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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

CNN Reports: Ukraine Evacuates People From Bakhmut; NTSB Investigators Visit Site Of New Ohio Train Derailment; Police Investigating Ja Morant After Gun Incident. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 07, 2023 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Ukrainian soldiers battling street-by- street for the eastern city of Bakhmut even as Russian forces are squeezing the region from three sides. More than 4,000 civilians remain trapped there with nowhere to go.

CNN's Alex Marquardt reports on the evacuations underway.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Racing into the war zone, a white-knuckle drive towards the middle of Bakhmut. This is the last successful emergency evacuation mission by the Bakhmut police.

"We need to go faster," an officer says. "The Russians can clearly see us."

This team, called the White Angels, grabs civilians who have been trapped, throwing belongings in the back. There's a cat; someone else with a guitar.

The fighting raging nearby. The residents told to hurry up and get in and sit anywhere they can. As they hold on tight the rescue mission speeds away from the smoldering city. Ahead there's smoke from a Russian strike.

Getting dropped off safely, Leonade (PH) tells the officer that everything is blown up in Bakhmut, even inside his apartment.

They've survived months of brutally intense assaults. Russia has made gains trying to encircle Bakhmut and surrounding it on three sides as Ukraine desperately tries to fend them off.

Today we met Bakhmut's deputy mayor in a city nearby at a makeshift aid center for Bakhmut evacuees.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): He tells us it's very hard to persuade the more than 4,000 civilians left there to leave. They say they have nowhere to go and have no money. "It's very hard to survive there," he says. "It's not life; it's survival. Drinking water is a big problem. Walking to the well is dangerous," he says. "Shells landing on your head all the time." All he now feels, he tells us, is fear and sadness.

Everyone here knows how hard it will be for Ukraine to hold onto Bakhmut. Svetiana's elderly mother with disabilities didn't want to leave but Svetiana managed to convince her.

SVETIANA, RESIDENT OF BAKHMUT: (Speaking foreign language).

MARQUARDT (voice-over): "I don't know if my house is still standing," she tells us. "It's very painful thinking about those still in Bakhmut." He eyes well up. "I just want them all to survive," she says. "That's my only wish."

Alex Marquardt, CNN, in Eastern Ukraine.


ROMANS: All right, Alex. Thanks for that.

Quick hits around the globe right now.

South Korea announcing a deal to resolve a historical labor dispute with Japan compensating those forced to work under Tokyo's occupation. President Biden calling it a new partnership between close allies.

Young Afghan women protest by reading books outside Kabul University as male students return to class. The Taliban banned all female students from attending universities in December.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris set to reopen next year. The landmark was destroyed in a fire back in 2019. The cathedral expected to be rebuilt identically to its prior state.

All right, just ahead, Tucker Carlson on Fox trying to rewrite the history of January 6. Plus --



Red Sox's Justin Turner hit in the face by Detroit Tigers' pitcher Matt Manning.

ANNOUNCER: Oh my God. He hits Turner.



ROMANS: -- a frightening moment on the baseball field.

(COMMERCIAL) ROMANS: Here is today's fast-forward lookahead.

The Mississippi State Senate resumes consideration of a bill that would create a separate court system and an expanded police force in Jackson, a majority Black city. Critics liken it to modern-day Jim Crow.

Jury selection will start in Ohio for a man charged with raping a 10- year-old girl last year. The girl had to travel to Indiana for an abortion after the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers his State of the State address today. It will be closely watched as he gains attention as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.

Norfolk Southern announcing new safety measures in response to the toxic train wreck in East Palestine, Ohio.

The NTSB now also investigating another Norfolk Southern derailment about 200 miles southwest of East Palestine in Springfield, Ohio. Crews say there were no spills and no environmental harm in that crash.


CNN's Jason Carroll has more.


SEAN HEATON, WITNESS: Some gates came down and all of a sudden right after that it just started crashing.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Caught on cell phone video another Norfolk Southern freight train comes off the tracks -- this time in Springfield, Ohio.

HEATON: When I looked up, all kinds of debris was shooting out underneath the train so I started recording. And you could see the train like get off in the gravel and then it started collapsing and backing up.

CARROLL (voice-over): There were 212 cars on the 2 1/2-mile-long train -- 28 derailed. No one was hurt. Four derailed tankers did contain residual amounts of chemicals though county officials say nothing spilled on the ground.

CHARLES PATTERSON, HEALTH COMMISSIONER, CLARK COUNTY, OHIO COMBINED HEALTH DISTRICT: There are no hazardous materials that have contacted the soil, been exposed to the air, or contacted any of the water sources.

