me now live from London. Sir, Thank you so much for joining us today.

Look, when we saw the announcement of Mohammed Ghobadlou's execution that happened this morning, you know, we saw these very difficult images,

specifically from his family and also outside the prison as well. What is your reaction to this announcement and the way that it was carried out?

HADI GHAEMI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN IRAN: Indeed. It was a very horrifying and terribly sad day today to wake up to the news

of a young 23-year-old man being hanged yet again in Iran. And especially because in recent days, his lawyer had informed the public that the Supreme

Court is re-ordering investigation into the case. And the case cannot be implemented, the sentence.

So, it was shocking, horrible and a tragedy, really, that the Iranian government continues getting away with murder and killing innocent


GIOKOS: The reality is that we've seen eight protesters that have been executed since the death of Mahsa Amini. I want you to give me a bit of

insight so we understand how this process works in terms of, you know, the judicial process and then importantly, where the families get to see their

loved ones during this process before they're executed. As I said, eight protests have already been executed since 2022.

GHAEMI: Yes, the most important thing we should note is that the Iranian judiciary is not independent and is not meant to implement the law or serve

justice. They are very clear about that, that their entire purpose is to uphold the Iranian system of government and repress the opposition to it,

or any voices of dissent.


So, for example, in case of Ghobadlou, like many, many cases leading to execution and prison sentences, the only evidence in court are confessions

extracted under torture. A practice illegal under Iran's own law. But we see over and over again that these coerced confessions are the only reason

they issued the sentences.

And in case of Ghobadlou, it was terribly troubling because he suffered from mental illness. And there are years of records of his medical

treatment. And yet, the judiciary really doesn't want to face the any truth or evidence of what really happened. It is really a political tool for

shedding blood and intimidating the general population, especially the young people who rose up last year.

GIOKOS: Look, we've heard so much from human rights activists, from Human Rights Watch and other organizations, but what pressure can be used on the

Iranian government to change its methods given that protest action, you know, is still something that is experienced specifically after Mahsa

Amini. This comes at a very, I guess, tense time in the region where Iran is trying to solidify its power domestically.

GHAEMI: Yes, I believe the Iranian government is basically testing the grounds and seeing if the International Community is wholly consumed and

focused on the regional conflicts that have intensified in recent months and weeks and what can it get away.

If you look at the pattern of their behavior, both in the region and inside the country, they are unleashing violence. They have bombed inside

Pakistan, killing civilians. Then they bombed Erbil, Iraq, also killing civilians. And now, they are carrying out executions.

So, the pressure point, in my opinion, is the International Community not be distracted and keep the Iranian government accountable. And the best

thing to do at the moment are two things. First of all, all the countries that have diplomatic relations with Iran, especially not only European

countries, obviously, all of European countries, but in addition, what would build pressure on Iran is if countries like Japan, Australia, South

Korea, Latin American countries, which are deeply opposed to that penalty and exercise of it.

If they joined together, recall Iranian ambassadors and express their outrage at this trend, and at the same time, they should all come together

in March when in the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Iran's fact-finding mission will be presenting its report of the atrocities last year. This is

the time the International Community can show that through these mechanisms, international multilateral mechanisms, it can hold the Iranian

government accountable.

And that's what they really are afraid of. If much of the world come together on clouds around the demand from them. They're using the

distractions to get away with murder, literally.

GIOKOS: Hadi Ghaemi, thank you very much for being on the story for us. Great to have you on the show. Much appreciated.

Russia has launched dozens of missiles today at cities across Ukraine, including Kyiv and the country's second largest city, Kharkiv. At least

five people were reported killed and dozens injured. The head of Ukraine's army says about half of the missiles were shot down. But a shortage of

ammunition is seriously affecting how Ukrainian troops operate in the battlefield.

Fred Pleitgen has seen the desperate situation for Ukrainian units firsthand, and he joins us now live from Eastern Ukraine with the latest.

