Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

NASA's Artemis 1 Moon Rocket On Schedule For Wednesday Launch; NYT: Amazon To Lay Off 10,000 Employees; Sports World Reacts To Deadly UVA Football Shooting. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 15, 2022 - 05:30   ET




NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Zelenskyy's visit perhaps the closest to the front line since the war began.


ROBERTSON: And the Ukrainian troops pushing that front line further back. We've heard more shelling overnight. There are indications they are taking some territory on the other side of the river hoping to keep the Russians falling back.

But in the city here, the atmosphere is really becoming more relaxed by the day. There's more and more people coming out. A lot of them coming down here because that cell phone tower -- that's up and operational -- the signal off of it getting even stronger. So it's a big magnet for people here as well.


ROBERTSON: But I have to say Kherson really feels now it's getting back up and running -- minus, of course, water, minus electricity, minus security, minus proper food supplies. But the city is coming back.

ROMANS: Yes. Just amazing what they've all gone through and now what they have to do to rebuild.

Thank you so much, Nic. So glad you're there to report on it for us.

All right, quick hits around the globe right now.

An Iranian court issuing the first death sentence linked to recent protests. An unnamed demonstrator convicted of enmity against God and spreading corruption on earth.

Russia just banned another 100 Canadians for speaking out and supporting Ukraine. Actor Jim Carrey is among the Canadians no longer allowed to enter Russia. The U.S. Men's World Cup team is supporting the LGBTQ community with a rainbow-themed team logo in its training facility. Same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar, which is hosting the tournament starting Sunday.

All right, all systems go for NASA's third try on the new mission to the moon. And the eagle has landed. No more undefeated teams left in the NFL.


NFL ANNOUNCER: -- and the lateral by Casey Toohill. And the Commanders have won this game.




ROMANS: All right. So far, so good for NASA's Artemis 1 moon mission. It's still a go for a third launch attempt early tomorrow morning from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

We get more this morning from CNN's Lynda Kinkade.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): NASA says it's on track for the Artemis 1 mission to launch Wednesday. That could pave the way for U.S. astronauts to return to the moon.

The launch of NASA's most powerful rocket ever, which is carrying the uncrewed Orion spacecraft, is targeting a 2-hour window for liftoff beginning at 1:04 a.m. eastern time Wednesday. That's if all goes to plan. Previous launches have been scrubbed because of bad weather and technical issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson has called a scrub.

KINKADE (voice-over): NASA says the mission is still ready to go even though the mega-rocket sustained some minor damage after Hurricane Nicole swept across Florida last week. Artemis 1 was already on the launch pad when the storm unexpectedly strengthened. NASA says it was designed to withstand high winds and needed minimal repairs.

But the launch date was pushed back two days. It's the latest in a series of delays for the Artemis 1 launch, which was initially set for late August. The first two attempts were scrubbed after issues with a fuel leak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The team now going into the cut-off procedure after being unable to resolve a hydrogen leak.

KINKADE (voice-over): The third scuttled by the threat of an earlier hurricane, which had forced NASA to roll the rocket back to the hangar for safety.

If and when Artemis gets off the ground it has some lofty goals. The first mission is expected to be a 25-day journey to the moon's orbit and back. Artemis 2 repeats the trip, including astronauts and a lunar fly-by. Artemis 3 plans to put astronauts back on the moon's surface.

Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


ROMANS: All right, very cool.

It's not a small world after all. According to the United Nations, the global population is projected to reach eight billion people today, representing what it says is a milestone in human development. While it took 12 years for the population to grow from seven to eight billion, the U.N. projects it will take approximately 15 years until 2037 for it to reach nine billion -- a sign the overall growth rate of the global population is slowing.

All right, anxious times at Amazon. Thousands of employees about to find out of they've been laid off. And how Planet Fitness keeps it monthly fee at 10 bucks despite raging inflation.



ROMANS: All right. Romans' Numeral this morning, 25 percent. That's how much JPMorgan Chase analysts predict the value of Bitcoin will drop in coming weeks. The stunning collapse of crypto exchange FDX only part of the reason. Analysts say the Federal Reserve's rate hikes will leave less money available for cash investment well into next year, and less money means investors avoiding risks. And crypto, by the way, if you haven't noticed, is a huge risk.

