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Allies of Ukraine Discuss Military Aid in Germany; Seventh Week of Unrest in Peru; Worker Strikes in France Cause Disruptions; London's Metropolitan Police Under Review; Fire Breaks Out in Seoul's Slum Area; European Union Adds IRGC to Terrorist List; Iran Protesters Faces Death Penalty; Heavy Missile Bombardment in Bakhmut; Russian Cyberattacks Against Ukraine Easing; South Koreans Support Developing of Nuclear Arsenal; Inflation in Japan hits highest in 40 Years; Biden Visits Storm-Ravaged California; New Zealand Prime Minister Quit Citing Burnout; Alec Baldwin Faces Involuntary Manslaughter Charges Over Fatal "Rust" shooting. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 20, 2023 - 03:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to all of you watching us around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. Just ahead on "CNN Newsroom." Ukraine's allies are gathering in Germany to discuss pledges for billions of dollars' worth of advanced weaponry. We look at what Kyiv is getting and what more it wants.

Plus, a potential arms race in Asia. Why more people in South Korea say they want their country to join the nuclear weapons club.

And as Iran hands down death sentences to protesters, we'll speak with one man fighting to prevent his cousin's execution.

Ukraine could be getting a major boost on the battlefield as western allies are set to meet soon at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Representatives from more than 50 countries will be on hand, hoping to map out plans for military aid ahead of a spring offensive by Russia.

The U.S. had already announced another $2.5 billion in aid including Stryker combat vehicles, more Bradley fighting vehicles and HIMARS rocket systems. But Germany is hesitant to offer its advanced Leopard tanks unless the U.S. commits to sending M1 Abrams tanks. A senior Biden administration official tells CNN Germany has the U.S. over a barrel.

Meanwhile, nine European countries are pledging their support including Howitzers and ammunition from Estonia. Anti-aircraft guns from Poland and Lithuania, and a squadron of Challenger tanks from the U.K. Still, President Zelenskyy wants more. Here he is.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): We push politically as best as we can, but the most important thing is we push with arguments. Against thousands of tanks of the Russian federation, it is not enough. The courage of our military is not enough, and the motivation of the Ukrainian people is not enough.


BRUNHUBER: For more on all this, let's bring in CNN's Nada Bashir live in London. Nada, so looking ahead to today's meeting, take us through what they'll be focusing on and what disagreements still have to be ironed out.

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, Kim, clearly, we've already seen (inaudible) stepping up of support from numerous nations when it comes to military and securities support. An aim that the Ukrainian government has been appealing for in particular, of course, the new U.S. aid package when it comes to security in (inaudible).

Just in fact in the last hour, it is understood that the U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Alexei Reznikov, on the sidelines of today's session. Reznikov also been meeting with Jens Stoltenberg focusing in particular on the calls from the Ukrainian military officials and government for increased military support. And of course, we've already heard thanks from President Zelenskyy himself directed towards the United States with regards to the significant aid package announced yesterday.

This is what President Zelenskyy had to say in his tweet, "Thank you to the president of the United States for providing Ukraine with another powerful defense support package worth $2.5 billion dollars. Stryker IFV's, additional Bradley APCs, and Avenger air defense systems are important help in our fights against the aggressor. Thank you to the U.S. people for their unwavering leadership and support."

But of course, one crucial element remains for President Zelenskyy and that is the supply of more tanks out where the U.S. aid package is extensive. It did not include the supply of those M1 Abrams tanks which President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian government have been calling for. However, the U.S. government has been cleared. It does still support the supply of more modern western tanks to Ukraine.

And that is where, of course, do breach a crucial sticking point with regards to the German-made Leopard 2 tanks. Now, Germany has been hesitant to supply those tanks to Ukraine or rather to allow four other countries, third countries to supply those tanks to Ukraine without a similar commitment from the United States. So that will be a key focus for leaders in their discussions today. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: All right. We'll be following that keenly. Nada Bashir in London. Thank you so much.

Peruvian authorities are bracing for more mass demonstrations as the death toll climbs from weeks of political unrest.


The government reports at least 54 people have died in nationwide protests which began in early December after former president, Pedro Castillo, was impeached, forced from office, and detained.


Thousands of police backed up by soldiers have now taken up security positions around key buildings including Congress and the Supreme Court. Reporter Guillermo Galdos was in Lima on Thursday. Police and protesters again faced off from the city center.


GULLIERM GALDOS, JOURNALIST: The police, the police was just gassing the protesters just down the corner. Thousands of people have arrived in Lima from all over the country in what has been called the takeover of the capital. They want Dina Boluarte, the president, to resign, the Congress to be shut down and a new constitution to be written.

