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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

State Media: North Korea Identifies First COVID-19 Case; Taliban Orders Women In Afghanistan To Cover Their Faces; Florida Judge Signals New Congressional Map Is Unconstitutional. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 12, 2022 - 05:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Just into CNN, President Joe Biden, just moments ago, marking one million American lives lost to COVID-19.

The statement, reading, in part, "As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have with more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before. It's critical that Congress sustain these resources in the coming months."

Later this morning the president will order flags be flown at half- staff.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. North Korea declaring a major national emergency after identifying what it claims is its first case of COVID-19. State media says Kim Jong Un has ordered a lockdown of all cities in North Korea.

I want to go live to CNN's Paula Hancocks. She is in Seoul for us. Paula, what is North Korea saying about this new COVID emergency?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, this is the first time that North Korea has admitted to having a case. It's certainly not the first case that many experts believe North Korea had. But they're saying the fact that North Korea is admitting to them shows that this could be a significant outbreak. It is in the capital in Pyongyang, which is the best protected. It is also the Omicron variant.

So what we've seen today is images from North Korean state-run media showing Kim Jong Un, the leader, wearing a mask for what we believe may be the first time in public since the pandemic began. Certainly, those around him wear a mask but not usually him, which shows that it is a concern.

They had a meeting of the Politburo where he ordered all cities across the country to lock down. Now, we also know that there are many concerns -- the fact that this is an unvaccinated country -- it's one of only two around the world -- Eritrea being the other one. Epidemiologists I've spoken to also say there's probably not a level of immunity in the country given there probably haven't been many outbreaks. The country shut its border back in January 2020.

You also consider the healthcare in the country is fragile at best. Even developed countries have struggled to keep their healthcare system going under Omicron outbreaks.

And, of course, you also consider what will happen to those people in lockdown. This is not a country that is set up for food deliveries or emergency supplies deliveries. So there are many questions that experts are concerned about.

Also, the fact if there is a variant going around, in a population that isn't vaccinated, could there be more variants that emerge -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Paula. Thank you so much for that in Seoul for us this morning -- Laura.

JARRETT: A new decree by the Taliban requires women in Afghanistan to now cover their faces in public. If a woman does not follow the rules, her, quote, "male guardian" could be jailed. And women who ignore the mandate while working in government offices will be fired.


CNN's Paula Newton has this story.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Defiance in Afghanistan. Women protesting in the capital Tuesday after the Taliban strips yet another freedom away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Ever since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, all their projects have been against women. They want to limit and eliminate women from the field of society and politics.

NEWTON (voice-over): A new Taliban decree over the weekend orders all women to cover their faces, except their eyes, in public or around men who aren't close adult relatives. It's to avoid provocation, the group's spokesman says. Any woman who doesn't comply could see her male guardian jailed or lose his job.

When the Taliban took over last year, they promised to respect women's rights within Islamic law, but the oppression of women remains a hallmark of Taliban rule. Since last August, they have barred girls from returning to school, banned women from traveling long distances without a male chaperone, and placed strict limitations on where women can work.

Now, this latest decree becomes another measure chipping away at women's rights in Afghanistan and earning condemnation from Western leaders. NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: No country can succeed that holds back half of its population -- its women, its girls. The Taliban's policies towards women we think are an afront to human rights and will continue to impair their relations with the international community.

NEWTON (voice-over): The State Department spokesman saying the U.S. is working with international partners to influence the Taliban to reverse some of its restrictive rules on women. But some Afghan women's rights advocates say those changes would have to come from within.

MAHBOUBA SERAJ, JOURNALIST AND WOMEN'S RIGHTS ADVOCATE IN KABUL: I don't want anything from the countries of the world -- from the governments, because they were promised and that promise is never going to take place -- and I have seen it.

This is the time for the men of Afghanistan to stand next to their women. Don't you think it's about time that these men should stand next to us and ask the government what do you think you're doing to our women? This is their right. They can -- they don't have to cover their faces.

NEWTON (voice-over): As the Taliban focuses on restricting women, the humanitarian crisis worsens. Nearly 20 million people in Afghanistan face acute hunger, the United Nations warned Monday. Food and security rising while human rights diminish as the Taliban lives up to its fundamentalist roots.

Paula Newton, CNN.


ROMANS: All right. A narrow escape for passengers on a packed airliner -- watch.


Passengers and crew running from burning jet in China.


ROMANS: That's an airliner on fire. The scene right after a Tibet Airlines jet skidded off the runway and caught fire in central China. One hundred twenty-two passengers and crew on board -- a miracle. Every one of them made it out. More than 40 were treated for minor injuries. No word yet on the cause.

JARRETT: I'm glad everyone is OK.

Up next, a judge delivers a blow to Gov. Ron DeSantis and a victory to voting rights groups in Florida.

ROMANS: And seaside vacation homes washed away in an instant.


ROMANS: A stunning reversal in Florida. A judge ruling the new congressional map championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis is unconstitutional and he intends to block it.

CNN's Steve Contorno is live for us this morning in St. Petersburg, Florida. Steve, what reasons did the judge give for this ruling?

