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More Russian Missile Attacks On Ukraine, No Power For Millions; Brittney Griner Is Moved To Remote Russian Prison; Anticipation For First Gulf World Cup Shadowed By Controversies. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 18, 2022 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Widespread Russian missile attacks on critical infrastructure triggering massive power outages affecting more than 10 million Ukrainians just as temperatures turn colder.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Another Russian terrorist attack has occurred -- dozens of missiles. Civilian sites are the main target. Russia is waging war on electricity and heat for people by blowing up power plants and other energy facilities.


ROMANS: CNN's Matthew Chance joins us live from Kyiv, Ukraine. And Matthew, this Russian strategy here, a barrage -- excuse me -- of airstrikes to turn out the lights and turn off the heat for millions. Where are these emergency power cuts happening?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, it's a good question because they're happening all over the country. There have been waves upon waves of strikes -- Russian missiles hitting at critical infrastructure targets around the Kyiv region to the -- to the south, to the east, and the west as well.

And so, we're seeing dozens of missiles striking these critical infrastructure targets -- power stations, power lines, distribution points, and things like that -- that are really making it difficult for the authorities to provide sufficient power to the population of the country. And Zelensky was saying -- the president of this country was saying in that -- in that sound bite we just heard that 10 million people now without power at various times of the day across the country.

And, of course, there are emergency teams working day and night to try and get the power reconnected. But the Ukrainian authorities are concerned not just about the shortage of manpower and being overwhelmed by the extent of the Russia -- Russian strikes, but also they're saying they are running out of spare parts to fix the power lines and the power infrastructure installations that are being struck repeatedly by these Russian forces.

Why are they doing it? Well, of course, you mentioned it. There's that strategic ambition, it seems, on the part of Moscow to try and make the situation as uncomfortable, as unpleasant, and as unbearable as possible for the civilians of this country as winter hits. We're seeing the first snow now in the Ukrainian capital of this winter. Temperatures are set to plunge even further.

The Russians have even acknowledged that, saying that this lack of power is a consequence of Kyiv not coming to the negotiating table -- Christine.

ROMANS: Matthew, how are the people coping?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, they're coping with this sort of relatively well in the sense that the morale amongst the population, as far as I can make out, is still holding up. Obviously, it's a challenge in these cold winter months.

But I think one of the striking things about traveling around Ukraine and speaking to Ukrainian people is the sort of strength which they still have to continue to fight this conflict. We're not seeing at this point a sort of public movement --

ROMANS: Right.

CHANCE: -- towards calling for any kind of backdown on the part of Ukrainian forces or the Ukrainian government.

ROMANS: All right, Matthew Chance for us in Kyiv. Thanks, Matthew.

WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner has been moved to a remote Russian penal colony in Mordovia, about 300 miles southeast of Moscow, known for being one of the harshest regions of the country. Griner was sentenced to nine years behind bars for carrying cannabis oil in her luggage.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is live in Moscow with the latest. So, what do we know about the conditions of this penal colony?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're very difficult. And we were speaking to Brittney Griner's legal team just last night when they put out this information. They say that they were actually able to visit with Brittney Griner earlier this week.

And they say considering the circumstances -- the difficult circumstances that she's in right now that she is doing quite well and that she is obviously very happy about all the support that she's getting from the United States but, indeed, from people around the world. As far -- she's aware of that support and as far as it reaches her.

But certainly, the conditions in these penal colonies -- I actually -- I get asked this a lot. There are some that are extremely difficult. There have been reports of abuses in these places. There have been reports of people being put in solitary confinement and the like.


But none of these places are pleasant at all. All of them are extremely difficult. Your entire day is regimented there. It's often very cold in these places. And obviously, you are literally in the middle of nowhere in a lot of these places.

If you look at the penal colony that Brittney Griner is in, you were actually right to point out that it's about 300 miles away from Moscow. It's an extremely difficult area to reach and it's also a very small village that this prison colony is in.

So, certainly for Brittney Griner right now, facing that 9 1/2-year jail sentence -- it is definitely an extremely difficult time. Her legal team acknowledged that as well, obviously saying that she's trying to stay on top of things. But at the same time, they also say if there is any chance for a prisoner swap it's definitely something that they and Brittney Griner's team would certainly welcome as well, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Frederik Pleitgen. Thank you for that, Fred.

Quick hits around the globe right now.

