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Republicans are Demanding Answers; President Biden Honors Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Speech; California Faces New Storms; University of Georgia Mourns Loss of Football Player and Staffer; Hopes of Finding Survivors are Fading in Nepal Plane Crash; Desperate Search is Underway for Survivors in Ukraine; New York City Mayor Eric Adams Visits El Paso Border; COVID Surge Feared In China as Lunar New Year Approaches. American Imprisoned in Iran Begins Hunger Strike; SpaceX Launches Falcon Heavy; Australian Open 2023 Highlights. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired January 16, 2023 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching "CNN Newsroom," and I'm Rosemary Church.
Just ahead, President Biden preaches a message of justice, while Republicans demand answers over his handling of classified documents.
Plus, a desperate act by an American detained in Iran. His plea to the U.S. president ahead in a live report.
And tragedy mars what should have been a celebration at the University of Georgia. What we know about the accident that claimed the lives of a football player and a staff member.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Rosemary Church.
CHURCH: Thanks for joining us. Republican lawmakers are ramping up the pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden over his handling of classified documents. The chairman of the House Oversight Committee has asked the White House for visitor logs from the president's Delaware home where several classified items have been found.
James Comer says he wants Mr. Biden's case to be treated just like the probe involving Donald Trump and his own handling of classified records.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): The administration hasn't been transparent about what's going on with President Biden's possession of classified documents. We just want equal treatment here with respect to how both former President Trump and current President Biden are being treated with the -- with the document issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: President Biden didn't address the scandal during a trip to Atlanta on Sunday. Instead, he spoke about social justice, as he honored civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr.
CNN's Priscilla Alvarez reports.
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: President Joe Biden became the first sitting president to deliver remarks at a Sunday service at Ebenezer Baptist Church. It is the same church where Dr. Martin Luther King preached that, and it was an opportunity for President Biden to remember King's legacy ahead of MLK Day.
During his remarks, he reflected on the state of the nation, saying that it is at a critical juncture and that it is at an inflection point. Take a listen.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The battle for the soul of this nation is perennial. It's a constant struggle. It's a constant struggle between hope and fear, kindness and cruelty, justice and injustice against those who traffic in racism, extremism, and insurrection. A battle fought on battlefields and bridges, from court houses and ballot boxes to pulpits and protests.
ALVAREZ: The president also talked about economic justice and civil rights, all in a state that Biden narrowly flipped in 2020 and was bullied by Black voters. It is a critical time as the president and his advisers consider his political future and whether he decides to launch a reelection bid.
Now, of course, it all came against the backdrop of week where there were regular disclosures from the White House about documents marked as classified found at President Biden's residence here in Wilmington as well as at a former private office that he used after the vice presidency.
The administration has been contending with those disclosures as we learn more about the documents that were marked classified found in these private spaces.
Now, the president did not speak to the matter during his remarks on Sunday, but those questions loom as he goes into the new week.
Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, Wilmington.
CHURCH: And earlier, I discussed the document scandal with Democratic strategist Caroline Heldman and CNN political commentator Charlie dent. I asked them how big a deal this is for the president and what happens next.
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA REPRESENTATIVE: At a political level, this is certainly a very big problem for Joe Biden because he ran for office saying he was -- he was capable of stable, competent, and knew how to handle classified material.
And, in fact, you know, he is essentially -- the waters have been muddied with respect to this issue politically. I get there are nuances, there are differences between Donald Trump's situation and Joe Biden. Donald Trump has obstructed and has not been cooperative, and Biden has been.
That said, I mean, I just think this is just a horrible situation for the current president because he basically undercut his own narrative about how he was going to be able to handle this material properly.
DENT: I mean, for those of us who had the privilege to handle classified material, I wish that we had to handle them in secure spaces. We can never take them out of those spaces. And now, we have had a problem with not only former President Trump but now Joe Biden and, of course, with Hillary Clinton before when she was handling classified material on an unsecured private server.
