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Isa Soares Tonight

Nikki Haley Drops Out Of U.S. Presidential Race; Russian Missile Hits Near Zelenskyy; Children Face Starvation In Gaza As Supplies Run Out; Israel's War In Gaza; "Alarm Like No Other" As Children Wasting Away From Starvation, According To U.N.; "Catastrophe" In Gaza Worse Than Anything Described By A Doctor; Children In Gaza Most Affected By Situations Akin To Starvation; Gaza's Health Care System Severely Damaged By Months Of Conflict; Houthi Missile Attack Killed At Least Two Crew Members On A Commercial Ship In The Gulf Of Aden; Surging Tensions In South China Sea; Chinese "Dangerous Maneuvers" Accused By Philippines; Roe v. Wade Inspires Oscar-Nominated Short Film; New Short Film Highlights Plight Of Women Seeking Abortion In The U.S. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 06, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, Nikki Haley has dropped out of the U.S.

presidential race, meaning that the 2024 race is now a sequel of Joe Biden versus Donald Trump.

Also ahead this hour, a near miss for Ukraine's president as a Russian missile struck dangerously close to him earlier today, we have the details

on exactly what happened there. And then later, children are starving to death in Gaza, the horrific reality is hard to bear, but without urgent

international intervention, it will get worse. Our report coming up in the show.

But first, tonight, the 2024 U.S. presidential race looks like it will be, well, a familiar one, President Joe Biden versus Donald Trump, and that

rematch appears to be set after Republican Nikki Haley suspended her campaign today in the wake of Trump's big wins on Super Tuesday.

While Haley congratulated the former president, she stopped short of endorsing him. Have a listen.


NIKKI HALEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In all likelihood, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee when our party convention meets in July. I

congratulate him and wish him well. I wish anyone well who would be America's president. Our country is too precious to let our differences

divide us.


SOARES: Both made an appeal to Haley's supporters, President Biden included a praise for her for having the quote, "courage" to stand up to the former

president, and in stark contrast, Donald Trump made his plea to Haley backers in a social media post, adding that the former South Carolina

governor quote, "got trounced in record-setting fashion", his words on Super Tuesday.

Let's get more on all of this. We're joined now by CNN's chief U.S. national affairs correspondent Jeff Zeleny, who joins us from Washington

D.C. Jeff, good to see you. I mean, we heard there Haley really not endorsing the former president.

And she was somewhat, Jeff, soft on him in her remarks. Meanwhile, Trump, as we just laid out, really not holding back. Just talk us through what

each side has been saying today.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's good to be with you, and you are right. I mean, Nikki Haley's words were

considerably softer than they certainly have been in recent weeks when she's been a dramatically, sort of escalating her rhetoric, saying that

Donald Trump simply can't win an election.

She stopped short of saying any of that, really casting her speech today when she suspended her candidacy in more of her world view. And in fact,

it's really not the current world view of this Republican Party. She was talking about the world in crisis.

She was talking about the need for -- a warning against an isolationist policy. But she said the burden is on Donald Trump to win over her

supporters. She said the burden is on Donald Trump to open the party and bring people in. So, certainly a different response from her, but that was

responded by Donald Trump, as you said, he simply did not extend that olive branch, we'll see if he does in the coming days.

And here's why that even matters, yes, Donald Trump scored considerable victories yesterday in all states, except Vermont, one U.S. small state.

But she won usually around 30 percent in some of these key suburban areas in America's --

SOARES: Yes --

ZELENY: Fast-growing suburbs. So, that's why her votes matter, and that's why Donald Trump is going to ultimately need them in the end.

SOARES: Yes, and it's interesting to see how President Biden is reacting to that, a potential, how to make the most of that because he made a direct

appeal, didn't he? To Nikki Haley's supporters, some, who may be frustrated about former President Trump. Talk us through the strategy here -- from

potential strategy, I should say, from the Biden camp.

ZELENY: It was a direct appeal and a quick appeal. You had the sense that the president and his campaign were waiting for this. In fact, Nikki Haley

was still speaking when President Biden sent out his message, and it was an olive branch of the highest order.

He said that, you know, I know that Donald Trump is not welcoming Nikki Haley's supporters into his fold, I do welcome you into mine. But then went

on to say that there are many differences of course, between the Democratic Party here in the United States and the Republican Party.

But he talked about places to find common ground. He talks specifically about the fight for the future of democracy.


