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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Top U.S. General: Russia Making Small Advances At "Great Cost"; OpenAI Unveils GPT-4 With Improvements To ChatGPT; Credit Suisse Borrows Nearly $50 Billion From Swiss Central Bank. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 16, 2023 - 05:30   ET




MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wagner fighters at an industrial plant inside Bakhmut -- they are making very gradual advances but at huge costs.

This soldier says Ukrainian forces have vast amounts of ammunition and are heavily shelling the area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

BELL (voice-over): "We can't even raise our heads," he says.

Wagner has been trying to take Bakhmut for two months and may now be running short of fighters. Its boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has lashed out at the Russian Defense Ministry for starving his men of ammunition.

YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, LEADER, WAGNER GROUP (through translator): We need the military to shield the approaches. If they manage to do so everything will be OK. If not, then Wagner will be encircled together with the Ukrainians inside Bakhmut.

BELL (voice-over): In his latest social media post Prigozhin praised honest Russian soldiers but claimed, quote, "Unprofessional scoundrels and intriguers crushed these modest guys and began to push them around and humiliate them." Yet another jibe at the military hierarchy in Moscow.

Prigozhin has accused the Defense Ministry of incompetence and corruption and compared his own almost continuous presence in Bakhmut to the notable absence of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

But now, Yevgeny Prigozhin, once a Kremlin ally and nicknamed "Putin's Chef," is a man under pressure. He recruited tens of thousands of men from Russian prisons but they've endured horrendous losses -- as many as 80 percent in some units. He's dredging Russian sports clubs for recruits and his more experienced units are stretched as they try to encircle Bakhmut.

Western analysts think that Prigozhin has fallen into a trap laid by Shoigu -- a trap designed to weaken both Wagner and its boss. Just when Wagner most needs the support of the Russian military around Bakhmut it's curiously absent.

Russia's elite piling on the gruff outspoken oligarch. Commentator Aleksey Mukhin accused Prigozhin of political ambitions and said he was an incompetent commander, adding, "He has exposed the Wagner fighters to a major risk of encirclement from the expected counterattack."

The Kremlin has long tolerated Prigozhin as Vladimir Putin's licensed disruptor but if Wagner is decimated in an unsuccessful bid to take Bakhmut he might find himself out in the cold.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Lviv.


RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN ANCHOR: And quick hits around the globe right now.

Protests in France ahead of today's vote on a draft law for pension reform. The bill, if passed, would see France's retirement age gradually rise from 62 to 64.

U.K. plans to expand free childcare to help get parents back to work. The new plan will cover 30 hours a week for children between nine months and four years old.

And Spain's Crown Princess Leonor will begin military training later this year. The daughter of King Felipe and Queen Letizia is first in line to the throne. The princess will eventually become commander in chief of Spain's armed forces.

And coming up next, President Biden's ultimatum to the Chinese owners of TikTok. And ChatGPT is so yesterday. The next generation of artificial intelligence is already here. We'll discuss.



SOLOMON: Welcome back.

The Biden administration with an ultimatum to TikTok's Chinese owners -- sell your shares or get banned. The White House has been negotiating with TikTok for two years to try to resolve national security concerns. TikTok's spokesperson says in a statement, "If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn't solve the problem." More to come here.

The next generation of ChatGPT is upon us. That seemed to happen very quickly, huh? The creator of ChatGPT unveiled an improved version of its AI tool that can analyze up to 25,000 words of text, understand images, and pass law school bar exams. The company's CEO also says that GPT-4 is, quote, "...more creative than previous models and less biased."

Let's bring in CNN senior business writer Samantha Murphy Kelly. Samantha, good to have you this morning. SAMANTHA MURPHY KELLY, SENIOR WRITER, CNN BUSINESS (via Webex by Cisco): Thank you for having me. I'm excited to chat about --


KELLY: -- GPT today.

