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Isa Soares Tonight

Ramadan Begins Without Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Deal; Western Embassy Staff Evacuate From Haiti; Edited Photograph Of Princess Of Wales And Family Sparks Royal Controversy; Portugal's Center-Right Coalition Claims Slim Victory; U.S. Senate Holds Hearing On Top Global Security Threats; Palestinians Mark Ramadan In The Shadow Of War. 2-3p ET

Aired March 11, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, Ramadan begins across the Muslim world

with no ceasefire deal for Gaza inside, as tempers frail between the U.S. and Israel. We'll bring you, of course, the very latest.

Then western embassy staff evacuate from Haiti as gang violence spikes in the country's capital. I'll speak to the World Food Program on the ground

in Port-au-Prince. Plus, royal uproar. The Princess of Wales apologizes over confusion caused by an edited photograph. We'll have more on that

controversy coming up on the show with our royal correspondent, Max Foster.

But first, tonight, the U.N. Secretary-General says his strongest appeal today is for the spirit of Ramadan to be honored by silencing the guns. But

there's no end in sight to the war in Gaza as the Muslim holy month gets underway.

Over the weekend, U.S. President Joe Biden warned an Israeli offensive on Rafah would be a red line. But immediately added that he would never

abandon Israel and cut off all weapons. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still vowing to attack Rafah to root out Hamas.

But Israel and U.S. officials tell CNN, they don't believe an offensive that is imminent. Some 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering, as you

know, in Rafah, virtually penned against Egyptian border. I want to get more on all these strands for you, our Jeremy Diamond in Jerusalem for


And Jeremy, an offensive may not be imminent, but it hasn't been ruled out by Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the stakes, of course, couldn't be higher.

What are you hearing about this potential offensive and crucially, the possibility of any sort of a ceasefire at this stage.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's no question that the Israeli government is still set on carrying out a major military

offensive in Rafah. But multiple Israeli officials tell me that, that offensive is not imminent. In fact, it may not come for weeks now, and

that's for two key reasons.

First of all, the number of forces that the Israeli military has in Gaza, they haven't yet built those up to the numbers that they would need to

carry out this offensive in Rafah. And secondly, the plan for evacuating civilians I'm told has not yet been finalized or approved by the Israeli

war cabinet.

And I am told that, that evacuation could take at least two weeks. Now, that being said, Israeli officials haven't ruled out carrying out this

offensive during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. And as this -- we are now in that month, we are watching here in Jerusalem as the city, the old

city in particular, we're already starting to see that it's quite on edge.


DIAMOND (voice-over): As Ramadan begins, tensions in Jerusalem's old city already flaring, wielding batons, Israeli police forcefully pushing back

Palestinians at a gate to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. It's not clear how this scene began, but on a first night of Ramadan, CNN witnessed Israeli

police refusing to allow at least two dozen, mostly young Palestinian men to enter the Mosque sometimes before even checking their ideas.

Disturbing public security is the official reason given over and over again without explanation. "How am I disturbing public security? What did I do

wrong?" This man asked the officer, "I'm not going back. I want to pray." But the answer is the same. Disturbing public security.

"I didn't do anything wrong. You are wrong. Shame on you." The man says, as he storms off. "This is the fifth or six gate I tried to enter from, and

they didn't say anything but disturbance of public security, and they simply sent us back. My soul is convicted to Al-Aqsa. Depriving me from Al-

Aqsa as if they deprive me of water. It's very difficult for me to a level I can't even describe. I will go home, may God give you health."

Israeli police said in a statement, increased inspections were carried out, and that they are acting to allow freedom of worship while balancing

security and safety needs. Israeli government said last week, it wouldn't impose new restrictions on entry to the Mosque during at least the first

week of Ramadan, allowing access to a similar number of worshippers as last year.


But these first denials raised questions about how Israeli officials will handle the tens of thousands of worshippers expected for Friday prayers,

especially amid tensions over the war in Gaza.

LAMIA SALEM, JERUSALEM RESIDENT (through translator): When you decide who to enter and who not to, you are creating problems. Everyone should be free

to pray inside, youth and only women and children, everyone.

DIAMOND: But on the streets of the Arab corridor, there isn't just tension, but sorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It's very different this year because of what's happening. Something is lost. There are families at the

end of the day, there is no happiness in people's houses in Palestine. So, it is definitely different this year.