At least 21 people, including entire families with children, have died after a residential building fire broke out at a refugee camp in Northern Gaza. No official cause has been determined yet.

Mexican authorities identify a state security chief as one of five men who died in a helicopter crash Thursday. The initial investigation into the crash indicates it was an accident.

London's Heathrow Airport bracing for major disruptions as 350 ground staff begin a 72-hour work stoppage over pay. The union says the strike will trigger huge numbers of delays and cancellations.

Still ahead, sentencing day for the former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes in her fraud trial. And climate talks hit a snag in Egypt.



ROMANS: All right. Expectations building ahead of soccer's biggest battle -- Sunday's 2022 FIFA World Cup kickoff in the tiny country of Qatar. This is the first time ever the games are being played in the Gulf but the excitement has been marred by criticism over human rights violations in the host nation.

CNN's Amanda Davies joins us live from Doha, Qatar. What is Qatar saying about the criticism of its policies toward LGBTQ culture and foreign workers?

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, Christine, I can tell you that Qatar has over the last year -- 18 months, in particular -- very much been hardening its stance to the criticism that it has been facing from the international world. They have gone from trying to explain and trying to persuade to now a much harder line, which I very much noticed over my last trips here over the last 12-18 months.

There has been the criticism over the LGBT Plus community. Also, the rights of workers.

But more controversy with just over 48 hours to go until the big kickoff. I can tell you it is set to be announced World Cup officials have confirmed to CNN that beer is now going to be banned. Alcohol sales are going to be banned in the eight stadiums for this tournament. That is major news for world football's governing body, FIFA.

Budweiser, one of the headline official alcohol sponsors -- it leaves their contracts -- their multimillion-dollar deal with some serious question marks hanging over it.

We got some sense that something was going on a couple of days ago when the kiosks where Budweiser was selling their beers have been asked to be moved to less visible positions on the concourses. Then these reports started emerging and we now know that on a request of the Qatari officials, they have asked that this step be taken. So, no beer sales. You will be able to get alcohol in hospitality areas and the fan zones.

But just another indicator that tensions here are certainly not showing any sign of going anywhere as we get ever closer to the kickoff.

ROMANS: All right, Amanda Davies. Keep us posted. Thank you.

Today is sentencing day for former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes in her fraud trial. She faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. She was convicted back in January of defrauding investors in the failed blood- testing startup.

Holmes' lawyers have requested 18 months of house arrest. Prosecutors are seeking a 15-year sentence. They say her crimes are among the substantial white-collar offenses in Silicon Valley or anywhere else.

Ahead, a big sticking point emerges in the final days of the global climate summit. And the Taylor Swift ticket fiasco. Fans thought they'd be buying them today -- not anymore.



ROMANS: All right, your Romans' Numeral this morning, 53. That's the percentage of Americans delaying a major financial milestone, worried about the economy.

A new Bankrate poll shows that 25 percent have put off home improvements or renovations. Twenty-one percent have delayed buying or leasing a car. It's a double whammy here. Earnings have not kept up with surging inflation on essentials like food and gas, and big Federal Reserve rate hikes have pushed up financing costs on big purchases.

All right. Looking at markets around the world, European markets are higher, helped by improved consumer confidence and better-than- expected retail sales in the U.K. Asian markets are down as COVID fears rip through parts of China. The country reported 25,000 new infections -- the most since April.

Stock index futures on Wall Street -- they're leaning a little bit higher here this morning. They all ended lower as Fed officials reiterated their aim yesterday to tame inflation with higher interest rates.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 222,000 and layoffs remaining low despite widespread cuts in technology.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.61 percent last week. That's a drop -- the biggest weekly drop since 1981.

And gas prices extending their decline, now sitting at $3.71 a gallon.

Amazon's chief executive speaking out for the first time since the company began widespread layoffs this week. Andy Jassy says job cuts will continue into next year and the company does not know yet how many other roles will be affected.

Amazon and other tech giants like Facebook's parent company Meta, and Twitter have ramped up hiring as the pandemic shifted consumer habits toward e-commerce, and now those companies are forced to lay off thousands of workers as customers return to pre-pandemic habits.


And this huge story. Ticketmaster canceling the public sale of Taylor Swift tour tickets after unprecedented demand pushed its website into meltdown.




ROMANS: The company explains that excited fans bought more than two million tickets Tuesday for the upcoming tour that starts next year -- the most tickets ever sold for an artist in a single day. However, the site was only supposed to be open to around 1 1/2 million verified Swift fans. Then a surge of demand from 14 million users, including bots, essentially broke the site.