He talked about the strength and the necessary strength of the NATO alliances. So, really trying to draw some commonalities here --

SOARES: Yes --

ZELENY: Between what used to be largely an agreed upon worldview, which has not become that in the Trump era. So, it's an open question over the next

eight months, how many of Nikki Haley's supporters, most of whom are Republicans actually decide to vote for President Biden or do some choose a

third party?

SOARES: Yes --

ZELENY: But clearly, for the next eight months, one thing we'll have our eye on is where do her supporters go? There are quite a few of them, and

they could be pivotal in this election. Isa.

SOARES: Absolutely fascinating. Jeff, really appreciate it, thank you, good to see you.

ZELENY: My pleasure.

SOARES: Let's get a closer look. I want to welcome Republican strategist Rina Shah. Rina, welcome to the show, good to see you. Look, it's clear

that the former president has solidified as we hear there from Jeff Zeleny. He's got his iron grip on the Republican Party, but there are -- there

seems to be some fissures as we've seen from that support for Haley in places like Vermont, right?

So, where do the Haley votes go? Just picking up from what Jeff said, Jeff Zeleny was saying there. Do we have a sense of where they're going to go?

RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, Vermont in particular was rather shocking because Trump was expected to perform well there, and instead he

lost by 4 points to Haley. And so, though he did solidify his stature as a presumptive nominee, he is not part of a unified party. He has not --

SOARES: Yes --

SHAH: Succeeded in that measure. So, a couple of things again can be true about last night, and that he locked up these wins by beating Haley, but at

the polls were also pretty wrong in many places, she performed far better than the former president.

And that signals trouble for him as he moves forward, he needs to find a way to get those voters for Haley now into his camp.

SOARES: Yes, and we've seen with that, not just the strengths, right? But also the weaknesses for the former president. Look, Haley did well, Rina,

with suburban voters, with college-educated voters. So, I wonder how then Trump peels away those voters. And do you think -- I mean, can he win,

Rina, without expanding his base?

SHAH: Trump cannot win back the White House unless he expands the electorate, and that's why the Haley voters are crucial. If you look at

Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina as well as Michigan, all prior to yesterday, those were numbers that were already troubling somewhere between

30 percent and 40 percent of primary voters were already rejecting him, and his underperformance yesterday signals that the party is fractured in many


Now, on what lines are they fractured? The through line here is one thing, again, that moderate Republicans need a place to go next. Now, if that's

going to be to Biden, one would guess that, yes, many pro democracy voters will reject Trump again, those who rejected him in 2020 will not likely

change their minds again. But now one thing is also an impediment is how people perceive Biden's capacity to do the job. That is a --

SOARES: Yes --

SHAH: Glaring problem, and one in which the Trump campaign sees a real entry way to re-enter the White House.

SOARES: And President Biden is also trying to exploit, right? Peel away the support. But let's focus on Trump and not whether how he can --

SHAH: Sure --

SOARES: Do it, Rina, because I wonder what tactics -- so, you heard Jeff Zeleny talking about looking for commonalities between Haley and President

Biden. I mean, can -- on what issues, if any issues, do you think Trump can persuade Haley voters come to his side, or do you think it's a question of

tone and demeanor over issues here?

SHAH: Well, I took extensive notes last night when he was speaking, because I was very taken aback by that speech. That was a very professional speech.

It wasn't as freewheeling as we typically see the former president do when he gets to a podium, it was a speech in which I saw him go directly for

some of Haley's supporters, predominantly those that sit in mid-Atlantic power centers, the coastal elite, if you will.

He touted his success with the economy. He said he delivered the largest tax cuts in history. He also spoke about the stock market, repeated times.

This is again, all aimed at getting those establishment Republicans under his banner again. And now, it wasn't a surprise that he would talk about

the immigration and the border.

SOARES: Yes --

SHAH: He's repeatedly lied about that, saying that he had solved the crisis of the border when he was in the White House, when in fact, he never

finished the wall. But it was also very interesting to see him go on about crime and public safety as well as about defense and war and also about


He talked about getting China to buy from American farmers. The one issue area he did not touch was abortion, an issue area in which Nikki Haley was

no --

SOARES: Yes --

SHAH: Stranger to and talked about with great -- I would call it professionalism as well as an ability to get voters outside the GOP to vote

for her when she spoke about abortion on the debate stages last Fall.


Again, a place where Trump was now present. So, last night's speech really gave us some good insight as to how he might run this campaign to court

those Haley voters.

