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CNN International: Pope Francis to Undergo Abdominal Surgery; PGA Tour Partners with Saudi-Backed LIV Golf; Blinken Meets with Saudi Crown Prince; Strike Vote Underway for 340,000 UPS Workers. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 07, 2023 - 04:30   ET



JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We were escorted off the property and told by the building's management that we were not allowed to speak with her.

CARROLL (voice-over): Nilo's attorney says his client maintains his innocence and may fight how investigators obtained evidence in the case.

JOSEPH CATALDO, MATTHEW NILO'S ATTORNEY: It seems that they obtain DNA evidence without ever obtaining a search warrant. If that turns out to be true, that's an issue that will be pursued vigorously.

CARROLL (voice-over): Legal experts say publicly accessible genealogy databases have become an effective source for investigators to link DNA from crime scenes to individuals. Law enforcement officials in Boston say without it, the arrest of Nilo may not ever have happened.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: And we'll be right back after a short break.


NOBILO: Bringing you some breaking news now from the Vatican. We've learned Pope Francis will be undergoing abdominal surgery at a hospital in Rome. The Vatican says it's related to a hernia condition. The procedure is set for this afternoon and he'll be in hospital for several days for recovery. Stay with CNN for the very latest on this developing story.

And actually we'll go now to our senior Vatican analyst John Allen who is in Rome for us. And John, how concerned should the faithful be about their pontiff's condition right now?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: WelI I would say in the range of green, yellow and red, this is probably a yellow light. I mean, Pope Francis went to the Gemelli Hospital yesterday and made an unannounced visit. At the time they all thought it was just a routine checkup. You will remember that in late March he was hospitalized for four days at the Gemelli for an acute case of bronchitis.


But it turns out that instead this was a diagnostic procedure related to a hernia condition from which the Pope is suffering. Which the Vatican said this morning is causing aggravating, painful and worsening symptoms. And so, his medical team has decided that a surgery, an abdominal surgery is necessary. Now they insist that this is a relatively minor procedure and the expectation is that the Pope will be in the hospital for a few days and make a full recovery. But on the other hand, this is an 86-year-old man and as the saying goes, there is no such thing as a minor surgery. So, some degree of concern is warranted. How much? Only time will tell.

NOBILO: And how are the responsibilities of His Holiness delegated in situations like this to ensure that he can get the proper care and rest and focuses on that?

ALLEN: Well, his responsibilities really aren't delegated. I mean, the Catholic Church isn't like the United States where there is a vice president who can step in if the president is incapacitated. There really is nobody who can exercise the Pope's authority in the full sense.

Now, of course, the Cardinal Secretary of State at the Vatican, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, is sort of the head of government. And the routine machinery at the Vatican will continue cranking along. But were the Pope to be incapacitated for a long period of time but is unable to make decisions. That could create a kind of crisis of government. But I think it should be stressed, we are not there yet.

The indication here is, the Pope will undergo a general anesthesia this afternoon, but is expected to come out of it fairly quickly. During his recovery is expected to have full possession of mental faculties. So, we are not at that point yet where the question ought to be asked, who is really in charge. But you know, the possibility is there. We may get there one day.

NOBILO: John Allen live in Rome, thank you so much. And we will be sure to give you up dates as we receive them throughout the day.

Now to a surprising new alliance in the world of golf. PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan has announced a partnership with its Saudi backed rival LIV GOLF. Monahan was harshly critical of LIV when it was launched last year. Citing Saudi Arabia's human rights record. And families' of 9/11 victims are speaking out against the commissioner.


TERRY STRADA, CHAIR, 9/11 FAMILIES UNITED: Outraged, disappointed, angry, disgusted that Monahan could now sell the PGA to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They are a bunch of cowards. They've destroyed the PGA tour. It was dead as it was known before today. It is like I said, despicable. There's words I can't use on TV, but he really is the lowest, you know, scum of the earth at this moment.


NOBILO: Quite a few golfers left the PGA tour last year to join LIV with its huge prize money and no cut events as incentives. And those who stayed loyal want answers. CNN's Brian Todd reports.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A mega business deal that surprised everyone but the tightest power circles in the sport of golf. The U.S. based PGA Tour announces that it will partner with the rival tour it's been trying to fight off for a year, Saudi backed LIV Golf.

DAN RAPAPORT, GOLF JOURNALIST, BARSTOOL SPORTS: Just how fast and how stark the 180 happened is definitely shocking and the fact that nobody knew this was coming.