Fred, great to have you on the story for us.

Give me a sense of what you've been seeing and hearing from the troops there.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Eleni. Well, the shortages are a big problem for the Ukrainian military on all

sectors of the front in the southeast and the east of the country. Artillery ammunition is probably the biggest issue for the Ukrainians and

specifically here in the area where I am right now, around the City of Bakhmut, where currently the Russians are conducting a massive push to try

and gain further territory.

The Ukrainians are saying the lack of 155mm artillery shells is the main reason why they're having so much trouble holding the Russians up. We went

to the front lines, and we witnessed that firsthand. Here's what we saw.



PLEITGEN (voice-over): Artillery is key as Ukrainian forces try to hold off massive Russian assaults on the eastern front. But Kyiv's ammo shortages

are getting worse by the day.

This U.S. provided M109 Paladin howitzer near Bakhmut is often silent because they don't have enough shells to target the Russians, the commander

tells me.

We cannot fulfill our tasks 100 percent, he says, although we really want to. My crew and other crews are just waiting for it and are ready to work

around the clock.

But it gets even worse. Finally, resupply does arrive, but it's only four rounds. And this type of ammo won't hurt the Russians much.

PLEITGEN: This really illustrates the shortages that Ukrainians have to deal with. Four rounds, that's all they're going to get right now. And by

the way, they're not even explosive rounds, they're smoke rounds.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): These shells will barely explode on impact. It's almost like firing cannonballs in medieval times. But the commander says

sometimes it's all they can do.

Every shell that is suitable for the paladin we use, he says, it's better than no shells.

The Russians face no such shortages in this area. Ukrainian military intelligence believes Russia produced around 2 million rounds last year and

acquired around 1 million from North Korea. Massive barrages have laid waste to Bakhmut and much of the surrounding area.

At the headquarters of the 93rd Mechanized Brigades Artillery Division, the frustration is palpable. From their drones, they can see the Russians

gather to continue their assaults on Ukrainian positions, but they often can't take them out because they need to conserve ammunition, the commander

tells me.

The ratio is about 10 to 1, he says, ammunition is very important to us. Russia is a country that produces ammo. They have strategic reserves. Yes,

they use old Soviet systems, but Soviet systems can still kill.

Even without enough ammo, the Ukrainians say they are stopping most Russian assaults here. And the M109 crew did manage to fire at Russian positions.

But they know they'll need a lot more firepower to stop Russian advances.


PLEITGEN (on camera): So, that's the situation on the ground here, Eleni. Some really tough battles are going on around the area of Bakhmut. Very

difficult for the Ukrainians to try and hold the lines here.

And of course, they've been appealing to European nations to try and provide more artillery ammunition, and also to the United States as well.

Of course, one of the things the Ukrainians really are looking to is U.S. Congress and whether that impasse can be stopped and whether or not the

U.S. will deliver further military aid to Ukraine. Eleni.

GIOKOS: Fred Pleitgen, thank you.

Coming up, experts on human rights at the United Nations say Israel is using food as a weapon of war against the Palestinian people. I'll be

speaking to one of those experts just after the break about their plans to address this.



Welcome back to Connect the World. I'm Eleni Giokos. And we're live from Abu Dhabi.

More than nine hours from now, we will start getting projections as to which Republican candidates won the New Hampshire primary. Right now, the

state is conducting a 100 plus year tradition with the first presidential primary of 2024. The polls close later this evening. And both Donald Trump

and Nikki Haley are looking for victory.

For the latest, I want to go to Omar Jimenez. He's in Manchester, New Hampshire. He's going to take us through everything we've been seeing. And

of course, the polls have been open for a while. How are they looking right now?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they've been open for a while. As we understand, we just spoke to the moderator who's essentially in charge of

this particular site. Close to 1,000 people have already come through here to have their votes processed. And you could see some of that process going

on behind us now.

