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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Thai Lawmakers Vote On New Prime Minister; Eubank's Magical Wimbledon Run Comes To An End; Back-To-School Spending To Fall For The First Time In Nine Years. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 13, 2023 - 05:30   ET




ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Japan, eight people have been killed in landslides and flooding just this month. Houses have washed away. Hospitals have flooded. Electricity and water has been cut off.

The downpours the heaviest they have ever been on the mountainous island of Kyushu where the forecast is for more rain.

SIMON BRADSHAW, CLIMATE COUNCIL: We are living in an age of consequences for past inaction on climate change. We see this playing out all over the world and every community is affected. But there is still so much we can do to limit future harms.

COREN (voice-over): No one nation holds the solution to the climate crisis but China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gas, holds more sway than most. The China Energy Investment Corporation, the world's largest coal-fired power generation company, said it produced more electricity on Monday than on any other day in the past.

Hundreds of millions in China are sweltering through what could, once again, be the country's hottest-ever summer. And it's not just people who need protecting as our world gets warmer.

Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN ANCHOR: To East Africa now where more than three million people in Sudan have fled their homes as the Sudanese Armed Forces war with their rival, the Rapid Support Forces, for control of the control. The fighting began in mid-April. Human rights groups warn of escalating attacks on civilians and rampant sexual assaults against women and girls. The U.N. reporting a mass grave has been discovered in West Darfur with at least 87 bodies.

CNN's Stephanie Busari joins us live from Lagos, Nigeria. Stephanie, what more are we learning about this discovery?

STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN AFRICA SENIOR EDITOR: Yes, absolutely horrific details emerging of 87 bodies buried in El-Geneina, the U.N. Human Rights Agency is reporting. And these bodies were apparently all killed last month and mostly from the Masalit tribe, which is one of the main known Arab communities in this region.

Now, this is history repeating itself here, Rahel. Because 20 years ago this year, Darfur went through a genocide where 300,000 people were killed. And the same Janjaweed militia, which has evolved into the Rapid Support Forces which is being led by one of the generals involved in this recent conflict in Sudan -- they were responsible for those -- for that genocide at the time.

And again, the U.N. is saying that they have credible intelligence that the Rapid Support Forces were behind this latest killing of 87 people in El-Geneina.

So it's just absolutely horrific with what is happening there. The U.N. has called for an investigation.

And today, in Egypt, a summit is holding -- urgent summit with neighbors of Sudan to discuss what can be done. It's the latest international mediation attempt to try to bring an end to this conflict that's raged for 12 weeks now. Each time there's a mediation and a ceasefire is agreed it's immediately violated leading to a frustrating blame game.

So it's just a very, very desperate situation for Sudanese people who are caught in this hellish trap of violence that seemingly is not ending, Rahel.

SOLOMON: As you point out, Stephanie, it is a tragic case of history repeating itself in Darfur. And it was something that at the start of this conflict, many had concerns about that Darfur would find itself in the center of conflict yet again.

Stephanie Busari live for us in Lagos. Thank you, Stephanie.

All right, quick hits around the globe right now.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken set to meet top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in Jakarta today. It's the latest high-level meeting between Washington and Beijing.

Police in Italy have arrested a homeless man accused in the arson that destroyed the Venus of the Rags installation in Naples. Officials say he was identified through surveillance video.

And in India, the price of tomatoes skyrocketing 400 percent -- 400 percent. That's after crop failures triggered by heat waves and heavy rain. Scientists say it's extreme weather that is part of climate change.

Well, just ahead, the big three automakers could soon hit a bit of a speed bump. And another emotional moment for Damar Hamlin. We'll be right back.



SOLOMON: Welcome back, and here is today's fast-forward lookahead.

President Biden is meeting with Nordic leaders in Finland this morning -- the final leg of his European tour. It's an opportunity to discuss bolstered security amid threats from Russia and China.