SOARES: Do you think -- I mean, as we said, Haley didn't endorse Trump, do you think there's a chance she could get an offer? She could get an offer

to serve under his administration or is she looking, do you think, Rina, at 2028? How does she play this? Because I'm guessing she still has money


SHAH: She certainly has a lot of money in the coffers, and people who are also not turned off by her. There were many people today who would have

been turned off had she given a direct endorsement of the former president.

Instead, she used some high-minded aspirational language, talking about unity and how Trump would have to earn her voters. And so, I think she has

left the door open to a realm of possibilities, as a long-time political operative, I can tell you, we know to expect the unexpected, particularly

in this kind of a typical election.

So, it would not surprise me if something changed in the game here, but I do believe she has her eyes on 2028, and that would not be a terrible thing

because look, what she has shown at being the first ever Republican woman to win a presidential primary is that she is palatable to folks who are

more moderate or centrist, or --

SOARES: Yes --

SHAH: Are feeling some lack of love from the Democratic Party.

SOARES: Rina Shah, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Thank you, Rina.

SHAH: Certainly, thank you, Isa.

SOARES: I want to change gears and look at Ukraine, because a deadly Russian missile-strike has -- came -- terrifyingly close to Ukraine's

president and the visiting leader of a NATO country. No less, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis weren't

injured in the Odesa attack, but a source says the strike hit just 500 meters away from the presidential convoy. Here was Mr. Zelenskyy after that

attack. Have a listen.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE (through translator): We saw this strike today, you can see who we are dealing with. They don't care where

they strike. I know that there are victims today, I don't know all the details yet, but I know that there are dead and wounded. We need to defend

ourselves first and foremost. The best way to do that is with an air defense system.


SOARES: And Russia says it was targeting a hangar, the Ukrainian Navy says at least five people were killed. CNN senior international correspondent,

Fred Pleitgen joins us now from Berlin with all the details. And Fred, we've heard there the Russians saying it was targeting a hangar.

It was particularly close, wasn't it? A close call there, which begs the question whether Zelenskyy was the main target. What more do we know about

this attack?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's unclear whether or not Volodymyr Zelenskyy was the main target. Certainly,

right now, there is no evidence that he actually was, but I think one of the things that you're saying is absolutely key, and that is that this was

extremely close.

In fact, one source with knowledge of the situation said that the strike occurred or the impact occurred about 500 meters away from the Prime

Minister of Greece, which is of course, also the area where Volodymyr Zelenskyy was.

And what we've heard since then from the Ukrainians is that the missile that was apparently used by the Russians, which the Ukrainians say is

probably either an Iskander missile or an Oniks missile, those both have extremely large warheads.

And so, 500 meters away from an impact like that is definitely extremely close, and I thought one of the interesting things that Volodymyr Zelenskyy

also said in that press briefing, he said -- he said they did not only hear the explosion, but they actually also saw the impact as well.

So, that certainly goes to show that this appears to have been a pretty close call for these two leaders. Obviously, something like this extremely

dangerous also because of course, Greece is an important NATO ally as well. The Ukrainians are also saying that this is something that was very close.

As you mentioned, Volodymyr Zelenskyy or the Ukrainian Navy then later coming out and saying that five people were killed in the strike. I think

one of the other things that we're looking for or looking to as well as the Russians saying that they hit that warehouse, which they say contained --

SOARES: Yes --

PLEITGEN: Unmanned sea drones. That of course, comes only a day after the Ukrainians say that they sank a Russian warship in the Black Sea. So, could

that have been retaliation for that? It certainly seems very possible --

SOARES: Yes --

PLEITGEN: Whether or not Volodymyr Zelenskyy himself was a target, very difficult to say at this point, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, I know, just as we have seen for the past week or so has been under intense attacks in the last week-and-a-half or so. Fred, appreciate

it, thank you very much. Fred Pleitgen for us in Berlin. Well, the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Yulia Navalnaya is urging

Russians to protest their country's presidential election.

Navalny's team has asked supporters to distribute leaflets asking Russians to go to polling stations at noon on March 17th, that is the final day of

the Russian presidential election.


On social media, Navalnaya reflected on the thousands of mourners who flocked to her late husband's grave in Moscow. Have a listen.


YULIA NAVALNAYA, WIDOW OF ALEXEI NAVALNY (through translator): You are the best, the bravest, the most honest people of our country. The people who

give me hope. It's you on Friday, March 1st, who stood in a queue for many hours to say goodbye to Alexei.