The first five years, Peru has had five presidents. And now in the past month alone, more than 50 people have been killed all over the country in these protests. The police are throwing tear gas and rubber bullets to the protesters. I've seen people from the Amazon, people from the Andes (inaudible), people from the south, people from all over the place have converged here in the capital to protest.


BRUNHUBER: Protesters in Peru showed no signs of giving up, which likely means more deadly street clashes with police. CNN recently spoke about the unrest with Joel Hernandez Garcia of the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights and he explained what he believes needs to happen to restore calm. Here he is.


JOEL HERNANDEZ GARCIA, INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS: I think three things should be done immediately. First, the police forces have to revisit their protocols in order to resort to non- lethal force under the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality as a matter of last resort. Police officers have the duty to protect people who participate in social protests, but also to protect others, which are not participating.

Second is very important. To enter into an authentic, genuine political dialogue. Political dialogue that has to be done among key political actors, but mainly between the executive and the legislative in order to find solutions to the crisis.

Third, it's very important that the government launches a policy of, I think about, reparations (inaudible). There's already a commission setup taking care of the victims, but it's very important to take due action to families of people who lost a loved one, but also to take care of people who have been injured.


BRUNHUBER: Nationwide strikes triggered transportation chaos across parts of France Thursday with all sorts of delays and cancellations. Many schools, government services and businesses were also closed after more than a million people walked off the job. They're furious over the government's pension reforms plans which would raise the retirement age by two years and another round of strikes is planned for January 31st. CNN's Melissa Bell has this report from the French capital.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the first day of a French trade union. Hope will be many more days of strikes and protests against the proposed pension reform here in France. They had, on the part of the government to try and raise the age retirement age from 62 to 64. And this despite the fact that Emmanuel Macron does not have a parliamentary (inaudible) right now.

He has made it his goal to get that pension reform pushed through by the summer. But as you can see, these demonstrations, remarkably well attended for a first day of strike and protests across the country with public sector workers, private sector workers that walked off their jobs and many people attending this rally here in Paris, but also across the country. The beginning of whether trade unions hope will be enough opposition from the street to force the government to back down. Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.

BRUNHUBER: A trial for Matteo Messina Denaro, one of the bosses of Sicily's Cost Nostra mafia has been adjourned until March 9th. Messina Denaro didn't appear by video link at his hearing Thursday, but he wasn't not required to do so. His attorney appeared in court on his behalf.

Messina Denaro had been on the run since 1993 and was considered one of Europe's most wanted criminals before his arrest on Monday. He's now being held in a maximum security in Central Italy.

London's metropolitan police are under renewed scrutiny for failing to root out officers accused of terrible crimes. On Thursday, we learned an active-duty officer suspected of distributing child pornography was recently found dead the day he was due in court and two retired officers face similar charges. Now, earlier this week, another police officer confessed to being a serial rapist.


Nina Dos Santos reports on the growing outrage.



NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outrage like this has simmered across the U.K. since the death of Sara Everard, raped and murdered by a London metropolitan police officer almost two years ago.

Now, news that this other serving policeman has admitted to 24 counts of rape, has left Britain's especially women questioning whether they can trust the very people who are supposed to keep them safe.

Patsy Stevenson was among those manhandled by officers from the U.K.'s biggest force at a protest mourning Sarah Everard in 2021.

PATSY STEVENSON, WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I feel like we were screaming out, can you just change before something like this happens. And now it's happened again.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Both these policemen had a history of misconduct towards women. And as diplomatic protection officers, they also had access to guns, a rarity within British law enforcement.

MARK ROWLEY, COMMISSIONER, LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE: I'm sorry. I know we failed, but we don't. I mean, I think we failed over two decades to be as ruthless as we ought to be in guarding our own integrity.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): The Mets says it's investigating 1,071 officers involved in 1,633 different cases over a decade. Commissioner Mark Rowley has complained he doesn't have the power to stop them. That's little comfort to the woman who reported the latest offending officer repeatedly, both before and during his more than 20-year career with the police to deaf ears. Again and again, he was vetted and given the green light.

Dal Babu spent 30 years with the Met police and was once head of the firearms unit.

DAL BABU, FORMER CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT, LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE: I had turned down people when I was a police officer who I did not think were (inaudible). Despite people knowing about this individual, they still allowed him to become firearms officer.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): Why? Is that just internal protection culture this prevalent?

BABU: No, we've got multiple failures in leadership in making proper decisions. I remember on one occasion being appalled when a detective sergeant had taken a young constable to a call, pulled up in a side area and sexually assaulted him. I wanted him sacked, but he was protected by other officers, and he was given a warning. I asked my daughters to text me whenever they go out.

