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Isa Soares Tonight

Lebanon Fires The Largest Barrage Of Rockets Into Israel Since 2006; Anger Erupts In Paris As Protesters Turn Violent; Finland Joins NATO, Doubling Alliance's Border With Russia; French Unions Refuse To Give In After Failed Talks; Tennessee Democratic Lawmakers Could Be Expelled Over Gun Control Protest; Snake On A Plane. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 06, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show everyone, I'm Isa Soares. We are following two breaking stories tonight. A

barrage of rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel. It is the largest such attack in years. It is a sign the situation is escalating after two Israeli

police raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque. And --




SOARES: Chaos in France. A day of pension protests and violent as demonstrators launched smoke bombs at police and stormed the BlackRock

investment building in Paris. We'll have the very latest. But first, this evening, Israel's prime minister has convened his security cabinet after

the largest barrage of rockets fired at Israel from Lebanon in years.

Israel is blaming Palestinian militants for the attacks. It says most of the rockets were intercepted, but six landed in Israel, causing some

damage. A U.N. peacekeeping force that patrols the Israel-Lebanon border area is urging restraint, calling the situation extremely serious. An

Israeli military spokesman links the attacks to Israel's raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, saying the operations created, quote, "very negative


Israel stormed the mosque if you remember, last night, for a second time during Ramadan prayers. And video posted on social media, like this one

you're seeing here, showing police beating Palestinians have triggered international outrage. Israel says it was clearing rioters who tried to

barricade themselves inside.

Let's get more on all of this, journalist Elliott Gotkine joins me now, he's following all the developments for us this evening from Jerusalem. So

Elliott -- but clearly deteriorating and volatile situation with Israel, I believe in the last few minutes, reporting a new mortar attack from

Lebanon. Just bring us up-to-date with the very latest.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: That's right, Isa. These mortar attacks were on the town of Metula --


Excuse me, in the far north of Israel near the Lebanese border, and this obviously follows -- as you said in your introduction, a barrage of some

three dozen rockets fired from southern Lebanon towards Israel. Now, Israel's spokesman for the international media, Richard Hecht, says that

they think it was either Hamas or Islamic Jihad, and that's important that they believe that it came from Palestinian factions and not the militants

of Hezbollah.

The militant group backed of course, by Iran, in which hold sway in southern Lebanon. Now, of course, it's hard to believe that Hezbollah was

unaware of these rockets being fired towards Israel or that it didn't tacitly approve of them. But the significance here, of course, is that as

long as Israel doesn't think that it's Hezbollah, it's unlikely to retaliate towards Hezbollah, and thus, reduces the risk of a major

conflagration of the sort that we saw in 2006.

Now, at the same time, Israel is saying that it will respond at a place and a time of its choosing. And we've also heard in the last half an hour, a

statement put out by Israel's Defense Ministry, saying that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has met with the security establishment, and he said

to the defense establishment that it needs to be prepared for, in its words, all possible responses.

But it's important to know Israel hasn't retaliated so far. There were earlier reports that said that it had -- it hasn't retaliated so far, but

it would be very surprising if it didn't retaliate in some capacity, although that retaliation would most likely be towards positions where

those rockets or mortars were fired towards Israel.

Positions belonging to Palestinian militants, as opposed to the militants of Hezbollah. But as you say, it's a very concerning situation. UNIFIL, the

U.N. body that monitors the border between Israel and Lebanon has called for calm, and the Lebanese government has also said that it is keen on

maintaining calm and stability on the border with Israel.

But from this position where we are right now, it seems very unlikely that calm and stability is going to be restored any time soon. Isa?

SOARES: Yes, and like you said, Elliott, you know, it appears significant that it's not Hezbollah.


But the idea of spokesperson that you just quoted there, he said, "they assume Hezbollah knew about" -- I'm just reading his quote, "knew about and

Lebanon also has responsibility". I mean, do you think that then this raises a specter of a potential new front here? What kind of response? I

know they're looking at the response. But what kind of a response are we -- should we expect here from the idea?

GOTKINE: Last we heard, we heard -- we were hearing from Dennis Ross speaking with CNN just in the past hour, saying that of course, there is

always the danger that there's some kind of miscalculation either on the part of Hezbollah or on the idea, for example, the idea of where to attack

Hezbollah sites either deliberately or by mistake, then that could perhaps result in further retaliation from Hezbollah.

