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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Turkey's Opposition Alliance Set To Announce Its Candidate; Twitter Faces Lawsuits From Ex-Employees Over Mass Layoffs; New Chinese-Owned Retailer's App Now Among Most Downloaded In U.S. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 06, 2023 - 05:30   ET



KIM DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, SENIOR MANAGING EDITOR, MILITARY TIMES (via Webex by Cisco): And we've also seen that the California National Guard, which has worked with Ukrainian pilots for years -- some of their officers have claimed that Ukrainian pilots could be very quickly able to fly F16s the moment the Biden administration decides to supply them.

However, a Biden administration official last week testified that it could take up to 18 months to train pilots to fly these aircraft. However, it's good to remind people that the Biden administration thought Kyiv would fall in a couple of days and Kyiv is still standing.

The fact remains there still is a risk. European allies are afraid that Ukraine could use such aircraft to attack Russia proper. That could escalate the war.

It's possible that President Zelenskyy was able to give more reassurances in that in-person meeting with President Biden that if you give us these planes we will use them just to make up for the --


DOZIER: -- personnel difference -- our size versus Russia. It would have been sort of a man-to-man pledge. I wish we could have been in that room.

ROMANS: Yes, indeed, right?

All right, Kim Dozier. Thank you so much as always.

DOZIER: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, quick hits around the globe right now.

Worried parents now protesting in Tehran after a wave of suspected poison attacks on hundreds of schoolgirls across Iran. One senior official says suspicious samples are being studied.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeking to calm the outcry after one of his ministers said a Palestinian town should be, quote, "erased." Netanyahu tweeted Sunday it's important to lower the temperature.

Prince Harry and Meghan receiving an invitation to the coronation of King Charles III in May. According to Harry's spokesperson, the couple has yet to confirm whether they will attend.

All right, in about an hour, Turkey's President Erdogan could find out who his opponent will be in the upcoming election. The country's opposition alliance is set to announce its candidate as anger boils over over the government's response to the devastating earthquakes.

Let's go to CNN's Nada Bashir in Istanbul. And Nada, what are Erdogan's chances of another term in light of what's been happening in Turkey for the past month?

NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Well look, Christine, this election could certainly prove decisive for Turkey. This could be one of the biggest challenges that President Erdogan has faced for more than two decades now. He's already faced criticism over a deepening and worsening financial crisis here in the country but also, of course, over the government's response to the earthquake and the preparedness of the country for that earthquake.

Opposition figures have criticized the government for not acting swiftly enough when it came to sending that response to the southeast of the country and there continues to be criticism and questions over how people are being treated now with hundreds of thousands living in tents across the southeast region.

So this is a significant challenge for President Erdogan. He has already pledged to rebuild parts affected by the earthquake within a year, of course, with those elections looming. But even this has drawn criticism.

The union of engineers and architects here in Turkey say this is simply too hasty. We're already seeing excavation work underway while there are still aftershocks happening. There still needs to be geological investigations to ensure that these areas are safe.

But, of course, as you mentioned there, there is the question of the opposition and whether the opposition is strong enough to take on President Erdogan. We are expecting an announcement later today of an opposition figure to lead that alliance.

But, of course, there are questions around the discord we've seen over the weekend, voicing one party leaving the alliance. Questions around whether there is unity. And, of course, in a time where the country is already facing so much crisis the strength of one party -- the unity of one party might be more appealing, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Nada Bashir. Thank you so much for that. Keep us posted.

All right. Just ahead, hear from former Twitter workers who are now suing the company. And the new Chinese retail app that's all the rage right now. Is it cause for concern?



ROMANS: All right. Twitter faces multiple lawsuits from former employees who were laid off. They're making several allegations, including breach of severance agreements. The New York Times reports there are now fewer than 2,000 workers at Twitter, down from 7,500 since Elon Musk took over last October.

I want to bring in CNN Business writer Clare Duffy. Good morning, Clare. So nice to see you.

You know, more than 1,500 employees have taken legal action. You spoke to some of them. What are they hoping to see out of these suits?

