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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Italy Displays Looted Antiquities Worth $20 Million After Return; More Oath Keepers Found Guilty Of Seditious Conspiracy; Study: Dollar Stores Are The Fastest Growing U.S. Food Retailer. Aired 5:30- 6a ET

Aired January 24, 2023 - 05:30   ET




KURT ERIKSEN, FRONT LINE MEDICS: So we don't have any idea before we see them and we do an assessment.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Our interview cut short by an incoming Russian round. At a slightly safer distance from the fighting, they park their mobile clinic and treat who they can.

Oleksandr (PH) says his feet are in pain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you ask him which foot it is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

OLEKSANDR: (Speaking foreign language).



WEDEMAN (voice-over): He lives in an unheated apartment and he's suffering from frostbite. They'll take him to a hospital outside Bakhmut. And he couldn't leave a moment sooner. The Russian noose is tightening.

WEDEMAN (on camera): Slowly, Russian forces are gaining ground. They're on the high ground behind me. They're advancing from the north and they're advancing from the south.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): The worst is yet to come says British volunteer soldier, Daniel Burke.

DANIEL BURKE, BRITISH VOLUNTEER SOLDIER: (INAUDIBLE). We're going to try and do a big pincer movement around Bakhmut. I don't think they're going to try to circle it per se, but they're going to try and go past it through the fields and it just goes off (INAUDIBLE).

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Yet, residents stay on and volunteers of all stripes do what they can.

Victoria Linnik is doing the rounds, handing out food and water.

WEDEMAN (on camera): Are you a little nervous with this situation here?


WEDEMAN (on camera): (Laughing).

LINNIK: Do you see nervous? No.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Nerves of steel as the shelling goes on.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Bakhmut.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Ben, thank you for that.

Sixty stolen ancient artifacts worth $20 million are now back in Italy receiving a glorious homecoming when they were displayed in Rome Monday. Many of these eluded treasures were found in the private collection of U.S. billionaire Michael Steinhardt last year.

CNN's Barbie Latza Nadeau takes a look.


BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): These ancient artifacts worth some $20 million represent the latest success for Italy's Carabinieri's cultural heritage squad. Many were trafficked and ended up in the collection of American billionaire Michael Steinhardt, who has been banned for life from acquiring antiquities by the New York City district attorney.

Among them, this fresco stolen from Herculaneum near Pompei. And this bronze bust of a man dating back to around the 1st century CE or late BCE. They're back in Italy thanks to New York City's antiquities trafficking unit led by Col. Matthew Bogdanos.

MATTHEW BOGDANOS, HEAD, NEW YORK CITY ANTIQUITIES TRAFFICKING UNIT: These are not just pieces of marble, and limestone, and frescos. These represent our shared cultural heritage. In one respect, they belong to the world. But legally, from my purposes, they belong to the country of origin from which they were pillaged.

NADEAU (voice-over): The New York unit has carried out 75 raids and recovered 500 artifacts worth $55 million that have been returned to Italy, Bogdanos told us.


NADEAU (voice-over): "But the real value is their place in Italy's rich cultural identity," Carabinieri cultural heritage squad commander Vincenzo Molinese says.

MOLINESE: (Speaking foreign language).

NADEAU (voice-over): Many of these pieces that were in museums and private galleries end up in storage facilities once back in Italy.

DARIUS ARYA, ARCHAEOLOGIST: The artifacts have to deserve to and must go back to their home country. That's fundamental. Even if they're not the most important pieces compared to, let's say, the rich collections that exist in Italy, the point is they were robbed from this country and they deserve to go back to their home country.

NADEAU (voice-over): There may be cause for celebration now but these pieces represent only a drop in the bucket. Authorities say that more pieces are being stolen every moment.


NADEAU: And, you know, when you look at this, this is years of investigation both in the United States and here in Italy. The chasing of falsified documents -- how these beautiful artifacts left the country and then bringing them back in. And when you're looking, this is 60 items. There are thousands more yet to be discovered and returned back home, Christine.

ROMANS: What a story. All right, Barbie. Thank you so much for that.

Quick hits around the globe right now.

Convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell now claiming that photo capturing Prince Andrew with his arm around then-17-year-old Virginia Giuffre is fake. Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison for scheming with Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse underage girls.

Pakistan now recovering from the nationwide blackout that paralyzed the country for hours Monday. Nearly 220 million people were left in the dark. No word yet what caused it.


America and Israel have launched their largest-ever joint military live-fire exercise. The two allies sending a clear signal to Iran.

All right. Next, egg prices still skyrocketing. Are you getting gouged? And the top executive at Ticketmaster faces a Senate grilling after the Taylor Swift ticket snafu.


ROMANS: A jury has found more members of the far-right militia group Oath Keepers guilty of crimes related to the January 6 insurrection. This is a big win for federal prosecutors who pushed for a rare conviction on seditious conspiracy charges.

Here is CNN's Whitney Wild.


WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (on camera): All four men convicted of seditious conspiracy. This is so notable because in this first trial -- this first 10-week trial of the Oath Keepers that occurred in the fall, only two members out of five were convicted on seditious conspiracy. This charge is very hard to prove. It is very rare that it's even charged at all and rare that it results in convictions. So this case represents a huge win for the Justice Department.


More specifically about this case, this involved three members of the Oath Keepers -- one person who is associated with this far-right militia. Those four men are Roberto Munita, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel, and Edward Vallejo -- they are accused of plotting to stop the certification of Joe Biden's 2020 Electoral College victory.

The DOJ said that conspiracy culminated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Again, this charge is rare. It is severe. And it represents basically a slam dunk for the Justice Department knowing that they were able to secure this conviction against all four defendants in this case.

In the previous case, they were able to secure seditious conspiracy convictions against Stewart Rhodes, who was the, basically, leader of the Oath Keepers -- the head of the entire organization -- and another man named Kelly Meggs.

In both cases, key evidence came from the defendants' own words that were sometimes caught on video. Other times, they had put these words in text messages to groups and emails, to open letters.

In this latest case, a prosecutor cited one defendant saying, "Millions will die. Get your f-ing soul ready." That was the language and actually, a piece of video that prosecutors used in the closing arguments in this case.

Munita, Hackett, and Moerschel, and Vallejo faced additional charges and were convicted on some of those charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding. All four men now face the possibility of decades in prison.

Whitney Wild, CNN, Washington.


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

To sports now. It's championship weekend in the NFL. The big question is will Patrick Mahomes be ready to play after injuring his ankle?

Andy Scholes has this morning's --

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. ROMANS: -- Bleacher Report. What's up with Mahomes?

SCHOLES: Yes, good morning, Christine.

Well, we know Patrick Mahomes is going to do whatever he can to play, right? He's continuing to get treatment on that high ankle sprain. And as we saw on Saturday, Mahomes is certainly a trooper. He's going to try to get out there no matter what. He had to leave Saturday's win in the first quarter before eventually returning after halftime.

Mahomes definitely going to be hobbled by that ankle. But head coach Andy Reid can't imagine him not being on the field Sunday against the Bengals.


ANDY REID, HEAD COACH, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: He mentioned to you that he is going to play. So, I mean, that's his mindset. And then we'll just take it day by day and see how he does. He's worked hard in the treatment and is doing OK.


SCHOLES: The spread for Sunday's game originally opened, having the Chiefs as the favorites but it has swung dramatically. The Bengals, who have won 10 in a row, are now favored by a point and a half in Kansas City.

All right. Tom Brady, meanwhile, is apparently getting tired of being asked about his future in the NFL, even on his own podcast. In the latest episode of "Let's Go!," host Jim Gray asked Brady if he has a timetable for making a decision, and this was Brady's response.


TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: If I knew what I was going to f-ing do I'd have already f-ing done it, OK? I'm taking it a day at a time.

JIM GRAY, HOST, "LET'S GO!" PODCAST: I sense you're antagonized by the question.

BRADY: You're scratchy.

GRAY: It's only the question that everybody wants to hear.

BRADY: You're scratchy. I appreciate you asking. Thank you.


SCHOLES: All right. In the NBA last night we had a crazy amount of scoring. The Kings hitting 12 threes in the first quarter. That tied the mark for the most by any team in any quarter in NBA history. Sacramento would beat the Grizzlies easily, 133-100.

The Bucks, meanwhile, putting a 150 on the Pistons. Giannis, returning from his five-game absence due to injury, certainly didn't miss a step. The "Greek Freak" with 20 of his 29 points in the first quarter.

The Bucks scored 49 in the first, two shy of an NBA record. They were up 25 at the point and went on to win easily, 150-130.

All right, finally, Peyton and Eli Manning are channeling their inner Zoolander to promote the upcoming Pro Bowl games. The siblings recreated a scene from the movie that's gone viral on social media over the last few weeks. Check it out.



PEYTON MANNING, FORMER NFL QUARTERBACK: You're excused. And I'm not your bra.

E. MANNING: Yes, you are. Excuse me, bra.

P. MANNING: You're excused.


SCHOLES: All right. And just a reminder, Christine, no more -- no more Pro Bowl game this time around. They're going to play all kinds of fun competitions --

ROMANS: All right.

SCHOLES: -- like dodgeball, who could hit the golf -- a golf ball the furthest, tic-tac-toe, which should be fun to watch. I'm actually a little more intrigued by all these fun games the NFL players --


SCHOLES: -- are going to do as opposed to a traditional --


SCHOLES: -- matchup.

ROMANS: Interesting. All right -- should be a lot of good highlights from that.

Nice to see you.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: Have a good day, Andy.

Here is today's fast-forward look ahead.

The Georgia grand jury report on the efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election could be released soon. A judge will hear arguments on whether to make it public today.

A Senate hearing today will examine whether Ticketmaster has too much influence on the music business in the wake of its service meltdown selling tickets to Taylor Swift's tour.


Clip from Paramount's "Top Gun: Maverick."



ROMANS: All right, "Top Gun: Maverick" could be among the Best Picture Oscar nominees announced today. Watch for "Elvis" and "Avatar: The Way of Water," too.

All right. Coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING," three mass shootings in three days in California. What is going on?

And next, right here, why more people are skipping the grocery store for the dollar store.


ROMANS: All right, your Roman's Numeral this morning is 200,000, as in tech layoffs this year. That's from tech layoffs tracking site More than 50,000 at Alphabet, Amazon, Meta, Microsoft. You know, they hired too much over the past couple of years and now tech CEOs are unwinding that pandemic hiring spree.

Looking at markets around the world this Tuesday morning, European markets are mixed right now. Asia closed for the week. China -- Chinese markets closed for the week. New data shows modest growth in business activity in the Eurozone in January.


On Wall Street, stock index futures leaning down a little bit after a big rally on Wall Street yesterday led by tech. Bad news on Main Street is good news for Wall Street. Investors cheering all that cost- cutting and layoffs in tech. There was also optimism the Fed will slow the pace of interest rate hikes.

It's been a strong year for markets after a lousy 2022. So far this year, look at the Nasdaq, up 8.6 percent. The S&P 500 near -- up nearly five percent. The Dow up 1 1/2 percent.

On inflation watch, gas prices rose three pennies overnight, now $3.45 a gallon. Today's national average is 35 cents more than a month ago.

All right. Did you know dollar stores are now the fastest-growing food retailers in the United States? A new study finds a 90 percent increase in household buying at dollar stores from the year 2008 to 2020.

CNN Business reporter Nathaniel Meyersohn joins me now. Tell me about the rise of dollar stores. I've always kind of wondered if this is linked to income inequality in America. NATHANIEL MEYERSOHN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: It is. So, you look at the number of dollar stores in the U.S. -- 35,000. To give you a sense of that, it's more than the number of locations that McDonald's and Starbucks have combined. They've been -- they've just been booming over the past decade, opening -- Dollar General, in particular, opening about 1,000 stores a year, particularly in rural areas.

And now there's this new research from Tufts University that shows that Dollar General is the fastest growing food retailer in the U.S. And that has serious implications, particularly for lower-income folks and people of color who are relying on these stores for food.

ROMANS: Talk to me a little bit about some of the communities that have tried to restrain the reach of dollar stores. Why?

