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Al Qaeda Releases Video of U.S. Hostages; Austerity Backlash; Kentucky Derby Death Investigation; "My Life Is In Your Hands, Mr. President"

Aired May 7, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. And look who's back.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Finally with a voice, at least semblance of a voice here.

I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are bringing you the news from A to Z.

It's 5:00 a.m. in the East. So, let's get started.

BANFIELD: We begin with breaking news. A desperate plea to President Obama from an American citizen kidnapped last year by al Qaeda. The new video, the first evidence that 70-year-old Warren Weinstein is still alive.

SAMBOLIN: A murder mystery at Churchill Downs. A track worker's body found in a barn on the backside of the famous racetrack, just hours after the Kentucky Derby. This morning, the search for his killer.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, I am vice president of the United States of America. The president sets the policy. I am absolutely --


BANFIELD: Vice President Joe Biden giving us a couple of hints that the White House view of same-sex marriage could be evolving just as a key vote on the matter comes up in the battleground state.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

SAMBOLIN: Up first we begin with breaking news. A chilling video just released by al Qaeda. On it, U.S. hostage Warren Weinstein, begs President Obama to agree to his kidnappers' demands or else he will be killed.

Weinstein was abducted last August in Pakistan. The 70-year-old Maryland executive has a bunch of health issues, including heart problems.

Here's part of the video militants posted online.


WARREN WEINSTEIN, HOSTAGE: I'd like to talk to President Obama and ask and beg him that he please accept and respond to the demands of the mujahidin. If you accept the demands, I live. If you don't accept the demands, then I die.

It's important you accept the demands and act quickly and don't delay. There will be no benefit in delay. It will just make things more difficult for me. But it is very important that you act quickly and I'm now waiting for your response.


SAMBOLIN: CNN foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott joins us live now from Washington.

Elise, is this the first concrete evidence that Weinstine is alive -- or Weinstein, excuse me?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: That's right, Zoraida. Well, it's the first, as you say, proof of life. And Mr. Weinstein was kidnapped in August. In December, al Qaeda, and Ayman Al Zawahiri, the number two at the time, the head of al Qaeda, said basically if the U.S. meets the demands for Mr. Weinstein, such as releasing all al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners, stopping air strikes in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, then he would be released.

But this is the first actual proof of life as they say of Mr. Weinstein.

SAMBOLIN: And how do we know how current this video is?

LABOTT: Well, we really don't. We know it was taken sometime between December and now, because some of the demands that he refers to. But we really don't know.

And a lot of times with these al Qaeda videos, we really don know when they were taken. Presumably if the U.S. -- if the al Qaeda wants to get some demands from the United States, then we would assume that he's still alive. But the State Department, U.S. government is working with the Pakistanis. The Pakistanis have the lead on the investigation. But so far, no other information about where he's being held, presumably somewhere in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

SAMBOLIN: And, Elise, is there any chance that the U.S. will meet any of the demands?

LABOTT: I don't think so, Zoraida. I mean, basically, the U.S. has a no negotiation policy with any kidnappers per se, and certainly not going to negotiate with terrorists. I mean, as we said, the Pakistanis have the lead in the investigation and they would be trying to use their contacts in the tribal areas to try and see if they could get him released maybe for some kind of nominal fee.

We've seen in other cases, for instance, other kidnappings that money has been paid, ransom has been paid. But certainly the U.S. thinks that air strikes is a national security imperative and so of these prisoners that are in jail, certainly a threat to the United States. I don't see the U.S. really conceding to those demands.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Elise Labott live in Washington for us -- thank you very much.

BANFIELD: Four minutes now past 5:00.

And this morning, authorities are still trying to solve a Kentucky derby murder mystery. Police in Louisville, Kentucky, say the worker was found dead in a barn on the backside of Churchill Downs and was murdered. The body was discovered just hours after the derby ended. An autopsy set to be done later today on 48-year-old Adan Fabian Perez, described as a Guatemalan immigrant who works so a groomer. He was identified by his son, a 19-year-old who was also a track worker.

SAMBOLIN: Investigators remain tight lipped about the discovery of two bodies in Mississippi. They were found at the home of the man suspected of kidnapping a Tennessee woman and her three daughters. Jo Ann Bain and the three girls ages 8, 12 and 14 were last seen April 27th. An AMBER Alert has been issued for the missing girls.

The FBI says 35-year-old Adam Mayes is armed and dangerous. Investigators believe he is -- cut his hair and may have also changed the appearance of the mother and the daughters.

