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Economy Beats Expectations With 311,000 Jobs Added Last Month; Mexican Authorities Arrest Five More People Linked To Kidnapping, Killing Of Americans; Who's Taking The Oscar Gold Home. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 10, 2023 - 15:30   ET



ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The Federal Reserve might respond to try to tame that inflation. But for the president's part, a bit earlier today as he took a victory lap and touted these job numbers. He tried to argue that this was signed that his economic agenda, his domestic agenda in the country is working. And he talked about the impact that is happening on everyday Americans.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The job is about a lot more then a paycheck in this. It's about dignity. It's about you lose your family's dignity. And 12 million more Americans can look their kids in the eye and say, honey, it's going to be OK and mean it.

You know, that's a little more dignity for 12 million Americans. It's not just good numbers, people can feel it.


SAENZ: Now a short while ago Cecilia Ralph the chair of the economic council -- the Council of Economic at the White House, she said that they have seen the signs that the economy is resilient but acknowledges that inflation continues to remain high. Now one thing going forward is the White House will be watching what exactly the Federal Reserve will do.

Jerome Powell, the chair of the Fed, recently he said that they could be prepared to bring the higher interest rates in order to try to tame this inflation. It is an issue particularly when it comes to those interest rates and trying to tackle inflation but in some ways in out of the White House his hands. But for the president's part, he's trying to show that his agenda is working, while acknowledging that there is still more work to do at a time when the economy and inflation still remain top concerns for so many Americans.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Yes, the White House will be watching the Fed. Everybody is going to be watching to see what Jerome Powell does. Arlette Saenz for us in Washington, thank you,

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: Let's bring in Justin Wolfers, the professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan. Justin, it's good to see you. So, yet another stronger than expected job report. How has the economy been able to maintain such strength at a time when the Federal Reserve is specifically trying to weaken it?

JUSTIN WOLFERS, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: That really is the mystery but what a fantastic mystery to have. Why does the economy keep muttering along getting the unemployment right own and getting people back to work?

And I think first of all, let's recognize the good news, let's celebrate that good news. And I think the broader context is none of us still know how far -- how much recovering this economy has got to do in the wake of the long shadowed past by COVID.

So things are still a little different, they're still sorting themselves but they're sorting themselves in a pretty useful way.

GOLODRYGA: Wages grew at 0.2 percent from January to February that this is continued deceleration, and that is welcome news. Is that something you think that Jay Powell would be considering as he is now trying to figure out what to do in terms of interest rates?

WOLFERS: Jay Powell is deeply worried about inflation as he should be. One of the theories of that causes inflation is that if the labor markets are too tight, wages get bid up and if wages become expensive, then businesses have to raise their prices given the increase in their cost. So it's quite welcome news their policy, but the costs facing businesses, their labor costs, just aren't raising that much. In fact, over the past few months, it looks like wage growth may have slowed quite a bit and down to levels that potentially the Fed is quite comfortable with.

GOLODRYGA: So, it seems the there's sort of odd bedfellows now in the camp of wait and see. Just take a pause from hiking interest rates and let things play out. You've got some economists that are making an argument. Obviously, you've got some Democratic senators that are making argument as well.

And we just had Robert Reich, the former Labor Secretary on. He said specifically in regards to now what happened -- run on a bank really. The FDIC really in and closing down a Silicon Valley Bank. But that alone is the biggest headline of the day and yet another justification for the Fed to take a pause. Where do you stand?

WOLFERS: The news about Silicon Valley bank is obviously very brazen but I don't think right now at least it look like it's important macroeconomic news. It's obviously very important to the investors there, people who have their money in that bank. And if they didn't have too much there, they are insured and they'll get their money back. But look, this is one bank that services one sector of the economy. And so far it looks like it's there is no component included in the rest of the economy. So my hope is in a few days' time, will stop talking about Silicon Valley Bank.

GOLODRYGA: Well, I hope so. And we don't want the word contagion to really bring people back to where things stood in 2008. I'm not making that comparison yet but there is a lot of concern that we could see other banks continue to decline as well.

While I have you, the president released his planned budget for next year. Obviously, that's going to be dead on arrival. But even White House estimates call for a slowdown in U.S. GDP growth for the year.


That coupled with more interest rate hikes, how concerned are you about the chances of a self-made recession?

WOLFERS: Well, I think we should always be worried about mistakes and maybe one way of thinking about economics is our policy makers don't get to decide where the economy is going. They get to decide what mistake we'll make. And the big question is, that they want to error on the side of the mistake of allowing the economy to heal itself (INAUDIBLE) -- they will error where it becomes more likely. But if the growth continues albeit maybe even a little bit more inflation than people are comfortable with.

GOLODRYGA: I know we have one more inflationary report coming out next week before we could hear the Fed's decision in two weeks. Justin Wolfers, always good to see you, thanks for joining us. Have a great weekend.

WOLFERS: You too.

BLACKWELL: In an unexpected move, the Mexican cartel behind the fatal abduction and killing of Americans has apologized. Details on that and the new arrest Mexican officials just made. That's next.



