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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Ukrainian Troops Ramp Up Counteroffensive In South; Ohtani Has An Afternoon For The Record Books; Microsoft And Google Stocks Surge After Earnings Reports. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 28, 2023 - 05:30   ET





The U.S. has ordered all non-emergency personnel to leave Haiti as the security situation there deteriorates.

The State Department says in a travel advisory, quote, "Given the recent armed clashes between gangs and the police and the high threat of violent crime and kidnapping throughout Port-au-Prince, the Department of State urges U.S. citizens to make plans to depart Haiti as soon as possible."

The U.S. says Americans trying to leave should use commercial or other private transportation as the government is extremely limited in its ability to provide emergency services right now.

Chaos in Niger this morning as the military suspends all political activity and throws its weight behind the ongoing coup that ousted and detained President Mohamed Bazoum. On Thursday, pro-military protesters rioted and set fires around the headquarters of Bazoum's party.

CNN's Larry Madowo joins us live from Nairobi, Kenya following this. Larry, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. spoke to President Bazoum on Thursday. What can you tell us?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, a readout of that call says Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield expressed her strong support for President Mohamed Bazoum as the democratically elected leader of Niger, and that the U.S. strongly condemns any attempts to seize power by force in the country, and supports Niger's democracy. And that the U.S. would be behind any efforts of the U.N. Security Council to de-escalate the situation.

We have seen on the streets of Niger pro-military protesters. They burnt a French flag on the streets and they held up Russian flags. You heard them say "la hosen," (PH), meaning France -- and (INAUDIBLE) France -- down with France, which is a sentiment we've seen in the region -- anti-French sentiment. We saw similar Russian flags after the coup in neighboring (INAUDIBLE). And this is one of the protesters explaining their actions.


DJASSARE MOUSSA, DEMONSTRATOR (through translator): We have uranium, we have diamonds, we have gold, we have oil, and we live like slaves. Why should we? Until when? We can't accept it. The French base in Niger must leave. We don't need the French to keep us safe.


MADOWO: France has about 2,500 troops stationed in Niger and neighboring Chad. And two U.S. officials tell CNN that there are about 1,000 American troops in the country involved in the counterterrorism operations.

At this point, it's important to note that the U.S. State Department has not yet declared this as a coup. That is a legal definition that would require the U.S. to cease any aid and foreign military assistance to the Nigerian government, so that's not happened yet.

We're seeing also the French President Emmanual Macron saying a short while ago that he has spoken to President Bazoum and he's a courageous democratically-elected leader that should be returned to power and be released, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Larry Madowo covering that for us. Thank you, Larry.

Ukraine appears to be ramping up its counteroffensive against Russia. New video shows soldiers pushing through the southern Donetsk region and taking a village there. Ukrainian forces were spotted for the first time at one of Russia's dragon teeth defensive lines.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz joins us from London. Is Ukraine's counteroffensive starting to gain momentum?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, these are still very modest gains but since the outset, Kyiv has said this is going to be a steady, slow counteroffensive. What they need to do is poke and prod -- is weaken Russia's defensive positions, find vulnerabilities, and then pierce through.


Let me pull up that video that you just showed of the dragon's teeth one more time because it begins to show you what the challenges are that Ukrainian forces are facing. If you look along that line, what you're looking at there -- those dragon's teeth are concrete and rebar pyramids that are three rows deep. There are hundreds of miles of these dragon teeth and this is just one method being used by Russia.

There's also land mines that have been planted all along those front lines. You have to remember that Russian forces are also backed by air support. In fact, in some parts of the battlefield, Ukrainian forces say it's basically a house escape. They have Russian artillery shelling them and then followed by Russian helicopters bombing that. That keeps Ukrainian forces at such a distance that Russian positions in many places are simply beyond the reach of Ukrainian artillery.

So what's the solution? What is Ukraine doing? Well, what they're trying to do, again, is take out Russian defensive positions. They're trying to find the supply lines. They're trying to weaken those supply lines with whatever they can hit and target those locations with, and they're trying to spread Russia's reach.

Remember this front line, rather, is hundreds of miles long but Ukraine is also starting to fight outside of the bounds of the battlefields, sending drones to Moscow. Carrying out covert attacks on Crimea. Trying to weaken supply lines along the Kerch Bridge. All of that to soften -- to weaken those targets.

But again, don't expect anything to change overnight. This is a huge challenge. And just as Ukraine has been preparing for months, Russia has too.

ROMANS: Indeed.

All right, Salma, thank you so much for that.

Still ahead, Los Angeles Angels megastar Shohei Ohtani putting on an impressive game in Detroit. Details on one of the greatest doubleheader performances in Major League Baseball history coming up in the Bleacher Report.



ROMANS: Legendary rock band The Eagles mourning the loss of co- founding member Randy Meisner.


THE EAGLES, ROCK BAND: Singing "Take It to the Limit."