You talked about Donald Trump and Nikki Haley trying to secure victory. Well, it doesn't happen without these folks coming in to actually cast

their ballot, first making their way from this processing table to then get some of their information confirmed. And then, they go into these privacy

booths where you can see voters now casting their ballot for who they want to be the next president of the United States.


JIMENEZ (voice-over): The New Hampshire primary is officially underway with one lone Republican rival remaining against Donald Trump.


JIMENEZ (voice-over): Nikki Haley is making her final pitch to New Hampshire voters, hoping to stop Trump's march to the Republican




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you marry me?

HALEY: Are you going to vote for me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to vote for Trump.

HALEY: Oh, get out of here.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Overnight, the first primary ballots were cast in Dixville Notch, providing a very early glimmer of hope for Haley who picked

up all six votes in the small New Hampshire town. Trump, for his part, is trying to rally and consolidate Republican support, holding his final

campaign rally in the Granite State flanked by former Republican candidates offering their endorsement, including former Republican candidate and

Senator Tim Scott, who just announced his engagement.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The biggest story out there, he's engaged to be married. We never thought this was going to happen. What's

going on?

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Trump did target Haley during his rally.

TRUMP: The people behind Nikki Haley are pro-Amnesty, pro-China, pro-open borders, pro-war, pro-deep state, and pro-Biden.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): And Haley is trying to make the case that both Trump and Biden are too old to effectively serve four more years.

HALEY: This really is an option. Do you want more of the same, or do you want to go forward?

JIMENEZ (voice-over): And saying she feels Trump has mentally declined.

HALEY: The more you age, it just does your -- you have declined.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The Democrats are also heading to the polls today. Congressman Dean Phillips has launched a longshot campaign against

President Biden. Phillips is hoping the fact Biden won't appear on the ballot and is relying on write in support could help his chances.

REP DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN), U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The sad truth is I respect the man, but Joe Biden is not able to beat Donald Trump

in the next election.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The New Hampshire attorney general is also investigating a fake robo call that appears to use an A.I. voice resembling

Biden's urging voters to stay home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's important that you save your vote for the November election. Voting this Tuesday only enables the Republicans in their quest

to elect Donald Trump again.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): It's unclear who's behind the call. Biden's campaign responded to it, writing, spreading disinformation to suppress voting and

deliberately undermine free and fair elections will not stand.


JIMENEZ (on camera): And we've got about eight to nine more hours of voting to go here in New Hampshire with many polls closing toward the evening.


But as I mentioned, we've seen a steady stream of voters here at this particular location. But for many of them, they've been inundated with ads

and text messages and campaign events for the better part of a year. So, a lot of the voters we've been talking to are very happy that the day has

finally come where they can actually cast their ballots, even if it's to see a few less ads.

GIOKOS: Right. Omar Jimenez, great to have you on that story for us.

All right. Well, it looks like a big win for the Biden administration. In a 5 to 4 votes, the U.S. Supreme Court will allow American Border Patrol

agents to take down razor wire at the U.S.-Mexico border. The wire was put there by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

But the high court's ruling is seen as a major victory for President Joe Biden in his ongoing dispute with Abbott's over border policy. It is

important to note our team on the ground says the wire is still up at Eagle Pass, Texas, a main crossing very close to the Mexican border.

CNN's Rosa Flores is live for us at Eagle Pass. Rosa, any indication of the timing of taking out this razor wire?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Eleni, we haven't seen any changes. Let me show you around because this is the wire that's in

question. These coils of razor wire. There are several layers before you see the Rio Grande.

And according to U.S Border Patrol -- excuse me, according to a law enforcement source, U.S. Border Patrol is still reviewing that order,

trying to figure out exactly what it means before they take next steps. So, we're going to have to wait on that. The U.S. DOJ has not commented on


But I want you to take a look around me because this entire area has been taken over by the State of Texas. You see this razor wire that coils around

and there's several layers. On the other side, you see some Texas National Guard members and more razor wire.