BANFIELD: And coming up later this morning on EARLY START, we're going to talk with the FBI agents in charge of the investigation into the appearance. We'll speak with special agent Aaron T. Ford with the bureau's Memphis division.

SAMBOLIN: And political upheaval in France and Greece will likely move the U.S. markets this morning. France has a new president, socialist Francois Hollande defeating Nicolas Sarkozy in a runoff election. His victory, a rejection of tough austerity measures that could signal a change in the way France deals with the eurozone debt crisis.

Voters in Greece also weary of austerity and steep cuts. No party coming close to a majority in Sunday's election. Right now, it looks like a new coalition government will have to be formed in Greece once again.

The uncertainty has investors heading for the sidelines overseas, markets in France and Germany down sharply overnight. It looks like U.S. markets are following suit here. The Dow, NASDAQ and S&P 500 futures all pointing lower this morning, suggesting a sell-off at the opening bell.

BANFIELD: So, from Wall Street to your street, Main Street, everybody seems to be buzzing about Facebook finally going public next Friday. This morning, the company will kick off the old road show. That's when Facebook's top management sets to meet with potential big buyers out there.

The price range for the social media company right now is sort of wavering between $28 and $35 a share. That gives Facebook a value -- are you sitting down? Up to $98 billion.

Here's just a portion of founder Mark Zuckerberg's message to the investors.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: I grew up with the Internet. And I had -- when I was in middle school I was using search engines like Google and Yahoo! I just thought they were the most amazing thing. It was this complete symbol of the age in which we live where now you have access to all of this information.

The thing that seemed like was missing was always just people. Even from very early on when we were building this thing for one school, there was a concept of what it could turn into. We just weren't sure then we'd be the ones who did it.


BANFIELD: Well, they really were. Boy, were they? Because Facebook now have 901 million users in just about every single country on the planet. The big question would be: is it the next Apple? Is it the next Google? Or is it something more than that?

The person with the answers, Christine Romans, who's joining us now.

You were talking about this for the last couple of weeks, sort of the outlook on this one.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It is the next Facebook. Facebook is Facebook. It's a unique tech giant. That's what people who want to get into this IPO are buying into, this hype about a very unique and game-changing tech company, Facebook.

But, you know, as unique and game changing as it is, this weekend at its annual confab in Omaha, the oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, probably the most famous investor out there, who said to our Poppy Harlow, no, I'm not going to buy Facebook and here's why.


WARREN BUFFETT, CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: We never buy a new offering. I can't recall in my life buying a new offering. The idea that something coming out on a Monday that's being offered with significant commissions, all kinds of publicity, the seller electing the time to sell is going to be the best single investment I can make in the world among thousands of choices, that's mathematically impossible. So, we are not a buyer.


ROMANS: His co-pilot -- his investment co-pilot Charlie Munger, he said not only would he buy it, he's not on it. And they're not going to get on it. He has a problem with 15-year-olds putting their whole life online. You know, he's not saying they're going to short it or move against it but they don't really get it and they don't want it.

And so, this is my advice to you. If these guys aren't going to buy the hype, you shouldn't buy the hype either. Here's a thing, it might be a good long term investment, we don't know.

But a lot of you are e-mailing me or tweeting me and asking how do I set up a brokerage account so I can buy this on open? If it's the only stock you've ever bought you need to do more home work before you put all your eggs in one basket.

The other point here is we talk about the road show. So, this company is going around and talking to big investors and hedge funds and trying to get them to buy in at the IPO price. You're never going to get the IPO price at $28 to $35. You'll be buying it with the hype and the hoopla. You're going to be buying it higher than the big, rich and smart investors.

BANFIELD: How much higher? That's the big question.

ROMANS: We don't know. We don't know.

BANFIELD: Anywhere up it $150 a share or, you know, maybe $10, $20, $30 more?

ROMANS: It's irrelevant. It's relevant, because the smart people, the people who are in and have the ins, the investment banks and people who have relationships with Facebook, they're going to get that IPO price. Regular people are going to get whatever it trades for afterwards.

Remember, LinkedIn is up big since it's IPO, Groupon is down big since it's IPO. You know, my advice to regular investors is just wait for a second.

And like Warren Buffett says, buying the IPO can be treacherous. The big investors, the big money play the IPO.

BANFIELD: Next time around, I'm going to ask you if the Oracle said anything about not buying into Apple.

ROMANS: He doesn't buy things he doesn't understand. I'll find out where he stands on that one.

BANFIELD: And that is brilliant. And that is why he's the oracle. Christine Romans, thanks so much.

