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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Children Return Home To Ukraine Families After Long Separation; Israeli President Urges Unity As Country Observes Memorial; Apple Opening First India Store In Mumbai Today. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 18, 2023 - 05:30   ET




BOGDAN, 13-YEAR-OLD CHILD RETURNEE (translated): I didn't want to listen. I wouldn't stay [in Russia]. It, firstly, isn't a pretty town there and there's trash everywhere. They don't clean anywhere or develop. Better to be in Kherson than there.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The town has its troubles. Local angrily queuing here for cash handouts.

And Irina has endured animosity from neighbors ever since she let Bogdan go to what she thought would be a safer place for just two weeks.

IRINA, BOGDAN'S MOTHER (translated): On the island there is contempt from people that I gave Bogdan up. Even at the humanitarian aid center they despise me. One of them shouted where is your Bogdan? Ira, where is your Bogdan?

Some of the women in the line were whispering about me and looking at me. But I don't pay any attention. It is what it is.

WALSH (voice-over): Home here can be hard. Kira (PH), 10, was also sent to Crimea. Her parents are separated badly and she came back straight to her father, Alexander (PH). But in the shop, as they gather and hand out toys, clothes, and food because her father has lost his job in the war, the background chatter is also the parents who let their kids go to the Russians should be treated with caution as sympathizers.

KIRA (translated): What's in the bag?

ALEXANDER, KIRA'S FATHER (translated): Hmm, I don't know, maybe more toys for you.

WALSH (voice-over): I asked Kira how the Russian camp was where she stayed.

KIRA (translated): It was super at the camp. Super!

WALSH (voice-over): I asked if it's better to be home.

Their world is still spinning between two sides of a war, leaving them nothing but dizzy.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Kherson, Ukraine.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, incredible reporting from Nick, as usual. Thank you.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog calling for unity after months of protests on Holocaust Remembrance Day.


Sirens blaring in Israel for Holocaust Remembrance Day.


ROMANS: Those sirens this morning bringing life in Israel to a virtual standstill for two minutes. Today's memorial comes as the country remains deeply divided over controversial plans to overhaul the judiciary.

CNN's Hadas Gold live in Jerusalem for us this morning. This is, of course, Hadas, one of the most solemn dates on the Israeli calendar. How will people be observing it?

HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine, it's an incredibly meaningful day for this country -- the Jewish state that was really founded in the embers of the Holocaust. And almost every Israeli has some sort of personal connection to the Holocaust through family members -- parents, grandparents, great grandparents who either perished or survived the Holocaust.

So today will be a day full of ceremonies and remembrances. The most notable -- the one that most people are aware of is those sirens that go off exactly at 10:00 a.m. for two minutes straight. And it's incredible to see people completely standing still in their tracks. You'll even see people driving on the highways -- on the roads stopping their cars to get out of their cars and stand at attention in memory -- really, in recognition of the millions upon millions of lives lost.

Now, today there will be ceremonies all throughout the day. The main ceremony, of course, at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum. They will be recognizing the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust with six different torches who will each be lit by a survivor of the Holocaust.

And the main theme of this year's Remembrance Day is the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. This really kicks off, though, a week of memorials here. So today is the Holocaust Remembrance Day. Next week will be the memorial day for Israeli soldiers, and it will be followed by Independence Day. And it is interesting today of all -- of all days to really put

politics aside, today is the day that Israelis do this. As you noted, the Israeli President Isaac Herzog appeared alongside the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And although Israeli society is very much divided over this judicial reform that the Netanyahu government is trying to push through and over the politics in general right now, the president called on the public to set politics aside -- to allow for a moment of unity. And it does appear as though the Israeli society is doing this.

It is interesting to note, Christine, there are still more than 147,000 Holocaust survivors who are still living in Israel. More than 400 of them turned 100 this year. And an interesting other note is that they have now noted that more than 500 of them actually just recently arrived here from Ukraine and are designated as Holocaust survivors -- Christine.

ROMANS: Interesting. All right. Thank you so much, Hadas Gold.

Quick hits around the globe right now.

Air France And Airbus both acquitted of manslaughter in a trial over a 2009 plane crash that killed 228 people. It is a bitter blow for the victims' families who fought to hold the airline accountable.


Mexico's president is accusing the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration of infiltrating one of his country's most notorious drug trafficking gangs, the Sinaloa Cartel, without authorization. He called their actions an abusive, arrogant interference.

Italian officials have seized more than two tons of cocaine worth nearly $440 million found floating off the coast of Sicily. They believe traffickers had plans to pick up the floating cargo.

Just ahead, child care in America. President Biden will address that just hours from now. And Warriors' forward Draymond Green on being ejected for stomping on a player.


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

Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation trial against Fox set to resume today after a one-day delay. Opening statements will begin once jury selection concludes.

President Biden speaks from the White House this afternoon. His press office says he will talk about plans to make child care in America more affordable.


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis heading to D.C. for a meet and greet with Republican lawmakers. A nonprofit group supporting DeSantis' expected presidential run will host that event.