So, this is a problem. So, I mean, it is hard to say who is right or wrong, but Joe Biden, I think, has a real problem both political and legal. I'm not saying it's a criminal problem, but he has got an issue here, and I think this really is going to do some damage to him.
Is it going to be the big issue that voters are concerned about in 2024? No, I don't think so, but it's one hell of a blemish. And basically, they've given Republicans a gift. Jim Jordan has got to be salivating over all this. They've got an opportunity to change the subject from the speaker performance that really hardened (ph) Republicans. So, bad shape right now for the Democrats.
CHURCH: Yeah. And Caroline, this is a gift, isn't it, that Biden has essentially handed to the Republicans, particularly former President Donald Trump. How could he let this happen, particularly given he criticized Trump for doing the very same thing? Why wasn't this made public before the election, when these sensitive documents were initially found?
CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That's right, Rosemary. Why didn't he come forward earlier? Why are we just hearing about this? And it is important to note that they knew these documents existed, or some of them, on November 2nd. The election would be held five days later. Did that have an effect on the outcome of the election, the fact that there wasn't a big red wave as anticipated? It could have some effect.
Joe Biden -- I mean, this is out and out hypocrisy. With that said, there are obvious differences between Trump and Biden here, right? So, Biden is a case study on what to do when you find documents that you're not supposed to have and you turned them over into the National Archives, whereas Trump was defying a subpoena and covering up documents and refusing to turn them over, which is why Mar-a-Lago was raided.
So, there are significant differences here, I think, in terms of the potential charges they're facing. It appears that Donald Trump has been investigated for possible espionage charges and obstruction of justice. These are not things that Biden will likely face although we don't know what it is in the documents. He is cooperating.
With that said, I couldn't agree with Charlie Dent more that this goes to the core of the Biden brand, which is his competence, that he's the adult in the room, that he holds himself to a higher standard. So, I think it will damage his brand even though we are not going to be talking about what is essentially a paperwork issue going into the 2024 election, but these are the two likely candidates, and Biden has hurt his brand.
CHURCH: Our thanks to Caroline Heldman and Charlie Dent for their analysis.
Well, rain and snow once again hitting the central and northern California after residents got a small break with light rain Sunday morning. Storms have been slamming the state for weeks now, flooding roads, homes and businesses, causing mudslides and leaving at least 19 people dead.
Rainfall is continuing to decrease but about 14 million people remain under wind advisories across the southern state -- southern part of the state. And more than eight million are under flood watches until Monday evening, including in the bay area.
And take a look at this dramatic rescue in San Diego. It took 90 minutes in the rain and wind to remove the driver of this SUV that had plunged over a cliff.
CNN's Natasha Chen has more now on the epic flooding that hit California amid a historic drought.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are at Johnson's Beach of the Russian River here in Guerneville, California where residents tell me this is supposed to be a driveway right here, but it is so flooded. And you can see that sign where it says, no lifeguard on duty, local residents tell me they are supposed to be a walkway after that for another 20 feet as well as an entire parking lot before you even reach the beach.
So, many of them have come to the water's edge taking photos. As one woman told me, she has lived here 30 years and it's just extremely (INAUDIBLE) to see the water come up this far. Of course, there is more rain expected into Monday morning. And because there has been storm after storm in California over the last few weeks, the ground and rivers are so saturated. It is not going to take much for more flooding and more threats of mudslides. Mudslides like the one we saw in Belmont, California on Saturday, Belmont police showed these photos on social media of part of the hillside coming down into a neighborhood.
So, those are the types of dangers that city and county officials are really warning people about. In fact, there's not just more rain coming, but high winds as well.
In San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, there are high wind advisories there. Thousands of people -- thousands of customers in California are still without power and millions under a flood watch.
President Biden on Saturday evening did approve California's request for a disaster declaration.
Natasha Chen, CNN, Guerneville, California.