What's so extraordinary about this entire case and several lawsuits that are going on between the Biden administration and the State of Texas is

that the big fight here is who has authority over immigration law and border security. Texas is arguing that Texas has authority. That's why

they've deployed all of these measures. And the Biden administration argues that it's the federal government that has that authority.

Now, all of this got prominence and a lot of attention about two weeks -- starting about two weeks ago when the State of Texas up the ante took the

extraordinary step of taking over miles of the Rio Grande, blocking U.S. Border Patrol from accessing this area. And we also learned that three

migrants drowned during that time. So, it really complicated the situation and the relationship between the Biden administration and the State of


That's when Justice Department went to the U.S. Supreme Court saying that this border barrier, that these razor wire coils don't allow Border Patrol

to do its job, which is to enforce federal law in these areas, and that's how we have now this this order that was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court

ruling in favor of the Biden administration.

Eleni, I should mention that the State of Texas says that it will continue fighting. Governor Abbott saying that on X. And also, a lieutenant from

Texas Department of Public Safety, the agency that oversees this entire operation saying that their posture is not going to change. That is code

for saying they're not going to take this down. They don't plan to take this down.

And so, we're going to have to see DHS and the White House on its part has -- have continued to say that this is a political stunt, that this doesn't

solve the problem and that this complicates the job of border patrol on the U.S. southern border. Eleni, back to you.

GIOKOS: Right. Rosa Flores there for us.

Well, Mexico is being told it can sue U.S. lawmakers and gunmakers, rather. That's a ruling from the Federal Appeals Court.

Back in 2021, Mexico filed a lawsuit alleging Smith & Wesson, Colt and Glock, among others, sell guns in ways that are Mexican drug cartels. An

activist group says this is the first court "to uphold the rights of a sovereign country to sue the gun industry."

We are back after this short break.



GIOKOS: All right. Pope Francis is no stranger to attracting controversy. From migration to A.I., the pope's willingness to speak about divisive

issues can sometimes get him into hot water. CNN's Christopher Lamb spoke with one of the pope's closest advisers about why Francis sees engagement

with the media as a vital part of his ministry.


CHRISTOPHER LAMB, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A newsmaker from day one. Pope Francis has never been afraid to engage with the media.

In a private audience he held for the Vatican press corps Monday, he underlined how critical, responsible journalism is in today's world telling

a room full of reporters that being a journalist is a vocation, somewhat like that of a doctor who chooses to love humanity by curing illnesses.

POPE FRANCIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): To protect and defend human life.

LAMB (voice-over): Ever since taking up office, Pope Francis has spoken out on many issues, including the death penalty, nuclear weapons. He's been a

consistent advocate for migrants, for peace in Ukraine and Gaza.

There is no conflict that does not end up in some way indiscriminately striking the civilian population.

He's also been a vocal defender of the planet, carving out a prominent moral voice for himself from the world stage by engaging with the media and

his follow online, giving more interviews than any other pope.

MICHAEL CZERNY, CARDINAL: I think he would say, I speak out because of the commitment of the faithful. In other words, I'm not speaking because I have

personally some kind of a special response to give. No, I speak out because there are millions of Catholics and other Christians and other believers

and other people of goodwill for whom or in whose voice I'm speaking.

And we're trying to the world's decisionmakers that their decisions are anti-human, shortsighted, suicidal and --

LAMB (voice-over): Like Pope Francis, Cardinal Czerny has been pushing efforts to galvanize Catholics and indeed the world to welcome and support

refugees fleeing war and poverty.

CZERNY: Absolutely. What we try to do is to help the church locally wherever it is to accompany the migrants and refugees, to welcome them, to

protect them, to promote them, and to integrate them.

LAMB (voice-over): To Cardinal Czerny and the pope, refugees are not about numbers, but names, faces, people.


Francis made headlines in 2016 when he brought back Muslim refugees on his papal plane after a trip to the Greek island of Lesbos.