Ten minutes now past 5:00 on the East Coast. Vice President Biden coming out in favor of same-sex marriage. Up next, why that has the White House scrambling this morning.

SAMBOLIN: A star football recruit Alex Anzalone causing a firestorm after he announced he was pulling out of Ohio State because of a sex offender. He's reportedly now reconsidering that decision. Are the Buckeyes back in the picture?

The latest in this morning's "Early Reads."

You are watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 14 minutes past the hour.

With six months to go before the presidential election, it is too close to call. Take a look at the brand new "Politico"/George Washington University poll released in the last hour. Mitt Romney is leading President Obama by a single point among likely voters, 48 percent to 47 percent. That, of course, is a statistical tie.

The vice president is stirring things up this weekend as well. Listen to these comments he made about same-sex marriage on a Sunday morning talk show.


BIDEN: The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual, men and women marrying, are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil liberties. And, quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction.


SAMBOLIN: CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, is live in Washington.

And, Paul, we've got primaries tomorrow in Indiana, West Virginia and North Carolina where a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage is getting a lot of attention as well as Biden's comments.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, Biden's comments getting a lot of buzz, no doubt about that. You know, it's a little bit consistent with what he said in the past. It goes much further on what the president has said on the issue. The president is only be comfortable with civil unions.

But, you know, Zoraida, the White House is pointing out the president is evolving when it comes to same-sex marriage. Vice president's office and the White House putting out statements quickly saying that the president and vice president are on the same page when it comes to the fact that same-sex couples should enjoy the same legal rights as all Americans.

And as you mentioned, this all comes before Tuesday's Amendment One, the controversial ballot measure in North Carolina which would define marriage as between a man and a woman. But, you know, in North Carolina, same-sex marriages are already illegal.

So, why the controversy? Because this would go much further and would also prevent any future civil unions or even domestic partnerships in Carolina.

And you've seen high profile people on both sides come out on this issue. If it does pass, it could actually help President Obama maybe in North Carolina. Remember, that's a battleground state. He won four years ago. It could wake up the left. It could him in a very close contest in North Carolina, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: It would be interesting to see if he comes out about saying anything about same-sex marriage as well as a follow-up.

So, what is coming up this week with President Obama and Mitt Romney.

STEINHAUSER: Another busy week, no doubt about that. We passed the six-month mark until the election.

Mitt Romney, I guess you could say, is bracketing President Obama. We saw the president in Ohio on Saturday. I was there to cover that kickoff rally. Where will Mitt Romney be today? Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. He's third in three weeks there. Of course, an important battleground state the president won four years ago.

Then Mitt Romney goes to Michigan on Tuesday. Another state where he would like to put in play another state that Obama won four years ago. As for the president himself, what's he doing this week? Guess what, he's going to be out west for some fundraising in Washington state, in California, on Thursday, including the one with George Clooney.

Yes, this one, we talk about a lot. It's going to be at Clooney's house. It could raise up to $10 million, maybe more.

SAMBOLIN: Wow. All right. It sure is getting fun, Paul. We're looking forward to chatting some more. Thank you.


BANFIELD: Seventeen minutes past 5:00 in the morning. Time to have a look at early reads, shall we?

Let's go with this one. It's being called a super viral story at this point. A star football recruit now reconsidering his decision to pull out of Ohio State University because of a sex offender.

All right. The paper is called "The Reading Eagle" and it's got the story. Sal Anzalone said he had no idea of the firestorm that would erupt when his son, Alex, de-committed from Ohio State on Friday afternoon -- all of this after Alex was photographed with a known sex offender who is a Buckeye football fan. He didn't know that the guy next to him was an offender. He just says that he was exposed to this guy and then a photo was snapped.

Charles Waugh is the guy. He was convicted on child pornography in 2008. He's not associated in any way with the university. But Anzalone's father says the Buckeyes are now back in the picture. "When I said there was something wrong with Ohio State, I was talking about the recruiting visit, the visit. There's no reason we wouldn't consider the Buckeyes. We love Ohio State."

So, I guess all is better or well in that world now? But it really -- they didn't expect it to get so crazy but it got crazy.

SAMBOLIN: A bit confusing.


SAMBOLIN: All right. A 14-year-old busted for allegedly robbing more than 100 homes and making his getaway on a go-cart.

BANFIELD: A go-cart?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, "The New York Daily News" reporting on the so- called go-cart bandit. Cops say the teen trolled back allies, kicked down doors and took off with video games, television sets and whatever else apparently before he went out the door.

An official says, quote --

BANFIELD: He looks like a toddler.

SAMBOLIN: He's a little tight, but doing a lot of damage.

