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Connect the World

Israel Approves West Bank Land Seizure; Israel Struck Hezbollah Targets in Southern Lebanon; Biden Expected to Speak with Netanyahu; Biden Campaign in Crisis; Democratic Donors Call for Biden to Step Down; VP Harris Dismiss Calls to Replace Biden; Hurricane Beryl Approaches Cayman Islands; Democratic Governors Express Support for Biden; Biden Under Growing Pressure; U.K. Voters Head to Polls; First Lady Jill Biden Supports President Biden; California's Brutal July Fourth Holiday; Former Boeing Manager: Scrap Parts Ended Up on Assembly Lines; First Ever Esports World Cup Opens in Saudi Arabia. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired July 04, 2024 - 10:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is "Connect the World."

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our second hour of "Connect the World." I'm Max Foster in London.

Just as hopes of a ceasefire are revived, Israel's government approves the largest land seizure in the West Bank in more than 30 years.

A campaigning crisis a week on from a disastrous debate. Pressure mounts on President Biden to step aside.

And voters in the U.K. head to the polls as a snap election gets underway. Voting will close at 10:00 p.m. British time.

Well, Israel says it struck Hezbollah targets in Southern Lebanon overnight. This comes after dozens of rockets were fired at Israel.

Hezbollah says it launched rockets and drones after the killing of a senior commander in Southern Lebanon on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities have approved the largest land seizure in the West Bank since the Oslo Accords were signed back in 1993. A

declaration by the Israeli military's Civil Administration Department said an area of more than 3,000 acres in the West Bank was now state-owned land,

according to the Israeli NGO Peace Now.

Rights groups criticized the move, saying it would make it even harder to establish a Palestinian State alongside Israel.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is following all the latest developments from Abu Dhabi, and the scale of this land grab is pretty immense.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is a significant one, Max. This is information coming to us from Peace Now, which is a settlement

tracking group, which has been doing this for some time since those Oslo Accords. And they say that this area is just close to Jericho in the

occupied West Bank of the Eastern Jordan Valley.

As you say, more than 3,000 acres have now been converted from occupied Palestinian territory into state's Israeli land. This was done at the end

of last month, June 25th, according to Peace Now, saying that Israel only announced it on Wednesday.

So, the -- these groups and of course, the Palestinian side as well have been saying that this does make it more difficult for a Palestinian State

to be created when you have these Jewish settlements, which it has to be said, are considered illegal under international law. There have been a

number of U.N. Security Council resolutions against these settlements over the years. Many countries around the world, including the United States,

have said they should not be in existence. They should cease to expand and to continue approving new settlements. And yet, we do see this news coming

out from Peace Now today as well.

They're also saying that 2024 has been the largest when it comes to the amount of land and settlements that have been approved, again, since 1993,

because there have been a number of housing units. Thousands just earlier this week were approved in an existing settlement. So, this is all

accumulated to make 2024 a significant year when it comes to these illegal settlements.

And it's not necessarily surprising. We are looking at one of the most right-wing Israeli governments that we have seen. The coalition does have

some very openly and proud pro-settlement elements within the coalition itself. In fact, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who's been

in power for many years, has been supportive of settlements as well, and has openly said that he does not support the creation of a Palestinian

State. Max.

FOSTER: And we've got these -- I don't want to call them skirmishes on the Lebanese border because they're getting more and more alarming, aren't

they? Just describe how concerned people are about that.

HANCOCKS: Yes. So, the past couple of days, we've certainly seen an uptick in the activity that we've been seeing, really, for the past nine months

since those Hamas attacks of October 7th. So, since Israel has been operating in Gaza, we have seen Hezbollah fighting on the border and

launching missiles and rockets across the border with Northern Israel.

Now, it has been an uptick in the past couple of days, as I say, that there was a senior commander in Hezbollah that was killed by the Israeli military

back on Wednesday. And this was followed by what appears to be something like 200 rockets and missiles up until today from Hezbollah over to

Northern Israel.

Now, Israel not saying how many were intercepted, how many hit their mark, but they are saying that there have been a number of fires lit by these

particular projectiles. Now, this commander himself was commanding one of the units which carries out these missile launches from Southwest Lebanon

to Israel itself.


So, what we're seeing is obviously concerning at a time when the focus really is on that border and concerns of a second front opening up, but we

have been seeing these pockets of skirmishes, for want of a better word, over the past several months. So, it is an escalation, but potentially a

short lived one, which is what we have been seeing repeatedly. It would flare up for a few days between the two sides, between Israel and

Hezbollah, and then return to the low intensity that we have really been seeing for nine months now. Max.