And then things could escalate from there. But where we are right now, given that we've seen a couple of injuries in Israel and no major damage,

and it coming from Palestinian groups, Palestinian militant groups as opposed to Hezbollah, that I think the response is likely to be -- to be

relatively measured, and that Israel will be seeking to avoid a major escalation with Hezbollah.

And by the sounds of it, Hezbollah isn't looking for a major escalation just yet, either, because otherwise, it would have been the one firing

rockets towards Israel as well. Isa?

SOARES: Elliott Gotkine with the very latest for us in Jerusalem. Thanks very much, Elliott. While Jordan has a unique role as a custodian of the

Al-Aqsa Mosque under an international and recognized agreement, and it's strongly condemning Israel's raids at the holy site. Foreign Minister Ayman

Al Safadi spoke to CNN, warning of a very dangerous moment for the region. Have a listen to this.


AYMAN SAFADI, FOREIGN MINISTER, JORDAN: What we see unfolding on the Lebanese border is obviously a consequence reaction to what we saw

happening in Al-Aqsa, it is the outcome of the unprovoked Israeli aggression on peaceful worshippers performing their religious duty. We are

seeing -- it's almost deja vu what we've seen before.

You cannot do the same thing and expect a different reaction. We always said that respecting Palestinians right to freedom of worship, allowing

people to worship freely, not storming the Al-Aqsa will prevent us from getting to the eruption of violence. Unfortunately, Israel did the exact

opposite, and we are at this very dangerous moment.


SOARES: And that was Jordan's Foreign Minister speaking earlier to CNN. Well, French President Emmanuel Macron is having a hard time bringing calm

to the streets. Unions want the government to withdraw its unpopular legislation, raising the retirement age from 62 to 64. But the government

says that is not happening, and talks with unions failed to reach a solution.




SOARES: And because it failed to reach a solution, protesters are marching again on Thursday, the 11th day in fact of nationwide strikes this year.

Some union members stormed a building as you see there in Paris, that is home to several financial companies, including BlackRock. As management

company, it's one of the biggest in the world. Melissa Bell is in Paris for us with the very latest.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another march turns to violence. The streets of Paris made weekly a battlefield. Between a violent

minority targeting riot police, and officers now accused of the disproportionate use of force by human rights groups, facing allegations of

arbitrary arrest, the excessive use of batons and targeting journalists.

For weeks, the protest against the government's plans to raise the retirement age in France from 62 to 64, were remarkably peaceful. But the

forcing through parliament of the reform in march changed that. The weekly protests turning more violent with the so-called Black Bloc more visibly

present. Masked militants who use violence to target symbols of the state and capitalism.

GERALD DARMANIN, INTERIOR MINISTER, FRANCE: It is everything that resembles authority. Everything that resembles the republic. Everything

that resembles the republic as we have loved it for at least, two centuries, that is attacked by these ultra left thugs.

EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT, FRANCE (through translator): We will not give in to this violence. In a democracy, violence is not allowed.

BELL: Since 2016, the loosely-organized group of anarchists has sought direct confrontation with the police whenever it could, and have now

attached themselves to the previously peaceful pension protests. In a rare interview, CNN was able to meet with one.


(on camera): Is it about reclaiming the streets then?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because the streets are just for us. Because the streets is for the people. We want the police to get out of the streets!

Get out of our life.

BELL (voice-over): For the police, the job is an enviable one. Keeping order on the streets even as they are directly targeted. Since the start of

the pension protests in January, more than a 1,000 policemen have been injured, but of those, 768 were injured in the last two weeks, according to

the Interior Ministry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Violence is no longer on the fringe of demonstration. It's become central to it. In fact, the people

have understood that, and protesting calmly, they'll get nothing, especially from this government.

BELL: But in a worsening cycle of violence, the police is now accused of its own disproportionate use of force. Amnesty International tweeting the

hashtag, "protect the protest". And French police facing 45 official investigations into allegations of excessive force, according to the

Interior Ministry. One brigade in particular, created during the Yellow Vest movement, le brave(ph) accused of particular ferocity.

With order on the frontline of the protest movement largely broken down, there are weekly victims on all sides. Protesters have lost eyes,

testicles, many others have been put in hospital, with distrust now high as each side seeks to reclaim the streets.


SOARES: And that was Melissa Bell reporting. She is on the ground in Paris right now, we will make contact with her and bring that to you as soon as

we can, of course. Meanwhile, we can go to Regis Le Sommier of the investigative magazine "Omerta". Regis, thank you very much for taking the

time to speak to us. As you heard there from our correspondent Melissa Bell, 11th day of protests, and it's definitely got quite fraught today.

