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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

CARE USA Helping Ukrainian Refugees Fleeing Russia's Invasion; Harry And Meghan Visit Queen Elizabeth In The U.K.; Florida Governor Signs Bill Banning Abortion In State After 15 Weeks. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 15, 2022 - 05:30   ET





More than four million people have now fled Ukraine from neighboring countries. Estonia has welcomed several thousand refugees and is offering them a new temporary home aboard a cruise ship.

CNN's Scott McLean has more on this.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Passengers on board the Isabelle are usually shuttling between Latvia and Sweden, but for at least the next few months Isabelle will be docked in Tallinn, Estonia and be home to some 1,300 Ukrainian refugees.

Almost all of them are women and children. There are kids in every corner of the ship, using the ballroom for a soccer match, learning to ride a bike, or learning remotely.

The ship's dining room now serves three meals a day. The duty-free shop has turned into a storage room. And everywhere you look people are trying to adjust to their new surroundings.

MCLEAN (on camera): Most of the people on board this ship have come here from hotels in the city. Of course, for the government, that was getting pretty expensive. So they moved them on board this ship where there's plenty of common areas but the rooms are tiny. This is one of the bigger ones meant for a family of three. There's barely enough room for a mattress. Of course, this is better than the floor of a gymnasium and a lot better than a basement in Ukraine.

MCLEAN (voice-over): For Yuliya Babkova, just about anything is better than living through war in Kyiv with her two young children. This is the second time she's been forced from her home. In 2014, she fled Donetsk while pregnant with her daughter, now seven. This time, her husband was forced to stay behind.


MCLEAN (voice-over): "I don't know what will happen or when I will see my husband," she says. "The first time we fled he was with us the whole time. And now, we've already been separated for one month.

How do we feel in this situation? It's hard. I want to go home."

Online classes for Lena Berezna's son were cut short because air raid sirens in their small town in central Ukraine forced his teacher to shelter underground. The same sirens once terrified both of them.


MCLEAN (voice-over): "The more the sirens came, the more my son started to panic and worry," she says. It really affected his mental health to the point he became physically ill. I was also worry a lot and so we decided to leave." Her older son, 18 years old, had to stay behind.

All told, Estonia has now taken in more than 30,000 Ukrainians. The minister responsible for refugees says Estonians know what it's like to be forced from home and what it's like to have an unfriendly neighbor.

SIGNE RIISALO, MINISTER OF SOCIAL PROTECTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF ESTONIA: Estonia is absolutely terrified by Russia throughout our history.

MCLEAN (on camera): Are there limits to this country's generosity?

RIISALO: There can't be limit. You can see what happens in Ukraine. We do not have wounded of war. This is crime scene, really. There can't be limit.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Many Ukrainians, though, have reached theirs. Overwhelmed by war and exhausted by the uncertainty, their nightmare cannot end soon enough.


JARRETT: Scott McLean, thank you for that important report.

Ukrainian refugees, meanwhile, are struggling with the pain of having to flee their homes on top of the uncertainty that comes with starting over someplace new. Thankfully, there are organizations like CARE USA providing necessities like a warm meal and a place to stay.

Let's bring in Michelle Nunn, the president and chief executive at CARE USA. Michelle, thank you so much for joining us on EARLY START and thank you for all that you are doing. I know you have set up this, essentially, transit center that's welcoming more than 1,000 refugees a day from Ukraine.

Tell us -- you know, you've been at this for weeks now -- how is it going? What are the challenges? [05:35:00]

MICHELLE NUNN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CARE USA: Yes, it's enormously challenging. We're working -- CARE is working with partners here in Poland to receive, as you said, up to 1,000 -- thousands of people a day. And the transit centers are literally across from a train station or right at the border welcoming people as they -- as they -- as they make their way across what can -- what can be a very disturbing and I think very tragic journey, obviously leaving everything that they knew behind.


NUNN: But they are received with warmth, with a cup of coffee, with a sim card, with the capacity to get some cash immediately, and also to get some accommodations. And so, it is a -- it is really a solve at a very difficult and very disconcerting moment in people's lives.

ROMANS: Michelle, what are people telling you? Are these refugees hoping to be able to return to Ukraine eventually? And in the meantime, what is the next step? I mean, are they trying to find jobs? Places to stay longer term?

And I know that you've hired more than 190 refugee teachers. It seems amazing, you know, hiring Ukrainians to teach all these children who have been dislocated.

NUNN: Yes. So we're now moving from that immediate 'here is a little bit of cash, here is some shelter, here's an accommodation' to how are people going to continue their lives at this time when they are waiting and hoping that there will be peace and that they can go back home. Of course, that's everyone's ultimate hope.