DOS SANTOS: Their dad was a police officer for many years. Didn't they trust the police?

BABU: My daughters don't trust the police.

DOS SANTOS: Polling commissioned by government watchdog and the aftermath of Sara Everard's murder suggested that less than half of the British population had a positive view of the nation's police forces. Other survey since then indicate that that confidence has only fallen further

(Voice-over): Campaigners like Harriet Wistrich want government inquiries underway to have legal powers, to bringing changes to better protect women and to file a super complain in the courts.

HARRIET WISTRICH, FOUNDER & DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR WOMENS'S JUSTICE: There is a culture of misogyny within the Metropolitan Police. Clearly, they have to make some very radical changes in order to sort of really encourage women to come forward because many women won't come forward.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Transparency will also be key, but some say taking more officers to court might not cut it.

STEVENSON: I don't personally think they're going to change in the way that everyone thinks they are. I think they really need to start from scratch.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Until that happens, Patsy says turning to Britain's police for her and millions more will not always be preferable or indeed possible. Nina Dos Santos, CNN, London.


BRUNHUBER: Residents of a South Korean slum now facing an uncertain future after a fire rip through their neighborhood destroying dozens of makeshift homes. That's coming up.

And a powerful branch of the Iranian military is lashing out after the European parliament called for it to be labeled a terrorist group. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Authorities in South Korea are investigating a massive fire in one of the last slums in Seoul. Flames and black smoke were seen billowing from the makeshift homes in Seoul's famous Gangnam District early Friday morning. About 500 people evacuated after the fire broke out. Officials say about 60 homes were destroyed, but there were no deaths or injuries reported. There's no word on what may have caused the fire.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard is slamming the European parliament after lawmakers called for the guard to be added to the E.U. terrorist list. According to Iranian state media, the guard corps described the resolution as a sign of Europe's desperation, claiming its plans to spark unrest inside of Iran failed.

The E.U. has been a harsh critic of Iran's crackdown on peaceful anti- government protests. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz picks up the story.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The E.U. parliament has passed a nonbinding resolution urging E.U. member states to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, this elite fighting union as a terrorist organization. This was voted by an overwhelming majority of the E.U. parliamentarians.

And again, it is nonbinding, but it's significant stuff and one that prompted a very quick response from Iran's foreign minister. He, in a statement, said that the E.U. should be focused on diplomacy. And went on to say that if the E.U. did indeed designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, that that would be like, and this is the word of Iran's foreign minister, like the E.U. shooting itself in the foot.

This vote, this nonbinding resolution, came about after an annual report was released yesterday that reviews for E.U.'s use parliament, its relationship, its security relations and foreign relations in that report. The E.U. parliament, again, heavily criticize Iran's crackdown on protesters, this movement, these demonstrations that have been happening now around four months. I'm going to read you a small portion of the E.U. parliament statement in that report.

Again, it says "It is appalled by unrestrained and disproportionate use of force by Iranian police and security forces." Again, this designation would be highly controversial, a hot button issue for Iran. The United States had designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization in 2019.

Now, the E.U. potentially looking at making that same move. The U.K. as well considering that designation, all showing just how much relations between the west and Iran have deteriorated since the start of these protests and that very brutal crackdown. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.

BRUNHUBER: The Islamic Republic of Iran has long ranked among the world's top executioners, but with the recent death sentences handed down to protesters, critics say the regime has taken capital punishment to a new level. Activists say that protesters face a particularly unjust judicial process, at least 43 people are currently facing executions according to a CNN count.

Activist group 1500 Tasvir says the number could be as high as 100. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has condemned protester death sentences saying, quote, "the weaponization of criminal procedures to punish people for exercising their basic rights, such as those participating in/or organizing demonstration amounts to state sanctioned killing."

Now, one of those currently facing execution is Majid Kazemi. He is one of four men the Iranian government accuses of being involved in the deaths of three (inaudible) military members during anti- government protests. He says he is innocent and that he was tortured into giving a false confession.


And joining me now is Majid Kazemi's cousin, Mohammad Hashemi. Thank you so much for being here with us. You and your cousin, you're very close, is that right? Tell me about him and your relationship.

MOHAMMAD HASHEMI, COUSIN OF MAJID KAZEMI: Yes, hi everyone. Thank you. Yeah, actually, Majid was born two days after me and we grew up together as children. And, yeah, we were all playing together when we were child. And he is really a funny person, energetic, and also, I know he's really kind and also supportive, caring about his family and all other personal on him.

BRUNHUBER: So, what can you tell us about the circumstances of his arrest? Was he out in the streets protesting?

