Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Bola Tinubu Declared President Of Nigeria Amid Calls For Revolt; Ukrainian Forces Carefully Word To Defuse Mines; U.K. Supermarkets Rationing Fruits And Vegetables. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 01, 2023 - 05:30   ET



LARRY MADOWO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But here's what's happening. Right now life is back to normal in Nigeria and back to the regular inconveniences of living in this country, such as what you see here -- a line around people queuing up for cash. This has been a problem for the last couple of weeks after Nigeria redesigned some Naira notes and demonetized all the currencies. It led to a huge cash shortage like what you see here.

And these are some of the things that people are trying to change in the country. They saw promise in the youngish man, Peter Obi, who governors young people to register to vote. He came in third.

The winner of the election is Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is from the ruling party, and he reached out to his contestants -- listen.


BOLA AHMED TINUBU, NIGERIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT: I take this opportunity to appeal to my fellow contestants to let us team up together. It is the only nation we have.


MADOWO: The three major opposition parties in Nigeria have rejected that outcome. We're expecting a joint press conference by the two -- Labour Party and the People's Democratic Party.

And here's the thing, Christine, why this is interesting. Bola Tinubu led with only nine percent of the registered eligible voters in this country and when you compare it to the country as a whole -- 230 million people -- he was elected by only four percent of Nigerians. So it will be a difficult mandate for him to convince the whole country that he is the man to lead them. And we should hear what happens in the next few days and few weeks.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Larry Madowo. Thank you so much.

All right. As Ukrainian forces liberate land from Russian occupation they must carefully work to defuse mines and clear traps the Russians left behind.

CNN's Alex Marquardt has more for us this morning from the battlefield.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The hulking armored mine-clearer lurches into an open field. Over 40 tons, it spews exhaust, its tracks struggling across the muddy ground. Following close behind, the mine-clearance team called sappers. They advance deliberately on the hunt for deadly explosives. This is delicate work.

MARQUARDT (on camera): This was a Russian position, Russian trenches. And now these guys are working through here carefully, methodically looking for mines, for booby traps, and even Ukrainian ordnance -- those fired at the Russians who were here.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Last September, a Ukrainian counteroffensive pushed the Russians out of these trenches. Now, Col. Maksim Melnyk's team has been charged with clearing any explosives.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): "They have left many traps behind and many of our brothers -- our sappers have died," Melnyk says. "Russia doesn't obey international conventions. They put mines on top of mines, leave booby traps, and use banned mines."

Russian and Ukrainian mines are scattered throughout the eastern front making Ukraine one of the biggest minefields in the world. Rockets and other explosives can often fail to detonate when they land, too. All of it posing immense danger to civilians.

The sappers of Ukraine's DS&S emergency service, like Eduard Herasimenko who is the father of a 10-year-old daughter, are keenly aware of the danger.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): "It's dangerous for everybody," he says. "I wouldn't say we take more risks than others. Everybody is taking risks now."

Herasimenko was demining before the war started. Seeing what Russia has done to his country infuriates him.

HERASIMENKO: (Speaking foreign language).

MARQUARDT (voice-over): "They are just animals," he says. "There's no other way to describe them."

He finds and carries an unexploded rocket-propelled grenade to the side. Working day after day all across this country deminers know how much they still have left to do.

MARQUARDT (on camera): After the war, the soldiers get to go home but your work will continue for years.

MELNYK: (Speaking foreign language).

MARQUARDT (voice-over): "We will keep working for decades," Col. Melnyk says. "This will go on for decades."

Alex Marquardt, CNN, in Eastern Ukraine.


ROMANS: Alex, thank you for that.

Quick hits around the globe right now.

Putin's ally, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, meeting with China's President Xi and the Chinese premier in Beijing today. He'll also hold talks with executives of China's biggest corporations.

Finland beginning construction on barrier fences along its eastern border with Russia. The Fins also moving closer to joining the NATO alliance with Parliament taking up a bill to speed up that process.