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: So that's right, Christine. The main allegation here is concerns about the severance -- promises that employees say that were made before Musk's takeover.

They say the company repeatedly told them that they would get at least two months base pay, accelerated equity vesting, their annual bonuses, and help with health insurance coverage. And some of those things are really major for big tech employees. That could be a big portion of their compensation -- overall compensation package. Instead, they were offered one month's base pay in exchange for signing this pretty significant NDA.

And so employees said that they want that severance that they were promised. I think they also want some sort of acknowledgment of the chaos of the last year and what it meant for them to live through that.

There was one employee, Bim Ali who was pregnant through much of the last year. She was let go. Her official termination date was in January and one month -- one week later her first child was born --


DUFFY: -- leaving her without the maternity leave that she was expecting, health insurance coverage.

Here's what she told me about what it was like and what she's hoping to get out of this.


BIM ALI, FORMER TWITTER EMPLOYEE: Yes, we were on the Twitter coaster -- the Elon Musk chapter for seven months. And during that time he was in, he was out. It was happening, it wasn't happening.

I was just trying to preserve my peace, to be honest. I was pregnant. My priority was the health of my child.

But I would like for us to be compensated fairly. A lot of us put in a lot of effort because yes, we love the company and we love to excel.


ROMANS: Wow. She called it a Twitter coaster. I think that's so interesting. It's been exactly a year since this saga when Elon Musk said he wanted to take over this company.


What did they say it was like from the inside?

DUFFY: I mean, I think the biggest thing you hear people talk about is just the uncertainty. There was so much concern about whether he was going to lay off folks and how much their lives were going to change. The focus of Twitter. The mission of Twitter. And I think we've seen a lot of that sort of come to pass since Elon Musk took over.

You know, the other thing I think that was interesting to hear for me was that a lot of employees say they were -- they were optimistic about what it was going to be like actually. They say that they were willing to work with Musk --


DUFFY: -- and be open to what he had to do. But instead, they sort of said he wasn't so willing to work with us.

ROMANS: What is Twitter saying about these layoffs and the legal fight?

DUFFY: So, Twitter did not respond to me in response to a request for comment about these interviews, but the company has pushed back against some of these legal claims. They say its layoffs were legal. And Musk has framed this as sort of a financial necessity for the company.

ROMANS: Interesting. All right, Clare Duffy. So -- what a great interview. Thank you so much.

All right, the Memphis Grizzlies were without their superstar against the Clippers last night following his suspension for appearing to flash a gun during a live stream over the weekend.

All right, Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report. What's happening, Coy?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: All right, Christine. Good morning to you.

Memphis said this Saturday that their 23-year-old superstar was going to be away from the team for at least two games. Morant apologized that afternoon saying in part that he's going to use the time away to, quote, "get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress."

Grizzlies' coach Taylor Jenkins made clear yesterday that is the priority. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAYLOR JENKINS, HEAD COACH, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: He's made some difficult decisions and poor choices in the past that he's got to account for. And that's why you see in his statement it speaks for itself that he understands he's got to get help to get into a better place not just for himself but also for his team.

You know, we love him. We want what's best for him. We support him. It's going to be a difficult process but we've got a great group to get through this and we're taking it one day at a time. I mean, this is going to be an ongoing healing process. So I can't comment in terms of what the exact timetable is going to be because it's really not a timetable situation.


WIRE: Highlights now. No pregame handshakes for former Nets teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving facing off for the first time since being traded separate ways last month.

Durant draining the go-ahead score for Phoenix with about 10 seconds to go, Christine. He had 37 points on the night. Two Mavs defenders on him, it doesn't matter.

The Mavs would have one last chance though and their star Luka Doncic had the ball in his hands but he can't get it to go in. A harmless foul afterwards. Doncic clearly frustrated and Suns star Devin Booker starts chirping and Luka doesn't like something that he said. And Booker said afterwards that he was just talking to the ref, Christine.

