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Quest Means Business

GDP Growth Slows To 1.1 Percent In First Quarter; Meta Stock Surges After Revenue Returns To Growth; South Korean President Addresses US Congress; Evacuations Continue In Sudan Amid Growing Humanitarian Crisis; Brittney Griner Says She Won't Go Overseas Again Except For Olympics; Call To Earth; Car Companies Experiment With Monthly Fees; Talk Show Pioneer Jerry Springer Dies. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired April 27, 2023 - 15:00   ET



ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Stocks are on track for their best day since January, a slowing US economy and big tech earnings are

dominating the Dow Jones right now up 1.7 percent. Those are the markets and these are the main events.

The Fed's medicine takes effect. US economic growth slowed sharply in the first quarter of this year.

Facebook shares pop 15 percent. The company predicts more revenue growth ahead.

And the ball is in Biden's court after House Republicans pass a debt ceiling bill.

Live from Dubai, it is Thursday, April the 27th. I'm Eleni Giokos, in for Richard Quest and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

A very good evening. Great to have you with us.

Tonight, the US economy appears to be losing momentum as rising interest rates take their toll on growth. The GDP grew at an annual rate of just 1.1

percent in the first quarter, that was well below expectations for two percent growth.

And you can see the trend since last summer. The latest reading reflects a drop in business spending and they are drawing down their inventories,

that's the line.

Consumer spending, however, the biggest driver of growth cooled after January. Now, Wall Street is shrugging off the macroeconomic numbers that

have come through, the Dow, as you can see is up over 500 points. The NASDAQ also doing really well, up more than two percent, and that's mostly

due to strong tech earnings that we saw today.

And yesterday after the bell, Facebook parent company, Meta announcing strong results. It followed good news from Microsoft as well as Alphabet

earlier in the week.

Now, the slowdown in US growth isn't happening evenly across the whole economy. To really understand what is going on right now, we need to dig

into the numbers, into the data. Rahel Solomon has more.


RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The world's largest economy still growing, but slowing.

The latest numbers show that the US economy grew at an annualized rate of 1.1 percent in the first quarter of 2023. Now for context, economists were

expecting the figure twice that or at about two percent.

The 1.1 percent is also lower than the previous two quarters. The report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows a still remarkable US consumer

who despite inflation, and despite higher interest rates continue to spend on both goods and services, even durable goods.

So think items like appliances or electronics, which tend to be a bit expensive, that came in stronger than what we've seen in years. We also saw

increases in net exports and government spending at the federal, state, and local levels, but business spending, that's slowing.

We saw a steep decline in private inventory, so this includes all types of inventory from wholesale to retail, also manufacturing. And while this

report suggests a slowing economy, it is how and where the economy is slowing that could give us a sense of what's ahead.

Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody's Analytics, telling me Thursday, "Usually, it's the consumer that pulls back and the businesses respond.

This go-round, the thing that feels a little uncomfortable is if we go into a recession, it will probably be businesses pulling back and forcing

consumers to follow." In other words, businesses pull back, stop hiring, lay off workers, and thus spark a recession.

All eyes now on the Federal Reserve, it meets for its next policy meeting next week. Zandi tells me, he expects another rate hike, but then at this

point, they have enough evidence of a slowdown, which could soon mean an end to the rate hiking cycle.

Rahel Solomon, CNN, New York.


GIOKOS: Well, slowing economic growth and elevated inflation is a cause for concern for the Fed. Overall price increases have slowed in the past nine

months in the US. Now, inflation has fallen from just over nine percent in June to five percent last month.

One of the big reasons for that decrease is lower energy prices, and the stickier parts of inflation remain high and are even growing despite the

Fed's aggressive interest rate hikes.

Nela Richardson is the chief economist at ADP, and she joins me now.

Great to have you with us.

Look, we are slowing, but still growing as Rahel Solomon said, but the question becomes, is this still an inflationary report? We've ascertained

that the consumer spending -- the consumer is still sitting in a good position and inflation is still elevated. It's not where the Fed wants it

to be, so how would you then define this GDP report?


NELA RICHARDSON, CHIEF ECONOMIST, ADP RESEARCH INSTITUTE: Well, it does show consumer resilience. Consumer spending increased by 3.7 percent, at

the same time, as was noted, in your report, inventories took a step back, that meant inventories shaved 2.6 percent out of GDP.