MEYERSOHN: So there's been a lot of pushback on the rapid growth of dollar stores, particularly around the types of food that they sell. The Tufts researchers found that they were lower in nutrients, higher in calories than full-service grocery stores. They don't really carry fresh produce or meat. And critics say they push out mom-and-pop grocers and make it harder for small businesses to stay alive.

So you have Cleveland, Birmingham, Alabama, New Orleans, Oklahoma City -- they're trying to restrict the growth of dollar stores. They see them as predatory.

ROMANS: Let's talk about another place where there are some concerns about predatory behavior. Egg prices up 60 percent. Are you hearing this criticism that there might be price gouging going on? And do we have any evidence?

MEYERSOHN: So, yes, we've all seen the prices at -- for eggs at the grocery store -- egg-flation.

But what hasn't been talked about as much as the soaring sales and profits at Cal-Maine Foods, which is the largest egg producer in the country. It controls about 20 percent of the egg market. Sales up 110 percent last quarter; profit up 65 percent. And that's leading to criticism from consumer advocates and farm groups who say that Cal- Maine and egg producers are keeping these prices artificially high.

And Farm Action, which is a farm group --


MEYERSOHN: -- is calling on the FTC to investigate potential price gouging and competition in the egg industry.

ROMANS: It's so interesting. I mean, we're talking about eggs, but this is what -- the criticism you hear in the -- in the oil industry, for example, when oil prices soar, right, and they reap those sales and profits. So we'll watch that space.

Nice to see you. Nathaniel Meyersohn, thank you.

All right, California's governor calling it tragedy upon tragedy. More on the mass shootings there, next. And mail bombs in Spain. U.S. authorities say they now know the world power behind them.



ROMANS: Our Top of the Morning, the top-selling NFL jerseys this season.

Josh Allen's number 17 is number one, though you won't see it in the playoffs anymore, right, after the Bengals knocked the Bills out.

Micah Parson's number 11 from the Cowboys is number two. Dallas also eliminated over the weekend.

The third best-selling NFL jersey is Patrick Mahomes, number 15. The Chiefs are still in it, so you can go ahead and wear that Mahomes jersey probably, maybe, even all the way to the Super Bowl.

All right, to weather now. More than 100,000 people are without power in New England after a storm system brought heavy snow to the area, downing power lines in New Hampshire and Maine. A second cross-country system is expected to bring another wave of storms from the southwest to the northeast today.

Let's go to meteorologist Chad Myers. Several winter storms, Chad, in the works across the country. What can you tell us?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, lots of snow coming to the Midwest.

Still, 66,000 people in New Hampshire without power right now. That's the bulk of this northeastern power outage. And we're seeing temperatures here still very cold this morning. That's not good if you don't have power. And the heavy snow still on. Some of the trees bringing those power lines down.

Here is the next storm system. Will it bring severe weather across the Gulf Coast? Will it bring rain into parts of Texas, even in Arkansas -- and then, snow to the north of that? So let's get to it.

We will see the rain across parts of Texas this morning and that will get much heavier as we get down toward Houston by the midday.

There's your snow. Winter storm warnings all the way from about Toledo all the way back into New Mexico. That's a big, long line there.

But this is where it's going to be windy. Wind gusts will be 50 to 60 miles per hour. This is where the storms will be. Even we'll have some waterspouts coming on shore as tornadoes here across the Gulf Coast today.

Taking you ahead to about noon Houston time. That's when the worst will be here.

Now, the air getting very warm and moist to the east of this. This is the water -- this is the fuel that these storms will use later today to make that potential for wind damages and, yes, even a few tornadoes. Some could be strong.

Now, by tomorrow morning and even tomorrow afternoon, we could see the first batch of snow into parts of the northeast for New York. Haven't seen snow yet. Haven't seen anything really measurable there. This could be the first one.

But then, all of a sudden, what happens? The rain comes through and it gets all washed away. So, yes, we are going to see it but it won't last very long. Tomorrow, though, could be a train day for you.


MYERS: Here are, still, those power outages and they're not going away anytime soon. Crews having a hard time getting one branch.