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Isa Soares Tonight

Israel: Blinken On Regional Tour To Push Israeli-Palestinian Peace; U.S. Secretary Of State Blinken Meets Netanyahu; Power Cuts Impacting Millions In South Africa. 2-3p ET

Aired January 30, 2023 - 14:30   ET



ISA SOARES, CNNI HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, high stakes diplomacy. U.S. Secretary of State Antony

Blinken meets Israeli leaders, urging calm after days of deadly violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Then dozens dead and more than 150

injured in Pakistan after an attack on a mosque in a police compound.

We'll have all the details for you. And the battle for the east of Ukraine rages on as one Ukrainian commander describes the fight in Bakhmut as,

quote, "living hell". But first, we begin with an urgent call for calm between Israelis and Palestinians as a surge in deadly violence as the

entire region on edge. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Jerusalem.

His latest stop on a mission to try to de-escalate tensions and revive a peace process abandoned years ago. Blinken met with Benjamin Netanyahu, and

from their remarks, reporters, it was very clear where their priorities lie. The Israeli Prime Minister said Blinken comes at an important time.

Then, went on to talk about the threat from Iran. They also discussed the Abraham Accord, a series of arrangements between Israel and Arab nations.

But Blinken had this warning. Have a listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: These efforts are not a substitute for progress between Israelis and Palestinians. But as we

advance Israel's integration, we can do so in ways that improve the daily lives of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

And that is crucial to moving towards our enduring goal of Palestinians and Israelis enjoying equal measures of freedom, security, opportunity,

justice, and dignity. President Biden remains fully committed to that goal. We continue to believe desperately to achieve it, is through preserving and

then realizing the vision of two states.


SOARES: We're joined now by Hadas Gold in Jerusalem and Kylie Atwood at the U.S. State Department. And Hadas, let me start with you this hour. Give

me a sense of the reaction, if you will, from the Israeli government to what we heard from Secretary Blinken. I mean, was there an expectation to

start off with, that the Israelis -- from the Israeli side, that perhaps Blinken could defuse the tensions right now?

HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: I think that there were a lot of hopes that this visit that was pre-planned well ahead of these latest round

of tensions. Now, that he was going to be arriving in the region, that it would help calm things down just a little bit. I don't think anybody is

under the impression that this visit will somehow be able to absolutely stop the cycle of violence.

And after Blinken leaves, everything will be fine. That's not the sense that anybody has right now. Instead, the idea is, could he help turn the

temperature down just a few degrees to somewhat of a more manageable situation? Because over the weekend, it really felt like it was reaching a

crisis point. It still feels incredibly tense right now in Jerusalem across the West Bank.

There is a lot of fear of what could be coming next. And for Antony Blinken, obviously, his message has been calm from both sides. He stressed

actually in a later meeting with the foreign secretary that he's going to be bringing the same message tomorrow to Palestinian leaders. That both

sides need to be taking very firm steps right now to de-escalate the situation, to calm things down.

But this is really, I think, kind of an unfortunate high point in the recent round of violence. What was interesting from Benjamin Netanyahu is

we really didn't hear him necessarily address the situation on the ground in his remarks, the closest he got was saying actually that he believes

it's through expanding the Abraham Accords to what he called, like, putting a lid on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

That, that would be the solution towards finding a solution with their Palestinian neighbors. And I think a lot of people would disagree with

that. And a lot of Arab nations say that you're not going to get peace with them until there's peace with the Palestinians. But it was interesting to

hear Antony Blinken address this more than Netanyahu.

And I think part of the reason behind that is because of the pressure that Netanyahu has from the Israeli society, from the voters, and from his new

right-wing government. Because even though they've talked about new measures after these attacks, things like demolishing homes of attackers,

but new measures even going so far as legislation that would refocus Israeli residency, not just of attackers, but of families of people who

they deemed to be terrorists or families who are supporting terrorism.


That's an extreme new step. But some of his ministers, they want to go further. Itamar Ben-Gvir; the new National Security Minister, he wants to

bring the death penalty for anybody -- for anybody deemed to be a terrorist. The last time the death penalty was used here was in the 1960s

for Adolf Eichmann.

So, you can understand that there is pressure from the Israeli right from his new government to do more in the wake of these attacks and this

pressure from the American side to really dial things back. Isa?