So what happens when demand outstrips supply, well, you get inflation, and that's what you saw also, through the quarter, inflation was higher in the

first quarter of this year than in the fourth quarter of last year, that's got to be a concern for the Fed, and it is a concern for the consumer,

because there's only so long and they've run a really fast race, but there's only so long that the consumer can outrun inflation and that is the

concern heading in to the second quarter of this year.

GIOKOS: I mean, the argument is here that consumers have remained resilient, they are still spending despite price increases. And then you

say, look, how long can the consumer keep this up for? What is your prognosis about where we're headed?

I guess, if you look at where inflation is right now versus what we're seeing on growth, there is a worry because there's a big mismatch.

RICHARDSON: The key to all of it is the labor market, and what we've seen in the US is a very strong labor market. Three-and-a-half percent

unemployment rate that rivals 50-year lows in the unemployment rate, we're also starting to see people come back into the labor market, so the labor

force participation rate is continuing to edge up. That's good news for folks who are worried about wages outstripping prices, which leads to even

more inflation.

So as long as the labor market can hold steady, that's good for the consumer. The question is, is it enough? Is it enough to get inflation back

down? And that's the worry that the Fed is having right now.

GIOKOS: And that's a really good point, I think, on the economy generally going forward, another thing that people are worried about, and economists

have mentioned this, just what effects with what we've seen in the banking sector start feeding through into the real economy? Are you putting that

down as a possible scenario that we are still -- you know, to see what will happen in terms of real impact?

RICHARDSON: Well, we know the name of the monetary policy playbook. It's called interest rates. And with bank fragility that is underlying that is

higher interest rates, which we know to increase borrowing costs across the board for consumers and firms.

And that is, even with episodic events, it is part of the way monetary policy works to slow down the economy.

So the idea that credit would be tightening or becoming more expensive, is part of the slowdown in economic growth overall. If the Fed is trying to

engineer lower inflation, the pathway for them doing that is higher interest rates.

So yes, we expect our borrowing costs to continue to rise as long as the Fed continues to hike rates.

GIOKOS: I want to talk about something that perhaps, you know, we were not so worried about anymore, the big R. Are we going to be slowing to the

point of recession? And here's the thing, if you've got aggressive rate hikes, you don't know if you've done too much of it until it actually

reflects in the real economy.

What are your scenarios in terms of heading into a dismal recessionary environment going forward?

RICHARDSON: Yes, I think that we can still avoid a recession. A recession is defined not just by two quarters of negative GDP growth, but the depth

and comprehensiveness of that slowdown and there are still some sectors that are doing well as signified by the earnings report we've seen just for

the quarter.

I think the interesting component of this is the speak around the recession. This has been such a well-telegraphed and talked about slowdown

in the economy, but generally, economies do take these episodic dips every three to four years. The last expansion was the longest in the US history.

And so the idea that the economy can continue to hum along is not farfetched, in fact, it may be the case so the economy continues to grow,

but more slowly.

The bigger issue, in my view, is the path of inflation, because if the numbers are not going in the right direction, that could lead to all kinds

of problems we don't want an economy, like an economy that's slowing down as inflation is picking up.

GIOKOS: Yes, stagflationary environment.

Nela Richardson, great to have you on. Thank you so very much for joining us.

RICHARDSON: Thanks for having me.


GIOKOS: Well moving on, strong earnings from Meta helped kick off today's market rally. Shares in Facebook's parent company are now up nearly 15

percent. It said revenue grew three percent in the first quarter well above analyst expectations, and it said AI tweaks have led users to increase

their time on Instagram by 24 percent.

CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said plans to build a metaverse are alive and well on yesterday's earnings call, and he said it's still a priority.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, META: A narrative has developed that we're somehow moving away from focusing on the metaverse division, so I just want to say

up front that that's not accurate. We've been focusing on both AI and the metaverse for years now, and we will continue to focus on both.


GIOKOS: Continue to focus on both.

Clare Duffy is with me now to break down these numbers. We are all in blue today, Clare, great to have you on the show.


GIOKOS: You know, I wanted -- we did. You got the memo.

Look, Mark Zuckerberg touted 2023 as the year of efficiency, and that it's basically being completed. This has come with a major cost, right? Its huge

layoffs. It has been aggressive moves in terms of efficiency. So I want you to take me through how this has helped bolster these results.

DUFFY: That's right, Eleni.

