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The U.S. Economy at The Start of New Year; Meta Adds New Teen Safety Features Following Renewed Criticism; Record Breaking Attendance at China`s Ice and Snow Festival. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired January 11, 2024 - 04:00   ET


COY WIRE, CNN 10 ANCHOR: What`s up superstar, happy Friday Eve. It`s Thursday, January 11th, rise up. Let`s make this a random thought Thursday.

If you are trying to fail and you succeed, does that mean you`re successful and not a failure?

Let`s start today with a quick update on the current state of the U.S. economy. As we begin 2024, the economy is at a crossroads and some analysts

believe this year will be a pivotal year with a strong influence on how the remainder of this decade will go.

At the end of 2023, we saw continued job growth in the labor market. Thanks in large part to consumer spending. Many thought the federal Reserve`s

decision to continuously increase interest rates in 2023, in order to help slow inflation would lead to job losses and spin the economy into a

recession. Well, that didn`t happen. We`re not out of the woods just yet, though.

The U.S. still faces possible challenges ahead. We`re seeing the least affordable housing market in the generation, both the Israel-Hamas war and

Russia-Ukraine war rage on. And the 2024 presidential election could certainly have an impact on the economy.

So as we consider all these potential breakthroughs and pitfalls, we might wonder just how difficult is it to define an economy as good or bad. It`s

not a simple task. Our Jon Sarlin breaks it down.


JON SARLIN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER: So there`s been a big debate right now, raging about the economy, whether it`s good, whether it`s bad. But what

even is a good economy? When pundits and economists talk about a good economy, they`re looking at a few key metrics, the unemployment rate, GDP

growth, wages, the stock market. So you can compare those numbers to years past. You can compare them to other similar economies around the world. On

both those fronts right now, the U.S. is doing well.

KYLA SCANLON, FINANCIAL CONTENT CREATOR, FOUNDER, BREAD: The U.S. economy is doing great, relative to other economies, which makes this whole thing

kind of weirder. The United States economy is doing very, very well, but people within the United States are feeling much worse than those who are

in economies that are not doing as strong.

SARLIN: So looking back to 2022, right, there was a huge debate going on about Jerome Powell and the Federal Reserve`s plan to raise interest rates,

to counteract inflation. The concern was that raising interest rates like they did could lead to widespread job losses in a possible recession.

ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT CLINTON: But if the Fed in trying to head off inflation continues to raise interest rates as

fast as it has, then the economy is going to go into recession.

SARLIN: The Fed said they were aiming for the so-called, "soft landing," where you raise interest rates just enough to slow inflation, but avoid

those massive job losses. So what happened? So far, the landing seems like it was pretty soft. The inflation rate has been coming down and we haven`t

seen widespread job losses. But that is not to say that everything is good.

SCANLON: So wages are growing. Sure. That`s great. But that doesn`t offset 40 years of stagnant wages. We have an affordability crisis. It`s almost

impossible to get a house in the United States. People are coming out the other side of the pandemic and they`re like, oh wow. Like, you know,

student loan payments can be paused. I`m able to -- I was able to kind of afford rent. I was able to have unemployment insurance. And then all of a

sudden, all that`s taken away, I think of course, people are going to be genuinely upset about that, genuinely frustrated.


WIRE: All right. Let`s turn now to social media, specifically tech giant Meta, which owns Instagram and Facebook, the company has announced new

settings for teen users. Our Medical Correspondent, Meg Tirrell was on CNN recently to discuss the impact of these changes.


MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it sounds like it is a pretty significant change. Meta has already had a lot of protections. They say in

place for teen users, but a lot of pressure has been mounting on them recently. And so what they`re doing is they`re adding even more protection.

So around search terms like self-harm and suicide and eating disorders, they`re going to hide even more kinds of content. Even among people that

teens follow on these platforms. They`re not going to show them if somebody posts about those things.

They`re also automatically setting teens in the most restrictive content settings. So right now it`s when you sign up, they put you in that setting.

Now, they`re going to do it for all teens automatically. And they`re also going to be sending notifications to prompt teens, to update their privacy

settings with a single tap. So all of this of course comes amid this backdrop that really started a couple years ago with the Frances Hogan,

Facebook papers coming out, which blew the whistle, including on things like young girls self-image. So that was one thing that was really focused

on there.

Of course, in the middle of last year, the Surgeon General put out an advisory about kids mental health and social media states have now sued

Meta alleging harms to children. And then a second whistleblower coming out at the end of last year, saying that Meta executives alleging that they

knew about these kinds of harms and weren`t acting on them. And so there`s also federal legislation pending. So these companies are under a lot of



WIRE: Let it go, let it go. Princess Elsa, Anna and Olaf, their pretty big deals in the Wire household. Thanks to my two young daughters. And right

now we`re going to head to China to a place where more than 30,000 people per day from around the world, flock to check out a frozen Wonderland.