CNN has learned that the Secret Service set to brief members of the House Oversight Committee this morning on the recently discovered bag of cocaine in the West Wing. It follows a request from committee chair James Comer.

And the president of the United Autoworkers says that a strike remains on the table as contract talks are set to begin with Detroit's big three automakers. One hundred fifty thousand workers could walk off the job if demands are not met before the contract expires in September.

Overseas now and turning to Thailand where lawmakers in Parliament are voting right now on a new prime minister. It's a classic political match-up between a young progressive candidate and the country's old guard.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout live in Hong Kong with the latest. So, Kristie, what's on the line here, and which side appears to be in better shape?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Rahel, this election is a critical moment for the future of democracy in Thailand. Earlier, we heard from the prime minister hopeful Pita Limjaroenrat. He addressed Parliament.

Voting has begun. And a candidate has to secure about 376 votes in Parliament to win. This process is transparent. It's being broadcast live all day via Parliament TV in Thailand.


The Thai prime minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, who took power nine years ago in a coup, is not seeking reelection and he will retire from politics. It was just a few months ago in May his military-backed party was defeated by the opposition in a general election.

So all eyes are on Pita, the leader of this progressive Move Forward Party. He is a 42-year-old Harvard graduate. He is a former executive of the ride-hailing app Grab. And he is confident. But to become premier, he has to grab around 60 more votes from rival parties and conservatives, and that is a tall order given his party's very progressive policies.

His party, the Move Forward Party, wants to bring big changes to Thailand with plans to reform both the military and the monarchy by changing Thailand's very strict lese-majeste laws. These are laws that criminalize criticism of the monarchy with long prison terms.

Now, Pita has said that his priority is to, quote, "demilitarize, demonopolize, and to decentralize Thailand." But Pita also faces a potential legal setback. He could be disqualified as a lawmaker over a shareholding of a media group issue. The Thai Constitutional Court will review the case next week.

But look, after nearly a decade of turbulent military-backed rule, many people across the country are looking forward to a new era, Rahel. Back to you.

SOLOMON: Yes, we'll see what they decide.

Kristie Lu Stout live for us --


SOLOMON: -- in Hong Kong. Thank you.

STOUT: Thank you.

SOLOMON: Turning to sports, the magical Wimbledon run for Chris Eubanks has finally come to an end, but not before winning over tennis fans across the world.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's Bleacher Report. He really mesmerized the nation.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: He did. He's been the story of this tournament and it's because he's so easy to root for. I mean, everybody can kind of identify with his story -- not wanting to give up on your career.

It wasn't that long ago that he had doubts. I mean, he took a job as a commentator for the Tennis Channel and he continued to play. He didn't know about his professional tennis career -- whether or not it could continue.

But this week, the six-foot-seven Atlanta native went on an incredible run making it all the way to the quarterfinals in his first appearance at the All England Club. Fresh off the first ATP title of his career just a couple of weeks ago, coming this close to beating world number three Daniil Medvedev. He was up two sets to one in a tiebreaker in the fourth and ended up just running out of gas, losing in a five-set thriller.

Afterward, he expressed an incredible amount of gratitude, but he does believe he's here to stay.


CHRIS EUBANKS, ELMININATED IN WIMBLEDON QUARTERFINALS: I definitely believe a lot more in my ability to contend with some of the best players in the world. It's tough to really know until you play some of the best players in the world. I think it just gives me added confidence that -- in my ability that I know that I can compete with some of the best players in the world. Whereas, maybe I didn't fully know or believe that before.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MANNO: We're going to hear much more from Chris in the 7:00 hour when he joins "CNN THIS MORNING" for a live interview in just a couple of hours. So, excited about that.

Meantime, for only the second time since 2003, the U.S. Men's Soccer Team will not be in the Gold Cup final. Panama stunning the Americans after a penalty shootout in San Diego last night. The loss marking the last game for interim coach BJ Callaghan. Gregg Berhalter going to return to the sidelines for the September 9 exhibition against Uzbekistan.