DIAMOND: Nowhere is that clearer than in the pastry shops, which normally will be bustling on Ramadan eve, but not this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Due to the situation, there is no motivation, not even to eat sweets. It feels sad everywhere.


SOARES: That was Jeremy Diamond reporting there. Well, despite countless dire warnings, more children are starving to death in Gaza as the world

looks on. Doctors say two newborn babies were the latest casualties. Jordan, U.S. and other countries are air-dropping aid.

These pallets floating down on the first day of Ramadan. But it's only a tiny fraction of what's needed to ward off famine. There's also an

international effort to get aid to Gaza by sea, but a ship carrying 200 tons of food is still docked at a port in Cyprus.

It is expected to depart later today. We'll see across the story for you, and we'll have much more in fact on this story in about 20 minutes from now

including a look at how Palestinians in Gaza are marking Ramadan, of course, in the shadow of war. That's in about 20 minutes.

Well, hunger and suffering are also being acutely felt in Haiti where gang violence has left tens of thousands displaced. Germany, U.S. and the

European Union are evacuating their staff with a source telling CNN, both the German and the EU ambassadors were evacuated on Sunday.

The U.S. meanwhile says it's air-lifted out all non-essential personnel from its embassy. And this comes as gangs continue to carry out attacks

threatening to topple Haiti's government. One source telling CNN that credible intelligence emerged, suggesting the gangs which have so far been

attacking government institutions as you know and police, might move toward embassies and hotels next.

Rights groups say there's no end in sight to the chaos, and that the country has quote, "completely collapsed". Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of

State Antony Blinken has arrived, you can see there in Jamaica for an emergency meeting on the very crisis.

Well, with Haiti in crisis, a humanitarian disaster is unfolding. Right now, nearly half of the population requires humanitarian assistance. Food,

water, medical care are in short supply. The World Food Program says we are starting to see mass hunger lasting years, which the organization worries

will lead to more unrest, more conflict as well as mass migration.

Country Director for Haiti for the World Food Program, a well-known face here on the show, Jean-Martin Bauer joins me now. Jean-Martin, welcome to

the show. Tell me first where you are. I see you're in Cap-Haitien, and are those -- is that food behind your pallets, behind you? What can you see?

JEAN-MARTIN BAUER, COUNTRY DIRECTOR FOR THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM IN HAITI: That's right, Isa, I'm at the World Food Program's warehouse in Cap-

Haitien. This is Haiti's second city.

SOARES: In second city, great, OK. But you're not in Haiti and you're not in Port-au-Prince, which suggests to me that the violence perhaps doesn't

allow you get -- to get there. Just talk to the deteriorating situation we are seeing on the ground, Jean-Martin.

BAUER: That's right. It is that the violence has been such that the airline flights to Haiti has been disrupted. And I myself, I'm here in Cap-Haitien,

and I can't get back to Port-au-Prince. Port-au-Prince itself is surrounded by armed groups that control the main roads in and out, and that have also

closed the port.

Essentially Port-au-Prince has become an island. I'm very concerned that this security situation, that this political unrest is leading to a

humanitarian crisis.

SOARES: Yes, and look, you and I have spoken on numerous occasions, Jean- Martin, about this situation and how it's deteriorating so rapidly. Haiti, as our viewers will know already had one of the highest levels of food

insecurity in the world. And now you have what? Gang-led chaos, violence, lawlessness.

Were the people throughout the country caught in the middle? How is this latest wave of violence, Jean-Martin, exacerbated their day-to-day lives.

I'm thinking buying food, going to school, talk to that.

BAUER: Well, what it's done, and this has been upon this last four years, but what this latest episode has done is accelerate population displacement

within Port-au-Prince, we've reached more than 360,000 people as having been displaced overall in Haiti. That's more than doubled since last year.

So, that's really the most vulnerable part of the population. It's displaced population.


And we're also seeing very worrying indicators in terms of nutrition. So, the displaced population and malnourished children happened to be those

most affected.

SOARES: And I'm guessing with these levels of violence, Jean-Martin, people probably won't be going to work, people will be staying at home because

they don't want to be caught up in the middle of it. What are you seeing, and how does the north compare to what you're hearing from your colleagues

in Port-au-Prince?

