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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Another Russian General Reported Killed In Ukraine; Mexican President Snubs U.S.-Hosted Summit Of The Americas; Musk Threatens To Pull $44 Billion Offer To Buy Twitter. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 07, 2022 - 05:30   ET





Another Russian general has been killed during heavy fighting in Ukraine's Donbas region. Russian state media reports the general died while leading soldiers into attack. This would make him the fourth Russian general killed since the invasion began.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz live for us this morning in Kyiv, Ukraine with more.

You know, the generals who we routinely talk to here in the U.S. -- you know, retired generals and military experts say to have a general die on the battlefield is just so rare and a sign of an -- of an army that is in crisis.

What do we know about this general's death?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: So rare, and as you said, the fourth top military commander here and dying quite deep into the front lines which is, again, a question we're hearing from analysts. Why are these very senior military leaders deep into these battles? In particular, here we're talking about Major Gen. Roman Kutuzov who was fighting in the Mykolaiv district.

We understand, according to Russian state media, a Ukrainian artillery was firing towards Russian positions. At some point, of course, it appears he was killed. We don't know exactly the circumstances around his death.

But it comes, of course, as President Putin tries to pursue that objective of taking control of the Donbas region. And what we're seeing happen in the course of trying to pursue that objective is major losses. Ukrainian officials saying that Russian troops are using an extraordinary amount -- an incredible amount of resources to try to take one key city and that is Severodonetsk.

They are slamming, heavily hitting the main key access road, which Ukrainian forces say is under constant bombardment. They are losing equipment. They are losing forces. They are losing steam. But at the same time, this is still a very tough battle. You are talking about street-by-street fighting changing by the hour. Again, Russian forces trying to take control of that area of Severodonetsk.

Now, why is it important? Why does this city matter? Consider it the access. Consider it the gateway to Kramatorsk. That is the major stronghold that Ukraine still has in the Luhansk region. A major step if Russian forces are able to enter it towards, again, that larger goal that President Putin has of trying to take over this key region.

What happens for Ukrainian forces? They are waiting on something to change the tide here, and that is weapons from Western countries -- long-range missiles. Those could take weeks. But if they do arrive, they give them the ability to potentially hit Russian artillery positions and potentially change the tied on the ground.

ROMANS: All right, Salma. Thank you so much. Keep us posted -- Laura.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Meantime, back here, a federal judge in New York has approved the Justice Department seizing two private planes belonging to a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin. Now, these jets are valued at more than $400 million.

Clare Sebastian has all the details live from London for us. Clare, where are these planes, and what happens next in this case?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laura, so two planes. One, it's believed a Gulfstream jet, is actually in Russia. That plane believed to be worth about $60 million -- by far the cheaper of the two planes. The other, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner -- not your usual choice for a private plane. That is believed to be in Dubai and is worth about $350 million, believed to be one of the most expensive planes in the world.

As for what happens next, it's a little unclear. This is a warrant for the seizure of these two planes. They haven't actually been seized yet and certainly, that will be difficult when it relates to the plane that's located inside Russia.

But there was a bigger purpose here. The Justice Department making this -- these warrants public and the affidavit public as a -- as a way to sort of led global law enforcements to the ways in which these assets -- the ownership of these assets are hidden.


The Justice Department is saying that Abramovich used shell companies in Cyprus, in Jersey, in the British Virgin Islands to try to shield the fact that he owns or controls these planes. So, to alert law enforcement to that -- to name these shell companies to provide some kind of deterrent. And also, probably as well, to show that they are willing to enforce their own sanctions.

This is not about Abramovich being on sanctions himself, by the way. This is about export controls related to planes and plane parts being sent to Russia, Laura. JARRETT: All right, Clare. Thank you for your reporting on that -- appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right. So, the White House facing questions about how it deals with dictators.

JARRETT: And the 4-day workweek. Some companies are trying it out right now.

ROMANS: Oh, should we?




JARRETT: Welcome back.