All right, Apple is coming to India, opening its first brick-and- mortar store there today in Mumbai. "Hello, Mumbai," it says there on the building. Chief executive Tim Cook sees opportunities in India, one of the largest phone markets in the world.

CNN's Vedika Sud live in Delhi, India with more. Apple, Vedika, is aggressively looking at India for both retail expansion and production in the coming years.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Christine -- retail ambitions and wants to make India a powerhouse when it comes to manufacturing for them.

Now this essentially stems from the fact, Christine -- and you've spoken to a lot of our correspondents in China about this over the last few months as well -- that Apple has faced problems there. There have been snags in the supply chain and after that they've been looking to diversify their manufacturing units and look elsewhere other than China, and India seems to be the place for them currently.

What's interesting though is that Apple is the second-biggest smartphone maker in the world and despite that it holds only about six percent of the market share here in India. They're hoping to expand that and opening these two stores -- first, in Mumbai and then in Delhi -- is a message they're trying to send out that hey, we're here. We want to expand and we want more people to buy our phones.

But more importantly, like I said, there were a few rules relaxed in 2019 by the Indian government after which you had the first online retail store from Apple also for India and now the expanding. They have those two retail stores -- the second opening just a day after in Delhi.

And along with that they're looking at manufacturing a lot more and exporting and shipping a lot more from India -- so much so that figures speak for themselves as well, Christine. There's been a huge increase, about 65 percent since last year in the shipment and exports from India in terms of iPhones that have been manufactured here -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, fascinating. We will continue to watch. Thank you so much, Vedika Sud. Thursday, opening an Apple store where you are in Delhi.

All right, Draymond Green got ejected from last night's Warriors playoff game after stomping on an opposing player's chest?

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. What happened?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You know, Christine, Draymond Green has been in plenty of controversial plays in his career and last night he was ejected from the game, as you mentioned, for stomping right on Domantas Sabonis.

Now, the play -- it happened with the Kings up three with seven minutes left in the fourth. Sabonis goes down fighting for the rebound and he grabs Draymond's leg, and Draymond responds by stomping on Sabonis. He was in a lot of pain, as you can see right there. Sabonis got a technical for grabbing Draymond's leg. Draymond got a flagrant two and was ejected from the game.

Sabonis had some x-rays on his chest afterwards and those came back negative.

The Kings -- they would pull away late to win this one 114-106. The first time in the Steph Curry era with the Warriors they're down 0-2 in a series.

After the game Draymond -- well, he defended his actions.


DRAYMOND GREEN, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS FORWARD: My leg got grabbed, the second time in two nights. The referees just watch it. I got to land my foot somewhere. I'm not the most flexible person so it's not stretching that far.

REPORTER: So you didn't really see where you were stepping?

GREEN: I can only step so far and I'm pulling my leg away.

DOMANTAS SABONIS, SACRAMENTO KINGS CENTER: We were both fighting for the rebound. We fell on each other. Stuff happens -- it's basketball. We've got to move on to the next play.


SCHOLES: All right. The 76ers, meanwhile, trying to go up 2-0 on the Nets. Doc Rivers wasn't happy with his team in the second half. He called a timeout after just one minute because the team wasn't running the plays he told them to. When asked what Doc said to the team in that huddle, James Harden said with a laugh, "He just cursed us out."

Well, it worked. Tyrese Maxey scoring 33 points as the Sixers outscore the Nets 24-14 in the third. They would go on to win 96-84.

Three more games on the schedule tonight beginning with the Hawks at the Celtics. Then you've got a double-header on our sister channel TNT.

All right. After a historic regular season, the Bruins with a successful start to the playoffs on Patriot's Day in Boston. Check out Tyler Bertuzzi. He got tied up with Nick Cousins and then just takes his stick to the bench with him. He even tried to break it. Bertuzzi had two assists in this one as the Bruins won that one 3-1.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs continue tonight with four games on the schedule. The Rangers and Devils are going to get it started at 7:00 eastern on TBS.

All right, and finally, Blue Jays' pitcher Anthony Bass sparking a discussion online with a tweet yesterday. Check out what he said. He said, "The flight attendant at United just made my 22-week pregnant wife traveling with a 5-year-old and 2-year-old get on her hands and knees to pick up the popcorn mess made by my youngest daughter. Are you kidding me?"


Well, lots of people agreeing with the flight attendant. Someone tweeted at Bass asking who he thinks should clean it up and he responded saying he thinks the cleaning crew should clean it up. He also added that it was United that provided the popcorn to his kids.

And so, Christine, this is a fiery debate on Twitter. A lot of people said well, the kid should clean it up or they should clean it up. A lot of people saying -- agreeing with Bass. Where do you land on that?

ROMANS: I don't -- I don't know where I land on this. I mean, I've cleaned up a lot of messes on planes before, but I don't -- I don't know. And that's tough, too.

SCHOLES: It's a heated debate.