BAUER: Well, thankfully, the north of Haiti has got a better situation. I have seen children go to school. We at the World Food Program provide them

with a daily meal at school. So, those programs are thankfully operating. If you look behind me, you might even see some of our workers loading


So, we're on the ground, we're active, and at least, in this part of Haiti, life is closer to normal, but it's still quite disrupted. Port-au-Prince by

contrast, schools are closed, people are sheltering in place, and they just don't know what's next.

SOARES: Yes, I imagine the insecurity there must be huge. I mean, I was speaking to a guest on the show last week, it was on Friday, and they were

telling me, you know, transportation is a huge concern, unable to transport goods by road for security reasons, airports were closed, ports have been

seized. How are you transporting these goods? And how much is insecurity a problem here?

BAUER: Insecurity is a huge problem. It's preventing the normal movement of people and goods within Haiti. And that's causing scarcity of food in Port-

au-Prince. It's causing food prices to rise. We have evidence that food prices have risen quite a bit in Port-au-Prince already.

So, what we need actually is for the fighting to stop, we need security to return, and hopefully, Haiti's traders, the market women, the Mat-

Donsahat(ph) do what they do best, which is feed the population. Right now, these systems are completely blocked and they're worsening very bad food


SOARES: Do you still -- Jean-Martin, do you still have teams in the capital? What are you seeing? I mean, a people -- would it -- give us some

of those -- some of the insights from inside, from Port-au-Prince. Because I heard the violence there was very deteriorating very rapidly.

BAUER: So, yes, we, do. We have 300 people in Haiti and we have a team in Port-au-Prince, and what they're doing right now is they're trying to bring

hot meals to the internally-displaced population. Yesterday, we were able to feed 12,000 internally-displaced people.

We'd like to get to 20,000 and even 30,000 if security conditions allow. But right now, there's a -- we are constrained by the insecurity in Port-

au-Prince and we're being careful. We're working with our local partners, local Haitian organizations that are right there, allowing us to set up a

central kitchen, cook up this food, and get these thousands of meal out to those who are most vulnerable.

SOARES: Jean-Martin, when you and I spoke, I think it was a year ago or so. You weren't very optimistic about the political and the social problems

within Haiti. How are you feeling at this juncture?

BAUER: We feel that this is something we that we regret. We're seeing a tragedy unfold before our eyes. Haiti deserves better than this. What we

are doing as the World Food Program is ensuring that we do what we can do best, which is provide these food stocks to the population.

We've got -- trying to -- tried to get ready by making sure our partners are ready to roll, that we have a stronger security team, that we have good

contacts with civil society, so that we are able to operate even in a context of higher insecurity. I'm quite thankful that my team has been able

to deliver.

And I just want to make it really clear. The World Food Program is in Haiti to stay. We're here to stay to deliver and to alleviate this crisis.

SOARES: Jean-Martin Bauer, always appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Thank you Jean-Martin.

BAUER: Thanks, Isa.

SOARES: Thank you. Well, the Swedish flag has been raised at NATO's headquarters in Belgium.




SOARES: Rainy scenes there in Brussels where officials from Sweden and other NATO countries gathered earlier today, the Swedes join the alliance.

If you remember, last week, ending their country's neutrality in response to Russia's war in Ukraine. And here's how Sweden's Prime Minister laid out

his country's future. Have a listen.


ULF KRISTERSSON, PRIME MINISTER, SWEDEN: We have come home, home to the alliance for peace and freedom, to which so many democracies already

belong. Home to where we also belong. Now, we are entering a new era. We will transform from following NATO to being NATO. I do look forward to this

important task.


SOARES: And Sweden is now the 32nd member of NATO. The alliance says Bosnia, Georgia and Ukraine have all declared their aspirations to join the

latest NATO expansion, comes amid exclusive CNN reporting that Russia is out-producing the U.S. as well as Europe when it comes to making artillery



And this is based on NATO Intelligence and sources familiar with efforts to arm Ukraine. They show the Russians are making about 250,000 artillery

rounds each month or about 3 million a year. And that's about three times - - just for context, about three times as much as what the U.S. and Europe can churn out.

A high-level NATO official tells CNN, this is now a war of production, which is something that we have heard time in, time out here on the show

from foreign ministers, European foreign ministers. Meantime, Ukrainian forces are paying the ultimate price as foreign aid stalls in the U.S.