I mean, Meta has lost around 20,000 jobs just since November. It has been a massive sort of toll to the company's workforce, but it does look like the

year of efficiency is starting to pay off and analysts told me last night that it seems like actually this recovery is happening even faster than


As you said, their sales were up over three percent in the quarter. It's the first sales growth that the company has seen in nearly a year. The

family of apps usage is up five percent to nearly 3.8 billion users, and the company has also lowered its full-year expense estimates. It expect

sales to continue growing in the current quarter.

And so this is a good sign for the company after a really challenging year last year. Mark Zuckerberg even admitted on the call that when they started

this restructuring work last fall, the company wasn't where it needed to be. The business wasn't in a good place, but he said the company is now

continuing this process from a position of strength.

GIOKOS: Yes, a really good point.

Look, Meta changed as its name, I guess, in reference to the new era of the Metaverse. It had big losses in its metaverse investments, and we heard

Mark Zuckerberg saying they are still committed to the metaverse, but they think that it is going to be a marriage between AI and what they're doing

in the metaverse.

Was that clear enough for investors in terms of understanding what the strategy is here?

DUFFY: It's interesting. You know, I think as much as Mark Zuckerberg wants to say, we're not changing our strategy. This has been the plan. It

seems like AI really has become a new sort of strategic focus front and center for Meta. The company changed its name around the metaverse, and yet

now he's talking about that as a much more sort of future focused plan. And he says right now, AI is the point.

I think, it is going to help shareholders feel a little more optimistic about the company because AI is going to help, you know, improve Meta's

existing products. You know, not so much focused on this future version of the internet that Mark Zuckerberg wants to create, and he laid out some of

the plans for how they plan to incorporate AI into its products.

He said they want to have AI chat in Messenger and WhatsApp. They want to have AI visual creation in Instagram and Facebook. And so I do think that

shareholders are probably going to like the fact that Zuckerberg is focused on the company's existing products.

GIOKOS: Yes. Okay. So in terms of AI tweaks, it has led users to increase their time on Instagram by 24 percent. Are you on Instagram 24 percent

more, Clare?

DUFFY: You know, I mean, I spend a lot of time on all social media platforms for this job, for better or worse, but you know --

GIOKOS: When I read the stats, I was like, uh-oh.

DUFFY: It is interesting, though, one of the things that stood out to me from this report, and is sort of an indication that Meta isn't out of the

woods just yet, is that price per ad fell 17 percent year-over-year. That's a core indicator of their core business.

And so I think, you know, as much as they're increasing time spent or increasing usage, there are still some kinks that have to be worked out for

this company.

GIOKOS: Yes. Clare Duffy, great to have you on. Thank you so much.

DUFFY: Thank you.

GIOKOS: Good to see you.

All right, well, South Korea's president has warned of the risks to democracy as he addressed a joint session of US Congress. We're heading to

Capitol Hill, up next.



GIOKOS: South Korea's president addressed a joint session of the US Congress telling lawmakers the United States must boost trilateral

cooperation with Japan to counter the growing nuclear threat from North Korea.

President Yoon Suk Yeol also had this warning about the risks to democracy.


YOON SUK YEOL, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT: A false propaganda and disinformation corrupt intellectualism. They threaten democracy and the

rule of law.

Such totalitarian forces may conceal and describes themselves as defenders of democracy or human rights, but in reality, they deny our freedom and


We must not be fooled by such deception and disguises.


GIOKOS: Well, there have been a few lighter moments during the serious visit at the White House last night, President Yoon showed off his vocal

range with a slice of "American Pie."


GIOKOS: Melanie Zanona joins me now from Capitol Hill.

Charming end to serious talks yesterday, and really a fantastic performance, I have to say.

But look, this is a significant summit between the South Korean president and President Joe Biden and agreements have been reached, which are going

to be significant for the region.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, that's absolutely right, and President Yoon was very warmly received both yesterday at the dinner

and today here in Congress on Capitol Hill.

There were a number of standing ovations, a lot of applause in the room from both sides of the aisle for this speech, which was the first time that

the South Korean president has addressed Congress in a joint session like this in nearly 10 years.

And it also comes at a significant moment. This is the 70th anniversary of the alliance between the United States and South Korea, which was forged in

the aftermath of the Korean War, and there is strong bipartisan support here for that enduring alliance.

In fact, the Senate passed a resolution yesterday to commemorate that 70th anniversary and they don't pass a lot of things around here unanimously,

which is what they did yesterday, just to give you a taste of how much support there is for South Korea here on Capitol Hill.