But the next day, there are even more of you. The third day, Sunday, a kilometer long queue and a mountain of flowers for which the cross is not



SOARES: Navalnaya continues to accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of killing her husband. In her message, she called Russian leadership a cult

of the past war missiles as well as vile murders. And still to come tonight, violence spirals out of control in Haiti with armed gangs taking

over police stations in the capital.

I'll speak with a photo-journalist who came face-to-face with the country's most notorious gang leader. That is next.


SOARES: And we have some stunning new video to bring you from a protest in Mexico. And it shows, as you can see there, a crowd, a large crowd trying

to break using that car there, trying to break into the presidential palace.

Now, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was there, was inside the palace for his morning conference. The protesters are believed to be mostly

relatives as we understand of 43 missing students who were kidnapped ten years ago.

There have been demanding progress in the investigation, and in this news conference today from Amarillo(ph), the president admitted the case still

needs to be sold, but he called the parents misinformed in their demands. This is a developing story, of course, we are keeping a close eye on what's

happening inside Mexico as soon as we have any more developments, we will of course, bring them to you.

Well, in less than an hour, the U.N. Security Council is set to hold a private meeting on the crisis in Haiti. A police union spokesperson says

several police stations in the capital are under attack from violent gangs. The police academy in Port-au-Prince where hundreds of cadets are

stationed, has also reportedly being targeted.

The union spokesperson telling CNN Port-au-Prince has been handed to the gangs. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ariel Henry has surfaced in Puerto Rico.


Now, one gang leader is warning if Henry doesn't step down, Haiti will quote, "suffer a genocide". And that stark warning is from Jimmy Cherizier,

known as "Barbecue", the capital's most notorious gang leader. Photographer Giles Clarke visited Cherizier, documenting him just days before his

rampage began, calling him a defiant face of Haitian residence.

You're looking at some of his photos right there. Clarke says Cherizier's intention is to have a seat at the table and see Haiti run itself without

interference. Giles Clarke joins me now from New York with more. Giles, welcome to the show.

I mean, the very fact that the prime minister can come back to Haiti, can't land in Haiti really illustrates just how dire it is. You've come face-to-

face with this gang leader, "Barbecue" as he's known. What does he want? I mean, what do these gangs want to see?

GILES CLARKE, PHOTOJOURNALIST: I think after years of chaos and instability in the country and political corruption, that the gangs have formed

themselves into these sort of unions of power. And many of them -- in the case of "Barbecue", he sees himself as somebody who can pull Haitians out

of this current -- former police officer, of course, he is, so he has this sort of training on and he has the backing of a lot of the inside police


So, it's a very shady situation in terms of how they -- you know, how they were formed, but where they are now is they want -- they want themselves --

they want to be at the seats of political power. They want negotiations --

SOARES: The seat of political power -- yes, they want to be on the table. What does that mean? He wants to be prime minister, he wants to order -- he

wants to be part of the negotiations for the future of his country.

CLARKE: I would have thought it'd be the latter.

SOARES: Right --

CLARKE: That the -- yes, certainly, the latter because I think where they stand is that -- I mean, he really does come from a background of running a

gang really, that's his thing. And he's -- he has the political -- he has the political backing of a potential person in the shadows here, Guy

Philippe, who came back from the states in 20 -- last year in 2023, having been imprisoned for a few years.

So, I think there's an alliance going on there. I also think that there's going to be this union of the larger gangs, that's -- that really, that

means that Port-au-Prince really is at their mercy, and that's how it is at the moment. When I photographed him, I went into his area and he's rather -

- he's sort of Robin Hood-type character really. I mean, he's building schools, he's looking after -- he wants clean water, he wants to try and

you know, sort out libraries and strange things like that that you wouldn't have thought a gang leader would usually do.

So, he's a sort of a anomie really. He's definitely an interesting character, but he's very much in charge right now.

SOARES: Yes, it's interesting, comparing to Robin Hood and wants kind of social justice, but at the same time, we've seen so much violence, right?

Extreme violence from these gangs. And there are dozens, Giles, dozens of these gangs.

CLARKE: Yes --

SOARES: And largely from what I understand, they've been grouped into like competing alliances. So, are we to assume now, Giles, that they're working

together in this rebellion to unseat the government, is that right or are they still competing with each other?

CLARKE: Well, the -- bear in mind, there's 200 or so gangs in Haiti and half of those are in Port-au-Prince. And then you break that down, there's

the larger gangs, 30 or 40 larger gangs. There is at the moment, apparently some kind of alliance that's sort of giving them the sort of unity towards

fighting this fight together, but it's such a shifting landscape, the power struggle there.