CNN got some rare access to a frontline Medevac units, and our Nick Paton Walsh filed this report on the teams racing to carry the wounded away from

those frontlines.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Light is also their enemy here. Daylight brings the threat of attack drones, so,

it's hard to collect casualties from the frontline. Dark is when they bring most wounded out. The medics hiding in the tree-line, the other light

flashes from enormous bombs hitting the village of Orlivka and around a tiny place of outsized consequence.

It's Ukraine's defensive line, but Russia is raging hard for a breakthrough. The flash is constant. A 7-mile slog from there to here for

the wounded.



WALSH: They wait underground for the radio to say who? When? Where? It feels almost mundane, often hours of silence.


WALSH: The thumb of shelling hidden by TV series.


WALSH: Then it is time. They never really know what they'll find until they get there. And they too are targets. But along this eastern front, these

slick routines carry on minus one key thing, hope.

(on camera): Because of the intensity of the fighting here, this happens all night, every night, the desperate race to use dark, the cover of night

to get the wounded to hospitals fast as possible. Here comes some more.



WALSH (voice-over): From one Humvee to another, the wounded of a war they're losing because the U.S. is dropping out. The force of a blast

appears to have broken his upper arm, it's going to be a painful drive until the drugs kick in.


WALSH: He says he only had stitches out four days ago from another injury, a Russian attack drone ripping into their armored vehicle two weeks ago.

One of the five men hit inside then is still in hospital. Tonight, it was also drones.



WALSH: When they get to the hospital, all is blacked out, and we cannot even film doors. Russia is scouring the frontlines for any part of the

medical chain to hit, to make hell padder(ph) and farther away just like American money. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, near Orlivka, Ukraine.



SOARES: And still to come tonight, what are the biggest dangers facing the United States today? This hour, the directors of the FBI and CIA are among

the officials on Capitol Hill, giving their worldwide threat assessment. We'll have you -- bring you the very latest, of course.

And Mother's Day controversy with the royal family. Details on why the picture is worth a thousand words, also comes about a thousand questions it

seems. Max Foster explains.


SOARES: Welcome back everyone. CNN has received new information from a royal source on the controversy involving the first official photo of

Catherine Princess of Wales, since she underwent surgery. The source says the goal of the photo released, as you can see there, that's the photo was

to share an informal family snapshot for Mother's Day, which was Sunday here in the U.K.

The photo was pulled hours later after news organizations said they had reason to believe the image had been manipulated. Well, in a statement,

Kate Middleton said she quote, "occasionally experiment with editing and apologize for any confusion." Our Max Foster is tracking the royal drama in



MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was meant to quell the rumors, a smiling Princess of Wales with her three children looking the

picture of health, but instead, it fueled them. The photo released on Sunday by the royal family dramatically pulled from circulation by several

major news agencies later that day, citing concerns that it had been manipulated.

The Princess of Wales apologized on Monday, taking personal responsibility for editing the image. "Like many amateur photographers", she said, "I do

occasionally experiment with editing. I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused."

A CNN analysis of the photo found at least two areas which appear to show evidence the photo has been potentially altered, including Princess

Charlotte's sleeve which seems to melt into nothing and then Kate's zipper which appears to be cut short. CNN is continuing to use the original photo

in the context of the debate around this alleged manipulation.

A royal source told CNN on Monday, the princess made minor adjustments to the image as she shared in her statement on social media, but didn't

explain why they weren't transparent about the edits when they shared the image with news media and picture agencies.


AFP, one of the international agencies to pull the photo stood by its decision on Monday.

ERIC BARADAT, DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AFP: We have a duty of trust towards our subscribers, towards their viewers, and we have to kill the picture.

It's absolutely a red line that was crossed there in terms of journalism.

FOSTER: The image was released by the royals for Mother's Day in the U.K., along with a message from Kate, thanking people for their support in the

past two months. The Princess has been out of the public eye since she underwent abdominal surgery in January.

And in the vacuum of information, conspiracy theories have been swirling about the status of her health. First editions of British newspapers

published before the image was pulled by agencies present the picture as happy proof of her recovery. But the subsequent unprecedented withdrawal by

some agencies has sent speculation about her wellbeing into overdrive.

KATE WILLIAMS, ROYAL HISTORIAN: People are worried and they're concerned, and the speculation just goes greater and greater, and it's really -- it

must be so hard for Kate. She's had a severe surgery. She just needs privacy and the internet is panicking. People saying we can't trust them

anymore. We can't trust their photos.