CHURCH: Fears have now passed that flooding could cut off the Monterey Peninsula on California Central Coast from essential services. Local reports say a majority of evacuation orders have now been downgraded to warnings. Officials say they will still keep flood precautions in place and they're telling residents to remain vigilant.
In the last hour, I spoke with Nicholas Pasculli, the communications director for Monterey County in California, and I asked him how much concern there is about the cost to recover after the extreme weather eventually subsides. Take a listen.
NICHOLAS PASCULLI, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, MONTEREY COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: The significant damages to our area, our public infrastructure, are to the tune of about $30 million, which are very initial estimates. These are very initial preliminary estimates. And about $40 to $50 million in agricultural losses are, again, preliminary estimates.
Right now, the Salinas River has gone down quite a bit although it is still being watched very, very closely because of the watershed runoff that goes into the Salinas River.
CHURCH: And what is your advice to most residents in the area given the peninsula has avoided that worst-case scenario being cut off?
PASCULLI: At this point, it's just to be vigilant. The river system is stretched, stressed for sure and, of course, it continues to rain. It is very -- we have high wind advisories right now. We continue to get rain through the night. The river levels will go up, which will cause probably localized flooding to secondary and tertiary streets, agricultural land, and encroaching not necessarily within neighborhoods but coming close to some neighborhoods along the river.
So, it's to remain vigilant and to heed the warnings of the officials. That's the primary message because human lives come first, and we really are concerned about the safety of our people.
CHURCH: Our thanks to Nicholas Pasculli, communications director of Monterey County in California.
The University of Georgia is mourning the loss of a football player and a staff member. Offensive lineman Devin Willock and Chandler LeCroy died in a car crash on Sunday near the university's campus. This after his team had just won the national championship.
The police say that LeCroy was driving the car when it left the road and hit two power poles and some trees. The university says two people tied to the football program were also hurt. Meantime, residents near the site of the crash are expressing condolences for Willock.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL DEWITT, GEORGIA BULLDOGS FAN: I hope that the team next year will just dedicate their season to the sky because he played his heart out this year. He may not have been a top athlete or the quarterback, but he was (INAUDIBLE) family. And to see the family gathered here today as one makes (INAUDIBLE) nation know that they're very, very close.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And the sports world is reacting to the tragic loss of Devin Willock and Chandler LeCroy. In a statement, the Georgia Bulldogs coach says this. We are all heartbroken and devastated with the loss of Devin Willock and Chandler LeCroy. Devin was an outstanding young man in every way and was always smiling. He was a great teammate and a joy to coach. Chandler was a valuable member of our football staff and brought an incredible attitude and energy every single day.
Jordan Davis, Philadelphia Eagles and former Georgia defensive tackle tweeted this. Heartbroken, watching them grow and become like family over these few years. There is no grief without love, and we love both of you like family.
The Southeastern Conference's commissioner Greg Sankey says, incredibly sad news and we join in sharing our sympathies, prayers and support.
Well, despite a desperate search and rescue mission in Nepal, hopes are fading that anyone will be found alive after Sunday's deadly plane crash. We will have the latest after the break.
And then later, a search and rescue operation continue this hour in Ukraine at the site of a deadly Russian missile strike. A live report just ahead.
CHURCH: Authorities in Nepal say they have recovered the flight data recorder, one of the so-called black boxes, from the deadly Yeti Airlines crash on Sunday. The box will be handed over to civil aviation authorities.
Early Monday, search and rescue operations for four people who are still missing resumed, but one official warned the chances of finding them alive are extremely low.
Of the 72 people on board that flight, 68 are confirmed dead, including six children and 15 foreign nationals. Video from social media shows the Yeti Airlines flight tilting badly as it approaches the airport. More now from CNN's Vedika Sud.
VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): A video appears to show a passenger plane tilting to the side moments before it comes crashing into the ground in central Nepal. At least 68 people died when the Yeti Airlines-operated flight crashed on Sunday, making it Nepal's deadliest plane crash in decades. Dozens of bodies were recovered by rescue workers searching among the wreckage until darkness settled in Nepal.
