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British Tanks Arrive In Ukraine, Russian Strikes Kill Two In East; Court Day Two: Prince Harry, Elton John, Others Sue Daily Mail; NCAA Women's Final Four: LSU, Virginia Tech, Iowa, South Carolina. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 28, 2023 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Ukraine receiving its first British battle tanks and other armored vehicles from the U.S., Germany, and the Netherlands just hours ago. Meantime, Kyiv says Russian strikes are targeting more civilian areas. Most recently, two people were killed, 32 injured in Sloviansk.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz joins us live from London. Salma, what is the feeling about how important this latest delivery of these allied military reinforcements is?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Kyiv very much celebrating -- praising what they see as a major political victory as well as a victory for their battlefield receiving these tanks. They have main British battle tanks that are coming, so you have Challengers from the U.K., Strikers and Cougars from the U.S., Marders from Germany. Now, this is just a fraction of what Ukraine is expecting to receive and just a fraction of what President Zelenskyy has asked for but it does come at a very critical juncture in the conflict.

You'll remember the city of Bakhmut, of course, where Ukrainian forces have been on the backfoot struggling to fight back against a fierce assault by Wagner mercenaries. So that will be very welcomed news for those soldiers -- those fighters on the front lines there for Ukraine and really, all along that eastern front.

Ukrainian officials are expecting the tempo of war to pick up as the weather warms and as we head into the spring, and expect this offensive from Moscow. So again, very welcomed are these tanks on the battlefield.

Now you might ask what impact does it have? Again, we're talking about a small handful of tanks so don't expect it to suddenly change everything on the ground. But what it really provides here is a precedent -- is a new door if you will that has opened up for Kyiv.

You'll remember that tanks were absolutely off the table a year ago when this conflict started when the United States and its allies saw weapons that they perceived as offensive, such as tanks, to be something that would aggravate Moscow further -- that could escalate the conflict. Clearly, that calculation has changed now and that's what Kyiv is capitalizing on here. They see that tanks are coming today but tomorrow they could get bigger and better weapons.

And this is all about quality over quantity, too. Remember, before the conflict Ukraine's forces were mostly Soviet-era -- using mostly a Soviet-era weapons arsenal. Now they're receiving these Western-made NATO weapons that really ramps up their ability to fight with less on the ground. And they're facing off with Russian troops that are, of course, struggling to maintain ammunition, struggling to maintain manpower, and, of course, don't have that type of modern weaponry.

But again, it's about the precedent this sets that the West is willing and able to do anything it can to support that fight in Ukraine.

ROMANS: Yes. The optics are very, very, very powerful there.

OK, Salma Abdelaziz. Thank you so much.

Quick hits around the globe right now.

France set for another day of nationwide protests and strikes over the government's raising the retirement age by two years. President Macron summoned his cabinet for a crisis meeting Monday.

North Korea claims it simulated ground-to-ground nuclear ballistic missile launches using non-nuclear dummy warheads. South Korea says they landed in waters east of the Korean Peninsula.

Elian Gonzalez, famous as a child in a bitter U.S.-Cuba custody battle, is now set to become a lawmaker in the Cuban National Assembly. He was voted into office on Monday.

All right. Just ahead, Prince Harry's fight against the tabloids back in court today. And the Final Four in the NCAA Women's Tournament.



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

The Senate Banking Committee shines a light on the recent collapse of two U.S. banks today. It will hear from the Federal Reserve officials set to testify the failure of SVB is a textbook case of mismanagement.

People in Philadelphia will get more guidance today on their drinking water after a chemical spill into a river. The city says dozens of tests found no signs of contamination and the water is safe for drinking and cooking.

President Biden will visit a semiconductor plant in Durham, North Carolina this afternoon. It's part of what the White House calls its "Invest in America" tour.

All right, Prince Harry in the U.K. now for day two of a four-day hearing in a London courtroom against the publisher of the Daily Mail. The Duke of Sussex is one of seven high-profile individuals, including Sir Elton John and actress Elizabeth Hurley, who are suing Associated Newspapers for criminal breaches of privacy.