HASHEMI: Yes, actually, on November 16th he attended the protests on the location near (inaudible) and, yeah, a few days later, five days later, Majid was arrested (inaudible) at his brother's house. Even the IRGC took both Majid and his brothers were sent to prison even though (inaudible) wasn't on protest on that day.

BRUNHUBER: And then how did you find out that he had been sentenced to death?

HASHEMI: Actually, it was Monday, 9th of January. I just finished work and I was checking my phone over Instagram and, yeah, it was really shocking and one of the saddest moments in my life. I read the news that three people sentenced to execution. I couldn't believe that one of them is my cousin.

At first, I was just trying to find any other source. I thought maybe it would be fake, but no, that was true and, yeah, it was really shocking.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, I just can't imagine how devastating that would be. And, you know, you have been in touch. He's alleged that he was tortured in prison. What's the latest on his condition?

HASHEMI: Yes, actually, honestly, he's not doing well. He is in solitary confinement as punishment since recording of him saying that he's been tortured have been released. And yet, there is an audio recording of him telling his family that he had been tortured physically and mentally to get a false confession. And even they torture his brother, Hussein, to get a confession from Majid.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, unbelievable. Now, several protesters accused of essentially the same crime have already been executed. How much hope do you have that your cousin can be saved?

HASHEMI: Honestly, that's my biggest hope in my heart. We have hope that we can save Majid, of course. And I'm doing everything that I can to save him. I know and I really hope international pressure could help us to show Iranian government and the others they are watching them. And I really hope that I can see him one more time and when he's released. I'll keep fighting for that and I really hope to see that day.

BRUNHUBER: And you spoke just now about people, you know, watching and so on air. Are you saying that it's dangerous for the people who are -- for his family who are trying to help him, is that right?

HASHEMI: Yeah. My family are incredibly worried about Majid and these few past months we've been -- it's been a nightmare for us. But we are doing everything that we can to save him.

BRUNHUBER: What do you think the motives behind this are, I mean, that Iran is executing or threatening to execute so many people recently. What messages is the regime trying to send to its own people and out to the world?

HASHEMI: Honestly, I think the Islamic republic is executing people to scare people and to stop them from protesting. But I don't think that would work. And (inaudible) will keep calling for women's rights, for life, for freedom. That's why we are saying (inaudible) women, life, freedom.


BRUNHUBER: Yeah. You talked about international pressure being needed here. What more do you think the world could do to put pressure on Iran to stop these executions including other cousin?

HASHEMI: During last year, actually I'm asking the Australian government to speak to Iranian government directly about my cousin and also all other political prisoner who is in danger. And I think it is important other countries take up their cases of all other political prisoners facing execution. And the Iranian government as I mentioned before, they need to know that the world is watching them.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. The world is watching and we really appreciate you coming on to talk about this very painful, painful matter. Keep up hope and all the best of luck to you as you do your best to try and save your cousin. Mohammad Hashemi, thank you so much for talking to us. Really appreciate it.

HASHEMI: Thank you. Thanks. Thanks (inaudible). Thank you. Appreciate it.

BRUNHUBER: All right. So, at this hour on "CNN Newsroom." CNN heads towards eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut where soldiers returning from the front lines tell their stories.

And a nuclear arms race in Asia. Support among South Korean's, the country to develop its own nuclear arsenal. We'll have a live report from Seoul just ahead. Please stay with us.


BRUNHUBER: While western allies argue over what weapons to send to Ukraine, the fighting rages on, especially in the eastern city of Bakhmut. CNN's Ben Wedeman and his team met with Ukrainian soldiers just back from the front lines.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They've been through the valley of the shadows of death. Most, but not all made it out in the valley alive, but not unscathed. On this stretch of road overlooking the battles from Bakhmut and Soledar, it's just safe enough to deliver the wounded to medics. Strewn along the road, a bloodstain stretcher, a discarded, bloody flap jacket.

(On camera): These troops are just back from the front at Soledar, they took wounded, they were facing Wagner fighters. They say those fighters were attacking in waves. Now, they're going back to safer ground.


(Voice-over): The combat they saw was intense. They were regular troops says this soldier and in front of them, just meet convicts impacts on drugs without armor and helmets, for them life has no value.


WEDEMAN: Down in the killing fields, the shelling goes on without letup. For the medics, there is no rest.


WEDEMAN: Sometimes the martyrs don't give us any breathing, (inaudible) medic tells me. We have many casualties from shrapnel, and when the snipers come, then there are many dead and wounded.