TODD (voice-over): Last year LIV Golf succeeded in luring away top PGA players like Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson. It reportedly offered superstar Tiger Woods between $700 and $800 million to join -- which Woods turned down. The PGA Tour fought tooth and nail to stem LIV Golf's momentum. Barring defecting players from competing in some PGA Tour events. Engaging in legal disputes with the Saudi tour. What change?

RAPAPORT: The money won out in the end. The Saudis had way more money than the PGA Tour. The PGA Tour I guess came to the conclusion that they couldn't continue to fight this fight. They just didn't have the resources to continue.

TODD (voice-over): Now one of America's most iconic sports entities teams up with a tour backed by a well fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. The man who U.S. intelligence said approved the operation which led to the murder and dismemberment of "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 -- which bin Salman has denied.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Basically the headline is never mind. Everything that we talked about, the outrage of the PGA Tour. How they spoke about the 9/11 families and their concern about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, that's all out the window. The PGA Tour has wimped out, let's just say it what it is.

TODD (voice-over): A year ago PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan told CBS this about the Saudi golf tour.

JAY MONAHAN, PGA TOUR COMMISSIONER: As it relates to the families of 9/11, I had two families that are close to me that lost loved ones. And so, my heart goes out to them.


And I would ask, you know, any player that has left or any player that would ever consider leaving, have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour.

TODD (voice-over): This is what Monahan says now about the merger to CNBC.

MONAHAN: We've recognized that together we can have a far greater impact on this game than we can working apart.

TODD (voice-over): Analysts say the new deal gives the Saudis power they haven't had before in the world of sports.

BRENNAN: They are leaping for joy. They are dancing through the streets. Because they have won.

TODD: And it's not just golf where the Saudis have shelled out massive sums of money for high profile events and stars, what the critics call sports washing. They have invested huge sums of money in Formula 1 racing. Have lured tennis's big names to competing in tournaments there, have paid soccer's biggest stars hundreds of millions of dollars to compete there, and have even staged WrestleMania events.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


NOBILO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah. U.S. officials say the meeting lasted more than an hour and the two men discussed a range of regional and bilateral issues. This meeting is the latest step towards (INAUDIBLE) between the two countries.

And CNN's Nic Robertson is here with more. Nic, President Biden pledged to make Saudi Arabia a pariah back in 2018 after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Relations certainly, on the face of it, seem strained still at times. But changes are happening. What will be achieved in these meetings?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, Blinken was there for three days. Which is quite extraordinary really for the U.S. Secretary of State to actually stop in one country for that long. And I think that that tells you about the amount that he wants to achieve there and the fact that in many ways, you know, Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are positioning themselves as the key diplomatic interlocutor. Whether the work the United States and Saudi have done on bringing peace to Yemen -- which is still a work in progress. They're talking about that. All the help that Saudi gave the United States in getting citizens out of Sudan over the recent months. There is a lot still to do.

I mean, obviously, Blinken would love to convince the Crown Prince to bring down the price of oil by not reducing their output of oil by a million barrels a day. Which is what was agreed at the latest OPEC+ meeting which potentially and intellectually have pushed the price of gas up in the United States and helps fund Russia's war in Ukraine.

There is a normalization with Israel that the United States would like Saudi to get on board with more. And then there is what Saudi wants and that old paradigm of security for oil that perhaps, you know, President Biden had originally seen as paradigm of the relationship between Saudi and the United States has shifted. So, his words that he will make Saudi into a pariah no longer can hold in the current environment. Where Saudi Arabia is diplomatically getting much closer to China, is looking to others than United States to be regional allies and brokers. So, you know, I think in that context so much has changed. And Blinken's length of his visit there and what he will achieve with it with the meetings on ISIS as well, all of that speaks to those issues.

NOBILO: Nic Robertson, thank you so much.

Still ahead, Goldman Sachs lowers the odds of the U.S. recession. Why the Wall Street heavyweight says the financial outlook is getting better.



NOBILO: The deal to suspend the U.S. debt limit and cut spending is getting a positive review from Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs. The bank has lowered its probability for a U.S. recession in the next year from 35 percent to 25 percent. Goldman Sachs also credits reduced stress on the banking sector, but it's also predicting another quarter point interest rate hike next month from the Federal Reserve.