In an age of heightened misinformation and attacks on journalists, the pope has also emerged as a defender of freedom of the media.

Francis is 87 years old and has had some health difficulties. Yet he shows no sign of slowing down. And in a fast changing, unpredictable world, he's

likely to keep on making headlines.

Christopher Lamb, CNN, Rome.


GIOKOS: A new blood test could help, someday, doctors detect Alzheimer's disease years before symptoms start to show up. The hope is that early

detection and treatment may slow the propagation of memory loss. CNN's Brian Todd reports on the promising research.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDNET (voice-over): Jack Driscoll began to notice memory problems and soon learned he has Alzheimer's

JACK DRISCOLL, DIAGNOSED WITH ALZHEIMER'S: They gave me some tests and said, well, you -- you're going to have it.

TODD (voice-over): Based on the test, Driscoll was able to prepare his family for what they could expect.

DRISCOLL: I talked to my wife and I talked to my kids and let them know that maybe down the road, I wasn't so going to be the same as I was then.

TODD: Testing for Alzheimer's may soon become much easier. A new study shows that a simple blood test called ALS path could identify Alzheimer's

in people before symptoms start to show.


Alzheimer's disease. This blood test, it's going to make it easy and quick to diagnose this condition.

TODD (voice-over): The typical indicator of Alzheimer's in the brain is the buildup of proteins called beta-amyloid and tau. Until now, the way doctors

look for those proteins was to use brain scans or spinal taps, but not everyone can get those tests.


Thousands of dollars. Spinal taps are, you know, intrusive and, you know, they also cost a lot of money. A simple blood test can democratize care for

people and really identify if a person as at risk for dementia before symptoms begin.

TODD (voice-over): The new study shows this blood test, ALS path, compares well for accuracy with brain scans and spinal taps to be able to detect and

possibly predict who has Alzheimer's even when a person appears to be normal.

DR. SHARMA: Individuals who develop Alzheimer's disease, they develop the pathological changes in the brain up to 20 years before they may show

symptoms. So, with this test, we can actually see those pathological changes in the blood. So, yes you may be able to capture this well before

they develop this themselves.

TODD (voice-over): According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 6 million people in the U.S. are living with dementia caused by Alzheimer's.

And the number of people affected is projected to double in the U.S. in the next two decades. While there is still no cure for Alzheimer's --

DR. ISAACSON: When a person is still at the earliest phase, it's called a mild cognitive impairment phase, we now several FDA approved drugs that

have been shown to have some disease modifying or disease slowing effects.

TODD (voice-over): Which makes early detection with this blood test even more critical. Jack Driscoll has this advice to anyone who tests positive.

DRISCOLL: I would encourage them to keep their life happy as best they can.


TODD: The Alzheimer's Association tells CNN it believes this work is very encouraging. But a spokesperson from the association stress to us that this

blood test is right now only for use in research and has not yet been approved by the FDA.

And the spokesperson cautioned, that further testing of the product is still needed in what he called diverse and representative populations.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


GIOKOS: Well, let's get you up to speed on some other stories that are on our radar right now. Large crowds are converging on India's controversial

Hindu temple on its first day open to the public. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Ram temple in Northern India on Monday. Fulfilling a

key promise as he seeks re-election this year. The temple is built on a contested holy site where a mosque was destroyed by Hindu nationalists in


At least three people were dead -- are dead, and dozens more injured after a powerful earthquake rocked China's Northwestern Xinjiang province on


According to state media, rescue workers are sifting through rubble for survivors. The 7.1 magnitude quake has more than 40 aftershocks.

The extreme right party in Germany will no longer be allowed to get public funding. Die Heimat lost it after the German Federal Constitutional Court

made the judgment, finding the party to be anti-constitutional. They said that the people in the party undermined or abolished the "free democratic

basic order."

Some major snubs from this morning's Oscar nominations. Two of the biggest, "Barbie," actress. Margot Robbie and "Barbie" director Greta Gerwig both

skipped over. More on that story straight ahead.