How do you see this playing out Regis?

REGIS LE SOMMIER, MANAGING EDITOR, OMERTA: Well, I mean, we've got the news as Parisian, you know with -- you know, this continued level of

unrest, as you pointed out, it's been the 11th day, it's probably going to last maybe a lot longer. We don't know yet when those protests are going to

stop. But definitely, what happened -- and you mentioned it in your report, that the fact that the government tried to bypass parliament and impose the

reform of retirement was a tipping point that created the unrest and made it even more violent.

And we also have in France, and especially with the parliament, you know, essential number of MPs from the extreme left which are betting on this

agitation of the street to actually gain point against the government. And you also have others on the far right that are also actually putting

pressure on the government.

So Macron -- President Macron is at the moment really isolated, and we don't know what's going to happen because his Prime Minister Elisabeth

Borne tried to welcome the unions, tried to talk to them two days ago, and the meeting didn't go very well because after only two minutes, they showed

up and then they left --

SOARES: Yes --

LE SOMMIER: Saying, if you don't -- if you don't stop with the reform, then there's no point in talking to each other.

SOARES: Yes, they agree to disagree. You said that President Macron is isolated, you know, but the repair -- the pension reform has gone through

parliament. So what is the next hurdle here? And what are the chances that actually President Macron may lose this, depending, of course, on what

we're seeing on the streets -- because of what we're seeing on the streets of Paris.

LE SOMMIER: Well, there's no turning back on the part of the government. They think it's too late. The level, you know, the dialogue that the

government tried to make with the unions and various other departments should have been done much earlier, but it was not actually. Right now as

the legislation been bypassed and imposed by the government, I don't see any way where they can retreat or terminate their threat form or try to,

you know, work something else.

So, it's going to be -- you know, a struggle, a constant struggle between the street, and as you mentioned as well, at first, the demonstration we're

pacifists, you know, there was no -- it were peaceful, there was no riots, and right now, we're seeing the same thing that happened with the Yellow

Vest, you remember, this widespread unrest that happened in France two years -- three years ago. We're seeing the same thing that the extreme left

is trying to take advantage of this, to create more chaos.


And today, we have to notice, you said that BlackRock headquarters in Paris were targeted, but also one symbolic restaurant called La Rotonda, where

actually Emmanuel Macron celebrated his first victory when he --

SOARES: Yes --

LE SOMMIER: Became president, and it was set on fire. So it's very symbolic. They really are trying to go at, you know, symbol of the power

and of the government.

SOARES: Yes, symbol of power, symbol of government, symbols as well of capitalism. That is clear. Regis Le Sommier, thank you very much for taking

the time to speak to us, Regis --

LE SOMMIER: Thank you --

SOARES: Appreciate it. Now, Russia's war on Ukraine is also at the top of the French president's agenda. Emmanuel Macron met with his Chinese

counterpart Xi Jinping, and as you see there in Beijing hours ago. The talks are part of a three-day visit to China. Mr. Macron is trying to

convince Xi, to quote, "reason with Russia and help negotiate peace in Ukraine."

Well, according to French diplomatic sources, Mr. Xi told Mr. Macron, he's ready to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the right moment.

Here's more of what the French President had to say.


MACRON: The Russian aggression in Ukraine has dealt a blow to the stability, it ended decades of peace in Europe. I know I can count on you.

Moreover, under the two principles I have just mentioned to bring Russia to its senses and everyone to the negotiating table. And we will come back to

this in detail, but we need to find a lasting peace.

That is to say a peace that respects internationally-recognized borders and avoids any form of escalation. I believe that this is also an important

question for China as much as it is for France and for Europe.


SOARES: Well, senior Ukrainian officials say they will never concede Crimea to Russia nor any other Ukrainian land. This comes after a report in

"The Financial Times" on Wednesday, quoting the deputy head of the Ukrainian president's office. He told "The FT" that Kyiv is ready to quote,

"open a diplomatic page with Moscow if Ukraine's counteroffensive is successful, and if Ukrainian forces reach the administrative border of

occupied Crimea", as you can see there in your map.