But in the meanwhile, again, they have to think about their children's education. And so, as an example, CARE is working with our partner PCPM and they are training -- we are training together what we hope by the end of the month will be 1,000 teachers who are refugees from Ukraine. Who are teachers who are going to be incorporated into the Polish school system and who are going to enable the Ukrainian children -- hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children whose education has been interrupted to be able to go to school.

Again, there -- think about going to school in another language.


NUNN: You've left everything behind. Perhaps, your father is still in danger. But at least when you're going to school you'll be able to understand the language. You'll be able to be taught by someone who is from your country.

And so, that gives financial independence to the teachers, support to the children, and support to the Polish school system, which is really overburdened right now.

JARRETT: Yes. ROMANS: It gives me goosebumps --


ROMANS: -- just the synergy of everyone working together to try to help those kids and get teachers in place.

Michelle Nunn, thank you so much for everything you're doing and --


ROMANS: -- come back again soon. We'd like to hear more about your progress.

JARRETT: Yes, please follow up with us.

NUNN: Thank you -- we will.

ROMANS: All right, to this now.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle paying a royal visit to Queen Elizabeth in the United Kingdom. It marks the first time the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have returned to the U.K. together since stepping back as senior royals in 2020.

CNN's Nada Bashir live at Buckingham Palace with more for us. Why are they making this visit now?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, Christine, we've heard from the spokesperson for the couple the Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirmed to have stopped by at Windsor Castle to pay a visit to the queen on their way to the Hague where they will be attending the Invictus Games. That sporting event, of course, deeply important to Prince Harry, the founder of the Invictus Games -- the sporting event for injured servicemen and women.

And, of course, it was back in 2017 at the Invictus Games in Toronto where Harry and Meghan made their first public appearance as a couple. So, an important event for the both of them, of course.

But Harry was noticeably absent from his grandfather's memorial service last month. As you mentioned, that is the first time the couple have returned to the U.K. since stepping back as senior members of the royal family back in 2020. So it's a significant reunion for the couple with the queen, although we have heard from Prince Harry in recent weeks saying that the family, now based in California, does keep in touch with the queen over Zoom calls.

ROMANS: Over Zoom calls. All right, Nada. Thank you so much for that.

OK, as inflation hits new highs, President Biden's approval rating sinks to new lows. Why the latest CNN Poll of Polls has Democrats in panic mode.

JARRETT: And another red state is trying to roll back abortion rights. We'll break down for you what's in a new bill just signed by the governor of Florida.

ROMANS: Tesla and Twitter? Elon Musk making an offer to buy the social media giant outright. Can the world's richest man be stopped?



ROMANS: President Biden's poll numbers stuck underwater with just over 200 days left until the 2022 election. Take a look at this new CNN Poll of Polls. Biden's approval rating sliding to 39%. Fifty-five percent disapprove of the job that he is doing. The numbers are down two points since mid-January.

I want to go to Washington and bring in Jasmine Wright this morning. Democrats, Jasmine, very nervous when they see poll numbers like this. Does the White House have a plan here?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN REPORTER: Well, I think, Christine, you're starting to see part of the White House's plan play out right now.

Just this week, we saw President Biden traveling to Iowa and North Carolina trying to bring the message of what his administration is doing for voters -- directly to them. It's something that has been long promised by this White House that he would do and it's an intentional shift trying to shift, at least, their messaging focus from the president responding to Russia's invasion into Ukraine, now on to these domestic kitchen table issues. But I think one thing that we're starting to see is the limits of what that actually is, right?

We know that in both of these trips to Iowa and North Carolina, the president's reactions to the real-time atrocities that we have seen in Ukraine caused by Russia have really dominated the headlines of what has come out when he's trying to focus on things like the economy. Focus on things like trying to offset the -- you know, Chinese production with the U.S.'s own production.

So I think we're starting to see really the limits of that, especially as we know that there was no real bump in the polls after the president's really almost two months long response to the war in Ukraine -- Christine.


ROMANS: Yes, with inflation running at, what, 8.5% here. Inflation is the really big problem in so many of these consumer sentiment surveys. People know the job market is good, they know the economy is solid, but that paying more for stuff really bothers people.

How is the president handling defending his handling of the economy?

WRIGHT: Well, he's laying the blame squarely at Russia's President Putin's feet for this invasion into Ukraine, saying it is driving costs up.