ROMANS: A 5-year-old, a 2-year-old, and you're 22 weeks -- I mean, I've been in that boat before, too, and there's a lot happening. There's a lot going on there


ROMANS: Wow -- and bravo to her for flying. I mean, it's hard to fly with kids anyway. I don't know. I have to think -- I have to think on that one.

All right, Andy, nice to see you.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: All right, coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" a special grand jury choosing not to indict the Ohio police officers who shot an unarmed Black man 94 times last year. And next, right here, time is running out to get your taxes in on time.



ROMANS: Your Romans' Numeral this morning, 2,933 -- as in $2,900. That's the average tax refund as of March 17, down from $3,305 at the same time last year. Pandemic relief expired, such as the enhanced child tax credit. That was worth up to $3,600 a child. Those breaks have now gone back to $2,000 per kid. More on tax day in a moment.

But a look at Wall Street and markets around the world. European markets are higher at this hour. Asia closed mixed. China's economy off to a solid start, by the way. Gross domestic product there grew by 4.5 percent in the first quarter.

And on Wall Street, stock index futures are leaning up here on tax day. Stocks clawed higher in a busy earnings season yesterday. The Dow rose 100. The S&P and the Nasdaq also up on the day.

Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Netflix all report before the opening bell.

And on inflation watch, gas prices rose a penny overnight to $3.68 a gallon. Today we get key housing data, building permits, housing starts. Those are due out later this morning.

All right, but the main event. Just hours remain to get your tax returns in on time. I want to bring in senior economist and research manager for federal tax policy at the Tax Foundation, Erica York. So nice to see you, Erica, on a very busy day.

We know the average tax refund is a little bit less this year. A lot of that pandemic aid expired. I'm wondering, does that mean the filing process was simpler this year than the past couple of years?

ERICA YORK, SENIOR ECONOMIST AND RESEARCH MANAGER, TAX FOUNDATION (via Skype): Relative to the last few years, yes. Taxpayers didn't have to navigate all of that pandemic relief on their tax returns this year. So we're back to a more normal tax filing season as far as what benefits are available for taxpayers when they file their tax returns.

That's also meant, as you noted, refunds are down by about $300 on average or about 10 percent overall because many of those expanded benefits are no longer available. But just because we're returning back to normal though doesn't necessarily mean it's a simple process for taxpayers to file their taxes.

ROMANS: Yes. We talk about getting back to normal and sadly, normal has been not being able to get somebody on the phone, taking a long time to get your tax returns. I mean, it has been pretty rough.

We know that in the Inflation Reduction Act there is $80 billion in funding to get this right, right -- to improve customer service. To upgrade the technology for better services.

Is the IRS using that money already and performing better this year?

YORK: About $3 billion of that $80 billion is dedicated to taxpayer service and we have seen some promising signs of the IRS this season. The deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury yesterday said that the IRS has been answering more than 85 percent of calls this filing season, which is a big improvement over 10 percent.

But there's also some troubling signs ahead. The IRS, in the first two months of this year, spent through 10 percent of that $3 billion and the agency has said, itself, that it anticipates running out of those funds within four years. So the promise of long-term improvement is pretty uncertain if the IRS is going to burn through that money so quickly.

ROMANS: Yes. Let's remember that the IRS funding levels are down, what, 22 percent from 2010 to 2021. So it's got to hire a lot of people. It's got to upgrade a lot of stuff. And the money is flowing but there's more work to do. Talk to us about the deadline extension for taxpayers in these

disaster areas with winter storms. They'll have a little more time?

YORK: That's right. If you've been in an area that has a federally- declared disaster you do have some more time to file your taxes. That varies by state and by disaster, and taxpayers can check the IRS website. It's really easy to see there what the different deadlines are depending on the taxpayer's area and situation.

ROMANS: All right, Erica York of the Tax Foundation. Thank you so much. You have today, folks, or you've got to file for an extension.

Thanks. Nice to see you.

All right. The biggest bridal retailer in the country filing for bankruptcy. David's Bridal was helped by a rebound in weddings since the pandemic but hurt by inflation, competition from online, and secondhand retailers, and a shift to more, frankly, casual weddings. It laid off 9,000 workers just last week. It's searching for a buyer right now. David's Bridal filing for bankruptcy.

All right, a white homeowner now facing charges after shooting a Black teen who mistakenly came to the wrong house and simply rang the doorbell. What prosecutors are saying about whether this was a hate crime ahead.

And Fyre Festival is back. Why infamous fraudster Billy McFarland says he's trying to hold the failed event again, coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING."



ROMANS: Our top of the morning, the top U.S. cities for low unemployment. Number one, a tie between Miami, Florida, and Birmingham, Alabama. Both had the lowest unemployment rate for metros with more than a million people -- 2.2 percent in February. Next are Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando, Florida. All had jobless rates below 2.7 percent.

Florida has four of the top five. Hundreds of thousands of people are moving there. The latest census bureau estimates show Florida grew more than any state through domestic migration last year.


All right, thanks for joining us this morning -- this Tuesday morning. I'm Christine Romans. "CNN THIS MORNING" picks it up right now.