But Ukrainian officials are quick to assert the key for negotiations is that Russia leave all Ukrainian territory, including Crimea. David McKenzie

joins me more with on that. So, David, I mean, I'm -- I suspect many were surprised by those comments by the deputy head of Zelenskyy's office, who

made those comments to "The FT". What else is Zelenskyy's government saying, following those comments on Crimea?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, the president's office did confirm the comments were made to "The Financial

Times". And you had that pretty rapid walk-back for several key members of the administration, including that individual's boss, saying that there is

no way at this stage that they are going to be looking at any concessions to the Russian government when it comes to negotiating the end of this


And that's been, Isa, pretty consistent view. The talk of giving up Crimea or giving up any portion of the Ukrainian territory is absolutely taboo in

Zelenskyy's government. And so, there was a bit of a raised eyebrow when those comments surfaced, does speak to either a bit of internal

disagreement or perhaps showing other hand, which shouldn't have, but it's -- you know, it's not -- it isn't worth speculating at this stage.

The main issue is that they are looking to push a counteroffensive, and all this talk is hypothetical anyways, because there's a lot of Ukrainian

ground that needs to be retaken before you even start talking about Crimea. Isa?

SOARES: Yes, and as you have reported, you've been in and out of the country numerous times, David, and as you've reported much, of course, has

been lost in this war, including one of the country's most beloved symbols. Just talk to us about that. What that is and what you uncovered here?

MCKENZIE: Well, it's pretty fascinating. On Wednesday, the security service in a joint investigation with the police, announced they are

looking into the fact that the Antonov Company head at the time -- and now, that's the cargo plan head is being investigated for not protecting a key

asset. One official called it, to us, like the Statue of Liberty or the Burj Khalifa of Ukraine, we went in to investigate.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): The first hours of the war, Russian elite forces descending on Hostomel Airport outside Kyiv. Their intended launch pad to

the capital, it didn't work out. Ukrainian forces famously pushed the Russians back, and they made a discovery at Hostomel, the pride of Ukraine.

The remarkable AM 225 or Mriya cargo plane gutted in the fighting.

YEVHEN BASHYNSKY, CAPTAIN, ANTONOV COMPANY: You know, it was feeling like you are a part of something great. It's the first time pilot Yevhen

Bashynsky has come back.


MCKENZIE (on camera): Yevhen, coming back here, it must be quite hard for you. What's the emotion like?

BASHYNSKY: It's very -- it's very hard to be here and to see all this situation destroyed. Plane destroyed, hangars, it's quite hard to see.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Because the Ukrainian Antonov Company says it wants to rebuild this one of a kind giant, no matter what it takes. Designer

Valerie Castillo(ph) says they've already retrieved match of what they can use.

(on camera): You can feel the extraordinary size of this plane inside the fuselage. And Mriya was the heaviest plane in the world, and it could carry

up to 250 tons inside or even on top.

(voice-over): Designed to transport the Soviet-era Buran spacecraft, the Antonov Company refurbished the Mriya multiple times with six turbo fan

engines, each with more than 50,000 pounds of thrust and a 32-wheel landing-gear system, the Mriya was a marvel, an outsized hit with plane

spotters and aviation enthusiasts.

(on camera): When you were flying this plane, so many people wanted to take photos of it. Follow it. What was that like?

BASHYNSKY: I was feeling great responsibility, not only to operate this plane properly, correctly. But it was also a great responsibility because

you're attracting a lot of attention. A few days after, you can open the YouTube and see, oh, what have you done?


MCKENZIE (voice-over): But to put Mriya back in the sky, the Antonov Company says it could cost nearly a billion dollars and take years. But for

Ukrainians, it's a point of pride.


MCKENZIE: Now, Isa, of course, there are other priorities in this country as the war grinds on, but you really get the sense of the pride, both of

the Antonov Company and just ordinary Ukrainians. Of course, the plane was built here during Soviet times, but that's part of the issue here. It was

refurbished, became very much part of the Ukrainian identity, and I'm sure many plane spotters would love to see it in the air again. Isa?

SOARES: Indeed, David McKenzie for us this hour in Lviv, Ukraine, thanks very much, David, appreciate it. And still to come on the show tonight,

NATO's newest member is Russia's next door neighbor, how Moscow is promising to respond. That story just ahead.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Now handshake today in Beijing could go a long way towards easing some of the worst conflicts across the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia and Iran, traditionally bitter rivals who fuel numerous proxy wars are taking another big step in restoring relations. Our Becky Anderson

reports on their highest level talks in years.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iran and Saudi Arabia, two Middle Eastern powers, overcoming years of hostility,

signing an agreement to re-establish relations and reopen embassies. The two sides also taking steps to resume direct flights and issue visas. But

this pivotal meeting not taking place in the Middle East, they've flown to Beijing.