ROMANS: He was both a bassist and a vocalist. And The Eagles say that song, "Take It to the Limit," was Meisner's signature ballad which showcased his astonishing vocal range. Meisner is also credited for his work on the band's albums, including "Eagles," "Desperado," "On the Border," "One of These Nights," and "Hotel California." He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with The Eagles in 1988. Randy Meisner was 77 years old.

All right, to sports now.

Bronny James is out of the hospital and resting at home this morning just days after suffering cardiac arrest during basketball practice.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. I hope he's doing better. ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Christine.

It looks like he certainly is. A cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles says Bronny James was fully conscious when he arrived at the hospital and doctors are encouraged by his progress.

The 18-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest during basketball practice at USC on Monday. He was rushed to the hospital and briefly admitted to the intensive care unit. But now, Bronny is home and resting.

And LeBron taking to social media yesterday to thank everyone for the love and prayers, adding that everyone is doing great.

All right, to baseball where Shohei Ohtani had a historic afternoon just a day after the Angels said they would not be trading him. Ohtani starting game one of a doubleheader against the Tigers and he was just amazing on the mound, striking out eight while throwing a one-hitter. This was the first complete game shutout of his career.

Then in game two Ohtani hitting not one but two home runs. He now has the Major League-leading 38 for the season. Ohtani, the first player ever to throw a shutout in game one of a doubleheader, then homer in the other game -- and he hit two.

The Angels won both of them.

All right, we had another chapter in the college football realignment saga yesterday. The University of Colorado Board of Regents voted unanimously to move the Buffaloes out of the Pac-12 and back to the Big 12. They previously competed in the Big 12 from 1996 to 2010.

Colorado's chancellor and athletic director said in a statement that the move was "...necessary for long-term future success in a college athletics environment that is constantly evolving."

The Big 12's statement from Commissioner Brett Yormark, meanwhile, said simply, "They're back." Colorado's departure -- paired with UC -- USC and UCLA also leaving next season -- leaves the Pac-12 now with just nine teams.

All right. In the NFL, Cincinnati Bengals fans holding their breath yesterday as quarterback Joe Burrow went down right here with a non- contact injury during practice. The Heisman Trophy winner rolling to his right there during drills when he just pulled up what appeared to be a calf strain. Burrow was already wearing the calf sleeve. He was carted off the field.

The head coach, Zac Taylor, called it a calf injury but didn't give any other details.

So, recovery time for a calf strain is normally two to three weeks, so if that's the case, Burrow should still be ready for week one of the season.

All right, and finally, new Broncos coach Sean Payton isn't holding back when talking about last year's awful 5-12 season. In an explosive interview with USA Today, Payton unloaded on everyone involved, including his predecessor Nathaniel Hackett.

So Payton said, quote, "It might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL. That's how bad it was." He went on to say, "That was the parents who allowed it to happen. That's not an incrimination on him, but an incrimination on the head coach, the GM, the president, and everybody else who watched it all happen."

You know, the coaching carousel -- you know, it turns a lot in the NFL, Christine. But rarely do you see the new guy just slam the old regime.


SCHOLES: But, whoo -- Payton didn't hold back there.

ROMANS: No, not at all.

All right, Andy Scholes. A pleasure to work with you, sir. Thank you.


SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: Talk to you soon.

Coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" the latest on former President Trump now facing new charges in the classified documents probe.

And next, right here, big tech seeing stocks surge after delivering strong earnings. Dan Ives from Wedbush Securities joins us to discuss which companies are moving the market.


ROMANS: Your Romans' Numeral this morning is 258. The fare-tracking company Hopper says U.S. domestic flights now averaging $258 roundtrip. That's down 11 percent from last year and 19 percent from 2019.

But compare that to international flights, which are averaging $958. They're now up eight percent from 2022 and a whopping 23 percent more expensive than 2019. A lot of international travel demand.

Looking at markets around the world, Asian markets are mixed at this hour. The Bank of Japan hinted it would be open to raising interest rates if inflation remains persistent. Europe is mixed at this hour. Markets moving on the European central bank's decision to hike interest rates by a quarter point.


On Wall Street, stock index futures right now leaning higher after a down day yesterday. The Dow fell by more than 200 points, snapping a 13-day winning streak. The S&P and the Nasdaq also finishing lower.

The U.S. economy grew stronger than expected in the second quarter. Look at that -- growing by an annual rate of 2.4 percent. What recession, folks? That's resilience.

On inflation watch, gas prices rose two cents overnight to $3.73 a gallon.

The Fed's preferred inflation gauge is due out later this morning.

A big week for tech. Microsoft and Google earnings better than expected. A lot of other companies reporting.

Let's bring in Dan Ives, the managing director and senior equity analyst at Wedbush Securities. So nice to see you.

This week, a big, big week for tech earnings and so far, so good here, right? What's happening?