Peruvian police seizing an 800-year-old mummy after finding it in a food delivery bag. The man carrying it said he had it in his home for three decades -- OK.


President Biden going back to Baltimore today. What to expect during his visit, ahead. And a fruit and veggie shortage forcing U.K. supermarkets to ration food.


ROMANS: All right, here is today's fast-forward lookahead.

The jury in the Alex Murdaugh murder trial visits Murdaugh's property today -- the same property where his wife and son were killed. The trial then heads to closing arguments.

President Biden returning to Baltimore today to speak at a House Democratic Caucus conference. He visited the city in early July to talk about funding plans for the Baltimore & Potomac tunnel.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads to New Delhi for the G24 ministers' meeting. The war in Ukraine expected to dominate discussions today with China and Russia in attendance.

All right, a western storm pushing eastward leaving heavy snow behind in California, especially in higher elevations like the San Bernardino mountains. It's knee-deep in Eldorado County stranding drivers across the state, including San Jose.


Let's get to meteorologist Chad Myers. It's not over yet. More storm threats expected, I'm told, later this week.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. Any time, Christine, we talk about snow in California you can fast-forward two days and there will be severe weather in the southeast. That's just kind of how it goes.

Here's the storm that came through a couple of days ago. Severe weather for the southeast today. The next storm system in the west -- that will bring severe weather tomorrow, tomorrow night, and even into Friday.

Yes, we still have blizzard warnings in the Sierra. Here's what the snow looks like looking out from Lake Arrowhead, California. I don't want to have to shovel that. That is way too heavy stuff out there. More snow coming down.

This storm ejects into the Plains and we will get a significant severe weather outbreak tomorrow.

For today, there will be severe weather. There will be some tornadoes likely. There may be even some hail and some wind.

But tomorrow is truly the day. Notice how things fire up south of Little Rock, right around Hot Springs, and even toward Memphis and then eventually, Nashville. That's today.

Then the storm back out to the west develops for tomorrow afternoon and things really get rolling. Bigger storms, longer lines, taller storms -- 50,000 feet in the sky -- and some of those will be rotating with the potential for tornadoes. Also some very heavy rainfall likely -- three to six inches in some of these flash flood watch areas -- Christine.

A busy couple of days for us.

ROMANS: All right, Chad Myers. Thank you very much.


ROMANS: OK, you've probably heard about this. British shoppers are facing these critical food shortages, especially fruits and vegetables. The images in major supermarkets of these empty shelves. Now these supermarkets are limiting purchases to sometimes just three vegetables at a time and the rationing could last until we're told, May.

CNN's Isa Soares has the details.


ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Row upon row of empty baskets, empty shelves. A supply gaffe in fruit and veg has hit U.K. supermarkets. The shortages affecting shoppers nationwide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went for lunch and I couldn't find, like, tomatoes, cucumber, or lettuce. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's quite annoying when you want trying to get part of a day in (PH) and you can't actually get it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fruits are empty. They're gone. Nothing there.

SOARES (voice-over): To deal with the shortages, major British supermarkets are imposing limits on items like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.

The U.K.'s minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the disruption should only last a few weeks and meanwhile, encouraged people to eat more seasonally. "Let them eat turnips," she said.

THERESE COFFEY, U.K. MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS: I'm conscious that consumers want a year-round choice and that is what our supermarkets and food -- and growers -- food producers and growers around the world try to satisfy.

SOARES (voice-over): Supermarkets are blaming the recent shortages on poor weather conditions in key growing regions. Britain produces a fraction of the food it consumes relying instead on overseas imports. And key supplies in southern Europe and North Africa -- in particular, Spain and Morocco -- have seen harvests hit by extreme weather conditions.

But while climate change plays a significant role in warmer than average temperatures the government faces another inconvenient truth, Brexit -- the cause of widespread supply chain disruption.