Bitcoin is down nearly 75 percent from a year ago, just under $17,000. Analysts think it could fall below $10,000. The real shame of it is it's individual investors -- the last to get in and the first to get hurt when something implodes like Bitcoin. That's why regulators will become -- be coming around to look.

All right, looking at markets around the world right now, Asian markets are higher -- optimism that China will ease COVID-19 restrictions. Europe has opened narrowly mixed here. On Wall Street, stock index futures leaning up a little bit.

After a down day across the board yesterday, the major averages snapping three days in the green for all three averages, down just a little bit.

Investors will get additional inflation data today -- October's Producer Price Index. That's what companies pay for goods at the wholesale level. It comes at 8:30 eastern.

Retail giants Home Depot and Walmart will also release quarterly earnings. Critical to see what they are seeing in the economy.

And gas prices fell a penny overnight, now $3.76 a gallon.

All right, Amazon is planning to lay off 10,000 employees. The New York Times, the first to report corporate and technology jobs are on the chopping block and the axe could fall this week. The layoffs will likely include staffers working on Amazon devices like Alexa and workers in retail and human resources divisions. Amazon did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

All right, joining me now for all of this, CNN Business writer Clare Duffy. And Clare, it is a tech layoff parade. You've got Twitter, then Meta, now Amazon. The Nasdaq is down 29 percent this year. What's going on?

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: So I think the tech companies are really sort of seeing a reversal from the pandemic, which was so good for the tech companies business. More people were shopping online. More people were relying on technology. And I think they all sort of thought that trajectory was going to continue.



DUFFY: You see even Mark Zuckerberg saying I got it wrong. I thought that this e-commerce boom was going to keep going. And now they're realizing that it's not and they're going to have to scale back a little bit -- on top of the fact that all companies across the board are sort of trying to prepare for this possible recession -- this economic downturn that we're in.

ROMANS: Right -- what they think they see in the -- in the -- in the -- way out there in the future.

Tell us about this trial underway this week over the pay package that made Elon Musk the richest man on the planet. He's going to testify this week.

DUFFY: Yes. He's set to testify on Wednesday, tomorrow, over this massive pay package at Tesla. Pay packages for CEOs have gotten really enormous but this is just -- is huge.

ROMANS: It's in a category all its own. It really is.

DUFFY: It's really massive.

ROMANS: Like Elon Musk it is in a category all its own.

DUFFY: And you know what? I think what they'll be looking at in court is -- there's a few things. There's the connections to his board of directors that approved this pay package. He had a number of friends.

And the shareholder that brought this lawsuit has kind of said that he had too much influence over this massive pay package --

ROMANS: Right.

DUFFY: -- and that he wanted to fund his mission to go to the moon with this massive pay package.

You know, I don't -- it'll be interesting to see because board of -- boards of directors do have a lot of latitude to set pay packages like this and so it may actually be sort of an easier one for Elon Musk to argue in this case.

But there's also this issue of the fact that he's running so many different companies.

ROMANS: Yes. I mean, where is his attention? I mean -- and bear with me here. It turns out that all the boy geniuses may not be all that, and that's a really good example. I mean, Elon Musk's erratic behavior might be hurting his own brand and his companies --


ROMANS: -- Twitter and Tesla.

Mark Zuckerberg's company -- this big bet. I mean, it's the worst -- it's the biggest loser in the S&P 500 this year.

And the crypto boss, Sam Bankman-Fried, we just told you about -- you know, everybody just adored him and his altruistic kind of persona, and he's going down in flames as well.

I mean, there's an interesting -- I don't know -- moment here for those guys.

DUFFY: It does feel like a real sort of disconnect between these big tech titans and their visions that they're willing to pursue sort of like at all costs. And then you're hearing -- you're seeing the cost now, which is people are getting laid off.


DUFFY: Investors are losing money that they invested in crypto. These big bets, it seems -- you know, maybe they're not thinking about all the potential consequences.