Mexico's president says he won't attend this week's Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. The snub comes after the U.S. refused to invite Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to the summit, a decision the White House is defending.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: At the end of the day, to your question, we just don't believe dictators should be invited. And that's -- and so we don't regret that and we will stand -- the president will stand by his principle.


JARRETT: Let's bring in CNN's Jasmine Wright live in Washington for us this morning. Jasmine, the president doesn't want dictators at the summit, the White House says, but still plans to visit Saudi Arabia. What's the White House saying about that?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN REPORTER: Well, they are certainly walking a fine line here, Laura. The White House hasn't officially announced this trip to Saudi Arabia, though CNN and other outlets have reported that it could come in June.

But the firm stand that the White House is taking, really valuing in a lot of ways some dictators around the globe over other dictators around the globe -- it kind of provides the sense here that at least in the administration's eyes not all of these de facto regime leaders and leaderships are all the same.

Asked to square really what the difference is between countries like Venezuela and Cuba, and the difference between Saudi Arabia, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre -- she basically said that, in part, it comes down to results that the president can provide for the American people. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEAN-PIERRE: The president is focused on getting things done for the American people. You know, and if he determines that it's in the interest of the United States to engage with a foreign leader and that such engage -- such an engagement can deliver results, then he'll do so.


WRIGHT: So, Karine Jean-Pierre -- she continued to defend the president's inroads in trying to re-establish a relationship with Saudi Arabia and that crown prince there. That, of course, comes after he once said the country was a pariah and that it was his intention to isolate them, especially after the human rights abuses that we saw, including the murder of the former journalist.

Now, that tune has changed a little bit after the administration has spent some time really trying to cultivate this relationship that was really non-existent at the beginning of the president's tenure. So here we have the president possibly making inroads with that relationship with Saudi Arabia while the U.S. here faces significant snubs when it comes to this Summit of Americas this week -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Jasmine. A lot of moving pieces there. Thank you.

ROMANS: OK. Elon Musk is threatening to pull his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter. He claims Twitter will not give him the information he needs about its spam bot and fake accounts. And now, the Texas attorney general launching an investigation of Twitter bots because of Musk's complaints.

So, how much of social media is really fake? Let's bring in Kathleen Carley. She is a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and also the director of the Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

What should we believe here? Twitter says that about 5% of its -- of its users are bots or automated accounts -- fake accounts, but your research says that social media sites can have up to 35% of the users aren't even real people.

KATHLEEN CARLEY, COMPUTER SCIENCE PROFESSOR, CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR COMPUTATIONAL ANALYSIS OF SOCIAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL SYSTEMS (via Webex by Cisco): Correct. What we -- first off, the number here is very complicated to get at. You have to keep in count that a large number of people who have accounts just never send out messages at all. So if you talk about the active users, the number of bots is often quite high. But it's also not the number that matters, it's how they're used.

JARRETT: So, there's been so much discussion around bots recently. What exactly are they? Are they just automated, sort of --

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: -- like fictions? ROMANS: Well, you say like how they're used. Like some automated accounts are, for example, giving weather updates or artificial intelligence --


ROMANS: -- that is giving some kind of a -- you know, compiling news headlines.


ROMANS: But then there are others that are like --

JARRETT: Russian propaganda.

ROMANS: Right -- dangerous, right?


ROMANS: Tell us what they're doing.

CARLEY: So, bots are just simply accounts that are -- that a computer program is actually sending out the messages. So, they're basically not human in that -- in that sense.

And they are used for a number of things, as you mentioned. Yes, they're used for benign things like sending out the weather or whatever. They also send out alerts, like tsunamis are coming.

But through the ways in which they're often used that cause havoc is that there's ones that kind of sit around -- special accounts like, say, Sputnik or a particular -- some kind of state-sponsored media, and they simply amplify the message. They retweet those a lot, making those messages last longer in the environment.