SUD (voice-over): On Sunday morning, the aircraft embarked on a roughly 30-minute flight from the capital of Kathmandu to Pokhara, the country's second most populous city. But the flight lost in contact with the Pokhara Airport about 18 minutes after takeoff, before it came crashing down in the nearby Seti River Gorge. The country has a record of crashes due to its mountainous topography and sudden changes to the weather.
Nepal prime minister's announced investigation would proceed to determine exactly what happened.
PUSHPA KAMAL DAHAL, PRIME MINISTER OF NEPAL (through translator): The incident was tragic. All forces have been deployed for rescue operations. The investigation is going on now. I have called an emergency cabinet meeting.
SUD (voice-over): The passengers on board were mostly Nepali, but included 15 foreign nationals, Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority said. Yeti Airlines cancelled all regular flights on Monday morning for the passengers who lost their lives. The Nepali government also declared Monday a public holiday as the nation continues to grapple with the tragedy.
Vedika Sud, CNN, New Delhi.
(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: And earlier, CNN spoke with aviation analyst Mary Schiavo. She discussed that social media video we showed you just a moment ago and offered perspective on what those images could indicate.
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It does look like a classic stall where you lose air dynamic lift over your wings. The nose goes up. They look to be traveling very slowly, and then the left wing falls down. That's a classic stall.
But we also saw this in a crash that CNN covered way back in 2015. I think it was called Trans Asia. And in that case, they had -- one of the engines was shut down. And so, they weren't getting asymmetric lift. But it does appear to be a stall in that particular footage that we can see.
Usually, when there's an accident in Nepal, it's related to the terrain and the weather, just punishing weather, and there's really --- there is a lack of places in certain parts of Nepal to set down if you are having a problem. But none of those factors were present in this one, at least that we can tell at this point.
So, the voice recorder and flight data recorder will give the investigators that answer. They will probably download it if they can find it probably by tomorrow or the next day.
CHURCH: That was CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo.
A near miss between two passenger planes at New York's busy JFK International Airport is now being investigated by U.S. authorities. It happened Friday evening. This animation shows just how close it was to becoming a tragedy.
The FAA says the crew of a departing Delta flight with 151 people on board aborted its take-off, stopping within a thousand feet of an American Airlines jet that was taxiing on the same runway. Here is some of the audio from the control tower.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): (Bleep) Delta 1943 cancel takeoff clearance.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Delta 1943 cancel takeoff clearance.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Rejecting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Luckily, no one was hurt in that incident.
An urgent search for survivors is ongoing in Dnipro, Ukraine two days after a Russian missile slammed into an apartment building. At least 35 people were killed, including two children. At this hour, dozens of others are still missing. The mayor of Dnipro says the chances of finding anyone alive is minimal, but the rescue operation will press on.
To the east in the city of Soledar, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the battle continues without any respite. His comments come as Russia claims its forces have taken the city after weeks of fierce fighting.
CNN's Scott McLean is in Kyiv where he's tracking the latest on Russia's strikes across Ukraine.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A day after a barrage of Russian missile strikes across Ukraine that killed civilians and damaged energy infrastructure in five regions, the Russian military is calling that a success, saying that all of its intended targets were hit, though they made no mention of the strike on an apartment block in Dnipro.
President Putin told Russian media that his so-called special military operation was showing a positive dynamic almost two years into the war. The Russians claimed to have captured the town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine, though President Zelenskyy insists that the battle there continues without respite.
The Russians are also dealing with another mysterious explosion on their own territory. According to Russian state media, at least three people were killed and more than a dozen injured when a fire broke out at a cultural center in Belgorod that was being used to store ammunition, which then led to an explosion.
MCLEAN: Soldiers were among the injured. It is not clear whether they were also among the dead. Ukraine has not acknowledged that explosion.
