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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Italy Arrests 'Most Wanted' Sicilian Mafia Boss Matteo Denaro; California Rain After Drought Still Problematic For Farmers; Cowboys Blow Our Bucs 31-14, Will Face 49ers Sunday. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 17, 2023 - 05:30   ET



KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: "Q4 has likely marked the darkest before the dawn." He goes on to say "With the reopening timeline now significantly frontloaded, the economic outlook has brightened beyond the near-term."

Now, looking ahead -- for the year ahead -- 2023 -- China's economy is set to have a rebound because of multiple factors. China is finally going to learn how to live with COVID. China's leaders have also pledged to stabilize the economy. And also, we've seen signs that the Chinese government is easing that harsh regulatory crackdown on this technology sector.

And that's why international economists and analysts now anticipating economic growth in China to top five percent this year -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Kristie Lu Stout for us. Thank you so much for that. Nice to see you.

All right, quick hits around the globe right now.

Some Ukrainian troops are now in Oklahoma's Fort Sill to train on the patriot missile system. Officials say training on the complex system will take several months.

Former London Metropolitan Police officer David Carrick has pleaded guilty to an unprecedented 49 offenses against 12 women, including 24 counts of rape over 18 years. The police department now investigating 800 other offices for sex abuse and domestic abuse claims.


JAIR BOLSONARO, FORMER PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL (through translator): I regret what happened on the eighth. It's unbelievable.


ROMANS: Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he regrets what happened on January 8. That's when his supporters attack government buildings after he lost the presidential election to Lula da Silva.

All right, police in Italy have arrested their most wanted man -- a Sicilian mafia boss on the run for three decades.

And could the Bucs' loss to the Cowboys be the last time Tom Brady tips his cap to the crowd?



ROMANS: Italian police have taken down one of Europol's most wanted men. Sicilian mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro arrested Monday while he was at a private health clinic in Palermo. He has been on the run for 30 years.

CNN's Barbie Latza Nadeau is live in Rome for us. And Barbie, this is a major takedown for the Italians. What can you tell us about him?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN REPORTER: Yes. You know, this is one of the most dangerous men in the Italian mafia in the Cosa Nostra in Sicily. And a lot of questions are being asked now, 24 hours later, about who was complicit in keeping this man hidden for so long.

We took a closer look at his life of crime.


NADEAU (voice-over): Messina Denaro was last seen publicly in 1993, shortly before he went into hiding after he was convicted in absentia for the assassinations of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, both killed in separate targeted bombings in 1992. Police have been searching for him ever since.

Messina Denaro is thought to have led the Cosa Nostra mafia in Sicily since the arrest of his predecessor, Bernardo Provenzano, who was captured near the infamous Sicilian town of Corleone in 2006.

Messina Denaro has multiple convictions for murder, including the kidnapping and death of a 12-year-old boy whose body was dissolved in acid.

Despite evading police for so long, there was cause for celebration.

MAURIZIO BELLACOSA: The arrest is a very, very important event. Obviously, Mr. Matteo Messina Denaro is the keeper of fundamental secrets in a very delicate matter. As for example, the reasons of the (INAUDIBLE) mafia crimes or the possible conevence (PH) between political subjects and mafia leaders.

NADEAU (voice-over): Italy's new prime minister Giorgia Meloni was in Palermo to celebrate the spectacular arrest.

GIORGIA MELONI, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER: (Speaking foreign language).

NADEAU (voice-over): She said, "The war against the mafia is not over, but this was a battle that was fundamental to win, and it's a hard hit to organized crime." Now, the so-called boss of bosses will be held in a high-security prison, and authorities fear his replacement is likely already on the job.


NADEAU: And when you think about this, probably the most important aspect of this is who is in charge now. Just because he's behind bars doesn't mean that's the end of the criminal enterprise in Sicily. Now investigators are looking at who is giving the orders -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, thank you so much, Barbie Nadeau. Nice to see you.

All right, electric vehicles -- EVs -- gaining popularity faster than expected. The eye-popping number sold last year, next.

California with relentless rain after years of drought. Why that's still a problem for farmers, ahead.



ROMANS: Your Romans' Numeral this morning is 10. Electric vehicles make up 10 percent now of global car sales last year. The Wall Street Journal reports electric vehicle sales jumped 68 percent last year to 7.8 million. EVs still make up only a small fraction of car sales in the U.S. but they're showing strong growth in Europe and China.

Looking at markets around the world, Asian markets ended the day mixed. China reporting the slowest economic growth in five or six decades. COVID lockdowns and a housing crisis slowing its economy to three percent last year.

On Wall Street, stock index futures this morning leaning lower. They're going to reopen today for the week following the MLK holiday.

Big bank earnings due out later today. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley report results.

On inflation watch, folks, gas prices rose one penny overnight, now at $3.33 a gallon.

A busy economic week ahead. A critical report on retail sales, housing data, and Producer Price Index for December all will be released this week.

All right, the series of storms pounding California follows three years of megadrought, but many farms in the state will only see limited benefits from all this rain. Many will suffer crop losses because the soil cannot absorb heavy, nonstop rainfall.

I want to bring in Daniel Munch, economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation. So nice to see you this morning, Daniel.

Too much water in a state that produces a third of the nation's vegetables and two-thirds of the fruits and nuts. What is the situation, and how will all of this water maybe help the drought this year at all? Will it?

DANIEL MUNCH, ECONOMIST, AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION (via Webex by Cisco): Yes. So, first point, when we think of January in California, many farmers in the middle to southern part of the state are in the middle of planting. So they're preparing acreage for seeding. Many of them have already started seeding things like lettuce and spinach, onion, peas all being planted right now.

So when we get this much flooding it washes a lot of that work and a lot of that seeding away. It's going to minimize the ability for farmers to produce those crops on the schedule they originally had planned.


Further south in the state, many crops are harvested year-round, like strawberries, broccoli, asparagus. Much of that acreage is now underwater. When any sort of floodwater touches an edible piece of a crop, the FDA considers it adultured (PH) and it can't be sold for human consumption. So these farmers are losing out on a lot of revenue.

Unfortunately, when we think of drought, for the past two years -- extreme drought in California -- none of this water is really seeping into the soil because of how dry it's been. So much of it's just sliding right off and not benefiting farmers in the long run.


So what does it mean, do you think, for the prices of fruits and vegetables? We've had -- inflation has been the story for the last year and a half. I mean, is this something that could drive prices higher, do you think?

MUNCH: Yes. So just like drought, flooding -- destruction of crops is going to act as a supply side shock. So that means that we're going to have a harder time sourcing these fruits and vegetables domestically. So that means we're going to look elsewhere for these products and prices are likely going to be higher.

We also have to think of the seasonal sourcing that a lot of grocery stores do. They're very specific to a specific harvest pattern. If that harvest pattern is disrupted because of this flooding like it is, it's likely that some supermarkets are not going to be able to access the fruits and vegetables they need in the same timely manner and, again, will look elsewhere for product outside of the United States.

ROMANS: Got it.

MUNCH: So consumers are likely to see higher prices.

ROMANS: You know, in the best of times, farming is just the toughest small business you could be in because of all of these factors out of your own control, right? So what do farmers do here? How do you bounce back after a flood disaster on the heels of three years of megadrought?

MUNCH: Right. So, when we think a lot of -- of a lot of our major row crops, like our soybeans and corn, most of that acreage is actually insured. So when there's a disaster, farmers usually have a safety net to fall back on that provides payments of an insurance program they paid into.

Now, when we think of specialty crops, like fruits and vegetables, much of that acreage is uninsured. There's not a lot of good programs to protect specialty crops -- fruits and vegetables -- against disasters because of how small and thin those markets are traded on. There's not a good data pricing set for farmers to -- and insurance companies to provide insurance.

So much of those farmers don't have insurance so they really fall back on ad-hoc disaster assistance programs. We know recently, the omnibus bill passed -- $3.7 billion in additional disaster aid. But that's only for 2022 losses, not for 2023. So these farmers are going to wait a long time before they receive any aid, and don't have a lot of risk management options to fall back on.

ROMANS: Talk to me a little bit about all this rain. Is there any silver lining that this rain is going to replenish some of the -- some of the water tables -- some of the reservoirs that -- the drought has been the big story before all this rain?

MUNCH: Right. So one of the good pieces of this is that the snowpack in the Sierra Mountains, which is the main sort of metric used to forecast drought in California, has been increasing greatly. Many, many feet of snow up in the Sierra Mountains. This means that the lower valleys can rely on a more steady stream of water.

The bad news is there is a lot of water management districts in California that still don't have any drought mitigation plans in place -- most of them just for strict water use and decreased food production in times of drought. They should be being more -- a little bit more proactive when we have this much moisture in collecting that rain for off-year storage.

So, we're hoping that further down the line there is going to be more drought in California --


MUNCH: -- but there's a little bit better preparation in place during times of high moisture like this.

ROMANS: All right. So nice to see you, Daniel Munch -- for like walking us through that story -- American Farm Bureau economist. I mean, this is the -- this would be the fifth-largest economy in the world if it were its own country, almost as big as Germany. So it really matters what's happening there for everyone.

Thank you so much. Nice to see you, Daniel.

All right, the Cowboys blow out the Buccaneers in the NFL Playoffs, raising questions about what's next for quarterback Tom Brady.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Carolyn.


It's like deja vu. We're talking about this weekend, right? Will he or won't he. The seven-time Super Bowl champion went into last night's playoff game with a perfect 7-0 record, as you might expect, against Dallas.

If the Cowboys were going to win their first playoff game on the road since the early '90s, they would need to have a huge game from their franchise quarterback. And Dak Prescott delivered. Dak throwing for 305 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also ran for 24 yards and a score, becoming the first player in Cowboys history to throw for two touchdowns and rush for a touchdown in a playoff game.

But Cowboys kicker Brett Maher delivered drama of a different sort, missing not one, not two, not three, but four extra point attempts in the game. No kicker had missed as many as three in a playoff game since the NFL started keeping track of this stat back in the '30s.

And on the "MANNINGCAST," Peyton and Eli could not believe what was happening after the third miss.


ELI MANNING, FORMER NFL QUARTERBACK, HOST, "MANNINGCAST": Oh my God. You've got to be kidding me. I've never seen anything like this.



E. MANNING: What's going on?

P. MANNING: Why are we kicking it?


MANNO: This feels mean to report on. I have to say it. But, I mean, despite his woes, the Cowboys did still win 31-14.

And after the game, Dak Prescott had his teammate's back.


DAK PRESCOTT, QUARTERBACK, DALLAS COWBOYS: I'm Money Maher's biggest fan. Yes -- I mean, I talked to him individually and told him -- just told him after the game -- hey, let that go. We're going to need it. I just played like shit a week ago so, I mean, that happens.

But when you believe in each other and you believe in what we're capable of doing and knowing what that guy has done, the resiliency he has shown throughout his career -- personally, no doubt that he will come back next week and be perfect and help us win.


MANNO: Classy move there from the leader of the locker room.

When it's all said and done, a win is a win and that calls for a celebration. Head coach Mike McCarthy dancing in the locker room after his first playoff win with Dallas. Those special dancing shoes likely already packed away though, Christine. Next up, a trip to San Francisco to face the 49ers, who have won 11 consecutive games. I could watch that all morning.

ROMANS: I do love it.

MANNO: The loss officially ends the Buccaneers' season and possibly, Tom Brady's career on the field. The 45-year-old superstar retired and unretired last off-season. The future Hall of Famer says he's going to take his time before deciding on what's next.


TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: I'm going to go home and get a good night's sleep as good as I can tonight.


BRADY: No, I'm not. You know, this has been a lot of focus on this game, so yes. It will just be one day at a time, truly.


MANNO: So we'll wait for answers there.

LeBron James, 38 years old, has been playing in the NBA for 20 years and is still at the top of his game. James powering the Lakers to an 8-point win against the Rockets for the season-high 48 points. Only Michael Jordan has more 40-point games in NBA history after turning 35. Jordan had 12, LeBron has eight right now.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr called Steph Curry the modern MJ after last night's game against the Wizards and you cannot deny the comparison. I mean, another masterful performance for Curry -- 41 points, including six threes. The Washington crowd even chanting "MVP" while Steph led Golden State to a 9-point win.

The defending NBA champs have one more stop to make before they leave D.C. today. The team is visiting President Biden at the White House to celebrate winning their fourth title in eight seasons.

So this is the first time in seven years that they've actually done this, Christine.


MANNO: They won a pair but did not go to the White House, as many remember, during Donald Trump's presidency. So they said they're excited to celebrate with President Biden.

ROMANS: Warriors at -- Warriors at the White House -- all right.

Nice to see you. Thank you, Carolyn.

All right, next on "CNN THIS MORNING," more on President Biden's classified document scandal. More possible searches for more papers.

And next, what scientists have discovered about lasers and lightning.



ROMANS: Our Top of the Morning, the top jobs in America. This is not about pay. These are the happiest, least stressful, most meaningful jobs.

Lumberjack tops the list. People who work in logging, forestry, and agriculture report the highest level of happiness and the lowest stress. Number two, workers in real estate, rental, and leasing, though they did report more stress. Number three, construction workers with solid scores for happiness, job satisfaction, and stress levels.

All right, the lightning rod hasn't changed since Benjamin Franklin, but a new discovery could change that.


STORM CHASING VIDEO: Lightning strike.


ROMANS: So, scientists say they have successfully tested a system that steers lightning bolts with lasers. Traditional lightning rods safely guide strikes into the ground, but they have short range and they can't cover large areas. Lasers could one day help protect airports, launch pads, and tall buildings from lightning strikes. Very cool.

More than 10 million Americans bracing for several inches of snowfall today. Winter weather alerts have been issued across the western and central U.S. Denver -- everybody out there in Denver, you could get up to 11 inches and face hazardous travel conditions.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers joins me now. Chad, which areas are expected to see the most snow?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, I mean, Denver all the through Nebraska, really. I mean, this is plowable snow we're talking about, six to 12 inches, and more snow in the Four Corners where they need it. This snow here will melt later in the season and get into Lake Mead.

Here's where the rain and snow is right now. Rain across the southeast. It's going to be a wet commute for D.C. later on. And also, even for the white commute into Denver for late tonight and certainly, for tomorrow. That's where the snow is going at this point.

Notice I haven't mentioned California. This is the storm -- the last one that moved into California. It's now in the Plains and moving away, making that heavy snow for parts of Iowa and Minnesota -- also, Nebraska and into the higher elevations here of Colorado where they certainly need it.

There's a potential for severe weather for tomorrow in the central part of the country -- the southeast especially -- and very, very heavy rainfall in other spots. We will see two to four inches of rain across these areas. But there you go -- that six to 12-inch snowfall here.

Here's the outlook for California. Below-average precipitation over the next six to 10 days. That is some good news -- to let that water run off.

I loved your interview just a little bit ago. But believe it or not, Lake Oroville is up 127 feet since the rain started. It's still down.