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Mass Protests As Netanyahu Ousts Minister Over Judicial Reforms; Men's Final Four Set With UConn, Miami, Florida Atlantic, And San Diego State; About 72 Percent Of Firms Report Little To No Remote Work August-September '22. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 27, 2023 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, protests erupt in Tel Aviv and takeoffs halted at its airport due to a strike after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired a cabinet minister who opposed the controversial plans for a judicial overhaul. Crowds poured into the streets and lit fires Sunday night while security forces fired water cannons on demonstrators.

Let's bring in former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro. So nice to see you, Mr. Ambassador.

Let's start with the latest news from there. What will a general strike called by both labor and major employers mean for that country?

DANIEL SHAPIRO, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL (via Skype): Well, the country is in some degree of chaos at the moment. Prime Minister Netanyahu miscalculated very badly when he said he'd fire this defense minister who had warned that pushing forward with this judicial overhaul legislation would cause a major danger to Israel's national security.

He -- the defense minister, Yoav Gallant, actually favors the legislation but he based his warning on the fact that massive numbers of IDF reservists, including air force pilots, who were refusing to serve under a government they believe was abandoning democratic principles. And he also cited intelligence that Israel's enemies were planning to take advantage of the chaos.

So there were already strong protests against the judicial overhaul but last night when he fired the defense minister there was a spontaneous eruption. Thousands of -- hundreds of thousands, or at least, pouring into the streets.

And numerous members of his own coalition were sufficiently spooked by that that they called on him to suspend the legislation. Now the general strike has been called. There are no planes leaving the airport. Malls are shutting down and schools are shutting down while the country waits for Netanyahu to announce the suspension.

ROMANS: So just unbelievable to see those images in the streets.

Now, Israel's President Isaac Herzog and the former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and two government ministers calling on Netanyahu to halt the judicial reform process here.

What options does Netanyahu have going forward?

SHAPIRO: Well, what he's likely to do is announce a suspension of the legislation, and then there's going to be a break for some holidays and try to come back and negotiate a more consensus version of it maybe at the end of April or early May.

But he's really faced with a dilemma. It's clear that the legislation cannot advance now under these circumstances. At best he can try to -- try to come back with a watered-down version. But some members of his own government and of his political base now feel abandoned and they may protest a decision to suspend it.

All of this represents a kind of historic political mismanagement. When he came into office with this government about three months ago he said his agenda was to expand Israel's relations with Arab states to deal with the threat caused by Iran and to provide relief to citizens from the rising cost of living. And for three months the government hasn't done anything on any of those issues. Instead, the country has been engulfed in chaos around this one issue about overhauling the judicial system and weakening the Supreme Court.

It's a real extreme overreach by him and his coalition partners that -- who he is very dependent on and that's led them to this crisis.

ROMANS: The consul general of Israel, in New York, submitted a resignation later. He wrote, quote, "Today's dangerous decision to fire the Minister of Defense convinced me that I can no longer represent this government."

What does that say to you?


SHAPIRO: It says that he and quite a number of other very senior, very experienced officials and former officials from the security services, from the diplomatic corps, from the business community, the leading economists in the country have all seen this judicial overhaul and a weakening of the Supreme Court that would potentially produce a real concentration of power in one branch government with no checks and balances as a major risk to Israel's security, to its democracy, and to its economy.

And, of course, President Biden has spoken to some of the same fears on behalf of the United States that very much values the democratic alliance of democracies between the United States and Israel.

So I think when the consul general announced his resignation he was joining a very large and very distinguished group of officials and former officials -- many of them appointed by Benjamin Netanyahu -- saying this really cannot go forward. ROMANS: Yes. You mentioned that about what the president said -- President Biden. His National Security Council said and issued a statement saying, "We continue to strongly urge Israeli leaders to find a compromise" and that "U.S. support for Israel's security and democracy remains ironclad."

I guess if you were ambassador today what would your first order of business be? I mean, we haven't seen protests like this in the streets of Israel -- I mean, in modern memory.

SHAPIRO: What I think the administration has tried to do and I think they're correct to try to do is to emphasize that what really makes the U.S.-Israel relationship strong and a function and durable over time and through administrations and changes of government in both countries is the common bonds of the two democracies.

And if the Israeli government were to go down a path where a large number of its own citizens and many fellow democracies in other countries would really question whether Israel was still adhering to those democratic principles of rule of law, separation of powers, checks and balances it would obviously be detrimental to the close bond between the U.S. and Israel. That's bad for Israel's interest and its security but it's also bad for the U.S. interests and our common security interests in this region.

So it's, I think, important that be expressed by President Biden and by Secretary of State Blinken and others in the administration. They've done so. I hope it will help encourage the government in Israel to move on the path toward a -- if they have to do this legislation at all, a more consensual, more --


SHAPIRO: -- compromised version of it.