LIZ WEBSTER, CHAIR, SAVE BRITISH FARMING: Because of the interruption with trade in Europe who kind of underpin our food supply it means that there's less food coming in from Europe. We're producing less food so basically, our food security is in real trouble.

SOARES (voice-over): Labor shortages due to a lack of migrant workers and soaring energy prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine have pushed the gap even wider as farmers struggle with front-end costs, and those costs are passed on to the consumer. Consumers already grappling with record-high grocery prices and the worst cost of living crisis in decades.

Isa Soares, CNN, London.


ROMANS: All right, Isa. Thank you.

To sports now. The red-hot Milwaukee Bucks finish a perfect month of February with their 15th-straight win.

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


So February certainly was a great month for the Bucks. They went a perfect 10-0. You actually have to go all the way back to January 21 is the last time they lost a game.

And last night the Bucks playing in Brooklyn. Giannis Antetokounmpo -- he was back after missing one game with a sore knee and he looked great. In the first, here, watch him go coast-to-coast and throwing down the monster slam on two Nets players.

The Bucks were actually down 10 at the half but they had a huge third quarter. Giannis again taking it the length of the floor and throws down the one-handed slam this time plus the foul. He finished with 33 points, 15 rebounds.

The Bucks win 118-104 for their 15th-straight win.

And the Lakers, meanwhile, playing the Grizzlies without LeBron James. He's going to be reevaluated in two weeks after injuring his foot.


And Ja Morant was just on fire in the third quarter. He made 10 of his 12 shots to score a franchise-record 28 points in the quarter.

But the highlight of this game -- it actually came from Jaren Jackson Jr. -- triple J. Watch this. Off the miss, he's going to snag the rebound with one hand and just throw down a monster slam right on Anthony Davis. That had everyone in Memphis going just bonkers.

The Grizzlies win 121-109. The Lakers, a game out of the Play-In Tournament in the Western Conference right now.

All right. And it was another night and another triple-double for Nuggets star Nikola Jokic. The reigning two-time MVP is now the sixth player in NBA history to record 100 in his career. Jokic had 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists in three quarters of action in the 133-112 win against the Rockets. Denver, a perfect 24-0 this season when Jokic notches a triple-double.

All right, and finally, strange things can happen in spring training but have you ever seen a game end with no umpires? Yesterday's Orioles-Pirates game -- it officially ended after the top of the ninth in a 7-4 win for Pittsburgh but two managers -- they agreed to keep playing so that Orioles' pitcher Ofreidy Gomez could get some live work in. The only problem was the umpires -- they had already left. They said the game's over -- we're out of here.

The teams then played the final half-inning with no umpires. Orioles' catcher Maverick Handley called the balls and strikes.

And you know, Christine, sometimes in spring training the managers will say oh, let's play a little less, let's play a little more but normally, the umpires are there for it. It's just a rare instance where like, we're out of here. Our day's over.

ROMANS: All right, punching the clock.

Nice to see you.


ROMANS: Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes.

All right, Lori Lightfoot will not get a second term in Chicago. More on the mayor's race ahead on "CNN THIS MORNING."

And next right here, home prices finally a little bit cheaper in America and so is the rent.



ROMANS: All right, your Romans' Numeral this year (sic), five years. That's how long it's been since apartment rents have gone down like this. Apartment rents falling for six months now for every major metro area. More on America's housing market in a moment.

But looking at stock markets around the world, Asian markets finished higher. Look at the Hang Seng, up more than four percent. China's factory activity expanded at the fastest pace in more than a decade in February.

On Wall Street, stock index futures right now bouncing a little bit. Yesterday, stocks extended their February losses. For the month, the Dow fell more than four percent. The S&P 500 down almost three percent. The Nasdaq down more than one percent.

Consumer confidence fell for the second month in a row dragged by inflation and recession worries.