The child didn't have a member of any kind of guidance in his life. It's kind of what led him to the life of crime on the streets. Apparently, he lost both of his parents. He's facing a bunch of charges, including burglary and theft.

BANFIELD: I want to know if this photo is actually him or just a stock photo. You know, it's not him. It's a file photo.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, it's a file photo.

BANFIELD: While it looks adorable we don't have the surveillance --

SAMBOLIN: They didn't catch him.

See, there's nothing on there. Where do you put the stuff that you steal on a go-cart?

BANFIELD: Exactly. I was also going to say, whoever got that picture knew something was going on. Why didn't just the stop the thing from happening. It's a file photo.

All right. So, keep your eye on another kid. This would be the antithesis of the last kid we talk about, the new kid on the block. He can speak three languages.

SAMBOLIN: He's cute.

BANFIELD: Look at that guy. He's not even potty-trained and he can speak three languages. He is the youngest member of Mensa. His name is Anthony -- this is a tough one to pronounce so I'm going to just have a go at it -- Urria. He's 2 years old.

"The Times" columnist says that this little Canadian toddler can already write his own name. He can count to 1,000 and he can read sentences out of books he's never even seen before. He has an I.Q. apparently of 154.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness.

BANFIELD: That's just a few points shoe of Albert Einstein, 2 years old.

SAMBOLIN: And he's a cutie pie to boot.

BANFIELD: Adorable. Imagine speaking three languages. I wonder if he has a multilingual family, so that adds that. So, if they just decided to enroll him in, I don't know, Swahili and Mandarin and (INAUDIBLE) because he probably speaks a little French, just guessing.

Look at the play toy he's sitting on.

SAMBOLIN: I'll expect we will hear a lot more about this.

BANFIELD: Clearly he has parents that are expanding him to the world. Get it, the world?

SAMBOLIN: And for an expanded look at all for our top stories, head to our blog,

BANFIELD: Here's something you need to know this morning. All the world markets are down, pre-trading outlooks are down. It is not expected to be a very good day on Wall Street. Why does that matter to you? First of all why is this happening in the first place?

You will know something about it. That's coming up in just a moment.

SAMBOLIN: Probably know already, right?


BANFIELD: Twenty-four minutes now past 5:00 on the East Coast. We're minding your business this morning.

The U.S. markets closed down real sharp on Friday. They may be clapping but the jobs report was really disappointing.

SAMBOLIN: The Dow lost about 1.25 percent, the NASDAQ down 2.25 percent, the S&P 500 down more than a 1.5 percent.

ROMANS: I feel like that's ancient history.

BANFIELD: Christine Romans is talking about this, especially about elections in Greece and in France. Huge reaction to what's going on in France and Greece we have to find out about.

ROMANS: This is a rejection by voters in those countries of austerity. We've been talking about living within your mean, countries that didn't live within their means for so long. They are really in trouble as they try to tighten the belt, in Greece's case get bailouts from the European Union. And those voters said, you know, we don't know how this feels. We don't want you guys. We're going to throw the bums out.

So, now, Greece's bailout is now in question. That's got markets unnerved.

In France, you have Nicolas Sarkozy, the most American-friendly president in years, they called him Sarko the American, someone who worked with our president and with Angela Merkel of Germany and other European leaders to contain the debt crisis there.

I mean, remember, this is the guy who had to rush from meetings on the eurozone on debt crisis with Angela Merkel to his wife's bedside to have a baby and then rush back. His life has been consumed by preventing Europe's problems from eating the continent and spilling over around the rest of the world, he's been thrown because the French people say, you know what, we don like how this feels having to earn less money, work longer. So, he's out, too.

So, now this question, what does this mean if there is a crisis in Spain, in Italy? What will this new president of France be able to do, this new government in Greece? How will they be able to contain any kind of crisis that perks up? And you got markets down around the world.

In Asia, worst day in three to six months for Asian stocks. In Europe, stocks down big. You got oil prices down. You got the dollar up.

So, big markets reaction to this -- markets don't like uncertainty. I say it all the time. A lot of uncertainty how Europe gets its problem under control.

Really quickly I want to show, the problem here is that Europe, 12 of these countries are in recession. You may not know this. This country were growing 2 percent, not very much. But this country is growing. Back in recession in 12 of the European countries. And that's going to hurt the U.S. because when Europe slows, your know, the eurozone is our biggest single destination for goods.

BANFIELD: You said the French were throwing the -- aren't they just doing one of these? Come on. Seriously. They have the same unemployment as we do, right, almost the same?