And in Southern Ukraine, officials there say that they recently liberate the city of Kherson, has been taking heavy shelling from the Russian side. They say that a dormitory for students and a Red Cross facility were among the places that were hit.
Scott McLean, CNN, Kyiv.
CHURCH: CNN's Clare Sebastian is following developments for us. She joins us live from London. Good morning to you, Clare. So, as the city of Dnipro reels from a deadly Russia missile strike, there have been new rounds of shelling overnight in Ukraine. Talk to us about that.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, sadly, this is not out of the ordinary. Ukrainian civilians are living under the constant threat of this. We're hearing from Ukrainian officials of new shelling on the southern front. The city of Nikopol hit by shelling overnight. According to Ukrainian officials, a dozen private houses were damaged.
Also, in Zaporizhzhia as well, that city of Zaporizhzhia was shelled overnight, according to Ukrainian officials. More homes damaged there. A nine and a 15-year-old among those who were injured and taken to hospital.
And Russian-backed official in the Donetsk region, in the city of Donetsk, reporting Ukrainian shelling there, saying that a shopping complex among the targets hit there. No casualties reported as of yet.
And as you say, the death toll climbing in that deadly attack on the apartment block in Dnipro to 35. Officials saying 35 still unaccounted for. President Zelenskyy are urging them to keep up the fight, to search for every lost life. He also, Rosemary, have this message for the Russian people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): I want to say to all those in Russia and from Russia who even now could not utter a few words of condemnation of this terror, although they see and comprehend everything perfectly, your cowardly silence, your attempt to wade out what is happening, will only end with the fact that one day, these same terrorists will come for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEBASTIAN: Rosemary, the problem with this for the Russian people is that they are not getting a lot of information about this. It's probably likely they won't have an opportunity to see that message from President Zelenskyy. Then news both on television and newspapers in Russia is very tightly controlled.
There is very little mention of this attack on Dnipro. And when there is a mention, for example, on a Sunday night talk show, you hear commentators saying things like this is essentially Ukraine's fault for provoking this conflict to begin with. Of course, Russia was the one who invaded Ukraine. Meanwhile, President Putin is saying that there's a positive dynamic on the battlefield.
CHURCH: All right. Our thanks to Clare Sebastian joining us live from London.
A female former member of the Afghan Parliament who refused to leave Kabul when it fell to the Taliban has been shot dead in her home. Mursal Nabizada and her bodyguard were killed during the attack on sunday. She represented the city of Kabul when the Taliban took over in 2021 and banned women from most jobs. Mursal Nabizada was only 32 years old.
Still to come, China prepares for its biggest holiday of the year, but will recent COVID-19 outbreaks spoil the celebration? We'll have a live report.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. Well, New York City Mayor Eric Adams is calling from Washington to deliver a more coordinated response to the migrant crisis. He visited a border in El Paso, Texas on Sunday, and urged the federal emergency management agency to step up.
CNN's Gloria Pazmino now has more.
GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mayor Eric Adams has estimated the city will have to spend anywhere from $1.5 billion to $2 billion to cover the cost of housing and providing services for migrants which have been arriving for several months since last year.
The mayor traveled to the southern border yesterday. He visited with El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser. They visited the border in addition to the shelter as well as a processing center for the Customs and Border Patrol.
The mayor has said that this is very much a crisis, a humanitarian crisis for the city of New York. Thousands of people have been arriving, many of them bussed to New York by the state of Texas.
I want to just put up the numbers. More than 39,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York, and have been processed by the city, 26,000 of them remain in the city's care. And for several months now, the city has worked to open 74 emergency shelters, as well as four emergency relief centers in an effort to connect asylum seekers with resource centers.
But of course, all of this costs money, and that is where the mayor's request comes in. For months now, he has been asking the federal government to help pay for the cost of supporting these migrants.
And the mayor's visit to the border comes a week after President Biden visited the border himself. It is interesting that the mayor mare chose to go to the border only after Biden made the stop himself.