And President Yoon talked about the importance of that alliance. He said it is the linchpin of freedom and democracy and he said, the threat to

democracy and freedom is still very much alive today, whether it is the aggression and nuclear ambitions from North Korea, or even Russia's

invasion of Ukraine.


But he talked about other themes as well. He talked about economic prosperity. There's also some light moments where he gave some shout outs

to the Korean members of Congress here on Capitol Hill, and he also did make some references to the cultural exchanges between South Korea and the

United States.

He made a reference to "Squid Games," which is a Netflix show that became very popular, and also BTS that is a Korean K-Pop band, but he did not

serenade us here on Capitol Hill with any BTS songs like he did with President Joe Biden last night.

GIOKOS: There would have been quite a show.

And very quickly, in terms of boosting trilateral cooperation, including Japan. This is, you know, one way where the US can assert itself as a

negotiator as building alliances. And it's going to be vital specifically for South Korea.

ZANONA: Yes, that's right, and this new security agreement was announced last night. That was one of the significant announcements that we heard

between President Biden and President Yoon, and this is going to be an opportunity for the United States to continue to assert itself in that


This alliance is absolutely critical. President Yoon talked about the fact that North Korea continues to be a threat not just to the South Korean

peninsula, but beyond in the rest of the globe as well, and that is something that is on the minds of the President, as well as lawmakers here

on Capitol Hill.

GIOKOS: Melanie Zanona, great to have you on. Thank you.

Well, House Republicans are ratcheting up the pressure on the White House as the US moves closer to a summer deadline to avoid a default.

Now, they've passed a measure that would raise the borrowing limit and cut spending dramatically. Senate Democrats say it is dead on arrival.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is trying to get US President Biden to negotiate on spending. Mr. Biden has so far refused. The political

posturing threatens a US economy that's already slowing.

We've got Catherine Rampell in New York for us.

Catherine, raising the debt limit by $31.4 trillion. That includes sweeping spending cuts over the next decade, but I know that they've also made some

concessions. But it's not enough for the Democrats. Could you take us through what we're looking at?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICS COMMENTATOR: Sure. So to be clear, when we're talking about raising the debt limit, we are talking

about being able to pay off bills that Congress has passed, have already committed to, so this is not really per se about new spending or new tax

decisions. This is about paying off our existing bills, and that's the reason why Democrats among others have argued that that should not be


Paying back our existing bills should not be conditional on any future spending decisions, so those are basically two different arguments. Every

year, the United States Congress has -- you know, has a budget process in which they talk about future spending decisions.

GIOKOS: Yes, and that is a really good point. I guess, the concern here is that there won't be a decision or, you know, both sides of the aisle are

not going to see eye to eye come the deadline later on. In fact, it's looming, it's around the corner.

Is there a sense that they're going to be able to find some middle ground here?

RAMPELL: I certainly hope we don't end up in a default, that would be disastrous. It would be the first such defaults in US history, and would

potentially have ramifications throughout global financial markets causing a crisis. It would be a great thing, if we didn't end up in that situation.

And again, they've been able to resolve these problems in the past.

I am less confident this time around that we will have reached that happy ending, including because, you know, the Republican Party has a very narrow

majority in the House, and they have a lot more kind of fringe members who can extract demands.

Again, the Democrats' position is let's have a clean debt ceiling hike, not conditioned on these other kinds of negotiations. Don't hold the global

economy hostage.

Certainly, there were there were bipartisan votes to raise the debt ceiling under President Trump, without this kind of, you know, hostage taking.

Republicans are saying no, this is a valuable hostage. We'd like to attach these other conditions to it, and I don't know how they work themselves out

of this mess.

GIOKOS: I'm glad you said that it feels different this time. You know, usually we do see an 11th hour sort of agreement and you know, then all you

know drama is avoided and of course, the US, both sides wouldn't want to see a default scenario. That wouldn't be in anyone's interest.


But the rhetoric, the narrative, the messaging around it this time seems to be a lot more aggressive than what we've seen in the past. What are the

main sticking points here?

RAMPELL: So I think leadership doesn't want a default.

I think the Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, also a Republican, I think they don't want to

default. Certainly, the Democrats don't want to default. That's not to say that all of the members of the party within the Republican Party that is,

are so averse to that outcome. You'll see a lot of them playing down the potential consequences of a default, which is part of the reason why I'm so

troubled by the tenor of negotiations so far.