FOSTER: With a trust between the royal family and the public being called into question, what was meant to be a reassuring family snap backfired



SOARES: And our Max Foster joins me now with the very latest, and that's it. The heart of it is the trust, isn't it? That this photo was put out for

Mother's Day is a beautiful photo at first glance, and it was supposed to quell all these rumors that have been circulating, and it's done the very


FOSTER: It has, and they're not giving us the original. So, people don't know how manipulated it was. And the fact that they aren't handing it over

makes people think it was, you know -- they're reading into -- you know, all sorts of things that could be -- it could have been changed in this


A wider problem, you're aware of all the speculation or conspiracy theories about this all being a cover up around --

SOARES: Yes --

FOSTER: Kate's health.


FOSTER: We haven't gone down those rabbit holes because there's no evidence for them, but --

SOARES: But it just fuels -- you think it fuels those controversies --

FOSTER: I think what it does is make us address them.

SOARES: Yes --

FOSTER: It forces us almost to amplify them, which is the opposite of what the palace wants, it's also the opposite of what we want. But we haven't

got any firm facts to work with.

SOARES: And that's going to assert the concern going forward, surely, any photo we get from the palace we will be questioning, that trust would have

been lost.

FOSTER: Yes, I think that --

SOARES: Eroded in some way --

FOSTER: You know, the guy at AFP, you know, did speak to that. You know, there are photos -- I mean, I think, you know, a source when I was speaking

to them was saying this was someone who basically was tinkering around and posted it to their social media.

Well, we know that it doesn't just happen like that. There's a huge team around them. And there's a difference between adding a filter or cropping a

picture --

SOARES: Yes --

FOSTER: And actually changing what's within it. And away from that, when you're sharing that with news media as a news photograph --


FOSTER: We can't accept something that we don't think is a true reflection of actually what happened.

SOARES: So, I mean, it's one thing we all know as parents, getting our children to take a decent photo. That's hard enough, it's already, right?

Getting all smiling and looking at the camera. Does he advance(ph) -- which is what we all do with the filters, we get rid of wrinkles, spots, et


FOSTER: Speaking of selfies, yes --

SOARES: Well, of course, you're natural beauty, Max. But this -- are these agencies saying this is more than just tinkering? Is this -- what kind of

alteration are we talking about? Do we know?

FOSTER: Well, the suggestion is that there are several images that were taken, and they've --


FOSTER: Effectively --

SOARES: Over-imposed --

FOSTER: Overlaid --

SOARES: Yes --

FOSTER: Not very well either. So, it's been -- so, that would suggest -- you know, they're saying there's one image when there's probably more

than one image in there, we don't really know until we've seen the original image. But picture agencies, of course, you know, experts in this. And

their whole business is based on the fact, I mean, we take their pictures but we trust them --

SOARES: Yes --

FOSTER: To be accurate. If we don't know they're accurate, then now we're going to have to go through a whole laborious process of -- I mean, we do

check all the photos anyway, but they -- you know, now we're going to have to check them in particular detail, because it could be something very

small --

SOARES: Yes --

FOSTER: That we need to pick up on, because our viewers need to trust us --

SOARES: Yes, it's erosion of trust, right?

FOSTER: So, they trust to get their way through --

SOARES: It's erosion of trust, and of course, today, was I think a celebration of commonwealth and all eyes weren't focused on that. Everyone

is focused on this --

FOSTER: No, I think there's a frustration behind the scenes that today was meant to be about a big commonwealth service, and we're not talking about


SOARES: Max, I know you'll stay across it, thanks very much. Now, Portugal center-right coalition won a narrow victory in Sunday's elections, but fell

short of an outright majority. The Democratic Alliance Coalition won nearly 30 percent of the vote with incumbent socialist party in a close second.

Meanwhile, a big breakthrough for the nationalist radical-right party, shager(ph), which means "enough", translates to "enough", which took nearly

a fifth of the vote. The rise of the far-right in Portugal echoes a trend seen of course, throughout Europe as more voters look for an alternative to

mainstream politics.

And still to come tonight, top U.S. intelligence officials are holding a hearing today on the greatest security threats facing the United States,

what are those? We'll tell you next.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Just how dangerous are the biggest threats to the security of the United States? Top U.S. intelligence officials try -

- trying to answer that question are sharing information this hour in a hearing on Capitol Hill.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is holding its annual Worldwide Threats Assessment. Our Chief National Security Correspondent, Alex

Marquardt, joins us now. Alex, what are we likely to hear here?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, This is a really interesting opportunity for, you know, those of us in the

public who don't have access to classified briefings to really get a sense from the top U.S. intelligence officials what it is that they're watching,

what it is that they are concerned about.