China acting as the guarantor of this agreement, and to, quote, "contribute Chinese wisdom and strength to the security, stability and development of

the Middle East region."

VALI NASR, PROFESSOR, MIDDLE EAST STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: But first of all, we're seeing a China that has gone beyond its usual only

business, to get into security matters, and it's also building a relationship of trust with Saudi Arabia. I think it's a big deal that Saudi

Arabia is trusting China to deliver Iran and to monitor an agreement.

ANDERSON: The two broke off relations in 2016 after Saudi Arabia executed Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, Saudi Arabia's embassy in Tehran was ransacked.

For years, the two have opposed each other on most conflicts in the region, from Yemen to Iraq and Lebanon. Iran accused of being behind a major attack

on Saudi Arabia's Aramco oil facilities in 2019 claimed by the Iranian- backed Houthis.

And at their lowest point, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman compared Iran's supreme leader to Hitler.

MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN, CROWN PRINCE OF SAUDI ARABIA: He wants to create his own project in the Middle East, very much like Hitler, who wanted to expand

at the time.

ANDERSON: The re-establishment of relations comes after multiple rounds of negotiations between the two sides. Saudi Arabia trying to tone down

regional tensions as it seeks to diversify its economy. Iran trying to come out of its international isolation, following months of mass protests and

years of sanctions. The United States apparently welcoming the agreement.

NED PRICE, SPOKESPERSON, STATE DEPARTMENT, UNITED STATES: We support dialogue, we support direct diplomacy, we support anything that would serve

to de-escalate tensions in the region, and potentially help to prevent conflict. If this is the end result of what was announced in recent days,

that would be a very good thing.

ANDERSON: But it's a diplomatic win for a more assertive China, with Beijing vowing to play an active role in the region. Becky Anderson, CNN,

Abu Dhabi.


SOARES: Well, meanwhile, it is a busy day in Moscow as Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts one of his closest international allies, Belarusian

President Alexander Lukashenko says he feels "ideological confrontation between east and west won't weaken even after the guns fall silent" -- I'm

quoting there, "in Ukraine".

And Russia says NATO is inching closer and closer to their borders, and they have to increase security. Well, NATO's land border with Russia has

just doubled, thanks to its newest member, Finland. The Nordic nation officially joined the military alliance, if you remember, on Tuesday.

Finland was greeted with a warm welcome from the 30 other member countries and with the expected backlash from Russia.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, a well known face here on the show joins me now from Nairobi, Kenya. Minister, great to have you back on the

show, and congratulations, first of all, on joining the NATO military alliance. What does this mean for Finland and to its security here,


PEKKA HAAVISTO, FOREIGN MINISTER, FINLAND: Thank you, and of course, Tuesday was a great day for Finland. We saw Finnish flag flying in Brussels

in the NATO headquarters. But for Finland, it means that the threshold for anyone to make any attack or aggression against Finland, threshold

comes now much more higher, because we have 30 other NATO countries that can help us --

SOARES: Yes --

HAAVISTO: And, of course, we want to keep our security, take good care of our security and keep our border calm also towards Russia.

SOARES: How much is this Minister? How much is Finland's assertion here a lesson, would you say, for President Putin, a strategic blow, a political

blow as well for Putin, who attacked of course, Ukraine to halt what he says was the eastward expansion of NATO?

HAAVISTO: I like to say that common opinion in Finland started to change after the Russian attack against Ukraine, 24th of February last year. And

without that, that guide, I think this would have been taken much longer time for Finland to join NATO.

We did now things as rapidly as we could. And also, we got Sweden on board to apply for the membership. And we hope that, in the coming summer,

latest, Sweden will also be member.

SOARES: But not everyone, of course, is pleased, I think it's fair to say, we mentioned with your accession to NATO. The Russian foreign ministry had

this to say. We've got a little quote from what they say.

They said, "The Russian Federation will have to respond with military, technical as well as other measures in order to address national security

threats arising from Finland joining NATO."

How do you interpret those comments, Minister?

HAAVISTO: Well, of course, this is a rhetoric that we have heard earlier. But Finland is definitely not threatening anyone. We respect the peaceful

border. It's 800 miles, more than 1,300 kilometers common border and we want to maintain that border peaceful.

But we have also right to defend ourselves. And we have seen one Russian attack against Ukraine and, of course, (INAUDIBLE) security or (INAUDIBLE)

people, so we can imagine all kinds of future scenarios against which we have to protect ourselves.