And you do have some political strategists on the right, who have been trying to assure lawmakers that it wouldn't be such a big deal if we

defaulted on our debt, which again, I clearly think is wrong.

So that's part of the reason why I'm so worried this time around that I think that there may be a little bit too much complacency in the markets as

well. You know, markets are not freaking out as much as they did back in 2011, yet, anyway, I think because there is this assumption that if they've

worked out before they can work it out again.

I don't know that we should assume that that precedent will hold given that the parties have changed and given that you are hearing this chorus of

reassurances, I think false reassurances on the right from some Republican strategist saying, eh, not such a big deal, you know, why not go over the


GIOKOS: I have a feeling you and I are going to be discussing this a lot more over the next few months. Catherine Rampell, thank you so much.

RAMPELL: Probably.

GIOKOS: Yes. Thank you so much for joining us. It's just the start of the conversation.

All right, I want to take you now to some live pictures that we're getting through from Washington. Defense secretary, Lloyd Austin is holding an

advanced honor cordon preparing to welcome the South Korean president to the Pentagon. It is the second day of Yoon Suk Yeol's state visit to


Well, he met with President Joe Biden in the White House yesterday, and as we told you just a few minutes ago, delivered and addressed the US Congress


So we're awaiting President Yoon at the Pentagon. So, these are live pictures coming through from Washington, DC.

All right, so, coming up, Brittney Griner held an emotional news conference today. Her first since being released from a Russian prison. The US

basketball star offered words of encouragement to Americans detained overseas.




GIOKOS (voice-over): Hello, I'm Eleni Giokos. There is more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment, when we will examine the race against trying to get

people out of Sudan before a fragile cease-fire ends hours from now.

German carmaker Mercedes wants drivers to pay a subscription to make their cars go faster. Before, that the news headlines this hour.


GIOKOS (voice-over): The U.S. National Guard airman accused leaking classified intelligence will remain in jail for now. A federal judge in

Massachusetts has said a short while ago that he would not yet issue a ruling on Jack Teixeira's pretrial custody.

The suspect's lawyers want him released into his father's custody. Prosecutors say he's a flight risk.

Tucker Carlson has broken his silence after getting fired from FOX News. In a short video posted on Twitter, saying that the U.S. looks like a one

party state, accusing the media of shutting down debate. Carlson wants to be a key witness in a defamation lawsuit that FOX settled for $787 million.

A pastor in Kenya has been arrested for what government officials call the mass killings of his followers. Officials say 100 members of his church

have been evacuated from church grounds. This is not related to the so- called starvation cold case, where 89 bodies were discovered earlier this week.


GIOKOS: "Now is the time to move." That is the warning from the U.K. to its citizens still in Sudan, where a three-day cease-fire is about to end.

Governments have been scrambling to evacuate people ahead of the deadline. There has already been fighting before the truce expires.

The Sudanese government is offering to extend this cease-fire the paramilitary group is fighting. The Rapid Support Forces has not responded.

The evacuations from Sudan have become one of the biggest search efforts since Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in 2021.

Several other countries are getting their nationals out by air, many governments are helping evacuate the citizens of other countries as well.

Thousands of people are traveling to Port Sudan, about 800 kilometers from the capital, Khartoum, and then leaving via the Red Sea.

Many Sudanese who want to escape are fleeing across deserts into neighboring countries. We have Nima Elbagir, CNN's chief international

investigative correspondent joining us now from London.

A desperate effort here to try and get people out to evacuate, basically, a huge effort from many different countries. The clock is ticking. Time is

running out in what's been a very fragile cease-fire in the past three days.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, an incredibly shaky cease-fire. There are parts of the country

where it has somewhat held. But especially today, we've been speaking to people, hearing the most horrific fighting. It's very important and you

made a very good comparison with Afghanistan.

There are a lot of comparisons with Afghanistan in terms of how disorganized, how panicked this evacuation has been, how even now some 13-

14 days into the fighting, we still haven't seen an actual aid and evacuation infrastructure in place across Sudan's many borders.

We've been speaking to people attempting to cross north of Sudan into Egypt. They say that that has been absolutely horrific, days of getting

stranded there. Those crossing into Chad, those thousands you've mentioned, they've had a slightly better experience but it still means crossing

through desolate, dangerous parts of the desert.