Take a listen to him here yesterday in North Carolina. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our economy has gone from being on the mend to being on the move. And I know that we're still facing challenges of high prices -- inflation. I grew up in a family where when the price of gasoline went up at the pump it was a conversation at the kitchen table with my dad. Putin's invasion of Ukraine has driven up gas prices and food prices all over the world.


WRIGHT: So there, we just heard from the president. But one thing that we don't yet know Christine is whether or not this framing that it is Putin's tax hike is really going to be effective with American voters.

ROMANS: Yes, we'll have to wait and see.

Jasmine Wright, nice to see you this morning. Thank you so much.

JARRETT: All right.

Meantime, Florida becoming the latest state to find new ways to cut back reproductive freedom. Governor Ron DeSantis, Thursday, signing a bill into law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

CNN's Steve Contorno is live for us in St. Petersburg, Florida. Steve, good morning.

Florida used to be one of the more permissive states in the region, but not if DeSantis gets his way.

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: That's right, Laura. And because of that, as all these states around Florida in the southeast have passed more restrictive abortion laws over the years, a lot of women have actually come to Florida to get the procedure done. And as it is, Florida has more abortions per capita than all of just a handful of states.

But Florida has also been chipping away at abortion access over the years. It passed a 24-hour waiting period for women to get the procedure done. A court, just this week, ended a 7-year legal battle over that law. It recently passed a parental consent bill in recent legislative sessions that requires parents to give their teenage daughters permission to get an abortion.

And then this bill, signed by Gov. DeSantis yesterday, that restricts abortion after 15 weeks and -- with no exemptions for rape or for incest, and really putting Florida in the same posture as Mississippi and other states where Republican lawmakers and governors have passed these bills that are intended to sort of directly challenge Roe v. Wade in hopes that this more conservative Supreme Court overturns that landmark Supreme Court ruling, Laura.

JARRETT: Yes. Everyone waiting to see what the Supreme Court does with that Mississippi law coming up just later this term. Steve, thank you for your reporting.

ROMANS: All right, to this story. What a boardroom drama here. Ten days after becoming Twitter's largest shareholder, Elon Musk, the billionaire, is now offering to buy the social media giant outright. The world's richest man is willing to pay more than $40 billion for every share of Twitter he currently doesn't own. The question now -- can or should Musk be stopped from taking over this company.

CNN business writer Clare Duffy is with us. So nice to see you.

Let's look, Clare, at what he has offered the board here, valuing the company at about $42 billion. The board clearly has to sit down and consider this deal. What are their options?

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: Yes. So, as you said, this is something that the board is going to have to seriously consider. It's a good enough offer that they have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to take this seriously.

So I think the board, in the next couple of days, is going to be looking at whether -- how this offer compares to the company's potential and the potential value for shareholders over the next couple of years if the company stays on its current path.

It's also possible that we'll see other acquisition bidders come out of the woodwork here. This could be the chance for somebody to acquire Twitter, whether that's another big tech company or a private equity firm. If anybody's interested, this is the time to get in.

ROMANS: There was something on that screen I wanted to point out. He's offering $54.20 a share. He has, before, made this reference to $4.20 a share, which is sort of a reference to like a pot holiday like.

TEXT: Musk's Twitter offering: Musk acquires all outstanding shares for $54.20 per share. He says it's his "best and final offer." Thirty- eight percent over closing price on April 1. Musk's suggested $4.20 per share seen as reference to unofficial marijuana holiday.

JARRETT: I'm interested to see how you're going to explain 420 right now.

ROMANS: I'm just wondering -- it makes me wonder if he's serious.

DUFFY: It is. I mean, it's a good question. With Elon, it can be hard to know because he is known as kind of a troll. And here, we have 420 -- this reference to marijuana in the share price. He previously said that he was going to take Tesla private in 2018 for $4.20 a share.

ROMANS: And he got in trouble from the SEC.

DUFFY: He got in trouble for that because he said he had the funding secured when he didn't really.

So, I think -- I think this seems very serious. He's made these filings with the SEC. He's talking very seriously about it yesterday. He framed his desire to take over this company in these very stark terms, saying it's important for the future of civilization and democracy.


But then --

ROMANS: You say stark; I would say grandiose. I mean -- I mean, he --

JARRETT: He's a personality and so that has to come into play.

DUFFY: Yes. And, I mean, Twitter has always been part of Elon Musk's brand-building activity. This is where he talks to his fans and he also hits back at people he sees as his detractors. And so, in a lot of ways, this could fall in line with this history of billionaires taking on media properties as a way to sort of burnish their own reputation.

ROMANS: It's like Jeff Bezos, Washington Post, Elon Musk, Twitter.