CARROLL (voice-over): Today, the National Transportation Safety Board visited the crash site as part of its investigation into this latest derailment.

JENNIFER HOMENDY, CHAIR, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: We will look at management practices and policies. We'll really dig in. So the what of an accident investigation is usually immediately available. It's how we got here. That's what takes time.

CARROLL (voice-over): This is the fourth train derailment in Ohio since November and the second by Norfolk Southern in the state in just over a month.

More than three hours away in East Palestine, Ohio the cleanup continues as contaminated water and soil are being removed, though heavy rains have caused some delays.

There, a faulty wheel bearing overheated causing a fire that was caught on camera miles before the train derailed. The subsequent toxic spill forced many from their homes and is still causing health concerns.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): The railroads continue to enrich their executives at the expense of public safety and public health, and lay off workers, and compromise on safety. So the fact Ohio's now had four derailments as of yesterday -- four derailments in the last five months. East Palestine was the most serious but we still have questions about these other derailments, too.

CARROLL (voice-over): Norfolk Southern says safety is of the utmost importance and today announced a six-point plan that includes installing more temperature sensors -- the first near East Palestine. This, as the investigation continues into what caused the derailment here in Springfield.

CARROLL (on camera): When the rail car is still on its side, investigators will get that up and moving as soon as they can. The NTSB on the ground conducting a meeting with both county and local officials. A representative from the rail company also attending that meeting. The NTSB, at this point, saying it is just too soon to talk about a cause.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Springfield, Ohio.


ROMANS: Jason, thanks.

Grizzlies' star Ja Morant is now under police investigation after he filmed himself appearing to flash a gun in an Instagram Live video.

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


So the Glendale Police Department in Colorado confirms it has launched a probe into an incident involving Morant in a nightclub early Saturday morning but did not disclose any further details.

Now, the 23-year-old went on Instagram Live after playing the Nuggets on Friday night and appeared to flash a pistol. Morant is always being investigated by the NBA for the video, a leaked spokesperson tells CNN.

Now, the All-Star guard apologized for his actions on Saturday after the Grizzlies announced he would be away from the team. Morant said he would take time away to, quote, "get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being."

Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said Sunday there is no timetable for Ja's return.

All right. In the NBA last night, the Celtics giving Jayson Tatum and Al Horford the night off in Cleveland to rest.

They were looking good heading into the fourth quarter, up 14 points, but Donovan Mitchell and the Cavs would rally. This bucket with 24 seconds left would give them the lead.

Grant Williams then had two chances to win the game for Boston at the free throw line with under a second to go, but he missed them both. Marcus Smart would also miss the tip.

We would go to overtime and in overtime, Mitchell -- a thunderous slam right here. He ended the game with 40 points. And the Cavs win in the comeback 118-114. The Celtics have now lost three in a row.

All right, spring training -- a scary moment for Red Sox infielder Justin Turner during yesterday's game against the Tigers. He was hit right in the face by a pitch from Matt Manning. He was down for quite a while. He eventually was helped off the field but had to hold a towel to his face and mouth.

He was taken to a nearby hospital where his wife said he received 16 stitches, but he did have no broken bones. Turner was released from that hospital yesterday and is resting at home.


All right, in college basketball, Furman is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1980. The Paladins beat Chattanooga 88-79 last night to claim the Southern Conference Tournament Championship. Not only did the win end their 43-year March Madness drought, it also avenged their loss to Chattanooga in last year's conference title game.

Furman coach Bob Richey is 39 years old. He wasn't even alive the last time the Paladins were dancing in the tournament.

On the women's side, UConn is the Big East champs for the 10th- straight season. They beat Villanova last night 67-56. This hasn't been the typical dominant season for the Huskies. They lost consecutive games for the first time in 30 years. They dealt with a number of injuries all year long.

But Geno Auriemma got them posed for another Final Four run and he celebrated his 34th-straight tournament appearance by doing a little dancing with part of the team, Christine. And all the conference tournaments -- they continue this week with

Selection Sunday just days away now. Always such an exciting time of the year.

ROMANS: It really is. It really is.

All right, nice to see you. Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: All right, coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" a man attacks a flight attendant in mid-air. Hear from the passenger who shot this video.

And next right here, Tesla boss Elon Musk slashing prices again.



ROMANS: All right, your Romans' Numeral this morning is 10,000. Tesla slashing the price of its Model X by $10,000. The starting price now about 100 grand. That's a nine percent price cut.