FOSTER: OK. And in terms of the peace deal, we know that President Biden will be speaking to Prime Minister Netanyahu today now. That's been pretty

much confirmed, I think. I mean, there's a lot of tension between these two men, but it could mean progress in possibly some sort of settlement around

what's going to happen in Gaza.

HANCOCKS: Potentially. I mean, that's certainly the hope. So, as you say, we know that they will now be talking today about this ceasefire hostage

deal. That's on the table. We know also from an Israeli official that Israel will hold a cabinet meeting later tonight, potentially, to talk

about this as well.

So, this is because we know that Hamas has come back with a response to the Israeli proposal on the table which the U.S. is backing. And we've heard

from an Israeli official that it is being considered by Israel. It hasn't been the initial and immediate rejection that we have seen from previous

Hamas counter proposals. In fact, we've heard from an Israeli official close to these negotiations that it is potentially something that they

could work with.

So, we know that the Israeli mediators will be meeting with Israeli leadership over the coming days to decide if they want to go to the next

phase of the negotiations. It doesn't mean it's imminent. It could still take several weeks if it is to end of the deal. Max.

FOSTER: Paula, thank you. Well, it's Independence Day in the United States ahead of what could be a day of reckoning for President Joe Biden. He met

with dozens of Democratic governors at the White House last night, telling them he's staying in the presidential race. Mr. Biden is fending off

growing pressure to drop out after his debate performance in Atlanta last week.

The governors who spoke publicly expressed support for the president. At a radio interview, he tried to downplay the damage.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any reason for the American people to be concerned?

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: No, I had a bad debate.


JOE BIDEN: I had a bad debate. But 90 minutes on stage is -- does not erase what I've done for three and a half years. I'm proud of the record.

And we just got to keep moving.


FOSTER: CNN Politics Senior Reporter Stephen Collinson joins me now. I mean, he's sounding so confident. I guess, he has to if he's going to stay

in the race. But the Democratic Convention, I think, is coming up in just over a month. What do you expect to happen between now and then? I mean,

can he be replaced technically?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: He could be replaced. It would be messy, but up until about 50 years ago, candidates were picked at

Democratic and Republican conventions. So, it's not impossible. The infrastructure in the history is there.

Changing the presidential candidate at this late stage, however, just four months from the election, which was is an eternity in lots of countries,

like Britain, for example. You could hold two elections in that time, but as we know, American elections are very prolonged. It would be difficult,

but not impossible. But I think we're coming up to a point, Max, over the next few days when if the President is going to shore this up, it has to be

now, because there is not a great deal of confidence among Democrats about the way the White House has handled the aftermath of this crisis, let alone

the showing the president put on the debate.

He's saying that 90 minutes doesn't erase what's happened over the three and a half -- the last three and a half years, and that's true. But what

voters have consistently said for the last two years to pollsters is they're worried about the next four years. Is the president up to serving

another term in the White House that would end when he is 86? That's his problem, not what he's already done.

FOSTER: If the governors don't have much joy convincing him, the other place we can look is, of course, where the money's coming from and that's

the donors. What's happening there?

COLLINSON: So, if we believe what we're hearing from the campaign, the fundraising has been pretty robust since the debate. The president does

have an excellent fundraising operation. We generally only get good figures at the end of the month or the end of a three-month period. But if it

turned out that confidence started to ebb in the president and he's fundraising started to tail off, that would be, as you say, a very

dangerous metric for him.


I think if he gets more bad polling, we're beginning to see some polls coming out now that show he was hurt by his performance. And it's not just

that, you know, he's trailing Trump and candidates sometimes get a bounce from debates like Trump may be experiencing now that then gets stabilized.

The president was behind in this race. It was very close, but he was behind. The debate was his best chance to change the scope of this

election, to put the focus on Donald Trump and what he says is the extreme threat that he poses to democracy and the American way of life.

All -- anybody has been talking about over the last years -- the last week is Trump is Biden's capacity and acuity. And that is not good for his

campaign at all.

FOSTER: OK. Stephen Collinson, really appreciate that. Thank you. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris may be the most obvious choice to replace Mr.

Biden, should he step down. But for now, she's dismissing all of those calls. One source tells CNN, the mandate for Harris campaign staff is to

remain firm, stay in line, and keep the focus on the Biden-Harrison ticket, as CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more on that.


KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: The stakes of this race could not be higher.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It turns out, perhaps they could be, particularly for Vice President Kamala


CROWD: Four more years.

HARRIS: That's right. That's right.

ZELENY (voice-over): Those chants of four more years suddenly ringing a bit differently for a vice president at the center of a crisis consuming

the White House and President Biden's re-election campaign. As the Democratic chorus grows louder for Biden to step aside a week after his

fumbling debate performance, Harris is at the center of it all, playing the role of loyal running mate.