ROMANS: It's interesting, though. Twitter's reach -- I mean, as much as we talk about it in the media and as much as people -- you know, the blue check sort of -- I don't know, elites, I guess a critic would say. It doesn't really have a pervasive -- like, my parents are not on Twitter.


ROMANS: My parents aren't talking about things on Twitter.

JARRETT: It's a -- it's sort of an echo chamber among a certain group of people, which is a very small slice of America.

ROMANS: So what's he trying to do? Like -- and is it, you know --, I mean how does he grow that business, or does he not care about growing the business?

DUFFY: So yesterday he talked about how this is, not for him, about the money. Again, he thinks it's important to have this free speech platform. But I think your point is well taken that this is not a platform that most regular folks are on. But it does have an outsized influence. Journalists, public figures, politicians are using this platform.


DUFFY: And in a lot of ways, Twitter has sort of led the way in terms of setting a model for other social media platforms for content moderation, for dealing with misinformation and harassment. Twitter was the first to act to remove Donald Trump from its platform following the January 6 insurrection. And so, Twitter has been sort of a leader in this space. And I think there are a lot of questions, including from employees, about whether -- if Musk takes it over and gets his way and removes some of those content moderation --

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: What does that look like?

DUFFY: -- what does that look like and what does that do to all the work that they've put in here?

ROMANS: All right, Clare Duffy. So nice to see you this morning.

DUFFY: Thanks for having me.

JARRETT: Thanks, Clare.

ROMANS: All right. Thinking of buying a home, you better move fast. Soaring mortgage rates are shutting some people out.



JARRETT: It could be a snowy Easter in the west and the Midwest, and a soggy Passover in the southeast and the northeast. Let's get the forecast from meteorologist Gene Norman. All right, Gene, is anyone spared here?

GENE NORMAN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Almost no one because we had all four seasons on the weather map at once -- storms in the south, cold in the north. And at least there is some sunshine on this weather map. That's the good news. Out in the west, you'll see most of that.

But we're tracking the first of two storms -- one that will push into the southeast overnight tonight and then early on Saturday. There could even be a couple of snow flurries in parts of the northeast. And then, the second storm system -- that's the one that brings more storms and snow to places like Minnesota and Iowa.

Later on tonight and early tomorrow morning there could be a severe weather threat, so watch out for that in portions of eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas.

And then, for Easter Sunday, again, you'll probably have to do that egg hunt inside if you're in the south.

JARRETT: All right, Gene. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, looking at -- let's check on CNN Business this morning -- on this Friday morning.

Looking at markets around the world, a quick check of Asian shares, mixed. Europe leaning higher here but many European markets are closed today for Good Friday. The U.S. also closed for Good Friday as well. Yesterday, U.S. stocks finished lower Thursday thanks to mixed bank earnings. The Dow ended the short week down .4%. That's hardly anything, really -- a third straight week of losses.

Earnings for Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley all better than expectations but the banks supported severe profit declines from a year ago.

Twitter shares fell nearly 2% after Elon Musk made that offer he believes Twitter's board can't refuse. That would suggest that maybe Wall Street doesn't believe his intentions here. He's offering to buy the social media platform outright for $43 billion and take it private. Musk says the offer is not about making money but about the future of civilization. All right, watch this space.

Homebuyers and refinancers, lock it in. Mortgage rates are at the highest level in more than a decade. Five percent now for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, up from 4.72% the week before. We haven't seen rates like this since 2010.

The rising rates, record-high home prices, and inflation keeping homeownership out of the reach for many Americans. But maybe those higher rates will cool off some of those prices in the months ahead.

Yet, consumer sentiment is improving. Gas prices are down from their peak in March and Americans are noticing. Consumer sentiment rising in April. In a University of Michigan survey, the participants expect prices at the pump to increase by less than a penny per gallon in the year again. That shows some stabilization and a welcome retreat from the March price surge of nearly 50 cents a gallon.

JARRETT: It just shows you -- you can't get too worked up about this stuff.

ROMANS: No, exactly.

JARRETT: That's why you always stay calm.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: All right, I'm Laura Jarrett. Have a great holiday weekend to everyone. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers in the U.S. and around the world. It is Friday, April 15. And I'm Brianna Keilar in Lviv, Ukraine with John Berman in New York.

Air raid sirens sounding across all of Ukraine overnight and this morning, along with a barrage of strikes hours after a Russian warship sinks -- a warship the Ukrainians claim to have hit with a missile. The sinking of the Moskva, the crowned jewel of Russia's Black Sea fleet, would be an enormous achievement for the Russian military and a devastating setback for the Kremlin war machine.

The Pentagon says it has no.