Here`s CNN`s Laila Harrak with more.


LAILA HARRAK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It`s a winter wonderland you won`t see anywhere else. The Chinese city of Harbin saw a record number of

visitors over the New Year holiday weekend during its annual Ice and Snow Festival. Well, this ice city features intricate sculptures and structures,

all glowing from within, all of course made entirely of ice.

WANG TIFEI, TOURIST FROM DELIAN (through translator): It`s quite nice, and quite shocking. When I saw it for the first time, I thought they built it

very well, and the ice was very transparent.

HARRAK (voice-over): Well, this year, officials say an average of about 30,000 people entered the park every day. That`s nearly double pre-pandemic

numbers. Well, the festivities have sold out every hotel.

JAI XIA, TOURIST FROM WUHAN (through translator): Booking was pretty difficult. For booking hotels, we spent two to three days before we found a

suitable hotel. Tickets for Ice and Snow World were sold out online. So, I bought them on the second-hand website Xianyu.

HARRAK (voice-over): The state media says this year`s festival covers 810,000 square meters, nearly nine million square feet, and features

250,000 cubic meters of ice. A rather fitting spectacle as temperatures over the New Year holiday dropped nearly minus 25 degrees Celsius or minus

13 degrees Fahrenheit. But, the cold hardly stopped those itching for fun after the last three years of holiday cheer were stifled by varying degrees

of pandemic restrictions.

LONG PING, COLLEGE STUDENT (through translator): Because this is the first winter holiday since the pandemic was lifted, and everyone can`t hold back.

We`ve been sealed for several years. So, we want to go out and relax, to release some of the stressful feelings from the pandemic.

HARRAK (voice-over): Harbin`s Ice Festival will shine bright until early March.

In the meantime, the aptly nicknamed Ice City shares its ice, art, and animals with the visitors looking for something cool to do.


WIRE: Ten second trivia. What is the largest cat that lives in north America?

Bobcat, Puma, Ocelot, or Jaguar?

If you said Jaguar, ding, ding, ding, you are correct. They once roam throughout the Southwestern U.S., but they`ve been on the endangered

species list since 1997.

Today`s story getting a 10 out of 10 gives us great pause. After five years of setting up trail cameras in the Arizona wilderness in hopes of spotting,

the elusive, Jaguar wildlife photographer, Jason Miller finally put the cat in catch. CNN Affiliate KGUN 9`s Ryan Fish has more.


RYAN FISH, KGUN 9 REPORTER (voice-over): A jaguar seemingly posing for the camera. This one has never been photographed in the U.S. before.

JASON MILLER, WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER: That`s mind blowing. I couldn`t believe it. I still can`t believe it, need on haystack. It`s a holy grail

for me.

FISH: It`s a moment Jason`s been chasing for years.

(On camera): Why a jaguar? Why was that your goal?

MILLER: Well, when I got into trail cameras, it was a few years after that. I think it was El Jefe was in the Santa Rita who wouldn`t want to try to

get, you know, a Jaguar on camera.

FISH: Jason named this one Cochise, Arizona Game and Fish says it`s only the eighth unique Jaguar spotted in the U.S. since the 90s. The first since

2016, the exotic big cats are known to move between Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.

MARK HART, ARIZONA GAME & FISH: You can`t do anything to an endangered species. You can`t hunt it, obviously kill it or harass it in any way. You

really can`t track it. And that`s why the trail camera technology is so valuable. They`re being seen in their natural environment. Moving about

normally. Congratulations to Jason Miller. He worked really hard to get that, those images. And he`s provided us with the information we need to

protect it.

FISH: Though, Jason`s been sharing his footage online long before this milestone.

MILLER: You know, my wife and my daughter can`t wait, you know, to see what I get when I come home. There`s people out there that get the smile on

their face like I do when I check my cameras, especially, you know, people that can`t go out there and do it.


WIRE: Well done, Jason, you`re a great roar model. Being dedicated to your goal and "fursisting" in your "fursuits." You must have been felines, so

proud. Hey, why did the Jaguar refuse to play poker anymore? Because all the other players were Cheetahs.

All right, shout out time now. This shout out is going to the Felines at Meadow Bridge High School in Meadow Bridge, West Virginia. We see your Wild


And this shout out goes to the Warriors at Kapolei Middle School in O`ahu, Hawaii. Aloha. I`m Coy Wire and we are CNN 10.