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Quest Means Business

Prosecutor`s Closing Arguments In Trump`s NY Fraud Trial; NY Seeking $370M In Damages From Donald Trump; FAA Launches Boeing Probe Over Cabin Panel Loss; Spot Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds Launch In US.; Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Blasts South Africa`s "Hypocrisy"; Iran Seizes Oil Tanker At Center Of U.S.-Iran Dispute; Call To Earth: Beavers; Customers Turn To MasterClass To Upskill. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired January 11, 2024 - 15:00   ET



ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: US stocks are making a late session comeback. You may take a look at those prices. Right now, and that`s after

hotter than expected inflation numbers, booking investors earlier in the day. Well, those are the markets, and these are the main events.

Dramatic scenes out of Donald Trump`s civil fraud trial, the judge rebuking the former president for speaking out in court.

Inflation rose faster than expected in December, dimming hopes for an interest rate cuts in the near future.

And it can`t happen again, the FAA formerly tells Boeing it`s under investigation.

Live from Dubai, it is Thursday, January 11th. I`m Eleni Giokos. I`m in for Richard Quest, and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

A very good evening to you. Welcome to the show. Prosecutors are presenting their closing arguments right now in a trial that`s testing Donald Trump`s

legitimacy as a businessman. The former president was in a New York courtroom for today`s proceedings.

The state accuses him of committing business fraud and is seeking $317 million in damages. Trump speaking from the defense table, saying the case

was a political witch hunt that went outside the facts. At one point, the judge presiding over the trial told Trump`s lawyers to control your client.

Trump also said this in the last hour.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER US PRESIDENT: We`ve proven this case so conclusively. We`ve asked for directed verdict many times. They don`t have any facts.

They don`t have any evidence against us, millions and millions of pages, years of litigation, and all politically motivated.


GIOKOS: Well, CNN`s Brynn Gingras is outside the courtroom for us. Brynn, great to see you.

We`ve just heard from Donald Trump as well outside. We`ve heard some of what he said, reiterating the point that he believes that this is a

political witch hunt. So tell me about the -- what happened in the courtroom and, importantly, those closing arguments.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So those closing arguments were mostly done by the lead defense attorney, Chris Kise, in this case.

Donald Trump has given about three to five minutes by the judge to give us some sort of statement -- closing argument that he wanted to participate


The judge allowing this because, you know, Donald Trump is one of the main defendants in this case. But he said he wanted to be clear that he couldn`t

veer off the facts of this case. When he did, that`s when the judge sort of jumped in and told Chris Kise to control his clients.

But the crux of the argument is what we, of course, have heard in the defenses side of this case in the last two and a half months of this trial.

And that is that these financial statements of condition, they were not inflated as the New York attorney general`s office claim. They did not

overvalue assets to get better loans and, you know, conduct their business in the state of New York.

Essentially, Kise said that there was no motive for the Trumps to do this because banks would really rollout, quote, "the red carpet to get the

Trumps to do business." They also attacked and said, basically, there is no -- you know, people who took the stand that are complaining about being a

victim in this case, pointing also to the main witness for the states attorney`s office.

Who is Cohen? They said that he is a proven liar. So a lot of the defense we heard with Chris Kise for about two hours or so in just a little bit of

Donald Trump, who reiterated those same points when he had his own little news conference, not too far from here at one of his properties on Wall


Right now, we`re hearing from the state`s attorney`s office, in this case, who is wrapping up sort of their argument for this trial, essentially

saying that the statements of financial condition, of course -- again, this is the heart of what`s at this case. They said that they were false.

Every year of issue, from 2011 to 2021, saying the discrepancy totaled $2.2 billion, you know, the state arguing here that they got better loans. They

actually made money off the fact that they got better loans and that they should be paying some that money back in the tune of $370 million.


The state also asking the judge to make sure the Trumps -- Donald Trump and his sons -- never do business in the state of New York again. So there`s a

lot at risk here. And we`ll have to see how the judge sort of answer with his judgment when we -- when he files. We expect that to happen sometime by

the end of the month.

GIOKOS: All right. Brynn, great to see you. Thank you so much for that update.

(Inaudible) Elie Honig joining us now to give us a bit more analysis. Look, Elie, here`s the reality, so much at stake. We`ve heard for Donald Trump.

We heard him speaking outside the court again. As Brynn reiterated, this isn`t the first time he`s been talking about this political witch hunt and,

frankly, how he feels that he has been, of course, the big focus. Could you take us through what you think of what we`ve heard in the courtroom and

then, importantly, also outside?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Eleni, first of all, its important to know at the outset, this is a civil case, this is a lawsuit,

this is not a criminal case. Donald Trump does have four criminal indictments against him, but this is just looking for money damages. This

sort of goes to the heart of the Trump organization and their ability to continue doing business.