Let's go to Max Foster in London for us this morning. And Max, what will this hearing determine?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: I just heard that he's back in court again today -- ROMANS: Yes.

FOSTER: -- so just heard that he is there. He was in court all of yesterday taking notes. I just -- yes -- so the proceedings, I'm just told by his team, actually start around this time every day. So he's taking notes.


He's with a group of other very high-profile people, including Elton John; Liz Hurley, the actress; and a group of other people as well, all of whom feel their privacy has been invaded illegally by Associated Newspapers, which owns the Daily Mail.

So there's a whole list of accusations. That they've had their phones hacked. That listening devices have been placed so people could be recorded. Also, the police have been bribed. They've been getting medical information illegally to write stories. The Associated Newspapers deny all of this and trying to prevent this from going to trial.

So, Christine, we've got four days of preliminary hearings. The judge will then decide whether or not it will go to a wider trial.

And Harry is there, as I understand it, to show support for everyone in this case and is hoping to highlight it simply because he says this is the tip of the iceberg and there could be many other cases of this that have gone unaddressed in the past, whereas these high-profile figures can really take on the newspapers on a matter like this.

ROMANS: Yes. Harry's presence certainly -- the Duke of Sussex's presence certainly shines a spotlight on it and brings more attention to it, no question.

All right, nice to see you, Max. Thank you so much.

FOSTER: Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, to sports now. The Women's Final Four is set and unlike the men's March Madness this one is a little more predictable.

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


So the question all year for the women has been can anyone stop South Carolina. The reigning champs just keep on winning. They're not two wins away from back-to-back titles. The Gamecocks taking on Maryland last night and their star, Aliyah

Boston -- a big night. She had 22 points and 10 rebounds. South Carolina would win this one 86-75 to punch their ticket to Dallas.

Dawn Staley's squad looking to become the 10th team in women's history to have a perfect season and win it all.


DAWN STALEY, SOUTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH: I'm happy for our -- for our players. I mean, they work extremely hard. They are the example of what student-athletes are all about. And I'm not just saying that -- I experienced it every single day, especially for our seniors. The epitome of winners and doing it the right way. I want this for them.


SCHOLES: All right. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, is heading to their first-ever women's Final Four. Senior Elizabeth Kitley leading the way for the Hokies with 25 points and 12 rebounds. They beat Ohio State 84-74 last night.

This has just been a dream season for Virginia Tech and, well, they don't want it to end.


ELIZABETH KITLEY, VIRGINIA TECH CENTER: It's so nice to be at this spot but we know that we don't want to be done either yet because we have so much fun playing together, and that's what we talked about at one point in a timeout. We just said that we didn't want this to be our last game because we love each other so much and we have fun playing. So we're looking forward to the next one.


SCHOLES: All right, so here are the matchups for the Final Four Friday in Dallas. Virginia Tech is going to take on LSU, then you've got South Carolina taking on superstar Caitlin Clark and Iowa. It should be a good one.

All right. In the NBA, fans were looking forward to a big MVP matchup between Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic last night, but the Sixers decided to sit Embiid out to rest his calf -- cool.

And Jokic -- he was dominate in the game -- 25 points, 17 rebounds, and 12 assists -- his 29th triple-double of the season.

Philly tried to rally late but the Nuggets would win 116-111.

All right. Finally, check out this bizarre ejection yesterday in spring training. The Phillies' Craig Kimbrel had just gotten a pitch clock violation and wanted a new ball. The ump threw him one but he didn't like that ball and wanted another one.

So catcher J.T. Realmuto reached his glove back to get that ball and watch what happens. He didn't know it was coming. He took his glove away and the umpire then ejected him because he thought he was trying to trick him. Realmuto was so confused, as you can see.

