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NC GOP Candidate Called For Executing Top Democrats; National Assn Of Realtors Agrees To Deal Ending 6% Commission; Yelp: Women- Owned Businesses Major Drivers Of Economic Growth; New Hope For Neurological Disorder Patients. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 15, 2024 - 14:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The Republican nominee to run North Carolina public schools is under fire for a series of social media posts, which include her calling for the deaths of top Democrats.

Her name is Michele Morrow. And in a post from May of 2020, Morrow commented on a doctored image of former President Obama in an electric chair, writing, "Death to all traitors."

Let's talk about this with Andrew Kaczynski, the senior editor for CNN's "KFILE."

Andrew, you uncovered some even more district serving posts here.

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN "KFILE" SENIOR EDITOR: Yes, that's right. Brianna. Last week, Morrow, a conservative activist, won the nomination, upsetting the incumbent North Carolina school superintendent. Now that's the state's top school job.

And she did all this while calling schools indoctrination centers and socialism centers.

She's also been linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory, sharing a slogan associated with QAnon, "Where we go one, we go all," at least seven times on Twitter.

She's also promoted the baseless adrenochrome conspiracy, which is this conspiracy which claims that celebrities actually harvest the blood of children.

She's made extreme anti-Muslim comments. And all of this while repeatedly talking about executing prominent Democrats.

Take a look at this tweet right here from May of 2020, where she is responding to someone who wrote that they want to see Obama tossed in Gitmo.

Morrow responded writing, quote, "I prefer a pay-per-view of him in front of the firing squad. I do not want to waste another dime on supporting his life. We could make some money back from televising his death." In another tweet from December 2020, Morrow suggested executing Joe

Biden, who, at that time, was president-elect, because he had asked Americans to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his administration at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Morrow wrote, quote, "We need to follow the Constitution's advice, and in all caps, "KILL ALL TRAITORS."

We found numerous other tweets about executing Democrats as well at a post on social media. She tweeted this hashtag, "Death to traders," at least 12 times.

But the comments extend far beyond that. She repeatedly shared the unfounded claim that Obama was a Muslim. She called Islam evil.

And even expressed belief in this really bizarre conspiracy theory that Chinese troops were going to invade the U.S. to help Joe Biden be sworn in as president.

Writing on Twitter, that there were, quote, "tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers already in Canada and probably Mexico waiting for orders to invade."

Now, if Morrow wins and becomes the superintendent of North Carolina schools, she's going to have oversight of an $11 billion-dollar budget. And of course, the education of that state's 1.3 million K through 12 students.

KEILAR: All right. So questionable judgment for someone who would be in that role clearly. Disturbing, these tweets are, the social media engagement is.

What is she saying about it now?

KACZYNSKI: So before we published our story on, we reached out to both Morrow and her campaign, and we didn't hear back from either of them.

We also reached out actually to the North Carolina Republican Party and we didn't hear back from them.

But following publication of our story, Morrow posted on an X defending her previous tweets and claiming that Obama had committed treason.

So it's going to be interesting to really see how all of this plays out in 2024, because, obviously, North Carolina is such an important swing state.

Mark Robinson, who's at the top of the ticket for governor in that state, he also has an extremely long history of controversial comments.

And this was a state where I think people need to remember that Trump beat Biden by his smallest margin in 2020.

So all of this at the top of the ticket and down-ballot, it's going to be a really interesting factor as we head into this 2024 election.

KEILAR: It certainly is.

Thank you, Andrew, for uncovering all of that. We appreciate it. Our Andrew Kaczynski.


Mortgage rates are high, but home prices could soon go way down thanks to a brand-new settlement that cuts realtors' commissions. We'll have details ahead.


KEILAR: Well, the real estate world will never be the same after today's seismic court settlement. And analysts expect it to benefit homebuyers.

The settlement by the National Association of Realtors, ending an industry staple.

SANCHEZ: That 6 percent commission real estate agents get for buying or selling a home is now no more.

CNN's Matt Egan joins us with the details.

Matt, this is a big deal. So why did the association agree to this? What does this mean for homebuyers and sellers?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Boris and Brianna, you're right, this is a big deal. This amounts to a once-in-a-century earthquake for the housing market. And a lot of our viewers are going to feel the aftershocks.

So here's what happened. The National Association of Realtors and brokerages had been accused by home sellers of keeping commissions high, artificially high.

The NIR has agreed to settle those claims. And the settlement effectively ends the 6 percent commission, as we know it.


Now, 6 percent has been standard here in the United States for a while, but it's actually pretty high. When you look overseas, a lot of countries, they only have a commission of around 3 percent or sometimes as low as 1 percent.