GIOKOS: It was Hollywood's big day to get up early for the Oscar nominations and every year Academy voters seem to snub some seemingly sure

bet actors and actresses, directors, and so on. Or maybe just too many outstanding performances in 2023 to include everyone, right?

Well, as expected, "Barbie" got its share fair of nods. But shockingly, not for best actress, Margot Robbie, and best director, Greta Gerwig. Huge

snubs. And as predicted, one of the most critically acclaimed films of 2023, "Oppenheimer," racking up a load of nominations. And most are

predicting Christopher Nolan will take home best director Oscar.

Let's go now to Elizabeth Wagmeister live in Los Angeles where it all took place earlier this morning. Elizabeth, great to see you.

Look, we knew "Barbie" was going to be included and of course "Oppenheimer" as well. But pretty shocking that we didn't see it for Best Actress as well

as Best Director as well. What surprised you with the nominations?

ELIZABETH WAGMEISTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: That absolutely is the biggest surprise. To not have Margot Robbie, Barbie herself, be

nominated this year. She was a shoo in. So, that was a huge surprise.

And as you said, also, Greta Gerwig not getting into the Best Director category. She wasn't necessarily expected to get in there. But when this

was the biggest film of 2023, making over $1.4 billion, huge record- breaking moments for females in film, this is a big surprise.

And then when you look at the supporting actor category, and you have Ryan Gosling. who did make the cut with the nomination this morning, he was

expected, of course, well-deserved, but it's kind of art imitating life, right? When you see a movie that is about female empowerment and the two

women not getting nominations. But of course, it's not like Ryan and Margot were up against each other. They were in separate categories.

GIOKOS: Yes, exactly. I mean, really fascinating. Very separate categories. "Poor Things" receiving 11, including best picture. We also saw "Killers of

the Flower Moon," which by the way, I actually finally got to watch over the weekend.

I mean, you know -- and truly, this must be said, that 2023 we had really fantastic, you know, worked to watch. It was just a fantastic year of


WAGMEISTER: Absolutely. And as you said before, there's so much talent that everybody can't get a nomination. When you look at the best picture

category, there are 10 films that are recognized. But in all the other categories for the actors, there's only five.

So. when you have this embarrassment of riches of talent, people are going to be snubbed. But as you said, "Killers of the Flower Moon" doing very

well this morning with 10 nominations. We have to point out a history making moment here. Lily Gladstone who is nominated for best actress

becomes the first ever Native American actor to be nominated in the 96-year history of the Oscars.

Now, her co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio, was snubbed. He was not nominated. But I have to point out that his whole campaign was really designed around

championing Lily. Leo DiCaprio does not do a ton of press, and he was on every red carpet by her side. He was on magazine covers with her. He really

wanted her to get this nomination. And this morning, here she is making history.


GIOKOS: Fantastic. I mean, yes, I was just looking at some of the images. It was truly an extraordinary film and it definitely should be marked.

Anything else that you're really surprised with or what, you know, something you'd like to mention that we need to look out for, because there

frankly was so much and so many interesting things, perhaps something we should all catch up on this weekend.

WAGMEISTER: Well, I think "Poor Things," which you mentioned coming in with 11 nominations just behind "Oppenheimer" as the second most nominated film,

I think that this is going to be a huge Oscar night for "Poor Things."

We saw this film do extraordinarily well at the Golden Globes, winning for Best Comedy, winning for Emma Stone. Emma Stone is nominated again. Also,

it's nominated for Best Picture. So, I think it'll be a big year for "Poor Things."

GIOKOS: Yes, I have not watched that. I'm going to do that this weekend. So, yes, it is with great to have you on. Thank you so much for those tips

and the analysis.

WAGMEISTER: Thank you.

GIOKOS: Great to have you on the show.

Well, that's it for "Connect the World." Stay with CNN "State of the Race" with Kasie Hunt coming up next. I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi.