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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Announces Resignation; Mafia Boss Caught After Decades On The Run Due In Court Today; Today: Workers In France Protest Government Rule To Delay Retirement. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 19, 2023 - 05:30   ET




JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: Anyone could ever have, but also one of the more challenging. You cannot and should not do it unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Jacinda Arden also added that she's not leaving the job because it was hard.

And she went on to list the number of challenges that she and her government had to deal with during the last 5 1/2 years of her time in office, including the COVID-19 pandemic, including the deadly volcanic eruption on Whakaari Island. And including, of course, the devastating 2019 Christ Church terror attacks when a terrorist targeted two mosques and ultimately, took the lives of 51 people and Jacinda Arden responded with compassion and decisive action.

On the international stage, she has been hailed for her progressive views, for her strong leadership. Domestically, she had been facing some strong political headwinds.

As for what's next for her personally, she says professionally, no plans yet. But Christine, she says she is looking to being there with her 4-year-old daughter as she starts school later on in the year, and as Jacinda Ardern put it, finally marrying her partner.

Back to you.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks so much for that, Kristie Lu Stout.

All right. The Sicilian mafia boss who was caught after three decades on the run is supposed to appear in court today via video -- but, so far, he's a no-show.

Barbie Latza Nadeau is live in Rome for us. Barbie, what's going on this morning? BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN REPORTER: Yes, you know, this is the first court appearance. He's been convicted in absentia on a number of crimes here serving multiple life sentences. This is the first time he was supposed to appear in court and he's chosen not to -- well within his rights under the Italian legal system. And he is represented by his niece who is a criminal lawyer, conveniently.

So we're going to -- waiting to see and hear what's coming out of this court decision. This is actually the appellate level. Italy has a complex court system. Everybody gets three tries, essentially. First degree, in which he was convicted -- he gets an automatic right to appeal, which is where he is right now. And then the high court will rule on it.

And there are a number of trials coming up. This is the first time.

We do know he's very sick. We do know that he has cancer and he's been getting treatment. And so, we're just waiting to hear exactly why that chair is, so far, empty --


NADEAU: -- today.

ROMANS: All right, keep us posted when you get any news. Barbie, thanks.

Quick hits around the globe right now.

A suspected Russian spy ship has been spotted in international waters off the coast of Hawaii. The U.S. Coast Guard says the situation is not unusual but it is tracking it closely.

A potential political crisis could be brewing in Israel after its top court ordered Prime Minister Netanyahu to remove a key right-wing coalition ally from a cabinet post because of a conviction on tax fraud.

The Church of England refuses to allow same-sex couples to marry in its churches in a country where it's been legal since 2013. The decision comes after six years of debate in the church.

Right now, angry protests in France over the government's plans to raise the retirement age. And the Buffalo Bills in a good place after Damar Hamlin's uplifting visits to the team.



ROMANS: All right. Imagine you're getting ready to retire after decades at work only to have the government tell you not so fast -- you have to work another two years to collect your pension.

CNN's Melissa Bell has more from Paris.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 28 years, Enrique Moreira has carried the same equipment to work. But on Thursday, he'll take to the streets in protest over the two extra years the government wants him to spend working for his pension.

ENRIQUE MOREIRA, CONSTRUCTION WORKER (through translator): Living is getting more expensive, retirement further away. It's ridiculous. I can't go on. That's why we have to take to the streets and that's what we'll do on Thursday.

BELL (voice-over): French President Emmanuel Macron has unsuccessfully tried pension reform before. In 2020, he backed down in the face of street protests and the COVID pandemic. Twenty-twenty- three, he says, will be different.

EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): This year will be the year of pension reform, which aims to guarantee the balance in your system for the coming years and decades. We need to work more.

BELL (voice-over): Currently, the French can retire at 62 or even earlier, in some cases, with a minimum monthly government pension of around 1,000 euros.

Earlier this month, the French prime minister announced plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, with a full pension raised by an average of 100 euros a month.

STEPHANIE RIST, MEMBER, FRENCH PARLIAMENT (through translator): If we don't pass this reform, the books will not be balanced, which means that we will have to lower the pensions of retirees or increase the contributions of working people, thus producing the purchasing power of the French.

BELL (voice-over): Pension reform has been derailed in the past, in 1995, under then-President Jacques Chirac. It also faced stiff resistance under Macron's two predecessors.

FRANCOIS HOMMERIL, PRESIDENT, CFE-CGC UNION (through translator): It's true that there is a strong symbolic value for the social model put in place after World War II. The political forces from the far left to the right came together to govern France and they created this model. It's our heritage, our wealth, and the French are incredibly attached to it.

BELL (voice-over): The hope of the unions on Thursday, that the protests will be as big as they were in 2010 when they claim more than three million people took to the streets of France.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


ROMANS: All right, Melissa. Thank you for that.

Just weeks after suffering cardiac arrest on the field, Bills safety Damar Hamlin is back. He's back at the team's facility almost daily.

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


So the story of Damar Hamlin's recovery just continues to trend in a remarkably positive way. He was released from the hospital last week and now he's back at the team facility on a regular basis.

The Bills set to host the Bengals in the divisional round of the playoffs on Sunday. Cincinnati the team Buffalo was playing when Hamlin was injured.

Now, Hamlin isn't attending team meetings yet, but teammates say just having him around -- it's raising everyone's spirits.



JOSH ALLEN, QUARTERBACK, BUFFALO BILLS: We don't want to overload him with too much right now, but it's been good to see him with a smile on his face and the guys love having him back in the building.

DION DAWKINS, OFFENSIVE LINEMAN, BUFFALO BILLS: It's a positive thing. And to see three just smiling and just wave and just put his hearts up and keep pushing, it's -- like, it's a positive energy bubble that's just floating around the facility.


SCHOLES: All right, the NHL where the Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos reached a milestone last night. In the first period against the Canucks, Stamkos becoming the 47th player in NHL history to reach 500 career goals and only the third active player to do it, joining Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

It was quite the night for Stamkos. The 32-year-old ending up with a hat trick as Tampa won that game 5-2.

All right, to the NBA. LeBron and the Lakers hosting the Kings. Under two to go, watch LeBron here just muscling his way in for the bucket, plus the foul. LeBron had 32 points. He continues to close in on the NBA's all-time leading scoring mark.

Harrison Barnes, though, responds for the Kings with the and one.

Sacramento would win 116-111. The Kings in third place in the west right now -- the first time since 2005. The Kings are seven games over five.

All right, and a fun moment during a break in that game. Watch this Lakers fan knocking down the half-court shot to win $70,000. A pretty cool customer there, too, as well. Hat backwards, hand kept raised up right there. He was pretty confident. All right. Speaking of confidence, we're used to seeing Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow wearing his number nine on the field on Sundays, but he showed up to his news conference yesterday in a number eight jersey. And all the reporters there immediately asked him what was going on.


JOE BURROW, QUARTERBACK, CINCINNATI BENGALS: (Laughing) I guess I put the wrong one on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good game, Brandon.

BURROW: (Laughing).

Well, so what happened was I forgot about the press conference and so, I also have new pants on. And so, I threw my jersey back on but apparently, it wasn't my jersey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has it been that type of day?

BURROW: I guess it's been that kind of -- kind of day, huh?


SCHOLES: So, back-up quarterback Brandon Allen, Christine, wears number eight.

But I love that Burrows said wait, I have a press conference? He was just running around the threw whatever on. It wasn't even his jersey.

ROMANS: As long as he's on, on the field, that's all that matters, right?


ROMANS: All that matters --

SCHOLES: Exactly.

ROMANS: -- is he's got everything straight when he's on the field. All right.

SCHOLES: Get it together by Sunday, Joe.

ROMANS: I've had days like that.

All right, nice to see you. Thank you so much --

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: -- Andy Scholes.

All right, here is today's fast-forward look ahead. This morning, the Santa Fe D.A.'s office will announce whether any criminal charges will be filed in the fatal shooting of the cinematographer on the "Rust" movie set in 2021. Actor Alec Baldwin was holding the gun when the shot was fired.

Jury deliberations will begin today in the second Oath Keepers trial where they'll consider eight charges against four defendants, including seditious conspiracy. All four have pleaded not guilty.

President Biden will head to California today to survey weeks of storm damage. He'll be meeting with business owners and first responders in Santa Cruz County before speaking at a state park this afternoon.

All right, coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING," the Massachusetts man accused of killing his wife. The trail prosecutors say he left all over this internet browser.

And next, right here, the new movie in the works on Michael Jackson.



ROMANS: All right, your Romans' Numeral this morning, 421. That's $4.21 -- currently the average price for a gallon of milk in the U.S. The price of milk has crept up the last few years. It's become so expensive to produce because of the rising cost of buying cattle, animal feed, farm labor.

And it's not just milk prices that remain stubbornly high. On average, groceries cost nearly 12 percent more than they did a year ago.

Looking at markets around the world this Thursday morning, European stock markets are lower. Global recession risks still a nagging concern there. Asian shares closed mixed.

And on Wall Street, stock index futures are leaning down after the Dow fell more than 600 points yesterday and the Nasdaq's seven-day winning streak ended.

December retail sales fell the most in a year. Inflation has consumers pulling back a bit. But wholesale prices fell. Inflation peaking here. Still high, but maybe cooling.

Looking at prices at the pump, gas prices up two pennies overnight, now $3.38 a gallon.

Weekly jobless claims figures are due out later this morning at just about 8:30 a.m. eastern time.

Let's bring in chief global strategist at Principle Asset Management, Seema Shah. Good morning. So nice to see you, Seema.

SEEMA SHAH, CHIEF GLOBAL STRATEGIST, PRINCIPLE ASSET MANAGEMENT (via Skype): Good morning. ROMANS: So, inflation looks like it has peaked. That's a good thing. But the global recession fears are still very much alive. Square those two things for me if you will.

SHAH: Yes, sure. So, as you said -- look, inflation is peaking and that's really good news, and we are expecting it to decelerate through the progress of 2023. But we have to remember as well as just inflation coming down naturally because of improving supply chains and hopefully, the food and energy side starting to improve as well.

One of the reasons that inflation is coming is because the economy is slowing. And the economy is slowing because central banks around the world, including the Federal Reserve, have raised rates very aggressively. In fact, it was the most -- it has been the most aggressive tightening cycle since the 1980s. So, unfortunately, bringing down inflation does also imply that recession is growing more and more likely.

ROMANS: So, is there still a path to that so-called soft landing? I mean, on the one hand, you've inflation peaking. That's because other parts of the economy appear to be slowing, like retail sales, for example. But the job market still remains so strong. Any worsening in the job market comes from a very, very good place almost, you know?


SHAH: That is very true. And, you know, a soft landing is going to be the time where the U.S. wants to avoid recession. It is a possibility, absolutely.

And as you said, consumers have been quite resilient to date. And the labor market, particularly, has been very, very strong with a 3.5 percent unemployment rate. It tells you just the significant strength.

The concern, though, is that the labor market is typically the last indicator to react to the slowing economic environment. So it might be that it could be several months still before you start to see the labor market really show the impact of this weakness.

It does, however, mean -- as you said, the strength of the labor market does mean that if there is a recession, that recession is unlikely to be anything like the great financial crisis. It should be quite short, so we're thinking about two to three quarters in length. That's the average U.S. recession. And it shouldn't be in any way as deep as what we saw during the GFC.

So this is -- it's -- clearly, it's bad news, but it's certainly not as bad as it could have been and certainly was about 10 years ago.

ROMANS: So, as we're gauging recession risks for the global economy and the U.S. economy this year, then comes this manufactured crisis in Washington that periodically rears its ugly head, and that is the debt ceiling drama.

The U.S. hits its debt ceiling today, then in four or five months, the accounting maneuvers of the Treasury Department will run out and the U.S. has to pick which bills to pay.

How concerned are you about political risk in this outlook?

SHAH: Well, the first thing to say on this is that, look, we've been here many, many times over. There's a lot of concern and panic right until the last minute and then, finally, it's passed. So we have to see that there's going to be something like that again.

But I have to say the political risk this time around is a little bit more elevated. One of the concerns that we do have is that in order to get the debt ceiling past -- to be raised -- there are going to be so many concessions coming through. But it's very unlikely that if there is economic weakness coming through, as we anticipate, there will not be any fiscal help. So, no fiscal stimulus coming at a time when the U.S. economy really does need it.

And, of course, if the debt ceiling is not passed, that would be a major hit to a U.S. economy that really can ill afford any kind of negative impacts like that right now.

ROMANS: Yes, just really awful timing when you're trying to navigate this -- these tricky, tricky waters.

Seema Shah, Principle Asset Management -- Principle Financial Asset Management, thank you so much. Nice to see you today.

SHAH: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. America's largest party supply store is filing for bankruptcy. Party City says it has reached an agreement to cut its $1.7 billion debt load and secured $150 million in financing to keep its doors open.

For years, the company has had to battle competition from big-box chains and online retailers that sell more variety. It also had to contend with rising costs caused by pandemic, including for helium storage, which hurt its crucial balloon business.

All right, a new lie from GOP Congressman George Santos has just been exposed. The paperwork proving his mother was not where he said she was on 9/11 ahead.

And there's a new study on the popular intermittent fasting trend. Why it might not be the best plan for weight loss. That's coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING."



ROMANS: Our Top of the Morning, top airlines in the U.S. as ranked by The Wall Street Journal.



ROMANS: Delta is number one with the best scores for on-time flights, cancellations, and bumping.

Number two --




ROMANS: -- Alaska Airlines. The carrier was better than anyone else at avoiding extreme delays.

And a surprise a number three --




ROMANS: -- Southwest. Yes, the same Southwest that canceled more than 16,000 flights over the holidays. Southwest did rank near the bottom in cancellations and bumping, but data on complaints and baggage handling from December isn't in yet. That will factor into next year's rankings.

All right. A new movie now in the works about the life of the King of Pop.


Clip from Lionsgate "Michael."


ROMANS: Lionsgate and director Antoine Fuqua are working on a new Michael Jackson film titled "Michael." Lionsgate says the film will address all aspects of Jackson's life, although it's not clear how the controversies involving accusations of child sex abuse will be addressed. The film is being produced with Jackson's estate, which has defended him against those allegations.

All right, BTS bandmate Jin completing five weeks of basic military training in South Korea.




ROMANS: Jin enlisted last month to begin 1 1/2 years of mandatory military service. He shared his first photos taken in uniform Wednesday. At 30 years old, Jin is the oldest member of the K-Pop supergroup and the first to go through mandatory service. Eventually, all the members of the group plan to do it.

You're welcome -- you'll have that song in your head all morning.

All right. SpaceX launching its second mission to the U.S. -- for the U.S. military in less than three days.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one, engines full power, and liftoff.


ROMANS: The Falcon 9 rocket sent into orbit, the sixth new satellite known as GPS 3. It's part of the next generation of GPS satellites built by Lockheed Martin. The goal is to upgrade the GPS constellation of 31 satellites operated by the U.S. Space Force. GPS services are routinely used by smartphones, but Lockheed Martin says it also serves military purposes.

All right, thanks for joining us here.