Now, this issue of migrants is not just happening here in New York City. It's also other major cities across the country, places like Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also taking to social media earlier today to express support for Mayor Eric Adams, his trip to the border, and saying that she agreed with his request for federal funding.
In New York, Gloria Pazmino, CNN.
CHURCH: Travel in china is ramping up ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday starting next week. Officials say more than 42 million people traveled across China on Saturday. They estimate more than two billion journeys will be made, before the travel period is over, that's twice as many as last year celebration.
COVID cases already have been surging in China, and many for the mass migration will make the outbreak even worse.
CNN's Anna Coren joins me live now from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Anna. So, what are health experts saying about the likely impact this mass Lunar New Year travel will have an COVID outbreaks, and surges across the country.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, international health experts are extremely concerned. Experts in China would tell you that the wave, the tsunami of cases that have hit mainland China has peaked, and that if anything, it's on the decline.
But the international experts will tell you a very different story. Yes, this will be the largest migration of humans on earth. Two billion people will move across the mainland, remembering that many of them haven't seen their families, their loved ones, you know, separated for three years now. That is as long as the zero-COVID policies have been in place, these harsh lockdowns, these quarantine measures, this mass testing that was there to stop and try to eliminate the virus.
Well, that all came to an abrupt end in December, after weeks of protests and also the enormous financial strain on the economy. The government did a backflip and decided it was the end of zero-COVID, and that life would now resume to normal.
Until the weekend, Rosemary, officials were saying only 37 COVID related deaths had occurred in China. Now, that did not compute whatsoever with what we are seeing coming out of the hospitals, the morgues, the crematoriums, which were completely overwhelmed. There was a meeting between the Chinese health minister as well as the WHO over the weekend, and the figure was revised. 60,000 now is the number that health officials are saying is the death toll related to COVID in the last month.
But you add Chinese New Year and this huge migration, two billion people, and the concern is that it will now spread to the provinces, to those villages where there is a large elderly population, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yes, it is big worry. Anna Coren, joining us live from Hong Kong, many thanks.
This year's World Economic Forum begins Monday in Davos, Switzerland, and various protesters are already there, marching in the streets to make their voices heard by the world's elite.
One protest group is called Patriotic Millionaires U.K. They say economic inequality is one of the biggest issues facing the world today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL WHITE, MEMBER, PATRIOTIC MEMBERS U.K.: We're in favor of wealth (ph) taxes. We really want to reduce this level of wealth inequality in the world that's so corrosive to society.
My message to the guys at the meeting would be, think to yourselves and talk to your friends, are you sure you're not the problem rather than thinking to the solution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: That protester believes and taxing the rich, because he says governments can do more useful things with the money than wealthy individuals.
And CNN will be covering all the events in Davos. Join Richard Quest and Julia Chatterley as they talk to world leaders and CEOs throughout the week.
The rising prices are hitting households hard across the United States. Inflation caused Americans to spend, on average, about $370 more in December than a year ago for rent, groceries, utilities, and other goods and services. That is according to Moody's Analytics. But it says inflation does appear to be easing and paychecks are starting to catch up. And another bright spot, the typical American family saved money on gasoline compared to the year before.
Inflation is taking its toll in France as well, where an essential part of life is under threat. From the soaring cost of energy and other daily necessities, as Melissa Bell reports, some bakers are resorting to desperate measures to save the baguette.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: It is before dawn that France comes to life. In 33,000 boulangerie across the country, the baguette continuing to rise despite the soaring cost of flour and butter.
But Julien Pedussel now starts his day in partial in partial darkness trying to save money. His electricity bill tripled in November. December was simply too high to pay.
JULIEN PEDUSSEL, MANAGER, LE FOURNIL DE RIEUX (through translator): Can you imagine you lose everything just because there's an energy supplier has decided to multiplayer bill by 10. It's outrageous, it's totally outrageous. It's theft, literally theft.