SOARES: Yes, stay with us, Hadas, let me go to Kylie Atwood. And Kylie, we heard, I think it's fair to say that I'm not sure whether you agree with me

here, very carefully-worded comments from both sides, may I add. But giving the timing of Blinken's visit, do we know whether he'd be proposing any new


Will he be putting pressure on Netanyahu to consider a more durated plan from what we heard there from what Hadas was outlining?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think it's a really good question. And we haven't been briefed by U.S. officials

on this trip, saying that is their intention on this -- on this trip. I do think it's important to note that this trip was previously planned. But

now, of course, as tensions are boiling over, I do think it's fair to expect that, that is something that the Secretary of State will have to


Now, the specifics in terms of what he will propose the Israelis and Palestinians change in terms of their approach to this cycle of violence,

and how to de-escalate as he has been saying, is yet to be determined. So, what we'll be watching for in the next, you know, few hours and few days

here is just what comes out of this trip if anything that can ratchet down these tensions.

But the Secretary of State was very clear in saying that the sense of stability and peace for both sides is sorely lacking. He was very clear in

trying to talk about that violence standing next to the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and talking about the fact that the Israelis have had a

few years where they have really found new opportunities and integrated more holistically into the region.

But he said that cannot come at the expense of -- or, you know, in -- without there being progress for the Israelis and the Palestinians. So

making it very clear for the Biden administration, Israeli-Palestinian issues and confrontation and trying to simmer down those tensions are front

and center right now.

SOARES: Let me get back to Hadas. And Hadas, we know, you mentioned that Secretary Blinken is expected to visit Ramallah tomorrow. What can we

expect to see there tomorrow?

GOLD: I think top of mind in Ramallah, tomorrow, something that the U.S. State Department has already made clear is that, they want the

Palestinian Authority to go -- to restore the security coordination with Israel. They cut that off last Thursday after that military -- Israeli

military raid in Jenin that killed ten people among the militants, but also civilians, a 60-year-old, a 61-year-old woman who was among those killed.

And in reaction to that, the Palestinian Authority cut off the security coordination. This is seen by many, including the United States as a vital

way to keep some sense of information-sharing, Intel-sharing and coordination between the Palestinian Authority, security forces and the

Israeli military. And there is a lot of fears that if this cut off continues, that it would create a vacuum.

A vacuum not only for militant groups to kind of take over that space, but a vacuum also in a fear that what would happen to the Palestinian Authority

security forces themselves. Whether they would then turn towards conflict instead of trying to fight militancy. And so, we know, I mean, last week,

the State Department made it very clear, they did not think that was a good idea for the Palestinian Authority to do that.

And so, I imagine that would be definitely top of mind in speaking to the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tomorrow is to restore that

security coordination as soon as possible.

SOARES: Hadas Gold and Kylie Atwood, thank you very much, ladies, I appreciate it. Now, it was a somber night in Pakistan after a deadly attack

on a mosque in a police compound. And these are new pictures into CNN showing the funerals held for dozens of mostly police officers killed in

the blast.

At least, 61 people are dead and more than 150 injured. The Pakistani Taliban are claiming responsibility. Ivan Watson has the story for you.


IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dazed worshippers pulling themselves out from the rubble. A deadly blast hit this

mosque during afternoon prayers, partially collapsing the building. The suspected attack targeting a police compound in Pakistan's northwestern

city of Peshawar, the victims likely, mostly law enforcement caught off guard in a place of worship.

HAJI SHAHNAWAZ, EYEWITNESS (through translator): We took out the injured and sent them to hospital. The dead bodies should all be inside the mosque,

buried under the rubble.

WATSON: Dozens are confirmed dead, Pakistani police say, with more than 150 injured.


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned what he's calling a suicide blast, saying, quote, "the brutal killing of Muslims prostrating before Allah is

against the teachings of the Quran. Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who performed the duty of defending Pakistan."

The Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehrik-e Taliban or TTP, has claimed responsibility for the blast, calling it revenge for a targeted IED attack

against one of the groups founding members last August. CNN cannot independently verify the group's claims. For years, Islamist militant

groups, including the TTP, which is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization have periodically carried out attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

province where Peshawar is located.

But Monday's blast was the worst the city has seen since March of last year when a suicide bombing that ISIS later claimed responsibility for killed at

least 61 at a Shiite mosque during Friday prayers. Leaders of Pakistan's rival political parties condemned the latest Mosque bombing.

A country with a long history of deadly political violence now bracing for the threat of more possible suicide attacks. Ivan Watson, CNN.


SOARES: Well, the battle for Bakhmut has turned the Ukrainian city into a living hell. That is according to one Ukrainian commander. Another says

Russian forces are throwing themselves all out into the fighting without even stopping for cover. Both Ukrainian military leaders say super

qualified Russian troops and paratroopers have now joined the Wagner mercenary fighters around Bakhmut.