This is Tesla's fifth price adjustment this year. Tesla boss Elon Musk says cuts on other models boosted demand.

Looking at markets around the world right now, European markets are higher. Asian markets closed mixed here. And on Wall Street, stock index futures at this hour -- it looks like they are undecided, leaning a little bit higher here.

Markets finished mixed to kick off a very busy economic week for investors. Stocks gave up early gains to end the day basically unchanged.

And new this morning, Bloomberg is reporting Meta will lay off thousands of workers this week. That comes on top of the 11,000 Meta employees who were given pink slips last November.

In inflation watch, gas prices rose a penny overnight to $3.42 a gallon.

All right. Today, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell will testify before a Senate committee on interest rate hikes and whether the hikes are actually working to bring down inflation.

I want to bring in financial analyst Ann Berry. She's also a founder of Threadneedle Ventures. So nice to see you this morning, Ann.

ANN BERRY, FINANCIAL ANALYST, FOUNDER, THREADNEEDLE VENTURES (via Skype): Good morning, Christine. I'm heading to Iowa later today. I know that that's the home state for you.

ROMANS: Fantastic -- all right. Send my best. Look, today in D.C. on Capitol Hill, I suspect Powell will again say

there's more work for the Fed to do to get inflation under control. Agree?

BERRY: Completely agree. He needs to manage expectations. The Fed's work is not done. The Fed has been consistent that getting inflation towards that two percent target rate is the key and we're not there yet. So they're going to have to keep going, they've been clear. I think we'll hear that message on the Hill today and tomorrow.

ROMANS: You know, the underlying strength of the economy has been pretty remarkable, Ann. One economist in The Wall Street Journal this morning calling it the 'Godot' recession. We just keep waiting but it doesn't come.

How does that complicate Powell's job here?

BERRY: It's such a great summary of what we're seeing. The rhetoric now has been the recession is always six months away. We saw stronger- than-expected employment data for January. We have seen inflation not come down as quickly as had been expected, partly because wages have been so strong, which is great for those in the labor market but tough for tackling inflation.

The Fed's been consistent, Christine, that they're going to be data- driven. That they're going to keep looking at the information and come out showing that inflation is trending towards target. Until we start seeing that it's very difficult for the Fed to do anything other than continue on.

So it's very complicated because the fear is now becoming -- at least by the Democrats -- that the interest rate hikes will be perhaps a little too much and start tipping the economy towards a recession, which again, there seems to expectation of. But politically, nobody really wants it.

ROMANS: It's interesting. He could get hammered today for being too aggressive, and he could be hammered today for being behind the curve. I mean, you could see criticism on both sides on Capitol Hill today.


ROMANS: I wonder what you think the Fed would like to see in terms of a job market. It is still running hot here. Millions of jobs -- a record year the last two years of job creation.

What does the Fed want to see? How weak of a labor market does the Fed need to see?

BERRY: Well, I think the key thing to remember Christine is that the Fed has got a dual mandate, which means that it is targeting -- yes, price stability. That's how it's phrased, meaning low inflation. It's also targeting, at the same time, maximum employment.

So there's been this narrative that unemployment has been very low and that's a bad thing. It's actually not the case. It's fine to have low unemployment or a very strong labor market if wage inflation is low. And I think what the Fed is going to try to target is getting overall prices down with little impact to total employment numbers as possible and get wage inflation down but try and keep people in jobs at the same time.

ROMANS: Yes. It's so interesting where we are right now.

Ann Berry, of Threadneedle Ventures. Happy travels to Iowa today. Nice to see you, Ann.

BERRY: Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Next on "CNN THIS MORNING" a group of Americans kidnapped in Mexico. Was it all a mistake?


ROMANS: All right, our top of the morning, the top U.S. states for female executives.

New Mexico is number one. Forty-six percent of top executive positions are held by women there. Number two, Vermont, with 44 percent. Delaware is third with 44 percent, according to census data compiled by U.S. News & World Report. Very close there, Vermont and Delaware.

If Washington, D.C. were a state, it would top that list. Women make up 52 percent of the workforce in the District where over half of top executives -- 50.7 percent -- are women.

Tomorrow is International Women's Day.

All right, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" winning every award.


Clip from IAC Films "Everything Everywhere All at Once."


ROMANS: The hit sci-fi movie just took home the Writers Guild Award for original screenplay. It's now the fifth-ever film to sweep the top prizes from Hollywood's major guilds, which also includes the Directors Guild.