HARRIS: Joe Biden is our nominee. We beat Trump once and we're going to beat him again, period.

ZELENY (voice-over): Even as she privately considers whether she'll soon have to pick one of her own if Biden passes the Democratic torch four

months before election day. But that remains a big if. With signs of a Biden-Harris ticket, suddenly not so obvious after all.

Harris is in something of a historic holding pattern, leading the charge in defending the president moments after the debate to Anderson.

HARRIS: I got the point that you're making about a one-and-a-half-hour debate tonight. I'm talking about three and a half years of performance in

work that has been historic.

ZELENY (voice-over): A careful balancing act of proving loyalty, yet trying to maintain credibility. Her future is at the heart of a

conversation among Democrats, where respect may run deeper than consensus over the party's next steps.

REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): I think she's a talented woman and someone who should be in the mix, but this is not a matter of just passing the mantle

to her.

ZELENY (voice-over): If Biden makes the decision to step aside, senior Democratic advisers tell CNN he is expected to immediately throw his

support behind Harris and ask delegates to do the same. Former presidents and party leaders will be asked to follow suit in hopes of avoiding a

contentious fight. A more open race, advisers hope, would be for Harris' running mate, with the focus on leading Democratic governors.

Harris has long taken a leading role in prosecuting the case against Donald Trump.

HARRIS: Let us be very clear about who is responsible. Former President Trump handpicked, handpicked three Supreme Court justices because he

intended for them to overturn Roe.

ZELENY (voice-over): A new CNN poll finds Harris within striking distance of Trump in a hypothetical matchup, 47 to 45 percent. A race within the

margin of error with no clear leader. Harris' stronger showing against Trump is built upon her standing with women. 50 percent of female voters

back Harris over Trump compared to 44 percent for Biden against Trump. And among independents, 43 percent backing Harris, just 34 percent for Biden.

As we talked to voters like Maureen Glynn in Wisconsin, Harris' name often comes up when Democrats express concern about Biden's age.

MAUREEN GLYNN, WISCONSIN VOTER: Even if something were to happen to Biden, I have every faith in Kamala Harris and I think that Biden or Kamala Harris

has a sense of to follow a qualified and good cabinet of leaders and as a team that they can run the country well.

ZELENY: Vice President Harris is literally waiting in the wings should President Biden make a decision to step aside. Of course, that is his

choice alone to make. But the campaign is called the Biden-Harris campaign for a reason. She's been raising money for it. She, in fact, owns half of

it. So, the political infrastructure and campaign war chest is hers should she become the Democratic presidential nominee.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.



FOSTER: We are tracking Hurricane Beryl, of course, now edging towards the Cayman Islands. Strong winds and rains moving in. Beryl is a Category 3

storm now, weaker than it was, but still considered very powerful. It hit Jamaica as Category 4 hurricane, dumping more than two months' worth of

rain on the southern coast in a single day.

Beryl has killed eight people throughout the Caribbean. It's now heading for Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and possibly Texas. CNN's Raphael Romo was

out in the storm as it was bearing down on Jamaica on Wednesday. He gave us this vivid report.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hurricane Beryl is out here in Jamaica, and it's hitting the southern tip of the coastline with all this might.

It's hard to remain standing because the winds are just very, very powerful.

And this is not over yet. We have seen how lots of debris have been blown off in the last few minutes and also how the roof was blown off on top of

that building right there. And the big danger is that there's a possibility of the ocean getting into the street because the storm surge is supposed to

rise at 10 feet. So, these are very dangerous conditions here in Kingston.

And of course, the authorities are asking people to remain in shelters. They tell us that nearly 500 people are in shelters right now. Again, this

is only the beginning, and you can tell how strong the winds are here in Kingston, Jamaica. And people are wondering here why is this happening so

early in the season? And after seeing what happened in Barbados and places like Grenada, they feel like it's possible that the same devastation seen

there can be seen here as well.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Kingston, Jamaica.


FOSTER: The prime minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, now with us. He joins us from Kingston. Thank you so much for sparing the time today. I

know you've got a huge amount to do. Can you give us a sense of the damage that was done overnight?

ANDREW HOLNESS, JAMAICAN PRIME MINISTER: Well, we're still in assessment mode. What we can say is that based upon the category of hurricane that hit

us, it hit us at the Category 4, the damage was not what we had expected. And so, we're very grateful for that, but there was damage nonetheless. We

had a damage to some coastal infrastructure in southern parishes. We had damage to agriculture and housing in two parishes, Manchester and St.