Troops transfer of fallen comrades from armored cars to their van. Here, the shadow of death wreaks heavy.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Outside of Bakhmut.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: A closer look at cyber warfare, the president of Microsoft tells CNN that Russian cyber attacks against Ukraine have been easing up lately. He says Microsoft has also noticed a pullback on pro-Kremlin digital propaganda link to the world.

The last hour, I asked a security specialist if Russia itself had been behind most of the attack so far. Let's listen.


ERIC NOONAN, CEO, CYBERSHEATH: We have, obviously, clearly Russia, as the nation, stayed as the tip of the spear for all of these attacks but then also, on the other side, the United States, NATO allies and then as you just highlighted, Microsoft and other private companies who have committed resources, information sharing and other tools to the fight.

And so, on both sides, we're seeing something that we've really never seen out scale for such a sustained period of time before in the cyber domain of warfare. So, again, on both sides, we have organized government, militaries, nation states, and then, also private corporations committing resources. And so, the amount of learning that's being done now for things that were previously very much academic relative to cyber warfare is really incredible.


BRUNHUBER: South Korea's president recently raised the prospect of its country developing its own nuclear arsenal amid the nuclear threat from the north. Now, it's an idea that's getting increasingly support from some South Koreans.

CNN's Paula Hancocks joins me us now live from Seoul. So, Paula, what is behind this growing support and why now?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kim, this is a discussion that's always been going on in the background. But certainly, recently, it has been a lot louder, a lot more public, the South Korean president getting involved as well.

One of the reasons for that is the fact that North Korea has, at the beginning of this year, said that it will increase its nuclear arsenal, the nuclear threat. It does appear to be growing from the north of the border.

And for those here in South Korea, who believed that this country should have their own nuclear weapons, their basic argument is that North Korea has them. So, why can't we?


Kim Jong-un wants bigger and better nuclear weapons, calling for a, quote, "exponential increase in North Korea's nuclear arsenal," a compelling reason for a growing number of south Koreans to believe that they too should have nuclear weapons.

BRUCE KLINGNER, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It is very striking how it has gone from really a fringe discussion to very mainstream.

HANCOCKS: South Korea is protected by the U.S. nuclear umbrella. But for some conservatives, the pledge to come to Seoul's aide up to an including nuclear weapon if under attack is no longer enough. Not help by former U.S. President Donald Trump who turned traditional alliances on their head, suggesting that the U.S. shouldn't be defending South Korea, citing an expense.

ANKIT PANDA, STANTON SENIOR FELLOW, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: The alliance was on thin ice during the Trump administration. And so, on some level, it's a national response for South Korea to see got ways in which to enhance its autonomous defense capability.

CHEONG SEONG-CHANG, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR EAST ASIAN COOPERATION (through translator): Of course, North Korea doesn't want south Korea to have nuclear weapons. Now, they can ignore the South Korean military. But they will be nervous if they have enough nuclear weapons as we have enough nuclear material to make more than 4,000 weapons.

HANCOCKS: A poll conducted by Korea last September found 55 percent of those polls supported South Korea having its own nuclear weapons. Other polls show even higher support. But some experts say that the reality would be very different.

JEFFREY LEWIS, MIDDLEBURY INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, the funny thing about nuclear weapons is that your weapons don't offset their weapons. And the best example I could think of that is, look at Israel. Israel has nuclear arms and it is terrified of Iran getting nuclear weapons. So, Israel's nuclear weapons don't, in any fundamental way, offset the threat that they feel from Iran's nuclear weapons.

HANCOCKS: South Korea's president, Yoon Suk-yeol, also flooded the idea of a nuclear program last week, speaking to his defense ministry. Comments walked back by those around him.


Yoon has been calling for stronger extended deterrence for months. Some conservatives favor redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to the peninsula.

KLINGNER: Putting U.S. nukes back on the peninsula makes no military sense. They currently are on very hard to find, hard to target weapons platforms. And to take the weapons off of them and to put them into a bunker in South Korea, which is a very enticing preemptive target for north Korea, what you've done as you degraded your capabilities.


HANCOCKS: So, Washington has said that the extended deterrence is solid and that the nuclear umbrella is intact. They've also pointed out that there is some 28,500 U.S. troops permanently stationed here on the peninsula, which would have a very real trip wire effect. Also, the U.S. and certainly china do not want to see a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: All right. Thank you so much. Paula Hancocks in Seoul. I appreciate it.

Business leaders, billionaires and politicians were in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, addressing issues facing the world economies. Our Richard Quest spoke with Bank of America's CEO, Brian Moynihan, about the effect that the U.S. Federal Reserve's repeated interest rate hikes have had on the U.S. economy and consumers.