And the ESPYs taking place last night in L.A. One of the most emotional moments of the night was the presentation of the Jimmy V. Perseverance Award -- this year given to White Sox pitcher Liam Hendriks for his inspirational return to baseball after being diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin's lymphoma back in January. He was back on the mound less than five months later cancer-free.


LIAM HENDRICKS, CHICAGO WHITE SOX PITCHER: Cancer changes you -- there's no doubt about it. Going through this, it changed me for the better.

There's a lot of times where I'm sitting out here thinking about what I could have done differently -- what I could have done differently in my life leading up to this moment. But everything is -- everything in life is short. Life, it's just trivial. Things are just trivial when you go through something like this.

It doesn't matter what's going on and it doesn't matter how it goes. All that matters is that you just live life your way. Do it your -- fly by your own seat. Fly by everything you want to do yourself, and that's all that really matters.


MANNO: Another powerful moment from the man you just saw right there. Bills safety Damar Hamlin presenting the Pat Tillman Award for Service to his team's training staff. The 25-year-old wiping away tears from his eyes as he honored the first responders who saved his life when he went into cardiac arrest during a game.


NATHAN BRESKE, BUFFALO BILLS HEAD ATHLETIC TRAINER: By the grace of God and divine intervention we had the best outcome we could have prayed for or imagined. Damar, first and foremost, thank you for staying alive, brother.



BRESKE: Yes. Seriously, we are so honored to be standing up here next to such a strong and courageous human being. (END VIDEO CLIP)


MANNO: I just love that. He was fully cleared to resume football activities in April, by the way. He's expected to participate when training camp begins on July 26.

But this was such a beautiful moment. He got a standing ovation from the crowd. And to see him get emotional in front of everybody like that, it was really special -- so special

SOLOMON: Yes. And, you know, even -- I was just about to say that. Even though it's been months since that moment on the field, you still just get emotional sort of watching it --

MANNO: I know.

SOLOMON: -- because it was just such a scary moment.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta did a story not long ago where he interviewed the training staff. And to understand, like, what they go through --


SOLOMON: -- just to get ready for moments like that, just incredible.

MANNO: I know.

SOLOMON: So bravo to them all.

MANNO: Yes. But think about the pressure of the players on the field, but that training staff incredible.

SOLOMON: Yes, incredible.

Thanks, Carolyn.

All right, coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" we expect to see President Biden as he visits NATO's newest member in person.

And next, right here, why back-to-school shopping may not be what it used to be this year. I'll explain, coming up next.



SOLOMON: Welcome back.

And let's take a look at markets around the world. Green arrows across the board. I wonder why? Perhaps because of that better-than-expected inflation report we got in the U.S. But take a look. Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and even the European markets all up across the board.

Let's take a look at U.S. futures, also up, perhaps for the same reason. Dow futures are up, let's call it one-tenth of a percent. Nasdaq up more than half a percent. The Nasdaq has been having a great year -- one of the best in 40 years, in fact. The S&P also up, let's call it one-third of a percent.

Stocks also jumped on Wednesday after new data gave investors hope that the Federal Reserve may soon stop aggressively raising interest rates.

The Consumer Price Index showing that inflation slowed to three percent on an annual basis, making June the 12th-straight month that inflation has slowed.

Let's take a look at some of the categories. Gas, from a year ago, is down 27 percent almost. Used cars about five percent. Meat, fractionally, but airfare off almost 19 percent.

One thing that is not off, however, are school supplies -- and for the first time in nine years, back-to-school spending is set for fall. That's according to a new report by Deloitte. Consumers are expected to spend 10 percent less as prices of school supplies have increased almost 24 percent in just the past two years.

Let's bring in Brian McCarthy from Deloitte's retail strategy and business transformation. Brian, good morning. Thanks for waking up with us.