Elizabeth. We have had some roads cut off and blocked. But outside of that, I think Jamaica was sparred the worst.

FOSTER: Are all of your people on the ground able to contact everyone? Is everyone accounted for?

HOLNESS: Everyone is accounted for. We had two that so far registered. We have now about 1,000 persons in shelters. Our telecommunication systems

are, I would say, 70 percent operational. Electricity went down in some areas. We are restoring that as quickly as we can. We are now into recovery

phase. So, we are doing our assessments. And in another two or three hours we'll be able to give a full assessment as to what the damage is.

FOSTER: I know yesterday you were speaking about law and order because this does sadly become an issue, doesn't it, when people have to evacuate

their homes, possible looting. Are there any signs of that happening overnight?

HOLNESS: Thankfully, because of the extensive preparedness campaign in which we engaged, we were able to mitigate any such activities. So, we have

no reports of looting or any breakdown in public order. So, in general, we are in a very good state to start our recovery.

FOSTER: Have you spoken strongly in the past about your concerns about climate change? Because you, you know, not only sit on, you know, an

earthquake fault line, you also increasingly seeing storms, aren't you? And do you think there was an illustration of that here?

HOLNESS: Well, this is a perfect example of climate change. If there are any doubt as to climate change, well, this should certainly dismiss any

doubts. This hurricane happened very early in the season, reached a Category 5, the first hurricane to reach a Category 5 so early. It went

through the Caribbean, caused damage to our sister islands in the Eastern Caribbean and it caused damage to us, which we are now assessing.


The impact of this is not just on our infrastructure, but on our fiscal affairs. We have -- you know, made significant changes to our fiscal

management to be able to deal with high frequency, low severity weather events, but what we're seeing happening are events that we would formally

say that they are low frequency, but high severity. We're seeing that these weather events are happening with greater frequency. At least, you know,

one every two or three years. The impact on a small open economy and our budget and our exposure to debt is quite significant.

So, the issues of climate change and the climate justice issues are significant for us in the developing world.

FOSTER: These are issues that your head of state, King Charles, has spoken to widely. I've had a note from him expressing his heartfelt condolences to

those we've lost people across the Caribbean because of this storm, and he says he's hoping to engage with regional leaders directly in the coming

days to offer support. Is that something you welcome?

HOLNESS: Yes, I expect to have a call with King Charles. He has been a great campaigner on the issues of climate change and raising awareness, and

I hope to engage with him so that we can advance the climate change agenda globally.

FOSTER: OK. Prime Minister, really appreciate your time. I'll let you get back to work. Thank you so much.

HOLNESS: Thank you.

FOSTER: And I'm glad it wasn't as bad as you had feared. Now, next, decision time in the U.K. Millions of people are casting their ballots in

what could be a hugely significant election.

And across the Atlantic, questions about the political survival of Joe Biden in the 2024 election race. We'll look at the criticism the first lady

has been facing following that CNN Debate.


FOSTER: A momentous day for politics, with voting well underway in the general election. The British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, cast his ballot

earlier, as did Labour leader Keir Starmer. People have until 10:00 p.m. U.K. time to get out and vote before ballots are counted overnight. CNN's

Nada Bashir is live at a polling station in London.

Just take us through the process then, Nada. And, I guess, if there's a landslide of some kind, you know, it won't take that long to get a sense of


NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Polls will close at 10:00 p.m. So, until then, we will still be seeing voters heading to polling

stations like this one behind me casting their ballot. There are tens of thousands of polling stations up and down the country. And important to

remember, of course, here in the U.K., voters are casting their ballot for their local MP, their Member of Parliament.

There are 650 seats up for grabs in the House of Commons. The parties are looking to achieve over half, so that is the crucial 326-figure, in order

to be able to declare themselves the winners, in order to form a government.


Now, until 10:00 p.m., people up and down the country across England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland will be voting for their local MPs.

But it's then at 10:00 p.m. when the polls close that the vital counting begins.

Now, that counting process will take place overnight. Many people will be staying up to watch that counting process. But of course, over the process

overnight, we will begin to see exit polls before the official results are announced. So, that will give us a sense of where exactly this election is

heading, what direction the country may be swinging towards, but of course, the official results won't be announced until Friday morning. But of

course, we will be seeing those results coming in constituency by constituency, giving us a sense of what the actual full picture across the

country will look like.

But this is a significant moment. Voters haven't been to the polls since 2019, when Boris Johnson was elected prime minister. Since then, we've a

number of prime ministers, of course, but there are a lot -- there is a lot at stake here, both on the local, national and, of course, international

level. We can't really get into the policy issues right now because there are strict restrictions in place around reporting until those polls close

at 10:00 p.m.