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Christine, the judge essentially said that this map is unconstitutional because of what it does to Black voters, especially in the northern part of the state. The map that DeSantis and Florida lawmakers approved last month would split up the district of Al Lawson, which -- who represents the area between Jacksonville and Tallahassee. And this is one of the few minority- access districts in the state.

DeSantis had argued that this map -- that this district was illegally drawn last decade to connect Black communities across the northern border of the state in order to help Democrats gain a district. But the judge found that argument unconvincing and said that the state constitution is clear. You cannot diminish the ability of minority communities to elect the representative of their choice.

Now, I should point out that this is a judge who Gov. DeSantis actually appointed to the bench two years ago. He was also appointed by the Republican governor in 2015 to another judgeship. So this isn't an -- is not an Obama judge or a Biden judge making this ruling. This is a DeSantis-appointed judge arguing that the governor's preferred map is unconstitutional.

The governor said that he intends to appeal this ruling when it comes down later today. But this is an early blow for the congressional map that he approved and there's not a lot of time left, Christine --


CONTORNO: -- in 2022 to get something passed before the election.

ROMANS: Fascinating. Steve Contorno, keep us posted on what happens next. Thank you.

JARRETT: Survivors and the families of victims from that horrific condo collapse in Surfside, Florida have reached a tentative $997 million settlement -- nearly $1 billion. Ninety-eight people, you'll remember, were killed in that disaster last June. A portion of the 12- story Champlain Towers building collapsed in the middle of the night.

The judge calls the settlement incredible news and says he wants it finalized by the one-year anniversary of that horrific event next month.


ROMANS: All right. Just head, Supreme Court justices set to meet later this morning for the first time since their draft opinion on abortion was leaked.

JARRETT: And don't wait. Why now is the time to book that summer trip.



ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this morning.

Looking at markets around the world this Thursday edition, Asian shares closed lower. Europe has opened lower following suit with what we saw yesterday on Wall Street. Stock index futures, right now, also leaning down after a down day Wednesday.

Stocks dropped sharply Wednesday after the April Consumer Price Index cooled slightly, but still remains near a 40-year high. April's inflation rate was a little better but still a hot 8.3% percent April. The good news, many economists hope this is the inflation peak.

But the Fed is not done fighting inflation. You can expect aggressive rate hikes ahead.

Speaking of inflation, if you have summer travel plans you might want to book your flight now. Airfares soared 18.6% in April over March -- in one month. That's the biggest one-month spike ever recorded. Airfares are up 38% since January.

After two years of staying home, a record number of people are booking flights for the spring and summer travel season. Business and international travel is back. But staffing shortages mean airlines haven't been able to add all the seats they need, causing the spike in fares. Add to that high jet fuel prices.

And there's no relief on the ground either. This morning, AAA reports the national average for a gallon of regular, $4.42 -- another record. Forty-one cents higher than a month ago.

I want to bring in Denton Cinquegrana, chief oil analyst at OPIS. So nice to have you here today.


ROMANS: These records are like a broken record, literally, here. I mean, to be where we were at the last real kind of record bad time in 2008, you'd have to see prices more like in the $5.50 dollar range. But could we get there?

CINQUEGRANA: Five and a half dollars is a -- is a lot to ask. Right now, I don't think we get quite to $5.00. Talk to me a month or two ago, I thought there was a good chance we'd get a brush with that. But I think probably in the $4.50 or $4.75 range is probably where we top out. And probably, you think of the holidays -- Memorial Day, July -- Fourth of July. That's probably about around the time when it might happen. ROMANS: Do we stay there, though? I mean, because the White House has tried to relieve -- like, allow different kinds of blends of fuel to be sold during the summer. Usually, they have some restrictions there. They've released all this oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. I mean, are we going to stay in this $4.50 range or could things come down?

CINQUEGRANA: I think things will come down, obviously, eventually. You think the last 100 days of the year in the fall when the formulation of gasoline switches, that's typically when prices tend to drop.

But also, I think when it comes to crude oil, I think the second half of the year might look at least a little bit different from where it is now at about $102 a barrel.

ROMANS: Different, meaning lower?

CINQUEGRANA: Lower, yes. You'll have more production coming from west Texas and North Dakota --


CINQUEGRANA: -- and places like that. Because you can't just snap your finger and more oil appears on the market. You need time to get the equipment in place. Labor -- labor shortages -- just like with everything, it's a -- it's a real issue.

ROMANS: You need more people to actually move the stuff.

CINQUEGRANA: Exactly, move the stuff, work the -- work in the oil fields, et cetera. So again, it takes some time to happen but give it time and it will happen.

JARRETT: Well -- so speaking of people moving the stuff, the truckers are actually facing even higher prices. I mean, we're talking about regular gas and everyday drivers who obviously have their own issues. But when it comes to supply chain issues, obviously -- you know, even higher prices when it comes to diesel can't help the issues we've seen in the supply chain.

CINQUEGRANA: No. And again, I know some economists are starting to throw around the "R" word. It's the price of diesel that really concerns me right now. I've been on kind of a diesel bandwagon for a couple of months now. It's finally coming to light.