But they insist, despite all the resources Russia pours into the fight, they will not capture the city. Meanwhile, Russia is also fighting for

control of Vuhledar. Now, the city in the Donetsk region, Moscow claims they're making advances, while Ukraine claims they're giving Russia hell.

Frederik Pleitgen joins me now from Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine.

So, Fred, let's talk about the battle around Bakhmut, because that has been grinding on now for months. We heard what that commander said, calling it a

living hell. What have you been hearing from those on the ground?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, certainly, it seems as though things are becoming increasingly difficult

for the Ukrainians around the Bakhmut area. But they also say that they are still very much holding on to that city at this point in time even though,

you have those gains that are being made, not just for the Wagner mercenaries, but it seems that they're also now by Russian regular forces

as well.

One of the things that Ukrainians are saying is that the Russians really seem to be pouring new forces into that area. And they seem to really want

to take Bakhmut at almost all costs. The Russians apparently severing heavy losses around Bakhmut, but also in other areas as well. It's been an

interesting development that's been happening over the past couple of weeks here.

But the Ukrainians say a lot of those forces that were mobilized by the Russians at the end of last year are now arriving on the battlefronts here

in the east of the country. And it's making things very difficult for the Ukrainians. We went to a place north of Bakhmut called Kreminna where right

now, some of the heaviest fighting is raging there. Intense artillery battles. Here is what we saw.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Ukraine's entire eastern front is now heating up. This is Russian infantry in a massive fire-fight in a forest near the town

of Kreminna. Close by, we're creeping through the same forest with a Ukrainian frontline drone unit called Dnipro One(ph). That scouts out

Russian positions and direct Ukrainian fire. Drone operator Ruslan(ph) says working in the forest is extremely dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All-time working tanks, a lot of artillery from different directions, from east and from north.

PLEITGEN: But the team is often able to spot attempted Russian advances. Here, Russian infantry are moving through the thick woodland, and this tank

leaves cover and opens fire towards Ukrainian positions. The Ukrainians liberated towns and villages in this area last Autumn, but the scars of

battle are visible everywhere.

(on camera): This village like many of the ones in this area was heavily- damaged when the Ukrainians moved in here in Fall. For a while, it was quiet, but now all that is changing. The fighting is coming back and it's

heavier than ever before.

(voice-over): The few people remaining, those too poor or too old to flee. I asked Valentina(ph) if it's not too dangerous to stay here. "Yes, it is

dangerous", she says, "but what can we do, of course, it's dangerous, but we endure. Sometimes, we hide, but now, it's too cold in the basements."


The Russians have massively beefed up their forces around Kreminna. They believe they have to prevent the Ukrainians breaking through here to

sustain their own offensive against Bakhmut, and are now also launching fresh attacks near Vuhledar further south. This video near Vuhledar shows

Russian armor getting hit by Ukraine's artillery.

The soldiers run away, a wounded comrade tries to crawl to safety. In all these places, drones are critical to detect and to destroy the enemy.

Dnipro One(ph) has its own drone workshop where NATO-issued grenades are literally sewn in half to be carried on drones. Yuri(ph) can manufacture

drone ammunitions in 20 minutes, and they've proven very effective in the conflict.

"Drone operator is one of the most dangerous jobs", the boss says, "as soon as they locate a drone operator, they use all kinds of weaponry, artillery,

MLRS, tanks. We have a high rate of casualties among drone pilots." In the forest, Ruslan's(ph) mission is now over. But he sees a long battle ahead

in a contest of wits and brute force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mostly, last month, our army go straight, but last, I think two weeks, maybe we stop and Russians are making counterattack.

PLEITGEN: And all the time, drones will shape the way this war changes.


PLEITGEN: And that war seems to be one that really is heating up in the east of this country. And you could hear there, I think, Isa, the shelling

that was going on pretty much the entire time that we were on the ground. It was very heavy shelling. It came from both sides, and you know, we could

feel that both sides really don't want to give an inch in that territory.

One of the things that the Ukrainians are saying, those force there are extremely difficult to fight, and a lot of those battles are really tough.

Some really heavy machine gun fire going on, very difficult to ascertain where exactly the enemy is in all of this. And the Ukrainians are saying,

right now it's very difficult for either side to make substantial gains.

And yet, the frontline there is extremely dynamic. It moves back and forth all the time. And that's something that we're seeing there. We're seeing

heavy battles in Bakhmut. Those heavy battles in Vuhledar. You know, one of the things that people have been saying is that the Russians apparently are

preparing some sort of Spring offensive.