Still a while to go. Voters perhaps going in after work to cast their ballot. But again, all the action will begin when those polls close and we

begin to see the votes being counted. Max.

FOSTER: OK. Nada, thank you. Do watch CNN's special coverage of the U.K. election. It's anchored by Isa and Richard. It starts just before 10:00

p.m. here in London and that's just before 5:00 on the U.S. East Coast.

Ahead on "Connect the World," Joe Biden trying to fend off the growing calls for him to drop out of the presidential race. Why the next few days

could prove critical in determining Mr. Biden's political future.

And President Biden isn't the only one having a challenging July 4th holiday. Brutal weather conditions are making life miserable and dangerous

in parts of California. We'll show you why, just ahead.


FOSTER: Welcome back to "Connect the World." I'm Max Foster. Critical days ahead for Joe Biden. The U.S. president told Democratic governors he

intends to stay in the 2024 race and defeat Donald Trump again in November during a White House meeting on Wednesday night. They're publicly

supporting the president, but behind the scenes, there appears to be a growing push to convince him to end his re-election bid.


In a radio interview, Mr. Biden admitted he had, in his words, a bad debate in Atlanta last week. But he says those 90 minutes should not erase what

he's done for the past three and a half years as president. Arlette Saenz is back with us. Arlette, I mean, he's getting a bit of a break today. I do

know that he's got this call, hasn't he, with the Israeli prime minister. But his focus, as well as being on that, is going to be on how to really

solidify what support he does have in the coming days.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it sure is, Max. You know, President Biden, as you noted in a few hours, will be speaking with

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a point where there have been some developments relating to the hostage and ceasefire framework. So, we

will see what comes out of that conversation.

But President Biden also is still working to try to assuage the very real concerns within the Democratic Party about him continuing forward in this

race. You've increasingly heard from Democrats suggesting that the president should step aside at this moment. There have been at least two

House Democrats to do so publicly.

And in a private call last night with top party leaders in the House, some Democrats -- top Democrats again express their concern with saying Biden

should step aside now, while others were -- had a bit more of a mixed reaction saying that they're worried about the frenzy that might erupt in

the Biden were to step aside and there was a vacuum at the top of the Democratic ticket.

Now, Biden has been looking for ways to try to ease some of these concerns, hosting governors here at the White House last night. He taped a pair of

radio show interviews with two black radio show host this morning. And the White House is really pushing back against the idea that President Biden is

considering, in any way, potentially stepping out of this race. Take a listen to what the White House press secretary had to say yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is President Biden considering stepping down?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Absolutely not. The president is moving forward. He's moving forward as being president. He's

moving forward with his campaign, as his campaign has been very, very clear about that. Anything else that we're hearing or that's being reported is

absolutely false.


SAENZ: Now, President Biden has acknowledged to at least one ally privately that he knows how critical these coming days will be for his

campaign and the future of his candidacy as he's looking to try to make his case directly to American voters.

Tomorrow, he will tape a major interview with ABC News, perhaps the most long sit down that he is doing so far after that debate performance. You

know, some of his allies have said that he needs to be out there taking tough questions from reporters. And so, a lot of eyes will be on that

interview to see how the president performs. He will also be hitting the battleground states of Wisconsin tomorrow and then Pennsylvania on Sunday.

All of these efforts to try to put him in front of voters to try to start easing some of those concerns following the debate.

Now, the president is here at the White House today. He'll have that call with Netanyahu. But then, he and his family will also partake on -- in some

of the 4th of July festivities on the South Lawn of the White House. They are hosting members of the military and their families as well as others

here for a barbecue and then a fireworks show later in the evening. The president is expected to spend the day surrounded by his family, who I'm

told remains all in on him staying in the race at this point.

Vice President Kamala Harris will also be joining the president at tonight's 4th of July festivities. Of course, this is a moment to celebrate

America's independence, but it also comes as Biden has really framed his campaign as a fight to protect and preserve democracy. So, it will be

interesting to hear from the president himself this evening on those lines, especially as he is fighting for his own political survival in this 2024

presidential race.

FOSTER: OK. Thank you so much for that, Arlette. Now, despite the questions about whether President Biden should step aside before the

November election, First Lady Jill Biden continues to be his fiercest supporter. This as Mrs. Biden faces mounting criticism over her role in

shielding her husband from the public. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty reports.


JILL BIDEN, U.S. FIRST LADY: Joe, you did such a great job.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the most critical moment of President Joe Biden's political career, it is Jill Biden

who is assuming the mantle to save him.

JACKSON: You answered every question. You (INAUDIBLE).

SERFATY (voice-over): The first lady is all in, a source tells CNN, saying that she is still committed to her husband remaining in the 2024 race.