SOLOMON: So where are people pulling back and where are they -- how are they looking to save?

MCCARTHY: So, our study finds that inflation is taking its toll. As you mentioned, we expect spending to be down about 10 percent this year. To protect wallets, parents are going to be focusing on necessities. They're going to be spending a bit more this year on school supplies and pulling back from other categories like clothing, apparel, footwear, and technology categories like laptops and smartphones.

SOLOMON: Is the pullback you're seeing across income levels? Because one thing we have seen thus far in the pandemic is a pullback perhaps among the lower-income spectrum but not necessarily of the upper- middle-class spectrum or the upper-class spectrum. Are you seeing a pullback across all incomes

MCCARTHY: We are. This is a pretty consistent story this year. Across all of our income groups that we surveyed, everybody intends to pull back spending this year.

SOLOMON: Typically, back-to-school shopping is the second-largest spending event for families after the holiday shopping season. How do you think retailers are going to capitalize despite parents' uneasiness about inflation?

MCCARTHY: So, parents have signaled what they're interested in this year with financial fatigue shaping the journey, focused on minimizing costs. They have indicated they want to come to stores a bit earlier this year, so making sure you're in stock and looking for promotions and deals is really going to drive behavior this year.

SOLOMON: As you were talking to parents, were there any categories where they indicated that they are still willing to spend? That they are prioritizing spending on back-to-school shopping?

MCCARTHY: Yes. Parents did indicate that they're willing to splurge and treat their children for the right thing -- the right quality product, new features within technology, or giving their children a way to express themselves through clothing and apparel.

SOLOMON: Brian, we've been in a sort of inflation cycle for quite some time now -- more than a year. Anything surprise you in the report?

MCCARTHY: You know, the consistency of behavior, right? So we're seeing -- and I think you just mentioned that inflation is starting to dip. We also track the sentiment of customers and we're seeing that despite inflation starting to slow there is still a steady weariness and hesitation from parents and households that continues. And so we're going to pay attention to see how long behaviors start to change after inflation starts to -- starts to slow down.

SOLOMON: Yes. One thing that caught my eye in our report was the level of parents saying that they have some uneasiness about their financial situation moving forward in 2023.

Brian McCarthy, we'll have to leave it here. Thank you.

MCCARTHY: Great. Thank you very much.

SOLOMON: Well, thousands of Floridians will be forced to change their insurance provider now that Farmers Insurance will stop offering coverage in the Sunshine State. The company says it will no longer write new policies or renew existing homeowner, auto, and umbrella policies in order to try to manage risk exposure of the hurricane- prone state. The move will impact 100,000 customers and make Farmers the fourth major insurer to pull out of Florida in the past year.

And coming up, multiple tornadoes barreling across the Chicago area, uprooting trees, knocking out power, and ripping the roofs off of homes. How officials are responding ahead.

And the Hollywood Actors Union could walk off the job after contract talks broke down overnight. How this could really halt TV and movie productions coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING."



SOLOMON: Welcome back.

And two big TV shows stand above the rest this morning grabbing dozens of Emmy nominations. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



SOLOMON: Logan! HBO's "SUCCESSION" leads the field with a whopping 27 nominations. Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, and Kieran Culkin all nominated for outstanding lead actor in a drama series. It marks the first time in Emmy history that three actors from the same series are in the lead actor category.

"THE LAST OF US" came in second with 24 nods, and "THE WHITE LOTUS" was next with 23.


Clip from Apple TV+ "TED LASSO."



SOLOMON: "TED LASSO" from Apple TV+ gained 21 nominations for its third and final season, including Outstanding Comedy Series, which it already won for the past two years.

Now, the ceremony is scheduled to air on September 18 but it remains to be seen how the Writers Guild of America strike that has gripped Hollywood since May or the now-looming SAG-AFTRA strike could impact the awards show.

And thanks for joining us. I'm Rahel Solomon in for Christine Romans. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.