This probably isn't that just. Yet, but certainly, the Russians are gaining strength as their numbers are growing larger in the east of this country.


SOARES: Terrific reporting there from Fred Pleitgen and team in Kramatorsk this evening for us. Thanks very much, Fred, appreciate it. Well, Finland's

foreign minister says Helsinki is committed to getting into NATO along with Sweden and hopes to be approved for membership by July. But Turkey's

president says the two countries' bid are not on equal ground, suggesting today that its country might give Finland the green light, but not Sweden.

Have a listen.


RECCEP TAYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT, TURKEY (through translator): Let me say something here this evening. We can give a different message about Finland

if necessary. And when we give a different message about Finland, Sweden will be shocked. But Finland should not make the same mistake.


SOARES: While Turkey is delaying its approval of those applications as tensions with Sweden grows, the Turkish government wants more than 100

people it calls terrorists to be extradited from Sweden before allowing the nation into the alliance. And still to come tonight, new questions are

being raised about the Memphis police officers who beat Tyre Nichols as a sixth officer is relieved of duty.

Plus, calls mount for international help for Haiti as armed gangs plunge the nation's capital into chaos. Both their stories after this short break.

You are watching CNN.



SOARES: A sixth Memphis Tennessee police officer has been dismissed over the January 7th traffic stop that led to the death of Tyre Nichols. The

Memphis Police Department is identifying the officer as Preston Hemphill. Hemphill appears in at least one of the videos of the arrest firing his

taser at Nichols, and twice making the comment, quote, "I hope they storm his ass".

The Memphis Police Department has now permanently disbanded a special task force that included the officers accused of beating Nichols, and a source

says Hemphill as well. And as Sara Sidner reports, new questions are now being raised about the police in account of Nichols' arrest. And we caution

you, some of the images you're about to see are graphic.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police body camera and surveillance video are bringing into question the initial statement

made by the Memphis Police Department regarding the brutal arrest and death of Tyre Nichols. The initial statement writes that officers attempted to

make a traffic stop for reckless driving.

Further writing, as officers approached the driver of the vehicle, a confrontation occurred as seen in the police body camera video, Nichols was

actually pulled out of the car and thrown to the ground tased and beaten. The Memphis Police Department statement said that Nichols fled the scene on

foot and officers pursued the suspect and again attempted to take the suspect into custody while attempting to take the suspect into custody,

another confrontation occurred.

That second confrontation includes officers spraying him with pepper spray and punching and kicking him repeatedly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have more and more doubts that there was any issue of reckless driving whatsoever. I think it was a narrative. I think it was a

justification for the stop, just as they pleaded on some of the video that you saw in the second encounter, that they were saying, did you see him

reach for my gun? That never happened. Those are all excuses. Those are all lame defenses. And just a reason for what they did, which is now we know

has no basis at all.

SIDNER: According to the Memphis police, the suspects complained of having shortness of breath at which time an ambulance was called. The video shows

Nichols propped up against a police car, clearly in distress, while the officers stand around chatting with each other. Medics arrive, but it is

not until 25 minutes after Nichols is subdued that an ambulance arrives on the scene.

This is certainly not the first time that videos and evidence contradict initial police accounts that favor the officers involved. In the case of

George Floyd, the Minneapolis police said Floyd appeared to be suffering medical distress, when in reality, video evidence showed officer Derek

Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck.

In the case of Breonna Taylor, the initial statement from Louisville police said she had no injuries, even though six shots struck her when police

entered her home using a battering ram to execute a search warrant. The report also says there was no forced entry.


SOARES: Sara Sidner reporting there, very disturbing indeed. CNN's Nick Valencia joins us now. Nick, good to see you. Let's talk about the sixth

police officer Preston Hemphill, what more do we know about him? Was he part of the same unit, do we know what his involvement was, Nick?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to a source, he was part of the so-called SCORPION Unit. We don't know for how long, but he had been

part of the police department in Memphis since 2018.


According to the police department and the Memphis spokeswoman telling me that he was relieved along with other officers. So, we're just now learning

about him being put on administrative leave. Something that the family attorney Ben Crump just released a statement a short time ago. And he was

furious, saying that this is a lack of transparency from the Memphis Police Department.

But why are we just learning now a week later after, you know, after these officers last week were fired and charged with second degree murder. We're

hearing now a sixth officer during that time last week was also relieved of duty. So, it just really speaks to a lack of transparency here that the

family says that they're dealing with. Isa?