JILL BIDEN: I loved him from the start. I saw in him then the same character that I see in him today.

SERFATY (voice-over): In the six days since the debate, her flurry of campaign events and out front public statements has signaled that resolve.

JILL BIDEN: There is no one that I would rather have sitting in the Oval Office right now than my husband.


SERFATY (voice-over): Waging a public display of damage control. Telling fundraisers that her husband said at the debate, I don't know what

happened. I didn't feel that great. In attempts at narrative setting, telling Vogue they will not let those 90 minutes define the four years he's

been president. We will continue to fight.

This is a role Jill Biden has had for nearly five decades.

JOE BIDEN: My name is Joe Biden. I'm Jill Biden's husband.

SERFATY (voice-over): As the president's chief confidant, staunchest advocate, and fiercest defender. After nearly 50 years of marriage, all in

the political arena, where they have been battle tested together.

KATE ANDERSON BROWER, AUTHOR, "FIRST WOMEN": She does not want to give up this position, and she doesn't want her husband to give it up. And I think

it says a lot about her belief in him, that she was the first person we heard from.

SERFATY (voice-over): But that outsized influence in this crisis is being scrutinized as questions over President Biden's fitness for office are

mounting. Some are pointing a finger at the first lady. A Texas Republican musing, who is the commander in chief, with a video of the Biden's hand in

hand after the debate. Another Republican member of Congress accusing Jill Biden and the campaign of elder abuse. And a Wall Street Journal opinion

article says, Jill Biden should ask herself whether her admirable loyalty to her husband will serve the best interest of her country. Adding that,

fate has given Mrs. Biden the power to shape history, may she use it wisely.

Presidential historians drawing comparisons to past first ladies, protecting the legacy of their husbands around sensitive issues.

ANITA MCBRIDE, AUTHOR, "REMEMBER THE FIRST LADIES": There were allegations or rumors of, you know, President Reagan's condition or some signs of

cognitive difficulty or perhaps, you know, early dementia. She dismissed that, and again, was focused on his legacy, what he could contribute in his


SERFATY (voice-over): The White House says that is not what is happening here. Asked if the first lady is covering up a medical condition of the

president? The first lady's communications director tells CNN, no, an emphatic no.


FOSTER: Well, we're going to go back to the Middle East at this point. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking with U.S. President Joe

Biden later today on this holiday day. An Israeli official has told that to CNN. The White House official says they will discuss negotiations over a

hostage and ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas. The conversations come as the humanitarian situation in Gaza really is worsening by the day.

If you're wondering where Becky is, she's actually on board an Emirati floating hospital just off Egypt's El Arish coast, about 30 kilometers,

isn't it, from Gaza, Becky?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR, CONNECT THE WORLD: It is, Max. You're absolutely right. We're inside the belly of what is normally a roll on,

roll off ferry, which has been reconditioned uniquely as a medical ship by the United Arab Emirates. And this is state of the art stuff.

You -- it may not look like that as you have a look around, but just like - - let me get you a sense of what is going on here. These are operating theaters. There is an imaging area. There is a radiology department here.

There are pharmacies, there's medical stores, everything that any Gazan who has been critically injured and is lucky enough to have been evacuated

across the border, and we'll talk about the fact that there's only a very few who are actually getting across in a moment.

But I want to show you what is inside here because crucially on this ship is an intensive care unit. I'm going to need to just put my put my scrubs

on here. So, I want you to come in and meet Dr. Ahmed who is the -- he's the medical director here on this ship. It's been operating for about eight

or nine weeks. And during that time here they've taken about two and a half thousand patients. They've conducted about a thousand operations.

One of the -- thank you very much indeed. One of the patients in here is a young lady called Soha (ph). She is 31 years old and she was caught up in

Northern Gaza. I'm just going to introduce you in as I put on my scarf for my head.

Yes. You're happy to be here. Yes. Dr. Ahmed, tell me about Soha's (ph) story.


FOSTER: Obviously, there are some connection issues. She's in the base of that ship as she just described. But we're going to try and get her back.


And of course, she'll be there through the day. So, we'll be able to get a real sense of what is an extraordinary technical operation that they've got

on board that ship. We'll be back in just a moment. Actually, she's here with us.

DR. MUBARAK: And during the bombardment over there, that she was stripped and she had an injury to her -- replacement. So, then, she traveled across

the border of Rafah to one of the facilities, hospital. Until we have her - - all medical equipment ready to come and getting her -- an advance complete -- to do that for her.

ANDERSON: So, you had your hips replaced completely while you've been here. You've had rheumatoid arthritis for a very long time. And obviously,

getting caught up in this --

FOSTER: Again, some technical issues. We're going to try to sort if out for you. But we're back in just a moment.