The heart of this case, the allegation made by the attorney general`s office is that Donald Trump and his businesses systematically and vastly

overinflated the value of their assets in order to get loans that they wouldn`t have otherwise been entitled to.

Now, Donald Trump hasn`t offered up much of a defense to that. On the subject of whether his numbers evaluations were reasonable and accurate,

it`s really been, I think, an unconvincing case. These overvaluations weren`t just by 10% or 20%, they were by sometimes five or 10 times the


What I think is the better argument that Donald Trump`s team has made throughout this trial is that there were no real victims here, that the

parties that were receiving these inflated numbers were very sophisticated multibillion-dollar banks. They made the loan to Donald Trump, who then

repaid the loans in full plus interest. So that`s an argument that Donald Trump`s made, I think, to sort of mitigate the damages against him.

Important also to note, finally, this is being heard by a judge. There`s no jury here. The judge already has ruled in favor of the AG against Donald

Trump on one of the seven claims here. What we`ll see in the future, at some point, is the judge ruling on the other six claims and also giving an

award of damages.

GIOKOS: Look, you mentioned importantly the other four criminal indictments as well. And he`s being able to use these indictments as part of his 2024

campaign. Tell me how his legal issues have become political for him and perhaps playing in his favor somewhat.

HONIG: Well, so a couple of things. I guess if you look at the polling data, it shows that maybe concurrent with, maybe caused by, we don`t know.

But around the time when the indictment started dropping in April of 2022, Donald Trump started to distance himself from his rivals in the Republican

primary field, whether that`s causation or correlation, I guess, I`ll leave to the political folks.

But if you look at that calendar that we just showed on the screen, you can see that looking ahead throughout the .


HONIG: . 2024 campaign, the political events and the law -- the legal events, the trials, the courtroom appearances are basically intertwined.

And so, I think that one of the biggest stories of the 2024 election will be how do these cases play out? In particular, the four different criminal


We`re not going to see, to be clear, four criminal trials started and completed before the election. But I think we could well see one or two of

them. And the polling shows that those can make a big difference in the general election.

GIOKOS: Yes, super fascinating, I mean, that quarter (inaudible) turning into a campaign speech somewhat. What is at stake for Donald Trump with all

these indictments, Elie?

HONIG: Well, in the case that we`re talking about today, it`s really the future of his business, the Trump organization, whether they can continue

doing business in New York and elsewhere. When we turn to the four criminal indictments, really, nothing less than Donald Trump`s individual liberty. I

mean, let`s be realistic about this.

If Donald Trump is convicted on any of those four cases, he faces the realistic possibility of being sentenced to prison. Now a lot of things

have to happen. He has a trial, he has to be convicted, then it will go up on appeal and have to hold up on appeal. So there`s a lot of steps between

where we are now and a potential ultimate outcome. But yes, in a criminal trial, the person who`s charged -- in this case, Donald Trump -- their

individual liberty is at stake.

So for Donald Trump, it`s really an all or nothing proposition.

GIOKOS: Yes, that`s a good point. Elie, great to have you on. Thank you so much.

HONIG: Thank you. All right.

GIOKOS: Well, us consumer prices rose at 3.4% annual rate in December. That is higher than November`s reading, and it`s what economists were expecting.

There was some good news though, core inflation, which strips out volatile food, as well as energy sectors, fell to an annual rate of 3.9%. And that`s

the lowest reading since May 2021.

US markets were initially lower on that news. And here`s where they stand right now. As you can see, the Dow basically flat, but in negative

(inaudible). We`re seeing red or rant (ph), frankly.


Markets have been rallying high over in recent weeks on hopes the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates. As soon as March, the Dow Jones and S&P

are both near record highs. And today`s inflation data may be a sign the fed meets to keep interest rates higher for longer. The federal funds

target range remains at a 22-year high.

I want to bring in now CNN Global Economic Analyst Rana Foroohar. Great to see you. So many questions around those. You know, does the latest reading

derail hope? The hope that we had for lower interest rates and perhaps some kind of drop in 2024?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, let`s put it this way. It may delay it. You know .


FOROOHAR: . you mentioned core CPI coming in at 3.9. Well, it was expected to be 3.8, okay, so that`s not a huge, huge increase from what the

expectations were.