There's other ones that take on names. Think of them as like a light fake. They kind of pretend to be someone -- a particular critic or someone with a similar kind of name but they'll say things that are just the opposite of what that person would say normally.


And there's other ones that are just -- a huge number of them might invade a particular topic and they'll make it look like the consensus of everyone is in the certain way.

ROMANS: So to sway public opinion. To sway public opinion --

CARLEY: Correct.

ROMANS: -- or get into the conversation and try to move it. We've seen that with elections. We've seen that with Black Lives Matter. There was a lot of bot activity in Black Lives Matter a couple of years ago.

How can you tell if you're dealing with a bot on social media? Are there things that everyday users should be on the lookout for?

CARLEY: Well, it's actually getting increasingly hard to tell that the more sophisticated bots are bots. I mean, the easy ones are there to spot because they're just sending out too many messages or their name that they used doesn't match their picture in terms of gender or things like that. But there's -- or they just use a random string instead of a name.

But in reality, many times -- many times you cannot recognize bots. And, in fact, study -- our studies are showing that people are especially bad at spotting those bots with bots that are saying things that they agree with.

JARRETT: That's fascinating.

ROMANS: Yes. The echo chamber -- the bots like jumping into that echo chamber and making people feel like --


ROMANS: -- their opinion is right, or jumping into the echo chamber and demonizing the other side. That's something we really saw heading up into the election -- in the most recent election, right?

CARLEY: Right. Yes, we actually see them doing that.

But I want to stress that the bots themselves usually aren't the originator of such information.


CARLEY: They're usually pulling it off and resending it out from various websites and so on.

JARRETT: All right. Carnegie Mellon Professor Kathleen Carley, thank you so much. Appreciate your expertise.

ROMANS: Yes. Thank you.

All right --

CARLEY: Glad to talk with you -- thanks.

ROMANS: -- now to the baby formula problem in the United States. The Biden administration making it easier for low-income families to get baby formula from abroad. The Agriculture Department offering nationwide waivers to families with federal WIC benefits. That will give them access to formula that's not normally approved for use in that important program.

The products are coming from other countries as part of an operation called Operation Fly Formula, which the White House launched last month.

JARRETT: It may be another month before Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman returns to the campaign trail. Fetterman is recovering from a stroke and a heart condition. After initially downplaying the severity of his illness, last week he acknowledged its severity in a statement, saying he almost died.

His wife Gisele talked to CNN's Jeff Zeleny about when he might resume campaigning.


GISELE FETTERMAN, WIFE OF PENNSYLVANIA DEMOCRATIC SENATE CANDIDATE JOHN FETTERMAN: I think he deserves a month of break to get back and come back as strong as ever. Because this is going to be a tough race and a really important race and I want him to be fully ready for it.


FETTERMAN: Maybe. I think so. Yes, that's my hope.


JARRETT: Fetterman will face Republican Mehmet Oz in November in one of the country's top Senate races.

ROMANS: Yes, she's been quite an advocate for him -- healthcare advocate for him, you know, like from the very -- from the very beginning.

JARRETT: Yes. We certainly wish him well and a speedy recovery.

ROMANS: Of course.

All right. Just ahead, gun safety talks in the Senate. What's on and off the table after a late night on Capitol Hill.

JARRETT: And finally, a way to un-text or delete your text, or take back your text.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

Phil Mickelson has officially signed onto a controversial Saudi-backed golf tour that starts play on Thursday.

Coy Wire is here with this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Coy, what's all this about?


This will be the first time we've seen Mickelson since January. He lost several sponsors and took some time away after making disparaging comments about Saudi Arabia's human rights record and the new LIV golf tour its regime was backing. Mickelson wasn't originally slated to play but he was added to the list yesterday and will be one of the 48 players in the first-ever event this Thursday just outside of London.

Mickelson saying in a statement, quote, "I want to again apologize to the many people I offended and hurt with my comments a few months ago. I am thrilled to begin with LIV Golf and I appreciate everyone involved. I also intend to play the majors."