SOARES: Yes, speaking of protecting yourself, you share very long borders, you said, with Russia.

What is Finland and NATO doing to strengthen that?

Will we be seeing NATO troops in Finland?

HAAVISTO: We have actually quite strong military ourselves. We have almost 300,000 reservists. We have a conscription army. We have ordered 64 F-35

fighters already before the Russian attack against Ukraine. So we have always been taking care of our defense.

But of course, we will have more exercises with NATO countries. We will also take part of the NATO military planning. Hopefully together, soon,

together with Sweden, so in any kind of risky scenarios, of course, we know that there will be also help from the NATO countries.

SOARES: Right, so military exercises would take place. As you well know, Minister, President Putin has been meeting with president Lukashenko of

Belarus and Putin says it plans to -- he plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

What is your reaction to that, to that move?

HAAVISTO: Actually, my reaction is that I feel very sad for Belarus because we have seen, some years ago, a very strong democratic movement in

Belarus, wanting more contacts also to the Western European countries and so forth.

And of course, if Russian tactical nuclear weapons are maintained in Belarus, it will make much smaller the possibility for Belarus to move

freely also toward the Western community in the -- in the future.

SOARES: Minister, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us and congratulations once again. Thank you very much.

HAAVISTO: Thank you.

SOARES: And still to come tonight, tensions in Tennessee: three Democrats face removal from office after taking part in a gun control protest. We are

live for you in Nashville next.





SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. I want to take you back to Paris, one of our top stories. Protests have been happening for much of the day. It is

the 11th round of nationwide strikes over the French government's pension reforms.

The 12th round is already in the works. Local media now reporting it will happen on April 13th. That is just a day before the constitutional council

is to decide whether the government's pension bill is lawful or not. Melissa Bell is in Paris for us, standing by.

Melissa paint us a scene of what you are seeing. I think it's still large crowds behind you there, from what I can see.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What they have been trying to do is really clear the Place (INAUDIBLE) where this 11th day of March

ended a short while ago. A few protesters still facing off there with the riot police that are trying to encourage them to go home.

But what we've seen over the course of the day is more than half a million people take to the streets of France, sliding down on last week but still

an important momentum that the unions are managing to keep up.

And once again, the confirmation on this 11th day of mass protests and strikes, that increasingly that violent minority seeking direct

confrontation with the police have been taking front and central stage.

SOARES: Melissa, of course, President Macron, meanwhile, is in Beijing, refusing to budge home, saying the pension reforms, of course, will go


Where does this then leave the unions?

We are now looking at these live pictures.

Laura (ph), just double checking.

These are live pictures you're looking at now from Paris.

Do we still have Melissa?

Melissa, we're just seeing some pictures coming --


SOARES: -- go ahead, go ahead.

BELL: The French president, you're quite right, not in France for this 11th day of protests but still a determined bunch of protesters on the

streets, determined to make themselves heard.

And the unions, saying that they remain as convinced as ever and as united as ever that they will continue keeping up this momentum. Bear in mind it

hasn't just been a protest. It has been the strike action across the country.

So teachers, hospital workers once again, people blocking refineries, even as you've seen that degeneration of the march and some of those various

points along it over the course the day.

Their point is really to try and make France as ungovernable as they can. Their aim: to bring the government back to the negotiating table.

SOARES: And the constitutional council, of course, that's going to happen on April -- was it April 12th, yes April 13th or April 12th. What -- wait,

I mean, how much do the images, the scenes we're seeing out in public play out in Paris?

Melissa, how much will that weigh on that decision?

BELL: I think for now the government has been absolutely clear. Every week, especially for the last two or three weeks, we've seen this increase

in the violence of these protests and the determination of those that are out here to seek that direct confrontation.

And really, what we're hearing from the government is their steadfast conviction they intend to carry on. Normally the constitutional council is

something of a formality. We don't know whether this time it will strike down some parts of the law or decide it's unconstitutional.

But in general, it is just -- it is just -- it is -- it is -- it is simply a formality. It is a much more controversial reform this time. So we'll

await next Friday to find out exactly what it says.

The night before, the unions will once again be out here, though, as you say, to try and convince the government of their noise. And I think it's

important to note as well that, whilst it's a small minority we're seeing here on the streets of Paris tonight, it is, the polls suggest, a majority

of French people who are against the reforms.

I think that is what the unions are hoping to play on.