In South Sudan, it's too insecure. Ethiopia hadn't open the borders effectively. People feel trapped. When you see those numbers crossing over

into Port Sudan, it's been the most effective route, really the only route for many people, facilitated by the Saudi government.

And I think it doesn't tell the full story. The full story is that people feel let down, the Sudanese feel let down, foreign nationals, the U.S., the

U.K., they all feel let down that there's still no infrastructure for civilians, Eleni.

GIOKOS: And here's the reality, that you have dual citizens and foreigners knowing that, at some point, their countries are going to create some kind

of infrastructure system to assist them to leave. Even though it's been late, we know that help should be coming.

But I want to talk about the average Sudanese. They have very little choice in terms of what their future holds, what their options are and what their

experiences are currently.

ELBAGIR: Just with regards to the evacuation, people are renting private cars and big buses and then this wonderful effort on social media, with

people that are uplifting and amplifying different bus numbers, different efforts to get together and evacuate.

But those prices are doubling almost overnight. It went from $800 to $1,000, even as the dollar itself is getting weaker and weaker. Some of the

prices that I've seen, people say that they've been asked to pay up in cash with the banking system at a complete standstill is absolutely outrageous.

It's unbelievable. And there's still no humanitarian corridors. The cease- fire supposed to lay the foundation for another 72 hours -- we still don't know if that will happen -- in which the international community was

supposed to attempt to get aid agencies, who evacuated their people, back in to help people.

WFP says some 50 million people in Sudan already need humanitarian assistance but that's counting the people that they can count. That's not

counting the average Sudanese, who sheltered in place, running out of food and water.

When you speak to people on the phone, it's just heartbreaking, because they feel like the world has abandoned them.

GIOKOS: It is heartbreaking, listening to stories, important stories to cover. Nima, thank you very much for putting a spotlight on this. We

appreciate your reporting, thank you.

Brittney Griner says that she is never going overseas again unless it's for the Olympics after being detained in Russia. It is the first time we've

heard from the WNBA star since she was released after almost 300 days in custody. The 32-year old had this message for others wrongfully detained.


BRITTNEY GRINER, WNBA STAR: And I would say to everyone that is wrongfully detained right now across the world, stay strong. Keep fighting. Don't give

up. Just keep waking up, find a little routine and stick to that routine as best you can.

I know that's what helped me, just finding the little things, if it was just -- whatever it was. You know, just keep pushing. Because we're not

going to stop, we're not going to stop fighting. We're not going to stop bringing awareness to everybody that's been left behind right now.


GIOKOS: Stephanie Elam joins me now from Phoenix, Arizona.

Incredible listening to her today. It was moving but also you walked away feeling very motivated. What really struck me is that she says she will not

play overseas again but she also said that it's important for people to go to women games, WNBA games.

There's so much in what she said and we walked away in deep thought.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Definitely, Eleni. First off, I have to say when she walked out, she walked to a standing ovation. People were

there, they were supportive.

You have to remember that there are a lot of people covering the WNBA and so they haven't seen her for 15 months. So it was emotional for her to even

see those people. She thanked the media for coming, she thanked her team, her coaches, all of the people keeping the building running, as she said.

She was also -- her energy was lighter than I expected it to be, considering what she had been through. She said there are definitely some

tough times after she first got here but she feels like she turned a corner. I specifically asked her about whether or not playing overseas is a

need or a want for the women of the WNBA. Here's what she had to say.


GRINER: Well, I can say, for me, I'm never going overseas to play again unless I'm representing my country at the Olympics.


But if I make that team, it's the only time I leave U.S. soil and that's just to represent the USA. I would say this, the whole reason a lot of us

go over is the pay gap. A lot of us go over there to make income, to support our families, to support ourselves. So I don't knock any player

that wants to go overseas and make a little bit of extra money.


ELAM: She made it clear that she hopes the coverage and all the people that turned out to cover this press conference today, that they continue to

get that coverage throughout the season, which begins next month.

She says that will help build up their sport and make it so that the numbers are more equitable. Just to give you an idea of what the numbers

are, the top contracts in basketball here in the United States for women players is about the plus side of $200,000.

For the same contract for men, they're the plus side of $40 million. So thousands to millions, it shows you the big difference there. She says it's

something she hopes to highlight with this. She also says is she physically where she wants to be at this point?

No, but she does think that she is on the right path and she's turned the corner mentally as well. She says that anytime she's out talking, she plans

to be talking about people who are being detained around the world that should not be.