BANFIELD: I thought they were at 8.2, no?

ROMANS: Yes. You know, you look at some of the other countries in Europe, they have unbelievable unemployment. In Spain, for example, half of its young people are unemployed, half of its young people. So, that's the future.

Big questions in Europe and now new governments in two of those countries, austerity is not something people like. So now we'll be talking in Europe about how to growing with spend your way to growth.

SAMBOLIN: Kind of no options there, right? So, what is the one thing to know today?

ROMANS: The one thing to know about your money today is gas prices are going down. And we've been talking about for sometime, oil trading now at $97 a barrel, in part because of what's happening in Europe, you'll see lower gas prices. You can start filling up again half a tank. You don't have to top it off because gas prices are going to go up tomorrow. Gas prices are going down.

SAMBOLIN: You know what I love, you ended on a positive note. I'm loving this.

BANFIELD: Christine, thank you.

Twenty-seven minutes past 5:00 on the East Coast.

And coming up on EARLY START: death at the derby. A real weird mystery. The investigation into that murder at the famous Churchill Downs racetrack just hours after the Kentucky Derby.

SAMBOLIN: Plus, listen to this. A fake bomb smuggled through security in London, ahead of the Summer Olympics. Up next, how it happened and what's being done to fix the issue.

You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Here is what's happening at half past the hour.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Al Qaeda releasing a video of U.S. hostage, Warren Weinstein (ph), begging President Obama to agree to his kidnappers demands or else he will be killed. Weinstein was abducted last August in Pakistan.

Two bodies found in the home of a man suspected in the kidnapping have still not been publicly identified. The FBI is not saying much about the search for a missing mother from Tennessee and her three young daughters who disappeared more than a week ago now.

And the Facebook frenzy is building from Wall Street to Main Street. Everyone's buzzing about the social networking firm finally going public one week from Friday. This morning, the company is kicking off its big road show with Facebook's top management meeting with big potential investors -- Ashleigh.


BANFIELD: Thanks, Zoraida. Thirty-one minutes now past 5:00 on the East Coast.

An autopsy will be performed today on the body of a man found murdered in a barn at Churchill Downs. The victim has been identified as 48-year-old truck worker, Adan Fabian Perez (ph). Louisville police say he'd been in some kind of altercation just prior to his death, and the shocking discovery came just less than 12 hours after the Kentucky derby actually wrapped up the first leg of the horse racing's famous Triple Crown.

CNNs Deb Feyerick is following the story. She's live with me now with the very latest. It's really overshadowing with such a great story and then this very bizarre mystery.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very bizarre. Very bizarre. And you have to imagine, 165 people packed into Churchill Downs Saturday watching I'll have another win the Kentucky Derby. The excitement of the race still lingering in the air, then this murder. Louisville police investigating what happened inside one of the barns before dawn Sunday.

Now, early information suggests that the victim is a race truck worker who lived on the premises. And it appears he got into some sort of a fight. Big questions right now with who and why. Police interviewing some of the 400 people who live and work behind the track. The area is described by police as a 24-hour mini city with 48 barns, stables, workers' dormitories, and apartments for trainers where they all live and they work.

The man found not far from the barn, Ashleigh, used by Saturday's Kentucky Derby winner. So, really, a big mystery kind of coming to play right now at Churchill Downs.

BANFIELD: At this point, when the police are looking into, you know, who done it, do they think that whoever did do it has something to do with the racetrack, has something to do with Churchill Downs?

FEYERICK: Well, you know, it's so -- very interesting because this really defines that area. A police spokesman saying that it's being investigated as a homicide, but it's still early. Police say it doesn't appear to be connected to the derby. Still, they're interviewing everybody who's related to the derby.

So, we'll have to see the question why was he in that barn? It wasn't an area, technically, where it appears he was supposed to be.

BANFIELD: And then, also, I supposed, the tourists can't really get an access to that area --

FEYERICK: That area is so far behind the racetrack that it doesn't matter anyway. They're planning an opening as they normally do. There's a museum there. The racetrack will be open. There's another race in just a couple of days. But right now, they have cordoned off that area as a crime scene.

BANFIELD: Just a bizarre story.

FEYERICK: Very strange.

BANFIELD: Keep on it, Deb. Nice to see you.

FEYERICK: You, too.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Thirty-three minutes past the hour here. An army captain dies while chatting with his wife on Skype, but how it all happened is still a big mystery.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Captain Bruce Clark (ph) was stationed in Afghanistan. He was chatting with his wife last Monday. She says during that session, he was, quote, "suddenly knocked forward." She says she saw what looked like a bullet hole in a closet behind him.