BLACKWELL: Mexican authorities the just arrested five more people linked to the killing and kidnapping of American tourists. And the cartel that investigators believe is responsible for the crimes is now apologizing to the victims families. The Gulf cartel also handed over five of its members to local authorities. Now the bodies of Shaeed Woodard, and Zindell Brown, the two Americans killed in that kidnapping, have been delivered to U.S. diplomatic authorities.

GOLODRYGA: The group of friends from South Carolina Matamoros, Mexico last Friday so one of them could get a medical procedure. Investigators believe they were mistaken for drug smugglers. CNN's security correspondent Josh Campbell joins us now. Josh, this apology letter, it seems highly unusual. What more are you learning about how it came about?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Bianna, so days after the kidnapping of these four American citizens in Mexico, the cartel that is suspected to be behind this, appears to be doing some PR image cleanup. Of course, a cartel known for its violence, known for its brutality. But yesterday this letter surfaced. This so-called apology letter. Now I obtained a copy from a source who's familiar with this investigation. I'll read you part of it. It says that: The Gulf Cartel apologizes to the society of Matamoros, the relatives of Ms. Areli -- that was a Mexican national who was killed in this attack -- and the affected American people and families. It goes on to say the Gulf Cartel, Scorpion Group, strongly condemns the events of last Friday. For this reason, we decided to hand over those directly involved and responsible for these acts.

Now, it's worth pointing out that the source that I spoke with said that U.S. and Mexican law enforcement they doubt the sincerity of this apology. Again, it appears to be sent in response to all of the attention that has come upon this group of course. We have U.S. officials who have been demanding that the U.S. government do more to help try to curb some of the violence at the U.S./Mexico border. So again, the sincerity of that letter is certainly questioned. But they mentioned as part of that letter that they handed over members of their group.

There was a photo that surfaced online showing five men on the pavement, their shirts pulled over their heads. We could not confirm that that was an actual -- those were actually part of this incident. But the Mexican officials today announced that they have arrested five people. There was a mug shot that you just saw. Again, still unclear what their exact alleged role was here. But of course, the families of those who were kidnapped, particularly those who were killed in this attack are demanding justice.

In fact, our colleague Carlos Suarez spoke to the mother of one of the surviving members. And she wants to see law enforcement go forcefully after this group. Telling Carlos that they need to keep getting them until they get them all -- guys.

BLACKWELL: Now, I mentioned that the bodies of Shaeed Woodward and Zindell Brown , those are now with U.S. diplomatic authorities or officials. What happens next?

CAMPBELL: Yes, so those remains were repatriated back to the United States. A source familiar with this process tells me that there will now be a second autopsy that's conducted. There was an autopsy conducted by Mexican officials. Of course, this crime occurred in their jurisdiction.

But this is interesting. I think signals for us where the FBI investigation is going. U.S. authorities are going to conduct their own autopsies. I can tell you having worked these murder cases in the past overseas, that when the FBI is building a case for a possible prosecution they would like, you know, basically for simplicity and ease, to have an American doctor conduct an autopsy so they have their own results. And then that person could be easily called to testify if there is an eventual prosecution extradition. So, a lot going on behind the scenes as authority both on the U.S. and Mexican side try to investigate those who are responsible for this brutal attack -- guys.

BLACKWELL: Josh Campbell, thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, the Oscars red carpet rolls out this Sunday. Up next, which movies are expected to bring home the statue, and which stars are expected to make history.



GOLODRYGA: Well, the Oscars are this Sunday, and if you go off predictions, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" is favorite to take home the gold.

BLACKWELL: Stephanie Elam is here with a look at the competition and the big show, so what do we have to look forward to?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, there should be some good speeches. There should be some fabulous speeches, because we've already seen some of them so far. But also, some of your favorite actors that you've been watching over the years, they may just be ready to take home a big prize.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, 95TH ACADEMY AWARDS: And when we're done with this, we're going to be carpeting all of Hollywood.

ELAM (voiceover): The Oscars are back, the first since the slap made Hollywood's biggest night, the Academy's biggest nightmare.

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: It still hurts.

ELAM (voiceover): Just a week after Chris Rock took aim at Will Smith --

KIMMEL: The second I saw Will Smith get up out of his seat, I would have been halfway to the Wetzel's Pretzels.

ELAM (voiceover): All eyes will be on host Jimmy Kimmel who says he will address the slap.


KIMMEL: You know, comedians are mad about it. It's one of those things that, for a group of people that find everything funny, it's like not funny, you know. But of course, it's -- you know, you have to.

ELAM (voiceover): The fallout also upends Oscar tradition, since Smith won best actor last year.

MATTHEW BELLONI, FOUNDING PARTNER, PUCK: They have to find somebody to present best actress, because typically the tradition is if you win best actor, you come back and you present best actress. But that's not going to happen because he's banned from the show.

ELAM (voiceover): This year's drama should come from the awards. Possible upsets.