So I don`t want to look at this one month of data, which is December, and that actually tends to be a month where you might see a little inflation

anyway, because of the spending season, the holidays which were actually more robust. You see transportation, airline tickets, things like that

going up. That`s predictable. But there are other things like health insurance, auto insurance, housing that have also stayed a little higher

than what were expected.

So it`s not something to be alarmed about, but I would say that this is going to make it harder for the Fed to make a case to start cutting in

March. I think that you`re -- you know, unless you see something really diametrically different, you`re going to be looking more at a summer cut.

GIOKOS: So good that you mentioned the holiday spending and all those presence, right, over those period that does seem to have an inflationary

effect. But listen, oil prices are rising, their geopolitics on the horizon causing, you know, supply issues, potential supply constraints, as well.

What scenarios are being priced in right now that could feed through into inflation in the future?

FOROOHAR: That`s a great question. This is something I actually was a bit wary about. At the end of last year. when the markets got so excited

thinking, hey, and the inflation story is over, we`re back to normal. I thought to myself, we`re getting ahead of ourselves because, look, we`ve

got two hot wars going on in energy-rich parts of the world right now.

And if you were to see, for example, a blockage of the Strait of Hormuz or some kind of, you know, major heightening of the conflict in Gaza, 100%

that would track into inflation, then that would of course then start to have political ramifications. It would certainly have market ramifications.

When you see markets never like the idea of commodities inflation, that`s always something that derails them. So it`s still a risk, 100%.

GIOKOS: Okay. Look, we know that the Fed targets 2% inflation. Some say that isn`t viable in this day and age, but yet we`re still talking about a

2% target.

Look, core inflation is still sitting at 3.9%. It`s above that target range. How realistic do we have to be in terms of what the real target is

going to be down the line and what that would mean for inflation?

FOROOHAR: That`s also a very good question. I`m going to hedge, as most economists are, and say, its very, very difficult .


FOROOHAR: . to know at this point whether we`ve entered a longer-term game change environment for inflation.

If you think about all the things that we`ve come through in the last few years, we were already pre-pandemic, pre-war in Ukraine, pre-Gaza, pre-

supply chain interruptions. We were already on track to have a slowdown at the same time that you might have seen some higher inflation because of a

re-industrialization that`s been in the US and Europe. You know, we`re in a decoupling world.

All of this throws a lot of vectors into play. There are demographic shifts. There are technological shifts happening right now. I mean, AI is -

- despite all the inflationary headwinds, actually potentially a deflationary trend because it`s going to frankly replace some human labor.

But there are political implications to that as well. So it is just very, very difficult to predict at the moment.

I`ve been doing this job for 33 years. I`ve never seen as many change vectors in play in the global economy as I do now.

GIOKOS: And just so many uncertainties playing out in tandem. In terms of the political scenarios playing out in the US elections, look, we know that

always, in some way, impacts what we see on the economic front and the big push from the political sphere. How -- what are you pricing in on that


FOROOHAR: Well, you know, I think in some ways you`re going to start to hear a lot more from both sides of the aisle, both from the Biden

administration, certainly, from Trump about decoupling, about getting tough on China. The markets probably aren`t going to love that because getting

tough on China will mean potentially tariffs. It means re- industrialization, which is inherently inflationary.


I actually think if it`s done properly as its been done in the Biden administration with creating more competitiveness in home in the US that

this could actually be good for the global economy because we had a very unbalanced economy with the US as the consumer of last resort, China as the

factory of the world. That has to change.

But markets wanted to change slowly organically. They want not blunt force tariffs, but they want, you know, a slow change towards more income-led

growth in the US rather than this kind of hard-line America first discussion. So that`s going to be the political conversation, and we will

see how it plays out. I`m sure were going to be talking about this a lot more in the months ahead.

GIOKOS: Yes. What a way to start off 2024. Rana, great to have you on. We`ll be speaking soon, I`m sure. Rana Foroohar there for us.

Right, and still to come on the show, US aviation officials launched an investigation into Boeing after a cabin panel blew off one of its aircraft

midflight. Details on that story, just ahead.


GIOKOS: Aviation authorities in the US have launched a formal investigation into Boeing and its 737 Max 9. That plane was grounded after a cabin plane

blew out of an Alaska Airlines flight, forcing it to make an emergency landing.

In a post, the Federal Aviation Administration said the incident, quote, "should have never happened and it cannot happen again." CNN`s Pete Muntean

is following the developments for us.