For the moment, Cherizier is saying that it's a united front against a corrupt political system. So that's where they are at the moment. But this

could all change tomorrow. And the other thing with the mass breakout with 3,500 people who -- inmates who escaped through Cherizier's -- what one

assumes his leadership, that adds another whole set of problems to the equation.

Because you've got -- you've got even more sort of criminal elements -- it's just -- it's just very difficult when you've got the police

resigning, you've got -- and you've got a president or a prime minister, sorry, who is -- who can't even get back into the country. So --

SOARES: Yes, I mean --

CLARKE: It's a lot of --

SOARES: And the prime minister and the prime minister, of course, was I believe in Kenya trying to get these Kenyan forces right? I think it was

about thousand or so, secured the deployment of about thousand Kenyan police officers right to Haiti.


I mean, a thousand, that number alone doesn't seem like it goes far enough. Did you -- I mean -- did -- what Haitians -- what do you think Haitians

would take of that, of that thousand Kenyan police force in the country, would they welcome it?

CLARKE: Every Haitian I spoke to from all -- from different parts of the social structure, I do not support it. Some support the fact they need the

peace, obviously, I mean, there are also political appeal, some support they need some way of stopping these gangs, other gangs, vigilante gangs

within the Haitian population have sprung up -- with white Khali(ph), these are vigilante gangs.

Cherizier certainly made it very clear to me personally, he said, I don't want to have anybody coming in here and telling us how to -- how to run

Haiti. You know, the reason why a lot of these gangs in the last six months or so have really caused all this trouble is that they're trying to

intimidate, I believe.

They're trying to intimidate any foreign outside influence. They don't want to have a multinational deployment put into their backyard. So, it's --

originally wasn't 1,000. I believe it's up to 5,000 now, so it's a very unknown -- it's still a very unknown thing. But the Prime Minister Ariel

Henry was actually in Kenya when this uprising --

SOARES: Yes --

CLARKE: Began on the 27th. So, it's -- that alone is a message.

SOARES: That is a message and we've seen so many -- I think 300,000 Haitians who have been forced to flee their homes. The situation is -- and

we've heard from doctors --

CLARKE: That's right --

SOARES: On the ground, how dire it is it seems that this is another turning point. Giles, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us and

fabulous photos are hard --

CLARKE: Thank you --

SOARES: To look at, at times, but really fantastic. Thank you very much.

CLARKE: Thanks, Isa.

SOARES: And still to come tonight, UNICEF says child deaths we feared are here as babies slowly perish under the world's gaze, their words. We'll see

how children are bearing the brunt of famine-like conditions in Gaza. That is next.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. The U.N. says children starving to death in Gaza is an alarm like no other. This should really compel the world to

flood Gaza with aid. More disturbing images are emerging from hospital wards, showing tiny bodies that have withered away amid dire food

shortages. The Gaza Health Ministry says, at least 15 children have died from starvation.

Our Nada Bashir takes us inside one hospital, and we warn you again, the images are extremely distressing, but the mothers of the children shown

want the world to know.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Tiny limbs, bones protruding, the constant sound of crying from children now facing starvation in Gaza. In

this overrun hospital ward, anxious mothers watch on as doctors provide whatever care they still can. But for some, there is nothing more to be


Three-year-old Mila, who had been suffering from acute malnutrition, now, another victim of this merciless war.

She was healthy. There was nothing wrong with her before, Mila's (ph) mother says. Then suddenly, everything dropped. She wasn't eating anything.

We had no milk, no eggs, nothing. She used to eat eggs every day before the war. But now, we have nothing.

Across Gaza, too many are feeling the pain of this deepening hunger crisis. Small children emaciated and malnourished. These were little Yazan's (ph)

final moments. His tiny fingers gripped in his mother's hand. He, like Mila (ph), would not make it. Others are still just barely holding on. But there

is no telling how long they will survive.

Standing beside Mila's (ph) body, Dr. Ahmed Salem (ph) says, many children at this hospital are now dying due to a lack of food and oxygen supplies.

With limited aid getting in, many have grown desperate. Searching for food wherever they can. Nine-year-old Mohammed says, he walks for about a mile

every day to collect water for his family.

You seem sad, why? This journalist asks him.

Because of the war, he says. It is all too much.