New this morning, General Motors is cutting several hundred salaried jobs, part of GM's plan to slash $2 billion in costs over the next couple of years.

On inflation watch, gas prices steady overnight -- $3.36 per gallon.

All right, back to real estate here. U.S. home prices falling for the sixth month in a row, down eight-tenths of a percent in December. The housing market cooling. Rising mortgage rates cold water in what was a red-hot market in the past few years.

Let's bring in Bess Freedman, CEO of Brown Harris Stevens, a real estate company with 3,000 agents in Florida, New York, and New Jersey, and Connecticut.

All right, hasta la vista to aspirational pricing, you say, for sellers. There's -- we are in a tipping point here, aren't we, in the month ahead.

BESS FREEDMAN, CEO, BROWN HARRIS STEVENS: Yes, we are. I think -- this is what I call the smell of inevitability. Sellers have had to adjust prices and I think they're starting to understand that aspirational pricing is over. It's a new landscape today and there's a leveling off. And this is good news because I think it will inspire more buyers to get into the market and start negotiating with sellers.

ROMANS: Let's talk about mortgage rates. Mortgage rates are up three weeks in a row. How much are higher mortgage rates keeping the whole market just stuck? A lot of people are in a 3 1/2 percent mortgage and they're not looking to move.

FREEDMAN: That's exactly right and I think that's putting us in a holding pattern. I think people underestimate the multifaceted impact that rates have on absolutely everything because everything is just more expensive.

So I think buyers are trying to say wow, will I ever get back to two and three, and the answer to that question, I think, is no. I think this is the new normal for a while. The Fed is going to keep --


FREEDMAN: -- ticking up rates. And I think sellers don't want to let go of a good rate, but I think something's got to give a little bit so that we can have more fluidness in our market.

ROMANS: Rental prices are also falling and this is rare. They mostly just go up. So rental prices have been falling. Median monthly rent down I think two percent in January.

What do you make of that?

FREEDMAN: I think that -- first of all, there's more supply in the market.


FREEDMAN: We saw 600,000 new units come into the rental market. So guess what? Now tenants are in the driver's seat. They have the power -- landlords have less -- and so they can negotiate. And what landlords hate is having an empty apartment so they're going to be more flexible and give concessions.

And I think this is good news for people because rents have been going up, up, up. And this was again the day of reckoning or the smell of inevitability as I keep saying. That's my new term for everybody.

ROMANS: All right, we'll trademark that.

Bess Freedman, nice to see you.

FREEDMAN: Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: Come back soon.

FREEDMAN: See you soon.

ROMANS: We love having you tell us what's happening in real estate. All right, just ahead on "CNN THIS MORNING" new rules from TikTok that could affect your kids. And what the Supreme Court could decide about forgiving student loan debt.



ROMANS: All right, our top of the morning, the top-trending TV shows right now.




ROMANS: "PARTY DOWN" is number one with most of the original cast back for a revival.

Here is number two.


Clip from Paramount's "YELLOWSTONE."


ROMANS: "YELLOWSTONE" -- let's hope Kevin Costner can shoot a whole lot more new episodes.

And number three.


Clip from South Park Studios' "SOUTH PARK."


ROMANS: "SOUTH PARK" riding a wave of publicity for taking shots at Harry and Meghan, among other things.

All right, Chris Rock is about to go where he's never gone before in a new stand-up special.


CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: People go well, what's the difference? Here's the difference. Shaq is rich. The white man that signs his check is wealthy.


ROMANS: Rock will talk about the now-infamous Will Smith Oscars slap. You know, he's hinted about it in short quips over the past year, but this will be the first time he is going to talk about it at length. "CHRIS ROCK: SELECTIVE OUTRAGE" streams on Netflix March 4. Talk about timing, that's just one week before this year's Academy Awards.


Talk about timing. That's just one week before this year's Academy Awards. All right. Watch for that.

Thanks for joining me. I'm Christine Romans this Wednesday morning. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.