ROMANS: All right, Ambassador Dan Shapiro. Thank you so much for your time, sir. Nice to see you.

SHAPIRO: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, quick hits around the globe right now.

Kim Jung Un's North Korea firing two more ballistic missiles this morning as Pyongyang continues its weapons displays just ahead of the U.S. and South Korea starting large-scale military exercises.

Twenty-eight migrants have died and 60 are missing after boats sank off the coast of Tunisia. The Italian Coast Guard says it rescued more than 3,300 migrants from boats in distress over the weekend.

Vice President Kamala Harris meeting with the Ghanian president today during a weeklong historic Africa trip. It's part of U.S. efforts to counter Russia and China's rising influence in the area.

A deadline looms for Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The key document he's supposed to hand over today. And the March Madness Final Four is set. How do the teams stack up against each other?



ROMANS: All right, here we go. Here is today's fast-forward lookahead.

The grand jury investigating former President Trump's alleged role in a hush-money scheme is expected to reconvene today. It could hear new testimony from an additional witness.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee demanding Secretary of State Antony Blinken turn over a key document related to the Afghanistan withdrawal today or he could be served with a subpoena.

Court resumes in the Utah trial involving actress Gwyneth Paltrow. The man accusing Paltrow of crashing into him on a ski slope is expected to take the stand.

All right, the Final Four is set. Miami and San Diego State will join UConn and Florida Atlantic for a shot at the national title in Houston one week from today.

Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Coy.


We started with 68 teams and then there were four. March Madness is upon us. For the first time in NCAA Tournament history, there is not a one, two, or three-seed in the men's Final Four. And three of the schools -- Florida Atlantic, Miami, and San Diego State -- there for the first time ever.

San Diego State was up two over Creighton, Christine, with about 30 seconds to go. But Creighton's Baylor Scheierman steals the inbound pass and ties the game for the Bluejays. Six seconds to go now, Aztec's Darrion Trammell looking for the win but Creighton is called for a foul. Look at the hand on the hip there.

There was just 1.2 seconds left. Trammell, though, misses his first shot. The pressure is on, baby. But the senior locks in and nails the game-winner. Creighton's last chance goes flying out of reach. Game over.

Trammell played in front of fewer than 1,000 fans at Seattle University last year. Now he sends San Diego State to their first-ever Final Four.


DARRION TRAMMELL, SENIOR GUARD, SAN DIEGO STATE: It's all about believing in yourself. I feel like I've put in the work. I had nothing to be nervous about. At the end of the game, it's just -- it's just a game. I'm doing this for my family. I'm doing this for people back home, my grandpa, my brother that I lost. I'm just doing it for them. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: Ah, that's love.

Miami down by as many as 13 to Texas in the second half but comes roaring back. Tied at 79 with a minute to go, Texas called for the foul, boxing out for the rebound. This sent Miami to the line and they made both free throws to take the lead 81-79.

And then the Cane's defense steps up -- let's go. On that next possession they get the steal and seal the deal and come back complete. They took out one-seed Houston. Now, two-seed Texas.

And how about 73-year-old coach Jim Larranaga giving us some Monday motivation, Christine? Get down and "Boogie Oogie Oogie." They're heading to their Final Four for the first time -- the biggest win in Hurricane's hoops history.


Miami's women, different story. Their Cinderella party as a nine-seed gets crashed by LSU and super-sophomore Angel Reese. She was dominant in this one again -- 13 points, 18 rebounds. But it was a true team effort in a 54-42 win.

And the team has big dreams, Christine. Sa'Myah Smith there drawing a ring on Reese's finger there. They're envisioning those championship rings.

Coach Kim Mulkey, the third women's coach ever to lead multiple programs to the Final Four.

And finally, Iowa's own Caitlin Clark savage. She rewrites the record books again, this time against Louisville, leading the Hawkeyes to their first Final Four in 30 years. The frontrunner for National Player of the Year gets 41 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. She's the first player ever to record a 40-point triple-double in NCAA Tournament history.

The final two spots on the line tonight. You've got Ohio State and Virginia Tech, and then Maryland against the defending champs South Carolina. Winners head to Dallas for the Final Four. That starts on Friday. The men's Final Four will be on Saturday.

Whoo, happy Monday.

ROMANS: I know. She is just so good. That Hawkeye --

WIRE: Did you see that? She's like look at this.

ROMANS: She is so good and she's so fun to watch.

All right, nice to see you. Thanks so much.

WIRE: You, too. ROMANS: All right, coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" the death toll rising after powerful storms and tornadoes ravaged the southeast. Why the threat may not be over yet.

And next right here, what could be proof that work-from-home is dead in America.