BELL: In January, Pedussel did something he never thought he'd have to, taking to the streets, to draw tension to the plight of bakers, across the country.
The French government has ordered modest measures to help makers deal with a spike in energy costs. But many say, it's nowhere near enough.
DOMINIQUE ANRACT (through translator): What we are talking about are really early small businesses, 80 percent have fewer than 10 employees. They're solid businesses that are never complain, but they're being hit hard.
BELL: A cruel irony that the crisis has struck even as UNESCO has given the biggest culture special status.
EMMANUEL MARCON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): In these few centimeters of craftsmanship, passed from hand in hand, lies exactly the spirit of French know-how. That is something inevitable. It seems to be just something material, but it's not.
BELL: It isn't just that the baguette is a staple of the French diet, but that the bakery is also such an important part of the social fabric of life here in France. We will find one almost Parisian street corners. But in the countryside and villages, they're often only businesses around.
But that ubiquity is also what makes it difficult for bakers to pass on the costs.
CHARLES YE, CO-OWNER, UNION BAKERY: We prefer to not do that, and most of the bakery are not doing that. Just because it's so cultural, it's like -- it's like the price of coffee, like gas, like a rice buy two or three, it would be like a revolution.
BELL: Which leaves French bakers sandwiched between the soaring cost of baking and the bread that is so much more than a symbol, but rather the way of French life.
Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.
CHURCH: And still to come, an American wrongfully detained in Iran, writes to President Joe Biden, as he begins a weeklong hunger strike. We'll have a live report.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: A wrongfully detained in Iran is starting a seven-day hunger strike, and appealing to President Joe Biden to take notice of U.S. detainees there.
In a letter to the president, Siamak Namazi says he's starting the strike to mark seven years since he was left out of a prisoner swap between Washington and Tehran.
And for more, we want to go to CNN's Salma Abdelaziz. She joins us live from London. Good morning to you, Salma. So, talk to us about what this American, who has now launched his hunger strike, is now asking for exactly. SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. So, this is the case of Siamak Namazi. He's a U.S. citizen who is wrongfully detained in Iran. He was arrested in 2015 during a visit to the country. He was reportedly interrogated for months by Iranian authorities before he was then imprisoned later that year, and eventually sentenced.
The charge against him by Iran's authorities is collaboration with a hostile foreign government. And Iran has handed down a sentence of 10 years to Namazi. He is now serving that in the notorious Iran prison in Tehran.
And he did open letter, of course, to President Biden, marking a hunger strike that is set to begin today, Rosemary, seven days, he says to mark seven years since he was overlooked, left behind in this prisoner swap that occurred in 2016, a U.S.-Iranian prisoner swap that saw the release of a U.S. Marine veteran, a Washington post reporter, a Christian pastor but, of course, ultimately Namazi.
I want to read you a portion of this letter to President Biden, this open letter. I want to read you a quote from it. I know we can pull that up for our viewers. "All I want, sir, is one minute of your day's time for the next seven days, devoted to thinking about the tribulations of the U.S. hostages in Iran. Just a single minute of your time for each year of my life that I lost in Iran prison, after the U.S. government could have saved me but did not."
Now, it's important to note here, Rosemary, that there are two other Americans also believed held, detained, in Iran wrongfully. U.S. officials say they are absolutely doing everything they can to get these Americans released, including Namazi.
But this has really come to prominence now, Rosemary, because there are fears that he and other Americans held in Iran could be used as political pawn, as tool. Remember, this is a very critical time in Iran. There's been demonstrations now going on for nearly four months in what rights groups say is that the country's prosecutions, its judges, its trials, its legal system is being weaponized, being used as a tool of repression to silence dissent.
That's come in the form of lengthy prison sentences for some protesters. It's even in extreme cases seen executions, multiple protest rights groups say, executed simply for taking to the streets. So, this is absolutely a matter of priority for the U.S. administration, Rosemary.
CHURCH: All right, Salma Abdelaziz, joining us live from London, many thanks.