He told the Philadelphia Enquirer after the game he said to umpire Randy Rosenberg, "Dude, I thought you were throwing the ball." He said, "I'm not going to buy that."

You can see immediately, Christine, that Realmuto was like, wait, what? You just ejected me? I mean, umpire, come on. At least it's spring training so it doesn't really matter but my --

ROMANS: Oh my gosh. That was --

SCHOLES: Didn't read the room real well there.

ROMANS: Exactly, right?

All right, nice to see you, Andy Scholes.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: Thank you.

All right, coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" six people are dead, including three children -- 9-year-olds -- after an ex-student went on a shooting rampage at a Nashville Christian elementary school. What police are saying about a possible motive.

And next right here, the U.S. housing market split into. Prices are falling on one side of the country and still holding in there on the other.



ROMANS: All right, your Romans' Numeral this morning, 7,000. Disney CEO Bob Iger says the company will begin laying off those 7,000 workers starting this week. That's about three percent of its global workforce. Iger is cutting costs in his return to Disney after the company's board fired Bob Chapek last year.

Looking at markets around the world right now, Asian markets finished mixed. European stocks are higher with gains in the region's banking system -- banking sector, rather. And on Wall Street, stock index futures at this hour barely moving when we looked and checked in on them last.

Markets finished mixed overall. The Dow added nearly 200 points. The Nasdaq finished down as tech stocks moved lower. Regional bank stocks rallying investor confidence on the health of regional banks improving after First Citizens' agreement to purchase Silicon Valley Bank.

On inflation watch, gas prices held steady at $3.44 a gallon.

And coming up today, March's consumer confidence numbers are due out later this morning.

All right, nine interest rate hikes, three bank failures, mortgage rates double where they were last year. What does that all mean for the critical spring season in real estate?

Joining me to talk through it is Bess Freedman. She is CEO of Brown Harris Stevens, a real estate company with 3,000 agents in Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.


So, Bess, are we seeing enthusiasm heading into the spring season? Are we stabilizing here? What is your take, I guess, on what's happening?

BESS FREEDMAN, CEO, BROWN HARRIS STEVENS: Yes. I mean, I think it's a mixture of so many different things as you just articulated. Rates just went up again and it's been a year of nine interest rate hikes, so that's cumulative and people are feeling that. We saw rates go down a little bit and now they went up a little bit. So I think it's going to be a little bit of ebb and flow.

And the bank collapsing --

ROMANS: How does that affect psychology? Have you noticed it yet?

FREEDMAN: I mean, I think the consumer feels a little bit uncertain.

ROMANS: Right.

FREEDMAN: It makes people feel not great about going in there -- what's going on. I do think it's a good thing that it was attributed to mismanagement versus systemic.

ROMANS: Right.

FREEDMAN: So that's a good thing so that they don't have to worry about this being a bigger problem. And I think the disaster was averted.

But I think we have so many moving pieces. We have inflation, we have rates going up, and people are a little bit strained. You can feel it in the consumer psychology today. You just feel it out there.

ROMANS: I was looking at new home sales numbers recently and they were surprisingly strong in my view. Is it because interest rates -- I'm sorry, mortgage rates -- they're off the highs recently? And are people, I guess, adjusting to the reality that we're not going back to three percent?

FREEDMAN: I like how you say they're adjusting to the six handle.


FREEDMAN: The six handle.

ROMANS: Adjusting to the six handle. FREEDMAN: I think they are adjusting to the six handle. I think that -- you know, we saw February numbers. Existing home sales were up 14 1/2 percent. That's really good. But that's because rates dipped in January. So when that happens buyers get out there and they buy homes.

And so I think people are adjusting to this. This is the new landscape. Powell said that he's not going to cut rates this year, so we have to live with the six handle, give or take.

ROMANS: What is the bigger factor, lack of inventory or mortgage rates at this point?

FREEDMAN: I think lack of inventory has been a challenge overall, and I also think sellers still have to keep coming down on prices.


FREEDMAN: We're not there yet. Because we need a good intersection of supply and demand.