BRIAN MOYNIHAN, CEO, BANK OF AMERICA: A total stability, yes, that's the problem. If the markets are balancing on a loan at 10 years all the way back down on the world 350. If you and I said that a month ago, people will say, you've got to be nuts. It's going to go up to four and stay there because they're raising rates.

But so, the instability of the day-to-day trade, that slows down the market activity. You need some view of an economy, some of you have an interest rate environment, et cetera. Now, the good news is, we have a mild recession predicted and it's a bit to your point.

But think about what happened today. This is -- the fed's problem is the job's new claims number comes up and it's as low as it's ever been. Not just low as it is in recession, low as it has ever been. That's just -- the employment is tight. People have money they're spending. But on the other hand, they're starting to feel the bite of the high interest rates. The good news is that may tip inflation down and then the fed can stop and we can get through.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: But then, you know, I was looking at the graph of the interest rate rising. I mean, you and I, in the past few weeks ago like nice (inaudible) straight up.


QUEST: And yet, still there is this conundrum of jobs and employment.

MOYNIHAN: Because at the end of the day, the economy -- people forget how much of the economic downturn pandemic was not only speckled over. So, there is -- and people were given money to -- it was piled on top of it. And we still have to think about. The Social Security increases are coming through them. That's more money in people's pockets.

Companies like us, believe me, our employees are getting paid more. Year over year, their wages grew because of the great resignation that we talked about last year and those things. The third thing is, you know, federal employees all got a pay rise.

You've got the IRA and the infrastructure bill. Neither one, much money has been spent. You've got the supplies that we should for the war in Ukraine, which actually -- and these are stores we got to rebuild.

QUEST: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah.

MOYNIHAN: So, all these things are -- and by the way, the people still have more than trillions of dollars in their accounts.

QUEST: Money that wasn't spent as a fed has said during the pandemic. So, it is time. You cannot avoid it.

MOYNIHAN: Okay, I can't avoid it.

QUEST: Choose your color.

MOYNIHAN: I'll choose black, because it's easier to see.


MOYNIHAN: This is my wall of worry?

QUEST: Yeah.


QUEST: What's your number one worry?

MOYNIHAN: So, that's got to be a recession, because, at the end of the day, you don't have any money to pay for this if we can't keep the economy growing.

QUEST: So, it's a recession -- the mild recession (inaudible) --

MOYNIHAN: Yeah. QUEST: And inflation.



BRUNHUBER: The cost of living crisis affecting much of the world has climbed to new heights in Japan. Japan's consumer prices rose 4 percent in December compared to a year earlier, double the Central Bank's 2 percent target.

The increase is the highest yearly inflation rate for the country in more than 40 years. And more than a half a big Japanese company say that they're planning to raise wages this year. That's according to Reuters monthly poll. But smaller and medium sized firms, which provide most of the job, say they're less likely to increase pay.

Climate activists, Greta Thunberg, lashed out against the climate talks of the World Economic Forum. Thunberg was on a panel discussion in Davos and said that it was, quote, "absurd to look for solutions of the annual conference." The Swedish activists said that the world should not rely on those investing in fossil fuels to solve the climate problems. Here she is.


GRETA THUNBERG, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: The people who are mostly fueling the destruction of the planet, the people who are at the very core of the climate crisis, the people who are investing in fossil fuels, et cetera, et cetera, and yet somehow these are the people that we seem to rely on solving our problems when they have proven time and time again that they are not prioritizing that. They are prioritizing self- greed, corporate greed, and short term economic profits above people and above planets.


And we are listening -- we seem to be listening to them rather than the people who are actually affected by the climate crisis, the people who are living on the front lines, and that's -- that kind of tells us the situation of how absurd this is.


BRUNHUBER: For the first time since April 2020, the U.S. State of California is no longer classified as being in extreme drought by the U.S. Drought Monitor. This, after several weeks of brutal storms ravaged the state causing widespread flooding and leaving at least 20 people dead.

On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden surveyed the damage and reaffirmed the federal government's commitment to supporting California as it recovers and rebuild.

CNN's Veronica Miracle has more.


VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden spent the day touring storm-ravaged Santa Cruz County, including spending the better part of an hour here in Capitola, where appear has essentially been ripped in half and local businesses that rely heavily on tourism have been greatly impacted by the recent storms.

Of course, those nine atmospheric rivers over the last few weeks have battered the state, but the central coast was hit especially hard. And President Biden wanted to come here, he said, to see the damage himself and also to assess what more the federal government can do to help the state of California.

Now, this comes after last night the president and the federal government authorized additional disaster assistance to the state, and that's on top of an expedited major disaster declaration that happened on Saturday.

Right now, there are more than 500 FEMA personnel on the ground assessing damage all over the state of California. But there are still parts of the state where those personal have not been able to access because of the damage that still hasn't been cleaned up.