DANIEL IVES, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND SENIOR EQUITY ANALYST, WEDBUSH SECURITIES: It's been a flex of the muscles. I mean, this is for big tech a lot of pressure coming in -- and really, across the board it's almost been a trophy case from Cloud if you look at Microsoft, Alphabet. The comeback kid -- the Rocky Balboa of tech, Meta, in terms of digital advertising and with Alphabet.

I think for the bulls, a green light going into the second half. And this has been what I would view very -- an inflection point week for tech.

ROMANS: For Meta, this was going to be, what, the year of efficiency. It sounds like it's working, right?

IVES: I mean, this has really been almost a Hall of Fame type of comeback. I'd say probably one of the biggest comebacks I've seen in tech in 20 years for Zuckerberg and Meta -- not just about efficiency but also growth. Digital advertising coming back. You're really starting to get -- see them get their sea legs.

And I think this is just a broader view of what we're seeing on Alphabet, on Meta. Digital advertising having a comeback. But like I said, this is really one for the ages in terms of a comeback for Zuckerberg and Meta.

ROMANS: Also, you've got this AI just frenzy here. And you keep pointing out this is more of a 1995 moment, which is the birth of the internet, than it is a 1990 moment, which is the tech bubble.

IVES: In my opinion, in 30 years. Since the internet in 1995, we've never seen anything like this. And I think it potentially could even be bigger. That's why it's not a 1999-2000, it's a 1995 internet moment.

I view this as an AI gold rush and I think it's the start of a new tech bull market. The bears, every once in a while, will come out of hibernation mode out of their caves. We believe tech stocks are 12 to 15 percent higher the second half of the year.

And this AI, in our opinion -- it's the fourth industrial revolution playing out. ROMANS: So you see tech stocks another 12 to 15 percent higher in the second half of the year.

IVES: Second half of the year.

ROMANS: Wow. So this -- so you've been bullish all year, by the way. I mean, you've been saying that this is -- this is going to be a moment after a terrible year last year. So for a lot of individual investors, though, they're looking at their gains in their -- in their 401(k) or their portfolio and it really is centered -- it is a handful of names that are driving the overall market, isn't it?

IVES: Well, it's a risk on environment. I mean, the Fed could talk tough. The reality is the white flags raised on -- in terms of raising rates. That's a risk on environment. Unless you have a telescope you don't see a recession. And it comes down to big tech right now.

In terms of AI revolution, the shift to cloud digital advertising, I view it as this is really a tech party that's going to continue the next two to three years, which is why we believe the tech bull market is here despite many yelling fire in a crowded theater.

ROMANS: You talk about that telescope -- you have to have a telescope to find a recession. You know, at the beginning of the year the question was when, not if, there would be a recession. But you look at second-quarter growth, you look at consumer spending, you look at what's happening in tech stock. I mean, is this -- you know, is this a soft landing? Is this a recession totally off the table? What is your view?

IVES: This plane is landing nice and soft in terms of on the runway. And I think ultimately, if you look at it coming in, New York City cab driver thought recession. You're obviously staying away from tech. And I think right now the Fed has really engineered a soft landing.

And you look at the risk on environment going forward, I believe this is really the start of almost a generational view of tech names.

ROMANS: Interesting.

Dan Ives -- always nice to see you, Dan.

IVES: Thanks for having me.

ROMANS: Have a great weekend.

IVES: Thank you.

ROMANS: Wedbush Securities.

All right, Taylor Swift's fans are rocking our world, literally.




ROMANS: Seismologist Jackie Caplan-Auerbach says fans dancing for two nights of Swift's tour in Seattle causes seismic activity equivalent to a 2.3-magnitude earthquake. It's being called a Swiftquake and it even beats the Beastquake of 2011 when Seattle Seahawks fans celebrated an impressive touchdown by running back Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch -- wow.

All right. Variety reporting that for the first time in more than 20 years, the Primetime Emmy Awards are being postponed. The awards show had been scheduled to air September 18 but vendors for the event are being told the ceremony will not air on that date.


This, as Hollywood's writers have been on strike since May 2; the actors since July 14. They're battling with Hollywood studios over issues including increased pay residuals and AI now that the rise of streaming has been -- has fundamentally changed how writers are paid.

Coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam goes underwater off the coast of Florida to get a firsthand look at climate change's impact on coral reefs.


ROMANS: Welcome back.


One final note from me today on EARLY START. It has been a pleasure waking up early for you for so many years to get your morning started. I love CNN dearly. I have loved my wonderful 24-year run here -- 24 years, right -- but I've decided that I'm ready for a new chapter.

I am -- I am full of gratitude for my CNN family. It is a family. Everybody here are my friends. And I'm excited for the challenges ahead.

So I will be moving on from CNN but I will still be watching just like you, I just won't have an alarm set for 2:30 in the morning.

Thanks for joining me. I'm Christine Romans. Have a great weekend, everybody, and a great future. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.