Pete, great to have you on. As a lover of the window seat, this is very concerning for me, but very happy to see that is going to be an

investigation. But, look, this is a troubled plane. We`ve seen so many issues. What is the latest in terms of what authorities are doing right


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, first off, about the window seat, it`s really important to know that nobody was sitting in that seat

right next to this probe -- right next to this part of the plane that blew out.

The FAA`s announcement here that it`s looking into Boeing is significant. It means the probe of Fridays in-flight blow out now goes beyond just the

incident itself, and now investigators want to know if there are bigger problems at Boeing.


The investigation the FAA just announced is rare. It will look into Boeing`s quality control.

Boeing now has 10 days to submit a response to the Federal Aviation Administration here in the US. And here is what the FAA just said in its

announcement of the investigation. "This incident should have never happened. It cannot happen again. And Boeing`s manufacturing practices need

to comply with the high safety standards they`re legally accountable to meet."

This comes after Alaska Airlines and United Airlines both discovered problems with their 737 Max 9 door plugs. That is the part that blew out of

Alaska Flight 1282 held in place by 12 fittings and four bolts.

And United found, on its planes, what it calls installation issues and loose bolts. Without these bolts, the door can essentially shoot off like a

rocket, what the NTSB says it did exactly on Friday.

Now, Boeing`s CEO Dave Calhoun has done only one interview since this incident and he says, the cause was what he calls an escape when it came to

Boeing`s quality control. Listen.


DAVE CALHOUN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, BOEING: This one is a horrible escape, a horrible escape. We will look everywhere around the Max, around the Spirit

factories, our own factories, our inspection processes, and we`ll make sure that we take steps to ensure that it never can happen again.


MUNTEAN: Calhoun also referencing contractor Spirit AeroSystems, which makes the 737 Max 9 fuselage, that company, now part of the NTSB

investigation to figure out exactly what went wrong here -- Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes. Pete, really good point. And yes, by sheer luck, no one was sitting at that window seat. But what is the fate of the 737 Max? We know

that there have been issues before. We know that Boeing has been under the spotlight before as well. How long is this investigation expected to take?

MUNTEAN: Usually, an NTSB investigation takes between a year and two years. Right now, the fate of the 737 Max 9 in the US, they are grounded

nationwide. They`re flown by Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, includes about 170 airplanes.

There are 215 of them flown globally. This is a really big seller for Boeing.


MUNTEAN: But remember, the Max itself, the Max family came under incredible scrutiny back in 2018 and 2019 after back-to-back fatal crashes killed 346

people in two crashes abroad.


MUNTEAN: There was a 20-month grounding here in the US. And so now the question is whether or not, not necessarily that incident which was a

flight control system issue, the question is whether or not there is a systemic issue at Boeing and its quality control, whether or not there was

a .


MUNTEAN: . manufacturers defect. So that`s the big question that investigators are trying to get to the bottom of and really the scope of

its investigation is growing all of the time with this new announcement from the FAA.

GIOKOS: Yes, really good point there. And, of course, the erosion of customer confidence as well in all of this. So we`re going to be

interesting .


GIOKOS: . to see how this plays out. Pete Muntean, great to have you on. Thank you.

MUNTEAN: Anytime.

GIOKOS: Well, after months of anticipation, the first spot bitcoin ETF started trading today in the US.

BlackRock rang the opening bell at the Nasdaq exchange to launch its iShares bitcoin fund. It is one of 11 firms who got the green light

Wednesday from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The new funds are meant to track the price of bitcoin, allowing people to invest in it

without owning the digital acid itself. Bitcoin is flat today against the US dollar.

We`ve got Geoffrey Kendrick, head of Crypto Research at Standard Chartered, joining us now. Sir, great to have you. Great to see you again.

Look, this is quite a moment I guess the sound that I wouldn`t heard before, right? The opening bell at the Nasdaq.

SEC are proving first spot ETF. This is after a decade of extreme pushback against crypto. Does this help further legitimize crypto as a whole, would

you say?

GEOFFREY KENDRICK, HEAD OF CRYPTO RESEARCH, STANDARD CHARTERED: I think it`s a watershed moment for digital assets across the board.


KENDRICK: As you mentioned, there`s been a buildup of investor demand for this product for a number of years. What it does, firstly, is it creates a

huge potential flow mostly we out of 401(k)-type plans in the US. And those plans have been held back from investing in this sector for a number of

years now. So we should see a huge inflow, I estimate, between $50 billion and $100 billion this year of inflows into the ETFs.

And that`s at a time when supply is very restricted. Most bitcoin is -- bitcoins are held for a very long time. So the supply curve is inelastic,

demand is growing, and so price is very likely to go quite a bit higher.