The FEMA director and the administrator, Deanne Criswell, was here and she said that there -- they estimate about several hundred million dollars worth of damage has already occurred, but that is a very conservative estimate. They expect that number to go up. President Biden saying that he wanted to show his support and see more that the federal government can do to help the state of California.

Veronica Miracle, CNN, Capitola.


BRUNHUBER: A day after stunning the world resignation, New Zealand's outgoing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it's a weight off her shoulders take a listen. Listen to this.


JACINDA ARDERN, OUTGOING NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: (Inaudible) and I sleep well for the first time in a long time last night. But there's still a range of emotion. So, of course, I feel, you know, sad, but also I do have a sense of relief.

I actually feel deeply humbled by the response that I have received. And to have those messages of gratitude has been really moving for me and for -- even for my family.


BRUNHUBER: The prime minister's resignation surprised many people in New Zealand. CNN's Ivan Watson has more now on her political legacy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The most famous politician in New Zealand's history dropped a bombshell at their political party's annual retreat.

ARDERN: And so, today, I'm announcing that I will not be seeking reelection. And then my term as a prime minister will conclude no later than the seventh of February.

WATSON: After five and a half years in office, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says, she is suffering from burnout.

ARDERN: I know what this job takes and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.

WATSON: The announcement stunned members of her labour party and drew mixed responses across the island nation.

UNKNOWN: I think she was an excellent leader and I am devastated.

UNKNOWN: I think her legacy internationally will be good. Locally, her reputation is gone.

UNKNOWN: She was awesome. She did everything she could during the pandemic. She kept doing the pandemic. Yeah, I think she's going to have a great legacy.

WATSON: Ardern is New Zealand's youngest female prime minister, a leader who gave birth to her daughter, Neve, during her first full year in office. And then went on to two once in a generation crisis.

In 2019, New Zealand's deadliest terror attack, Ardern helped comfort a traumatized country after a white supremacist gunman attacked two mosques in Christchurch, killing 51 people. She then banned military style semiautomatic automatic weapons like the ones used in the attack.

During the first frightening months of the COVID pandemic --

ARDERN: You are not alone. You will hear us and see us daily.

Can everyone see it?

WATSON: Ardern's compassionate leadership prompted a surge in popularity, followed by a landslide election victory. But over the last, year post-COVID economic woes have battered the prime minister.

BRYCE EDWARDS, POLITICAL SCIENTIST, VICTORIA UNIVERSITY OF WELLINGTON: I think that the real reason Arden is going is that she's lost popularity. And so, the opinion polls here have really plummeted for her government and for her personally.


WATSON: Now, Ardern no longer faces a potentially difficult reelection campaign. Instead, she plans to focus on her family.

ARDERN: And certainly, mom is looking forward to being there when you start school this year. And to Clark, let's finally get married.

WATSON: Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


BRUNHUBER: After Alec Baldwin is vowing to fight the charges he's now in the shooting death of a cinematographer on his western movie set. More details when we come back. Please stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: David Crosby, one of the most revered rock musicians of the 60s and 70s has died at age 81 following a lengthy illness. Like many musicians of that era, he struggled with addiction and major health problems.

Crosby was a central figure in the 1960s California music scene. He was inducted twice in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a founding member of The Byrds and later with Crosby, Stills and Nash and many of the songs that Crosby co-wrote and performed 50 years ago are still frequently played on classic rock stations.

Actor Alec Baldwin is calling a decision to file charges against him, a terrible miscarriage of justice. The New Mexico district attorney announced on Thursday that Baldwin and the film armorer were being charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 failed shooting of cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins on the set of a western movie, "Rust." Baldwin has vowed to fight the charges.

And an attorney for the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, says she is, quote, "committed no crime." Assistant director, David Halls signed a plea deal for a lesser charges that included six months probation. This is what prosecutors had to say about the decision to file criminal charges.


MARY CARMACK-ALTWIES, FIRST JUDICIAN ATTORNEY, NEW MEXICO: I think it was the totality of the circumstances that this was a really fast and loose set and that nobody was doing their job. There were three people, that if they had done their job that day, this tragedy would've happened, and that's David Halls, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and Alec Baldwin. If they had done their basic duties, this -- we wouldn't be standing here.


BRUNHUBER: Here's CNN's legal analyst, Areva Martin, talking about the legal jeopardy facing Baldwin, including the possibility that Baldwin himself might seek a plea deal. Here she is.


AREVA MARTIN: Everyone that is charged criminally has a potential to enter into some kind of plea deal with the prosecutor. That's not necessarily off the table for Alec Baldwin. These charges haven't been filed, yet the prosecutor said they will be filed until the end of the month.

