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Putin Rewards Soldiers After Avdiivka Takeover; Hundreds Walk Out Of Coors Brewery Amid Strike; New Starbucks Latte In China Blends Braised Pork With Coffee. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 21, 2024 - 11:30   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: To separate case, but in association, "Rust," Alec Baldwin, that's synonymous. So how are they going to find a jury?

It doesn't have --

WHITFIELD: It's -- isn't prejudicial?

MISTY MARRIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY & TRIAL ATTORNEY: Oh, absolutely, because this case has been around. Remember this was 2021.


MARRIS: So, we've been hearing about it for years and years and years. Simply knowing about the case isn't going to be enough for a jury to be disqualified. It's whether or not they formed an opinion. And there'll likely be questions in jury selection regarding the juror's opinions on drugs, firearms, all of this.


MARRIS: Including the movie industry and general stuff.

WHITFIELD: All right. Misty Marris, thank you so much. Great to see you. John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The Pentagon is pleading with the House to pass more aid for Ukraine. This, as international pressure mounts on Speaker Johnson to act.

And this could screw up my afternoon plans. Workers at one of America's largest brewers now on the picket line. And employees for another could be close behind.



SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: A new video this morning out of Russia of Vladimir Putin rewarding his soldiers for taking control of Avdiivka, Ukraine. That is a critical town near the eastern front. Ukrainian troops were forced to withdraw last week, something President Biden has blamed directly on Congress's inability to pass more aid for Ukraine.

Now, as the war enters its third year, the president is running out of ways to help the nation fight off Russia's invasion. On Friday, the White House will announce a new round of significant as they have called it sanctions against Russia. But that's about all that the president can do unless the House finally agrees to take up the funding bill.

Joining us now is Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh. Thank you so much for coming on this morning. I do want to ask you about this.

Our Christiane Amanpour is in Ukraine right now. And she just spoke with Ukraine's Foreign Minister. And he was very clear why Ukraine could not stop Russia from taking another city. Here's what he said.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Can you hold out? You say you will not fall but a big town has fallen, or a medium-sized town. And they're putting pressure on the second-biggest city in Ukraine right now.

DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We wouldn't lose Avdiivka if we had received all the artillery ammunition that we needed to defend it. That is my answer to your question.

AMANPOUR: Simple as that?

KULEBA: Yes. I don't think it requires any additional comments.


SIDNER: When you hear those words that they wouldn't have fallen if it wasn't for the fact that they didn't have enough ammunition, do you think the United States is partly to blame for failing to help fund a bill that would help fund Ukraine's defenses?

SABRINA SINGH, DEPUTY PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Well, thanks, Sara, so much for having me on today. What was said was absolutely right. It's as simple as that.

What happened in Avdiivka is the exact result of congressional inaction. We've been raising the sound bells on this. They've been ringing the alarm since October to pass our urgent supplemental request to allow us to continue to flow aid to Ukraine.

Unfortunately, Ukraine has not seen an aid package from the United States since December 27. And they're in the fight of their lives. They're still pushing in the East and the South, but they had to make a strategic withdrawal from Avdiivka in order to preserve their resources, to conserve their ammunition and artillery.

So, we are going to continue to urge Congress to act -- to pass this supplemental that the Senate took up just last week and passed with bipartisan support. But we really need the House to act in order for us to continue to flow these presidential drawdown packages to Ukraine in their -- in their fight against Russia.

SIDNER: I'm curious. If the House fails to pass a supplemental -- a national security supplemental, what won't Ukraine be getting from the United States?

SINGH: Well, some of the things -- some of the priorities that Ukraine needs are air defenses, artillery, and ammunition. Those are some of their top priorities. And that's exactly what they won't be getting if the House fails to pass a supplemental.

And just imagine what type of message that sends to our adversaries and our allies who are watching all around the world if we don't send a message that we stand with our allies, that we stand with a sovereign country that was invaded by another. It sends a detrimental message. And so, we here at the Pentagon, the secretary is continuing to urge Congress to pass this critical aid. And also, we're urging Congress to pass our budget request.

We are still operating under a short-term C.R. As you are well- tracking, I know, the House comes back into session on February 28. And three days later, the government could shut down. So, not only is that detrimental to our forces, but also detrimental to Ukraine in -- its ability to not be able to receive packages -- aid packages from this building.

SIDNER: I have a question about some of the pushback from mostly Republicans, or all Republicans, who have looked at this and those who have talked about the amount of money. They are concerned about the amount of money that the United States wants to be pouring into Ukraine to help with its defenses. How do you -- how do you respond to people concerned about that when this country has its own issues and own problems?

SINGH: What I would say is that arming Ukraine is the best option we have right now from allowing Putin to expand his operations, to expand his sights beyond Ukraine. As the president has said, we will defend every single inch of NATO and NATO countries. And if Putin wants to and decides to expand into NATO countries, we will be pulled into a wider regional war.


That's not something we want. That's not something I'm sure Congress wants. That's not something Republicans want. And so, arming Ukraine with what it needs right now, those air defenses, the artillery, the ammunition it needs in its fight against Russia is the best most cost- effective way we prevent ourselves from getting into a wider war, and also can continue to arm Ukraine with what it needs to defend its sovereign territory.

SIDNER: Sabrina Singh, I appreciate your time. Appreciate you coming on this morning.

SINGH: Thanks, Sara.