Officials say they found no wounds on Clark's body. They have ruled out suicide as a cause of death. They're now waiting for autopsy and toxicology results there.

An embarrassing security snafu for organizers of this summer's London Olympics. The "Sun" newspaper says it smuggled a fake bomb into the complex that is being built. A construction worker alerted the paper saying he was only searched when he entered each morning but not the rest of the day. So, the paper gave him a fake device and he drove with it past security guards right into the site.

And if you're looking for a non-violent area to live, play, and work, head to Maine. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, it is the most peaceful state in America. Maine has the lowest violent crime rate in the country and the fewest police per capita.

Vermont and New Hampshire round out the top three and, according to the study, Louisiana is the least peaceful state in the country with the highest murder rate, incarceration rate, and police per capita in America. That is followed by Tennessee and then Nevada.

Octomom's house hits the auction block this morning. Nadya Suleman and her family have lived in the four-bedroom, three bath home in La Habra, California since 2009. She filed for bankruptcy last week, one month after going on welfare to support herself and her 14 children. Suleman says she may actually star in a pornographic video to raise some cash for her family -- Ashleigh.


BANFIELD: Oh, well, there is that.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Yes.

BANFIELD: Okie dokie. Imagine that, 14? I think we talked about this before, but it never gets old, Zoraida.


BANFIELD: Thirty-five minutes now past 5:00 on the East Coast. And, the super heroes of "The Avengers," holy cow! Do you know what they did over the weekend? Smash them up, and I'm not just talking about stuff in the movie. I'm talking box office records. Coming up, how this compares to the other blowouts? Let me just give you a hint, it ain't even close. That's the numbers for you. You're watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: Oh, good morning, New York City. Look at you. I love you. It's 52 degrees right now as the sun comes up over Manhattan. A little bit of cloud in there, but we're going to head up to 64 degrees, though. If you're on your way here, hope to see you.

SAMBOLIN: All right. It is 39 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date now. Christine Romans joins us. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, ladies. Proof that U.S. hostage, Warren Weinstein (ph), is alive this morning.


ROMANS: Al Qaeda releasing a video of the 70-year-old Maryland man pleading with President Obama to agree to his kidnappers' demands or else he'll be killed. Weinstein was abducted last August in Pakistan.

Back in December, al Qaeda demanded all U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan end and all Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners be released around the world in exchange for his safe return.

Secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, turning up the heat on Iran during her visit to India this morning. She's urging India to reduce the amount of oil and imports from Iran in order to pressure that country to come clean about its nuclear ambitions. India could face U.S. sanctions in June if it doesn't comply.

The last of 11 students facing felony charges in the hazing death of a Florida A&M University band member now in jail. Twenty-year-old Lasherry Codner surrendered to authorities in Orange County Sunday.

She joins ten others who could spend up to six years in prison if convicted in the beating death of drum major, Robert Champion, on a bus in November. Two others are charged with misdemeanor hazing.

Did Adolf Hitler snort cocaine? That's what his medical records indicate. According to documents now for sale by Alexander Historical Auctions of Stamford, Connecticut, Hitler used cocaine to, quote, "clear his sinuses" and, quote, "soothe his throat." Records also show he had uncontrollable flatulence and received injections to enhance his libido. The U.S. military commissions the medical reports provided by Hitler's personal doctors.

Danish researchers say joggers live an average of six years longer than people who don't jog. A study of nearly 20,000 people for more than three decades found that jogging at a slow to moderate pace for just 1 to two and a half hours a week adds 6.2 years to men's life spans and five-and-a-half years to women. Zoraida who jogs, jogs, jogs.



ROMANS (on-camera): You're going to live longer than me. I'm having a baby (INAUDIBLE) running two miles.

SAMBOLIN: I have. And you know what I love is that they said in moderation, folks. Just like red wine in moderation. So, you don't have to run miles and miles and miles or marathons. I love it.

ROMANS: Can't count your miles on my track either.


SAMBOLIN: I love to run. Thank you.

All right. Now, a quick check of today's weather. Here is Rob Marciano. Bring us some good news.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, the good news, the rain is going to get to New York City for a good day and a half, maybe two days, and then, after that, it's going to stick around a little bit. The tornado video of the day coming to you from Eastern Kansas, Johnson County with this shot yesterday afternoon.

One of six reports of tornadoes, a rope funnel touching down there. Light damage from this one storm, then last storm chasers caught up to it, and severe weather threat is going to push a little bit farther to the east with a very, very slow moving system. Here's the threat area across Arkansas, across the Mississippi River Valley in through Cincinnati and as far north as Toledo, Ohio later on today, threat for damaging winds, large hail, and maybe some isolated tornadoes.