Author and TV personality Martha Stewart is on a so-called rampage to get Americans back to the office. In an interview with Footwear News magazine, Stewart slammed the hybrid work model, calling it ineffective.

She says, quote, look at the success of France where their stupid, you know, off for August, blah blah blah. That's not a very thriving country. Should America go down the drain because people don't want to go back to work?

According to new data, Average office occupancy is still about 48 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Hundreds of thousands of UPS workers are now voting on whether to authorize a strike that could put the brakes on the world's biggest package courier. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich explains what's behind the move and what it could mean going forward.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Bianca, voting is under way for 340,000 UPS workers on whether to authorize a strike if their union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and UPS cannot come up with a new contract by August 1. The strike authorization is expected to pass and is common during these types of negotiations. It does not mean a strike is inevitable. And the two sides are continuing to negotiate this week.

Now, voting is happening in person both at local union halls and at the gates of UPS facilities and results will be announced June 16. A nationwide UPS strike would be the largest work stoppage in U.S. history. The union represents more than half of UPS's total global employee base which includes drivers and package sorters. Millions of Americans rely on UPS for their deliveries, including to stores, factories and offices.

And at the heart of the negotiations for the union is improved pay and benefits and better working conditions. Including adding air conditioning in the panel trucks used for UPS deliveries which the union says poses a health risk for drivers. Now the two sides have been negotiating since April and UPS has said that they are committed to coming up with an agreement before that August 1st deadline -- Bianca.


NOBILO: Ford is recalling more than 125,000 SUVs and trucks because their engines could leak fluids and catch fire. All the vehicles being recalled are some form of hybrid version and because they are hybrid, Ford warns owners could continue driving even after the engine has failed making the situation yet more dangerous. Ford still working on solutions to repair the issue. In the meantime, if drivers hear unusual noises, smell smoke or lose power, they are being advised to immediately find somewhere safe to pull over and shut off the vehicle.

The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission is urging parents and caregivers to stop using Boppy newborn loungers, a pillow for infants. It comes as two more infants died after the agency issued a mass recall of the product in 2021.


The agency says that the lounges pose a risk of suffocation if the infant rolled or moved. It's also urging Facebook marketplace and other online retailers to remove the recalled products that could continue to appear for sale on those websites.

Still ahead, just when you thought the airlines couldn't cram anymore seats into coach, a young designer has found a way. And if you are claustrophobic, you might want to look away now.


NOBILO: You are now looking at pictures here in London where Prince Harry has just arrived for a second day of testimony in a lawsuit against British tabloids. This is him getting out of his vehicle. He faced hours of questioning on Tuesday including a cross-examination over phone hacking claims against Mirror Group Newspapers which went on for hours.

Some highlights now from Major League Baseball. First to Cincinnati where the Los Angeles Dodgers were already leading when Freddy Freeman went deep to right field for his fifth career grand slam. Dodgers up 8-3. But the Reds refused to quit. They scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth with rookie Matt McLain providing the walk-off hit. Final score reads Reds 9, Dodgers 8.

[04:55:02] Now to Atlanta where New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso stayed the visitors a 4-1 lead over the Braves with this two run shot in the third inning. Atlanta rallied in the sixth inning to tie the game, when Orlando Arcia bounced a single off the second baseman's glove to drive in the go-ahead run. The Braves would also add two more for a final score of 6-4.

And some stories in the spotlight this hour. Starbucks is going full steam ahead with its controversial line of olive oil infused coffee drinks. Now people will be able to buy the Oleato drinks in several U.S. cities. The drink initially debuted in the U.S. in March to somewhat negative reviews and some customers reported digestion problems.

A young designer is now doubling down on his idea for double-decker airline seats. The concept from the 23-year-old, Alejandro Nunez Vicente, would have some passengers sitting directly below others. His prototype went viral. Some are intrigued and some hate it. He says the lower seats offer more leg room and recline more than today's economy seats and the upper ones are more spacious overall. He says airlines are interested and would love to add more seats. But he mainly wants to make flying more comfortable.

Harrison Ford is adding another blockbuster franchise to his remarkable career. On Tuesday actor Anthony Mackie shared this photo of himself hanging out with Ford on the set of their new Marvel movie titled "Captain America: Brave New World." Ford will take on the role of General Thaddeus Thunderbolt Ross -- previously played by William Hurt who died last year. The movie is due in theaters next May.

And that does it here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London. And "EARLY START" is next.