SOLOMON: Always excited to talk to you about ChatGPT. So tell us a bit more about some of the improvements we're seeing here with GPT-4.

KELLY: Yes. So it's only been about a day and a half since they released part of this new version. It's still on a waitlist for some people but early adapters are starting to play around with it, and it shows promise to blow the previous version out of the water.

So early adaptors are already creating amazing things, especially when it comes to coding. For example, recreating games such as Pong or Tetris without any prior coding experience, or creating their own apps from scratch in a matter of seconds.

The biggest change I would say has to do with the system's ability to read and analyze photos. So, for example, on one demo that they showed they took a piece of paper that had -- just had a few things written on it, took a picture of the photo, and was -- take a picture of the drawing and upload it to the system. And then, in the matter of a minute, turn it into a fully functioning website. Imagine just doodling something on a napkin in a bar and being able to turn it into something that you could potentially build on in the future.

So we're seeing sort of breadcrumbs of something really quite amazing happen in just a few hours after this has already launched.

SOLOMON: And Samantha, this new version is supposedly smarter and better in many ways. But, of course, one of the main issues with previous generations was the lack of reliability -- the inaccuracies. Does this update incorporate remedies to some of those issues?


KELLY: Yes. So the company said that it has made a lot of changes. It's made some bug fixes. It's made it smarter to your point. Alleviate some of the biases that it was seeing and making responses more detailed, more thoughtful, trying to steer -- keep the conversation on track. Before, we've seen it kind of go off the rails a little bit.

But the company is saying that it's still not perfect. It's still flawed. It probably looks better on first impression than it does in practice. And there are still some issues here. They even say that you have to double-check your work and make sure to exercise caution if using it in high-stakes situations.

And this can kind of become more complicated as we companies start to integrate this service into their products even more.

SOLOMON: Samantha Murphy Kelly, always lots to discuss on the ChatGPT front. Good to have you this morning. Thank you.

KELLY: Thank you.

SOLOMON: And the drama over where quarterback Aaron Rodgers will play next season finally appears to be coming to a close.

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


So we've been waiting for weeks to find out where or if Aaron Rodgers is going to play next season. Yesterday, he finally said on "THE PAT MCAFEE SHOW" he's waiting for the Packers to trade him to the Jets.


AARON RODGERS, 4-TIME NFL MVP: I think since Friday I made it clear that my intention was to play, and my intention was to play for the New York Jets. The Packers would like to move on. They've let me know that in so many words. They've let -- they've let other people know that in direct words. And because I still have that fire and I want to play, and I would like to play in New York, it's just a matter of getting that done at this point.


SCHOLES: Now, the holdup now is what compensation the Packers are going to get back from the Jets for Rodgers in a trade. And if you feel like this is deja vu it's because -- well, it is. Back in 2008, Green Bay sent Brett Favre to New York clearing the way for Rodgers to become the Packers' starting quarterback.

All right, Grizzlies All-Star Ja Morant, meanwhile, speaking out after being suspended by the NBA for eight games for what it calls conduct determinantal to the league. Ja hasn't been on the court since posting an Instagram Live video of himself holding a gun at a nightclub earlier this month.

Now, the 23-year-old telling ESPN that the gun in the video wasn't his but he does take full responsibility for his actions.


JA MORANT, GUARD, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: I can see how the image that I painted over myself with my recent mistakes. But in the future, I'm going to show everybody who Ja really is.


SCHOLES: All right. In the NBA last night, the Warriors trying to snap an eight-game road-losing streak in L.A. Steph Curry was doing everything he could to try to make that happen -- red-hot in the third quarter. Steph made eight threes in the game. He finished with 50 points but it wasn't enough. Kawhi Leonard leading the Clippers to a 134-126 win. The Warriors are now 7-27 on the road this season. All right, we had a big upset in the World Baseball Classic yesterday. Puerto Rico knocking out the favorite, the Dominican Republic, but the 5-2 win came at a cost.