On Tuesday, U.N. experts accused Israel of intentionally starving the Palestinian people in Gaza. Noting that the Israeli military is now

targeting both civilians seeking aid and humanitarian convoys. Israel has denied targeting civilians and says that there is, "No limit to the amount

of humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza." But the reality on the ground paints a very different picture.

There is no food, no water, no flour, cooking oil or anything, this woman says. Death is better than this.

According to a senior U.N. official, at least a quarter of Gaza's population is now said to be just one step away from famine. With aid

agencies facing overwhelming obstacles in getting the bare minimum of supplies into Gaza. And as Israel's ground offensive threatens to push

further into the Strip's densely populated south, time is quickly running out.

While international efforts to airdrop humanitarian supplies have provided some respite, it is simply not enough. With stalling negotiations, leaving

a little hope for an end to the suffering and hunger of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

Nada Bashir, CNN, London.


SOARES: Death, really, is better than this. Those words, let that sink in, of course, as we look at that report from our colleague.


Our next guest said the catastrophe in Gaza is worse than anything he's ever seen. Dr. James Smith volunteered at Al-Aqsa Hospital as part of the

first emergency medical team comprising British healthcare workers to enter Gaza during this war.

Doctor, welcome to the show. You saw that piece. You were working in Al- Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza. I think it's one of the last remaining, kind of, hospitals -- functioning hospitals, if we use that term loosely, in

Gaza. Can you give us a sense of what you confronted while you were there.

DR. JAMES SMITH, CNN DATA ANALYST: So, we were seeing, at that time, this was towards the end of December, several hundred children presenting to the

hospital on a daily basis with injuries, traumatic injuries in many cases, children with severe diarrheal illnesses. The pediatricians we were working

with at that time were already reporting they were seeing cases of children with malnutrition.

In the emergency room, it was horrific.

SOARES: And we're looking at your -- these are your photos, I believe.

DR. SMITH: That's right.

SOARES: Talk to those photos. I mean, it --

DR. SMITH: That was, unfortunately, an everyday occurrence in the emergency room. So, we were seeing tens of trauma wounded patients coming into the

hospital at any given moment. Several mass casualty incidents every single day. Children with the most horrific burns that I have ever seen. Children

with multiple traumatic amputated limbs. Several people either arriving dead to the emergency room or dying shortly after they arrived. Not for

want of us trying, but because we had so -- such limited resources and, in many cases, those wounds were just so severe that we couldn't save lives.

SOARES: And there were some images that we saw, we just can't show viewers because it was just so graphic. But, I mean, as a doctor, that must be

incredibly hard because your main job, I assume, is to want -- saving lives. And if you don't have the means to do that, there must be a sense of

indignation and frustration from your side, I assume.

DR. SMITH: There's nothing but indignation. We should all be indignant about what's currently happening, in Gaza and what's being done to the

Palestinian people. Healthcare workers in particular, as you say, we feel this strong professional motivation to care for people. The Palestinian

health care workers I worked with, they've endured this now for more than five months. We were there for two weeks and it was incredibly difficult.

But day in and day out, my colleagues are still there working now, exhausted. Many of them fearing for their own families at the same time

that they're going to work and they're providing what care they can. Incredibly difficult.

SOARES: And conditions, as we looked at some of the images, I mean, the hospitals are packed.

DR. SMITH: Mm-hmm.

SOARES: I'm guessing you don't have much of the medicine, the equipment that you need, maybe not the power to run some of these machines. But also,

out -- this is just inside the hospital. I'm assuming outside, there are other elements you have to deal with.

DR. SMITH: Absolutely. Even a well-resourced hospital can deliver very limited care if you have people living in overcrowded conditions where

there are several thousand people queuing to use a shower or a toilet at any given time. Lack of clean water to drink. Lack of even the most basic

forms of nutritious food, as you have seen. The Ministry of Health reporting at least 15 people have starved to death.


DR. SMITH: As I say, even well-resourced hospitals cannot meet the sheer demand.

SOARES: Another time when you were there. I mean, now we were looking at the increasing number of children dying of dehydration, dying of

starvation. The scenes that we saw from our colleague, really hard to watch. Were you already starting to see the impact of aid not arriving at

that time, what -- end of December? Was that already evident?

DR. SMITH: Absolutely. So, the Palestinian health care workers we were working with at that time were already reporting seeing children with

malnutrition. The U.N. had warned of this back in December. They said that what we're now seeing was inevitable if there wasn't -- if there weren't

drastic efforts taken to correct the course that we were on. And those drastic efforts haven't materialized.