Well, the years first tennis grand slam is off and running. Coming up, highlights from day one of the Australian Open, as reigning champ Rafael Nadal goes for a another title. Back in just a moment.
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UNKNOWN: Two, one. Engine full power and lift off. The USS (inaudible). Go Falcon Heavy. Go Space Force.
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CHURCH: The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket took off from the Kennedy Space Center in the U.S. State of Florida on Sunday. It is carrying a national security payload into orbit for the U.S. military. The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket SpaceX has, known for its booster's ability to make synchronized landings.
Now, the company is aiming to test its new starship spacecraft and super heavy rocket. If successful, that ship will dethrone NASA's new moon rocket as the most powerful craft flying today.
Well, the Australian Open is underway with one of the biggest names in the draw out of the tournament before hitting a ball. Wimbledon runner-up and Aussie favorite Nick Kyrgios has withdrawn with a knee injury. The 27-year-old fan favorite was coming off the best season of career, having lost to Novak Djokovic in the final of Wimbledon, and winning the Australian Open doubles title. The Aussie came into this year's tournament as one of the favorites to win the title.
Meanwhile, defending champion Rafael Nadal is safely through to the second round. The Spaniard facing the young Brit, Jack Draper, looked like he was on the ropes for a moment after dropping the second set 6- 1, but quickly found his former game to run away with the win in four sets.
Nadal's arch nemesis, Novak Djokovic, will begin his campaign on Tuesday after missing out on last year's Aussie Open, when he was deported for not being vaccinated against COVID-19. But despite the events of last year, the Serbian is not holding any grudges.
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NOVAC DJOKOVIC, TENNIS, MEN'S WORLD NUMBER FIVE: If I do hold a grudge and probably if I'm not able to move on, I wouldn't be here, you know. And also, I have to say that the amount of positive experiences I had in Australia overwhelmed the negative experience maybe of last year. So, you know, my impression of Australia, my, you know, vision of Australia has always been very positive and that has reflected on my performance in my results are a testament to how I feel here.
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CHURCH: And stay with CNN for plenty more updates on today's action. Basketball superstar Lebron James has hit a new milestone. He's now one of only two players in NBA history to score 38,000 career points. James reached the historic number during a game on Sunday night.
[03:55:00] It's his 20th season in the NBA, where he has been averaging 29 points per game. The only player to score more points is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, holding the NBA record with nearly 38,400 points. Incredible.
Well, in the National Football League, it's been an emotional couple of weeks for the Buffalo Bills. On Saturday, the bills got a shot in the arm before their playoff match against the division rival Miami Dolphins.
Damar Hamlin made a surprise visit to the Bills facility less than two weeks after collapsing on the field against Cincinnati. Hamlin later tweeted that he would be watching the game from home. It was a rough day for Bills' quarterback, Josh Allen. He had three turnovers during the game, including this fumble that Miami recovered for a touchdown. But Allen and the Bills would recover, beating the dolphins 34-31. After the game, Bills players spoke about seeing Hamlin a day early.
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JOSH ALLEN, BUFFALO BILLS QUARTERBACK: I got to say hello to him and his family, and obviously, a big old hug, and there's a big line of guys ready to love up on him. So, he was a blessing come through to see him back in the facility.
DEAN MARLOWE, BUFFALO BILLS SAFETY: For him to be in the building, man, it brought smiles and happy tears to everybody in the building. You know, just to see him walking around, healthy, recovering well, you know, we sat next to him, all around the facility and just kind of asked him, you know, a couple questions of how he's feeling, and that kind of stuff.
And just all we needed -- all we needed was to see his face and see him walking around. Once we knew he was healthy, you know, we kind of had a weight lifted off our shoulders. But then actually seeing him in person, it was amazing.
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CHURCH: He is a medical miracle. On behalf of our whole team, thank you so much for spending part of your day with us. I'm Rosemary Church. CNN Newsroom continues now with Max Foster, next.