I think we're going to see a lot of questions about the wars in Ukraine and in Gaza, where these intelligence officials believe that those are going,

and, of course, the rivalry with China. I mean, there are certain things that we can expect to hear, the major points in terms of threats from

around the world.

At last year's hearing, for example, they talked about China being an unparalleled priority. And then I imagine they will tick through a number

of subjects that you might expect, like Iran and its nuclear program.


North Korea, its nuclear program as well, and developing of missiles, the threats from cyber, for example.

But I really do think that you're going to hear senators dig down into what is happening in Ukraine, particularly when it comes to supporting Ukraine

and its fight against Russia. They're going to be asking about support for Israel in its fight against Hamas.

So, there are all these things that, you know, over the course of several hours, senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee are going to have a

chance to ask about to Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence, Bill Burns, the Director of the CIA, and another senator on the Senate

Intelligence Committee. It really is a formidable panel of U.S. intelligence officials.

And then on the domestic side, you have the head of the FBI, Chris Wray, as well. And so there will be questions about terrorism threats, the threat to

the American homeland. Wray said in a hearing just a couple of months ago that the biggest chunk of threats, as he put it, was -- were anti-Semitic

threats, threats against Jewish targets.

So, they will be covering a large and wide range of subjects today, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, and given what you've just outlined for us, Alex, I mean, how crucial are these assessments from this panel, given, of course, that we

have an election year, and given that we're on Ukraine to focus on, because you and I have spoken a great length about Ukraine, just today, of course,

we've seen the Russians are making about 250,000 artillery rounds each month, about three million a year.

How much does what they say here resonate, have an impact, you think, on policy and on voters?

MARQUARDT: Well, I don't think there's any mystery to what they're going to say when it comes to the Russian threat and comes to supporting Ukraine.

These, you know, national security officials are quite united that the U.S. needs to continue to support Ukraine in that fight, that that multi-

billion, $60 billion aid package needs to go to Ukraine. And, you know, intelligence officials are supposed to be apolitical. Yes, they are

nominated by the Biden administration, but they are quite respected among Republicans on this Senate Intelligence Committee.

But you are going to see some of the more fiery questions, certainly from the Republican side, and it will be framed in such a way, I would imagine,

as - should we continue to support Ukraine when it became clear that, as we have supported them in the past two years, that they have not managed to

claw back so much of the territory that has been taken by Russia. So, it will have a political overtone.

And I'm glad you mentioned the elections, Isa. That is going to be a major concern as well. This is an election year. We have seen interference by

countries like Russia and Iran in the past. So, I think there will be a number of questions in that -- on that subject, particularly when it comes

to interference by China, potential interference. China has said that they're not going to, but Russia and Iran, among other countries, Isa.

SOARES: And we've seen them filing in. They're sitting down. Of course, we'll stay across that. I know you will for us as well.

Alex Marquardt, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

We're going to go back now to the war in Gaza. In the words of one displaced Palestinian, Ramadan is overshadowed by darkness this year. Many

families began the Muslim holy month shivering in plastic tents, later praying outside demolished buildings.

Our Nada Bashir shows us there's little to celebrate after five months of war. And we warn you, her report contains disturbing images.


NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Moments of joy like this are rare in Gaza now. As the holy month of Ramadan begins, this is a moment of

togetherness in the very worst of times.

Amid the horror, children across the strip are somehow able to escape their reality, even if only briefly. In this refugee camp in Deir el-Balah, some

Palestinians have decorated their tents just as they once decorated their now-destroyed homes. But festivities here are muted, under the constant

buzzing of Israeli drones overhead and the ever-present threat of yet more airstrikes, with hopes for a ceasefire dashed.

"What are your wishes for Ramadan?" A journalist asks this young boy in Rafah. "A ceasefire, and that prices go back to normal," he says. "It's

very expensive. There's no gas, no water, nothing."

Officials say hundreds of mosques in Gaza have been destroyed since the war began, and yet night prayers have continued amid the ruin.

In the north, worshippers gathered at this makeshift U.N. school, overflowing with civilians displaced by Israel's relentless bombing


During Ramadan, observant Muslims refrain from eating from dawn to dusk.