And once those charges are officially filed, I would not be surprised if we don't see Alec Baldwin's attorney also having conversations with the prosecutor about possible plea deals or a plea deal that would allow him to plead to a misdemeanor rather than a felony and to have a suspended sentence in the same way that all does.

So, I don't think that we should assume a plea deal was off the table for any of the other defendants that have been charged or will be charged in this case.


BRUNHUBER: A teacher allegedly shot by a 6-year-old student in Virginia is out of hospital. Now, police haven't identified the boy and they're not releasing any new details about the incident. But the child's parents are finally talking.

CNN's Brian Todd has a report.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: New details about the 6-year-old boy accused of shooting his first grade teacher in Newport News, Virginia. The boy's parents breaking their silence in a statement sent by a lawyer who says that he represents them, quote, "our son suffers an acute disability and was under a care plan at the school that included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day. The week of the shooting was the first week when we were not in class with him. We will regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives."

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: The statement from the parents really does show that the school was aware that this child was having some emotional issues, and that there was some sort of a plan that was in place.

TODD: But they don't say specifically what the disability is or whether there were previous disciplinary issues with him at school. And the attorney has not responded to CNN's questions on those points. The parents also saying, quote, "the firearm our son accessed was secured."

MARIO LORELLO, FORMER PROSECUTOR: They could be doing this to cover themselves legally as whether or not they're not they're trying to present mitigation or at least trying to explain at least some type of a rational as to how this would've occurred.

TODD: But the statement doesn't say how the boy accessed the weapon, which a law enforcement sources tell CNN was a Taurus model G2C, like this one. The attorney for the family said he could not comment when we asked him how the weapon was secured and how the child might have gotten access to it. Newport News police previously told CNN the boy's mother, who purchased the gun legally, could possibly face charges. But the investigation is still in the early stages.

LORELLO: If a parent is grossly negligent in terms of any acts of omission, and it causes harms to others, and that's potentially a charge. The other potential charge is reckless handling of a firearm. That is typically a misdemeanor.

TODD: At a school board meeting this week, a parent of other children in Newport News expressed concern about the boy.

UNKNOWN: We need to ensure that the student never returns to Newport News public schools.

TODD: We reached out to the Newport News school district asked him to respond to the parent's statement and to ask more specific questions about how the child was handled in class. The district did not respond to the statement, and said it could not release more information.

The Newport News police had no comment on the statement and could not give us more information on how the child is being handled now. Also, we just learned that the teacher who was shot, Abby Zwerner, was released from the hospital earlier this week.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

BRUNHUBER: We'll be right back.



BRUNHUBER: A Dominican man is back on dry land after being stranded at sea for more than three weeks. Elvis Francois says he was repairing his sailboat near the Dutch (ph) Port of Saint Martin last month when the boat was pulled out to sea by bad weather. He drifted for weeks until a plane saw the word, help, engraved on the haul. The Colombian Navy rescued him and took him to Cartagena for medical attention. He's now earned his way back to the Dominican Republic.


ELVIS FRANCOIS, RESCUED AT SEA: Twenty face no land, nobody to talk to, don't know what to do, don't know where you are, it was rough. A certain time, I lost hope. I think about my family.


BRUNHUBER: The founder of the failed FTX crypto exchange says there was a security issue at his parents' home. Sam Bankman-Fried is staying at the Northern California residents on home confinement. He's trying to keep the names of who co-signed his $250 million bond the secret inside the issue at the house.

In a letter to the judge, his lawyer said a black car drove up to the metal barricade outside his home. And then once security confronted the three men and the car, they said, quote, "you won't be able to keep us out." They left before security could get the license plate number.

The search continues in Southern California from missing British actor, Julian Sands. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office said pings from Sands' phone on January 15th shows that he was heading to the Mount Baldy area and a delayed ping provided a potential location near the trails leading to the mountain summit, but it is still not safe to conduct ground search.

Authorities are using helicopters and drones to look for the actors. Officials say that they don't know when the conditions on the mountain will improve.

"All Quiet on the Western Front" is leading the nomination count for the 2020 British Academy Film Award. It's been nominated for 14 BAFTAs. This is the first time that the well-known book has been made into a film in its native German. It's up for a best picture, along with "The Banshees of Inerseherin," "Elvis," "Everything Everywhere All at Once," and "Tar." Winners will be announced on February 19th.

All right. Thanks so much for joining me. I'm Kim Brunhuber. Don't forget to follow me on twitter, @kimbrunhuber. "CNN Newsroom" continues now with Max Foster in London.