Now, last week, the PGA Tour threatened disciplinary action for golfers who participate in the new breakaway league. Mickelson joins fellow major champions like Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, and Martin Kaymer on the LIV tour.

LIV Tour CEO Greg Norman told The Washington Post that Tiger Woods was offered hundreds of millions of dollars to join the tour but declined.

The Colorado Avalanche are headed to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2001, back when gas prices were about $1.46.


(INAUDIBLE) and his Oilers in Edmonton went into overtime last night and that's where Artturi Lehkonen scored the game-winner just over a minute in -- a 6-5 win. It's the second series sweep of these playoffs for the road warriors. The Avalanche are now 7-0 on the road in these playoffs.

Colorado now gets at least eight days of rest and up to 11 if the Eastern Conference Final between the Rangers and Lightning goes to seven games. Game four of that series tonight with New York leading two games to one.

The Oklahoma Sooners have been the queens of college softball all season, going 57-2, but they faced elimination from the Women's College World Series yesterday when UCLA beat them early. But in game two, it was all Sooners.

Record-setting slugger Jocelyn Alo says bye-bye two times, including a grand slam. Here division one home run record extended to 120 of them.

It's a 15-0 rout of the Bruins. A mercy rule in the fifth. The most lopsided win in World Series history on the women's side.

Next up, it'll be Oklahoma facing their archrivals Texas. The Longhorns storming back to beat Oklahoma State twice yesterday to become the first unseeded team ever to reach the title series. Texas taking advantage of a pair of Oklahoma State errors on this play to score the game-winning run. The best of three championship series starts tomorrow.

Finally, how much would you pay for a piece of cardboard, Christine? A LeBron James Triple Logoman trading card going up for auction this week. It could be the most expensive sports card ever sold. Goldin Auctions says five of these were made but this is the only one that has jersey patches from each of the three teams LeBron's played for.

The bidding starts at $500,000 but Goldin believes it could challenge the $6.6 million record set by a Honus Wagner card last year. ROMANS: All right. I never got the card thing but I get it that they're valuable. All right.

WIRE: I was only ever in it for the bubble gum.

ROMANS: Yes, right. All right, thanks, Coy. Nice to see you.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Looking at markets around the world, a mixed performance in Asia. Those markets are now closed. And Europe has opened and opened slightly lower here. On Wall Street, stock index futures also leaning down just a little bit.

Look, stocks closed slightly higher on Monday after China eased some of its COVID restrictions. In the U.S., the backdrop here -- investors are grappling with a Fed that is raising interest rates to cool inflation running at the hottest in 40 years. The next big catalyst likely here not until Friday's read on inflation in the U.S. -- that Consumer Price Index report. And the Fed meets again next week to set policy.

Apple is planning to offer a new feature on its software platform that allows users to edit your sent messages or even unsend your message. The ability to edit or unsend a message will be available for 15 minutes, and once a message is deleted, users can recover them for up to 30 days.

Apple is also determined to help you cut down on typos, offering a new dictation experience that it says will let you fluidly move between voice and touch.

All right, thousands of workers in the U.K. are starting a 4-day workweek with no cut in pay. It is the largest trial of a 4-day workweek of its kind. For six months, 3,300 workers at 70 companies will test a 4-day workweek, from financial services firms to a fish and chips restaurant. The same pay for a shorter week in exchange for a promise to maintain 100% of their productivity. We'll see how that goes.

All right, a new lawsuit argues the new "Top Gun" movie should never have gotten off the ground.


Clip from Paramount Pictures "Top Gun: Maverick."


ROMANS: The family of a journalist whose article inspired the original "Top Gun" is suing Paramount Studios for copyright infringement. The family claims they regained the rights to the source material in January 2020 and they sent a notice of termination to Paramount. The film was supposed to be released in July 2019 but faced numerous delays.

I haven't seen it yet but I'll let you know when we do.

All right, thanks for joining us, everybody. I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" starts right now.