For us to face a near famine and for people to be literally starving to death, that is an entirely manufactured situation that could have been


SOARES: And so, when you hear -- and I don't want to go into politics, we don't have to discuss politics. But when we -- you hear that the Israeli

military might go into Rafah, which is already so overcrowded, what is your biggest fear from a medical point of view here?

DR. SMITH: That would be beyond catastrophic. I mean, what we've seen across Gaza over the last several months is already beyond catastrophic.


But an attack in Rafah, where the vast majority of the Palestinian population or the Gazan population are currently trying to seek some form

of limited safety would be almost unimaginably brutal.

SOARES: Dr. James Smith, I appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Thank you very much.

Now, international mediators are running out of time to broker a hostage deal and ceasefire before Ramadan. Hamas says it's pressing on with the

talks in Cairo despite the absence of an Israeli delegation. Israel's strongest ally, the United States, is putting the ball squarely in Hamas's

court. President Joe Biden said it's up to them to accept what he calls a rational deal on the table. Israel considers some Hamas demands

nonstarters, including a complete troop withdrawal from Gaza.

While a Houthi missile attack has killed at least two crew members on a commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden, this is according to a pair of U.S.

officials. It is believed to be the first fatal strike in the Yemeni militants ongoing wave of sea attacks that we have brought you here on the

show. The Iran-backed Houthis say they hit an American vessel, but a U.S. defense official says the ship, true confidence, is actually Liberian-owned

after it was sold by its previous U.S. owner. It's flagged in Barbados. We'll stay across that story for you.

And still to come tonight, tensions surge in the South China Sea as Philippines and China come face to face in a high sea skirmish. What our

team saw riding along on the Philippine vessel when we come back.


SOARES: Coast Guard vessels from China and the Philippines collided in the disputed waters of the South China Sea on Tuesday. The Philippines has

accused China of executing dangerous maneuvers, while China claims it took control measures against the Philippines vessel.

Ivan Watson went aboard a Philippine Coast Guard ship and filed this report.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is just after sunrise, and as you may see, there is a large Chinese Coast Guard ship

directly in front of this Philippines Coast Guard vessel. And we've been watching this over the course of the last hour. These are supposed to be

international waterways with free passage. I'm aboard this Philippines Coast Guard ship that was part of a convoy of four vessels that were headed

towards a place called the Second Thomas Shoal.


And before dawn, all of a sudden, these Philippine ships were swarmed by much larger and many more Chinese ships. There are more off to our port

bow. These are not marked like the Chinese Coast Guard ships, but they're clearly operating with them. And operating in very close proximity to this

Philippines Coast Guard ship.

In fact, I've seen them in the past cutting this off. And what they have succeeded in doing is not only pretty much stopping our ship in its tracks,

but it has separated this ship from the other boats in the Philippines convoy, which included two small resupply vessels that were trying to get

to the Second Thomas Shoal.

Now, part of what is at play here is a territorial dispute. That shoal, the Philippines claims, is part of its economic exclusion zone. China, though

it is much further geographically from this area claims it for itself and clearly tries to stop Philippine ships from getting to it.

We're completely encircled by a fleet of Chinese ships, at least 14 that I've counted. And moments ago, the Chinese Coast Guard ships were blasting

a Philippines resupply vessel with water cannons. It is clearly by swarming this ship, a show of force and a show of intimidation. And it is physically

stopping vessels from another country from being able to move forward through this international waterway.

Ivan Watson, CNN, aboard a Philippines Coast Guard ship in the South China Sea.


SOARES: And still to come tonight, an Oscar-nominated short film underscoring the painful ends some women in America must now go for access

to abortion. My interview with the director, next.


SOARES: Well, as we move closer to the U.S. election, the divisive issue of abortion is front and center. This month, the Supreme Court will hear

arguments on the widely used abortion pill, mifepristone. And Former President Donald Trump has also weighed in on the issue, saying he remains

undecided on a national abortion plan.

While the painful reality of women seeking abortions in the U.S. after the overturning of Roe v. Wade is underscored in the Oscar-nominated short film

called "Red, White, and Blue." The film tells the wrenching story of a single mother who must travel out of state for an abortion, and the

sacrifices she makes to do so. Here's a clip.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't want to keep it, do you? So how much you need?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't -- we can't. If I make an extra $50 dollars in tips a week, then maybe in a month or so I can --




SOARES: Well, I sat down with the director of the film, Nazrin Choudhury, and asked if she drew inspiration from the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and

the stories that she has heard in the United States.