But diesel prices are -- you know, they just affect everything --


CINQUEGRANA: -- from the price of milk to the price of eggs, Air Jordans -- whatever it is. Whatever you want to buy, it affects.

JARRETT: Anything that we want to get -- yes.

CINQUEGRANA: Anything you want to get from the store, it gets there by a truck.


CINQUEGRANA: And that's going to be a major issue. And those prices -- those costs will get passed on to the consumer.

ROMANS: And we haven't even mentioned the war in Ukraine. We're talking about redrawing the global energy supply map, aren't we?


ROMANS: If Russia is going to dig in with a war in Eastern Europe, that's going to be a long-term issue for oil prices, won't it?

CINQUEGRANA: Yes, for oil prices, certainly. And here in the U.S., we don't import a ton of Russian oil. We do import quite a few products -- diesel, for example, but also some of these products that go into making gasoline and some of the components that go into making gasoline.

When you think about gasoline it's more like a cake. You have your eggs, you have your flour, you have your milk. I've been talking about food all morning here.

ROMANS: Breakfast -- we're all hungry.

CINQUEGRANA: Yes, exactly.

But, yes, you need all these different components to make the gasoline and we do get some important components from there.

The East Coast -- going back to diesel, the East Coast supply situation is pretty precarious right now.

ROMANS: Really?


ROMANS: All right, good to know.

All right, thank you so much. Nice to see you, Denton.

CINQUEGRANA: My pleasure.

JARRETT: So nice to have you on set.


ROMANS: Come back.

JARRETT: Please come back.

ROMANS: Bright and early.


JARRETT: We talk about food a lot.

All right, the Bucks shocking the Celtics to take control of the series last night in Boston. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Andy.


So this was just a heavyweight battle. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks showing that championship pedigree last night in a really gritty win.

Now, can you imagine getting to your seat on the floor to find out you're sitting behind 7 foot-five former Celtics center Tacko Fall? I mean, that would be kind of rough. They did bring this fan, though, a booster seat to help.


All right. Now, fast-forward to the fourth quarter. Boston led by as many as 14 but the Bucks come all the way back, down one. Giannis missed the free throw. Bobby Portis puts it back with under 14 seconds to go to give them the lead.

Then Jrue Holiday coming up with some big defensive plays -- blocked Marcus Smart and threw it off of him. And then, when the Celtics needed a three to tie it in the closing seconds, Holiday steals it from Smart to seal the win.

The Bucks come back. Giannis, 40 points, 11 rebounds. They get the win 110-107 to take a 3-2 lead in that series.


JRUE HOLIDAY, MILWAUKEE BUCKS GUARD: No matter if it was -- we were up 20, no matter if we were down 20, we wanted to leave here with the win. And we did the best we could and we got the win. Obviously, we're in Boston, we're down 14 in the fourth quarter trying to just -- people would say that everything is against us but we come together. And I feel like we've done that multiple times and we'll live and die by that.


SCHOLES: The Warriors, meanwhile, had a chance to close out the series against the Grizzlies last night but Memphis said not in our house. Without Ja Morant, the Grizzlies putting a beatdown on Golden State. At one point, they led the Warriors by 55 points -- 55. The final score is 134-95. Memphis Warriors (sic) still lead that series 3-2 and could close it out tomorrow night in San Francisco.

Two more playoff games tonight. The Heat going to try to wrap up their series with the Sixers in Philly. Then it's the Mavericks in a must- win game against the Suns in Dallas.

All right. For the first time this season, Major League Baseball has postponed a game due to COVID-19. Yesterday's game between the Cleveland Guardians and Chicago White Sox called off less than an hour before game time after some coaches and members of the traveling party for Cleveland tested positive, including manager Terry Francona.

Cleveland may need to call up coaches from the minors in order to play on Friday.

All right, tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, meanwhile, is making history by launching her own sports agency. The 4-time Grand Slam champion is the first female athlete to take full control of her business endeavors by starting Evolve with her longtime agent.

In a statement, the 24-year-old said, "I've never felt comfortable within the confines of just playing tennis and have always tried to push the boundary beyond sport to becoming an activist, businesswoman, and philanthropist."

Osaka is the world's highest-paid female athlete with over $53 million in total earnings last year.

All right. And finally, Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic becoming the 13th player in NBA history to win two straight MVPs, and he accepted the award from his horse stable back home in Serbia.


NIKOLA JOKIC, 2-TIME NBA MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Now, I don't think about it but probably when I'm old, fat, and grump hopefully, I'm going to remember and I'm going to tell my kids back in the days I was really good playing basketball.


SCHOLES: You know, this is a big debate, guys, who should be the NBA MVP this year. Should it be Jokic? Should it be Joel Embiid, who is still playing in the playoffs right now? I lot of people think it should have been Embiid. But Jokic had an incredible season.

And I like to think we're not going to get many opportunities to give away the NBA MVP at horse stables in Serbia, so we should take advantage of those opportunities while we have them.

ROMANS: He's totally right, though. To his kids, he really is just dad, you know?


ROMANS: That's what it comes down to.

Nice to see you. Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

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

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.