It is a month centered around faith and community, with worshippers traditionally breaking fast amongst family and friends. But with a quarter

of Gaza's population now on the brink of famine, according to the U.N., many in Gaza will have nothing to eat, even after sunset.

"I came to the food market, but I can't find anything to buy," Sofyan says. "There's nothing. There are no dates, no milk, nothing. People can't even

find food for their children. No food and no peace this Ramadan."

The first day of the holy month marked by yet more airstrikes on Gaza, and more civilians killed, adding to a death toll already exceeding 31,000 over

just five months.

But while many are still being killed in Israel's ongoing bombardment of the besieged strip, others are now dying from starvation. Among them, two

newborn babies at the Kamal Adwan Hospital. "They died on the first day of Ramadan as a result of malnutrition and dehydration and a lack of medical

equipment at the hospital," Dr. Samer says.

But even as the situation in Gaza grows more desperate, Israeli officials warn that a ground offensive in Rafah in the south, where more than a

million Palestinians are now displaced, has not been ruled out. And with ceasefire negotiations stalling, there seems to be no end in sight for

Gaza's suffering.

Nada Bashir, CNN, London.



SOARES: Well, The CNN Freedom Project is shining a light on illegal child labor. It's often considered a problem, mainly in developing countries. But

it has surged 88 percent in the United States over the past five years.

CNN's David Culver shows us what's happening and what's being done to fight it.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For many migrants, coming to the United States is less about searching for a dream than it is escaping a


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came fleeing the violence in Mexico. Coming here, my eyes were shut and I came blindly to try and build a new life for my



CULVER (voice-over): Often they wind up walking in places like this, a now- shuttered chicken processing plant just outside Los Angeles, California.

In September, the Department of Labor raided two poultry plants owned by Exclusive Poultry, finding the company had employed children as young as 14

years old to debone chickens, wield sharp knives, and operate power-driven forklifts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The knives? Yes, one time I actually poked at myself, just my finger went through the metal glove.

CULVER (voice-over): 18-year-old Elandra was one of them. She started working the graveyard shift at Exclusive Poultry when she was just 16.

Sitting beside her mother. Elandra asked us to protect her identity. She fears retribution from their former boss, whom she called scary.

RODELIA ROMERO, CO-FOUNDER, CIELO: There's this narrative that we come for the American dream but we come here to survive. We risk our lives to have a

possibility to live.

CULVER (voice-over): Rodelia Romero is co-founder of Cielo, a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles that provides interpretation services and

works with indigenous migrants who've been abused or exploited by their employers. She says increasingly, that work involves children.

ROMERO: If you go to the agriculture area of California, there's hundreds of children working there, or in the restaurant, in the garment industry.

We have to change that mindset that it only happens outside the U.S. No, there is labor exploitation on children here in the United States. And it

happens every day, everywhere.

CULVER (voice-over): The Department of Labor says it has seen an 88 percent spike in children being illegally employed across all industries since

2019. In 2023 alone, the Department of Labor discovered nearly 6,000 kids were working illegally across the U.S.

RUBEN ROSALEZ, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR: They're taking advantage of workers that adults probably don't want to do these jobs in some cases.

CULVER (voice-over): Ruben Rosalez leads the western region's Wage and Hour Division inside the Department of Labor.

ROSALEZ: We confirmed that a minimum of about 13 minors. We're vetting more so there could be more that come out of the case, but they were doing

deboning of chicken, working with forklifts and lifts -- hoists -- they lift up, big pieces, putting them into machinery. So, a lot of different

dangerous jobs that they were working on.

CULVER (voice-over): CNN reached out to the owner of Exclusive Poultry, which agreed to pay nearly 3.8 million in fines and back wages. They did

not respond to our request for comment.

For Elandra and her mother Carmen, while the experience is something they'd like to put behind them, it's also showed them the causes for hope in their

adopted country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I felt bad because it was dangerous work for a minor. But necessity make us do these things. I stayed

silent for a long time. I didn't know there were opportunities in people who would help.

They opened our eyes to the idea there are people who will support us in this country.