ROMANS: The common denominator I think for them, too, is that all of them, in a different way, have no breaks, or they don't have the grown-ups around them that are what a mature traditional kind of leadership role is like. And that's one of the reasons why everybody idolized these guys. And it's the no breaks and then they crash -- you know, investors get hurt.

DUFFY: Exactly. They've all got so much control of these companies that they don't maybe have the guardrails that need to be there.

ROMANS: Guardrails is a good word.

All right, nice to see you, Clare Duffy.

DUFFY: Thank you.

ROMANS: Thanks so much.

All right. Airlines have paid more than $600 million in refunds to hundreds of thousands of passengers for canceled or changed flights since the start of the pandemic. Federal regulators are also fining six airlines over $7 million for skirting the rules that determine when refunds need to be paid.

Frontier Airlines is the only U.S. carrier to face fines. Foreign airlines face the majority of the penalties, including Air India, TAP Portugal, Aeromexico, El Al, and Avianca.

All right. Democrat Katie Hobbs defeating Trump-endorsed election denier Kari Lake in the race for Arizona governor. How Lake is responding, ahead. And soccer legend David Beckham facing an ultimatum, coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING."



ROMANS: All right, 5:52 in the east.

You might be on a treadmill right now. I'm talking to you, Wolf. A typical gym membership in the U.S. costs about 50 bucks a month. You can double or triple that for boutique gyms. But at Planet Fitness it's still just $10.00 a month and it's been that way for 30 years and it's not about to change, even with inflation.

CNN Business reporter Nathaniel Meyersohn brought this to our attention. You know, inflation is hitting just about everything, but 10 bucks a month -- how can they do that?

NATHANIEL MEYERSOHN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Ten bucks a month at Planet Fitness for 30 years, Christine. The price hasn't dropped. There's a really important business strategy here.

So, Planet Fitness -- it's the largest gym in the U.S. and it's targeting people who've never signed up for a gym before or people who are intimidated by other gym cultures. The company's motto is the "Judgement Free Zone."

ROMANS: Right.

MEYERSOHN: So that $10.00 a month plan -- it draws people in but it's not expensive enough to where they're going to cancel it even if they use it pretty infrequently. And the company keeps the price at $10.00 by converting more members to its higher-priced --

ROMANS: Right.

MEYERSOHN: -- plan, $24.99, which comes with more benefits.

The CEO told me that it's a 'get you off the couch' price.

ROMANS: A 'get you off the couch price' and then maybe you're less likely to quit if it's so cheap.

Let's talk about other things that are inflation-proof. I mean, you've got some other examples that I think are really fascinating.

MEYERSOHN: Right. So there are a few things that haven't been hit by inflation. There's Costco's $4.99 rotisserie chicken. BJ's Wholesale Club -- it's also $4.99. At Sam's Club --

ROMANS: That hog dog --

MEYERSOHN: At Sam's --

ROMANS: -- is $1.50.

MEYERSOHN: -- $1.50 hot dog-soda combo. The founder once threatened to kill the CEO if he raised the price of a $1.50 hot dog at Costco, so they're not changing that anytime soon.

And then Arizona Iced Tea, 99 cents. The founder is committed to that price. It's been there for a couple of decades. And they're making up the losses on higher-priced drinks elsewhere.

ROMANS: So when you look at those Costco and Sam's Club examples -- I mean, those must be loss leaders for a reason. You get in there and you're spending money on other stuff.

MEYERSOHN: That's the business strategy. They put the chickens in the back of the store so you'll go --

ROMANS: Right.

MEYERSOHN: -- pick it up and then browse around and add a few more things to your cart. They're loss leaders and it's good business strategy.

ROMANS: Talk to me about Target. They're opening some larger stores. So, what's the strategy there?


MEYERSOHN: Right. So this is another kind of counterintuitive move. We've seen so many store closures over the past few years. But Target is going to be opening larger stores -- about 150,000 square feet, which is 15 percent bigger --


MEYERSOHN: -- than its -- than its typical stores.

And the key here, Christine, is online shopping. Target uses its stores as warehouses to ship customers their online delivery orders, and also as pick-up points where customers can buy online and then pick it up in the store.