GIOKOS: So you -- at $50 billion and $100 billion in terms of inflow, and so what kind of, you know, number you`re looking at in terms of bitcoin?

Where do you think it`s going? Sitting at 45,000 right now, where are you expecting it to reach in the back of this increased demand with the ETF?

KENDRICK: I think we can get to $100,000 by the end of this year. That`s a number that I pulled out about nine months ago, so it was well before even

the ETFs were due to come up. Now, it`s also on the back of the halving cycle, which is coming up in a couple of months as well. And then in 2025,

I think we could get all the way up to 200,000.

The math on that is I had a look at what happened with the first US placed gold ETF when that came out in November 2004 to quite a few years for the

ETF inflows, about seven or eight years in total. But over that time, the gold price multiplied by 4.3 times.

And if you think about bitcoin price, right now, if you multiply that by 4.3 times, that gets you to around about a 200,000 mark. I think that

happens a lot more quickly for bitcoin than it did for gold. So I`m thinking about by the end of 2025, so just under the two-year mark. And

that`s because the bitcoin and the digital asset markets more broadly are much faster moving.

There`s been this buildup for demand. And, quite frankly, supply has been restricted given those longer-term holds as well. So sharp increases are on

the way, $200,000 next year.

GIOKOS: Interesting, so bitcoin $200,000 by the end of 2025. It is interesting though that you are comparing it to the gold ETF. We know gold

is the currency of last resort. It is physical, it is an asset, its loved, it is, you know, historical. Why compare it to gold?

KENDRICK: I see bitcoin as the digital version of gold. The main reason to invest in bitcoin, at the moment, is to get access to the broader

blockchain technology story. It has no yield in a very similar fashion to gold. So if that, if you like, first mover market, the largest market in

the digital asset space, it essentially does nothing just now. Over time, it could lead its way to being a transaction opportunity as well, similar

to how gold has been in the past. So there are a lot of similarities .


KENDRICK: . between bitcoin and gold. And I suspect down the track, you`ll end up with bitcoin replacing some gold in overall portfolios as well.

GIOKOS: So many moving from gold into bitcoin ETFs, interesting. Okay. So here`s the thing. This is an ETF. It`s just -- you know, you buy into the

ETF, you`re tracking the price. But what does this mean for crypto exchanges, this axis to this ETF?

We`ve seen people burned in the past. We`ve seen what happened with FTX. We`ve seen troubles at Binance and other smaller exchanges as well, that

has eroded confidence. What are you expecting on that front?

KENDRICK: So one of the reasons for those issues you just mentioned, FTX, some issues around Binance, et cetera, has been lack of government

regulation, lack of ETFs, lack of institutional money, lack of banks being in space.

Banks like Standard Chartered are entering the space, who probably see others follow down the track as well. But we ourselves as being one of the

first movers in this area from a traditional financial institution.

Now, we`ve got BlackRock and other ETFs out today that also sees more, let`s say, trustworthy traditional financial institutions in the sector.

And now with the spot ETFs and hopefully some proactive regulation, that should put those issues that you mentioned into the past and see this

sector come much more central as we move forward. And I suspect that`s where we go.

Don`t forget, of course, that most or if not all of the ETF inflow to bitcoin is going to be then held in custody by Coinbase, which is, of

course, the largest US-based and US-listed cryptocurrency exchange as well. So I think a very large legitimization of the industry is coming, and I

suspect over the next few years most investors will have some sort of digital assets in their portfolio.

GIOKOS: Interesting move by BlackRock, I have to say and, of course, hold you to it $100,000 by the end of this year and 200,000 by the end of next.

We`ll speak in between.

Geoffrey Kendrick, great to have you with us. Thank you so much.

Well, a historic case is underway at the world court. South Africa is accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza. More on day one of the

hearing, right after the short break. Stay with CNN.



GIOKOS (voice-over): Hello, I`m Eleni Giokos and there`s more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment when Iran has seized an oil tanker in the Gulf of

Oman, adding to global shipping concerns.

And New Year, new you. The CEO of MasterClass joins us.

Before that, the headlines this hour.


GIOKOS (voice-over): The U.S. secretary of state saying he sees concrete steps forward as he wraps up his five-day tour of the Middle East.

Somali officials say the search continues for passengers aboard a captured U.N. helicopter.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in Latvia today as part of a tour of the Baltic region. He`s been speaking with the Latvian president

and telling him that Ukraine can`t let the public freeze.

Russian supreme court dismissed both of Alexei Navalny`s claims against the justice ministry.



