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Gas Price Hike; Attracting Employees; Dedication to Bomb- Sniffing Dog; Putin Delivers Speech; Conversation with U.S. Army Retired Brigadier General Steven Anderson; Russia's War on Ukraine; Ohio GOP Part of Jan. 6 Rally; First Lady Jill Biden's European Trip. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 09, 2022 - 06:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT AND CNN ANCHOR, EARLY START: The global economy coming out of COVID lockdowns is consuming more oil, but supplies are tight. And -- right, a major energy producer started a war and now its products are being shunned by the West. Last week, the EU proposed an embargo on Russian oil. Now, all EU members, of course, need to approve it for that ban to be implemented. But if it is, you can expect supply could get even tighter.

The inflation problem is a global story. And energy is the big driver there of the inflation story, even when there's good news, inflation overshadows absolutely everything. It's issue number one for the White House, by the way, and likely for voters heading into the midterm elections. President Biden is set to lay out a plan to fight inflation tomorrow. Inflation running hot since last August. The annual inflation rate well above the normal, two to four percent range for a full year now. And a CNN poll last week found eight in 10 American adults said the government wasn't doing enough to curb inflation. Brianna.

KEILAR: The government wasn't doing enough to curb inflation. Christine, thank you so much for that really appreciate it.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: In a tight labor market, some employers are offering flexibility and incentives just to attract workers. This Kawasaki plant in Lincoln, Nebraska boasting a 9:00 to 2:00 shift, higher pay, and a retirement package. CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro joins us.

Evan, that sounds pretty good for working parents.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, John. I mean, we've all heard about what companies are doing right now trying to get people to come and work for them, right. You know, flexible work hours, live wherever you want. That's harder for working-class people for different kinds of jobs. I went to Nebraska and I found out that even at that level of the economy, employers are making big changes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): Tell me about the job market right here in Lincoln. There are jobs all over the place. We want them to go --

JESSICA KELLY, WORKING MOM: Yes, everyone is hiring.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): Working parents like Jessica Kelly have their pick of jobs here. And what Jessica wants is a job that pays her bills and doesn't get in the way of a normal Wednesday morning, 7:30, daughter number one off to a student council meeting, 7:45, back home for daughter number two, and another school drop-off.

KELLY: Wow, the sunrise is beautiful this morning.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): 8:00, finally, time for coffee.

KELLY: I can't be somewhere at 7:00 a.m. to start working or even 8:00 a.m. would be -- unless if I made other arrangements.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): She's had lots of jobs.

KELLY: I worked at a garden center. I worked at Dillard's --


KELLY: -- department store, I was there for nine years, I was a manager there. It was a pretty decent salary and I was working quite a lot of hours though, nights and weekends.

I love you. OK.

They're my kids and I just want to be there for them.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): This single mom may finally have found the job she's looking for thanks to this economic moment.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): If they didn't have this 9:00 to 2:00 shift and this $19 an hour wage, would Kawasaki have gotten you to walk in the door?

KELLY: No, no. No, I wouldn't -- that's the only thing that brought me in was when I saw that, I was like, oh, wow, that's a lot more than I'm getting paid at the garden center and its perfect hours.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): Kawasaki has been making things in Lincoln since the '70s.

BRYAN SECK, KAWASAKI CHIEF TALENT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIST: We made all the different lines of -- for the jet ski.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): Lately this factory has a problem, it needs more workers.

SECK: We needed to think about how can we find more people. If the folks who are available don't fit in the side of our normal shifts, let's think about how to be creative.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): Bryan Seck says he had to recruit people who don't usually work in factories.

SECK: What we discovered was, we talked to the community, we talked to the schools. And they said, hey, what about a shift around the school schedule?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): The factory had to figure out how to put them to work.

SECK: It is an engineering challenge to create a new assembly line with a new shift because it has to balance, it has to all work together.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): No evenings. No weekends. Steady hours.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): So, what job did you have before this job?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was working in a deli.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sous chef at JTK. I have two other jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have two other jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been a stay-at-home mommy for 15 years.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): It's a big change for these people.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): There wasn't a lot of part-time employees here before, right? These are all new.

JOHN MCCARTER, ENGINE LINE SUPERVISOR: None, really. Until a few months ago.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): So, when you heard that was happening, what was the thinking?

MCCARTER: You know, a little apprehension.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): how come?

MCCARTER: Just because it's something totally new. You wonder how it's going to work. If it's going to work.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): So, what have you learned?

MCCARTER: I've learned that there's a few that don't take it as seriously, but more do than I thought would.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): This is a time of low unemployment across the country. In Lincoln, it's even lower. Employment experts say those numbers have given workers across the country and across job sectors, power to ask for what they want.

BRUSHAN SETHI, PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS JOINT GLOBAL LEADER, PWC: Employers are looking for anything they can do to attract and retain their talent. Whether that's pay, working conditions, and flexibility, and working schedules are a big part of that.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): You Do see that stretching into the future?