FOSTER: We are putting the focus on the Western United States right now, where a dangerous heat wave is expected to last through to next week. Much

of California could see temperatures 10 to 20 degrees above normal, and forecasters say this is the hottest July 4th in many locations across the


In Northern California, a large wildfire fueled by dangerous heat is prompting the evacuation of thousands of people. Meteorologist Elisa Rafah

joins me from the CNN Weather Center for more on the extreme heat, Elisa.

ELISA RAFFA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Max, we have warnings that are stretching from border to border, from Canada to Mexico, up and down the Pacific Coast

here. And we're talking about warnings for most of the State of California, where temperatures are going to be extreme not just for today, but a lot of

these warnings go well into next week.

We're talking about a more than five-day stretch of excessive temperatures, more than a hundred degrees Fahrenheit. We're talking about 40 degrees

Celsius, five days of extreme heat in Sacramento, more than 105 degrees Celsius -- or I'm sorry, 105 degrees Fahrenheit, more than five days of

this. And you're not getting relief at night. So, that just makes these matters even worse and harder to recover from.

Looking at more than 500 temperature records falling over the next couple of days, a lot of them on the Pacific Coast. And this is for daytime highs

and overnight low temperatures. Like I mentioned, just really not getting any relief at night.

Look at the next four days, temperatures up in Sacramento, 108, 110 degrees, again, more than 40 degrees Celsius. Temperatures at 113 and 114

over the weekend in Fresno. Palm Springs, you have temperatures nearing 50 degrees as we go into the weekend. Max.


FOSTER: OK. Thank you, Elisa. Now, a former quality control manager at Boeing speaking out, alleging that the plane manufacturer routinely took

parts from a scrapyard and used them on factory assembly lines. In his first network TV interview, the 30-year veteran of the company told CNN an

elaborate off the books practice was used to meet production deadlines CNN's Pete Muntean has more.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If Everett, Washington is a Boeing company town, then Merle Meyers was a company man. A

30-year veteran of Boeing, Meyers says his job as a quality control manager put his kids through college. It is a family tradition. His late mother was

a Boeing inspector, able to unilaterally decide if a new airplane just off the factory line was fit to fly.

MUNTEAN: What would she think about what is happening at Boeing?

MERLE MEYERS, BOEING WHISTLEBLOWER: She'd be absolutely livid.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Meyers new allegations detail an elaborate off- the- books practice centering on parts deemed not safe to put in new airplanes. He is the latest whistleblower to come forward with claims of quality

control lapses at Boeing. This is his first TV interview inspired by the January 5th door plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9.

Spray painted red, bad parts deemed not up to Boeing's standards are taken from Boeing's Everett plant and sent to its scrap facility in Auburn. But

then one day in 2015, Meyers says a crate of bad parts were improperly sent back from Auburn to Boeing's Everett factory. Meyers alleges the practice

continued for years, telling that more than 50,000 parts escaped Boeing quality control.

MUNTEAN: 50,000 parts?

MEYERS: That's what we counted at the time.

MUNTEAN: It seems like a heck of a lot.

MEYERS: It is a heck of a lot indeed.

MUNTEAN: What does that say to you?

MEYERS: Well, that says it puts people's lives at risk, not just passengers, but flight crews. And a lot of these are flight-critical parts

that made it back into the production system.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Company e-mails show Meyers repeatedly flagged the issue to Boeing's corporate investigations team, pointing out what he says

were repeat violations of Boeing's safety rules. But Meyers insists investigators routinely failed to enforce those rules. In a 2022 e-mail, he

wrote that Boeing investigators ignored eyewitness observations and the hard work done to ensure the safety of future passengers and crew.

MUNTEAN: Why would they do this?

MEYERS: Schedule, the schedule. To get planes out the door, to make money. Yes.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Meyers believes he was forced out of Boeing last year and is concerned there are still problems at the company.

MEYERS: Well, I think they need to punish. They need to fire people that blatantly violate the process and endanger the flying public. It's a huge

problem. And a core requirement of a quality system is to keep bad parts and good parts apart.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): In a statement, Boeing says it encourages employees to speak up and that to ensure the safety, quality, and conformance of our

products, we investigate all allegations of improper behavior such as unauthorized movement of parts or mishandling of documents. We then work

diligently to address them and make improvements.

Meyers says he is coming forward now because of the pride he has in Boeing. He goes so far as to call it a wonderful company, one he says has been

going astray and is in desperate need of change.

MEYERS: But you have to care, leadership has to care to do that. But if you can't even keep parts segregated from good parts, what else aren't you

doing right?