GIOKOS: At the U.N.`s top court, South Africa is making the case that Israeli is committing genocide in Gaza. Day one of a two-day hearing at the

International Court of Justice has now wrapped up. South Africa argued Israel is trying to destroy the Palestinian population.

And it`s asking the court to order an immediate sanction of Israeli military operations in Gaza. Israeli prime minister lashed out at the



BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: I want to make a few points absolutely clear. Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza or

displacing its civilian population.

Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists, not the Palestinian population. And we`re doing so in full compliance with international law. The IDF is doing

its utmost to minimize civilian casualties while Hamas is doing its utmost to maximize them.


GIOKOS: This is the first time Israel has been tried under the U.N.`s Genocide Convention. It was drawn up after World War II over the atrocities

committed against the Jewish people. CNN`s Melissa Bell has more from The Hague.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Passionate protests on the streets outside of court as inside South Africa laid out the details of

their case.

RONALD LAMOLA, SOUTH AFRICAN JUSTICE MINISTER: Even an attack involving atrocity crimes can provide any justification for or defense to breaches to

the convention.

BELL (voice-over): Israel has denied all accusations calling the case a, quote, "blood libel." South Africa is accusing Israel of breaching the 1948

Genocide Convention through its military response to the Hamas attack, which it says has killed more than 23,000 people.

ADILA HASSIM, SENIOR COUNSEL, SOUTH AFRICA: At least 200 times, it has deployed 2,000-pound bombs in southern areas of Palestine designated as


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Israeli soldiers --

BELL (voice-over): South Africa is also accusing Israeli leaders of making no distinction between Hamas and the civilians of Gaza.

TEMBEKA NGCUKAITOBI, LAWYER AND LEGAL SCHOLAR: The genocidal intent behind those statements is not ambiguous to the Israeli soldiers on the ground.

Indeed, it is directing their actions and objectives. These are the soldiers repeating the inciting words of their prime minister.

BELL (voice-over): The moment, welcomed by international groups in support of the Palestinian people, with many noting the importance of Israel`s

presence, too, there to defend its response to the Hamas attacks on October 7th that killed at least 1,200 people.

BALKEES JARRAH, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: The fact that they`re here, that they`re represented and that they`re presenting their

formal response to South Africa`s case is significant and suggests that they attach legitimacy to the court.

BELL: Israel will be making its case here on Friday. But just after the South African delegation had finished, a spokesman for Israel`s foreign

ministry dismissed their claims as groundless and false, accusing them of being the representatives of Hamas in court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An effective renegotiation (ph) --

BELL (voice-over): But South Africa`s goal, a call for the world court to order Israel to stop the war.

YUSIMUZI MADONSELA, SOUTH AFRICAN AMBASSADOR TO THE NETHERLANDS: The consequences of not indicating clear and particularized specific

provisional measures would, we fear, be very grave indeed for the Palestinians in Gaza, who remain at real risk of further genocidal acts.

BELL (voice-over): Melissa Bell, CNN, The Hague.


GIOKOS: Well, Iran has seized an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, adding to global shipping concerns. The vessel was carrying Iraqi oil and headed for

Turkiye. Iran says the seizure was an act of retaliation. Last year, the U.S. confiscated the same ship while it was carrying Iranian oil.

This move follows attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels on shipping in the Red Sea. CNN`s Nada Bashir joining me now from Beirut.

Nada, great to see you. The same vessel has been seized before. This is really a fascinating turn of events. Houthi rebels very much involved in

what we`ve been seeing in terms of what -- in the Red Sea and creating a lot of disruption. But give me a sense of how important this vessel is and

what it means.

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is certainly common (ph), an interesting time in a time of rising tensions in the region, particularly

around those peripheral shipping routes.


And it`s a move which has already drawn criticism and condemnation from the United States. We heard actually just a little while ago from a

spokesperson from the U.S. State Department, saying that such actions by Iran will only further add to uncertainty, the global supply chain and

uncertainty in global economies.

Now, as you mentioned, Iran has said that this action was taken in retaliation to that very same vessel being seized, and oil on it, being

confiscated by the U.S. last year. A U.S. court had found that the vessel had been covertly transporting and selling Iranian oil to a customer


According to the U.S. Department of Justice, of course, that would be in contravention of sanctions on Iran. And according to the Department of

Justice, it had been carrying about 1 million barrels of crude oil, Iranian crude oil at the time of its seizure.

Now we have heard today from Iranian officials, media reporting, citing the Iranian navy that the decision to seize the vessel was taken per the orders

of an Iranian court.