SETHI: If businesses have to make hard choices, those businesses that can actually try and protect jobs, increase their people's skills, increase their people's well-being will be better positioned as the economy turns.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): Some workers on the line in Lincoln say they're definitely better positioned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can go from here straight to my kids' daycare and school, pick them up.


SECK: We've got two things right away. The people who we hired were successful. People who wanted to come to work, do their job, learn, and then in turn train other people.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): But that's the bell, that's it?

SECK: That's it.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): So, when you hear that bell.

SECK: Yes.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): What comes to your mind?

SECK: We started something new here. We started something that's helping people be successful with their families.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, now John, this really is about what happens next in the economy. We know it's happening now, and it's letting people like those women that you saw in that piece get these victory jobs. Get a job that works from 9:00 to 2:00 p.m. really works for their schedule.

The challenge is if the economic moment changes and the market shifts, will those jobs stay around? And the answer is, no one really knows.

BERMAN: But still, what a concept. Asking parents and workers what they want and need, and the market seems to be responding for now.


BERMAN: How about that. Evan Santoro, thank you very much. Be well. All right. Coming up, Ukraine's most famous dog receives a presidential honor for his dedication to the war effort.

KEILAR: And CNN is live in Russia where Victory Day ceremonies are underway. What it all means for Putin's next steps in Ukraine.



This morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin presiding over Victory Day events in Moscow defending his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and blaming the West for the escalation in a speech full of mistruths and propaganda.

Joining us now is Retired Brigadier General Steven Anderson. General, let's talk about this, I want to know what stood out to you first in this military display around Putin's speech.

BRIG. GEN. STEVEN ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY (RETIRED): Well, Brianna, what stood out to me about this speech was that nothing stood out. I mean, essentially it was not a -- there was no new declaration of war. There was no mobilization. And I think that Vladimir Putin is starting to realize that he can't achieve his objectives militarily. I mean, he's essentially O for three.

He started on the 24th of February with the blitzkrieg, it turned into a sitzkrieg. Then he attacked the City of Kyiv, that was a dismal failure. Now, he's out in the East Donbas and is looking increasingly like he's losing out there, too. It is not going well for him. So, I think the reality is starting to sink in with Vladimir Putin.

KEILAR: A sitzkrieg? I had not -- I had not heard that. I do want to note though, we're seeing Ukrainian counterattacks against this Russian effort in Kharkiv, and I want to know what you can tell us about this.

ANDERSON: Well, these are significant, Brianna. What's going on is that essentially the Ukrainians are starting to take it to the Russians. Just outside of Kyiv out here. And what has happened is that they're starting to threaten the supply lines. Now, remember, up here in Belgorod is where the Russian's major logistics hub is. They've made it all the way down here to Izium, it's about 150 miles down here. And what they're having to do now because it's going so well, these counterattacks are starting to threaten these supply lines, they're having to reposition forces back into the area here to try to hold -- to fight them off.

They've also blown three bridges which means that -- the Russians have blown the bridges which means that there's no opportunity now for them to go back to Kharkiv. So, essentially, they're throwing in the towel on any effort to fight in Kharkiv. So, it is not going well for them and the counterattacks the Ukrainians are executing is very significant.

KEILAR: Let's talk about the numbers here. What are Putin's forces looking like in the East?

ANDERSON: When we started the war on the 24th of February. The basic building block of the Russian military is the BTG, Battalion Tactical Group. They had 130 back on the 24th, OK. After the battle of Kyiv, he was down to 90, OK. And the problem is now he's down to 90 BTGs and he's got this entire front that he's trying to essentially fight, 800- mile front. It works out to about 175 persons per mile. If you do the math. He's spread way too thin.

And what's going on now, for instance, let's talk about what happened in Kharkiv. He started up there with 22 BTGs. By the time he gets down to Izium here, he might have 10 or 12. And in order to win an offensive operation, you need to outnumber your defense -- defenders three to one, a ratio of three to one because they're dug in. They're not moving. And you are. You're exposed. So, he doesn't have the numbers. So, he should have started this fight up North. Not with 22 BTGs but probably 50 or 60. He's not able to do that. The numbers are not working well for Vladimir Putin.

KEILAR: General Anderson, I do appreciate you walking us through that. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Ukraine's President Zelenskyy taking the time to recognize Patron, that's the bomb-sniffing Jack Russell Terrier mix. He's become a national figure of sorts during the Russian invasion. Here's why. This hound is credited with sniffing out more than 100 munitions in conjunction with Ukraine's bomb disposal teams. And a triumph for the underdog, Zelenskyy presented Patron and his owner with the state award for dedicated service on Sunday in a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Ukraine is training dozens of dogs to be just like Patron and detect potential danger.

All right. Coming up, a courageous and defiant 15-year-old girl drives through the Ukrainian battlefield to save lives. Her incredible story is ahead.




KEILAR: What CNN just uncovered about this GOP candidate for congress.