Of course, there's going to be some rainfall with that. The scenario that's already seen a decent amount of rainfall doesn't really need it. So, we've got some flash flood watches, even some warnings posted, another one to two inches of additional rainfall, especially south of Chicago. Here's where the radar is right now.

Good pulse of moisture coming through last night. That's heading through Northern Indiana and southern parts of Michigan, and the rainfall extends all the way down to the south across parts of Arkansas and Missouri as well. St. Louis to Memphis, eventually over to Nashville is where you'll see some of the moisture, also moisture in Denver just to the west in the form of some snow.

Temperatures will be a good 20 to 25 degrees below average across parts of Colorado today. Fifty-degrees, the high temperature in the mile high city. You'll be 63 degrees in New York City. You should stay dry today. Again, this is a very, very slow-moving system.

And for all the people that have been dealing with the heat and summer-like humidity across the south and east, over the next couple of days, this Canadian air mass will make its way off towards the east eventually, and folks will be enjoying some of that. That's the latest from here -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: All those Canadian cool air masses.

MARCIANO: You always bring us some good stuff this time of year.


BANFIELD: Thank you, Rob Marciano. Nice to see you this morning.

MARCIANO: My pleasure.

BANFIELD: It's 43 minutes now past 5:00 on the East Coast. You know, we don't normally do weekend box office wrap-ups. Truly, we really don't, but today, you've got yourself 200 million reasons why we've got to do this story. The weekend box office was just decimated by superheroes who are battling evil-doers for the fate of the earth. Take a look.


CHRIS HEMSWORTH, ACTOR: You ready for another bout?

CHRIS EVANS, ACTOR: What, you getting sleepy?

BANFIELD (voice-over): Oh, that's some sweet movie watching. In the real world, the superheroes of "The Avengers" did not have to do much battling at all, because the comic book movie redefined the meaning of blockbuster this weekend, bringing in $200.3 million, that according to Disney, the studio that released it.

It is the biggest domestic opening weekend in box office history, and not just by a little bit, folks. By a lot a bit. It shattered last summer's record setter "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two." And analysts estimate that "The Avengers" is on track to rake in over a billion dollars globally and that it ain't going to take too long to do so.

Christopher John Farley is the senior editorial director of Digital Features of the "Wall Street Journal", and he joins me now. I did not expect to be doing this segment with you today. I did expect it was going to do well, but I don't even think you expected it was going to do this well.

CHRISTOPHER JOHN FARLEY, SENIOR EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, DIGITAL FEATURES, WALL STREET JOURNAL: A lot of analysts were shocked by how well it performed, but they never reasons why it did perform so well. They've been flogging this movie for years. I mean, all the other features led up to it, "Ironman," "Ironman 2," "Thor," "Captain America: The first Avengers."

All of them kind of funk (ph) in these glorified trailers for these movies. The buzz was building. They also released it internationally first so they got the whole globe excited about it before it landed in America.

BANFIELD: And the global poll, as I understand, is somewhere around 441.5 million right now?

FARLEY: Yes. It's huge worldwide as well. Also, I think, really attracted people to the film is the fact that it was good. (INAUDIBLE) is very strong. Cinema score was eight plus.

BANFIELD: Was it good, or was it great, or was it awesome?

FARLEY: It was awesome. We'll up the ante. It was awesome. They also got a 94 percent plus rating on Rotten Tomatoes, because usually these big super movies come out, people say, this is terrible. Don't go see it. You can see it only because of the hype, but here, the word of mouth was, hey, see this movie. It's good. Why not spend your weekend watching "The Avengers."

BANFIELD: I just keep getting drawn to these numbers, because I remember big numbers with the "Titanic" hit a billion dollars, but it took a long time to hit that billion dollars.

FARLEY: "Titanic" started small and kept growing and growing and growing. This one is starting big, but because the word of mouth is so strong, it will likely do very well over time. And also, it's already in 3D. "Titanic" wasn't originally released in 3D, and later re-down for 3D.

This one comes out in 3D, and a lot of the box office total was because of these 3D screenings which they charge a premium rate to moviegoers.

BANFIELD: Well, of course, of course now, $441 million, like I said, globally. If you add our American $200 million, that takes it to over half a billion dollars already.

FARLEY: Exactly.

BANFIELD: And one of the big things that people have talked about, Christopher, is that this doesn't, you know, appeal to the 'tweens, the teens, the women, the men, it applies across the board. It's just a really diverse audience, isn't it?