SOARES: What was his involvement? Do we know, Nick, at this stage?

VALENCIA: Well, we know according to his attorney that he was the officer wearing the video one. He was the body-cam footage that we see in video

one. And in that video, we hear him say some really, you know, really derogatory things towards Tyre Nichols. Nichols runs away from officers at

one point.

Afterwards, we hear, you know, officer Hemphill say that they hope that he storm their ass. Talking about the other officers when they finally catch

up to him. We also hear, and seeing that video of officer Hemphill deploy his taser and then talk about deploying his taser laser -- later. We did

reach out to the district attorney's office to see if we are expecting or should expect charges against this officer.

They didn't directly respond, only to say that they are looking at everyone who was on the scene there. All the first responders, all the officers on

scene. But they did not directly respond to our question. It is worth noting though, just very quickly, Isa, that according to his attorney,

Hemphill was not at the second scene, not at the scene where we see Tyre Nichols beating, but clearly, the fallout from his death is continuing.


SOARES: Indeed, thanks very much, Nick, great to see you, I appreciate it --

VALENCIA: Me too --

SOARES: And still to come tonight, can the Biden administration succeed where so many others have failed? We'll take a closer look at Antony

Blinken's Middle East tour and his push for a two-state solution. That is next.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Return now to our top story and an uphill battle for the U.S. Secretary of State. Antony Blinken is trying to restart

the Israeli-Palestinian peace process just as the violence between the two sides reaches the highest levels in years. He is in Jerusalem today

pressing for a two-state solution. Tomorrow, he will visit the Palestinian seat of power in Ramallah. On one side, the most right wing Israeli

government ever that includes ministers who want to annex the West Bank. On the other side, a Palestinian government that has said it no longer trusts

nor relies on the U.S. as mediator.

Let's get some perspective now from Dan Shapiro, former U.S. ambassador to Israel. He joins me now from Tel Aviv. Dan, great to have you on the show.

We heard from as -- we heard from our correspondent top of the show, Hadas, talking about this kind of temperature and the atmosphere on the ground

being very high at the moment, understandably, given what has happened. What did you hear from Secretary Blinken that perhaps could suggest that

the U.S. administration can and is willing to defuse this, Dan?

DAN SHAPIRO, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Well, first of all, I think he did not say that he is here to try to restart the Israeli-Palestinian

peace process, or that he has any expectation that there's a near-term prospect of achieving a two-state solution. That's my case, they have not

actually, in the two years of the Biden administration, appointed an envoy or made an attempt to try to resume negotiations, I think wisely so because

of the two countries are simply not oriented at the moment toward that kind of conflict ending agreement.

That's certainly true with the Israeli government there that was like it late last year and recently took office. As you mentioned, it's a very

right wing government and includes many members who oppose to take solution who support significant expansion of settlements, and who even support

annexation of the West Bank.

Now on the Palestinian side, you've got an aging and rather more bond leadership. Unfortunately, very active terrorist organizations had terrible

act of terrorism in Jerusalem on Friday that exemplifies this. What the Secretary really came to say is, look, rather better than watch both people

suffer through an escalation of violence that will really take things down into a rat hole, much better for both sides to pull back from the steps

that really fuel the conflict and at least stabilize things. That means no funds paid by the Palestinian authority to the families of those who commit

acts of terror. That means no significant extensions of settlements or de facto annexation in the west by Israel, and a series of other steps, which

together might calm the situation and create space later for some resumption of the negotiations but not now.

SOARES: Yes, the Blinken did say, and he did hint and I think that's fair to say the importance of the two-state solution, Dan, saying that anything

that moves us from it is detrimental to Israeli security. But I mean, Dan, Netanyahu didn't even broach the subject at all. How do you interpret this?

Is this a reflection perhaps of some nervousness, you think?

The government he leads, you know, over several terms as Prime Minister, starting in 2009, he'd been Prime Minister once earlier in the 1990s, but

in 2009, he, for the first time, endorsed and the first time any Prime Minister endorsed, a two-state solution. He said a Jewish state or a

Palestinian state that -- demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. And that actually was the formula under which the United

States, under George Mitchell as a special envoy, John Kerry as Secretary of State, try to resume and conduct negotiations toward actually achieving

that agreement.

In later governments, first the one he led in 2015. And then even more so the one he leads now, which has been much more dependent on rejection of a

two-state solution, the Prime Minister has been much quieter on that subject, and it -- during the years that President Trump was prime minister

-- was president, he spoke of something else, so less than a state or a state minus or a limited-only time.