And these fees, they really add up. Americans spend $100 billion on real estate commissions every single year.

Now, this settlement really sets the stage for some big savings for home buyers and home sellers. And of course, this comes at a time when we know homebuyers could really use the help. Right?

We have record-high home prices. And $379,000 is the median priced home as of January. That's up by 42 percent since before Covid.

And what you don't realize is that you have to also account for real estate commissions. And when you factor that in, at 6 percent, that really adds up.

You're talking about $23,000 in real estate commissions. And that's baked into the price. So high commissions actually helps to contribute to high home prices.

Now, analysts estimate that because of this settlement we could see a big change in commissions. They could go down by 25 percent to 50 percent. That is very significant.

And there could be some other changes, too. I talked to a professor who told me that he was waiting 50 years for this change to happen.

And he said that maybe now, with lower commissions, some of those Baby Boomers, who are sitting on the sidelines, they're not sure if they want to put their home on the market, maybe they will.

And that's a big deal. Because as everyone who's trying to buy a home knows, there's a shortage of homes out there. So maybe this change will also help with some of the supply problems out there.

SANCHEZ: Wow, that is a big deal.

Matt Egan, thanks so much

Yelp, the company that's best known for its business reviews, is out with a new report on business trends. And it shows women leading the charge in economic growth.

KEILAR: Yes, the report shows more businesses are being started by women in areas that are traditionally dominated by men. We're talking about plumbing, construction, contract work.

And it's a shift that Yelp says is driving the she-conomy surge. Love it.

All right, let's bring in Catherine Rampell, a CNN economics commentator and columnist for "The Washington Post."

All right, Catherine, why are women getting into these traditionally male fields, aside from the fact that, I will, tell you, I just have a plumber, it was very lucrative for him. And I imagine it would be very lucrative for her as well.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS & POLITICAL COMMENTATOR; Yes. I think there are a few things going on. One is that women in general has been powering this economy in the past couple of years.

If you look at where the greatest increases are in terms of labor force participation rate, employment, women are actually at all-time -- at or recently were at all-time record highs for the share of prime working age women who are either in jobs or in the labor force. On top of that, you also have a surge in entrepreneurship the past few

years. Now, where is that entrepreneurship happening? A lot of it is happening among women.

If you look at the number of -- or the growth, rather, of women-owned businesses that are new, it is much higher than that for men.

And there are opportunities out there. As you point out, pretty lucrative to be a plumber. And there's a huge shortage in what used to be called skilled tradesman professions.

And so now, some of those tradesmen are more likely to be tradeswomen as a result, because women are seeing opportunities out there.

SANCHEZ: And, Catherine, we were just looking at a graphic that was showing a map of where women business owners are seeing large increases in starting new businesses.

I'm wondering why the geographic differences.

RAMPELL: So there are a few cities that have seen the biggest increases. This is, again, across the board, not only in home services, you know, contracting-type jobs.

So you have places like Austin, Miami, Washington, Denver, Orlando that have seen the biggest growth.

Again, a number of those cities have been growing in general. There are more economic opportunities out there. There are more people moving there.

And so there is a need for more businesses, for more people to be getting their own businesses off the ground to meet the consumer demand that is out there.

Miami, interestingly, was the only city in their listing that had both the highest growth in percentage terms and the highest number of women-owned businesses.

And again, that's partly about the booming Floridian economy in addition to all of these other factors that were seeing about women and the workforce and a huge increase in entrepreneurship nationwide.

KEILAR: And, Catherine, Yelp also looked at the influence that women are having on business, things like Taylor Swift on the NFL. I mean, we saw that big time this year. What are some of the takeaways there?


RAMPELL: Yes. So female consumers, women consumers are also reshaping the economy in certain ways. We've all heard about Taylor Swift and the NFL, as you point out, the massive success of the "Barbie" movie.

But there are also some subtler things that we have seen out there. For example, the resurgence of bookstores is largely driven by female and more diverse writers, bringing more business into those bookstores.

A few other examples out there, some of these microtrends that have really taken off on social media have led to higher search growth for terms like not just "Barbie."

But some of those -- some of the viewers out there may recall "coastal grandma" and some other trends that are again related to what's -- what's popular on social media, which is determining, or at least influencing, to use the term of art, what kinds of search terms consumers are using as well as what kind of products they're buying.

We've also seen kind of unsurprisingly a surge in search traffic related to beauty and wellness products. Again, predominantly about women, not exclusively, of course.

But there are a lot of these categories where women are really flexing their buying power.

SANCHEZ: You had me at "coastal grandma."


SANCHEZ: Quite the esthetic.



RAMPELL: I didn't know about that one.