ROMANS: The Wall Street Journal calls this a tale of two housing markets. You've got prices -- home prices falling out west in some of those tech hubs, especially. I mean, where they've just went up like a rocket. And holding in in the south and the northeast.

What are you seeing?

FREEDMAN: I mean, I think a lot of people have, as we've seen, moved to places like Texas and Florida and there's still a great demand there. And I think we're seeing a change in those tech hubs and I think that's going to be for a while. I think people are -- you know, we've seen a lot of layoffs and I think people are moving. And so it is a tale of two different places and we see it everywhere.

ROMANS: I mean, when you look at Phoenix, San Francisco, Salt Lake -- so finally, those prices are coming down, but you look at how much they're coming down. They have been up double-digits for, what, like 10 years in a row or something, right?

FREEDMAN: It's time. It's a day of reckoning. I mean, those -- the prices need to come down, and once they come down then you're going to start to see buyers get out there and buy more. As you said, you have a relative who is now renting because buying is just -- it doesn't make sense.

ROMANS: Yes, in Phoenix. Like, trying to figure out how to enter the Phoenix market after years of it just going through the roof.

FREEDMAN: Crazy. And then now couple that with rates being up double what they were. And so people are trying to kind of figure out what's going to happen. So sellers need to come down on prices and people have to accept the fact that rates are where they are. They're at the six percent -- the six handle. I'm going to be using your six handle from now on.

ROMANS: OK, that would be good. FREEDMAN: I love it.

ROMANS: Adjusting to the six handle.

But I just want -- you know, all real estate is always local so that's why I love this home prices year-over-year chart we made.

FREEDMAN: It is always local.

ROMANS: It just depends on jobs, the layoffs there, what the focus is of industries -- you know.

FREEDMAN: A hundred percent. It's never one story. It's very nuanced depending on where you are.

And as I always say, the market is there to serve and based on people's circumstances they're going to buy, they're going to rent if they're moving. It all depends on those things. So it's always many different stories.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

All right, Bess Freedman, always nice to see you. Thank you so much.

FREEDMAN: Thanks, Christine. Love seeing you. Thank you.

ROMANS: Brown, Harris, Stevens.

OK, ride-hailing app Lyft facing a leadership shakeup this morning. Amazon veteran David Risher set to come in as chief executive next month. He'll take over for co-founder and current CEO Logan Green on April 17. Co-founder John Zimmer will also step down from his role as president on June 30. However, both Green and Zimmer will stay on as chair and vice chair of the Lyft board.

All right, Nashville reeling after a mass shooting at a Christian elementary school, leaving six people dead -- three 9-year-olds. New details on the attack ahead.

And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forced to pause his controversial judicial overhaul after mass protests across the nation. Why the deal he struck with his coalition is raising concerns coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING."



ROMANS: All right. Our top of the morning, the top-selling non- fiction books on Amazon.

Number one, "Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones." James Clear has been on the charts for about four years with that one. Number two is from Fox reporter Benjamin Hall who was injured in Ukraine -- "Saved: A War Reporter's Mission to Make It Home." Number three, "Spare" by Prince Harry. All right, the Swifties turning out for a courtroom faceoff against

Ticketmaster in Los Angeles.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Power to the Swifties!

FANS: Power to the Swifties!


ROMANS: Taylor Swift fans say Ticketmaster violated antitrust laws during the chaotic rollout of online sales to Swifts Eras Tour. The fans are asking for at least $2,500 each in damages. Ticketmaster wants to make the prosecution to settle out of court.

All right, night sky lovers looking forward to catching a glimpse of the planetary parade this week. It's a stunning display of planets that occurs in late March as Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Uranus line up beneath the moon. Experts recommend you try to spot it just after sunset. The alignment starts tonight but is expected to be most visible Friday and over the next couple of weeks.


You will not even need any special equipment. It will be visible to the naked eye, even in urban areas. All right. Out of this world, literally.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.