SIDNER: All right. Fred? WHITFIELD: All right, Sara. Another auto strike avoided. What we're learning about the deal that kept the United Auto Workers Union from walking off the job at Ford's biggest plant? And it's the return of Messi mania. The world's biggest soccer star kicks off his first full season in Miami tonight. And another superstar teammate is joining him on the pitch this year.



BERMAN: New this morning. The United Auto Workers Union and Ford have reached a deal on a local agreement dodging a potential strike at the automaker's largest and most profitable plant. Union leaders have not yet released details of the tentative deal.

Meanwhile, in Texas, hundreds of Teamsters are on strike at the Coors Brewery there with thousands more expected to join at Anheuser-Busch. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich is here with the details. What can you tell us?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: So, you have the two largest brewers in North America right now. You either have workers on strike or threatening to go on strike. So, at Molson Coors, that one brewery in Fort Worth, Texas, you have about 400 people that are on the picket lines right now.

They say that the offer that they got from the company was about a dollar-an-hour increase in wages. They call that deal insulting. And they said it was in part because we know that in 2023, the company reported $1.5 billion in earnings pre-tax, but that was a 39 percent increase from 2022.

BERMAN: You're welcome, by the way.

YURKEVICH: And they say -- yes, just because of you drinking all that beer. But they said that that's not an acceptable offer based on those kinds of profits. And then you have Anheuser-Busch. This is the largest brewer in North America right now.

You have about 5000 Union teamsters threatening to go on strike a week from Friday. And this is also over wages and benefits. They've seen in the third quarter of last year a five percent increase in profits. And the Union also calling the offer that was put on the table insulting the Teamsters going back to Anheuser-Busch and saying we need your best and final.

According to the two companies, they clearly want to work this out. But they are putting contingency plans in place to make sure that there is supply, to make sure that there are people working. As we know we're heading into March Madness, this is a huge time for sports, a huge time for beer drinking. And the last thing these two companies want is a strike at any of these locations or expanded strikes.

Anheuser-Busch is feeling a little more confident that they can come to a deal by a week from Friday. But this is really a continuation of what we saw last year, right?


YURKEVICH: With the auto strikes, with Hollywood. And in 2023, we just got new numbers that were 33 work stoppages. Totaling almost 500,000 workers heading to the picket lines. That's the most we've seen since 2009.

BERMAN: You know, all the dumb beer jokes aside.


BERMAN: There is something that's been going on with the labor movement the last few years --


BERMAN: -- where they have had success.


BERMAN: They've, in some cases, waited a long time to push these demands and they are getting much of what they asked for at the end.

YURKEVICH: They do. They do.

BERMAN: Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you very much.

YURKEVICH: Thank you.


WHITFIELD: All right, John, something tantalizing. Dark roast meat pig roast. I mean, yes, we'll show you the wild concoction rolling out in Starbucks in China.



WHITFIELD: All right, the White House just announced a new round of student debt relief. Today, 150,000 borrowers enrolled in the same repayment plan should get an e-mail saying their remaining federal student loan debt is erased. That totals about $1.2 billion. Nearly $138 billion in federal student loan debt has been canceled since President Biden took office.

And Beyonce already set a record for the most Grammy wins in history. So, why not add another record to her bill with her latest hit song? Her new country single, "Texas Hold 'Em" debuted at number one on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart. That makes her the first black female artist to top the country chart. Her other new song, "16 Carriages," is at number nine.

All right, Messi mania returns. Today, Lionel Messi kicks off his first full season with Inter Miami where he will be joined by even more of his former Barcelona teammates. Striker Luis Suarez is on the team now. The average price right now for a ticket to Miami's game against Real Salt Lake tonight is about $185 apiece. Last year, a similar ticket cost only $27. Sara.

SIDNER: I don't know. I might pay that kind of money to see Messi play. I'm just saying. Here's something I probably won't spend money on, but others might.

If you like candied bacon and that sounds wonderful, delicious, you might want to go ham, sorry for the pun, on Starbucks' latest drink in China, a braised pork latte to mark the Lunar New Year. It's topped with dark red sauce and even a little chunk of pork. So, what does it taste like? Our Marc Stewart took a sip in Beijing.


MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So much anticipation. We're here to try this new pork-inspired latte, unique to Starbucks Reserve here in China. Let's go.

OK, all right. Let's give this a try. All right, so let's take a closer look. You've got coffee, you've got milk, and you've got some barbecue-style sauce on top. We don't have the garnish of the -- of the piece of pork, which you see in the promotional materials. But, all right, let's give this a try. One more -- one more sip.


All right. So, it pretty much tastes like a latte with a little bit of like a sweet, savory topping. I can see why people may like it. It's kind of that sweet savory mix. This cost about $9.50 U.S. I think for me personally, I'm going to stick to an almond latte.

Marc Stewart, CNN, Beijing.


SIDNER: OK. For the record, thank you to Marc. I've already written Marc yelling at him. I'm like, you know, $9?


BERMAN: Yes. Something got pleasure about that ever. Sorry.

SIDNER: Yes, that's correct.

WHITFIELD: That was kind of like a life commercial almost. It was like hey, Mikey, he likes it.

SIDNER: He likes it. Yes.

WHITFIELD: You know, took one sip and then another sip.


WHITFIELD: I think he's OK with it. SIDNER: He's OK. But barbecue sauce and pork with -- I -- oh, I don't do savory and sweet. So, that's not my jam. I would not do it. It's not my ham. Oh, God. It's time to --

BERMAN: You all go try it for yourselves. Thank you so much for joining us. This has been CNN NEWS CENTRAL. "INSIDE POLITICS" is up next.