FARLEY: Well, number one, these characters are old characters. I mean, Captain America has been around since the 1940s, Thor, The Hulk characters have been around since the 1960s. So, baby boomers, generation X-type people, they like, oh, well, I remember these kind of (ph) growing up, and of course, they've kept them fresh in the comics. So, teens and younger, they also are corrected (ph) these characters.

BANFIELD: You sort of hinted at why this thing was the longest teasing rollout since 2004 or something crazy that every single movie they rolled out, they ended with a trailer for the next one. What if just one of those movies in the chain stunk?

FARLEY: Yes. If one of them really flubbed, they would have been in trouble because that serve as a negative advertising for what kind of buildup, but it did work out that way. They all did pretty well among critics and movie goers. And now, they've got a lot more -- they got even more superhero movies that are coming out next.

I mean, they're working on a sequel to "Thor," working on a sequel to "Ironman." Of course, they're probably going to do another "Avengers" movie. They already teased it out at the end of this movie. So, this is the first Marvel film that Disney's put out the acquired Marvel Entertainment --

BANFIELD: What's your prediction for the billion dollar mark? How long is it going to take?

FARLEY: Not very long. There's more money coming to Walt Disney because of this film.

BANFIELD: They are lucky.


FARLEY: It help to be good instead of just lucky.

BANFIELD: Christopher Farley, always good to see you. Thanks for coming.

FARLEY: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Thanks for getting up early --

FARLEY: No worries.

BANFIELD: Nice to see you -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. And still to come on EARLY START, disorder on the court. An apparently confused fan finds her way on to the court during last night's Lakers/Nuggets playoff game. I hear Soledad was there. Hmm. You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: I hear this is must reading. The steamy new novel, "50 Shades of Gray" is just too hot for some libraries in Florida. It's being pulled from the shelves in Brevard County. Administrators there called it mommy porn and say it doesn't meet selection criteria.

The nutsy novel details a sexual affair between a young woman and a billionaire businessman. The "50 Shades" books have, so far, sold more than three million copies. BANFIELD: I wonder how many other books Brevard County's library has decided was too hot to handle?

SAMBOLIN: Well, this is pretty intense. Have you read any of it?

BANFIELD: No. But now that SNL featured it, I have to.


BANFIELD: All right. This is for women and men alike. If you like NASCAR, even if you don't, Danica Patrick (ph) is something, something, isn't she? She got some payback after being squeezed out during the final moments of Saturday's race at Talladega. Shall we say Talladega night just got hotter?

Patrick who's in car number seven got behind Sam Hornish Jr. (ph) who is in car number 12 and then just went, put him into the wall. Off you go. Bang. Watch. Here it comes. Here it comes. Oh, man. What up? By the way, this was during the cool down lap.

And it looks like she was going to get away with it, too, because NASCAR says that it's not going to be punishing Patrick or Hornish. And I'm like, what? You'd consider punishing Hornish for being slammed into the wall? Look at her. She is cool as a cumber.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, she is.

BANFIELD: Now, here he comes. Probably not too pleased. And I'm sure his sponsors weren't too pleased either.

SAMBOLIN: All right. A strange scene at Sunday's Lakers/Nuggets game. A female fan walks on to the court just before halftime.

BANFIELD: Oh, she looks loaded.

SAMBOLIN: I have to see, folks.


BANFIELD: She definitely looks loaded.

SAMBOLIN: So, here's what happened. Police arrested her immediately and charged her with trespassing. The woman reportedly has a history of causing trouble at NBA games. She was allegedly banned from the Pepsi center in the past for stalking former Nuggets player, Kenyon Martin.

BANFIELD: It was those first couple of steps out on to the court and then dropping something that look like a sweater. That's what made me think there might have been some beverages involved in this one.

SAMBOLIN: Hard to say.

BANFIELD: You look at her. SAMBOLIN: Perhaps, a little more stalking.

BANFIELD: Whoa, then a little bit -- a little confused. Stop play. Off you go, lady. Luckily nobody hurt, but really, why would you be?

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness.

BANFIELD: What a nut.

All right. Still ahead on EARLY START, six minutes before the hour, that Facebook frenzy that you've been hearing about is getting hot. The company is going public a week from Friday. And if you're looking to get in on this, our Christine Romans has something to say and you should probably hear it because it's great guidance.

SAMBOLIN: And an American hostage kidnapped last year in Pakistan is alive. Al Qaeda releasing a videotape of him pleading for his life. You're watching EARLY START.