SANCHEZ: I had no idea but I'm -- I'm open to it. Explore the space.




SANCHEZ: Thanks so much, Catherine.

Now to some of the other headlines were watching this hour.

Soccer great, Megan Rapinoe, will soon become just the second player in the history of National Women's Soccer League to have her jersey retired.

The Seattle Reign say they plan to hang Rapinoe's number 15 in the rafters during a game this August. She joined the club for its inaugural season back in 2013, stayed there until retiring last year.

Also, even the world's biggest fast-food chain is not immune to technical hiccups. McDonalds says it's dealing with a system failure impacting stores all over the world, including the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Hong Kong.

It's forcing some of the company's 41,000 locations to close their doors. McDonalds told CNN that it's not the result of a cyberattack, but rather an issue caused by a third-party provider.

And an encouraging sign for NASA engineers who thought they'd heard the last from their aging Voyager One.

After not receiving any usable data from the spacecraft since November, they sent a special command called a "poke" to bypass the issue. Voyager apparently poked back, sending a new batch of data and giving engineers an idea for how to fix the problem.

Remember, Voyager One launched in 1977. It's currently 15 billion miles from earth, way outside our solar system. It was only designed to function for five years. So it has certainly exceeded expectations.

This picks up the conversation we were having yesterday about having high expectations for space --


KEILAR: Yes. Where's Kristin Fisher? This is like the perfect Kristin Fisher story.

SANCHEZ: And 1977 and it poked back.

KEILAR: That predates both of us.

SANCHEZ: I'm still waiting for a few --


SANCHEZ: -- pokes back on Facebook --


KEILAR: If you poke someone, they're probably going to --


KEILAR: -- poke on Facebook anymore? I don't think so.

SANCHEZ: I don't know.

KEILAR: I don't think there is.

SANCHEZ: There's still plenty to come on --



SANCHEZ: -- CNN NEWS CENTRAL, including mapping the inner parts of the brain. It may sound a bit far-fetched, but researchers are doing it right now. And they're potentially helping to treat people with debilitating disorders like Parkinson's, Tourette's, and OCD.

We're back in just moments. Poke back any time.




KEILAR: Now to a remarkable story of triumph and innovation. A young woman once confined to a wheelchair with a severe neurological disorder is now back on her feet. There she is right there celebrating her GED.

And it turns out that researchers were able to use a brand-new map of the brain to dramatically improve her treatment.

SANCHEZ: And CNN medical correspondent, Meg Tirrell, joins us now.

Meg, tell us more about this young woman's story.

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, guys, it involves a technology known as Deep Brain Stimulation. These are devices that are surgically implanted in the brain and can deliver electrical signals, similarly to how a pacemaker works in the heart.

And they've used it's for two decades for movement disorders, for things like Parkinson's disease, and more recently are starting to be used for things like depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder as well.

This young woman, Julia Hun (ph) who we've been showing you there, she's now 24 years old. She's had severe OCD. So much so that it was interfering with her ability to eat and drink. Her heart rate and her blood pressure became so erratic that she needed to use a wheelchair.

Now, in 2021, she had a deep brain stimulator implanted. And she says it worked sort of on and off. It was not perfect.

But then new research of a new map of the brain was published from researchers at Mass General Hospital and around the world.

Researchers used this brain, which essentially looked at the nerve networks that seem to be dysregulated or dysfunctioning in four different disorders, and they used this map to adjust the deep brain stimulators for three different patients, including Julia.

After they adjusted her deep brain stimulator -- you can see there that beautiful map of those four different disorders in the nerve -- nerves that are associated with them.

After they adjusted Julia's deep brain stimulator, she says the difference was dramatic. All three of these patients substantially improved.

Julia telling our senior writer, Brenda Goodman, quote, "It gave me my hope back."

And of course, she did get her high school certificate. That's one of the photos we can show you of her. So she's doing really well. [14:55:05]

And there's a lot of hope here for these patients -- guys?

KEILAR: Yes, that's amazing. That's unbelievable.

So what does this open the door to? What's next?

TIRRELL: Well, more patients being tested with this brain map to see if this really can work for a lot more people.

And continuing to work on improving the brain maps. I mean, this is opening up a whole new sort of century of study of how we can improve therapeutics for people with disorders like these.

And being able to better understand how our brains are working, how they're not working, and how to better address that through medicine.

KEILAR: This is very -- it looks very cool. It is very cool stuff that they're doing.

Meg, thank you so much for telling us about that.

Ahead. Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis given an ultimatum of sorts. I think it's pretty clear which door she's going to choose on this one though.

How Trump himself is already using the new ruling in his election subversion trial as a campaign tool. We'll have that ahead.