And in fact, CNN has received a statement from, Iran`s permanent representative to the United Nations earlier today, telling CNN that the

seizure was a lawful undertaking sanctioned by a court order and corresponds to the theft of Iran`s very own oil.

And the U.K. and maritime trade operations organization saying earlier this morning that the vessel had been aborted in the Gulf of Oman by at least

four armed individuals. Those individuals are said to have been wearing black military uniforms with their faces covered.

According to U.K. enable information services, those armed individuals boarded the ship and communication was shortly lost after it had been moved

toward Iranian territorial waters.

And there is still a little bit of uncertainty around these circumstances. This vessel phases, of course, crucially at the situation that the crew

members onboard phase, as you mentioned in only this comes off the back of mounting tensions around the Houthi rebels and Red Sea.

Of course, we have seen vessels being targeted there. We`ve seen Houthi rebels, which are, of course, in Yemen but backed by Iran carrying out a

number of attacks along the Red Sea, furthering insecurity around those crucial shipping routes.

We`ve heard those repeated warnings now, from the United States, with regard to the Houthi rebels. Iran`s seen exactly the further details around

this particular vessel and how connected these situations are, in fact, of course, certainly raising concern not least in the United States.

GIOKOS: Yes. Nada Bashir for us. Thank you.

Well, coming up, how the return of wild beavers to England after a 400-year absence contrived down flooding. We`ll explain after this.





GIOKOS: Hundreds of years ago, wild beavers were hunted to extinction in the U.K. They have been reintroduced in multiple areas across England

recently. And about two years ago, they were legally defined as a protected species there.

Today, on Call to Earth, we head to West London, where a wildlife project is reintroducing a handful of the largest rodents to try to mitigate

flooding and help locals engage with nature.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): This is the moment that a family of five Eurasian beavers happily settled in to their new home


SEAN MCCORMACK, VET AND CONSERVATIONIST (voice-over): It`s been a massive day, I am so excited. It`s a bit of a weird, surreal moment. Know there`s

beavers now living in urban Greenford in Ealing behind me. Have to admit my heart was going like the clappers when I opened our first box and Big Mama

Beaver came out.

She`s a whopper. They did fantastically. I was absolutely thrilled. They came out. They showboated in front of the world`s media. It`s only a few

generations ago they were exterminated. And yes, it was a real proud moment to see them swimming around here in this main pond of paradise feels again

like they had never been absent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Hunted to extinction over 400 years ago, Britain`s largest rodent was welcomed back to a wetland haven on the

outskirts of the capital, adjacent to a retail park and a busy highway. The project has been done with the support of Mayor Sadiq Khan`s Rewild London


SADIQ KHAN, MAYOR OF LONDON: One of the reasons why we see you all have invested millions of pounds in this project it`s just good for humans, it`s

good for nature. It`s good for our city. That`s really important to create environments like this, where we as Londoners can appreciate nature.

MCCORMACK: Eighty-four percent of people now in the U.K. live in towns or cities. So we can think of nature and thriving ecosystems as being a

countryside issue. Actually, we need to embrace nature and nature-based solutions on our doorstep in cities as well.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): One month on and the beaver family is already having a positive impact on the local habitat.

MCCORMACK (voice-over): So we`re in almost a low lying basin, surrounded by urban landscape and hard standing and roads and things of that. In high

rainfall events, we`re getting flooding of this area and the water is basically gushing through.

And it`s going into the storm drain systems and into the sewers. And it`s gushing out in urban Greenford downstream.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Sean McCormack from Ealing Wildlife Group believes that nature has the answer.

MCCORMACK (voice-over): So here is their magnificent creation. Their first dam.

So absolutely incredible. This started as just a couple of twigs across the stream bed. And as you can see now, we`ve got almost a meter difference in

height between the water upstream, the water downstream.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Beavers create dams under the cover of darkness, not because they care about urban flooding; they have an instinct

to create pools of deep water to hide in.

The happy consequence for us is that their refuge systems actually slow down the flow of water.

MCCORMACK (voice-over): The land will actually over time act as a giant sponge and it will absorb those high rainfall events and it will release it


Even if you`re not interested in wildlife or nature, it`s a win for the urban community in Greenford to not have so much flooding. So they build

resilience in the landscape, especially in times of climate change.

I`ve been in a very privileged position to be coming in here every day on my own or with a pair of volunteers at a time and seeing it for myself. But

I think the real proud moment will come when we`re showing the urban community here in Ealing just what beavers can do.


GIOKOS: Right. Let us know what you`re doing to answer the call with a #CalltoEarth.





GIOKOS: Welcome back.