The Suns win. They're now 3-0 with Durant in the lineup, while Dallas has a losing record since Kyrie came to town. Irving finished last night with 30 points for the Mavs.

And finally, let's get happy -- feeling some madness. Ten teams punching their tickets to the NCAA Tournament yesterday. Seven women's squads, three men's.

Nobody had a bigger day though than Iowa's Caitlin Clark. The Hawkeye's sharpshooter putting up a 30-point triple-double in a blowout of Ohio State. It was the first triple-double in Big Ten title game history. Clark scored or assisted on 68 of Iowa's points in their 105-72 win. They could be your number one seed on the women's side.

All right, check out the ending in the Atlanta Sun Championship. Final seconds, St. Louis down three to UMass as Sydney Taylor drills the three at the buzzer to force the overtime. The Billikens rolling on from there and into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. Congrats.

And there was another first-timer on the men's side. Listen to this.


ANNOUNCER: That will do it. Kennesaw State floods the court. March 5, 2023 marks the day the Kennesaw State Owls go from one win to all alone at number one in the conference.


WIRE: You heard that right -- from 1-28 four years ago, Christine. Now they're winning 25 games and going dancing for the first time. Four more tickets being punched today.

ROMANS: All right, indeed. OK, thank you so much, Coy Wire. Nice to see you.

Coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump on a collision course as they both focus next on Iowa.

And next right here, working out isn't what it used to be. What's in and what's out at your local gym.



ROMANS: All right, your Romans' Numeral this morning, two. Two percent is the Fed's target inflation rate. Right now, it's 6.4 percent annually, so a long way to go. The goal of the Fed's painful rate hikes over the past year is to cool the economy to that target of two percent. The Fed officials think inflation could stay stubbornly high until the job market starts to simmer down -- and right now, the job market is still boiling hot.

Friday, four days from today, we'll find out if the labor market is still cooking with gas. It'll be critical for the markets.

Looking at markets around the world right now you can see Asian shares have closed mixed. Europe has also opened mixed. And on Wall Street, stock index futures -- pull that one up -- mixed here. Asian and Europe shares mixed here despite China setting its lowest GDP growth target in decades.

Markets closed higher last week, breaking a three-week losing streak.

This week is already being called hell week for investors, loaded with critical information on the job market. The Fed chief appears Tuesday and Wednesday before Congress. The president drops his annual budget on Thursday. And Friday is that critical jobs report.

I want to bring in CNN Business reporter Nathaniel Meyersohn. Nathaniel, we saw a lot of reported earnings from Kohl's, Target, Macy's, Best Buy. I think essentially, inflation has consumers focusing on the basics. Is that the takeaway?


NATHANIEL MEYERSOHN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: That's exactly right, Christine. So the big retailers are saying that shoppers are strapped. They're being squeezed by inflation.

You look at some comments last week from Brian Cornell from Target. He said that spiraling inflation was forcing Americans to put discretionary purchases on hold. They're shifting their spending to groceries and essentials.

This is a message from all of these companies across the board. Shoppers are squeezed. A pullback on furniture, electronics, clothing. And again, a shift to -- a shift to the necessities.

And this is taking a toll on retailers. They're going to -- they're expecting slower growth this year and, in some cases, declining sales.

ROMANS: Speaking of discounts -- I mean, there's this new Chinese online retailer called Temu. It's really gotten popular. Some of these prices are so cheap it's almost unbelievable. What's the drawback here?

MEYERSOHN: That's exactly right. So discounts hunters -- they're shifting to Temu. Temu -- its parent company is in China but it's a U.S. app. It launched in the U.S. in September and since its launch it's gone on a meteoric rise. It's been one of the most downloaded apps in the country.

They ran an ad during the Super Bowl encouraging people to shop like a billionaire. That got folks really interested in it. It's all over social media.

And they're winning customers with rock-bottom prices. Fourteen dollars on a pair of shoes. Nine dollars-50 wireless headphones. Just crazy, cheap prices. And with folks strained, they're trading down.