BELL: They intend to stay out here because they have the support of the French public. For now, though, no suggestion that the government is still

planning to do anything other than plow on with this reform and the many other reforms it has planned beyond it, Isa.

SOARES: Melissa Bell for us in Paris, thanks very much, Melissa, appreciate it.

And we'll be back after this very short break.




SOARES: Tennessee House Republicans are scheduled to vote on expelling three Democrats who took part in a gun control protest on the chamber floor

last week. They protested after six people, including three children, were killed, remember, in a school shooting in Nashville.

The tragedy saw hundreds of people march to the Tennessee state capital, calling for stricter gun laws.


SOARES (voice-over): You hear them there, "No action, no peace." And this was the moment really inside the chamber, those three Democratic lawmakers

joined the protest, using a bullhorn, chanting that, "No action, no peace."

And now you are looking at live pictures from inside the capital building. You are watching really the legislative in action as they debate whether or

not to remove these three Democratic lawmakers.


SOARES: Our Ryan Young has been on the ground, speaking to protesters. Have a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want people to know that this is not a political issue. It's a child issue. If you if you wash away Democrat, Republican,

it's about kids.

And do we want them to be safe or not?

I will stand in front of children and protect as many as I can with my body as well all of these ladies. But we shouldn't have to. And those kids

shouldn't be afraid. And you just need to drop your pride and decide what you really care about.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Are you guys frustrated with the idea that now we're talking about three lawmakers being maybe thrown out of the house

instead of worrying about the kids?


YOUNG: What bothers you the most about that, if you don't mind sharing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's being done purposely because they think if everybody is going to worry about that, then they'll just stop about

guns. We will be sad. We'll protest for a couple days and move on.

But we're tired of it and we're sick of it. And we're sick of children dying. And nothing you do is going to distract me. I will be loud and I

will be here always.


SOARES: We'll stay on top of this story, of course, for you from Nashville.


SOARES: Now as tensions between the U.S. and China continue to rise and Beijing tries to project its power over the Indo Pacific with the world's

largest navy, the U.S. is focusing on deterrence. One part of that is military might. Fleets of ships and submarines to keep the peace. Will

Ripley has an exclusive look aboard.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Our journey begins in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the bustling hub of the U.S.

Pacific Fleet. Covering almost half the world. 100 million square miles. 1,500 aircraft and around 200 ships. Including more than half of the Navy's

nuclear-powered submarines.

Today, we're getting an exclusive look inside the USS Mississippi, one of the most powerful warships on the planet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- guys -- welcome aboard.

RIPLEY: With a crew of around 140 people.

Rear Admiral Jeff Jablon is commander of the Pacific fleet submarine force, facing new powerful threats in the hotly contested Indo- Pacific.

RIPLEY: Are you concerned about what China's Navy is doing particularly in the South China Sea and around Taiwan?

REAR ADMIRAL JEFF JABLON, COMMANDER, UNITED STATES PACIFIC FLEET SUBMARINE FORCE: I am concerned. in today's world, we are facing two nuclear peer

adversaries, where we've never had that before.

The Soviet Union and post-Soviet Union Russia was our peer adversary.

We're now facing China which has expanded and modernized their nuclear capabilities.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The Mississippi is one of 49 fast attack submarines in the U.S. Naval fleet. The fleet also has 14 larger submarines, carrying

nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.

The U.S., U.K. and Australia's newly announced AUKUS partnership will send nuclear-powered submarines to Perth, potentially challenging China's

ambitions for the region.

Beijing now has the world's largest navy but U.S. submarines have the world's most advanced technology, a key advantage in underwater warfare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mississippi is ready to dive.



RIPLEY: The sub is capable of diving deep and fast, descending hundreds of feet in a matter of seconds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three hundred feet.

RIPLEY: At angles of up to 25 degrees. Even standing up can be a challenge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 400 feet. RIPLEY: Traveling underwater makes the submarine almost impossible to detect. The nuclear reactor is so quiet, the

sub submarine makes less noise than a whale. In the dark depths of the ocean, there is no light to navigate.

The team relies on highly sensitive sonar.

JABLON: While the ocean environment is very unforgiving. So there are a lot of challenges that prevent a submarine from hearing another submarine

or another surface ship.

And you've got to be able to understand those different challenges.

RIPLEY: The USS Mississippi, like all of America's nuclear submarines, can't essentially sustain itself under the water for weeks or even months

at a time because of the nuclear reactor that powers them.