Now here`s a phrase you`ve certainly heard or perhaps said yourself, "New year, new me." Every January 1, people commit to bettering themselves. One

place they flock to is MasterClass. The subscription platform offers video lessons with top professionals in all sorts of industries. Let`s name a few

of those.

There`s lessons from Bob Iger, Martha Stewart, Indra Nooyi. And it goes beyond business. MasterClass says one of the most popular classes is on

hostage negotiation right now. David Rogier is the CEO of MasterClass and he joins me now from Los Angeles.

Great to have you on, sir. So let`s just start with this.

Are MasterClass subscriptions directly correlated to new year resolutions?

Do you see an uptick in business?

Have you seen an uptick in business since January 1st?


And it`s the things that you would bet. I want to get more healthy. I want to lose weight. I want to -- I want to improve things at work. And so we

see the types of classes that spike are ones like we have a brand new class on gut health.

Basically, everything that you eat impacts what your mood is, impacts how you feel. So we have that class that we saw a big spike in.

We also have a class from James Clear, who is the author of "Atomic Habits." And that`s not only on how to start a new habit but how to make

sure that that you keep it.

GIOKOS: I`m taking notes, gut health and "Atomic Habits," really good stuff to start my year off. Look, you launched in 2015. You had a few


How has demand shifted relative to what humanity is experiencing with a collectively like we saw in the pandemic?

We were all making bread, sourdough and so forth, versus the geopolitical issues, which perhaps more contained but definitely seem to gain the

interests from so many people around the world.

ROGIER: There`s definitely been a big shift. What we saw in the pandemic was everybody had tons of time.

And we also had a brand new hobby, right?

So we all wanted to go deep on that brand new thing. Now what we`re seeing is with all the instability happening in the world, what -- where that --

where that goes is number one. It puts a lot more strain and stress on our personal relationships.

So classes that we have that help you deepen those and work on those, we actually see a large spike.


The other we see large spike in is with the wave of AI coming. And one of the ways that we can work with that and is actually work on the skills that

AI wont be able to do. So soft skills, things like empathy and on it and on influence.

So we`re also seeing a rise in those. And then the third cat, in the third bucket, just as you mentioned, is trying to really understand what is going

on in the world from a political standpoint, from an economic standpoint and what we can do about -- what we can do about it.

And so we are seeing also spike in those classes.

GIOKOS: Yes, super interesting because we know that one of the most popular right now on hostage negotiations, which is really fascinating.

Clearly, it is correlated with what we seeing in Israel and Gaza right now.

What do you make of that?

I mean, in terms of the interests that we`ve been seeing, that perhaps flow with the world news trends and some of the biggest items that we`ve seen

our headlines.

ROGIER: Yes, it`s really fat. It`s really -- it really -- it is an interesting thing to see. The, what the classes that, that you are meant,

that you are meant, talking about is from Chris Voss.

Chris Voss was the former head of the FBI hostage negotiation team. In his class, he talks about real hostages and how he helped to save them. But

he`s also teaching a lot about how to apply it into your everyday life.

And so the biggest spike in his class are the chapters of how you can apply those same skills into things at work to get a raise, things with your

kids. And then also just things at work as well.

GIOKOS: Yes. So really fascinating. I want to end off on a high note. My daughter keeps watching me, seeing, watching MasterClass videos.

And I said to her, these are lessons on how to do things.

And she said, well, is there a lesson on how to become a real princess?

She is 6 years old. Perhaps you can find someone to do a video for MasterClass in the future on that.

ROGIER: Love that idea. That has, that is it.


ROGIER: I will look into it. That`s a really great idea. Please, thank you.

GIOKOS: All right, David Rogier, great to have you. Thank you so much. You`ve got an incredible story and you`re doing amazing things for people

that want to expand their skills. I appreciate it and happy new year to you, sir.

ROGIER: Thank you.

GIOKOS: Well, we`ve just moments away left to trade on Wall Street. We will have the final numbers and the closing bell right after this short

break. Stay with CNN.




GIOKOS: Welcome back.

Now Wall Street is mostly flat after the latest inflation numbers. The Dow bouncing back after dropping this morning. It is set to finish flat today,

as you can see, slightly down. And December`s inflation report was slightly higher than expected. Prices rose from 0.3 percent from the month before.

Now let`s take a look at the Dow components. Salesforce is on top. Chevron in the green as crude oil rises, despite tensions in the Middle East.

Boeing shares still down as the FAA formally opens an investigation. Verizon sits at the bottom.

That is it for QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I`m Eleni Giokos. The closing bell is ringing on Wall Street. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts now.