She also mentioned transgender rights and the movement here within the United States to silence some of the people, as we have seen in Montana.

She's going to be speaking about that as well, because nobody should be banned.

And looking at people who have been, a lot of people right now being detained around the world, they unveiled this mural here around the arena

where the Phoenix Mercury, her team, plays.

She's there in the center but there are also other people detained. She says that she's going to continue to work with the groups that are working

to bring these people home. And she also noted -- and this was a personal anecdote that I thought was beautiful.

She said, getting letters from home, even from people that you don't know, makes a huge difference. You just feel like you haven't been forgotten. And

that's something that she said that she is constantly thinking about, the other people that were there longer than she was. And she will help them.

But for people here around the world to send letters, it would help out a lot, she said. Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes, it was incredible to listen to her but I have to say that the gap on the contracts is astronomical. Hopefully things will change going

forward. Stephanie Elam, thank you.

Coming up, see how conservationists are helping to save one of the world's most trafficked birds. That's coming up next, you're watching CNN.





GIOKOS: According to the World Wildlife Fund, wildlife trafficking, which includes plants and animals, is the second largest direct threat to species

after habitat destruction. While much of the trade is legal, a substantial portion of it is not and can especially threaten the survival of indigenous


Today, on Call to Earth, we visit a rescue center in Cameroon, where caretakers are giving an animal coveted as a household pet another shot at

life in the wild.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Parrots are one of the most intelligent species of bird on the planet with some capable of doing math, using tools

and, of course, mimicking human speech.

The African gray parrot, the largest parrot in Africa, is known to be the best imitator among the species. That skill is one reason they're one of

the most trafficked birds in the world.

JERRY AYLMER, DIRECTOR (voice-over): They're really popular as pets, I think the most popular parrot to have as a pet certainly in some parts of

the world, sadly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): According to the National Audubon Society, more than 1.3 million were exported from West African nations

between 1975 and 2013. But despite being declared endangered in 2016 and their global trade since outlawed they remain a trendy pet even as their

wild populations continue to dwindle.

The Lindlay (ph) Wildlife Center in Cameroon takes in African grays recovered from illegal traders with the aim of reintroducing them to the


AYLMER (voice-over): We often -- we rescue them in terrible conditions, they're dehydrated, starving, and they have injuries, so we have an

excellent vet team here onsite that looks after the parrots when they come in.

And when they have injuries, their wings have been clipped and there may be glue traps that have been used to catch them. So they're often in a very

bad state so a big challenge is saving their lives to start with.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The rehabilitation process involves medical care, special diets and socialization. Because many were confined

to small spaces, they also have to learn to fly again.

PIERRE EMMANUEL ALIGUENA, ZOOKEEPER (voice-over): Sadly our obligation in (INAUDIBLE) see them, they spend 90 days after the health check, we can

bring them to our aviary cage. After when they're able to fly we can send them back to the forest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): A successful reintroduction only benefits the bird population but also the environment.

AYLMER (voice-over): It's a really important conservation action because the gray parrots themselves, they form a crucial parts of the ecosystem,

for example, seed dispersal. They'll eat fruits and then they excrete the seeds into different spots and they move seeds and that way help the forest

health and growth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): To assess survival rates, migration patterns and possible recaptures, the center also plans to start putting

trackers onto the birds they release.

AYLMER (voice-over): Hopefully we can keep expanding that program, so that maybe track some of the parrots as well in the future and find more data to

expand our scientific knowledge of what's happening out there and what's happening to the parrots we release.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Since 1983, the Lindlay (ph) Wildlife Center says they released over 3,000 African gray parrots from black market

poachers. In addition to rehabilitation, their education initiatives and community outreach are helping out to raise awareness about the illegal

wildlife trade.

AYLMER (voice-over): On the one hand, it's very sad that that's happening but it makes me quite excited and proud that we are -- we can be involved

in such a key way.

And it's such an important program, to just make that bit of difference, to get some parrots that have been poached, give them a second chance,

hopefully get them back out into the world. (END VIDEOTAPE)

GIOKOS: Let us know what you're doing to answer the call, #CalltoEarth.





GIOKOS: Mercedes-Benz is now offering extra power and speed to drivers for a monthly fee. Electric vehicle owners in North America can now buy extra

60 horsepowers (sic) for US$60 a month. The added power is delivered through an over the air software patch.