They breathe, recirculated air and purified water.

The only thing that they need to actually get resupplied with is food for the crew members. And that means that they get used to spending a very long

time not only without sunshine and blue skies but also without regular communication or conversations with their families.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The food on submarines is surprisingly good. But spending months under water can be tough.

No mobile phones allowed. Outside communication only possible on e- mails. Sailors have to look after each other.

RIPLEY: What most surprised you about life working on a submarine?

STEVEN WONG, CREW MEMBER, USS MISSISSIPPI: Honestly, what surprised me the most was like the people. How close you get with each other. These kinds of

the shared hardships you share with each other end up with a really strong bond.

RIPLEY: The crew relies on that bond, carrying out complicated dangerous tasks inside the torpedo room.


RIPLEY: Technicians practice loading high precision weapons capable of taking out other submarines and ships.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Understanding warning.

RIPLEY: At the back of the sub, Jack O'Brien works with a team of technical engineers.

Do you ever get bored on a sub?

JACK O'BRIEN, CREW MEMBER, USS MISSISSIPPI: No, no. Absolutely not. Every day I come in, thinking I know what I'm -- thinking I know exactly what's

going to happen, what I got to do.

RIPLEY: Rear Admiral Jablon says deterrence is the key objective. Even winning a war against an increasingly powerful China would likely result in

devastating losses for both sides.

JABLON: I'm confident that should we be called upon to fight and hopefully, that will never happen, that we would win.

RIPLEY: Submarines like the USS Mississippi are constantly preparing for war. Ready at a moment's notice for whatever the future holds -- Will

Ripley, CNN, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.






SOARES: Now climate change is increasing the risk of heavy rain and flooding and that is putting more people's homes and lives, of course, at

risk. In our new series, "Growing Bangladesh," CNN meets an architect in Dhaka who has designed a unique solution. Our Kristie Lu Stout has more for




KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Dhaka, the shape of the city is changing by the second. Award-winning architect Marina

Tabassum hasn't just been watching it grow; she's been helping to build it.

MARINA TABASSUM, ARCHITECT (voice-over): I really love designing public projects, especially places where people would gather.

STOUT (voice-over): Tabassum designed the Bait Ur Rouf Mosque, which won the Aga Khan Award in 2016. It is both a place of worship and a community


TABASSUM (voice-over): Bait Ur Rouf Mosque has a special place in my heart. I was the architect, the fundraiser, the builder, all in one.

STOUT (voice-over): She also designed the Museum of Independence monument, a gathering place for many in the capital short on public space.

TABASSUM (voice-over): A city and its health is actually defined by how good your public spaces are.

STOUT (voice-over): Her latest project is called Khudi Bari. These temporary homes and public spaces respond to one of Bangladesh's biggest

threats: climate change. Along Bangladesh's river deltas, erosion is common and, as the sandbanks shift, so do the people.

TABASSUM (voice-over): A lot of people lose their land. A lot of towns have vanished to the water. We decided to focus on this idea, that can we

create a structure that could be lightweight, could be assembled and disassembled, like a flat back system.

And people could carry that with them when they move from one location to another location.

STOUT (voice-over): The folding structure is made from bamboo, which is light, cheap, durable and locally available. Through her nonprofit

foundation, MTA is building 100 of these Khudi Bari in different locations across Bangladesh.


TABASSUM (voice-over): The uniqueness of Khudi Bari is that it has two levels. So when there is flooding, you can move your family and your

belongings to the upper level so that you can save yourself.

STOUT (voice-over): As for the future, Tabassum is optimistic about her home country and wants to make sure everyone, from city dwellers to coastal

communities, has a roof over their head.

TABASSUM (voice-over): Everybody has a right to good architecture.


SOARES: Finally tonight, it is a scene straight out of the film, "Snakes on a Plane." You remember that one. A South African pilot was forced to

make an emergency landing after a Cape cobra, like this one you can see there, slithered up his shirt.

Now the snake's venom can kill up to nine people. The pilot then told passengers about the deadly stowaway, trying, of course, to avoid panic. He

was praised for remaining harm. And this is what he said.

"To be truly honest, it's as if my brain did not register what was going on. It was," he went on to say "a moment of awe."

I wouldn't actually call a moment of awe. But that's the glad it was him and not me taking the helm. That does it for us for tonight. Thank you very

much for your company. Have a wonderful weekend. Do stay right here. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" with the one and only Richard Quest is up next. See you

next week. Bye-bye.