SOARES: Dan, I'm going to interrupt.

SHAPIRO: Whatever the outcome is, it's only going to be achieved through negotiations.

SOARES: Dan, I'm going to interrupt because I would love to speak to you longer, but unfortunately, the signal is not great, and we're hearing kind

of every other word. So, we'll try and reconnect and see if we can get you back.

SHAPIRO: So sorry.

SOARES: But for the meantime, I want to leave it here. Apologies to our viewers not being able to hear fully what you had to say, Dan, but we'll

try and reconnect. Dan Shapiro there, former U.S. ambassador to Israel. Appreciate it, Dan.

SHAPIRO: Thank you.

SOARES: Now the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are reporting unnamed U.S. officials say Israel was responsible for drone attacks and a

military plant in Iran's central city of Isfahan. Note that CNN has not independently confirmed those reports. Tehran says small drones were used

to strike the Isfahan's side late on Saturday and you can see some of the attack here in this video.


Iran's foreign ministry has not publicly named an attacker and Israel has not commented.

Haiti's Prime Minister's calling for unity amid escalating gang violence. Conditions in the capital Port-au-Prince continue to deteriorate. Gangs

control much of the city's territory and their repeated killing of police has sparked angry protesters. Patrick Oppmann now tells us the U.N. is now

appealing for international help.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): In a city largely run by gangs where lawlessness is a part of daily life, this was an unusual day in

Port-au-Prince. Protesters block roads and storm Haiti's main airport, venting their fury at the country's Prime Minister, Ariel Henry. Faces

shielded by scarves and helmets, the protesters included members of the Haitian police force who say they're outraged by the recent deaths of

several officers by gangs. The protesters say the police need help like better weapons and helicopters to fight off the gangs and more support from

the government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are the future of the country. Without security, a country does not exist and cannot achieve development.

We are on the streets to fight against acts of banditry.

OPPMANN: The United Nations estimates that about 60 percent of Port-au- Prince is controlled by gangs, and the toll on police officers has been high. One human rights organization says at least 78 police officers have

been killed, an average of four a month since Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry came to power a year and a half ago. Henry says he's aware there must

be change, but appealed for people to act calmly.

ARIEL HENRY, HAITIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): In this difficult moment, we have to move forward. I call upon all of you to not mistake your

enemies. We have to fight the ongoing insecurity. We have to unite to fight it together.

OPPMANN: The wave of killings triggering a lawsuit by the Haitian police union against the Prime Minister and other top officials accusing them of

failing to help police officers in danger. The Prime Minister's Special Adviser has denied accusations by the police union that the government is

responsible for the deaths because it's arming gangs. And if the murders, rapes, and kidnappings that come with gang rule weren't enough, the U.N.

says gangs have blocked access to food and water in some communities, increasing the suffering of people affected by earthquakes, cholera, and

rampant food insecurity. More than three months ago, the Haitian government asked the international community for a strike force to help combat the

gangs. But so far, no nation has stepped up.


OPPMANN: The U.N. appealing again last week for countries to do more.

LA LIME: We're still not doing enough to be able to win this fight at this stage. We will not win the fight without significant levels of additional

support. The police simply need that.

OPPMANN: So far, the U.S. and Canada have pledged to provide aid and equipment to Haiti. But with a police force outgunned and overwhelmed by

gangs, the U.N. says Haiti needs much more than that. Patrick Oppmann, CNN Havana.


SOARES: From Haiti, we're taking you to South Africa because shortfalls in electricity have gotten worse over the past year, and businesses, including

the farms providing food for the country, are struggling to operate. CNN's David McKenzie has more, and a warning, some viewers may find the images



DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Tens of thousands of dead birds suffocated when the power failed and surges blew the backup systems.

It's the awful impact of a country in crisis.

But when you saw thousands of chickens die like this, what was it like to you?

HERMAN DU PREEZ, OWNER, FRANGIPANI FARMS: Glass of cold water in your face. It was so, so bad. It -- I never thought it would happen to me.

MCKENZIE: Herman Du Preez has struggled for months with up to 10 hours of rolling blackouts a day. He can't hide his anger at the government.

DU PREEZ: I'm not asking him to do me a favor. Really, I don't. I will do my job. I will produce food. I'll wake up early, work on Sundays to produce

food for South Africa. I like what I'm doing. Just do your job. You have one thing to do, just do it. Just give us power, please.

MCKENZIE: But power is in short supply. The farm that Du Preez and his father built from scratch now runs at a loss during the worst blackouts. He

says diesel costs could sink them.