Peter Valdes-Dapena is in New York for us.

So let me get this straight. You buy a super expensive vehicle; you don't get all the bells and whistles with it because it's capable of more. And

then you have to pay a subscription fee to get everything it's capable of.

Is that the right way to view this?

PETER VALDES-DAPENA, CNN BUSINESS SENIOR AUTO WRITER: Well, it's one way to look at it. Another way to look at it, the way that Mercedes would say

it, is that look, you get to customize your vehicle anytime you want. You don't have to buy everything all at once.

In this case, the car has got plenty of power to begin with. It's not like it's slow. But buyers who want to go about 1.5 to 1 second quicker zero to

60, they can pay $60 a month and have that little bit of extra power.


GIOKOS: So that's what you get, you one second decrease in zero to 60 second acceleration for $60 a month?

VALDES-DAPENA: For $60 a month and that's maximum, half a second, a little bit quicker. A lot of people, me, for instance, I would probably buy it for

a month or two to try it out.

But really?

Do I need to accelerate on the highway that fast when I'm driving an ordinary family sedan, not a sports car?

I might not opt for it myself.

GIOKOS: OK, and this is big money, it's just not just Mercedes. General Motors, the other guys are doing this and they're making billions off this.

This is really interesting revenue model.

VALDES-DAPENA: Yes, General Motors has said, look, what automakers don't want to do is they want to be more like a cell phone company, where you put

something out there and you keep upgrading it.

What they want to do is like, look, this is a way for us to get recurring revenue out of a car rather than just a one time sale.

We can keep saying, hey, you want better navigation systems?

You want more sophisticated cruise control systems that can change lanes for you?

Well, we can add all of that. So it's got the recurring revenue aspect but it's also got the benefit of your car lasting longer and being better for

you because new software, new additions might come out later on that make your car better and better. So it helps the ownership experience as well.

But I think the recurring revenue stream is really what they're interested in.

GIOKOS: It is fascinating. One thing that's interesting, if you've got an entry or mid level model, sorry, you can't get those upgrades over the air,



VALDES-DAPENA: You can but they're not going to let you be more powerful than the more expensive cars is what they're saying.




VALDES-DAPENA: But don't worry, the other guy's car is not going to be more powerful than yours.


GIOKOS: Expensive and fast, that's the model. Great to have you on, thank you so much.

Let's move on now. U.S. talk show host Jerry Springer has died at the age of 79. He once described himself as the grandfather of trash TV and called

his show as an hour of escapism with no redeeming social value.

Shocking reveals between friends, families and lovers played out before a live audience, there were thrown chairs and plenty of chanting for its


He spoke to Richard Quest in 2016 and he gave his take on reality TV and Donald Trump's Republican primary victory.


JERRY SPRINGER, TALK SHOW HOST: I never thought anyone who was a guest on my show should ever be President of the United States. Therefore, I don't

think anybody should be president who behaves like people do on my show.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Do you accept in any way, any shape, any form, any blame for having lowered the level of public discourse through shows

like yours?

Because to be fair, Jerry, if you're going to let people rant and rave on television, it's not a leap of faith before they do it in public life.

SPRINGER: Well, people are doing it in public life, frankly, because as I keep saying, in today's world of the social media, people are passing along

naked pictures of themselves, who they were with last night. I mean that has clearly become part of the culture.

But again, just because you behave a certain way at a football game or at a bar on a Friday night or at a fraternity party or in a crazy television

show, no one should suggest that that behavior is therefore appropriate in the White House.

No one should suggest that that behavior, you know, if you are looking for a religious leader, you would not want them behaving as they do in social

media or on television shows. Of course, there is a difference.

We can't be that dumb to believe that someone who is on a crazy television show and behaving badly should therefore be President of the United States.

I mean, that shows an utter disrespect for our country.


GIOKOS: Such a legend. Jerry Springer there.

Just moments left to trade on Wall Street and we'll have the final numbers, as well as the closing bell, right after this.




GIOKOS: Strong tech earnings are lifting U.S. markets to their best day, best since January and that's also despite weaker than expected U.S.

economic growth during the first quarter. The Dow is up over 500 points, it rose through the day and is set to close near session highs, 1.5 percent to

the good.

Let's take a look at the Dow components. Honeywell doing really good, it's focusing higher after (INAUDIBLE) saying its four year profit forecast,

tech stocks are up as Meta surges. Intel, Microsoft, Apple, all near the top.