SOARES: Well, what do the nuclear weapons, a bedazzling musical number, and nearly a naked actor have in common? If you didn't watch it, it's the

Oscars. Millions tuned in to watch the 96th annual Academy Awards. The film Oppenheimer, about the father of the atomic bomb, dominated with seven


Meanwhile, the auditorium was bathed in pink for an epic version of I Am Ken by the Barbie actor Ryan Gosling. And then there's this. It's proved

the actor and wrestler John Cena has the build-up to show up on stage for a planned streaking stunt.

Have a look.



JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, ACADEMY AWARDS: What's going on? You're supposed to run across the stage.

JOHN CENA, ACTOR: I changed my mind. I don't want to do the streaker bit anymore.

KIMMEL: What do you mean you don't want to do the streaker bit anymore? We're doing it.

CENA: Costumes, they are so important. Maybe the most important thing there is. I can't open the envelope. It would have to --

KIMMEL: Oh, my God. The nominees for Best Costume Design are, there. You look beautiful.

CENA: And the Oscar goes to --


SOARES: It's just brilliant. And joining us now is entertainment journalist Segun Oduolowu. He's the host of Boston Globe today, a well-known face on

the show.

Segun, great to see you again. Look, that stunt there from John Cena, really perhaps a realization more than anything for all of us that we need

to spend more time at the gym. What did you make of what you saw yesterday?

SEGUN ODUOLOWU, NYC CORRESPONDENT, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: Well, Iss, thank you for having me, and I'm not going to lie to you. I'm coming to you just

having been to the gym because John absolutely shamed all of us at home. I was sitting next to my wife, and I said, you know, that's a lot of

manscaping, and she just looked at me and was just like, yes, I'm not mad about that.

So, he actually, I think, stole the show with that. It was the laugh-out- loud moment of the Oscars for me, and I think he was a good sport and really showed that there's a difference between Hollywood action hero,

superstar, former athlete, and what all of us men think we're doing as weekend warriors in the gym.

SOARES: Yes that's another level, right? Look, let's talk about the Barbie movie because it didn't come away with anything, in fact, but didn't stop

Ryan Gosling, as we mentioned earlier there, Segun, to who played Ken, of course, in the movie, from also stealing the show, we can say.

I want to play a little clip for our viewers. Have a look at this.

SOARES: Great for Ken, not so great for Barbie or for Barbie's director, right, in terms of a night?

ODUOLOWU: Yes, it was knuff, right? Ryan Gosling, we should not be surprised that he can do this. This is a former Mickey Mouse Club singer

back in the days when he was a kid and also from La La Land. He can sing, he can dance.

You know, if John Cena was what we want to be as physically, Ryan Gosling is what we wish all of our skills were, singing and dancing, and what he

really did was show the spectacle of what Barbie was, right? Barbie was a blockbuster all summer long.

It was great at the box office, but it didn't do well at the Academy Awards because nothing could stop the Oppenheimer train, and ironically enough, it

was Barbie and Oppenheimer that were going neck and neck, fighting it back and forth during the summer for our theater dollars. Oppenheimer won when

it came to the awards, but Barbie and Ryan Gosling won on that stage with that performance.

SOARES: It did dominate, and of course, we're looking at some pictures from the awards in terms of Oppenheimer. Like you said, many people expected

Oppenheimer to win. They did. That wasn't a surprise.

But what was the biggest shocker of the night for you, Segun? What would you say was the standout? Or the person you thought would have won?


ODUOLOWU: Without question, Lily Gladstone not winning for Killers of the Flower Moon. All award season long, we were thinking that this was a

coronation. This was the first time that an Indigenous woman was going to win an award. She is out and openly queer. There was that. There were all

of these elements that the Academy was finally going to get right, and then it was not to be.

And when her name wasn't called, you just sat there and you said to yourself, oh, you know, I can't find five people that saw the movie that

beat her. Gosh, her name is just jumping out of my head because I was so aggravated that Lily Gladstone didn't win, but he she deserved it.

SOARES: Yes, Killers of the Flower Moon. Yes, yes.

ODUOLOWU: Yes. Killers of the Flower Moon, she deserved it. It was long. It was, you know, it was tough to watch, but she was incredible. The Best

Actress Award not going to her, I thought, was definitely -- it just definitely fell flat for me.

SOARES: Yes, yes, yes. Segun, always great to get your insight here. And let's keep going and see if we can beat John Cena here. Appreciate it. Take


ODUOLOWU: You too, Isa. Thank you.

SOARES: Take care. That does it for us. "NEWSROOM" with Jim Sciutto is up next. See you tomorrow.