MCKENZIE (on camera): The President himself has admitted that corruption, sabotage, or lack of skills has caused this issue. Why should this

government then be trusted to fix it?

VINCENT MAGWENYA, PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON: Well, David, as you know, this problem predates President Ramaphosa's time in government.

MCKENZIE (voiceover): Even the president now acknowledges that decades of mismanagement and breathtaking corruption crippled state-owned power

utility Eskom a lack of maintenance, a deep skills deficit, and regulatory red tape have all helped cause this crisis.


MCKENZIE (on camera): I'm going to repeat the same question, which is why should South Africans trust the government that caused this problem to fix

this problem?

MAGWENYA: We accept those mistakes. I've said it's, and the President has said it numerous times, that there were massive, regrettable policy

missteps that led us to where we are now. However, now we're focusing on the solution and the opportunities that have been presented by this crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forward to energy security, forward.

CROWD: Forward.

MCKENZIE (voiceover): Not everyone is buying it. The official opposition is calling for mass action.

MCKENZIE (on camera): You can sense the growing frustration in South Africa already. This crisis isn't just inconvenient for people, it can kill the

dreams of a better future.

MCKENZIE (voiceover): A better future is what Thando Makhubu and his family strive for.

MCKENZIE (on camera): Are you proud of your son.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I am. But we used to fight a lot.


MCKENZIE (voiceover): Thando turned a small government COVID grant into the Soweto Creamery. It's a huge hit here, thanks to the whole Makhubu family.

But when the power goes out, their profits evaporate.

MAKHUBU: So now, I'm about to turn on the generator.

MCKENZIE (voiceover): Their plans to expand put on hold.

MCKENZIE (on camera): What do you want the government to do?

MAKHUBU: I want the government to be brutally honest with us. If they are able to fix it, please fix it. If they can't, they must let us know. And it

makes us feel that we are not really in a democracy because it's meant to be for the people by the people, but it seemed as if for them by them, you


MCKENZIE (voiceover): At the very least, Thando and all South Africans just desperately want the lights to be turned back on. David McKenzie, CNN

Soweto, South Africa.


SOARES: And still to come tonight, the hunt is on for the astronaut who will take the next giant leap for mankind. Up next, CNN's exclusive insight

into the selection process of NASA's next moon mission crew. That is next.


SOARES: Now NASA is setting its sights on Mars, but first it has to head back to the moon. NASA's gearing up to announce that first crew to blast

off to the moon in five decades.


A small group of U.S. astronauts are in a tough race for a few coveted spots on Artemis II that will orbit the moon as a stepping stone for them,

further space exploration. CNN has gained an exclusive inside look at the secret selection process. And CNN's Space Correspondent Kristin Fisher

joins me now. So, Kristin, talk us through the selection process. Would you and I make the cut, do you think?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: We were already out because the 41 active NASA astronauts, in the running for the crew of Artemis II have

already been selected by NASA. So these are astronauts who are already at the very top of their game. They've already beat out thousands of

applicants to become astronauts, most of them have already flown to space. So, these really are the best of the best, the elite of the elite. And so

now, the very difficult process of deciding who is going to be on this first Artemis crew -- Artemis II, which is slated to launch sometime in


And these are our list of top contenders based on interviews that I conducted with about a dozen current and former NASA officials and

astronauts. It's a diverse mix, a diverse mix of gender, race, but also professional diversity. The people that I spoke to say it's very important

that there is a mix of skill sets. But also very important that you have quite a few test pilots on this flight because this is only the second time

that this vehicle has ever flown.

Isa, one of the other big questions has been just how much input is Washington, is NASA's leadership in Washington going to have on who makes

this final cut for these four seats? And I spoke with NASA Administrator, Bill Nelson, and he told me this, he said, "We," meaning NASA's leadership

in Washington, "stay out of the selection of the crew, that's done by the people at the Johnson Space Center. They will make the decision. I do not

know if they've decided who the crew is nor should I." That is a very important statement. Many of the people that I spoke with within NASA said,

you know that was news to them, not because they didn't think that historically that's how it's been done, but because this is such a

prestigious high profile mission that's costing, you know, about $100 billion by 2025.

So, this is all going to be done by about three people, the selection process in the Johnson Space Center. And as for who's going to make that

final cut, I would have to say, Isa, at the top of the list is an astronaut by the name of Reid Wiseman. He is the former Chief of the Astronaut Office

at NASA. And it's a prestigious job. But I can't tell you, in my reporting, how many people, Isa, told me that it's a job that right now nobody else

wants. Because it means if you're the Chief Astronaut, that you can't fly in space, because you're the person responsible for assigning the crews or

making the initial crew assignment.