MUNTEAN: The mystery here is that we did not have an exact accounting of where these parts are. They range from the superficial like fasteners to

the critical wing flaps used for landing. If these parts weren't returned to the scrap yard, our whistleblower is worried that they ended up on new

planes delivered to airlines and other customers in the last decade or so. How big a deal is that? Also, hard to know, since we don't know exactly how

or where they were used. But there is no question that these scrap parts should not have been put on planes.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: We're going to take a short break We'll be back in just a moment then.



FOSTER: Looks like LeBron James will finish out his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers because reports say he signed a two-year $104 million

contract with the team. It includes a no trade clause and player option for a third season as well. CNN has reached out to the Lakers for confirmation

and comment. If the deal goes through, James and his son Bronny would become the first father and son duo in league history to play together. The

Lakers selected Bronny James as the 55th overall pick in the NBA draft.

Gamers from around the world are competing for $60 million in prize money in the first ever Esports World Cup, which kicked off this week in Saudi

Arabia. CNN's Eleni Giokos is in Riyadh with a look at the rise of the sport.


ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The world's biggest gaming championship is underway in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in the very first ESports World Cup,

and many people are comparing it to the Olympics in gaming.

Now, what you've got to remember is the big tournaments are usually held in the west and also in Asia. But Saudi Arabia has created these massive

international events at this grand scale and brought it to the Middle East. You've got 1,500 gamers, the top gamers in the world coming to Saudi Arabia

to compete in some of the most popular games, Call of Duty, League of Legends, and Dota 2 and competing for $60 million worth of prize money.

So, why is Saudi Arabia betting big on e-gaming? The crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is a gamer himself and of course, he sees the economic

prospects for this. And I spoke to the CEO of the Esports World Cup Federation. And he says the numbers just make sense.


RALF REICHERT, CEO, ESPORTS WORLD CUP FOUNDATION: That's clearly seen as an economic driver and the future. I mean, this is the entertainment of the

21st century. There's no -- no kid out there is not playing video games. So, even though it's big, right, it's $200 billion dollar business in 2026,

it's even just to start this is going to go much further.

GIOKOS: 67 percent of the population of Saudi Arabia playing, you know, some kind of game. How does this open up new opportunities hosting the

World Cup, and frankly, for the region as well as a whole?

REICHERT: Yes, I think many, right? I mean, number one, it starts with being able to make a living out of esports. That's a huge impact. There's

huge local teams who just, a little bit on back of this, get funding and backing and the popularity and become the new superstar clubs in the


And I think then if you look at the broader industry, esports and gaming, you can see pop up startups everywhere. And it's very clearly a goal. I

think it's part of Vision 2030 that it should be producing 40,000 jobs.


GIOKOS: And of course, for the gamers themselves, this is an industry that they take very seriously. We spoke to some people that say they monitor how

many hours they sleep, they monitor what they eat, and of course, their mental clarity. This is an elite sport that is emerging to be an economic

powerhouse by many means.

So, for Saudi Arabia as well, it is important for them to entrench themselves in so many parts of the sports arena, and gaming is clearly one

of them. Which proves that, of course, gaming is not just something that happens in the dark rooms of people's homes with many screens, this is not

just a fun pastime, but something that is actually capable of creating enormous economic opportunity.

Eleni Giokos, CNN, Riyadh.


FOSTER: Cycling history made at the Tour de France, as Mark Cavendish set a new record by winning his 35th stage of the grueling race. The 39-year-

old from the Isle of Man says he was in a bit of disbelief afterwards. He broke through a chaotic sprint finish to win Wednesday's stage, surpassing

the long-standing record of legendary cyclist Eddy Merckx. It's a remarkable comeback for Cavendish as he had reversed his decision to retire

from after crashing out of last year's race. And this year is likely to be his final appearance at the tour. Though he says that.


Julie Garland starred in the movie "Wizard of Oz" but never recorded the audiobook. Now, you'll be able to hear the voice of the late singer, read

the beloved story, or almost anything else actually.


JUDY GARLAND, ACTRESS AND SINGER: At that moment, Dorothy saw lying on the table the silver shoes that had belonged to the Witch of the East.


FOSTER: Garland is amongst several deceased actors including James Dean and Burt Reynolds who are now on the reader app by the company ElevenLabs

It acquired the rights to their voices from their estates. Using artificial intelligence on the app, you can get the stars to read out loud your

favorite texts, newsletters, or books This comes two months after ChatGPT came under fire for using a synthetic voice similar to Scarlett Johansson's

character in the film "Her."

That is it for "Connect the World." Do stay with CNN though because "Newsroom" is up next.