NAZRIN CHOUDHURY, DIRECTOR, "RED, WHITE, AND BLUE": Well, I don't think those things are mutually exclusive. I think it's absolutely a story that

was told in the aftermath of that Supreme Court decision in 2022.

And even though those of us who care about reproductive rights could see that coming down the line, it still was a huge momentous event that changed

the landscape of health care for anybody needing that kind of medical procedure.

So, that tied in with the real-world stories that were coming out of what that meant in reality for so many Americans. All of those things go into a

storyteller's mind, and then a storyteller's pen to put that down onto a page and make it into the film that we made.

SOARES: And in the movie, Rachel who is a single mom of two, has to make a journey from Arkansas where abortion is banned, and I think it's banned

even in the case of rape and incest. She drives for seven hours. And there is a twist, a reveal, whatever you want to call it, caught me by surprise.

Why do you think that moment was needed? Because I was hooked even if that twist wasn't there.

CHOUDHURY: So, people have been talking about it as a twist, which for expeditious reasons that's how I've embraced talking about it. But the

story was there for you to see all along. And it was set up so that we laid out all the reasons why someone could need or want that and for those to

all be valid. But I think, you know, even if you're prochoice, whichever side of the debate that you lie on, there's an exhaustion and there's a

fatigue to thinking you know what the story is.

It was laid out to challenge our own preconceptions of the things that we assume about people's lives. Why they may want or need it. And for all of

those reasons to be valid, and for the story to take that turn to understand the sheer depth and breadth with which the legislation is now

affecting all of us, it felt like it was necessary to go there and then to challenge our preconceptions of us not knowing what someone is really

dealing with in their real lives until we know.

And even those of us who support that choice might not know and might get tired of understanding why it's so important.

SOARES: It's such an important point and I wonder picking up on that then, what the reaction has been from those in the United States and elsewhere

and internationally. Have you been able to change minds?

CHOUDHURY: Absolutely. I mean, that's the really wonderful thing about this, both the cast and the crew and myself directly. We've been receiving

messages from people who have told us that they had a very different belief system until they watched our film and it just cracked open their thinking.

Direct messages being sent to us all the time.

I'm sure there are people who are also critical about our film and that's fine because the whole point of art, as it intersects with the world that

we live in, is for us to have conversations and to talk about this and to evolve our views on all sides.

So, we welcome the conversation and we welcome changing hearts and minds if that's possible to do so just because it's so important as a human rights

issue more than anything else.

SOARES: And of course, for us here on this side of the pond, you know, in particular, it does seem like the U.S. is a bit of -- I don't know if I can

call it an outlier on abortion. You live in a California and you're British, you have -- in the middle of a U.S. election taking place. Trump,

believes his party -- he had something to do with overturning Roe v. Wade. How worried are women that you have been speaking to of a possible Trump

presidency and what that can mean for women's reproductive rights?

CHOUDHURY: Very concerned. You know, I do think the 2016 election, this was a huge issue then in terms of the Supreme Court justices that needed to get

appointed in the aftermath of that presidency. And single voter issues who voted in against women's rights, to be honest.

And so, a new threat in that regard in 2024 is just very prevalent and very prominent in everyone's minds of how much more this could go across all

states in terms of a complete abortion ban. We do not think many of us, some of us did, that Roe v. Wade would get overturned.

But I think living in the land of the free, regardless of my British accent, I'm here. I'm an American citizen. I'm raising two daughters. If

this can happen in the land of the free, it can happen anywhere, while we welcome it being enshrined in other parts of the law. We felt like it was

enshrined here in America until it got overturned in 2022.


So, there is never a time when we don't have to worry about bodily autonomy or reproductive rights, whether it's in America or whether it's across the



SOARES: And our thanks to Nazrin Choudhury there.

And an update to a story we have been telling you about. Lawmakers in Alabama are now working to approve legislation to protect in vitro

fertility treatments. Bills moving through the State House and Senate would provide legal immunity for patients and doctors for any damage to embryos

in the in vitro fertilization process.

Several fertility clinics in Alabama pause fertility, if you remember, treatments, after controversial state Supreme Court ruling. The court rule,

frozen embryos are human beings and those who destroy them could be held liable for wrongful death. Alabama's governor is expected to sign those

protections into law. Of course, we shall stay across all the developments on that story.

And that does it for us for this evening. Thanks very much for your company. Do stay right here. "Quest Means Business" with Richard Quest is

up next. I shall see you, manana. Thank you very much.