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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Source: Missile That Hit Poland Was Ukrainian, Went Off Track; Brazil Takes Steps To Revive Atlantic Forest; Senators Confident They Have Votes To Codify Same-Sex Marriage. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 16, 2022 - 05:30   ET



COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, FORMER MEMBER OF JOINT STAFF AT PENTAGON, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.) (via Webex by Cisco): -- very close to where this Polish border incident took place. And it's possible that the defenders of Lviv were trying very hard to knock out some Russian cruise missiles that were headed their way. And we do have video of these strikes in Lviv. I've seen it earlier.


LEIGHTON: And what that indicates to me is that these are the types of things that can absolutely happen, and it's -- it was only less than five miles away from the border that this incident occurred.

ROMANS: Yes, and let's set the stage here. I think there were scores if not 100 missile launches yesterday into Ukraine from the Russian military. I mean, yesterday, Ukraine took a pounding. So it goes to reason, right -- stands to reason that they would be trying to respond.

LEIGHTON: Absolutely, yes. As far as we can tell there were about 100 launches against Ukraine from Russia and the Ukrainians had said they knocked down 70 to 80 of those missiles. So it's very clear that basically the entire sky was lit up not only by the Russian missiles but the Ukrainian response to them. And when that happens it's very possible, especially using older Soviet-made equipment, that something like this could have occurred.

ROMANS: Now, the response has been measured. You say it's pretty clear the U.S. and NATO are trying to diffuse this situation. This is -- they've been worried about this for months that there could be an accident or something could go wrong and really inflame the situation.

LEIGHTON: Absolutely, and this is one of the big risks. Yes, countries have borders but when you go to the actual border location it can be pretty porous. And the sky is not fenced in and these missiles can very easily cross the borders even of NATO nations. And when the war is fought right on the NATO border this is the kind of thing that can happen, unfortunately.

ROMANS: What's the next move here, I guess, for the U.S. and the NATO allies here to, I guess, chastise Russia for a day of bombardment, right, and also prevent this from happening again?

LEIGHTON: Yes. So that last part is going to be the hardest thing in the middle of a hot war --

ROMANS: Right.

LEIGHTON: -- like this to prevent this from happening.

But from a political standpoint or a diplomatic standpoint, I think there's going to be a call for a cessation of hostilities. We've basically seen that from the G7 -- the G20 countries as they were meeting in Bali, and that becomes a critical component that world opinion is, in essence, still turning against Russia as long as this is managed very carefully. And telling Russia, in essence, that you are the reason that these types of things have occurred because of your aggressive actions against Ukraine. So the next steps will include that.

They will include, probably, a beefing up of the Ukrainian air defense system -- potentially even giving them a system known as ATACMS, which is designed to go after targets that are even further back than what the Ukrainians can hit right now.

ROMANS: Yes. Again, we are still getting early information here, so we'll continue to follow every development there and try to really figure out what happened.

Col. Cedric Leighton, thank you so much. Nice to see you this morning.

LEIGHTON: Good to see you, too, Christine. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, quick hits around the globe right now.

Vice President Kamala Harris departing today on her own trip to Asia. Her first stop, an economic summit in Thailand, pushing the U.S. as a better partner for China for economic stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

A COVID revolt in China. Video and images show residents under lockdown in southern China tearing down barriers meant to confine them in their homes and filling streets in defiance of strictly-enforced local orders.

Climate activists attacking a famous painting in a Vienna museum. The group Last Generation Austria targeted the 1915 painting by Gustav Klimt, throwing a black oily liquid on it. Protesters called oil and gas drilling a death sentence to society.

All right, next, attention Walmart shoppers. Why that refrain doesn't mean what it used to. And Brazil's climate movement has a new backer, but can he break with the gridlock?


[05:38:54] ROMANS: All right. Right now, new Brazilian president Lula da Silva is at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt. He's making a big statement just by being there.

We get more this morning from CNN's Paula Newton.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To save the planet, Luis Pinto says you don't have to go to the arctic or even the Amazon. This sky-high perch will do. What was once degraded pasture is now, after 15 years, an ecoparadise -- two miles of forest restoration.

LUIS PINTO, SOS AMAZONIA: This project doesn't change a big landscape but it shows it's possible to bring back life, to bring back water, to bring back biodiversity to the state of Sao Paulo.

NEWTON (voice-over): Pinto walks us through the effort to revive the Atlantic Forest, home to more than 145 million Brazilians, and yet, about three-quarters of it has already been wiped out.

This is an effort to bring some of it back and it works like an ecolab by planting trees the forest provides for clean air and water, bringing back ecodiversity for plants and animals.


PINTO: So we need a lot of technology, knowledge, and research to know which species to plant and how.

NEWTON (voice-over): Projects like these are now at a crossroads of climate and political history in Brazil, a country that is one of the planet's most significant stores of biodiversity. For four years the government of President Jair Bolsonaro was accused of undoing the environmental progress of former president and now president-elect Lula da Silva.