That air force veteran first made national headlines by painting his lawn to read Trump 2020 and he is now the Republican challenger in the race to fill Ohio's 9th Congressional District. But an investigation by CNN's KFile reveals that J.R. Majewski was a participant in the January 6th "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington. And he also has a history of sharing QAnon theories, conspiracy theories. CNN's Dan Merica joins us now. All right. Tell us about Mr. Majewski.

DAN MERICA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: So, he rose a national prominence because, you know, in the Trump world and the MAGA world because of this lawn that he painted into a Trump sign, and because of that rap that you just showed as well. But what Em Stack (ph) and Andrew Kaczynski at the KFile found was that he also had a history, you know, QAnon phrases and hashtags.


As well as he was part of that -- in videos around the Capitol on January 6th and attended the "Stop the Steal" rally. You know, Majewski is a -- certainly, a firebrand. It was unexpected that he won this race. And apparently the reason this matters is this is a winnable race for Republicans. This is their facing-off with Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat who has represented the Toledo (ph) area for a long time and is vulnerable in the newly drawn district.

There are republicans in D.C. who are concerned that these kinds of allegations against him, the stuff that he's posted, the kind of sillier stuff, the rap, could turn off voters in this district and make it easier for Kaptur to win. Now, Majewski did not initially respond to the story posted by the KFile but then he tweeted that, if CNN is coming after me, it seems like I'm doing something right, something to that effect.

There are a lot of Republicans, you know, the National Republican Campaign Committee is standing with him. A spokesman for the group said that they plan on supporting him in November and will help fund his effort to get Kaptur out of office. But there are a lot of Republicans around D.C. and around the country who are concerned that this could be the first of many. And this is an early primary. There are more primaries to come. Is this, you know, kind of the canary in the coal mine for the Republican Party of where some of these primaries are going and who could be nominated.

KEILAR: The Kaptur folks are happy to have someone like him versus a different kind of Republican to go off against?

MERICA: I think Democrats, in general, are happy because it makes the contrast that much more dramatic.

KEILAR: All right. We'll be watching this very interesting race. Dan, thank you so much. That rap is something, isn't it?

MERICA: Yes, it's something.

KEILAR: Yes, it is something.

All right. So, the first ladies of the United States and Ukraine meeting face-to-face inside of Ukraine. CNN has new details on what they spoke about. And how Jill Biden's secretive trip unfolded.

BERMAN: And this morning, Russian President Putin pushing a string of false narratives about Russia's actions in Ukraine. What the rest of the world should take from his remarks. CNN is live on the ground in Russia.



KEILAR: This morning, First Lady Jill Biden capping off her four-day European trip by visiting with Slovakia's president. The First Lady made an unannounced Mother's Day visit to Ukraine where she met with that country's first lady. CNN's White House Correspondent Kate Bennett has the details.


KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): A Mother's Day surprise from Jill Biden, making an unannounced visit to Ukraine.

JILL BIDEN, U.S. FIRST LADY: I wanted to come on Mother's Day. I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop, and this war has been brutal, and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.

BENNETT (voiceover): A tightly choreographed and secretive addition to her solo four-day trip to Romania and Slovakia. The first lady not only going into a war-torn country but adding a visit with Ukrainian First Lady, Olena Zelenska. Zelenska, in hiding since February, the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Sunday was the first time emerging in public for a one-on-one with Jill Biden.

OLENA ZELENSKA, UKRAINIAN FIRST LADY (through translator): First of all, I have to thank you for a very courageous act. Because we understand what it takes for the U.S. First Lady to come here during a war where the military actions every day, where the air sirens are happening every day and even today.

BENNETT (voiceover): A first lady has not visited an active war zone by herself in years. The last one, Laura Bush, who made two solo visits to Afghanistan. But for Biden, the surprise Ukraine visit, though it lasted just shy of two hours, was in many ways a sure thing for a first lady who has for weeks expressed concern and dismay about the destruction of Ukraine.

BIDEN: Like all of us, my heart has ached watching videos of Ukraine.

BENNETT (voiceover): This trip, which has included stops in Romania and Slovakia, was to spend time with victims of Russia's brutality. Ukrainian mothers and children, refugees in new countries welcomed but just hoping to go home again.

BIDEN: You want to hear her message?


BIDEN: Tell them your message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I want to return to my father. BENNETT: Biden, hearing the harrowing stories of mothers this Mother's Day, not knowing where they will go or how long they will stay. Sharing with the first lady herself on a mission to show support from America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I thank, not only the Romanian but also the U.S. is helping us, not only supporting the refugees but actually in our fight. Thank you so much.

BIDEN: That's right. You're welcome. We stand with you.

BENNETT: It was a surprise trip to Uzhhorod, about a 15-minute drive from Slovakian border in the Southwestern part of Ukraine that truly defined this four-day European trip for Biden. A teacher meeting her Ukrainian counterpart in a former school that has been transformed into housing for citizens displaced by the war. And honoring Mother's Day herself, wearing a corsage of flowers on her wrist, a gift sent to her by her husband, President Joe Biden.

BIDEN: Happy Mother's Day.