JAMIE LEE CURTIS, SUPPORTING ACTRESS NOMINEE: I have been an actress since I was 19. ELAM (voiceover): A late SAG Award surge from Jamie Lee Curtis could lift her over supporting actress favorite Angela Bassett, neither veteran has ever won.

ELAM (on camera): What does that mean for you?

ANGELA BASSETT, SUPPORTING ACTRESS NOMINEE: You know what, it's just a clear example that you've got to hold on.

BRENDAN FRASER, ACTOR, "THE WHALE": I'm spiraling and breathing.

ELAM (voiceover): SAG and Critics' Choice winner Brendan Fraser will go down to the wire with Austin Butler for best actor.

AUSTIN BUTLER, ACTOR, "ELVIS": I'm not ready to fly.

ELAM (voiceover): The "Elvis" star won a BAFTA, the British Oscar, a bellwether since the Academy has welcomed more international voters.

BAZ LUHRMANN, DIRECTOR, "ELVIS": Denzel Washington said to me, you are about to work with a young actor -- because he had just worked with him -- whose work ethic is like no other. He was right.


ELAM (voiceover): If there's an Oscar shocker, it could be for best actress where Michelle Yeoh is expected to win for "Everything Everywhere All At Once."


ELAM (voiceover): Cate Blanchett's BAFTA win keeps her competitive. But the outlier, Andrea Riseborough, whose role as an alcoholic in the small film, "To Leslie" led to social media push inside Hollywood that won her a surprise nomination. She was allowed to remain a contender after an Academy investigation into the tactics of the campaign. A probe that upsets some of Riseborough supporters.

BELLONI: There could be a protest vote that goes on here. And if there is a shocker on Oscar night, it's going to be if she wins.


ELAM (on camera): And what could also be another shocker is if perhaps "Top Gun" were to pull out and win best picture, which would be a bit of a shocker. But because it is ranked-choice voting, they may not have ranked it as a number one choice for those voters, but if it's all shimmies down to the end, then it could actually rise to the top. That would be a shocker as well. So, plenty of things for us to be watching. Hopefully you both have been watching your movies and getting ready for Oscar Sunday.

GOLODRYGA: Should I be honest and then pretend like I've watched them all? "Maverick" is the only one.

(CROSSTALK) BLACKWELL: I saw "Black Panther."

GOLODRYGA: You're the one in the danger zone.

ELAM: OK you saw the "Black Panther. "

BLACKWELL: I saw that one.

ELAM: OK, well, I've seen them all, so I'll brief you guys on Monday. How about that? After we see --

GOLODRYGA: Do you have a favorite?

ELAM: "Everything Everywhere All at Once." I love that movie.


BLACKWELL: All right. I'll see it then.

GOLODRYGA: We should watch it, Victor.

ELAM: Maybe this weekend, guys. Maybe this weekend.

GOLODRYGA: You convinced us, Stephanie Elam. Thank you.

ELAM: All right, guys.

BLACKWELL: All right, in Alabama, we have new drone footage of the latest Norfolk Southern train derailment wreckage. CNN is live there on the scene with the latest on the investigation. That's next.



BLACKWELL: March is brain injury awareness month, and CNN Heroes brings the story of Kevin Pearce. He was bound for the Olympic games until a traumatic brain injury put a halt to that dream.

GOLODRYGA: With his older brother by his side, Kevin started over, relearning how to walk and talk.


ADAM PEARCE, CO-FOUNDER, LOVEYOURBRAIN FOUNDATION: I think people feel isolated after a brain injury because they don't feel able.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard. I've lost my identity.

PEARCE (voice-over): And when we allow people to be vulnerable and who they are, there is a deep connection formed because there is so much common understanding of the challenges that go on with brain injury.

The changes I see most after people with TBI practice yoga are probably a deeper connection to self. Helping them cultivate greater awareness and self-compassion allows them to meet the constant changes so much more.


BLACKWELL: All right, to get an inside look at this community, go to, and while you're there, nominate your hero.

We got a new world record. A pair of Canadian siblings. They're the Guinness world record holders for premature twins.

GOLODRYGA: Look at those cute faces. Born 21 weeks into their mother's pregnancy, their birth weight was measured in ounces, not pounds. When the parents were told their twins would have zero chance of survival, but guess what? Today, these two are happy, healthy 1-year-olds, and we wish them a very happy birthday. Just incredible what science can do now -- these neonatal doctors and nurses.

BLACKWELL: They weighed about as much as a can of Coke each.

GOLODRYGA: They'll see those pictures one day when they grow up.

BLACKWELL: They sure will.

GOLODRYGA: "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: A new urgent warning about defective wheels as freight trains keep running off the tracks. "THE LEAD" starts right now.

Loose wheels under scrutiny after three Norfolk Southern train wrecks in five weeks. The clean-up from one revealing a potential problem with a specific type of rail car.

Plus, the alleged affair and hush money scheme that could trigger charges against Donald Trump, hitting the former president against his former attorney, Michael Cohen.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP ATTORNEY: Knowing Donald as well as I do, understand that he doesn't tell the truth.


HILL: And rushing waters, roads washed away, a flood emergency in effect at this hour for parts of California.