Brazil's National Institute for Space Research estimates that in the Amazon alone, deforestation nearly doubled since Bolsonaro came to office in 2018.

Ricardo Sailes was Bolsonaro's environment minister.

NEWTON (on camera): You know, to many environmentalists, you're as good as the devil. You're a bad guy.

RICARDO SAILES, FEDERAL LAWMAKER AND FORMER ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: Yes. You know, people don't understand that what we did was to show that the solution for the environmental challenges in Brazil include as a main path for the solution the economic equation.

NEWTON (voice-over): Sailes now speaks as a newly-elected lawmaker in the majority conservative congress in Brazil. His policies are still clearly popular with many here.

TXAI SURUI, INDIGENOUS ACTIVIST: And I was so scared, you know?

NEWTON (voice-over): Indigenous leader Txai Surui says she and her people, the Paiter Surui tribe, have been threatened and harassed when trying to protect Brazil's fragile environment. And she accuses the Bolsonaro government of dismantling key environmental protections.

SURUI (through translator): We don't need to destroy to develop. We can do that in harmony with nature, and it's the indigenous peoples who teach that.

NEWTON (voice-over): It is that fundamental struggle on climate action that so threatens progress in Brazil.

PINTO: We need to understand first, as a nation, that is key for the planet and that decisions we will make will be important for us but also for others.

NEWTON (voice-over): And so, watch this space. Brazil's future climate action and its debate over environmental policy will be consequential far beyond its borders.

Paula Newton, CNN, in Sao Paulo (state), Brazil.


ROMANS: All right, important reporting there from Paula.

All right, the next time you visit Disney you'll notice right away something is different. And buyer beware of store-branded credit cards burning a hole in your wallet.



ROMANS: Your Romans' Numeral this morning, 30, as in 30 percent -- the shockingly high maximum interest rate on at least a half-dozen retail store credit cards. Stores like Kroger, Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Shell, Exxon, Wayfair -- it's a record high. Sure, the big discount for signing up for the store card is nice at the time, but carrying a balance will bury you in interest.

Many Americans have leaned on credit cards to cope with high inflation and the Federal Reserve's series of blockbuster rate hikes to fight it. The New York Federal Reserve says in the third quarter, Americans loaded up their credit card balances at the fastest pace in more than 20 years. The good news, though, delinquency levels remain low. People are paying those balances.

All right, looking at markets around the world this morning, Asian stocks ended mixed, shaken by uncertainty over that missile strike in Poland. In the U.K., inflation jumped to a 4-decade high of 11.1 percent. On Wall Street, stock index futures up a little bit here right now.

And yesterday, stocks ended the day higher. The S&P climbed to its highest level in two months.

Slower U.S. producer price gains in October hinting inflation is beginning to east here.

October retail sales data due later this morning. And the retail giant Target will release quarterly earnings. Walmart and Home Depot earnings yesterday better than expected.

Gas prices fell two cents overnight, now sitting at $3.74 a gallon.

Let's bring in Claire Tassin, retail and e-commerce analyst at Morning Consult. So nice to see you this morning, Claire. Thanks for getting up early for us.

So, inflation still blazing in the U.K. we just saw but showing signs of peaking in the U.S. Will that help consumers?

CLAIRE TASSIN, RETAIL AND E-COMMERCE ANALYST, MORNING CONSULT (via Webex by Cisco): Absolutely. So, starting to see that inflation number come down in the most recent report. And we at Morning Consult are seeing indicators that inflation is continuing to drop based on some of the consumer behaviors relevant to inflation. So, seeing a little bit less sticker shock from consumers lately, which is great news for all of us.

ROMANS: Yes. And I know Goldman Sachs is actually forecasting by the end of next year, 2.9 percent inflation or something. So they're expecting the peak is in and we're going to continue to have those price increases moderate.

Walmart, yesterday, reported sales growth of 8.2 percent and said -- this is what I think is a big takeaway from Walmart's earnings report -- wealthier customers are spending in stores.

How do you interpret that?

TASSIN: We're seeing a lot of the same trends in our own data at Morning Consult that wealthier shoppers have been able to recover from some of the inflationary pressures a bit more quickly than others. I think no real surprise there with a little bit more flexibility in their budgets.

We also know that a lot of consumers' retailer relationships have been disrupted due to inflation. Everyone is more price-sensitive lately, so people are certainly changing the stores that they shop in. So I can absolutely see wealthier shoppers shopping at Walmart more often, especially when they -- you know, to access some of those lower prices than maybe they -- at other stores they would traditionally shop at.

ROMANS: Yes. And Walmart has made some changes to sort of attract those higher-end shoppers -- people who -- families who earn more than $100,000 a year -- you know, giving them the kind of things that they want to buy in the grocery aisle, for example.

Thanksgiving right around the corner and big Black Friday sales -- holiday shopping. This whole sort of American experiment -- experience of consumerism is about to really get underway.