Met's closer Edwin Diaz suffering a knee injury while celebrating the victory with his teammates. He had to be helped off the field while other players, including his brother, Reds reliever Alexis Diaz. They were in tears watching it. The 29-year-old is going to undergo further tests later today.

All right, the field of 64 is now set for the men's NCAA Tournament. Arizona State grabbing an 11 seed, beating Nevada handily, 98-73, last night in the First Four. They're going to play TCU tomorrow.

And keep an eye out for those 11 seeds in your bracket. Since 2010, they actually have a winning record over six seeds.

Now, in the other game last night, Fairleigh Dickinson beat Texas Southern. They'll now have the tall task of facing one-seed Purdue tomorrow.

And today and tomorrow are two of the best days in all of sports. You've got 16 games each day. The action is going to start at noon eastern and you can watch across our sister networks TNT, TBS, and TruTV.

And Rahel, you still have time. Brackets due at noon today if you haven't filled yours out yet.

SOLOMON: So, Andy, I guess we know what you'll be doing for the rest of the day.

SCHOLES: Rest of the day, rest of the weekend.

SOLOMON: That's for sure.

Andy Scholes, great to have you. Thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

SOLOMON: And coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" another recording of Donald Trump trying to pressure a Georgia official about the 2020 election.

And next, right here, the bank meltdown here in the U.S. Is it now spreading overseas? A lot to discuss. We'll be right back.



SOLOMON: Just in to CNN, U.S.-European Command just releasing video of Tuesday's encounter between a U.S. surveillance drone and a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea. This portion here appears to show the moment the Russian jet dumps fuel on the drone -- that, according to the U.S. account. The Pentagon says that the whole encounter lasted about 30 to 40 minutes. We're going to have much more ahead on this story on "CNN THIS MORNING" in a short time.

And looking at markets around the world, let's take a look at futures a few hours before we are set to open. You can see Asian markets are sharply lower. European markets look set to open higher on the back of that Credit Suisse news.

Then take a look at U.S. futures and see how U.S. futures are looking in what's been a volatile week thus far. You can see Dow futures and S&P futures are lower. The Nasdaq looks set to open slightly in the positive but we know anything could happen.

Stocks, meantime, closed mostly lower on Wednesday. Investors grappling with the crash of Credit Suisse stock. Credit Suisse now saying that it will borrow 50 billion Swiss franks from the Swiss National Bank. That's after shares tumbled as much as 30 percent at one point before closing down 24 percent.


Major U.S. banks also continue to get hammered. Shares of Wells Fargo fell three percent. JPMorgan fell almost five percent -- 4.7 percent there.

Let's now bring in chief financial analyst at, Greg McBride. Greg, great to see you this morning.

GREG MCBRIDE, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, BANKRATE.COM (via Skype): Good morning, Rahel. Great to be with you.

SOLOMON: So we saw SVB, we saw Signature Bank last week. Now it's Credit Suisse borrowing more than $50 billion Swiss franks from the Swiss central bank to keep it afloat. That's after yesterday we heard the Swiss National Bank essentially saying that they met capital requirements, that they met liquidity requirements.

Help us understand for our viewers around the world. Are these incidents connected at all?

MCBRIDE: Well, what happens is when you have concerns about the health of a particular bank -- and I think a lot of this really started with Silicon Valley Bank last week -- investors get nervous and they start looking for the next weakest link. But the common ingredient here is that these have been business banks. Credit Suisse is largely an investment bank. They're overseas. These are not retail banks that cater to consumers.

And so, if your money is in the bank and if you're protected by federal deposit insurance your money is safe. You can enjoy your morning cup of coffee and go about your day. There's nothing to be concerned about in terms of safety of your money.

SOLOMON: What do you think, though, in terms of impacts on the global economy? I'm thinking about banks perhaps pulling back on lending, right? Does it become harder to get a car loan? Does it become harder to get a business loan to hire if we start to really see banks pull back? MCBRIDE: Yes, I mean, and that's a legitimate concern. The tightening of credit is something that can choke off economic growth.