So, Reid Wiseman actually stepped down from that position just a day or two before the first uncrewed test flight of the Artemis rocket back in

November. And it's widely believed that he is one of those very top candidates for making the cut for Artemis II, Isa.

SOARES: And know what I saw? If I can ask my producer, Anna, just to bring up the list of contenders. I mean, what struck me, first of all, is there a

for women. Hallelujah. And the other thing, you said they are highly qualified, clearly all overachievers. But that is not the deciding factor

here because sometimes the smallest thing can clinch it. So just explain this.

FISHER: So two things. In terms of women, I mean, Artemis, in Greek mythology, is the twin sister of Apollo. And so, from the very beginning of

this program, NASA has made it very clear that a woman is going to be the first person to walk on the moon along with the first person of color to

walk on the moon. So, that's why there's such a heavy emphasis on gender and race with these crew assignments. This has been part of the Artemis

program's DNA from the very beginning.

As to your second point, you know, Isa, yes, there are some very complicated things to consider about who's the best spacewalker, who's a

good test pilot, who is good at EVA's and robotics. But at the end of the day, as a former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman explained to me, it can

come down to something as frustrating and small as what size spacesuit you wear. If you do not have -- if you're a size extra large and they only have

a medium and a large, you don't get assigned to that mission. So it's little things like that that can drive astronauts waiting for a flight

assignment. Absolutely crazy. But that's what everybody wants.

SOARES: That is so unfair.

FISHER: I know.

SOARES: I know so unfair. You train so hard, right, to get this gig and you might not get it because the suit might not -- may not have the seat size.


FISHER: It's happened.

SOARES: But we wish them all the best of luck. Kristin Fisher, appreciate it. Great reporting. Thank you.

And still to come tonight, a new commitment to protecting the Amazon. CNN takes you on a law enforcement raid to stop deforestation in Brazil. That

is next.


SOARES: Brazil is stepping up law enforcement rates to combat deforestation in the Amazon. It is part of new President Lula da Silva's commitment to

stop further destruction in the vital region that escalated, of course as you remember, under the predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro. CNN's Rafael Romo

takes us on that raid.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): They move slowly through the jungle. Their weapons are cocked and loaded. It doesn't take long before

they find what they're looking for. Illegal logging has been a challenge in Brazil for decades, but it's gotten worse, experts say, during the last

four years when President Jair Bolsonaro was in power.

The commander in charge of the unit conducting the raid says the previous government only cared about solving emergency situations but lacked

strategic planning to really combat deforestation. His team later makes an arrest.

In his first speech after taking office on January 1st, current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said one of his government's goals is to reach

zero deforestation in the Amazon, adding that Brazil doesn't need to get rid of its trees to remain an agricultural powerhouse. After a series of

massive wildfires in the Amazon in August of 2019, then President Bolsonaro said his government had zero tolerance not only for crime in general, but

also for environmental issues.

BRIAN WINTER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, AMERICAS QUARTERLY: But that wasn't the case under Bolsonaro. During his government, his four years in power, we saw

deforestation levels increase by 40 percent during that time, and so the challenge for Lula here is going to be enormous.

ROMO (on camera): Between 2019 and 2022, the four years Bolsonaro was president, Brazil was more than 45,000 square kilometers of forests,

according to Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, or INPE. By comparison, when Lula was first in power between 2002 and 2010,

deforestation shrank by 65 percent.


WINTER: The forest in part is seen as desirable by loggers and others, because not just of the trees themselves, which of course they can sell.

But also because of what happens when the trees go away, principally cattle pastures, soy, and other crops.

ROMO (voice-over): Back in Para State, other agents with the Brazilian Environmental Agency destroy an illegal sawmill. Agent Natalia Castro says

she's glad they're once again able to act against illegal deforestation and remain committed to the Amazon's survival. Protecting it is not only vital

for Brazil, but also for the world. According to the World Bank, the Amazon "Hosts 40 percent of the world's remaining rainforest." Rafael Romo, CNN



SOARES: And finally, everyone's favorite vampire slayer shares a few thoughts on the enduring legacy of Buffy if you remember that. I'm telling

you a bit my age, actress Michelle Gellar, who played Buffy said the character inspire generations of young women and she said these empowering

words, which were chosen for our quote of the day, this is what she said, "Every girl who wants the power can have the power." She's quite right as

well. Thank you very much for your company. I'll leave you with that. And do stay right here. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS is here with Richard Quest.