ROMANS: All right, your Romans' Numeral this Monday morning, 72. About 72 percent of U.S. companies reported little to no employees working from home between August and September 2022. That's near the pre-pandemic level of 77 percent. This is according to the Labor Department. A sign that work-from-home may be all but over.

Looking at markets around the world right now, the Hang Seng down nearly two percent. Asian markets reacting to banking troubles in the U.S. and in Europe. Asia now closed. But optimism on that front in Europe this morning as Deutsch Bank shares rebounded and deposits and loans at Silicon Valley Bank found a buyer.

On Wall Street, stock index futures right now leaning a little bit higher here. All three major averages rose last week despite the Fed's latest interest rate hike. The Nasdaq leading the gains. The Dow and the S&P finishing up more than one percent for the week.

On inflation watch, gas prices holding steady at $3.44 a gallon.

This week we'll see the latest in consumer confidence, jobless claims, a reading on GDP, and the Fed's favorite inflation gauge, the PCE price index.

All right, I want to bring in partner and co-founder of Flynn Zito Capital Management, Doug Flynn. Doug, we need you this morning here. Nine rate hikes in the past year. People are worried about how to manage their money in this higher interest rate environment in the midst of bank failures.

What is your overall advice to people nervous about their money right now?

DOUG FLYNN, PARTNER AND CO-FOUNDER, FLYNN ZITO CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, LLC (via Webex by Cisco): Well, we all know that we need to keep less than $250,000 in the bank. And I wish more people had the problem that they had to spread their money around to more than one bank but unfortunately, not as many people as we'd like to have that issue.

But the real thing is if you're in a big safe bank you're probably getting some of the lowest yields you can get. And so the first thing you need to do if you need to keep it all liquid is you can look to some of those online banks. You just have to make sure they're FDIC- insured, of course.

And you also want to look to your local credit union. Credit unions typically will pay a little bit more, they're more local, and they're also backed by the NCUA just like FDIC. It's an insurance that insures up to $250,000.

So that's for your liquid money. Those are the things you need to do.

ROMANS: Yes. What if you're putting money in savings? I mean, talk to me a little bit more about shopping around for the highest interest rate because, for years, there just wasn't any yield on cash. There wasn't any yield on savings. For the first time in a long time people can actually make money with their money.

FLYNN: True. If you -- if you have maybe more -- closer to a year you could look to some CDs. You could look to some federal or Treasury money market mutual funds, and those are backed by securities that are issued by the government. And those yields now are between four to five percent and some CDs are paying a little more than five percent if you stay on the short-term.

So that's the first place you need to go. If you have a concern about your money in the bank you can look to some federal or Treasury money market mutual funds. It keeps it liquid and yields are much higher than you're ever going to get in the bank, so it combines. That's a good first place to go.

If you have a little bit longer term we could talk about some bonds and some bond mutual funds.

ROMANS: Talk to me a little bit for people who are trying to save money to buy a home. The real estate market has just been nuts over the past few years and now it looks like it's cooling a bit. But still, it's like -- where you live, for example, it's still -- it's so hard to buy a home.

What's your advice for people who are saving to buy a home right now?

FLYNN: So if you have two to three years -- if that's your goal is that far away and you're saving diligently every month you should look to some bond mutual funds. A lot of people want to get invested in the stock market with that volatility to try to make more money, but you don't need to do that in the near term.

It's very likely that if we have a shallow recession that the Federal Reserve is going to have to shift from its raising rates like it's done the last nine times to plateauing and then actually lowering rates. And if that happens you actually can get a positive move with some of your money in those bond funds.

So looking in the two- to three-year timeframe, stay away from the stock market. Usually, a house goal is a little bit more near-term. If you don't want to keep it totally liquid and --


FLYNN: -- get some of the lower rates you could do that and make a little bit more money. There's a good opportunity there.

ROMANS: All right. There's always opportunity in the chaos. That's what we've learned time and time again.

Doug Flynn, nice to see you. Thank you so much.


All right, next on "CNN THIS MORNING" a general strike just called for after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu fired his defense minister for opposing a judicial overhaul. And Russian President Vladimir Putin planning to move tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus.


ROMANS: All right, our top of the morning this Monday morning, the top movies at the box office.


Clip from Lionsgate's "John Wick: Chapter Four."


ROMANS: At number one, that's Keanu Reeves in "John Wick: Chapter Four" -- $75.5 million in its opening weekend.



ZACHARY LEVI, ACTOR: I don't deserve these powers, if I'm being honest. Like, what am I even contributing?



ROMANS: "Shazam: Fury of the Gods," slips to No. 2. And here's No. 3.


MELISSA BARRERA, ACTRESS: There's a darkness inside of me.


ROMANS: That's the slasher sequel, "Scream 6."

All right. Hope you have a great day. Thanks for joining me. I'm Christine Romans. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.