And we've been in an environment where interest rates have gone up at the fastest pace in 40 years -- the design of that to temper demand, slow the economy down, and get inflation under control. And what we're seeing is that sharp rise in interest rates has exposed banks that were ill-positioned for that, and so that's causing a lot of nervousness.

And a lot of this movement that you're seeing in bank stocks -- keep in mind stock prices are a reflection of future earnings expectations. So volatility in a stock price doesn't necessarily -- it's not necessarily an indictment of the bank's health as much as it might just be investors changing views on what their profit outlook will be going forward. If there's less lending, if interest rates are higher and it costs them more to get capital, that's going to impact the bottom line, and I think that's what you're seeing a lot of investors react to.

SOLOMON: I think that's a -- that's a great point that essentially, what we're seeing with the stock prices doesn't necessarily mean that a bank is weak. It's an indication, rather, of future earnings growth.

Greg McBride, we'll have to leave it here. Thank you.

MCBRIDE: Thanks, Rahel.


Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen just talked to a grand jury about hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, and he's talking to "CNN THIS MORNING" next.

Plus, video just released of that midair encounter between a Russian fighter jet and a U.S. drone.



SOLOMON: Welcome back.

And our top of the morning, the top dog breeds in America.

Number one, and a big upset, the French Bulldog. The American Kennel Club citing their small size and quiet demeanor. Labrador Retriever was top dog in America for 31 years. It now drops to number two. And number three, the Golden Retriever. But we love all of our doggies.

And Ryan Reynolds, meantime, cashing in but not the big movie role. Reynolds owns a minority stake in Mint Mobile and stars in the company's comedic commercials. Well, now he is laughing all the way to the bank. T-Mobile says that it is buying Mint and two other brands in a deal worth over a billion dollars. For Reynolds, that means not only more money but more punchlines. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE SIEVERT, PRESIDENT AND CEO, T-MOBILE: Well, Ryan, we are so happy to have you and the whole Mint team join the T-Mobile family.

RYAN REYNOLDS, ACTOR, STAKEHOLDER, MINT MOBILE: Well, I wouldn't call it a family, Mike -- no. A family is a place for misdirected hopes and dreams. I'm hoping this will be much better than that.


SOLOMON: So good.

Reynolds is expected to stay with the company in his creative role.

And the storm system that has already hammered California with torrential rain and ferocious winds heads east today. More than 25 million people in the Southern Plains and Texas are now at risk of severe weather.

Meteorologist Chad Myers joins us. So, Chad, tell us a bit more about what we expect to see exactly and where.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Humidity coming up from the south, Rahel, and cold air coming in from the north. Any time -- three days ago you have a storm in California -- that it conventionally comes around here and ends up in Texas, especially in the spring, you are going to get the potential for severe weather, and that's where we are for today.

The potential exists because it's 77 in Dallas this afternoon and only 62 in Oklahoma City. So that boundary between that warm and the cold is where these storms will fire up today from about Hugo to Pauls Valley, just to the east of Oklahoma City.

But then by 8:00 tonight after dark or pretty close, that's when the weather gets closer to Dallas and Fort Worth. Likely, a wind event, maybe some hail, and even a few tornadoes mixed in, but you only need one mixed in in your area to make it a significant day for you.

So keep that in mind if you are in the upper or lower Midwest. Watch out for some severe weather to the north. It will be snow to the south. It will be some rain showers, thunderstorms, and even the possibility of a severe thunderstorm or two.

Back up to the north -- boy, Minnesota, you have had a spring. You have -- you -- and it hasn't been spring; it has certainly been winter. Punxsutawney Phil good up here. Lots of snow. More snow for Minneapolis, more snow for Duluth, on up toward the Sioux. More snow in effect here later on this afternoon. It's the cold side of the storm. The warm side severe, the cold side snow, as expected -- Rahel.