All right, new Twitter boss Elon Musk gave workers an ultimatum. What did they choose with their jobs on the line? And parts of the Great Lakes getting pounded by a snowstorm that could turn dangerous in a hurry. (COMMERCIAL)


ROMANS: Climate talks are turning tense in the final days of the COP27 conference in Egypt. The U.S. E.U., and the U.K. say they are against creating a new fund to help the world's developing nations recover from climate disasters.

CNN's David McKenzie live in Johannesburg. And David, developing countries argue industrialized nations caused the climate crisis. They should help ease its effect on poorer countries. Can they come together in agreement here?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, that's a pretty powerful argument when you lay it out like that -- but, of course, it requires wealthy countries like the U.S. and regions like the European Union to actually pony up the cash. And that's something in this environment that perhaps there's a bit of reticence to do that.

You've also had this feeling from the U.S. and others they don't want to be -- get into an issue of open-ended liability -- court cases -- when it comes to other nations suing the U.S. and others to deal with the effects of climate change.

But the U.N. Secretary-General flew back into those meetings trying to hammer out the deal in the coming hours. He said that nations need to work together.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. CHIEF: There has been, clearly, in the past times, a breakdown in trust between north and south, and between developed and the emerging economies. But this is no time for finger- pointing. The blame game is a recipe for mutually assured destruction. I am here to appeal to all parties to rise to this moment and to the greatest challenge that humanity is facing.


MCKENZIE: Now, ultimately, they're coming up with a roadmap on how to deal with the climate crisis. Those negotiations will go late into the night I expect. Whether they can come up with any solution that gets us forward in this matter, that remains to be seen -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, David McKenzie in Johannesburg. Thank you so much, David.

All right, to sports now. The Tennessee Titans dominate the Packers in snowy Lambeau Field, likely putting Green Bay's playoff hopes on ice.

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

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Christine. So these are two teams going in very different directions. The Packers

have now lost six of their last seven games while the Titans have won seven out of eight.

And Tennessee running back Derrick Henry doing it all last night. Second quarter, he's going to run this one in from four yards out for the touchdown. Then in the third quarter, Henry makes the defense think he's going to run it, and then he does the old jump pass to Austin Hooper for the touchdown.

The Titans go on to win 27-17.

Here is Henry after the game on his jump pass.


DERRICK HENRY, TENNESSEE TITANS RUNNING BACK: I'm able to throw a pass and be able to catch the ball. Any way I can affect the game and help my team win it, I'm always for it, man. And I was glad that play was able to come to life and we got a touchdown out of it.


SCHOLES: All right, with a huge snowstorm heading towards Buffalo, the NFL making the call yesterday to move Sunday's Bills-Browns game to Detroit. The league says the decision was made out of an abundance of caution for public safety. The forecast there calling for two to four feet of snow with wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour.

The Ford Field in Detroit was supposed to be hosting an indoor carnival this weekend but now they're going to have to break all that down in order to host the game.

The Bills -- they play the Lions on Thanksgiving Day, so they're going to play twice at Ford Field in a matter of five days.

All right, Major League Baseball, meanwhile, handing out the MVP awards last night.

No surprise after his historic season, Aaron Judge named the American League MVP. Judge getting 28 of the 30 first-place votes.

Shohei Ohtani of the Angels getting the other two. He finished second.

The Cardinals' Paul Goldschmidt taking home the National League award. He's just the fifth player ever to win his first MVP after turning 35 years old.

And Judge's A.L. record 62nd home run ball is now heading to auction. Cory Youmans, who caught the ball in Arlington, Texas, told ESPN he turned down $3 million for the ball and decided to send the ball to auction because "it seems fair in the sense it gives anyone that is interested and has the means the opportunity to own it."

ROMANS: Huh. I wonder --

SCHOLES: So it's going to go -- yes.

ROMANS: I mean, I would have gone with the $3 million -- you know, a bird in the hand. But, I mean, do you think he can get more than $3 million for that?

SCHOLES: You know, I think he will. I think he's going to get somewhere between three and four. But, you know, we're going -- hard times right now for a lot, Christine, but I guess when it comes to these one-of-a-kind memorabilia --


SCHOLES: -- you just never know what it's going to go for.

ROMANS: All right, Andy. Nice to see you. Have a great weekend, Andy.

SCHOLES: You, too.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.