And so, Target is going to be expanding the backroom space by five times the previous amount and this is going to give workers more room to pack orders, ship them out, and then get them ready for customers to pick them up. And Target is going to be opening about 30 of these new stores a year.

So, behemoth but it's not the brick-and-mortar growth, it's the actual online growth. That means you have to have a bigger brick-and-mortar store.

MEYERSOHN: Right. So this is -- yes, this is all driven by online shopping and basically, these stores are turning into warehouses.

ROMANS: You are a consumer guru. I know you'll be listening, I'm sure, to the Walmart earnings call today, the Home Depot earnings call. We're going to get a really good sense of what's happening with the consumer when we hear from those CEOs and their executives today.

So, thanks, Nathaniel Meyersohn. Nice to see you.

All right, the sports world reacts to the news that a former University of Virginia football faces charges in the shooting deaths of three current Cavaliers players.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Andy.


So last night's men's basketball game for Virginia against Northern Iowa was canceled as the community just continues to mourn. Former Virginia running back Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. was arrested Monday and charged with three counts of second-degree murder.

Cavalier football players Lavel Davis Jr., D'Sean Perry, and Devin Chandler were killed Sunday while they were coming off a bus after a field trip. Police have not yet revealed a motive.

And the team obviously just devastated. Their coach Tony Elliott saying in a statement, "These were incredible young men with huge aspirations and extremely bright futures. Our hearts ache for their families, their classmates, and their friends. These precious young men were called away too soon."

And freshman running back Xavier Brown tweeting about his teammates. "Words can't describe how I'm feeling right now. You all did not deserve this. I'm sorry, my brothers. Until we meet again, I love you all."

Now, Virginia's football team is scheduled to play Coastal Carolina on Saturday. A decision on whether that game will be played has not yet been made.

All right. In the NFL, meanwhile, we no longer have any undefeated teams after the Commanders beat the Eagles last night. Philly fans not happy about this play this morning. They were driving to try to take the lead in the fourth quarter when Dallas Goedert gets dragged down by his face mask. He fumbles on the way down but officials completely missed the face mask. The Commanders would take over deep in Eagles territory and get a

field goal out of it. They'd go on to win 32-21 to get to 5-5 on the season. And with that, head coach Ron Rivera was pretty emotional.


RON RIVERA, WASHINGTON COMMANDERS HEAD COACH: My mother would have been proud.



SCHOLES: All right, Shaq and his family, meanwhile were here in Atlanta last night for the premiere of his 4-part HBO documentary about his life. Episode one drops next Wednesday.

I was there last night. I asked Shaq what he hopes people will learn from his journey.


SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, BASKETBALL HALL OF FAMER: Children, when they watch this, there's one word you need to focus on and listen to. I wouldn't be here without my mother and my father. The day I started listening when I was 14, I just took off. So, kids, make sure you always listen to your mommy and daddy.

LUCILLE O'NEAL, SHAQ'S MOTHER: At some point in time, you have to take what your parents teach you and you have to learn from it and you have to go forward. And if you have a dream -- and we kept telling him your dreams can come true if you do this, if you do this, if you do this. So he bought into the program and that's when his life changed for the better.


SCHOLES: Yes. And Christine, we got to watch part one last night, which drops, like I said, a week from Wednesday. And I'll tell you what, it was pretty awesome.


SCHOLES: Just seeing young Shaq and how he grew up, and how he was kind of clumsy and not -- you know, you're familiar with his huge frame early on, to what he became is pretty awesome. I'm excited for parts two, three, and four.

ROMANS: Yes, and I love how he's like honoring his parents so much. His mom seems amazing. I want to hear from her and how she put shoes on those big feet when he -- when he was nine years old.

SCHOLES: Yes. She's certainly one of the stars of the documentary, as are -- is his entire family. His brother and sister also giving some great interviews. So it's definitely a fun one to watch.

ROMANS: All right, I'm down for that. I'll watch it. What, a week from Wednesday you said?

SCHOLES: It starts, yes --

ROMANS: All right.

SCHOLES: -- a week from Wednesday.

ROMANS: OK, great.

Andy, nice to see you. Thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: All right, and thanks for joining me. I'm Christine Romans. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.