What are you expecting?


TASSIN: I am actually expecting softer sales on Black Friday this year because -- I don't know if you've been online shopping lately but it's already Black Friday --


TASSIN: -- all over e-commerce right now. I've been seeing Black Friday language in promotions since October.


TASSIN: So we sort of have to ask what is Black Friday anymore, anyway?

So we're seeing that everyone is deal-hungry. Eighty-four percent of shoppers told us that they're prioritizing those deals and discounts. But just 47 percent said that they plan to shop specifically on actual Black Friday this year. I think a lot of people are taking advantage of these earlier sales and not necessarily waiting for the day after Thanksgiving.

ROMANS: Yes. We're going to get more clarity into how robust the American consumer is later today with retail sales. But the household balance sheets are way better today than they were in 2008 and I think we're starting to see that in some of these -- some of these reports.

Thanks so much, Claire Tassin of Morning Consult. Nice to see you.

TASSIN: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right.

A bipartisan group of senators is confident they have the votes to codify same-sex marriage in federal law. They're asking to bring the measure to the floor for a vote as soon as possible. Democrats are hoping to pass the legislation during the lame-duck session. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has already taken procedural steps to set up the first test vote on the Respect for Marriage Act this afternoon.

All right, the magic at the most magical place on earth is getting pricier. Starting December 8, Disney World 1-day, 1-park ticket prices are jumping 12 percent.

Hollywood Studios and EPCOT tickets will cost up to $179. Magic Kingdom tickets will go as high as $189. And Animal Kingdom prices are staying the same, $159. Prices will also increase for multi-day tickets and annual pass renewals.

It's the second time in a year the Orlando park is raising its prices. Two U.S. officials tell us the Russian-made missile that exploded in Poland was fired by Ukraine in an attempt to knock out a Russian missile. More coverage next.

And NASA finally launching Artemis 1. More on the historic mission coming up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And liftoff of Artemis 1. We rise together --




ROMANS: Fighting back tears, Virginia's football coach speaks out for the first time since the tragic shooting that killed three of his players.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. So said, Andy.


Virginia coach Tony Elliott says the last few days have just felt like a nightmare as the team tries to cope with the loss of three players in an on-campus shooting on Sunday. Lavel Davis Jr., D'Sean Perry, and Devin Chandler were all killed by suspected gunman Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., a former walk-on football player.

And Elliott said you prepare to be a head coach but nothing can prepare you for a situation like this


TONY ELLIOTT, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA HEAD COACH: And I'm ready for somebody to pinch me and wake me up and say that this didn't happen. The first meeting was really, really tough -- you know, really, really, really tough. Today was much better. We were able to transition from the pain to finding a little bit of joy in celebrating the lives of Lavel, D'Sean, and Devin.


SCHOLES: And U.V. athletics director Carla Williams said they have not yet decided on whether to play their scheduled game against Coastal Carolina on Saturday, adding that they will make that decision soon.

All right. For the first time this season, there was no change at the top of the college football playoff rankings. The Georgia Bulldogs, coming off a dominant win over Mississippi State, stay at number one for the second-straight week. The rest of the top five teams remain the same with Big 10 rivals Ohio State and Michigan coming in at number two and three. TCS holds down the number-four spot, followed by Tennessee.

But it's all going to change on the Saturday after Thanksgiving when the Buckeyes and Wolverines finish the regular season with a blockbuster matchup in Columbus. That game will basically be a playoff game itself.

All right, we had the Champions Classic last night in college basketball. Michigan State and fourth-ranked Kentucky playing a thriller.

The Spartans down two in the closing seconds. Tom Izzo -- great inbounds play called the wide-open slam. That sent it to overtime. Then in the extra period, Hall does it again, going in for the slam to send the game to double-overtime. In double O.T., Tyson Walker to Mady Sissoko for the alley-oop.

The Spartans pulling off a stunner, winning that game 86-77.

In the other matchup, Kansas taking on Duke. The reigning champion Jayhawks closing the game on a 15-5 run. They come back to beat the Blue Devil 69-64. The first loss for new head coach Jon Scheyer. Kansas a perfect 3-0 this season.

All right. In the NBA, the Mavs were up one on the Clippers with under a minute to go. Dallas -- a chaotic possession. It looks like they're going to end up turning it over. But Luka ends up grabbing the ball at the very end and hits a fadeaway, falling out of bounds. Nothing but net. That sealed the win for the Mavs as they beat the Clippers 103- 101.

And I'll tell you what, Christine. That was a big shot for the Mavs. It made them feel really good --


SCHOLES: -- especially because they had a 25-point lead that they nearly blew. So, Luka rescuing them there -- right there.

ROMANS: All right, nice stuff. Thank you so much. Nice to see you, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four, stage engine start. Three, two, one, boosters and ignition. And liftoff of Artemis 1. We rise together back to the moon and beyond.