But there are a lot of concerns about Temu -- environmental impact. I mean, there's been a lot of --

ROMANS: Yes. How are you making it that cheap?

MEYERSOHN: That's exactly right. How are you making it that cheap and where is it going? So much scrutiny on fast fashion companies and this is kind of ultra-fast fashion.

ROMANS: This is -- yes, unbelievably low prices.

OK, I know you wrote an article recently about shifting habits in exercise. More people are lifting weights. Why?

MEYERSOHN: So, cardio is out and weightlifting is in, Christine. You look at some data from ClassPass. Weightlifting classes up 94 percent in 2022 from a year prior. Weightlifting was the most popular class.

More women are weightlifting.


MEYERSOHN: They're shaking off stereotypes that the weight room floor is just for men only.

And then the popularity of CrossFit. That's kind of pushed weightlifting in the mainstream. So you go to the gym when it's crowded. Squat racks, bench presses --

they're all -- they're all taken. And the elliptical machines -- not as many folks on them. So gyms are responding. They're adding more free weights and taking out some of those elliptical machines.

ROMANS: Interesting.

MEYERSOHN: So, see you on the -- on the weight room.

ROMANS: Yes. Didn't you see? There's a video of me right there. I was bench pressing.

All right, nice to see you. Thanks, Nathaniel Meyersohn.

All right. For the first time, Chris Rock speaking out at length about being slapped by Will Smith at last year's Oscars.


CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN, NETFLIX "SELECTIVE OUTRAGE": You all know what happened to me -- getting smacked by Shug Smith.


ROMANS: Rock joked about the incident during this stand-up show "SELECTIVE OUTRAGE" which streamed live on Netflix from Baltimore this weekend.

The slap on live T.V. last year shocked millions of viewers. Will Smith has since said bottled rage led to that violent outburst.

All right, Ukrainian troops trying to hold onto Bakhmut as Russian shells fall around them. And a train derailing in Ohio again. New details coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING."



ROMANS: All right. Our top of the morning, the top movies at the box office.

Here's number one.


Clip from "Creed III."


ROMANS: It's "Creed III" in a knockout. Almost $59 million in U.S. ticket sales -- the biggest open of any "Rocky" or "Creed" movie. Deadline says it's the biggest debut ever for a sports film.

Number two.


Clip from "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania."


ROMANS; "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania."

And number three.


Clip from "Cocaine Bear."


ROMANS: It's so silly and super popular. "Cocaine Bear" directed by Elizabeth Banks and starring a bear on cocaine.

All right, millions of people under winter weather alerts this morning as snow falls from the Upper Plains to the Great Lakes. The system expected to weaken and move toward the northeast, which could mean rain for parts of Pennsylvania and New York tonight.

CNN's Chad Myers has the forecast this Monday morning. Chad, where should people be on alert here today?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think Michigan, parts of Minnesota, and also Wisconsin still could have some slick spots today. Obviously, still digging out from California. I mean, we have seen now two to three feet of snow just in the weekend hours here and now we have this storm moving to the east. Now it's not going to bring severe weather like sometimes they do, but winter weather advisories all the way from Minnesota right on back even into Michigan.

And yes, there will be snow and some rain into parts of Pennsylvania and New York State -- upstate, especially, in New York State -- for tonight into tomorrow. So there could be a slick spot through here.

Watch me take you through the next few hours. We go from now until later on this afternoon. And then all of sudden, this snow does slide into the Alleghanies, into the Catskills, into the Poconos, and maybe even down ever here across parts of I-95 by the morning hours. So that could slow down the commute for sure.

This is not a major storm. This is one, to two, to four inches of snow across the entire area. Temperatures across the north are going to be colder than normal. Down across the south, ridiculous -- ridiculous. More record-high temperatures again. Three dozen record-high temperatures expected by the end of the week.

Look at Atlanta, Georgia. Almost 80 degrees again today.

I did all my gardening this weekend. I have my chives, I have my mint, and I have my rosemary, and they're all in the ground and they're all ready to go.

ROMANS: Oh, that sounds delightful.